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Here are the topics covered for 9th December 2023:
GS- 1: World Soil Day
GS- 2: Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955
GS-3: Grain Storage Plan, Revitalizing Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS)
Fact for Prelims: Citizenship, UNESCO\’s Intangible Cultural Heritage
World Soil Day
The United Nations observes World Soil Day on December 5th annually, commemorating the late King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej\’s commitment to sustainable soil management.
A recent study in Scientific Reports highlights the correlation between soil micronutrients and nutritional well-being in India.
World Soil Day (WSD):
Celebrated on December 5th to honour the late King of Thailand for his dedication to sustainable soil management.
Recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002 and officially designated by the UN General Assembly in 2014.
Theme 2023: \”Soil and Water, a Source of Life.”
Study on Soil Micronutrients:
Soil composition directly influences essential micronutrients in crops, impacting human health.
Low soil zinc is linked to child stunting, while low soil iron correlates with higher anaemia prevalence.
Zinc-enriched fertilizers are suggested for improved crop yields and long-term soil health.
India\’s Soil Nutrient Status:
Widespread deficiencies in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur noted.
Zinc deficiency in 36.5% of soil, iron deficiency in 12.8%, with other micronutrient deficiencies observed.
AICRP-MSPE project since 2014 analyzes the link between soil and human health.
Shift Towards Soil-Centric Agriculture:
Conservation agriculture, efficient farming techniques, and embracing diversity and innovation are recommended.
Restoration and reclamation methods, such as carbon farming and mechanization, are highlighted for improved soil health.
Initiatives to Improve Soil Health:
Soil Health Card Scheme, Organic Farming, Fertilizer Self-Sufficiency, Digital Agriculture, Carbon Farming, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, and the Nutrient Based Subsidy Scheme.
- World Soil Day emphasizes the pivotal role of soil in sustaining the Earth.
- Efforts to promote sustainable land management, biodiversity, and educational outreach are crucial for preserving and restoring soil health, ensuring a prosperous and sustainable future.
Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955
Recently, a Constitution Bench led by the Chief Justice of India is addressing petitions challenging the constitutionality of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
The focus is exclusively on the validity of Section 6A, distinct from the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Section 6A was introduced through the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, of 1985, following the Assam Accord of 1985.
The Assam Accord, a tripartite agreement, aimed to resolve the issue of illegal migrants from Bangladesh.
Section 6A, applicable only to Assam, addresses large-scale migration before the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, mandating the detection and deportation of foreigners who entered Assam after March 25, 1971.
Provisions and Implications:
Section 6A provides a special provision for Assam, granting citizenship to persons of Indian origin from Bangladesh before January 1, 1966.
Those who arrived in Assam between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, needed to register and were granted citizenship after 10 years of residence, subject to conditions.
Individuals entering Assam after March 25, 1971, were to be detected and deported according to the law.
Constitutional Validity: Petitioners argue a violation of Article 6, stating concerns about the legal and constitutional validity of the provision.
Article 14: Critics claim Section 6A may violate Article 14, as it is perceived as discriminatory, applying specific citizenship criteria only to Assam.
Demographic Impact: Some petitioners criticize Section 6A\’s citizenship grant for allegedly contributing to an influx of illegal migrants, impacting Assam\’s demographic composition.
Cultural Impact: Concerns are raised about the cultural identity of Assam, with petitioners arguing that benefits given to migrants between 1966 and 1971 led to a radical demographic change.
The ongoing hearings on Section 6A highlight constitutional, legal, and demographic concerns, emphasizing the need for a nuanced understanding of the historical context and its impact on Assam\’s citizenship dynamics.
Grain Storage Plan in the Cooperative sector
The Ministry of Cooperation unveils the \”World\’s Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector\” to address the persistent shortage of storage capacity for food grains in India.
Grain Storage Plan in the Cooperative Sector:
Comprehensive Infrastructure Creation: Establishes agricultural infrastructures at Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS) levels, including warehouses, processing units, and Fair Price Shops.
Convergence of Government Schemes: Integrates various existing schemes such as the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF), Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure Scheme (AMI), and Pradhan Mantri Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme (PMFME).
Implementation Partners: National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), and Food Corporation of India (FCI) collaborate.
Progress: Pilot projects were initiated in 13 PACS across 13 States/ UTs, with 1,711 PACS identified.
Oversight Committees: Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) and National Level Coordination Committee (NLCC) were established for guideline adoption and overall execution.
Impact on Farmers:
PACS setup allows farmers to store produce, access bridge finance, and sell crops at their preferred time or to PACS at a Minimum Support Price (MSP).
Decentralized storage minimizes post-harvest losses, ensuring quality preservation and maximizing farmers\’ earnings.
PACS operating as procurement centres and Fair Price Shops contribute to cost savings in food grain transportation.
The availability of agricultural inputs and services at the local level empowers farmers to diversify businesses and explore additional income sources.
Initiatives by the Ministry of Agriculture:
Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF): Focuses on post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets through incentives and financial support.
Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA): Provides Minimum Support Price (MSP) to farmers for notified oilseeds, pulses & copra through schemes like Price Support Scheme (PSS), Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS), and Private Procurement and Stockist Scheme (PPSS).
Market Intervention Scheme (MIS): Procures perishable agricultural and horticultural commodities to protect growers from distress sales.
Bhartiya Beej Sahakari Samiti Limited (BBSSL):
Established under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002.
Serves as an Umbrella organization for the cultivation, production, and distribution of improved seeds to increase availability, boost crop productivity, and enhance farmers\’ income.
The Grain Storage Plan in the Cooperative Sector aims at revolutionizing food grain storage in India, benefiting farmers, reducing post-harvest losses, and contributing to the nation\’s food security.
The integration of government schemes and cooperative efforts ensures a comprehensive approach to address storage challenges.
Revitalizing Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS)
The Ministry of Cooperation has introduced Model Bye-laws to revitalize Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), emphasizing their pivotal role in rural credit and development.
Purpose of Model Bye-laws:
The Model Bye-laws aim to outline the structure, activities, and functioning of PACS, enhancing their economic viability.
They provide guidelines to diversify PACS business activities, fostering economic growth in rural areas.
PACS can now undertake over 25 business activities, including dairy, fishery, floriculture, setting up godowns, and more.
The objective is to expand the scope of PACS beyond traditional credit services, promoting a diversified rural economy.
Provisions have been made to ensure inclusive membership, with adequate representation for women and Scheduled Castes/Schedules Tribes.
This inclusivity aims to empower marginalized communities and promote broader participation in cooperative activities.
Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS):
PACS are village-level cooperative credit societies, forming the last link in a three-tier cooperative credit structure.
They operate under the umbrella of State Cooperative Banks (SCB) and provide credit directly to farmers.
PACS provides short-term and medium-term agricultural loans to farmers for various farming activities.
The credit services offered by PACS contribute to improving production, enhancing farmers\’ income, and supporting agricultural development.
PACS play a crucial role in providing small farmers with access to credit for purchasing seeds, fertilizers, and other farming inputs.
Their presence in rural areas makes it convenient for farmers to access credit services with minimal paperwork.
Issues with PACS:
While geographically active, PACS coverage is uneven, especially in the northeast, and only 50% of rural households are covered as members.
PACS face resource inadequacy, relying heavily on external financing, impacting their ability to meet rural credit demands.
Overdue and NPAs:
Large overdues and NPAs hinder the efficient circulation of loanable funds, reducing the borrowing and lending power of PACS.
PACS, with a history of over a century, deserve a renewed policy push and can contribute significantly to Atmanirbhar Bharat and Vocal for Local initiatives.
Strengthening PACS can position them as essential building blocks for an Atmanirbhar village economy, aligning with the vision of self-reliance.
To unlock their potential, PACS must be made more efficient, financially sustainable, and accessible to farmers.
A strengthened regulatory framework is essential for effective governance and service delivery.
Revitalizing PACS through Model Bye-laws aligns with the government\’s commitment to rural development and self-reliance.
Empowering PACS ensures a robust rural credit system and contributes to the vision of a self-sufficient and economically vibrant rural India.
Fact for Prelims
Citizenship denotes the legal status and connection between an individual and a state, encompassing specific rights and responsibilities.
Constitutional provisions related to citizenship are outlined in Articles 5 to 11 of Part II of the Indian Constitution. These encompass the acquisition of citizenship through birth, descent, naturalization, registration, relinquishment by renunciation, and termination.
Citizenship is explicitly listed in the Union List of the Constitution, falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament.
The regulation of citizenship matters in India is governed by the Citizenship Act of 1955, enacted by Parliament. This legislation has undergone six amendments since its inception in the years 1986, 1992, 2003, 2005, 2015, and 2019.
The most recent amendment, introduced in 2019, extends citizenship to specific illegal migrants from Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Eligibility criteria include entry into India on or before 31st December 2014.
UNESCO\’s Intangible Cultural Heritage
UNESCO\’s Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) encompasses the practices, expressions, knowledge, skills, and cultural spaces integral to the cultural heritage of communities, groups, or individuals.
Recognized as a vital source of humanity\’s cultural diversity, ICH is safeguarded, promoted, and transmitted under the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
This convention establishes the Representative List, highlighting global ICH diversity, and the Urgent Safeguarding List, addressing threatened ICH with the need for immediate protective measures.
Examples of ICH span languages, oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, knowledge about nature, and traditional craftsmanship, fostering the understanding and appreciation of diverse cultural expressions.