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Below are the suggested answers of UPSC Mains Marathon Current Affairs Questions – August 9.

NoteThe suggested answers are indicative only, and not exhaustive.


1. How can India find a solution to the boundary stand-off with China at the Doka La tri-junction? Do you think that the stand-off between India and China was avoidable? Give your opinion.(GS 2)

Link | Live Mint | Outlook Indian Express

Some of the solutions which can be adopted are:

  • Both sides need to withdraw their troops from the area and try to resolve through diplomatic dialogue.
  • government must ensure that every step it takes is in consultation with Bhutan and make it clear that any final decision it takes will not be about a “win or lose” for India, but dictated by what is in Bhutan’s best interests.
  • Astana consensus need to be upheld:-“India’s approach is to have a peaceful resolution of issues on border with China,”  which is understood at the Astana meeting that differences between India and China should not be allowed to become disputes.
  • Setting up a hotline between the two countries. Direct, high level-political dialogue between Indian PM and Chinese President.
  • Both India and China should let go of past baggage and demarcate the boundary so that border disputes do not affect their bilateral relations altogether.
  • Calling for Special Representative talks between India-China-Bhutan on this issue
  • Seeking assistance from neutral third parties like BRICS members to mediate on the issue
  • Emphasizing to China that the backlash from this issue could compromise on other vital interests like trade, technology transfer and investment
  • Limiting high-pitched, sensationalist media rhetoric on the issue
  • India can ask the Bhutan armyto replace Indian soldiers at the Doka La tri-junction, thus partially accepting China’s demand for withdrawal without delay

The standoff between the two countries was unavoidable due to many reasons like:-

  • China’s aggression in South China sea:
    • China is showcasing expansionist tendencies across South China Sea and East China Sea. Its intrusion into Bhutan follows this tendencies.
    • In the south China dispute India supported Phillipines and China is irked by it.
  • The relations with US with respect to defence and trade has improved and The pursuit of pivot of Asia policy by US trying to contain China is on track.
    • India-US became major defence partner & signed DTTI , LEMOA
  • India – Vietnam Brahmos Deal , and deal regarding mining of natural resources.
  • Asia- Afrcia growth corridor by India and Japan to Counter BRI.
  • On the other front , India signing Civil nuclear deal with many countries without being part of NSG inspite China holding NSG entry
  • The visit of Dalai Lama to India, India’s relations with Taiwan did not go down well for China.
  • Policies of China:
    • China’s military spending is 3 times that of India and it is stronger from a military perspective
    • India is concerned with Chinese policies like OBOR,string of pearls strategy .
  • India started to expand its role and increased concrete relations with Australia, Japan and China feels India is doing this to contain China.
  • Neighbours can get cautious about India’s actions of defending a third country’s territory but India is doing this only because Bhutan asked for its help

India and China are both aspiring world superpowers. They need to strengthen cooperation and collaboration and achieve mutually beneficial goals, rather than engage in distracting, zero-sum, military adventures.Also Both India and China should let go of past baggage and demarcate the boundary so that border disputes do not affect their bilateral relations altogether.

2. Discuss the challenges faced by agricultural education in India. Suggest strategies and Institutional reforms to meet the challenges of agricultural education. (GS 3)

Indian Express | ICAR

Introduction :-

  • India does require education at all levels so that India farmers are better equipped to handle the threats of globalization,climate change,MNC’s role etc.

Challenges faced by agricultural education in India :-

  • Lack of research:
    • Research on rain-fed farms, pulses, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables lags considerably.
  • Loopholes in ICAR:
    • ICAR has historically evolved with a strong bias in favour of crop sciences at the cost of animal husbandry.
    • The capacities for market intelligence and forecasting models have not been cultivated.
    • ICAR and the states exercise authority and jointly fund SAU activities. Around 700 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK) funded by the ICAR are designated for capacity building and technology refinement and transfer but are neither fully staffed nor equipped.
    • Recruitments are manipulated, inbreeding and nepotism are rampant.
    • Salary structures based on government promotion rules of time-bound promotion do not recognise research output and talent is ignored.
    • Most farmhands are women, but women are not even recruited in equal numbers.
  • Problems with state agricultural universities:
    • There is no system in place, which could judge the performance of SAU.
    • Major concerns are depleted faculty strength, lack of manpower in frontier areas, inadequate hands-on skills and
      lack of research experience
    • The SAUs also have a serious problem of inbreeding
      as nearly 51% of faculty members have their all degrees from the same university in which they are teaching .
    • More appalling are the over 1,000 unregulated private agriculture colleges which have sprouted across the nation churning out degrees like street food.
    • Many are without proper labs, infrastructure or farm land. As agriculture is a state subject ICAR/Central government jurisdiction doesn’t apply to these proliferating private profiteers.
  • Lack of government framework:
    • The private institutes thrive because states haven’t enacted a regulatory framework.
    • state governments barely manage to fund the SAUs. To offset the constant paucity of funds, SAUs are forced to augment their resources by seeking research grants irrespective of the state’s priorities.
  • The abdication by the state public extension system has allowed the private shopkeepers to usurp the role of farm advisories to disastrous consequences for farmers, human health and the ecology.
  • Lack of coordination:
    • Convergence between ICAR and state agriculture agencies has failed.
    • Inter-departmental coordination is lacking within the 71 agriculture universities and the whopping 101 institutes across India.

However government has taken many measures like Agri clinics under the supervision of Nabard, promoting entrepreneurship for agricultural students etc.

Strategies to improve :-

  • If the PMO accepted the responsibility of agriculture research and education, SAU salaries would fall into the Central government basket and the KVKs could be transferred to the states. That would free up resources for states to focus exclusively on farm extension.
  • Evolving consumer preferences, changing the narrative from farm to food, environmental impact, climate resilient agriculture require a reorientation of priorities and mindsets.
  • IPR registrations and internal resource generation like that in the developed world universities needs to be developed in India too.
  • Budget allocations for agriculture R&D must be pegged as 2 per cent of the GDP from the less than 1 per cent at present.
  • A metric to audit outcomes and establish accountability is needed to resolve the crisis.
  • The Modular System of Teaching helps in improving learning through hands-on experience.
    • It is based on the concept of one credit for one week of teaching; the students are attached to the teacher for full time.

Institutional reforms needed :-

  • Need to build Centres of Excellence for agricultural education and research.
    • The country needs at least four more IARIs by restructuring
      some of the major ICAR Institutes to cater the need of developing human resource for cutting-edge research.
  • There is an urgent need to provide practical field experience to agricultural graduates.
    • This can be best achieved by making provision in the curriculum for internship of about one year during graduation.
    • At the post-graduate level international exposure of 4 to 6 months will provide valuable experience of working in advanced laboratories and developing long-term interactions.
    • This will also help in developing leadership to be able to lead changes and build capacity to address the emerging challenges.
  • Far from being an autonomous body, ICAR has become an extension of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. It should be transformed into a truly autonomous body reporting directly to the prime minister like the Atomic Energy Commission.
    • Its functions should be restricted to farm research, education and oversight of non-ICAR agriculture institutes.
  • Like Punjab other states need to enact laws for proliferating private profiteers

3. The logistics sector is being considered as one of the main beneficiaries of the new GST regime. Examine the possible impact of GST on the logistics sector in India. (GS 3)

Live Mint

Introduction:-

  • Logistics is considered to be the backbone of manufacturing and trading activities in the economy.
  • It has a critical role to play for developing countries like India wherein consumption is growing and demand is always high.
  • So GST has significant impact on this sector.

How is logistics sector benefitting from GST :-

  • For manufacturers, the goods and services tax (GST) has now replaced the multiple state VATs and the need to have a hub across all states will cease to exist.
    • This will allow firms to redesign supply chains and centralize hub operations to take advantage of scale economies.
    • It will also allow firms to employ efficient practices such as bulk-breaking and cross-docking from a central location.Nagpur, India’s “zero mile city”, is looking to become the nation’s warehouse” and is witnessing increased investment from retailers .
  • GST, the tax on warehouse, storage and other labour services has increased from 15% to 18%.
    • So a third-party logistics provider will now have more incentive to move towards the provision of services that have a high degree of value addition and where input tax credit can be claimed.
    • This can result in consolidation in the storage and warehouse sector
  • Third party logistics :-
    • the costs of designing a logistics network will be less complex and firms which are asset-light will be able to quickly adapt and benefit more compared to asset-heavy firms.
  • GST will make way for cutting-edge investments and mergers and one will see a phenomenal increase in asset utilization and increase in operational efficiency.
  • Ease of entry across states will reduce transportation delays with measures such as the e-way bill.
  • There will be new investment opportunities for technology-enabled mini warehouses along the highways and the sector will witness a fresh wave of technology enabled start-ups.
  • it could reduce the logistics costs of companies producing non-bulk goods by as much as 20%, according to an estimate by Crisil Ltd.
  • The checkposts at state borders have already been brought down reducing hassles for trucks
  • since taxes like octroi and other entry and exit taxes have been subsumed under GST
  • The GST has reduced the paper work for the logistics sector as earlier every state had its own set of documentation for transportation but now it has reduced

Concerns:

  • There is bound to be an increase in compliance and adjustment costs as the frequency of filing returns will increase and the input tax credit will require compliance of each and every player in the entire value chain. This will result in uncertainties and affect the profitability of the sector in the short run.
  • The diesel and petrol have not been included in GST therefore they can’t take the benefits.
  • The dual components of GST i.e. central and state GST have affected the logistics sector.
  • Lack of awareness among the truck drivers and common people about the new GST has created chaos.
  • Lack of internet facilities at different parts of the country has effected logistics sector as internet is necessary to file GST.

Despite short term difficulties, the GST will bring in transformation in the working of the logistics sector in the long term.


 

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