CURRENT AFFAIRS 25-11-2021
- Several attempts – To Reform the Fertilizer Sector
- The final decision on Vehicle scrappage policy:
- NITI Aayog:SDG Urban Index
- The Human-Animal Conflicts
- Rani Gaidinliu
1. Several attempts – To Reform the Fertilizer Sector
#GS3- Indian Economy & Agriculture
- A number of attempts have been made to restructure the fertiliser industry in order to keep the expanding fertiliser subsidy cost in check.
In depth information
- Economic reforms: Since 1991, when India’s economic reforms began, several attempts have been made to reform the fertiliser sector in order to control the rising fertiliser subsidy bill, promote fertiliser efficiency, achieve balanced N, P, and K (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) use, and reduce water and air pollution caused by fertilisers such as urea.
- Agriculture accounts for roughly 15% of the gross domestic product (GDP), and nearly 60% of the population relies on it for their livelihood.
- Due to recent increases in energy prices, worldwide prices of urea and other fertilisers, and India’s reliance on imports, the Union Budget estimates that fertiliser subsidies will reach a significantly higher level in 2021-22.
Problems and challenges in the industry
- Farmers tended to move toward balanced use, although policy and pricing adjustments flipped the beneficial trend a couple of times over the last three decades.
- Uncontrolled increase in urea subsidies: There has been an uncontrolled increase in urea subsidies as a result of the MRP of urea almost freezing over time and its increased sale, resulting in an increase in indiscriminate and imbalanced fertiliser use.
- Fertilizer use per hectare: Fertilizer use per hectare of cultivated land ranged from 70 kg of NPK in Rajasthan to 250 kg in Telangana in 2019-20.
- Fiscal Concerns: To reduce the impact of price increases on farmers, the government absorbs the majority of the increase through increased fertiliser subsidies. This will very certainly result in major financial difficulties.
- The urgent need to close the growing demand-supply gap: Given the shrinking land area under cultivation and the shrinking average size of holdings, such high growth can only be realised by significantly boosting land productivity.
- Subsidy ballooning and under/delayed payments: Fertilizer subsidies have surged 25 times in the last two-and-a-half decades, from 1990-91 to present.
- Ironically, this is also the period when the government has continuously harped on fiscal consolidation, with a particular emphasis on reining in subsidies, such as fertiliser subsidies.
- There was clearly a misalignment between what was preached and what was really done.
- Fertilizer use is becoming increasingly unbalanced: Farmers must apply the three primary nutrients N, P, and K in the proper proportions in order to gain the most crop output from fertiliser use while also maintaining soil health.
- Agronomists propose using them in a 4:2:1 ratio as a general rule; however, it should be adjusted to the soil and crop conditions.
- Gas shortages and high prices: In India, gas is the most common feedstock for fertiliser synthesis.
- About 80% of total urea production comes from gas-fired plants.
- Fertilizers are given first priority when it comes to gas allocation. However, the needs of fertiliser plants are far from being met.
- Fertilizer prices on the worldwide market are variable and almost directly linked to energy prices.
- Furthermore, cartels of major worldwide producers have a significant impact on pricing.
- The steep rise in international energy costs, as well as supply limits in major producing countries due to strong domestic demand, production cuts, and export restrictions, have resulted in these exceptional price increases.
Policies of the government
- Nutrient Based Subsidy System 2010: This scheme attempts to ensure that farmers have access to an appropriate supply of P&K at a regulated price.
- NCU (Neem Coated Urea): the government just made it necessary for domestic firms to produce 100% NCU.
- Not only will the change benefit the environment and farmers’ lives, but it will also reduce unlawful urea diversion for industrial purposes.
- The 2015 New Urea Policy focuses on increasing the energy efficiency of domestic urea and minimising the subsidy load.
- Gas pooling is the process of combining domestic gas with imported liquefied LNG.
- This would make it easier to provide natural gas at a consistent delivered price to all Urea producing factories that are connected to the natural gas grid.
- Manufacturers of Single Super Phosphate (SSP) are no longer required to meet minimum production limits, making them eligible for subsidies regardless of the amount of SSP they produce and sell for agricultural uses.
- Soil Health Card: Farmers can acquire their own personalisedfertiliser requirements to minimise illogical fertiliser use.
A path forward
- Self-sufficiency: We must be self-sufficient and not rely on fertiliser imports.
- We can avoid the whims of excessive international price volatility in this way.
- In this direction, the public sector is reviving five urea factories in Gorakhpur, Sindri, Barauni, Talcher, and Ramagundam.
- Extend the NBS model to include urea: To counter the growing imbalance in fertiliser consumption, the government launched the Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) in 2010.
- Only non-nitrogenous fertilisers (P and K) were switched to NBS, leaving urea behind.
- We need to expand the NBS model to include urea and allow for urea pricing to be rationalised in comparison to non-nitrogenous fertilisers and crop prices.
- Develop new ways for plants to get their nutrition: Discussions with farmers and consumers reveal a strong desire to switch to non-chemical fertilisers, as well as a demand for price parity and subsidy parity between chemical and organic and biofertilizers.
- This also opens up the possibility of repurposing a substantial amount of crop biomass that would otherwise go to waste, as well as increasing the value of livestock outputs.
- To develop alternative fertilisers, we need to scale up and improve our technologies.
- Improve fertiliser efficiency: Rather than distributing fertiliser across the field, India should focus on enhancing fertiliser efficiency through need-based use.
- IFFCO’s recently developed Nano urea shows promise in terms of lowering urea usage.
2. The final decision on Vehicle scrappage policy:
- The government is mulling a proposal that would provide buyers with further discounts on new automobiles after destroying their old ones.
- The finance minister and the GST Council will make the final decision (on giving extra incentives under the National Automobile Scrappage Policy).
In depth information
Key Features of Vehicle Scrappage Policy
- Fitness testing: The government wants to establish up 450-500 automated vehicle fitness testing centres on a public-private partnership basis across India. Private automobiles that are over 20 years old will be required to undergo fitness tests, which will cost between Rs 300 and 400 per test.
- Scrapping: A total of 60-70 car scrapping stations will be created, all of which will be within 150-200 kilometres of any area in India.
- Green Tax: Vehicles that pass the automated tests will be subject to a ‘green tax,’ which would see owners pay an additional 10% to 25% of their road tax, as well as re-registration fees, when their fitness certificate is renewed.
- Penalties: Those who choose to drive a car that has failed the automated test may face severe consequences, including the possibility of having their vehicle seized.
- Owners’ choice: The scrappage policy gives car owners the option of scrapping their vehicles, with Gadkari stating that computerised tests will prioritise vehicle fitness over age.
What is the necessity for such a policy?
- More over one crore automobiles on India’s roads contribute significantly to rising pollution levels, as well as their proclivity to become less fuel-efficient as they age.
- Reducing oil imports: Promoting clean mobility demands lowering the country’s fuel import expenses, and lowering emissions is a vital requirement right now.
- Road safety: These cars are inherently dangerous, posing a risk to both their occupants and other road users.
- Consumer benefits: Scrapping an old vehicle and replacing it with a new one would save motorists a lot of money while also lowering pollutants and improving fuel efficiency.
Problems with the new policy include:
- Trucks have a low incentive and poor cost economics.
- For other segments, there aren’t enough addressable volumes.
- Scrapping a 15-year-old entry-level small car might result in a 70,000 profit, but its resale value is roughly $95,000. Scrapping becomes unappealing as a result.
The necessity of the hour:
- With this in mind, we should have a comprehensive plan in place to remove ELVs (end-of-life vehicles) from the road so that the scrappage policy can be implemented smoothly. Transporters of goods require more financial help. However, it is crucial to emphasise that the benefits of implementing BSVI cars will not be completely realised unless obsolete fleet vehicles are removed off the road.
3. NITI Aayog:SDG Urban Index
#GS3-Infrastructure, Urbanization, Poverty and Developmental Issues
- The initial Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Urban Index and Dashboard 2021–22 was just launched by NITI Aayog under the Indo-German Cooperation.
- The third edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index and Dashboard 2020–21 was released in June 2021.
In depth information
- About the index and dashboard: The index and dashboard are the result of a cooperation between the NITI Aayog and Germany’s International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) and the BMZ to drive SDG localization in our cities, under the banner of Indo-German Development Cooperation.
- It scores 56 urban regions based on 77 SDG indicators across 46 SDG targets.
- At the city level, it will promote SDG localization and implement effective SDG monitoring.
- The cities are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100.
- A score of 100 indicates that the urban area has met the 2030 targets; a score of 0 indicates that it is the least likely of the selected urban areas to meet the targets.
- The overall or composite urban area scores are then calculated from the Goal-wise scores to assess the urban area’s overall performance.
According to the Index
- Shimla, Coimbatore, Chandigarh, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Panaji, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Ahmedabad, and Nagpur are among the top ten cities in the SDG Urban Index and Dashboard 2021-22.
- Dhanbad, Meerut, Itanagar, Guwahati, Patna, Jodhpur, Kohima, Agra, Kolakata, and Faridabad are the worst ten cities in the SDG Urban Index and Dashboard 2021-22.
- 44 of the 56 cities ranked in the index have populations greater than one million, while 12 are state capitals with populations less than one million.
- While ‘urban area’ refers to urban local bodies (ULBs) in some circumstances, it also refers to all urban areas within a district collectively in others.
- Official data sources such as the NFHS, NCRB, U-DISE, data portals of various ministries, and other government data sources were used to compile the data for these indicators.
4. The Human-Animal Conflicts
#GS3- Conservation Species in News
- In the following months, Assam’s forest agency plans to collar at least five elephants in high-conflict areas.
- It’s being billed as a step toward studying and resolving the state’s human-elephant problem.
In depth information
What are Radio Collars and How Do They Work?
- Radio collars are GPS-enabled collars that can transmit location information about elephants.
- They are approximately 8 kg in weight and are worn around the elephant’s neck.
- Before the elephant is revived, a suitable candidate (usually an adult elephant) is identified, a tranquillizer is administered, and a collar is placed around the elephant’s neck.
- The team also adds an accelerometer to the collar in order to “understand exactly what an elephant is doing at any given time (running, strolling, eating, drinking, etc)”.
- It is a very time-consuming and difficult exercise.
- All radio-collaring components, including collars and tranquillizing medications, are unavailable in India.
- These must be imported, and they are rather costly.
- The state’s geography, which is characterised by hills and rivers, especially the Brahmaputra, which runs through it, can be difficult to navigate.
- Elephants frequently fail to keep the collar on. They’ll wear it for little more than six months before it slips off.
There could also be technical issues with the device.
- Assam’s human-elephant conflict
- In Assam, 761 people and 249 elephants were killed as a direct result of human-elephant conflict between 2010 and 2019.
- More than 65 percent of the habitat north of the river has been lost to farmland and urbanisation in the last few decades, and human-elephant conflict has been progressively increasing since then.
5. Rani Gaidinliu
- In Manipur’s Tamenglong district, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh virtually placed the foundation stone for the ‘Rani Gaidinliu Tribal Freedom Fighters Museum.’
In depth information
Concerning the Museum Project
- In 2019, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs of the Government of India approved the museum project.
- This would aid in the preservation and display of relics connected to tribal freedom warriors who took part in various stages of the fight against British colonial power, such as the Anglo-Manipuri War, Kuki-Rebellion, and Naga-Raj movements, among others.
Who was Rani Gaidinliu, and where did she come from?
- Rani Gaidinliu was a spiritual leader of the Naga people.
- Gaidinliu was a member of the Zeliangrong tribe’s Rongmei clan in the Tamenglong area in western Manipur.
- On January 26, 1915, he was born.
- At the age of 13, she became involved with HaipouJadonang, a freedom warrior and religious leader, and became his lieutenant in his social, religious, and political movement.
- Jadonang, a Rongmei, founded the ‘Heraka movement,’ which envisioned an autonomous Naga state based on ancient Naga religion (or Naga-Raja).
- The relationship between Rani Gandiliu and Jadonang prepared her to resist the British. She took over the leadership of the movement after Jadonang’s execution, which had gradually shifted from religious to political.
- Rani instigated a major uprising against the British and was eventually imprisoned for the rest of her life. In 1947, she was released after 14 years in prison.
- Jawaharlal Nehru dubbed her the “Daughter of the Hills” and bestowed the title “Rani” or queen on her in recognition of her contribution to the fight against the British.
- Despite her limitations, Rani Gaidiliu was one of the few female political leaders who had exceptional courage throughout the colonial period.
- Unlike Jadonang, who took a “millenarian” attitude, Rani orchestrated the need for a violent resistance to colonial control.