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1.Social revolution in a JAM (The Hindu)

2.Caution warranted for river-linking project (Live Mint)

3.India’s Nutrition Atlas (Dow to Earth)

 

1.Social revolution in a JAM (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of evaluation of JAM trinity. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • JAM Trinity was one of the key reforms undertaken by government to deliver the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme, including subsidies, minimum wage payments for various government schemes and other payments.
  • Recently Finance Minister said that “Just as GST created one tax, one market, one India, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and the JAM revolution can link all Indians into one common financial, economic, and digital space. No Indian will be outside the mainstream.”
  • JAM, deriving from Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile, combines bank accounts for the poor, who barely had the money to deposit in them, direct transfer of benefits into these accounts and the facility of making financial payments through mobile phones. The government has also devised the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app. It has been called “social revolution”, perhaps alluding to the feature that the poor are the most direct beneficiaries.

Analysis

  • A financial inclusion means that everyone having a bank account and access to reliable and free electronic payments system, is not the same as economic inclusion. At its most basic level, inclusion from the economic point of view would entail equal access to opportunities for earning a livelihood, this implies employment.
  • As the demand for labour is a derived demand, in the sense that it exists only when there is demand for goods and services, a significant element in ensuring inclusion is to maintain, directly or indirectly, the level of demand in the economy.
  • Government‘s claim of having achieved inclusion by operationalising the JAM trinity appear somewhat exaggerated because largely nationalised banking sector had done very little to extend banking services to the poor till recently.
  • Since the economic reforms of 1991, that was largely in the nature of liberalisation of the policy regime, meant to make it easier for firms to produce while at the same time exposing them to international competition with a view to increasing efficiency in the economy.
  • An ecosystem of production is constituted not only by the laws and regulations determining the ease of doing business, but also the access that firms have to producer services ranging from water supply to waste management. These producer services require large capital outlay, often deterring private firms. When private entities do provide these producers services they tend to be expensive, deterring their off-take. It is for this reason that globally they are generally provided by governments.
  • In India there is the case for public provision of producer services, when producer units employ workers they are poorly capitalised, making it almost impossible for them to generate producer services themselves. Thus the public provision of producer services should be an essential part of public policy.

JAM on capabilities

  • Amartya Sen effectively settled a longstanding debate on the question of the metric to be used to gauge equality when he proposed that it should be human capabilities. These are the endowments that allow individuals to undertake functioning they value.
  • We would have achieved a social revolution when we have equipped all individuals with the essential capabilities. This happens when a society has, at a minimum, universal health and education infrastructure accessible to all.
  • We have witnessed government failure in the recent times, for example in U.P.’s Gorakhpur district children has died due to systemic failure that meant that a district’s only hospital is not able to maintain a steady supply of oxygen, a heavy downpour in Mumbai led to a complete shutdown, widespread loss of livelihood and some of life and the most recently, in Ghazipur a garbage mountain came crashing down, again causing death and disruption.
  • India faces extraordinary challenges in the provision of public infrastructure ranging from health and education to drainage and sewerage, the claim made for JAM is breathtaking in its simplicity. JAM ensures seamless transfer of welfare payments and facilitates the making payments in real time.
  • JAM may have achieved equality in the digital space but is far from having empowered Indians in spheres in which they are severely deprived at present, an empowerment that they clearly value.
  • In a market economy one of the markers of what the public think of the government’s policies is the response of private investors. Private investment in India has declined steadily over the past few years.
  • Overall growth had however been maintained, partly through the demand generating impact of public investment. But now even growth appears to be stalling. The latest GDP figures from the Central Statistics Office show growth in the first quarter of the current financial year to be lower than the average for 2016-17.

Way ahead

  • JAM functions in the digital space while much of our life is lived in the brick and mortar world. In the latter space we have seen very little improvement, empowerment in the brick and mortar space would require public infrastructure on a gigantic scale compared to what we have now.
  • For social revolution, all the Indians should be empowered through an equality of capabilities. This would require committing resources to building the requisite social and physical infrastructure and investing time to govern its functioning.

Question– Evaluate the success of JAM trinity, whether it has able to bring social revolution in India or not. Also mention the measures required for effectively fulfill the provisions of the trin

2.Caution warranted for river-linking project (Live Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the effect of the interlinking of rivers on the country’s economy and ecology. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Interlinking of River (ILR) programme is of national importance and has been taken up on high Priority. The mission of this programme is to ensure greater equity in the distribution of water by enhancing the availability of water in drought prone and rainfed area.
  • Recently the government mentioned that it has aim to begin work on three river inter-linking projects and building two dams in the next three months with the use the latest technology in Ken-Betwa, Par-Tapi-Narmada and Damanganga-Pinjal river inter-linking projects.
  • However it led to the questions like-Is proposed interlinking of rivers a bold and ambitious engineering project that will resolve the country’s water woes or is it an ill-conceived plan built on obsolete ideas that will devastate the country’s riverine ecosystems?

Diverse opinion

  • Though the government claims that it have made significant progress with the initial clearances and negotiations so as to kick-start the project, which has been in the pipeline for several decades, expert opinion on the matter remains as sharply divided as ever. River-linking critics insist that the project is built on bad science and an outdated understanding of water systems and water management.
  • The river-linking project on a par with some of the most daring feats of engineering attempted in the history of mankind. It is a reimagining of the entire aquatic ecosystem of a country as large and diverse as India. The basic idea driving the project is actually fairly simple as to connect the Himalayan and peninsular rivers via a network of canals so that excess water from one channel can be diverted to another which has inadequate flow.

Proponent’s views

  • Proponents of the project argue that river linking offers three key benefits- firstly it will irrigate about 87 million acres of farmland, secondly it will control floods, and thirdly it will generate 34 GW of hydroelectric power.
  • These are tantalizing prospects- India’s rain-fed farms are forever hostage to the vagaries of nature, so much so that even one bad monsoon has a direct and debilitating economic impact. At the same time, simultaneous floods and droughts in different parts of the country continue to wreak havoc, destroying the lives and livelihoods of millions. India also desperately needs clean energy to fuel its development processes, and if river water can be leveraged and redirected to serve these purposes, that’s an option worth exploring.

Opponent’s view

  • River-linking critics insist that the project is built on bad science and an outdated understanding of water systems and water management. Specifically, the concept of surplus and deficit river basins which is at the core of the river-linking project is contested.
  • A new study by researchers at the Indian Institutes of Technology in Mumbai and Chennai, analysing weather data over 103 years (from 1901 to 2004), has found that rainfall has decreased over the years by more than 10% even in river basins that once had a surplus, such as those of the Mahanadi and the Godavari.
  • The project will affect the entire ecosystem, as any changes to its natural course will have an impact on all the flora and fauna, the wetlands and the floodplains that are intricately linked to the river system. In fact, the long-term environmental impact of such a project is a major concern.

For example-

  • One of the reasons why the Ken-Betwa link, which is now receiving priority attention, has been stuck for several years is because it requires environmental clearance for diverting 5,500 hectares from the Panna National Park, a tiger reserve.
  • Critics also point to the less than positive experience that other countries have had with such projects be it the Soviet regime’s decision to divert the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, which fed the Aral Sea, to irrigate the desert, or the Australian government’s experiments in its Murray Darling basin.

Political challenges

  • There are political challenges as well as the water transfer and water sharing are sensitive subjects that have already spawned century-long disputes, and few political parties today can expect to win the next election if they are seen as having signed away a scarce natural resource.
  • Moreover, water is a state subject in India, and even though the Centre is empowered to bring an inter-state river under its control to serve the national interest, it has effectively never done so owing to enormous resistance from the states.
  • The resultant turf wars are already under way with the Ken-Betwa link, for example- the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have been unable to agree on how much water should be transferred from the Ken river.

Way forward

  • There is need to consider other interventions, both on the supply side and the demand side, such as conservation of water resources and more efficient irrigation and agricultural practices, etc., to deal with India’s looming water crisis.

Question– Explain the river linking projects with the recent example? Do you think the interlinking of rivers will have on the country’s economy and ecology? Justify your view.

3.India’s Nutrition Atlas (Dow to Earth)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the New platform of Nutrition Atlas which will provide insights on nutritional status. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • The Nutrition Atlas provides information and data on nutritional status of population groups at national and state levels

Nutritional status

  • India currently faces twin challenges in the nutrition sector – undernutrition manifesting in several health problems as well as increasing problem of overweight and obesity, contributing to the burden of non-communicable diseases.
  • In order to provide a snapshot of all relevant data and information about nutrition, the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) has developed the country’s first Nutrition Atlas.

Nutrition Atlas

  • The Nutrition Atlas provides information and data on nutritional status of population groups at national and state levels, along with an overview of nutrition-related deficiencies, disorders and prevalence levels in various parts of the country.
  • In addition, it provides information on nutrients, nutrient rich foods, nutritional deficiency disorders and a host of other topics.
  • The portal also includes information on nutrition rich foods and nutri guide for various nutrients, minerals, essential amino-acids, fatty acids, dietary fibres and proteins, along with their biochemical cut-offs, recommended dietary allowances, signs and symptoms and dietary sources.
  • It makes use of publicly available data sources like reports of National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau, National Family Health Survey, World Health Organisation and other public databases. The Dashboard acts like an information management tool, helping the user track data on under nutrition, over nutrition, overweight, obesity and communicable and non-communicable diseases. It can also provide different time trends on each of these parameters.

Way forward

  • While public databases like data.gov.in provide data from various sectors include health, the Nutrition Atlas is a specific data portal on nutrition and health parameters. “The prevalence and incidence of various nutrition and health parameters have been given for all 679 districts, wherever such information is available in public domain. This portal is useful to policy makers, programme managers, researchers, media, students and other stakeholders

Question– Explain the importance of Nutrition Atlas to track the problem of hidden hunger in India.