2ND MARCH CURRENT AFFAIRS

1. Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship

News: The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India under its “Waste to Wealth” Mission launched the Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship to recognize students, community workers/self-help groups, and municipal/sanitary workers who are engaged in tackling the enormous challenge of waste management, scientifically and sustainably.

Details:

  • The fellowship is an initiative to empower young innovators who are engaged in community work of waste management/awareness campaigns/waste surveys/studies, etc. as Swachhta Saarthis and implement actions to reduce waste for a greener planet.
  • The role of young students from schools and colleges, and citizens working in the community through Self Help Groups (SHGs), or in independent capacity, is key in sensitizing the communities towards waste management and offer innovative solutions for conversion of waste to value.
  • This fellowship is aimed to empower interested students and citizens to continuously engage in their attempts to reduce waste in cities and rural areas.
  • Targeted to encourage community participation, the Swachhta Saarthi Fellowships invites applications from students and community workers who have done previous work or are currently engaged in waste management activities, including awareness campaigns, surveys & studies. The three categories of awards under the fellowships are as below:
  • Category-A– Open to School students from 9th to 12th standards engaged in waste management community work
  • Category-B– Open to College students (UG, PG, Research students
    ) engaged in waste management community work
  • Category-C– Open to Citizens working in the community and through SHGs, municipal or sanitary workers working beyond specifications of their job requirement/descriptions

Waste to Wealth Mission

  • The waste to wealth mission project has been approved under the recently constituted Prime Minister’s Science Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).
  • The partnership will provide an effective platform for stakeholders to bring together integrated approaches for effective recycle, reuse and resource recovery of waste.
  • The immediate objectiveis to implement technologies that are available with various national and international academias, industries, research laboratories and other agencies by way of setting up pilot projects on-site effectively and successfully, and demonstrating the proof of concept of the technology under Indian condition.
  • This will be carried out by creating a strong collaborating network between IIT Delhi, and other national and international stakeholders through the aegis of the office of the PSA.
  • The long-term goal is to create circular economic models for waste management, by leveraging big data analytics and frontier technologies to streamline waste in India.
  • The overall outcomes would involve treating waste and generating different forms of energy, thereby making India a waste free nation, with zero greenhouse gas emission and no health hazard.
  • Under the initiative, a waste to wealth programme management centre will also be set up at IIT Delhi.

2. Stockholm+50

News: Stockholm+50 is a high-level meeting that the Government of Sweden plans to hold in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the first UN conference on the human environment – the 1972 Stockholm Conference.

Background:

  • The fact is we stitched up the global ecological framework in terms of the many agreements only.
  • During this time, we also signed another agreement on free-trade — the economic globalisation agreement.
  • But we never really understood how these two frameworks — ecological and economic globalisation — would counteract each other. As a result, we have worked to build an economic model based on discounting the price of labour and of the environment.

What we can expect from Stockholm +50?

  • The aim of Stockholm+50 is to contribute to concrete action. It aims at leveraging sustainable consumption and production patterns and nature-based solutions in order to achieve climate-neutral, resilient, circular and inclusive economies. The narrative and result will be further developed together with interested governments and other partners.

Stockholm Conference:

  • It’s been a generation since global leaders met in Stockholm in 1972 to discuss environmental challenges.
  • Then the concerns were for the local environment; there was no talk of climate change or even the depletion of the ozone layer. All that came later. In 1972, the discussion was on the toxification of the environment as water and air were foul.
  • The UN Conference on the Human Environment, also known as the Stockholm Conference, was the first UN conference on the environment and was held between 5 and 16 June 1972 in Stockholm.
  • The meeting’s outcome document – the Stockholm Declaration – included several principles that are still important for environmental management.
  • Another result of the meeting was the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Environment Day, held annually on 5 June.
  • The toxification of the environment is still a pressing concern; countries have indeed cleaned up locally but added to the emissions in the global atmosphere.
  • Now, we are out of time as climate change impacts are spiralling out of control.

3. Morarji Desai

News: Recently, the 125th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Morarji Desai was observed (29th February 2021). He was the 4th Prime Minister (1977-79) and the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India.

About Morarji Desai:

  • Shri Morarji Desai was born on 29thFebruary, 1896 in Bhadeli village, now in the Bulsar district of Gujarat.
  • After graduating in 1918 from the Wilson Civil Service in Bombay, he served as a Deputy Collector for twelve years.
  • In 1930, when India was in the midst of the Civil Disobedience Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi, Shri Desai, having lost his confidence in the British sense of justice, decided to resign from Government service and to plunge into the struggle.
  • Shri Desai was imprisoned thrice during the freedom struggle. He became a Member of the All India Congress Committee in 1931 and was Secretary of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee until 1937.
  • He was detained in the individual Satyagraha launched by Mahatma Gandhi, released in October, 1941 and detained again in August, 1942 at the time of the Quit India Movement.
  • In 1952, he became the Chief Minister of Bombay. He joined the Union Cabinet as Minister for Commerce and Industry in November, 1956. Later, he took the Finance portfolio in March, 1958.
  • In 1963, he resigned from the Union Cabinet under the Kamraj Plan. Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, who succeeded Pt. Nehru, as Prime Minister, persuaded him to become Chairman of the Administrative Reforms Commission for restructuring the administrative system.
  • According to Kamaraj Plan, it was proposed that all senior Congress leaders should resign from their posts and devote all their energy to the revitalization of the Congress.
  • Desai was arrested and detained on 26thJune, 1975, when Emergency was declared. He went on an indefinite hunger strike to support the Nav Nirman movement of Gujarat.
  • Nav Nirman Andolan was a socio-political movement in 1974 in Gujarat by students and middle-class people against economic crisis and corruption in public life.
  • He was later unanimously elected as Leader of the Janata Party in Parliament and was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India on 24th March, 1977.
  • According to him, unless the poor and the under privileged living in villages and towns enjoy a decent standard of life, the talk of socialism will not have much meaning. Shri Desai gave concrete expression to his anxiety by enacting progressive legislation to ameliorate the hardships of peasants and tenants.
  • Shri Desai translated into action what he had professed in matters of economic planning and fiscal administration. In order to meet the needs of defense and development, he raised large revenues, reduced wasteful expenditure and promoted austerity in Government expenditure on administration. He kept deficit financing very low by enforcing financial discipline. He brought curbs on extravagant living of the privileged section of society.
  • As Prime Minister, Shri Desai was keen that the people of India must be helped to become fearless to an extent where even if the highest in the land commits a wrong, the humblest should be able to point it out to him. “No one, not even the Prime Minister”, he was repeatedly said, should be above the law of the land”.
  • For him, truth was an article of faith and not an expediency. He seldom allowed his principles to be subordinated to the exigencies of the situation.

4. Lessons to learn from Operation Green

Background:

  • There were three basic objectives when OG was launched.
  1. First, that it should contain the wide price volatility in the three largest vegetables of India (TOP).
  2. Second, it should build efficient value chains of these from fresh to value-added products with a view to give a larger share of the consumers’ rupee to the farmers.
  3. Third, it should reduce the post-harvest losses by building modern warehouses and cold storages wherever needed.
  • The Union budget for the FY 2021-22 proposes the expansion of Operation Green (OG)beyond tomatoes, onions, and potatoes (TOP) to 22 perishable commodities.
  • The move reflects the government’s intentions of creating more efficient value chains for perishables.

Operation Green and Horticulture sector:

  • A closer examination of the scheme reveals that it is nowhere near achieving its objectives. ICRIER research reveals that price volatility remains as high as ever. It also reveals that farmers’ share in consumers’ rupee is as low as 26.6 per cent for potatoes, 29.1 per cent in the case of onions, and 32.4 per cent for tomatoes. In cooperatives like AMUL, farmers get almost 75-80 per cent of what consumers’ pay.
  • Operation Flood (OF)transformed India’s milk sector, making the country the world’s largest milk producer, crossing almost 200 million tonnes of production by now. Although OG is going to be more challenging than OF there are some important lessons one can learn from OF.

Operation flood

  • First and foremost is that results are not going to come in three to four years. OF lasted for almost 20 years before milk value chains were put on the track of efficiency and inclusiveness. There has to be a separate board to strategise and implement the OG scheme, more on the lines of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) for milk.
  • Second, we need a champion like Verghese Kurien to head this new board of OG. The MoFPI can have its evaluation every six months, but making MoFPI the nodal agency for implementing OG with faceless leaders is not very promising.
  • Third, the criteria for choosing clusters for TOP crops under OG is not very transparent and clear. The reason is while some important districts have been left out from the list of clusters, less important ones have been included. What is needed is quantifiable and transparent criteria for the selection of commodity clusters, keeping politics away.
  • Fourth, the subsidy scheme will have to be made innovative with new generation entrepreneurs, startups and FPOs. The announcement to create an additional 10,000 FPO salong with the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund and the new farm laws are all promising but need to be implemented fast.

Conclusion

  • These lessons from Operation Flood will help in securing the success of the expanded Operation Green.