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Agriculture (Geo)

Indian Agricultue

Agriculture (Geo)

Agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy. Over 58 per cent of the rural households depend on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood. Agriculture, along with fisheries and forestry, is one of the largest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
As per estimates by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the share of agriculture and allied sectors (including agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishery) was 15.35 per cent of the Gross Value Added (GVA) during 2015-16 at 2011-12 prices.
The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for the development of the agriculture sector in India. It manages several other bodies, such as the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), to develop other allied agricultural sectors.
• India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices and spice products.
• India’s fruit production has grown faster than vegetables, making it the second largest fruit producer in the world.
• India’s horticulture output, comprising fruits, vegetables and spices, is estimated to be 283.4 million tonnes (MT) in 2015-16 after the third advanced estimate.
• Agricultural export constitutes 10 per cent of the country’s exports and is the fourth-largest exported principal commodity.
• India is an agricultural economy where approximately 49% of the people depend on agriculture.
• Net sown area still accounts for about 47% of the total cultivable area of India.
• Accounts for about 35% of our national income.
• Share in GDP – around 14 %.
• Provides food for the people and fodder for the animals.
• Main source of raw materials to the agro-based industries viz. sugar, textile, edible oil, etc.
• Predominance of food crop ? 2/3rd of total cropped area.
• 1st rank in Milk (17% of world production), Mango, banana, coconut, cashew, papaya, peas, cassava and pomegranate.
• Largest producer and exporter of spices, Millets, Pulses, Dry Bean, Ginger.
• Overall, second largest producer of vegetable, fruits and fishes.
• Have three main cropping seasons viz. Kharif, Rabi & Zaid.

A. Seed:
• Seed is a fertilized matured ovule together covered with seed coat.
• Importance of seed
a) Seed bridge between the two generations of plant life.
b) Seed is the medium which transferring character from one generation to next generation.
c) Seed is the vital and most important input for crop production.
d) Seed as food, feed, medicinal, industries or ornamental value.
• Hybrid seeds are obtained by cross pollination of different varieties of related plants.
• Genetically Modified seeds, are the ones in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in such a way as to get the required quality.

B. Fertilizers:
• Fertilizers are chemical compounds applied to promote plant and fruit growth.
• Organic fertilizers are fertilizers derived from animal matter, human excreta or vegetable matter. (e.g. compost, manure). Naturally occurring organic fertilizers include animal wastes from meat processing, peat, manure, slurry, and guano.
• Inorganic fertilizers contain simple inorganic chemicals. Some of the common nutrients present in fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NKP). They also contain secondary plant nutrients such as calcium, sulphur and magnesium.
Bio-fertilizers Pros:
• Increases crop yield by 20-30%
• Provide protection against drought and some soil-borne diseases
• Replaces chemical nitrogen & phosphorus by 25%
• Stimulates plant growth
• Cost-effective
• Environment friendly
• To some extent, helps to cleanse the plant from precipitated chemical fertilizers
Bio-fertilizers Cons:
• Effects are slower compared to chemical fertilizer
• Difficulty to store as sensitive to temp. and humidity changes
• Much lower nutrient density – requires large amounts to get enough for most crops
• Sometimes, are hard to locate/purchase in faraway rural areas.
New Urea policy 2015.

C. Irrigation
• Irrigation is an artificial application of water to the soil. It is usually used to assist in growing crops in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall.
• Additionally, irrigation also has a few other uses in crop production, which include protecting plants against frost, suppressing weed growing in rice fields and helping in preventing soil consolidation.
• There are large reserves of underground water in the alluvial plains of north India. Digging and constructing wells and tube-wells is easy and cost of their construction is also comparatively less. Therefore irrigation by wells and tube-wells here is popular
• An irrigation canal is a waterway, often man-made or enhanced, built for the purpose of carrying water from a source such as a lake, river, or stream, to soil used for farming or landscaping.
• A tank consists of water storage which has been developed by constructing a small bund of earth or stones built across a stream. The water impounded by the bund is used for irrigation or other purposes.
• Localized irrigation is a system where water is distributed under low pressure through a piped network, in a pre-determined pattern, and applied as a small discharge to each plant or adjacent to it. Drip irrigation, spray or micro-sprinkler irrigation and bubbler irrigation belong to this category of irrigation methods.

D. HYV (High Yielding Variety) Seeds ? Green Revolution by Norman Borlaug
• To achieve self-sufficiency in food
• Shorter Life cycles
• Increased productivity
• Benefited Wheat & Rice
• Benefitted Punjab, Haryana, UP, TN, Andhra Pradesh & Maharashtra
• Input cost increased
• More water & fertilizer required
• Chemical poisoning of soil
• Salinity & Alkalinity increased which makes soil impermeable
• Depletion of ground water
• Loss of fertility of soil
• Limited to selective states only
• Limited to selected crops only
E. Green Manure
• A type of cover crop grown primarily to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
• A green manure crop is grown for a specific period of time, and then ploughed under and incorporated into the soil while it is still green or shortly after flowering.
• Provides subsidy on purchase of seeds & on cost for production of seeds for green manure plants.
• Leguminous types — Have Nitrogen fixing ability for ex. Cowpeas, Soybeans.
• Non- Leguminous types — For weed suppression & addition of biomass to the soil for eg. Sudan grass, Millets, Sorghum & Buckwheat.
• Helps in soil improvement & soil protection
• Provides forage for pollinating insects
• Deep rooting properties ? Increase aeration of soil+ Efficient at suppressing weeds
• Fix nitrogen in soil, thus Less chemical fertilizers are required
• Provides habitat for predatory beneficial insects which kill and eat harmful insects thus less pesticides are required
• Leguminous plants require good amount of irrigation
• The “time” factor — one cannot plant the primary marketable crop during green manuring phase.
F. Genetically Modified Food
• Modified form of agricultural plants to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content
• Using the latest molecular biology techniques & genetic engineering, plants are undertaken breeding to get the desired results
• Last decade, genetically modified (GM) crops were introduced esp. for Cotton & Brinjal in India but as of now only GM Bt. Cotton production is allowed.
Advantages of GM Foods
• Pest resistance
• Herbicide resistance
• Disease resistance
• Draught tolerance
• Salinity tolerance
• Increased nutrition
• Better flavour and colour
• Early maturing
• All year availability
• Easy to store
Disadvantages of GM Foods 
• Reduced effectiveness to pesticides
• Unknown effects on human health
• Gene transfer to non-target species
• Playing with nature and its mechanisms
• Monopoly of MNCs in GM seeds
• High input cost — Requires high dose of fertilizers
• Genetically-modified foods have the potential to solve many of the world’s hunger and malnutrition problems, and to help protect and preserve the environment by increasing yield and reducing reliance upon chemical pesticides and herbicides.
• Yet there are many challenges ahead for governments, especially in the areas of safety testing, regulation, international policy and food labeling. Hence, we must proceed with caution to avoid causing unintended harm to human health and the environment as a result of our enthusiasm for this powerful technology.

NITI Aayog has identified three key areas for reform and is now persuading states to undertake the reforms. The areas identified for immediate reforms are:
• Agricultural market reforms
• Land lease reforms
• Reforms related to forestry on private land – felling and transit of trees.
Three crucial reforms pertaining to marketing in agriculture have been recommended by NITI Aayog. First is the immediate need to amend existing regulations in order to liberalize markets. Farmer to should be given the freedom to decide to whom, where and how he wants to sell his produce. Seven indicators have been developed by NITI in this regard. The reforms also suggest special treatment of fruits and vegetables from other farm produce as they are perishable and produced in small quantities. Importantly, the recommended reforms place importance on IT in marketing for the creation of a ‘national market’ for agriculture, so that farmers across the country may benefit from interconnected markets, through the use of appropriate technology. This important reform has so far eluded the country due to strong lobbies of middlemen and the reluctance of political class to take favourable steps.
NITI Aayog has launched an index to rank States and UTs that is based on implementation of seven provisions proposed under model APMC Act, joining eNAM initiative, special treatment to fruits and vegetables for marketing and level of taxes in mandis. These indicators reveal ease of doing agribusiness as well as opportunities for farmers to benefit from modern trade and commerce and have wider option for sale of her/his produce. These indicators also represent competitiveness, efficiency and transparency in agri markets. The second area of reforms included in the index is relaxation in restrictions related to lease in and lease out agricultural land and change in law to recognise tenant and safeguard land owners liberalisation. The third area included in the index represent freedom given to farmers for felling and transit of trees grown on private land.

Emergency Provisions

Emergency Provisions

Emergency Provisions

Emergency Provisions have been inserted in the Constitution for dealing with extraordinary situations that may threaten the peace, security, stability and governance of the country or a part thereof. They are included in part XVIII from articles 352 to 360.
There are three types of extraordinary or crisis situations that are envisaged.
• An emergency due to war or external aggression or armed rebellion i.e. National Emergency.
• An emergency due to the failure of the constitutional machinery in a State i.e. State Emergency.
• An emergency due to a threat to credit or financial stability of the country i.e. Financial Emergency.
National Emergency (Article 352)
• The Constitution of India originally provided for imposition of emergency in the event of war, external aggression or internal disturbance but by the 44th Amendment Act the expression “internal disturbance” was replaced by the term “armed rebellion”.
• This type of emergency can be declared by the President if he is satisfied that the security of India or any part thereof is threatened or is likely to be threatened. The President can declare such an emergency only after the written advice of the Cabinet.
• Every such proclamation of emergency has to be approved by both the Houses of Parliament by absolute majority of the total membership of the Houses as well as 2/3rd majority of members present and voting within one month, failing which the proclamation ceases to operate.
• In case the Lok Sabha stands dissolved at the time of proclamation of emergency or is not in session, it has to be approved by the Rajya Sabha within one month and later on by the Lok Sabha also within one month of the start of its next session.
• Once approved by the Parliament, the emergency remains in force for a period of six months from the date of proclamation. A fresh resolution has to be passed by the Parliament in case the emergency is to be extended beyond six months. In this way, such emergency continues indefinitely. The emergency can be revoked by another proclamation by the President anytime.
• The 44th Amendment of the Constitution provided that ten per cent or more members of the Lok Sabha can requisition a meeting of the Lok Sabha and in that meeting, it can disapprove or revoke the emergency by a simple majority. In such a case emergency will immediately become inoperative.
So far, National Emergency has been declared in our country three timesNational Emergency has been declared in our country three times
1) The first emergency was declared on 26 October 1962 after China attacked our borders in the North and East. This National Emergency lasted till 10 January 1968.
2) The second emergency was declared on 3 December 1971 in the wake of the second India-Pakistan War and was lifted on 21 March 1977.
3) The third National Emergency (called internal emergency) was imposed on 25 June 1975. This emergency was declared on the ground of ‘internal disturbances’.
Effects of National Emergency
The declaration of National Emergency has far-reaching effects both on the rights of individuals and the autonomy of the states in the following manner:
• During the operation of national emergency the executive power of the centre extends to directing any state regarding the manner in which its executive power is to be exercised.
• Parliament becomes empowered to make laws on any subject mentioned in the state list.
• The tenure of the Lok Sabha extends by a period of one year at a time. But the same cannot be extended beyond six months after the proclamation ceases to operate. The tenure of State Assemblies can also be extended in the same manner.
• During emergency, the President is empowered to modify the provisions regarding distribution of revenues between the Union and the States.
• The Fundamental Rights under Article 19 are automatically suspended and this suspension continues till the end of the emergency. But according to the 44th Amendment Article 19 can be suspended only in case of proclamation on the ground of war or external aggression and not on ground of armed rebellion.
• Other fundamental rights may also get suspended except Article 20 and 21.
State Emergency (Article 356)
• According to the Constitution it is the duty of the Union Government to ensure that governance of a State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Under Article 356, the President may issue a proclamation to impose emergency in a state if he is satisfied on receipt of a report from the Governor of the concerned State, or otherwise, that a situation has arisen under which the administration of the State cannot be carried on according to the provisions of the constitution.
• In such a situation, proclamation of emergency by the President is on account of the failure (or breakdown) of constitutional machinery. Thus it is known as “President’s Rule” or “State Emergency” or “Constitutional Emergency”.
• The proclamation imposing state emergency must be placed before both the Houses of Parliament for approval. The approval must be given within two months from the date of its issue failing which the proclamation ceases to operate. If in the meantime Lok Sabha gets dissolved, then the proclamation must be approved within 30 days from the first sitting of Lok Sabha.
• If approved by the Parliament, the proclamation remains valid for six months at a time. It can be extended for a maximum three years with the approval of the parliament, every six months. The 44th Amendment Act added a provision that the emergency beyond one year can be extended by six months at a time only when
(a) A National Emergency is already in operation; or if
(b) The Election Commission certifies that the election to the State Assembly cannot be held.

Effects of Imposition of President’s Rule in a State

• The President can assume to himself all or any of the functions of the State Government or he may vest all or any of those functions with the Governor or any other executive authority.
• The President may dissolve the State Legislative Assembly or put it under suspension. He may authorize the Parliament to make laws on behalf of the State Legislature.
• The Parliament can delegate the power to make laws for the state to the President or any other body specified by him when the state legislature is suspended or dissolved.
Financial Emergency (Article 360)
• The third type of Emergency is the Financial Emergency provided under Article 360. It provides that if the President is satisfied that the financial stability or credit of India or any of its part is threatened; he may declare a state of Financial Emergency.
• A proclamation declaring financial emergency must be approved by the Parliament within two months from the date of its issue. If the Lok Sabha gets dissolved in the mean time then it must be cleared within 30 days from the first sitting of the new Lok Sabha.
• The financial emergency continues indefinitely till it is revoked. The financial emergency has never been proclaimed in India so far.
Effects of Financial Emergency
• The Union Government may give direction to the States regarding financial matters.
• The President may ask the States to reduce the salaries and allowances of all or any class of persons in government service.
• The President may ask the States to preserve all the money bills for the consideration of the Parliament after they have been passed by the State Legislature.
• The President may also give directions for the reduction of salaries and allowances of the Central Government employees including the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

e-Postal Ballots

E-Postal Ballots

The Government has issued Notification on 21st October, 2016 amending rule 23 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 enabling service voters, including armed forces personnel, to cast their vote in elections through e-postal ballot.
What is e-postal ballot?
Under this system a blank postal ballot paper is transmitted to them electronically.
Voters entitled to postal ballot such as service voters, can download the postal ballot and print the blank postal ballot. After marking his vote in the blank postal ballot, the same would be returned to the concerned Returning Officer by post as in the present system of postal ballot.
What will be the benefits?
This would cut short the delay experienced in the present system in two-way transmission of ballot paper by the postal services. The armed forces personnel serving in remote and border areas would be greatly benefitted since the present system of two-way transmission of ballot paper by the postal services has not been able to meet the expectations of the service voters.
Who are the main beneficiaries?
On a pilot basis, e-postal ballot system has been introduced for service voters consisting of (a) armed police forces of the Union; (b) other forces subject to the provisions of the Army Act, 1950; (c) armed forces of a State serving outside that State; and (d) those employed under the Government of India in a post outside India.

National Academic Depository (NAD)

National Academic Depository (NAD)

Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister approved the establishment of a National Academic Depository (NAD). The government is creating an online database NAD where all academic certificates will be available in digital format by the end of next year. In NAD all academic degrees, certificates and awards would be digitally available for verification. The NAD would be established and operationalize in three months and would be rolled out throughout the country in 2017-18.
Academic institutions would be directed to upload and authenticate all documents in digital form.
The database will be established in an electronic format by an identified registered depository, with all institutes, including school boards, the Indian Institutes of Technology, the National Institutes of Technology and polytechnics from different States having linkages to the depository.
Who will operationalize NAD?
NSDL Database Management Limited (NDML) and CDSL Ventures Limited (CVL), wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Depositories registered under the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Act, 1992, would operationalize the NAD.
Would it require a Bill?
No. After the nod from the Union Cabinet the measure would be implemented with this decision and it would not require the introduction of a Bill.
What are the security features in NAD?
1. It will provide digital or a printed copy of the academic award with security features to the students or other authorised users.
2. NAD will verify academic awards online on the same day of request initiated by any authorised user.
3. Requests for access to academic awards, for example, from potential employers, and academic institutions would be only on the basis of consent of the student.
4. NAD shall maintain the authenticity, integrity and confidentiality of its database. It will also train and facilitate academic institutions/boards/ eligibility assessment bodies to efficiently lodge academic awards in the database.
The database will help the administration effectively deal with forged certificates and fake degree rackets, and enable online verification and easy retrieval of particulars of academic qualifications. Students will also benefit for, they need not worry about spoilage of certificates over time and getting their certificates attested.
How will it improve the current situation?
Once NAD will be operationalize fake degrees would become a thing of the past. However, only recognised institutions would be asked to upload the degrees.

Benefits of NAD

a) Students & Certificate Holders
• Early receipt of online certificates as compared to physical certificates.
• Online, 24/7 access to all certificate records and no risk of losing, mutilation etc.
• Easy acceptability of online verifiable certificates without requiring attested copies, original presentation.
• Easy facility for applying for and obtaining duplicate copy of the certificates.
• Easy facility to submit verifiable copy of the certificate to employers, higher educational institutes.
• Admissions, Jobs, Loans becomes easier.
b) Academic Institutes
• Digital front-end for academic institutes to deliver online services for academic certificates.
• Reduction in the cost and efforts for certificate issuance and verification activities.
• IT Back-end for maintaining updated data of certificates.
• Reduces the menace of Fake & Forged Certificates.
• Reports & Analysis
c) Certificate Verification Users
• Centralized system enabling verification of academic awards of various academic institutions at a single place.
• Online verification of academic awards thereby reducing the time and cost involved in verification.
• Quicker processing of underlying Job application, Loan application and Admission application.
• Fully Online, Transparent and Auditable system reduces the need for intermediation and associated risks.

Heart of Asia Conference

Heart of Asia Conference

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA) was founded on November 2nd, 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey to address the shared challenges and interests of Afghanistan and its neighbours and regional partners. It will also contribute to the stability and prosperity to Afghanistan’s extended neighbourhood in South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia.
The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011 and the participating countries include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Three pillars of this conference process are:

• Political Consultations: Political consultation involving Afghanistan and its near and extended neighbours
• Confidence Building Measures (CBMs): Areas for CBMs identified in the Istanbul Process document are Disaster management, Counter-terrorism, Counter-narcotics, Trade, Commerce and Investment, Regional infrastructure, and Education.
• Cooperation with Regional Organizations
Key Highlights of the Sixth Conference
a) Menace of terrorism dominated the Amritsar meet
o Amritsar Declaration named  the terrorist organisations that are jeopardising the security situation in Afghanistan:
– This was a big blow to Pakistan as almost all the terrorist organisations which are named in the declaration are based in Pakistan.
– The declaration mentions two groups targeting India, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad, in addition to the Haqqani network, among the organisations causing a “high level of violence” in Afghanistan and the region.
b) A regional approach to eliminate terrorism is suggested:
o It included dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens in the Heart of Asia region, as well as disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terrorism.
o It also includes tapping the capacities of political and religious leaders, civil society, mass media and social networks in the fight against terror.
c) The declaration asks for early finalization of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism with consensus.
d) For the first time, a Heart of Asia declaration has expressed concern at the violence caused in Afghanistan and the region by groups like al-Qaeda and Daesh, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad etc.
e) The declaration has spoken of the dangers emanating from the increase in production and cultivation of opium in Afghanistan, the volume of drug trafficking and demand in the HoA Region and beyond.
f) Afghanistan rejected Pakistan’s offer of $500 million for reconstruction of Afghanistan, and advised it to use the money to counter terrorist activities emanating from Pakistan.


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