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Current Affairs - 1 March 2016

General Affairs 

Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force Gets New Chiefs
  • Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force Gets New ChiefsNEW DELHI:  The country's two largest paramilitary forces Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security Force (BSF) today got new chiefs.

    Former Special Protection Group (SPG) chief K Durga Prasad took over as the Director General of CRPF, while senior police officer KK Sharma took charge as BSF chief at their respective headquarters in Delhi.

    Mr Prasad, a 1981-batch Telangana cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, took charge from his predecessor Prakash Mishra who superannuated as the chief of around 3-lakh personnel strong force today.

    He said his priorities will be to further sharpen and enhance the operational capabilities and better training of the men and women of CRPF.

    "In the last one year, things have gone in the right direction and I will like to maintain the tempo and speed up the technical upgradation of the force.

    "I have told my troops that we need to work with all the zeal and enthusiasm in a professional manner to deliver the results expected from us," Mr Prasad told PTI.

    The officer is best remembered for raising CRPF's elite jungle warfare unit CoBRA taking on Maoists during his stint as an Inspector General in 2008. The task was especially given to him considering his experience with a similar and highly successful commando unit of Andhra Pradesh police called the 'Greyhounds'.

    Mr Prasad's tenure as the Director of the Special Protection Group, entrusted to secure serving and former Prime Ministers, ended abruptly in 2014.

    The second largest paramilitary force BSF also got its new chief in Mr Sharma who took over from outgoing Director General DK Pathak.

    Mr Sharma, a 1982-batch Rajasthan cadre police officer, will head the estimated 2.5 lakh troops of BSF.

    While Mr Prasad's tenure will last till February next year, Mr Sharma will be in office till September 2018.

Alliance With CPI(M) On Fast Track In West Bengal: Congress Leader
  • Alliance With CPI(M) On Fast Track In West Bengal: Congress LeaderKOLKATA:  The process to forge an alliance between the Congress and the CPI(M) in West Bengal ahead of the Assembly polls is on "fast track", senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan today said.

    Asked about the high command's decision on the alliance, Mr Mannan said, "The alliance process is on fast track and you will come to know about it very soon. Yesterday's statement by state Congress president itself is a favourable sign towards alliance."

    Raising the pitch for alliance talks in the run up to the state Assembly polls, West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury issued a statement yesterday asking all the democratic and secular forces to join hands.

    Mr Mannan said that ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) response to the proposed alliance was a sign of "nervousness".

    "The TMC is nervous about the prospect of the alliance. And their nervousness is clear whenever they make statements on the alliance or ridicule it. They know the power of alliance very well as they too have come to power by riding on alliance," he remarked.

    While commenting about TMC lawmaker Sudip Bandyopadhyay's claims that Congress president Sonia Gandhi has so far no news about a possible alliance between her party and the CPI(M), Mr Mannan said, "I don't want to comment on such a baseless statement. I just want to say that Sonia Gandhi is a great leader and she doesn't speak to Tom, Dick and Harry."

    The TMC lawmaker yesterday claimed that he had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Parliament and she told him that so far there was no news about a possible alliance between her party and the CPI(M)-led Left Front in West Bengal ahead of the polls.

Budget 2016: Lalu Prasad Calls PM Modi A 'Dull Student'
  • Budget 2016: Lalu Prasad Calls PM Modi A 'Dull Student'PATNA:  Criticising the four-month compliance window announced for domestic black money holders in the Union budget, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad today called Prime Minister Narendra Modi "a dull student" who has been rusticated for "cheating and lying".

    "PM Modi got rusticated in the 'examination' for lying to and cheating the people by offering nothing for any section of the society in the Budget which he had promised before Parliamentary polls in 2014," he said.

    "He (the PM) emerged as a "bhusgol vidyarthi" (dull student) in the examination," the RJD chief said.

    Mr Prasad also attacked the BJP government over the one time four-month compliance window for domestic black money holders to come clean by paying tax and penalty of 45 per cent.

    "In place of bringing back black money, the Budget has come out with an amnesty scheme for black marketeers and capitalists," he said.

    Making light of the claim made in the Budget that it would bring cheer for farmers by doubling up their income in next five years, the RJD chief said "the Modi government tenure is only upto he is making promise for next five year (2022)...earlier in Railway budget also his government promised reservation for all passengers by 2020."

    He said announcements for agriculture in the Budget was nothing more than "jumla bazzi" (tall saying) and termed allocation of only Rs. 36,000 crore (out of which Rs. 5,500 crore is for crop insurance) as nothing but too little," he said

    Due to social tension prevailing in the country for the last two years, there is a fall of almost 75 per cent of investment under PPP model in infrastructural sector, Mr Prasad said.

    "Under 10 years of UPA rule, the growth rate was about 8 per cent which has slided to 7 per cent in the last two years," he claimed.

    Mr Prasad was also critical of no allocation being made for realisation of special package of Rs. 1.25 lakh crore and Rs. 40,000 crore of previous packages in the Budget.

    Using lines of a popular Hindi song, "Kya hua tera vaada (what happed to your promises)," the RJD chief further attacked PM Modi.

Budget 2016: 'One Of The Best So Far', Says LK Advani
  • Budget 2016: 'One Of The Best So Far', Says LK AdvaniNEW DELHI:  Veteran BJP leader LK Advani was today all praise for the Union Budget as he termed it "one of the best so far" and said it shows that the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister have adopted an approach that promises to make India stronger and more prosperous.

    "I have seen many budgets being presented in Parliament. The one that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented in Parliament today is certainly one of the best so far, for which I heartily commend him," he said in a statement.

    "Budget 2016-17 has the potential to give a big boost to India's economic growth with employment generation, while reducing social imbalances that have marred our country's development since Independence," he added.

    Lauding the initiatives taken in this year's budget, Mr Advani said, "All this shows that the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister have adopted an approach that promises to make India stronger and more prosperous, while making 'Antyodaya' the central theme of economic growth. This is a befitting tribute to Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya in his birth centenary year."
    The veteran leader said the most heartening aspect of the budget is its strong emphasis on the neglected task of revitalisation of agriculture and rural development, since more than two-thirds of India's population continues to live in rural areas.
    Mr Advani said the Budget has made "unprecedented" provision for accelerating and modernising India's infrastructure in critical areas such as highways, railways and rural roads.

    "The strengthened focus on health, education and housing is also most welcome. Moreover, the Finance Minister has expanded the scope of the use of digital technologies in every area of the economy and administration, which is essential for Good Governance," he said.
    "At a time when the global economy remains weak, India's growth is laudable. It looks to become even brighter in the coming years," Mr Advani added.

Myanmar Parliament To Change Presidential Elections Date: Document
  • Myanmar Parliament To Change Presidential Elections Date: DocumentNAYPYITAW:  Myanmar's democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi is likely to speed up elections of the country's president, in a last-minute change following weeks of talks with the military that has stood by the constitution that bars her from assuming the highest office.

    Myanmar's parliament dominated by the National League for Democracy (NLD), which swept historic elections in November, will change the date of presidential elections, previously set for March 17, according to the agenda for Tuesday's parliamentary session.

    NLD members and analysts say the party was likely to speed up the vote to end weeks of bickering between the army and the NLD over whether junta-drafted constitution, which bars Suu Kyi from becoming president, should be amended.

    The original date, set only two weeks before the term of the new government was set to start on April 1, gave Suu Kyi plenty of time to negotiate the terms of the transition. But in the face of the unrelenting military, Suu Kyi decided to speed up the vote to gain time to prepare for government, analysts say.

    "It's become clear that amendment of article 59 (f) (barring Suu Kyi from becoming president) is impossible. So they want the presidential nomination to happen earlier so that they can take more time in handling cabinet formation," said political analyst Yan Myo Thein.

    The NLD swept the historic November 8 election, securing some 80 per cent of elected seats in parliament, or enough to push through its president. Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency because she has foreign children.

    Another factor that may have forced the NLD's surprise change of tactics was lack of cooperation from the outgoing administration of President Thein Sein.

    Last week, the NLD criticized the military and the army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) over a controversial copper mine project run as a joint venture between a Chinese weapons manufacturer and the Myanmar military. It also zeroed in on other lucrative public works projects awarded by the outgoing government at the last minute.

    In a rare show of outrage, the military MPs stood up, while one of the members of the army caucus rejected the NLD's allegations in parliament.

    "Present government is responsible only to the previous parliament that formed it," said Thein Sein's spokesman, Ye Htut, backing ministers who refused to come to parliament to face questioning by the NLD.

    The rare heated debate showed the challenges facing Suu Kyi as she tries to overcome years of corrosive distrust between the junta that had ruled the country for nearly half a century and pro-democracy activists.

    Now both sides are forced to share power. The military controls a large chunk of the country's administration through three security ministries, has guaranteed a quarter of the seats in the parliament and a constitutional veto.

Business Affairs 

    Budget 2016: Agri stocks gain as Arun Jaitley gives Rs 36,000 crore to farm sector
    • Budget 2016: Agri stocks gain as Arun Jaitley gives Rs 36,000 crore to farm sectorShares of companies related to agriculture business rose by up to 7 per cent on Monday after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced an allocation of nearly Rs 36,000 crore for the farm sector and higher credit target, aimed at doubling farmer incomes in 5 years.
      Jain Irrigation Systems soared 7.13 per cent, PI Industries surged 5.5 per cent, Kaveri Seed Company (4.28 per cent), Monsanto India (3.24 per cent) and Rallis India (2.46 per cent) on BSE.
      Aiming to double farmers income by 2022, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced an allocation of nearly Rs 36,000 crore for the farm sector while raising the agri-credit target to Rs 9 lakh crore for the next fiscal.
      He also allocated Rs 15,000 crore for interest subvention on the farm credit, Rs 5,500 crore for the new crop insurance scheme and Rs 500 crore to boost pulses output.
      "Our total allocation on agriculture and farmers welfare is Rs 35,984 crore," Jaitley said.
      Stating that irrigation is critical for increasing the agricultural production and productivity, he said," the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana has been strengthened and implemented in mission mode." 

      FM Arun Jaitley begins presenting national budget for 2016-17
      • Jaitley begins presenting Union budget for 2016-17The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley began presenting India's national budget for the next fiscal in the Lok Sabha on Monday, amid concerns over stagnating growth, the state of government finances and stuttering pace of reforms.

        "I am presenting the budget when the global economy is in crisis," Jaitley said in his opening remarks, adding that India, however, remained the bright spot in this gloom, turning difficulties into opportunities.

        He said India's growth has expanded 7.5 percent, despite slowdown in exports, even as inflation had eased, bringing big relief to the general public. He also said foreign exchange reserves were robust. "Indian growth is at an extraordinary high."

        PSUs to monetise idle assets; Disinvestment Dept renamed
        • Reflecting a new approach on PSUs, government on Monday said it will encourage them to monetise idle assets for funding investments, while renaming the Department of Disinvestment as the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM).
          Presenting the Budget for 2016-17, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also said that NITI Aayog will identify state-owned companies that would be eligible for strategic sale.
          He said the government will leverage the assets of CPSEs for generation of resources for investment in new projects.
          "Change in the name of the department clearly underlines the new approach of the government. It is committed to efficient management and leveraging its investment in the CPSEs for expansion of economic activities as well as attracting fresh investments," Disinvestment Secretary Neeraj Gupta told PTI.
          He further said that the government will adopt a comprehensive investment management strategy, not limited merely to disinvestments in equity to augment resources.
          "It will require policy synergy in various inter-linked issues, such as leverage ratio, capital restructuring, financial restructuring for revival, CAPEX, dividend, bonus share, resource augmentation through disinvestment of equity and assets etc," Gupta said.
          In his Budget speech, Jaitley said: "We will encourage CPSEs to divest individual assets like land, manufacturing unit to release their asset value for making investments in new projects. We will adopt a comprehensive approach for efficient management of the government investment in CPSEs by addressing issued such as capital restructuring, dividend, bonus shares."
          The government will soon come out with a comprehensive policy for strategic stake sale that will detail the mode as well as valuation methodology for outright sale of even profit making companies.
          The government aims to collect Rs 56,500 crore through disinvestment in PSUs in the next fiscal, 2016-17.
          Of the total budgeted proceeds, Rs 36,000 crore is estimated to come from minority stake sale in PSUs, and the remaining Rs 20,500 crore is projected to come from strategic sale in both profit and loss-making companies.
          As regards the current year, the government has been able to meet less than half the budget estimates at Rs 25,312 crore as against the target of Rs 69,500 crore.

          Govt to implement GAAR from April 2017: FM
          • Finance Minister Arun JaitleyFinance Ministry Arun Jaitley on Monday said the government is committed to implementing the General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) from April 1, 2017.
            "I would like to reiterate our commitment to implement General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) from April, 2017," Jaitley said while presenting the Budget for 2016-17 in the Lok Sabha.
            Last year, the Finance Minister had deferred applicability of General Anti-Avoidance Act (GAAR) by two years.
            The Government had earlier proposed imposing the GAAR from April 1, 2015, for those claiming tax benefit of over Rs 3 crore. The rules are aimed at minimising tax avoidance for investments made by entities based in tax havens.
            Jaitley said in order to meet with our commitment to Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) initiative of OECD and G-20, the Finance Bill, 2016, includes provision for requirement of country by country reporting for companies with a consolidated revenue of more than 750 million euro.
            Elaborating further, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia told reporters that the international community is supporting GAAR.
            "The GAAR is something which we are committed to...even if Mauritius don't come on negations on tax issues. Because of GAAR we will be able to tap some routes which are used for taking unnecessary tax advantage. We will be able to close that route," Adhia said.
            The Revenue Secretary said in response to BEPS whatever "steps we are supposed to take, country by country reporting requirement, we have put in Finance Bill this year".
            "BEPS agenda, GAAR agenda and POEM agenda will coincide in April 1, 2017," Adhia said.
            He said we will have more fair regime for taxation for everyone.

            Birla's UltraTech buys JP's cement plants for Rs 17,000 crore
            • Aditya Birla Group firm UltraTech announced acquisition of debt-ridden JP Group's cement plants for nearly Rs 17,000 crore (about USD 2.5 billion), making it the biggest deal in the sector.
              UltraTech Cement said it entered into a binding Memorandum of Understanding with Jaiprakash Associates Limited for the acquisition of its identified cement plants having total cement capacity of 22.4 MTPA (million tons per annum) situated in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Under the deal, these plants have been valued at Rs 16,500 crore.
              The deal would further include a 4 MTPA plant under implementation at a cost of Rs 470 crore, UltraTech said in a statement.
              A number of Indian and foreign players were said to have been in the race for these cement plants.
              UltraTech said the assets will give it access to the newer markets of Satna, UP East, Himachal Pradesh and Coastal Andhra where it does not have a presence as of now.
              "Upon consummation of the proposed transaction, the company's cement capacity will stand augmented to 90.7 MTPA (current 68.3 MTPA)," it added.
              The two groups have agreed to an enterprise value of Rs 16,500 crore for the deal, which is subject to definitive agreements and necessary regulatory approvals, the statement added.
              The new MoU follows calling off an earlier deal wherein UltraTech was to acquire two cement plants in Madhya Pradesh from Jaiprakash Associates, which has been selling its cement and power assets to pare debt and improve balance sheet.
              JP Associates said in a separate statement that headwinds of the economy have impacted all companies which had borrowed to invest in brick-and-mortar segment, currently reeling under severe pressure. The power sector is witnessing never-seen-before challenges with capacity utilisation and tariffs at all time lows.
              It further said that Jaypee group has taken steps to deleverage its balance sheet through sale of two hydropower projects in HP, sale of cement assets in Gujarat, Jharkhand and Haryana, and also sale of wind power assets in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
              In January 2015, JP Associates had signed an agreement with UltraTech to sell two of its MP-based cement plants.
              However, pending amendment to the MMDR Act, the proposed transaction ran into rough weather.
              In pursuit of reducing debt, the group has now signed a binding MoU with UltraTech for part of its cement business comprising identified plants in UP, MP, HP, Uttarakhand, AP and Karnataka, and a grinding unit under implementation in UP.
              "The enterprise value for the operating capacity of 18.4 MTPA has been agreed at Rs 16,500 crore. An additional amount of Rs 470 crore shall be paid by the purchaser for completion of the grinding unit under implementation," it said.
              "The group has taken these steps to effectively address the subject of debt reduction but notwithstanding government's focus on ease of doing business, JAL would be dependent on the regulatory framework, including the proposed amendment in the MMDRA, for different options available to it for consummating the proposed transaction expeditiously," it added.
              JAL's Executive Chairman Manoj Gaur said that earlier proposed divestment of two cement plants in MP could not take place "for reasons not attributable to the company", which was a matter of great concern.
              "In the given situation, it has now been considered appropriate to divest a significant portion of the total cement capacity in favour of a company which is not only India's largest cement player but also the first cement company in India to achieve the coveted 100 million tonne mark in the cement segment," he said.
              Gaur further said that Jaypee group would leverage its expertise in the fields of engineering and construction, real estate and project execution and such steps would "further cement its credentials of being a trust worthy organisation in the long run".
              Interestingly, last month government said it will take views from the public, states and industry on amending the MMDR Act to include provisions allowing transfer of captive mines granted through procedures other than auction.
              Mines Ministry has prepared the draft Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to amend Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
              As part of consultations, government invited suggestions from public, state governments, mining industry and entities concerned, on the draft Bill. The last date for sending comments and suggestions was January 26, 2016.
              The transfer of captive mining leases, granted otherwise than through auction, would facilitate banks and financial institutions to liquidate stressed assets where a company or its captive mining lease is mortgaged.
              The move will allow M&As worth billions of dollars in the domestic market, especially in the Cement sector where several such deals are stuck.

            General Awareness

            Agriculture Sector needs a Transformation to ensure Sustainable Livelihoods for the Farmers and Food Security

              • The Economic Survey 2015-16 presented  in the Parliament by the Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley stressed on the declining growth in agriculture, owing to two consecutive drought years and due to decline in production and area sown of major crops.The agriculture sector needs a transformation to ensure sustainable livelihoods for the farmers and food security for the population. The transformation in agriculture has to be steered by raising productivity in agriculture, by investing in efficient irrigation technologies, and efficient use of all inputs. Economic Survey 2015-16  emphasizes that to improve productivity in agriculture in India needs to be guided by followings:

                (i)                 Irrigation

                To raise the productivity of agriculture in India there is need to expand the acreage under irrigation along with adoption of  appropriate technologies for efficient utilization of water through  suitable pricing. First, adoption of irrigation technologies which improve efficiency in the use of water is imperative in a scenario  where flood irrigation has resulted  in wastage of water. Second, focus on efficient  irrigation technologies  is owing to climate change and indiscriminate wastage of water in agriculture  and other uses. Having ‘more crop per drop’ through motto to improve  productivity  in agriculture which can ensure food and water security in the future.

                Net irrigated Area to Total cropped area in India

                                        As per the latest available data on irrigation, the all India percentage distribution  of net irrigated are to the total cropped area during 2012-13 was 33.9 per cent.  There is regional disparity in irrigated farming, with net irrigated area to Total cropped area at more than 50 per cent in the states of Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, while it is at less than 50 per cent in the remaining States. There is need to scope for increasing  the coverage  of irrigated area  across the country to  increase productivity in agriculture.

                There is need to arrest the declining trend in efficient utilization  of irrigation potential and also reverse it in the next two three years. A larger share of funds available under the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNEREGA)/ other employment  generating schemes need to be  deployed  for creating and maintenance of community assets including de-silting  and repair of  tanks and other water bodies that are used for irrigation.

                Efficiency in Irrigation

                                        Achieving efficiency  in the use of irrigation  systems will be the main determinant of agriculture productivity. The conventional systems of  irrigation have become on-viable in many parts of India due to  increasing  shortages of water, wastage of water through over irrigation, and concerns of salination of soil as per Task force on Agriculture (NITI Aayog, 2015). The introduction  of efficient  irrigation  technologies which are  both economically  and technically efficient like drip and sprinkler irrigation  can improve water use efficiency , reduce costs of production by reducing labour  costs  and power consumption.

                Water Productivity

                Water productivity at  the all India level is very low and needs to be enhanced through tapping, harvesting and recycling water, efficient on-farm water management  practices, mirco-irrigation (MI), use of waste  water and resource  conservation  technologies. The overall irrigation efficiency of the major and medium irrigation projects in India is estimated  at around 38 per cent. Efficiency of the surface irrigation system can be improved  from about 35-40 per cent  to around 60 per cent and that of groundwater from about  65-70 per cent  to 75 per cent.


                The level of farm mechanization in India requires more to be done in terms of introduction of better equipment for each farming operation in order to reduce drudgery, to improve efficiency by saving on time and labor, improve productivity, minimize wastage and reduce labor costs for each operation. With shortage of labour for agriculture operations owing to rural urban migration, shift from agriculture  to services  and rise in demand for  labor in non- farm activities, there is need to use labour for  agriculture operation judiciously,  which makes a strong case for  mechanization of farming. The overall level of mechanization in farming is below 50 per cent in the case of majority of the farming operations in India.  With increasing fragmentation of landholdings and low rates of tractor penetration among small farmers, there is need for a market in tractor rentals, akin to cars and road construction equipment, driven by private  participation.  With suitable  mobile and internet  applications,  manufacturers of  tractors along with other stakeholders  need to deliberate  on this,  since it will also increase  demand for tractors.

                The promotion of appropriate  farm equipment which are durable, light weight  and low cost, region, crop and operation specific using  indigenous/ adapted technologies need to be made available for small and marginal farmers to improve  productivity.

                The basic inputs for increasing productivity  in agriculture is seed. It is estimated  that the quality  for seed accounts for  20-25 per cent  of productivity  (DAC&FW, 2015).
                The issues that require immediate  attention  are:

                (i)                 Affordability:

                Seeds which are open pollinated verities can be developed  by farmers from  their own harvested crops.  However,  for high-yielding  hybrid verities, the farmer has to depend on the market for  each crop.\

                (ii)                Availability:

                                        Another concern is shortage in the supply of quality seeds. While there is a demand for banning  non-certified seeds, certification per-se does not ensure  quality seeds Ideally, facilitating  more  players (private and public) and competition in the market for seeds would improve availability  of quality  seeds at lower/comprehensive prices.

                (iii)             Research and technology  for seed development.

                Inadequate research and genetic engineering has been a constraint  in the development  of seeds/ seeds technology  in major crops during  the past few decades in India.  There is need to encourage  development  of seeds/ seed technologies  in both private and public sectors to initiate another round of Green revaluation. This development  should cover a all agriculture segments/ corps-cereals, coarse cereals, fruits and vegetables, pulses, oilseeds, animal husbandry  and pisciculture—simultaneously.

                (iv)             GM crops and seeds:

                                        Concerns  about affordability  of hybrids  and GM seeds, environmental and ethical issues  in cultivation of GM crops, risk to the food chain, dieses spread and cross pollination have resulted in their non-introduction . These issues needs to be debated, tested, evaluated, so that introduction of hybrids is facilitated in the next six months. The adoption of hybrid and HYV seeds is one definite pathway to raising productivity in  Indian agriculture.


                                        Fertilizers is a critical and expensive input required to improve agricultural output.  To facilitate and promote the use of fertilizers in order to improve  productivity, the  Government  has been providing  fertilizer subsidy  to farmers. The fertilizer subsidy is around 10 per cent of the total agriculture  GDP in 2013-14.

                There is a need to rationalize fertilizer subsidy in an input, crop and region neutral format and minimize diversions. The disbursal of subsidy on fertilizers should shift to DBT, the benefits of which will be maximized, if all controls (including imports) on the fertilizer industry/outputs are lifted simultaneously. In the case of P and K fertilizer subsidy, with the Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) scheme, a fixed amount of subsidy will be given on each grade based on their content.

                Crop-responsive, balanced use of fertilizers:

                It is important to facilitate the optimal use of fertilizers depending on the soil health and fertility status.  Linking the soil health card to provide profile of the soil and fertilizer on the basis of the same profile utilizing fertilizer, even if not subsidized can improve the yield of crops.

                Micro nutrients and organic fertilizers:

                Indian soils show deficiency of micro nutrients like boron, zinc, copper and iron in most parts of the country, which limits crop yields and productivity. According to agronomic trails conducted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), fertilizers  which supplement  micro nutrients the range of 0.3 to 0.6 ton per ha. The micro nutrient deficiency can be overcome if there is expansion of the use of organic fertilizer.  Moreover, it is cheaper for small farmers to adopt and use organic composting and manure.  This can help improve and retain soil fertility. With 67 % of Indian soil characterized by low organic carbon, there is great scope for enhancing the use  of  organic fertilizers.

                Nutrient Management:

                Judicious use of chemical fertilizers, bio-fertilizers and locally available organic manures like farmyard manure, compost, vermin compost and green manure based on soil testing is necessary to maintain soil health and productivity.

                Regional disparity in fertilizer consumption:

                There are wide regional disparities in the consumption of fertilizers. These disparities in fertilizer consumption may be attributed to  the  availability  of irrigation facilities  in the high consuming  state since irrigation  is  a requirement for proper absorption of fertilizers.  I is necessary to reduce the disparities through appropriate   soil-testing  faculties and policy measures.


                In India, the farmer’s crop yield losses range from 15 to 25 per cent owing to the presence of weeds, pests, diseases and rodents. However, the use of pesticides without following proper guidelines, use of sub standard pesticides and lack of awareness about pesticides  use are key concerns  in India. These practices have give rise to pesticide residues being found in food products in India, posing major threats to the environment and human beings.

                Farmers need to be educated about the classification of insecticides on rte basis of their toxicity. They should also be advised whether specific pesticides are suitable for aerial application.

                Being environment friendly, non-toxic and cost effective, bio-pesticides need to be promoted among small farmers to improve  productive  in agriculture.  There is need to address the problem of availability of credit on several fronts. In respect of high interest rates, DBT may be considered  to replace subvention  of interest rates. The intermediation and refinance model to promote agricultural credit needs to be revisited and replaced with  DBT that shall subsidize  the interest  paid by the farmer, instead of subsidizing  refinance to financial  institutions.

                The ratio of agricultural credit to agricultural GDP has  increased from 10 per cent in 1999-2000 to around 38 per cent by 2012-13. However, the share of  long-term credit in agriculture or investment  credit has declined from  55 per cent in 2006-07 to 39 per cent in 201-12. The decline in needs to be arrested  and reversed.

                The regional disparity in the distribution of agriculture credit also needs or be addressed.  In India, farmers can avail of crop loans up to  Rs. 3lakh at 7k per cent interest  and the effective  rate of  interest has been lowered to 4 per cent during 2015-16 for those who repay their loans promptly. These measures help farmers tide over short-term contingencies and price shocks which may affect their seasonal operations.

                The small and marginal farmers with Kisan Credit Cards (KCCs) can also avail the benefit of interest subvention scheme extended  for a further period of  up to  six months (post-harvest) against Negotiable Warehouse Receipts (NWRs) at the same rate as  available  to crop loan to discourage distress sale of corps by small  farmers.

                Agriculture  Extension Services

                 Agriculture extension services  constitute another key input which can improve  productivity  in agriculture  by providing  timely advisory services to farmers to adopt best  practices, technology, meet with contingencies, market information etc.  In India, though there are multiple agencies offering agricultural advisory services, lack of functional autonomy, rigid hierarchal  structures  leading to lack of innovative  methods of  providing extension services  and coordination failures at multiple levels have resulted in inefficient  deliver of extension services.

                There needs to be a shift to demand-driven agricultural advisory services that will cater to farmer, region and crop-specific needs. This can be done through a virtual connect, using IT (mobile and internet), integration of agricultural  extension services  with all stakeholders, their respective  hierarchy,  extension services  in other villages, blocks, agro climate  regions, largely for  sharing of information, suppliers of inputs, agro-processors, markets and their activity, especially price. 

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