1. Emerging Axes, New Equations: Pak-Russia Dynamics in a Changing World
- Following Putin’s recognition of two breakaway regions of Ukraine as independent republics, Imran Khan will become the first foreign leader to visit Russia since Nawaz Sharif’s historic visit to the country in 1999.
- During cold war era, Pakistan was a ready ally and treaty partner of the United States-led anti-Soviet alliance.
- Today, Pakistan’s ties with Russia have progressed significantly.
- Russia surprised the world by lifting its four-decade-old arms embargo against Pakistan in 2011. Within four years, Russia would deliver Pakistan its first MiG attack helicopters, much to New Delhi’s dismay.
- Russia did a joint military drill with Pakistan in September 2016, over New Delhi’s objections. This was in response to the Jaish-e-Mohammed attack in Uri that month.
- In 2017, when tensions between India and Pakistan were at their lowest point, Russia supplied more helicopters to Pakistan.
- Following 2014 invasion of Crimea, Russia found an ally in China, which has been a long-time ally of Pakistan, therefore triangulating the relationship.
- Both Pakistan and Russia are members in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the world has witnessed the three countries adopt similar viewpoints and express tacit recognition of one another’s interests in the nation.
New Delhi and Moscow:
- As evidenced by its support for the designation of Pakistan-based terrorist groups, including those that target India, such as the Jaish and its leader, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Russia has expressed strong opposition to Pakistan’s support for terrorists in general and the sponsorship of terrorists in particular.
- Russian officials are also concerned about Islamist radicalism emerging from Afghanistan spreading into Central Asian countries.
- Both countries recognise that it continues to be beneficial for each other. Russia continues to be India’s largest arms supplier.
- When India purchased the Russian S 400 missile defence system, it risked the danger of being sanctioned by the United States. However, New Delhi has not yet allowed its tight connections with the United States to destabilise its delicate balance of power in the Ukraine.
- Despite worries over expanding Russian-Chinese friendship, Russia has attempted to take a more balanced stance in its foreign policy by participating in non-Western multilateral institutions such as the RIC, the SCO, and the BRICS.
- The improvement of the economic cooperation and the development of a clear future plan of action should be top priorities for India in order to curb Russia’s pro-Pakistan inclination.
2. Road To Natural Farming
Natural farming is a diversified farming system that integrates crops, trees and livestock, allowing the optimum use of functional biodiversity.
Internationally, Natural Farming is considered a form of regenerative agriculture—a prominent strategy to save the planet.
Initiatives that have been Launched:
- Sub mission on agroforestry aims to encourage farmers to plant multi-purpose trees together with the agriculture crops for climate resilience and an additional source of income.
- National mission on sustainable agriculture to make agriculture resilient to adverse impacts of climate change.
- In the Budget 2022-23, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana has received a 4.2-times (year-on-year) larger allocation of funds for the on-ground implementation of chemical-free farming.
- Sikkim has seen some decline in yields following conversion to organic farming.
- While ZBNF has definitely helped preserve soil fertility, its role in boosting productivity and farmers’ income isn’t conclusive yet.
- An often-cited barrier by farmers in transitioning to chemical-free agriculture is the lack of readily available natural inputs.
- Although the Budget 2022-23 envisages the promotion of natural or chemical-free farming across the country, no specific allocations have been made to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
- Need to focus on promoting natural farming in rainfed areas beyond the Gangetic basin.
- Rainfed regions use only a third of the fertilisers per hectare compared to the areas where irrigation is prevalent.
- The shift to chemical-free farming will be easier in these regions.
- Enabling automatic enrolment of farmers transitioning to chemical-free farming into the government’s crop insurance scheme, PM Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
- Covering transition risks could enhance the appetite of the farmers to embark on the transition.
- Microenterprises that produce inputs for chemical-free agriculture shall be provided support from the government to address the challenge of unavailability of readily available natural inputs.
- Learning from peers, especially champion farmers, through on-field demonstrations has proved highly effective in scaling up chemical-free agriculture in Andhra Pradesh.
- Beyond evolving the curriculum in agricultural universities, there is a need to upskill the agriculture extension workers on sustainable agriculture practices.
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