May 2018 Gist of Kurukshetra

Gist of Kurukshetra for the month of May 2018 for your UPSC exam preparation

TECHNOLOGICAL AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT

ROLE OF SPACE TECHNOLOGY

Villages spread across a wide variety of terrain and access are being monitored, assessed and assisted using geospatial technology for achieving best possible development rooted in the conservation of soil and water.

  • The Geospatial solutions contribute to the development of rural areas to realize the objective of creating Digital India by minimizing the space between Technology and the common man
  • Space technology, as the powerful enabler, provides a variety of vital inputs for the holistic and rapid development of rural areas, and villages in specific.
  • India has been among the world leaders in developing end-to-end capability in both satellite remote sensing and communication. Web based GIS was initiated in addressing decentralized planning through SIS DP programme and rendering it through Bhuvan Panchayat. This has been followed by successful initiatives of watershed monitoring.
  • Geotagging the agricultural infrastructure created under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY a national level agriculture extension project)

Three Major Development at National level concerning

  1. Agriculture
  2. Land Resources
  3. Rural Employment
  • Harvesting rainfall and conserving it locally forms the core idea of a national flagship scheme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana for irrigating rainfed tracts using the convergence of rural development programmes aiming to ameliorate rural landscape through soil and water conservation effective water availability and use for India farms, especially in water-scarce regions.
  • Four major pillars linked by the principle of water to be delivered preferably for dry land farming all four programmes are being monitored by ISRO using integrated web GIS-based solutions including smartphone apps.

Monitoring Impact of Watershed Management Programmes:

  • Conservation of soil and water resources in the rain-fed area for enhancing agricultural production, ensuring livelihood security to rural people besides halting the depletion of natural resources. Over the years, space applications have been adapted to respond to the integrated development of land and water resources, and asses the improvements of the treated watershed.
  • (IMWP) initiated by MoRD has been implemented across India wherein each cluster of micro-watersheds called projects are treated through various bio-physical measures.
  • IWMP aims to bring in ecological stability through conservative utilization of soil and water resources for all IWMP identified watershed projects.
  • Remote sensing technology can play a major role in monitoring each activates. The high-resolution satellite data (images) gives a large perspective view of the ground situation and it can be monitored at periodic time intervals.
  • A Web-based GIS application (Srishti) enabling the monitoring and evaluation of IWMP watersheds was developed using satellite remote sensing and sample field data. A mobile smartphone application (Drishti) has been developed for field data collection.
  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is providing the financial support to the watershed development activates with an aim in increase incomes through enhanced agricultural production and to improve the sustainability of natural resources through better watershed management among the people living in selected micro-watersheds.

Geo-MGNREGA: Geospatial Application for cataloging monitoring and planning Rural Employment Generation Activates

  • Geo-MGNREGA which is a space technology-based component of MGNREGA of Ministry of Rural Development aims to implement a geographic information system for an entire range of activities implemented under the scheme
  • Geo-MGNREGA, developed by NRSC, is a geo-information enabled web service/portal that assists in the planning and management of activates of MGNREGA ranging from support functions to the delivery of work to the end-users.
  • Bhuvan facilitates an inclusive geographic information storage, retrieval, analysis and reporting for completed assets, with a high resolution for completed assets, with a high-resolution Indian Remote Sensing Satellite in the backdrop for rural development planning.
  • The approach would employ remote sensing image, existing information on assets of villages and spatial database on various themes such as rocks, geomorphology, water, land forest and disaster proneness.
  • A Bhuvan portal has been developed for mapping Assets under RKVY. A smartphone-based mobile app was developed by NRSC/ISRO for capturing the assets spread across the country. This app is location specific and has features like locating the Asset on Bhuvan map capturing the latitude/longitude along with photos, attribute information by field official/enumerator.

Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)

  • In this context, high-resolution satellite data will provide reliable information on the status of rural roads as on the date of satellite imagery.
  • For the first time, an attempt was made to create a spatial database on rural roads in the year 1999 on a pilot basis for Ichoda Mandal in Adilabad district, Telangana State wherein it demonstrated the uses of IRS 1C Pan Data.

Development of Wastelands

  • Department of Land Resources under the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), requested NRSC/ISRO, to generate spatial information on wastelands, using remote sensing techniques, with respect to their distribution, extent, nature, degree of degradation and temporal behaviour to facilitate the planning and implementation of development strategies for reclamation of wastelands wasteland is defined as “degraded land that can be brought under vegetable cover’ with reasonable effort and which is currently under-utilized and land which is deteriorating due to lack of appropriate water and soil management or an account of natural causes” the total area under wastelands in the country was estimated to be  53.3 million hectares r 16.20 per cent of the total geographical area of the country
  • A project on National Wastelands Monitoring was initiated in 2006 with the objectives of assessing the status of wastelands, and to monitor its changes. The satellite data of three seasons viz kharif, rabi and zaid of 2005-06 have been used to derive information on wastelands. This exercise enabled to improve the delineation of wasteland categories due to use of three season satellite data

Space-based information Support for Decentralized Planning (SIS-DP)

  • Space-based information is being utilized to support decentralized planning by empowering the local bodies (Panchayats) to prepare development plans.
  • A geo-portal ‘BhuvanPanchayat’ has also been deployed for visualization, asset mapping, activity planning and monitoring of the schemes at Panchayat level. Bhuvan Panchayat Geoportal will be further augmented to enable preparation of locale-specific action plans for development planning.

Space Application in Agriculture and Water Resources Sectors:

NRSC developed following Geo-Spatial solutions in Agriculture and Water Resources sectors, which contribute to the development of Rural areas in terms of food production, farmer’s income, water availability for localized irrigation and aquaculture.

  • Crop Insurance Decision Support System (CIDSS) A Web-enabled integrated package for implementing Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)
  • Crop Intensification – Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India – Satellite-based mapping of post kharif rice fallows (National Food Security Mission)
  • Mapping & Evolution of High-Value Crops:
  • Agricultural Drought Vulnerability
  • Mapping Horticulture Crops
  • Fibre Crop Information System
  • Water Body Information System

Benefits of Geo-Spatial Solutions:

 

  • Enhanced ease of governance with improved monitoring and evaluation for integrated development activity
  • This Geo-Spatial Solution is transparent and efficient compared to a traditional approach with manual surveys in the field
  • Linking management information system to geospatial visualization
  • Comprehensive planning and development at the local level as it provide an opportunity to spatially analyze the impact of having assets by combining the data from multiple projects
  • It also aids in qualifying the need for having

 

Bhuvan Geo-Portal

  • Bhuvan, an Indian Geo-Platform of ISRO, provides a host of services covering satellite data visualization; free data download thematic map display, download, and analysis, timely information on disaster and project-specific GIS application since August 2009.
  • Bhuvan currently hosts multi-temporal multi-sensor and multi-resolution satellite imageries, thematic maps of 12 natural resources, 10 million point of interest data, 53 geophysical products for download 6200+OGC services and provides major services including Bhuvan 2d/3D NRSC Open Data Archive, Thematic series Disaster services Crowdsourcing application online mapping applications. The application that is rolled out has various aspects of governance like planning and development, inventory of government assets, program monitoring and evaluation etc.
  • Governance of rural areas especially for improving employment potential has received a welcome boost through initiatives which have enabled geo-tagging of all created assets, bringing an unprecedented level of transparency and verification by functionaries and citizen alike. Improving the capability of remote sensing and positioning in terms of spatial and temporal resolutions can bring in the huge advantage of addressing micro-level concerns fully and satisfactorily.

TECHNOLOGY INTERVENTIONS IN RURAL AREAS

  • The growing rate of independence, the growing rate of urbanization the ever-increasing share of urban population may be attributed to the large-scale migration of rural people to cities and towns in search of employment opportunities and better living conditions.
  • The disparity between the rural and the urban areas is driving the unidirectional exodus of rural people looking for better prospects and thus leading to a haphazard growth of the cities.
  • “Access to technology” is a major differentiator between the urban and rural areas and is often considered as a solution to the development issues faced by the underdeveloped communities. Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG) was conceived by Dr. R Chidambaram, the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India.
  • RuTAG was established as a mechanism to enhance rural development through science and technology (S&T) interventions by engaging the expertise available in the IITs. There are RuTAGs set up in 7 IITs (Madras, Kharagpur, Delhi, Roorkee, Guwahati, Kanpur, and Bombay) and RuTAG IIT Bombay was established in 2010
  • ‘Floating fish cages for aquaculture’ have been successful and appreciated by the Government.
  • RuTAG IIT Bombay works in close association with the Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA) an independent academic unit within IIT Bombay, where is housed.
  • CTARA was set up with an objective of catering to the technology needs of rural areas. CTARA believes in demand-driven, participatory approach in identifying and implementing solutions to the problems of the unorganized sectors and underprivileged communities.

Floating Fish Cage Structure for Inland Fisheries:

  • The intervention was driven by a request from NGO ‘Shashwat’ from Pune district of Maharashtra. Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE) recommended fisheries for livelihood for the tribal displaced by Dimbhe dam and introduced ‘aquaculture’ with the help of ‘floating fish cages’. Fish cage structures are used for protective aquaculture wherein fingerlings are incubated to small fishes (for better survival rate in the open water thus resulting in the higher catch) or even grown to table size. The structure is very strong, safe and stable.
  • The technology has the potential to improve the livelihood of inland fishing communities across the country and has been appreciated by the Government of Maharashtra.
  • The installed structure has provided a better livelihood option for the locals as well as strengthened and empowered women SHGs whose participation in this activity has substantially increased due to the sage and stale structure.

Old Sari Cutting Machine for Handlooms Operated by Visually Challenged Individuals:

  • The Visually challenged weavers used to cut the old saris into ribbons by using a blade.
  • This was unsafe, laborious, time-consuming and also the ribbons formed were of varying width.
  • The Sari Cutting Machine developed by RuTAG helped to overcome all these problems.

Cow Lift for a “Downer cow”

  • The project addresses the need for facilitating a ‘downer cow’ (a cow unable to stand due to weak leg muscles due to various medical conditions) stand on its feet for medical treatment.

Hybrid Solar Food Dryer:

  • This project addresses the issue of drying agricultural produce in a fast and efficient way while keeping the cost as low as possible.
  • The main focus of this project is achieving continuous drying of the agricultural produce.
  • Most of the existing solar dryers lack this feature and the quality of the food product is affected due to the drop in temperature in the evening.

Design of Protective Suit for Wild Honey Bee Harvesters:

  • The project aims at designing a dress for protecting people who harvest honey from beehives in wild. The proposed dress is easy to manufacture and use, is lightweight, durable and washable.

Post-Harvest Processing:

  • RuTAG IIT Bombay assists the local communities to process either the agricultural produce or the NTEPs (non-timber forest products) collected from jungles for value addition and enhanced earning.

AKRUTI TECHNOLOGY PACKAGE FOR RURAL ENTREPRENEURS

  • Department of Atomic Energy has launched DAE – a Societal initiative for utilization of Non-Power Applications (NPAs) and Spinoff technologies (Spinoffs) in the area of water, land, agriculture, food processing, and urban-rural waste management. Within this framework of social initiative, a structured programme called “AKRUTI – KRUTIK – FORCE” has been formulated and is being implemented by BARC for the techno-economic growth of the rural sector.
  • AKRUTI is an acronym for Advanced Knowledge and Rural Technology Implementation initiative. Three AKRUTI nodes were set up in Maharashtra state and made operational with funding by GoM and as a follow-up, some more nodes were set up in self-financed mode by other NGOs in other states.
  • AKRUTI nodes through NGOs have demonstrated the usefulness of BARC technologies for rural sector leading to societal benefit.

Akruti Tech Park for Techno-Economic Activity:

  • ‘Akruti Tech Pack’ (ATP) for Exclusive Rural Deployment on chargeable basis is a technology package introduced in the year 2009 for desirous technically oriented individuals including women/ entrepreneurs/industry/companies in villages and cities, to promote techno-economic activity in rural sector through AKRUTI programme at an affordable price.

Akruti Tech Pack at Affordable Cost:

  • To enable and encourage techno-entrepreneurship in the villages, all those who desire to start activity in villages can avail these technologies at an affordable cost.
  • Based on the experience gained, they can spread the activates in surrounding villages by deploying them in rural sector through local techno-entrepreneurship with the technical know-how and training support provided under this programme for deployment technologies are provided for deployment in the rural area with concessional License Fee to locals from rural areas and also urban entrepreneurs to start this activity in rural sector at an affordable price.
  • Applicant is free to choose any one or combination of technologies for deployment in the rural sector as per need of the region and his financial capacity this structured program “AKRUTI-KRUTIK-FORCE” will enable the villagers to deploy and make use of the technologies with local adaptation for themselves, which itself will generate village entrepreneurship and make this-activity self-sustaining and widespread.
  • Thus, BARC-DAE technologies in AKRUTI node, deployed by KRUTIK through villagers amongst FORCE groups will create ‘People-Centred Research & Extension for Assured Livelihood of the rural sector’ Livelihood security of the rural sector will ensure the food security of the nation.

ROLE OF ICTs IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT

  • ICTs can play a vital role in the management of rural development programmes and schemes.
  • Availability of the real-time information of various projects helps the central/state government agencies to effectively plan, implement and monitor the execution of their schemes at ground level.
  • The applications can be effectively utilized to increase awareness of rural masses, to keep track of the physical/financial progress of a project.
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can play a vital role in the management of rural development programmes to ensure that benefits reach to actual beneficiaries in time.
  • ICT has the potential to capture real-time status & progress of programmes/schemes, fund utilization/parking, timely disbursement of wages/subsidies, awareness & capacity building, geo-tagging of house/toilet/infrastructure constructed under various schemes etc. The integration of ICT and welfare schemes has resulted in the latest buzzword called “New India” or “Digital India”
  • ICTs are making a considerable impact on the rural and urban communities due to its universal applications and great appeal. There is a Digital-divide between the have’s (Urban) and have-nots (Rural).
  • The penetration of ICT software and devices in rural areas is still limited but shows an upward trend. In this era of digitization’s, cashless economy, web/mobile application etc. we have to bridge the gap of the digital divide and need to place ICTs infrastructure in rural areas.

Digital India:

Digital India is ICTs based initiative of the Government to integrate the government departments and the people of India. It aims to ensure that government services are made available to citizens electronically thereby reducing paperwork. Digital India mainly has three core components,

  1. Creation of digital infrastructure
  2. Delivering services digitally and
  3. Digital literacy.

ICTS for Rural Development

Some of the potential roles and application of ICTs for rural development are listed below:

 

  1. ICTs for Management of Rural Development Programmes

Availability of the real-time information of various projects helps the central/state government agencies to effectively plan, implement and monitor the execution of their schemes at ground level.

 

  1. ICTs for e-Governance (Including Services Delivery System)

ICTs can transform Governance into e-Governance. Through ICTs, all Government services can be accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets. Various services under G2B, G2G, G2C models of e-governance can be delivered effectively as compared to the physical application/file/noting system.

 

  1. ICTs for Agricultural Extension Services and Marketing

ICTs can help in extending research from the lab to the field. Various ICTs based systems including touch-screen kiosks, online agri-clinics, mass/social media, Kisan Call Centres, TV Channels etc. can deliver useful information to farmers regarding crop care and animal husbandry, fertilizer and feedstock drought mitigation, pest control, irrigation, weather forecasting, seed sources and market prices.

 

  1. ICTs for Climate Change and Natural Resource Management

Using ICTs, climatology, and agronomics, latest Information on weather/climate change can be given to farmers ICTS

 

  1. ICTs for Rural Health Care Services

ICTs can contribute to improving the coverage of national health services in rural areas. ICTs can after specialized applications for rural areas including doctor database, visualization of medical reports, geographical disease pattern, hospital MIs and disease data analysis etc. Telemedicine services can enable access to professional doctors (through web camera, VSAT etc) irrespective of geographical location.

 

  1. ICTs for Disaster Management in Rural Areas.

The advent of high-resolution geographical data, RS, GIS can offer greater capabilities for ICTs based disaster management applications during earthquakes, floods, oil spills, landslides, fires, tsunami-like situations etc. in rural areas, especially for remote locations.

 

  1. ICTs for Rural Connectivity

Development of rural roads requires appropriate planning, identification, and prioritization. ICTs especially, Geographical information system (GIS) is a useful tool for processing spatial and non-spatial data of routes/links as well as village boundaries.

 

  1. ICTs for Education

ICT is an effective mechanism to make tremendous change and advancement in traditional education scenario with the launch of online courses and availability on e-study materials of most of the education boards and universities, rural people can also have the opportunity to avail best educational facilities regardless of geographical distance and limited financial resources.

 

  1. ICTs for Social Justice and Empowerment

Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) (with or without Aadhar) should be implemented in all the Schemes/programme in order to ensure transparency, reduce the duplicate/fake beneficiaries and eliminate leakage. ICTs based system help in fund tracking and also result in saving of Government fund.

 

  1. ICTs for Public Distribution System

The Public Distribution System (PDS) in the country facilitates the supply of food grains and distribution of essential commodities to a large number of poor people through a network of Fair Price Shops (FPS) at a subsidized price on a recurring basis.

 

  1. ICTs for Rural Tourism

ICTs, if effectively and smartly utilized, can assist in promoting rural tourism, Promotion of tourist places within the village or nearby locations can be done in better and cheaper ways by making websites/portals that provide information about remote tourist locations, photos of key features, location map, etc.

MIS for Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY-Gramin:)

AWAASSoft is an ICT based solution for PMAY-G, AWAASSoft has different modules mainly for target setting, beneficiary management, inspection/verification of houses, fund management, preparation of audit reports, utilization certificate, staff management, progress monitoring, grievance redressal system etc.

Panchayat Enterprise Suite (PES)

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) has undertaken e-Panchayat, a Mission Mode Projects (MMP) under Digital India Programme that seeks to completely transform the functioning of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) making them more transparent, accountable and effective.

mKisan and nNAM

  • mKisan Portal for farmers enables all Central and State government Organizations in agriculture and allied sectors to give information/services/advisories to farmers by SMS/IVRS in their language, preference of agricultural practice, and location.

Challenges of ICT in Rural Development

  1. Continuous Supply of Electricity
  2. Low Level of Digital Literacy
  3. Shortage of ICTs Personnel
  4. Lack of Access to Telecommunications and Internet Services
  5. Unavailability of Web Content in Local Language
  6. Acceptance in Rural People
  7. Unethical Use of ICTs

 

  • To formalize the concept of Digital India for the rural sector, we should have a clear-cut e-plan or e-policy that guides the government priorities to adopt ICTs for rural development.
  • It demands a proper understanding of the social and development priorities of the rural areas.
  • It also requires vision and leadership of highest levels of the government along with political will.
  • It requires rationalizing how every ICT objective needs to be carried out both in terms of responsibilities assigned to government agencies as well as the continuous financial support

 

GENERATING CLEAN ENERGY FROM WASTE

  • In India, about 234 million tonnes of surplus biomass with a potential of Rs. One lakh crores of fossil fuel import replacement have been estimated.  
  • Some of the first generation technologies of animals dung (gobar) gas, ethanol from sugars and starch, bio-diesel production and power generation are not competitive due to market forces and the availability of better alternative technologies.
  • Tariff rates of generated electricity of Rs. 7.50 to 8.1 per unit are unviable as compared to Rs. 2.44 per unit of solar and wind power.
  • Latest Anaerobic Digestion technologies for crop residues have made Bio CNG cheaper than Fossil CNG.  
  • By-products of organic manures or slurry maintain soil health, its fertility, productivity and profitability of the distressed farmers.  
  • It will also create employment in primary and secondary activities and additional income of the farmers.
  • CNG being neat and clean fuel with zero food prints of greenhouse gases have been suggested by National Green Tribunal and other honourable courts.
  • As per the report of Steering Committee on Air Pollution and Health-Related Issues of the MoH&FW (2015), air pollution and food are the topmost health risks.
  • India is a polluted country with 1.6 million premature deaths and 49 million disability-adjusted life years due to household and ambient air pollution.
  • Budget 2018-19 envisages incentives for “Waste to Wealth” including GOBAR-dhan scheme for realizing Rs. One Lakh Crore economy focused on bio-CNG generation.
  • This year’s budget has also announced an incentive of Rs. 7000 crores for the public sector Oil Marketing companies including GAIL to set up CNG purchase and sale infrastructure.
  • Indian Oil Company has also signed a MoU of Rs. 5000 crores with Punjab state and investors in planning to set up 400 plants in the rural sector.
  • Punjab Government has also transferred Panchayat land to Petroleum Ministry for investing Rs. 600 crores for setting up Bio-Refinery in Bathinda with a feedstock of paddy and other crop residues
  • GOBAR-DHAN scheme would be aimed at ensuring cleanliness in villages and generating wealth and energy by converting cattle dung and solid agricultural waste into Compact and Bio Gas.
  • The sale of compost and biogas would augment the income of the farmers whilst improving levels of sanitation in the village and increasing farm yields.

 

  • Khadi and Village Industries Commission is promoting biogas production from animal dung for many decades but could not scale up to the competitive marketing.
  • Bio-diesel plantations of Jatropha, Jojoba, Olive oil and other oil bearing trees especially on wastelands could not end up in success stories.
  • Ethanol production also led to competition for the so vital food and nutrition securities under declining per capita availability of land, water, and other resources.
  • Technologies of solar and window energy with tariff rates around Rs. 2.44 per unit has made some of the first generation biofuel and other technologies irrelevant.
  • About 234 Mt of the biomass of crops, sugarcane, horticulture, and others is surplus for producing bio-energy worth Rs one lakh crores.
  • Now profitability of the farmers has declined due to technology fatigue, market distortions, over-exploitation of soil and groundwater resources etc. and has led to indebtedness and distress in the rural sector.
  • It called upon diversification and utilizing biomass raw material for doubling income of the farmers. Shredding and mulching of crop stubbles for quick seeding of next crop with Happy Seeders (Happy Seeder is one of the unique technique which is used for sowing wheat without any burning of rice residue) requires a higher investment and subsidy of Rs. 1151 crores for Punjab, Haryana, UP, and Delhi for heavy machinery has been provided in the current budget.
  • Accordingly, incentives for “Waste to wealth” have been announced in the 2018-19 Budget to augment income, employment, clean and green environment in the rural sector by harnessing second generation (2G) advanced technologies of bio-fuels.
  • First generation technologies focused primarily on. 2G technologies aim at cost-effective, import substitution and pollution free biofuels production.
  • There are vast quantities of paddy and other straw but they have low calorific values. Most of them are the loose bulk material, which requires densification and bracketing for fueling the steam boilers for power generation.
  • High alkalinity, silicon and the low melting point of rice straw ash corrodes, clinkers, slags, and fouls the boilers. Special grating and travelling type Franklin boilers are now available and are being used in Punjab for electricity generation.
  • It still releases greenhouse gases except for smoke particles in the open burning. Moreover, tariff rates work out to be between Rs. 7.5 to 8/ unit as compared to Rs. 2.44 per unit in solar and wind power. It requires a considerable subsidy for wheeling the electricity generated.
  • This technology also does not produce any organic manure to maintain the health of the soil, its fertility, productivity, and farmer’s profitability.
  • The first anaerobic digester for human excreta in the world was demonstrated in India in 1859 near Mumbai for lighting up a lepers colony set away from the city. However, anaerobic digestion of rice straw is more difficult as compared to excreta of animal and human beings.
  • Rice straw is hollow, coated with a hard layer of lignin with relatively high contents of carbon, celluloses, and hemicelluloses as compared to sugars, starches etc. used for ethanol production in the first generation technologies.
  • The 2G technologies focus on Bio CNG generation ordered by the Supreme Court of India for public and other transport for improving air quality and pollution reduction.
  • It will also create primary and secondary level employment both for the skilled as well as unskilled persons. It will bring in private investment of Rs. 10,000 crores in the rural sector.
  • Bio-gas needs further purification by removing carbon dioxide and Hydrogen sulfide for arriving at BIS standards compressed CNG for vehicular and other purposes.
  • Advanced technologies are in the pipeline even to convert carbon dioxide to methane which has a relatively high calorific value and is better in quality in terms of environmental externalities as compared to imported fossil CNG. It will be cheaper than imported CNG by Rs. 10-15 per kg and will survive even in competitive marketing.
  • Mixing of rice straw and cattle dung in 80:20 ratio produces 70 per cent more as compared to rice straw alone.
  • All stinking dung heaps in the villages need to be replaced with digesters. It requires coordination of various departments of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, dairy, sewage treatment and rural development to optimize complementarities and suplementarities. It will lead to sustainably benign healthy India and generate employment, income, goods, services, and pollution free environment.

 

AGRICULTURE

Combating Drought through farm pond technology

  • Late onset of monsoon, prolonged dry spells of more than 10 days during July and August and terminal dry spell during September is not uncommon in rainfed areas. Hence, productivity in the rainfed ecosystem in India is not exceeding 1.0 t per ha as compared to 2.5 t per ha under irrigated ecosystem.
  • However, farm ponds are widely accepted water harvesting structures as they occupy fewer areas thus less evaporation besides better benefits to local people or individual farmers and ease of management by individuals.

Farm ponds:

  • The farm pond is a dugout structure with definite shape and size having proper inlet and an outlet structure for collecting surface runoff flowing, from the catchment area. It is an ex-situ method of water conservation. It is also called as an on-farm reservoir.
  • They are constructed to collect excess water after the rainwater is conserved through different in-situ measures.
  • However, the size of the farm pond depends on rainfall events, the slope of the soil and catchment area
  • Seepage and evaporation are the main two problems associated with farm ponds. In unlined farm ponds in Alfisols, water loss through seepage is substantial, while, it is very less in Vertisols. The Loss of water from unlined pond can be reduced by lining walls.
  • Evaporation losses can be reduced in farm ponds especially in arid regions by rubber of plastic floats. Spraying neem oil (5 ml per litre) or kaolin (50 g per litre) powder reduces the evaporation considerably from the farm pond.

Benefits of Farm Ponds:

  • Farm pond can provide water for a part or full of the year depending on its size.
  • Harvested water can be utilized for sowing and establishment of rain-fed crops like cotton, maize and Jowar etc which need to be planted in June itself
  • Scientific studies have reported that, India has about 114 billion cubic meters of harvestable surplus rainfall water, which can be collected from more promising rainfed areas of about 28.5 Mha, can be partly utilized as harvestable water for crop husbandry.
  • The water can also be utilized for horticultural plantations. Thus, this technology provides regional water and food security by enhancing crop productivity
  • Helps to increase cropping intensity. Due to water availability in farm ponds in 2001 and 2003, Pisciculture was also followed which resulted in an additional income to the farmer
  • Cultivation of vegetables/indigo on bunds is possible for additional income
  • Provides water for spraying purpose in drylands and drinking water for cattle
  • Improves groundwater recharge in case of unlined farm ponds

Government Support

  • National Horticultural Board (NHB) through Horticultural Department
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (MGNREGA)
  • National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development Project (HADP)
  • Hill Area Development Project (HADP)
  • Tribal Area Development Project (TADP)
  • MGNREGA, Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF), Member of Parliament
  • Local Area Development (MPLAD) and Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) provide ample opportunities for periodic desilting and renovation of village ponds, tanks and other storage structures

New Initiatives in the Irrigation Sector:

  • Improving Conveyance Efficiency of Surface Irrigation:

Setting up piped water facilities to connect dams/canals and micro-irrigation system can reduce water loss and increase the overall water use efficiency up to 90 per cent. At present, considering the conveyance loss of surface irrigation and application loss due to flood irrigation, only about 40 per cent of irrigation water actually reached the farmer’s field from the source dam. Thus the investments need to be made not only to increase the creation of irrigation potential but must be channelized to make them more efficient

  • Micro-Irrigation for Improving Application Efficiency of Irrigation

Micro-irrigation (drips, sprinklers, micro-sprinklers, tapes, guns) is a suitable option to enhance the coverage under irrigation, improve land and water productivity and quality of the produce. In case of the commonly practised flood irrigation method, the rate of water application loss is around 35 per cent, while in micro-irrigation techniques, the application loss is only 10-15 per cent. Instead of promoting micro-irrigation as just a water saving technique, it should be popularised among the farmers as a yield-enhancing and input cost-saving method, considering the incremental yield and electricity and fertiliser saving associated with the technique.

  • Solar Irrigation

Solar Irrigation system needs to be further promoted to ensure assured and timely irrigation water availability in electricity-deprived interior villages, particularly in the eastern region. Solar pumps shall turn out to be a boon promising timely availability of power for lifting groundwater and water from ponds, lakes and depressions for irrigation, helping farmers to get rid of the costly diesel pumps. The Solar Pump Irrigators” Cooperative Enterprise (SPICE) in Gujarat is one of the worthwhile models that can be followed and scaled up. Assured grid connection must also be provided to the farmers to encourage them to divert the excess solar power generated in fields to the state grids, thereby ensuring the judicious use of solar power for groundwater extraction.

  • Underground Taming of Floods for Irrigation (UTFI)

This has sufficiently helped in the improvement of water tables, some moderation of the floods and improvement in the local environment.

  • Laser Land Levelling, Zero Tillage, Aerobic Rice and System of Rice Intensification for Saving Water and Energy and Improving Yields

Some of the promising new initiatives adopted by progressive farmers which help in saving irrigation water up to 15-25 per cent, saving of farm energy by up to 20% and improving the crop yields up to 20-25 per cent.

 

FINANCIAL INCLUSION THROUGH TECHNOLOGY

  • Nowadays, in ‘State Level Bankers’ Committee’ (SLBC) meeting of all states, and achieving targets for bringing financial Inclusion and financial literacy among Indian masses, through a targeted approach in a time-bound manner and of course, through latest modes of technology.

Financial inclusion is the process of ensuring access to appropriate financial products and services needed by all sections of society in general and vulnerable groups such as weaker sections and low-income groups in particular at an affordable cost in a fair and transparent manner by mainstream institutional players.

 

  • Let us look at the ground reality in our nation of the underprivileged sections of the rural India-approx 51.4% of farmer households are financially excluded.
  • Of the total farmer households, only 27% access formal sources of credit. One third of this group also borrow from non-formal sources. 73% of farmer households have no access to formal sources of credit. The poorer the group, the greater is the exclusion.

Financial Literacy has to be based on three principles

  • Effective use of mediums like computer, mobile and internet to enable people to have the skills, knowledge or information about financial instruments
  • We must ensure, people have the ability to critically understand the content they have received through digital means
  • They should apply it to the best of their knowledge and capacity

In 2014 came, PMJDY – a National Mission on Financial Inclusion encompassing an integrated approach to bring about comprehensive financial inclusion of all the households in the country in two phases, with clear understanding that this deep penetration at an affordable cost is possible only with effective use of technology, by way of Every Bank A/c to be on-line of e-KYC to ease the account opening process, use of Aadhaar Enabled payment system (AEPS) for interoperability, support for setting up FLCs support for demonstrating banking technology (Mobile Van fitted with ATM) on-line Monitoring through system generated MIS and facility of Call centre & Toll Free number.

The 6 pillars of financial inclusion under PMJDY, as per Hon’ble PM’s vision are under:

  1. Universal access to banking
  2. OD, Rupay debit card to households
  3. Financial literacy
  4. Credit Guarantee Fund
  5. Micro Insurance
  6. Pension (Unorganised sector)
  • As a part of its financial inclusion, plan, RBI started the Business Correspondent model in 2006.
  • Business Correspondents (BCs) are representatives appointed by banks to act as their agents, who provide banking services in remote locations, where the bank may not have the presence, at the doorsteps of the poorest.
  • The two major technological components involved which financial services are offered to the customers and the smart card (32k/64k memory chip) provided to each customer for the recording of transactions.
  • Especially in NER, given the lower number of transactions, BC model viability has been a major issue. In order to circumvent the problem, a part of the monthly commission subject to a cap of Rs 3000/ – per BC per month is reimbursed from the fund in case of RRBs
  • In addition, all the cooperative banks and Regional Rural Banks have been brought on CBS platform for providing anytime and anywhere banking to the rural populace.
  • RuPAY Kisan cards have been providing impetus to cashless transactions among the farming community
  • The technology-levered Aadhaar programme is likely to be the biggest disruptor in financial inclusion delivery, as innovations leveraging the Aadhaar card are expected to assist in broad-basing the access and acceptance by financially excluded segments.
  • Direct Benefits Transfer Scheme was initiated to facilitate disbursements of government entitlements such as those under the social security pension scheme, handicapped old age pension scheme etc of any central or state government bodies, using Aadhaar and authentication thereof, as supported by UIDAI
  • Payments banks are a new model of banks conceptualised by RBI. The main objective of payments bank is to widen the spread of payment and financial services to small business, low-income households, and migrant labour workforce in a secured technology-driven environment in the remote area of the country  
  • Since connectivity and power issues can badly affect banking services and more in remote areas, all coop banks in the NER and A&N Islands, have been made eligible for support for solar powered V-SATs from ‘Financial Inclusion Fund’ V-SAT connectivity support is also extended to all banks for new branches being opened in identified LWE districts, restricted to 7 branches per district.
  • To promote digital transactions for personal consumption expenditure, two schemes viz. Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhab Vyapar Yojana were funded through Financial Inclusion for consumers and merchants respectively. Apart from this, the Financial Literacy Awareness Programmes were recast as d-FLAP with an objective of transition from a cash-based economy to less-cash one.

The Way Forward

We need a frugal, trustworthy, and effective Indian model of technology for financial inclusion. Let us wait for the forthcoming recommendations of the Dr. Nachiket Mor Committee, Dr Sambamurthy Committee which will guide us how to expand mobile banking in India through encrypted SMS based funds transfer in any type of handset

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