Current Affairs (11th June 2021)
Beed model of crop insurance
- Recently, Maharashtra Chief Minister met Prime Minister and asked him for state-wide implementation of the ‘Beed model’ of the crop insurance scheme Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yogna (PMFBY).
How does the insurance scheme work?
- Launched in 2016, the flagship PMFBY insures farm losses against inclement weather events.Farmers pay 1.5-2% of the premium with the rest borne by the state and central governments.
- It is a central scheme implemented by state agriculture departments as per central guidelines.
- For farmers, the low rate of premium and relatively decent coverage makes the scheme attractive. A premium of Rs 1,300 can insure a hectare of soyabean for Rs 45,000.
- Prior to 2020, the scheme was optional for farmers who did not have loans pending, but mandatory for loanee farmers. Since 2020, it has been optional for all farmers.
- In Maharashtra, over the years, more non-loanee farmers have enrolled, although it was optional for them.
- A total of 422 lakh farmers in the country had enrolled for the scheme paying a combined premium of Rs 3,018 crore (farmers’ share only) and insuring 328 lakh hectares in 2019-20.
- Till date, 184.9 lakh framers have received claims worth Rs 20,090 crore (according to the Fasal Bhima Yogna website; some kharif claims are yet to be finalised.)
Why does the state want changes?
- Delay in claim settlement, failure to recognise localised weather events, and stringent conditions for claims were among the concerns. Another complaint was about alleged profiteering by insurance companies.
- For Maharashtra, where farmers predominantly depend on monsoon rains to water their crops, the scheme soon turned out to be non-profitable for insurance companies given the high payments they had to make.
- As the table shows, payouts were close to or exceeded the premium collected in some years, leading to losses to insurance companies.
What is Beed model the state government wants implemented?
- Located in the drought prone Marathwada region, the district of Beed presents a challenge for any insurance company.
- Farmers here have repeatedly lost crops either to failure of rains or to heavy rains. Given the high payouts, insurance companies have sustained losses.
- The state government had a difficult time getting bids for tenders to implement the scheme in Beed.
- The state-run Indian Agricultural Insurance Company implemented the scheme. Under the new guidelines, the insurance company provided a cover of 110% of the premium collected, with caveats.
- If the compensation exceeded the cover provided, the state government would pay the bridge amount. If the compensation was less than the premium collected, the insurance company would keep 20% of the amount as handling charges and reimburse the rest to the state government.
- In a normal season where farmers report minimal losses, the state government is expected to get back money that can form a corpus to fund the scheme for the following year. However, the state government would have to bear the financial liability in case of losses due to extreme weather events.
Why is the government pushing for it for the entire state?
- The reason why Maharashtra is pushing for this scheme is that in most years, the claims-to-premium ratio is low with the premium being paid to the company.
- In the Beed model, the profit of the company is expected to reduce, and the state government would access another source of funds.
- The reimbursed amount can lead to lower provisioning by the state for the following year or help in financing the paying the bridge amount in case of a year of crop loss. For farmers, however, this model does not have any direct benefit.
- At the invitation of UK Prime Minister, Prime Minister of India will participate in the Outreach Sessions of the G7 Summit on June 12 and June 13, in virtual format.
Agenda of G-7 this year:
- The G7 comprises the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan. The UK currently holds the presidency of the G7 and has invited India, along with Australia, Republic of Korea, and South Africa, as guest countries for the Summit.
- The meetings will be held in hybrid mode.
- The theme for the summit is ‘Build Back Better’ and the UK has outlined four priority areas for its presidency.
- These are leading the global recovery from COVID-19 while strengthening resilience against future pandemics; promoting future prosperity by championing free and fair trade; tackling climate change and preserving the planet’s biodiversity; and championing shared values and open societies.
- The leaders are expected to exchange views on the way forward for the world amid the COVID-19, with focus on health and climate change.
India for the first time:
- Since 2014, this is the second time present PM of India will be participating in a G7 meeting. India had been invited by the G7 French Presidency in 2019 to the Biarritz Summit as a “Goodwill Partner” and the Prime Minister participated in the Sessions on ‘Climate, Biodiversity and Oceans’ and ‘Digital Transformation’.
- During UPA rule, India attended the G8 five times.
- Russia was indefinitely suspended in March 2014 after the annexation of Crimea, reducing the count of the G8.
So, what’s new?
- While the UK has invited India this year, the then US President had also extended an invitation to India 2020.
- Calling the G7 a “very outdated group” in May 2020, Trump had said he would like to include India, Australia, South Korea, and Russia in the grouping of the largest advanced economies.
- He suggested that the G7 be called “G10 or G11” and proposed that the grouping meet in September or November 2020. But it did not happen owing to the pandemic and the US elections’ outcome.
Stake of India:
- India has long called for reforming global institutions and groupings to reflect modern-day geopolitical realities.
- Trumps’ offer to expand G7 fitted into New Delhi’s idea of being part of the global high table. With an assertive China looming, the US is calling all like-minded countries to partner in dealing with Beijing.
- If the USA and UK want to take the leap forward and constitute a global democratic alliance of 10-11 countries, it will be an important signal.
- As India faces a massive shortage of vaccines, hence, recently, the US announced that it will distribute vaccines to India as part of its strategy for global vaccine sharing.
- India is likely to get vaccines from the US — both directly as well as through COVAX. Initial estimates suggest India will get about 2 to 3 million vaccines in the first tranche.
Detecting tropical cyclones
- Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, have developed a technique that could be useful in the early detection of development or strengthening of tropical cyclones in the atmospheric column prior to satellites over ocean surface in the North Indian Ocean region.
- Researchers have devised a novel method using Eddy detection technique to investigate the formative stages and advance detection time of tropical cyclogenesis in the region.
- The study has been conducted under the Climate Change Program with the support from Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
- Early detection of tropical cyclones has wide socio-economic implications. So far, remote sensing techniques have detected them the earliest.
- However, this detection was possible only after system developed as a well-marked low-pressure system over the warm ocean surface.
- A larger time gap between detection and the impact of the cyclone could help in preparation activities.
- Prior to the formation of cyclonic system over the warm oceanic environment, the initial atmospheric instability mechanism, as well as the vortex development, is triggered at higher atmospheric levels.
- These cyclonic eddies are prominent features in the vertical atmospheric column encompassing the disturbance environment with a potential to induce and develop into a well-marked cyclonic depression over the warm ocean surface. They could be used for detection of prediction of cyclones.
- The method aims to identify initial traces of pre-cyclonic eddy vortices in the atmospheric column and track its spatio-temporal evolution.
- They used a coarser grid resolution of 27 kilometers for identification and a finer resolution of nine km to evaluate the characteristics of eddy vortices.
- The study was conducted with cases of four post-monsoon severe cyclones — Phailin (2013), Vardah (2013), Gaja (2018), Madi (2013), and two pre-monsoon cyclones Mora (2017) and Aila (2009) that developed over North Indian Ocean.
- The team observed that the method brought about genesis of prediction with a minimum of four days (~ 90 h) lead time for cyclones developed during the pre-and post-monsoon seasons.
- Initiation mechanisms of genesis of tropical cyclones occur at upper atmospheric levels and are also detected at higher lead time for pre-monsoon cases, unlike the post-monsoon cases.
- The study made a comprehensive investigation on the behavior of eddies in an atmospheric column for non-developing cases and compared these findings with developing cases.
- Recently, the Rengma Naga Peoples’ Council (RNPC) in Assam has written to the Union Home Minister demanding an autonomous district council for Rengma Nagas.
- This demand comes amid a decision by the Central and the State governments to upgrade the KarbiAnglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) into a territorial council.
- The RNPC President highlighted the issue that the government was on the verge of taking a decision without taking them on board.
RNPC has been writing to the governments for many years about the issue highlighting why it wants a different council.
1. Demographic Reasons
- The KAAC population is around 12 lakh and out of that, the Karbis constitute only 3 lakh.
- The remaining are non-Karbis, including the Rengma Nagas, whose population is around 22,000.
- Rengma Nagas speak different dialects and do not know the Karbi language of KarbiAnglong.
2. Historical Reasons
- Karbis have no history in the Rengma Hills and people who are presently living in Rengma Hills are from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.
- The Karbis, who were known as Mikirs till 1976, were the indigeneous tribal people of Mikir Hills.
- The Rengma Hills and Mikir Hills (now KarbiAnglong) were two separate entities until 1951 and the existing Rengma Hills was eliminated from the political map and replaced with Mikir Hills.
- Rengma Hills have witnessed aggressive influx of outsiders for vested interests.
- Rengmas were the first tribal people in Assam to have encountered the British in 1839.
- During the Burmese invasions of Assam in 1816 and 1819, Rengmas gave shelter to the Ahom refugees.
- Rengma Hills were partitioned in 1963 between Assam and Nagaland at the time of creation of Nagaland State.