Mains

 

Daily Answer Writing Session - 01_November _2021

Posted by R&D, KingMakers IAS Academy on Nov 9, 2021 2:32:19 PM

 

GS Paper 2: Government Policies & Interventions

Question 1: Recently a committee had been set up to draft the National water policy. Discuss the possible recommendations for the new water policy.

Approach: Introduction – Challenges with regards to a water policy – Suggestions for new water policy - Conclusion.

Key:

The Ministry of Jal Shakti had set up a committee to draft the new National Water Policy (NWP). This was the first time that the government asked a committee of independent experts to draft the policy. Over a period of one year, the committee received 124 submissions by state and central governments, academics and practitioners.

Challenges with regards to a water policy:

  • Recent estimates suggest that if the current pattern of demand continues, about half of the national demand for water will remain unmet by 2030.
  • With water tables falling and water quality deteriorating, a radical change is needed in the approach to water management, especially because today, more than ever before, the past is no longer a reliable indicator of what is to come.
  • Changing patterns and intensity of precipitation, as also rates of discharge of rivers, show that it can no longer be assumed that the water cycle operates within an invariant range of predictability.
  • This requires greater emphasis on agility, resilience and flexibility in water management, so that there could be an adequate response to the heightened uncertainty and unpredictability of the future.

Suggestions for new water policy:

  • Crop diversification is the single most important step in resolving India’s water crisis. The policy suggests diversifying public procurement operations to include nutri-cereals, pulses and oilseeds. This would incentivise farmers to diversify their cropping patterns, resulting in huge savings of water.
  • The largest outlets for these procured crops are the Integrated Child Development Services, the mid-day meal scheme and the public distribution system.
  • Cities must mandatorily shift all non-potable uses, such as flushing, fire protection, vehicle washing, landscaping, horticulture etc to treated wastewater.
  • Shift in focus within the supply-side also because the country is running out of sites for further construction of large dams, while water tables and groundwater quality are falling in many areas.
  • The policy outlines how this can be done by deploying pressurized closed conveyance pipelines, combined with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and pressurized micro-irrigation.
  • Reduce-Recycle-Reuse has been proposed as the basic mantra of integrated urban water supply and wastewater management, with treatment of sewage and eco-restoration of urban river stretches, as far as possible through decentralised wastewater management.
  • The NWP places major emphasis on supply of water through “nature-based solutions'' such as the rejuvenation of catchment areas, to be incentivised through compensation for ecosystem Specially curated “blue-green infrastructure” such as rain gardens and bio-swales, restored rivers with wet meadows, wetlands constructed for bioremediation, urban parks, permeable pavements, green roofs etc are proposed for urban areas.
  • The NWP gives the highest priority to sustainable and equitable management of groundwater. Participatory groundwater management is the key Information on aquifer boundaries, water storage capacities and flows provided in a user-friendly manner to stakeholders, designated as custodians of their aquifers, would enable them to develop protocols for effective management of groundwater

Since systems such as water are greater than the sum of their constituent parts, solving water problems requires understanding whole systems, deploying multi-disciplinary teams and a trans-disciplinary approach. 

Governments should build enduring partnerships with primary stakeholders of water, who must become an integral part of the NWC and its counterparts in the states. 

The indigenous knowledge of our people, with a long history of water management, is an invaluable intellectual resource that must be fully leveraged.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/need-to-shift-focus-to-demand-management-says-water-policy-panel-chief-mihir-shah/article37024880.ece

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/what-indias-new-water-policy-seeks-to-deliver-7595819/

 

GS Paper 2: Government Policies & Interventions

Question 2: A few agri-tech unicorns can emerge in India. However, farmers’ traditional knowledge should be safeguarded. Discuss.

Approach: Introduction – Role of Agri-tech start-ups – Concerns associated with Agri-tech initiatives- Way Forward - Conclusion

Key:

In this era of knowledge economy, agriculture and allied sectors too must leverage the digital revolution. The emergence of several start-ups providing various value chain services — internet penetration of about 32 percent provides the basis for the growth of digital platform-based enterprises — is becoming a trend. These are turning into alternative business models for agri enterprises.

Role of Agri-tech start-ups:

  • Agri-tech start-ups, besides addressing the knowledge gaps, have tied up with leading firms to provide goods and services to farmers, such as access to quality inputs, and reasonably priced credit.
  • Start-ups are working to reduce the farm-to-fork gap, enhance market access and bargaining power of smallholder farmers.
  • Notwithstanding the various start-ups’ attempts to harness the potential of mobile/smartphone telephony and internet penetration, the agricultural sector has been characterised by interlocked arrangements and exploitative credit, input, and output markets.
  • The success of these start-ups depends on how they are able to stay with their professed objective of being farmer-centric and ensuring a reasonable return to their investors or venture capitalists.
  • As the philosophy of venture capital and private equity is embedded in market capture and growth, a few agri-tech unicorns can be expected to emerge.

Concerns associated with Agri-tech initiatives:

  • The inequitable power structure and resource endowments confer differential abilities to economic agents to derive benefits from available data.
  • While there are privacy and security concerns to contend with, there are also issues of exploitation of farmers and unfair appropriation of traditional community knowledge.
  • Data can also be used as an instrument of coercion, manipulation, and control.
  • While business can leverage granular data of agriculture for generating mutually beneficial outcomes, the absence of appropriate checks and balances can create avenues for exploitation.
  • They can also use unfair means to appropriate benefits from value creation.
  • Such fears or apprehensions are more pronounced in the case of community-based traditional knowledge societies.
  • This knowledge evolved through years of experience in harmony with their natural environment seems suitable to facilitate value creation from locally available resources.
  • Because of their communal ownership, non-recorded and non-exclusive nature, community-based knowledge is vulnerable to unfair appropriation by businesses.

Way Forward:

  • The previous experience with attempts to patent Indian Basmati, Neem, and Turmeric by multinational companies points to the need for developing appropriate safeguards to sustainable digitalisation drive for agriculture.
  • Policymakers should support the mapping of traditional knowledge and the effective implementation of legal provisions to protect farmers’ rights.
  • The focus should be to involve farmer-owned cooperatives and producer companies in the digital push and enable their functioning as custodians of intellectual property and traditional knowledge of farming communities. Rather than considering civil society groups as a nuisance, policymakers should initiate a multi-stakeholder collaboration for participation of farmer groups and civil society organisations.
  • There is a need for other complementary interventions and appropriate safeguards against inequitable appropriation of traditional knowledge, decline in local employment opportunities, and businesses resorting to enhancing their topline and bottomline at farmers’ cost.
  • As India moves ahead on the digital journey, it should also be cognisant of the socio-economic realities of farmers and consider outcomes from earlier engagements of MNCs in agriculture. It needs to ensure that the digital push enables the transition towards decreased resource intensity or costs of agriculture, enhanced crop diversification, and nutritional security, and increased farmers' income.

To sum up, as food inflation threatens to impede the nascent economic recovery and farmer protests showing no signs of abatement, the government should ensure due diligence in the digitalisation drive in agriculture policy making.

Source: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/agri-digitisation-brings-both-benefits-and-risks/article37179167.ece

 

 

Topics: UPSC, IAS/IPS/IFS/IRS, Civil Services Examination, UPSC Mains, Mains practice question

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