Indian Express Editorial Analysis- 21 February 2024

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Indian Express Editorial Analysis- 21 February 2024

1. The minimum support

Topic: GS3 – Agriculture – MSP 
Given the facts regarding the social and economic implications of applying MSP legally, this topic is important to both the Prelims and Mains exams.

– Renewing agitation close to the nation’s capital, the central government has failed to act significantly on the agreements reached with the protesting farmers’ unions over the previous two years.
– The demand for a legal guarantee for the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and other agricultural reforms has been the main focus of this lack of action.
– We’ll examine the nuances of the MSP demand, its ramifications, and the disputes around its enforcement in this analysis.

The Call for MSP Legalisation: An Analysis of Its Elements:

  • There are two main components to the MSP demand from farmers.
  • First, they support setting MSP at the comprehensive cost of production (C2), in accordance with the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission and the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), plus an extra 50%.
  • Second, they want the law to be enforced so that any market participant must buy all crops covered by MSP at or above the MSP price.

Measuring the Effects of MSP Enforcement: Economic and Financial Aspects:

  • For the year 2023–2024, the combined value of the 23 crops covered by MSP is projected to be approximately Rs 15 lakh crore.
  • But only a fraction of this value makes it to the markets because of a number of issues including consumption, village-to-village trade, and harvesting and storage losses.
  • When combined with private sector procurement, government purchases fall well short of the total MSP value, with the private sector frequently making payments that are lower than MSP rates.
  • Legal MSP enforcement may require the government to spend an extra amount of money, estimated to be about Rs 1.5 lakh crore per year.
  • Nonetheless, by boosting consumer spending, this investment may encourage economic growth and raise demand, investment, and tax receipts.

Economic and Ecological Implications of Legal MSP:

  • Legally enforcing MSP could encourage crop diversification, which would have positive effects on the environment and economy.
  • Farmers would be encouraged to diversify and make better use of their resources because they would no longer be forced to concentrate only on crops like sugarcane, wheat, and paddy that have MSP coverage.
  • Additionally, this might result in edible oils and pulses becoming self-sufficient, lowering reliance on imports.

Addressing Concerns and Counterarguments:

  • Legally enforcing MSP, according to some economists, might deter the private sector from participating in crop procurement.
  • Historical instances, such as the price of sugarcane, however, indicate differently because private mills have continued to buy sugarcane despite government-mandated prices.
  • MSP also acts as a vital safety net for farmers, guaranteeing their sustainability and preserving food security in the process.


  • It is not only reasonable but also essential to demand a legal guarantee for MSP in order to protect farmers’ well-being and the agricultural industry’s stability.
  • Encouraging crop diversification, fostering economic growth, and offering a safety net for farmers make legal MSP enforcement a mutually beneficial solution for all parties involved.
  • Ignoring this demand puts millions of farmers’ livelihoods at risk and increases the likelihood of unrest, which emphasises the urgent need for the central government to act decisively.

Why is There a Demand for Law on MSP?
Ensuring Agriculture’s Financial Sustainability:
– Approving MSP protects farmers from market swings and ensures fair returns on their labour and investment by guaranteeing a minimum price for their produce.
– The minimum price of produce required to maintain the financial viability of agriculture is known as the MSP. The farmers will be forced into debt if they do not receive even this.

Reducing Debt Burden on Farmers:
– A National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) report from 2019 states that the average debt load of a farmer’s family is more than Rs 1 lakh. This is true even though farmers receive a Rs 3.36 lakh crore subsidy from the federal and state governments.
– From Rs 9.64 lakh crore on March 31, 2014, to Rs 23.44 lakh crore in 2021–22, there were more loans outstanding for farmers.
– Due to the small increase in MSPs and the fact that they do not receive the declared MSP, farmers are facing an increasing debt burden.
– The guaranteed MSP loses all meaning for the farmers if they are forced to sell their produce for less than that amount. As a result, an MSP legal guarantee is required.

Supporting Farmers’ Livelihoods:
– Legalising MSP contributes to the support of millions of farmers’ livelihoods, especially small and marginalised farmers who are more susceptible to fluctuations in the market.
– Approximately 50% of the nation’s population makes their living from agriculture and related industries.

Risk Mitigation:
– No business has to deal with so many unpredictable factors and risks — extreme heat, floods, fire, frost, untimely rain, etc. Farmers remain uncertain and apprehensive about their income. MSP saves the farmer from debt and bankruptcy. Therefore, it needs to be secured with a legal guarantee.
– Natural disasters and market forces are hurting farmers. Climate change is increasing the complexity of farming. The farmer cannot be left at the mercy of weather and market forces.
– Legalising MSP provides a safety net, reducing the risk of income loss for farmers during unfavourable market conditions.

Addressing Market Imperfections:
– Farmers cannot be the only ones responsible for protecting consumer interests by providing inexpensive grains. Customers frequently pay outrageous prices for produce, even when farmers sell it at a loss. This is a result of intermediaries, who require regulation.
– By giving farmers a guaranteed price directly, legalising MSP can help alleviate these problems.

Promoting Agricultural Growth:
– Legalising MSP offers price stability and income security, which incentivizes farmers to invest in agricultural production. This in turn encourages agricultural growth and adds to the nation’s overall food security.
– Legalising MSP can encourage the use of sustainable farming methods by offering price breaks for crops that are resource- and environmentally-efficient.

Addressing Disparities:
– In 2015, the Shanta Kumar Committee came to the conclusion that the support price scheme benefited only 6% of farmers.
– Three states, Punjab, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh, accounted for 85% of the wheat procurement in 2019–20 alone.
– Legalising MSP can assist in reducing these problems by giving farmers a fixed, consistent price.
– Policies that prioritise farmers and revolve around the legalisation of MSPs aid in reducing poverty, promoting rural development, and fostering social inclusion.

PYQ: Consider the following statements: (2020) 
1) All Indian States and Union Territories are permitted to purchase an unlimited amount of cereals, pulses, and oil seeds at the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
2) The MSP for pulses and cereals is set in any State or UT at a price point where the market price will never increase.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? 
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2 

Ans: D
Practice Question: Talk about the importance of implementing a legal guarantee for the Minimum Support Price (MSP) in relation to India’s agricultural reforms. (10 m / 150 words)

2. Why are we falling ill so often?

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health
Given the difficulties in identifying and treating influenza, including concerns about antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the necessity of effective vaccination programmes, this topic is pertinent for both the Prelims and Mains exams.

– There has been a worrying increase in respiratory illnesses in India recently, especially Influenza A (H1N1), which has caused alarm in several states.
– The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has noted a spike in cases across several areas, with some states even reporting influenza-related deaths.
– It has become clear that there are several strains of the flu virus, such as A(H1N1) pdm09, A(H3N2), and Type B Victoria lineage, and that action must be taken quickly to address the situation.

Current Situation and Recommendations:

  • In light of the rise in hospital admissions and chest infections, the NCDC advises increased awareness and testing for COVID-19 and influenza.
  • The prudent use of the Southern Hemisphere’s 2024 quadrivalent influenza vaccine has been recommended to combat the rising infections.
  • In an effort to slow the virus’s spread, this vaccine specifically targets the strains that the World Health Organisation has recommended for the current year.

Understanding Seasonal Influenza:

  • Seasonal influenza, which is defined as acute respiratory infections brought on by influenza viruses, presents serious problems for the world.
  • Its symptoms, which frequently result in severe malaise, include fever, cough, headache, sore throat, muscle and joint pain, and runny nose.
  • High-risk individuals, particularly the elderly and children under five, are more susceptible to severe illness or even death, even though the majority recover in a week or less.
  • Children are especially severely affected in developing nations, where they account for the majority of influenza-related deaths.

Factors Contributing to Influenza Transmission:

  • In India, the spread of influenza is caused by a number of factors, such as a dense population, inadequate sanitation, favourable weather patterns, and low vaccination rates.
  • Numerous epidemiological investigations have examined the relationship between respiratory virus epidemics and meteorological elements, with a key finding being the impact of climate change.
  • Temperature and precipitation variations can change the temporal and spatial dynamics of influenza outbreaks, increasing the risk of transmission.

Challenges in Diagnosis and Treatment:

  • It can be difficult to diagnose influenza, particularly when there is low activity and other respiratory viruses can mimic the symptoms.
  • Treatment strategies are made more difficult by the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, which is a result of the challenge of clinical differentiation.
  • Antibiotic resistance (AMR), which is becoming more and more of an issue in India due to antibiotic misuse, calls for measures to stop overprescribing.

Role of Vaccination and Immunization Programs:

  • One of the most important aspects of influenza control strategies is still vaccination; many nations, including India, advise yearly vaccination for high-risk individuals.
  • However, a dearth of thorough data on influenza-related morbidity and mortality prevents influenza vaccines from being included in India’s Universal Immunisation Programme.
  • There is a chance to increase adult immunisation efforts by taking advantage of the COVID-19 vaccine program’s success, which could help to lessen community transmission and AMR-related issues.


  • In order to combat the rising influenza epidemic in India as it progresses towards universal health coverage, preventative measures such as expanding immunisation campaigns are needed.
  • In addition to helping those who have received vaccinations, prioritising influenza prevention and control measures can also help lower community transmission and related complications.
  • This proactive approach supports national public health goals and is in line with ongoing efforts to prepare for pandemics.

About National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
– Founded in 1909 in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, the Central Malaria Bureau subsequently evolved into the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), which in turn evolved into the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
– After changing its name to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in 2009, NICD was given more authority to handle newly and reemerging diseases.
– It assists in the management and prevention of communicable diseases by acting as the country’s nodal agency for disease surveillance.
– It is also a national centre that conducts a variety of applied research projects and provides high-quality training for professionals working in the entomology, laboratory sciences, and public health sectors.

Major Functions
– conducts nationwide inquiries into health outbreaks.
– provides recommendations for diagnostic services to private individuals, research institutes, medical schools, and state health directorates.
– actively engaged in the generation and exchange of knowledge in a variety of domains, such as epidemiology, laboratories, and surveillance.
– Applied integrative research in a range of aspects of both communicable and some non-communicable diseases has been one of the Institute’s primary focuses.
– The Institute’s administrative operations are overseen by the Director General of Health Services of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
– The primary office of the Institute is situated in Delhi.

PYQ: Which of the following diseases is occasionally mentioned in the news in relation to the H1N1 virus? (2015) 

(a) AIDS 
(b) Bird flu 
(c) Dengue 
(d) Swine flu 

Ans: (d)  
Practice Question: Talk about the difficulties caused by the rise in respiratory illnesses in India, especially Influenza A (H1N1). Analyse how public health initiatives and governmental policies can help to address this problem. (15 m/250 words)

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