• Current Affairs, 12 May 2020

    INDIA’S FIRST WAR OF INDEPENDENCE, AND THE LEGACY OF HINDU-MUSLIM UNITY

    RELEVANT FOR: MODERN INDIA | TOPIC: THE REVOLT OF 1857

    • Large sections of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs together challenged the greatest imperialist power, Britain, during India’s first war of independence which began on May 10, 1857. This extraordinary unity, naturally, unnerved the firangees and made them realise that if their rule was to continue in India, it could happen only when Hindus and Muslims, the two largest religious communities, were divided along communal lines. Urgent steps were taken to create enmity between these two groups. This was the reason, that immediately after crushing militarily this liberation war, the then Minister of Indian affairs, Lord Wood, sitting in London, confessed: “We have maintained our power in India by playing off one part against the other and we must continue to do so. Do all we can, therefore, to prevent all having a common feeling.”
    • To put this strategy into operation, the British rulers — with their Indian stooges — came up with the theory that Hindus and Muslims belonged to two separate nations. The birth of the two-nation theory was no accident: It was specifically created to help the British in creating a communal divide.
    • One crucial truth, about this struggle, is that it was jointly led by leaders like Nana Sahib, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Maulvi Ahmed Shah, Tantya Tope, Khan Bahadur Khan, Rani Laxmibai, Hazrat Mahal, Azimullah Khan and Ferozshah — a galaxy of revolutionaries who belonged to different religions. It was a liberation struggle in which maulvis, pandits, granthis, zamindars, peasants, traders, lawyers, women, students and people from different castes, creeds and regions rose in revolt against the dehumanising rule of the East India Company.
    • On the163rd anniversary of the war of independence, we need to remind the contemporary flagbearers of communal politics that the revolutionary army which declared the Mughal King Bahadur Shah Zafar, a Muslim, India’s ruler on May 11, 1857, comprised more than 70 per cent Hindu soldiers.
    • The documents of the period are replete with instances in which Hindus and Muslims could be seen making supreme sacrifices together.
    • After Independence, Ayodhya emerged as a locus of the rise of hatred between sections of Hindus and Muslims. The Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute played a significant role in creating an environment of violence and mistrust between the two communities. But in 1857, in Ayodhya, maulvis and mahants, and ordinary Hindus and Muslims, stood united against British rule. Maulana Ameer Ali was a famous maulvi of Ayodhya and when the well-known Hanuman Garhi’s (Hanuman Temple) priest, Baba Ramcharan Das, took the lead in organising the armed resistance to British rule, the maulana followed him. In a battle with the British and their stooges, both of them were captured and hanged together on a tamarind tree at the Kuber Teela (now in Faizabad Jail) in Ayodhya.
    • This region also produced two other great friends, from different religions, who made life hell for the British-sponsored armies. Acchan Khan and Shambhu Prasad Shukla led the army of Raja Devibaksh Singh in the district of Faizabad. They were able to defeat the British forces in many battles. It was due to treachery, again, that they were captured. To discourage Hindu-Muslim unity, both of them were publicly tortured. Their heads were filed off.
    • The joint heritage of Ayodhya needed to be erased if the British rule was to survive.
    • Kota state (now in Rajasthan) was ruled by a Maharao subservient to the British. When the leading courtier, Lala Jaidayal Bhatnagar, a great literary figure, found out that Maharao was collaborating with the British, he joined hands with the army chief, Mehrab Khan, and established a rebel government in the state. When Kota was captured by the British with the help of neighbouring princes, together they continued the fight in the region till 1859. Betrayed by an informer, both were hanged on September 17, 1860.
    • Hansi town (now in Haryana) presents another heart-warming example of how Muslims and Jains fearlessly challenged foreign rule. Here, two close friends, Hukumchand Jain and Muneer Beg, were known as literary giants and for their love of mathematics. The government of Bahadur Shah Zafar chose them as advisors and appointed them as commanders in the region west of Delhi. They led many successful military campaigns but due to the treachery of the native rulers of Patiala, Nabha, Kapurthala, Kashmir and Pataudi, they were defeated in a crucial battle and captured. The British, highly perturbed by this kind of unity, decided to kill them in the most sickening manner. After hanging them on the same tree in Hansi on January 19, 1858, Hukumchand Jain was buried and Muneer Beg was cremated — against the custom of their respective religions.
    • We all are familiar with Rani Laxmi Bai’s heroic resistance to the British rule and her death fighting the British at Gwalior. She was able to put up incredible resistance with her Muslim commanders — Ghulam Ghouse Khan (chief of artillery) and Khuda Bakhsh (chief of infantry) — both of whom were martyred defending Jhansi fort on June 4, 1858. Even her personal bodyguard was a young Muslim lady, Munzar, who laid down her life with Rani on June 18, 1858, at Kotah-ki-Sarai battle in Gwalior.
    • Malwa region in the then Central Province (now Madhya Pradesh) was another theatre where crucial battles were fought against the British. The joint command of Tantya Tope, Rao Saheb, Laxmi Bai, Feroezshah and Moulvi Fazal Haq, was able to mobilise a huge rebel army of 70-80 thousand fighters. This army won innumerable battles. However, in a crucial battle at Ranod when, due to the treachery of stooge princes yet again, the revolutionary army led by Tope, Ferozeshah and Moulvi was encircled. Fazal Haq stood like a rock in the way of advancing British troops. Fazal Haq and his 480 companions laid down their lives on December 17, 1858, and were able to save the main force which included Tope, Rao Saheb and Ferozeshah. Thus, saved by the supreme sacrifice of Fazal Haq and his comrades, Tope continued to wage war till the beginning of 1859.
    • An area which includes present-day Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Badaun and Bijnor, was the stronghold of revolutionaries from the beginning. On May 11, 1857, Khan Bahadur Khan was appointed as the viceroy of the Mughal emperor to the region. Soon after assuming charge, Khan appointed a committee of eight members consisting of both Hindus and Muslims to conduct the affairs of the state. His deputy was Khushi Ram. This government forbade cow-slaughter in deference to the sentiments of local Hindus. Khan and Khushi Ram led troops that defeated the British in many battles but were, unfortunately, defeated in a crucial battle at Bareilly. Both of them were hanged with hundreds of their followers on March 20, 1860.
    • William Russell, a war correspondent, was sent by The Times, London, to cover the “Mutiny”. In one of his reports dated March 2, 1858, while underlining the unity among the ranks of the rebel army he wrote: “All the great chiefs of Oudh, Mussalman and Hindu, are there, and have sworn to fight for their young king, Birjeis Kuddr [sic], to the last. Their cavalry is numerous, the city is filled with people, the works are continually strengthened. All Oudh is in the hands of the enemy, and we only hold the ground we cover with our bayonets.”
    • Another senior British officer, Thomas Lowe, admitted that “the infanticide (sic) Rajput, the bigoted Brahmin, the fanatic Mussalman, and the luxury-loving, fat-paunched ambitious Maharattah [sic], they all joined together in the cause; the cow-killer and the cow-worshipper, the pig-hater and the pig-eater, the crier of Allah is God and Mohommed [sic] his prophet and the mumbler of the mysteries of Brahma.”
    • Given these realities of history, it is not difficult to understand why a divide between the Hindus and Muslims was necessitated, who were instrumental in accomplishing this rupture and who benefited from it. The survival of the British empire in India depended on the successful execution of this strategy of divide-and-rule. The flag-bearers of the politics of the two-nation theory in the past, and of communal politics today, are the ones who helped the British execute their evil design. We should never ignore the fact that communalism was a ploy of the British who feared the end of their Empire in India if Hindus and Muslims continually stood united.

     

    RIGHT TO RELIGION: SC EXPLAINS REFERENCE TO LARGER BENCH

    Relevant for: Indian Polity | Topic: Indian Constitution – Features & Significant Provisions related to Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties

    • A nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court declared that superior courts enjoy untrammelled power to take up any cause to do complete justice. This declaration came in a judgment explaining why the Bench, three months ago, decided to go ahead and examine “larger issues” of religious freedom across multiple faiths in connection with the Sabarimala review.
    • The judgment was officially delivered on February 10, but published on Monday. The nine-judge Bench has not ben able to hear the case as the nation went into a lockdown in March following the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Entry of women
    • On November 14 last year, a five-judge Bench led by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi did not complete its assigned task of reviewing the court’s original Sabarimala judgment of 2018, which allowed women of every age to enter and worship at the temple. Instead, it had framed “larger issues” concerning essential religious practices of various religions and clubbed other pending cases on subjects as varied as female genital mutilation among Dawoodi Bohras to entry of Parsi women who married inter-faith into the fire temple and Muslim women into mosques and referred them all to a larger Bench. CJI S.A. Bobde, who succeeded Justice Gogoi, set up a nine-judge Bench to hear the reference.
    • But matters came to a head when several parties raised objections before the nine-judge Bench about the reference. They questioned how a Bench sitting in a limited review jurisdiction assumed powers to frame new questions of law. Secondly, the lawyers had argued that the Gogoi Bench should have decided the Sabarimala review petitions first before referring any questions of law to a larger Bench. Thirdly, objections were raised on how the Gogoi Bench chose to rope in unconnected religious issues in the Sabarimala review.
    • Dismisses objections
    • On February 10, the nine-judge Bench dismissed the objections and decided to hear the reference. It had, however, postponed the publication of the detailed judgment. On Monday, the 29-page judgment of the Bench dismissed objections to its powers of reference.

     

    SC REFUSES TO RESTORE 4G SERVICES IN J&K

    RELEVANT FOR :- INDIAN POLITY/ TOPICS :- CO-OPERATIVE FEDERALISM, FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, JUDICIAL REVIEW, CENTRE-STATE RELATIONS, GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS

    • Recently, the Supreme Court refused to restore 4G servicesin Jammu & Kashmir and ordered setting up of a high-powered committee to look into the contentions raised by petitioners against limited 2G services in the Union Territory.
    • In August 2019, the Central government had suspended all modes of communications in the wake of revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, granted under Article 370. Eventually, services were partially restored, with internet speed restricted to 2G.
    • A plea was filed by ‘Foundation for Media Professionals’ for restoration of high-speed internet in Jammu and Kashmir in view of the Covid-19 situation.

    Important Points

    • Balance of Human Rights and National Security:The Court ruled that the special circumstances occur in the Union Territory which requires delicate balancing of national security concerns and human rights.
    • Reference to the Previous Judgement:The bench also referred to its earlier decision in the Anuradha Bhasin case (2020) wherein it ordered review of restrictions placed in J&K in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.
    • Constitution of Special Committee:
      • The bench ordered the constitution of a Special Committee, headed by the Union Home Secretary, to determine the necessity of the continuation of limiting mobile Internet to 2G speed in the region.
      • The committee is expected to suggest the alternatives regarding limiting the restrictionsto those areas where it is necessary and the possible ways of allowing faster Internet (3G or 4G) on a trial basis over certain geographical areas.

    Need of 4G and National Security

    • Need of 4G in the wake of Covid-19 Pandemic:
      • Health:4G services are necessary to provide access to the medical fraternity including patients to access latest information, advisories, and guidelines.
      • Education:The petition also argued that the schools across the country have shifted to online classes in view of the lockdown but lack of the 4G internet puts J&K students at a disadvantage.
      • Trade and Business :The lower internet service speed has also affected businesses dependent on the online mode.
    • National Security Concerns:
      • An issue of infiltration of outside sources through the borders and destabilizing the integrity of the nation was raised during the hearing.
      • Even the J&K administration stated that high-speed internet will enable the spread of fake news/rumours and transfer of heavy data files (audio/video files) will become prevalent and may be utilised by terror outfits for incitement as also in planning attacks.

    Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India (2020)

    Fundamental Rights Under Article 19 :

    • The judgement declared that the freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to practice any profession or carry on any trade, business or occupation over the medium of Internet enjoys constitutional protection under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(g) respectively.
    • It also ruled that such freedom is not absolute, the restrictions imposed on it should be in consonance with the mandate under Article 19(2) and Article 19(6) of the Constitution.

    Territorial Extent of Internet Suspensions:

    • It had also directed authorities to pass internet suspension orders with respect to only those areas, where there is absolute necessity of such restrictions to be imposed.
    • Constitution of Review Committee:

    • The Court also directed the government to constitute a review committee to review orders leading to suspension and shutting down of Internet, mobile and fixed line telecommunication services.
    • All orders leading to suspension and shutting down of Internet, mobile and fixed line telecommunication services are issued under Rule 2 (2) of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services [Public Emergency or Public Service] Rules, 2017.
    • These are the rules to be followed if the government intends to temporarily suspend telecom services in any part of the country.
    • These rules have been framed by the government on the basis of the powers conferred by section 7 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
    • The Review Committee shall consist of State as well as Central level officials as the issue involved affects not only the UT of Jammu and Kashmir but also the whole country.

    USE OF TB DRUGS ON CROPS

    RELEVANT FOR: – GOVERNANCE/ TOPICS :- GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS, FOOD SECURITY

    • Recently, the Registration Committee (RC) under theCentral Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) has recommended to ban the use of antibiotics streptomycin and tetracycline.

    Important Points

    • The RC recommended toban antibiotics streptomycin and tetracycline with immediate effect on crops where other options are available for bacterial disease control.
    • Where no alternativesare available, use of these antibiotics should be phased out by 2022-end. Till then, the antibiotics could be used on crops strictly as per the label claim i.e. streptomycin sulphate (9%) and tetracycline hydrochloride (1%).
    • The RC acknowledged that diseases in crops can be managed by using integrated pest managementand other practices.
    • Issues Involved:
    • Rampant Misuse:Although streptocycline use is allowed for eight crops by the CIBRC, it was found to be used on many more crops in practice.
    • Antibiotic Resistance:Exposure to antibiotics can lead to development of antibiotic resistance in humans and animals.
    • Benefits of Streptomycin:
    • It has important use for previously treated tuberculosis (TB)
    • It is also used in multidrug-resistant TB patients and in certain cases of TB meningitis (brain TB).
    • The World Health Organization (WHO)recognises streptomycin as a critically important medicine for human use.

    Integrated Pest Management

    • It is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties.
    • Pesticides are used only after monitoring and according to established guidelines.Treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism.
    • Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment.
    • Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee
    • The Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee (CIBRC) was set up by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in the year 1970 to regulate the import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and use of insecticides.
    • The insecticides are regulated under Insecticides Act, 1968 and Insecticides Rules, 1971.
    • The Central Insecticides Board (CIB) advises the Central Government and State Governments on technical matters arising out of the administration of Insecticides Act and to carry out the other functions assigned to the Board by or under Insecticides rules.
    • To import or manufacture any insecticide, registration is required at the Registration Committee.

    ATAL PENSION YOJANA

    RELEVANT FOR:- GOVERNANCE/ TOPICS :- GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS, WELFARE SCHEMES, ISSUES RELATED TO ELDERLY, HUMAN RESOURCE

    • The flagship social security scheme of the Government of India –‘Atal Pension Yojana’ (APY) – has completed five years of implementation and garnered over 2.2 crore subscribers.

    Important Points

    • Target Segment:The scheme was launched on 9th May, 2015, with the objective of creating a universal social security system for all Indians, especially the poor, the under-privileged and the workers in the unorganised sector.
    • Administered By: Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authoritythrough National Pension System (NPS).
    • Eligibility:Any citizen of India can join the APY scheme. The age of the subscriber should be between 18-40 years. The contribution levels would vary and would be low if a subscriber joins early and increases if she joins late.
    • Benefits:
    • It provides a minimum guaranteed pension ranging from Rs 1000 to Rs 5000 on attaining 60 years of age.
    • The amount of pension is guaranteed for lifetime to the spouse on death of the subscriber.
    • In the event of death of both the subscriber and the spouse, the entire pension corpus is paid to the nominee.
    • Tax Benefits:Contributions to the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) are eligible for tax benefits similar to the National Pension System (NPS).
    • Analysis:
    • The scheme has been implemented comprehensively across the country covering all states and Union Territories with male to female subscription ratio of 57:43.
    • However, only 5% of the eligible population has been covered under APY till date.

    Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority

    • Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) is the statutory Authority established by an enactment of the Parliament, to regulate, promote and ensure orderly growth of the National Pension System (NPS).
    • It works under the Department of Financial Services under the Ministry of Finance.

    National Pension System

    • NPS is a government-sponsored pension scheme. It was launched in 2004 for government employees.
    • Now, any individual citizen of India (both resident and non-resident) in the age group of 18-65 can join NPS.

    ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT AND VIRUSES

    RELEVANT FOR: – SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY/ TOPICS: – HEALTH, SCIENTIFIC INNOVATIONS & DISCOVERIES

    As nations begin relaxing restrictions, scientists are studying the use of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) to detect the virus in public places and disinfect contaminated public spaces to stop the transmission of the virus.

    Important Points

    • Ultraviolet Light:
      • UV light from the sun has shorter wavelengthsthan visible light so it is not visible to the naked eye.
      • UV radiation’s full spectrum is sourced from the sunand can be classified into UV-A, UV-B and UV-C rays according to their wavelength.
      • They differ in their biological activity and the extent to which they can penetrate the skin.
        • The shorter the wavelength,the more harmful the UV radiation.
        • However, shorter wavelengthUV radiation is less able to penetrate the skin.
      • Research shows that UV light kills cells and increased exposure can cause cells to become carcinogenic(cancerous) and increases the risk of getting

    Classification of UV Radiation

    UV-C:

    • Short-wavelength.
    • Most harmful but are completely absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere and does not reach the Earth’s surface.

    UV-B:

    • Medium-wavelength.
    • Biologically active but cannot penetrate beyond the superficial skin layers.
    • Responsible for delayed tanning and burning.
    • Enhances skin ageing and significantly promotes the development of skin cancer.
    • Exposure to UV-B rays can cause DNA and cellular damage in living organisms.
    • Most solar UVB is filtered by the atmosphere.

    UV-A:

    • Relatively long-wavelength.
    • Accounts for approximately 95% of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface.
    • Penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and is responsible for the immediate tanning.
    • Enhances the development of skin cancers.

    UVGI Working Method:

    • UVGI replicates UV wavelengthsand uses its destructive properties to target pathogens.
    • It disinfects contaminated spaces, air and water and helps in preventing certain infectious diseases from spreading.
    • According to the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control(CDC), UVGI is a promising method for disinfection.
    • In 2005, the CDC revised its guidelines for using UVGI with regards to the spread of tuberculosis(TB) in hospital settings.
    • The guidelines intended to eliminate the spread of infection to healthcare workers from patients or others with unsuspected or undiagnosed infection.
    • Scientists advise thatfixtures containing UVGI lamps can be mounted on the walls or suspended from the ceilings.
    • Such fixtures will shine light on the upper interior surface of a room and trap pathogens.
      • Installing a fan in such spaces can further draw the air upward, which will increase the speed with which the UVGI can destroy pathogens.
    • UVGI lamps can also be installed inroom corners, in air ducts of ventilation systems or portable or fixed air cleaners.
    • UVGI fixtures are and should be installed above people’s heads because their short wavelengths can irritate the skin and eyes.

    Effectiveness:

    • According to research papers, UVGI is most effective in preventing infectionswhich are mainly spread through smaller droplets and not by direct contact or larger respiratory droplets.
    • The efficacyof UVGI depends on several factors, such as:
    • Sensitivity of microorganisms to UVGI.
    • Dose/ intensity of UVGI required to kill pathogens.
    • Humidity and weather conditions.
    • Air circulation in a room.
    • It should be such that the air from below the room, where the pathogen is generated reaches the upper-portions of the room, where the UVGI can trap and kill the pathogen.
    • However, using UVGI on a mass-scalein public spaces like schools, universities, restaurants and cinema halls is not a very cost-effective way for disease prevention.
    • DRDO’s Latest UV Developments:The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has recently developed automated contactless UV-C devices namely DRUVS (Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser) and NOTESCLEAN.

    Other Measures

    • Apart from using modern technology to combat viruses, it has been suggested to bring behavioural changeslike social distancing and wearing masks.
    • Few countries have considered issuing immunity passports or risk-free certificates.
    • Such certificates are based on the idea that the natural immunitya person develops to any infection will protect them from contracting the disease again.
    • Once infectedwith a viral pathogen, the body’s innate immune response kicks in and slows the spread of the virus.
    • This response is followed by an adaptive response,wherein the body makes antibodies, which bind to the virus and help eliminate it.
    • If this response is strong enough, it might prevent reinfection from the same pathogen.
    • However, the World Health Organisation(WHO) has warned against using immunity passports because there is, yet, no proof of immunity from the reinfection of Covid-19.
    • Even if there is an immunity, itsduration is not known.

    ORDINANCE TO CHECK APMCS: GUJARAT

    RELEVANT FOR :- GOVERNANCE/ TOPICS :- GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS, STATE LEGISLATURE, AGRICULTURAL MARKETING, E-TECHNOLOGY IN THE AID OF FARMERS, AGRICULTURAL PRICING

    • Recently, Gujarat’s state governmenthas cleared the Gujarat Agricultural Produce Markets (Amendment) Ordinance 2020.
    • It has ended the monopoly of state-run Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and has allowed private entities to set up their own market committees or sub-market yards.

    Highlights of the Ordinance

    • Restrictions on Jurisdiction:The ordinance restricts the jurisdiction of APMCs to the physical boundaries of their respective marketing yards and they can levy cess only on those transactions, happening within the boundary walls of their marketing yard.
    • Earlier, an APMC had jurisdictionover an entire or more than one taluka.
    • Farmers and traders of a particular taluka had tocompulsorily sell their produce to their respective APMCs.
    • Apart from that, APMCslevied a cess on any transaction that happened within the marketing yard of the APMC or outside
    • Opportunity to Private Markets:The ordinance permits for setting up of private markets.
    • Privately-owned old storages or warehousescan be converted into a sub-market yard or a private market that can compete with the APMCs.
    • Farmers can also set upprivate markets themselves.
    • To save the smaller APMCsfrom the negative competition from private markets and a fair play, the state government plans to bring a rule that will not allow the setting up of a private market within a five-kilometre radius of an existing APMC.
    • Also to protect them, the government will collect 20%cess from private players and reroute 14% of it back to the APMCs.
    • Unified Single Trading Licence:The ordinance provides traders with one unified single trading licence through which they can participate in trading activities anywhere in the state.
    • It will allow multiple traders to attract the farmers depending on the quality of their produce and offer competitive prices without the restriction of place and area jurisdiction.
    • For that, amendments allow setting up of portals for e-markets.
    • Expansion in Grievance Redressal:The director of an APMC and the Gujarat State Agriculture marketing board will also start taking care of the grievance redressal which was solely managed by the APMC till now.
    • Expected Benefits to the Farmers:Permission to private entities will lead to competition and will offer the best possible remuneration to farmers for their produce.
    • Till now, APMCsused to form a cartel and decide on what prices to offer to farmers.
    • Farmers will not be bound to sell only to one particular APMC and can choose the one with the best dealin their favour.
    • Viewpoint of APMCs
    • APMCs have not welcomedthe decision because it ends their monopoly and allows private players to enter.
    • The ordinance will also affect revenuesbecause no cess will be collected on transactions outside the physical boundaries of marketing yards.
    • For example, last year, of the ₹2.5 crore earned as market fees, ₹1.5 crore came from transactions that were conducted outside the marketing yard. With the new ordinance in place, thisrevenue will be lost.

    Agricultural Produce Market Committee

    • It is a statutory market committee constituted by a State Governmentin respect of trade in certain notified agricultural or horticultural or livestock products, under the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act issued by that state government.
    • Agriculture is a state subject.
    • Objectives:
    • Ensure transparency in pricing systems and transactions taking place in the market area.
    • Provide market-led extension services to farmers.
    • Ensure payment for agricultural produce sold by farmers on the same day.
    • Promote agricultural processing including activities for value addition in agricultural produce.
    • Setup and promote public private partnership in the management of agricultural markets, etc.
    • The Ministry of Agriculture, formulated amodel law on agricultural marketing, State Agricultural Produce Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act, 2003 and requested the state governments to suitably amend their respective APMC Acts.
    • Union Budgetsof 2014-15 and 2015-16 had suggested the creation of a National Agricultural Market (NAM) following which e-NAM was launched on 14th April 2016 as a pan-India electronic trade portal to link APMCs across the States.

    RAJASTHAN’S KRISHAK KALYAN FEES

    RELEVANT FOR :- GOVERNANCE/ TOPICS :-GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT, AGRICULTURAL MARKETING, GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS

    • Recently, the Rajasthan government has levied 2% Krishak Kalyan feeson agricultural produce brought or bought or sold in mandis.
    • The 2% fees collected will be deposited in the Krishak Kalyan Kosh — dedicated to the welfare of farmers in the state.
    • However, farmer outfits are apprehensive that people at agricultural mandis will pass on the burden of the increased cost to farmers, already reeling by the lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus.

    Important Points

    • Krishak Kalyan Kosh:
      • The Rajasthan government had announced the creation of the Krishak Kalyan Kosh for the purpose of ensuring fair price for farmer’s produceand to strive towards “ease of doing farming” in 2019.
      • Through an ordinance, the government stated that the market committee shall collect Krishak Kalyan fee from the licensees in the prescribed manner on the agricultural produce brought or bought or sold by them in the market area (mandi) at such rate as may be specified by the state government.
      • As per the government, the fee will not be a burden on the people associated with the mandis nor the farmers.
    • Need for Krishak Kalyan Fees:
      • The government has stated that it needs a steady source of revenuefor the Krishak Kalyan Kosh as the financial resources are limited and bank loans taken for the same purpose also need to be repaid by the government.
      • The government had taken loan to pay the state share of insurance premium under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), which resulted in farmers receiving insurance claims worth Rs 2,200 in the past 20-25 days even amidst the coronavirus crisis.
    • Implications
      • The levied fees is an addition to the existing mandi cess of 1.6%on the produce. Thus the total fees will turn out to be 3.6%, which is much higher than other states.
      • The increased cess willencourage black marketing as many farmers would try to sell their produce outside the mandi mechanism.
      • The prices farmers are getting for their produce in mandis are already much lower than the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
      • Further, farmers may receive lesser prices for their agricultural produce due to the introduction of Krishi Kalyan fee.

    MANDIS UNDER E-NAM INCREASED

    RELEVANT FOR :- INDIAN ECONOMY/ TOPICS :- AGRICULTURAL MARKETING

    • According to the recent data, the number of connected mandis, or wholesale markets under e-NAM has increased upto 65%.
    • This increase is because of transport disruptions and social distancing requirements which have made physical mandi trade more difficult in recent times.

    Important Points

    • After the launch of e-NAM in 2016, its progress was slow because,
    • Many States did not amend their Agricultural Produce Market Committee(APMC) Acts.
    • Most farmers were not part of the cooperativesthat would help aggregate the bulk quantity of produce needed to attract online buyers.
    • Most mandis did not possess the infrastructureto make the most of the platform.
    • The Central Government recognised the potential of e-NAM in overcoming some of the hurdles of the lockdown, and introduced some important new features in April, 2020:
    • A trading module allowing Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs)to trade produce directly from their collection centres without bringing it to mandis.
    • warehouse-based trading module.
    • logistics moduleoffering users trackable transport facilities through aggregators with access to 11 lakh trucks.
    • On 1stMay 2020, Agriculture Ministry had launched integration of 200 e-NAM mandis from 7 States including 1 new state of Karnataka being added on e-NAM.
    • Now the total mandis under e-NAM has reached a total of around 950 across India from about 550 before lockdown.

    e-NAM

    • The National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal.
    • It was launched in April 2016 with the objective of integrating the existing Mandis to “One Nation One Market” for agricultural commodities in India.
    • It networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities and has a vision:
    • To promote uniformity in agriculture marketing by streamlining procedures across the integrated markets.
    • Removing information asymmetry between buyers and sellers and promoting real time price discovery based on actual demand and supply.
    • It provides for contactless remote bidding and mobile-based anytime payment for which traders do not need to either visit mandis or banks for the same.
    • Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) is the lead agency for implementing e-NAM.
    • It functions under the aegis of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare

    HELPLINE “BHAROSA”

    RELAVENT FOR: – SOCIAL JUSTICE/ TOPICS :- E-GOVERNANCE, EDUCATION

    • To relieve the distress of the student community during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has launched Central University of Odisha Helpline “Bharosa’’.

    Important Points

    • Aim: To provide Cognitive Emotional Rehabilitation Services to all University Students of Odisha.
    • Need: Social distancing and self-isolation because of Covid-19, has led to decline in social interactions which further impact mental and physical health. It is being called the ‘social recession’ i.e. a collapse in our social contacts.
    • Benefit: This app would provide mental and psychological assistance to the students.

    Mental Health

    • Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
    • Other Related Initiatives:
      • The Government of India has launched the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) in 1982,keeping in view the heavy burden of mental illness in the community, and the absolute inadequacy of mental health care infrastructure in the country to deal with it.
      • The Supreme Court has held healthcare to be a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. The Constitution incorporates provisions guaranteeing everyone’s right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees protection of life and personal liberty to every citizen.
      • In July 2018, Delhi Government launched a happiness curriculum for schools.
      • Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.

    Mental Health Care Act, 2017

    • Right to make an Advance Directive, wherein patients can state on how to be treated or not to be treated for the illness during a mental health situation.
    • Right to appoint a Nominated Representative: A person shall have the right to appoint a nominated representative to take on his/her behalf, all health related decisions like:
    • Right to access mental health care,
    • Right to free & quality services,
    • Right to get free medicines,
    • Right to community living,
    • Right to protection from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,
    • Right to live in an environment, safe and hygienic, having basic amenities,
    • Right to legal, aid
    • No Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) without anesthesia
    • This act brought changes in Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (which criminalized attempted suicide). Attempt to commit suicide not an offence.
    • Now, a person who attempts to commit suicide will be presumed to be “suffering from severe stress’’ and shall not be subjected to any investigation or prosecution.

    INTERNATIONAL NURSES DAY

    RELEVANT FOR :- SOCIAL JUSTICE / TOPICS :- GENDER, HEALTH, ROLE OF WOMEN

    • The International Nurses Day is annually observed onMay 12.
    • May 12 was chosen for celebrating the day as it is the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the foundational philosopher of modern nursing.

    Important Points

    • 2020 Theme:Nursing the World to Health
    • Importance:The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.
    • Need:Nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health workers. It will encourage the entire nurse community and the public to celebrate the day as well as would provide necessary information and resources to raise the profile of the nursing profession.
    • Significance:
    • Nurses are at the forefront of fighting epidemics and pandemics providing high quality and respectful treatment and care.
    • The Covid-19pandemic is a stark reminder of the vital role nurses play. Without nurses and other health workers, it is not possible to win the battle against outbreaks, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals or Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
    • Suggestions provided by the WHO and Others:
    • To provide occupational safety and health of nurses and all health workers, including access to personal protective equipment so that they can safely provide care and reduce infections in health care settings.
    • Nurses and all health care workers should have access to mental health support, timely pay, sick leave and insurance.
    • They should be provided with access to the knowledge and guidance required to respond to all health needs, including outbreaks.
    • Nurses should be given the financial support and other resources required to respond to future outbreaks.
    • Step Taken by the Indian Government:
    • TheIndian Nursing Council is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that establishes uniform standards of training for nurses, midwives and health visitors.
    • The Government has announced  50 lakh insurance cover per person(part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana) for frontline health workers involved in managing the Covid-19 outbreak.
    • The Government has also passed an ordinance for the protection of healthcare workersbattling Covid-19 on the frontline.
    • Recently, the Supreme Court directed the government to ensure the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), to all health workers, including doctors, nurses, ward boys, other medical and paramedical professionals.

     

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