GS (M) Paper-2: “Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.”
Karnataka model of crop insurance
- There was a scam in Karnataka where a politician without the awareness of farmers was paying insurance premiums on their behalf and showed heavy crop loss to get huge insurance benefits. This has being going on for many years and the value of the scam is estimated to be running into hundreds of crores.
- No one knows what crop a farmer is growing. No one knows whether he or she is even growing anything at all.
- The banks lending the crop loan and the companies insuring the crop have no data on whether he/she owns the land for which they are given.
- Further, the insurance claims are processed much after the crop has been harvested and there is no way to verify whether there was damage or not.
- All of it is done on hearsay, assurances and blind trust, which have been drastically misused for over four decades.
- In this scenario most farmers don’t opt for crop insurance that is supposed to protect them, due to lack of both awareness and trust in the system.
- Over the years, several reports have been submitted by agriculture, government and insurance experts that point to serial scams in states like Maharashtra (Aurangabad and Jalgaon), Gujarat (Saurashtra), Andhra Pradesh (Rayalaseema), Karnataka (Dharwad and Haveri), Tamil Nadu (Nagapattinam and Sivaganga) and Telangana (Mahbubnagar), which are said to be better at “harvesting insurance claims” than crops.
- Recommendations were made by the PK Mishra committee in 2014 and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) to counter the problem and an effort is now being made to ensure that the latest nationwide crop insurance scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, is better implemented.
- A GPS-based system called Samrakshane (total protection) is tracking crop right from sowing through growth up to cutting in as many sample fields as possible.
- What gives Samrakshane an edge is that Karnataka, unlike other states, digitised its land documents in 2001 itself, through the Bhoomi project.
- Samrakshane links Bhoomi to bank records of loanee farmers and assesses crop position and damage through staff carrying GPS-equipped smartphones to take pictures and videos of the fields at various stages, for which loans and insurance cover have been given.
- The fields are randomly selected by statistics department officials and the ground staff get to know of which field they need to go to only upon assignment.
- The photos and videos taken are uploaded in almost real-time, with the staff, who are authorised to oversee the process, also pictured in them; this ensures they have personally visited the sites.
- The Samrakshane website also links up the insurance companies, along with bank accounts of farmers, leading to quick monetary e-transactions, transparency, creation of digital records and accountability.
Benefits of Samrakshane:
- We will know whether the farmer applying for the bank loan actually owns his land.
- We will know whether he has sown the crop for which he took the loan and the insurance.
- We will know if the crop actually failed and also the extent to which it has failed.
- So the assessment will be as transparent as possible and insurance settlement can be done quickly.
- There is a need to increase the number of staff involved in the project.
- Awareness generation among the farmers regarding the benefits of the scheme and measures to remove the distrust that they have towards crop insurance should be corrected.
GS (M) Paper-2: “Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.”
How Sri Lanka won the war on Malaria
- On September 5, 2016, Sri Lanka was declared malaria-free at the 69th Session of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Committee for South-East Asia held in Colombo.
- The only other country to have achieved malaria eradication in the WHO’s South-East Asian region consisting of 11 countries is the Maldives.
- It is important to note that the long-term viability of malaria-free status in countries that have already achieved this status depends on gradual advances in malaria control and eradication in the region as a whole.
- This is because malarial parasites can be easily reintroduced from malaria-endemic countries to malaria-free countries through human migration across national boundaries; these can be in the form of flows of tourists, pilgrims, workers, investors and refugees.
Sri Lanka’s journey towards malaria-free nation:
- Sri Lanka experienced one of the worst malaria epidemics ever recorded (1934-1935) after a triple disaster — a severe drought, food shortages and a malarial outbreak in the densely populated wet zone regions which are generally malaria-free.
- Many in the first generation of political leadership in independent Ceylon saw the devastation caused by the 1934-35 malaria epidemic, and were determined to campaign for expanding health services.
- Regular DDT spraying began in 1945 and the number of malaria cases reported dropped from 2.7 million in 1946 to 17 in 1963.
- However, optimism was short-lived as a full-scale malaria epidemic broke out again in 1968.
- Vector resistance to DDT and parasitic resistance to antimalarials were first reported in the 1970s.
- New development projects such as the Accelerated Mahaweli Development Programme (1977) further complicated the task of malaria control due to development-induced population movements from the malaria-free wet zone to the malaria-endemic dry zone as well as due to enhanced vector breeding following environmental changes triggered by development schemes.
- By the 1980s, malaria infections were back to the levels seen in the pre-DDT era.
- An increase in P. falciparum malaria was the new challenge even though malaria mortality had declined due to improved health services.
- The Anti-Malaria Campaign (AMC) responded to these challenges by switching from DDT to malathion, changing the drug regime administered to malaria patients, changing the approach from malaria eradication to control, and integration of malaria control with other health services.
- Health volunteers were deployed to educate the public about the disease, its treatment and prevention.
- A variety of measures such as insecticide-impregnated bed nets and repellents were introduced.
- By the early 1990s, there were signs that the interventions were limiting the disease to certain pockets where increased surveillance was necessary.
- Despite the raging hostilities between the Army and LTTE since 1983, there is no evidence of any manipulation of malaria interventions for military purposes either by the state or the LTTE.
- The peace accord signed under Norwegian mediation also facilitated the gradual containment of the war-induced malaria epidemic in the affected regions.
- Malaria is by and large under control in much of South Asia.
- The remaining hotbeds are in conflict-affected and frontier regions in Afghanistan, northeast India and Myanmar and require a long-term focal attention in the form of surveillance of the vector, parasite and human behaviour conducive to malaria transmission, a multi-pronged approach inclusive of increased community participation in malaria control activities, livelihood development and poverty reduction, conflict prevention and reconciliation among rival parties.