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Q.1) The government had in 2017, announced a farm loan waiver worth Rs 30,000 crore to alleviate agrarian distress and deter farmer suicides. Where do you think has the scheme possibly lacked for which Mumbai saw a protest march of 40,000 farmers? Highlight the other the manifold reasons of India’s agrarian crisis in your answer. GS – 1

Introduction:

  • 6th March, 2018: On 6th March, 2018, around 40,000 farmers in and around Maharashtra marched to Mumbai from Nasik.
  • 12th March, 2018: The march ended at March 12th at the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha.
  • Members of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the farmers’ wing of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM), along with other farmers’ unions are the ones who have held the protest march.

Loopholes in the farm loan waiver, 2017:

The loopholes in the farm loan waiver, 2017 are as follows:

  • The Rs 34,000 crore farm loan waiver declared last year came with several conditions.
  • For instance, only one member per family was allowed a debt-waiver and a ceiling of Rs 1.5 lakh was prescribed.
  • Because of the conditions, a majority of farmers were unable to benefit from it, and have continued to reel under debt.
  • Besides it did not benefit many of the small and marginal farmers who usually do not rely upon institutional credit.

Manifold reasons of India’s agrarian crisis:

The manifold reasons of India’s agrarian crisis are as follows:

Intense pressure of population on land:

  • The fundamental root of the agrarian crisis, particularly in Maharashtra, is the intense pressure of population on land.
  • As per the state’s own 2017-18 Economic Survey, over 80% of Maharashtra’s 13 million farmers work on small and marginal farms, meaning they have landholdings of less than one hectare.

Shortage of cash and credit:

  • The shortage of cash and credit is another major issue in rural households.
  • Landless or marginal farmers lack the resources to either buy or lease more land or invest in farm infrastructure such as irrigation, power and farm machinery.
  • Note: Rural households earn Rs3, 000 (US$46) a month by farming.
  • Whereas, the Economic Survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) estimates the minimum cost of living for the average Indian farm household at Rs6, 426 per month.
  • NSSO data also reveals that a farm household needs to have at least one hectare of land to make ends meet every month.

Weather:

  • A farmer is constantly exposed to multiple risks and the major risk is the weather.
  • In Maharashtra, over 80% of farmers are dependent on the rains and a weak monsoon or even a delayed monsoon means a significant loss of output.

Pests and plant diseases:

  • Among multiple risks, another risk is from pests and plant diseases.
  • Most districts in Maharashtra have seen 30-70% devastation of cotton crops due to pink worm attacks this year, despite having using genetically modified BT cotton seeds for over 15 years.

Price:

  • The third risk is that of price.
  • Over 94% farmers have no other option but to sell their produce locally for less than the MSP.
  • The farmers usually get as little as 25% of the price that consumers finally pay.

Q.2) Until 1947, India and Iran had long shared a common border as neighbors, with cultural and linguistic ties between the two ancient civilizations going back thousands of years. Despite having a strong historical relationship with Iran, India is seen hesitant to revive it at present due to various economic and geopolitical reasons. Explain. GS – 2

Introduction:

  • Until 1947, India and Iran had long shared a common border as neighbours, with cultural and linguistic ties between the two ancient civilizations going back thousands of years.
  • Independent India and Iran established diplomatic relations on 15 March 1950.
  • Following the 1979 revolution, relations between Iran and India strengthened momentarily.
  • In the 1990s, India and Iran supported the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan against the Taliban regime.
  • They continue to collaborate in supporting the broad-based anti-Taliban government led by Ashraf Ghani and backed by the United States.

Strong headwinds that the Indo-Iranian relationship is facing:

The major hurdles that the Indo-Iranian relations are facing are as follows:

  • First: despite Trump’s threats, Iran is placed much better in the region than ever before.
  • But tensions between Washington and Tehran constrain the strategic space for India in dealing with Iran.
  • Second: What should be worrying for India is the slow pace of the Chabahar port project, which has displeased the Iranians.
  • Uncertainty surrounding American posture towards Iran is complicating India’s ability to deliver fast on Chabahar as Western manufacturers remain wary of supplying equipment for the Iranian port.
  • They have also indicated that despite India developing the project, it won’t be exclusive to the country but Pakistan and China might also be invited to get involved.
  • Bringing China and Pakistan in will be a challenge to Indian interests.
  • Third: The Indo-Iranian cooperation on Afghanistan is also coming under stress with Tehran joining Russia and China in managing Pakistan’s role in the region.
  • Fourth: Though the larger trade and energy ties between India and Iran are gradually growing, they are being overshadowed by India’s growing stakes in the Arab world and Israel.
  • Fifth: Other challenges in bilateral relations relate to India’s growing ties with USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE, all of which are intractable rivals of Iran.

Q.3) Write short notes on:

a) ‘Weightless economy’ in Economics GS – 3

  • ‘Weightless economy’ in Economics refers to those sectors of the economy which produce stuff that weigh lighter than other sectors that manufacture traditional goods and services.

Usage of ‘Weightless economy’:

  • The term is used to emphasise the changing nature of economies as they increasingly concentrate on producing stuff that is intangible but also of much more valuable to consumers.
  • Economic growth in the previous centuries depended largely on increasing the total quantity of physical inputs that went into production.
  • Now, producing things of higher value requires the use of intellectual capital more than physical capital, which explains the rapid increase in the size of the weightless economy.

b) Bot in Science and Technology GS – 3

  • A bot is a computer programme designed to work automatically.

Usage of bot:

  • Bot is mainly used to gather information on the Internet or perform repetitive jobs.
  • Dynamic interaction with websites is yet another way bots are used for positive purposes.

Malicious bot:  

  • A malicious bot as self-propagating malware that infects its host and connects back to a central server(s).
  • Malicious bots can gather passwords, log keystrokes, obtain financial information, relay spam, and exploit back doors opened by viruses and worms, among other things.
  • Efforts are being made to restrict these bots from spreading misinformation on the respective platforms.
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