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Aadhaar or else -Jean Dreze

-The Indian Express In Jharkhand, ABBA was first made compulsory for PDS users in Ranchi district in August 2016. By June 2017, it was mandatory in about 80 per cent of the ration shops across the state. This meant, of course, that Aadhaar itself was compulsory — no Aadhaar, no food. Recent events in Jharkhand shed some useful light on the damage done by compulsory biometric authentication in the Public Distribution System (PDS). This is increasingly a countrywide problem. The reason is that Aadhaar-based biometric authentication (ABBA) is being relentlessly pushed by the Central government, with little attention to the consequences. In Jharkhand, ABBA was first made compulsory for PDS users in Ranchi district in August 2016. By June 2017, it was mandatory in about 80 per cent of the ration shops across the state. This meant, of course, that Aadhaar itself was compulsory — no Aadhaar, no food. But making ABBA...

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Paddy stubble: The 'burning' conundrum -Shailly Kedia

-The Times of India blog (Voices) Riding on the roads of rural Punjab, a grim spectre unfolds. It is early November and there is fire and smoke all around for the endless land that stretches ahead. It is paddy stubble burning time in the state. This phenomenon is not exceptional to the state of Punjab in India but is also prevalent in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. Recently, there has been much hue and cry by politicians and experts alike on the extent of air pollution problem in the capital city of New Delhi has been caused by the burning of paddy stubble in these three states. This exacerbates the already disadvantageous landlocked Delhi that has no rejuvenating ability like other coastal cities such as Bombay or Chennai where pollutants are swept out towards the ocean. However, there is no room for doubt that paddy stubble burning is a problem for urban...

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The roots of the crisis in the seed industry -Ram Kaundinya

-Livemint.com The regulatory system for the seed and biotech industry should be transparent, science-based, predictable and fair For many decades, the Indian policy framework facilitated the interaction of science and innovation with entrepreneurship, which led to competition and the subsequent development of an industry structure that delivered sustainable economic benefits. The government was a major contributor to investments in seed research in India for close to three decades after independence. Policy reforms like the New Policy On Seed Development (1988) and New Industrial Policy (1991), and advances made by science and technology, provided an impetus to the participation of the private sector in the Indian seed industry and private investments helped India benefit from hybrid seed technology and biotechnology. However, according to the Rabobank report (2006), India’s top 10 seed firms accounted for just 25% of the total volume of seeds sold by the private sector in 2005. This level of fragmentation was aided...

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Dengue patient dies, parents billed Rs 16 lakh for 2 weeks in ICU -Durgesh Nandan Jha

-The Times of India NEW DELHI: Fortis Memorial Research Institute (Gurgaon) charged the family of a seven-year-old dengue patient almost Rs 16 lakh for 15 days in the ICU, but the girl died while being shifted from Fortis to Rockland Hospital. Union health minister J P Nadda on Monday assured the bereaved family of action in the matter following an uproar on social media sites. Fortis denied any wrongdoing. It said all standard medical protocols were followed in treating Adya Singh and all clinical guidelines were adhered to. In a " detailed clarification" submitted to the health minister, Fortis said it had charged Rs 15.79 lakh. It all started with a post on Twitter by the bereaved father's friend on November 17. "One of my batchmate's 7 year old was in @fortis hospital for 15 days for dengue. Billed Rs 18 lakhs including for 2700 gloves. She passed away at the end of...

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How Long Can India's Farmers Subsidise the Nation? -Kirankumar Vissa

-TheWire.in The farmers have done their job. The nation has failed to deliver them a decent income in return. Farmers are coming onto the streets across the country – in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and now from all states into Delhi. As the agitations intensify and take a national character, it is necessary for the nation to understand what is driving them. Are they asking for the sky, simply for what is due to them? Take Ravindra Kumar, a bajra farmer from Rewari, Haryana. He produced a good crop of bajra of 20 quintals. As per the government’s own estimates, the cost of production is Rs 1,278 per quintal. The government announced a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,425 per quintal. This means that a two-and-a-half acre farmer growing 20 quintals would get a net income of only Rs 2,940 for a whole season’s effort. From this, the...

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