Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 20 May 2023
- The media and elections
- Farming Analysis
The media and elections
Political parties had free airtime during the recently-completed Karnataka Assembly elections on public broadcasters All India Radio (Akashvani) and Doordarshan.This programme sought to advance fairness and equal opportunities for political parties to reach the general public with their messages.
GS Paper-2: Appointment to various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions, and Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies
Describe the justification for giving political parties free airtime during India’s elections. Consider the difficulties in implementing this plan to ensure equity and democratic discourse. (250 Words)
The Scheme’s Justification:
- Promoting Justice and the Public Good:
- The 2003 revision to the Representation of People Act, 1951, which gave it legal standing, supports the granting of free airtime for political parties during elections.
- The Supreme Court’s significant decision in The Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting vs. Cricket Association of Bengal and ANR (1995) established that airwaves are public property and should be used for the benefit of the general people.
- Airwave abuse or misuse for the purpose of undue electoral advantages is a problem for governments everywhere.
Examples from Other Nations:
- In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission, which is in charge of overseeing electronic media, adopted the fairness doctrine in order to ensure fair electioneering on the airwaves.
- The fairness doctrine required broadcasters to provide other candidates in the election the same opportunity when they presented political content from one contender.
- The fairness doctrine, albeit it is no longer in force, emphasises the significance of impartiality in election coverage.
- In the United Kingdom, political parties are given allotted time slots known as party political broadcasts (PPBs) by the parliament to inform the public about important political issues.
- PPBs must be present in all licenced public service television channels and commercial radio services, according to the British communication regulator Ofcom.
- Other nations: Singapore, Brazil, and Japan have also enacted comparable regulations to encourage unbiased and educational political broadcasts.
What is the scheme’s mechanism?
- Transparent Allocation of Broadcast Time: The Election Commission distributes time vouchers via a transparent lottery mechanism, doing away with special treatment for prime-time slots.
- Fairness and Content Vetting: Political party transcripts are thoroughly examined to make sure they adhere to all applicable laws.
- These standards forbid material that disparages other nations, disparages communities or religions, incites violence, or makes personal assaults.
- An Apex Committee made up of representatives from Akashvani and DD settles disputes about script content, and their ruling is definitive.
- Diversity in the Electoral Process: In India’s media environment, where media organisations are frequently linked to political parties, state-sponsored airtime contributes to electoral process diversity.
- Promoting equal opportunity and ensuring fair play requires adherence to specified codes.
- Platform for Debates and Criticism: According to Election Commission of India (ECI) guidelines, Akashvani and DD are only allowed to air a total of two panel discussions.
- These talks provide all parties, regardless of size, with a forum for debating, critiquing one another’s platforms, and promoting informed voting.
- Equitability and National Recognition: o Given recent retractions of national party status for the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC), inclusion of national and recognised State parties in the scheme may raise questions about its true equity.
- The Election Commission of India (ECI), however, is constrained by real-world issues and recognises the limited availability of radio waves.
- Conflict of Interest and Decision Review: o In the event of contentious disagreements with political parties, the Apex Committee, which is made up of representatives from Akashvani and DD, may encounter conflicts of interest when evaluating its own decisions.
- This issue might be resolved by forming a committee that is more representative.
- Covering Private Broadcasters: Similar to the fairness doctrine in the United States, calls have been made to include private broadcasters in the requirements of the plan.
- This might entail setting aside specific timeslots for private channels to broadcast content in an equitable manner, giving minor parties and candidates a forum.
- It is also advised to clearly distinguish between political broadcasts and normal news programmes.
The use of airwaves becomes essential in sustaining and enhancing Indian democracy as the media landscape increasingly focuses on attention-grabbing strategies during elections.Unprecedented levels of media electioneering are expected for the general elections in 2024.In this environment, it is crucial to give priority to venues for rational, impartial, and thoughtful debates that encourage the sharing of ideas, informed decision-making, and a greater comprehension of political ideologies.
There is a discrepancy between what the organised Indian industrial sector is producing and what the small and marginal Indian farmers want at an affordable price, according to a recently published NCAER White Paper on “Making India a Global Power House in the Farm Machinery Industry.”
GS Paper-3: Food processing and related industries in India- scope
In the context of agricultural machinery, discuss the disconnect between the needs of small and marginal farmers and the organised Indian industrial sector. What are the difficulties brought on by this mismatch, and how can they be resolved?
The National Council of Applied Economic Research is comprised of:
- Located in India, the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) is a free-standing, nonprofit research organisation.One of the top economic think tanks in the nation, NCAER was founded in 1956 and carries out policy-oriented research and analysis in a number of areas of applied economics and social development.
- NCAER’s main goal is to encourage high-quality research that assists in policy formulation and decision-making at the national and regional levels.
Challenges Caused by the Mismatch:
- Affordability: Because they have limited resources, small and marginal farmers find it difficult to purchase the equipment made by the organised industrial sector.
- The expensive price of agriculture equipment prevents its widespread use.
- Relevance: o Farm equipment made by the organised industrial sector frequently meets the needs of large-scale agricultural operations and may not be appropriate for small-scale or marginal farmers.
- There is a dearth of equipment that is appropriate for their particular needs.
- Limited R&D in the Non-Tractor Farm Machinery (NTFM) Sector: o Research and development efforts are insufficient in the Non-Tractor Farm Machinery (NTFM) sector.
- This makes it more difficult to produce equipment that meets the unique requirements of small and marginal farmers.
- Lack of Customization: o The current farm equipment might not be appropriate for India’s varied agro-economic zones and cropping patterns.
- Regionally and crop-specific machinery that can increase production and efficiency is needed by small and marginal farmers.
- The majority of R&D is funded by medium-to-large businesses, which make up a small percentage of the sector.
- Although R&D participation in the commercial sector has expanded, the number of agricultural engineering patents is still quite low.
- Rice-Wheat Cropping System in Focus: o Current R&D initiatives in India are mostly focused on the rice-wheat cropping system, which restricts agricultural diversification.
- The lack of equipment for mechanising hill agriculture and horticulture prevents advancements in irrigation, plant development, and post-harvesting.
- Limited Academic-Industry Collaboration: o Farm machinery makers and fabricators have a difficult time transferring new designs and technologies from academic institutions to them.
- Programmes run by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), such as the Technology Development Board (TDB), have had little effect.
For the NTFM sector, increased investment in research and development is essential.
- Promoting Research and Development.
- It should concentrate on creating machinery that is affordable and especially made for small and marginal farmers.
- Innovative solutions can be facilitated by partnerships between research organisations, agricultural universities, and industry.
- Promoting Public-Private Partnerships: o Partnerships between organised industry and small-scale producers, rural artisans, and local business owners can result in the creation of farm machinery that is both affordable and relevant to the local environment.
- By working together, these two industries’ knowledge can be combined to meet the needs of small and marginal farmers.
- Increasing Academic-Industry Collaboration: o Stronger ties between research organisations, educational institutions, and business can encourage the transfer of knowledge and skills.
- Technology Transfer Offices can help with this partnership, enabling manufacturers and fabricators to use research discoveries to their advantage.
- Creating Machinery for Specific Regions and Crops: A focus should be focused on creating machinery that is appropriate for various agro-economic zones, a variety of crops, and various topographies.
- To do this, study must be done in order to comprehend the unique requirements of small and marginal farmers in various geographic areas.
- Improving Access and Affordability: Government programmes can be put in place to increase the affordability and accessibility of farm equipment for small and marginal farmers.
- This can include financial aid, subsidies, and cooperative structures that allow for joint ownership and use of equipment.
- Technoparks and Research-Linked Incentives: Create technoparks where institutions, businesses, and academics can work together on research initiatives.
- Introduce a law that is analogous to the Bayh-Dole Act to allow universities, non-profit research organisations, and small enterprises to own, patent, and commercialise discoveries that are the outcome of government-funded research.
- Enable businesses to pay a small charge to use public academic lab resources.
- Encourage universities and private partners to co-fund research and development projects.
- Implement the Start-up India programme and create incubation cells at ICAR institutions to promote entrepreneurship.
- Implement research-based incentives to encourage innovation in precision farming and light farm equipment.
- Establish and improve district-level and state agricultural university patent offices to better serve the surrounding areas.
- Encourage corporate collaborations, a la Maruti Suzuki Innovation in the car industry.
A strong research and development ecosystem will assist close the gap between industrial production and farmer needs, spurring the expansion and productivity of the nation’s agriculture.