Skip to main content

Surviving the drought (Hindu.)

Tamil Nadu’s move to declare a drought, ironically on the eve of the harvest festival of Pongal, is an important step to address the agrarian distress that is sweeping the State following poor rainfall during the northeast monsoon. Even with relatively better governance structures, desperation among farmers has resulted in a spate of suicides, particularly in the Cauvery delta rice belt that has received little water from Karnataka in recent times. An official declaration of drought brings relief: postponement of loan recovery, waiver of land tax and alternative employment through schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The challenge now is to infuse confidence among farmers that the government is fully behind them. As agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan has pointed out, there is a need to look ahead and institute reforms in drought management for effective distress mitigation. These should be founded on a participatory approach, one that intensively engages the farm community year-round. A monsoon management centre drawing upon the expertise of multiple departments would, for instance, help use scarce resources conservatively during a drought, and maximise their potential in good times. It is also crucial to preserve the health of cattle and other livestock, as they tend to suffer irreparable harm during drought, with cascading effects on their future productivity. The Centre should provide all support to achieve this under the National Disaster Response Fund and the Prime Minister’s crop insurance scheme.


The importance of welfare support for small and marginal farmers cannot be overstated, given the vagaries of the monsoon. More than a decade ago, the National Commission on Farmers pointed out that successive droughts, illness, high expenditure on social obligations and asset loss push farmers to the brink. Yet, not much has changed in the management of drought from the low-budget practices of the colonial era, as the Swaraj Abhiyan case in the Supreme Court last year revealed. No more time can be lost in making the administrative system for agriculture responsive to today’s needs. The Centre has to ensure that the Drought Management Manual is updated to reflect farmers’ concerns, chiefly, giving weightage to the amount of rainfall deficit and declaring a drought without delay. In Tamil Nadu, excessive reliance on water-intensive rice cultivation, and lower priority for hardy millets have raised the risk for many farmers. Active recharging of groundwater and harvesting of surface water are vital to meet the challenges.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cloud seeding

Demonstrating the function of the flare rack that carries silver iodide for cloud-seeding through an aircraft. 
Water is essential for life on the earth. Precipitation from the skies is the only source for it. India and the rest of Asia are dependent on the monsoons for rains. While the South West Monsoon is the main source for India as a whole, Tamil Nadu and coastal areas of South Andhra Pradesh get the benefit of the North East Monsoon, which is just a less dependable beat on the reversal of the South West Monsoon winds.

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

India’s criminal wastage: over 10 million works under MGNREGA incomplete or abandoned (hindu)

In the last three and half years, the rate of work completion under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has drastically declined, leading to wastage of public money and leaving villages more prone to drought. This could also be a reason for people moving out of the programme.

At a time when more than one-third of India’s districts are reeling under a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall, here comes another bad news. The works started under the MGNREGA—close to 80 per cent related to water conservation, irrigation and land development—are increasingly not being completed or in practice, abandoned.

Going by the data (as on October 12) in the Ministry of Rural Development’s website, which tracks progress of MGNREGA through a comprehensive MIS, 10.4 million works have not been completed since April 2014. In the last three and half years, 39.7 million works were started under the programme. Going by the stipulation under the programme, close to 7…