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Indian Express Editorial Analysis

18-March-2024

1. Only if States Agree

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Issues arising out of their design & implementation

The article explores the debate around “One Nation, One Election” and its implications, providing insights into governance, federalism, and nation-building, which are relevant for UPSC aspirants.

Context:

  • The article discusses the debate surrounding the “One Nation, One Election” proposal, exploring its potential impact on national unity and federalism in India, drawing insights from historical perspectives and contemporary political dynamics.
  • Top of Form

Introduction:

  • The proposal for “One Nation, One Election” by the Ram Nath Kovind panel has sparked a contentious debate regarding its potential impact on national unity and the federal structure of India.

Synchronization Proposal:

  • The panel suggests synchronizing national and state elections to streamline the electoral process.
  • It aims to implement this synchronization by 2029, advocating for the reduction of certain state assembly tenures to align with this schedule.
  • The rationale behind this proposal is to minimize disruptions caused by frequent elections and enhance governance and development.

Implications for National Unity:

  • The proposal indicates a move towards centralization and a more organized democratic system.
  • However, its impact on national unity depends on the perspective regarding federalism and Indian nationhood.
  • Historical viewpoints shed light on contrasting views regarding linguistic diversity and the process of nation-building.

Gandhian Perspective:

  • Mahatma Gandhi envisioned Indian identity as a blend of regional and national identities.
  • He promoted linguistic federation within the Congress party, advocating for the coexistence of regional and national affiliations.
  • This concept aligns with the idea of a “state-nation” rather than a “nation-state.”

Contemporary Relevance:

  • The debate over “One Nation, One Election” reflects a tension between centralization and regional diversity.
  • While synchronized elections may enhance efficiency, they risk sidelining regional parties and perspectives.
  • A consensus among various stakeholders is crucial for implementing significant changes in the political landscape.

Conclusion:

  • The proposal for synchronized elections raises fundamental questions about India’s identity and governance structure.
  • Balancing centralization with regional diversity is essential for preserving national unity and upholding democratic principles.

 

Pros & Cons of One Nation One Election

Pros:

– Reduces frequency of elections, allowing governments to focus on governance instead of continuous campaigning.

– Saves time and resources spent on conducting multiple elections.

– Enhances policy continuity and stability by aligning national and state elections.

– Reduces disruptions caused by frequent elections to administrative processes and public services.

– Streamlines the electoral process and minimizes voter fatigue.

Cons:

– May undermine federalism by centralizing power and reducing states’ autonomy.

– Could disadvantage smaller regional parties with limited resources and grassroots support.

– Risks diluting the democratic process by limiting opportunities for public engagement and accountability.

– May disproportionately benefit national parties with greater organizational strength and financial resources.

– Challenges in synchronizing election schedules across diverse states with varying political landscapes and priorities.

PYQ: ‘Simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies will limit the amount of time and money spent in electioneering but it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people’ Discuss.

(150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017)

Practice Question: How does the Ram Nath Kovind panel propose to address the issue of frequent elections in India, and what potential impact could this have on governance and development? (150 words/10m)

2. Diversify the Basket

Topic: GS3 – Agriculture – Issues related to Direct & indirect farm subsidies, MSP, Cropping pattern

The article sheds light on the need for agricultural diversification and policy reforms to enhance productivity, crucial for understanding Indian agriculture’s challenges and potential solutions.

Context:
  • The article challenges perceptions of Punjab’s agricultural dominance, revealing its lower rank in agri-value creation.
  • It advocates for diversification and learning from successful states to enhance agricultural productivity and ensure farmers’ prosperity.

Introduction:

  • Contrary to popular belief, Punjab’s agricultural productivity is not as high as perceived. This article delves into a comparative analysis of agricultural value creation across Indian states for the year 2021-22.

Challenging Perceptions:

  • Punjab, often hailed for its agricultural prowess, ranks surprisingly low, at 13th place, in terms of agri-value generated per hectare.
  • This revelation contrasts with the common notion of Punjab’s agricultural dominance.

Comparative Analysis:

  • Using metrics like agri-GDP per hectare based on both Net Sown Area (NSA) and Gross Cropped Area (GCA), the study unveils states like Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu as leaders in agricultural value creation.

Punjab’s Dilemma:

  • The overemphasis on rice-wheat cultivation, fuelled by the Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime and subsidies, has hindered Punjab’s ability to diversify its agricultural portfolio.
  • Urgent measures are required to avert ecological calamities.

Path to Resurgence:

  • Encouraging crop diversification towards high-value alternatives such as pulses, oilseeds, fruits, and vegetables is imperative.
  • Establishing crop-neutral incentive structures can incentivize farmers to make the transition.

Learning from Success Stories:

  • States like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal offer valuable lessons in agricultural diversification and innovation.
  • Practices like Ultra High-Density Plantation (UHDP) and Agri-Export Zones (AEZs) have proven effective in boosting agricultural productivity.

Tapping into Dairy Potential:

  • Punjab’s dairy sector presents untapped potential for value-added processing, offering opportunities for growth and diversification beyond traditional crops.

Conclusion:

  • Embracing demand-driven, high-value agricultural systems is essential for Punjab and Haryana to enhance farmers’ prosperity and ensure sustainable agricultural development in the long run.
Why Diversification and Policy Reforms are Key to Boosting Agricultural Productivity

Traditional, monoculture farming methods (focusing on a single crop) are facing increasing limitations. Here’s why agricultural diversification and policy reforms are crucial for enhancing productivity:

Benefits of Diversification:

  • Reduced risk: By planting a variety of crops, farmers are less vulnerable to price fluctuations, pests, and diseases that target specific crops. A bad harvest for one crop can be offset by the success of others.
  • Improved soil health: Different crops have varying nutrient requirements. Crop rotation helps replenish nutrients in the soil, leading to better long-term yields. This reduces reliance on chemical fertilizers and promotes sustainable practices.
  • Increased income: Diversification allows farmers to explore high-value crops, fruits, vegetables, or integrate livestock rearing. This can significantly improve their income potential.
  • Environmental benefits: Diversification promotes biodiversity, attracting beneficial insects and reducing reliance on pesticides. It can also help mitigate climate change by improving soil carbon sequestration.

Policy Reforms for Improved Productivity:

  • Research and development: Government support for research into new crop varieties, better irrigation methods, and sustainable farming practices can significantly enhance yields.
  • Infrastructure development: Building better storage facilities, transportation networks, and access to markets reduces post-harvest losses and allows farmers to reach wider markets, improving their bargaining power.
  • Financial support: Providing easy access to credit, subsidies for essential inputs like seeds and fertilizers, and crop insurance schemes can incentivize diversification and reduce risk for farmers.
  • Education and training: Extending agricultural extension services and training programs on new technologies, diversification strategies, and market trends empowers farmers to make informed decisions.

Overall, agricultural diversification, coupled with well-designed policy reforms, can create a more resilient, productive, and profitable agricultural sector. This can ensure food security, improve farmer livelihoods, and promote environmental sustainability.

PYQ: How do subsidies affect the cropping pattern, crop diversity and economy of farmers? What is the significance of crop insurance, minimum support price and food processing for small and marginal farmers?

(250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2017)

Practice Question: Discuss the importance of embracing demand-driven high-value agricultural systems for ensuring the prosperity of farmers in Punjab and Haryana, emphasizing the need to move beyond MSP-based cropping patterns. (250 words/15m)

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