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12th December 2020 – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents

  1. Love on the razor’s edge
  2. Agri Reforms 2: The Farmers (Empowerment And Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020

LOVE ON THE RAZOR’S EDGE

Context:

A flurry of FIRs against consensual inter-faith relationships and marriages have been registered in Uttar Pradesh ever since the government introduced a law against forced conversion by marriage.

Relevance:

GS Paper 1: Communalism, Regionalism, Secularism; Social Empowerment

Mains Questions:

  1. Distinguish between religiousness/religiosity and communalism giving one example of how the former has got transformed into the latter in independent India. 15 Marks
  2. ‘Communalism arises either due to power struggle or relative deprivation. Argue by giving suitable illustrations. 15 marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is communalism?
  • Types of communalism
  • Features of communalism
  • Factors responsible for communalism
  • Issues related to communalism
  • Measures to address the communalism
  • conclusion

What is communalism?

Communalism, in the Indian context, is most commonly perceived-form as the phenomenon of religious differences between groups that often leads to tension, and even rioting between them. In its not so violent manifestation, communalism amounts to discrimination against a religious group in matters such as employment or education.

  • Communalism as a political philosophy has its roots in the religious and cultural diversity of India.
  • It has been used as a political propaganda tool to create divide, differences and tensions between the communities on the basis of religious and ethnic identity leading to communal hatred and violence.
  • In ancient Indian society, people of different faith coexisted peacefully.

Types of communalism?

Communalism or communal ideology consists of three basic elements or stages- one following the other:

  • Mild: It is the belief that people who follow the same religion have common secular interests i.e. common political, social and cultural interests.
  • Moderate: In a multi-religious society like India, the secular interests of followers of one religion are dissimilar and divergent from the interests of the followers of another religion
  • Extreme: Interests of different religious communities are seen to be mutually incompatible.

Features of Communalism

  • It is multifaceted process based on orthodoxy and intolerance.
  • It also propagates intense dislike of other religions.
  • It stands for elimination of other religions and its values.
  • It adopts extremist tactics including use of violence against other people.
  • It is exclusive in outlook, a communalist considers his own religion to be superior to other religions.

Factors responsible for communalism

  • Divisive Politics – Communalism is often defined as a political doctrine that makes use of religious and cultural differences in achieving political gains.
  • Economic Causes – Uneven development, class divisions, poverty and unemployment aggravates insecurity in the common men which make them vulnerable to political manipulation.
  • History of Communal Riots – Probability of recurrence of communal riots in a town where communal riots have already taken place once or twice is stronger than in a town when such riots have never occurred.
  • Politics of Appeasement – Prompted by political considerations, and guided by their vested interests, political parties take decisions which promote communal violence.
  • Isolation and Economic Backwardness of Muslim Community – The failure to adopt the scientific and technological education and thus, insufficient representation in the public service, industry and trade etc has led to the feeling of relative deprivation among Muslims.
  • The resurgence of Hindu-Muslim economic competition, especially among the lower and middle class strata has fuelled the communal ideology.
  • Administrative Failure – A weak law and order is one of the causes of communal violence.
  • Psychological Factors – The lack of inter-personal trust and mutual understanding between two communities often result in perception of threat, harassment, fear and danger in one community against the members of the other community , which in turn leads to fight, hatred and anger phobia.
  • Role of Media – It is often accused of sensationalism and disseminates rumours as “news” which sometimes resulted into further tension and riots between two rival religious groups.
  • Social media has also emerged as a powerful medium to spread messages relating to communal tension or riot in any part of the country.

Communal incidents after independence:

  • Anti-Sikh riots (1984): Sikhs in large numbers were murdered by mobs post assassination of the then Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi.
  • Issue of Kashmiri Hindu pundits (1989): Spread of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism in Kashmir valley led to mass killing and large-scale exodus of Kashmiri pundits during 1989- 90. The region continues to be threatened by communal violence.
  • Babri Masjid incident (1992): On December 1992, a large crowd of Hindu kar sevaks demolished the 16th century Babri masjid (mosque) in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh claiming the site to be Ram Janmabhoomi (birthplace of Ram). This led to months of inter-communal rioting between the Hindus and Muslims resulting in deaths of hundreds of people.
  • Godhra Riots (2002): In February 2002, four coaches of the Sabarmati Express were set on fire. The passengers, mostly Hindu pilgims were returning from Ayodhya after a religious ceremony at the site of the demolished Babri Masjid.
  • Assam violence (2012): There were frequent clashes between the Bodos and Bengali speaking Muslims due to increased competition for livelihood, land and political power.
  • Muzaffarnagar Riots (2013): The clashes between the Hindu Jats and Muslim communities in Muzaffarnagar, UP resulted in at least 62 deaths, injured 93 people and left more than 50,000 displaced. The riot has been described as “the worst violence in Uttar Pradesh in recent history”, with the army being deployed in the state for the first time in the last 20 years.

Measures to address the communalism

The problem of communalism in India is grave and can have far-reaching consequences. Thus, persuasive as well as punitive measures are required to curb its spread.

  • Building solidarity and assimilation of various religious groups at different levels in society workplace, neighbourhood etc. by fostering a secular culture e.g. celebrating each other’s religious festivals.
  • Swift and prompt response to radicalization by a militant group on social media through police action, counselling sessions for those radicalized especially adolescents etc.
  • Ensuring that political parties refrain from using religion, religious ideologies in order to garner votes through strict vigilance by institutional mechanisms such as the Election Commission, media, civil society etc.
  • Instances of an inter-religious marriage of two consenting adults should not be construed as “love jihad issue” and highlighted in the media. Thus, media persons should be sensitized regarding the issue.
  • Mobs leading communal riots should be controlled and strict action should be taken against them as a combative measure.
  • Stern law should be framed by the Parliament against communal violence. The weaknesses of laws have resulted in escape of politicians and other influential persons who have openly indulged in inciting communal violence.
  • The CBI or a special investigative body should investigate communal riots within a stipulated time frame. Further, special courts should hear such cases for quick delivery of justice to victims.
  • Police and other bodies upholding law and order should be held accountable as sometimes the police bow down to pressure from politicians and remain inactive during communal violence and in the course of its follow up e.g. while filing FIRs, arresting the accused, producing charge sheets etc. Thus, legal reforms must be introduced which hold them accountable for swift action.

Conclusion

Indian society is based on unity in diversity, where different cultural groups follow different types of traditions and practices. Sometime these diverse practice leads to differences among the society and reflect in form of communalism. However, we should counter it and develop harmony among the people so that we can leave peacefully.


AGRI REFORMS 2: THE FARMERS (EMPOWERMENT AND PROTECTION) AGREEMENT ON PRICE ASSURANCE AND FARM SERVICES ACT, 2020

Context:

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 allows intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce beyond the physical premises of APMC markets.  State governments are prohibited from levying any market fee, cess

Relevance:

GS Paper 3: storage, transport & marketing of agro-produce and related issues & constraints; Economics of animal-rearing

Mains Questions

  1. The idea with all three Bills is to liberalise the farm markets in the hope that doing so will make the system more efficient and allow for better price realisations for all concerned, especially the farmers. Critically comment. 15 marks

Features of the Act

  • Farming agreement: The Act provides for a farming agreement between a farmer and a buyer prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce.
  • Pricing of farming produce: The price of farming produce should be mentioned in the agreement. For prices subjected to variation, a guaranteed price for the produce and a clear reference for any additional amount above the guaranteed price must be specified in the agreement. Further, the process of price determination must also be mentioned in the agreement.
  • Dispute Settlement: A farming agreement must provide for a conciliation board as well as a conciliation process for settlement of disputes. The Board should have a fair and balanced representation of parties to the agreement.

Significance of the Act:

  • Promote Contract Farming: Giving a legal framework to contract farming will ensure groups of growers and entrepreneurs come together in a contractual relationship which will provide a ready market for growers for their produce, and ready access to raw material for the entrepreneurs (sponsors).
  • The Act empowers farmers to engage with processors, aggregators, wholesalers, large retailers, exporters etc., on a level playing field without any fear of exploitation.
  • Lower risk for farmers: It will transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to the sponsor. Due to prior price determination, farmers will be shielded from the rise and fall of market prices.
  • Improved inputs: It may provide farmer access to high quality seeds, better technology, fertilizers and pesticides along with impetus to research and new technology in agriculture sector.
  • Attracting investments: This Act will act as a catalyst to attract private sector investment for building supply chains for supply of Indian farm produce to national and global markets, and in agricultural infrastructure.
  • Reduced cost of marketing for farmers: Since, after signing contract, farmer will not have to seek out traders. The purchasing consumer will pick up the produce directly from the farm.
  • Dispute Resolution: The Act also provides for effective dispute resolution mechanism for clear timelines.

Issues related to this Act

  • Farmers have expressed apprehension that once these Acts are passed, they would pave the way for dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system and leave the farming community at the “mercy” of big corporates.
    • As a corollary, the farmers feel that the proposed legislations will suit big corporations more than farmers who will subsequently dominate the market.
    • However, the Government has clarified that these Acts would not have any impact on the Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism which will continue.
  • The Act, while offering protection to farmers against price exploitation, does not prescribe the mechanism for price fixation or a methodology for regulatory oversight.
  • According to the Act, companies are not required to have a written contract with the farmer, making it difficult for farmers to prove terms.
  • As a result, if a farmer gets into a dispute regarding her/his contract with a private company, it will be very difficult for the farmer to have the dispute settled in her/his favor.
    • Also, in case of disputes, the District Administration has been entrusted with the responsibility to resolve; but it may not be well equipped to settle disputes.

Way Forward:

Why should a farmer not have more choices? If the private deal is not distinctly better, a farmer can carry on as before. If corporate farming does manage to weaken the APMC mandi system, it would only be because hordes of farmers chose corporate farming or selling outside existing mandis. Therefore these Acts are in progressive measures which want to liberate the farmers from middle men and provide better remunerative.

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