Here is the digest of important newspaper articles and quiz!
Government working on reducing input cost for agriculture
The government has promised to double the farmers income in the next five years. The government is giving priority to the enterprises linked to agricultural sector so as to achieve this target according to the Union agricultural minister.
What are the recent initiatives towards the target?
1) Soil Health Card – 14 crore farmers in the country are being given soil health cards.
2) Organic Farming – The government has launched the â€˜Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojanaâ€™ to promote organic farming.
3) Lowering material cost – Neem-coated urea, improved varieties of seeds and planting material is being provided.
4) Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana – The major objective of PMKSY is to achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level, expand cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water, enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More crop per drop), enhance recharge of aquifers and introduce sustainable water conservation practices by exploring the feasibility of reusing treated municipal waste water for peri-urban agriculture and attract greater private investment in precision irrigation system.
5) Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana to increase the crop insurance penetration among farmers.
6) National Agricultural Market – helps to achieve the concept of â€˜one nation and one mandiâ€™, which was a long pending marketing reform.
7) New National AgroForestry scheme had been initiated for planting trees over meadows.
Panel report on Jat agitation
The Prakash Singh committee has come out with its report investigating the handling of the Jat quota agitation in Haryana. The committee has found fault with the administrative and police leadership of the State.
The committee report said the caste bias of officers was behind the inaction against the rioters, connivance with the vandals, absence from duty/desertion and abetment of the hooligans during the stir that hit the State from February 7 to 22, 2016.
In its observations, the committee said the highest functionaries were almost paralysed, and the kind of guidance, direction and control one expected in such a situation was just not there.
The only smart move from the headquarters was the deputation of senior IAS/IPS officers to some districts to assist the local officers. The senior officers did whatever fire-fighting they possibly could.
What is the way forward to prevent future such incidents? – The Prakash Singh committee Â report concludes that â€œover the years, the former chief ministers, with a view to concentrating powers in their own office, eroded the authority of certain institutions. The office of the chief secretary in the state does not command the power or enjoy the prestige it does in most other states. The home department also plays a somewhat subsidiary role in matters relating to law and order. These distortions needs to be corrected,â€ to prevent a repeat of similar paralysis in the future.
Clear orders and responsiveness are critical when dealing with riots of such a scale. The report has highlighted lack of orders from senior officers leading to a demoralised and leaderless administration on the ground.
Membership of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
The Commerce Ministry has cautioned the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) against ceding to demands that India offer binding concessions to secure an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) membership.
What are the demands of APEC members? – The Â binding concessions being sought from India are an agreement to reduce industrial tariffs to very low levels or eliminate them over a specified time period, an early deal on a Bilateral Investment Treaty with the U.S., and its participation in negotiations for a proposed Investment Facilitation Agreement at the World Trade Organisation-level.
Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Rajya Sabha that India had applied for APEC membership in 1991 on the basis of its geographic location, potential size of the economy and degree of trade interaction with the Asia-Pacific.
However, at the fifth APEC Leaders’ meeting in Vancouver in 1997, a decision was taken to place a ten-year moratorium on expanding membership, which continues informally till date.
How will it impact India? – India understands that high tariffs are not favourable, at the same time eliminating tariffs would hurt the countryâ€™s economy. Industry could recommend appropriate tariff rates so that the government can make a proposal that could be called the voice of moderation at the APEC membership negotiations.
What is APEC? – Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. It was established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world; to fears that highly industrialised Japan would come to dominate economic activity in the Asia-Pacific region; and to establish new markets for agricultural products and raw materials beyond Europe.
GDP growth up at 7.9% for fourth quarter
Indiaâ€™s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015-16, increasing overall growth for the entire year to 7.6 per cent and help maintain its position as the fastest-growing major economy, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Indiaâ€™s gross value added (GVA) for the year grew by 7.2 per cent in what economists termed a consumption-led recovery. According to Pronab Sen, Former Chairman, the National Statistical Commission it is a situation where corporate investment is not driving growth. Any movement in investment is due to the public sector. This is being reflected in higher private consumption which is a good thing up to a point. But it does pose a danger of the re-emergence of inflation unless the monsoon is spot on this time.
What has been the sector wise growth?
Agriculture – The agriculture sector grew 1.2 per cent compared to the advance estimate of 1.1 per cent. The sector contracted 0.2 per cent in the previous year.
Manufacturing – grew 9.3 per cent, slower than the 9.5 per cent forecast in the advance estimates. But this is much higher than the 5.5 per cent seen in 2014-15.
Services – The consolidated services sector grew 8.8 per cent in 2015-16 compared to 9.05 per cent mentioned in the advance estimates.
Private final consumption expenditure, a proxy for private demand, grew at 7.4 per cent in 2015-16 compared to 6.4 per cent in the previous year. Growth in gross fixed capital formation, a measure of private sector investment, slowed down to 3.9 per cent from 4.9 per cent in 2014-15.
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