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2nd May – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents

  1. It’s about food, nutrition and livelihood security
  2. Ominous contraction: On core sector output
  3. Taiwan’s coronavirus protocol shows how it is done

IT’S ABOUT FOOD, NUTRITION AND LIVELIHOOD SECURITY

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Introduction

  • The current national lockdown to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the problems of food, nutrition and livelihood security confronting a large number of rural people, in particular, migrants to cities.
  • Some measures have been announced, such as:
    • Provision of additional rice or wheat, some pulses and oil free of cost
    • Rs. 1,000 cash for the purchase of other essential commodities through the Public Distribution System (PDS)
  • We still need to understand the different dimensions of food security in a holistic manner in order to address this problem in its totality.

A View of Farmers’ Problems and Food problems

Farmers are confronted at the moment with:

  • labour shortages
  • many of the inputs, including seeds, are expensive or unavailable
  • marketing arrangements including supply chains are not fully functional
  • pricing is not remunerative
  • public procurement is also not adequate.
  • Access to food is a function of purchasing power, and the government, through the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the PDS, has assured some additional food to every individual during this crisis.
  • This should be further strengthened and the food basket widened by including millets, pulses and oil.
  • Steps should also be taken to avoid hidden hunger caused by the deficiency of micronutrients in the diet.
  • In light of the closure of schools and anganwadi centres, and the consequent disruptions in the provision of midday meals or other nutritional inputs, it is important to pay attention to the life cycle approach advocated in the NFSA.

Food security and Job Security and MGNERGA

  • Food security and access to nutritious, good quality food is also contingent on job security.
  • If job security is threatened, then so is food and nutrition security.
  • This would of course mean some attention to and investment in new technologies that can contribute to biomass utilisation.
  • A second pathway to livelihood security for small and marginal farmers and landless households, and women within them, is strengthening the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
  • Given the lack of jobs and incomes during the COVID-19 crisis, it is imperative to expand the definition of work in MGNREGA to cover skilled work related to farmers and their farming activities.

Focus on non-food factors

  • The third dimension of food security is absorption of food in the body or its utilisation, which is dependent importantly on sanitation, drinking water and other non-food factors, including public health services.
  • Ensuring that these services are functional depends on the capacities of the local panchayats and their coordination with other local bodies.

Conclusion

  • If we can ensure food availability, food access and food absorption, then we have a fairly robust system of food and nutrition security.
  • It is very critical to highlight the linkages between agriculture, nutrition and health.
  • India avoided what could have been a big famine in the 1960s through the help of technology and public policy, which actively worked with and supported farmers to achieve significant increases in yield.
  • Through a combination of farmers’ cooperation, technological upgrading and favourable public policies in procurement, pricing and distribution, we can deal with the fallouts of the pandemic.

-Source: The Hindu


OMINOUS CONTRACTION: ON CORE SECTOR OUTPUT

Focus: GS-III Industry and Infrastructure

Introduction

The provisional figures released by the Commerce Ministry show that production at all but one of the eight industries comprising the core sector shrank in March from a year earlier.

Details

  • This is the sharpest contraction in the index since the new series began in April 2012.
  • The output contracted by as much as 6.5% in a month when most economic activities ground to a halt only in the last seven days.
  • This reflects the underlying stress in the economy, most crucially on the demand side.
  • Coal, the only sector to post a positive figure in March as output expanded 4%, but even this is not reassuring.

Grim Future

  • With the construction sector hit hard by the lockdown and likely to face serious labour supply issues even after the economy gradually reopens, cement may see production shrink in the first month of the new fiscal year by an even greater extent than the 25% drop seen in March.
  • The mayhem in the oil market with global crude prices tumbling is also certain to undermine the industries in the energy sector.
  • Undoubtedly, April’s overall core output appears headed for an even sharper contraction.
  • The Centre may be left with little option but to massively lift public spending on infrastructure once the lockdown eases in order to revive the reeling economy.

-Source: The Hindu


TAIWAN’S CORONAVIRUS PROTOCOL SHOWS HOW IT IS DONE

Focus: GS-III Disaster Management

Introduction

Pandemics can spread rapidly around the world because of the ease of international transportation.

Among the most salient examples are the Spanish flu of 1918, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003, and the H1N1 influenza of 2009.

Taiwan’s strategy

  • When information concerning a novel pneumonia outbreak was first confirmed on December 31, 2019, Taiwan began implementing onboard quarantine of direct flights from Wuhan that same day.
  • Taiwan also established a response team for the disease quickly and activated the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
  • The CECC is able to effectively integrate resources from various ministries and invest itself fully in the containment of the epidemic.
  • Data shows Taiwan’s aggressive efforts to control the epidemic are working.
  • Taiwan, though not a member of WHO, cannot stand alone and must be included in the fight against such threats and challenges.
  • Taiwan has long been excluded from WHO due to political considerations.

Taiwan is Harnessing technology

  • Disease knows no borders. In response to the threat of the COVID-19 epidemic, Taiwan has implemented dynamic plans concerning border quarantine measures, including onboard quarantine, fever screening, health declarations, and a 14-day home quarantine for passengers arriving from nations it has listed under the Level 3 Warning.
  • Taiwan has established an electronic system for entry quarantine, which allows passengers with a local mobile phone number to fill in health information using a mobile phone, and this app helps government agencies to provide care services and medical assistance.
  • Taiwan has also increased its laboratory testing capacity, expanded the scope of its surveillance and inspections based on trends of the COVID-19 epidemic.
  • Taiwan has uploaded the genetic sequence of COVID-19 to the GISAID Initiative, or the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).

Global linking and beyond

  • A crisis anywhere readily becomes a problem everywhere.
  • Global health security requires the efforts of every person to ensure an optimal response to public health threats and challenges.


-Source: The Hindu

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