Contents

  1. Taking on the Centre: On States rejecting farm laws
  2. Engaging the neighbourhood
  3. Metrics of world happiness and the Muslims of India

Taking on the Centre: On States rejecting farm laws

Context:

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana have been protesting against three ordinances promulgated by the Centre on June 5. The ordinances were replaced by three Bills, passed in the monsoon session of Parliament.

Relevance:

GS Paper 3: storage, transport & marketing of agro-produce and related issues & constraints; supply chain management

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
  2. What are the impediments in marketing and supply chain management in industry in India? Can e-commerce help in overcoming these bottlenecks? 15 marks
  3. There is also a point of view that agriculture produce market committees (APMCs) set up under the state acts have not only impeded the development of agriculture but also have been the cause of food inflation in India. Critically examine. 15 marks
  4. Examine the role of supermarkets in supply chain management of fruits, vegetables and food items. How do they eliminate number of intermediaries? 15 marks

Dimensions of the topics:

  • What are the provisions of three bills?
  • What are the significance the bills?
  • Why the farmers and states government are protesting against it?
  • Way forward

Key provisions of three bills:

1: The Bill on Agri Market:

The trade of farmers produce:  it seeks to allow farmers to sell their produce outside APMC ‘mandis’ to whom they want. Anyone can buy their produce even at their farm gates. Such trade can be conducted in an ‘outside trade area’, i.e., any place of production, collection, and aggregation of farmers’ produce including: (i) farm gates, (ii) factory premises, (iii) warehouses, (iv) silos, and (v) cold storages.

Electronic trading: The Ordinance permits the electronic trading of scheduled farmers’ produce (agricultural produce regulated under any state APMC Act) in the specified trade area. 

Market fee abolished: The Ordinance prohibits state governments from levying any market fee, cess or levy on farmers, traders, and electronic trading platforms for trade of farmers’ produce conducted in an ‘outside trade area’.

Significance:

  • It will not shut down the APMC but to expand the farmers choice.
  • If a farmer believes a better deal is possible with some other private buyer then he can take that option instead of selling in the APMC mandi.
  • The farmers will get better price through competition and cost cutting on transportation.
  • The farmers will get out of the clutches of the monopoly of APMC mandis and evade the rent-seeking behaviour of the traditional intermediaries (called arhatiyas).

2: The Legislation on Contract Farming:

Farming agreement:  it allows the farmers to entre into a contract with agri business firms or large retailers on pre agreed price of their produce. The minimum period of an agreement will be one crop season, or one production cycle of livestock.  The maximum period is five years, unless the production cycle is more than five years.

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. 

Dispute Settlement: A farming agreement must provide for a conciliation board as well as a conciliation process for settlement of disputes.

Significance:

  • It will help the small and marginal farmers as the legislation will transfer the risk of market unpredictability from farmers to sponsors.

3: The Essential commodities (Amendment) bill 2020:

Regulations of food items:  it seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion and potatoes from the lists of essential commodities. It means the legislation will do away with the imposition of stock-holding limits on such items except under extraordinary circumstances such as war and natural calamities.

Stock limit: The Ordinance requires that imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce must be based on price rise.

Significance:

  • The economic agents to stock food articles freely without the fear of being prosecuted for hoarding.  This will create a competitive environment in Agri Market.
  • It will also attract the private sector and foreign direct investment into the agriculture sector.
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Why the protests?

  • The legislations are likely to impact influential commission agents in mandis, who do not want their grip over farmers to be weaken.
  • The state governments of Punjab and Haryana will be affected most because of loss of mandi tax, a good source of revenue.
  • The middle men will not only lose their commission but traditional business.
  • The protesters fear that it will end the MSP regime in due course.
  • It will make APMC (mandis) as irrelevant.
  • The farmers may risk of loosing land rights under contract farming.
  • Farmers, especially in Punjab and Haryana where MSPs are more prominently employed, are suspicious of what the markets will offer and how the “big companies” will treat them. 
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Are their fear is valid?

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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 bills are in progressive measures which want to liberate the farmers from middle men and provide better remunerative.

Background:

1: Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) laws:

  • regulate the trade of farmers’ produce by providing licenses to buyers, commission agents, and private markets.
  •  levy market fees or any other charges on such trade.
  • provide necessary infrastructure within their markets to facilitate the trade

2: The Essential Commodities Act, 1955

  • It  empowers the central government to designate certain commodities (such as food items, fertilizers, and petroleum products) as essential commodities.  The central government may regulate or prohibit the production, supply, distribution, trade, and commerce of such essential commodities.

Engaging the neighbourhood

Context:

India’s foreign policy engagements with its neighbourhood is an active topic of debate now, especially in the context of “territorial disputes” with China and Nepal.

Relevance:

GS Paper2:  India and its Neighbourhood (relations)

Mains questions:

  1. India has been implementing a policy of asymmetric engagement to strengthen bridges of friendship and create new opportunities for the growth, security and well-being of her neighbours both bilaterally and through the SAARC mechanism. Elaborate 15 marks
  2. This centrality of neighbours in India’s foreign policy stems from the clear understanding that a peaceful periphery is essential for India to achieve her multifarious developmental goals. Discuss 15 marks
  3. India must craft a new neighbourhood policy in order to maintain its regional power status and to realise status transformation to the next level in the near future. Comment 15 marks
  4. What is meant by Gujral doctrine? Does it have any relevance today? Discuss. 10 marks

Dimensions:

  • Evolution of India’s Neighbourhood Policy and its phases.
  • Objectives of India’s  Neighbourhood Policy
  • Challenges to India’s Neighbourhood policy
  • Way forward
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Evolution of India’s Neighbourhood Policy: Former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh once said, ‘the real test of foreign policy is in the handling of neighbors’. India wants a peaceful, prosperous and stable neighbourhood. Reason is simple. This means less trouble for us and will enable us to focus on development, without distraction. Moreover, India’s neighbourhood policy has been through several phases.

Colonial time: The phase under colonial times centred on ideas and slogans around anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, anti-racism e.g. The Asian Relation Conference of 1948 which cemented India’s relations with its neighbours, it supported their respective de-colonisation movements in Myanmar and Srilanka.

Post colonial phase: The first Afro-Asian Conference at Bandung in 1955 formalised the Non Cooperation Movement, which guided the India relations with its neighbourhoods. During this phase, India focussed on south-south cooperation.

Cold war phase: During this time, the India followed the “principle of balancing” and focussed on bilateralism in India’s approach to its immediate neighbourhoods. The role of super powers and their Cold War proclivities significantly contributed to India’s neighbourhood policies. 

Post cold period: India redefined its foreign policy premises on non-alignment, its relations with Western bloc countries, regionalism, which in turn had a huge impact on India’s neighbourhood/regional policies. India refashioned it foreign policy because of two reasons:

  • The systemic (international) level factors included the collapse of the Cold War binaries, spread of globalisation, increased degree of regionalism.
  • The domestic level factors included introduction of economic reforms, emergence of coalition politics, nuclearization.

Objectives of India’s neighbourhood policy: The Gujral Doctrine gave broad objectives of India’s neighbourhood policy. Following are the features of Gujral Doctrine:-

  • With neighbours like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, India does not ask for reciprocity but gives and accommodates what it can in good faith and trust.
  • No South Asian country should allow its territory to be used against the interest of another country of the region.
  • No country should interfere in the internal affairs of another.
  • All South Asian countries must respect each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
  • They should settle all their disputes through peaceful bilateral negotiations.

Challenges to India’s neighbourhood policy:

  • China changed the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector in its favour therefore it created challenge to India border security at western side.
  • The SAARC is non functional because Pakistan isolated itself from its engagement.
  • The Bangladesh is not happy with India because of Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019.
  • India is outlined from multi party talk, which wants to stabilise the situation in Afghanistan.
  • Iran has inaugurated a railway link project connecting the Cahaba port on the Gulf of Oman, to Zahedan (which India was to have constructed) without India.
  • China started Belt and Road Initiative, in which India is not a part of it.
  • China’s presence in Indian ocean is continuously increasing which is posing a threat to India.

Way forward:  

A new neighbourhood policy needs to be imaginatively crafted in tune with the emerging realities in order to maintain its regional power status and to realise status transformation to the next level in the near future. It calls for promotion of a multi-vector foreign policy by diversifying its foreign policy attention on multiple powers (not only the US; but also Russia, the European Union, Africa and so on) in the global arena while developing a stronger matrix of multilateralism and employing stronger diplomatic communications strategies. 

BACKGROUND:

1: The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)

  • started in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1961.
  • It was created by Yugoslavia’s President, Josip Broz Tito, India’s first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt’s second President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, and Indonesia’s first President, Sukarno.

Metrics of world happiness and the Muslims of India

Context:

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat has again reiterated his oft-repeated statement that the happiest Muslims in the world are in India

Relevance:

GS Paper 1

  • Salient features of Indian Society; Diversity of India;
  • Communalism, Regionalism, Secularism; Social Empowerment

Mains questions:

  1. The spirit tolerance and love is not only an interesting feature of Indian society from very early times, but it is also playing an important part at the present. Elaborate. 15 marks
  2. Distinguish between religiousness/religiosity and communalism giving one example of how the former has got transformed into the latter in independent India. 15 marks
  3. ‘Communalism arises either due to power struggle or relative deprivation. Argue by giving suitable illustrations. 15 mark

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is society?
  • About Indian society
  • Salient features of Indian society
  • Challenges to Indian society
  • Way forward

What is society?

As per sociologists, a Society can be defined as a group of people who have interactions within a common territory, and share similar culture.

  • Social group: It is the coming together of two or more people who interact and further identify with one another.
  • Territory: Every Country owns formal boundaries and territory (areas) that the world recognizes as belonging to the respective country. But, a society’s boundaries don’t necessarily have to be only geopolitical borders.
  • Interaction: The members of any society must come in contact with each other. If one group of individuals within a country will have no regular contact with another group, those groups cannot be considered part of the same society.

About Indian society: What makes Indian society so unique from any other in the world is its feature of ‘unity In Diversity.’

  • As the phrase suggests, university in diversity is the celebration of oneness the citizens of India enjoy irrespective of their vast culture, geographical, ethnic and social differences. This is India’s motto and it fuels the human interaction within the nation.
  • Accommodation without assimilation is a key feature of our society. Over the years, India has welcomed and interacted with various elements of society without making any of these elements lose its authenticity and roots.
  • Every individual in India enjoys the freedom to practice his or her chosen way of life.

Salient features of Indian society:

  • The Merging Of Tradition With Modernism: Globalization might have bought with it a surge of modern values and practices, but traditionalism is still prevalent and preserved in India e.g. International cuisines and food habits are equally popular as local ones.
  • The Indian Society is Syncretic And Dynamic: Over the years, multiple tribes have lost their core indigenous culture due to assimilation into the major population of Indian society. Such contacts with different cultures also gave birth to newer practices.
    • Assimilations: Many ethnic tribes like the Naga are struggling to protect their culture from the outside world
    • Syncretism: The Sufi movement and the bhakti movement were complementary to each other.
  • The underlying theme is Unity in diversity: e.g. Mutual celebration of religious festivals despite religious differences.
  • Tolerance and mutual respect: The Indian society has survived in the face of diversity, thanks to its accommodative values of tolerance and mutual respect that have existed from the early times.

Challenges to Indian society:

  • Communalism: It’s an ideology that, in order to unify the community, suppresses distinctions within the community and emphasizes the essential unity of the community against other communities. Moreover, India is a multi religious country and sometime communalism becomes basis of conflict among different religious groups e.g. 1984 Sikh riots in Delhi.
  • Regionalism: Regionalism is defined as a political ideology that favours a specific region over a greater area. It usually results due to political separations, religious geography, cultural boundaries, linguistic regions, and managerial divisions. E.g. Naxalism in India
  • World happiness report 2020: India’s rank is 144 out of 153 countries. It shows that Indian people are facing challenges due to poverty, unemployment, etc.
  • World hunger index 2020: India’s rank is 94 out of 107 countries. In this report, Pakistan and Bangladesh are ahead of India.
  • World Freedom of Press Index-2020: India was ranked 142 out of 180 countries. This report is related to civil liberties and it shows that India’s position is very poor with regards to civil liberty in India.
  • World Justice Project Rule of Law Index: it is a grim situation for India (a global rank of 69 out of 128 countries’
  • Even on religious freedom, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India’s ranking in its 2020 report.

Way forward:

Unity in Diversity is essence of Indian society, it provides a space where all the religious groups can uphold their cultural practices without interfering in others religious matters. We as an Indians should preserve unity in diversity and respect the humanity.

Background:

1: The World Happiness Report:

  • Released by: United Nations  Sustainable Development Solutions Network
  • India’s rank: 144 out of 153. The first five ranks go to Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway, respectively.
  • Variables: well-being; positive emotions; supplemental life; circumstances and social environment; inequalities; unemployment; low incomes; discrimination; GDP per capita; life expectancy; freedom; generosity and absence of corruption.

2: world hunger Index 2020:

  • Release by: Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe
  • India’s Rank: 94 out of 107 countries
  •  variables:  child wasting, child stunting, child mortality

3: World Press Freedom Index 2020

  • Released by:  Reporters Without Borders
  • India’s rank: 142 out 182 countries
  • Variables: Media independence, Pluralism, Media environment and self-censorship, Legislative framework, Transparency in the news, Quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information

4: world justice project rule of law index:

  • Released by: The World Justice Project (WJP) is an international civil society organization with the stated mission of “working to advance the  rule of law around the world”
  • India’s  rank: 69 out of 128 countries
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