Sarat Chandra IAS Academy brings to you the daily current affairs keeping in mind the changing pattern of the UPSC civil services exam. UPSC Prelims and Mains exams mix the current affairs with static core concepts. So, we give the background explanation for every current topic.
TOPICS OF THE DAY:
- Farmers protest
- In tree rings, warning of Brahmaputra floods
- How the 1.5-times formula for crops MSP is calculated
- Contempt of court
- Kiwis Of Ziro Valley
1) Farmers protest :
Relevant to:#Mains GS 3:
Context: As talks between the Centre and the farmers demanding a rollback of the three farm sector legislations ended inconclusively, farmers continued their protests.
What are those three bills?
a) Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation), bill 2020:
It aims to break the monopoly of government- regulated mandis and provide farmers and traders freedom of choice of sale and purchase of Agri- produce.
- It allows intrastate and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce Marketing legislation.
- In addition to mandis, freedom to do trading at farmgate, cold storage, warehouse, processing units etc.
- It proposes an electronic trading in transaction platform for ensuring a seamless trade electronically.
- The farmers will not be charged any market feces or levy for sale of their produce and will not have to bear transport costs.
b)Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Bill, 2020
It aims to provide a legal contract for farmers to enter into written contracts with companies and produce for them.
- Wheat and paddy sale will be considered valid if the seller pays price greater than or equal to the MSP announced by the central government.
- Punishment of three years and a fine has been proposed if any person or company or corporate house signs a contract wherein the farmer is compelled to sell his produce at less than the MSP.
- In case of any differences with the buyer of his produce, farmers can approach a civil court.
- It says a farming agreement has to be made between farmers and buyers (processors, wholesalers, aggregators, wholesalers, large retailers, exporters etc.) before the production or rearing of any farm produce.
The agreement should mention the following:
- The price of farming produce.
- For prices subjected to variation, a guaranteed price for the produce and a clear reference for any additional amount above the guaranteed price process of price determination
- The farming agreement must provide for a dispute settlement process.
- It says the Sale, lease or mortgage of farmers’ land is totally prohibited and farmers’ land is also protected against any recovery.
c) Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020:
- It amends the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
- It aims to increase competition in the agriculture sector and enhance farmers’ income.
- It also aims to remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations. Features:
- Under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, the Government regulates the production, supply and distribution of certain commodities it declares ‘essential’ in order to make them available to consumers at fair prices.
- The bill removes cereal, pulses, oilseed, edible oil,onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities.
- It requires that imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce must be based on price rise.
- A stock limit should be imposed only if there is a 100% increase in retail price of horticultural produce or 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural food items.
Why the farmers are protesting?
- The bill didn’t say about Minimum Support Price (MSP) in the contract-farming. They feel there will be no declaration of MSP for all crops.:
- As Paddy farming has received a major boost with procurement at MSPs, farmers fear their newly assured incomes are at stake.
- They are concerned about the loss of revenue from mandi taxes and fees.
2)In tree rings, warning of Brahmaputra floods:
Relevant to: Prelims GS
Context: Existing projections of flooding of the Brahmaputra are based on observations of past rainfall patterns, but they rely on discharge- gauge records that date back only to the 1950s.
So, now the scientists have come up with an innovative idea in which they have tried to analyse floods by relating them to tree rings.
What does the new study suggest?
The new study is based on examinations of tree rings, which provided a picture of rainfall patterns going back seven centuries.
The rings showed that the post 1950s period was actually one of the driest since the 1300s- there have been much wetter periods in the past.
The tree-rings suggest that the recent decades (particularly from the 1950s to 1980s) were unusually dry. Therefore, in general, past conditions were wetter.
It also suggests that the future will likely be wetter due to our emissions of carbon-dioxide.
How tree rings helped?
As trees grow they incorporate information about the environmental conditions they are living in in their annual growth rings.
Tree rings grow wider in years when soil moisture is high. Trees in the region grow more and put on wide rings in wet monsoon years.
Conversely, in dry monsoon years (or droughts) they grow less and put on narrow rings.
Since some of these trees can live for a long time, by taking a small, pencil-thin tree-core from these trees and measuring their rings under a microscope scientists could learn more about climate conditions for the past several centuries.
The findings are obviously relevant to Assam and Northeast India too. With this, flood risks could be compounded by planned projects in the region
3)How the 1.5-times formula for crops MSP is calculated?
Relevant to: Prelims GS
Context: The major demand of the protesting farmers has been that the government guarantee in writing the MSP system, which assures them of a fixed price for their crops, 1.5 times of the cost of production.
What is MSP?
The MSP (minimum support price) assures the farmers of a fixed price for their crops.
How was the MSP fixed earlier?
The Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) in the Ministry of Agriculture would recommend MSPs for 23 crops.
The CACP considered various factors while recommending the MSP for a commodity, including cost of cultivation.
It also took into account the supply and demand situation for the commodity; market price trends (domestic and global) and parity vis-à-vis other crops; and implications for consumers (inflation), environment (soil and water use) and terms of trade between agriculture and non-agriculture sectors.
What changed with the Union Budget for 2018-19?
The Budget for 2018-19 announced that MSPs would henceforth be fixed at 1½ times of the production costs for crops as a “pre-determined principle”.
Simply put, the CACP’s job now was only to estimate production costs for a season and recommend the MSPs by applying the 1.5-times formula.
Which production costs were taken in fixing the MSPs?
The CACP’s ‘Price Policy for Kharif Crops: The Marketing Season 2018-19’ report stated that its MSP recommendation was based on 1.5 times the A2+FL costs.
‘A2’ covers all paid-out costs directly incurred by the farmer in cash and kind on seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, hired labour, leased-in land, fuel, irrigation, etc.
‘A2+FL’ includes A2 plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour. ‘
It does not take into account C2 costs.‘C2’ is a more comprehensive cost that factors in rentals and interest forgone on owned land and fixed capital assets, on top of A2+FL
4) Contempt of court:
Relevant to: Prelims GS
What is the law on contempt of courts?
The Contempt of Courts Act 1971 defines civil and criminal contempt, and lays down the powers and procedures by which courts can penalise contempt, as well as the penalties that can be given for the offence of contempt.
Contempt of court is the offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful toward a court of law and its officers in the form of behavior that opposes or defies the authority, justice and dignity of the court.
Why is the consent of the Attorney General required to initiate contempt proceedings?
The objective behind requiring the consent of the Attorney General before taking cognizance of a complaint is to save the time of the court.
This is necessary because judicial time is squandered if frivolous petitions are made and the court is the first forum for bringing them in.
The AG’s consent is meant to be a safeguard against frivolous petitions, as it is deemed that the AG, as an officer of the court, will independently ascertain whether the complaint is indeed valid.
Under what circumstances is the AG’s consent not needed?
The AG’s consent is mandatory when a private citizen wants to initiate a case of contempt of court against a person.
However, when the court itself initiates a contempt of court case the AG’s consent is not required.
This is because the court is exercising its inherent powers under the Constitution to punish for contempt and such Constitutional powers cannot be restricted because the AG declined to grant consent.
What happens if the AG denies consent?
If the AG denies consent, the matter all but ends.
The complainant can, however, separately bring the issue to the notice of the court and urge the court to take suo motu cognizance.
Article 129 of the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to initiate contempt cases on its own, independent of the motion brought before it by the AG or with the consent of the AG.
5)Kiwis Of Ziro Valley:
Relevant to: Prelims GS
Context: The kiwis that grow wild in Arunachal Pradesh’s Ziro Valley are the only certified organic fruit of their kind in India.
Arunachal Pradesh is the first State in India to obtain Organic Certification for Kiwi under Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD-NER).
Ziro Valley is located in Lower Subansiri district.
Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD-NER)
It is a Central Sector Scheme.
It is a sub-mission under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).
Launched by: Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare
Implementation in: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura
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