Here is the digest of important newspaper articles and quiz!
Consultation on GM crops with seed firms and farmers
The Â agricultural ministry is planning to have a consultation with Â seed companies, seed technology companies and farmers before introducing a new policy for technology agreements between seed technology companies and private seed companies.
On May 18, 2016 the Ministry issued – and retracted in less than a week – a new set of terms that would govern contracts between licensors and licensees of genetically modified cotton seeds. The short-lived notification, called the Licensing and Formats for GM Technology Agreement Guidelines, 2016, specified that companies that licensed GM technology could charge seed companies royalty no more than 10% of the government-specified maximum sale price of a packet of cotton for 5 years. Moreover, they would have to reduce this value by 10% every year from the sixth year and were it proved that the potency of the technology was waning, the company could no longer claim this royalty. Technology firms also could not refuse any eligible seed company wanting genes and any request not followed upon within 30 days would be deemed to have been granted.
Earlier, the Central government capped the sale price of cotton seeds and the royalty that companies like MMBL could charge.
What are the issues with GM Technology Agreement Guidelines? – The notification although well intended seems to be at loggerhead with the new Intellectual Property Policy. The government caps implemented on sale of cotton seeds is already under appeal in court.
What is the issue with cotton seeds? – Genetically modified seeds are only permitted in cotton and the dominant player in the business of licensing seed technology is Monsanto Mahyco Biotech Ltd (MMBL), which licenses technology to several seed companies and underlies at least 95% of commercially grown cotton in the country.
The cotton seed market is in principle monopolised by Monsato. GM seeds in cotton have become critical to farmers who have become dependent on them. There have been claims of Monsato abusing its dominant market share.
Illicit animal trade in Thailand
40 frozen tiger cubs were found in a controversial tourist attraction in western Thailand. Â Investigations were on whether the carcasses were evidence of the templeâ€™s involvement in the illegal wildlife trade. The temple has promoted itself as a spiritual centre where people and tigers lived in harmony, and it has charged tourists as much as $140 apiece for the chance to bathe, hand-feed and play with the tigers.
Tiger parts, while illegal to sell, are in high demand in Asia, particularly China, for use in traditional medicine. There is even a market for frozen tiger cubs.
What are the international conventions for wildlife trafficking? – CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Interpol has estimated the extent of the illegal wildlife trade between $10 billion and $20 billion per year. While the trade is a global one, with routes extending to every continent, conservationists say the problem is most acute in Southeast Asia. There, trade linkages to key markets in China, the United States, and the European Union; lax law enforcement; weak border controls; and the perception of high profit and low risk contribute to large-scale commercial wildlife trafficking.
Source: TheHindu, CITES
Support price of pulses hiked
Central government announced a hike in the minimum support price (MSP) for pulses by up to Rs. 425 per quintal. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), gave approval to the MSP for kharif crops of the 2016-17 season.
The CCEA approved the MSP, inclusive of bonus, for tur (arhar) dal at Rs. 5,050 per quintal for this year as against Rs. 4,625 last year, moong dal at Rs. 5,225 against Rs. 4,850 and urad dal at Rs. 5,000 from Rs. 4,625.
Meanwhile, agriculture experts have asked the government to focus on establishing an assured market mechanism for pulses procurement to aid farmers and lower country’s dependence on pulses imports.
What will be the impact of increase in price? – India is the largest producer as well as importer of pulses in the world. One of the factors responsible for it is the low remuneration farmers get for growing pulses. Increase in MSP could help in making pulses production lucrative for farmers.
There are still many reforms required for procurement and selling of pulses on the lines of the Shanta Committee Report.
Approval for hiring of private sector talent in PSUs
The Cabinet gave an â€˜ex-post factoâ€™ approval for amending public sector recruitment rules to allow the selection of candidates from the private sector and state public sector enterprises. The nod is for the selection of candidates from state public sector enterprises and the private sector as â€œnon-internal candidates for a period of five years for appointment in Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).
The Cabinet also approved the decision that the chairperson and members of the public enterprises selection board (PESB) should hold office for a period of three years from the assumption of charge or until they turn 65 years of age, whichever is earlier.
What will be the benefit of the move? – Lateral hiring in the public sector has been a long pending reform. The move would help in greater movement of talented people from private sector to the public sector bringing in specialisation and best practices.
What are the nuances of the rule? – The impact of the move will depend on the execution of the rules. Those who do well in the private sector will get better returns there than in the public sector while the public sector offers greater job security. The good talent at the top of the private sector will not migrate. Those not in the top rungs may see an advantage in PSUs.
So, there must be careful selection so that those who have not been able to make it in the private sector donâ€™t opt for a government job just because of higher job security.
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