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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 18 January 2021

Crop diversification, nutritional challenges | Ind Exp

  • UN population projections (2019) - by 2027 India is likely to be the most populous country
  • By 2030 - almost 600 million people living in urban areas
  • This urban population would need safe food from the hinterlands
  • Indian agriculture has an average holding size of 1.08 hectare (2015-16 data)
  • 42% of the country’s workforce is engaged with this sector
  • Cultivable land and water for agriculture are limited and already under severe pressure.
  1. Produce enough food - global competitiveness
  2. Protect  the environment - soil, water, air, and biodiversity
  3. Fresh, safe and nutritious food at affordable prices
  4. Seamless movement of food from farm to fork, keeping marketing costs low, save on food losses in supply chains
  • Farmer’s income needs to go up
  • She should have access to best technologies
  • She should have access to best markets in the country, and abroad
  • Production front - best policy is to invest in R&D for agriculture
  • From laboratories to farms and irrigation facilities
  • Developing countries should invest at least one per cent of their agri-GDP in agri-R&D and extension.
  • India invests about half.
  • Free electricity - pumping groundwater
  • Highly subsidised fertilisers – urea
  • Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh region is crying for crop diversification
  • Sugar and wheat are being produced at prices higher than global prices, and these crops can’t be exported unless they are heavily subsidised.
  • Excessive stocks of wheat and rice with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) are putting pressure on the agency’s finances.
  • Rice remains globally competitive, but it should be remembered that in exporting rice we are also exporting massive amounts of precious water
  • Poultry, fishery, dairy, and even horticulture, for which there is no MSP, are growing much faster — three to five times — than cereals or sugarcane.
  • In 2018-19, the value of livestock and fishery was almost 40% of the gross value of agricultural output.
  • Horticulture accounted for another 21%
  • Basic hunger has been more or less conquered
  • Biggest challenge – malnutrition
  • From women’s education, to immunisation and sanitation, to nutritious food, all have to be addressed on a war footing.
  • Beneficiaries of subsidised rice and wheat need to be given a choice to opt for cash equivalent to MSP plus 25 per cent.
  • The FCI adds about 40 per cent cost over the MSP while procuring, storing and distributing food.

Injecting confidence

  • India began largest vaccination drive in its history
  • First day: over 2 lakh people vaccinated across the country in 3,350 sessions
  • 12 States - Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin
  • Rest of the State had Covishield
  • Target - 11 million doses of Covishield and 5.5 million of Covaxin that will be administered to health-care workers, sanitation workers and municipal workers
  • Remember: this is a marathon
  • Target - 3 crore frontline health workers, and later 27 crore of those most vulnerable to the disease by July
  • The country has the executive ability to scale up vaccination
  • Medical staff’s experience will percolate and influence adoption of the vaccines among the larger population.

Update debate

  • The WhatsApp policy update has clearly spooked many users, who, concerned about their privacy getting compromised, have shifted to alternative platforms such as Signal and Telegram.
  • It has put out numerous messages and taken out advertisements to convey that the changes are “related to optional business features on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data”.
  • WhatsApp has pushed the update to May 15
  • Facebook bought WhatsApp for a whopping $19 billion
  • Europe’s stringent General Data Protection Regulation, more popularly called GDPR, prevents such sharing between apps.
  • Users there are in control of their data much more than anywhere else in the world.
  • Privacy of a billion citizens is too important a thing to be left just to the practices of a commercial enterprise.
  • It will be reassuring if it is guaranteed by a strong law.

Rise of shadow entrepreneurship

  • The global rise of shadow entrepreneurship
  • Regulation is needed to monitor quality of services.
  • Shadow entrepreneurs, offering the allure of technology-mediated services
  • Small firms will get acquired by large firms.
  • First movers in the space with deep pockets could generate irrationally high valuations.
  • This may also show up with cross-border and national security implications as recently reported about shady loans being provided by Chinese instant loan providers online.
  • The big question though is, caught in the stress and fatigue of trying to manage the virus, will governments worldwide pay attention?
  • If not, we may be in for the non-COVID-19 adverse welfare consequences of COVID-19, given the rise in shadow entrepreneurship around the world.