Everything You Need To Know About
|

10 May 2024 : Daily Current Affairs

1. ‘We need to stop the fear mongering on vaccines’

(Source – The Hindu,  Section – Science, Page No. – 7)

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health
Context
● The summary encapsulates an article discussing the impact of misinformation on the perception of COVID-19 vaccines, focusing on the rare post-vaccination complication TTS.

It outlines the risk-benefit analysis, challenges, and the importance of vaccine research amid increasing anti-vaccine sentiments.

 Introduction to TTS and Disinformation

  • The AstraZeneca’s court submission regarding rare post-vaccination complications, termed Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS), sparked widespread misinformation on social media.
  • This misinformation falsely correlated the submission with recent increases in heart attacks and strokes, especially among the youth.
 Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS):
Vaccine-induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) is marked by thrombosis (blood clots) and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) usually occurring 4-42 days post-vaccination.

● CDC classifies TTS into two tiers based on thrombosis location and symptom severity.

Tier 1: Uncommon thrombosis sites (e.g., brain, gut), possibly with additional common thrombosis sites, platelet count < 150,000/µL, supportive anti-PF4 ELISA result.

Tier 2: Common thrombosis sites (e.g., legs, lungs), platelet count < 150,000/µL, requires positive anti-PF4 ELISA result.

Tier 1 typically has more severe outcomes, higher morbidity, and mortality, and is more common in younger age groups.

Risk-Benefit Analysis

  • Risk: TTS primarily affects healthy young women around thirty years old, occurring at a very low frequency of around one to two cases per hundred thousand. This translates to approximately two to three cases per million vaccinated individuals, significantly lower than the annual death rate from road accidents.
  • Benefit: Covishield, associated with over 80% protection against severe COVID-19 and over 90% protection against death, outweighs the risk of TTS. Furthermore, COVID-19 infection significantly increases the risk of subsequent thrombotic events, emphasising the importance of vaccination.
  • Alternatives: While some countries paused Covishield administration, India continued due to limited alternative options. mRNA vaccines were available in other nations, but Covaxin production was slow in India, making Covishield the pragmatic choice.

Understanding TTS and Vaccine Platforms

  • TTS is a rare side effect associated with recombinant DNA vaccines like ChAdOx1-nCoV19 (Covishield) and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.
  • It involves an autoimmune response similar to heparin-induced thrombosis and thrombocytopenia.
  • The immune response triggered by DNA vaccines, while effective, carries a small risk of inducing auto-immune responses leading to side effects. Older individuals and those with diabetes appear less susceptible to these reactions.

Challenges and Imperfections

  • Despite nearly a billion Covishield doses administered in India, critical side-effect data like TTS primarily comes from outside the country, highlighting a data gap.
  • Inadequate alternatives underscore the need for nimble creation of vaccine options. For example, protein-subunit vaccines like Covovax could replace Covishield for boosters, reducing TTS risk.

Impact of COVID-19 on Thrombotic Events

  • While Indian data is lacking, Western data confirms a significant increase in heart attacks and strokes among young individuals after COVID-19 infection.
  • Unvaccinated individuals faced higher risks, and each infection surge heightened thrombotic risks.
  • Undetected COVID-19 infections contribute to circulating and evolving SARS-CoV-2 strains, potentially increasing clotting risks over time.

Urgency in Vaccine Research and Celebration of Vaccination Drive

  • Vaccines remain crucial public health tools against infectious diseases. Fear-mongering must cease, and the Indian COVID-19 vaccination campaign should be celebrated for saving countless lives.
  • With anti-vaccine disinformation on the rise, there’s a risk of declining enthusiasm for vaccine research, posing a significant threat to public health.

Conclusion

  • Vaccines are indispensable in combating infectious diseases, and the Indian COVID-19 vaccination drive exemplifies this.
  • Misinformation surrounding TTS and COVID-19 vaccines undermines public health efforts, emphasising the need for accurate information dissemination and continued vaccine research.
PYQ:

Q. In the context of vaccines manufactured to prevent COVID-19 pandemic, consider the following statements:

1.     The Serum Institute of India produced COVID-19 vaccine named Covishield using mRNA platform.

2.     Sputnik V vaccine is manufactured using vector-based platform.

3.     COVAXIN is an inactivated pathogen-based vaccine.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: Option B

(UPSC civil services prelims 2022)

Practice Question:  Discuss the challenges posed by misinformation surrounding the rare post-vaccination complication known as Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. How can governments mitigate the spread of misinformation and ensure public trust in vaccination programs? (150 Words /10 marks)

2. Corporate climate watchdog paper deems carbon offsets largely futile.

(Source – The Hindu, Section – Business, Page No. – 13)

Topic: GS3 – Environment – Environmental pollution and degradation
Context
● The news discusses how a prominent corporate climate action group is concerned about the effectiveness of allowing companies to offset greenhouse gas emissions with carbon credits, as revealed in a confidential draft.

● This poses a challenge to the growth of the voluntary carbon offsets market.

 Analysis of the news:

  • Staff at a corporate climate action group found that allowing companies to offset greenhouse gas emissions with carbon credits, as proposed by their board, is largely ineffective.
 What are Carbon credits?
● Carbon credits are a market-based mechanism aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

They represent the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent.

Companies or entities can earn carbon credits by reducing their emissions below a certain baseline or by implementing projects that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

These credits can be traded or sold to other entities to help them meet their emission reduction targets.

● Carbon credits play a crucial role in incentivizing emission reductions and promoting sustainable development practices globally.

 

  • The proposal affects the growth of the voluntary carbon offsets market, currently valued at around $2 billion, used by major companies like Microsoft and Amazon.com.
  • The Science-based Targets initiative (SBTi), a U.N.-backed nonprofit, faced staff revolt for considering carbon credits before completing research on their effectiveness.
  • SBTi’s board clarified that no policy change had occurred yet and decisions would be evidence-informed.
  • The staff’s findings, based on scientific papers and consultations, highlight significant concerns about adopting carbon offsets in emission-reduction plans, pending review by a panel of climate scientists.
 Pros and Cons of Carbon Credit System:
Pros of Carbon Credit System:

●  Emissions Reduction: Encourages industries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to earn carbon credits, leading to overall emission reductions.

Incentive for Innovation: Promotes investment in clean technologies and renewable energy sources by providing financial incentives for emission reduction projects.

Market Mechanism: Creates a market for trading carbon credits, allowing for flexibility in meeting emission reduction targets and fostering economic efficiency.

Global Cooperation: Facilitates international cooperation on climate change mitigation by providing a framework for countries to collaborate on emission reduction efforts.

Revenue Generation: Offers opportunities for developing countries to generate revenue by selling carbon credits, supporting sustainable development initiatives.

Compliance Mechanism: Provides a transparent and measurable way for industries and countries to demonstrate compliance with emission reduction commitments.

Cons of Carbon Credit System:

Complexity: The system can be complex to implement and administer, requiring monitoring, reporting, and verification mechanisms.

●  Market Volatility: Carbon credit prices can be volatile, influenced by factors such as policy changes, economic conditions, and market speculation.

●  Potential for Fraud: There is a risk of fraud and misrepresentation in the issuance and trading of carbon credits, undermining the integrity of the system.

Inequity: Critics argue that the system may disproportionately benefit certain industries or countries while disadvantaging others, leading to inequitable outcomes.

Limited Scope: The effectiveness of carbon credits in achieving significant emission reductions may be limited without broader policy measures and regulatory frameworks.

Carbon Leakage: Concerns exist regarding carbon leakage, where industries relocate to regions with lax emissions regulations, offsetting emission reductions achieved elsewhere.

PYQ: Should the pursuit of carbon credit and clean development mechanism set up under UNFCCC be maintained even through there has been a massive slide in the value of carbon credit? Discuss with respect to India’s energy needs for economic growth. (200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2014)
Practice Question:  Discuss the implications of staff concerns regarding the effectiveness of carbon credits for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, as revealed in a confidential draft. How might this impact corporate climate action strategies and the growth of the voluntary carbon offsets market? (150 Words /10 marks)

 

3. Could bird flu turn into the next pandemic?

(Source – The Hindu, Section – Science, Page No. – 7)

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health
Context
The summary provides an overview of the emergence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), spreading to cattle in the US, and the subsequent concerns raised by the World Health Organization (WHO)

● The news highlights potential transmission to humans, alongside India’s history of HPAI outbreaks and preventive measures.

 Introduction to Avian Influenza Outbreak

  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) detected in multiple states in the US, spreading to cattle.
  • WHO expresses concern over H5N1 bird flu transmission to various species, including humans.
  • Current outbreak, originating in 2020, termed a “global zoonotic animal pandemic” due to its impact on multiple animal species.

WHO’s Warning and Global Impact

  • WHO warns of potential evolution of the virus to infect humans and achieve human-to-human transmission.
  • Despite no evidence of human-to-human spread, mortality rate remains high among those infected through animal contact.
  • WHO documents 889 human cases across 23 countries over the past 15 months, resulting in 463 deaths, with a mortality rate of 52%.

History and Impact of Avian Influenza in India

  • HPAI first detected in Maharashtra in February 2006, leading to annual outbreaks across different regions.
  • Disease reported in 24 states, resulting in culling of over 9 million birds to control spread.
  • Vaccination against HPAI not permitted in India due to endemic nature or difficulty in detecting infection in affected animals.

Insights from Nature Article on H5N1 Variant

  • Various forms of H5N1 virus circulating since the 1990s, with a particularly deadly variant detected in 1996.
  • Deadly variant found in multiple mammalian species but not previously known to infect cows.
  • Pasteurised milk tests negative for living virus, but virus’s increasing ubiquity raises concerns.
  • Cows pose significant risk as potential reservoirs due to their large population and close interaction with humans.
  • Culling poultry, effective for controlling bird flu, not viable for cattle due to their value and lack of mortality from infection.

Government Responses and Precautionary Measures

  • Central government directs states to stay vigilant after US developments.
  • Importance of stringent surveillance and preventive measures highlighted by WHO.
  • Continued monitoring and research essential to understand evolving nature of virus and its potential impact on public health.

Conclusion

  • Emergence of HPAI in multiple species, including cattle, raises significant concerns about the potential for zoonotic transmission to humans.
  • Global efforts, including surveillance, preventive measures, and research, are crucial in containing the spread of avian influenza and mitigating its impact on animal and human health.
Practice Question:  Discuss the implications of the recent spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza to cattle in the US and its potential for zoonotic transmission to humans. What measures should governments take to mitigate the risks posed by such outbreaks? (250 Words /15 marks)

4. Green steel needs tiered incentives to become a reality in Asia: Russell

(Source – The Hindu, Section – Business, Page No. – 13)

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Infrastructure – Energy and Environment: Environmental pollution and degradation
Context
●  The news discusses the challenges and prospects of decarbonizing the steel sector in Asia, emphasizing the need for incentives to drive significant progress.

● Despite stakeholders’ efforts, achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 remains uncertain due to technological limitations and financial considerations.

 Introduction to Decarbonizing the Steel Sector

  • Steel production is a major contributor to global carbon emissions, accounting for approximately 8% of the world’s total.
  • Decarbonizing the steel sector is crucial for achieving net-zero emissions and addressing climate change concerns.
  • Efforts to decarbonize steel production in Asia face challenges, particularly in implementing incentives and adopting new technologies.

Current Efforts and Challenges

  • Stakeholders in the iron ore and steel industry are taking decarbonization seriously, investing time, effort, and capital into solutions.
  • However, achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 in Asia seems challenging with current available technology.
  • The absence of a premium for producing low-carbon steel in Asia and the lack of incentives hinder progress in decarbonization efforts.

Incentivizing Decarbonization

  • Decarbonization efforts are mostly voluntary, driven by pressure from shareholders, governments, and the public to mitigate climate change impacts.
  • However, without financial rewards, decarbonization costs affect companies’ bottom lines, discouraging significant progress.
  • Introducing incentives is crucial, starting from initial steps to more capital-intensive measures for achieving net-zero emissions.

Proposed Incentive Structure

  • A tiered system of incentives could be introduced, rewarding emission reductions at different stages of decarbonization.
  • For example, a steel mill reducing emissions by a third could earn a carbon credit or avoid paying a carbon tax.
  • Further reductions achieved through investment in new processes, such as using direct reduced iron (DRI) in electric arc furnaces (EAFs), could receive higher incentives.

Challenges and Solutions for Decarbonization

  • Initial steps involve maximising efficiency, increasing the use of recycled steel, and decarbonizing mining operations.
  • However, these efforts may only address a small portion of global steel emissions.
  • Advanced steps, such as using green hydrogen and renewable energy in steel production, require substantial investment and face shareholder scrutiny over costs.

Need for Regulatory Measures

  • Market forces alone may not provide sufficient incentives for decarbonization, necessitating regulatory interventions like carbon taxes or credits.
  • Coordination among top iron ore exporters and major steel-producing countries, including Australia, Brazil, China, and India, is essential for effective regulation.

Conclusion

  • Decarbonizing the steel sector is critical for achieving net-zero emissions, but challenges persist, particularly in incentivizing decarbonization efforts.
  • A tiered incentive system and regulatory measures like carbon taxes or credits are necessary to drive significant progress in reducing steel sector emissions.
  • Coordination among key stakeholders and countries is essential for implementing effective regulations and accelerating the transition to low-carbon steel production.
PYQ:

Q.1 Account for the change in the spatial pattern of the Iron and Steel industry in the world. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2014)

Q.2 Account for the present location of iron and steel industries away from the source of raw material, by giving examples. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2020)

Practice Question:  What are the challenges hindering the decarbonization of the steel sector in Asia, and how can incentives be introduced to facilitate progress towards net-zero emissions by 2050? (250 Words /15 marks)

5. Navigating Challenges: India-Maldives Bilateral Relations Under the Spotlight

(Source: Indian Express; Section: Cover Page; Page: 01)

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Bilateral Relations
Context:
  • The recent meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer underscores the nuanced dynamics of India-Maldives bilateral relations.
  • Against the backdrop of a veiled reference to the pro-China tilt of the Maldives government led by President Mohamed Muizzu, Jaishankar emphasized the importance of mutual interests and reciprocal sensitivity in nurturing the ties between the two close and proximate neighbors.
Analysis of News:

Challenges and Expectations:

  • President Muizzu’s call for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel from the Maldives by May 10 has added strain to the bilateral relationship.
  • The meeting between Jaishankar and Zameer ahead of this deadline signifies the urgency of addressing contentious issues while reaffirming the commitment to bilateral cooperation.

Military Personnel Withdrawal and Its Implications:

  • The withdrawal of Indian military personnel from the Maldives, as demanded by President Muizzu, has been confirmed by the Ministry of External Affairs.
  • However, they have been replaced by competent Indian technical personnel to ensure the continued operation of Indian aviation platforms providing humanitarian and medical evacuation services.
  • This move reflects India’s commitment to supporting the Maldives in times of need while respecting its sovereignty.

Bilateral Cooperation and Development Partnership:

  • Despite political tensions, India remains a key development partner for the Maldives, offering assistance across various sectors, including infrastructure, healthcare, and disaster relief.
  • Both sides reiterated their commitment to ongoing capacity-building and training initiatives, highlighting the importance of shared activities in enhancing security and well-being.

Economic Cooperation and Export Quotas:

  • India’s approval of the highest-ever export quotas for essential commodities to the Maldives underscores its commitment to supporting human-centric development in the island nation.
  • This gesture reaffirms India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and signals its readiness to address the Maldives’ economic needs.

Future Directions and Regional Security:

  • The meeting between Jaishankar and Zameer provided an opportunity to discuss future directions in bilateral relations and regional security.
  • Against the backdrop of a volatile and uncertain global landscape, close partnerships with neighbors like the Maldives are deemed crucial for addressing common challenges and fostering stability in the region.

Conclusion:

  • The India-Maldives bilateral relationship faces both challenges and opportunities, with the recent meeting serving as a platform to navigate through contentious issues and reaffirm shared commitments.
  • Despite political differences, both countries recognize the importance of cooperation in addressing regional security concerns and promoting mutual prosperity.
  • Moving forward, continued dialogue and cooperation will be essential in nurturing a resilient and mutually beneficial partnership.
Maldives’ Significance for India:
  • Strategic Location: Located south of India, the Maldives holds immense strategic importance in the Indian Ocean, acting as a gateway to the Arabian Sea and beyond. This allows India to monitor maritime traffic and enhance regional security.
  • Cultural Link: India and Maldives share a deep cultural and historical connection dating back centuries. Until the first half of the 12th century, Buddhism was the principal religion in the Maldivian islands. There is an inscription of Vajrayana Buddhism, that had existed in the Maldives in ancient times.
  • Regional Stability: A stable and prosperous Maldives aligns with India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy, promoting peace and security in the Indian Ocean region.
India’s Significance for Maldives:
  • Essential Supplies: India is a crucial supplier of everyday essentials, including rice, spices, fruits, vegetables, and medicines. India also aids in building Maldivian infrastructure by providing materials like cement and rock boulders.
  • Education: India serves as the primary education provider for Maldivian students who pursue higher education in Indian institutions, including scholarships for deserving students.
  • Disaster Assistance: India has been a consistent source of aid during crises, such as tsunamis and drinking water shortages. The provision of essential items and support during the Covid-19 pandemic showcases India’s role as a reliable partner.
  • Security Provider: India has a history of providing security assistance, intervening during a coup attempt in 1988 through Operation Cactus and conducting joint naval exercises for the protection of the Maldives. Joint Exercises include- “Ekuverin”, “Dosti” and “Ekatha”.
  • India’s Dominance in Maldives Tourism: Indian tourists have become the leading source market for the Maldives since the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2023, they accounted for a significant 11.2% of total tourist arrivals, amounting to 18.42 lakh visitors.

 

PYQ: Discuss the political developments in Maldives in the last two years. Should they be of any cause of concern to India? (200 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2013)
Practice Question:  Discuss the recent developments in India-Maldives bilateral relations and their implications for regional cooperation. (150 words/10 m)

6. Addressing Gaps in Cancer Screening: Challenges and Initiatives in Ayushman Bharat Scheme

(Source: Indian Express; Section: Cover Page; Page: 01)

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors
Context:
  • The Ayushman Bharat Scheme, in addition to providing a Rs 5-lakh insurance cover, aimed to upgrade primary health centers to Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centers (HWCs) to offer annual screening for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes, and certain cancers.
  • However, a report from NITI Aayog reveals significant gaps in cancer screening at these centers, highlighting challenges in implementation.
Analysis of News:

What is Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY?

  • PM-JAY is the world’s largest health insurance scheme fully financed by the government.
  • Launched in 2018, it offers a sum insured of Rs.5 lakh per family for secondary care and tertiary care.
  • Health Benefit Packages covers surgery, medical and day care treatments, cost of medicines and diagnostics.

Beneficiaries:

  • It is an entitlement-based scheme that targets the beneficiaries as identified by latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data.
  • The National Health Authority (NHA) has provided flexibility to States/UTs to use non- Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) beneficiary family databases with similar socio-economic profiles for tagging against the leftover (unauthenticated) SECC families.

Funding:

  • The funding for the scheme is shared – 60:40 for all states and UTs with their own legislature, 90:10 in Northeast states and Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Uttarakhand and 100% Central funding for UTs without legislature.

Nodal Agency:

  • The National Health Authority (NHA) has been constituted as an autonomous entity under the Society Registration Act, 1860 for effective implementation of PM-JAY in alliance with state governments.
  • The State Health Agency (SHA) is the apex body of the State Government responsible for the implementation of AB PM-JAY in the State.

Scope of the Report:

  • The report, prepared by NITI Aayog’s Health and Family Welfare vertical, covered 93 HWCs across 37 districts in 13 states and one Union Territory.
  • It tracked the progress and functioning of the HWCs over a four-month period, aiming to evaluate the implementation of cancer screening initiatives.

Identified Challenges:

  • One of the primary challenges identified in the report is the “huge gap” in cancer screening at the HWCs.
  • Despite the ambitious goals of the Ayushman Bharat Scheme, the actual implementation of cancer screening programs has fallen short, attributed to low levels of awareness and capacity constraints.

Training and Screening Methods:

  • The report underscores the importance of training healthcare staff, including Auxiliary Nurse and Midwife (ANMs), Medical Officers, and Staff Nurses, in cancer screening methods.
  • While protocols for screening methods such as oral visual examination for oral cancer and visual inspection with acetic acid for cervical cancer exist, their implementation has been suboptimal.

Current Status of Screening Activities:

  • According to the report, screening for breast cancer relies on educating beneficiaries to undertake self-examination, while screening for cervical cancer is yet to be operationalized.
  • Screening for oral cancer is performed on a case-by-case basis, primarily based on visible symptoms or tobacco consumption habits.
  • Moreover, annual NCD screening, including for hypertension and diabetes, is largely absent at most facilities.

Infrastructure and Operational Guidelines:

  • While the report notes that infrastructure in the HWCs meets operational guidelines, with basic devices and medicines available free-of-cost, the gaps in cancer screening remain a significant concern.
  • The absence of regular NCD screening reflects a need for enhanced training and monitoring of healthcare staff to ensure effective implementation of preventive healthcare measures.

Government Initiatives and Future Directions:

  • The gaps in cancer screening underscore the importance of the government’s focus on prevention and early detection of cancer.
  • The ruling BJP’s manifesto emphasizes expanding health services to address conditions like breast cancer, cervical cancer, and anaemia, indicating a commitment to women’s health.
  • Additionally, the party has announced initiatives to eliminate cervical cancer, highlighting the importance of addressing gaps in cancer screening and prevention.

Conclusion:

  • The NITI Aayog report highlights the need for concerted efforts to address gaps in cancer screening at Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centers.
  • Effective training, increased awareness, and regular monitoring are essential to ensure the successful implementation of cancer screening programs and achieve the goals of preventive healthcare initiatives.
What is the Importance of NITI Aayog?
  • The 65 year-old Planning Commission had become a redundant organization. It was relevant in a command economy structure, but not any longer.
  • India is a diversified country and its states are in various phases of economic development along with their own strengths and weaknesses.
  • In this context, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to economic planning is obsolete. It cannot make India competitive in today’s global economy.
  • What are Its Key Objectives?
  • To foster cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation.
  • To develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans at the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government.
  • To ensure, on areas that are specifically referred to it, that the interests of national security are incorporated in economic strategy and policy.
  • To pay special attention to the sections of our society that may be at risk of not benefitting adequately from economic progress.
  • To provide advice and encourage partnerships between key stakeholders and national and international like-minded Think Tanks, as well as educational and policy research institutions.
  • To create a knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurial support system through a collaborative community of national and international experts, practitioners and other partners.
  • To offer a platform for resolution of inter-sectoral and inter-departmental issues in order to accelerate the implementation of the development agenda.
  • To maintain a state-of-the-art Resource Centre, be a repository of research on good governance and best practices in sustainable and equitable development as well as help their dissemination to stake-holders.

 

Practice Question:  Discuss the challenges and initiatives in cancer screening under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme. (150 words/10 m)

 

7. Decline in India’s Agricultural Exports: Causes, Implications, and Policy Considerations

(Source: Indian Express; Section: Explained; Page: 12)

Topic: GS3 – Agriculture – Storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce

 

Context:
  • India’s agricultural exports witnessed an 8.2% decline in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024, primarily due to restrictions on various commodities.
  • This decline, juxtaposed with the surge in imports, reflects a complex dynamic in India’s agricultural trade landscape.
Analysis of News:

Trends in Agricultural Exports:

  • The total value of agricultural exports in 2023-24 stood at $48.82 billion, a drop from the record high of $53.15 billion in the previous fiscal year.
  • The decline in exports during the initial years of the Modi government was attributed to falling global agri-commodity prices, rendering Indian exports less competitive.

   Drivers of Export Decline:

  • The decline in exports was led by sugar and non-basmati rice, primarily due to domestic shortages and rising prices.
  • Restrictions on wheat and onion exports further exacerbated the decline. Despite this, certain commodities such as basmati rice and spices witnessed growth in exports.

Trends in Agricultural Imports:

  • While the overall agricultural imports declined by 7.9% in 2023-24, the import of pulses nearly doubled, reaching the highest levels since 2015-16.
  • Import of edible oils saw a significant reduction due to lower global prices.

Policy Implications:

  • The government’s approach to agricultural exports and imports has significant implications for producers and consumers.
  • Sudden bans or restrictions on exports can disrupt market dynamics and hurt producers.
  • Experts suggest a more predictable and rules-based policy, such as temporary tariffs instead of outright bans.

Future Outlook:

  • As the government transitions post-elections, there is a need for a rational export-import policy that balances the interests of producers and consumers.
  • Promoting crop diversification while addressing import dependency remains a key challenge for the agricultural sector.

Conclusion:

  • Addressing the challenges in agricultural exports requires a nuanced approach that considers both short-term exigencies and long-term sustainability goals.
What are the Government Schemes to Promote Agri-Export in India ?
  •  Operation Greens: Operation Greens is an initiative to stabilise the supply and prices of essential agricultural commodities, including fruits and vegetables. It aims to reduce price volatility, ensure farmers receive remunerative prices, and promote sustainable agri exports.
  •  Market Access Initiative (MAI): MAI is a program that supports export promotion activities, including participation in international trade fairs, capacity building, and market research. It helps Indian agricultural exporters explore new markets and gain market access.
  • Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters (SAMPADA): SAMPADA aims to modernise infrastructure for agro-processing clusters, which helps reduce post-harvest losses, increase the shelf life of agricultural products, and enhance the export competitiveness of Indian agri-products.
  • National Horticulture Mission (NHM): NHM focuses on promoting sustainable horticulture practices, including organic farming, precision farming, and water-use efficiency. It supports the production of high-value horticultural products for export.
  • E-NAM (National Agriculture Market): E-NAM is a pan-India electronic trading portal for agricultural commodities. It enables farmers to sell their produce directly to buyers, reducing intermediaries, ensuring fair prices, and enhancing sustainability.
  • APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority): APEDA is responsible for promoting the export of scheduled products and provides guidelines for sustainability, quality, and certification requirements for exporters.
  • Setting up of Agri Export Zones (AEZs): AEZs are established in different parts of the country to promote the export of specific agricultural commodities. These zones provide a conducive environment for sustainable agri exports through infrastructure development and technology adoption.
  • Promotion of Organic Farming: The government has initiated programs to promote organic farming, which contributes to environmental sustainability and increases the export potential of organic products.

 

PYQ: What are the main constraints in transport and marketing of agricultural produce in India? (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2020)
Practice Question:  Discuss the factors contributing to the decline in India’s agricultural exports in the fiscal year 2023-24 and analyze the policy implications of such trends. How can the government formulate a more sustainable export-import policy to balance the interests of producers and consumers in the agricultural sector? (250 words/15 m)

 

Similar Posts

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments