Q.1) The test of MSP lies not in announcement but in implementation. Elaborate on the new umbrella scheme PM-AASHA (Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan). How the new scheme will help in ensuring food security of the country?
Answer: The lack of credibility in MSPs lies in both fixation methodology and effective enforcement. Farmer interest is better served by removing all restrictions on marketing, storage and movement of produce, along with making fixed per-acre payments irrespective of the crop that is grown.
The new Umbrella Scheme includes the mechanism of ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers and is comprised of:
- Price Support Scheme (PSS) – In Price Support Scheme (PSS), physical procurement of pulses, oilseeds will be done by Central Nodal Agencies with proactive role of State governments.
- Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS) – proposed to cover all oilseeds for which MSP is notified. In this direct payment of the difference between the MSP and the selling price will be made to pre-registered farmers selling his produce in the notified market yard through a transparent auction process.
- Pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPPS) – participation of private sector in procurement operation needs to piloted so that on the basis of learnings the ambit of private participation in procurement operations may be increased.
Scheme – Food Security:
- It makes farming a remunerative activity by increasing farm incomes.
- It supports diverse food crops through price mechanism and thus helps in strengthening food security by addressing nutrient deficiencies.
- The AASHA scheme tries to address the gaps in the MSP system and give better returns to farmers.
- It also promises to plug the holes in the procurement system through PDP. thus it cuts down on the stockpiling of food grains, incurring storage costs and significant wastage and leakages as well.
- If implemented well, the new system may help revive the rural economy.
- It helps the environment by ensuring crop diversification and reducing the stress on soil and water.
Q.2) What do you mean by Corporate Governance? Why corporate governance is important? Elaborate on the recommendations of Kotak committee on corporate governance.
Answer: Corporate governance involves balancing the interests of a company’s many stakeholders, such as shareholders, management, customers, suppliers, financiers, government and the community.
Importance of corporate governance:
- Increasing concern about the non-compliance of standards of financial reporting and accountability by boards of directors and management of corporate inflicting heavy losses on investors.
- The collapse of many corporate giants life Satyam are said to be due to the absence of good corporate governance and corrupt practices adopted by management of these companies and their financial consulting firms.
- Investors and shareholders of a corporate company need protection for their investment due to lack of adequate standards of financial reporting and accountability.
- Corporate governance is considered as an important means for paying heed to investors’ grievances.
- The importance of good corporate governance lies in the fact that it will enable the corporate firms to (1) attract capital and (2) perform efficiently.
- It is indispensable for healthy and vibrant stock market.
Kotak Committee Recommendations:
- More powers for independent directors, limiting chairmanship to non-executive directors, and greater focus on transparency and disclosures.
- A listed company should have at least six directors on its board. Current Sebi regulations do not mandate a minimum number. The panel has suggested at least one independent director be a woman.
- Directors attend at least half the total board meetings held in a financial year. If they fail to do so, they would require shareholders’ nod for continuing.
- Chairperson of a listed company will be a non-executive director to ensure that s/he is independent of the management.
- An independent director cannot be in more than eight listed companies and a managing director can hold the post of an independent director in only three listed companies.
- The number of independent directors on a company board be increased from 33% to 50%.
- The minimum sitting fees of independent directors has been halved from the current Rs1 lakh per meeting as stipulated by the Companies Act 2013 to Rs50,000 for the top 100 companies by market capitalization.
- Detailed reasons would need to be furnished when an independent director resigns. This is to ensure that they remain independent of the company management.
- An audit committee to look into utilization of funds infused by a listed entity into unlisted subsidiaries, including foreign subsidiaries in cases where the total investment is at least Rs 100 crore or 10% of the asset size of the subsidiary.
- SEBI should have clear powers to act against auditors under the securities law.
Q.3) The recent death of lions in the Gir Forest raises serious questions about the conservation of the big cats in their only habitat. Analyse the reasons for this along with the Supreme Court guidelines on translocation. Suggest suitable measures to prevent such casualties in future.
Answer: In the last one month, 21 lions have died in the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park due to various reasons, including infighting and virus infection.
Reasons for deaths of lions:
They are faced with the threat of a deadly disease caused by canine distemper virus (CDV).
Other reasons for deaths of lions include the rise in population which forced many lions to move out of the protected area. Also, the main reason was rapid urbanisation in the area, which saw a large influx of human population.
SC guidelines on translocation:
In 2013, Supreme Court ruled that Gujarat needed to relocate some of its lions to neighbouring Madhya Pradesh to avoid the possibility of disease or some other disaster wiping out the entire population.
Measures to prevent casualties:
- As a precautionary measure, all lions can be rescued and brought to rescue centres to insulate them from the disease.
- Translocation is good for lion conservation.
- The success story of Asiatic lions in Gir has become a model of conservation, with constant patrols against poachers.
- State government proposed to the Centre to notify an area of 3,467 sq. km near Gir as an ecologically sensitive zone, barring any industrial development or mining activity in the area.
- A new conservation area situated around 70km from Gir and spread across 109 sq. km, has been proposed as an ‘’alternative home’’ for the lions in Gujarat.
Q.4) Discuss the salient features of draft national policy on mariculture.
Answer: The draft national policy on mariculture was formulated to ensure sustainable farmed seafood production for the benefit of food and nutritional security of the nation.
Features of the policy:
- Farming of genetically modified (GM) species in closed mariculture systems.
- Provide additional livelihood options to the coastal communities for a better living.
- Farming exotic and genetically modified species in closed mariculture systems after stringent risk assessment and monitoring.
- In order to address the seed scarcity, innovative schemes will be developed for the setting up of hatcheries, seed farms, rearing units and specific pathogen free (SPF) or genetically improved brood banks.
- Mariculture zones by demarcating special areas in the sea for different mariculture activities.
- Satellite remote sensing data and GIS will be used to identify potential zones on the basis of scientific evaluation of environmental parameters suitable for various types of farming, avoiding conflict with other users and protecting livelihoods of local fishing communities.
- To support fish breeding, culture, packaging and trade, the policy proposes encouraging to set up off-shore technology parks and coastal embankment systems.
- For the security of the mariculture enterprises in the open sea waters, the policy has made provisions for leasing the water bodies and regulating the activities through changes in the law.
- Advises the government to formulate special financial assistance programmes, including prioritised lending schemes, subsidised credit and investment subsidies, to promote mariculture.