Daily Editorial Analysis for 24th June 2020

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The sharp end of military power

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.


Border tensions between India and China across the Line of Actual control (LAC).

Key Details:

In the 1962 war, there was minimal or no role for the Indian Air Force (IAF) despite the Chinese advances into Indian territories. Despite the possible positive impact that IAF could have resulted for India, the political leadership was against the use of air power against the Chinese. The Indian side faced a humiliating defeat from the Chinese.

Acceptance of role of air power:

  • In 1986-1987, following the establishment of a camp at Wangdung grazing grounds in the Sumdorong Chu Valley (northwest of Tawang), India had employed an envelopment strategy that spooked the Chinese with numbers, firepower, and aggression without needless confrontation. An important element of this strategy was the use of helicopters and transport aircraft to facilitate and sustain this deployment.
  • Unlike in 1962, India even developed an offensive strategy to take the battle to Le, the forward most PLA base in the sector. There was close coordination between the army and the IAF. There was emphasis on the role of air power and its utility for India.

The IAF’s advantage:

  • Based on recent operational assessments, the IAF currently enjoys both a qualitative and quantitative advantage over the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) across the LAC.
  • IAF’s fighter fleet of 4th Generation Aircraft (Su-30 MKIs, Mirage-2000s and MiG-29s) are superior in almost every respect to the PLAAF’s J-10s, J-11s and SU-30 MKKs.
  • The IAF has more operational bases than the PLAAF close to the LAC. There is the potential for higher survivability of IAF bases to withstand an initial attack by the PLA Rocket Force (PLARF).
  • India enjoys a significant advantage in the aerial mobility department where the IAF transport fleet of C-17s, Il-76s, An-32s and C-130s are capable of diverse roles like rapid troop induction into major bases or at Advance Landing Grounds like DBO, Nyoma or Mechuka, or inter-valley transfer.
  • The recently inducted Chinooks and the versatile Mi-17 series helicopters are capable of the insertion of Special Forces in difficult to reach areas. The recently inducted Apache Attack Helicopter, capable of operation at altitudes of 12,000-14,000 feet, would add significant firepower for the IAF.

Challenges for IAF:

  • Despite the many advantages enjoyed by the IAF, there are, however some concerns too.
  • China has a strong ground-based air defence network in Tibet comprising the S-300, S-400 and HQ-9 systems that the IAF will have to contest during its offensive operations.
  • The PLAAF holds an advantageous position with respect to long-range air delivered cruise missiles (500-3,000 km) from the H-6 bomber. As compared to this, the IAF’s Su-30 MKI has just been cleared to carry the BrahMos land attack cruise missile with a range of 300 km.
  • China possesses the Yaogan series of low earth orbit surveillance satellites that offer it an advantageous position in the area of surveillance. India stands at a disadvantage with respect to surveillance capability.
  • India must leverage its existing space-based surveillance assets and airborne surveillance platforms to support wide-spectrum operations and provide better situational awareness.
  • Given the thrust on modernization by the PLAAF and the IAF having to face deep budgetary cuts and the likelihood of the slowing down of the induction of cutting-edge platforms and weapon systems, in the next decade or so, the IAF may lose its competitive advantage against the PLAAF.


The ground situation across the entire Line of Actual Control (LAC) is largely one of parity and for any asymmetric advantage to be gained, it is air power that will prove to be decisive in depleting the PLA’s combat potential. Air power represents a significant aspect of contemporary military power and India should take appropriate measures to strengthen its air force capabilities.

Crop of ironies

Paper: III

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management


Issues being faced by the agricultural sector during the pandemic.


  • The Indian agriculture sector was impacted by lockdowns across states following the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Migrant farm workers fled the fields en masse depriving the sector of the important labour component.
  • Crippling bottlenecks in the supply chain resulted in prices sky-rocketing in consumer markets, even as farmers, stuck with inventory, started dumping them at throwaway prices.
  • Many remained hungry even as the Food Corporation of India’s godowns overflowed with grain stock at three times the buffer stock norms.

Reforming the agricultural sector:

  • The devastating pandemic has forced the government’s hand for long-overdue agrarian reforms.
  • Amendments have been made to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
  • The Centre has encouraged the State governments to adopt three model laws on contract farming, agricultural land leasing, and marketing.
  • State governments have been urged to dismantle the Agricultural Produce Market Committees. Long-term changes such as fair pricing and e-trading have been made to the agricultural sector.

Environmental pressures:

  • Just as Rabi crops were set to be harvested, unseasonal rain and hail arrived at the beginning of the year leading to crop damage in some parts of the country. Parts of the country also witnessed locust invasions which could have a detrimental impact on the productivity for the year.
  • Climate scientists warn about climate change and its impact on Indian agriculture.

Financial pressures:

  • Existing loans and their inability to pay could push farmers into poverty.
  • The Reserve Bank of India announced an extension of the moratorium on loan EMIs by three months, but given that many farmers rely on a system of informal borrowing, this negates the intended effect.
  • Though the MSPs of 14 Kharif crops have been increased recently by the government, some experts have argued that this may not offer the intended extent of relief due to a lack of manpower, working capital, machinery and storage.

Food security:

  • India has been witnessing a historic reverse migration. Migrant labourers face the prospect of an endangered food security. While the concept of One Nation, One Ration Card has potential, people are concerned about immediate relief for the hungry which is being provided with the release of fixed quantities of free foodgrains and pulses to the migrants, even to those without ration cards, for the months of June and July. Implementation needs to be seen through. India has always struggled to fill the gap between policy prescriptions and implementation.
  • India has been ranked 102 out of 117 countries on the Global Hunger Index.

Steps to be taken:

  • Need to increase government allocations to poor farmers through the PM KISAN scheme by including even those who do not own land.
  • Need to ensure timely availability of seeds and fertilizers for the next season by roping in gram sabhas and Farmer Producer Organisations in the process.
  • Need to redirect supply chains locally which could ensure resilience of the sector.


The resilience of Indian farmers meant that the nation was fed even through multiple lockdowns. Acknowledging the fact that food security and farmer welfare are intertwined, there is a need for enhanced efforts to support the critical agricultural sector. Although agriculture accounts for around 17% of India’s GDP, nearly 50% of the country’s population depends on farm-based income.

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