Mains Daily Question
Feb. 12, 2021

You have been posted as a District Magistrate (DM) in a drought-prone district infamous for recurrent droughts. There have been some recent cases of farmers‟ suicides too. Upon some enquiry, you realize that due to successful cooperative sugar mills in the past and assured market price today, every farmer wants to grow sugarcane, disregarding the local soil and water resource condition. Sugarcane is a highly water-intensive crop. You think that the annual rainfall here, though below average, could be enough if properly managed. However, the local politics in the district revolves entirely around the issue of sugar pricing.

a) Enlist the challenges in front of you.

b) Elaborate your course of action.

Model Answer

The case involves many issues to be tackled simultaneously. And they are not mutually exclusive. Broadly there are 4 major responsibilities I need to work on. 1. Draught mitigation, 2. Farmers suicide, 3. Water management, 4. Reduce political misuse of the situation. As

DM, all these responsibilities have to be shouldered, keeping in mind the overall responsibility of maintaining law and order and development of the district.

  1. a) Challenges:

To fulfil the responsibilities there are many challenges to be tackled.

  1. Water scarcity (less rainfall): As overall rainfall in the district is low, availability of water is very less. This has many reasons, mostly natural like the geographical location of the district. Very less can be done to increase the rainfall. But use of water can be regulated judiciously

  2. Farmers preference to sugarcane: This has historical reason as cooperative sugar mills provide for better infrastructure to improve income of the farmers. As sugarcane is water intensive crop it is very crucial to convey to the farmers about shifting to alternative less water intensive crops. And this task will be easy if we can suggest alternate sources of income to farmers in areas of agri-allied activities.

  3. Political vested interests: This plays very crucial role at ground level. As in sugar bowls of India e.g., Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, the sugar cane monitoring suddenly takes political tone. This hampers the chances to adopt more mature solutions.


  1. b) Course of action:

The responsibilities can be classified into two major groups- Short term(urgency) and long term (sustainability). And accordingly, the course of action will also have similar two groupings.

  1. Short-term (urgency):

  2. First and foremost is to follow SOP for drought relief. The efforts against draught include both –preventive as well as curative, as per the situation.

  3. Dependents of those farmers who committed suicides will be provided with immediate compensation followed by consolation visits by the administration.

  4. Water tankers will be sent to the most affected areas.

  5. DMs of nearby districts, having better source of water, will be requested for supply of water. And relevant arrangements will be done to receive this water.

  6. State and central government will be requested for special funds for the relief works.

  7. Cattle camps will be initiated in the areas where they are required.


  1. Log-term (sustainability):

  2. All the local political leader will be called to have discussion upon reducing cultivation of sugarcane crop. They will be persuaded about ill impact of water intensive crop like sugar cane in the draught-prone area like this.

  3. Awareness among the farmers will be initiated though workshops, advertisement etc. to communicate to them about alternative less water-intensive crop.

  4. Forward market linkages will be subsidized and strengthened for alternative crops which are less water intensive viz-pulses, vegetable etc.

  5. Cooperative food processing units will be set up with government support for other such crops.

  6. All the collective water bodies will be revived with the help of NGOs and public participatory groups working in that area. Every waterbody will be looked after by a local elders committee. This will be done to create sense of stewardship among locals about the water bodies.

  7. Water harvesting efforts will be initiated, mainly before monsoon starts, so that maximum quantity of water can be collected and held in order to use it for rest of the year.

  8. Drip irrigation will be made compulsory for sugar cane. Purchase of the drip irrigation systems will be subsidized thorough financial assistance to farmers.

Subjects : Ethics
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