The Hindu Editorial Analysis 20th July 2019

The Hindu Editorial Analysis 20th july 2019

OpEd 1 : Green Shoots of  Economic Growth :-

Context - 5 Trillion Economy :-

India’s dream of becoming a $5-trillion economy by 2024 is now in the open with a ‘blue sky’ vision envisaged in the Economic Survey this year.

The document lays down a clear strategy to augment the growth of key sectors by shifting gears as the current economic conditions are smooth in terms of macroeconomic stability to expand growth. However, unless there are adequate investment reforms in primary sectors, steps taken to augment growth in other sectors would be futile.

Decreasing Investment in Agriculture :-

  • According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), insufficient investment in the agriculture sector in most developing countries over the past 30 years has resulted in low productivity and stagnant production.
  • In India, with a steadily decreasing share of 14.4% in Gross Value Added since 2015-16, the sector’s contribution to a $5-trillion economy would be around $1 trillion.

Much Needed Investment to boost Farm Sector :-

1.) Investment should touch segments such as agro-processing and exports, agri-startups and agri-tourism.
Integrating the existing tourism circuit with a relatively new area of agri-tourism (as a hub-and-spoke model), where glimpses of farm staff and farm operations are displayed to attract tourists, would help in boosting the investment cycle and generate in-situ employment.

2.) Investment needs to be driven to strengthen both public and private extension advisory systems and the quality of agri-education and research through collaboration and convergence.
It would also serve as a stage to demonstrate resource conservation and sustainable use through organic, natural and green methods, and also zero budget natural farming.
It is widely accepted that resource conservation comes with behavioural change, which needs dedicated investment in behavioural farm research sets. Perhaps this would help find a way to leverage nudge policies/choice architecture for resource conservation, fertilizer use, irrigation and electricity consumption.

3.) Third, given that India has the highest livestock population in the world, Investment should be made to utilise this surplus by employing next-generation livestock technology with a strong emphasis not only on productivity enhancement but also on conservation of indigenous germplasm, disease surveillance, quality control, waste utilisation and value addition.
This would lead to a sustained increase in farm income and savings with an export-oriented growth model.

4.) Investment in renewable energy generation (using small wind mill and solar pumps) on fallow farmland and in hilly terrain would help reduce the burden of debt-ridden electricity distribution companies and State governments, besides enabling energy security in rural areas.

5.) Farm business organisation is another source of routing private investment to agriculture. Linking these organisations with commodity exchanges would provide agriculture commodities more space on international trading platforms and reduce the burden of markets in a glut season, with certain policy/procedural modifications.

Pivotal role for data :-
Data is the key driver of modern agriculture which in turn can power artificial intelligence-led agriculture, e-markets, soil mapping and others.
  • There are issues of enumeration, maintenance and accessibility to help maintain agri-data on various fronts. 
  • There also needs to be a centralised institutional mechanism to help maintain farm level-data available for real time (virtual) assessment, while also helping plug the loopholes in subsidy distribution, funding and unrealistic assumption in production estimation. 
This will help in effectively implementing and monitoring various schemes for a pragmatic food system.

Conclusion :- Though economic transition has seen significant growth contribution from services and industry, agriculture remains the most trusted sector in helping alleviate poverty, hunger and malnutrition and ensuring better income distribution.

An earlier experience of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations has shown that a 1% growth in agriculture is at least two to three times more effective in reducing poverty than similar growth in non-agricultural sectors.

 An inclusive business model facilitating strong investor-farmer relations should be created, with a legal and institutional framework for governance. Expanding institutions is essential to accommodate the developmental impacts of foreign agricultural investment.

OpEd 2 :- Inclusion over Exclusion : On Assam NRC :- 

Introduction :- 
Supreme Court-led process of updating the National Register of Citizens in Assam nearing its deadline of July 31. Both the Central and State governments have sought an extension. But it remains to be seen whether the Court, which has insisted on sticking to the timelines, would relent when it hears the matter on July 23.

NRC Draft :-
  • The first draft NRC published on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1, 2018 had the names of 19 million people out of the total 32.9 million who had applied for inclusion as citizens. 
  • The second draft NRC, published on July 30 last, upped it to 28.9 million but left out four million found ineligible. 
  • Around 3.6 million of them subsequently filed citizenship claims. An “additional exclusion list” was issued last month containing 1,02,463 names included earlier in the draft list. 

What is Assam government going to do for those who left out ?
  • The Assam government is moving to set up 200 Foreigners’ Tribunals to handle cases of people to be excluded from the final NRC.
  • The State government is also preparing to construct 10 more detention centres; six are now running out of district jails.

Problems facing :-
  • In the run-up to the final publication, case after case has emerged of persons wrongfully left out of the list.  

Bias Centre & State Govt :- Centre and State in seeking a deadline extension, as found in their submissions in the Supreme Court, betrays an exclusionary bias. 
  • The joint plea sought time to conduct a 20% sample reverification process in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% in the rest of the State to quell a “growing perception” that lakhs of illegal immigrants may have slipped into the list. 
  • This, despite the State NRC Coordinator’s reports to the apex court suggesting that up to 27% of names have been reverified during the process of disposal of claims.
Conclusion :-
Central government keeps holding out the prospect of unleashing a nationwide NRC to detect and deport illegal aliens, when it has no index to base such an exercise on — the 1951 register was exclusive to Assam. The accent should be on inclusion, not exclusion. The wheels of justice cannot pander to the suspicions of a vocal majority without giving the excluded access to due process.

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