Table of contents:-
- Comprehensive coverage of reasons behind agricultural distress in India
- Dairy sector: Turning Sour?
- Leather and meat industries
- GSLV – MKIII
- In Shanghai Eight
- War on Indus waters?
- Secret lives in a nature reserve
- Gagging the media
- A lot of hot air
- Glimpses into 1942
- Talking ties
Comprehensive coverage of reasons behind agricultural distress in India
- The farmer organisations on June 1st in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra started separate agitations raising some common demands and a few region-specific ones.
- The common demands were farm loan waiver and a hike in minimum support prices (MSP).
Why the farmers agitated?
- Agricultural policies had not adequately addressed the underlying short-, medium- and long-term factors that had forced farmers to take the path of agitation.
- The agitation is also triggered by the loan waiver in Uttar Pradesh on which the ruling party drove to victory.
- The government’s failure to address real and concrete factors relating to farmers’ distress was evident from the way the movement built up in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
- In both the States, the agitation gathered strength not in areas where there was crop failure but in places where crops were abundant but farmers were denied remunerative prices.
- For instance, Madhya Pradesh saw growth in the area under tur (arhar) dal, soya bean and onion cultivation as the farmers got a good price for these crops in the previous years.
- The hype over pulses and onions last year made farmers sow these crops in abundance, but the market crashed this year.
- Tur dal, which was selling at around Rs.10,000 a quintal last year, came down to Rs.3,000 this year; onion, which was selling at Rs.40-50 a kilogram last year, did not even fetch Rs.4-5
- Significantly the Madhya Pradesh government has also received the Krishi Karman award (excellence in agriculture) five years in a row for this.
Issues faced by farmers
Factor of demonetization
- The role of demonetisation is also seen in creating agrarian distress, according to some.
- Reserve Bank of India (RBI) “Monetary Policy Statement” of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) also indicated how the demonetisation drive had caused a state of panic in the farm sector.
- Propelled by significantly higher arrivals in mandis relative to the seasonal pattern, prices of vegetables also fell markedly from July (2016) and bottomed out in January 2017, with fire sales during the demonetisation period accentuating the fall.
- The seasonal uptick that typically occurs in the pre-monsoon months has been muted so far.
- In the fuel group by contrast, inflation surged across the board. Prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene rose in sympathy with international prices even as the subsidy was set on a path of calibrated reduction.
- Fuel used by rural households rose for the third month in succession, narrowing the wedge between fuel inflation facing rural and urban households.
- Non-remunerative prices for crops are among the major reasons for the growing lack of interest in agriculture.
- Cotton prices, for instance, used to be Rs.7,000 a quintal 15 years ago. The rates have remained unchanged.
- For some varieties of paddy, no MSP has been declared. The rates are decided by grain trader cartels.
- Although an MSP was fixed for several crops, farmers were forced to sell their produce at lower rates.
- For instance, while the MSP for mustard was Rs.3,700 a quintal, farmers sold it at Rs.3,300-Rs.3,400.
- Delays in purchase and the multiple conditions placed by the purchasing agencies were some of the reasons for farmers selling below the MSP.
- From the farmers’ point of view, it amounted to distress sale as they could not keep the crop for long.
- It is not the State but the Central government that decides the minimum support price [MSP] for various crops. So the State body will have only a limited role.
- The Swaminathan Report has other excellent recommendations besides the key issues of remunerative prices and a buying guarantee.
- Prices of most agricultural commodities are now at levels far below the government-announced minimum support price (MSP), even as production and input costs have soared.
- The very notion of the MSP as a support mechanism has been rendered a farce because it is not backed by physical intervention by the government and its agencies.
- The MSP remains purely notional because the state has not intervened actively in the mandis, purchasing agricultural commodities at the price it had committed itself to supporting.
- While the MSP for paddy announced is Rs.1,470 a quintal, the absence of procurement centres forces farmers to sell at Rs.800-1,100 a quintal in large parts of north and eastern India.
- The cost of production of both wheat and paddy is also much higher than the official MSP.
- In the age of information technology, when news spreads fast and across distances in no time, the fact that Kerala procures paddy at Rs.2,200 a quintal makes farmers elsewhere ask the natural question as to why their States do not come forward to do so too.
- Betrayal of farmers’ interests may have taken many forms in recent times, but this is the most direct and brutal let-down of the peasantry.
Storage of grains
- The lack of storage facilities and the absence of procurement by state agencies compelled farmers to accept whatever rate private commission agents offered; the rates invariably failed to cover the production cost.
- On the other hand, the consumer was charged three or four times the rate offered to the farmer.
Increasing input costs
- High costs of fertilizer, diesel and pesticides had pushed farmers across the two States into high indebtedness.
- At a macro level, the conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes rendered several families landless and reduced farm productivity.
- With the government at the Centre unable to get the amendments to the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, passed in Parliament, the government in Haryana created “e-Bhoomi portals” to encourage voluntary sale of land by farmers for government projects developed by the Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation.
- The ostensible objective of the portal was to prevent distress sale of land and also to enable hassle-free sale of land by landowners.
- Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the crop insurance scheme launched by the government has a huge gap between the money collected as premium and the amounts disbursed towards claims.
- While the premium collected by insurance companies in 2016-17 was Rs.21,500 crore, what was disbursed was only Rs.714.14 crore, which was 3.31 per cent of the total premium collected.
- In Haryana, three private insurance companies were given the responsibility of collecting premium.
- One of the demands of the farmers is that premium be collected by State insurance agencies and that it be voluntary.
- It has been left to the States to implement the PMFBY. Also, the scheme is not applicable in Punjab.
- There is also manpower shortage and lack of resource to undertake the task of crop damage assessment or crop cutting experiment as part of the PMFBY.
Access credit for agri infrastructure
- Although small farmers are eligible for crop loans, they do not get loans for agricultural infrastructure.
- The banks refuse to provide a loan to dig a well because there is no guarantee that it can reclaim the well, whereas it would give a loan to buy a motorcycle.
- So the farmers borrow from moneylenders so as to be eligible to get bank loans.
- Indebtedness has been one of the primary reasons for farmer suicides.
Pollution by Industries
- It is said that the groundwater was depleted owing to its overexploitation for agriculture.
- However it was industrial units that had depleted and polluted groundwater to dangerous levels. None of the dyeing units and other industries that used water has installed water treatment plants. The units release the effluents to the ground thereby contaminating the groundwater.
International agri. trading hurt farmers
- It is true that rainfall has been better this year. But rains alone do not make or break agriculture.
- For instance, more acreage was devoted to pulses, but the import of pulses from Africa (notably Mozambique) killed the farmers’ hope of getting a better price.
- The government is urging Indian companies to shop for land in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere in order to expand contract farming of pulses. India has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mozambique to import one lakh tonnes in 2016-17 and double it to two lakh tonnes by 2020-21.
- The government has decided to import arhar dal from Mozambique, while assuring farmers there provision of quality seeds, equipment and technology and procurement at an MSP level of Rs.5,050 a quintal. The entire cost of carriage, transportation and storage would also be borne by India. Contrast this largesse with the utter neglect of procurement from Indian farmers at a committed price.
- Meanwhile, the reduction of import duty on wheat, ostensibly to check inflation, has hurt the peasantry.
- The import duty on wheat, which was 25 per cent until September 2016, was initially reduced to 10 per cent and exactly a month after demonetisation, on December 8, totally done away with.
- The wheat contracted from Ukraine is currently priced at Rs.1,329-1,431 a quintal, far below the Indian MSP of Rs.1,625 a quintal.
- The policy-induced dumping from other countries, even as India experiences a good harvest, has brought down prices even further.
- There is a situation of acute distress as prices of most crops had crashed and were about 60 per cent below last year’s prices.
- Soya bean, which fetched Rs.5,000-6,000 a quintal last year, got only Rs.2,200-2,400 a quintal.
- Chana dal, which fetched up to Rs.9,000-10,000 a quintal was now going for only Rs.4,000 a quintal.
- Similarly, the best quality wheat was fetching only Rs.1,200 a quintal, which was way below the MSP of Rs.1,625 a quintal; last year, it ranged between Rs.1,900-2,000 a quintal in the open market.
- Farmers complained that the government purchased at the MSP only for a little over a month and not throughout the season.
- Garlic prices fell from Rs.13,000 a quintal to Rs.1,000 a quintal and methi from Rs.9,000-10,000 a quintal to Rs.3,000-2,200 a quintal.
- Flowers like marigold were dumped as they did not fetch even Rs.2 a kg, tomatoes were dumped on the streets and vegetables were left on the field as the prices were not enough even to meet picking costs.
Fiscal Constraint and Loan Waiver
- Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel said in April that a loan waiver “undermines an honest credit culture. It impacts credit discipline. It plugs incentives for future borrowers to repay.
- In other words, waivers engender moral hazard.”
- Also, he said, each round of waiver add to the fiscal deficit at the Central or State level, especially the latter.
- Assuming this process will continue until the 2019 general election, Bank of America Merrill Lynch has estimated that waiver sums will add up to Rs.2,57,000 crore, or 2 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), by that date.
- If that is financed with borrowing, the ratios of the fiscal deficit and public debt to GDP will cross levels considered inviolate by the advocates of fiscal reform.
- The expectation is that State governments will issue special bonds (such as the Kisan Rahat Bonds in Uttar Pradesh) and that the Centre will exempt these from the requirements set by the Fiscal Responsibilities and Budget Management Act even though this would be a violation of the law and the tenets of fiscal “reform”.
Farm loan waivers
- The government has done little to stabilise prices and assure farmers remunerative prices.
- Farmers categorically say that they do not need loan waivers if they were paid remunerative prices for their produce. This sentiment was echoed by farmers across the country.
- In reality, reducing the cost of production by providing production-enhancing technologies and quality inputs at subsidised rates, and assuring procurement at remunerative price will go a long way in addressing farm distress.
- Loan waivers are, at best, a palliative that can provide temporary relief to a small section of farmers.
- Tenant farmers, small and marginal farmers, agricultural workers and the landless rarely benefit from it unless there is a comprehensive Debt Relief Commission which goes into formal and informal sector loans.
- Increased public investment in agriculture and rural development, a minimum of 50 per cent profit over the cost of production, cheaper agricultural inputs and credit, latest technologies for farming and high-yielding seeds, linking of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to agriculture, a national land use policy to protect farmers’ interests and food security, farm insurance scheme to take care of crop and income losses, expansion of rural credit facilities, irrigation facilities, a price stabilisation fund, has to be done.
- Unless basic and structural issues are addressed and comprehensive state intervention is made at the levels of production, procurement, processing and marketing, with adequate emphasis on cooperatives, loan waivers will be the easy way out for the political establishment.
Credit from Cooperative banks
- Since cooperative banks are in the doldrums, the government should make determined efforts at all levels to revive the cooperative banks and get them out of it.
- The banks and the Central and State governments must enhance the quantum of rural credit substantially.
- The present scandalous situation, where a large part of rural credit is cornered by the corporates and the rich, must be reversed.
- Poor and medium farmers must be given priority in bank and institutional credit so that they are not pushed into the arms of rapacious moneylenders, as is the case now.
- Cooperative land mortgaging banks should also be revived so that loans are given for agricultural infrastructure too
- The achievement of setting up a “national agricultural market” called eNAM is also a farce.
- The government claims that more than 400 mandis (markets) have been linked to the portal. The target is to connect 585 mandis with eNAM by March 31, 2018.
- The objective is to allow farmers the freedom to sell their crops.
- Farmers are yet to be allowed to sell at a different mandi, not even in a neighbouring one, through eNAM. The reason is resistance by commission agents as well as lack of proper infrastructure.
- There is no guarantee that the produce sold by farmers adhere to basic standards if the trader who wants to buy is located 100 kilometres away.
- According to government data, 45,45,850 farmers, 89,934 traders and 46,411 commission agents are registered on the eNAM platform.
- Recently, the government mooted an idea of not allowing sale of produce priced below the minimum support price (MSP) in eNAM. However, the idea was dropped in the wake of opposition from within, which cited it as interference in free market economy.
- What the Centre could not do, the Madhya Pradesh government was able to achieve. It announced trading below MSP a crime, following widespread resentment among farmers owing to low crop prices that led to violent protests, but without any administrative backup.
Soil health card scheme
- This scheme was launched in a hurry without any homework being done,
- It has been trumpeted as something that would change “earth into gold”, but the result does not reinforce the claims.
- The scheme is akin to employing quacks in every village to attend to the medical and health needs of the people without any arrangement for medicines.
- The concept is good, but it is a long-term and permanent project which will only start producing results after 20 years if implemented seriously and effectively.
- The government did not have the equipment to test soil conditions on such a huge scale. Nor were trained technicians available.
- Moreover, farmers do not know what to do after getting the soil health card.
- Where do they buy the “medicines” to treat the soil? Who will spend the money? Is there a guarantee from the government that their produce will increase?
- It only checks the industrial use and smuggling of urea to neighbouring countries, and does nothing to improve productivity.
Price stabilisation fund
- The government initiated the “Price stabilisation fund” in the 2014-15 Budget to protect farmers from market volatility, but the allocation of just Rs.500 crore showed a lack of seriousness and understanding of the problem.
- The export-import policies in agriculture trade, based on knee-jerk reactions, are, again, working against the interest of farmers.
- The imposition of a minimum export price to protect the interests of consumers, though it was brought in earlier, has resulted in a skewed policy paralysis against farmers’ interests.
- If Indian agricultural products have a demand outside, any curb at any period will negate the efforts of exporters, who put in a lot of effort to build a market for their products.
- Though, there has been no export ban on any agricultural commodity during the three years of the NDA government. But, at the same time, there have been no concerted efforts to boost it further and this has resulted in negative growth in export of farm commodities.
- The problems in the farm sector are complex, but the solution is simple, and that is bringing about parity of agriculture produce with industrial products and services, the farmer with the economic worker, and farming with other enterprises.
- The UPA government had formed a panel under the chairmanship of a current member of the NITI Aayog, Prof. Ramesh Chand, who was then Director of the National Institute for Agricultural Economics and Policy, with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), State governments and farmer bodies.
- It had rightly identified the problem as follows: “Price shocks have become frequent…. The pressure to meet family expenditure, to meet the necessities of modern life, has been forcing farmers to embrace risky ventures by using borrowed funds. Risks unleashed by market forces and price crash in many cases are leading to agrarian distress and sad situations like farmers’ suicides.”
- The panel had presented recommendations as well, but, like other reports on agriculture, failed to attract the current government’s attention.
- The current nationwide farmers’ agitation after a year of record production and 5.2 per cent growth is a wake-up call for politicians and policymakers to initiate a structural reform so as to provide a “minimum income guarantee” to farmers, like the MGNREGA does with labourers.1
Fundamental and systemic changes required
- First, it is clear that the present agrarian crisis has been aggravated by the neoliberal policies.
- Peasants, agricultural workers, the working class, the middle class have all been adversely affected by these policies.
- These policies need to be dumped and an alternative trajectory of development needs to be put in place.
- Second, in all agrarian policymaking on vital issues such as inputs, prices, credit, employment, food security, irrigation, power, crop insurance, markets, cooperatives, infrastructure and social security, the best interests of the millions of toiling farmers and agricultural workers must be clearly made the focal point, not the best interests of corporates, landlords and the urban and rural rich.
- Third, the land issue must be squarely addressed.
- Unjust and unnecessary land acquisition from farmers for the corporates must be stopped.
- The Forest Rights Act must be implemented stringently as has been done by the Left Front government of Tripura.
- The vital question of land reforms must be brought back on the agenda. But all this requires political will.
- Hence, while united struggles for winning the demands of the peasantry must be intensified now and in the future, in the long run, it is only a systemic political change that can ensure a systemic agrarian change.
Case of Kota
- After Sri Ganganagar district, Kota has the second largest area under irrigation, coming as it does under the Chambal Command Area.
- Like soya bean, the coriander crop in this region, which accounts for 65 per cent of the country’s output, also succumbed to pests.
- Garlic, an export crop that is highly perishable, had been sown in nearly 1,38,000 hectares and farmers depended entirely on the market price for returns.
- The potato growers of Assam to resort to distress sale of their produce even as consumers in the capital city of Guwahati have to cough up Rs.20 a kilogram for the vegetable.
- It is due to cascading effect of demonetisation coupled with a lack of market support.
- Last year, potato growers in northern Assam’s Sonitpur district were forced to dump their produce on the streets as prices collapsed following demonetisation, which resulted in shortage of currencies of smaller denominations.
- Potato growers were forced to sell at Rs.1 a kg and huge stocks in cold storage remained unsold.
- This year, potato growers in lower Assam’s Barpeta district, most of them landless peasants, have been forced to resort to distress sale of their produce at Rs.2 to 3 a kg.
- The Agriculture Department has attributed the dip in potato prices to bumper yield following the introduction of two new varieties, Kufri Pukhraj and Kufri Khyati.
- Official statistics show that the State requires about 40 lakh tonnes of potato every year. However, the production of potato for 2013-14 and 2014-15 stood at 11 lakh tonnes and 17 lakh tonnes respectively.
- The State procures 20 to 25 lakh tonnes from other States to meet its requirements.
Increasing input cost
- Farmers are dependent on potato seeds brought from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, which involve transportation cost. Illegal syndicates operating en route also increase seed procurement cost.
- Besides, most farmers are landless and they have to take land on lease for growing potato.
- The cost of cultivation is rising due to non-availability of fertilizer subsidies.
- Potato growers have to buy fertilizers at market prices from private suppliers. These suppliers often supply poor quality fertilizers that harm the plants.
- On the other hand, the price of medicine required to treat blight in potato has been soaring every year at 20 to 30 per cent.
- All these have increased the cost of potato cultivation.
- Ironically, there are no buyers for potatoes from these growers at remunerative prices. There is no cold storage for farmers to preserve their produce.
- Landowners mount pressure on potato growers to harvest potato and clear the land for paddy cultivation.
What are the problem areas?
- The crop was neither superior in quality nor pest-resilient like the garlic imported from China. There is no competition either in productivity or quantity.
- Despite the region being a garlic-producing area, no research and development of any kind, including seed development projects to boost quality and productivity, has been undertaken.
- There were no storage facilities either.
- It was an irony that in May, Kota played host to the global Rajasthan agri-tech meet to discuss best agricultural practices.
What can be done?
- There is also a huge potential for agro-processing in Kota.
- The government could set up units to produce garlic paste and garlic powder for domestic and export markets.
- More than 60 per cent of the garlic produced was lying unsold with the producers.
- The bulk of the harvested garlic was of middle-level quality.
- High-quality garlic could not be produced as the seeds were not of high quality and there were no extension services.
- While the points above are crucial, hard-headed bargaining is needed to make systemic changes.
- Adding a buying guarantee clause to bolster the Swaminathan Commission report, reviving land mortgage banks since they provided loans for agricultural infrastructure, modernising irrigation techniques, and rescuing the cooperative system from politicians are the few points to be noted.
- It is not debt waiver but freedom from debt that is required. For this, remunerative prices for produce linked to guaranteed purchase by the government, minimum wages for agricultural labour, and reintroduction of the Employment Guarantee Scheme as a notional guarantee are required.
- There is need for substantive policy initiatives and incentives in the sector.
- The single most important thrust of these initiatives and incentives should be to rescue the farming sector from the predations of the corporate sector and their interests. This predation has been marching on and on over the past two and a half decades.
- Governments after governments and political parties after political parties have asserted they understand the dynamics and perils of this predation, but at the level of policy and governance they have all played the facilitator role to the deprivations of these forces.
- The big question is whether any government will show the political will to take on this problem and thus protect the farmer and through that the country itself
Dairy sector: Turning Sour?
- The dairy sector which has largely been a stable one providing farmers with an alternative source of livelihood, is now facing challenges from the current agrarian crisis and the new rules restricting sale of cattle.
- Farmers and industry experts said that this could severely jeopardise the sector.
- India was the world’s top milk producer in 2015-16 with 155.5 million tonnes.
- Dairying is an integral part of the farming system and shares a symbiotic relationship with agriculture.
How new rules affect?
- The new rules prohibit the sale of cows in animal markets for slaughter and to non-agriculturists. This will deprive the farmer of the income that traditionally came from selling non-milch and ageing cattle.
- Agriculturists are now the only ones permitted to buy cattle, but they will not be interested in non-milch or ageing animals, which are of little use to them.
- Feeding and maintaining livestock involves substantial costs and if an animal is of no use, the already distressed farmer is left with a massive liability.
Status of Dairy Industry
- According to the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), an estimated one crore farmers are engaged in dairy farming. Most of them are small or marginal farmers owning two to five milch cows.
- India’s milk production has been growing at over 4 per cent per annum since 2000 and is projected to touch 160 million tonnes in 2017.
- The milk industry is a lifeline for lakhs of farmers. If the cooperative they belong to is doing well, then as members profits are divided among them. It is an added income.
- India’s milk consumption has increased with the introduction of a range of dairy products.
- Yogurt and flavoured milk, for instance, are new to the Indian palate but have found consumers.
- Tetra packaged milk is considered more hygienic by the higher income strata and the demand apparently is increasing.
- India may be the largest producer of milk in the world. Its consumption, however, is almost entirely domestic.
- There is potential for the industry to become a significant exporter and a global player. These new rules will affect milk prospects.
What should be done?
- In these times of agrarian distress, the milk industry has been a silver lining for lakhs of farmers. However, experts believe that unless close attention is paid to a few critical areas, the lining could fade.
- To begin with, the issue of procurement price needs to be addressed. Farmers have been demanding an increase in the price, which is Rs.21-24 per litre across States.
- During a strike in Maharashtra in June, dairy farmers protested by pouring milk on the streets and demanded an increase in the procurement rate. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the rate would be revised to Rs.27 a litre from July onwards.
- However, it may come as a minor blow for cooperatives. While Gokul is among the more profitable ones, there are several in the State which are incurring loss or barely breaking even.
Timely payments to farmers
- Another issue is paying the farmer on time. Not all cooperatives or even private companies are regular on this front.
- It must be very clearly understood that the farmer is dependent on these small amounts. It is part of the cooperative model and it must be followed strictly.
- While the cooperative model has been extremely successful in most States, post-liberalisation the sector has taken a few hard knocks.
- To begin with, some of them posted losses owing to blatant mismanagement and the inability to keep up with economic reforms.
- The entry of private players led to competition in the milk sheds (regions designated to a particular dairy cooperative), which were later protected by government regulations.
- Still, private companies put the cooperatives at risk.
- The new entrants in the milk sector introduced products that took the market by storm.
- Different types of cheese, yogurt and flavoured milk, which were new to the Indian home, were happily embraced by urban and rural households.
Helping hand to smaller companies
- Many of the larger cooperative dairies had developed brands of their own, such as Nandini, Gokul, Sagar, Aavin and Warana. They need to step up to the plate by riding the new trends or remain as collection centres subject to the vagaries of the market.
- Clearly, sensing new trends and the market potential, the bigger cooperatives have moved forward by modernising and entering the market with their own brand of dairy products.
- The smaller ones, however, are lagging behind and, as a result, doing little for the farmer members.
- Goa, Karnataka, and Haryana give their cooperatives a subsidy. For Rs.20 a litre given by the dairy, the State government adds another Rs.2 or Rs.4, which is paid to the farmers directly
- Cheaper milk coming from other States into the big dairies in Maharashtra had also added to the problems of struggling cooperatives.
Rake up infrastructure
- Since milk was a perishable commodity, the cooperative would lose not just milk but profits if the supply/cold chain and other infrastructure were not sound.
- For instance, big dairies with deep pockets have put these systems in place, as a result of which farmers in the western region of Maharashtra benefit.
- However, those in Marathwada and Vidarbha are left with thousands of litres that cannot be used because of poor facilities.
- The farmer may still get his payment but the cooperative runs into losses and eventually that will affect the farmer who may be a member of the union.
Prospects of dairy sector
- India’s per capita consumption of milk is 97 litres a year, compared with 285 litres in the United States.
- Yet, consumption is growing at a healthy 4.5 per cent annually, compared with just just 1.5 per cent in the West. The market is massive in India and dairy should be given a huge boost.
- The government has been introducing a series of schemes to encourage the dairy sector.
- For instance, loans are given for the purchase of high-yielding milch cattle and for expanding herd sizes.
- Additionally, farmers are urged to modernise and improve fodder and nutrition of the animals.
- The government introduced the Rashtriya Gokul Mission in 2014 which focusses on improving the genetic potential of indigenous breeds.
- The average milk yield of indigenous cattle and water buffaloes is 2.5 kilograms and 5.2 kg a day respectively, while the figure for exotic/crossbred cattle is 7.2 kg.
- However, the upkeep of crossbreeds was substantially higher. We need to encourage indigenous livestock for the long term.
- NDDB is implementing phase I of the National Dairy Plan (NDP I) in 18 States, which stretches across the period between 2011-12 and 2018-19.
- NDP I is focussed on increasing milk production and productivity of animals through support in areas such as breeding services and animal nutrition.
- The programme also aims at enhancing village-level procurement systems such as milk weighing, testing, collection, and cooling, as well as extension services and dairy cooperative development.
Cooperative model efficacy
- The country’s three-tier cooperative dairy system (comprising village-level cooperative societies, district-level unions and State-level federations) has been a champion at protecting producer prices and regulating consumer prices.
- The country boasts 96,000 local dairy cooperatives, 170 milk producers’ unions and 15 State cooperative federations.
- However, when India’s neoliberal reforms identified dairy as a high growth sector, the policies shifted focus from the small farmer and became industry-centric.
- In 2011, the government allowed the entry of foreign dairy players with 100 per cent foreign direct investment in food processing, including milk and milk products, and also provided several tax breaks to them.
- This shook up the socio-economic model of dairy and if there is a long-term vision for the sector, it does not include the small farmer.
- Operation Flood, or the “White Revolution” launched in 1970, transformed India from a milk-deficient nation into a milk-surplus one. It was the world’s largest dairy development programme.
- In 30 years it doubled milk available per person and made dairy farming India’s largest self-sustainable rural employment generator.
- The ideology was that milk would not be just mass-produced but produced by the masses.
- However, if the problems of the dairy sector are not taken seriously, it could have far-reaching consequences. What took decades to build could collapse in a matter of years.
Leather and meat industries
- The May 23 notification of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act proscribing the sale and purchase of bovine species has caused widespread anger in the farming community.
- The notified Rules (Regulation of Livestock Market Rules 2017, and the Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals Rules 2016) are the latest challenge to livestock owners and cattle traders
Reasons for falling growth in meat industry
- First, the demonetisation initiative in November 2016 placed severe constraints on the cash-based rural economy.
- But demonetisation brought such trade to a halt for several months, reducing even middle-income farmers to penury.
- The National Sample Survey Organisation’s latest estimates pegged the monthly average income of a farmer in the country at less than Rs.6,500 a month. Selling a buffalo used to bring in Rs.20,000 to Rs.30,000. This enabled the farmer to have access to several months’ income in one go.
- With the new rules, a farmer will not only lose this income but will have to spend more to feed unproductive cattle.
Crackdown on slaughterhouses
- Second, UP led a crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses in March, bringing the entire meat business in the State to a grinding halt.
- There were reports of licensed units not being allowed to function. Those who applied for renewing existing licences are not registered.
- Lakhs of people associated with the trade were left in the lurch.
- The worst hit were the poorest of the poor—daily-wagers who transported cattle, cleaned abattoirs and were involved in other menial labour around the trade.
- As cow vigilantes, animal rights activists and the police patrolled the streets, fear of harassment and physical violence spread, and farmers, transporters and buyers were wary of carrying on the trade.
- Abattoirs in other States too were affected.
- As the supply of buffaloes stopped, an abattoir in Kolkata had to shut shop. Set up by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, it was touted as the first fully automated abattoir in the country.
- States such as Jharkhand that did not have a single abattoir were badly hit.
- Farmers in these States were left with the choice of taking their cattle across State borders or postpone the sale indefinitely.
- As it became dangerous to travel with cattle, transport costs went up
- The fallout was that consumption of chicken soared.
Notification under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 by the centre
- Centre banned the sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets through a notification under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
- The definition of “cattle” was expanded to include buffaloes, bulls, cows, bullocks, steers, heifers, calves and camels. And, cattle could only be sold to another farmer.
- India is a key player in the international market for buffalo meat, and its entire economy stood threatened with this decision.
- The major buffalo meat-producing areas are Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab. Buffalo meat was exported to more than 70 countries across the world, with Vietnam, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) being the main markets.
- There are about 3,600 slaughterhouses in India. There are 24 meat-processing plants, with 13 export-oriented units engaged in the export of meat products.
- In addition, there are a few animal casing units engaged in collecting, cleaning, grading and exporting sheep, goat and cattle guts.
Issue of unproductive cattle
- In Punjab and Haryana almost every farmer kept livestock. Even some landless labourers owned cattle.
- In Punjab in cattle fairs that were held every month in every district the sale of unproductive cattle had gone down drastically. Traders who used to come from Meerut and Kolkata to pick up unproductive livestock stayed away fearing vigilantism at the State border.
- Farmers’ representatives have pointed out that while cow vigilantism has been on the rise, cow protection laws have been strengthened with strict penalties, and slaughterhouses have been closed for lack of proper licences.
- The Central government had no plan to deal with the menace of wild animals and stray cattle, both of which caused great harm to standing crops and human beings.
- The price of the much-valued high-yielding Murrah buffalo had come down because of the slump in bovine trade.
- It is common knowledge that the male calf is not of much use except for insemination purposes. It made practical sense for livestock owners to keep the best stock for breeding and sell the rest for slaughter.
- The notification also had sections that prohibited decoration of the animal or colouring of the horns, both of which were part of traditional celebrations during festivals.
Prospects of meat-processing industry
- The meat-processing industry was worth $5,026 million.
- The recent trend in India is to establish large abattoirs-cum-meat processing plants with the latest technology.
- India has already established 10 state-of-art mechanised abattoirs-cum-meat processing plants in various States based on slaughtering buffaloes and sheep.
- The exporters either bought carcasses from abattoirs or purchased unproductive buffaloes directly from weekly animal markets. India was also a leading supplier of halal meat to Islamic countries.
- With 57 per cent of the total buffalo population of the world in India, the country was considered home to some of the finest breeds of buffaloes. It figured among the largest exporters of bovine meat, sending competitively priced frozen buffalo meat to 65 countries.
Prospects and location of leather industry
- The biggest customers of raw hides are the 410-plus tanneries located in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district, which account for over 40 per cent of India’s leather production.
- The Vellore cluster of tanneries and leather industries employs over 100,000 people directly and another 250,000 indirectly and clocks an annual sales turnover of around Rs.5,000 crore.
- Besides the tanneries, it also houses around 120 shoe factories, 25 jacket-producing units, 20 units manufacturing leather accessories such as handbags and suitcases, and 10 industrial, riding and fashion glove companies.
- In Vellore’s one of the towns, over 50 units use buffalo hide to produce shoe soles, the only ones to do so in the country.
- The region exports leather products worth around Rs.2,800 crore annually and several major global brands, such as Clarks, Cole Haan, Florsheim, Guess, Hush Puppies, Tommy Hilfiger, and Timberland, have strong business links with factories in the region.
- Hides and skins from animals slaughtered at abattoirs are bought by traders who cure them with salt for 10 to 14 days.
- The raw pelts are then dispatched to tanneries in lots either by piece or by weight, where they are tanned either with chemicals like ammonium sulphate, chrome tanning salts and sulphuric acid, or by the East India method, first popularised by the English East India Company in the early 1800s, where the tanning is accomplished using ingredients like lime, tanning bark from shrubs and trees like the pungam, avaram, konnam, velam, myrobalan, and vegetable oils like pungam oil.
- Once tanned, the semi-finished leather is processed further at finishing units before it becomes finished leather and sent to the leather factories to be made into shoes, jackets, bags, shoe uppers, gloves, and so on.
How will the leather industry be affected?
- All this has meant uncertainty and irregularity of supply, higher landing costs, and loss of business for the $12 billion Indian leather industry.
- In 2016-17 the sector exported leather and leather products worth $5.66 billion and was among the top 10 foreign exchange earners.
- According to the Council for Leather Exports (CLE), an autonomous non-profit body founded in 1984 that functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Indian leather industry is “bestowed with an affluence of raw materials” as India, with 20 per cent of the world’s cattle/buffalo population and 11 per cent of the goat/sheep population, produces around three billion square feet of leather annually, which accounts for 10 per cent of the world’s leather requirement.
- Raw hide traders are unable to procure material to supply to tanneries primarily because butchers are also feeling the heat of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017.
- With the new rules stating that cattle cannot be sold at animal markets, a sense of fear hangs over both meat markets and village cattle fairs.
- The decision will be counterproductive since it will push the trade underground and increase the price of raw hides and skins.
The Qureshi judgment
- The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court (H.Qureshi vs State of Bihar, AIR 1958 SC 731) held “The maintenance of useless cattle involves a wasteful drain on the nation’s cattle feed. To maintain them is to deprive the useful cattle of the much-needed nutrition. The presence of so many useless animals tends to deteriorate the breed.”
- State laws that provided for a total ban on the slaughter of bulls and bullocks had been quashed by the Supreme Court and that any freedom under Article 19 could be restricted only by a law made by the legislature and not by a delegated executive fiat that had no sanction in the parent Act.
- The complete ban of sale or purchase or resale of animals would cast a huge economic burden on the farmers to feed the cattle as it is an offence under the Act of 1960 to starve an animal or to fail to maintain it.
- The 1960 Act provided exceptions where slaughter of animals for food was not perceived to be an act of cruelty.
- The Act also did not prohibit or restrict the slaughter of animals for food or for religious sacrifice or the sale of animals for the same.
Case of Rajasthan
- In Rajasthan, the Bhairon Singh Shekhawat-led BJP government in 1995 enacted a law that banned the sale of male calves that were over three years old.
- A male calf ceases to be one after three years, maturing into a full-blown bull, and was of little use to farmers apart from being unaffordable.
- Subsequent Congress governments did little to revoke the ban.
- Commercial farming was a hitherto unknown concept for farmers in Rajasthan and 95 per cent of the State’s agriculture was of the subsistence type.
- Livestock rearing and selling was the only way the farming community stayed afloat.
- 300 million poor families in the world survive on income generated from sheep and goat.
- India has so much livestock potential, which we must not overlook.
- Livestock is like a cash crop today and animal husbandry is the way to go.
- Central notification extending the restrictions on cow slaughter to buffaloes can be relaxed. Buffaloes are not of religious significance to people of any particular faith. If this is not done, over 50 units that process hides for shoe soles will collapse.
- This could become a law and order problem, since the micro-economy of the district will also collapse.
- The newly notified rules are akin to “placing a wedge in the natural livestock ecological system” as that farming, the meat industry and the leather trade were all part of the same ecosystem.
- Every part of the animal is used right across society, and up to the bones. If one stops or places a wedge in the system, it will fall apart, with disastrous consequences. There is no clarity on the new notification.
- The government is banning the sale of cattle in the animal markets. From where will butchers buy their animals?
- The practice has been for traders to buy the animals and then resell it to the butcher.
GSLV – MKIII
- The gigantic GSLV-MkIII D1, weighing 640 tonnes, roared into the sky at 5:28 p.m. on June 5 from its launch pad at Sriharikota in what was its first developmental flight (D1).
- The heaviest rocket that ISRO has built was well and truly on its way to making history as its two strap-on motors, each guzzling 200 tonnes of solid propellants and together producing 800 tonnes of thrust, worked with gusto.
About the project
- The Central government had approved the development of the GSLV-MkIII in 2003, which was called India’s “Next Generation Launch Vehicle”.
- The primary objective was to develop a launch vehicle that would put a four-tonne satellite into the geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO, with a perigee of about 180 km and an apogee of about 36,000 km).
- It was a vehicle built indigenously from scratch: its strap-on motors, its core liquid stage, its cryogenic upper stage and the ogive-shaped payload fairing (heat shield) with a massive diameter of five metres. Each of these was conceived, designed, developed, realised and tested in India. Each of the three stages was the largest that ISRO has built so far.
- The crucial cryogenic upper stage had no reference to the Russian cryogenic engines of the GSLV-MkI series of vehicles.
- At 640 tonnes, the GSLV-MkIII D1 was 50 per cent heavier than GSLV-MkII, which weighed 414 tonnes.
Basic science concepts
- The 43.43-metre-long GSLV-MkIII D1 had a simple configuration with only three propulsion stages.
- The two solid strap-on motors, called S-200, clung on to the core liquid stage, called L-110, on either side.
- The liquid stage, four metres in diameter, used more than 110 tonnes of liquid propellants.
- Above the core liquid stage sat the cryogenic stage called C-25, which used 28.3 tonnes of cryogenic propellants, that is, liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen in the mission.
- On top of the cryogenic stage sat the GSAT-19 surrounded by the payload fairing, which was 10.3 metres tall and five metres in diameter.
Significance of cryogenic technology
- The importance of the cryogenic stage in the mission that lasted 16 minutes and 20 seconds can be gauged from the fact that its engine performed with precision for 10 minutes and 40 seconds (640 seconds).
- Of the total velocity of 10.5 km a second needed to put the 3,136-kg GSAT-19 into the GTO, the cryogenic engine contributed more than 5 km a second.
- The triumph signalled India’s self-reliance in space technology with a robust, cost-effective vehicle made possible by its mastery over the cryogenic technology that is needed to put heavier communication satellites into their initial orbit.
- The GSLV-MkII rockets, with indigenous cryogenic engines, could put satellites weighing 2.2 tonnes into a GTO.
- Now ISRO does not have to depend on Arianespace to put its four-tonne satellites into orbit.
- The GSLV-MkIII can also put satellites weighing 10 tonnes into low-earth orbits. The vehicle can carry a crew module with two or three astronauts into space or even segments of a space station.
Breaking the jinx
- The success broke the jinx that had plagued ISRO’s earlier generations of vehicles.
- Be it the Satellite Launch Vehicles (SLV-3s), the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicles (ASLVs), the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLVs), the GSLV-MkIs (with Russian cryogenic stage) or the GSLV-MkIIs (with Indian cryogenic stage), in all of them the first flight failed.
- But an extraordinary confidence prevailed in the various ISRO centres when it came to the GSLV-MkIII D1 mission.
- The success of the “advanced vehicle” also lay in the fact that it put into a perfect orbit GSAT-19, “an advanced communication satellite”.
- It carries Ka/Ku-band “throughput communication transponders” that have “no physical presence” and are “virtual transponders”.
- It uses multiple frequency beams to send down data and is hence called a throughput communication satellite.
- The satellite carries a payload called Geostationary Radiation Spectrometer (GRASP) to study the nature of charged particles and the influence of space radiation on satellites and their electronic components.
- The satellite is tantamount to a constellation of six or seven communication satellites of earlier generations.
Why the GSLV-MkIII D1 is a totally new vehicle and why ISRO developed it?
- While the PSLV could put a 1.1-tonne satellite into the GTO, the GSLV-MkII, with an indigenous cryogenic upper stage, has double that capacity.
- However, 10 years ago, building a new class of communication satellites that weighed four tonnes became the norm.
- Augmenting the capacity of the existing vehicles will not solve the problem. Doubling the capacity is huge. So ISRO has necessarily to go in for a new vehicle.
- ISRO was clear that the new vehicle should be able to reduce the cost of the launch.
- Secondly, the vehicle’s design should be simple and it should be a reliable vehicle.
- Reliability entailed that the vehicle should have the minimum possible number of propulsion stages to put a four-tonne satellite into orbit.
- An area of major concern was the launch constraint imposed by the location of Sriharikota, India’s space port.
- The launch had to take place eastward from the island to put a communication satellite into the GTO. This did not offer “full freedom” because after the vehicle cleared the Bay of Bengal, the Indonesian land mass appeared on the scene.
- The launch vehicle debris—from the jettisoned stages—should not be allowed to fall over Indonesia.
- Hence it was taken care of that when the vehicle reached a velocity of more than 5 km a second, the Indonesian land mass came in. So ISRO had a requirement of designing a launch vehicle that will have a capacity of reaching 5 km a second.
- But it is the lower stages that should produce that velocity of 5 km a second.
- Therefore there was a need for one more stage which will produce another 5 km a second of velocity. There cannot, however, be an intermediary stage. [A total of 10.2 km a second velocity is required to put a four-tonne satellite into the GTO.
- After the vehicle crosses the land mass, its stages should not come down. They should continuously burn and go into orbit.
- That means the satellite should have a stage that should give another 5 km a second after the vehicle crosses the land mass.
- So ISRO had to necessarily go in for a cryogenic stage that will give 5 km a second at a stretch and carry the four-tonne satellite into orbit.
- To put a 2.2-tonne satellite into orbit, we had a cryo stage with 12 tonnes of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.
- But to put a four-tonne satellite into orbit, ISRO needed a cryogenic stage which will use 25 tonnes of propellants. That is how the C-25 stage came into the picture.
- In other words, while the vehicle’s lower stages will provide a velocity of about 5.2 km a second, the cryogenic stage will provide another 5 km a second. Thus, the entire vehicle would generate a velocity of 10.2 km a second to put a four-tonne satellite into the GTO.
Other criticalities in design
- Since ISRO wanted to build a vehicle with a minimum number of stages and minimum complexity, they prepared a configuration with two S-200 strap-on motors around the core liquid stage which uses 110 tonnes of liquid propellants and a third, cryogenic upper stage which uses 25 tonnes of propellants. This configuration can carry a four-tonne satellite into GTO. In fact, the core liquid stage had two Vikas engines.
- In comparison, the GSLV-MkII had seven propulsion motors: four liquid strap-on motors around the core solid stage, then the liquid stage, followed by the cryogenic upper stage to put a 2.2-tonne satellite into orbit.
- Though they are called the strap-ons, they are the primary propulsive stages. They provide the entire lift-off thrust. Unlike in the PSLVs and the GSLVs, the strap-ons in GSLV-MkIII are the primary propulsion stages. That way the basic design of the vehicle is different.
- But the introduction of such big boosters, each of which used more than 200 tonnes of solid propellants, entailed problems.
- In the PSLVs and the earlier GSLVs, the performance of the strap-on motors “was not very critical” to the mission and “a slight difference in their performance would not make an issue..
- However, in GSLV-MkIII D1, since the two strap-on motors were extremely powerful, their performance was very critical to the mission and they had to produce identical thrust.
- Also the atmospheric phase of the flight very crucial for any launch vehicle mission.
- As the launch vehicle ascends the atmosphere, its velocity builds up fast. But the atmospheric density comes down. Winds would be large.
- The dynamic pressure acting on the vehicle would be the maximum. When the loads acting on the vehicle are large, the disturbance will try to tilt the vehicle. “When this disturbance is trying to tilt the vehicle, the vehicle’s control systems will work in the opposite direction to correct it. So a breaking effect will be there. The vehicle will break as if it were a stick.
- Besides, the ebb and flow occurring over the vehicle will create a lot of acoustic noise. The acoustics will be so high that they could harm the sensitive instruments in the satellite which is seated inside the payload fairing.
- It should be ensured that the acoustic level outside the vehicle is benign. So the payload fairing of the GSLV-MkIII D1 was modified to withstand severe aerodynamic loads.
Difference from previous launch vehicles
- What also set apart GSLV-MkIII DI from the PSLV and the earlier GSLVs was “the philosophy” of the core liquid stage taking over from the two strap-on motors.
- All the three fire together for some time before the solid strap-on motors burn out and the core liquid stage fully takes over.
- What made the GSLV-MkIII D1 different was that instead of using explosive separation bolts or springs to push down/jettison the spent stages, ISRO used six small motors in each of the strap-on stages to kick out the spent solid stages.
- GSLV-MkIII D1 turned out to be “a grand vehicle in terms of everything”: in its high-performance cryogenic engine, the smooth functioning of its two solid strap-on motors, the firing of its liquid engine and, of course, its capability to put a four-tonne satellite into GTO.
- And, above all, in terms of realising the dream of “sustained self-reliance in accessing space
In Shanghai Eight
- India and Pakistan formally became members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the summit of the grouping held in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, in the second week of June.
- Both India and Pakistan were admitted under the strict unwritten condition that they keep their bilateral disputes out of the SCO arena.
- The two countries had enjoyed observer status in the organisation for many years and have now been elevated to full membership.
- Iran is the next country that is expected to join the grouping in the near future.
History of SCO
- The original members of the grouping that was established in 1995, initially known as the Shanghai Five, were Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
- It was rechristened SCO after Uzbekistan joined the grouping in 2001.
- Originally, the SCO was viewed as a security pact and as an emerging rival to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
- But in recent years it has evolved into an organisation more preoccupied with counterterrorism and the promotion of economic cooperation and trade.
Present status of SCO
- With India and Pakistan now part of the grouping, the SCO has emerged as one of the biggest organisations of its kind in the world, with three significant world powers, Russia, China and India, under its umbrella.
- Forty-four per cent of the world’s population, 25 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), and three out of five BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries are part of the SCO.
- The primary focus of the grouping at this juncture is on counterterrorism and other security-related concerns.
- The SCO has established a Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), headquartered in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking at the SCO summit, emphasised that “security is the prerequisite for development”.
- SCO had put in place cooperation mechanisms on combating terrorism, separatism, extremism, drugs and transnational crimes, according to China.
- With Central Asia becoming the crossroads for pipelines and international trade routes, the SCO will be paying even more attention to its economic agenda.
- When the SCO was formed, the five original members had pledged to enhance regional economic cooperation. That goal has since become a reality in most countries of the Central Asian region.
Intersection with OBOR
- The One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative of the Chinese government saw the enthusiastic participation of all the states in the region and beyond.
- Only one country, India, along with Bhutan, has given OBOR the pass. Bhutan has really no choice in the matter as its foreign policy is dictated from New Delhi.
- All the leaders attending the SCO summit in Astana, barring the Indian Prime Minister, supported the OBOR initiative.
- The declaration issued at the end of the summit “praised the results of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation” that was held in Beijing in May this year. The leaders spoke “in favour of their implementation, including by means of coordinating international, regional and national projects aimed at cooperation in maintaining sustainable development based on the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit”.
- President Xi said that the SCO would put in place bilateral security mechanisms for OBOR to ensure the security of gas pipelines and big infrastructure projects in the region.
- OBOR now has the backing of most countries worldwide. Even the United States and Japan, which were supposed to be India’s all-weather allies in their opposition to OBOR, sent high-profile delegations to the OBOR summit held in Beijing in May.
- Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, declared that Japan was willing to cooperate with China on OBOR.
- The Japanese government is of the view that OBOR is a tool to advance China’s strategic and economic goals. But at the same time, Tokyo has realised that by not jumping onto the fast-moving OBOR train, it would be left to play second fiddle to China in the Eurasian region, besides losing out on lucrative business opportunities in high-speed rail and infrastructure projects.
- OBOR plans to connect Asia and Europe by both land and sea. India’s membership of the SCO could signal the first step, albeit hesitant, to joining OBOR.
- At the Astana summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again raised the issue of “territorial integrity and sovereignty” while referring to the grand infrastructure projects being planned for the region.
- India has objected to the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure project, which is an important component of OBOR, as being intrusive on India’s sovereignty.
- The only route possible for goods to be transported to and from China is through the road and rail network passing through the “disputed territory” of Gilgit/Baltistan, which is part of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
- Beijing has repeatedly tried to convince India that the passage of the railway through the territory does not in any way signal a change in its Kashmir policy.
How India can cooperate?
- The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which India wants to develop, can be done much better in coordination with OBOR.
- India’s attempts to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar have, reportedly, run into problems, accentuated by the Donald Trump administration’s growing military and economic threats against Tehran. The nearby port of Gwadar, meanwhile, is all ready for business and is a key hub of the OBOR initiative.
- Chabahar was supposed to be India’s gateway to the Central Asian market.
- India had committed $500 million for the development of the port after the Barack Obama administration lifted the sanctions on Iran last year.
- As of now, only Chinese firms are bidding for contracts to supply heavy machinery for the Chabahar project.
- European companies are reluctant to bid for the tenders, fearing future moves by the Trump administration against Iran.
Talks on the sidelines of the summit
- Modi had talks with Xi, which was the first meeting between the two leaders after India’s refusal to participate in the OBOR summit in Beijing.
- The Indian government is still miffed with China’s reluctance to give it entry into the exclusive Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
- Speaking to the media after his meeting with Modi, Xi Jinping said that given the profound and complex political changes that the world was witnessing, China and India, as the world’s fastest growing economies, “should pay more attention to cooperation and go ahead with each other as partner”. He said that the two countries should also boost trade and investment cooperation.
- China also stressed the need for cooperation between the two countries to speed up connectivity and infrastructure development in the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor alongwith SAARC where it has observer status
Secret lives in a nature reserve
- Kanha is a well-conserved, verdant forest, with densely foliaged tall trees, thick undergrowth and grassy plains stretched all around in many different shades of darkness, extending refuge to some awesome and iconic and so-called lesser, but also amazing creatures.
Basic science and geography
- A habitat is home to a wildlife population, including all big and small species, and essentially includes the space, food, cover and shelter required for its survival.
- Depending upon the food and other habits of an animal species, it may require more than one habitat type for its existence.
- It is, therefore, desirable that there is good intermixing of different habitat unit types and that they are well distributed and not clumped into one area. This ideal situation helps animals minimise energy loss.
- The landscape of Kanha offers the full spectrum of habitat types, which require periodic monitoring and managerial interventions to remain healthy and sustain these populations.
- There are broadly three habitat types: forest, grassland and water.
- A finer classification of habitats could be given as follows: sal forest, miscellaneous forest, miscellaneous forest with bamboo, grassland, grassland with groves, large clearings, forest-grassland edges, riparian (along water streams), and water itself in different waterbodies.
- Kanha supports a wide range of microhabitats that are different from the pronounced and extensive habitats.
- Trees, including snags, which are dead and dying trees, offer rot holes, nesting sites and crevices.
- Some special habitat sites with geomorphological origins, such as caves, dens, overhangs and bouldery aggregates, have a significant bearing on lesser faunal species.
- There are also many identified aquatic wildlife species, either vertebrate or invertebrate, that live in water for most or all of their life. Such species occur in and around waterbodies of the protected area.
- Kanha supports thousands of animal species that coexist in natural segregation on the basis of ecological niche partitioning in terms of food habits, habitat types and other specific ecological needs.
- Nature has helped these species evolve different hunting/feeding strategies and mobility patterns to reduce competition between them. For instance, the hunting techniques of a tiger, a leopard or a pack of wild dogs are quite different.
- Tigers stalk large-sized quarry through stealth.
- While leopards usually go for small-sized prey and also kill common dogs and goats near villages, wild dogs chase and kill their prey.
- Similarly, different herbivore species have different food preferences and foraging tactics. Some are grazers, while others are browsers and coarse feeders. Likewise, smaller species have their own food habits and ecological niches that help lessen competition among them.
Biodiversity of Kanha
- Kanha supports several endangered faunal species, including those listed in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- Besides the most talked-about “big brothers” such as carnivores like tigers, leopards and wild dogs and herbivores like gaur, barasingha, sambar and chital, Kanha is home to a wide range of the so-called lesser faunal species: 325 species of birds; 30 of mammals; 40 of reptiles, including 25 of snakes and 15 of lizards; 15 of frogs; around 500 of insects, including moths and butterflies; 115 of arachnids; and several species of crustaceans, molluscs and fish.
- There are also a large number of smaller life forms belonging to different phyla and classes of the animal kingdom.
- Although attention is focussed mainly on the management of the larger mammals in the tiger reserve, the less iconic wildlife species have their own ecological roles and importance in the Kanha ecosystem and their protection emanates from overall conservation efforts, the tiger being the umbrella species for all these lesser animals.
- All these species are distributed at Kanha over time and space.
- While some species are diurnal, others are nocturnal or crepuscular. Each animal has its own biorhythm, which is a recurring cycle in its physiology and daily functioning, such as sleeping, waking and also emotional responses.
Difficulty in recording small species
- Some cryptic species have camouflaged bodies or colouration as an anti-predator strategy. However, this could also be a strategy among predators to confuse and deceive prey species.
- Some of the lesser species remain arboreal most of the time, while others live in burrows, tunnels and thickets.
- Most of these species remain elusive even to those who patrol the protected area day and night, let alone tourists.
- While it is easy to see and photograph large animals, lesser faunal species are elusive and difficult to monitor using normal conservation methodologies.
- Nowadays, a nature reserve is expected to document evidence of the presence of as many species as possible. Even data on presence/absence can provide important ecological information on the protected area. And there is no better evidence than photographic documentation.
- For small, cryptic and nocturnal animals, systematically designed camera traps have become popular but, of course, they have their limitations. These cameras trap images of animals and record dates and time and even distribution patterns of different species.
- Kanha has a network of around 450 camera traps. The cameras function day and night, snap all the animals passing in front of their field of view and store the images on a memory card.
Different animals and their behaviour
- The tiger is extremely photogenic, equally peripatetic, with almost fixed routes for movement, and provides ample opportunity for general photo-monitoring.
- The more interesting and insightful images include those of mother and cubs, playful cubs, and animals at kill.
- Unlike tigers, leopards, which may be called the “ghost cats” of the plains, are mysterious and elusive. With their rosette-patterned body markings, they are perfectly camouflaged.
- It is extremely unusual to see an entire family, with a male, female and cub. Even sightings of a male-female pair are not common.
- Solitary by nature, they hunt small-sized prey at night.
- They also lurk in the vicinity of habitations and prey upon dogs, small cattle and pigs.
Wild Dog or Dhole
- The wild dog, or dhole, ranks third in the predator hierarchy of the Kanha ecosystem.
- Excellent runners, fearless and ruthless, with highly collaborative social groups, dholes are also known as “whistling hunters” as they emit a continuous high-pitched yelping sound that resembles whistling to keep the members of a pack together.
- Their sense of smell is highly developed. Watching the pack kill an animal is a rare sighting.
- The endangered striped hyena is a poorly understood carnivore species.
- Basically a nocturnal scavenger, the animal lives off carrion and carcasses of cattle and ungulates.
- Its food habits restrict its distribution to near human habitations, and the core zone of the tiger reserve hardly offers sightings of it.
- Although the buffer zone has a number of villages, sightings of this amazing animal, with its powerful jaws and strong teeth, are not frequent.
- It is a long muzzle, a body covered with dense hair, a well-developed sense of smell, and poor eyesight and hearing are some of the distinguishing features of the sloth bear.
- An omnivore, it feeds on termites, ants, roots, tubers and fruits.
- It is an expert tree climber, and the males rub their bodies against trees to chemically communicate with breeding females.
- The mother is extremely protective of her cubs, and it is an interesting sight to see cubs taking a piggyback ride on their mother’s back.
- The small Indian civet and common palm civet belong to the Viverridae family.
- The Indian civet is generally an arboreal nocturnal omnivore, also referred to as “toddy cat”.
- It feeds on fruits, small mammals and insects.
- As the cat is fond of honey, it is said to have a sweet tooth.
- It lives in hollow trees, burrows and in thickets.
- The common palm civet is ring-tailed, with three to five lines on its back.
- This cat is solitary, generally arboreal, and prefers nocturnality.
- It feeds on rodents, lizards, birds, snakes, fruit and roots.
- The mouse deer is rarely sighted in the core zone. It is regarded as the smallest deer in India.
- Neither sex has antlers, but it has long canines.
- The animal usually makes its den in a tree hollow and is very shy, with no vocalisation.
Long billed Vulture
- The Indian, or long billed, vulture has been categorised as “critically endangered” because of its rapidly declining population.
- These birds are important scavengers and are an essential part of the food chain.
- Carcasses of domestic animals treated with certain veterinary drugs are reported to be responsible for its decline.
- Consequently, Indian vultures have disappeared from many of their traditional natal areas in the country.
- The honey badger, also known as ratel, is an omnivore that feeds on honey bee larvae, roots, scorpions, snakes, eggs, birds and small mammals. It also scavenges.
- The animal has very sharp teeth and tough body skin and is active during the day and the night.
- It digs burrows in the ground to rest in.
Indian giant squirrel
- The Indian giant squirrel is a canopy dweller that feeds on a wide range of plant parts and comes down only to drink water.
- It builds multiple globe-shaped nests, or dreys, for sleeping in and as nurseries.
- These amazing mammals are seriously threatened outside protected areas.
War on Indus waters?
- With Modi as Prime Minister declared that India will make the maximum use of those treaty provisions that give it some rights on the western rivers for the construction of the run-of-river hydropower plants—that is, eat away the treaty.
- In the past however, there were several hydrological dams planned for Indian Kashmir that might be questioned under the IWT and then also India’s dams in Jammu and Kashmir have the potential to destroy the peace process and even lead to war.
- Also the physical infrastructure, including dams has been used as convenient and high publicity targets by extremists, terrorists, and rogue states threatening substantial harm.
- A group of more than twenty U.N. bodies in March 2009 warned that given the rising tension over the water issue between Pakistan and India the world would be perilously close to its water war.
Works on Indus Treaty
- It is 50 years since Aloys Arthur Michel’s definitive work The Indus Rivers: A Study of the Effects of Partitionwas published.
- In 1973, the leader of India’s negotiating team, Niranjan D. Gulhati, published his able work Indus Water Treaty: An Exercise in International Mediation.
- One hoped for a comparable work by a Pakistani scholar. Dr Ijaz Hussain has provided such a work, eminently.
- His work covers the period from 1947, beginning with Sir Cyril Radcliffe’s dishonest award, to 2016.
- New issues have arisen since the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) was signed at Karachi on September 19, 1960, by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Mohammad Ayub Khan.
Indus Water Treaty
- The treaty divides “the Indus rivers” and allocates three rivers called the “western rivers” to Pakistan (the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum) and three called the “eastern rivers” to India (the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi).
- It allocates all the waters of the eastern rivers “for unrestricted use” to India.
- Pakistan is under obligation not to interfere with the waters of the Sutlej Main and Ravi Main or their tributaries when they flow through Pakistani territory except for domestic, non-consumptive, and certain limited agricultural uses.
- Similarly, it allocates all the waters of the western rivers “for unrestricted use” to Pakistan.
- India is under obligation not to interfere with them while they flow on Indian territory except for domestic, non-consumptive, and certain limited agricultural uses as well as generation of hydroelectric power.
- The treaty allows India to build a maximum of 3.6 MAF storage on the western rivers within specified parameters.
- The treaty is not one bit unfair to India.
- In agreeing to recognise Pakistan’s right in perpetuity to virtually all the waters of the three western rivers (Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab), India was really giving away only one stream, the Chenab, that she could really use herself (by diversion into the Ravi or Beas).
- She was gaining undisputed possession of the waters of the three eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej) in perpetuity after the transition period ends in 1970 or at the latest in 1973.
- These are the rivers that are really useful to India, and the Indus Waters Treaty gives her the right to dry them up entirely if she so chooses.
History of Indus water conflic
- The genesis of the water dispute over the Indus Basin is found in the award that the Punjab Boundary Commission rendered.
- The Congress party and the Muslim League leadership had instructed the latter ‘…to demarcate the boundaries of the two parts of the Punjab on the basis of ascertaining the contiguous majority areas of Muslims and non-Muslims. In doing so, it will also take into account other factors’.
- The division of the Punjab was a very tedious affair because the province had been developed as a single unit which included the common irrigation and hydroelectric system.
- There were large tracts of land in the Punjab that the rivers Ravi and Sutlej irrigated.
- The headworks of the Ravi River was located at Madhopur in the district Gurdaspur, whereas that of Sutlej was situated at a place called Ferozpur in an area known by the same name.
- According to the 1941 census, district Gurdaspur was a Muslim majority area as three out of its four tehsils had a Muslim majority (Gurdaspur 51.1 per cent, Batala 55.06 per cent, and Shakargarh 51.3) and only Pathankot had a non-Muslim majority (77 per cent).
- However, Gurdaspur, Batala, and Pathankot were allocated to India and only Shakargarh came to Pakistan.
- Similarly, the headworks of Sutlej were also located in the Muslim majority area as its tehsils had Muslim majorities (Ferozpur 55.2 per cent, Zira 65.2 per cent, and Fazilka 75.12 per cent).
- However, the award, in violation of the partition principle outlined above, allocated Ferozpur and Zira tehsils to India.
First raking up of the issue
- During the massive military build-up by India on the Line of Control in Kashmir and on the international border with Pakistan in 2001 after the attack on Parliament, the then National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra, covertly instigated a media campaign for the abrogation of the IWT.
- The advocacy of use of water as a weapon reflects a barbaric outlook.
Contemporary issues with Indus water treaty
- The dispute over the Salal Dam on the Chenab, which was resolved by an agreement in 1978
- The Wullar Barrage on the Jhelum River (India obstinately calls it the Tulbul Navigation Project). It now falls under the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (pages 202-229).
- The Baglihar Dam on the Chenab River in Doda district of Jammu.
- The Kishenganga Dam on the Kishenganga, a major tributary of the Jhelum River in). It involves diversion of water from a dam site of Kishenganga through a 22-kilometre tunnel to another tributary of the Jhelum, the Bonar Nallah.
- This diversion will change the course of the river by about 100 kilometres before it joins it through the Wullar Lake near Bandipore in the Baramulla district.
- The Kishenganga is known as Neelum after it enters Azad Kashmir. The dispute was referred to the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) under the treaty.
- India sought to build the dam in furtherance of its Kishenganga Hydroelectric Project (KHEP).
- Pakistan contended that the diversion would inter aliaadversely affect the operation of the Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project (NJHEP), which it sought to build on the Neelum river downstream of the KHEP.
- Involved were two distinct issues—the diversion and the depletion, which would bring the reservoir level of run-of-river hydroelectric plants below dead storage level. This is permissible only in an emergency.
- On December 21, 2013, the court gave its final award. The diversion was upheld. On the second issue, depletion, Pakistan’s objection was upheld. This is of greater consequence.
- The Baglihar decision would appear to have provided India with a green light to build these projects with as much live storage as they chose (as long as they classified it as ‘for sediment flushing’).
- What is enormously important is that the ICA has, according to early press accounts, addressed this issue head-on and, de facto, concluded that the Baglihar finding in this regard undercut the central compromise of the Indus Waters Treaty, was wrong and should not be applied to future projects.
- The ICA has apparently ruled that the design and operation of Indian hydropower projects on the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum cannot include more live storage than allowed under the IWT, even if the justification for such storage is silt management.
- The Nimoo Bazgo Dam on the Indus in Leh and the Chutak Dam on its tributary Sunn in Kargil. Both projects were completed.
- India intends also to build four hydroelectric projects on the western rivers, which the treaty assigned to Pakistan—Ratle, Miyar, Lower Kalnai, and Pukal Dam. The Ratle Dam is located on the Chenab in Kishtwar between Dul Hasti and Baglihar.
Kashmir and IWT
- Kashmir leaders were kept in the picture fully on the Indus Waters Treaty.
- D. Gulhati recorded: “Advantage was also taken, during my visit to New Delhi in the first half of August, to review the provisions of the treaty with its annexures with representatives of the State governments of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Rajasthan as well as with Secretary, Law Ministry.”
- Daniel Haines goes further in his book Indus Divided.
- During the 1950s, water policy was part of New Delhi’s steps to integrate Jammu & Kashmir State more closely into the Indian Union.
- As early as 1949 Niranjan Das Gulhati, a senior engineer in India’s Ministry of Works, Mines and Power and later (from 1954) leader of the water dispute negotiating delegation, advocated incorporating Kashmir rights on existing and future withdrawals from the Jhelum and Chenab in any settlement with Pakistan on the canal waters dispute.
- Gulhati’s recommendation rather contradicted contemporary Indian assertions that the canal dispute was about Punjab alone.
- When the 1954 Bank Plan proposed assigning the western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) to Pakistan and the eastern rivers (Ravi, Sutlej and Beas) to India, the Ministry of States wrote urgently to Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, Jammu & Kashmir’s Chief Minister.
- It stressed the need to coordinate a case for protecting Jammu & Kashmir’s existing and future uses of the Jhelum and Chenab (the Indus main channel flowing wholly outside Indian-held territory).
- Ordinarily, State governments of the Indian Union had a limited role in the Indus negotiations, and both India and Pakistan expected Kashmir to be a water supplier rather than consumer.
- On this occasion, though, the Ministry wanted information on Jammu & Kashmir’s (small-scale) existing and projected water needs so that the delegation in Washington DC could represent these as part of the total Indian requirement for river waters in the Indus Basin.
- When one is dealing with a sensitive problem of this nature, one has to be realistic and judge the situation dispassionately in order to formulate a rational approach.
- The basis of the agreement, therefore, as far as we were concerned, was realism and pragmatism. Emotions had no place in it, nor could they be allowed to have any place where the future and safety of millions of people depended on a solution.
- These words should be inscribed on the table of every leader who makes policy.
Page – 90
- PS Suryanarayana BOOK Smart Diplomacy was released recently,who has worked as foreign correspondent of The Hindufor 35 years and is currently Editor (Current Affairs) at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) in Singapore.
- His book is on a theme of enduring significance, rendered even more relevant by the current tensions in the bilateral relations between India and China.
- His purpose is to explore the potential synergy between China and India and to figure out how it can be exploited and how the course of geopolitics might change if it is exploited.
- After the United States-China relationship, the China-India relationship is the second most important bilateral relationship in the world.
- There was a time when India and China together accounted for almost half of the world economy. It is believed that the two economies are likely to become the two largest ones in the future.
- And sometimes it is China’s bilateral relations, whether China-U.S. or China-India, that is regarded above those of others. It is like an element of Sinolatry (worship of China), rather fashionable these days, in such a world view.
- The author has conceptualised the idea of a “China-India Smart Zone as a shared mindscape that might become a postmodern sequel to the old geo-cultural Indochina, the two being completely distinctive, though”.
Origin, meaning and relevance of Panchsheel
- First proclaimed in 1954, Panchsheel is an ideology.
- Zhou Enlai and Jawaharlal Nehru “purveyed them as products of the cerebral—as well as emotional—intelligence of both their countries”. It is “conceivable” that the adoption of Panchsheel reflected the first attempt at generating “diplomatic synergy”.
- Vice President Hamid Ansari, speaking in Beijing on June 28, 2014, on the 60th anniversary of the enunciation of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence, essayed a reinterpretation of Panchsheel “in the globalised context of the 21st century”.
- To quote Ansari: “We need a new paradigm for global action. Our destinies are intertwined. Our quest is, should be, for a framework in which opportunities and challenges for the betterment of our societies coexist. In this endeavour, Panchsheel can act as a catalyst to help us better coordinate our efforts, enhance mutual understanding, share development experiences and tackle transnational threats more effectively.”
Why invoking Panchsheel all the time by both countries?
- For the 50th anniversary of Panchseel, K.R. Narayanan, former President, went to Beijing.
- But no such anniversary is celebrated in India to which a VVIP from China comes?
- Mao honestly believed that political power came from the barrel of a gun. For him, politics was war without bloodshed and war was politics with bloodshed.
- Why did Mao, with such ideas, sign Panchsheel, which agreed more with Nehru’s idea of inter-state relations?
- China, when it was planning and building a road through Aksai Chin, a territory it knew India claimed, wanted to lull India into believing in China’s benevolent and pacific intentions.
- Once the road was completed and after Nehru granted asylum to the Dalai Lama in 1959, it was time to let India know where it stood.
- Within five years of the founding of the PRC [People’s Republic of China], Chairman Mao of the governing Communist Party of China (CPC), and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai devised a strategy of befriending India.
- In July 1949, Liu Shao-chi in an article under the title “Nationalism and Internationalism” described newly independent countries such as India, Burma and a few others as “colonies and semi-colonies”.
- Nehru went to the U.S. weeks after the foundation of the PRC on October 1, 1949, and told President Harry Truman of his intention to recognise the PRC.
- Nehru explained that the PRC was not a threat to peace in Asia and that the U.S. should accept the political realities. Truman resented what he was told and rejected Nehru’s request for financial assistance.
- However the media in China reported that Nehru had gone to the U.S. to express his “willingness to accept the role of the principal slave of U.S. imperialism in the Far East in the campaign against Communism”.
- The insults continued, but Nehru urged the United Nations to seat China as a permanent member of the Security Council. China never thanked India for championing its cause.
- It assumed with the arrogance of the “Middle Kingdom” that there was no need to express gratitude. China was permitting India to serve it.
- There were mistakes on India’s part, but essentially Mao, as he clarified later, resented Nehru’s granting asylum to the Dalai Lama and wanted “to teach [Nehru] a lesson”.
- Since Mao’s “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” from May 1966 to October 1976 “completely overshadowed” Panchsheel, its restoration by Deng Xiaoping in 1988 is of great significance.
- Obviously, China does not believe in practising the “smart diplomacy” advocated by the author. Otherwise, why is China making so much fuss about India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group?
- The author is reluctant to say that Nehru tried to mobilise the synergy between India and China and failed. We know why that happened.
- If China wants to mobilise the synergy, it should show its willingness through action and not words.
Glimpses into 1942
- The year 1942 was of great consequence not only for India but for the world.
- It saw the turning of the tide in favour of the Allies in the Second World War. It deeply affected the course of events in India in 1942.
- Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, brought the “unsinkable aircraft carrier”, the United States, into the war.
- Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union in 1941 also strengthened the Allies.
- This significance was lost on Gandhi, who was “affected” by Japan’s advances, which were sure to reach a dead end.
- It destroyed the British ships Prince of Wales and Repulse off the coast of Thailand on December 10, 1941. On December 7, it invaded the Philippines. On January 15, 1942, came the surrender of the British naval base in Singapore. On January 20, 1942, Japan invaded Lower Burma. The Allied counter offensive was mounted only in early 1944.
Consequences within India
- One-third of the population have left Madras by road and rail.
- There was an exodus from Bombay as well.
- As in Bengal, there were fairly large-scale withdrawals from banks in Mumbai.
- Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel believed that Japan would win the war. Jawaharlal Nehru flatly disagreed.
- Sir Stafford Cripps then wanted to secure a comprehensive settlement among all the three major parties—the British, the Congress and the Muslim League.
- Its basis was independence after the war, an interim set-up, and an elected Constituent Assembly with an option to the Provinces to secede by a vote of their legislatures and a plebiscite if its vote for the Union was less than 60 per cent.
- The Congress rejected it and launched the Quit India Movement. It wreaked havoc and failed dismally and predictably.
- Gandhi had sent Madeleine Slade (Miraben) to the Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, before the Quit India resolution was passed. He was surprised and disoriented by his arrest.
- Massive arrests of Congressmen left the field open to the Muslim League and the Communist Party of India (CPI) led by the brilliant P.C. Joshi.
- One Congress leader stood out in bold defiance, the wise Chakravarti Rajagopalachari. He was for conceding Pakistan, thus throwing the ball in Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s court—what now?
- Apart from Rajendra Prasad, Rajaji had done his homework. Punjab and Bengal would have to be partitioned on religious lines if Pakistan was accepted.
- Rajaji’s plan envisaged a district-wise decision. In 1942, this would have led East Punjab’s Muslim landlords to leave the League.
- According to an intelligence report of the time, the Congress had plans for the partition of Punjab if it left the Union.
- Jinnah knew he could not get all of Punjab. An early concession would have prevented much bloodshed. Jinnah misled his followers. He also opposed the Quit India resolution.
- The Governor of Sind, Sir Hugh Dow, shrewdly predicted on March 22, 1942, that Jinnah would accept a Centre if he were given dominance in Punjab and Bengal. He accepted the Cabinet Mission’s Plan of May 16, 1946, which gave him that to some extent.
- The Hindu minority in each Province was economically more powerful and socially and educationally more advanced than the slender Muslim majority.
- Jinnah was then prepared for a compromise.
- The Intelligence Bureau (I.B.) had thoroughly penetrated the Congress and the Muslim League and had full reports of what every member said at meetings of their Working Committees.
- Both parties had members who disagreed with the leaders who led them—Gandhi and Jinnah.
- Were it not for the Congress rejection, the Muslim League was ready to accept Cripps’ proposals of March 29.
- Rajaji wrote to Gandhi on July 2 after a meeting with Jinnah to say that he was “genuinely desirous of a Congress-League settlement and would welcome negotiations for that purpose”.
- Rajaji had held four interviews with Jinnah lasting over 14 hours.
- He wrote to the Congress president, Maulana Azad, four days before the Quit India resolution of August 8, 1942: “We have no right at this juncture to plunge the country into disorder.”
- Vallabhbhai Patel publicly predicted on July 29 that the Quit India Movement “will be short and swift and will be finished within a week… no Indian would remain aloof from the coming struggle.”
- The CPI’s change of policy after Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union an “imperialist war” became a “people’s war”.
- The British lifted the ban on the CPI after N.M. Joshi provided assurances on its behalf. Particularly useful are the excerpts from the famous Deoli Thesis hammered out in jail.
- C. Joshi raised the CPI to heights it never reached after he was ousted as general secretary in 1948. The ones who followed bickered relentlessly in Marxist jargon.
Gagging the media
- There were raids by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the properties and homes of the owners of NDTV and the registration of a first information report (FIR) on June 2 based on a complaint (dated April 28) by a former employee of the media organisation.
- The FIR alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and misconduct by NDTV’s founder-owners and some unknown officials of ICICI Bank.
- The allegations pertained to transactions that had taken place in 2008-09 and non-repayment of a loan from a private bank.
- The CBI later clarified that the case related not to non-repayment or default of a loan but to the “wrongful gain of Rs.48 crore” to the promoters, Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, and RRPR Holdings Pvt. Ltd, and a corresponding loss to ICICI Bank “arising from their collusion and criminal conspiracy”.
An attempt to control media
- Therefore in the solidarity with NDTV, media persons held a meeting.
- Senior journalists and former editors, including some present and past Members of Parliament, spoke out against the raids and condemned the attack on the freedom of the press. Journalists such as H.K. Dua, Arun Shourie, S. Nihal Singh, Kuldip Nayar and T.N. Ninan spoke on the dangers of a compliant media and a totalitarian government.
- Also legal luminaries like Fali S. Nariman had criticised the government for the raids.
- He said that in furtherance of press freedom under Article 19 (1) (a), the CBI should have, as a matter of constitutional requirement, first inquired from the owners or promoters what they had to say in the matter before conducting a raid.
- He also referred to the famous quote of the Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller, underscoring the prime sentiment of the quote which was the need to “speak up”.
- The Central government did not agree that the raids were an attack on freedom of speech or an attack on the freedom of the press.
- The CBI defended its action in a detailed statement issued to the media, stating that it was not an attack on the freedom of the press as the raids were not conducted in any registered office of the media house, its studio, newsroom or premises connected with media operations but in the offices and premises of the promoters.
- In a further clarification, the investigating agency said that it “fully respected the freedom of the press” and was “committed to the free functioning of news operations”.
- Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, who is also in charge of the Urban Development Ministry, denied that the raids symbolised an attack on the freedom of the media.
- He told news agencies that there were no raids on the offices of the channel as the CBI had not entered the premises of its newsroom or TV studio, the searches were carried out through a court warrant, the law was taking its own course, there was no witch-hunt, and the Roys should comply with the due process of law.
India’s Press Freedom
- According to the World Press Freedom Index 2017, compiled by the Reporters Sans Frontieres and which was released recently, India slipped by two points to be ranked 136 among 180 countries.
- In November 2016, NDTV India, the channel’s Hindi counterpart, was forced to undertake a 24-hour blackout by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry following allegations of having disclosed sensitive information during the anti-terrorist operations at Pathankot.
- This was the first instance of invoking the amended programme code of the Cable Television Network Rules that prohibited live coverage of anti-terrorist operations.
- The new clause, Rule 6(1)(p), which came into effect in March 2015, says: “No programme should be carried… (which) contains live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces wherein media coverage shall be restricted to periodic briefing by an officer designated by the appropriate government, till such operation concludes.”
A lot of hot air
- United States President Donald Trump on June 1 ended the commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change into an executive decision.
- It came soon had become apparent when the G7 leaders issued a joint communique at the Taormina Summit in Italy on May 27 which reaffirmed their commitment to climate change action.
- This is not the first time that the U.S. is pulling out of an international climate agreement. It withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol on the grounds that emerging economies did not have quantified emission targets.
- The argument now is that the Paris Agreement is unfair to the U.S. and its people.
How it might be pure theatrics?
- Technically, the U.S. cannot withdraw from the agreement for a period of three years from the date on which it came into force.
- The agreement, which was negotiated by 195 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on December 12, 2015, in Paris, came into force on November 4, 2016.
- Also, according to Article 28.2 of the agreement, even if the Trump US were to submit a written notification on withdrawal to the U.N. Secretary-General on the very day of expiry of the three-year period, the notification could take effect only after a year from that date, which means that a U.S. withdrawal can take effect at the earliest on November 4, 2020.
- This theatric might be done to renegotiate, as Trump highlighted.
No to starting all over
- More significantly, none of the 148 countries (of 195) that have ratified the agreement to date is even remotely interested in renegotiating it.
- In fact, from the statements of various leaders, including close allies of the U.S., it is clear that no one wants to start all over again.
- Indeed, there is all-round reaffirmation of strong support for the agreement, which, in any case, is already much diluted from the original foundational principles and intent of the UNFCCC that were articulated when climate negotiations began two and half decades ago in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- But what is of significance from the perspective of keeping global warming below an increase of 2 °C by the year 2100—the main goal of the agreement—is not so much the technicality of the U.S.’ withdrawal but the impact of the U.S. not implementing even the weak commitments (called the Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs) it has made under the agreement.
- Since even without a formal withdrawal, pledges under the Paris Agreement are voluntary and non-binding, this was a matter of concern at the 12-day 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) to the UNFCCC in Marrakesh, Morocco, in November 2016.
- Having bent over backwards to accommodate the U.S. since COP15 in 2009 in Copenhagen, all other Parties to the convention now feel cheated with this denouement of the U.S.’ farcical participation in climate negotiations.
- They yielded to the U.S.’ manipulations to serve its selfish interests and accepted its proposal of a weak, bottom-up and legally non-binding architecture, where every party says “I will do what I can”, and let the earlier Kyoto Protocol’s top-down and legally binding framework put in place in 1997 fall by the wayside.
- It was actually a setback that had virtually abandoned the basic tenets of the UNFCCC itself, which requires that developed economies—on whom the historical responsibility rests for causing disproportionate carbon emissions during industrialisation (accounting for 77 per cent of historical emissions) and the consequent global warming—should bear the larger share of mitigation and the financial burden in the present global fight against climate change.
- Now the U.S., which until recently was the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), has quietly walked out, leaving other countries to carry the increased mitigation burden.
- With China’s rapid growth in renewables and its carbon emissions showing significant slowing down, the U.S. under Trump may well re-emerge as the world’s biggest polluter.
- The Paris Agreement, Trump declared, disadvantaged the U.S. “to the exclusive benefit of other countries…. The bottom line is that the Paris Accord is very unfair, at the highest level, to the U.S.”
- Nothing can be further from truth considering that the U.S. was the chief architect of the underlying framework of the Paris Agreement.
- Moreover, whatever commitments it had made under the agreement were totally voluntary, were in no way “imposed” on it, and are very weak in any case.
- According to its pledges, the U.S. will reduce its carbon emissions from 2005 levels by a mere 26-28 per cent by 2025.
- But what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) demands of developed countries, on the basis of science that takes into account historical, current and future emissions, is 25-40 per cent reduction below 1990 levelsif GHG concentrations in the atmosphere are to stabilise so that the temperature increase is limited to 2 °C, the guardrail to prevent the catastrophic consequences of climate change.
Role of US
- From 1990 to 2005, U.S. emissions actually rose by 17 per cent, making its Paris commitments just 9-11 per cent from 1990 levels.
- In comparison, the E.U. made a commitment of “at least 40 per cent” reduction from 1990 levels.
- In reality, therefore, the U.S. is greatly advantaged compared with the E.U.
- Historically, the U.S. is the largest contributor to climate change, responsible for 21 per cent of the accumulated stock of carbon in the atmosphere.
- It is the second-largest contributor (with 14.34 per cent share, after China’s 29.51 per cent) to the current flow of global carbon emissions.
- It is also well known that with the current Paris pledges, the global temperature rise by the end of century will be about 3.3 °C, which means countries need to ramp up their commitments a great deal more, not lower them.
- Trump referred to the financial commitments under the Green Climate Fund required of developed economies as a “draconian burden”.
- The financial implication of the Paris Accord on developed countries is an annual contribution totalling to a baseline figure of $100 billion a year to assist developing countries to fight the consequences of global warming and climate change, which are not of their making.
- But GCF contributions to date have been $10.3 billion, just one-tenth of the baseline figure.
- Of this, the U.S. had committed $3 billion but has so far contributed only $1 billion.
- When viewed in per capita terms, the U.S. pledge, far from being a “vast fortune”, ranks 11th in the list of contributing developed countries.
- The amount of $1 billion already paid in to the GCF works out to just $3 per capita, which is a little more than South Korea’s $2.
- In his federal budget, Trump has already removed funding for the UNFCCC and the GCF, which means the U.S. will not add to the $1 billion that it has already contributed
Commitments of India and China
- Under the convention, emissions from developing countries are allowed to grow to meet their development goals but at a rate that progressively slows down, peak and then declines.
- China has projected 2030 as its peaking year, but all indications are that emissions are likely to peak much earlier than that.
- As regards India, it has never said that its mitigation commitments under its stated NDCs would be conditional on receiving foreign money.
- In fact, India has already put in place many actions towards emissions reduction, and these have been funded entirely from the nation’s own resources.
- Both countries have greatly accelerated their investments in cost-effective renewable energy sources—and reduced their reliance on fossil fuels.
- China’s coal consumption has declined in three consecutive years (2013 to 2016), and the outlook is for a continued slow decline.
- India has stated that planned coal-fired power plants may not be needed and with announced policies—if fully implemented—it would see a significant slowing down in the growth of CO2 emissions over the next decade.
- Both China and India look set to overachieve their Paris Agreement climate pledges…. This stands in contrast to the decisions of the U.S. administration under President Trump, who appears intent on going in the opposite direction.
- Together the positive developments in India and China have a significant impact on the projected growth global of GHG emissions—on the order of a roughly 2-3 GtCO2 [billion tons of CO2] reduction in 2030 compared to projections made just last year.
- They significantly outweigh the potentially negative effects on emissions from the Trump Administration’s proposed rollbacks in the USA of around 0.4 GtCO2 in 2030.
- India’s new Draft Energy Plan—issued in December 2016—projects that despite the increasing electricity demand, no new coal-fired power plants, apart from those that are already under construction, would be needed after 202.
- As a result, the Draft Energy Plan predicts an electricity capacity from renewables by 2027 as high as 57 per cent, which is much higher than the 40 per cent by 2030 stated in the Indian NDC to the Paris Agreement.
- If the Draft Energy Plan is implemented, we estimate that emissions in 2030 in India would be around 1.0 GtCO2 lower than our estimate of currently implemented policies.
Overturning policy objectives
- Since Trump took office, the U.S’ objectives for climate policy at the federal level articulated under the Obama administration have been completely overturned.
- In January 2017, Trump announced his “America First Energy Plan” under which he said that he would eliminate “burdensome regulations on our energy industry” and promised to revive the U.S. coal industry.
- Trump issued an “Executive Order [EO] on Energy Independence” on the basis of which he started the process of “suspending, revising and rescinding” many policies and initiatives that had been put in place to reduce fossil fuel consumption and GHG emissions, including the Clean Power Plan (CPP).
- He also repealed Obama’s Climate Action Plan. It had provided an overarching guidance framework for U.S. climate policy.
- A number of measures had already been implemented, including fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, efficiency improvements in the building sector, and hydrofluorocarbon emission reductions.
- The CPP is a regulation that aims to bring down carbon emissions from the power sector by 32 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. It was key to Obama’s strategy to meet U.S. commitments under the Paris Agreement. Trump has also eliminated funding for the CPP.
- Trump’s decision to withdraw the nation from the Paris climate agreement was not based on science or sound economics, but on a confused, misguided, and simply dishonest desire to score some short-term political points with his voters.
- What he sacrifices in the long term will be immensely more difficult for the country to win back at the ballot box: authority, credibility, and influence.