Q1. There is a need to address the problem of malnutrition by shifting the focus from health to stressing district-by-district reduction of socio-economic inequality, especially, gender inequality.
Stunting prevalence in India is high (38.4%) and varies considerably across districts (from 12.4% to 65.1%).239 of the 640 districts in India have stunting levels above 40% and 202 have prevalence of 30–40%
High‐stunting districts are heavily clustered in the north and centre of the country
Inter-district differences in stunting are strongly explained by a multitude of economic, health, hygiene, and demographic factors
Key findings of IFPRI study:
The study has analysed and spatially mapped data from the National Family Health Survey 4 (NFHS 2015-16) on India’s high childhood stunting prevalence of 38.4%.
It has concluded that very high-stunting districts could eliminate 71% of the gap with low-stunting districts if they are able to improve on specific issues of gender and inequality.
The 71% of the observed differences in stunting prevalence between low and high burden districts has been explained by a number of socio-economic factors such as:
Women’s low body mass index (BMI) – 19%
Women’s education – 12%
Children’s adequate diet – 9%
Assets – 7%
Open defecation – 7%
Age at marriage – 7%
Antenatal care (ANC) – 6%
Household (HH) size – 5%
These multifactorial determinants highlight the need for district-specific data for diagnostic assessments and call for a nationwide focus for stunting prevention, while addressing critical determinants district‐by‐district to reduce inequalities and prevalence of childhood stunting.
Top 10 districts – lowest stunting rates
Ernakulam (KL) 12.4%
Pathanamthitta (KL) 13.3%
Kollam (KL) 14.4%
Alappuzha (KL) 14.5%
Idukki (KL) 15.1%
Cuttack (OR) 15.3%
Hyderabad (TG) 15.7%
Puri (OR) 16.1%
South Garo Hills (ML) 16.8%
Kanniyakumari (TN) 17.2%
Bottom 10 districts – highest stunting rates
Bahraich (UP) 65.1%
Shrawasti (UP) 63.5%
Balrampur (UP) 62.8%
Pashchimi Singhbhum (JH) 59.4%
Siddharthnagar (UP) 57.9%
Sitamarhi (BR) 57.3%
Gonda (UP) 56.9%
Sitapur (UP) 56.4%
Koppal (KA) 55.8%
Yadgir (KA) 55.5%
The study shows that only focusing on health- and nutrition-related factors under the existing ICDS scheme isn’t enough; there is need to address gender-related inequalities at the district level so as to reduce stunting.
Factors concerning women across their life cycles, such as their education, nutrition, age at marriage, care during and after pregnancy, play a significant role, as do the overall socio-economic status of the household
The findings are significant when the union government has launched its National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan) with a district-level focus to reduce stunting.
Q2. Recently, the government has commissioned “Bastariya Battallion” in oder to tackle the problem of Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in Chhattisgarh. What are the concerns associated with this new force and how can it become a success?
What comprises the new force?
The Bastariya Battallion comprises of local recruits from 4 ditricts of undivided Bastar: Sukma, Dantewada, Narayanpur and Bijapur.
The battalion has 33 percent representation of women combatants with 189 ‘mahila’ constables.
The recruits have been trained for about 44 weeks in jungle warfare, weapons firing, map reading, police laws and unarmed combat.
The concept to raise the team was mooted with the aim that the recruits, mostly tribals, will help address local issues such as unemployment, provide tactical advantage to CRPF in operations, intelligence collection and language benefits.
What are the special features of the force?
The battalion is familiar with the local terrain and language as the personnel have been recruited from the local districts.
It has been commissioned in order to fight with the Maoists in region.
It will also help bridge the disconnect between the CRPF, which comprises personnel from all over the country, and the local population.
What are the concerns about it?
It revives memories of the Salwa Judum, the now disbanded militia force.
About Salwa Judum:
Salwa Judum was mobilised in 2005. Many of the volunteers were former Maoists.
Those in favour of the idea claim that the Judum was a “spontaneous uprising” of tribal people against Maoist violence in Bastar, and helped in countering Naxals in the region.
Yet, by the time the force was banned by the Supreme Court in 2011, it had acquired a bloody and controversial reputation.
The state government allegedly supplied arms and tacit support to the Judum, which had turned into a vigilante group, recruiting poorly trained youth as “Koya Commandos”, or “SPOs (Special Police Officers)”.
There were many allegations against the Judum: entering and burning villages, sexual assault, murders etc.
The local population had two choice: either to join Judum or be declared as Maoists.
Many people were displaced to the nearby states of Andhra and Telangana, never to return back to their homes.
Activists argue that the New Bastraiya Battallion may bring back the terror of now disbanded Salwa Judum.
It is like pitting tribal against the tribals and giving an option between life and death to the local people.
What is the difference between Salwa Judum and Bastariya Battallion?
The main difference is between the training.
The latter has been given a 44 weeks training which included not just modules on jungle warfare and weapons training, but also civic responsibilities and human rights.
They are CRPF constables like any other, and not a vigilante group.
The presence of locals will increase the sensitivity of the CRPF, especially with one-third of the recruits being women.
The scars that the Salwa Judum left behind in Bastar are deep, its wounds have still not completely healed.
The success or failure of the Bastariya Warriors in Chhattisgarh will be judged not only by their “operational successes”, but also by their human rights record.
They should be and will be under constant scrutiny of civil society, the media and, most importantly, the adivasis who live in the forests in Bastar’s conflict zone.
Q3. Explain various provisions of the proposed “NEW NATIONAL POLICY ON BIOFUELS”. What will be its benefits and challenges of implementation?
In order to promote biofuels in the country, a National Policy on Biofuels was formulated by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy during the year 2009.
Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of the Government such as Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill Development.
They offers great opportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of Farmers Income, Import Reduction, Employment Generation, Waste to Wealth Creation.
Biofuels programme in India has been largely hit because of non-availability of sustained domestic feedstock.
1) The Policy categorises biofuels as
“Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel
“Advanced Biofuels”– Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
2) Raw material expanded: The scope of raw material for ethanol production has been expaned by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
3) Surplus foodgrains of farmers: To alleviate the risk of Farmers of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.
4) Viability gap funding: With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.
5) Supply chain management: The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.
1) Reduce Import Dependency: The ethanol supply year 2017-18 is likely to see a supply of around 150 crore litres of ethanol which will result in savings of over Rs.4000 crore of foreign exchange.
2) Cleaner Environment: There will be lesser emissions of CO2. By reducing crop burning & conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuels there will be further reduction in Green House Gas emissions.
3) Health benefits: Prolonged reuse of Cooking Oil for preparing food, particularly in deep-frying is a potential health hazard and can lead to many diseases. Used Cooking Oil is a potential feedstock for biodiesel and its use for making biodiesel will prevent diversion of used cooking oil in the food industry.
4) MSW Management: It is estimated that, annually 62 MMT of Municipal Solid Waste gets generated in India. It can be used to generate biofuels.
5) Infrastructural Investment in Rural Areas: At present Oil Marketing Companies are in the process of setting up twelve 2G bio refineries with an investment of around Rs.10,000 crore. Further addition of 2G bio refineries across the Country will spur infrastructural investment in the rural areas.
6) Employment Generation: There will be a requirement of employment in Plant Operations, Village Level Entrepreneurs and Supply Chain Management.
7) Additional Income to Farmers: By adopting 2G technologies, agricultural residues/waste which otherwise are burnt by the farmers can be converted to ethanol and can fetch a price for these waste if a market is developed for the same. Also, farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Thus conversion of surplus grains and agricultural biomass can help in price stabilization.
The policy should take in to consideration technological and financial feasibility
To address the issue of infrastructure, the new policy envisages investment to the tune of ₹5,000 crore in building bio-refineries and offering other incentives over the next few years.
The government should also take steps to remove policy barriers that have discouraged private investment in building supply chains.
Until that happens, India’s huge biofuel potential will continue to remain largely untapped.
Q4. What is Inner Line Permit?
The Manipur Assembly had passed three bills in this connection in 2015 but the President did not give assent to one bill while the two others were rejected even as most tribals in the state had objected to the bills terming them as “anti-tribal”.
The influx of foreign tourists has increased exponentially in Manipur, thus creating a demographic imbalance in the region. If this was not enough, illegal immigration from Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar has also contributed to the crisis. This has created fear among the locals over employment and availability of resources. At a time where there already exists stiff competition between the locals and outsiders over jobs, the outsiders mostly settle for low paid work. Hence, locals feel ILP fails to safeguard the interests of the indigenous people.
WHAT IS THE INNER LINE PERMIT?
The Inner Line Permit (ILP) is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to grant inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period. It is obligatory for Indians residing outside those states to obtain permission prior to entering the protected areas.
Currently, the Inner Line Permit is operational in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
The document has been issued under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 and the conditions and restrictions vary from state to state.
It can be issued for travel purposes solely. Visitors are not allowed to purchase property in these regions. However, there might be a different set of rules for long term visitors, though they are not valid for central government employees and security forces.
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