1ST MARCH CURRENT AFFAIRS

1. National Bamboo Mission

News: The National Bamboo Mission anchored at the Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers Welfare organized a two day conference ‘National Consultation on Opportunities and Challenges for Bamboo in India’ through the virtual platform. NITI Aayog and Invest India also joined hands with the National Bamboo Mission to conduct the event.

Details:

  • The aim of the brainstorming session was to deliberate on the bamboo ecosystem for promoting the holistic growth of the sector across the entire value chain.
  • The deliberations of experts and stakeholders from various fields would further accelerate the efforts of the National Bamboo Mission to pin point solutions to issues facing the sector.

Some important ideas/challenges that emerge from the discussions were as follows:

  • Adoption of agro-forestry models by the farmers, especially to tide over the initial 3-4 years of gestation of bamboo plantation;
  • Intercropping with ginger, pulses, lemon grass, etc were suggested as a viable option.
  • Use of good credible planting material and improved agronomic practices to increase yields were considered to be absolutely vital for the sector.
  • Plantations on culturable wastelands should be encouraged on a large scale to provide feed stock to industry.  Integrated primary processing units for the complete utilization of bamboo i.e. a zero waste policy would lead to optimum use of bamboo in the country.
  • To overcome the issue of high transport cost especially from the North Eastern Region, use of waterways and transport subsidy options need to be explored. Incentives available across sectors for bamboo need to be compiled for use by potential entrepreneurs.
  • Steps need to be taken to encourage startups, entrepreneurship in the bamboo sector.  The GeM portal will create a dedicated window for registration of bamboo products to add visibility of bamboo products in the electronic market space for Government procurement.
  • The need for mass production related to bamboo in areas such as construction, bio CNG, ethanol etc. would provide a real fillip to the sector and add to the income of farmers.  Import substitution should be an important aim such as for agarbatti and engineered wood. R&D and technological upgradation by linking clusters with scientific and technological institutions was stressed.
  • The Government has introduced several new schemes such as the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund and Formation of 10000 FPOs.  These schemes will be dovetailed with the bamboo sector for improving credit and economies of scale for small marginal farmers respectively.
  • Skill training development in agriculture, handicrafts, construction, furniture, beauty wellness through Qualification Packs of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is being undertaken by National Bamboo Mission. Requirement of credit was considered to be one of the major challenges facing the sector.
  • Appropriate credit products, credit guarantee and interest subventions were flagged in the discussion as the need of the hour.  International best practices and collaborations can be encouraged with other countries such as Japan, Vietnam etc.

National Bamboo Mission:

  • The National Bamboo Mission (NBM) was implemented as a sub-scheme under the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH). National Bamboo Mission is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme started in the year 2006-07 which was later subsumed under the MIDH, for the years 2014-15 and 2015-16.
  • Objectives of the National Bamboo Mission
  • The National Bamboo Mission was implemented with the following objectives:
  • Enhance the yields with improved and new varieties.
  • In the potential areas, increase the coverage area for bamboo.
  • Promotion and marketing of bamboo and handicrafts made of bamboo.
  • Establish coordination and cooperation among stakeholders for the development of the bamboo sector.
  • Promote, develop, and disseminate technologies through a perfect blend of modern scientific knowledge and traditional wisdom.
  • Generate employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled labourers, especially unemployed youths.
  • The National Bamboo Mission was developed to promote the holistic growth of bamboo through the adoption of the area-based regionally differentiated strategy.
  • It also aimed at increasing the bamboo cultivation in an area. Under the NBM, several steps were taken to increase the availability of quality planting material. This initiative was taken through setting up of new nurseries and strengthening of the existing ones.
  • The National Bamboo Mission is also taking steps for strengthening the marketing of bamboo products, especially those of handicraft items.

Benefits of National Bamboo Mission

  • The scheme would, directly and indirectly, benefit the farmers, local artisans, and associated people engaged in the bamboo sector, inclusive of the associated industries. The scheme proposes to bring about one lakh hectares under plantation. Thereby benefiting close to one lakh farmers directly, in terms of the plantation. The scheme would help in cutting down on the import of bamboo products and in enhancing the income of the farmers. It creates a complete value chain for the growth of the bamboo sector.

2. Sant Ravidas

News: The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has paid tributes to Sant Ravidas on his Jayanti.

About Sant Ravidas:

  • Ravidas Jayanti is celebrated on Magh Purnima,the full moon day in the month of Magh according to the Hindu lunar calendar. Guru Ravidas was a 14th century saint and reformer of the Bhakti movement in North India. It is believed that he was born in Varanasi in a cobbler’s family.
  • He gained prominence due to his belief in one God and his unbiased religious poems. He dedicated his whole life to the abolition of the caste system and openly despised the notion of a Brahminical society.
  • His devotional songs made an instant impact on the Bhakti Movement and around 41 of his poems were included in ‘Guru Granth Sahib’, the religious text of the Sikhs.
  • Guru Ravidas spoke against the caste divisions and spoke of removing them to promote unity. His teachings resonated with the people, leading to a religion being born called the Ravidassia religion, or Ravidassia Dharambased on his teachings.
  • He taught about the omnipresence of God and said that a human soul is a particle of God and hence Ravidas rejected the idea that people considered lower caste cannot meet God. He said in his teachings that the only way to meet God was to free the mind from the duality.

 

3. Flexible Inflation Targeting

 

News: The Reserve Bank of India, in the Report on Currency and Finance for FY21, has said the current inflation target of 4% with a +/-2% tolerance band is appropriate for the next five years.

Details of the report:

  • The trend inflation has fallen from above 9% before FIT to a range of 3.8-4.3 % during FIT, indicating that 4% is the appropriate level of the inflation target for the country.
  • An inflation rate of 6% is the appropriate upper tolerance limit for the inflation target. On the other hand, a lower bound above 2% can lead to actual inflation frequently dipping below the tolerance band.
  • While, a lower bound below 2% will hamper growth, indicating that an inflation rate of 2% is the appropriate lower tolerance bound.
  • During the FIT period, monetary transmission has been full and reasonably swift across the money market (trading in very short-term debt instruments) but less than complete in the bond markets.
  • While there has been an improvement in transmission to lending and deposit rates of banks, external benchmarks across all categories of loans and deposits could improve transmission.

Inflation Targeting:

  • It is a central banking policy that revolves around adjusting monetary policy to achieve a specified annual rate of inflation. The principle of inflation targeting is based on the belief that long-term economic growth is best achieved by maintaining price stability, and price stability is achieved by controlling inflation.
  • Strict inflation targeting is adopted when the central bank is only concerned about keeping inflation as close to a given inflation target as possible, and nothing else.
  • Flexible inflation targeting is adopted when the central bank is to some extent also concerned about other things, for instance, the stability of interest rates, exchange rates, output and employment.

India’s Flexible Inflation Target Framework:

  • The central bank and the government agreed in 2015 on a policy framework that stipulated a primary objective of ensuring price stability while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
  • TheFlexible Inflation Target (FIT) was adopted in 2016. This has put India on par with other nations in terms of flexible inflation targeting. The Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 was amended to provide a statutory basis for a FTI framework. The amended Act provides for the inflation target to be set by the Government, in consultation with the RBI, once every five years.

Flexible Inflation Targeting Framework:

  • Now there is a flexible inflation targeting framework in India (after the 2016 amendment to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Act, 1934). The amended RBI Act provides for the inflation target to be set by the Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank, once every five years.
  • The Central Government has notified 4 per cent Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation as the target for the period from August 5, 2016, to March 31, 2021, with the upper tolerance limit of 6 per cent and the lower tolerance limit of 2 per cent.

 

 

4. Ceasefire along LoC

 

News: India and Pakistan have agreed to observe the 2003 ceasefire agreements along the Line of Control (LoC) and all other sectors. The agreement comes in the wake of over 5000 instances of Cross Fire Violations (CFVs) along the Line of Control (LoC) and other areas in Jammu and Kashmir, resulting in 46 fatal casualties in 2020. The decision was taken after discussion between the two Director Generals of Military Operations (DGsMO).

About the 2003 ceasefire agreement:

  • The ceasefire agreement was reached in November 2003, four years after the Kargil War.
  • On November 26, 2003 the ceasefire took effect along the entire stretch of the India-Pakistan frontier.
  • It facilitated the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkot routes, paving the way for bus and truck services linking the two Kashmirs for the first time in six decades and encouraging cross-LoC contacts, exchanges, travel, and trade.
  • The ceasefire also enabled India to complete the construction of a fence near the LoC to prevent Pakistan’s infiltration of terrorists into Kashmir, a project that it had begun a couple of decades earlier but had to suspend due to Pakistan’s artillery fire.
  • This is not the first time that India and Pakistan have agreed to give peace a chance on the LoC to make the lives of civilians living along the line easy.
  • The 2003 ceasefire agreement remains a milestone as it brought peace along the LoC until 2006. Between 2003 and 2006, not a single bullet was fired by the jawans of India and Pakistan.
  • But since 2006, ceasefire violations became the norm with increasing frequency. Recent years have seen an increasing number of ceasefire violations despite an agreement reached in 2018 to adhere to the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

Significance:

  • The agreement may contribute to an improvement of the security situation on the ground in Kashmir.
  • India has often alleged that many of the ceasefire violations were aimed at providing cover to infiltrating militants. Infiltration attempts may now drop,  and go some way in meeting a key Indian demand on cross-border terrorism.

Line of Control

  • The Line of Control (LoC) emerged from the 1948 ceasefire line negotiated by the United Nations (UN) after the Kashmir War. It was designated as the LoC in 1972, following the Shimla Agreement between the two countries. LoC is demarcated up to the Siachen Glacier (Point NJ9842)- the world’s highest battlefield.
  • LoC is delineated on a map signed by the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of both armies and has the international sanctity of a legal agreement.

Back Channel Diplomacy

  • The back channel diplomacy is one of the diplomatic tactics practiced by states to achieve the objectives of foreign policy in solving international disputes outside official bureaucratic structures and formats.
  • It takes place away from the eyes and lenses of the media in order to ensure the confidentiality of information and keep them away from official and media trading until they reach the target.