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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 10 September 2020

In blockchain voting, leave out the general election

  • ECI - idea of further digitising the electoral infrastructure of India.
  • Online conference: ECI - Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency - IIT Madras
  • Blockchain technology - remote elections
  • Blockchain: is a distributed ledger of information which is replicated across various nodes on a “peer-to-peer” network for the purpose of ensuring integrity and verifiability of data stored on the ledger.

  • Arguments in favour of remote voting are plenty.
  • Beneficial for migrants.

Key issues, security concerns

  • Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena: electors have to physically reach a designated venue
  • Biometric attributes of electors
  • Digitisation and interconnectivity introduce additional points of failure external to the processes which exist in the present day.
  • Blockchain solutions rely heavily on the proper implementation of cryptographic protocols.
  • Attacker can clone the biometric attributes
  • Physical implants or software backdoors
  • Blocking traffic from the system
  • Naturally, the more levers that are involved in the operation of a system, the more prone it would become to possible malfunction.
  • Are we obsessed with techno-solutionism?

Digital disconnect

  • NSO’s survey of ‘Household Social Consumption on Education in India’ - July 2017-June 2018 - highlights the poor state of computer and Internet access in several States.
  • Broadband policy of 2004 - digital chasm (खाई/दरार)
  • Pandemiclockdownhuge loss for students
  • Internet access exceeding 50% for urban and rural households
  • Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala: 50% plus
    • Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand:                          40% plus
    • UP, TN, Andhra and Karnataka:                 20% minus
  • In rural Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and West Bengal: net connectivity is 5% to 10%
  • Reliability problems and power deficits
  • PM Modi - Independence Day address - all villages would be connected with optical fibre cable in 1,000 days.
  • States have not shown the alacrity to make a big leap either.
  • Mapping the needs of each district based on the NSO data will help identify areas where children do need equipment and connectivity.

A necessary pause

  • COVID-19 vaccine - unrealistic expectations
  • AstraZeneca - AZD1222 - Phase-3 trials - voluntarily putting the multi-national trial on hold
  • Political dividends - U.S. President Trump
  • ICMR - Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin -August 15
  • Russia - Sputnik V’s Phase-3 testing
  • AstraZeneca and eight companies developing vaccines signed a pledge that they would not approach regulatory authorities, such as the U.S. FDA, until they had safety and efficacy data from a Phase-3 trial.

The twisted trajectory of Bt cotton

  • Cotton has been woven and used in India for thousands of years.
  • Cotton fabric from around 3,000 BCE - Mohenjo-daro
  • 5,000 BCE - Mehrgarh, Pakistan
  • Indian cotton fabrics dominated the world trade during the succeeding millennia and were exported to many places, including Greece, Rome, Persia, Egypt, Assyria and parts of Asia.
  • Much of the cotton cultivated until the 20th century was of the indigenous ‘desivariety, Gossypium arboreum.
  • From the 1990s, hybrid varieties of G. hirsutum were promoted.
  • These hybrids cannot resist a variety of local pests and require more fertilizers and pesticides.
  • moth pests (Lepidopteran) such as the Pink Bollworm (PBW) - sap-sucking (Hemipteran) pests such as aphids and mealy bugs.
  • Bt cotton was introduced in India in 2002
  • Genetically modified (GM) cotton, the plant containing the pesticide gene from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), has been grown in India for about twenty years.
  • Bt was a panacea for dwindling yields and pesticide expenses.
  • K.R. Kranthi and Glenn Davis Stone - Nature Plants
  • Kranthi and Stone’s review examines data over 20 years, studying each State separately and correcting for illegal Bt cotton planting.
    • Bt acreage was only 3.4% of the total cotton area in 2003, not sufficient to credit it for the 61% increase in yield in 2003-2004.
    • With only 15.7% Bt cotton coverage by 2005, yield increases were over 90% over 2002 levels.
    • Gujarat’s surge in cotton yields was 138% in 2003, even as Bt cotton was used only for 5% of land under cotton.
  • Similar findings are seen in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, where yield increase is incongruous with the spread of Bt cotton.
  • The rise in cotton yields can be explained by improvements in irrigation, for instance in Gujarat, and a dramatic growth across the country in the use of fertilizers.
  • By 2018, farmers were spending an average of $23.58 per hectare on insecticide — 37% more than the pre-Bt levels.
  • A technology that works in the lab may fail in fields since real-world success hinges on multiple factors, such as different kinds of pests and local soil and irrigation conditions.
  • India’s global rank for cotton production is 36 despite heavy fertilizer use, irrigation, chemicals and Bt cotton usage.
  • The cost of ignoring ‘desi’ varieties for decades has been high for India.
  • These varieties resist many pests and don’t present the problems faced with hybrids.

Rethinking the defence doctrine

  • Failure of the warning-intelligence system
  • Policy and military customers failed to take the warning seriously
  • China has no interest in launching a major conventional invasion, but this is not just a typical probe either.
  • Rather, its quick land grab looks increasingly permanent, like an attempt to change the border without triggering war.
  • This fait accompli leaves India with two awful choices: either start a war by launching its own reprisal attack, or do nothing and accept a new status quo.
  • The military must be able to detect adversary action and react quickly, even pre-emptively, to stop attempted aggression from becoming a fait accompli.
  • In peacetime, local commanders must have the authority and gumption to take anticipatory action and go on the offensive or fill forward defensive positions.
  • The challenge for India is to learn the right lessons and be alert to similar tactics in other regions, like the Indian Ocean.
  • It must not rely on doctrines forged in wars half a century ago.

Redefining a farmer

  • Agriculture sector - Atmanirbhar Bharat
  • The post COVID-19 responses in the sector range from investments in agri-infrastructure, logistics and capacity building to governance and administrative reforms.
  • The direct cash transfer scheme under PM-KISAN and the credit boost through PM Kisan Credit Cards have benefitted farmers both directly and indirectly.
  • The ₹110 crore scam reported in the PM-KISAN scheme in Tamil Nadu recently is also a stark reminder of how even eligible beneficiaries can be cheated out of the scheme by colluding officials.
  • Laws governing land leasing operate at different levels across India.
  • The Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, 2016 was introduced to formalise land leasing based on the recommendation of an expert panel appointed by NITI Aayog.
  • However, except a few States, a majority of State governments have not extended the scope of the Act to farmers.
  • The tenant farmer incurs the costs (including the rental payments) and faces the risks, while the owner receives the rent, subsidies and other support.
  • The lessees do not benefit from loan waivers, moratorium and institutional credit, and are forced to be at the mercy of moneylenders.
  • The distress is reflected in the fact that tenant farmers account for a majority of farmer suicides reported in the NCRB data.
  • The definition adopted in the 70th Round of NSSO seems to be appropriate.
  • Delinking of land as the defining criterion for a ‘farmer’ was done in the 70th round of Situation Assessment Survey (SAS) carried out by the NSSO, wherein agricultural households were defined as those receiving some value of produce from agricultural activities during the previous 365 days.
  • Further, a minimum cut off value of ₹3,000 for agricultural produce in the last 365 days was fixed as an additional requirement.
  • This was done to exclude households with insignificant shares of income obtained from agriculture. Similarly, the National Policy for Farmers, 2007 adopts a broad-based definition independent of ‘land ownership’ as well as ‘value of produce’.
  • This definition includes everyone engaged in agriculture and allied activities to eke out a livelihood, including persons engaged in shifting cultivation and collection of non-timber forest produce.
  • The definition delinks agriculture production from land per se, and not just ownership.
  • Access to land as a policy instrument in bringing about equitable growth of rural economies needs no further emphasis.
  • However, until the time ‘land to the tiller’ remains just wishful thinking, adopting a broader definition of a ‘farmer’ is a short-term solution to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth.

NEWS

  • PM Modi to digitally launch Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana & e-Gopala App today
  • Indian Air Force to formally induct Rafale Fighter Jets in Ambala
  • Indian Air Force to formally induct Rafale Fighter Jets in Ambala
  • EPFO decides to pay 8.5% interest during 2019-20
  • EAM S Jaishankar to attend SCO Foreign Ministers meeting in Moscow today
  • First India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue held virtually
  • Govt aiming to create 5 crore additional jobs in MSME sector: Nitin Gadkari
  • Home Minister Amit Shah lauds centre's 'PM SVANidhi' scheme for street vendors
  • Pak initiates unprovoked & indiscriminate firing along LoC; Indian Army retaliates
  • VP Venkaiah Naidu takes stock of special arrangements made for holding Monsoon Session of Parliament
  • Japan calls for increased cooperation in the India-Pacific region to counter Chinese expansion
  • White House corona advisor projects, by end of 2020, effective vaccine to be available
  • UAE extends amnesty period waiving fines of residents with expired visas
  • California wildfires already set the record for number of acres burned in a year: Governor Newsom
  • Serena Williams enters semi-finals of US Open of 11th consecutive time.

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