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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 08 May 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 08 May 2023


Contents

  1. The unrest in Manipur
  2. Drip Irrigation requires more support

The Unrest in Manipur


Context

An eviction drive by the BJP-led government targeting a particular tribal group has caused unrest in Manipur since February 2023. The non-tribal Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status has exacerbated the conflict and led to violent protests and arson.

Relevance:

GS Paper-3: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges

Mains Question

Analyse the Meitei community’s request for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status in Manipur. Examine the historical background, the justifications put forth by the ST Demand Committee, and the potential effects of granting ST status on the Meitei community and the tribal groups. (250 Words).


Background:

  • The Meitei community has historically been categorised as an Other Backward Class (OBC) under the Indian government’s reservation policy because they mostly live in the valley regions of Manipur.However, a number of indigenous tribal groups that live in Manipur’s hill country have been designated as Scheduled Tribes (ST).
  • Different sociocultural, historical, and geographical factors form the basis of this classification. However, the Meitei community asserts that they have historically been marginalised and requests ST status in order to benefit from the advantages and protections afforded to STs.

Manipur is divided into two regions:

  • The Imphal Valley and surrounding hills. The valley, which makes up about 10% of the state’s landmass, is dominated by the non-tribal Meitei, who produce 40 of the state’s 60 MLAs and account for more than 64% of the population.
  • The hills, which make up 90% of the area, are home to more than 35% recognised tribes but only send 20 MLAs to the Assembly.

Meitei community wants scheduled tribe status

  • The Meitei community has requested Scheduled Tribe status, and the Manipur High Court ordered the state government to follow a 10-year-old recommendation to do so.
  • The Meiteis were acknowledged as a tribe prior to Manipur’s merger with the Union of India in 1949. The ST status would offer constitutional protections against outsiders and restrict non-tribal land ownership in the Imphal Valley.
  • The ST Demand Committee of Manipur has been requesting ST status for the Meiteis since 2012, citing the need to “preserve” the community’s culture, language, and ancestral land.

Concerns and Implications

  • The tribal groups worry that giving Meiteis ST status will cause them to lose their employment opportunities and give them the opportunity to buy land in the hills, driving the tribals out.
  • The Meitei people have access to benefits associated with the SC, OBC, or EWS status, and their language is already listed in the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule.It is believed that the demand for ST status is a ruse to soften the political demands of the Kukis and Nagas as well as a covert plan by the dominant valley dwellers to expand into the hill regions.
  • Benefits Could Be Diluted: According to the tribal communities, granting ST status to the Meitei community might reduce the advantages and chances currently available to the tribal groups. They worry that the already divided reservations and scarce resources will have an impact on their representation in and eligibility for government programmes.
  • Land and Identity Concerns: Due to the tribal communities’ traditional rights and control over specific territories, there are worries that the inclusion of the Meitei community as STs may result in conflicts over land and resources. The tribal groups also worry that the dominant Meitei culture may obscure or erode their unique cultural identities.
  • Political Representation: Giving the Meitei community ST status might change the way politics are currently played out in Manipur. It might affect how tribal communities are represented in legislative bodies and local governance structures, potentially lowering their influence and voice.

The Eighth Schedule of Constitution

  • The Indian Constitution’s Eighth Schedule is a list of recognised languages that are given special status and protection.
  • It started out with 14 languages when the Constitution was adopted in 1950, but over time it has grown to now include 22 languages.
  • The inclusion of a language in the Eighth Schedule confers upon it a number of benefits and protections.
  • It makes it possible for the government to take initiatives for the language’s enrichment, preservation, and propagation.
  • The linguistic diversity of India is reflected in the languages listed in the Eighth Schedule.
  • They consist of Bodo, Santhali, Maithili, Dogri, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.

Way Forward

  • The best course of action is to ensure that the tribal communities have fair and adequate political representation in the state legislature and other decision-making bodies. This can be accomplished by setting aside seats for tribal representatives and enacting laws that give marginalised groups more power.
  • Development Initiatives: By funding infrastructure, healthcare, education, and other necessities, the government should give the development of the hill regions top priority. To lessen the disparities between the valley and the hills, special attention should be paid to the socioeconomic uplift of the tribal communities.
  • Cultural Preservation: Promoting and maintaining the tribal communities’ cultural heritage and identity is crucial for promoting inclusivity. This can be accomplished by promoting tribal languages, artwork, music, and festivals, as well as by establishing cultural institutions like museums and centres.
  • Intercommunity Dialogue: Promoting communication and engagement between various communities is essential for creating a climate of mutual respect. To address complaints, settle disputes, and foster harmony, forums for productive discourse, like community forums, can be established.
  • Education and Employment Opportunities: Giving tribal youth better access to academic and career opportunities can give them power and open doors for socioeconomic advancement. To make sure that everyone has equal access to education and employment, skill development programmes, scholarships, and job reservations can be put in place.
  • Strengthening Institutions: The tribal communities in the hill areas can be given more power to participate in decision-making processes and ensure that their voices are heard by strengthening local governance institutions in those areas. This can be accomplished by encouraging grassroots democracy and decentralising authority and funding.

Conclusion:

The ongoing conflict in Manipur has intensified due to the Meitei community’s demand for ST status, raising issues and having repercussions for the tribal groups.To solve the problem and bring peace back to the area, a thorough strategy that takes into account the worries of all stakeholders is required.


Drip Irrigation Requires More Support


Context

  • Two significant issues that Indian farmers encounter in the summer are a lack of electricity for pump sets and a lack of water for irrigation.
  • Due to frequent load-shedding, farmers who use groundwater to grow high-value crops like bananas, sugarcane, cotton, paddy, etc. are unable to adequately hydrate their crops.
  • Therefore, even during times of water scarcity and load-shedding, crop cultivation can be done profitably by using drip irrigation.

Relevance: GS-2: Government Policies, Governance and related issues.

GS-3: Different Types of Irrigation and Irrigation Systems; Drip Irrigation.

Mains Question

What role does drip irrigation play in Indian agriculture? Also, make some recommendations for ways to promote the use of drip irrigation. (250 Words).


Highlights:

  • Since the Green Revolution was introduced in 1965–1966, there have been significant changes in farming practises, making assured irrigation facilities essential for crop cultivation.
    • Long-used tank and canal irrigation has lost some of its significance, while groundwater irrigation has grown significantly over time.
  • According to a World Bank report, India uses the most groundwater globally.
    • With nearly 18% of the world’s population, India takes up 2.4% of the planet’s land area and uses 4% of its water supplies.
  • The majority of crops grown during the rabi and summer seasons depend on groundwater; there is no federal law that regulates the use of groundwater, and different States have their own laws on regulating its extraction that are only applied ostensibly.
  • However, due to the summertime electricity shortage, the amount of power supplied to the agricultural sector is significantly reduced in various States, with crops that require a lot of water suffering the most.

Drip irrigation: What is it?

The best method for delivering nutrients and water to crops is drip irrigation.Each plant receives the precise amount of water and nutrients it requires at the precise time for optimum growth by being delivered directly to the root zone of the plant.

Why does drip irrigation appeal to farmers?

  • Drip irrigation gives farmers an easy and efficient way to run their farms in addition to providing a higher return on investment than other irrigation techniques.
  • More yields of consistently high quality
  • Huge water savings because there is no evaporation, runoff, or waste. Nearly 100% of the land is used because drip irrigation applies evenly to all topographies and soil types.
  • Less reliance on weather, greater stability, and lower risks;
  • Efficient use of fertiliser and crop protection, with no leaching
  • Although drip irrigation differs from the traditional flood irrigation technique, it can be used to grow a variety of crops profitably while using less water and electricity.
    • The flood method takes longer to irrigate each hectare of land because a lot of water is lost during transportation, distribution, and evaporation.
  • On the other hand, drip irrigation uses a system of pipes and emitters to deliver water directly to the crop’s root zone, completely eliminating water loss.
    • The drip method uses up to 70% less water to irrigate various crops than the flood method does.
    • For instance, drip irrigation only requires one hour per turn for an acre of sugarcane or banana crops.
  • However, using the flood method to irrigate the same crops takes 15 to 30 hours, increasing both water and power consumption.
  • Using drip irrigation, farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Madras, and Maharashtra were able to increase crop yields by 42 to 53 percent while reducing irrigation costs by 20 to 50 percent and fertiliser use by 7 to 43 percent, according to a field study conducted by the Agriculture Ministry in Maharashtra, an important drip-irrigated State.Increasing the area under drip irrigation can significantly reduce water and electricity costs, according to the report of the Task Force on Micro-Irrigation, which was established by the Central Government in 2004.

What has changed most with groundwater irrigation?

  • Groundwater irrigation has undergone a significant change as a result of the widespread expansion of rural electrification.
  • There were only 16 lakh electric pump sets in 1970–1971; by 2018–19, there were 207 lakh, an almost 13-fold increase.
  • This has significantly altered India’s irrigation map.
  • For example, the proportion of groundwater in the total irrigated area has increased exponentially, rising from 34% in 1970–1971 to 64% in 2019–20.
  • Therefore, during the same time period, the sector of agriculture’s electricity consumption increased 48 times.

Need of the Hour:

  • In light of the numerous advantages, the Centre has been promoting drip irrigation since 1990–1991 by offering farmers who adopt it a 50–100% capital cost subsidy.
    • The Pradhan Mantri Sinchayee Yojana, which was launched in 2015 with a higher allocation of funds to increase the area under drip irrigation, was designed to achieve the goal of “more crop per drop.” As a result, the area under drip irrigation has increased from just 70,589 hectares in 1991–1992 to 63.21 lakh hectares in 2020–21.
  • A number of States, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, have announced various programmes with sizable subsidies to encourage farmers to use this irrigation system.
    • Additional efforts are required to achieve a discernible growth in the drip irrigation area.
  • According to the Task Force, 270 lakh hectares of arable land are suitable for drip irrigation.
  • However, only 6% of all irrigated land in India was drip-irrigated in 2020–21.
  • There is no denying that drip irrigation, which uses less water and electricity, can be a profitable farming method.
    • As a result, the government and its agencies need to act quickly to provide drip irrigation to the majority of farmers.
  • In addition to horticultural crops, drip irrigation can be used to grow more than 80 different crops, such as cotton, groundnuts, sugarcane, bananas, and tur.
  • Therefore, it is crucial to continuously raise awareness among farmers of the advantages of drip irrigation.
  • According to data from the Central Groundwater Board, overexploitation has caused the number of blocks at risk for groundwater to rise from 1,645 in 2004 to 2,538 in 2020.
    • The flooding method is primarily to blame for the cultivation of water-intensive crops like sugarcane, bananas, wheat, and vegetables.
    • As a result, drip irrigation should be mandated for all water-intensive crops in areas with high groundwater exploitation.
  • With the aid of sugarcane mills, steps should be taken to gradually bring sugarcane cultivation completely under drip.
  • Farmers who agree to use drip irrigation only should be given immediate access to electricity for pumpsets and interest-free bank loans from the government.
  • There are reports that a rapidly changing climate may alter rainfall patterns and worsen the availability of freshwater.
    • In the context of climate change, efforts must be made to find solutions that are crucial for sustainable development as uncertainties in relation to groundwater resources will grow.

Context

The sooner a larger area is covered by drip irrigation, the sooner the objective of “more output per drop of water” can be accomplished.


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