Q.1) Discuss the various factors leading to increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India. Mention the important steps taken by the government in combating NCDs.
Acc to data released by WHO, over 61% of total deaths in India were attributed to lifestyle or non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Reasons for increasing NCDs:
- Changing lifestyles which are more sedentary due to the changing occupational profile of the country.
- Dietary habits have changed profoundly and are more cereal based and less diversified.
- Pollution and toxic residues in food and water sources remains a concern. NCDs include many environmental diseases covering a broad category of avoidable and unavoidable human health conditions caused by external factors, such as sunlight, nutrition, pollution, and lifestyle choices.
- Behaviors such as smoking, drinking coupled with physical inactivity can lead to hypertension and obesity.
- Also, the person’s economic and social conditions determine his health.
Steps taken by government to combat NCDs:
- India is the first country to develop specific national targets and indicators aimed at reducing the number of global premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025.
- A National Multisectoral Action Plan that outlines actions by various sectors in addition to the health sector, to reduce the burden of NCDs and their risk factors.
- India has implemented WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control aimed at reducing the demand for tobacco products.
- India’s National Monitoring Framework for Prevention and Control of NCDs calls for a 50% relative reduction in household use of solid fuel and a 30% relative reduction in prevalence of current tobacco use by 2025.
- PM Ujjwala Yojana targets indoor pollution due to unclean cooking fuels.
Q.2) Examine the prospects and challenges of Aadhar based digital payments in India.
Aadhar Payment Bridge System is used by the Government Departments and Agencies for the transfer of benefits and subsidies under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme launched by Government of India.
- APBS has led to electronification of a large number of retail payment transactions which were predominantly either in cash or cheque.
- Eliminates inordinate delays, multiple channels & paper work involved in the existing system.
- In case of change in bank account, customer is not required to convey the bank account details or change in bank details to the Government Department or Agency.
- Customer not required to open multiple bank accounts for receiving benefits and subsidies of various social welfare schemes – Customer just need to open one account and seed his/her Aadhaar number in the bank account to start receiving benefits and subsidies directly into his/her Aadhaar Enabled Bank Account.
- It helps the government to serve the goal of financial inclusion and reframe subsidy management program.
- Unreliable seeding of Aadhaar with bank account- It is alleged that when Jan Dhan Yojna was launched, seeding of Aadhar was done without due verification
- Inconsistencies between Aadhar database and bank database – Due to haphazard seeding, there is inconsistencies between Aadhar database and bank database which led to discontinuation of benefits and subsidies for a large number of poor beneficiaries.
- Uninformed consent – It is alleged that bank accounts have been mass-mapped onto the APBS without following due process of consent.
- Issue with Mapping of account – It is found that benefits are transferred to beneficiary rarely used account. Last year, Airtel allegedly opened its customer account to airtel payment bank without following due consent and verification norms and mapped this accounts to which subsidy payments would be directed.
- Diverted Payment – it is often found that benefits are transferred to others account under APB system.
Q.3) Critically discuss the economic and environmental cost of farm subsidies in India.
Farm subsidies provide governmental financial to the farmers and agribusinesses to reduce their input expenditures and supplement their income.
- High burden of subsidies on exchequer.
- Distorts market prices of agricultural produce.
- Affects farmers income because of their lack of productivity and from seeking technologies.
- Farm subsidies typically transfer income from consumers and taxpayers to relatively wealthy farmland owners and farm operators. This creates a moral hazard in the economy.
- Subsidies discourage farmers from innovating, cutting costs, diversifying their land use, and taking other actions needed to prosper in the competitive economy.
- Degradation of soil fertility due to the distorted N P K ratios.
- Leads to monoculture, thus affects ecological chains.
- Water tables are affected as the crops which consume large amounts of water are encouraged through subsidies.
- The monoculture in Punjab and Haryana led to multiple cropping and thus stubble burning during winters.
- India subsidises the cost of energy to pump water for agriculture, which encourages producers to pump more water than they need.
Q.4) India is facing the problem of a huge sugarcane surplus. What is its implication? Suggest some measures that the government should take to solve the crisis.
Demand and supply mismatch is the root cause of such huge arrears. Emergence of alternative sweeteners replacing sugar and increasing health consciousness has resulted in decreasing global sugar demand. While demand growth is decelerating, production has continued to rise due to superior seeds, better productivity of sugarcane per acre and sharply rising sugar recovery over the past decade.
- Increasing mismatch has further depressed sugar prices, resulting in increasing sugar arrears.
- Revenue of sugar manufacturers depends on the price of sugar and three primary by-products: molasses, bagasse and press mud.
- Unsold stock combined with another expected bumper sugarcane crop in 2019, farmers and the industry are likely to face very challenging times ahead
What should govt do:
- Rangarajan committee (2012) proposed decontrol of sugar industry and linking sugarcane prices with market price of sugar
- Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) recommended a hybrid approach of fixing sugarcane prices, which involved fair and remunerative price (FRP) or floor price and revenue sharing formula (RSF). Under this approach farmers’ revenue from sugarcane would be higher if the price of sugar and by-products is high.
- in the event of depressed sugar prices, governments compensate for the difference between SAP and RSF(revenue sharing formula)