09 October, 2019

12 Min Read

GS-I : Economic Issues Agriculture
Rethinking water management issues

GS-I: Rethinking water management issues.


  • NITI Aayog’s strategy for water resources is a constitutional of failed policies of the past.
  • NITI Aayog released its strategy for New India @75 which defined clear objectives for 2022-23 with an overview of 41 distinct areas.
  • Effective strategic planning must satisfy three essential requirements. One acknowledges and analyse past failures. Two suggesr realistic and implementable goals and three stipulate who will do what and within what time frame. The ‘strategy’ for water fails on all three counts.

No new vision:

  • The document reiterates two failed ideas adopting an integrated river basin management approach and setting up of river basin management approach and setting up of river basin organisation for major basins.
  • The integrated management concept has been around for 70 yeras but not even on moderate size basin has been managed thus anywhere in the world.
  • The water resources regulatory authority is another failed idea. Maharashtra established a water resources regulatory authority in 2005.But far from an improvement in managing resources water managing resources water management in Maharashtra is worse.
  • Goals include providing adequate and safe piped water supply to all citizens and livestock ,providing irrigation to all farm providing water to industries and clean flow in the Ganga and other rivers along with their tributaries.

Who is accountable?

A strategy document must specify who will be responsible and accountable for achieving the specific goals and in what time-frame.

NITI Aayog does not say who will do this encouraging and how? Should the state water Ministries do this by restricting or even withholding recalcitrant industry’s access to fresh water?

However the free electricity provided by solar units further encourage unrestricted pumping of groundwater and will further aggravate the problem of a steady decline of groundwater levels.

Way Forward:

India’s water problems can be solved with existing knowledge technology and available funds. It is unfortunate that NITI Aayog has failed to admit this and has prescribed only a continuation of past failed policies.


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GS-I : Economic Issues Agriculture
Stirring up the truth about ZBNF

GS-I: Stirring up the truth about ZBNF


Zero Budget Natural Farming has no scientific validation and its inclusion into agricultural policy appears unwise. Most criticisms of modern agricultural practices are criticism of post-Liebig developments in agricultural science.

What is Zero Budget Natural Farming?

  • Zero Budget Natural farming (ZBNF) is said to be “do nothing farming”.
  • It involves the application of nature’s principles in farming.
  • It practises no-till, no chemical use in farming.
  • Alongside, dispersal of clay seed balls to propagate plants is done.

The key aspects integral to it and which require locally available materials are:

  1. Seeds treated with cow dung and urine
  2. Soil rejuvenated with cow dung, cow urine and other local materials to increase microbes
  3. Cover crops, straw and other organic matter to retain soil moisture and build humus
  4. Soil aeration for favourable soil conditions
  • These methods are combined with natural insect management methods when required.
  • The ZBNF is a technology of the future with a traditional idiom.

Importance of ZBNF highlighted in Economic Survey 2018-19:

  • The Economic Survey mentioned Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) along with Vedic Farming, Homa Farming and Cow Farming and how these “climate friendly” agricultural practices can enable “elimination of chemical pesticides” and restoration of soil organic matter and fertility.
  • But an even bigger push for ZBNF and in the Union Budget speech of Finance Minister, where she talked of the need to “go back to basics” and “replicate this innovative model (that) can help in doubling our farmers’ income in time for our 75th year of Independence”.

ZBNF success in Southern states:

  • In Andhra Pradesh: With its combination of delta regions, arid and hilly tribal areas, districts in Andhra Pradesh are similar to those in other parts of the country and could therefore serve as a model for replication.
  • The approach taken to monitor the improvements is vital to understanding the outcomes of large-scale changes that are under way; this is critical to expanding the ZBNF to other States. As ZBNF is applied in India’s various agro-ecological zones, making farmers the innovators is essential.
  • Resilient food systems are the need of the day given the variability of the monsoons due to global warming and declining groundwater in large parts of India.
  • The drought-prone Rayalaseema region (Andhra Pradesh) is reportedly seeing promising changes already in farms with the ZBNF.


  • The programme can have a positive effect on many of the sustainable development goals.
  • As ZBNF is applied in India’s various agro-ecological zones, making farmers the innovators is essential.
  • Agricultural scientists in India have to rework their strategy so that farming is in consonance with nature.
  • The dominant paradigm of chemical-based agriculture has failed and regenerative agriculture is the emerging new science.


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GS-II : International Relations
A Triangular Affair

GS-II: A Triangular Affair


Delhi will have to accept China’s role in Bangladesh while shaping its ties with Dhaka.

India’s abiding regional strategic objective ought to be one which ensures that Bangladesh does not morph into Pakistan either by way of being compelled into choosing Beijing over Delhi or nurturing radical Islamic ideologies domestically. It is to the credit of both Dhaka and Delhi that despite some missteps the bi-lateral is currently described as the best ever and a template for India’s ties with its other neighbours.

Wuhan Summit:

  • The coastal town of Mamallapuram (aka Mahabalipuram) has pipped the sacred city of Varanasi to host the historic informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
  • The historical Buddhism connection is being capitalised well with statutes of Buddha seen at various vantage points in Mamallapuram, which is getting a major facelift with hundreds of workers toiling round-the-clock to ensure that the town is ready for the historic meeting between October 11 and 13.

Historical connect between Mamallapuram with China:

  • Historians said that the ancient port town of Mamallapuram was used effectively by the Pallavas to trade with China.
  • More importantly, Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, who was an icon in China, was the third prince of a Pallava king who travelled to China from Kancheepuram via Mamallapuram in 527AD.
  • He went on to become the 28th patriarch of Buddhism succeeding Prajnatara.
  • Mamallapuram and the Pallava dynasty are also historically relevant, for the earliest recorded security pact between China and India (in the early 8th century) involved a Pallava king (Rajasimhan, or Narasimha Varma II), from whom the Chinese sought help to counter Tibet, which had by then emerged as a strong power posing a threat to China.

Significance of these informal summits:

  • Informal meet at Wuhan resulted in invoking of Wuhan Spirit, which sought to reset ties between India and China.
  • Wuhan Spirit is in line with the five principles of peaceful coexistence (Panchsheel) jointly advocated by China and India in the 1950s. Under Wuhan Spirt:
  • Both countries agreed that they form the “backbone” of economic globalisation, and they should jointly make positive contributions to global peace and development.
  • The two nations have agreed to cooperate, for the first time ever, on a joint project in Afghanistan.

Changing relations: Treading with caution:

  • India also has other reasons to be more optimistic than a year ago because India’s relations with the U.S. have attained a new high.
  • The Quad (the U.S., India, Japan and Australia) has gained a new lease of life.
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has also come under increasing attack, due to debt trap diplomacy (China taking the lease of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port for 99 years).
  • India’s relations with Russia have acquired a fresh dimension, incorporating economics alongside a longstanding military relationship.
  • India’s line of credit to develop Russia’s Far East has fundamentally changed the nature of India-Russia relations.
  • Due to Trade war, relations between China and the U.S. have sharply deteriorated.
  • Also, a new triangular relationship of Russia, India and Japan, appears to be altering equations in the East Asian region.


India will have to accept this as part of the evolving regional strategic calculus enabled by china’s economic trade fiscal clout and shape its own ties with Dhaka in such amannner that a truly win-win option can emerge.

The maritime domain and the Bay of Bengal in particular with Dhaka as the coxswain ought to be envisioned at Mamallapuram.

Source: Indian Express

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How plan for clean air works ?

GS-III: How plan for clean air works ?


Starting October 15, some stricter measures to fight air pollution will come into force in Delhi’s neighbourhood, as part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). As pollution rises, and it is expected to as winter approaches, more measures will come into play depending on the air quality.

Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP):

  • In 2014, when a study by the WHO found that Delhi was the most polluted city in the world, panic spread in the Centre and the state government.
  • Approved by the Supreme Court in 2016, the plan was formulated after several meetings that the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) held with state government and experts.
  • The result was a plan that institutionalized measures to be taken when air quality deteriorates.
  • GRAP works only as an emergency measure.
  • Three major policy decisions that can be credited to EPCA and GRAP are the closure of the thermal power plant at Badarpur, bringing BS-VI fuel to Delhi before the deadline set initially, and the ban on Pet coke as a fuel in Delhi NCR.

How it works?

  • As such, the plan does not include action by various state governments to be taken throughout the year to tackle industrial, vehicular and combustion emissions.
  • When the air quality shifts from poor to very poor, the measures listed under both sections have to be followed since the plan is incremental in nature.
  • If air quality reaches the severe+ stage, GRAP talks about shutting down schools and implementing the odd-even road-space rationing scheme.

Severe+ or Emergency

  • (PM 2.5 over 300 µg/cubic metre or PM10 over 500 µg/cu. m. for 48+ hours)
  • Stop entry of trucks into Delhi .
  • Stop construction work.
  • Introduce odd/even scheme for private vehicles and minimise exemptions.
  • Task Force to decide any additional steps including shutting of schools.

Very Poor

  • Stop use of diesel generator sets
  • Enhance parking fee by 3-4 times
  • Increase bus and Metro services.

Moderate to poor:

  • Heavy fines for garbage burning.
  • Close/enforce pollution control regulations in brick kilns and industries.
  • Mechanised sweeping on roads with heavy traffic and water sprinkling.

Has GRAP helped?

  • The biggest success of GRAP has been in fixing accountability and deadlines.
  • For each action to be taken under a particular air quality category, executing agencies are clearly marked.

What measures have been taken in other states?

  • One criticism of the EPCA as well as GRAP has been the focus on Delhi.
  • While other states have managed to delay several measures, citing lack of resources, Delhi has always been the first one to have stringent measures enforced.
  • In a recent meeting that discussed the ban on diesel generator sets, the point about Delhi doing all the heavy lifting was also raised.

Source: Indian Express

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