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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 20th August 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Record sugar exports help reduce cane payment arrears
  2. Chinese adoption of cultural symbols, language in Tibet
  3. Second Phase of SAMVAD

Record sugar exports help reduce cane payment arrears

Context:

Sugar mills have surpassed their 60 lakh metric tonne export target in 2021making it easier for them to pay cane farmers and reducing arrears for this year to less than ₹9,000 crore, according to government data.

The price of almost every crop increases every year. But the price of sugarcane, which is decided by the state government under its State Agreed Price (SAP) policy, has not been hiked since 2017-18. 

Relevance:

GS-III: Agriculture (Agricultural Marketing and Pricing and related issues, Food Security)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Sugar Industry in India
  2. More about Sugarcane farmers plight of dues
  3. Static Sugarcane prices in Punjab
  4. Issues with the Sugarcane Indsutry
  5. Rangarajan committee recommendations for the Sugarcane Industry

Sugar Industry in India

  • India is the world’s largest consumer of sugar.
  • India is the world’s largest producer of sugarcane and second largest producer of sugar after Cuba.
  • Some 50 million farmers and millions of more workers, are involved in sugarcane farming.
  • Sugar industry is broadly distributed over two major areas of production- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Punjab in the north and Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in the south.
  • The major sugar producing states are Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka in India.
  • Uttar Pradesh is the highest sugarcane producing State in the sub-tropical zone.
  • South India has tropical climate which is suitable for higher sucrose content giving higher yield per unit area as compared to north India.
  • Khatauli’s Triveni Sugar Mill is the largest in Asia in terms of scale of production and storage capacity.

More about Sugarcane farmers plight of dues

  • As of February 2021, dues of Rs. 22,900 crores were pending for the cane procured in the current season (October 2020 to February 2021).
  • Data shows that more than half the dues are owed to farmers in Uttar Pradesh. Farmers from the sugarcane belt of western U.P. make up the bulk of protesters at the Ghazipur border site raising the issue of pending sugarcane dues, along with the wider issue of the repeal of the three farm reform laws.
  • The prevailing low ex-mill sugar prices for the last several months, has adversely affected the liquidity of mills and their ability to pay the FRP [Fair and Remunerative Price] to cane farmers.
  • Apart from price hikes, the other way to increase liquidity is reduce surplus stocks through exports.

Developments regarding Sugarcane farmers and their dues

  • Recently, the Supreme Court issued notices to 11 States and major sugar producers to develop a mechanism to ensure that farmers are paid on time.
  • Given that India produces more sugar than it consumes, leading to liquidity concerns for mills and delayed payments to farmers, the Centre has been encouraging diversion to exports and ethanol production. 
  • Exports have increased more than ten times from just 6.2 lakh metric tonnes in 2017-18, with the Centre now providing assistance to the tune of ₹6,000 per tonne to facilitate exports.
  • As against an export target of 60 lakh tonnes in 2021, contracts of about 70 lakh tonnes have been signed, according to a statement from the Food Ministry. As global prices have also spiked substantially in July 2021, and there is high demand for Indian sugar in the international market, the Ministry has advised domestic mills to sign forward contracts with importers for the next season, and some have already done so.
  • Along with the diversion for ethanol production, which the government sees as a more permanent solution to the problem of surplus stocks, the export revenue has allowed mills to partially pay off their dues to cane farmers. 
  • By law, cane farmers must be paid within 15 days of delivery. On August 4, the Supreme Court issued notices to 11 cane growing States as well as industry bodies to respond to a plea from Maharashtra farmers to set up a mechanism to ensure timely payment and attach the assets of mills with accumulated arrears.

Static Sugarcane prices in Punjab

  • Despite the fact that the input cost for growing cane has gone up manifolds in the past few years, the price of sugarcane which is decided by the Punjab state government under its State Agreed Price (SAP) policy, has not been hiked since 2017-18.
  • Also, neighbouring states like Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh (UP) have fixed prices higher than Punjab. Punjab farmers are now threatening to launch a protest if SAP is not increased in 2021 before the beginning of crushing.
  • This price was last raised by the Punjab government in 2017-18 and it’s been four years that the rate of the sugarcane is the same in the state.
  • Sugar mills express their inability to pay even current SAP to the farmers in Punjab due to which the government is not increasing it.

Issues with the Sugarcane Industry

  • Sugarcane has to compete with several other food and cash crops like cotton, oil seeds, rice, etc. This affects the supply of sugarcane to the mills and the production of sugar also varies from year to year causing fluctuations in prices leading to losses in times of excess production due to low prices.
  • India’s yield per hectare is extremely low as compared to some of the major sugarcane producing countries of the world. For example, India’s yield is only 64.5 tonnes/hectare as compared to 90 tonnes in Java and 121 tonnes in Hawaii.
  • Sugar production is a seasonal industry with a short crushing season varying normally from 4 to 7 months in a year. It causes financial loss and seasonal employment for workers and lack of full utilization of sugar mills.
  • The average rate of recovery of sugar from sugarcane in India is less than ten per cent which is quite low as compared to other major sugar producing countries.
  • High cost of sugarcane, inefficient technology, uneconomic process of production and heavy excise duty result in high cost of manufacturing.

Rangarajan committee recommendations for the Sugarcane Industry

Rangarajan committee (2012) was set up to give recommendations on regulation of sugar industry.

The Rangarajan committee recommended:

  1. Abolition of the quantitative controls on export and import of sugar (to be replaced with appropriate tariffs)
  2. No more outright bans on sugar exports and No restrictions on sale of by-products and prices should be market determined.
  3. The central government has prescribed a minimum radial distance of 15 km between any two sugar mills, which needs to be reviewed as this criterion often causes virtual monopoly over a large area can give the mills power over farmers.
  4. Remove the regulations on release of non-levy sugar.

-Source: The Hindu


Chinese adoption of cultural symbols, language in Tibet

Context:

A top Chinese official said that “all-round efforts” are needed to ensure Tibetans speak standard spoken and written Chinese and share the “cultural symbols and images of the Chinese nation”, at a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Chinese invasion of the vast Himalayan region.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbours, Foreign Policies and Developments affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Tibet
  2. What is Sinicization?
  3. Modern examples of Sinicization
  4. Concerns of Tibetan Population
  5. India and Tibet
  6. Conflict over Dalai Lama

About Tibet

  • Tibet is a region on the Tibetan Plateau in Asia, spanning to nearly a quarter of China’s territory.
  • It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups.
  • Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 metres. The highest elevation in Tibet is Mount Everest.

History of Tibet

  • From 1912 until the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, no Chinese government exercised control over what is today China’s Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
  • Many Tibetans insist they were essentially independent for most of that time and have protested what they regard as China’s rule imposed after the People’s Liberation Army occupied TAR in 1950.
  • The Dalai Lama’s government alone ruled the land until 1951. Tibet was not “Chinese” until Mao Zedong’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) marched in and made it so.
  • The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a crackdown on an uprising by the local population in Tibet.
  • India granted him political asylum and the Tibetan government-in-exile is based on Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh since then.
  • Since 1959, Tibet has been witnessing periodic incidents of violence, unrest and protest against Beijing.
  • China asserts that Tibet has been its part since the 13th century and will remain so forever.

What is Sinicization?

  • Sinicization, sinofication, sinification, or sinonization (from the prefix sino-, ‘Chinese, relating to China’) is the process by which non-Chinese societies come under the influence of Chinese culture, particularly Han-Chinese culture, language, societal norms, and ethnic identity.
  • Areas of influence include diet, writing, industry, education, language/lexicons, law, architectural style, politics, philosophy, religion, science and technology, value systems, and lifestyle.
  • In particular, sinicization may refer to processes or policies of acculturation, assimilation, or cultural imperialism of norms from China on neighboring East Asian societies, or on minority ethnic groups within China.
  • Evidence of this process is reflected in the histories of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam in the adoption of the Chinese writing system, which has long been a unifying feature in the Sinosphere as the vehicle for exporting Chinese culture to these Asian countries.

Modern examples of Sinicization

Xinjiang

  • The Hui Muslim 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army) governed the southern region of East Turkestan (named Xinjiang by the Chinese government) in 1934–1937. The administration that was set up was colonial in nature, importing Han cooks and baths, changing the Uyghur language-only street names and signs to Chinese, as well as switching carpet patterns in state-owned carpet factories from Uyghur to Han.
  • Strict surveillance and mass detentions of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang re-education camps is a part of the ongoing sinicization policy by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since 2015, it has been estimated that over a million Uyghurs have been detained in these camps. The camps were established under CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping’s administration with the main goal of ensuring adherence to national ideology.
  • Critics of China’s treatment of Uyghurs have accused the Chinese government of propagating a policy of sinicization in Xinjiang in the 21st century, calling this policy a cultural genocide, or ethnocide, of Uyghurs.

Taiwan

  • After the Republic of China took control of Taiwan in 1945 and relocated its capital to Taipei in 1949, the intention of Chiang Kai-shek was to eventually go back to mainland China and retake control of it. Chiang believed that to retake mainland China, it would be necessary to re-Sinicize Taiwan’s inhabitants who had undergone assimilation under Japanese rule.
  • Examples of this policy included the renaming of streets with mainland geographical names, use of Mandarin Chinese in schools and punishments for using other regional languages (such as the fāngyán of Hakka and Hokkien), and teaching students to revere traditional ethics, develop pan-Chinese nationalism, and view Taiwan from the perspective of China.

Tibet

  • The sinicization of Tibet is the change of Tibetan society to Han Chinese standards, which has been underway since the Chinese regained control of Tibet in 1951.
  • In present-day Tibet, traditional Tibetan festivals have “been turned into a platform for propaganda and political theater” where “government workers and retirees are barred from engaging in religious activities, and government workers and students in Tibetan schools are forbidden from visiting local monasteries.”
  • According to president of the Central Tibetan Administration, Lobsang Sangay, with the ongoing expulsion of monks and nuns from monasteries and nunneries, and destruction of the Larung Gar monastery, Tibet’s largest Buddhist institution, “unfortunately what is happening is that the Chinese government is reviving something akin to cultural revolution in Tibet.”

Concerns of Tibetan population

  • China is investing huge sums of money for infrastructure investments in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) albeit at the cost of its environment.
  • Tibet’s downtown Lhasa has all the trappings of a modern city. But this is by destroying the unique Tibetan culture and mainstreaming Chinese culture into the region and also notably leading to significant demographic shift.
  • The outflow of refugees from Tibet has been curtailed by the Chinese authorities by convincing Nepal to close a popular route.
  • Many third generation Tibetans settled in India have no idea about their motherland and India’s attitude towards giving them citizenship has been stern.
  • In recent times there is also a rise in the younger and more radical “Rangtsen” (freedom) groups demanding an independent Tibet.
  • The primary concern that looms over the community is that of its future leadership.
  • This is because the present Dalai Lama is getting older and there is no firm announcement about their next leader.

India and Tibet

  • Apart from the border disputes, another major irritant for China has been over the Dalai Lama, who enjoys a spiritual status in India.
  • China considers Dalai Lama a separatist, who has great influence over Tibetans. It must be mentioned that Dalai Lama gave up his support for Tibetan independence in 1974, and only wants China to stop repression against the community.
  • The Government of India has built special schools for Tibetans that provide free education, health care, and scholarships. There are a few medical and civil engineering seats reserved for Tibetans.
  • While India’s role in the rehabilitation of Tibetan refugees has been criticised by China, it has drawn praise from international bodies and human rights groups.

Sino-Indian Conflict Over Dalai Lama

  • Apart from the border disputes, another major irritant for China has been over the Dalai Lama, who enjoys a spiritual status in India.
  • China considers Dalai Lama a separatist, who has great influence over Tibetans. It must be mentioned that Dalai Lama gave up his support for Tibetan independence in 1974, and only wants China to stop repression against the community.
  • Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to provide all assistance to the Tibetan refugees to settle in India until their eventual return.
  • The Government of India has built special schools for Tibetans that provide free education, health care, and scholarships. There are a few medical and civil engineering seats reserved for Tibetans.
  • While India’s role in the rehabilitation of Tibetan refugees has been criticised by China, it has drawn praise from international bodies and human rights groups.

-Source: The Hindu


Second Phase of SAMVAD

Context:

The Union Minister of Women and Child Development on the eve of Independence Day, launched 2nd phase of SAMVAD programme in Bengaluru and commemorated the successful completion of one year of SAMVAD – Support, Advocacy & Mental health interventions for children in Vulnerable circumstances And Distress. 

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to Disability and Health, Welfare Schemes, Government Policies and Initiatives)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About SAMVAD Scheme
  2. Other initiatives in India regarding Mental Health

About SAMVAD Scheme

  • Support, Advocacy & Mental health interventions for children in Vulnerable circumstances and Distress (SAMVAD) Scheme is funded by the Ministry of Women and Child Development aimed at mental health outreach for children who are abandoned and orphaned, child survivors of trafficking, or in conflict with law.
  • SAMVAD is is led by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) which operates autonomously under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • care of children in difficult circumstances.
  • It encompasses a specialized training curriculum on childhood trauma, interventions for children in conflict with the law, forensics in child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health.
  • Education and mental health support to children with special needs, protection and care in the context of adoption.
  • The initiative is providing coping mechanisms for children in distress by training close to 1 lakh stakeholders comprising Child Protection Functionaries, tele-counsellors, educators, law professionals among others.
  • The initiative aims to foster care and integration of child protection and mental health in the Panchayati Raj systems in aspirational districts across the country to facilitate awareness generation and improve service delivery at the grassroot level.

Other Initiatives in India regarding Mental Health

Mental Health Care Act, 2017

  • The Mental Health Care Act (MHCA) 2017 came into force in 2018 to meet the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which India ratified in 2007.
  • The Act provides for a right to make an Advance Directive, wherein patients can state on how to be treated or not to be treated for the illness during a mental health situation.
  • This act brought changes in Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (which criminalized attempted suicide). The attempt to commit suicide is punishable only as an exception. Now, a person who attempts to commit suicide will be presumed to be “suffering from severe stress’’ and shall not be subjected to any investigation or prosecution.
  • The Act also provides for Right to appoint a Nominated Representative: A person shall have the right to appoint a nominated representative to take on his/her behalf, all health-related decisions like:
    • Right to access mental health care,
    • Right to free & quality services,
    • Right to get free medicines,
    • Right to community living,
    • Right to protection from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,
    • Right to live in an environment, safe and hygienic, having basic amenities,
    • Right to legal aid, and
    • No Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) without anesthesia.

National Mental Health Programme

  • National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) was started in 1982 with the objectives to ensure availability and accessibility of minimum mental health care for all, to encourage mental health knowledge and skills and to promote community participate in mental health service development and to stimulate self-help in the community.
  • Objectives of National Mental Health Programme
    • Minimum mental heathcare for all – To ensure the availability and accessibility of minimum mental healthcare for all in the foreseeable future, particularly to the most vulnerable and underprivileged sections of the population;
    • Application of Mental Health Knowledge –  To encourage the application of mental health knowledge in general healthcare and in social development; and
    • Community Participation – To promote community participation in the mental health service development and to stimulate efforts towards self-help in the community.

District Mental Health Programme

  • During IX five-year plan, District Mental Health Programme was initiated (1986) based on Bellary Model developed by NIMHANS, Bengaluru.
  • Components of District Mental Health Programme
    • Early detection and treatment
    • Training
    • Public Awareness Generation
    • Monitoring

-Source: The Hindu

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