PRELIMS


Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY): Crop Insurance Scheme

GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Government welfare schemes and policies; Farmers’ issue; Social security schemes

News:

  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was launched in April 2016, with the aim of bringing 50 per cent of the country’s farmers under insurance cover in three years.
  • However, the scheme has not been received well by farmer associations.
  • More than 84 lakh farmers or around 15% of the total farmers who were insured in the first year of PMFBY (in 2016-17) withdrew themselves from the scheme in 2017-18.
  • There are many reasons for this. One, while loanee farmers get mandatorily enrolled in the scheme, there is not enough effort taken to cover the non-loanee farmers.
  • It is alleged that the crop insurance scheme is benefiting the private insurance companies in the name of farmers.

Background:

  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was launched in April 2016
  • Government scraped down the earlier insurance schemes viz. Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS), Weather-based Crop Insurance scheme and the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and made PMFBY the only flagship scheme for agricultural insurance in India.
  • The scheme was launched with the aim of bringing 50 per cent of the country’s farmers under insurance cover in three years.

Key Features of Scheme

  • Under this scheme, farmers need to pay uniform premium of only 2% for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops.
  • In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, farmers have to pay premium of only 5%.
  • The premium rates to be paid by farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by Government.
  • Moreover, there is no upper limit on Government subsidy, so farmers will get claim against full sum insured without any reduction.
  • Earlier, there was a provision of capping the premium rate which resulted in low claims being paid to farmers. This capping was done to limit Government outgo on the premium subsidy. This capping has now been removed and farmers will get claim against full sum insured without any reduction.
  • The use of technology will be encouraged to a great extent. Smart phones will be used to capture and upload data of crop cutting to reduce the delays in claim payment to farmers. Remote sensing will be used to reduce the number of crop cutting experiments.
  • PMFBY is a replacement scheme of NAIS / MNAIS, there will be exemption from Service Tax liability of all the services involved in the implementation of the scheme. It is estimated that the new scheme will ensure about 75-80 per cent of subsidy for the farmers in insurance premium.

Objectives:

  • To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crop as a result of natural calamities, pests & diseases.
  • To stabilise the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  • To encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
  • To ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.

Third Quad Round in Singapore

GS Prelims and Mains II – India and the world; International Relations

News:

  • ‘Quadrilateral’ grouping – India, Australia, Japan and the U.S.
  • The Quad is billed as four democracies with a shared objective to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
  • Quad members to meet in Singapore soon. During this round, the four countries are expected to discuss infrastructure projects they are working on, and building humanitarian disaster response mechanisms.
  • The four countries are expected to talk about regional developments, including elections in the Maldives, the collapse of the government in Sri Lanka and the latest developments in North Korea.
  • However, despite the potential for cooperation, the Quad remains a mechanism without a defined strategic mission.

Recent developments:

  • India and Japan have announced combined efforts on a number of projects in South Asia, including bridges and roads in Bangladesh, an LNG facility in Sri Lanka and reconstruction projects in Myanmar’s Rakhine province.
  • Australia has unveiled an ambitious $2 billion project to fund infrastructure and build maritime and military infrastructure in the Pacific region, on which it is willing to cooperate with other Quad members.

Concerns:

  • Quad members still face the challenge of defining its common agenda.
  • The Quad grouping was first formed following cooperation after the 2004 tsunami, the idea was to better coordinate maritime capabilities for disaster situations.
  • When revived in 2017, the grouping seemed to have become a counter to China’s growing inroads into the region, despite denials that any particular country had been targeted.
  • The entire focus on the Indo-Pacific makes the Quad a maritime, rather than land-based, grouping, raising questions whether the cooperation extends to the Asia-Pacific and Eurasian regions.
  • Even on maritime exercises, there is a lack of concurrence. India has not admitted Australia in the Malabar exercises with the U.S. and Japan, despite requests from Australia, and has also resisted raising the level of talks from an official to the political level.

Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary in news: Point Calimere

In news:

  • Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary is a protected area in Tamil Nadu.
  • The sanctuary was created in 1967 for conservation of the near threatened blackbuck antelope, an endemic mammal species of India. It is famous for large congregations of waterbirds, especially greater flamingos.
  • This sanctuary is an area of high biodiversity, with many unique species of animals and birds.
  • The flagship species of the sanctuary is the near threatened blackbuck antelope, one of the four antelope species in India (Chinkara, Chausingha and Nilgai being the other three) and the most numerous large animal in the sanctuary.
  • This site has recorded the second largest congregation of migratory waterbirds in India, with a peak population in excess of 100,000, representing 103 species.

Concerns:

  • Major threats to the natural biodiversity and ecological balance of the sanctuary are: loss of habitat for waterbirds, soil and water salinisation by adjacent salt pans, spread of the invasive Prosopis juliflora, cattle grazing and scarcity of fresh water.
  • The pH and salinity of the waters exceeded permissible limits for ecologically sensitive zones.
  • The wildlife sanctuary comprises sandy coastal, saline swamps and thorn scrub forests around the backwater. Though it is a protected area and a Ramsar site, chemical companies and small-scale shrimp farms around the wetland have started to pose a threat to the biodiversity and ecosystem of the sanctuary.

Miscellaneous:

  1. F1H2O power boat race : : in River Krishna in Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh)
  2. Agricultural Marketing and Farm Friendly Reforms Index : : This index is brought out by NITI Aayog. It rates States on the basis of their performance in agricultural marketing, land and governance reforms.
  3. Ease of Doing Agri-Business Index : : Now, Centre to roll out a new Ease of Doing Agri-Business Index which will rank the States on the basis of their performance in encouraging agri-business, especially with regard to marketing, land and governance reforms and also based on their investment in agriculture, increased productivity, reduction of input costs, and risk mitigation measures. (The proposed index has a wider ambit)
  4. National body set up to study rare form of diabetes : : A National Monogenic Diabetes Study Group has been formed to identify cases of monogenic diabetes across the country.
  5. ‘Mission Venus’ : : Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to study planet VENUS. The Venus voyage — if approved — would be ISRO’s third interplanetary dash. Venus mission would be comparable to the phenomenally popular MOM in terms of its the orbit and the cost.

MAINS


NATIONAL

TOPIC:General studies 3

  • Challenges to internal security
  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

Dangerous tactics

Introduction

  • There has been an increase in attacks by Maoists, indicating that their ability to strike remains strong.
  • Recently, in two attacks in Chhattisgarh, five persons were killed in a blast in Dantewada district, and one BSF sub-inspector was killed in Kanker district.
  • Maoists have also owned up responsibility for the killing of TDP MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao and his predecessor Siveri Soma in Araku valley in Andhra Pradesh in September.

Increase in attacks but decrease in area of influence

  • These attacks come amid a series of military setbacks to the Maoists in the Andhra Pradesh- Odisha border regions.
  • Paramilitary and police actions have resulted in the death of senior leaders, including Cherukuri Rajkumar (‘Azad’) and Mallojula Koteswara Rao (‘Kishenji’).
  • The government’s strategy of using military force while earmarking funds for infrastructure and welfare programmes in the districts most affected by left-wing extremism has weakened the Maoists.
  • Welfare measures, even if they have been implemented haphazardly, have enabled outreach into tribal areas where the state was hitherto absent.
  • These actions have forced the Maoists to retreat further into the forest areas of central and south-central India to use them as bases to launch attacks, seeking to invite state repression on tribal people and to get recruits.

Increase in Militarization of banned CPI (Maoist)

  • This increase in attacks is due to the greater militarization of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) in areas within the Red Corridor.
  • General secretary Nambala Kesava Rao (‘Basavraj’) is alleged to have led attacks on security forces and killings.
  • The CPI (Maoist) has sought to project itself as a revolutionary political movement led by peasants and tribals, seeking to rebuild after the failures of the earlier Naxalite movement.
  • After the merger of the People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre of India into the CPI (Maoist) in 2004, the outlawed party managed to consolidate its presence across a “Red Corridor” spanning central and north-central India, marked by rural deprivation.
  • Rather than focussing on socio-economic struggles to uplift peasants and tribals in this region, the Maoists relied on waging a military battle against the state with the intention of capturing power through violent means.
  • This was largely due to a gross and mindless misreading of the nature of the Indian state and its democratic institutions.
  • These actions have resulted in the militarisation of these areas, repression of tribal people both by state actions such as the creation of the Salwa Judum — disbanded by judicial order — and Maoist authoritarianism.

What is the Red Corridor?

  • The Red Corridor is the region in the eastern, central and the southern parts of India that experience considerable Naxalite–Maoist insurgency.
  • There has been a decrease in the area of the Red Corridor in the past few years.

Conclusion

  • The change in leadership of the CPI (Maoist) and its recent actions suggest there is no end in sight to this insurgency in the near term — a sad reality for tribals caught in the crossfire.
  • But the government’s strategy of using military force along with allocation of funds for infrastructure and welfare programmes, is bearing fruits. Need is of further consolidation of actions and speedy implementation of welfare schemes.

NATIONAL

TOPIC:General studies 3

  • Biodiversity

Not Burning Bright: Human-Animal Conflicts

Introduction

  • The tiger is in the news, and yet again for the wrong reasons. Two tigers were killed, one in Yavatmal (Maharashtra) and other in Dudhwa (Uttar Pradesh).
  • The big cats were victims of human-tiger interface conflict.

India: Global leader in tiger population

  • India is in a leadership position on the tiger front with almost 70 per cent of the global tiger population.
  • India pioneered tiger conservation with Project Tiger and by conserving 2.4 per cent of its geographical area as tiger reserves.

Repeated Human animal conflicts

  • India’s tiger reserves, national parks and sanctuaries exist only as islets in a vast sea of human, cattle and unsustainable land use.
  • The stakeholders are many in this heterogeneous mosaic, from primary (local people) to secondary (government departments) and tertiary (business groups, semi-urbanscape).
  • Urbanisation and growth agendas alter landscape dynamics, which has a cascading effect on the ecological dynamics of wildlife.
  • This results in ecological dislocation of sorts, wherein endangered wild animals like tigers either cause distress or land themselves in trouble.

One Reason: The statistics; population pressure

  • India’s 3.28 million sq km land area amounts to 2.4 per cent of the planet’s geographical area. But we have almost 17 per cent of the world’s human population and 16 per cent of global livestock.
  • Our per capita forest is just 0.064 ha compared to the global average of 0.64 ha, which partly explains the forest resource dependency of a large number of rural people.
  • India’s 668 protected areas add up to 14 per cent of her forest area and 4.9 per cent of her geographical area. Of these, 50 protected areas are tiger reserves.
  • Against this backdrop, we hold two-thirds of the global tiger population, the largest population of Asiatic elephants and so on.

Some other reasons of rising conflicts

  • Barring protected areas, our forests are not very rich. And the concessions in our forests have caused overuse and abuse of resources.
  • Loss of forest productivity in terms of forage for wild herbivores has meant that the bulk of our forests cannot sustain medium-sized wild herbivores like deer, megaherbivores like elephants or big cats like tigers.
  • Successive assessments have revealed that tigers are largely confined to their source areas (core areas of tiger reserves) and their fringes (buffers).
  • The bulk of other forests in most of India’s tiger states have practically lost their habitat value owing to excessive biotic pressure.
  • Consequently, agriculture and cash crops beyond protected areas readily lure wild pigs and other preys, which in turn lure big cats.
  • The inevitable outcome is “conflict of interface” between wildlife and humans, which cause distress to people.
  • And once wild animals earn a pest value, they get trapped in snares or succumb to revenge or avoidance killings, more often than not through a silent method of poisoning using pesticides.
  • This “interface” is further influenced by urbanisation, rail and road transport infrastructure and intensive operations like mining or special economic zones — part of the growth agenda in any developing country.

Way forward

  • The, hum an-wildlife interface is here to stay. While there can be no “co-existence” with tigers or elephants, a “co-occurrence” agenda with a proactive management control is available.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has brought out several Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to deal with various challenges of the human-tiger interface.
  • An incapacitated tiger or leopard has to be captured on priority. A prime animal straying close to human settlements requires active monitoring and translocation to suitable habitat.
  • For example, tigers were shifted from the fringes of Bandhavgarh to Satpura. All this requires 24×7 monitoring using technology, management of corridors, building up the frontline capacity, creating village teams for reporting wild animal presence, and, an intersectoral portfolio at the landscape level akin to the “master plan” envisaged for an eco-sensitive zone.

Conclusion

  • Human-tiger interface management demands proactive measures. One cannot allow a big cat to get habituated and then brutally eliminate it.
  • It is a tragic end for our national animal, and a complete travesty of the responsibility reposed on foresters and wildlife experts.

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