Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP)
(GS-III: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices)
The Maharashtra government has issued a government resolution which will allow sugar mills to pay the basic fair and remunerative price (FRP) in two tranches.
Sugar mill owners have welcomed the move. However, farmers are not happy with it.
What is the FRP?
FRP is the price declared by the government, which mills are legally bound to pay to farmers for the cane procured from them.
The payment of FRP across the country is governed by The Sugarcane Control order, 1966. It mandates payment within 14 days of the date of delivery of the cane.
How is FRP decided?
The FRP is based on the recovery of sugar from the cane. For the sugar season of 2021-22, FRP has been fixed at Rs 2,900/tonne at a base recovery of 10 per cent.
Sugar recovery is the ratio between sugar produced versus cane crushed, expressed as a percentage.
The higher the recovery, the higher is the FRP, and higher is the sugar produced.
The Central Government announces Fair and Remunerative Prices which are determined on the recommendation of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and announced by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
CCEA is chaired by the Prime Minister of India.
The FRP is based on the Rangarajan Committee report on reorganizing the sugarcane industry.
Significance of FRP:
Assured payment is one of the major reasons why cane is a popular crop with farmers.
Delays in payment can attract an interest up to 15 per cent per annum, and the sugar commissioner can recover unpaid FRP as dues in revenue recovery by attaching properties of the mills.
Why are farmers in Maharashtra protesting?
Farmers argue that this method would impact their incomes. They point out that while FRP will be paid in installments, and will depend on an unknown variable, their bank loans and other expenses are expected to be paid for as usual.
Also, farmers mostly require a lumpsum at the beginning of the season (October-November), because their next crop cycle depends on it.
Temperature: Between 21-27°C with hot and humid climate.
Rainfall: Around 75-100 cm.
Soil Type: Deep rich loamy soil.
Top Sugarcane Producing States: Uttar Pradesh > Maharashtra > Karnataka > Tamil Nadu > Bihar.
India is the second largest producer of sugarcane after Brazil.
What are NFTs?
(GS-III: Developments in Science and Technology)
NFTs are gaining massive popularity now because they are becoming an increasingly popular way to showcase and sell your digital artwork.
Billions of dollars have been spent on NFTs since its inception—which date backs to 2015.
What are NFTs?
An NFT is a unique, irreplaceable token that can be used to prove ownership of digital assets such as music, artwork, even tweets and memes.
Anything that can be converted into a digital form can be an NFT.
Everything from your drawings, photos, videos, GIF, music, in-game items, selfies, and even a tweet can be turned into an NFT, which can then be traded online using cryptocurrency.
What makes NFTs unique from other digital forms?
It is backed by Blockchain technology.
NFT transactions are recorded on blockchains, which is a digital public ledger, with most NFTs being a part of the Ethereum blockchain.
How do NFTs work?
NFT works on blockchain as it gives users complete ownership of a digital asset.
For instance, if you’re a sketch artist, and if you convert your digital asset to an NFT, what you get is proof of ownership, powered by Blockchain.
Differences between NFT and Cryptocurrency:
Cryptocurrency is a currency and is fungible, meaning that it is interchangeable.
For instance, if you hold one crypto token, say one Ethereum, the next Ethereum that you hold will also be of the same value. But NFTs are non-fungible, that means the value of one NFT is not equal to another. Every art is different from other, making it non fungible, and unique.
Risks associated with buying NFTs:
In the recent past, several incidents of NFT scams have been reported including: emergence of fake marketplaces, unverified sellers often impersonating real artists and selling copies of their artworks for half prices.
NFRs unquestionably have negative impact on the environment. In order to validate transactions, crypto mining is done, which requires high powered computers that run at a very high capacity, affecting the environment ultimately.
Umbilical Cord blood and its significance
(GS-III: Biotechnology related issues)
A US woman has been cured of HIV after receiving a transplant of umbilical cord blood
She has become the third person in the world, and the first woman, to be cured of HIV.
What is HIV and how is it transmitted?
Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is an infection that attacks the immune system by destroying the body’s immune cells called CD4, which help it respond to infection.
Once HIV attacks the CD4 cells, it starts replicating and destroying the cells, weakening the body’s immune system and making it more prone to certain “opportunistic infections” that take advantage of the weak immune system.
Why is this significant?
This was the first time an umbilical cord blood transplant was successfully carried out on an HIV patient. This approach is likely to make treatment more widely available.
Since this breakthrough treatment only requires partial matches and not exact matches, it opens up treatment options for people from diverse racial backgrounds.
What is Cord Blood?
Cord blood (short for umbilical cord blood) is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta post-delivery.
It contains special cells called hematopoietic stem cells that can be used to treat some types of diseases.
What is Cord blood banking?
Cord blood banking is the process of collecting the cord blood and extracting and cryogenically freezing its stem cells and other cells of the immune system for potential future medical use.
Globally, cord blood banking is recommended as a source of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for haematological cancers and disorders where its use is recommended.
For all other conditions, the use of cord blood as a source of stem cells is not yet established.
What Can It Be Used For?
The umbilical cord fluid is loaded with stem cells.
They can treat cancer, blood diseases like anemia, and some immune system disorders, which disrupt your body’s ability to defend itself.
The fluid is easy to collect and has 10 times more stem cells than those collected from bone marrow.
Stem cells from cord blood rarely carry any infectious diseases and are half as likely to be rejected as adult stem cells.
Concerns associated with stem cell banking:
Over the past decade, stem cell banking has been aggressively marketed even as its use is still in experimental stages. But these companies charge enormous fees from parents to preserve cells.
The concern here is that it is merely by emotional marketing that companies convince parents to bank the cells for several years promising future therapeutic use.
Tribunal Reforms Act of 2021
(GS-II: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies)
The Supreme Court has observed that the government’s move to introduce a statute last year on key tribunals, that too, merely days after the court struck down an identical law, may amount to dishonouring its judgment.
What’s the issue?
The Tribunal Reforms Act of 2021 has been challenged in the court.
The petitioners argue that the law raises a serious threat to judicial independence by giving the government wide powers regarding appointments, service conditions, salaries etc., of members of key tribunals.
The petitioners have argued that the Act was introduced in the Lok Sabha just days after the Supreme Court struck down the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance of 2021. The Act brought back the very same provisions in the ordinance which were struck down by the Supreme Court.
The Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021 was passed in both houses last year. The law has triggered a fresh stand-off between the legislature and the judiciary over the powers of and limitations on law making.
As per the Act, the minimum age criterion is 50 years for appointment of advocates as members of tribunals and the tenure is four-years.
The court found the caps arbitrary. But, the government has argued that the move will bring in a specialised talent pool of advocates to pick from.
Section 3(1), Sections 3(7), 5 and 7(1) ultra-vires Articles 14, 21 and 50 of the Constitution.
Section 3 (1) bars appointments to tribunals of persons below 50 years of age. This undermines the length/security of tenure and violates both judicial independence and the principle of separation of powers.
Section 3(7) of the impugned Act which mandates the recommendation of a panel of two names by the search-cum selection committee to the Central Government, violates the principles of separation of powers and judicial independence.
Highlights of Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Act, 2021:
The law seeks to provide for uniform terms and conditions of the various members of the Tribunal and abolish certain tribunals, as a part of its bid to rationalize the tribunals.
It seeks to dissolve certain existing appellate bodies and transfer their functions to other existing judicial bodies.
It seeks to empower the Central Government to make rules for qualifications, appointment, term of office, salaries and allowances, resignation, removal and other terms and conditions of service of Members of Tribunals.
It provides that the Chairperson and Members of the Tribunals will be appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of a Search-cum-Selection Committee.
It also provides the composition of the Committee, to be headed by the Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him.
For state tribunals, there will be a separate search committee.
The Union government has to ‘preferably’ decide on the recommendations of the search-cum selection committee within 3 months of the date of the recommendation.
Tenure: Chairperson of a Tribunal shall hold office for a term of 4 years or till he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier. Other Members of a Tribunal shall hold office for a term of 4 years or till he attains the age of 67 years, whichever is earlier.
Abolition of Appellate Tribunals:
Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, Airports Appellate Tribunal, Authority for Advance Rulings, Intellectual Property Appellate Board and the Plant Varieties Protection Appellate Tribunal are the five tribunals which are sought to be abolished by the Act and their functions are to be transferred to the existing judicial bodies.
What had the Court ruled and what are the key Issues with the law?
The Supreme Court in the case of Madras Bar Association v. Union of India had struck down the provisions requiring a minimum age for appointment as chairperson or members as 50 years and prescribing the tenure of four years.
It held that such conditions are violative of the principles of separation of powers, independence of judiciary, rule of law and Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
The new law has sought to undo the judgment of the Apex Court wrt to the following provisions:
The minimum age requirement of 50 years still finds a place in the law.
The tenure for the Chairperson and the members of the tribunal remains four years.
The recommendation of two names for each post by the Search-cum-Selection Committee and requiring the decision to be taken by the government preferably within three months.