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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 09 February 2022

Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 09 February 2022


Contents:

  1. Step up agri-spending, boost farm incomes
  2. NEET and States

Step up agri-spending, boost farm incomes

Context:

The Union Budget 2022-23 tabled recently has marginally increased the overall budgetary allocation towards the agricultural sector to 4.4%. However, the rate of increase is lower than the current inflation rate of 5.5%-6%.

Relevance:

GS III: Government Policies & Interventions, Growth & Development, Agricultural Marketing, Direct & Indirect Farm Subsidies

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Report
  2. Agriculture Orientation Index (AOI)
  3. Indian Agriculture and Associated Issues
  4. Budgetary Allocation for Agriculture sector
  5. Measures needed for higher agricultural growth

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Report:

  • The United Nations (UN) report for 2001 to 2019 shows that, India is among the top 10 countries in terms of government spending in agriculture.
  • However, India’s lags behind several low income countries like Malawi, Nepal, Mali, Bhutan.
  • India also lags behind Guyana and China, which are upper middle-income countries.

Agriculture Orientation Index (AOI):

  • It was an Index, developed as part of the Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015.
    • The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2: It emphasises an increase in investment in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, development of technology to enhance agricultural productivity and eradication of poverty in middle- and lower-income countries.
  • Calculation of AOI: is calculated by dividing the agriculture share of government expenditure by the agriculture value added share of GDP.
    • The Index  measures the ratio between government spending towards the agricultural sector and the sector’s contribution to GDP
  • India’s performance:
    • India’s index is one of the lowest and it holds only the 38th rank in the world.
    • The ranking reflects that the spending towards the agricultural sector is not commensurate with the sector’s contribution towards GDP.
    • Comparing with Asia: India’s AOI is one of the lowest in Asia and among several other middle-income and upper-income countries.
    • Other Countries:
      • Asia: The performance of Asia as a whole was relatively higher than the Eastern Asian countries.
      • China: The performance of China is remarkably good and has shown a steady improvement.
      • Republic of Korea: The value of AOI has been greater than one and greater than two since 2005-06 respectively.
      • Zambia: Despite being a lower income landlocked country in Africa, it has commendable spending in the agricultural sector

Indian Agriculture and Associated Issues:

  • India is an agrarian economy.
  • Globally, India is among the largest producers and consumer of several crops.
  • Despite all these significance, India was among the countries that secured lowest rank.
  • Crop Yield: When compared to East Asian countries, the total cereal yield in India is lower.
    • This is mainly due to higher spending of East Asian countries in Agriculture sector.
    • East Asia also has the highest cereal yield per hectare across Asia.
    • India and China: Both India and China are among the world’s largest producers of wheat, rice, cotton and maize.
      • China performance in in terms of crop yield is much higher than India.
      • This gains significance as the average land holding size of China is much lower than India.

Budgetary Allocation for Agriculture sector:

  • The budgetary allocation (for 2022-2023)towards the agricultural sector shows that there has been a drastic slashing of funds toward important schemes such as
    • Crop insurance
    • Minimum support price (MSP).
    • Market Intervention Scheme and Price Support Scheme (MIS-PSS)
      • The allocation for MIS-PSS scheme is 62% less than the previous allocation.
    • Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA)
      • Only one crore was allocated as against the allocation of ₹400 crore in 2021-22.
    • Both MIS-PSS and PM-AASHA schemes are pertinent to ensure MSP-based procurement operations in the country, especially for pulses and oil seeds.
  • Other reductions:
    • The distribution of pulses to States for welfare schemes has also been reduced.
    • There is an overall reduction in total central schemes/projects, which may have serious implications for the performance of the sector
  • Capital Investment: The capital investment in the agricultural sector is more crucial than price support programes.
    • However, there was no commensurate increase in the allocation towards capital investment, especially for promotion of rural infrastructure and marketing facilities.

Measures needed for higher agricultural growth:

  • The intensification in government spending towards the agricultural sector is the key to attain the sustainable development goals of higher agricultural growth and farm income.
  • Significant focus should be given for:
    • Irrigation facilities,
    • Urban infrastructure
    • Development of national highways: It must be complemented with an emphasis on the development of rural infrastructure and rural transportation facilities
    • Increase in the number of markets
  •  These measures are crucial for improving farmers’ access to markets and integrating small and marginal farmers into the agricultural supply chain to a greater extent.

-Source: The Hindu


NEET and States

Context:

The Tamil Nadu assembly has once again passed its earlier bill that seeks to exempt government seats in undergraduate medical and dental courses from the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET). The Bill is pending before the Governor for his assent.

Relevance:

GS II: Role of Governor, Parliament, Indian Constitution

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background
  2. Constitutional mandate of Governor
  3. What are the disagreements?
  4. Claiming Exemption-Right or Wrong?
  5. Way Forward

Background:

  • The TN’s Bill for exemption from mandatory admission test (NEET) was initially passed in September 2021 was returned by the Governor for reconsideration.
  • The decision of the Tamil Nadu government was taken following the recommendation of Justice A.K. Rajan Committee.
  • However, the Governor has questioned the reasonableness of the Committee Report

Constitutional mandate of Governor:

  • It is Governor’s discretion to question the desirability or validity of a Bill, and ask for reconsideration.
  • Whenever a bill is presented to the Governor again for his assent, he is constitutionally bound to give his assent.
  • Article 200 of the Indian Constitution deals with the powers of the Governor with regard to assent given to bills passed by the State legislature and other powers of the Governor such as reserving the bill for the President’s consideration.
    • According to the article, the Governor has no discretion, save in the case of a law that undermines the position of the High Court, which he is bound to reserve for the President’s consideration.
  • The Current situation raises a question whether the Governor could not have avoided this by reserving the Bill for the President instead of returning it.
  • The bill requires the President’s acceptance as the exemption from NEET is in conflict with the central law that makes it mandatory for President’s nod.

What are the disagreements?

  • The Governor disagrees with the basis for the Bill.
  • He even highlighted a Supreme Court decision in favour of NEET.
  • It is generally not desirable for the Governor to analyse the legislature’s wisdom on social inputs that inform policy.
    • Sarkaria commission on Centre-State relations observed that the Governor should not act contrary to the advice of the Council of Ministers merely because he did not like the policy embodied in the Bill.

Claiming Exemption-Right or Wrong?

  • The exemption may not be a solution to the problem of government school students not making it to MBBS courses in sufficient numbers.
    • A similar situation was witnessed before the introduction of NEET.
  • However, the argument of NEET being a barrier to access is genuine.

Way Forward:

  • There is no doubt that NEET undermines the role of State governments in medical education.
  • States being the main deliverers of public health, they cannot be denied a say when deciding on who joins medical courses in government colleges.
  • Regardless of the Bill’s merits, the Governor should not delay the matter further.

Source: The Hindu


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