9 PM Daily Brief – October 24th, 2020

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GS-2

  1. India’s maritime domain
  2. India’s UN journey and its role

GS-3

3.Increasing Onion Prices

  1. Farmers’ Produce Trading and Commerce Act 2020

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FACTLY

1. India’s maritime domain

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Context- It is time for India to seek external balancing, best done via the maritime domain.

What are the significance and issues of QUAD and Malabar Exercise?

  1. Malabar Exercise – It is an annual trilateral naval exercise between the navies of India, Japan, and the USA which is held alternately in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
  • Aim– it aimed at interoperability with an emphasis on humanitarian assistance, anti-submarines warfare, counter-terror operations, gunnery training and aerial surveillance.
  • Australia inclusion– The move will bolster the ability of India, Australia, Japan and the United States to work together to uphold peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region.
  1. QUAD grouping– the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad has its roots in the Core Group of four senior diplomats representing the USA, Japan and Australia with a shared objective to ensure and support a free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.

Issues-

Undefined vision– Despite the potential for cooperation, the Quad remains a mechanism without a defined strategic mission.

  • Its members have neither created a charter nor invested it with any substance.
  • China’s view to QUAD-China to describe it as a “headline grabbing idea which will dissipate like sea-foam.

What measures can be opt to tackle China?

In order to rein in China’s hegemonic urges, there is need for affected nations to come together to show their solidarity and determination in a common cause.

  1. Indo-Pacific Concord– There is need to create a broad-based “Indo-Pacific Concord”, of like-minded regional democracies as an organization with a maritime security charter,  which has no offensive or provocative connotations.
  • The Concord could also designate forces to uphold maritime security or “good order at sea”.
  1. Multinational naval exercise– A shore-based secretariat can be established in a central location like Port Blair, in the Andaman Islands, which would schedule and conduct periodic multinational naval exercises. The exercises could be structured to hone the skills of participating navies in specializations like-
  • Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  • Countering non-traditional threats.
  • Undertaking search-and-rescue operations.
  • Establishing networked maritime domain awareness.

What are the concerns for India in context of QUAD?

  1. India-Australia relations-
  • Australia’s past political ambivalence towards India, its trenchant criticism of our naval expansion and its vociferous condemnation of the 1998 nuclear tests.
  • Beijing’s recent influence on Australia’s foreign policy, which prompted its flip-flops over the sale of uranium to India as well as its peremptory withdrawal from the Quad in 2008.
  1. BECA Agreement- There is need to pay heed to valid concerns, regarding the possible compromise of information impinging on India’s security and whether these agreements will barter away the last vestiges of India’s strategic autonomy.

Way forward-

  • India should never lose sight of the truism in international relations, that it is the unerring pursuit of national interests that guides the actions and policies of every nation.
  • India needs to understand the salience of maritime power

2. India’s UN journey and its role

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2- Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Context- The 75th anniversary of UN is an opportunity to look at the major trends, patterns and future challenges as far as India is concerned in terms of safeguarding its interests and promoting common good.

What are the different phases of India’s journey in UN?

  1. Phase 1- Before the end of the Cold War in 1989-
  • The Indian leadership learned that the UN could not be relied upon to impartially resolve vital security disputes.
  • The UN only to focus on common causes such as anti-colonialism, anti-racism, nuclear disarmament, environment conservation and equitable economic development.
  • In 1988- India claims the moral high ground by proposing, three-phase plan to eliminate nuclear weapons from the surface of earth.
  1. Phase 2- The demanding decade from 1990-2000-
  • There was a change in India’s foreign policy which was reflected in voting patterns at the UN.

For example– India showed pragmatism in enabling the toughest terms on Iraq even after eviction from occupied Kuwait, or in reversing the hitherto stated position on Zionism as racism

  • India’s diplomatic difficulties were exposed when it suffered a humiliating defeat in the hands of Japan in the 1996 contest for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC.
  • India stood against indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995, and rejected the backdoor introduction for adoption of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996.
  1. Phase 3- Wind of changes – 21st century.
  • India strengthened its profile- The economic liberalization and globalization policies, helped India to strengthening its profile.
  1. The reliable and substantial troop contributions to several peacekeeping operations in African conflict theatres.
  2. India has emerged as a responsible stakeholder in non-traditional security issue areas such as the spread of small and light weapons, the threat of non-state actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and the impact of climate change.

What will be the role of India as a non-permanent UNSC member?

India’s areas of priority will continue to be-

  • The upholding of Charter principles in the backdrop of a turbulent world..
  • Mounting effective punitive measures against those who support, finance and sponsor terrorists.
  • Striving for securing due say to the troop contributing countries in the management of peace operations.

Challenge for India-

  1. In the midst of multilateralism and, and China’s aggressive territorial forays India may face challenges and opportunities in the UNSC.
  2. Voting scenario– China might succeeding in convening a formal meeting on Kashmir, India may have to choose either to abstain in the vote since it is a party to the dispute or vote against any unfavorable proposal that might be tabled.
  • The growing proximity with the US may prompt India not to stay neutral in order to counter balance China.

Way forward-

  • India’s future role will probably depend on its ability to weather the impact of the multiple crises it now faces on account of an unabated economic slowdown and a troubled relationship with China.

3. Increasing Onion Prices

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS3: Issues of Buffer Stocks and Food Security

Context: To control the rising prices of onions which crossed Rs 80 per kg in many cities, the centre has reintroduced the stock limit on onions.

More in news

  • Recently, the Parliament has amended the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to exclude onions besides potatoes, edible oils, oilseed and pulses from the list of essential commodities, thus freeing them from stock limits.

What is the need for government intervention?

  • Production losses: Heavy rainfall in north Karnataka has resulted in massive losses of kharif onions.
  • Storage losses: The heavy rains not only destroyed the new crop in Karnataka but also took a toll on stored onions in states.
  • Low shelf life: Overuse of urea by farmers has resulted in the lower shelf life of the onions.
  • All these factors have resulted in rise of prices due to a supply-demand mismatch.

What steps were taken to reduce the price rise?

  • First, to control prices, government banned the export of onion.
  • This was followed by the relaxation of import norms that allowed easy shipping of onions from Iran, Turkey and other onion-producing nations.
  • Recently, the government has reintroduced the stock limit. Wholesale traders are now allowed to stock up to 25 tonnes of onion, and retail traders up to 2 tonnes.

4. Farmers’ Produce Trading and Commerce Act 2020

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: Gs3: Storage, Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints

Context: Farmers’ Produce Trading and Commerce Act 2020 enables Farmers to engage in direct marketing thereby eliminating intermediaries which was major issue in Agriculture Produce Market Regulation (APMC) acts.

What is Agriculture Produce Market Regulation (APMC) acts?

  • From the 1960s, there have been concerted efforts to bring all wholesale markets for agricultural produce in various states under the Agriculture Produce Market Regulation (APMC) acts.
  • All states, except Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur, enacted such laws.
  • The APMC Acts mandated that the sale/purchase of agricultural commodities is carried out in a specified market area, and, producer-sellers or traders pay the requisite market fee, user charges, levies and commissions for the commission agents (arhtiyas).
  • These charges were levied irrespective of whether the sale took place inside APMC premises or outside it and the charges varied widely across states and commodities.

How effective were APMC acts in achieving its sated objectives?

  • In the initial years, APMC acts helped remove malpractices and freed the farmers from the exploitative power of middlemen and mercantile capital.
  • Later, market facilities did not keep pace with the increase in output and regulation did not allow farmers to sell outside APMC markets.
  • The farmers were left with no choice but to seek the help of middlemen. Due to poor market infrastructure, more produce is sold outside markets than in APMC mandis.
  • The net result was a system of interlocked transactions that robs farmers of their choice to decide to whom and where to sell, subjecting them to exploitation by middlemen.
  • Over time, APMC markets have been turned from infrastructure services to a source of revenue generation.
  • In several states, commission charges were increased without any improvement in the services.
  • And to avoid any protests from farmers against these high charges, most of these were required to be paid by buyers like the FCI.
  • This not only results in a heavy burden on the Centre but also increases the logistics cost for domestic produce and reduces trade competitiveness.

Need for Farmers’ Produce Trading and Commerce Act 2020?

  • The reforms in market regulation remained slow even after successive governments at the Centre made repeated attempts to persuade the states to make appropriate changes in their APMC acts.
  • Finally, the centre used the constitutional route to address long-pending issues of market reforms by introducing Farmers’ Produce Trading and Commerce Act 2020.

Significance of FPTC Act

  • The FPTC Act gives farmers the freedom to sell and buy farm produce at any place in the country either from APMC markets or outside the mandated area like the sale of milk.
  • The Act promote e-commerce in agriculture trade by allowing transactions on electronic platforms.
  • Excessive and unjustified charges levied under the APMC acts will be reduced.The FPTC Act will only put pressure on APMC markets to become competitive.
  • It is expected to bring down market charges and commissions to 2 per cent or less to enable APMC mandis to compete with sales outside their premises.

The states , in farmers’ welfare should keep mandi charges below a reasonable level of 1.5 per cent to ensure the co-existence of APMC mandis and private channels permitted under the new Act in a true competitive spirit.


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