Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – November 8


Q.1) Contract farming is helpful in enhancing  agricultural productivity in India. In this context, discuss the significance of contract farming and its limitations.(GS 3)

Contract farming can be defined as agricultural production carried out according to an agreement between a buyer and farmers, which establishes conditions for the production and marketing of a farm product or products.  Contract farming is helpful in enhancing agricultural productivity in India.

Significance of contract farming:

  • The contract farming allows buyers and sellers to transact without routing through mandis.
  • Under contract farming, farmers can be given seeds, credit, fertilizers, machinery and technical advice so that their produce is tailor made for the requirements of the companies.
  • There would be no middlemen involved and farmers would get a predetermined sale price from the companies.
  • The farmer does not have to make trips to the mandis nor worry about getting seeds and credit for farming operations.
  • By entering into a contract, the farmer reduces the risk of fluctuating market demand and prices for his produce and the companies reduce the risk of non-availability of raw materials.
  • Contract farming can fill the gap of lack of investment and land improvement by supplying quality inputs, giving technical guidance and management skills.
  • Punjab has had corporate farming for over 15 years and success stories range from Pepsico India in tomatoes, potatoes, groundnut and chilli, safflower in Madhya Pradesh, palm oil in Andhra Pradesh and seed production contracts for hybrid seed companies which helped growers in realising better returns for their produce.
  • The farmers get the high remunerative price for their farm product.
  • The farm grower benefit from the agro extension program of the agro processor.
  • The wastage of the farm produces now between 35 and 40 percent largely eliminated as the farm processing factory situated next to cluster of farms.
  • It promotes best agri practices from different parts of the world’s.
  • It will free farmer from middlemen and moneylenders.
  • Farmers income security through guaranteed price and access to quality inputs.
  • Encourages new generation to take farming as new business venture instead of migrating to cities for search of jobs.

  • Very small and marginal farmers may not be roped in for this form of farming because companies may want a particular size of the crop which small farmers with their small parcels of land may not be able to produce. So, this will leave out the most vulnerable farmers from the ambit of corporate farming.
  • The medium size farmer may not be literate enough to understand the nitty gritty of the contract and all the clauses, and if the produce does not meet the standards of the company, he may face mass rejection.
  • The farmer may be forced to produce only tomatoes or onions year after year which will lead to monoculture and he will have no options left to produce whatever mix of crops which he may think is good for his farm.
  • Predetermined prices do not take care of food inflation and in case there is a price rise of the product, the farmer cannot take advantage and make a windfall profit because he is under contract to sell at the price agreed upon beforehand.
  • The average farmer being poor and semi-literate has little bargaining power vis-à-vis big corporations and hence there is little chance of his getting a fair price for his produce.
  • The corporate sector takes over our agricultural operations. It may affect the food security of the country.
  • Contract farming is best suited to special types of crops and not all farming activities. In China, only specific agricultural produce is under contract farming.
  • The Niti Aayog thinks a model law is needed to streamline the contract farming system and make it more uniform across the States.
  • Presently, contract farming has been co-opted by 22 States but there is no uniformity or homogeneity regarding the kinds of produce that can come under it and the conditions under which contract farming should be allowed

Q.2) In India, the food sector has emerged as a high-growth and high-profit sector due to its immense potential for value addition within the food  processing industry.  In this context, examine the major obstacles in the growth of this sector(GS-3)

In India, the food sector has emerged as a high-growth and high-profit sector due to its immense potential for value addition within the food processing industry .

Food Processing Industries of India:

  • Accounting for about 32 per cent of the country’s total food market, The Government of India has been instrumental in the growth and development of the food processing industry.
  • The government through the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) is making all efforts to encourage investments in the business. It has approved proposals for joint ventures (JV), foreign collaborations, industrial licenses, and 100 per cent export oriented units.
  • The Indian food and grocery market is the world’s sixth largest, with retail contributing 70 per cent of the sales.
  • The Indian food processing industry accounts for 32 per cent of the country’s total food market, one of the largest industries in India and is ranked fifth in terms of production, consumption, export and expected growth.
  • It contributes around 8.80 and 8.39 per cent of Gross Value Added (GVA) in Manufacturing and Agriculture respectively, 13 per cent of India’s exports and six per cent of total industrial investment.
  • The Indian gourmet food market is currently valued at US$ 1.3 billion and is growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 20 per cent. India’s organic food market is expected to increase by three times by 2020.
  • The online food ordering business in India is in its nascent stage, but witnessing exponential growth. With online food delivery players like FoodPanda, Zomato, TinyOwl and Swiggy building scale through partnerships.
  • The organised food business has a huge potential and a promising future. The online food delivery industry grew at 150 per cent year-on-year with an estimated Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of US$ 300 million in 2016.
  • According to the data provided by the Department of Industrial Policies and Promotion (DIPP), the food processing sector in India has received around US$ 7.54 billion worth of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) during the period April 2000-March 2017.
  • The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) estimates that the food processing sectors have the potential to attract as much as US$ 33 billion of investment over the next 10 years and also to generate employment of nine million person-days.

Obstacle in growth of food processing sector in India:

  • Indians prefer freshly cooked products as compared to packaged products.
  • Since unit production cost is high, he can’t sell his products cheap unlike a big MNC, and Indian consumers are price sensitive.
  • Most of Indian food processing units/companies/enterprises/factories are small sized meaning poor economies of scale.
  • Agriculture/Dairy production yield levels are among the lowest amongst the BRIC countries.
  • Land holdings is small, fragmented. Area under cultivation is decreasing due to urbanization, real-estate development, industrialization.
  • There is no common policy on contract farming throughout India.
  • High cost of raw material (driven by low productivity and poor agronomic practices)
  • Presence of intermediaries.
  • High cost of packaging, finance, transport and distribution.
  • Lack of organized retail.
  • Logistics cost i.e. transportation, warehousing, material handling etc. This cost is significantly higher as compared most developed countries.
  • Inadequate infrastructure of storage, sorting, grading and post-harvest management.
  • Taxes on processed food in India are among the highest in the world.
  • Except India, no country distinguishes between branded and unbranded food sectors for taxation.

Q.3) Indian government has recently rejected the demand for differential pricing for cardiovascular stents. In this context, discuss the application of ‘stents’ in medical science. What are the various concerns related to the use of stents in India? (GS-3)

The Indian government has recently rejected the demand for differential pricing for cardiovascular stents because these companies failed to submit verifiable and credible evidence to show the clinical superiority of the so-called ‘innovative’ stents.

Meaning of stents:

  • A stent is a small mesh tube that’s used to treat narrow or weak arteries.
  • Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart to other parts of your body.
  • Some stents are coated with medicine that is slowly and continuously released into the artery. These stents are called drug-eluting stents.
  • The medicine helps prevent the artery from becoming blocked again.
  • These metal tubes have revolutionized modern cardiology.

Uses of Stents:

  • Stents are small, expandable tubes that treat narrowed arteries in patient body.
  • Coronary stent is a tube shaped device when inserted into blocked blood vessel ,can help to clear d blockage
  • In people with coronary heart disease caused by the buildup of plaque, they can:
  1. Open narrowed arteries
  2. Reduce symptoms like chest pain
  3. Help treat a heart attack. These types are called heart stents,but they’re also referred to as cardiac stents or coronary stents.
  4. Doctors also may place stents in weak arteries to improve blood flow and help prevent the arteries from bursting
  5. A stent is placed in an artery as part of a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), also known as coronary angioplasty
  6. A stent helps support the inner wall of the artery in the months or years after PCI.
  • The devices save thousands of live every year.
  • Emergency angioplasty is the treatment of choice during an acute heart attack, wherein the clot is crushed with a balloon and a stent is placed.
  • It improves the chance of the patient surviving by almost 30 per cent when compared to clot dissolving medication (thrombolysis)
  • In the last 5 years the implant of stenting in India has increased by 5 times. There is not only a boom in the domestic market, bust also foreign patients are coming to India as part of medical tourism to get stenting done because the cost of stenting in India is low. This is because there is increased awareness, increased diagnosis, increased availability of the angiograms and increased availability of doctors.

Concerns / challenges

  • In India there are instances where angioplasty is done for patients having chest pain due to Vitamin D deficiency which is wrong.
  • The bypass is done by the surgeon and the stenting is done by the cardiologists. The poor victim of the heart attack or the Coronary artery disease lands up with cardiologist. It is the integrity, honesty and the righteousness of the cardiologists to decide whether the patient really needs stenting or not.
  • The stents are very costly. There is no regulation and the Drug Controller is not capable of regulating domestic stent manufacturers. There have been cases where the stent manufacturers have been found making stents in garages.
  • In India the coronary artery disease is seen in young age, people do not exercise, do not have adequate sleep, do not have stress free life and do not eat balanced diet to keep their coronaries healthy.
  • There is no regulation of hospitals in India, especially in the private sector where a majority of urban Indians seek health care. At least 25-30% of the stenting done in this country is inappropriate. There are cases of stents being used in absolutely normal patients.
  • In our country the major gap is in the counselling which the doctor provides. Normally the patients go by the doctor’s advice. In the absence of any monitoring, patients in India have no protection from unnecessary use of stent.
  • failed to submit verifiable and credible evidence to show the clinical superiority of the so-called ‘innovative’ stents.
  • Lack of awareness among people about sufficient health and nutrition is the primary reason (about wholesome, balanced and natural diets; healthy child-feeding and caring practices)
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