11th December Current Affairs
December 11, 2021
14th December Current Affairs
December 14, 2021
Show all

13th December Current Affairs

Logistics agreements and their benefits

(GS-II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)

In News:

India is all set to conclude the bilateral logistics agreement with Russia (the Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS)) soon.

About RELOS:

RELOS will be an important step forward in the military sphere as it aims at fostering interoperability and sharing of logistics. The “long overdue” agreement was to have come up for signing in 2019 but that was put off pending finalisation of its terms.

Does India Have Similar Arrangements With Other Countries?

India has logistical exchange agreements with six other countries, including Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, partners US, Japan and Australia. Singapore, France and South Korea are the other countries with which similar arrangements have been effected.

What are logistics agreements?

The agreements are administrative arrangements facilitating access to military facilities for exchange of fuel and provisions on mutual agreement simplifying logistical support and increasing operational turnaround of the military when operating away from India.

India has signed several logistics agreements with all Quad countries, France, Singapore and South Korea beginning with the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the U.S. in 2016.

Benefits of such logistics agreements:

The Navy has been the biggest beneficiary of these administrative arrangements, signed with several countries, improving operational turnaround and increasing inter-operability on the high seas.

What is LEMOA?

It is a tweaked India-specific version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which the U.S. has with several countries it has close military to military cooperation. It is also one of the three foundational agreements — as referred to by the U.S.

LEMOA gives access, to both countries, to designated military facilities on either side for the purpose of refuelling and replenishment.

Minimum support price (MSP)

(GS-III: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices)

In News:

BJP MP Varun Gandhi has introduced a private bill for Minimum Support Price of crops in Parliament.

Details:

Overview of The farmers right to guaranteed minimum support price realization of agri-produce Bill, 2021:

It seeks to legally guarantee of MSP with financial outlay of Rs 1 lakh crore.

It aims to provide legally guaranteed minimum support price (MSP) for 22 crops that should be set at a profit margin of 50 per cent over the comprehensive cost of production.

Any farmer realising a price less than the above declared MSP shall be entitled to a compensation equal to the difference in value between price realised and the guaranteed MSP.

It also proposes that payments should be made directly into the accounts of farmers within two days of the transaction.

Significance:

The declaration of guaranteed MSP to farmers shall result in improved farm realization for potentially 93 million agricultural households, leading to a resurgence in the rural economy.

What is MSP?

MSP is the rate at which the government buys grains from farmers. Currently, it fixes MSPs for 23 crops grown in both Kharif and Rabi seasons.

How is it calculated?

The MSP is the rate at which the government purchases crops from farmers, and is based on a calculation of at least one-and-a-half times the cost of production incurred by the farmers.

The Union Budget for 2018-19 had announced that MSP would be kept at levels of 1.5 the cost of production.

The MSP is fixed twice a year on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), which is a statutory body and submits separate reports recommending prices for kharif and rabi seasons.

Which production costs are taken in fixing the MSPs?

The CACP considers both ‘A2+FL’ and ‘C2’ costs while recommending MSP.

A2 costs cover all paid-out expenses, both in cash and kind, incurred by farmers on seeds, fertilisers, chemicals, hired labour, fuel and irrigation, among others.

A2+FL covers actual paid-out costs plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour.

The C2 costs account for the rentals and interest forgone on owned land and fixed capital assets respectively, on top of A2+FL.

The limitations of MSP:

The major problem with the MSP is lack of government machinery for procurement for all crops except wheat and rice, which the Food Corporation of India actively procures under the PDS.

As state governments procure the last mile grain, the farmers of states where the grain is procured completely by the government benefit more while those in states that procure less are often affected.

The MSP-based procurement system is also dependent on middlemen, commission agents and APMC officials, which smaller farmers find difficult to get access to.

What is the rationale behind the demand for legalisation of MSP?

Farmers receive less than MSP: In most crops grown across much of India, the prices received by farmers, especially during harvest time, are well below the officially-declared MSPs. And since MSPs have no statutory backing, they cannot demand these as a matter of right.

Limited procurement by the Govt: Also, the actual procurement at MSP by the Govt. is confined to only about a third of wheat and rice crops (of which half is bought in Punjab and Haryana alone), and 10%-20% of select pulses and oilseeds. According to the Shanta Kumar Committee’s 2015 report, only 6% of the farm households sell wheat and rice to the government at the MSP rates.

What are the challenges with the legalisation of MSP?

Statutory MSP is unsustainable: A policy paper by NITI Aayog’s agricultural economist Ramesh Chand argued against legalising MSP. It reasoned that any fixed pre-determined price will push away private traders whenever production is more than demand, and there is a price slump in the market. This, in turn, will lead to government de-facto becoming the primary buyer of most farm produce for which MSP is declared, which is unsustainable.

Huge scope for corruption and recycling/leakage of wheat and rice, from godowns, ration shops or in transit.

Disposal problems: While cereals and pulses can be sold through the public distribution system, disposal becomes complicated in the case of niger seed, sesamum or safflower.

Inflation: Higher procurement cost would mean increase in prices of foodgrains, leading to inflation, which would eventually affect the poor.

It will also impact India’s farm exports, if the MSP is higher than the prevailing rates in the international market. Farm exports account for 11% of the total exports of commodities.

With a legally guaranteed higher MSP, India will face stiff opposition at the WTO. The US had successfully won a case against China at the WTO in 2019 which was concerned with China’s domestic support to agriculture in the form of Market Price Support (MPS).

It would lead to a huge burden on the exchequer, since the government would have to procure all marketable surplus in the absence of private participation.

Demands from other sectors: If the Centre makes a law to guarantee 100% procurement in all the 23 crops where MSP is announced, farmers cultivating fruits and vegetables, spices, and other crops will also demand the same.

Delimitation Panel

(GS-II: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure)

In News:

The National Conference (NC) has, in a letter to the Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission (headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai), sought details of the agenda of the upcoming meeting with parties from the Union Territory.

Background:

The Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission has said that it will base its final report on the 2011 Census and will also take into account the topography, difficult terrain, means of communication and convenience available for the ongoing delimitation exercise.

The commission is mandated to carve out seven additional seats for the 83-member Assembly of the Union Territory (UT).

Delimitation exercise in J&K- a timeline:

The first delimitation exercise, carving out 25 assembly constituencies in the then state, was carried out by a Delimitation Committee in 1951.

The first full-fledged Delimitation Commission was formed in 1981 and it submitted its recommendations in 1995 on the basis of 1981 Census. Since then, there has been no delimitation.

In 2020, the Delimitation Commission was constituted to carry out the exercise on the basis of 2011 Census, with a mandate to add seven more seats to the Union Territory’ and grant reservations to SC and ST communities.

Now, the total number of seats in Jammu and Kashmir will be raised to 90 from the previous 83. This is apart from 24 seats which have been reserved for areas of PoK and have to be kept vacant in the Assembly.

What is delimitation and why is it needed?

The Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir was constituted by the Centre on March 6 last year to redraw Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies of the union territory in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 and Delimitation Act, 2002, passed by the Centre in August 2019 along with other J&K-specific Bills.

What is Delimitation?

Delimitation literally means the process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a state that has a legislative body.

Who carries out the exercise?

Delimitation is undertaken by a highly powerful commission. They are formally known as Delimitation Commission or Boundary Commission.

These bodies are so powerful that its orders have the force of law and they cannot be challenged before any court.

Composition of the Commission:

According to the Delimitation Commission Act, 2002, the Delimitation Commission will have three members: a serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court as the chairperson, and the Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner nominated by the CEC and the State Election Commissioner as ex-officio members.

Constitutional Provisions:

Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.

Under Article 170, States also get divided into territorial constituencies as per Delimitation Act after every Census.

S-400 and CAATSA

(GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora)

In News:

The U.S. State Department spokesperson has said that there will be no “blanket” waiver for India, indicating that even if S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems deal is not sanctioned, other “significant” military and nuclear transactions between India and Russia could still trigger sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

What’s the concern?

There has been unease in Washington ever since 2016 when India announced the deal with Russia, which remains New Delhi’s biggest defence partner.

Now, the S-400 deal could attract sanctions under US’ CAATSA law. The US has already sanctioned China and Turkey over similar purchases.

What is the S-400 air defence missile system? Why does India need it?

The S-400 Triumf is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.

It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).

What is CAATSA, and how did the S-400 deal fall foul of this Act?

Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)‘s core objective is to counter Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures.

Enacted in 2017.

Includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors.

What sanctions will be imposed?

  • prohibition on loans to the sanctioned person.
  • prohibition of Export-Import bank assistance for exports to sanctioned persons.
  • prohibition on procurement by United States Government to procure goods or services from the sanctioned person.
  • denial of visas to persons closely associated with the sanctioned person.

Significance of the deal:

The S-400 decision is a very strong example of how advanced our defence and strategic partnership is, and how strong Indian sovereignty is, to choose its international partners, especially when it comes to issues of national interest and national security.