फteacher, Author at UPSCALE IAS


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Highlights of Reforms Measures in the Economic Survey 2016-17 Volume-2 

Agriculture and Food Management Reforms

Managing and reducing the various risks in agriculture activities can make the sector resilient, increase profitability and can ensure stable income flows to the farmers. The following reforms are suggested for increasing productivity in agriculture and allied sector:
·         To address the price risks in agriculture and allied sectors, marketing infrastructure along the entire value chain needs to be built and strengthened.

·         To address production risks, the share of irrigated area should be expanded by increasing the coverage of water saving irrigation systems like micro irrigation systems.

·         To increase productivity of crops, standards should be set and enforced for better quality, pest and disease resistant seeds.

·         Trade and domestic policy changes should be announced well before sowing and should stay till arrivals and procurement is over.

·         To enhance women’s involvement in the dairy projects, funds should be earmarked through appropriate mechanisms.

·         Providing timely and affordable formal and institutional credit to the small and marginal farmers is the key to inclusive growth.

·         Regime based on timely interventions needs to be adopted.


Industry and Infrastructure

·         Railways should go for more non-fare sources along with station redevelopment and commercially exploiting vacant buildings at the station, monetizing land along tracks by leasing out to promote horticulture and tree plantation, and through advertisement and parcel earnings.

·         During the last few years the non-major ports are gaining more share of cargo handling compared to major ports. It is required to develop non-major port and also enhance their efficiency and operational capacity.

·         Reforms such as privatization/ disinvestment of Air India, creation of aviation hubs and reconsidering the 0/20 rule are some suggestions to improve Indian airlines’ share in the international market.


Social Infrastructure, Employment and Human Development

·         India, is emerging as a knowledge based economy, poised for double digit growth, and needs to strengthen social infrastructure by investing in health and education.

·         The education policies need to be designed with focus on learning outcomes and remedial education with interventions which work and maximize the efficiency of expenditure. There is need for bio-metric attendance of school staff, independent setting of examination papers, neutral examination and for DBT for schools. There is need to adopt outcome measures for the education and skilling activities to ensure improvement in delivery of schemes/ programmes.

·         In order to make the labour market system dynamic and efficient, the government has taken several reforms/initiatives, both legislative as well as technological such as notification of ‘Ease of Compliance to maintain Registers under various Laws Rules, 2017’ and introduction of e-Biz Portal. These registers/forms can also be maintained in a digitized form.

·         Government has been imparting short term skill training through Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) and long term training through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs). Model Skill Centers are being set up in every district of the country under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra Scheme. The emphasis is on enhancing the quality of skill training programmes and making a competency-based framework with giving individuals an option to progress through education, training, prior learning and experiences.

·         There has to be concerted efforts by the Central and State governments to reform the health sector, by addressing quality issues, standardising rates for diagnostic tests, generating awareness about alternative health systems and introduction of punitive measures like fines on hospitals and private health providers for false claims through surgery, medicines etc. For more equitable access to health services, government should provide health benefits and risk cover to poorer sections of the society.

·         Towards addressing the challenges in health sector, the Government has formulated the National Health Policy, 2017, which aims at attaining the highest level of good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive health care orientation in all developmental policies, and universal access to good quality health care services, without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence.

·         Addressing the social security of large number of vulnerable workers in the informal economy should be prioritized by the Government along with ensuring the safety and security of women to raise their participation in economic activities.

Great India Bustard vs Development

Bijli-sadak-paani are the basic needs for a decent quality of rural life. Villages in the remote grasslands and deserts of India have long suffered and lacked these amenities. But times are changing. The Great Indian Bustard, an ambassador of grasslands and deserts, and could-be national bird (if not for the objections that its name was open to misinterpretation) was once widespread across the dry rural landscapes of India. It has now disappeared from 90 per cent of its former range.

Justifiably, electricity, road and water facilities for rural households are the main agenda for development programmes. The present government has a target of electrifying seven lakh power deprived villages with mazes of power lines. About 1.7 lakh villages will be connected by constructing and upgrading 7.5 lakh kilometres of roads. The water needs of 80,000 sq km of agricultural land will be quenched through funding for irrigation projects. Bijli-sadak-pani will finally reach remote rural households.

However, this change has come at a cost to wildlife conservation. Many remote rural landscapes are also important wildlife habitats. The influx of infrastructure has modified these lands and wildlife is not amenable to such rapid changes. The expanding infrastructure in grasslands and deserts has been a death knell for the Great Indian Bustard. With just 200 bustards left, they are precariously close to extinction. Why is the bustard disappearing? The devil is in the details. Those who have travelled the interiors of Kutch or Thar about a decade ago will now find these landscapes transformed by bijli-sadak-pani. First, there is a change in farming practices as a perennial water supply (brought by the Indira Gandhi Nahar Project in Thar and by bore-well irrigation in Kutch) ensures land is cultivated intensively all through the year. Earlier, farming was only done during monsoons and this spared lands for bustards, antelopes and foxes.

Second, mazes of power lines are laid along aerial corridors. Bustards are on a collision course as they have narrow frontal vision that does not allow easy spotting of wires and being not very agile flyers they have poor manoeuvring skills.

The only breeding male in Nannaj Sanctuary that was radio-tracked by Wildlife Institute of India is one of the many birds that succumbed to electrocution and/or the impact of a collision. This is not only about the death of an individual bird but mathematical projections based on the bustards’ demography found that these accidental deaths are sufficient to cause bustards to go extinct. Yet, prime bustard habitats between Sam and Mokla in Thar and between Naliya and Bitta in Kutch are allocated for wind and solar power projects. These renewable power projects, touted as “green energy”, are actively pursued by the present government. An ambitious target of generating 100 gigawatts of solar power by 2020 means that about 2,000 sq km of land will be lined with solar panels that will be placed mostly in grasslands and deserts. In a final effort to save the bustard, conservation agencies have joined hands to restore its habitats and secure a captive bred population as an insurance against extinction. But reviving the bustard requires the importance of grasslands and deserts to be recognised.

Indian environmental laws mandate that infrastructure projects be scrutinised on the basis of environment impact assessments before granting clearances. Safeguards are suggested to reduce ecological damage, and their implementation is monitored. The problem is that forest-centric environmental governance does not recognise grasslands and deserts as worthy of conservation attention. This is an imprinted notion that is derived from an archaic colonial policy. Grasslands and deserts were not regarded as resources for the British economy — the notion of unproductive “wastelands” that are better diverted to “more productive” uses continues to this day. But grasslands and deserts support biodiversity that is so unique that their loss cannot be compensated by conserving forests. The 11th Five-Year Plan recommended that grasslands and deserts be brought under the ambit of environment impact assessment and consolidation of these habitats as “protected areas”. The second policy shortfall was the sole focus on “protected areas”, wherein efforts to protect the bustard inside sanctuaries went kaput as the same birds were dying outside during their wide expeditions. Many voices call for conservation policy to transcend “protected areas” and to manage land uses in “unprotected” biodiversity-rich areas. This transition is necessary since ecological processes are spatially interlinked and small protected areas lose their functions when processes are disrupted in surrounding rural landscapes.

The way forward need not be viewed through a lens of “this or that” — whether bijli-sadak-pani or conservation; development or environmental laws; protected or unprotected. It is more often a question of where and how to implement infrastructures in rural-wildlife habitats while trying to meet wildlife concerns. Rajasthan has pioneered the initiative of participatory land-use planning in bustard habitats. In a recent meeting, officers from the state forest department, revenue department, energy department and wind and solar power firms have agreed to avoid new power lines and renewable power projects from coming up on prime bustard habitats.

There is no doubt that balancing rural development and bustard conservation is one of the most formidable challenges we face. By confronting this challenge, we are at the tipping point for how land-use planning and environmental stewardship is possible in other parts of India.

History Optional Strategy – Books to follow



  1. UPINDER SINGH- A history of ancient and early medieval India: The most important book, according to the current trend of questions being asked on socio-economic aspects of history
  2. IGNOU B.A notes- very crisply written
  3. IGNOU M.A NOTES – helpful in understanding various political, economic and socio- cultural aspects
  4. Romila thapar- Early India( only a very selective reading)
  5. NCERT Class 6, NCERT Class 11


  2. Satish Chandra is another important source to compliment IGNOU.



  1. SHEKHAR BANDOPADHYAY- From Plassey to partition
  2. SUMIT SARKAR- Modern India:
  4. IGNOU B.A and M.A


  1. IGNOU BA and MA
  2. RANJAN CHAKRABARTY- A history of modern world
  4. DAVID THOMSON (Selective reading)
  5. NCERT CLASS 9 and 10

Steps to enhance the income of farmers

Government is taking several steps to enhance the income of farmers including:-

(i)         Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme by which the farmers can know the major and minor nutrients available in their soils which will ensure judicious use of fertiliser application and reduce cost of inputs and improve soil fertility.

 (ii)        Neem Coated Urea is being promoted to regulate use of urea, enhance its availability to the crop and reduce cost of fertilizer application. 

 (iii)       Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) is being implemented with a view to promote organic farming in the country. 

 (iv)       The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) is being implemented to expand cultivated area with assured irrigation, reduce wastage of water and improve water use efficiency.

 (v)        The National Agriculture Market scheme (e-NAM) was envisaged as initiation of e-marketing platform at national level and will support creation of infrastructure to enable e-marketing in 585 regulated markets across the country by March 2018. So far, 455 markets of 13 States have been integrated with e-NAM. 

 (vi)       Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) is being implemented that would provide insurance cover for all stages of the crop cycle including post-harvest risks in specified instances.

 (vii) Under Interest Subvention Scheme 2016-17, in order to provide relief to the farmers on occurrence of natural calamities, the interest subvention of 2% shall continue to be available to banks for the first year on the restructured amount. 

  (viiiRashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) enables Governments to further implement the scheme in the State as per its requirement in areas which requires focused attention for increasing production and productivity in the State. 

 (ix)  Under National Food Security Mission (NFSM), a Centrally Sponsored scheme assistance is provided to farmers for distribution of Seeds (HYVs/Hybrids), production of seeds (only in pulses), INM and IPM techniques, resource conservation technologies/tools/farm mechanization, efficient water application tools, cropping system based trainings to farmers and also assistance for value addition.

 (x) The objective of National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) programme is to increase production and productivity of oilseeds for meeting the domestic requirement of vegetable oil.

 (xi)  Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, is being implemented w.e.f. 2014-15, for holistic growth of the horticulture sector covering fruits

vegetable, root and tuber crops, mushrooms, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew, cocoa and bamboo. 


The other steps taken by farmers to enhance the income of farmers are as under:

 (i)         The Government has drafted a new model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2017, provides the options of alternate markets beyond the existing APMC regulated market yards including private markets, direct marketing, farmer-consumer markets, special commodity markets, declaring warehouses/silos/cold storages or such structures as market sub yards and Market Yards of National Importance (MNI) so as to reduce the number of intermediaries between producer and buyer and increase the share of the farmer in consumer’s rupee.

 (ii)        The Government undertakes procurement of wheat and paddy under its ‘MSP operations’. In addition, Government implements Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for procurement of agricultural and horticultural commodities not covered under the Minimum Price Support Scheme on the request of State/UT Government. The MIS is implemented in order to protect the growers of these commodities from making distress sale in the event of bumper crop when the prices tend to fall below the economic level/cost of production.

 (iii)       MSP is notified for both Kharif & Rabi crops based on the recommendations of the Commission on Agriculture Costs & Prices (CACP). The Commission collects & analyses data on cost of cultivation and recommends MSP.  To incentivise cultivation of pulses and oilseeds in the country, Government has announced bonus for Kharif 2017-18, over & above the approved MSP.

 Government led other market interventions such as Price Stabilization Fund and Food Corporation of India operations also supplement efforts to enhance the income of farmers. 

 Apart from the above, the Government is also focusing on ancillary activities like Bee-keeping for increasing of farmers’ income.

Big Data & Privacy

Viewed from outside the box, Big Data is essentially an advanced feature of the industrial-military complex in the service of profit and power.
Supreme court’s verdict on Privacy issue on 24th dec :
  • Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation.
  • Privacy also connotes a right to be left alone.
  • Privacy safeguards individual autonomy and recognises the ability of the individual to control vital aspects of his or her life.
  • Privacy is not lost or surrendered merely because the individual is in a public place.
The judgement puts a big question mark on the right of governments and corporations to collect, share, sell and manipulate personal data that may infringe individual privacy and dignity.
Further, The contemporary age has been aptly regarded as ‘an era of ubiquitous dataveillance, or the systematic monitoring of citizen’s communications or actions through the use of information technology’.
It is also an age of ‘big data’ or the collection of data sets.
These data sets:
  • are capable of being searched;
  • they have linkages with other data sets;
  • are marked by their exhaustive scope and the permanency of collection.
  • pose challenge to privacy interests emanating from state and non-state entities.
Aadhaar, touted as the world’s largest biometric ID undertaking, is Big Data.
Anthropologist James Scott documented in his compelling ‘Seeing Like a State’ that the state has always worshipped data, as it gives more power to the powerful, even if often at the expense of people’s happiness.
 Big data seduces world leaders, political elites, multinationals etc, because of it’s supposedly strong powers. This is based on the premise that everything in the world can be captured in ciphers of 0 and 1, and that if we could capture enough of it, preferably all of it, we can rummage in it using algorithms and pull out non-obvious insights into practically every problem on earth—how to stop a terrorist, catch a tax cheat, etc.
But few others beleive that Big Data, together with artificial intelligence (AI), represents a massive disruptive engineering of the human soul with ominous and as yet unclear implications for notions of freedom, privacy, justice, moral reasoning and autonomy.
How Big Data is different from earlier data collections ?
  1. Sheer volume – 95 per cent of all data created since the dawn of human history was created in the past two years.
  2.  High velocity – meaning data is being created in real-time.
  3. Greater variety – meaning it is both structured, such as credit card transactions, and unstructured, such as random browsing on the Internet.
Every time you go online, you leave traces of your presence in what is called digital exhaust, all of which, no matter how trivial, is stashed away as data.
Big Data represents a three-way shift in the way we extract truth about the world from data:
  1. Unlike the small data of sampling, Big Data deals with very large data sets, often including almost everything; and that too quickly, cheaply and at regular intervals to boot.
  2. In Big Data analysis, getting detail is more important than accuracy. So the messier and bigger the data, it is more likely to yield new insights.
  3. Aconsequence of the first two, Big Data does not care about causes; it merely looks for hidden patterns and correlations.
Indeed, nobody knows why Big Data sometimes works, or why at others it doesn’t.
Some argue that Big Data creates a state of seeing patterns where none actually exist, simply because enormous quantities of data can offer connections that radiate in all directions.
In Big Data parlance, both the state and the corporation are aggregators—the former aggregates power while the latter capital.
While Big Data could potentially yield new insights into pressing problems like air pollution, flooding in cities, sharing of river waters, or managing waste, the government seems more interested in catching crooks and criminals. This year it flagged off two projects—Project Insight, a Rs 10,000 crore worth attempt to catch tax evaders by tapping into data on income tax, bank accounts, and social media, and the Rs 2,000 crore worth Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems (CCTNS), which seeks to digitise all crime records in the country and use that data to make predictions about crimes, criminals and victims.
A study by the Bengaluru-based Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) of several schemes under the Modi government’s Digital India Project concluded that the project aims to enhance the delivery of services to the citizens at the cost of exposing their personal information to cyber security threats.
The report also raises red flag on informed consent as CIS investigations revealed that a large number of citizens were not clear how their personal data were being used.
Of late, as part of CCTNS, Delhi Police has been toying with something —it uses a software that mashes up real-time data from its 100 helpline with the satellite map of Delhi, maps it onto its crime data, and then spits out probabilities of crime in different neighbourhoods.
With CCTV profiling of crime-prone neighbourhoods, which tend to be mostly poor, policing by algorithm only ends up reinforcing old prejudices. It negates the very idea of the presumption of innocence, the principle upon which our legal system, as well as our sense of fairness, is based. (Remember the movie, Minority Report)
Snowden’s whistle blew the cover on how US National Security Agency (NSA) created a spy dragnet called PRISM that siphoned off personal data not just of Americans but also of people around the world from the databanks of giant IT and Internet companies like Google, Apple, Verizon and AT&T, and stashed it away in large clouds like the Utah Data Center.
In fact, the just-retired Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi told a parliamentary panel last month that, without their knowledge, 40 per cent of Indians using smartphones share their data with US intelligence agencies.
Being stripped of privacy is fundamentally dehumanizing, and it makes no difference whether the surveillance is conducted by an undercover policeman following us around or by a computer algorithm tracking our every move.

Wetlands : New vs Old

Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, had been notified to replace the earlier set of guidelines that came into effect in 2010.
2,01,503 wetlands in the country – identified using ISRO’s satellite imagery.
Wetlands are defined as “an area of marsh, fen, peatland or water; whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres, but does not include river channels, paddy fields, human-made water bodies/tanks specifically constructed for drinking water purposes and structures specifically constructed for aquaculture, salt production, recreation and irrigation purposes”.
The 2017 Rules have done away with the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority (CWRA) entirely; National Wetland Committee, which has a merely advisory role, has taken it’s place.
A comprehensive digital inventory of all wetlands is to be prepared within a year; however, it is up to the states to decide which wetlands are to be notified.
Under ‘Restrictions of activities in wetlands’, the new Rules say conservation and management would be “in accordance with the principle of ‘wise use’ as determined by the Wetlands Authority”.
 The 2010 Rules listed six points describing protected wetlands; the new Rules have done away with them, and instead state that wetlands are limited to and do not include wetlands under forest and coastal regulation zones.
They apply to:
(a) wetlands categorised as “wetlands of international importance” under the Ramsar Convention, and
(b) wetlands as notified by the central government, state government and UT administration.
Restriction on activities in wetlands now no longer includes reclamation.
The Rules provide no timelines for phasing out solid waste and untreated waste from being dumped into wetlands.
The restrictions on “any other activity likely to have an adverse impact on the ecosystem of the wetland”, are not specified in the Rules.
The Rules do, however, restrict any kind of encroachment, poaching, or permanent construction, except for boat jetties within 50 metres of the mean high flood level observed in the past 10 years.
The 2010 Rules said “Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Authority (CWRA) may prefer an appeal to the National Green Tribunal within a period of sixty days from the date of such decision.” This provision does not exist in the 2017 Rules.

Rashtryia Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) – An evaluation

In India more than two thirds of expenditure on health is through ‘Out of Pocket’ (OOP) which is the most inefficient and least accountable way of spending on health.
Unorganized Workers Social Security Act (2008) enacted by the Central Government to provide for the social security and welfare of the unorganized workers – Supply Side Financing —> Didn’t reduce OOP.
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY)(2008) – a Health Insurance Scheme for the B.P.L. families with the objectives to reduce OOP expenditure on health and increase access to health care – Demand Side Financing .
        Earlier RSBY covered only BPL families, later expanded to cover :
1. Building and other construction workers registered with the Welfare Boards
2. Licensed Railway Porters
3. Street Vendors
4. MNREGA workers who have worked for more than 15 days during the preceding financial year
5. Beedi Workers
6. Domestic Workers
7. Sanitation Workers
8. Mine Workers
9. Rickshaw pullers
10. Rag pickers
11. Auto/Taxi Driver
RSBY has two fold objectives:
1. To provide financial protection against catastrophic health costs by reducing out
2. To improve access to quality health care for below poverty line households of pocket expenditure for hospitalization and other vulnerable groups in the unorganized sector.
  • Since 1st April, 2015, the RSBY has been transferred to Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on “as is where is” basis.
  • The beneficiaries under RSBY are entitled to hospitalization coverage up to Rs. 30,000/- per annum on family floater basis, for most of the diseases that require hospitalization.
  • Additionally, transport expenses of Rs. 100/- per hospitalisation will also be paid to the beneficiary subject to a maximum of Rs. 1000/- per year per family.
  • The beneficiaries need to pay only Rs. 30/- as registration fee for a year while Central and State Government pays the premium as per their sharing ratio to the insurer selected by the State Government on the basis of a competitive bidding.
At every state, the State Government sets up a State Nodal Agency (SNA) that is responsible for implementing, monitoring supervision and part-financing of the scheme by coordinating with Insurance Company, Hospital, District Authorities and other local stake holders.
  • Empowering the beneficiary – RSBY provides the participating BPL household with freedom of choice between public and private hospitals.
  • Business Model for all Stakeholders –Insurers, Hospitals, Intermediaries, Government
  • Information Technology (IT) Intensive
  • Safe and foolproof – The use of biometric enabled smart card and a key management system
  • Portability
  • Cash less and Paperless transactions
  • Robust Monitoring and Evaluation
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