Kerala as the First Total Primary Education attained State in India:-
Background:- Remarks by Vice President of India at the function for Declaration of Kerala as the First Total Primary Education attained State in India.
“The spread of education in Kerala has led to enhancement of individual freedom and capacity for asserting one’s rights such as for better healthcare, demands for more public services and monitoring their delivery, a better climate for gender equity, and above all, much faster reduction in income poverty than in many other States of India.”
Education has become a social movement in Kerala after Independence and the result is remarkable.
The total literacy rate in Kerala was, according to the 2011 census, 93.9% compared to a national average of 74. The female literacy in the State was 92% against the Indian average of 65.5. The high literacy rate has an impact on some other aspects as well.
The percentage of households availing banking services, for example was 74.2 in Kerala compared to a national figure of 58.7.
Similarly, the percentage of households with toilets, something that the central government has been pushing strongly under the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, in Kerala was 95.2 compared to India’s average of 46.8%
Today, Kerala adds another feather to her educational cap. The state is marking the successful culmination of its ‘Athulyam’ programme aimed at ensuring Total Primary Education in the State – equivalent to Std IV of formal education. This was the fructification of the continuing efforts under the Total Literacy Campaign through the well planned and executed post -literacy activities and the Continuing Education Programme by the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority under the Government of Kerala.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana:-
Background :-The Union cabinet on Wednesday signed off on a revamped crop insurance scheme designed to mitigate risks associated with contemporary Indian farming.
The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), announced on the eve of harvest festivals across the country, is to be rolled out during the kharif crop season this year (2016)
- There will be a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops. In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium to be paid by farmers will be only 5%. The premium rates to be paid by farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by the Government to provide full insured amount to the farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities.
- There is no upper limit on Government subsidy. Even if balance premium is 90%, it will be borne by the Government.
- Earlier, there was a provision of capping the premium rate which resulted in low claims being paid to farmers. This capping was done to limit Government outgo on the premium subsidy. This capping has now been removed and farmers will get claim against full sum insured without any reduction.
The farmer-friendly move comes at a time when the country is experiencing a protracted period of rural distress after below-average monsoon rainfall in 2014 and 2015.
Under the previous crop insurance scheme, risks were only partially covered. The existing premium rates vary between 2.5% and 3.5% for kharif crops and 1.5% for rabi crops—but the coverage was capped, meaning farmers could, at best, recover a fraction of their losses. Also, the premium for commercial and horticulture crops was calculated on actuarial basis, meaning premiums could be as high as 25% depending on the risk factor involved.
This is certainly the best for the farmer till date as it provides for localized events and removes the cap
This will safeguard farmers against inclement weather. It will also reduce the financial instability in the families of farmers.
The crop insurance scheme will cover half of India’s cropped area in the next three years, up from the present level of 23%.
The decision implicitly acknowledges the structural makeover of Indian farming, which has entailed farmers taking on more risks by diversifying into horticulture and commercial crops without adequate safety nets.
There is no cap on subsidy on premium, meaning the government will bear the cost even if the balance premium is as high as 90%. In previous schemes, due to a cap on premiums, farmers did not get the full sum during claim settlement
The government liability on premium subsidy will be shared equally by the centre and states.
The new scheme will cover local-level calamities such as hail storms and landslides and even cover farmers if they cannot sow crops due to inclement weather. Also, the scheme will cover post-harvest losses due to cyclonic and unseasonal rains.
While the low premium will drive penetration and enrollment and make the insurance scheme viable for insurers, it remains to be seen if the unit for assessing crop loss has been reduced to the village level (in earlier schemes block and panchayats were taken as units, making it difficult for a farmer to claim compensation for events like hailstorms)
Cropping Season in India – Kharif and Rabi :-
The Indian cropping season is classified into two main seasons-
Kharif – July –October during the south-west monsoon
E.g.– Rice, maize, sorghum, pearl millet/bajra, finger millet/ragi (cereals), arhar (pulses), soyabean, groundnut (oilseeds), cotton,sugarcane ,turmeric, Moong ,red chillies etc
Rabi – October-March (winter)
E.g.-Wheat, barley, oats (cereals), chickpea/gram (pulses), linseed, mustard (oilseeds),sesame etc
*The terms ‘kharif’ and ‘rabi’ originate from Arabic language where Kharif means autumn and Rabi means spring.
Apart from the 2 major cropping seasons we also have Zaid cropping which is practiced in some parts of the country.
Zaid :- March-June
E.g.-Muskmelon, Watermelon, Vegetables of cucurbitacae family such as bitter gourd, pumpkin, ridged gourd etc
Major Rice growing areas:-
Major Wheat producing areas:-
Major Cotton growing areas:-
In an agricultural year (July-June), the Directorate of Economics & Statistics (DES), Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture releases four Advance Estimates followed by Final Estimates of production of major agricultural crops of the country
What the Government does:-
*Note- This is as such is may not be important , however it is better to know how government functions.
First Advance Estimates, released in September when Kharif sowing is generally over, cover only Kharif crops
Second Advance Estimates are released in February next year when rabi sowing is also over
Third Advance Estimates incorporating revised data on area coverage for rabi crops and better yield estimates of Kharif crops are released in April-May
Fourth Advance Estimates are released in July-August and by this time fully firmed up data on area as well as yield of Kharif crops and rabi crops are expected to be available with the States
Final Estimates are released about seven months after the Fourth Advance Estimates and no revision in the State level data is accepted after release of Final Estimates by DES
The Story of Rice:-
Rice(Oryza Sativa) it is believed, is associated with wet, humid climate, though it is not a tropical plant.It is probably a descendent of wild grass that was most likely cultivated in the foothills of the far Eastern Himalayas. Another school of thought believes that the rice plant may have originated in southern India then spread to the north of the country and then onwards to China.
When Alexander the Great invaded India in 327 B. C., it is believed that he took rice back to Greece. Arab travelers took it to Egypt, Morocco and Spain and that is how it travelled all across Europe
Portugal and Netherlands took rice to their colonies in West Africa and then it travelled to America through the ’Columbian Exchange’ of natural resources.
But as is traditionally known, rice is a slow starter and this is also true to the fact that it took close to two centuries after the voyages of Columbus for rice to take root in the Americas. Thereafter the journey of rice continues with the Moors taking it to Spain in 700 A. D. and then the Spanish brought rice to South America at the beginning of 17th century.
Rice in our Culture:-
Rice has shaped the culture, diets and economic of thousand of millions of peoples. For more than half of the humanity “ rice is life” . Rice is first mentioned in the Yajur Veda (c. 1500-800 BC) and then is frequently referred to in Sanskrit texts. In India there is a saying that grains of rice should be like two brothers, close but not stuck together. Rice is often directly associated with prosperity and fertility; hence there is the custom of throwing rice at newlyweds. In India, rice is always the first food offered to the babies when they start eating solids or to husband by his new bride, to ensure they will have children.
Cabinet approves India joining the International Energy Agency – Ocean Energy Systems:-
The long coastline of India and severe power deficit in the country, warrant the study of ocean renewable energies. Vagaries of the sea makes harnessing ocean energy a technological challenge. In the Indian context designing of scaled up ocean energy devices (including wave, currents and tidal) and their techno-commercial viability needs to be undertaken.
Tropical countries have high sea surface temperatures and hence Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is a good option for countries like India
The IEA is an inter-governmental organization with a broad role of promoting alternate energy sources (including renewable energy), rational energy policies and multinational energy technology co¬operation and acts as energy policy advisor to 29 member countries
The OES, launched in 2001, is an intergovernmental collaboration between countries, which operates under framework established by the International Energy Agency
This initiative is to advance research, development and demonstration of technologies to harness energy from all forms of ocean renewable resources, as well as for other uses, such as desalination etc. through international cooperation and information exchange.
Economy and Efficiency:-
One common criticism of economics is that it focuses too much on efficiency, and not enough on things like equality, fairness and the welfare of future generations. Many economic issues involve conflict between efficiency and fairness.
For example, free trade is widely believed by economists to be good for efficiency based on the principle of comparative advantage. Efficiency in this case means greater total output. But free trade also means that the less cost efficient domestic industries will be eliminated by cheaper imports.
Although the gain for the economy exceeds the loss of the less competitive industries, these benefits accrue mostly to those employed in the more efficient domestic industries.
However, of late, people are questioning the traditional assumption that fairness is irrelevant to economic analysis.
There are two versions of efficiency in economics- Pareto efficiency and Perfect efficiency.
Pareto efficiency: It is named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. According to this definition, the more things we produce—including goods like TVs and cars—the fewer resources we are wasting.
Perfect efficiency: It is also called Pareto optimality. It is a situation in which the economy is so efficient that it’s impossible to give one person more without taking something away from someone else. Simply put, perfect efficiency is a world where there is no free lunch.
Why economists mostly focus on efficiency?
Reasons for focusing on Efficiency:-
Economic Muscle as Geopolitical Muscle:-
It is probably historical. According to historian Adam Tooze, government attention to economic statistics increased dramatically after World War I. The US, with its massive economic output, had tipped the scales decisively in favour of the Allies, so total output was believed to be an indication of war-fighting strength. That logic seemed to repeat itself in World War II, and again in the Cold War, in which the US is widely believed to have outspent the Soviet Union. Greater economic efficiency probably means a more powerful nation.
The second reason economists focus on efficiency is that it’s clear and unambiguous. Human welfare, on the other hand, is tricky to define. Economists usually shy away from taking a stand on difficult philosophical questions involving human welfare, and stick to thinking about what will boost GDP.
The flaw in the data-driven and efficiency oriented economic policy:-
By producing more today, we leave fewer resources for our descendants. A policy that is Pareto optimal today may be robbing from our unborn grandchildren. Thus, static efficiency, or efficiency in the present, isn’t always the same as dynamic efficiency.
It hampers the equitable distribution of wealth.
The benefits of Data driven and efficiency oriented economic policy:-
Economic growth usually does enrich the poor as well as the rich. Even the past few decades of global growth, which have seen inequality increase in rich nations, have produced huge gains for the world’s poor, and reduced global inequality in the bargain.
Efficiency really does capture how many economic arrangements are simply suboptimal. New policies and institutions really can make things better for everybody.
The cultivation of fairness with efficiency maximization, yields greater enhancements of social welfare than efficiency alone, by simultaneously satisfying the criteria of both.
The most significant conclusion is that efficiency and fairness concerns do not conflict but rather mutually support each other in the goal of maximizing social welfare. This is contrary to the more widely-held view by many that a trade-off between fairness and efficiency is inevitable. The real strength of the efficiency concept is that it focuses on gradual improvement. Instead of trying to radically reorganize society from the ground up, efficiency focuses on finding institutional or policy tweaks that make everyone just a little better off. So far, the history has also shown that gradual reform is the best way to improve the world.
Environment Ministry Holds First National Stakeholder Consultation on the Biodiversity Finance Initiative:-
Background :-The Environment Ministry recently held a two-day National Stakeholder Consultation Meeting on Biodiversity Finance Initiative to conserve India’s biodiversity. This National Stakeholder meeting was organized to understand the BIOFIN project and to seek professional inputs from experts of various fields in strengthening the biodiversity conservation efforts in the country
The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) is a global partnership that helps government’s cost, plan and pay for action on biodiversity conservation and its sustainable use. It was launched in 2012
The BIOFIN methodology is being used by 19 countries to analyze, calculate and develop strategies to generate the funds they need to meet national biodiversity targets
The initiative is run by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with support from the Governments of Germany, Switzerland and the European Union.
PMO sets up panel to fast-track bullet trains:-
The Prime Minister’s Office has constituted a committee under Arvind Panagariya, vice-chairman of the NITI Aayog, to hasten the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor, meant for bullet trains between the two cities.