Table of Contents
- Strengthening the Integrated Child Development Services scheme
Facts for Prelims
- Cotton cultivation
- Wheat stocks
Strengthening the Integrated Child Development Services scheme
India continues to face challenges with child and maternal health, including high rates of stunting, wasting, and anaemia. Strengthening existing social programs like the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is crucial to address these issues.
Importance of Early Childhood Interventions:
- Research shows a strong link between early-life poverty, malnutrition, and cognitive and economic challenges later in life.
- Interventions focusing on nutrition, education, and health during early childhood can significantly improve human capital, especially in developing countries.
- Studies have demonstrated the positive impact of ICDS on cognitive achievements, school enrollment, and grades completed.
Empowering Anganwadi Workers:
- Anganwadi workers are essential to the success of ICDS but often face overwhelming workloads.
- By adding an additional worker to each Anganwadi center, several advantages can be achieved.
- Better health and educational outcomes, reduced rates of malnutrition and stunting, and increased outreach to serve more families can be achieved through this approach.
Advantages and Cost-effectiveness:
- Increasing staff levels within ICDS has been shown to improve preschool instructional time and test scores.
- The cost of implementing this model nationwide is relatively insignificant compared to the potential benefits.
- The new worker can focus on preschool education, allowing existing workers to dedicate more time to child health and nutrition.
- Job opportunities for local residents, especially women, will be created, with an estimated 1.3 million new jobs across India.
Empowering Anganwadi workers is crucial to enhance the ICDS and address challenges. More workers can improve health and education outcomes, reduce malnutrition, save costs, and create jobs. However, investments in training and infrastructure are necessary for optimal implementation and impact on child and maternal health in India.
Punjab has experienced a significant decrease in cotton cultivation area despite government efforts. Over the past seven to eight years, the state has recorded its lowest-ever area under cotton farming. Disease outbreaks, loss of confidence, and lack of timely information have contributed to the decline.
Reasons behind the decreasing area under cotton:
- Whitefly infestation in 2015: The cotton crop in Punjab was severely attacked by whiteflies, tiny insects that suck sap from the cotton plant, causing reduced yields. The whiteflies also transmit the leaf curl virus, further affecting the plants.
- Pink Bollworm disease in 2021: The Pink Bollworm insect caused disease among the cotton crop, and farmers were unaware of effective means to control it. The delayed information on managing the disease resulted in significant losses for farmers.
- Loss of confidence in the crop: Farmers have lost confidence in cotton cultivation due to its lower yield in recent years, primarily caused by disease outbreaks. This lack of confidence has discouraged farmers from expanding cotton cultivation.
- Shortfall in cotton cultivation: Punjab fell short of the government’s target of bringing 3 lakh hectares of land under cotton cultivation by 42% this year, with only 1.75 lakh hectares being utilized for cotton farming.
- Decreased cotton yield: The state’s cotton yield has decreased by 45% compared to the previous year.
- Financial losses for farmers: Consecutive disease attacks have resulted in substantial financial losses for farmers, leading many to switch to paddy and Basmati crops instead.
Suggestions for improvement:
- Government assistance: Farmers suggest that the government should provide relevant information and support to improve cotton cultivation. Timely information on disease control measures can help farmers mitigate losses.
Establish a Cotton Research Centre: Experts recommend the establishment of a Cotton Research Centre in Punjab, particularly in Bathinda, where farmers can access facilities for soil and seed testing. Such a center can provide technical knowledge about cotton cultivation and raise awareness about diseases, similar to the research centers in neighboring states like Haryana and Rajasthan.
The Indian government has imposed stock limits on wheat to prevent hoarding and stabilize prices. Lower wheat production due to unseasonal rains and hailstorms has raised concerns. Measures to offload wheat from the central pool and control retail prices are being implemented.
Limits on wheat stock:
- Traders/wholesalers can hold up to 3,000 metric tonnes of wheat.
- Retailers and big chain retailers can stock up to 10 metric tonnes at each outlet, while the latter can hold up to 3,000 metric tonnes at all depots combined.
- Processors can stock up to 75% of their annual installed capacity.
- The government plans to sell 15 lakh tonnes of wheat through the OMSS to flour mills, private traders, and bulk buyers via e-auction.
- Rice will also be offloaded under the OMSS to control prices, with the quantity to be decided soon.
Reasons for concern:
- Unseasonal rains, hailstorms, and higher temperatures have impacted wheat output, leading to higher prices.
- The government’s procurement target for wheat may not be met due to slower purchases after local prices increased.
- The daily average price of wheat has risen at the retail and wholesale levels compared to previous periods.
- Unseasonal rains and hailstorms, preceded by warmer temperatures, have affected wheat production.
- The higher temperatures during the crop’s reproductive growth period can cause yield loss.
States like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Haryana have experienced thunderstorms, lightning, and hailstorms damaging the wheat crop.
Leptospirosis is a significant infectious disease that has gained prominence worldwide. It often leads to widespread outbreaks following heavy rainfall or flooding incidents.
- Leptospirosis is a dangerous bacterial disease that can be fatal.
- It is caused by a bacterium called Leptospira interrogans, or Leptospira.
- The disease is more common in warm, humid regions and can affect both urban and rural areas.
- It is primarily a contagious disease in animals but can occasionally infect humans.
- Leptospirosis is transmitted through contact with urine from infected animals.
- Wild and domestic animals, including rodents, cattle, pigs, and dogs, can carry the disease.
- Infected animals continue to excrete the bacteria in their urine, potentially contaminating the environment.
- Leptospirosis can occur in two phases.
- The first phase includes symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- After a temporary recovery, a second, more severe phase may occur with complications like kidney or liver failure or meningitis.
- Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics.
Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial to prevent severe complications and reduce the risk of fatality.