QUESTION : Enumerate the salient features of the new agricultural export policy. What challenges do you perceive in achieving the objectives of the policy considering the covid-19 pandemic effects on agriculture sector of India ?
FROM PLATE TO PLOUGH : HOW SUSTAINABLE ARE OUR AGRICULTURAL EXPORTS ?
Status of Agricultural Exports
WHY IN NEWS ?
• Agricultural exports touched $41.8 billion (bn) in FY21 (a growth of 18% over FY20).
• However, against a target of $60 bn the government had set out to achieve by 2022, it falls much short.
• Also, in last seven years, agri-exports have remained lower than the level reached in FY14 ($43.3 bn).
o It has slid to 13.5% by FY21, indicating India is becoming less competitive in exports.
• Thus, apart from achieving the target, it is huge concern for India whether even the current rate of export can be sustained or not.
COMPOSITION OF AGRI-EXPORTS :
• Amongst the various agri-commodity exports, rice ranks first with 17.7 million tonnes valued at $8.8 billion, roughly 21 % of the total value of agri-exports.
• It is followed by marine products ($6 billion), spices ($4 billion), bovine (buffalo) meat ($3.2 billion) and sugar ($2.8 billion).
AGRICULTURAL EXPORT POLICY :
Keeping in mind the significant Indian agriculture holds, Government of India introduced Agri Export Policy in 2018.
o Double Exports: To double agri-exports from the present $30 billion to $60 billion by 2022 and reach $100 billion in the next few years thereafter, with a stable trade policy regime.
o Diversification: To diversify the export basket, and boost high value and value-added agricultural exports including focus on perishables.
o Non-Traditional Agri Products Promotion: To promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional Agri products exports.
o Market Access: To provide an institutional mechanism for pursuing market access, tackling barriers and deal with sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues.
o Global Integration: To strive to double India’s share in world agri-exports by integrating with global value chain at the earliest.
o Benefit Farmers: Enable farmers to get benefit of export opportunities in the overseas market.
Vision: Harness export potential of Indian agriculture, through suitable policy instruments, to make India a global power in agriculture and raise farmers income.
KEY CONCERNS :
(1) Subsidy in Export
• Export subsidy given by the government to clear excessive domestic stocks of sugar has led many other sugar-exporting countries like Australia, Brazil and Thailand to register a case against India at the World WTO, which India may find difficult to defend.
• In the case of common rice, if subsidies are withdrawn or rationalised through direct income transfers to farmers, rice will not be as preferred a crop with farmers as it is today.
o Power and fertiliser subsidies account for about 15 % of rice value in states like Punjab and Haryana.
(2) India as a Water-stressed country
India is a water-stressed country with per capita water availability of 1,544 cubic metres in 2011, down from 5,178 cubic metres in 1951. This is likely to go down further to 1,140 cubic metres by 2050.
In 2020-21, India exported:
• 7.5 million tonnes of sugar, implying that at least 15 billion cubic metres of water was exported through sugar alone.
o A kg of sugar has a water intake of about 2,000 litres.
• 17.7 million tonnes of rice, implying that India has exported 35.4 billion cubic metres of water.
o Rice needs 3,000 to 5,000 litres of water for irrigating a kg.
• Rice cultivation contributes to more than 18 % of the GHG emission generated from agriculture.
(4) Miscuing current schemes
• Some non-basmati exports are actually sourced not only below-MSP (Minimum Support Price), but also below the average mandi prices in the country. This could be due to the misuse of supplies through Public Distribution System (PDS) and PM Garib Kalyan Yojana.
WAY FORWARD :
• Farming practices such as alternate wetting drying (AWD), direct-seeded rice (DSR) and micro-irrigation will have to be taken up on a war footing.
• The rice crop has to be farmed in a water-efficient manner and with a lower GHG (methane) footprint.
• Farmers should be incentivised and rewarded to save water, to switch from paddy and sugar to other less water guzzler crops, and to reduce the carbon footprint.
• At least in the case of rice, procurement will have to be limited to the needs of PDS, and within PDS, it is high time to introduce the option of direct cash transfers.
• There is need for an export-led strategy which aims to minimise logistics costs by investing in better infrastructure and logistics.
• A longer-term strategy must also aim at conserving scarce resources of water and energy, and reducing the carbon footprint.
It is high time that policymakers revisit the entire gamut of rice and sugar systems for chalking out a strategy for agri-exports in an environmentally sustainable manner.
QUESTION : The depth of India’s relationship with Russia will depend on the willingness and capacity of both countries to show mutual sensitivity to core security concerns. Comment.”
THE COMRADES AND THEIR DIVERGENT PERSPECTIVES
Russia, China and India trilateral Relations
WHY IN NEWS ?
Russia-China nexus is growing. Thus, Russia expects India to give up all efforts to reverse China’s encroachment strategies. However, it is based on a flawed assessment of the current situation.
• Russian President has recently said that both the Indian Prime Minister and the Chinese President are “responsible” enough to solve issues.
• It also emphasized the need to avoid interference of any extra-regional power.
• On the other hand, China is continuing its efforts to undermine India’s global position.
• Also, India has said it can no longer be confined between the Malacca Strait and the Gulf of Aden.
Russia supporting China blindly is further distancing India and Russia.
RUSSIA IS UNDERMINING INDIA’S EFFORTS AGAINST CHINA’S ENCROACHMENT IN THESE WAYS :
(1) views regarding the Quad reinforces China’s claim that the Quad is aimed at containing China.
o Recently, Russia even advised India to take a “larger look at Chinese foreign policies”.
o Also, Russia had recently termed the Quad as “Asian NATO”.
(2)Russia has rejected the Indo-Pacific concept in favor of the Asia-Pacific.
o Russia believes that Indo-Pacific is designed to contain both China and Russia, and it is reviving the Cold War mentality.
(3) policymakers are obsessive with Russia’s rivalry with the U.S.
o This attitude of Russia is making it more pro-China, which is resulting in more aggressive blocking of India’s policy agendas.
o For example, increasing proximity between Russia and Pakistan.
INDIA- REASONS FOR LOOKING WEST :
1. Due to the failure of the Strategic triangle proposed by Russia.
o Russia proposed the ‘Russia-China-India’ triangle to bring together the three major power.
o But due to China’s dismissive attitude and emerging China-Pakistan nexus, India started investing its diplomatic energies in rapprochement with the United States.
2. After the disintegration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), India realized Russia is incapable of balancing threats from China.
o For example. India’s cooperation with the U.S. has strengthened due to rising terrorism and China’s growing assertiveness.
o India has also deepened its ties with Japan and Australia for a soft balancing.
o Thus, India adopted external balancing strategies.
3. India focussed on building an alternative international economic order.
o Economic liberalization also allowed India to buy defense weapons from a wider global market, such as Israel and France. It boosted India’s bargaining capacity with Russia.
4. China’s assertiveness forced India to look for other strategic partnerships.
o The shared identities and beliefs in the principle of non-alignment, memories of colonial subjugation, and strong beliefs in sovereignty and strategic autonomy have not stopped China from asserting its hegemony over Asia.
o Also, multilateral forums such as the Russia-India-China (RIC) grouping and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have little practical value without China’s reciprocity.
5. India wanted the normalization of relations between the USA and Russia.
o It helps in improving ties among the great powers and also diminishes Russia’s tendency to closely interfere in South Asian policies along with Beijing.
WHAT IS LOOK WEST POLICY ?
• Look West Policy is the overall Indian government’s strategy in dealing with the West Asian nations.
• It was adopted by the Indian government in 2005 and has not gained much attention since then.
• In recent years, under the present government, the same strategy has been followed with increased intensification.
• Currently, the Look West Policy focuses on three main axes:
1. The Arab Gulf countries
TRANSFORMATION IN INDO-RUSSIAN RELATIONS :
• The principal objective of the Russian Foreign Minister was to prepare the ground for the visit of President Vladimir Putin later this year.
• The Indian perspective on the Indo-Pacific was conveyed to the Foreign Minister of Russia.
• India insists that its Indo-Pacific initiatives seek a cooperative order, that the Quad is not the nucleus of a politico-military alliance.
• A $1 billion Indian line of credit for projects in the Russian Far East and activation of a Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor were announced in 2019.
• The message was that India’s effort to restrain Chinese aggression is compatible with Russia’s vision of a Eurasian partnership.
• Russia remains unconvinced, either because it feels India’s words do not match its actions or because of its close ties with China.
CHINA FACTOR IN INDO-RUSSIAN TIES:
• India is concerned about Russia’s China embrace, encompassing close political, economic and defence cooperation: Russia accounted for 77% of China’s arms imports in 2016-20.
• India’s apprehensions about their technology- and intelligence-sharing were heightened by Mr. Putin’s remark that he would not rule out a future Russia-China military alliance.
RUSSIA-PAKISTAN RELATIONS :
• Foreign Minister visited Pakistan directly after India — the first time a Russian Minister has done so.
• .He confirmed that Russia would strengthen Pakistan’s “counter-terrorism capability” .
• Russia is now Pakistan’s second-largest defence supplier, accounting for 6.6% of its arms imports in 2016-20.
• Their cooperation includes joint “counter-terrorism” drills and sharing perspectives on military tactics and strategic doctrines.
CRITICALITY OF GEOGRAPHIC INFLUENCE OF INDIA’S RELATIONSHIP WITH RUSSIA AND CHINA :
• The Eurasian landmass to India’s north is dominated by Russia and China.
• Strategic and security interests in Central Asia, West Asia and Afghanistan dictate our engagement with the region and the connectivity projects linking it, like the International North-South Transport Corridor through Iran.
• India cannot vacate this space to a Russia-China condominium (with Pakistan in tow), without potentially grave security consequences.
ABOUT RUSSIA-INDIA-CHINA (RIC) :
• It was conceived by the then Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov in 1998, much before BRICS.
• The three countries have agreed to hold regular summits from now on at all levels to jointly promote peace and stability.
Objectives: They emphasised on the need to promote multilateralism, reform institutions of global governance like the UN and the WTO and highlighted the need to work together to steer global economic governance.
Significance: The RIC brings together the three largest Eurasian countries which are also incidentally geographically contiguous.
• Together, the RIC countries occupy over 19 percent of the global landmass and contribute to over 33 percent of global GDP.
• All three are nuclear powers and two, Russia and China, are permanent members of the UN Security Council, while India aspires to be one.
• Russia becomes the bridge between India and China, since it enjoys strong relations with both.
• Moreover, the RIC forms the core of both the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the BRICS.
It clearly shows Russia needs to realize that the real ‘strategic triangle’ in the maritime domain will be that between India-USA-China if it continues to play as junior partner of China.