Research

UNSC

By Antara Desai and Rohit Deshpande:

Since the establishment of the United Nations in 1945, UN member states and Secretary Generals have repeatedly attempted to reform the organization. The general trend has been that the members have considered new reform proposals every 5 to 10 years. The debate on the reform of the Security Council has largely revolved around increasing the membership of the Security Council (both permanent and non-permanent) to reflect the changing realities of the world.

UNSC

In the decades of the 50s and the 60s, the time when the world was being decolonised, there was a steady influx of new member states into the United Nations General Assembly. The attempts to increase the membership of the Security Council were however rebuffed by the great powers. By 1963 though, the calls were two loud to ignore and in 1965 the UNGA resolution ‘1991 A (XVIII)’ was passed which increased the non permanent membership of the UNSC from six to ten.

By 1992, Germany and Japan had become the second and third largest financial contributors to the UN and were pressing for a permanent seat. This in addition to their contribution to the peacekeeping troops, especially in the Gulf war made them strong contenders. Other industrialised nations like Italy also felt that they deserved a permanent seat in the UNSC and opposed the proposals that pitched for Germany’s inclusion.

Within the Permanent five (p-5), the Chinese staunchly opposed the entry of Japan and were not in favour of expansion of the Council. Russia largely maintained a similar position. The United States supported the inclusion of Japan but was against a Council of more than 20 members. It opposed the inclusion of Germany.

The Razali plan was the first comprehensive reform plan suggested by ‘Razali Ismael’ a Malaysian. The plan proposed the addition of five permanent and four non permanent seats. One developing state from Africa, Latin America and Asia would get a new permanent seat. The remaining two permanent seats were to be filled by two leading/developed countries. The non permanent seats were to be filled by one state from Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Africa.

The plan did not however eventually see the light of day and was shelved but it led to a resolution in the General Assembly which stipulated that any amendments with reference to expansion of the Security Council would need at least two thirds majority to pass.

Kofi Annan proposed another plan suggesting that the expansion of the Security Council should be based on two criteria: equitable geographical representativeness and the respective state’s contribution to the UN. His report had two models enshrined in it: Model A and Model B.

Model A proposed three new non permanent seats and six permanent seats. The six permanent seats would be divided as follows: two each to Africa and Asia Pacific, one each to Eastern Europe and Americas. Model B on the other hand proposed an entirely new type of seat altogether. This seat would entitle a member state to serve tenure of four years in the Council and the outgoing members would be allowed to be re elected. The plan talked about a new concept called as ‘indicative voting’ wherein there would be an informal vote on a given issue without Veto and then again a formal vote in the way it is done now. He was of the opinion that doing this would make the P-5 more accountable.

The four emerging powers, Japan, India, Germany and Brazil proposed the G — 4 plan. Japan and Germany were the second and third largest contributors to the UN by 1993 and they felt that getting a permanent seat in the council was necessary. India on the other hand had long had the reputation of a moral state and is one of the largest troop contributors to the UN. India has, in the first decade of the 21st century, seen a phenomenon growth in its economy and is the second largest economy in Asia (PPP terms). These four countries proposed a plan that included the creation of six new permanent and four non permanent seats. To be distributed equitably as suggested in Kofi Annan’s plan A and B.

The member states in the ‘Uniting for Consensus’ group have been opposed to the inclusion of the G-4 member states and they include the likes of France, Pakistan, (these two countries are the voice of the group), China etc. They advocate and rally behind a model akin to Kofi Annan’s model B which according to them would make the Council more democratic and would promote accountability. They were pushing for frequent rotation of the seats and for equitable representation. Their plan involved expansion of the council to 25 members. There would be no expansion in the number of permanent seats and the other 20 non permanent seats would be distributed as such: six for Africa, five from Asia, four from Latin America, three from Western Europe and two from Eastern Europe.

The African group is of the opinion that the present Council is largely undemocratic and Africa is under represented. They hope to address the issue of the gap and imbalance between the major powers, emerging powers and the lesser states- many of which are in Africa. Their plan increased the membership of the Council to 26 members. The seat distribution was as follows: two non permanent and permanent seats for Africa and Asia each. The African Union would decide who would be eligible and entitled to get the African seats. According to this plan, newly inducted members would enjoy full Veto rights.

The charter of the United Nations which basically outlines the character of the organisation is a product of some hard bargaining between the US, UK and the erstwhile Soviet Union. The representatives of these three countries brought three very contrasting positions to the table. The United States initially wanted a Council consisting of ‘Four Policemen- US, UK, Soviet Union and China’ who would be tasked with the responsibility of enforcing peace worldwide. A separate Executive Council consisting of the Four Policemen and six to seven other states would deal with non military matters. The British on the other hand envisaged a UN with regional councils for Asia, Europe and Americas where regional problems would be solved regionally and every country need not poke their nose in every other countries business. The Soviets preferred a direct alliance with the US and the UK.

The Razali plan, uniting for consensus, G4, Kofi Annan’s Model A and B, the Ezulwini consensus, Italy’s and Panama’s plan all call for equitable geographical distribution. All the above mentioned plans talk about increasing the membership either in the permanent or non-permanent category. One must understand that originally when the council was formed it wasn’t meant to be totally representative. It was meant to be a body of countries that had the economic and military muscle to enforce peace by any means necessary. It was never meant to be a democratic body based on the principles of equality. All the above mentioned plans talk about expansion based on fairness and egalitarian values. Ideally all the plans make valid points but ignore the original purpose for which the council was created.

One might argue that the council should have the geographically equitable representation to ensure that at least the voices of all regions are heard. This can be ensured by formation of recommendatory committees within the council akin to the standing committees in the Indian parliament which would serve as a guiding voice for the conscience of the decision makers. The problem of grid locking dominated the council’s discussions during the cold war era and adding another member with a veto rights can possibly make the situation worse.

Given all these considerations, the important fact remains that for any new country to become a permanent member of the UNSC, it requires the consent of the P — 5. If at all the P- 5 concede to allowing the admission of a new permanent member to the UNSC, it will be largely based on their own interest rather than the collective good. It may be more viable to look into reforming the expansion and tenures of the non permanent members to make the body as a whole, more democratic.

This process would take sufficient time and would require lots of negotiation and deliberation. Most importantly, inclusion of any country is likely to face opposition from some or the other front. Additionally, the groups pressing for their own inclusion or some reform in UNSC membership are themselves divided. Not all the countries within the group support the inclusion of the same country. The P-5 too is divided in their views on who should be given membership in the UNSC. For instance, while the USA is more inclined to support individual countries claims to membership such as India or Japan, other members of the P -5 are more supportive of group claims such as those of the Uniting for Consensus Group.

For any progress to take place with regard to UNSC membership reforms, the member countries, groups and individual countries contesting a seat will have to make compromises to reach a consensus. Without this, the debates on reform will reach a deadlock.

featured

Kangi, Kajal, tikli, manipotwali…
Kangi, Kajal, tikli, manipotwali…

Many of Mumbai’s residential bylanes ring out with these lines, as women, carrying a heavy load of odds-and-ends on their heads, are spotted traversing the length and breadth of the city, selling their wares. They are called Manipotwalis. With the onslaught of urbanization, traditional occupations are dying out, but like old habits, they die hard. Faced with this imminent reality, 8 young girls, all daughters of Manipotwalis, embarked on a one-year research endeavour with PUKAR’s Youth Fellowship Programme, to study and document the lives and times of Manipotwalis. Personally, through their mothers, they were aware of the trials and tribulations of the occupation. But egged on by an intense desire to record history, the girls decided on a systematic study to write a cohesive but heterogeneous narrative of Manipotwalis.

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manipotwaliThe research process was an intensive and challenging one. They chose to conduct 29 in-depth interviews. Questions ranged from socio-economic profile of respondents, their early years including marriage and husbands, the how and why of their occupation, their occupational challenges and finally, their dreams and aspirations. Conducting interviews of such a personal nature of women whose every waking moment is preoccupied is next to impossible. They were either not interested or were simply exhausted to spend time on the interviews. However, perseverance helped the girls in securing all 29 interviews.

So what did the girls learn about their mothers? Most of the respondents fell in the 35-44 age groups, while only 4 were in the age group of 20-35. The sampling method used was convenient random sampling. But even so, the girls interpreted that the reason they encountered more middle-aged manipotwalis was probably because fewer women from the younger generation were taking to the traditional occupation. An overwhelming proportion (24 of 29) reported being uneducated and the maximum level of education in the group was 3rd grade. Either their villages didn’t have schools or schools were not meant for girls. In some cases, respondents reported their family being too poor to afford to educate their girls. Most of the women had large families with 6-11 members living together under one roof.

Research Group

The lack of education seems to have been the single greatest factor propelling them towards this occupation. Their mothers did the same work, and they continued the tradition. They were also married off early, at the ages of 7, 10 or 12. Many of them wrestled with early motherhood, even as they were barely through their teens. Moreover, many found their husbands to be undependable for income and care of the family.

While initially, the prospect of roaming the streets and selling wares, terrified them, they were also happy to help with the family’s finances. Since poverty and tradition had thrown them into this occupation, the going was by no means easy. Many of them had young children who were carried on the hips while the women walked around selling. They often had to travel long distances. Occupational hazards included eye problems, knee pains, and leg problems that hindered walking. Moreover, rickshaws would spot their burden and not serve them. And all this, for a minimum Rs. 100 and a maximum Rs. 400 a day. The income is just enough to feed the family that evening.

data collectionThe Manipotwalis, while proud of their tradition, are all unanimous in their conviction that their children will not follow in their footsteps. They educate their girls and boys so they can take on work that gives them more income. They are insistent that their children, irrespective of gender, be economically and otherwise, independent. One of them proudly stated, “I am so glad my daughter is studying CA. I would like her to get a well-paying job.”

The systematic documentation effort has instilled in the girls a sense of pride for their mothers and the tradition they come from- a tradition that, in its essence, is hard work, courage, determination and love. They know they owe all of their years of education to their manipotwali mothers.

rain water harvesting

By Dr. Amrit Patel:

Water is a natural phenomenon and is the life line for human survival and a critical material foundation for sustainable social and economic development. Water supports health and livelihoods, grows food, powers industry and cools generating plants and these different uses can no longer be seen in isolation from each other. Unless these competing needs are balanced, water security will remain elusive, undermining development gains and the quality of millions of people in India, especially poor. Its renewable availability is finite and vulnerable to depletion and degradation. Water for Life Decade [2005-15] and the World Water Day being held on March 22 every year has significance to create awareness among all stakeholders that water is finite, scarce, costly and precious and, therefore, should be efficiently managed for country’s sustainable development.

rain water harvesting
According to the World Resources, a publication of UN Environment Program “the world’s thrust for water is likely to become one of the most pressing resource issues of the 21st century”. A variety of issues need focused attention such as climate change, trans-boundary waters, water-related risk management, managing and protecting water resources, investment in water research, development and management. Future of water resources ‘does not only rest on technological progress, but also and mostly on political commitments’. An effective consultation, cooperation and coordination among technocrats, policy makers, local authorities, research institutes, governments and water users for sustainable water development is necessary.

Participants of World Water Council in March 2009 in Istanbul recognized that water is an increasingly vital resource in the 21st century, when the world is challenged by overpopulation, climate change, ecosystem collapse, urbanization, consumption pattern changes and financial crisis.

Food security: In developing countries including India, drought is ranked as the most common cause of severe food shortages, responsible for more deaths than any other natural disaster over the last century. The lack of sustainable access to water can undermine food security and add to resource tensions, which potentially lead to conflict. Food security entails access to sufficient, safe and nutritious foods. Water deeply impacts global food security due to its role in agricultural production and overall health. The United Nations had made food security the focus of the World Water Day in 2012 because of rising food insecurity worldwide stemming from increasingly strained resources, volatile food prices, erratic weather conditions and deepening malnourishment. Today, seven billion people must be fed; by 2050, two billion more people are expected. Lack of water contributes to famine and undernourishment. Erratic rainfall, floods and droughts can cause temporary food shortages and even food emergencies. Water is also essential for animals; livestock deaths due to lack of water can cause substantial loss of livelihood for families. Climate change, being associated with higher global temperatures and increasingly erratic climate patterns, such as droughts, tornadoes, cyclones and floods, can severely impact the availability and distribution of rainfall, snowmelt, river flows and groundwater. Climate-related disasters can disrupt water supplies, cause deterioration of water quality, destroy agriculture sources and cripple infrastructure. Flooding in increasingly over-populated urban areas and coastal cities has caused severe displacement in vulnerable regions worldwide.

Indian Scenario: India’s population is 15% of the world’s population but has only about 4% of the world’s fresh water resources. Much of these are unevenly distributed. Average annual rainfall in the country is about 1,170 mm, which corresponds to an annual precipitation [including snowfall] of 4,000 billion cubic meters [BCM]. Nearly 75% of this [3000bcm] occurs during the monsoon season, confined generally to 3-4 months [June to September] a year. According to the Planning Commission, India has so far created a total of about 225 billion cubic meters [BCM] of surface storage capacity. However, per capita storage capacity in India at 190 cubic meters is very less compared to USA [5,961], Australia [4,717], Brazil [3,388] and China [2,486]. This necessitates creation of large storage facilities for maximum utilization of the run-off.

Water availability: Though the average water availability in India remains more or less fixed according to the natural hydraulic cycle, per capita availability is reducing progressively owning to the increasing population. In 1991, the average figure was around 2,200 cubic meters [cm], which has fallen to about 1829 cm. It may further go down to about 1340 cm and 1140 cm a year by 2025 and 2050 respectively. The situation in some of the river basins is worrisome. According to international agencies, any region with per capita water availability of less than 1700 cm is considered ‘water stressed’ and those with less than 1000 cm ‘water scarce’. Already six river basins of the country fall in the ‘water scarce’ category, and five more basins are likely to be ‘water scarce’ during 2025-50. Only 3-4 basins will be ‘water sufficient’. Water availability both in quantity and quality has been on the decline over the past 3-4 decades because of gross mismanagement of the available water resources and environmental degradation. Our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh on August 18, 2009 on the opening day of the conference of Environment Ministers said, ‘Climate change is threatening our ecosystems; water scarcity is becoming a way of life and pollution is a growing threat to our health and habitat’. He further expressed his concern that ‘rivers all over India are still being degraded’. Not only per capita availability of water in the country is already low but also there is enormous wastage, growing pollution and contamination of surface as well as groundwater.

Charlotte

By Dr Amrit Patel:

Approach: Recognizing the discrimination that rural women face daily, the Government policies and programs should promote and support women as equal contributors to agriculture and rural development. Policies and programs should aim at

[i] Guaranteeing women’s access to and control over critical assets [land, capital, knowledge and technologies].

[ii] Promoting and strengthening women’s agencies and their decision-making role in community affairs and representation in local institutions

[iii] improving well-being and ease workloads by facilitating access to basic rural services and infrastructures.

The guiding principle has to be that development initiatives should incorporate the priorities and needs of both women and men and give them equal opportunities to access benefits and services. In this process, policies must address the structural inequalities that prevent women from realizing their potential as human beings, producers of food and agents of change in the fight against poverty.

Charlotte

Gender discrimination: Field experiences suggest the need to address the existing gender discriminatory issues in the light of facts, viz.

[i] According to FAO, the rapid modernization of agriculture and the introduction of new technologies including those that characterized the green revolution have significantly benefited the rural elite more than the poor and men more than women. The International Labor Organization has also observed that new techniques in agriculture leading to commercialization of agriculture, “often shift economic control, employment and profit from women to men“. Studies reveal that women’s control over income benefits families more than income controlled by men and that the diversion of income from women causes increased suffering for families.

[ii] According to World Bank, 2007, the design of policies and projects for agricultural development in most developing economies still continues to assume wrongly that farmers and rural workers are mainly men. Failure to recognize the roles, differences, and inequalities poses a serious threat to the effectiveness of the agricultural development agenda. The areas empowering women, among others, include [i] Land ownership: “Although women do the majority of work in agriculture at the global level, men still own the land, control women’s labor, and make agricultural decisions in patriarchal social systems.” Despite women in developing countries account for 43% of agricultural labor force, less than 20% are land owners worldwide due to legal and cultural constraints in land inheritance, ownership and use, followed by 15% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 10% in Thailand and India and 5% in North Africa and West Asia. Land is the most important agricultural asset. Women farmers are disadvantaged by the prevalence of land tenure system that allocate primary land rights to men through gender-based marital and inheritance laws, family and community norms, their limited capacity to participate in community decision-making processes, and their unequal access to land markets. Absence of legal rights to hold land significantly limits women-farmer’s ability to access institutional credit and invest in land to improve crop productivity, which increases their exposure to food insecurity and leaves them disproportionately vulnerable to economic hardships. Conferring women’s right to land enables them to access institutional credit and motivates to invest in land for improving food output and income, and strengthens their bargaining power within the household in terms of production and wealth distribution. Interventions are necessary to reduce the gap in land rights, viz. supporting legal reforms, joint titling and land certification programs, supporting the increased women’s representation in land administration bodies and facilitating legal literacy programs for rural women. Strengthening women’s land rights is a matter of not just reforming land laws but that gender equity in land rights need to be upheld consistently across the entire legal framework, from the Constitution to family and civil laws, and supported by legal training enabling women to understand and claim their rights.

[ii] Decision making: Despite women representing around 70% of the labor force in agriculture and allied activities and taking care of children, women’s say in these economic activities and family affairs has remained obscure for long since women seldom have any role in social, economic and political affairs or decision making processes.

[iii] Loan: Often women receive loan of smaller amounts than men even for the same activities. This compels them either to purchase assets/equipment of inferior quality or borrow from informal sources at exorbitant interest rate.

Sustainable livelihoods: Livelihoods have been defined as comprising “the capabilities, assets [including both material and social resources] and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base. Social, economic and political empowerment of rural women to contribute to sustainable livelihoods is necessary since the factors influencing sustainable livelihoods include, inter alia,

[i] Assets: Sustainable livelihoods depend on the access to and control over assets, viz. human, social, physical, natural and financial capital

[ii] Markets: Agricultural markets include land, labor, financial capital, water, inputs, farm and livestock products etc. women’s participation and access to agricultural markets facilitates acquisition of assets, capital and production inputs, improves production, income and consumption to sustain the needs of the household and welfare of the family.

[iii] Risk and vulnerability: Risk includes natural and man-made calamities, crop and animal diseases, food insecurity, climatic factors leading to floods, water scarcity, droughts and market and price risks [including trade shocks]. Women’s vulnerability to these risks can be minimized by enhancing their socio-economic status and income and access to assets.

[iv]Knowledge, information and organization: Access to knowledge and information facilitates women to exercise their legal rights; acquire and control assets; greater exposure to markets and to minimize risk and vulnerability which ultimately improve sustainable livelihoods. Women’s engagement in organizations [formal and informal] of collective action, including the political and governance structures empowers women to exercise their legal rights and raise political voice.

Rural women

By Dr. Amrit Patel:

Unleashing rural women’s voice

Unleashing rural women’s voice to end hunger and poverty in developing countries has now been a sine qua non in the light of facts viz.

  • Out of 60% additional food output required by 2050, about 75% will have to come from developing countries.
  • Producing more is not enough if the poor do not have the assured and reliable means to buy food. More than 90% of the hunger in the world is due, not to drought or natural disaster, but to poverty. In developing countries, economic growth originating in the agricultural sector is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth originating elsewhere. This emphasizes the significance of economic, social and political empowerment of women in developing countries. India being an agrarian country needs to address gender issues and integrate gender-responsive actions in the design and implementation of agricultural policies, programs and projects.

rural women

Women’s role in agriculture:

Women play a significant role in agriculture in most low income countries where agriculture accounts for an average 32% of GDP and where an average 70% of countries’ poor live and work in rural areas.

  • FAO’s projections through 2010 indicate that more than 70% of the economically active women in least developed countries work in agriculture. In Asia and Africa women work 13 hours more per week than men. On an average, rural women and girls spend almost an hour each day collecting fuel wood and carrying water needed to prepare meals. A study in Africa revealed that, in a year, women carried more than 80 tons of fuel wood, water and farm produce for a distance of one kilometre, as against men carrying only an average of 10 tons.
  • According to FAO [2011], women farmers account for more than a quarter of the world’s population. Women comprise, on an average, 43% of the agricultural work force in developing countries, ranging from 20% in Latin America to 50% in Eastern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The census data suggests that in most regions of the world one out of five farms is headed by a woman. However, according to the FAO, female farmers receive only 5% of all agricultural extension services worldwide and women have less access than men to agricultural related assets, inputs and services. If they have easy, timely and reliable access to productive resources as men, women can increase yield by 20% to 30%, raising the overall agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5% to 4%. This gain in production can reduce the number of hungry people in the world by about 12% to 17%, besides increasing women’s income.
  • Women perform multiple tasks viz. crop and livestock production, collect water and fuel wood, and take care of children, sick and elderly people. Studies show that women use almost all that they earn from marketing crop and livestock products to meet household needs whereas men use at least 25% of their earnings for their other purposes. Despite the fact that women produce much of the food in the developing world, they remain more malnourished than most men are. Women’s concern and commitment to develop agriculture as a source of food security, providing rural livelihoods and a means to minimize the incidence of rural poverty in most developing countries including India, has yet to be recognized.

In the context of global food price crisis while refocusing on significant investment in agriculture, gender disparities must be removed to achieve food and nutrition security. These disparities seriously undermine the potential of women as drivers of agricultural growth and disable them in their roles as the pre-eminent agents of household food security and welfare. Policy and programs should, therefore, be initiated to significantly enhance the productivity and economic empowerment of women engaged in agriculture.

Indian context:

According to FAO and other research workers, agriculture and allied sectors in India employ as high as 89.5% of the total female labor .Women on an average contribute 55% to 66% in overall farm production. Women provide one half of the labor in rice cultivation and they are the crucial laborers in the plantation sector. Women’s contributions vary, depending on the region and crops, but they provide pivotal labor from planting to harvesting and post-harvest operations, as is evident from the facts that in the Himalayan region a woman works for 3485 hours in a year on a one hectare farm as compared with 1212 hours by a man and 1064 hours by a pair of bullocks. As farmers, agricultural workers and entrepreneurs, women constitute the backbone of India’s agricultural and rural economy. Yet, together with children they remain one of the most vulnerable groups. They perform, on a daily basis, the most tedious and back-breaking tasks in agriculture, animal husbandry and homes. The extent of health hazards faced by farm women in farm activities include

  • 50% in transplanting and 26.5% in harvesting under farm activities
  • 50% threshing, 33% drying and 67% parboiling under post-harvest activities and
  • 47% shed cleaning, 23% fodder collection and 27.5% milking under livestock management. Not only are they invariably paid lower wages than men for the same agricultural work but also remained mostly unrecognized.

Land ownership titles are most often in a man’s name. Men often either take or dictate the decisions concerning farming and women have to compulsorily carry out. Farm produce is marketed commonly by men and that gives them complete control over household finance. More and more women are taking to farming as men are migrating to urban areas for work. However, they have no access to credit as they do not have legal ownership over the land. Only 11% women have access to land holdings, that too, mostly as small and marginal farmers.

Part 1

hts_image_empowerment_in

By Dr. Amrit Patel:

Women’s potential to overcome poverty, hunger, malnutrition, fight climate change, start their own businesses through savings and lending groups, among others, has been significant and acknowledged in developing countries. Since International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8, 2013, it should be the endeavor of all of us that should support women’s efforts to claim their legal rights, live free from violence, earn a decent income, get an education, grow food for their families, and make their voices heard in their communities and beyond.

hts_image_empowerment_in

It is heartening that our Finance Minister, while presenting Union Budget for the year 2013-14, recognizing the fact that women are at the head of many banks today including two public sector banks, was overwhelmed to set up India’s first Women’s Bank as a public sector bank that can exclusively serve women, lend mostly to women and women-run businesses, support women’s Self-Help-Groups and women’s livelihood, employ predominantly women, and address gender related aspects of empowerment and financial inclusion. The Finance Minister, further, dwelt upon saying that we have a collective responsibility to ensure the dignity and safety of women and pledged to do everything possible to empower them and to keep them safe and secure. To accomplish these objectives, he proposed to set up a fund to which the Government will contribute Rs.1,000 crore and the Ministry of Women and Child Development and other ministries concerned will work out the details of the structure, scope and application of the fund. This paper briefly highlights women’s role in India’s agriculture, need for empowerment and suggests issues that need focused attention while designing policy and programs for women’s empowerment in the Twelfth Plan.

Women’s participation in economy:
According to various studies and reports following is the status of women’s participation in country’s economy.

– The workforce participation rate of females in rural sector was 26.1% in 2009‐ 10 while that for males was 54.7%. In Urban sector, it was 13.8 % for females and 54.3% for males. Among the States/Union Territories, workforce participation rate of females in the rural sector was the highest in Himachal Pradesh at 46.8% and in the urban sector it was the highest in Mizoram at 28.8%.

– In the rural sector, 55.7% females were self‐employed, 4.4% females had regular wage/salaried employment and 39.9% females were casual laborers compared with 53.5%, 8.5% and 38.0% males in the same categories respectively.

– A total of 20.4% women were employed in the organized sector in 2010 with 17.9% working in the public sector and 24.5% in the private.

– The labor force participation rate of women across all age‐groups was 20.8% in rural sector and 12.8% in urban sector compared with 54.8 and 55.6 for men in the rural and urban sectors respectively in 2009‐10.

– The unemployment rate for women of all ages was 2.4% compared with 2.0% for men in the rural areas in 2009‐10. It was 7.0 % for women and 3.1% for men in urban areas during the same period. Among the States/Union Territories, the highest unemployment rate for women in rural sector was observed in Chandigarh (51.1%) and in the urban sector in Dadra and Nagar Haveli (60.0%) in 2009‐10.

– Of the total job seekers registered with employed exchanges, women constituted 32.5% in 2009.

– The female share of total Central Government employment stood at 10.0% in 2009.

– The share of female employees in the scheduled commercial banks was 15.9% in 2009 which rose slightly to 16.6% in 2010.

– In 2009‐10, the average wage/salary received by regular wage/salaried employees of age 15‐59 years was Rs.155.87 per day for females compared with Rs.249.15 per day for males in rural areas. For urban areas, it was Rs.308.79 and Rs.377.16 per day for females and males respectively.

– In 2010, the number of accounts operated by females in all commercial banks was 153.18 crores compared with 487.37 crore accounts operated by males. The deposit amount was Rs.517209.74 crore for females and Rs.1838826.25 crore for males.

– In 2011-12, women exclusively accounted for 62.99 lakh SHGs [79.1%] and loan of Rs.5,104.33 crore [77.9%] of the total under the SHG-Bank Linkage Microfinance Program.

– In 2011‐12, the share of women swarojgaris (self-employed) in the total swarojgaris assisted under the Swarnjayanti Gram Swarojgaar Yojna stood at 69.4%.

– The share of women in the person days employed through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme stood at 48.3% in 2011‐12 (all districts with rural areas).

– According to the pilot Time Use Survey conducted in 18,620 households spread over six selected States, namely, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Meghalaya during the period June 1998 to July 1999, women spent about 2.1 hours per day on cooking food and about 1.1 hours on cleaning the households and utensils. Men’s participation in these activities was nominal. Taking care of children was one of the major responsibilities of women, as they spent about 3.16 hours per week on these activities as compared to only 0.32 hours by males.

– According to National Family Health Survey—III (2005‐06) in the rural sector currently married women take 26% decisions regarding obtaining health care for herself and 7.6% in case of purchasing major household items. 10% decisions are taken by females in respect of visiting their family or relatives. For urban areas, these figures are 29.7 %, 10.4 % and 12.2 % respectively.

In the age group of 15‐19 years, 46% of women are not involved in any kind of decision making. In the rural sector, 23.4 % females are not involved in any decision‐ making while, in the urban sector, only 13.9 % of urban resident women are not involved in any decision making. It is found that 32.7% illiterate women, 21.6% unemployed women are not involved in any decision making. For the country as a whole, 59.6% have access to money.

delhirape

By Kush Kalra:

State should not punish with vengeance“. Emperor Ashoka

Death penalty has been a mode of punishment since time immemorial. The arguments for and against have not changed much over the years. Crimes as well as the mode of punishment correlate to the culture and form of civilization from which they emerge. With the march of civilization, the modes of death punishment have witnessed significant humanized changes. Presently around 11 mercy petitions from 14 convicts are pending before the President following the rejection of a similar plea from Mumbai Terror Attacks convict Ajmal Kasab. According to a RTI filed by Subhash Chandra Aggarwala, Karnataka has the highest number of petitions pending: four from seven convicts on death row. Since 1981, Indian Presidents have considered and disposed of 98 mercy petitions the latest being that of Kasab. India was among the 39 countries that voted against a UN General Assembly draft resolution which called for abolishing the death penalty, saying every nation had the “sovereign right” to determine its own legal system. The non-binding resolution called for a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. Recently India hanged Kasab the terrorist who was involved in deaths of many people in Mumbai. The ‘Peoples’ Movement against Death Penalty’ headed by Justice VR. Krishna Iyer described the execution as an “unconstitutional act” of the State.

delhirape

India has retained the death penalty on the ground that it will be awarded only in the ‘rarest of rare cases‘ and ‘for special reasons’. In fact, India is one of 78 retentive countries and has even retained the death penalty for political offences. The Supreme Court also has refused to lay down a clear distinction of what constitutes ‘rarest of rare cases’ and left it to the discretion of judges hearing the case, knowing that this would lead to a differing set of results. India’s apex court has recommended the death penalty be extended to those found guilty of committing “honour killings” with the Supreme Court stating that honour killings falls within the “rarest of the rare” category and deserves to be a capital crime. The Supreme Court of India has also recommended death sentences to be awarded to those police officials who commit police brutality in the form of encounter killings.

The execution of death sentence in India is carried out by two modes namely hanging by neck till death and being shot to death. The jail manuals of various States provide for the method of execution of death sentence in India. Once death sentence is awarded and is confirmed after exhausting all the possible available remedies the execution is carried out in accordance with section 354(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 i.e. hanging by neck till death . It is also provided under The Air Force Act, 1950, The Army Act 1950 and The Navy Act 1957 that the execution has to be carried out either by hanging by neck till death or by being shot to death.
The test laid down in Deena v. Union of India provides that the execution of death punishment should satisfy the threefold test viz;

1. The act of execution should be as quick and simple as possible and free from anything that unnecessarily sharpens the poignancy of the prisoner’s apprehension.

2. The act of the execution should produce immediate unconsciousness passing quickly into the death

3. It should be decent.

4. It should not involve mutilation.

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) whereas describes one of the important standard and safeguard against the death penalty enunciated in safeguard No.9 as,
“Where capital punishment occurs it shall be carried out so as to inflict minimum possible suffering.”

People in India are now demanding death penalty for rapists. We have so many mercy petitions pending of people who are involved in murders of many, people with more heinous crimes are not awarded death penalty by state. So is it possible for our legal system to provide death penalty to those involved in rape? Section 376 of the IPC clearly provides that maximum punishment for rape is 7 years to life imprisonment. It is high time to think whether demanding death penalty for rapists is meaningful and purposeful when people with many heinous crimes are roaming free in our society.

selfhelp

By Dr. Amrit Patel: 

National Rural Livelihood Mission

Acknowledging the fact that out of the estimated 70 million rural BPL households as per 2010 projections, as many as 45 million households still need to be organized into SHGs and the existing SHGs need further strengthening and intensive financial support, the Government has approved the restructuring the SGSY as the National Rural Livelihoods Mission [NRLM] to be implemented in a mission mode across the country. It has already been launched in Rajasthan in June, 2011. The Government is planning to increase the number of members in women Self-Help-Groups [SHGs] to 70 million in next five years from the current 30 million, effectively bringing one member each from all the families of BPL into the fold of the NRLM. While NRLM is working with an objective to bring all the SHGs into the fold of federations and bank linkage, the Government is launching a scheme for them starting April where micro loans would be given at a concessional rate of 7% interest. Besides, the Government has identified 150 districts in the country based on various parameters where micro credit would be extended only at 4% interest to these women groups. The ultimate aim of the NRLM is to help 80% of the SHGs come out of the Government dependence in the next 10 years, meaning they will have to achieve self-sufficiency through various livelihood programs and other business models.

selfhelp

Need for Better Planning and Implementation

Past experiences of planning, implementation and monitoring of IRDP & SGSY suggest to initiate enabling measures to achieve expected results under NRLM viz.

– NRLM should initially be intensively pilot tested in each of three Blocks [high, moderate & low growth] in three districts [high, Moderate & low growth] in each State of the country to understand and develop modalities of planning, Implementation & monitoring before it is launched throughout the country

– Planning and implementation of NRLM should be integrated with ongoing programs of health, education, drinking water, sanitation, housing, fuel, transport and communication [instead NRLM being implemented in isolation] so as to create impact on the quality of life of rural households in terms of human development index

– Functions and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in the planning and implementation of NRLM need to be well defined so as to ensure that BPL Swarozgaris manage their assets efficiently and earn sufficient to come out of poverty within three years

– Potential Linked Plan being formulated annually by NABARD for each district should serve as resource document for preparing village, Block and District level NRLM plans incorporating formation of SHGs, their needs for training, skill development and capacity building, utilization of funds to support infrastructure development, technology and market and make economic activities bankable

– The initiative of Rural Self-Employment Training Institutes should, among others, focus on capacity building and empowering SHGs to

1. involve members to identify income generating activities totally based on their occupational skills, local resources, markets and economic viability; obtain bank credit and Government subsidy on time and use them to generate expected level of income, repay credit on time and improve their standard of living
2. share among SHGs within a Block/District their experience of success and failures to continuously improve the project planning and implementation
3. take full advantage of new technology to improve quality of products, enhance business opportunities, and explore markets for their products
4. fully utilize the allocated and available funds for Revolving Fund Assistance, infrastructure development, marketing initiatives, training for skill development and forming SHGs Federations to create enabling environment and enhance credit absorption capacity that can impact on program outcomes
5. prepare quality bankable loan proposals in consultation with banks

– Banks having considerable experience in formulating, implementing and monitoring the Service Area Credit Plans since April 1989 should incorporate bankable economic activities covering more secondary and tertiary sectors rather than primary sector. Financial literacy and Credit counselling must be an integral part of NRLM to educate BPL Swarozgaris

– The NRLM should benefit from
a. District Rural Industries Projects successfully promoted by NABARD in 106 districts since 1993-94 that provide valuable insight in exploring and exploiting the unfathomable potential of rural industries
b. schemes of NABARD to promote and support rural non-farm sector including schemes for women

– Resourceful and experienced Institutions, such as District Industries Centres, Khadi & Village Industries, Boards of Handicrafts, Handlooms, Sericulture and Coir working since long should help Swarozgaris enhance product quality and link activities with marketing

– Performance of NRLM must be systematically and in detail monitored quarterly at Block, District and State level to improve quality of planning and implementation and achieve enshrined objectives. Performance at Block level should be monitored village-wise; at District level Block-wise and State level district-wise Academic institutions operating in a district/State must be involved to evaluate the impact of NRLM including repayment of bank credit on a yearly basis

– Progress including deficiencies in implementation along with recovery of credit as revealed in quarterly monitoring and yearly impact evaluation must be released in local print and electronic media quarterly to seek feedback and improve program quality. Website of Ministry of Rural Development should have comprehensive MIS including recovery of bank credit

– NRLM would need comprehensive half yearly monitoring-cum-concurrent evaluation in each district right from the beginning of the Twelfth Five Year Plan period. .

 

By Dr. Amrit Patel

Since independence, the Government has accorded top priority in its policy and planning approach and allocated significant resources to alleviate rural poverty. This paper briefly highlights the achievements of two earlier programs and the objectives of the proposed third one. After several piecemeal efforts, the concept of Integrated Rural Development Program [IRDP] was first proposed in the Union Budget of 1976-77 to provide self-employment opportunities to the rural poor [specifically agricultural and landless labourers, small and marginal farmers, rural artisans] through capital subsidy and bank credit so as to help them acquire productive assets and appropriate skills to cross the poverty line on a sustained basis. In 1978-79 with some modifications the program initially covered 2300 blocks and focused family as a unit rather than individuals. With addition of 300 blocks during 1979-80, it covered 2600 blocks identifying 53 lakh families for assistance as on 31 March 1980.

 

Integrated Rural Development Program

From October 2, 1980 IRDP was extended to all blocks in the country stipulating targets for SCs/STs and Women beneficiaries and emphasizing primary, secondary and tertiary sectors of rural economy. The District Rural Development Agencies were specifically established to plan and implement IRDP. Between 1980-81 and November1999, about 535.22 lakh beneficiaries [including 44.7% SC/ST & 25.4% women] were provided Rs.11796.01 crore capital subsidy & Rs.21336.63 crore bank credit. Though the program was comprehensive in scope and sought to secure through a process of block level planning, fuller exploitation of the local growth potential to significantly alleviate poverty, in practice the program was merely reduced to subsidy giving program shorn of any planned approach to the development of the rural poor as an inbuilt process in the development of the rural poor, the area and its resources.

Swaranjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana

Since 1 April 1999, the “Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana [SGSY]” for the self-employment of the rural poor has been under implementation after restructuring and merging the erstwhile IRDP and its allied programs. The program aims at bringing the assisted BPL families above the Poverty Line through

  • organizing rural poor into Self-Help-Groups
  • establishing micro enterprises in rural areas based on the ability of the poor and potential of each area.
  • provision of credit linked subsidy to help beneficiaries acquire income generating assets
  • training of beneficiaries in group dynamics and skill development for managing micro-enterprises
  • marketing support with focus on market research, upgradation and diversification of products, packaging, creation of marketing facilities
  • provision of infrastructure development fund to provide missing critical links

Between April 1, 1999 and January 31, 2010 SHGs formed were 36,78,746 of which women accounted for 68.32%. Total 1,32,85,688 Swarozgaris were assisted with subsidy of Rs.10091.96 crore and bank credit of Rs.20822.29 crore. Share of women, SCs/STs, Minorities and disabled assisted Swarozgaris was 57.63%, 46.76%,9.47%, 1.48% respectively as against mandated 40%, 50%,15% and 3% respectively. Percentage of fund utilization was of the order of available [73.82], allocation [92.66]. Subsidy [65.88], revolving fund [10.31], infrastructure 16.24], training/skill [149.09] and credit [60.43] demonstrating low utilization.

The SGSY suffered from major deficiencies, such as

  • weaknesses in the planning and implementation process, formation, nurturing and working of SHGs
  • subsidy acted as a tempting factor rather than enabling one to acquire income generating assets through bank credit resulting in unsatisfactory loan repayment as compared to SHG-Bank-Linkage Program
  • estimated income was not generated because of lack of effective coordination and systematic monitoring of SGSY implementation
  • heavy concentration on agriculture and that too milch animals
  • inadequate use of funds earmarked for capacity building and skill development training, infrastructure development and marketing support.

Deficiencies were observed in varying degrees in all States but were more pronounced in States of North-East region, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal in particular.,

Implementation of IRDP till November 1999 and SGSY since April 1999 could not alleviate rural poverty as expected, as according to NSS round [2004-05], 41.8% rural population had monthly per capita expenditure of Rs.447, which some economists consider Below Starvation Line instead BPL. Besides, according to Multidimensional Poverty Index [MPI] worked out by UNDP & Oxford University, July 2010, about 645 million people [55%] in India are poor. As against 410 million MPI poor in 26 of the poorest African countries, eight Indian States [Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal] have 421 million MPI poor. The MPI reveals a vivid spectrum of challenges facing the poorest households. MPI considers 10 sharp indicators, namely Education [child enrolment and years of schooling]; Health [child mortality and nutrition] and Standard of living [electricity, drinking water, sanitation, cooking fuel, flooring and assets]. A global report on poverty eradication of the U.N. Secretary-General [2010] shows that economic growth is evident for the progress in China in reducing extreme poverty and raising living standards, whereas India is expected to be home to more than 300 million in poverty out of 900 million predicted to be in extreme poverty in 2015.

handicraft

By Dr. Amrit Patel: 

Household industry as employment provider plays relatively smaller role as it absorbs only 3.66 % of total workers, whereas the handloom and handicraft industry engages as high as 60.42% of artisan households and has been a significant source of livelihood in the region since they earn more than 90% income from this industry. The share of handloom and handicraft in the monthly average income of the artisans was the highest in Mizoram (97.57%) followed by Manipur (91.73%), Assam (79.58%), Nagaland (77.11%), Tripura (70.99%), Meghalaya (67.68%), Sikkim (55.80%) and lowest in Arunachal Pradesh (48.84%). There were approximately 67,500 handloom units and 57,500 handicraft units employing about 2.76 lakh weavers and artisans with value of production amounting to Rs 20941.08 crores.

Rural artisan: The poor among the self-employed in non-agriculture is high. The category constitutes rural artisan and handloom weavers both in rural and urban areas. Women have inherited skills for handloom weaving and have been engaged in handloom weaving through generations. Handicraft activity is the domain of male. The operational units are tiny, predominantly manual and thrive in unorganized market. The industry’s strength has been its relatively large number of weavers with traditional inherited skills, established reputation and large production facilities and availability of raw material. Despite the products of both have high demand they experience serious challenges viz. stiff competition, lack of design up-gradation and product diversification, low labour productivity, absence of pre and post loom processing facilities and marketing platform, low volume of production, lack of continuity in supply of raw materials and low rate of capital formation. All these weaknesses need to be systematically addressed and enabling environment created.

It is necessary to organize artisans and weavers in the form of SHGs for production, create yarn bank / raw material bank, product diversification and packaging according to market demand, improvement of looms / tool kits, introduction of computer aided design (CAD) and participation in trade fares / exhibitions and adopt common region specific brand name. The development plan can be prepared for product specific cluster.

Two models have been reported successful viz.

  • Model Craft Village of Majlishpur of West Tripura district, Tripura for development of handicraft and
  • Hand loom Cluster developed by the women NGOMacha Leima (Manipuri Chanura Leishem Marup) in Imphal (W) district of Manipur.

These models should be evaluated and redesigned, if need be, to meet the needs of the local people before replicating in other districts and States.

Handloom is by far the largest unorganized industry next to agriculture in terms of employment generation. Handloom industry has been playing an important role in meeting the domestic needs as well as a source of economy for the people of the region. Handloom accounts for 27% of all textile production and 21% of textile exports. The region has the highest concentration of handlooms in the country. Out of 25.4 lakh units engaged in handloom activities, 14.6 lakh units (household and non-household) are in five States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura. Over 53% looms in the country and more than 50 % weavers belong to North Eastern States. The share of these five States of North Eastern Region in the domestic looms is 82%. However, only 13.4% of the commercial looms of the country are in these States and their contribution to these States in total production of handloom fabrics is merely 20%.

Handicrafts: The region has been a rich repository of arts and crafts that are both eco-friendly and unique in craftsmanship and utility. Though the region’s share in country’s total exports of Rs.3.5 billion is less than 1%, it has the potential to contribute significantly to country’s handicraft exports. Currently the artisans produce ethnic goods that cater largely to the consumption needs of the local populace. It is necessary to

  • Initiate a scientific product development program and train the artisans to produce quality products that meet with demand for export
  • Establish Fashion Design Centre in Aizawl and Kohima
  • Create much needed basic infrastructure facilities including accessible network of financial institutions
  • Provide logistics support for fully realizing export potential in handicrafts
  • Conduct workshops on handlooms and handicrafts in each State with primary focus on product development, design and export marketing with the objective of creating awareness on international trends in design, color, pattern, production techniques and marketing strategies amongst entrepreneurs and exporters of handlooms and handicrafts and build capacity of artisans to respond to these requirements.

Tertiary Sector Activities: Poor among self-employed in non-agriculture representing small businessmen and service providers both in rural and urban areas are quite large. Tertiary sector has the potential to provide repairing and service facilities being critical to promote the use of modern machineries and equipment in primary and secondary sectors. There is a significant demand for these services in rural and urban areas. To make tiny business and service sector economically viable and attractive to unemployed youths and women, there is need to emphasize significant improvement and up-gradation of technical, managerial and financial skills of youths that can facilitate them to access formal credit and markets and develop tertiary activities as commercial business enterprises, rather than providing livelihood. It is necessary to form SHGs of unemployed youths and women and train them.

Slow growth: Region has formulated a Vision 2020 document envisioning short-term targets to be achieved by 2010, medium and long term by 2015 and 2020 respectively. Field studies reveal that the performance as on March 31,2010 has been quite poor exhibiting significant gaps between achievements and targets. Region’s growth has been slow due to factors, viz. extremely difficult terrain, grossly inadequate physical infrastructure including institutional banking and credit structure, lack of required level of managerial, technical and financial skills leading to slow growth of entrepreneurship and low level of technology intervention, absence of proper market linkages, among others. Last but not the least has been the disturbed law and order situation in some of the states that discourages investment in the region.

Development opportunities: Policy initiatives and programs are necessary to create and expand development opportunities for a large number of rural households in primary, secondary and tertiary sectors of economy. Rural development initiatives need to focus productive utilization of human capital through training and capacity building programs. The investment in creating rural infrastructure involving skill labour is low.

Conclusion: It is now most opportune time to review the performance as on March 31,2012 being the terminal year of the Eleventh Five Year Plan [2007-12] and identify the shortcomings in critical areas which should help the States in the region to formulate State and sector-wise strategy to achieve the targets for 2015 on time. Even experiences and lessons from the past several decades should help NEC, States and Union Government draw the road map for the integrated development of the region to achieve during the Twelfth Five Year Plan [2012-17] the 80% of goals envisioned in the Vision document 2020.

Secondary And Tertiary Sectors

By Dr. Amrit Patel:

The North Eastern region [NER] comprising country’s eight States [Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and Sikkim] has abundant resources, fairly large unexplored and unexploited local markets and it is close to one of the world’s fastest growing South East Asian countries’ markets. Notwithstanding the literacy rate in the region is relatively high the youths lack in skills that is most required in the secondary and tertiary sectors of economy. Agricultural sector is witnessing slow growth due to land tenure system and predominance of jhuming [shifting cultivation], among others. In 2002-03, the share of primary sector was 33.53% whereas secondary sector accounted for 11.85% and tertiary sector 54.61% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product.

Non-agricultural labourers: The concentration of poor is the highest in Tripura (51.6%) followed by Assam (22.1%) and Sikkim (15.5%) and in other states it ranges from 1.5% to 8.9%. The poor among the self-employment in non-agriculture comprises the rural artisans, the handloom weavers, small traders and businessmen, service providers etc. Assam has the maximum concentration (19.5%) followed by Manipur (17.1%) and Tripura (13.2%). The percentages in other states range from 2.4% to 6.1%. Rural artisans and village craftsmen have inherited skill that is responsible for poor quality of products which mostly satisfy local demand and have low market value. Significant enhancement of skills accompanied by modern tools and equipment can improve quality of products and fetch high value.

While poor among agricultural labourers can be productively engaged in by training them and commercializing various economic activities connected with agriculture, viz. crop farming, horticulture, sericulture, organic farming, livestock farming, poultry breeding, pig rearing and fish farming, forestry, bamboo cultivation etc. non-agricultural labourers can be gainfully employed in by improving their inherited skill and providing modern tools and equipment that can enhance productivity of micro and small enterprises viz. handlooms, handicrafts, village and khadi industries, rural industries, small and medium sized agricultural processing industries using raw materials from agriculture and animal husbandry etc. Youths, through skill enhancement program suited to specific manufacturing industries and business enterprises, can find employment in small and medium industries.

The unskilled workers have extremely limited opportunities for wage-based employment, hardly 20 to 30 days in a year. Policy initiatives to expand the scope of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme can certainly help large number of poor among agricultural and non-agricultural labourers seek employment in creating economic assets in villages and bridge the income gap. Besides, the National Rural Livelihood Mission [NRLM] program can be redesigned with components, viz.

– social empowerment
– economic empowerment
– partnership management and development
– project management.

The NRLM should aim at:
a. Creating sustainable community institutions around women-SHGs, youth groups of men and women and Community Development Groups
b. Building capacity of community institutions for self-governance, bottom-up planning, democratic functioning with transparency and accountability
c. Increasing economic and livelihood opportunities
d. Developing partnership of community institutions for natural resource management, micro-finance, market linkages, and sectoral economic services.

Small Scale Industries: The third census of SSI unit reveal that while the region employs 3.11% of country’s total persons in the SSI sector, region’s share in the output does not keep pace with that of the country in terms of the number of units and the number of persons employed. This is evident from the fact that while the region accounted for 3% of the total SSI units and around 3% of the total employment in the country it has produced goods and services equivalent to 1.78% only. Region is importing 80% of its consumption of plastic goods and products. Consumption is expected to rise from 15,000 TPA to over 60,000 TPA during the next decade. Region offers competitive advantages for plastic based industries to meet growing local demand for products. The region has potential for labour intensive and low capital investment industries. Small Scale units can be established utilizing natural resources such as agro-horticulture, minor forest produce, medicinal and aromatic plants and bamboo. It is reported that medicinal and aromatic plants in the region can support drug manufacturing related investment to the tune of Rs.600 to 800 crores. The estimated turnover of bamboo based industries is around Rs.10,000 crores. Nearly 40 small and medium size fruit and vegetable processing units can be promoted in the region on the basis of projected available produces. The NEC may consider instituting feasibility studies in consultation with professional institutions.

Regional Research Laboratory, Jorhat has so far evolved more than 50 cost effective technologies for commercializing the utilization of natural resources plentifully available in the region. RRL in coordination with NEC and State Governments can identify local entrepreneurs, motivate and train them to establish micro and small enterprises [MSEs] on pilot basis for two years in each State and modify learning lessons before replicating them throughout the region. Success of pilot MSEs can be ensured if a single window approach is conceptualized and operationalised. Under this approach, entrepreneurs should be facilitated to receive under one roof all the supplies and services, viz. training, services for preparing financially viable project, financial incentives/subsidy, bank credit [investment and working capital] at affordable interest rate and hassle-free, supply of standard quality and reasonably priced inputs of production on time, access to RRL technology, marketing support, among others. RRL will need to offer technical assistance and guidance to make project viable and successful as what RRL has researched and demonstrated. RRL should be equipped with facilities to document all medicinal and herbal plants of NE. Farmers particularly youths and women can be trained and financially incentivized to raise medicinal and herbal plants scientifically that entrepreneurs can process to produce drugs for domestic and international markets.

Job oriented skill: Wide spread poverty in the region is, among others, attributed to people deprived of knowledge and skill-based education and training. Although, the region relatively fares well in literacy, it significantly lacks in skill required to specific jobs available in the modern market. In the process, lack of appropriate skill results in low output and inferior quality of goods and services. State-wise identified activities that need specific job oriented skills include
– Arunachal Pradesh: Fruit and medicinal and aromatic plant processing
– Assam: Textile and sericulture & handloom
– Manipur: Fruit processing and handloom
– Meghalaya: Ginger processing and strawberry cultivation
– Mizoram: Fruit processing and handloom bamboo based units
– Nagaland: Agro industries and cane and bamboo based units
– Sikkim: Large cardamom and orchid culture
– Tripura: Rubber production and cane and bamboo based handicrafts.

It is necessary to:
a. Develop one Growth Centre for establishing small and micro enterprises based on the identified activities in each State by 2015 in the first phase and two more in each State by 2020 in the second phase
b. Impart job-oriented skills to youths and women in particular in respect of these activities
c. Accelerating the process of establishing in partnership with public sector banks the Rural Self-Employment Training Institute [RSETI] one in each district in the region to provide skill development training of youths
d. Train the youths at the Financial Literacy and Credit Counselling Centres established by the banks in each district
e. To make the existing curriculum of Industrial Training Institutes more job oriented fitting to the present day needs.

erw

By Abhishek Yadav:

Each year large numbers of civilians are killed and injured by explosive remnants of war. These are the unexploded weapons such as artillery shells, mortars, grenades, bombs and rockets, left behind after an armed conflict. When an armed conflict is over, the battlefields are often littered with explosive debris. Much of this debris is still dangerous, in particular stocks of weapons left behind by combatants and explosive munitions that were fired but failed to go off as intended.

Explosive remnants of war mean unexploded ordnance and abandoned explosive ordnance. (source)

The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons which came into force in 1983 seeks the prohibition of use of conventional weapons which are excessively injurious and whose effects are indiscriminate.

The UNCCW or the convention mainly has 5 protocols, they are:
1.  Restricts weapons with non-detectable fragments.
2. Restricts landmines and booby traps.
3. Restricts incendiary weapons.
4. Restricts blinding laser weapons
5. Sets out obligation and best practice for the clearance of explosive remnants of war.

Basically explosive remnants of war include all those arms and explosive weapons that have failed to explode when being fired. To understand the concept of this phrase we need to understand the protocol V of UNCCW which was adopted on 28 November and reads “sets out obligation and best practices for the clearance of explosive remnants of war.”

The discussion that led to the adoption of this protocol was prompted mainly by the appearance of cluster bombs and all those weapons which consisting of single bomb that releases large number of small radiations. Such type of weapons are used in various types of operations they are known to leave small devices unexploded. Several countries agreed on measures to clear all areas of unexploded devices and of explosive remnants of war that are dangerous to civilian populations, and these measures were incorporated in this new protocol which was adopted in Geneva convention on November 28, 2003.

The rules of the protocol V only apply to conflicts that occur after its entry into force. The states that are affected by the explosive remnants of war become party and are accorded the right to seek and receive assistance from other states. The state parties that are in position to provide assistance reduces threats posed by the weapons and provide assistance for the making and clearance of explosive remnants of war, for risk education and for the care, rehabilitation and social and economic reintegration of the victims.

The main factors affecting the explosive remnants of war are: (source)

1) Type of conflict
2) The number of forces involved in the conflict.
3) The types of weapons that were used in the conflict.
4) Time period of the conflict or the duration of the conflict.
5) The geographic location or the terrain.
6) Population density

Apart from these, there are many other factors that are responsible for this, such as failure in arms and ammunition. The arms and the weapons that generally cause threat to explosive remnants of war are
1) Grenades
2) Anti tank missiles
3) Air craft bombs
4) UAV(unmanned air vehicles)

The main problem which arises with these ordnances is because of the following reasons:

1) Location of conflict: eg. if there is a soft ground then there are more chances of failure.

2) Poor strike angles: eg. arms which are dropped from low altitudes

3) Storage problem: Ordnances need to be stored in a place where there is least chance of damage to their parts.

4) Rough handling

5) Production faults

Ottawa treaty

The Ottawa treaty or the mine ban treaty which was earlier known as convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti personnel missiles on their destruction, bans all anti personnel landmines. In October 1996, an issue challenged by Canada was responded and on December 1997, 122 countries intended to implement the treaty. To become international law 40 ratifications were required. On January 1999, it became binding among the ratified states.

As of January 2011, 156 countries have signed and ratified the treaty. There are some countries which have signed the treaty but did not ratify it like Poland. There are still 37 countries who have not signed this treaty like China, India, and Russia.

India

The main reason of tension in India is its issue with Pakistan for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The explosive remnants of war threat in India is in this state. Landmines and other such types of ordnances are planted in that land which is either cultivated or uncultivated near defence areas.

Another factor which contributes the problem of explosive remnants of war is the use of weapons by major security agency like NSA (national security agency). According to sources there has been general downward trend in the amount of ordnances by Indian security forces . (source)

There is very little data available on the impact of explosive remnants of war in India. The Indian armed forces are directly responsible for mines clearance activities throughout the country. India is one of the major countries which have played a major role in the UNCCW process and has ratified all protocols except for the protocol V on explosive remnants of war. India is one of the countries which have not signed the Ottawa treaty.

Other least developed countries which have been affected by this and which are trying to get rid of this matter and has made certain legislation or laws regarding the explosive remnants of war like Iran, Palestine etc According to assessment made available to landmines action it is unexploded ground and air delivered ordnances which are particularly threats to most of the countries. There are threats of explosive remnants of war originating from counter revolutionary groups fought against the central government.

There are lots of efforts made by the government of different countries to address these problems like the establishment of several committees at national level like National Committee of Demining in Iraq, which serves as the national mine action regulatory body and is also responsible for regulating, planning, and coordinating all mines action activities throughout the country.

Where people are living among ordnances contamination, the deliberate engagement in dangerous practices by children can also lead to adult engagement with ordnance. Sometimes people don’t not wait for official clearance teams to come in and take matters into their hands, attempting to burn them. Sometimes the local population may feel it is better to address the problem than to leave the items lying around where children can engage with them.

Conclusion

There is no objective of casualties and fatalities caused by explosive remnants of war. The data available is not sufficient enough to draw meaningful conclusion about the weapon system. It is evident from the causality statistics that the highest rate of causalities is in the period immediately after the return to normal life.

ner

By Dr Amrit Patel: 

Part 1

Indian Council of Agricultural Research: The ICAR Research Centre for NEH Region at Umiam was established in 1975 with six regional centres to improve and develop sustainable farming systems for different agro-climatic and socio-economic conditions of the region. It has undertaken significant researches which have yet to create impact on improving productivity, production and profitability of agriculture.

Processing Units: NER has Fruit Juice Concentration Plant at Nalkata; the Cashew Processing Unit at Agartala and Ginger Processing Plant at Byrnihat

Credit agencies: As on March 2011, Commercial Banks in NER had 1,255 branches

Local Bodies: NER has 7564 local bodies comprising 5106 gram Sabhas, 2023 village panchayats, 376 Block Councils, 47 Zilla Parishads, nine Autonomous District Councils [ADCs] and three Hill ADCs. While ADCs strive for preservation of tribal identity and heritage Village Councils act as administrator, justice provider and custodian of land and other resources. The Village Councils function in Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura. Nagaland and Tripura have utilized the importance of these institutions to large extent. The PRIs functioning in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, major parts of Assam and plain areas of Tripura act as development agent.

Budgetary Provision: The budgetary provision for the NER in Central Plan has steadily increased from Rs.3,211.00 crore in 1998-99 to Rs.21,772.22 crore in 2010-11.According to the Ministry of Development of NER, total Plan investments by the Centre and States of the NER had been of the order of Rs80,000 crore during the Tenth Plan through funding from various sources, including Central assistance provided to the States under their plans. These include project-based assistance under the State Plan, NLCPR, North Eastern Council [NEC] and the Central Ministries as well as Central Sector Schemes. According to DoNER, the Central Ministries/Departments (except the exempted Ministries/Departments) invested Rs35,186.30 crore from 1998—99 to 2005—06. During the Eleventh Plan the estimated investment was Rs2,11,613 crore whereas investment during the proposed Twelfth Plan is Rs5,05,499 crore and during first three years of the anticipated Thirteenth Plan is Rs612,779 crore. The actual plan outlay for the NER during the Eleventh Plan (2007-12) funded through all sources amounted to Rs.184,155 crore, excluding private sector investment. The utilization of the 10% mandatory earmarked funds by the Central Ministries has gone up in recent years. The projected requirement of NEC for the Twelfth Plan is Rs21,507 crore.

Demographic and Economic Scenario: Region’s 327.71 lakh rural population accounts for significantly higher at 84.34% than 72.20% in India. The potential work force (15-59 years) constituting 56.97% is almost at par with country’s 56.93%. However, it is the highest in Manipur (59.45%) followed by Sikkim (59.34%), Mizoram (59.09%), Tripura (58.96%), Nagaland (58.62%) and lower [56.63%] in Assam followed by Arunachal Pradesh (55.02%) and Meghalaya (52.90%) than in India.

According to Vision 2020 document of NER
– Per capita gross state domestic product in NER was Rs18,027 in 2004-05 that was less by 30.6% than all India average of Rs25,968
– Gross State Domestic Product of the region will have to increase at the rate of 11.8% and region’s per capita income at the rate of 10.5% per annum on an average to cope with all India level by 2020.

Poverty: The reduction of poverty in the NER during 1973-74 to 2004-05 was relatively better as it significantly declined from 51.9% to 19.1% as compared to 54.9% to 27.5% in India during the said period. According to Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program, in the North Eastern Region 7.90 million persons were below poverty line [BPL] in 2004-05 accounting for 2.82% of country’s 280 million below poverty line population and according to Planning Commission, BPL population in NER was 19.1% as against country’s 27.5%. However, in rural areas of the region, the BPL population was 22.3 % as compared to country’s 28.3% whereas in urban areas BPL population was significantly low at 3.3 % as against country’s 25.7 %. NER manifests significantly more rural poverty than urban. The agricultural labourers and self-employed in agriculture and in non-agriculture in rural areas are mostly poor.

Since agriculture provides livelihood support to 70 % of region’s population and cultivators [41.61%] and agricultural labourers [13.07%] together constitute the majority of the workforce in rural areas, factors contributing to poverty, inter alia, include
– The land has difficult problems of rugged terrain, inaccessibility in the hills, water stagnation and flood in about one third areas of the plains
– Higher concentration of poor among the Self-Employed in agriculture has impact on the poor performance of agriculture economy in six out of the eight NER states namely; Mizoram (93.1%), Manipur (77.3%), Sikkim (67.7%) Arunachal Pradesh (66.8%), Meghalaya (63.6%), Assam (33.6%),), Tripura (15.5%), and Nagaland (NA)
– The size of the majority of the farmers is tiny and lack  technical and managerial skill
– Traditional methods of cultivation using more land and labour that has made very little change in modernizing and commercializing agriculture over the years reflecting less area under assured irrigation (11%), less area under HYV seeds, least replacement rate of HYV seed, least application of modern farm implement and machineries, plough is most common farm implement.
– High acidity in the soil and less sunny hours inhibit crop growth.
– Inability to diversify production system for sustainable food security and commercial production.
– Productivity of food grains per unit of land is low except for Manipur and some pockets of Assam and Tripura.
– Access to formal credit is cumbersome and expensive.
– Grossly inadequate processing units to process and add value to surplus production of vegetables, fruits and spices.
– Subsistence mode of production aggravated by lack of enabling environment for growth.

Enabling Measures: Despite several efforts of the Union Government to develop the NER viz.
– Radical policy shifts
– Significant budgetary allocations and
– Institutional supports,
the region has high rural poverty and continues to be a net importer of food grains even for its own consumption. NER covers 7.7% of country’s geographical area but produces only 1.5 % of country’s food grains. The region is deficient in products mainly milk, meat and eggs even though livestock population is ubiquitous. It is estimated that there is a huge deficit of 87% in meat and 50 and above in milk, eggs and fish each. This, therefore, calls for enabling measures to significantly speed up the process of socio-economic development in NER that include, among others.
– Local bodies have necessarily to be involved right from beginning to plan, implement, monitor and review all development programs. Their role and functions need to be defined and supported by adequate finance and intensive training for capacity building.
– Access to educational institutions promoting skill development is a prerequisite for providing trained manpower. As per 1991 and 2001 census literacy rate of NER was 58.09% and 68.5% as against country’s 52.2% and 64.8% respectively.
– NEC and ICAR have been established in 1971 and 1975 respectively but their impact has yet to be felt in the region. They, therefore, need critical review to enable them to play expected role for which their role can be expanded.
– In Public-Private-Partnership mode location-specific processing units to support agriculture and allied activities; horticulture and vegetables; forest and bamboo etc.
– Investments till 2006-07 in Projects in sectors viz.
a. Transport and Communication
b. Water and Power
accounted for a lion share of 82.16% as against a fraction of 3.36% in Agriculture and Allied activities and 6.58% in Social and Community sectors. While former two sectors need expeditious implementation to yield expected results latter two sectors need focused attention and significant investment of 15% and 30% respectively in the Twelfth Plan.
– It is necessary to improve the effectiveness of the institutions to achieve the mandated objectives and targeted goals. They should be strengthened organizationally and financially, and provided with professionals in key areas. Existing personnel need training for capacity building. These institutions need to spread their wings in each State and should have a robust computerized Management Information System with effective monthly monitoring system to monitor physical and financial performance
– NEC can concentrate to have feasibility studies for exploiting the potential in agriculture; horticulture and vegetables; sericulture; organic farming; livestock, poultry and fish farming; forest and bamboo based products; handicrafts and handlooms etc., and formulate strategic action plan to achieve goals by the end of the Twelfth Plan as envisioned in Vision 2020 of NER.
– Credit agencies should be pro-active and make financial services available to farmers by establishing branches at strategic locations as also through technology applications. In a time bound program they can provide Kisan Credit Cards to all farmers and where necessary link with insurance companies to facilitate farmers access insurance products. They can design simple borrower-friendly lending policy, procedure, documentation and customized and flexible financial products that match needs of farmers in NER rather than one-fits-all for the country as a whole
– States must involve themselves much more in creating enabling environment that can facilitate institutions to perform their role vigorously and efficiently. There is no alternative to peoples’ participation, group action, forming SHGs of farmers, women, artisans and weavers, supported by an efficient input, technology, credit delivery and marketing system
– An independent professional body should be entrusted to conduct a comprehensive evaluation study every three years to assess the impact of these institutions on improving the specific areas for which they are established, identify the deficiencies and suggest remedial measures to achieve the targeted goals by 2020.

Conclusion: Let the year 2012-13 be fully devoted to create awareness among rural masses with regard to the role and functions of these institutions and identify critical areas of support they need from these institutions. This will help institutions reorient their role and ensure effectiveness to meet with people’s aspirations. Elected representatives irrespective of political affiliations in close coordination with individual States, in order to scientifically exploit the abundant resources available in NER aiming at alleviating rural poverty and enhancing the socio-economic development process, will have to show greater degree of concern and commitment to redouble their efforts to improve law and order situation in some areas building a strong political consensus.

ner

By Dr Amrit Patel:

Acknowledging the significance of traditional system of self-governance and social customs of livelihood in North Eastern Region [NER], Government of India, after independence, initiated policy to accelerate the process of socio-economic development in many parts of the Region. Government recognizing the demand for autonomy of the relatively more backward areas created initially six States [Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura] within the NER and subsequently added two more viz. Nagaland and Sikkim. This article briefly highlights the existence of abundant resources of the region and stark poverty in rural areas side by side and suggests the need to improve the effectiveness of institutional infrastructure the Government of India has put in place from time to time to accelerate the socio-economic development and growth of the region.

Natural Resources: The NER is richly endowed with natural resources, viz. Agro-forestry accounts for 26 % of the forest cover of India, largest producer of bamboo, world’s single largest tea growing region (16% share), largest producer (55% share) and exporter of tea in India, producer of premium quality Jute and silk, horticulture and herbal resources. It is rich in flora and fauna and is one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. The torrential Brahmaputra deposits its rich alluvial silt along the banks of the plains of Assam. Despite abundant natural resources and better education levels NER is one of the least developed — economically and industrially — regions in India. Per capita income in NER as a whole is amongst the least in the country.

With the establishment of the North Eastern Council [NEC] in 1971 by an Act of Parliament the policy, programs and strategies have been adopted for infrastructure
improvement and creation of basic minimum services in the region. With the implementation of Economic Reforms in 1990s, more importantly from the commencement of the Eighth Five Year Plan in 1992, the process of socio-economic development acquired added dimension.

New Initiatives: Government of India prioritized the economic development of the region from the Eighth Plan period onwards. In October 1996, the Government’s ‘New Initiatives for the North Eastern Region’ included, inter alia, specific measures for the development of the NER emphasizing planning and implementation of special programs for geographical area development and projects for the development of key sectors of the region’s economy accompanied by policy changes to suit the needs of the region with a radical departure from the policy pursued for the country as a whole, viz.

– To make financial resources available for the region’s development, a policy initiative to earmark at least 10% of the Plan Budgets of the Central ministries/departments
– The Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) created in 1997—98 to permit the accrual of the unspent balance of the mandatory 10% budgetary allocation of the Ministries/Department. The policy of NLCPR aimed at ensuring the speedy development of infrastructure to bridge the existing infrastructural gaps (economic and social) in the region through uninterrupted flow of funds available from the pool.
– Recognizing the need for significant levels of government investment and different types of requirements of the region, the States of the region have been categorized as Special Category States and Central Plan assistance to these States is provided on liberalized terms. For the Special Category States of NER, the per capita level of Central assistance is among the highest in the country. The per capita Central assistance, in the NER was Rs.2574.98 as compared to country’s Rs.683.94 in 2006—07. Central Assistance as a percentage of Gross State Domestic Product of Special Category States had been considerably high as compared to Non-special Category States during the Tenth Plan period.
– The Central Government has also been announcing special packages for socio-economic development of the NER from time to time. Priority funding (both in the Central plan and State Plan) is being arranged from time to time for expeditious implementation of these packages. Besides, NER implemented Government’s anti-poverty program of Integrated Rural Development from 1978 to 1999 and Swarnjayanti Gram Rozgar Yojana from 1999 to 2011 and now National Rural Livelihood program to alleviate rural poverty and since 2006 implementing Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to secure guaranteed employment of 100 days in a year.

Institutional Support: To accelerate the pace of development in NER institutions have been established from time to time viz. North Eastern Council; North East Development Finance; North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited; North East Handicrafts and Handloom Development Corporation, Indian Council of Agricultural Research Centre, among others.

Ministry of Development of NER: The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) was set up in 2001 to coordinate and give impetus to the Centre’s development efforts for socio-economic development of the region. DoNER now operates NLCPR which earlier the Planning Commission was operating. DoNER is responsible for coordination, planning, execution and monitoring of the developmental schemes and projects in NER. While DoNER is to coordinate with various Ministries/Departments primarily concerned with development and welfare activities in NER, the respective Ministries/Departments are responsible in respect of subjects allocated to them.

North Eastern Council: The NEC was established under the NEC Act, 1971 to act as an advisory and the Regional Planning body in respect of socioeconomic development and balanced development of the seven States of the NER in which the State of Sikkim was included in 2002, Sikkim. The functions of NEC, among others, include formulating regional plans and recommending the mode of implementation, monitoring the progress of project implementation and recommending to the Central Government the quantum of financial assistance to be given to the States. The function of NEC was to have been an effective regional planning body which will act as a bridge between the State’s priorities and the regional perspectives and ensure well-orchestrated investments of States and Central resources within a common regional perspective.

The NEC, since its inception, has invested Rs7182.61 crore till the end of the Tenth Plan [1972-73 to 2006-07]. Investments made in sectors include

– Rs.3315.32 crore in Transport and Communication
– Rs.2586.27 crore in Water and Power
– Rs.472.85 crore in Social and Community Services
– Rs.393.15 crore in Mapower Development
– Rs.241.53 crore in Agriculture and Allied Activities
– Rs.110.36 crore in Industry and Mining
– Rs.48.07 crore in General Services and
– Rs.15.06 crore in Externally Aided Projects.

North East Development Finance: NEDFi conducts feasibility studies of economic development projects involving agriculture, horticulture etc., training programs for capacity building of artisans, provides marketing support to rural artisans. It has established Business Facilitation Centre [BFC] in Aizwal in November 2011 to accelerate the pace of industrial development of the region. The BFC will assist, guide and mentor potential entrepreneurs in the MSE sector.

North Eastern Handicrafts and Handlooms Development Corporation: The Corporation is expected to

– Organize seminars and workshops to create awareness, provide training to the artisans and weavers for capacity building
– Design and Technical development workshops
– Integrated Design and Technical Development Projects
– Common facility centre for processing bamboo
– Set up handloom production unit to strengthen the common facility centre and provide training facility to tribal women weavers
– Provide marketing support through procurement of handicraft and handloom products directly from the artisans, weavers, SHGs at clusters and selling them through its emporia located at various metropolitan centres in India. It also helps artisans and weavers to sell products directly through North East Trade Expo, Crafts Fairs, Exhibitions etc. held in various parts of the country.

North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Ltd: NERMAC is engaged in capacity building of producers as sellers and markets farm products adding value to products. It assists to source, procure, and market cash crops and fruits from farmers of NER. It supports farmers in production and post-harvest technology to arrest decline in the prices arising out of larger output. It procures processed products from registered units in NER and supplies through its own outlets and other buyers to end-users. Its thrust area is to procure a variety of products from NER and market them inside and outside NER. Also, it markets seeds, planting materials and fertilizers. It has tie-up arrangement with National Horticultural Mission and National Food Security Mission for procurement and supply. In collaboration with Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Ministry of Development of NER, NEC American Soybean Association, Indian Institute of Packaging, etc. it has been conducting a number of programs, seminars, workshops, training on agricultural marketing, creating awareness, capacity building, investors’ meets etc. Under PPP mode it has set up vermin compost plant utilizing Agro-horticultural waste in Guwahati.

sani1

By Dr. Amrit Patel:

Continued from Part 2 of a 3 part series.

Sanitation machinery: Experiences suggest that no uniform design of a toilet should be forced on user-beneficiaries. The user of a toilet should be free to select design of his/her toilet. It is reported that Sulabh International has prepared 46 designs. They include designs of pour flush toilets meant for BPL families as well as for middle income groups (MIG) or higher income groups (HIG). BPL families can be provided toilet facilities free of cost whereas MIG and HIG can be extended subsidies. Banks can also consider them eligible for loan under priority sectors. In view of TSC being a program of national significance to promote clean defecation-free environment Government can consider interest-free bank loans to all beneficiaries to motivate them to have toilets in their houses.

The program requires house-to-house contacts and follow-up, which can best be done by NGOs and dedicated volunteers. The role of NGOs is very crucial in creating awareness and generating effective demand from rural households, planning and implementation of the program, follow-up etc. NGOs should have proven and demonstrated expertise and infrastructure. They need to be trained to implement the program. A comprehensive training program, inter alia, comprises requisite information, education, communication, implementation and follow-up etc.

Implementation of program will require significant efforts for social mobilization on a large scale which will include people belonging to various groups. Elected representatives at grass root level have a critical role.

In rural areas, public toilets are generally favoured near Panchayat offices, village markets, bus stations, community places etc. Public toilets should, preferably, be constructed by NGOs who can also be entrusted with the responsibility to maintain on a “Pay & Use Basis”.

Most schools in rural areas do not have toilets for children, consequent upon which boys and girls feel ashamed of and experience difficulties. This, also, increases drop-out rates particularly of girl students. It is necessary that within five years of the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17) every school should have toilet facilities. Individual donors, financial institutions, insurance companies, corporate houses, business community, private companies, NRIs etc. can consider to provide toilet facilities in schools to supplement Government efforts. The school administration and teachers have a role to teach students to keep toilets neat and clean and to monitor and ensure that students do so. Students would feel enlightened to accept responsibilities by turns to maintain the toilets clean under the close supervision of teachers and class representatives. Number of toilets must be adequate to match the strength of students.

Sewerage: In developed countries the standard practice for the sanitary disposal of human waste is sewerage. Sewerage was first introduced in London in 1850 followed by New York in 1860 and Kolkata in 1870. In India out of over 4800 towns/cities only 232 have the sewerage system and that too partially.  In India, according to Census 2011 only 32.7% urban Households and 2.2% rural Households have piped sewer facilities. Putting in place the effective sewerage system to address the problem of human waste management, treatment and disposal is extremely costly and requires exorbitant maintenance and operational costs. Besides, it requires skilled persons and good management for operation and maintenance. It requires huge quantity of water to clean human excreta. It may need building huge water storage and supply system to bring in water only to flush it down into an expensive sewerage system. The waste has to be properly treated and disposed of by designing the entire system scientifically otherwise it may end up polluting rivers and ponds. Even today most of our rivers are polluted due to untreated domestic sewage load from the cities. This has led to deterioration of groundwater aquifers and telling upon community health. The septic tank system is also expensive and requires a large volume of water for flushing. There is shortage of drinking water in almost all urban areas; hence water has to be conserved. Septic tank has other problems like periodic cleaning and disposal of sludge. Inadequate effluent disposal is a source of foul odour, mosquito breeding, and health hazards.

The septic tank system is also expensive and requires a large volume of water for flushing. There is shortage of drinking water in almost all urban areas; hence water has to be conserved. Septic tank has other problems like periodic cleaning and disposal of sludge. Inadequate effluent disposal is a source of foul odour, mosquito breeding, and health hazards.

Vision 2025: India, as an emerging economy and targeting double digit annual growth will have to resolve the problem of open defecation and providing toilet facilities with piped sewer system for disposal of human waste from the long-term perspective. Indeed neither the Government, nor local authorities or beneficiaries can bear the total capital costs and recurring operations and maintenance costs of sewerage system. For this purpose, Vision 2025 may need to be initiated focusing on sharing national and international experiences and information on best practices with developed countries; mobilizing financial resources from international financial institutions, viz. World Bank, Asian Development Bank etc.; harnessing technical expertise, technologies and equipment from reputed international professional agencies; formulating perspective plan to be implemented in phases to cover all cities and villages progressively in 15 years in a mission mode with public-private-partnership; training users and youth in all respects of maintenance and follow up, among many other methods.

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sani2

By Dr. Amrit Patel:

Continued from Part 1 of a 3 part series.

Another pertinent challenge to be dealt with is the rural-urban divide. Government of India’s first Socio-Economic Census and Comprehensive Population Survey, 2011, reveals significantly disappointing progress and developments on certain basic amenities to sustain human life. The number of houses increased from 250 million in 2001 to 330 million (132%) in 2011 whereas Government’s biased policy and enhanced purchasing power of millions in urban and metropolitan centres facilitated them easy access to state-of-the-art technologies and consumer goods, due to complex transition process experienced during post-market economy, in sharp contrast to a large number of rural households lacking access even to the most rudimentary facilities as per Census 2011. For example, while rural households (167,826,730) accounted for 68.03% of total 246,692,667 Households only 17.9% rural households have access to treated source of tap water as against 62.0% urban households and 62.5% rural households depend upon firewood for cooking as compared with 20.5% urban households. It is shocking that only 30.7% rural Households have latrine facilities as compared to 81.4% urban Households. Of this, as high as 63.2% rural Households have toilets with no drainage as against meager 18.2% urban Households and just abysmally as insignificant as 2.2% rural Households have piped sewer system as compared with 18.2% urban Households.

Discrepancies: According to Census 2011, at national level only 32.7% households have toilet facilities. The States with households more than the national average include Kerala (94.40%) Goa (72.6%), Punjab (71.9%), Himachal (67.5%), Haryana (57.7%), Maharashtra (44%), Andhra (34.9%) and Gujarat (34.2%) whereas the States with Households below national average include Jharkhand (8.3%), Madhya Pradesh (13.6%),  Odisha (15.3%), Bihar (18%), Uttar Pradesh (22.9%) and Tamil Nadu (26.7%). Dismally, the number of HH with toilets rose only 16.5% between 2001 and 2011. Increase is, however, just 4.8% in Bihar, followed by 6.12% (UP), 6.3% (MP), 8.3% (Odisha) and 8.4% (Rajasthan). It is  surprising that States reported households with toilets, on website of the TSC run by the Union Ministry of Rural Development, are significantly higher than that under Census 2011, viz. national average (68.15%), Kerala (100%), Himachal (100%), Haryana (96.04%), Uttar Pradesh (81.76%), Gujarat (81.6%), Tamil Nadu (78.11%),  Andhra (77.07%),Goa (76.24%), Madhya Pradesh (76.37%), Maharashtra (71%), Odisha (53.89%), Jharkhand (42.37%) and Bihar (32%). This invariably needs to be corrected since States in their enthusiasm to compete among them have reported significantly high achievements. It is also questioned whether toilets are really being used. People may agree to use toilets. But it is a challenging task to change to new habit when for generations they have been used to open defecation. It is necessary to sustain behavioral change.

Poor Performance: Poor performance with regard to sanitary facilities continues to be a major and serious concern for the country. Factors attributed to this  include, inter alia, (i) Cultural and traditional reasons and lack of education are the primary factors contributing to this unhygienic practice (ii) Most of SCs, STs, BPL families and lower income group  are generally not aware of the importance of sanitation for better health and clean environment. Sanitation is not a “felt need” for them and, therefore, they do not participate in sanitation programs (iii) Low sanitation coverage is due to inadequate and lack of concerted efforts to create awareness among rural households, motivate them to have toilet facilities, lack of affordable sanitation technology and trained implementing agencies and (iv) Non-availability of choice of toilet designs and area specific technologies, inadequate supporting delivery systems and absence of trained masons, skilled workers and technical manpower are reasons for low coverage.

What is needed: The program of TSC needs to be implemented on a missionary zeal fully supported, inter alia, by following critical elements in accomplishing its strategy. Till toilet facilities are provided in each village of the country a village-wide campaign is necessary to make rural people fully aware of the adverse effects of open air defecation which is mainly responsible for infections and a number of diseases. A massive campaign, through employing all available means of communication, has to be launched to make all the people in a village including school children, youth and women fully aware of the fact that they should never go barefoot for open defecation; should always cover the human excreta with the soil after defecation so as to prevent flies sitting on excreta and, in turn, contaminating eatables as this is the main cause of diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera etc. Rural sanitation as a part of heath should find appropriate place as the compulsory subject in primary schools. The ultimate objective of the campaign should be to create demand for safe hygienic toilets and save women in particular from the agony and humiliation of open air defecation.

Safe sanitation and clean water make the population healthier. There is no difference between health and sanitation as both are directly co-related with each other. Recognizing the outbreak of water-borne diseases like cholera, diarrhoea and cancer risks from arsenic in drinking water in several places, it is necessary to consider heath, water supply and sanitation as one sector rather than separate. There are tens of thousands of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in rural India. An ASHA worker is a village woman, preferably in the age group of 25 to 45 years and trained in the area of health. The services of ASHAs affiliated to National Rural Health Mission can be of significant help to create awareness among rural masses, more importantly women, in the matter of sensitivity to hygiene and sanitation issues.

For construction of toilets adequate number of masons have to be trained in the construction technology, methodology of implementation and follow-up work. Adequate number of pans and water seals of approved standard specifications and quality have to be made available at various centers so that people of the area can have easy and reliable access to the facility to construct toilets to suit their income and choice.

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Sanitation

By Dr. Amrit Patel:

Planning for human development in India is now more important than before, and it should aim at policy interventions that focus sharply on all its manifestations. It must ensure an improvement in the standard of living of the people through provision of Minimum Needs, more importantly of rural households by empowering the poor and marginalized. The Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17) should accord top priority for planning and implementation of human development programs and emphasize on a clean living environment and a more equitable distribution of development resources, opportunities and benefits. The development process should be made inclusive and should address challenges to formulate policies and programs to effectively and sustainably bridge regional, social and economic disparities. In this endeavour, rural women, in particular need to be adequately empowered so as to facilitate them to act as catalysts for change in country side.

Sanitation: In India, since time immemorial cleanliness has been considered as important as praying to God. And by tradition, the Indian society and culture values personal hygiene, but gives little importance to a clean and healthy community environment. Sanitation is an integral component of public hygiene and health care. In India, 736 million (71.7%) people out of total population of 1027 million lack basic sanitation facilities, thus resulting in high mortality and morbidity rates. Sanitation, in broad terms refers to the disposal and management of solid wastes, wastewater, human and cattle excreta etc. in such a way that it does not affect adversely domestic personal hygiene. Sanitation is a sine qua non for human health. It contributes to clean and improved environment, social development and generates significant economic benefits.

Human excreta, among all forms of wastes, are the principal sources of many enteric diseases and almost cause 80% of the diseases in developing countries. Studies reveal that over 50 types of infections can be transmitted from diseased persons to healthy ones by various direct and indirect routes from human excreta. Human excreta are the most hated object and anything connected with the latrine is considered so defiling that in India in past one was expected to take a bath immediately after coming out of the toilet and before entering into the kitchen due to religious taboos. Sanitation has, however, been seen as a matter of individual understanding and initiative rather than a collective responsibility of the community. Investment to promote environmental sanitation in this fast changing socio-cultural background is accorded the low priority.

Studies: According to a World Bank study, lack of toilets and other proper sanitation facilities costs India nearly $54 billion a year through hygiene-related illnesses, lost productivity and other factors stemming from poor sanitation. The problem is especially acute in rural areas where women suffer the most due to lack of proper sanitation facilities. A UN study in 2010 observed more people in India having access to a mobile phone than to a toilet. India’s mobile subscribers totalled around 894 million at the last count, enough to serve more than half of the country’s 1.2 billion people. But just 366 million people (30.5%) had access to proper sanitation. A recent UNICEF report says 638 million people (54%) defecate in the open in India as against just 7% each in Brazil and Bangladesh. Only 6% rural children below five years in India used toilets and about 50% of all Indians regularly wash their hands with soap after contact with excreta. Union Minister for Rural Development Shree Jairam Ramesh once said “It was shameful that India accounted for almost 60% of open defecations in the world”. He has recently made the commitment for making India “an open defecation-free” country by 2017.

Finance: Experts have observed that Government spending on sanitation and drinking water is grossly inadequate. According to the Center for Budget and Government Accountability, Government spending under these heads has declined from 0.59% of GDP in 2008-09 to 0.54% in 2009-10 and further to 0.42% in 2010-11. Union Minister for rural development Shree Jairam Ramesh has acknowledged that “Investment in sanitation and drinking water is as important as investment in defence”. He further adds “You can invest in missiles and tanks, in aircrafts, but if you don’t have clean drinking water, if you don’t have sanitation then the population is not going to be healthy. More investment in these sectors will result into better health of the people”. The Budget for 2012-13 has increased  allocation by 27% for rural sanitation and drinking water from Rs.11,000 crore in 2011-12 to Rs.14,000 crore.  A major initiative would be to strengthen Panchayats across the country through the Gram Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan and the capacity building of Panchayats.

Total sanitation campaign: The total sanitation campaign (TSC) launched in 2003-04 has been one of the flagship programs of the Government. The annual budgetary support has been gradually increased from Rs.202 crore in 2003-04 to Rs.1500 crore in 2011-12. The approved central outlay for the TSC in the Eleventh plan (2007-12) was of Rs.7816 crore. As of 28 December 2011, TSC projects approved with a total outlay of Rs.22, 022 crore (with a 65.5% Central Government share of Rs.14, 425 crore) are being implemented in 607 rural districts.

The TSC is implemented as a community-led and people-centric approach to generate effective demand for sanitation facilities by creating awareness among village communities, educating them and providing all required information that can help them avail Government’s subsidy and technical services under the TSC program. From June 1, 2011, to motivate the community towards creating sustainable sanitation facilities and their continued usage, the financial incentive in the form of subsidy for individual household latrines for BPL families has been raised from Rs.2200 to Rs.3200 and for hilly and difficult areas from Rs.2700 to Rs.3700.

TSC is an inclusive program and seeks active participation of all sections of society including women, SCs and STs. TSC has special components to encourage women and adolescent girls to actively participate in the sanitation program.  The Nirmal Gram Puraskar incentive scheme has been launched to encourage Panchayati Raj Institutions to attain a 100% open defecation-free environment. Under the scheme a total of 25,145 Gram Panchayats, 166 intermediate Panchayats and 10 district Panchayats have received the award in the last six years. Sikkim has become the first State to receive the award. Within a decade all 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats are proposed to be converted into Nirmal Gram Panchayats. The thrust is not just to construct toilets, but to ensure their continued use keeping clean and maintaining properly which, of course, calls for behavioural change.

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Photo Credit

By Dr. Amrit Patel:

Land has been a stock of renewable resources and a source for human survival as well as improving the quality of human life. Since it has competing demand and multiple uses the rate of land degradation far exceeds its natural rate of regeneration. This means the degraded land is not naturally replaced within a human lifetime resulting in a loss of opportunities for the next generation. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says, “For thousands of years, people have modified, degraded and destroyed natural ecosystem. In 1950, some 115 million square kilometers of the Earth’s surface were “undegraded and vegetated” land. Just 40 years later, almost nine million square kilometers were classified as “moderately degraded”, with greatly reduced agricultural productivity. A further three million square kilometers were “severely degraded”, having lost almost completely their original biotic functions. Almost 100,000 square kilometers are beyond restoration”. Degraded and Wastelands pose a threat to survival and quality of human life.

Extent of degradation

According to National Remote Sensing Agency’s district-wise mapping of wastelands, using satellite data, the wastelands in India is 63.85 million hectares. Besides deserts, drought-prone, flood-prone and tribal areas have been subjected to severe forms of degradation. Estimates of the cost of soil degradation during 1980s and 1990s ranged from 11% to 26% of GDP. The cost of salinity and water logging is estimated at Rs120 billion to Rs270 billion. The Working Group on “Watershed Development, Rain-fed Farming and Natural Resource Management”[WDRFNRM] for the Tenth Five Year Plan [2002-07] constituted by the Planning Commission had assessed that 88.5 million hectare degraded wasteland including rain-fed areas would need development. The Working Group envisaged to cover the entire 88.5 million hectare land in four successive Five Year Plans, commencing from the Tenth Plan to Thirteenth Plan at an estimated cost of Rs727.5 billion [at 1994 price].

Causes and Consequences

India has only 2.4% of the world’s geographical area and 0.5% grazing area but supports over 16% of the world’s population and over 18% of world’s cattle population. The degradation of environment in the fragile Indian sub-tropical eco-system is basically attributed to increasing biotic and abiotic pressure; absence of adequate investment and appropriate management practices; high rate of population growth and high incidence of poverty in rural areas; over exploitation of natural resources; the break-down of traditional institutions for managing common property resources and failure of new institutions to fill the vacuum and faulty land use practices. All these have resulted into soil and wind erosion; depletion of natural resources; lower productivity; groundwater depletion; shortage of drinking water; reduction in species diversity and increase in the extent of wastelands.

Ninth Five Year Plan

The programs for the development of degraded and wastelands got a major boost during the Ninth Plan. Two centrally sponsored schemes for soil conservation and integrated watershed management in the catchments of flood-prone regions introduced in 1961 and 1982 aimed at enhancing productivity of degraded lands, minimizing siltation of reservoirs and chances of floods. During the Ninth Plan both these schemes were merged into a new one- soil conservation for enhancing productivity of degraded lands in the catchments of river valley projects and flood prone rivers. The scheme is being implemented in 53 catchments having a total area of 113.40 million hectare spread over in 27 States. The scheme for reclamation of alkali soils introduced in 1985-86 was extended to all States in the Ninth Plan. It attempts to improve land and crop productivity by taking up production of crops, including horticulture, fuel wood plantation and fodder species suitable to the soil conditions. Integrated wasteland development project being implemented, since 1989-90, is based on village/micro watershed plans, which are prepared after taking into consideration the land capability, site conditions and local needs of the people. The scheme also aims at rural employment besides enhancing the contents of people’s participation in the development process at all stages, which is ensured by providing modalities for equitable and sustainable sharing of benefits and usufructs arising from such projects. The major activities undertaken are [i]in situ soil and moisture conservation measures like terracing, embankments, trenching, vegetative barriers and drainage line treatment [ii] planting multipurpose trees, shrubs, grasses, legumes and pasture land development [iii] encouraging natural regeneration [iv] promotion of agro-forestry and horticulture [v] wood substitution and fuel wood conservation measures [vi] drainage line treatment by vegetative and engineering structures [vii] development of small water harvesting structures [viii] afforestation of degraded forest and non-forest wasteland [ix] development and conservation of common property resources.

The mid-term appraisal of the Ninth Plan highlighted the immediate and pressing need for the successful implementation of the programs, such as projects should devote significant resources to social issues, a high proportion of staff should have experience and requisite skills in social mobilization, project leaders need to be fully committed to participation and officials must motivate users to participate, project monitors must explicitly check whether local organizations of users have been formed, senior staff should have capacity to influence users and field staff to work in close coordination.

Working Group

The Working Group on “Watershed Development, Rain-fed Farming and Natural Resource Management “constituted for the Tenth Plan projected that 107 million hectare of land were subject to degradation, of which 88.5 million hectare would have to be treated under watershed programs during Tenth to Thirteenth Plan.

New approach

The Integrated Wasteland Development Program is being implemented since 1 April, 1995 on the basis of new guidelines for watershed development recommended by the Hnumantha Rao Committee, which envisages the bottom up approach whereby the User Groups themselves decide their work program. It aims at creating a scenario where the Government acts as a facilitatorand the people at the grass root level become the real executioner of the program. Its strength lies in the flexibility approach followed in the method of release of funds, the area to be covered in each watershed as well as choice of components. It attempts to make the projects sustainable by establishing watershed development fund and involving people in deciding equity issues and usufruct sharing mechanism. It is not just a technical project but encompasses a social program as well. It, inter alia, emphasizes on greater flexibility in implementation, well-defined role for State, district and village level institutions, removal of overlaps, a greater role for women, an effective role for the PRIs, involving Self-Help-Groups comprising rural poor, especially those belonging to SC/ST categories, seeking credit from financial institutions, transparency in implementation and most effective use of remote sensing data furnished by the National Remote Sensing Agency.

Peoples’ participation

Since it is the man who is primarily responsible for degradation of environment, regeneration and conservation can only be possible by creating awareness and seeking participation of the people who inhabit the watershed. The entire watershed community should be involved to implement Integrated Watershed Development Program [IWDP] and maintain the assets created to ensure sustainability. It emphasizes that the IWDP would have to become a people’s movement in order to succeed. It is people’s own program, which aims at giving them actual decision making powers in terms of project implementation and fund disbursal. Its implementation seeks to empower people so that sense of collective responsibility can be inculcated among them. It aims at decentralized decision- making process by involving local people, PRIs, NGOs, Government departments and watershed community at the grass root level and promotion of locally available low cost technology.

The new approach, also, recognizes the need to involve the community as a necessary condition for the sustainability of the program. Activities under the community organization include organizing Self-Help-Groups and User Groups, Participatory Rural Appraisal exercise, awareness camps, exposure visits and programs on literacy, family welfare, social services, income generating activities etc. giving small contributions to SHGs or other village institutions like Mahila mandals, Youth clubs, Anganwadis which are considered important for people’s participation. Effective community organization is important to establish credibility of the Watershed Development Team and create rapport with the village community who is ultimately going to own and implement the program even after withdrawing the Government machinery. In short, peoples’ participation and community organization is primarily sought to establish a system under which village people can actually involve themselves in planning, implementation and monitoring of watershed development programs.

Institutional Arrangement

Institutional arrangement has been provided from village to state level for successful implementation of the program and making it sustainable and equitable, such as [i] Water development association has a key role to play. It consists of all members of the village whose land is situated in the watershed area called User Group and all those members who derive sustenance from the watershed area called Self-Help-Group [ii] Watershed committee is the key institution at watershed level consisting of about two to three representatives, each of User Group and Self-Help-Group, Panchayat and women etc. The committee also selects a watershed secretary preferably a local man graduate from the same area [iii] Watershed development team is a multi-dimensional team responsible for technical and financial supervision of the project activities. The team comprises field level officials drawn from various disciplines like forestry, soil conservation, horticulture, social science etc. These officials are key functionaries for sensitizing SHGs, UGs and villagers.

Performance

The performance analysis showed that [i] there have been 10 schemes for wastelands development implemented by three Ministries viz, Ministry of Agriculture [MoA], Ministry of Rural Development [MoRD], and Ministry of Environment & Forest [MoE and F]. Wastelands development program was started in early sixties and progressively strengthened during Ninth and Tenth Five Year Plans. The progress was slow till Eighth Plan. It acquired momentum during Ninth and Tenth Plan as the area treated as well as investment increased sharply from 17.672 million hectare and Rs46,388.0 million till Eighth Plan to 50.899 [188%] million hectare and Rs192,512.2 [315%] million at the end of Tenth Plan. The MoRD accounted for 32 million hectare [63%] of the treated area investing Rs95,232 million [49.7%] as compared to 18.77 million hectare [37%] at the cost of Rs96,804.9 million [50.3%] by the MoA. Of the 10 schemes, Drought Prone Area Program [DPAP], IWDP and Desert Development Program [DDP] of MoRD accounted for 27%,20% and 15% respectively of the total area treated as compared to NWDPRA [18%] and RVP&FPR[13%] of the MoA [ii] National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas [NWDPRA] launched in 1990-91[Seventh Plan] on pilot basis was implemented in 28 States during Tenth Plan. River Valley Projects [RVP] and Flood Prone Rivers [FPR] Program is currently implemented in 53 catchments in 27 States [iii]Watershed Development Project for Shifting Cultivation Area [WDPSCA]. An area of 4.357 million hectare is affected by shifting cultivation mainly in seven States of North Eastern region and Orissa. This scheme launched in the Seventh Plan [1987-88] has, since 1994-95, been implemented in seven States of North Eastern region [iv] Reclamation of Alkali Soils [RAS] about seven million hectare is affected by salt problem, out of which about 3.581 million hectare suffers from alkalinity in 11 States[v]Drought Prone Area Program [DPAP] was launched in 1973-74 and currently is implemented in 972 blocks of 182 districts in 16 States[vi]Desert Development Program [DDP] was launched in 1977-78 and is now under implementation in 235 blocks of 40 districts in seven States[vii]Integrated Wasteland Development Project [IWDP], a centrally sponsored project was introduced in 1989-90 and since 1 April 1995, is being implemented through watershed approach under the new guidelines in 443 districts[viii]Externally Aided Projects [EAP]: The MoRD is servicing externally aided watershed development projects for the development of degraded and wasteland areas.

Need for:

In order to accelerate the progress under various schemes there is need for initiating actions, viz.[i] Peoples’ participation and community organization need to be made very effective by building their capacity through structured training programs to ensure proper planning, implementation and monitoring that can achieve quantitative and qualitative objectives of the programs [ii] Program-wise comprehensive evaluation by an independent professional team needs to be conducted at the end of each plan period to assess improved productivity of wastelands, improved availability of fuel wood and fodder, increase in water table, reduction in migration, improvement of economic status of the people, cost-benefit ratio and rate of return on investment[iii]There is need to develop policies, which would result in the best use and sustainable management of land and water resources so as to prevent land becoming degraded and waste in the light of country’s food and livelihood security[iv]In order to formulate an appropriate plans for treatment of degraded lands a complete census of degraded or wasteland, its location, extent of area, ownership, the vegetative cover currently available and the biological, physical and chemical properties of land needs to be done [v] Since there are a number of schemes for the development of wasteland/degraded lands, a MIS with clearly defined benchmarks needs to be designed to get a realistic picture of the targets assigned, progress achieved and the tasks ahead[vi]The corporate sector may need to be involved in public-private-partnership mode to restore wastelands and reclaim degraded lands for which financial resources be channeled through involvement of financial institutions[vii] In collaboration with the National Remote Sensing Agency, the Department of Land Reforms has released a wasteland Atlas of India in March 2000 indicating district level information on 13 categories of wastelands, which should be updated periodically with annual status of land records [viii] Proper technical advice on the reclamation of wasteland and on improving biological potential should be indicated in the Soil Health Passbook issued to farmers.

Conclusion

The United Nations had designated year 2008 as the International Year of Planet Earth and celebrated it during the Triennium 2007-09. The event coincided with the launching of our Eleventh Plan [2007-12]. Now with the implementation of Twelfth Plan let all of us commit to protect and preserve our precious land, water and environment through all possible preventive and curative measures.

WTO

By Arpita Sharma:

The impact of the information technology has been to highlight a fourth element in the process of globalization and make it typical of globalization in our times. This is financial capital invested in the capital market of emerging countries. It is true that in the earlier period of gradual globalization, finances were even invested but this was in the form of foreign direct investment in factories and enterprises in different countries. The integrated capital market is a unique feature of the 20th century and our current times. A corollary of the process of globalization and the impact of technology has been the impact of advances in communication especially through satellite broadcasts as well as other means of communications like fax, telephones and the internet. This freedom of communication has also led to a pressure especially on those governments which try to operate a controlled regime. The collapse of the Soviet Union from 1990 onwards and the conversion of many of the erstwhile communist countries to market dynamics can also be, among other things, traced to the era of information technology where policing the borders became more difficult in view of the reach of technology.

This, in turn, led to a greater pressure on the global trade front resulting finally in the end of the Uruguay round leading to the setting up of the WTO in 1995. One major impact of the WTO has been that the trade barriers must be brought down. Government of India is also now part of this general trend. After the permit license raj for nearly forty years, from 1991 due to factors beyond contract, the Government of India adopted policies which are more market friendly. We are still progressing perhaps in a gradual way with two steps forward and one step backward. But the fact remains that in certain infrastructure areas like telecommunications, changes have come to stay.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is among the most powerful and one of the most secretive international bodies on earth. It is rapidly assuming the role of global government, as 134 nation-states, including the U.S., have ceded to its vast authority and powers. The WTO represents the rules-based regime of the policy of economic globalization. The central operating principal of the WTO is that commercial interests should supersede all others. Any obstacles in the path of operations and expansion of global business enterprise must be subordinated. In practice these “obstacles” are usually policies or democratic processes that act on behalf of working people, labor rights, environmental protection, human rights, consumer rights, social justice, local culture, and national sovereignty.

The International Forum on Globalization (IFG) focused its efforts throughout most of 1999 on the WTO and its relation to the larger issue of economic globalization. In Seattle, World Trade Organization (WTO) talks collapsed from internal irreconcilable divisions and the weight of protests directed at labor, human rights, the environment and secrecy. While grievances coalesce into new coalitions, an extensive structure of roots underlying these branches was unearthed: the perverse incentives favoring transnational corporations and vast inequality in the prices of goods traded. Creating a system that promotes healthy economic development will require creating new “rules,” new institutions and funds.

The WTO, globalization, and a new world order

IMF-instituted structural adjustment programs (SAPs) were designed to boost export crops to ensure repayment of debts. But belt-tightening stipulations cut nation-state spending on housing, education, health and public transport — the sectors that buttress domestic economies. Dismantling state infrastructures has harmed many nations and has widened income gaps. The discrepancy between the “state of the economy” and the condition of populations has become increasingly evident. By the early 1990s it became apparent — even to prominent World Bank economists — that SAPS were pulling the rug out from under national infrastructures, preventing poverty alleviation and competition, and encouraging corruption. Meanwhile, floating exchange rates facilitated an explosion in currency trading (yen vs. dollars, etc.) from $18 billion daily in 1972 to over $1.5 trillion daily in the 1990. The rapid movement of what might be called “specudollars” helped set the stage for the 1996/97 collapse of Asian currencies. A new architecture for global governance could have three elements:

[1] Rules: New rules are needed to constrain capital flows to prevent the volatile, destabilizing, speculative movement of capital and to direct funds towards healthy development. Unplayable debts must be forgiven. The forgiving of debt would be a compensation for past inequities of terms of trade and extraction of wealth.
[2] Institutions: The World Bank (WB) is a bank, not a development agency. One possible candidate for administrating global governance is the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) — a union of the UN Development Program, the UN Environmental Program and the WB. GEF gives grants. Recently it has increased Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) participation, albeit inadequate; and its funding is grossly insufficient.
[3] Incentives and Funds: Perverse subsidies — those encouraging the extraction, mining, refining and combustion of coal and oil — must be eliminated. Subsidies and tax incentives must be switched to stimulate producers and consumers of clean energy and energy-efficient technologies. New enterprises for fuel cells, solar, etc., can generate jobs and trade — a “win-win” for the economy and the environment. International agreements — such as the Kyoto Climate and Biodiversity Conventions — are hampered by the absence of financial resources. Universal acceptance of the 1987 Montreal Protocol to phase out stratospheric ozone depleting chemicals was achieved when funds were allocated to transfer technology to poor nations. For wealthy and poor nations, funds can help “jump-start” clean, infant industries. Funds are also needed to support what the private sector will not, such as watershed protection.

Compensation will be needed for nations sharing their genetic resources for medicines and crops. And (credit Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs), funds are needed to develop vaccines and drugs for diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, for which there is no current lucrative market in the most afflicted nations. And funds are needed for reparations for climate and extreme weather-driven devastation in nations such as Honduras, Venezuela and Mozambique. Developed nations have also begun to experience more severe and unpredictable weather patterns. Hurricane Floyd in North Carolina, September 1999, afforded an abrupt and devastating end to an extended summer drought. Prolonged droughts are also afflicting parts of Europe, while growing temperature contrasts between cold poles and warm tropics generate windstorms, like the twin winds that raced across the Atlantic over Christmas 1999, destroying France’s forests. Extreme weather events are having long-lasting ecological and economic impacts on a growing cohort of nations, affecting infrastructure, trade, travel and tourism.

WTO’s limited mission

The WTO replaced the better known GATT (General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade) which was itself a far cry from the originally planned International Trade Organization (ITO). The ITO was to be created after the second World War as the third pillar of the Breton Woods system and was meant to take an integrated approach to many trade related matters: securing full employment, reducing tariffs which stand in the way of economic growth, protecting workers’ rights, preventing undue domination and manipulation by big companies (competition policy), assisting weaker economies in gaining access to capital and technology, and managing commodity trade. The WTO was established with a far more limited mission:

[1] Enforcing the trade
contracts negotiated in the Uruguay Round (1986-1994) among the member countries (132 by end September 1997).
[2] Continuing negotiations on trade and investment rules and liberalization of trade in agricultural and manufactured goods, the services sector (e.g. consultancies, tourism) and investment.

But many of the matters the Ministerial Conference, the highest decision-making body of the WTO, had to contend with at its initial meeting in Singapore in December 1996 were ITO issues left out of the WTO: passionate discussions on whether the WTO should deal with labor rights; calls for technical and financial assistance for the least developed countries (LLDCs) and new WTO discussion groups on the issues of competition policy and multilateral investment rules. As in the draft ITO, the WTO has to cooperate with the World Bank and the IMF with a view to achieving greater coherence in global economic policy-making. Cooperation agreements between the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF have been signed but there is no high level macro-economic co-coordinating mechanism to deal with debt, trade imbalances and budget deficits – all obstacles to weaker economies benefiting from world trade. Co-operation seems to occur mostly at the operational and country level such as exchanging information and expertise at meetings and among officials (e.g. on balance of payment problems of a particular country). Recently, the World Bank and the IMF have been involved in efforts to coordinate technical assistance for each of the LLDCs. Such co-operation increases the danger of joint conditionality towards total free trade in developing countries.

WTO’s role in globalization and marginalization

At the Singapore Ministerial conference many euphoric statements were made about the achievements of globalization and the WTO’s contribution to this process. Globalization is not only the result of technical innovations, capital concentration, the geographic spread of production processes and other company strategies to improve profit-making worldwide 24 hours a day. Political decisions by governments to remove institutional barriers to international trade and capital flows and to provide incentives for companies have also supported the globalization process: at national level through unilateral liberalization and structural adjustment for export-led growth, and through labor and social policy reform; at regional and multilateral levels, through agreements on trade and investment liberalization.

The WTO is the most important regulator of trade at international level and also sets the terms within which regional agreements can be signed. In this way, globalization is managed at world level from a trade perspective.

The WTO contributes to unequal competition

The WTO and the Uruguay Round agreements contribute to unequal competition because:
1. Developed countries give less market access to products from developing countries (average 4.3%) than those from among themselves (average 3.8%), and tend to impose high tariffs on those products most valuable to least developed countries (clothing, leather, fish, agriculture).
2. The phasing out of quantitative restrictions for textiles and clothing exports to the North is very slow and may make it difficult for small and poor producers to compete.
3. The agricultural agreement has led to competition between (indirectly) subsidized farm products of the North and unsubsidized agricultural products in developing countries.
4. Safeguard and anti-dumping rules still have loopholes and are more frequently being used to stop competition from labor-intensive products.
5. The enforcement of intellectual property rights (TRIPs) is likely to make necessary technology and essential goods (e.g. medicines, seeds) too expensive while not being able to stop bio-piracy by foreign companies.

About the author: Arpita Sharma is Ph.D. Research Scholar with UGC-JRF fellowship in the Dept. of Agricultural Communication of G. B. Pant University at Pantnagar. She obtained her M.Sc. from the same University. Her research interests focus on Effects of Information Communication Sources on Rural Society. She has published review papers, research papers, articles in various Mass Communication journals and Rural Development Journals as well as Magazines. She had got the Assistance- ship during M.Sc. and UGC-JRF Fellowship in Ph.D. She has presented papers in National and International seminars.

Women from Suwana block, Bhilwara district in Rajasthan demonstrate how a hand-held device can help them register demand for work

By Arpita Sharma:

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. MGNREGA has a right-based framework, unlike  earlier employment generation programmes. Its demand-based entitlements stem from the fundamental right “to live with dignity”, and set it apart from other cash conditional transfers, as well as a social safety net, dependent on Government benefaction.

Women from Suwana block, Bhilwara district in Rajasthan demonstrate how a hand-held device can help them register demand for work

The act has a bifocal lens, as the instrumentality of work generates employment and productive assets. The process of implementation seeks to strengthen decentralized democratic governance, promote equity and empower rural communities. The MGNREGA was notified on 2nd February 2006 in 200 districts, extended to additional 130 districts in April 2007,  and thereafter  notified in the remaining rural areas   of the   country in April 2008. The Act spans 619 districts, 6400 Blocks, 6 lakh villages and around 2.35 lakh village Panchayats.

Over the last four years, the    performance of the Scheme compares favourably with other antipoverty initiatives that India has undertaken. Since its inception, Rs. 101387.6 Crore has been released to States/UTs. The total expenditure was Rs. 98486.46 Crore of which Rs. 66976.91 Crore was given as wages (i.e. 68%). 800 Crore person-days            have been generated and the number of works undertaken have exceeded 45.5.lakhs. More than 50% of the works taken up are related to water conservation.    

Measures for Government Reform and Transparency

A number of measures towards governance reform have been imitated as summarized below: (1) strengthening administrative systems through additional dedicated personnel, (2) strengthening the Gram Panchayat (GP) through funds and functionaries, (3) streamlining financial systems, (4) opening workers’ accounts in banks and Post Offices (about 90 million such accounts have been opened) (4) intensive monitoring, (5) imitating district Ombudsman (6) attempting to make social audits more inclusive (7) setting up a web-based Management Information System(MIS).  The large scale of operations, the limitations of outreach of various services and the need to handle large volumes of information in a transparent manner necessitated the use of ICT in program delivery. ICT facilities, both to support Gram Panchayat and block officer of Program Officer (PO) as well as public access to information and online transactions are being promoted.

Management Information System

Successful implementation of MGNREGA seriously depends on the establishment and operationalization of a proper computer-based Management Information System (MIS) that interconnects all the Gram Panchayats, Blocks, Districts, States and the Union Ministry through an ICT network.

A web-enabled MIS www.nrega.nic.in has been developed. This makes data transparent and available in the public domain to be equally accessed by all. The village level household data base has internal checks for ensuring consistency and conformity to normative processes. It includes separate pages for approximately 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats, 6465 Blocks, 619 Districts and 34 States & UTs. The portal places complete transaction level data in public domain for example – Job cards, Demand for work and Muster rolls which is attendance-cum-payment sheet for worker. All critical parameters get monitored in public domain: (1) Workers’ entitlement data and documents such as Registration, job cards, muster rolls Work selection and execution data including, shelf of approved and sanctioned works, work estimates, works under execution, measurement (2) Employment demanded and provided (3) Financial indicators such as funds available, funds used, and the disaggregated structure of fund utilizations to assess the amount paid as wages, materials and administrative expenses. Since the MIS places all critical data on the web and this data is software engineered, it has significant advantages in terms of transparency as it allows cross verification of records and generation of reports on any parameter of the Act. The various stakeholders of the project are: (1) Citizens (2) Gram Panchayats, Block Panchayats and Zilla Panchayats (3) Workers (4) Program Officers (5) District Program Coordinators (6) Implementing agencies other than PRIs (7) State RD Departments and (8) the Ministry of Rural development and administrators in Government of India.

Vision and Objective of the Project (1) NREGAsoft (the MIS system) envisions implementing e-Governance across State, District and three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions. (2) It empowers the common man using information technology as a facilitator. (3) NREGAsoft provides information to citizen in compliance with the right to information Act (RTI Act). It makes available all the documents like Muster Rolls, registration application register, job card/employment register/muster roll issue register, muster roll receipt register which are hidden from public otherwise. (4) To facilitate faster information exchange between the various stakeholders through the network.

MGNREGA Help Line: The Department of Rural Development (DRD), Government of India proposes to establish a network of Helplines under MGNREGA at the National, State, District and Block levels for facilitating the redressal of grievances in relation to the implementation of the MGNREGA Scheme. The Helpline consists of a toll free MTNL number (1800 110 707) that will be used by the MGNREGA households and other individuals and groups to raise their questions, submit their grievances and complaints and seek guidance from the Department of Rural Development. On receipt of the calls, Department of Rural Development intends to resolve the grievances by requesting the field level MGNREGA Authorities to take suitable remedial action and obtain feed-back. Action on each complaint needs to be ensured and pending complaints need to be closely monitored. The operations will run with the use of latest information and communication technology to provide solutions to complainants on a real time basis. Through the same helpline, the operations will run with the use of latest information and communication technology (ICT) to provide solutions to queries and/or complainants on a real time basis.

 

Arpita Sharma is Doctoral Research Scholar in the Dept. of Agricultural Communication of G. B. Pant University at Pantnagar. 

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By Dr. Amrit Patel:

Already food prices in India have skyrocketed making lives of tens of millions miserable and threatening our food security. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization & OECD countries have warned stating that ‘with the pressure on world prices of most commodities not abating the international community must remain vigilant against further supply shocks’. Dr. Man Mohan Singh, our Prime Minister, once emphatically said, “Inflation hurts the weakest sections of the society the most and there can be no better anti-poverty program than developing agriculture, which has potential to arrest rising food prices and contain inflation”. Growth in agriculture has a maximum cascading impact on other sectors leading to the spread of benefits over the entire economy and the largest segment of population. According to the World Development Report “the GDP growth arising from agriculture is almost four times as effective in reducing poverty as GDP originating outside the sector”.

Minimum 4% annual agricultural growth in India is a pre-requisite for inclusive growth, poverty reduction, development of the rural economy and enhancing farm incomes. Ninth and Tenth Five Year Plans witnessed average annual agricultural growth rate of 2.44% and 2.30% respectively compared to 4.72% during Eighth Five Year Plan. In 2011-12, agricultural growth rate is estimated at 2.5% and during Eleventh plan period at 3.28% against a target of 4%. The Approach Paper to the Twelfth Plan emphasizes the need to “redouble our efforts to ensure that 4% average growth” is achieved, if not more. To achieve 4% minimum growth rate in agriculture per annum and enhance substantially farm productivity during the Twelfth Five Year Plan [2012-17] and make food accessible to all, more particularly those guaranteed under proposed Food Security Bill, country needs to productively and optimally utilize budgetary allocations for the year 2012-13 and launch Nationwide Grow More Food campaign right from this kharif season with sharp focus on better coordination and effective communication system. This paper attempts to briefly highlight important components of the budget that intend to enhance agricultural growth, need for achieving specific targeted goals that can significantly influence agricultural growth during the Twelfth Plan, critical areas for launching grow more food campaign, effective coordination among institutions and better communication system.

Budget: Budget for the year 2012-13, incidentally coinciding with the first year of the Twelfth Five Year Plan, incorporates following critical components to impact agricultural growth and provision of value chain services that can integrate agricultural research, extension, education, input supply, production, storage, processing, marketing system etc.

Financial allocations: Budget in a modest way provides, inter alia, Rs.20,208 crore under agriculture and Rs.9,217 crore under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana indicating 18% and 17.26% respectively increase over the previous year. Dairy sector is provided Rs.2,242 crore under World Bank assisted project. Five agricultural universities will receive Rs.350 crore to intensify agricultural research and Rs.200 crore allocated to incentivize research with rewards to institutions and research team responsible for scientific breakthrough. . Food storage capacity is being augmented.

Bank credit: Bank credit targets have been raised by 21% to Rs.5,75,000 crore. Farmers will continue to receive crop loan up to Rs.300,000 at 7% interest rate per annum and further 3% interest rebate for timely loan repayment making 4% effective interest rate per annum. The said facility is extended for storage of farm produce under Warehouse receipt system.

Programs: Important programs ,among others, include National Food Security Mission, National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture including Micro-irrigation, National Mission for Protein Supplement, National Mission on Oilseeds and Palm, National Mission on Agricultural Extension and Technology, National Horticulture Mission, National Mission on Seeds and Planting Material, Accelerated Fodder Development Program, Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Program, National Mission on Food Processing, National Mission on Agricultural Mechanization, Integrated Scheme for Farmers’ Income Security, Central Agriculture Infrastructure and Establishment Scheme, National Center for Crop Statistics. Effective planning and implementation of programs with appropriate mechanism to monitor the progress will substantially improve farm productivity, output and profitability at farmer’s level.

Need for: In order to achieve minimum 4% agricultural growth and farm productivity there is need to achieve following targets specific to policy and programs by the end of Twelfth Plan.

[i] As proportion of the value added by agriculture to GDP, Gross Capital Formation in agriculture and allied sectors rose to 20.1% in 2010-11 from 13.5% in 2004-05 [at 2004-05 prices] which now should rise to 30%
[ii] Expenditure on agricultural research and development should be stepped up from the current 0.67% of agricultural GDP to 3%
[iii] States have increased allocation to agriculture and allied sectors from 4.88% of total State Plan expenditure in 2006-07 to 6.04% in 2010-11 which should increase to 8.5%
[iv] About 40% of farm produce is wasted, due to inappropriate, inadequate and inefficient transport, storage, processing and procurement facilities, that need to be reduced to less than 5% and processing of fruits and vegetables raised from current 2.2% to 20%
[v] Agricultural exports which accounted for 1.7% share of world trade in agriculture in 2010 as per International Trade Statistics published by the WTO should rise to 3.5%.
[vi] During 2000-01 to 2011-12, growth in yield of rice, wheat, coarse cereals, pulses, and oilseeds per hectare was 1.68%, 1.14 %, 4.39%,1.91% and 3.39% respectively, which should now improve to 2.5%, 3.0%, 6.0%,3.5% and 5.0% respectively. Growth in yield of total foodgrains was 2.91% which should improve to 4.0%.
[vii] Currently only about 62 million hectares [44%] of the cropped area is irrigated as against net sown area of about 140 million hectares out of total cultivable area of 182 million hectares. Net sown area under irrigation can be expanded to 100 million hectares and additional area of 25 million hectares brought under cultivation. By March 2010, utilization of irrigation has been 85% of 108.2 million hectares of potential created which should increase to 100%. Further, water use efficiency of the Government and private irrigation projects is 40% and 65% respectively that should improve to 70% and 80% respectively. The return on irrigation projects undertaken by the Government is around 30% of their maintenance costs which must increase to 65%.
[viii] Currently more than 80% farmers still rely on farm-saved seeds leading to a low rate of seed replacement which should increase to 80%
[ix] Current farm power availability which hovers around 1.7 kw/ha being significantly lower than that in South Korea [7+kw/ha] and Japan[14+kw/ha] must increase 2.5 kw/ha
[x] Fertilizer use efficiency has to be significantly improved using organic and inorganic sources in appropriate proportion matching the needs of crops, soil and water based on soil and water analysis.
[xi] Micro-level, block-specific agro-meteorological advisory services need to be provided through establishing automatic weather stations in all districts vulnerable to climate change.

Village Panchayats must necessarily, in close participation of farmers, be involved in planning and implementation of agricultural development programs and their monitoring of progress. In these efforts they can be trained for capacity building. Most programs can be implemented in a public-private-partnership mode. Experts can identify gaps in the planning, service delivery and implementation process of programs and endeavor to bridge them to yield expected results. Farm produce should be procured under public procurement system from marginal and small farmers on priority basis who should be paid 50% extra over the minimum procurement prices and most of the produce stored in villages or block headquarters. Financial inclusion as is being pursued in rural areas will have significant meaningful impact if it is simultaneously accompanied by agricultural inclusion which can have four core production dimensions, viz. [i] What is provided: A full range of services that include production inputs[ seeds, fertilizers, pesticides], irrigation, farm power, credit, production technology, transport, storage, marketing services in particular [ii] How it is provided: With quality i.e. convenience, affordability, safety, dignity of treatment and grievance redressal [iii] Who receives: Every farmer with prioritizing marginal and small farmers, tenant farmers, share croppers, oral lessees, women [iv] Who provides it: A range of providers led by mainstream department of agriculture and private organizations

Regulatory & Development Authority: [1].Since resources, viz. land, water and energy are limited, scarce, costly and having competing demand for urbanization, industrialization and meeting farming needs, there is greater need now than before to consider appointing an independent Regulatory and Development Authority manned by professional to look these resources in totality and evolve appropriate legal framework, mechanism and procedure to deal with existing and emerging issues.[2]. Farm productivity improvement depends significantly upon the use of inputs, viz. seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, water, farm equipment and machinery etc. which have necessarily to be of standard quality, available on time and at reasonable price protecting consumers’ rights. This, therefore, calls for putting in place Regulatory and Development Authority to consider legal framework, mechanism and procedure to ensure that farmers as users invariably are guaranteed to receive farm inputs of these characteristics.

Grievance redressal cell: At Block level cell to redress farmers’ grievances should be established with full accountability.

Campaign: Despite India has the largest irrigated land and ranks second in terms of arable land the yield of most of crops is 20-40% of the world’s best levels. India can increase wheat production by 30 million tones or around 40% and double paddy production at current levels of technology. The multiplication and cultivation of outstanding varieties of chickpea, pigeon pea, moong, urad, and other pulses under the Pulses & Oilseeds Villages Program can significantly bridge the gap of about four million tons of pulses between the demand and supply Not only these crops require less water but pulses also fix nitrogen in the soil. Cereal-legume rotation can build, replenish and maintain soil fertility. The yield gap between the actual yield and the vast untapped yield reservoir existing in the farming systems needs to be bridged by launching campaign to remove technological, economic and environmental constraints, efficiently use Rs.25,000 crore available under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana both in irrigated and rain-fed areas, implement 50,000 Pulses and Oilseeds Villages program in rain-fed areas on a system approach linking the production, plant protection, procurement and consumption chain. This calls for launching a systematic, planned and result oriented “Grow More Food Campaign” in every village right from this kharif season during the Twelfth Plan to create awareness among farmers and ensure that farmers secure inputs, technical guidance, credit and post-harvest services.

Coordination: Over a period of time Government has created a vast institutional infrastructure investing huge amount. It is now high time that this infrastructure should be optimally and profitably utilized to deliver services to farmers in a transparent manner that must result into expected goals and be accountable. Effective horizontal coordination is essentially called for among Panchayati Raj Institutions, agricultural universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, commercial banks, cooperatives, RRBs, lead bank, NABARD, input agencies under the leadership of Department of Agriculture in each district to formulate, implement and monitor strategic action plan envisaging targeted food output and to ensure that at village level [i]farm extension staff guide farmers, based on soil & water analysis, for adopting the best diversified cropping system, meticulous adoption of technology [how & when] and judicious use [no more, no less] of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, water, labor [ii] scientific techniques are disseminated involving integrated nutrient supply, water & pest management among farmers through mass scale field demonstrations [iii] farmers receive inputs, farm equipment & machinery of standard quality, on time and at reasonable prices [iv] farmers receive hassle-free production and investment credit and Government subsidies on time [v] significant number of marginal farmers, tenant farmers, share croppers and oral lessees account for production loans without offering any collateral as mandated by the Government[vi] reasonable proportion of bank credit should also flow for informal debt swapping [vii] contingency plans/mid-season correction plans in the event of seasonal aberration are implemented [viii] farmers’ skill to formulate Farm Plans & Budgets needs to be developed through capacity building training. [ix] role, responsibilities and accountability of each coordinating agency/institution need to be spelt out clearly[x]panchayati raj institution at village level should be provided capacity building training. The Central and State agencies should procure pulses and crops like jowar, maize, bajra, ragi,and hill millets in order to diversify food basket. Relationship between tenant farmers and land owners need to be legally established to facilitate them access to bank credit and insurance cover. All these in the process would reflect on improving productivity of crops & resources, reduction on costs and enhancing rate of return on farm investments.

Communication: Cost efficient communication between farmers and extension staff once in 10 days at village level should be established and need based seminars & workshops to share knowledge and resolve problems be organized. Mass communication media viz., All India Radio, Televisions and local newspapers should frequently disseminate full authentic information and also organize discussions between farmers and experts on the efficient use of technology, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, farm equipment, credit, subsidies under Government programs and to make farmers fully aware of what facilities & assistance are available and where from.

Image courtesy: http://traveltrance.com/?p=7512 and http://www.inex.org/tag/india/

Climate change and agriculture

By Dr Amrit Patel:

The UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen concluded on 18th December’09 did not yield expected results. Meanwhile it is, therefore, necessary that each individual country should formulate its own action plan to minimize the incidence of carbon emission to the maximum extent possible within its own resources and capabilities and monitor meticulously on an annual basis in the interest of human survival. It should concentrate more on research and development effort too. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities has been occupying a central place in all agreements on climate change. In so far as India is concerned the common but differentiated responsibilities should focus sharply on the concern, commitment and accountability of all stakeholders for investing adequate resources to support climate change mitigation, adaptation, technology development, transfer and dissemination to make country’s agriculture resilient, since the Report on Global Warming sufficiently warns that climate change is likely to affect agriculture adversely & increase the risks of hunger & drinking water scarcity due to enhanced variability & more rapid melting of glaciers

Agriculture

According to World Meteorological Organization, climate change can adversely impact global environment, agricultural productivity and the quality of human life. More importantly in developing countries, it will be difficult for farmers to carry on farming in the increased temperatures. Recognizing this, it is necessary that India should address the issue of climate change and focus on providing better environment to improve quality of human life.

According to FAO, “ocean warming, frequent tropical cyclones, flash floods and droughts are likely to bring a devastating impact on food production systems in Pacific islands countries” The Report on “Climate Change and Food Security in Pacific Island Countries” says “climate change-related disasters have already seriously constrained the development of these islands and reduced food security, especially for households”. FAO hosted “High-Level Conference on World Food Security” from 3 to 5 June 2008 concluded with the adoption by acclamation of a Declaration on World Food Security, as under.

“It is essential to address the question of how to increase the resilience of present food production systems to challenges posed by climate change. We urge Governments to assign appropriate priority to the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, in order to create opportunities to enable the world’s smallholder farmers and fishers, including indigenous people, in particular vulnerable areas, to participate in and benefit from financial mechanisms and investment flows to support climate change adaptation, mitigation and technology development, transfer and dissemination. We call upon relevant inter-Governmental organizations, including FAO, within their mandates and areas of expertise, with the involvement of national Governments, partnerships, the private sector, and civil society, to foster a coherent, effective and result-oriented international dialogue on bio-fuels in the context of food security and sustainable development needs”.

Impact: Climate change affects everyone. But the worst sufferers would be hundreds of millions of small and marginal farmers and people depending upon forests, who are already vulnerable and food insecure. The rise in global temperature on account of climate change would affect agriculture. While in temperate latitudes a rise in temperature would help countries increase food productivity, it will have adverse effects in India and countries in the tropics. The monsoon accounting for 75% of India’s rainfall significantly impacts country’s agriculture and livelihood of tens of millions of small farmers. Climate change is likely to intensify the variability of monsoon dynamics, leading to a rise in extreme seasonal aberrations, such as increased precipitation and devastating floods in some parts of the country as well as reduced rainfall and prolonged droughts in other areas.

International Symposium on “Agro-meteorology and Food Security” organized in February 2008 in Hyderabad, noted with concern that agricultural productivity has come down over a period of time. Growth of world agricultural output is expected to fall to 1.5% per year over the next three decades and further to 0.9% per year in the succeeding 20 years to 2050. The farmers would have to produce 40% more grain to meet the increasing global demand for cereals, when the world’s population would be 7.5 billion by 2020.

Agriculture accounted for 70% of all water use in the world. Per capita use of water has decreased from about 700 cubic meters per year since 1980. More than 1.2 billion people live in areas of physical water scarcity and by 2025 over three billion people are likely to experience water stress. Climate change will manifest its different types of effects on crops and livestock; fisheries and aquaculture; land; water; biodiversity; and trans-boundary pests and diseases as under.

Crops and Livestock: Climate change will affect on the health, growth and productivity of crops, livestock, fish, forest and pasture in different ways. It will, also, have an impact on the incidence of pests and diseases, biodiversity and ecosystems. Frequent changes in weather parameters, more importantly temperature and precipitation would not only threaten food production but also access, stability and utilization of food resources. Adaptation to climate change will need to focus on strengthening measures, such as early warning systems; systems to identify climate change “hot spots” and disaster risk management; and evolving sustainable and ecol-friendly farming practices. Other equally important measures call for significantly increase in rural investments to reduce the long-term effects of short-term climate variability on food security, through provision of crop and livestock insurance and incentives that encourage farmers to adopt farm and social forestry, conserve resource and better agricultural and land use practices.

Fisheries and aquaculture: Climate change, more particularly harsher weather conditions, will have impact on the quality, productivity, output and viability of fish and aquaculture enterprises, thereby affecting fishing community. The small-scale fishers may be faced with greater uncertainty as availability, access, stability and use of aquatic food and supplies would diminish and work opportunities would dwindle. Aquaculture development opportunities will increase in particular in tropical and sub-tropical regions. The climate change in warmer regions offers new opportunities as production in warmer regions will increase because of better growth rates, a longer growing season and the availability of new fish farming areas where it was once too cold.

Land: Rising sea levels owing to climate change would force communities in low-lying coastal areas and river deltas to move to higher ground level. Similarly, increase in frequency of droughts due to climate change would force farmers and pastoralists, who rely on rainfall to raise their crops and livestock, to migrate to areas in search of land and water. This migration/displacement of people would result in direct conflict and competition between migrants and established communities for access to land and water. It may be difficult for displaced communities to maintain their farming or pastoral traditions. A broad based policy and program that provides opportunities for the displaced communities to earn livelihood outside the agricultural sector may need to be evolved. Governments would have, also, to face challenge to reconcile competing demand and diverse land use needs. In cases, where land rights are informal and different customary land tenure systems coexist, Governments and local communities may need to establish fair and equitable systems of land tenure.

Water: The climate change will have impact on the predictability and variability in the availability of water and also increase in frequencies of droughts and floods. Worst sufferers would be farmers of the rain-fed agriculture, which covers 60% of all cultivated land in the country. The risk of crop failures will increase in semi-arid zones with prolonged dry seasons forcing people to migrate, when stability of food production cannot be assured. Irrigated areas in large river basins and deltas can also be at risk because of a combination of factors, such as reduced runoff, salinity, increasing floods, sea level rise, urban and industrial pollution. All these in one or the other way will affect the land to maintain the level of agricultural productivity and farm output; cause loss of biodiversity and the reduction in the natural ability of ecosystems to recover. Areas projected to experience lower precipitation will need to improve water management system and water storage capacity that can enhance crop productivity. While large irrigation schemes will need to adapt to changes in water supply regimes, small-scale irrigation schemes will need field-based water control measures.

Biodiversity: According to the “2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment”, the climate change will cause loss of biodiversity by the end of this century. The significance and utility value of biodiversity for food and agricultural purpose will increase as and when climate changes. Genetic resources are the living materials that local communities, researchers and breeders use to develop high yielding crop varieties/strains that can adapt to changing needs. Maintaining and using this reservoir of genetic diversity will be the foundation for copping with climate change.

Trans-boundary pests and diseases: Climate change is altering the distribution pattern of animal and plant pests and diseases. Changes in temperature, moisture and atmospheric gases accelerate growth and generation rates of plants, fungi and insects, which alter the interaction between pests, their natural predators and hosts. Changes in land cover, more importantly deforestation or desertification make remaining plants and animals increasingly vulnerable to pests and diseases.

In order to contain the spread of pests, there is need for the development of new farming practices and cropping pattern, evolution of different crops and animal breeds, and adoption of integrated pest management. Besides, countries need to introduce biological control agents, new pest or disease-resistant varieties of crops and breeds of animals and strengthen national animal and plant health services.

Studies in India

A World Bank report on climate change impact based on case studies in drought-prone regions of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, and flood-prone districts in Orissa on the edge of climate tolerance limits, highlights the possibility of declining the yields of major dry land crops in Andhra Pradesh, sugarcane yields declining by 30% in Maharashtra and rice production by 12% in the flood-prone coastal regions of Orissa. The worst sufferers would be the poor and marginal farmers who own less than one acre of land and mostly populate these regions.

Climate change and agriculture are interrelated. Agriculture contributes, of course partly, to the global warming by spewing greenhouse gas and in turn gets affected by its consequences. However, greenhouse emissions from different farm sectors and the effect of global warming on these sectors have not been quantified, except in few cases, such as wheat. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research [ICAR] has estimated that annual wheat output may decline by four to five million tons with every one degree Celsius rise in temperature. The impact of climate change will have to be mitigated by modifying farming practices by farmers, for which ICAR has already undertaken various studies. These studies emit some light on the emissions of greenhouse gases, such as methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide arising from paddy fields and farm animals. They also explain the impact of climate change on some crops and other farm sectors like fisheries.

Rice: The emissions, from country’s 42.21 million hectares of land under rice cultivation, comprise about 2.07 Tg of methane [Tg is the unit of measurement of greenhouse gas emissions and is equivalent to 1012 grams], 0.19 Tg nitrous oxide and 72 Tg of carbon dioxide, annually. However, the emission levels vary from region to region depending on cultivation practices and the inherent carbon content of the soils. The methane outflow from the paddy fields of some districts in West Bengal has been observed to be relatively high. This is due to the presence of higher organic carbon content in the soils and the traditional practice of keeping rice fields constantly submerged under water. Similarly, emission of nitrous oxide is higher in paddy fields in Andhra Pradesh and northern States because of application of high doses of nitrogenous fertilizers. On the whole, the eastern and southern parts of the country have a relatively higher global warming potential because of higher discharge of methane and carbon dioxide and the predominance of rice cultivation in these regions.

Water: Studies on the impact of global warming conducted in Andhra Pradesh indicate that the rise in temperature will lead to an increase in water requirement of crops like maize, groundnut, pigeon pea and cotton, though their growing duration will decrease by one to two weeks.

Livestock: In the case of methane emissions from the livestock sector, it has been observed that though cross-bred cattle discharge relatively more methane per animal, the bulk of the total emissions is accounted for by buffaloes and indigenous cattle because of their far larger population. Of the total livestock sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, female buffaloes contributed 59.6%, followed by indigenous cows 28.9% and cross-bred cows 11.5%. The total emissions from this sector are reckoned at 9.37 Tg, varying in different years from 7.26 Tg to 10.4 Tg.

Adaptation: Some crops have already begun adjusting to climate change. Since temperatures in the traditionally apple-producing regions of hilly State Himachal Pradesh have risen, with a simultaneous decline in rainfall, apple cultivation is shifting to the higher altitudes in Kinnaur, Lahul and Spiti districts. Similarly, in the case of marine fisheries, species like Indian mackerel have tried to adapt themselves to the warming of the ocean waters by shifting towards the northern latitudes where the warming is less pronounced. Sardines have tended to spend more time in the lower depths of the oceans to escape from warmer surface waters. Such observations are significant as they can help farmers and fishermen modify their cultivation and fishing practices to mitigate the economic consequences of climate change.

Mitigation and Adaptation

Agriculture is one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change has been a cause of serious concern if the agricultural sector has to grow in the context of country’s overall economic growth, to respond to rural households’ livelihood, country’s food security and poverty alleviation. It may take some years to fully experience the devastating effects of climate change on agriculture but the time is ripe for the Government, private sector and public to have adequate concern, commitment and accountability to mitigate the effects of climate change.

  • Significantly investing in expanding, modernizing and equipping agricultural meteorology facilities in all 127 agro-ecological regions to make it world class, thereby continuously improving weather and climate forecasting system.
  • Evolving policy and programs to manage and mitigate risks due to climate change.
  • Improving early warning systems followed by effective monitoring and evaluating its impact.
  • Developing climate impact modules that give a better understanding of how climate change may affect crop, livestock and fish farming and forestry at a local level in order to be well prepared.
  • Diversifying pattern of livelihoods and adapting agricultural, fishing and forestry practices to efficient water management and soil conservation practices and growing resilient crops and trees.
  • Developing a database on climate, soil and water use and crop yields to assess, map and monitor land-use performance under given technology conditions.. Assessment of how vulnerable our food system is and how we can adapt agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forestry to future climate-related disasters. Increasing coastal inundation, salinisation and erosion as a consequence of sea-level rise and human activities may contaminate and reduce the size of productive agricultural lands, thereby threatening households’ livelihood and country’s food security. Steps to mitigate the impact of climate change on agriculture need top priority.
  • Building sufficient resilience of the food systems to avoid enormous future economic losses in agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forestry.
  • Evolving comprehensive climate resilience strategies comprising risk assessment, development of varieties that can perform well in stressful conditions, better land, water and livestock management and bringing about specific changes in agricultural practices that can respond to climate change.
  • While agricultural research institutes and universities have already been engaged in researching drought-resistant and saline-resistant crop varieties for the arid regions and rainfall-tolerant and short-duration varieties for flood-prone regions, Government and private sector will have to invest substantially in agricultural research on one hand and motivate/train farmers to take better advantage of the dry rabi season in the flood-prone regions and help them supplement their income through non-farm activities on the other.

Adaptation: Besides, following measures are necessary to better adapt to climate change impacts

  • To develop land use plans, food security programs, fisheries and forestry policies that can help farming community suitably adapt to climate changes.
  • To undertake cost/benefit analyses of climate change risks for irrigation or coastal protection and for investment decision.
  • Promotion of “ best crop-livestock-fish farming practices” through farmers’ capacity building and networking
  • Conceptualization and Implementation of “National Adaptation Program of Action on Climate Change”.
  • Developing contingency plans to cover new and evolving risk scenarios.

Conclusion

Agriculture development in India needs to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through measures, such as significant reduction of deforestation; improving forest conservation and management; effective control of wildfires; promotion of agro-forestry for food or energy; soil carbon sequestration; restoring land through controlled grazing; improving nutrition for ruminant livestock; efficient management of livestock waste [through biogas recovery]; and developing strategies that conserve soil and water resources by improving their quality, availability and efficiency of use. While a National Network Project “ Impact, Adaptability and Vulnerability of Indian Agriculture to Climate Change” has been launched with focus on impact of climate change on different sectors of agricultural production” it is necessary to make sufficient investment to support climate change to adaptation, mitigation, technology development, transfer and dissemination among farmers.

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