The Hindu Newspaper Analysis–31-10-2020

Subsidy Question

  • The author provides us insights about the picture of subsidies in the country and its relations to the current farmer protests and the MSP.
  • The author asks two fundamental questions in this regard
    • Why is exchequer uses to provide subsidies?
    • How large is India’s spending on farm subsidies, compared to other nations?
  • Let us try to answer these questions by reading this article and understanding facts presenting in it.
  • Agriculture has been very vital to the Indian economy as it has, in the year 1950-51 contributed 45% to the Indian GDP and 70% of the workforce was dependent on it. Now in the recent previous years, it contributes only 16% to the Indian GDP and 50% of the workforce was dependent on it.
  • Several problems have affected the same   
    • The terms of trade have always seen a downward trend be it with agricultural entities or non-agricultural entities
    • The investment has been on a decline where in 1950 it was 18% and now it is 11% only. Investment is a vital thing for anything to progress but it has declined and reduced.
  • The yields of wheat and rice in India in comparison to the worldwide scenario is 45 and 59 position respectively and this will deteriorate if the farmers of Punjab and Haryana are removed from it.
  • The markets have not helped the farmers in this regard and have increased their dependence on the APMCs which milked more money out of them but exposing them to the corporates would be a bigger risk and they will be exposed to bigger middlemen.
  • The major solution to all these issues can come with incoming of an Agricultural policy which India does not have in a streamlined way like other countries do.
  • When it comes to the subsidies, it should be noted that they play a significant role but the provision of the same is a cover up for their policy failures, also they are just to fill the gap that policies couldn’t. Here we need to address the ills rather than providing subsidies as just a survival kit for the farmers.
  • In 2018-19 the amount India spends on subsidies is 56$ million and this is mostly consumed by the low income and resource poor farmers who are almost 99% of the many.
  • India’s expenditure on the same in comparison to the Agriculture Value Addition is 12.4%but in developed countries it is 90% in USA and 45% in the EU.
  • Hence, this has to be considered in this regard and solve the problems of the farmers than just give coverups and survivals kits is the opinion of the author.

Foreign Policy Winds

  • In 2020 we have seen that our foreign policy has undergone a change and we have witnessed several new things, a look at the change is provided by the author in this article.
  • Firstly, we saw that China emerged as a bigger threat and tried to infiltrate the Indian territory and Indian retaliated to this by banning apps and imposing trade measures.
  • Then we saw the emergence of the pandemic diplomacy where global challenged, changes and cooperation were seen and India cooperated well in this regard. India was an active part of providing raw materials for the manufacture of vaccine and export hydroxychloroquine to various nations.
  • India was also helpful is sending back as many as 2.5 million people to their home countries in the backdrop of the pandemic.
  • India seemed to integrate its foreign policy and defence policy where we saw high levels of both the foreign secretary and the defence secretary to countries like Nepal among others.
  • It was seen that India slowly moved away from its ideals of globalization towards protectionism, we saw this with India not signing the RCEP or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement quoting the reasons of its domestic and local manufacturers and so on. The growth of the AtmaNirbhar Bharat has aided the same,
  • We are still seeing that Indian stands in opposition to the One Belt One Road initiate of China.
  • India has not been tolerant towards the criticisms of the nations like USA, UK and Canada about the internal and domestic policies of India like the Citizenship amendment act, the abrogation of Article 370 and so on.
  • Hence, this is how the foreign policy of India has seen developments and causes vital changes.

Virus strains

  • We have seen recently that the new strain of the COVID 19 virus has emerged and this has been witnessed in nations like UK, Nigeria, South Africa among others. India has witnessed several people travelling back from the UK to India, some tested positive for COVID 19 while quite a few of them tested positive for the new strain.
  • The study conducted in the UK proved that this new strain has the ability to spread 70% faster and affect the lives of the people. Having said that, in India this scenario has not been witnessed as the Govt is doing a good job at quelling the spread by tracing and isolation.
  • The author says that more genomic sequencing is needed in this regard, since there are 10.2 million cases out of which only 6300 genomes are sequenced, but in UK the scenario of sequencing is a lot more.
  • This data sequenced from the genomes needs to be linked with the genomic data, epidemiological data, and the clinical data. Through this we will be able to aid the research and development, development of vaccines among others.
  • This new variant has to be studied well in this regard which will be helpful in fighting the virus and various diseases.
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      Dr. RS Aggarwal
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