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D. GS 4 Related
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Syllabus: Food processing and related industries in India
Mains: Production-Linked Incentive Scheme for Food Processing Industry.
India has formulated a Production-Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI Scheme) for the Food Processing Industry that aims to incentivise incremental sales with an outlay of Rs. 10900 crores.
The Potential of Food Processing Industry in India
India is one of the largest producers of fruits and vegetables in the world.
India has a competitive advantage in terms of resource endowment, large domestic market and scope for promoting value-added products.
Due to the pandemic, there has been a significant number of people working from home, resulting in a 170% rise in demand for products from the ready-to-eat market between March-June 2020.
Know more on the PLI Scheme in the link.
Objectives of the PLI Scheme
To support food manufacturing entities with minimum sales and willing to make a minimum investment for expansion of processing capacity and branding abroad to incentivise emergence of strong Indian brands.
To provide global visibility and wider acceptance in the international markets for Indian brands of products.
To increase employment opportunities.
To ensure remunerative prices for farm produce and increase the income of farmers.
The first component relates to incentivising manufacturing of four major food product segments namely,
Ready to Cook/Ready to Eat (RTC/ RTE) foods including Millets
Processed Fruits & Vegetables
Organic products of SMEs including – Eggs, Poultry Meat, Egg Products are also covered under the first component.
The second component relates to support for branding and marketing abroad to incentivise the emergence of strong Indian brands.
For the promotion of the Indian Brand abroad, the scheme envisages grants for in-store branding, shelf space renting and marketing.
The Scheme will be implemented for over six years from 2021-22 to 2026-27.
Significance of the Scheme
A total of ₹10,900 crores has been spent on the scheme and 60 applicants have been selected under the first component.
The sector will witness ₹6,500 crores worth of investment over the next two years if executed properly.
A study in the US concluded that a 1% increase in public infrastructure increased the food manufacturing output by 0.06% in the long run.
The correlation holds good for India too.
The scheme will help explore the untapped markets of Europe, the Middle East/West Asia, Africa, Oceania and Japan.
The Challenge of access to credit for the MSME Industries
Access to finance for the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is a problem in the country.
The problem is mainly due to a lack of proper credit mechanisms for MSMEs.
Smart financing alternatives such as peer-to-peer (P2P) lending hold potential for micro-food processors.
Example: The UK Government-owned British Business Bank, has helped more than 1,18,000 small businesses get access to more than $17.88 billion.
Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS), a platform for facilitating the financing of trade receivables of MSMEs through multiple financiers, requires considerable scaling-up and enforcement of strict measures for the corporates to comply with.
Achieving the complete potential of the sector would need Indian companies to improve their competitive strength w.r.t. scale of output and productivity.
By welcoming the new brands in the category, the PLI Scheme aims to create an ecosystem to enable innovation in both food products and processing.
Considering the challenge to feed the 10 billion population by mid-century there is a need for efficient ways of production that are both economically viable and ecologically sustainable. In this regard, there is a need to revamp the traditional approach of farm to fork and with a lower environmental footprint.
Syllabus: India and its neighbourhood-relations
Mains: How people-to-people interactions can help reduce the tension between India and Pakistan.
The proposal of the Pakistan Hindu Council to allow pilgrims of both countries to travel by air has been forwarded to India by Pakistan.
The council says as pilgrims from both sides are screened before being allowed to travel, the move is unlikely to pose any security threat.
Movement of Pilgrims between India and Pakistan
The religious exchanges, of Muslim pilgrims from Pakistan, and Hindus and Sikhs from India, are governed by a protocol signed in 1974.
Hundreds of Indian and Pakistani pilgrims cross over at the Wagah/Atari border to travel to the Hinglaj Mata Mandir in Balochistan, the Paramhans Mandir in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Ajmer Sharif dargah in Rajasthan, the Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi and other such shrines.
Image Source: The New Indian Express
Current Challenges in Movement
The India-Pakistan ties are possibly at their worst ever in peace times.
No political dialogue at a bilateral or multilateral level has taken place for over five years.
After many terror attacks, India stopped normal communications and cultural exchanges with Pakistan.
After the Government’s moves on Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan stopped all trade ties.
Both sides have downsized their diplomatic missions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the closure of borders for two years, with very few direct routes operating.
Recent goodwill gestures between the countries
The LoC ceasefire announcement in February 2021.
The decision to reopen the Kartarpur corridor in November 2019.
The Government’s nod for cricket under the T20 World Cup as well as other sporting events.
While the proposals by the council could help ease travel restrictions and induce greater people-to-people interactions, the Indian Government must examine various aspects of security, before considering the proposal as increased people-to-people interactions can help ease out the tensions between the two countries and set the stage for future political discussions and this augurs well for peace and security in the region.
In an atmosphere filled with tensions between India and Pakistan, people-to-people initiatives can help build a degree of goodwill.
Syllabus: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
Mains: Tamil Nadu model of Public Health
The recent Supreme Court judgement of upholding the constitutionality of reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) ‘s All-India Quota (AIQ) is considered a landmark in the history of social justice in the country.
Tamil Nadu model of Public Health
The governments in Tamil Nadu have had a broad and inclusive understanding of ‘merit’ and its social implications.
The affirmative action to provide reservations for in-service doctors has stood the test of time for over forty years.
The introduction of the scheme reserving 50% of the postgraduate and super-specialty medical seats for government doctors had a big impact in providing tertiary health care in government hospitals.
The policymakers included a unique superannuation bond for these government doctors to ensure that those who secure postgraduate or super-specialty seats by availing themselves of in-service reservations will serve the government till their retirement.
Key achievements of the TN model:
It resulted in the expansion of public health infrastructure in the State.
The progressive reform has ensured the availability of specialists in multiple disciplines such as gynaecology, anaesthesia, general medicine, paediatrics, general surgery and orthopaedics, in almost every district hospital.
This resulted in a steady rise in the availability of multi-specialty experts not only in metropolitan cities but also in Tier-2 cities.
Currently, the public health sector in Tamil Nadu has 900 super-specialists in different disciplines.
The scheme encouraged young MBBS graduates to serve in rural areas.
As a result, State PHCs and government hospitals did not witness a shortage of doctors.
People got better healthcare facilities at their doorsteps.
The superannuation bond has ensured that a vast majority of the specialists continue their service in the government sector throughout their careers.
Criticism on current admission policies of NEET
Since 2017, it is compulsory for States to surrender all the seats of super-specialty courses to the central pool for common counselling i.e. 15% of MBBS seats, 50% of postgraduate seats and 100% of super-specialty seats are surrendered to Centre, which is known as All India Quota (AIQ).
The Medical Council of India (MCI) has framed a policy of giving only 50% of postgraduate diploma seats to service doctors, exempting super-specialty degrees.
The weightage for government doctors who serve in rural areas has reduced, putting the rural healthcare delivery system in peril.
The union government is criticized for the lack of consultation with stakeholders and the policy as a short-sighted move in the public domain.
States feel that not incentivising the serving doctors would jeopardise the healthcare delivery system.
The policy discourages young rural doctors, who find it difficult to compete with their urban counterparts who have access to coaching institutes.
The policy’s attempts to force unwilling doctors to take up compulsory rural service after MBBS or to introduce a bridge course for AYUSH doctors to incarnate them as rural physicians are also criticised.
The Court’s View
Hearing of a case filed by members of the Service Doctors and Postgraduates Association for the reintroduction of 50% service doctors’ reservation in super-speciality courses, the Madras High Court directed the Centre to provide reservations for service doctors in super-specialty courses.
In the recent judgment the Supreme Court held that, “the correctness of actions and dedication to public service should also be seen as markers of merit, which cannot be assessed in a competitive examination.”
The court also said that “Merit should be socially contextualised and reconceptualised as an instrument that advances social goods like equality that we as a society value”.
Examining the success of the model followed in Tamil Nadu and following the recent court’s directions, the union government must look to redefine the concept of merit by facilitating the reintroduction of in-service doctors and reservation for respective States in super-specialty courses.
The Tamil Nadu model of providing 50% reservations to government doctors in PG and super-specialty seats merits consideration and replication across India due to its success in developing accessible public health infrastructure in rural areas. The current admission policy should be reexamined taking into consideration the past experience and all stakeholders into account, otherwise, decades of strides made in rural health infrastructure could be undermined.
F. Prelims Facts
Nematode infestation triggers mass mortality of spot-billed pelicans at Telineelapuram Important Bird Area (IBA) in Naupada swamp of Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh.
The spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) or grey pelican is a member of the pelican family. It is a bird of large inland and coastal waters, especially large lakes.
The spot-billed pelican is a relatively small pelican but still a large bird.
Thousands of spot-billed pelicans migrate from the Siberian region to breed in the Telineelapuram IBA and a majority of them prefer to stay here instead of going back home.
In South India, the Telineelapuram IBA is the prime winter sojourn for the bird for breeding.
The spot-billed pelican is capable of hunting huge fish from the water bodies and swamps.
Republic Day celebrations in Tamil Nadu saw the showcasing of the tableau featuring the sacrifice of freedom fighters — the Marudu Brothers, Velu Natchiyar, Tiruppur Kumaran, and many others.
Lesser known Freedom fighters from the state of Tamil Nadu:
The Marudhu Pandiyars were Diarchal Kings of Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu, during the end of the 18th century. They were known for fighting against the East India Company. The two brothers— Chinna Marudu and Periya Marudu — were hanged at Tirupattur after they were defeated by the British.
Rani Velu Nachiyar was a queen of the Sivaganga estate. She was the first Indian queen to wage war with the East India Company in India.
Kumaran or Kumarasamy Mudaliyar also known as Tiruppur Kumaran was an Indian revolutionary and freedom fighter who participated in the Indian independence movement. Tirupur Kumaran had continued to hold the flag even after he fell prey to the lathis of the British police. Though he may not have played a major part in the country’s independence, his national pride, patriotic fervour and selfless commitment garner credit.
Oil rose towards $89 a barrel, coming close to a seven-year high price.
The tight supply and demand balance is being seen as a factor for the increase in prices.
Heightened tensions over Ukraine and the threat to oil infrastructure in the UAE by the Houthis have increased the anxiety over potential supply disruptions and further increase in oil prices.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated a 4% world GDP forecast for 2022.
The IMF notes the obstacle being created by the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the global economic recovery process.
Increasing reports of communal and misogynistic conversations on social audio app Clubhouse has brought to light the intersection of technology and extreme ideology in many social media groups. This points to the propagation of hate being facilitated by technology.
Despite the threat posed by such developments, social intermediaries cannot be held responsible for the content posted on their platforms. Under India’s IT Act, Clubhouse is an ‘intermediary’ that hosts third-party content online. Such intermediaries enjoy the ‘safe harbour’ provided by Section 79 of the IT Act, which says that they cannot be held liable for the content on their platforms as long as they don’t initiate, choose the recipient, or moderate it. Facebook, Twitter and Google are all beneficiaries of this rule.
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
Food processing industry is still at a nascent stage in India. Suggest ways to make India a world leader in food processing industry. (250 words; 15 marks)[GS-3, Agriculture]
Improved people to people contact is the way forward towards achieving cordial India-Pakistan relations in the long run. Comment. (250 words; 15 marks)[GS-2, International Relations]