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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 29th February, 2016
Published on Feb. 29, 2016, 6:01 p.m.

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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 29th February, 2016

 

ECONOMICS

TOPIC

General Studies 3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment; Inclusive Growth
  • Agriculture & Related Issues- Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers

General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Need to Revive Agriculture

  • The story of agriculture (backbone of the country in terms of livelihoods) has not been sounding right since the past two years and the crash in global commodity prices and deficit rainfall for two years in a row have affected farmers’ incomes drastically.
  • Agriculture GDP (gross domestic product) grew at (-)0.2% in 2014-15 and 1.1% in 2015-16; with 10 states have declared drought this year.
  • Coupled with the forward and backward linkages, the manufacturing and services sectors have been getting affects inevitably.

Let’s talk strategically:

Two-pronged strategy:

Raise: Productivity and Incomes of farmers

Cope: Risks due to climate change and Crash in commodity prices

Therefore, the following steps need to be taken—

Productivity:

  • Emphasis should be given more on investment in infrastructure such as irrigation, rural roads and electricity as well as public investment in rural infrastructure can act as a major game-changer her.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) can serve as a good way forward but proper implementation and more funding is required.
  • ‘More crops per drop of water’: Water-use efficiency (water productivity) has to be increased with better policies on watershed development, groundwater and involvement of farmers in the management of irrigation systems. Need to encourage drip irrigation (covers 10 times the area covered by usual flood irrigation)

Climate-resilient Agriculture (CRA):

Diversified cropping systems-

  • In the international year of pulses, India can do well by cultivating pulses as its deficient in its production.
  • Why Pulses: Pulses are legumes which improve soil fertility and can contribute in reducing food inflation
  • Win-win situation: In terms of attaining self-sufficiency and raising soil fertility

Crop insurance for Risk Mitigation:

  • Higher allocation of funds under PMFBY
  • Lessons need to be learnt and applied from the failure related to crop insurance schemes
  • MNRGA should be given an ultimate push as it is much useful in asset creation and drought proofing; studies also showing reductions in vulnerability due to the implementation of MGNREGA works and resultant environmental benefits

Focus on the role of research and extension systems:

  • India needs to invest in research and extension-activities of agriculture as research can lead to the development of climate-resilient technologies and the extension system will promote these technologies among farmers
  • Research on adaptation and mitigation should cover crops, livestock, fisheries and natural resources management and focus on technology improvement is crucial for increasing productivity and conserving natural resources (High returns assured)

Fertilizer Subsidies:

  • Fertilizer subsidies should directly be reaching farmers- cutting down the costs wasted in the process by involving middle men.
  • Saved funds: Can be alternatively used provided for investment in infrastructure (irrigation)

Legalizing Land Tenancy:

  • A proper policy needs to be formulated and advanced, taking into consideration the important issues along with solutions forwarded.
  • Will lead to access to land for the rural population
  • Will increase private investment in agriculture

Remunerative prices and development of markets:

  • The talks about National Agricultural market (an online platform for selling agricultural produce) have borne lot of hope in the minds of the farmers, across the length and breadth of the country.
  • This will not only help farmer raise his income but will also assure him of accurate earnings (or maybe better prices)
  • For the plan to work on the desied level, much effort needs to be put in the marketing front using a tailored value chain approach to connect farmers to input and output markets

 

Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs):

  • It needs to be strengthened and good practices from successful milk cooperatives can be studied-selected-suit to meet the needs of the farmers and be implemented
  • Incentives can be given to commodity-specific FPOs to develop value chains (e.g: FPOs for pulses can be developed on a large scale)

Agricultural Credit:

  • A proper surveillance of the past allocated agricultural credit needs to be done and thus, this year’s credit disbursement be based upon it
  • Measures also, have to be taken to increase the formal credit to small and marginal farmers as a Reserve Bank committee found that their access to it was limited
  • Utilization of JAM-Trinity needs to be enhanced

Connecting the Dots:

  • What are the objectives of an efficient marketing system for the agricultural produce? Enlist the facilities needed by a farmer to market his produce.
  • An efficient transport system is critically important to efficient agricultural marketing. Discuss.

 

NATIONAL

TOPIC:  General Studies 2

  • Dispute redressal mechanisms
  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies. 

News Ombudsman: Holding the newspaper to account

Background:

  • Newspapers continue to play an important role in society and politics.
  • In some respects they play an enhanced and widening role in this digital age, even as they have come under disruptive pressure of varying degrees.
  • There is a new challenge newspapers face in many countries, including India, and this is the increasingly heard political demand for regulation of the ways of an allegedly irresponsible, wayward, and venal press.
  • It is in this stressful context that the institution of a news ombudsman becomes not just a virtuous option but an existential necessity and even a priority for Indian newspapers.
  • The Hindu is the first newspaper in the history of Indian journalism to appoint a news ombudsman — an independent, full-time, empowered professional, known as the Readers’ Editor (RE), with a clearly defined daily role in the newspaper and transparent terms of reference.
  • The inspiration had come from the exemplary practice and experience of The Guardian , whose pioneering RE, Ian Mayes, had set the bar high.

Why there is demand for regulation?     

  • The rise of social media — its positive, corrective, and value-adding side as well as its trolling, noisy, and truth-distorting side — has increased in no small measure the daily pressure the mainstream press and professional journalists face in the increasingly contested space.
  • In this situation, protecting and revitalizing the core functions, standards, and values of professional journalism has become absolutely vital to democracy, to the public interest, and, of course, to the newspaper industry’s own health.

What are the key roles for a news ombudsman?

  • Two central functions of serious, independent journalism have remained constant — the credible-informational and the critical-investigative-adversarial.
  • To improve the quality of news reporting by monitoring accuracy, fairness and balance.
  • To help the news provider become more accessible and accountable to readers and, thus, become more credible.
  • To increase the awareness of news professionals about the public’s concerns.
  • To save time for publishers and senior editors, or broadcasters and news directors, by channeling complaints and other inquiries to one responsible individual.
  • To resolve some complaints that might otherwise be sent to attorneys and become costly lawsuits

Why do we need news ombudsman or Reader’s Editor (RE)?

  • An institutionalized review mechanism in the form of a Readers’ Editor has a strong bearing on the process.
  • It carries moral force, and the participants in the chain of editorial work do incorporate stronger checks to eliminate errors.

What is the essence of news ombudsman or Reader’s Editor(RE) job?

  • News ombudsman represents a form of self-regulation, the only kind of self-regulation that has the effect of building trust between a specific news organization and its readership or audience, through the systematic, impartial and public handling of complaints, and through the open discussion of issues raised by readers concerning the journalism.
  • RE oversees the process of publishing corrections and clarifications on a daily basis; attends sympathetically to readers’ complaints and concerns that his or her office receives.
  • RE also oversees various aspects of professional journalism and best practices, the newspaper industry, the media and society, and ethical issues; and inquires into, and recommends appropriate action on, specific cases of plagiarism, other ethical transgressions, and inappropriate or unprofessional journalism that are referred to him or her by the Editor.
  • The RE’s is a post-publication job; he or she rarely comes in pre-publication and even then only when the matter is referred to him or her.

What are the Benefits of self-regulation through the work of RE’s job?

  • It constantly attempts to hold various institutions, actors, and ideologies to account, regards itself as responsible and accountable to readers when it comes to living up to the highest professional standards and to the editorial values it proclaims.
  • Here is a real institutional mechanism to correct serious mistakes and remedy inappropriate journalistic practices whenever they arise.
  • This empowered office protects them from motivated attacks, especially from the trolls in the social media.
  • This form of unilateral and quick-acting self-regulation — which is not mandated by law — brings down both the incidence and the risk of litigation against the newspaper by those who feel aggrieved or offended by something it has published.

Way ahead:

  • The Hindu as an institution committed to the highest standards and values of journalism remains firmly committed to continuing and strengthening the office of its Readers’ Editor.
  • It takes pride in being the first Indian newspaper to have this office and make it responsive to the needs of the time. However, it has mixed feelings about being the only Indian newspaper to have an independent and regularly functioning news ombudsman — for the simple reason that this does not seem to reflect well on the priorities of the Indian newspaper industry. 

Connecting the dots:

  • Newsgathering and news dissemination may appear to be mysterious and some readers may suspect the process itself. Comment.
  • Throw light on the necessity of news ombudsman as an institution to maintain professional journalism across the Indian newspaper industry?

 

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