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17th September – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


Contents

  1. Nationalism and the crisis of federalism
  2. Beyond the barriers of disability
  3. Farmers Protesting against the 3 Ordinances

NATIONALISM AND THE CRISIS OF FEDERALISM

Focus: GS-II Governance, History

Why in news?

  • Several Chief Ministers have recently complained about the growing crisis of Indian federalism.
  • The central government backing out of its legal commitment to compensate for Goods and Services Tax (GST) shortfall is one ground for this complaint and just the tip of a dangerous iceberg.

Introduction

  • Federalism can function only in the hands of those with a grasp of India’s democratic nationalism.
  • Both are indispensable and neither works properly without the other.

Three nationalisms

  • Two broad conceptions of nationalism developed in the subcontinent before India achieved Independence.
  • The first, the idea that a community with a strongly unified culture must have a single state of its own, bifurcated into two nationalisms.
  • One defined culture in ethno-religious terms and was articulated by the curiously similar Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League.
  • When the Constitution came into force in 1950, India adopted unitary, civic nationalism as its official ideology.
  • Before long the unitary arrangement and the conception that underpinned it proved inadequate.
  • The third nationalism on the backburner came right back into the game as India shifted its allegiance slowly to a system of states that rejected the wholesale absorption of ethnic identities into a larger civic identity.

Being linguistically federal

  • The issue of linguistic States became the focus of popular agitation forcing the creation, in 1953, of the State of Andhra for Telugu-speaking people.
  • Soon after, a commission to reorganise States on a linguistic basis was set up.
  • The committee argued that justice requires the creation of partially self-governing States that recognise all major linguistic groups.
  • Since domination eventually invites resistance and conflict which undermines the nation-state, only federalism can block language-based majoritarianism, contain conflicts and strengthen Indian nationalism.
  • Only coalescent nationalism creatively combines claims of unity with claims of recognition of diverse cultures.
  • A robust democratic arena allows the play of complementary multiple identities, and through dialogue, discussion and negotiation, helps to resolve disputes.
  • Following the Committee’s recommendations, States were reorganised in 1956.
  • Soon mass agitation forced the division of the province of Bombay into Maharashtra and Gujarat.
  • In 1966, Haryana was separated from Punjab to become an independent state. Much later, States such as Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand were carved out.
  • India slowly became a coalescent nation-state, moving from the ‘holding together’ variety to what is called the ‘coming together’ form of (linguistic) federalism.

How it all worked out?

  • This meant that regional parties were stronger than earlier in their own regions and at the centre.
  • This sowed the seed of a more durable centre because it was grounded more on the consent and participation of regional groups that, at another level, were also self-governing.
  • Indian federalism also attempted to remove its rigidities by incorporating asymmetries in the relation between the Centre and different States; treating all States as equals required the acknowledgement of their specific needs and according them differential treatment.

-Source: The Hindu


BEYOND THE BARRIERS OF DISABILITY

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Introduction

  • Nearly 75 years ago, the United Nations (UN) was created in the face of intolerance and discrimination to reaffirm faith in the dignity and worth of humans, and in the equal rights of women and men.
  • Its fundamental values postulated that in order to live sustainably, we must practise tolerance and endorse the values of equality.
  • However, if we are to stay true to the values of the UN, we must bring marginalised communities from the fringes back into the development mainstream.

Current Scenario

  • Based on recent estimates, over a billion people worldwide are impacted by disability and the stigma surrounding it.
  • According to the World Health Organization, nearly 15% of the world’s population has some or the other form of disability, making disabled people the largest global minority.
  • Continuous discrimination denies them equal access to education, employment, healthcare and other opportunities.
  • Essentially, what we are looking at is an enormous reservoir of untapped resources excluded from the workforce.

Stigma and the affected

  • The stigma attached to persons with disabilities, compounded by a lack of understanding of their rights, makes it difficult for them to attain their valued “functionings”, which Amartya Sen defined as capabilities deemed essential for human development.
  • Furthermore, women and girls with disabilities are at a higher risk of experiencing sexual and other forms of gender-based violence.
  • About 80% of the estimated one billion persons with disabilities worldwide live in developing countries.
  • The International Labour Organization, using data from the latest national Census (2011), reports that 73.6% of persons living with disabilities in India are outside the labour force.
  • Those with mental disabilities, women with disabilities and those in rural areas are the most neglected.

Worst-hit group

  • As is the case with most crises, the COVID-19 pandemic has had its worst impact on marginalised communities.
  • The UNESCO’s 2019 State of the Education Report of India acknowledges that inclusive education is complex to implement and requires a fine understanding of the diverse needs of children and their families across different contexts.
  • India has made considerable progress in terms of putting in place a robust legal framework and a range of programmes that have improved enrolment rates of children with disabilities in schools.

Conclusion

  • Globally, UNESCO joined its partners in the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network to raise awareness about the need to put in place strategies to mitigate the impact of school closures on learners with disabilities.
  • The implementation of the ground-breaking National Education Policy 2020 provides a historic opportunity to utilise the immense potential.
  • The pandemic has shown us that we are only as healthy as our neighbour.
  • It has exposed the large cracks of inequality, urging us to ponder over our responsibilities towards each other.

-Source: The Hindu


FARMERS PROTESTING AGAINST THE 3 ORDINANCES

Focus: GS-III Agriculture

Introduction

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana have been protesting against three ordinances promulgated by the Centre regarding agriculture.

What are these ordinances, and why are farmers protesting?

  • They are called The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. It is the Bill replacing the third that has been passed in Lok Sabha.
  • While farmers are protesting against all three ordinances, their objections are mostly against the provisions of the first. And while there is no uniform demand among the protesters or a unified leadership, it emerges that their concerns are mainly about sections relating to “trade area”, “trader”, “dispute resolution” and “market fee” in the first ordinance.

What is a ‘trade area’?

The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 defines “trade area” as any area or location, place of production, collection and aggregation including: (a) farm gates; (b) factory premises; (c) warehouses; (d) silos; (e) cold storages; or (f) any other structures or places, from where trade of farmers’ produce may be undertaken in the territory of India.

What is ‘trader’ and how is it linked to the protests?

The first ordinance defines a “trader” as “a person who buys farmers’ produce by way of inter-State trade or intra-State trade or a combination thereof, either for self or on behalf of one or more persons for the purpose of wholesale trade, retail, end-use, value addition, processing, manufacturing, export, consumption or for such other purpose”. Thus, it includes processor, exporter, wholesaler, miller, and retailer.

Why does the provision on ‘market fee’ worry protesters?

  • The Act states that “no market fee or cess or levy, by whatever name called, under any State APMC Act or any other State law, shall be levied on any farmer or trader or electronic trading and transaction platform for trade and commerce in scheduled farmers’ produces in a trade area”.
  • Government officials say this provision will reduce the cost of transaction and will benefit both the farmers and the traders.
  • Under the existing system, such charges in states like Punjab come to around 8.5% — a market fee of 3%, a rural development charge of 3% and the arhatiya’s commission of about 2.5%.

What is the objection as far as dispute resolution is concerned?

  • The protesters say that the provision on dispute resolution under the act does not sufficiently safeguard farmers’ interests.
  • It provides that in case of a dispute arising out of a transaction between the farmer and a trader, the parties may seek a mutually acceptable solution through conciliation by filing an application to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, who shall refer such dispute to a Conciliation Board to be appointed by him for facilitating the binding settlement of the dispute.
  • Farmers fear the proposed system of conciliation can be misused against them.
  • They say the ordinance does not allow farmers to approach a civil court.

What is the government’s defence?

While the Opposition has echoed farmers in alleging that the new legislation will benefit only big farmers and hoarders, the government said the provisions will be beneficial to all: farmers, consumers and traders.

-Source: Indian Express

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