Sumant Kumar is teaching live on Unacademy Plus
TH Art1] Neither new nor undesirable The move by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) towards lateral entry in government service Olt has invited applications from "talented and motivated Indian nationals willing to contribute towards nation building" to be appointed as joint secretaries in 10 Departments/ Ministries at the Centre. Since the problem that the new policy seeks to fix remains vague, we cannot hope for whatever improvements promised. Othe lateral entry policy goes counter in spirit to the governance philosophy enunciated by the Constituent Assembly, insofar as it concerns the candidates from private sector, consultancy firms, international/ multinational organisations (MNCs) Traditionally, the services of outside experts were availed through consultative processes, a practice quite widespread with the erstwhile Planning Commission and to some extent with its new avatar, the NITI Aayog. Olt is not clear why the government determined that the practice was not effective.
Why and wherefore The lateral entry decision is based on the assumption that since our civil servants, especially those of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS),are generalists and hence ill-suited to deal with policy implications of new technologies and new modes of thinking, the country is in dire need of domain experts Nobody questioned the assumption so far as the government invoked it sparingly and also it is prima facie valid. ace ald toat hoo th auestion wihat OThe policy's aim "also to augment manpower" can only mean that the lateral entry will be as wide as regular recruitment and used as regularly. In doing so the government is turning an exception into a rule but the whole enterprise also begs the question: what does all this mean? Neither the DoPT nor Ministries concerned cared to define 'domain expertise For example, most of the 10 posts open for lateral entry are pretty generalist. A joint secretary in agriculture? And a candidate is merely directed to the website of agriculture ministry. OHas the need for domain expertise in plant breeding been felt so as to look for another M.S. Swaminathan? Is there a need for a plant pathologist? A marketing expert? Or is the nation destined to have joint secretaries in all branches of a given Ministry? Therefore, we must recognise that domain expertise is salient only in a very narrow context.
A clear trade-off What is common between the lateral entry policy and the push for simultaneous polls is a certain restlessness that the system has become too unwieldy to speed up development. The sentiment is honourable but misplaced. O The Founding Fathers felt that India needed a responsible government more than an efficient one. Trade-off, there is. While elaborating why the Constituent Assembly preferred the parliamentary over the presidential system, B.R. Ambedkar reflected the sense of the House that while the former is more responsible but less stable, the latter is more stable but less responsible. Is the country in such a state to opt for efficiency at the cost of accountability? Of the three methods at our disposal to ensure the government is responsible, one is independence of jiudiciary; the second is to subject the executive to constant scrutiny of the legislature; and the third is to maintain bureaucratic neutrality Most democracies train their higher civil servants to be accountable rather than efficient and India is no exception. his alleged action/inaction. If this dynamic renders bureaucracy slow to act, it's a welcome executive which is the real master. O What haunts a civil servant is the spectre of having to answer to a quo warranto writ against trait. In any case, a civil servant is expected to follow the decisions taken by the political
The new system is open to three groups 1) officers of State governments; 2) employees of public sector undertakings and assorted research bodies; and 3) individuals in the private sector, MNCs, etc. Among the three groups, any metric of accountability, bureaucratic neutrality and fidelity to due process gets progressively worse from group 1 to 3. The nation cannot escape the havoc likely to be wreaked by a large number of private sector experts becoming joint secretaries on three-to-five year contracts. Whatever training or orientation that these new entrants will undergo cannot match 15-20 years of acculturation/on-job training that regular officers receive before they become joint secretaries. Unless the government is mindful of the dangers, lateral entry can result in large swathes of higher bureaucracy being consumed by the 'nation-building' zeal at the cost of accountability.
TH Art2] The seeds of sustainability In early June, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu announced that the State would fully embrace Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), a chemical-free method that would cover all farmers by 2024. Earlier in the year, he had revealed these plans at the meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos The way to improve the welfare of farmers reduce the cost of farm inputs, O cut toxins in food, and improve soils. Andhra Pradesh has become the first State to implement a ZBNF policy.
Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) OZBNF is set of natural farming methods where cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero O It is a farming practice that believes in natural growth of crops without adding any fertilizers and pesticides or any other foreign elements. OIt is different from organic farming. O The word Zero Budget refers to zero net cost of production of all crops. OThis means that farmers need not purchase fertilizers and pesticides in order to ensure the The inputs used for seed treatments and other inoculations are locally available in form of cow O It requires almost no monetary investment and envisages use of 'Jeevamrutha' and O The main aim of ZBNF is eliminate use of chemical pesticides and uses biological pesticides and healthy growth of crops dung and cow urine. "Beejamrutha promote of good agronomic practices Farmers use earthworms, cow dung, urine, plants, human excreta and such biological fertilizers for crop protection. It lowers cost of inputs of farmers and gives better capacity to increase the incomes It also protects soil from degradation and helps in retaining soil fertility and is climate change resilient.
four aspects that are now integral to his process and which require locally available materials: Oseeds treated with cow dung and urine; Osoil rejuvenated with cow dung, cow urine and other local materials to increase microbes; Ocover crops, straw and other organic matter to retain soil moisture and build humus; and soil aeration for favourable soil conditions. These methods are combined with natural insect management methods when required. In ZBNF, yields of various cash and food crops have been found to be significantly higher when compared with chemical farming. OFor example, yields from ZBNF plots in the (kharif) 2017 pilot phase were found on average to be 11% higher for cotton than in non-ZBNF plots. The yield for Guli ragi (ZBNF) was 40% higher than non-ZBNF. Input costs are near zero as no fertilizers and pesticides are used. Profits in most areas under ZBNF were from higher yield and lower inputs. Model ZBNF farms were able to withstand drought and flooding, which are big concerns with regard to climate change
The planting of multiple crops and border crops on the same field has provided varied income and nutrient sources. OAs a result of these changes, there is reduced use of water and electricity, improved health of farmers, flourishing of local ecosystems and biodiversity and no toxic chemical residues in the environment. In early 2016, Sikkim was declared India's first fully organic State OBut organic agriculture often involves addition of large amounts of manure, vermicompost and other materials that are required in bulk and need to be purchased These turn out to be expensive for most small farm holders. Why need ZBNF? OResilient food systems are the need of the day given the variability of the monsoons due to global warming and declining groundwater in large parts of India. OThe drought-prone Rayalaseema region (Andhra Pradesh) is reportedly seeing promising changes already in farms with the ZB More encouraging is that the programme can have a positive effect on many of the sustainable development goals through improvements in soil, biodiversity, livelihoods, water, reduction in chemicals, climate resilience, health, women's empowerment and nutrition.
India's plans for a military base have hit a roadblock. Why is this tiny island of Seychelles important? INDIA Arabian Sea Bay of Bengal ASSUMPTIONISLAND AFRICA SEYCHELLES Indian Ocean
SPANNINGJUST 11.6 sqkm, a small island Why Assumption Island imp for India? in the Indian Ocean has gained new atten Anaval base there would help India secure tion with Seychelles saying that India's its merchant ships, be a resource for other plans to build a military base "will not shipping nations, and help combat China's move forward", as reported in The Sunday increasing clout in the Indian Ocean. Express. Assumption Island, a single coral India unveiled its plans for a base in island, belongs to the Outer Islands District 2015, during a trip by PM Narendra Modi, of Seychelles. With only a small village on butitfaced resistance from the opposition the sheltered western side and a 1,210-m there as well as citizens. Concerns ranged concrete airfield running from there to the from environmental ones to fears of con- southeastern coast, the island's fewinhab- flict between nuclear powers India and itants, mostly farmers and fishermen, have China. Seychelles signed an amendment t go to Victoria (the capital) for govern- pact with India lastJanuary, with safe- ment services. The island's location is ideal guards banning India from using nuclear for monitoring the Mozambique Channel, weapons on the base or using it in war, but which sees significantinternational trade. the protests continued
TH Art3] Beating plastic pollution We celebrated 'World Environment Day' (June 5) with a critical theme: beat plastic pollution, Since India was the global host of this year's event, and also one of the victims of plastic pollution, we should view this danger seriously. The Theme: The theme urges governments, industries, communities and individuals to come together and explore sustainable alternatives. O It also urges this target group to reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastics, which are polluting our environment and threatening human health Plastic: O Plastics are organic polymers of high molecular mass and often contain other substances. Due to their low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, non-corrosiveness and imperviousness O Plastic was invented in New York in 1907 by Leo Baekeland. They are usually synthetic, mainly derived from petrochemicals. to water, plastics are used for multiple purposes at different scales. Further, many chemists, including Nobel laureate Hermann Staudinger (father of polymer chemistry) and Herman Mark (father of polymer physics), have contributed to the materials science of plastics. However, these scientists could not have anticipated such an exponential growth of plastic production.
TH FAQ] Right on Kashmir's rights? What prompted this human rights report? OThe first ever report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Jammu and Kashmir, including Pakistan- occupied Kashmir, published last week, has been in production since 2016. DA new wave of violence had then hit the Kashmir Valley, when protests sparked by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani were met with force by security personnel; about 51 protesters and civilians were killed in the months that followed, while more than 9,000 were injured by pellets and bullets. Consequently, the OHCRC asked India and Pakistan to allow its teams access to the State, a request that was refused.
[IE Ed1] Trilateral terms Delhi's knee-jerk reaction could be explained by its intense suspicion about "third party mediation" between India and Pakistan. O It's a pity that the government was quick to dismiss the call from the Chinese ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, for a trilateral dialogue between Delhi, Islamabad and Beijing OBetween China's vague proposal and Delhi's definitive rejection, there might be interesting political space that is worth exploring in the not too distant future O What is important is not the shape of the negotiating table, but what is on it. Sceptics in the South Block say Luo's enthusiasm to advance the engagement of India with new ideas has not always been backed by Beijing. o Recall last year that Luo had suggested that Beijing could rename the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to overcome Delhi's objections to President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative. O That Beijing did not publicly back the idea does not necessarily mean it had nothing to do with it Confident powers often instruct their ambassadors to fly kites, deliberately, to test the reactions of the intended audience. Delhi has suggested Luo's views on the trilateral dialogue may be "personal" But ambassadors don't usually express their personal views in public. The fact is that Beijing has made no secret of its interest in promoting good relations between India and Pakistan, under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation banner, which now has embraced the South Asian siblings as full members. - " -
Under the aegis of AB, the National Health Protection Mission (NHPM) is envisaged as a game-changer for India's healthcare system. Olt will add weight to the government's healthcare reforms and help it fulfill the country's SDG commitments. AB-NHPM intends to cover more than 50 crore people, which includes hospitalisation expenses for nearly 1,350 conditions over 23 clinical specialties. OThe beneficiaries are entitled to a premium of up to Rs 5 lakh per annum in any empaneled hospital OThey need not pay for pre- or post-hospitalisation expenses. India bears a triple burden of disease: 1.It has an unfinished agenda of eradicating communicable diseases, 2.it is battling a growing number of non-communicable diseases and 3.road accidents lead to large number of deaths and grievous injuries every year.
Non-communicable diseases and traffic deaths alone cost the country 6.5 per cent of The inability to afford treatment is the leading cause for people not seeking medical OCurrently, out-of-pocket expenditure constitutes 62 per cent of the healthcare its GDP a huge cost indeed. care. spending of families in the country most times, they have to dig into their savings or even take loans. OCatastrophic expenditure (when a household spends more than 40 per cent of its income on health) is a major cause of impoverishment in India and every year, this pushes around 63 million people below the poverty line OYoung lives are often lost for the want of treatment to easily curable conditions. OIn such cases, the suffering continues years after the loss. OThe treatment of severe health conditions can wreak havoc on families but even common diseases like dengue, malaria or broken bones can result in a financial shock to many households.
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