UPSC Mains Daily Answer Writing (27-12-2022) - GS 3


Q1. A paradigmatic shift from “land productivity” to “water productivity” is needed to overcome water stress challenges in Indian agriculture. Discuss. (150 words)  10 marks

Q2. The ‘One Nation, One Ration Card' (ONORC) scheme is a huge step forward in empowering the poor and disadvantaged, yet it faces obstacles in terms of design and implementation. Discuss. (250 words)   15 marks

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Q1. A paradigmatic shift from “land productivity” to “water productivity” is needed to overcome water stress challenges in Indian agriculture. Discuss. (150 words) 10 marks

Model Structure

  • Water productivity is water use efficiency in agriculture measured based on total water input and crop output. Land productivity tells us about crops produced from a unit of agricultural land.

Main Body
Issues due to water stress:

  • Income loss for farmers: Farmers whose wells had dried up earned 25% lower than those with access to irrigation, according to VoxDev.
  • GDP loss: According to NITI Aayog, 6% of India's GDP will be lost by 2050 due to the water crisis.
  • Climate Vulnerability: Unirrigated lands are 60% more vulnerable to climate change, according to the Economic Survey.
  • Productivity loss: The amount of produce is directly proportional to the water availability in traditional agriculture.
  • Spillover effects of agricultural water stress are seen in agricultural pauperism.
    • This furthers into the shortage of food, hunger, malnourishment, and agri-inflation, as well as increasing social division and lower ranks in indices such as HDI.
      To make agriculture sustainable and future-ready, shifting from land to water productivity is essential (Economic Survey 2018-19).
      Water productivity can be achieved through the following:
  • Reduced water wastage with checks on wasteful tendencies (e.g., due to irrigation and electricity subsidies) through micro-irrigation and auto-cutoff sensors.
    • Transpiration and Evaporation related water loss would come down, increasing water-use efficiency and decreasing power bills.
  • Water availability for other uses- According to Asian Water Development Outlook, 2016, 90% of groundwater extracted was used for irrigation.
    • Regulating this can cause due availability of water for drinking and industries.
  • Geographic division of crops can be ensured to meet the micro-climatic need.
    • For example, water-intensive crops such as rice and sugarcane are grown in water-scarce areas such as Rajasthan.
    • Water productivity causes the upliftment of locally suited crops such as millets, etc.
  • The use of traditional methods for water conservation in-farm (E.g., johad) would improve alongside modern techniques such as fog catchers, greywater usage, water recycling, etc.
  • ICT can optimize optimal water use in the form of Precision Agriculture, greenhouses, etc.


  • Hence, enhancing water productivity through a paradigm shift towards “more crop per drop” Agriculture is critical for food security and meeting SDGs.

Q2. The ‘One Nation, One Ration Card' (ONORC) scheme is a huge step forward in empowering the poor and disadvantaged, yet it faces obstacles in terms of design and implementation. Discuss. (250 words) 15 marks

Model Structure

  • One Nation One Ration card (ONORC) is a central scheme that allows nation-wide portability of ration cards under National Food Security Act (NFSA) with biometric authentication.

Main body:
Scheme empowers poor and disadvantaged in following ways:

  • Removing inter-state barriers: It removes inter-state barriers by allowing all NFSA beneficiaries to claim their ration at place wherever they are.
  • Flexibility: It allows individuals to choose their FPS according to their convenience.
    • For migrant laborers, it allows individual’s family members back home to claim the balanced food grains on the same ration card, thereby ensuring food security of the entire family.
  • It will curtail corruption and increase PDS system efficiency by reducing dependence on a single FPS.
    • Beneficiaries can avail services from the dealer of their choice.
      Though ONORC is a visionary scheme, it has following obstacles in terms of design and implementation:
  • State-specific issues:
    • Low Aadhar seeding in Assam (only 36-38% against all India average of 92%) due to concern related to the National Citizens register.
    • The centre-state tussle has been delaying the scheme in states such as Bengal. Delhi wants to implement its own door-to-door ration delivery system.
    • Chhattisgarh has its own digitized system of PDS which creates issue of compatibility with ONORC system
  • Logistical bottleneck demand supply mismatch: An FPS receives the monthly quota in accordance with the number of people assigned to it.
    • ONORC can cause disruption by creating shortage in some FPS and wastage in others.
  • Exclusion: The scheme seeks to provide subsidized food grains, to Aadhar linked, digitized ration cards.
    • 100% of ration cards are yet to be linked to Aadhaar with many sections still lacking Aadhar cards.
    • This would lead to exclusion of many beneficiaries.
  • Reconciling migrant data: A big challenge is studying, recording and regularly updating labor migration patterns, especially, when members of a family migrate for few months.
  • Lack of clarity: Clarity on operating procedures and beneficiary entitlements regarding prices and food habits in different states is lacking.
  • Preparedness of states: Only 77% of FPSs have installed ePoS.
    • According to Food Ministry data, two key states Bihar (ePoS installed at only 62 FPSs) and West Bengal (ePOS installed at only 366 FPSs) that witness huge labor emigration are laggards in this regard.
  • It will be difficult to migrate other domicile-based social sector schemes like-
    • Anti-poverty schemes, rural employment, mid-day meals, etc. which are provided along with PDS.

Suggestions to ensure effectiveness of ONORC:

  • The Rastriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) had a component of splitting the unique insurance card to help both migrants and their family members. Similar can be adopted for ONORC.
  • National database for unorganized workers announced in 2020 must be implemented as early as possible.
  • A dedicated e-commerce platform for ONORC can be established to resolve logistics challenges.


  • ONORC is a step towards achieving SDG 2 i.e., zero hunger. As observed by the Supreme Court, all states must implement the ONORC scheme.
  • States must be pushed for technological readiness for ePOS at FPS. In the longer run, the PDS system can be replaced by food coupons or DBT for the poor, so that they can buy food grain from any store.
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