Contents

  1. Unfounded Optimism
  2. India Abroad
  3. A Sneeze, A Global Cold and Testing Times for China
  4. Thinking Beyond Farm SOPS
  5. Crisis Along the Coast

UNFOUNDED OPTIMISM

The Economic Survey of 2020 acknowledges that 2019 was a difficult year for the global economy, including for trade and demand, and by extension a challenging period for the Indian economy as well.

The Survey concedes that “a sharp decline in fixed investment induced by a sluggish growth of real consumption” has weighed down growth, which the National Statistical Office now estimates at 5% for the 12 months ending in March

Risks in next fiscal

  • Listing downside risks to next fiscal’s outlook including continuing global trade uncertainties, escalation in West Asian geopolitical tensions, slow pace of insolvency resolution and the possibility of further fiscal pressure crowding out private investment.
  • Theme of economic survey was “wealth creation”, and promoting ethical practices for that engender trust are the agenda of the government.
  • Survey states that, recommends scrapping the Essential Commodities Act  enacted in 1955 when famines and shortages were the concern. Similarly, it asserts that the Drug (Prices Control) Order of 2013 has failed to achieve its aim.

INDIA ABROAD

Why in news?

  • The European Union Parliament’s discussion recently on India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, is more proof of concern, particularly in the West, over the possible repercussions of the law and the protests across India.
  • The EU parliamentarians went a step further: putting out six different and extremely critical resolutions, including one that spoke of the possible risk by the CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens, of creating “the largest statelessness crisis in the world”.
  • Instead of pushing a positive agenda for India or handling global challenges, Indian diplomats seem to be overwhelmed keeping out any negative references to India at official fora.

A SNEEZE, A GLOBAL COLD AND TESTING TIMES FOR CHINA

Why in news?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a global emergency, as the outbreak continues to spread outside China.

More about coronavirus

  • Coronaviruses is a large family of viruses that are often the source of respiratory infections, including the common cold.
  • Most of the viruses are common among animals and only a small number infect humans. Sometimes, an animal-based coronavirus mutates and successfully finds a human host.
  • Rapid urbanisation that forces animals and humans into closer proximity (as in the “wet market” in Wuhan) creates a perfect petri dish from where such zoonotic outbreaks can originate

More significant is the new understanding that the virus is contagious even during incubation, that is even before a patient exhibits any symptoms. This characteristic amplifies transmissibility.

An earlier outbreak

Comparisons are being drawn the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2002-03 which infected around 8,000 patients and claimed nearly 800 lives. SARS is also a zoonotic case, part of the coronavirus family with clues pointing to horseshoe bats in China as the likely source

Lessons from Kerala

  • All this provides an interesting contrast with how the Kerala government dealt with the Nipah virus outbreak in May 2018. Nipah is also zoonotic and made the jump from fruit bats to humans.
  • Though there were 17 deaths in India, effective quarantine measures by local authorities prevented the spread. It helped that health is a state subject.
  • Had the district and State authorities not taken the initiative and only reported matters to Delhi and awaited instructions while Delhi sent teams to prepare plans, the outbreak would have taken a higher toll.

Lessons for India

There is an acute shortage of epidemiologists, microbiologists and entomologists which translates into wasteful delays in diagnostics. Given the growth potential of India’s biotech sector, it is time to put in place a robust public-private partnership model that can transform the health services sector in the country, covering disease surveillance, diagnostic kit availability and accelerated vaccine development.


THINKING BEYOND FARM SOPS

[sops (noun, plural): A thing, given or done as a concession to appease someone, whose main concerns or demands are not being met]

  • Agriculture is a crucial segment for inclusive development and provides stimulus to the economy, especially when it is not doing too well.
  • Since the country has several targets and commitments to be achieved in the next decade, it is imperative to lay a strong foundation by launching measures that can stem falling farm growth.
  • Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), which are currently facing operational and structural issues governed by different Acts and funded by various sources, may be strengthened by bringing them under one institution
  • Thus small-scale investment measures or an incentive-based system is essential to scale up sustainable practices such as agroforestry, climate-smart agriculture, ecosystem services, conservation agriculture and others
  • Government must establish a farm data agency, which can consolidate, collate and maintain farm data available at various platforms. Ongoing efforts of digitisation of land records must also include farmer-centric advisories.

Ease of farming index is necessary to ascertain the progress made by national and State governments on the key indicators of farming

Welfare measures

  • Creation of national agricultural development council on the lines of the Goods and Services Tax Council under the chairmanship of Prime Minister for effective coordination and convergence of States on key reforms and policies
  • farmers’ welfare commissions (both at the Centre and State level), as an independent institutional mechanism which will act as a neutral platform for assessing all agriculture-related issues and schemes.

CRISIS ALONG THE COAST

Why in news?

Skyscrapers constructed at Maradu in Kochi in violation of the CRZ rules, following an order from the Supreme Court. Four illegal apartments, which came up on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, a Ramsar site, were pulled down in two days after evicting its residents.

What happened?

On January 10, on the eve of the demolition of two apartment complexes, the Supreme Court struck another blow for CRZ rules by ordering the demolition of Kapico Resorts, 54 seven-star villas built on an island in Vembanad Lake. The nearly ₹600 crore resorts came up by illegally reclaiming Nediyathuruthu, an island in the lake, which has been classified as a Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area.

The 2019 notification too listed Vembanad as a Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area and clubbed it along with the Sundarbans of West Bengal and the Gulf of Khambhat and the Gulf of Kutch of Gujarat. Section 3.1 of the CRZ rules states that critically vulnerable coastal areas should be managed with the involvement of coastal communities, including fisherfolk who depend on coastal resources for their sustainable livelihood.

More about CRZ

  • The CRZ rules were notified by invoking Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
  • The notification “declared the coastal stretches of the country and the water area up to its territorial water limit, excluding the islands of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep and the marine areas surrounding these islands, as Coastal Regulation Zone.”

Categories under CRZ

CRZ-1 areas are the most environmentally critical. They are further classified as CRZ-1(A) and CRZ-I(B).

  • CRZ-1(A) covers mangroves, corals and coral reefs, sand dunes, biologically active mudflats, inter-tidal zones, and nesting grounds of turtles and birds. It also includes national parks, marine parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests, wildlife habitats and other protected areas, biosphere reserves, salt marshes, sea grass beds and areas or structures of archaeological importance and heritage sites.
  •  CRZ-1(B) category includes the intertidal zone, the area between the Low Tide Line and the High Tide Line

Ecosystem people

  • Trade unions of fishermen and ecologists are now demanding that the traditional coastal dwellers and fishermen be treated as ecosystem people and be allowed to construct houses and other social and livelihood facilities on the shores and waterfront areas.
  • Violations by industry majors, hoteliers and resorts and those by the fishermen should not be treated alike.
  • While dealing with the violations committed by fishermen, a humanitarian approach should be adopted.
  • They should be provided adequate compensation and rehabilitation.
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