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24th December Current Affairs

Good Governance Practices

(GS-II: Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability)

In News:

Speaking as a part of Good Governance Week (19th to 25th December), Cabinet secretary (Rajiv Gauba) said that good governance is all about improving outcomes and ensuring deliverables while trusting citizens.

About good governance:

It relates to the political and institutional processes and outcomes that are necessary to achieve the goals of development.

The true test of ‘good’ governance is the degree to which it delivers on the promise of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.

The key question is: are the institutions of governance effectively guaranteeing the right to health, adequate housing, sufficient food, quality education, fair justice and personal security?

Importance for India: It is the key to –

Achieve the vision of Minimum Government, Maximum Governance and Whole of Government approach.

Make a New India by 2047 (100 years of India’s independence).

Recent efforts made by Indian government in this direction:

Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2022: It promotes ease of living and doing business by decriminalising minor offences in 42 Acts administered by 19 ministries.

Delayering, delegation of power and digitalisation in governance: Initiatives –

  • E-Office 7.0: Enables users to create and manage electronic documents that can be viewed, searched and shared.
  • Swachhta Special Campaign 2.0: For swachhta in government offices and disposal of pending matters from 2nd to 31st October, 2022.
  • Prashasan Gaon Ki Ore 2022: It is a nation-wide campaign for redressal of public grievances and improving service delivery which is being held in all Districts, States, and UTs of India.

Regenerative agriculture: A step towards water conservation

(GS-III: Agriculture and Conservation)

In News:

Farmers, activists and agricultural research organisations across the world are developing methods of regenerative agriculture, going a step ahead of sustainable agriculture, not only to maintain the resources like soil and water but also to improve them.

Background:

The Green Revolution in the 1960s saved India from starvation and transformed it into not only a self-sufficient but also a major food exporter country.

But the revolution also made India the world’s biggest extractor of groundwater.

According to the UN’s World Water Development Report, 2022, the country extracts 251 cubic km or more than a quarter of the world’s groundwater each year and 90% of this is used for agriculture.

Agriculture must operate in unison with nature, not against it, if it is to continue feeding the country’s undernourished population and driving the economy.

In India, the Union and state governments (UK, HP, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Gujarat) are promoting regenerative agriculture with an aim to reduce application of chemical fertilisers and pesticides and to lower input costs.

The regenerative agriculture:

About:

It is a system of farming principles and practices that seeks to rehabilitate and enhance the entire ecosystem of the farm by placing a heavy premium on soil health with attention also paid to water management, fertiliser use, etc.

It is a method of farming, under which emphasis is placed on looking holistically at the agro-ecosystem, improving the resources it uses, rather than destroying or depleting them.

Key techniques include:

Benefits: Links between regenerative agriculture, soil health and water saving –

Maintaining soil health: Chemical-less farming and cultivation practices such as crop rotation and diversification help improve soil structure and its organic carbon content.

Water conservation: Healthy soil helps in improving water-use efficiency by better water storage, transmission, filtering and reduces agricultural run-off.

Efforts in India to promote regenerative agriculture:

The National Project on Organic Farming.

Systematic rice intensification, a method in which seeds are spaced at wider distances and organic manure is applied to improve yields.

Zero-budget natural farming, now known as Subhash Palekar Natural Farming, emphasises on preparing and using inputs made from crop residue, cow dung and urine, fruits, among other things.

Challenges: There are no structured studies available on the water-saving potential of regenerative agriculture.

Way ahead:

As civil society organisations and farmers do not have the capacity to conduct long-term studies, scientific bodies are best equipped to do such trials and calculations.

Such research will go a long way in promoting regenerative agriculture.

National Farmers Day

In News:

Union Home and Cooperation Minister Shri Amit Shah wished farmers across the country on the occasion of Farmer’s Day, on 23rd Dec.

Why is it celebrated?

To commemorate and recognise the farmers as the country’s backbone.

The date was selected as it coincides with the birth anniversary of India’s 5th Prime Minister Chaudry Charan Singh.

It is being celebrated since 2001.

About Chaudry Charan Singh:

Popularly called as Kisan Leader

His writings not only portrayed the difficulties faced by the farmers, but also contained solutions to improve their lives.

Inspired by Lal Bahadur Shastri, Charan Singh saw how the exploitation of farmers at the hands of zamindars impacted India’s rural economy.

As Revenue Minister of UP, he designed land reform laws which made the peasants of the nation look upto him.

His popular works include –

  • “Abolition of Zamindari”
  • “Joint Farming X-rayed”
  • “India’s Poverty and its Solution”
  • “Peasant Proprietorship

Green Wall/ Bengal Barrier

In News:

Experts question plan to erect ‘Green Wall’ on West Bengal’s western border to stop pollutants.

What is the plan?

West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) has decided to set up 800 km Bio-Shield along its western fringe to stop pollutants from entering the State.

Bio-Shield – A wall of Mega Plantations

WBPCB says pollution from other states is responsible for close to half of West Bengal’s pollution load.

Why are experts against it?

The execution may run into several crores, take years to complete and may not serve its purpose.

Researches show that transboundary air pollutants, especially the most toxic PM 2.5, normally moves at least 500 metres above the surface during winter, thus going beyond the range of the shield.

West Bengal receives less transboundary pollution at a proportional scale, compared to many states, research shows.

No evidence that such an initiative will work.

The Great Green wall of Sahel Region :

It is an initiative to increase the amount of arable land in the Sahel, the region bordering Africa’s Sahara Desert.

Eleven nations are investing in projects as varied as agroforestry to sustainable development – Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Senegal.

Organisations involved – GEF, WB, UNFCCD

UNEP has declared it to be one of the pioneering initiatives that are restoring the natural world.