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24th June – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents

  1. Food security and farmer welfare
  2. Effects of US pause on H1-B visas
  3. Victory Day: Russia’s celebration of WWII triumph

FOOD SECURITY AND FARMER WELFARE

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news? The Steps taken recently

  1. Amendments have been made to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
  2. The Finance Minister has urged States to dismantle the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs).
  3. Several long-term changes have been made to the agricultural sector, such as fair pricing and e-trading, along with liquidity measures.
  4. The Centre has also encouraged the State governments to adopt three model laws on contract farming, agricultural land leasing, and marketing.

Reverse Migration and Food Security

  • Many migrants to the cities who come from farming backgrounds sought the city for a better life but it is the same cities and their employers that have forced them to return to their homes.
  • What India has been witnessing over the past few months is a historic reverse migration.
  • Immediate relief for the hungry, is being provided with the release of fixed quantities of free foodgrains and pulses to the migrants, even to those without ration cards, for the months of June and July.
  • However, there are struggles to fill the gap between policy prescriptions and implementation.

Series of Unfortunate Events for Farmers

  • Just as rabi crops were set to be harvested, unseasonal rain and hail arrived at the beginning of the year.
  • Parts of the country reeled under a pernicious locust invasion.
  • Looming loans could push farmers into a tailspin of poverty.
  • The Reserve Bank of India announced an extension of the moratorium on loan EMIs by three months, but given that many farmers rely on a system of informal borrowing, this negates the intended effect.
  • The government has also hiked the MSP of 14 kharif crops, but some argue that this may not offer the intended extent of relief due to a lack of manpower, working capital, machinery and storage.

Food Security Situation

  • India was ranked 102 out of 117 qualifying countries on the Global Hunger Index.
  • Although agriculture accounts for around 17% of India’s GDP, nearly 50% of the country’s population depends on farm-based income.

Click Here to read more about the Nutrition Deficiency in India

Way Forward

Steps that economists suggest include:

  • Working on a switch from cash to food crops.
  • Following the call “Go vocal for Local” by investing in redirecting supply chains locally.
  • Increasing government allocations to poor farmers through the PM KISAN scheme by including everyone, even those who do not own land.
  • Increasing timely availability of seeds and fertilizers for the next season by roping in gram sabhas to verify claimants.
  • Involving Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) in the process to ensure the safeguarding of farmers’ rights.

-Source: The Hindu


EFFECTS OF US PAUSE ON H1-B VISAS

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • The US administration said it was extending the 60-day ban on immigration and non-immigrant worker visas till the end of 2020.
  • Popular work visas including the much-coveted H-1B and H-2B, and certain categories of H-4, J, and L visas shall also remain suspended until December 31, 2020.
  • Trump has also made sweeping changes to the H-1B work visa norms, which will no longer be decided by the currently prevalent lottery system.

What are H-1B, H-2B, L and other work visas?

  • In order to fill a vacuum of highly-skilled low-cost employees in IT and other related domains, the US administration issues a certain number of visas each year which allows companies from outside the US to send employees to work on client sites.
  • Of these work visas, the H-1B remains the most popular among Indian IT companies.
H-1B: Person is Specialty Occupation: To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree of its equivalent. Includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability and government-to-government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defence.
  • Apart from the H-1B visas, the US government also issues L1 visas which allows companies to transfer highly skilled workers to US for a period of up to seven years.
  • H-2B visas allow food and agricultural workers to seek employment in the US.

Why did the US suspend non-immigrant worker visas?

  • The technology boom coupled with the arrival of the internet and low-cost computers in developing nations such as India and China saw a large number of graduates willing to work at relatively low costs in the US, a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee.
  • However, it has since often been criticised for sending low cost workers to the US at the expense of domestic workers.

Who all does it impact?

  • Since the ban is effective immediately, the processing of all new H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visa categories stand suspended.
  • This means those who do not have a valid non-immigrant visa as of June 23, and are outside of the US, will not be allowed to enter the country until December 31.
  • Workers in essential services in the food sector have been given some reprieve, and their entry shall be decided by the consular officer of immigration services.

How does it impact Indian IT companies?

  • Indian IT companies are amongst the biggest beneficiaries of the US H-1B visa regime, and have since 1990s cornered a lion’s share of the total number of visas issued each year.
  • As of April 1, 2020, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said Indians had applied for 67 per cent of the total H-1B work visas for the current financial year.
  • This could result in a significant impact on margins and worker wages of Indian IT companies which send thousands of low-cost employees to work on client sites in the US.

-Source: Indian Express


VICTORY DAY: RUSSIA’S CELEBRATION OF WWII TRIUMPH

Focus: GS-I History

Why in news?

  • Indian Defence Minister is on a three-day trip to Russia to attend the 75th Victory Day.
  • India has sent a tri-services contingent to participate in the Victory Day Parade.

What is Victory Day?

  • Victory Day marks the end of World War II and the victory of the Allied Forces in 1945.
  • Adolf Hitler had shot himself on April 30. On May 7, German troops surrendered, which was formally accepted the next day, and came into effect on May 9.
  • In most European countries, it is celebrated on May 8, and is called the Victory in Europe Day.

Why does Russia not celebrate Victory Day on the same date?

  • The erstwhile Soviet Union had not wanted the surrender to take place in the west, and wanted that such a significant event should reflect the contribution of the Red Army and the Soviet population.
  • Stalin argued that despite the surrender of the Germans, the German soldiers (who did not get the news or for other reasons) did not surrender in East Prussia, Courland Peninsula, Czechoslovakia till later. Since then May 9 has been celebrated at Victory Day in Russia.

Victory Day Parade

  • After winning the war and having its own Victory Day on May 9, Stalin wanted to commemorate the victory with a military parade.
  • A Parade – the Victory Parade – was held on June 24, 1945 in Moscow’s Red Square in commemoration of the victory over Germany.
  • Since it is the 75th anniversary, it becomes important for UPSC Aspirants to read about the Second World War in static syllabus.

Click Here to go through some information about WW-II

-Source: Indian Express

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