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Editorials/Opinions Analyses For UPSC 16 October 2021


  1. Customs duty waiver on edible oil imports
  2. BSF powers and jurisdiction

Customs duty waiver on edible oil imports


Commerce Minister announced that the government has decided to waive customs duty on import of crude sunflower, palm and soyabean oil, a move aimed at controlling their prices.

Prices of edible oil have been rising across the country since few months.


GS-III: Agriculture (Agricultural Resources, Food Security), GS-III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About India’s Oilseeds Production and Imports
  2. Edible Oil Imports and India
  3. About National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP)
  4. Alternative sources
  5. More about the waiver of customs duty on Edible Oil

About India’s Oilseeds Production and Imports

  • India’s vegetable oil economy is world’s fourth largest after USA, China & Brazil.
  • India is also third largest cultivator of oilseeds in the world and paradoxically meets into more than 50% requirement through imports.
  • Major Oilseeds Producing Areas in India are: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh.
  • Due to diverse agro-climatic conditions and geographical locations, farmers are able to grow all the nine annual oilseeds viz. groundnut, rapeseed, soybean, sunflower, sesame, safflower, niger, castor and linseed.
  • In India, oilseeds are second most important crop after cereals sharing 14% of the country’s gross cropped area and accounting for nearly 3% of GDP.
  • Oilseed accounts for 13% of the Gross Cropped Area, 3% of the Gross National Product and 10% value of all agricultural commodities.
  • India needs a threefold increase in the oilseeds production in the next 35 years as – like pulses, oilseeds face severe challenges in terms of climatic stresses and unfavourable farming conditions.
  • Oilseed cultivation is mainly undertaken on marginal land by resource poor farmers who are generally reluctant to provide necessary inputs for increasing the productivity.
  • Nearly 82% of the oilseeds area fall under rainfed farming where climatic vagaries cause severe damage to crops.
  • Out of the total requirement, 10.50 million tonnes are produced domestically from primary (Soybean, Rapeseed & Mustard, Groundnut, Sunflower, Safflower & Niger) and secondary sources (Oil palm, Coconut, Rice Bran, Cotton seeds & Tree Borne Oilseeds) and remaining 60%, is met through import.
  • Despite the oilseed production of the country growing impressively, there exists a gap between the demand and supply of oilseeds, which has necessitated sizeable quantities of imports.

Edible Oil Imports and India

  • Given the heavy dependency on imports, the Indian edible oil market is influenced by the international markets.
  • Of the 20-21 million tonnes of edible oil that India consumes annually, around 4-15 mt is imported.
  • India is second only to China (34-35 mt) in terms of consumption of edible oil.
  • Crude and food-grade refined oil is imported in large vessels, mainly from Malaysia, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia etc.
  • Home-grown oilseeds such as soyabean, groundnut, mustard, cottonseed etc find their way to domestic solvent and expellers plants, where both the oil and the protein-rich component is extracted.

About National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP)

  • National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) was implemented during the 12th Five Year Plan, to expand the oil palm areas and increase the production of edible oils.
  • It was later merged with the National Food Security Mission.
  • NMEO-OP aims resolve to allow India to be independent or self-reliant in edible oil production.
  • Through this mission, more than ₹11,000 crore will be invested in the edible oil ecosystem.
  • The government will ensure that farmers get all needed facilities, from quality seeds to technology.
  • Along with promoting the cultivation of oil palm, this mission will also expand the cultivation of our other traditional oilseed crops.

Need for NMEO-OP

  • During the last few years, the domestic consumption of edible oils has increased substantially and has touched the level of 18.90 million tonnes in 2011-12 and is likely to increase further.
  • A substantial portion of our requirement of edible oil is met through import of palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • It is, therefore, necessary to exploit domestic resources to maximize production to ensure edible oil security for the country.

Alternative sources

  • Oil Palm is comparatively a new crop in India and is the highest vegetable oil yielding perennial crop.
  • With quality planting materials, irrigation and proper management, there is potential of achieving 20-30 MT Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFBs) per ha after attaining the age of 5 years.
  • Therefore, there is an urgent need to intensify efforts for area expansion under oil palm to enhance palm oil production in the country.
  • Tree Borne Oilseeds (TBOs), like sal, mahua, simarouba, kokum, olive, karanja, jatropha, neem, jojoba, cheura, wild apricot, walnut, tung etc. are cultivated/grown in the country under different agro-climatic conditions.
  • These TBOs are also good source of vegetable oil and therefore need to be supported for cultivation.

More about the waiver of customs duty on Edible Oil

  • The Union Commerce Minister has announced that the government has decided to waive customs duty on import of crude sunflower, palm and soyabean oil, a move aimed at controlling their prices.
  • Consumers might not see a drastic reduction immediately in prices of edible oil but the reduction in duty is expected to affect the earnings of oilseed growers across the country.
  • Over the last few years, the government has taken a series of steps to remove India’s import dependency on pulses, and tried to do the same for oilseeds through national missions.
  • However, frequent market interventions that ultimately bring down prices would backfire on the government and veer farmers away from growing oilseeds.
  • We need continuity in prices to help farmers stick to oilseeds or pulses.

-Source: Indian Express

BSF powers and jurisdiction


Home Ministry has enhanced the powers of Border Security Force (BSF). Under the enhanced power, officers will have the power to search and arrest.


GS-II: Polity and Constitution, GS-II: Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Border Security Force (BSF)?
  2. What are the enhanced powers of the BSF?

What is the Border Security Force (BSF)?

  • The Border Security Force (BSF) is India’s border guarding organisation on its border with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • It is one of the five Central Armed Police Forces of India, and was raised in the wake of the 1965 War “for ensuring the security of the borders of India and for matters connected there with”.
  • BSF comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The BSF has its own cadre of officers but its head, designated as a Director-General (DG), since its raising has been an officer from the Indian Police Service (IPS).

What are the enhanced powers of the BSF?

  • The MHA has exercised the powers under the Border Security Force Act of 1968 and increased the powers of the BSF – now, the power of seizure by the BSF officers are extended up to of 50 km from the border in three new states which are sharing international boundaries with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • BSF officers have been given the right to take this action under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Passport Act and Passport (Entry to India) Act.
  • BSF officers will be able to conduct searches and arrests across a wider area in the states of Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.
  • In the mentioned states, the BSF will have the right to search and arrest just like state police.
  • They also have the power to search and arrest in Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, and Ladakh.

Why was this extension of powers needed?

  • As per Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the decision to expand the jurisdiction of BSF was taken in the backdrop of recent incidents of drones dropping weapons from across the border.
  • The objective of the move is to bring in uniformity and also to increase operational efficiency. Earlier BSF had different jurisdictions in different states.
  • BSF often gets information relating to crime scenes that may be out of their jurisdiction.
  • This decision will help in curbing illegal activities related to national security across 10 states and two Union Territories. However, it is likely to raise administrative and political issues.

Impact on State Police jurisdiction

  • This move will complement the efforts of the local police. Thus, it is an enabling provision.
  • It’s not that the local police can’t act within the jurisdiction of the BSF.
  • The state police have better knowledge of the ground. Hence BSF and local Police can act in cooperation.

Criticism of the move

  • At a basic level, the states can argue that law and order is a state subject and enhancing BSF’s jurisdiction infringes upon powers of the state government.
  • In 2012, then Gujarat CM and the present PM had opposed a central government moves to expand BSF’s jurisdiction.

-Source: Indian Express

December 2023