Mains

 

Daily Answer Writing Session - 21_October _2021

Posted by R&D, KingMakers IAS Academy on Oct 22, 2021 8:03:43 PM

 

GS Paper – 1 Agricultural Resources

Question 1: Could embracing sustainable agriculture improve farm incomes and nutrition security in a climate-changing world? How can we scale it up? Discuss.

Approach: Introduction - Sustainable Agriculture in India - Measures to promote Sustainable Agriculture - Conclusion.

Key:

India is one of the most vulnerable, with its farmers facing the heat, quite literally. Higher ambient temperatures, less predictable rains, frequent droughts and cyclones will only worsen in the years ahead, increasing the vulnerability of Indian farmers.

Sustainable Agriculture in India:

  • Sustainable agriculture offers a much-needed alternative to conventional input-intensive agriculture, the long-term impacts of which include degrading topsoil, declining groundwater levels and reduced biodiversity. It is vital to ensure India’s nutrition security in a climate-constrained world.
  • While various definitions of sustainable agriculture exist, this study uses agroecology as a lens of investigation. This term broadly refers to less resource-intensive farming solutions, greater diversity in crops and livestock, and farmers’ ability to adapt to local circumstances.
  • Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has identified 16 sustainable agriculture practices (SAPs), such as organic farming, natural farming, integrated farming systems, agroforestry and precision farming.
  • Sikkim is a 100% organic state. Andhra Pradesh aims at 100% natural farming by 2027.
  • No single SAP has been adopted by more than 4% of farmers.
  • India’s National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture receives only 0.8% of the agricultural budget of ₹1.42 trillion.
  • Crop rotation is the most popular SAPS in India, covering around 30 million hectares (Mha) of land and approximately 15 million farmers. Agroforestry, mainly popular among large cultivators, and rainwater harvesting have relatively high coverage - 25 Mha and 20-27 Mha, respectively.

Measures to promote Sustainable Agriculture:

  • The government can leverage the civil society organizations that are already promoting farmer-to-farmer capacity building for sustainable agriculture.
  • The scale-up could start with rainfed areas, as they are already practising low-resource agriculture, have low productivity, and primarily stand to gain from the transition.
  • Restructure government support to farmers by aligning incentives towards resource conservation and by rewarding outcomes such as total farm productivity or enhanced ecosystem services rather than just outputs such as yields.
  • Support rigorous evidence generation through long-term comparative assessments of conventional, resource-intensive agriculture on the one hand and sustainable agriculture on the other.
  • Take steps to broaden the perspectives of stakeholders across the agriculture ecosystem and make them more open to alternative approaches.
  • Extend short-term transition support to individuals liable to be adversely impacted by a large-scale transition to sustainable agriculture.
  • Make sustainable agriculture visible by integrating data and information collection on SAPSs in the prevailing national and state-level agriculture data systems.
  • Incentivize innovators and entrepreneurs through channels like the Atal Innovation Mission to encourage the development of farm implements for SAPs.
  • Support local micro-businesses through state livelihood missions to produce and sell ready-made inputs such as vermicompost and organic fertilizers.
  • Focusing on landscape-level long-term impact studies for further scale-ups of SAPs even in irrigated areas

Sustainable Agricultural practices are important to adopt to stay resilient and healthy in a climate-changing world.

Source: https://www.livemint.com/opinion/online-views/our-farm-income-and-nutrition-challenge-amid-climate-change-11634489563910.html

 


GS Paper – 2: Government Policies & Interventions

Question 1: Discuss the issues of electrifying rural areas in India. Suggest the way forward.

Approach: Introduction - Rural Electrification in India- Rural Electrification – Issues- Way Forward/Suggestions- Conclusion.

Key:

Electricity is a concurrent subject where the States or State power utilities supply and/or distribute it. All States and Union Territories have signed MoUs with the Union Government to ensure 24x7 power supply to all households, industrial and commercial consumers, and adequate supply to agricultural consumers from April 1, 2019.

Rural Electrification in India:

  • From an average 20.41 hours in 2018-19 to 21.09 hours in 2020-21, availability of power in rural India has marginally increased even as it has gone up substantially in urban areas. In 2018-19 average power availability in urban areas was 21.43 hours, it is now 23.35 hours.
  • According to data presented by the Ministry of Power to Lok Sabha in August this year, Himachal Pradesh ranks at the bottom for power availability in rural areas.
  • The average power supply in rural Himachal Pradesh in 2020-21 was 15.50 hours; it is preceded by Uttar Pradesh (16.26 hours), Karnataka (19.11 hours), Tripura (19.33 hours), and Haryana (19.57 hours). Interestingly, all these States provide more than 23 hours of power supply in urban areas.

As per the new definition, a village would be declared as electrified, if:

  • Basic infrastructure such as Distribution Transformer and Distribution lines are provided in the inhabited locality as well as the Dalit Basti hamlet where it exists.
  • Electricity is provided to public places like Schools, Panchayat Office, Health Centers, Dispensaries, Community centers etc.
  • The number of households electrified should be at least 10% of the total number of households in the village.

Issues:

  • Definition issue: Only 1 in 10 households needs to have electricity supply for the village to be officially electrified. According to 2011 census, only 55.3% of all rural households had access to electricity
  • Quality issue: Around 67% of electrified villages suffer from erratic and unreliable power supply. Low voltage was widely reported.
  • Many rural consumers were displeased with the poor power supply and cited reliability, quality, duration, and affordability as key concerns.
  • Only 7%–10% rural locations receive supply during the full evening hours (5 pm to 11 pm).
  • In Bihar, Jharkhand and UP, more than one-third of electrified households received less than four hours of supply during the day and voltage fluctuations are also common.
  • Metering issue: More than 28% electrified villages reported overcharging and ad-hoc billing. One-time connection charges also differed from village to village.
  • In rural areas, evidence of supply being given without proper meters or meters not being read correctly / and bills being issued without proper meter readings are commonplace.
  • Accountability issue: 52% villages face issues with contractors, repair persons and power distribution companies. Either no one turns up to address complaints or repairs are done after paying bribes or residents get repairs done at their own cost.
  • Geographical terrain is posing a problem to grid expansion
  • Banks do not lend to mini-grid developers due to poor recovery of loans
  • Among the most energy deprived states, surveys have found that while most villages and more than two-thirds of the households had electricity connections, less than 40 per cent had meaningful access to electricity.
  • High upfront cost is the major reason behind consumer disinterest in taking up and sustaining (by timely paying of bills) an electricity connection.
  • Implementation and operational roadblocks: While there is progress in giving connections, network investments for rural electrification have been slower than planned. Lack of timely network investments jeopardises the provision of reliable, affordable power supply.
  • In the first phase of RGGVY, rural franchisees were expected to manage distribution operations in newly electrified areas. However, most of them are not operational and DDUGJY does not envisage such franchisees.

Way Forward/Suggestions:

  • Use information technology to monitor metering at feeder and distribution transformer levels to allow proper auditing of power supply.
  • The target would be to provide new connections to un-electrified households and legalising existing illegal connections.
  • Improving uptake of connections by addressing financial hurdles and awareness barriers is to be taken up.
  • Empowering and encouraging local authorities to organise awareness campaigns and enrolment camps in habitations exhibiting limited awareness are also essential.
  • Empowering and encouraging local authorities to organise awareness campaigns and enrolment camps in habitations exhibiting limited awareness are also essential.
  • Models like rooftop solar power could complement centralised grid electricity to ensure sustained use of electricity for the entire rural economy.
  • In many states, small industrial and commercial consumers pay tariff rates comparable to large industrial units and commercial complexes. There needs to be innovation in tariff design to encourage home-based or small enterprises in newly electrified villages
  • Parameters such as DT failure rate, hours of supply (especially during evening hours), metering and billing information , information on consumer disconnections, new connections for entrepreneurial use, electrification of rural institutions., could be tracked and reported on the national dashboards on a monthly basis for every district or division

Its mandate need not be to operate the rural distribution businesses but to provide knowledge and financial support to DISCOMs for maintaining and strengthening the rural network and ensuring supply. Success mainly depends on curbing DISCOM losses and ensuring consumer honesty. It is hoped that electrification would lead to improved consumer satisfaction, as electricity truly becomes an enabler of prosperity in rural India.

Source: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/data-stories/data-focus/24x7-rural-power-supply-eludes-most-states/article37105116.ece#:~:text=From%20an%20 average%2020.41%20hours,it%20is%20now%2023.35%20hours.


 

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

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