Connect with us


Explainer: New Farm Bill 2020, Who Are Protesting And Reason For Protests



New Farm Bill 2020, Who Are Protesting And Reason For Protests

In the ongoing Parliament Monsoon Session the Lok Sabha has passed three agriculture sector bills or the farm bill 2020, despite strong protest by the oppositions. Out of the Three bills, an amendment to establish the Essential Commodities Act was passed on Tuesday while the two other bills one on Agri market reforms and another on contract farming provision was passed on Thursdays. Once Rajya Sabha passes these bills, then they will replace the existing ordinance.

As a protest against the legislation that seeks to liberalise agricultural markets, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the Union Minister for Food Processing Industries last night. Her resignation came amid protests by farmers whom SAD, ruling BJP’s oldest ally, rely as its core support base in Punjab, a critical food bowl state, against the reforms even as economists have applauded them.

Here are all you need to know about the New Farm bill 2020 and why the protest is happening:

The main provision of the proposed legislation is intended to support small and marginal farmers (86 per cent of total farmers) who don’t have either bargaining power to get a better price for their produce or invest in technology to improve their farm’s productivity, according to TOI.

  • Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020: Permits intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce beyond the physical premises of APMC markets. The State Governments are prohibited from levying any market fees, cess or levy outside APMC areas. The bill free agricultural trade from all restrictions. Although ‘commission agents’ of the ‘mandis’ and states could lose ‘commissions’ and ‘mandi fees’ respectively, but the farmers will get better prices for their produce through competition and cost-cutting on transportation.
  • Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020: To deregulate trading practices in agricultural markets (mandis).

The bill amends the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, by “deregulating” various agricultural commodities or removing commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from stock limits or the list of essential items, except in case of natural calamities or war. It means that legislation will eliminate the pressure of stock-holding limits on such things except under extraordinary circumstances, as mentioned above.

Now the farmers are allowed to sell their crops to anyone; thus removing the fear of private investors or excessive regulatory interference in their business operations. Also, this will attract private or foreign direct investment into the agriculture sector.

  • Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance: Provides a framework for farmers to enter direct contracts with anyone who wishes to buy farm produce. Till now, the farmer was not permitted to sell their products to consumers or food processing companies directly; they had to go through a licenced trader as per the APMC Act.

Now, a farmer may enter into a contract with any person, agri-business firms or large retailers on pre-agreed prices for their produce. Through this, the legislation has transferred the risk of market unpredictability from farmers to the sponsors, thus, helping small and marginal farmers.

In case of disputes, instead of using the regular judiciary for dispute resolution between parties, the ordinance delegates dispute resolution to the executive (sub-divisional magistrate), who will not be bound by rules of procedure.

The bill gives the Government more powers than the parties in the case. When the authority feels that contract has some flaws, they can make changes even if neither of the farming party does not raise any disputes, and this will fall under the Suo Motu cases.

Who are protesting?

Political parties as well as farm organisations such as the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) and the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella body of several other organisations, are protesting, claiming that the farm bill 2020 is designed to help big corporate houses at the cost of farmers. Even several other groups such as Maharashtra-based Shetkari Sanghatana support such reforms.

Provisions bothering farmers/protestors:

The aim of farmers protesting farm bill 2020 is mainly due to the provision under the first bill. Though there is no uniform demand among the protesters or a unified leadership, their concerns are primarily about sections relating to “trade area”, “trader”, “dispute resolution” and “market fee” in the first ordinance.

What is a “trade area?”

Under the Section 2(m) of the first bill, 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.

However, this definition excludes the existing mandis established under the APMC Acts. The Government claims, creation of trade area outside of mandis will give farmers the freedom to sell their produce.

Nevertheless, farmers especially, the ‘commission agents‘ (known as ‘arhatiyas’ in Punjab and Haryana) states that provision will limit APMC mandis to their physical boundaries and give a free hand to big corporate buyers. The APMC mandi system has developed exceptionally well and has the ability to cater to 200-300 villages.

Define ‘trader’ and its association with protest:

According to Section 2(n) first ordinance, a ‘trader’ is a person who buys farmers’ produce through inter-State trade or intra-State trade or a combination. The procured produce can be either for self or on behalf of one or more persons for wholesale trade, retail, end-use, value addition, processing, manufacturing, export, consumption or for such other purpose. Thus, it comprises of processor, exporter, wholesaler, miller, and retailer.

According to the Ministry of the Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, “Any trader with a PAN card can buy the farmers’ produce in the trade area.”

The new ordinance allows a trader to operate both in an APMC mandi and a trade area. However, the traders would require a licence/registration as provided for in the State APMC Act for trading in the mandis.

In the present mandi system, arhatiyas have to get a licence to trade in a mandi. The protesters claim the credibility of arhatiyas is verified through their financial status during the process of licence approval. But how can a farmer trust a trader under the new ordinance?

Protestors concern over the ‘market fees’

As per Section 6 of the ordinance, “no market fee or cess or levy, under any State APMC Act or any other State law, shall be levied on any farmer or trader for trade and commerce in scheduled farmers’ produces in a trade area.”

Under the existing system, market fee charges in states like Punjab come to around 8.5 per cent which includes a market fee of 3 per cent, a rural development charge of 3 per cent and the arhatiya’s commission of about 2.5 per cent.

Government states this provision will reduce the cost of the transaction and will benefit both the farmers and the traders. Many states are not making transactions in mandis cost-efficient.

The protestors claim that by removing the fee on trade, the Government is indirectly incentivising big corporates as this provision does not provide a level playing field to APMC mandis.

Objective of Dispute resolution mechanism:

As per the protestors, the provisions on dispute resolution under Section 8 does not adequately safeguard farmers’ interests. They claim that the ordinance does not allow them to approach a civil court in case of any disputes.

Issues/fear raised – Farm bill 2020:

The arhatiyas fear that they will lose their grip over the farmers and might lose their businesses along with the commissions. The State Governments of Punjab and Haryana will be affected most because of the loss of ‘Mandi Tax’, a major source of revenue.

Other issues raised include: end of ‘minimum support price’ (MSP) regime in due course, the irrelevance of state-controlled Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) ‘mandis’, risk of losing out land rights under contract farming rule, reduction in the price of farm produce due to market domination by big agribusiness and exploitation of farmers by big contractors through contract farming provision.

In their defence Centre says that it was urging states to implement the Model APMC Act, 2002-03. However, the states did not fully adopt it, and thus, the Centre had to adopt the ordinance route. It will lead to helping farmers realise a better price.

Continue Reading
1 Comment


All You Need To Know About National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021



National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021

On July 26, 2021, Lok Sabha passed a bill under the ministry of Food Processing Industry. The bill is titled as National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021. The main motive of this bill is to address issues with the Food Processing Industry, Entrepreneurship and one Institution for National Importance. With the passing of this bill, the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) and National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) is now merged as Institutions of National Importance, and it aims at providing various research and advancement in learning about the Food Industry and its associated branches. The bill was first introduced in the house in February 2019 but was pending due to protest by the opposition.

Significance of Institutions of National Importance (INI)

With the passing of this bill, the institutions enjoy greater autonomy through which they can carry out various courses, research attracting skilled faculties and students from all over the country and overseas. Good standards in education will be adopted to improve the present and future of education in this branch and sector, overcoming the technological gap in the country. This law aims to improve and introduce new changes in food, bio-nanotechnology, cold chain technology etc. The desired efforts will be taken in terms of human resources and infrastructure developments, labs for research etc. Liberty to open centres anywhere in India is also granted to INI and include courses regarding food technology certification and improving the workforce of the country.

Some other important features of this act are the Institution has been authorized with the Board of Government, Senate and other acting Authorities. The Council of Board will include 16 members from different branches from the same field. The Head will be Chairperson, who will be a skilled person from the Food Industry, the Director, Dean and Registrar. Members appointed from Centre and State Governments, Members from FSSAI and Council of Agriculture Research, as mentioned in the bill. The 16 members of the board will carry out work of taking administrative decisions, creating annual budgets and paths for institution progress as an organization, establishing departments, their appointment terms of services, faculties etc. The Board of Council also holds power to grant Honorary Degrees and Diplomas. The Senate shall be the principal academic body of the Institute, consisting of the people such as Director as the Chairperson; Registrar; Full-time skilled level Professor; and Three academically skilled Individuals nominated by the board from the field.

The Union Minister of Food Processing Industry, Mr Pashupati Kumar Paras, expressed his gratitude to PM Modi for this landmark step in this industry from his Twitter handle, indicating new opportunities in Food Technology Industries. Therefore, this Act looks promising on paper with new opportunities and in Educational Development. Amidst the Pegasus Spyware and repeal of the farm laws, this looks positive from the Modi Government.

Continue Reading


Curious Case Of Pegasus: Explained



Pegasus II News Aur Chai

Pegasus is a spyware that can hack the victims’ mobile phones and read their SMS messages and emails. The Pegasus spyware is owned by an Israeli software company named NSO Group. According to the various reports, this company has targeted more than 50,000 phone numbers at the Global level, of which 300 are in India for surveillance.

The news broke out after the 17 media partners investigated. This investigation brought into the picture information about a leaked database of mobile telephone numbers of Indian Ministers, Opposition leaders, journalists, the legal community, business people, government officials, scientists, activists and many influential personalities of the nation.

Pegasus Spyware and India

According to the report by the agency, the Israeli company which sells Pegasus around the world says that its clients are confined to ‘vetted governments”, believed to number 36. The NSO Group also says that ‘the target list in India is not ours, never was.’ Their refusal of the leaked database has created a loophole in understanding this case.

This whole case has violated the integrity of democratic institutions. According to the report by the agencies, after the mobile phones of the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and various other leaders were hacked under the Pegasus spyware surveillance. Multiple tweets were made against the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in India. This whole case has become one of the major threats in the political arena and the Indian Democracy.

Though at the start, it was used for national security purposes. The explosive expansion of surveillance technology vendors has become a vast human rights and a global security issue. If such surveillance technologies increase, it might cause a lot of problems to countries around the globe. Hence, as a precaution, all these countries need to work on regulating this technology.

According to the reports by the agency, one of the targeted phones by the Pegasus spyware was of the former election commissioner of India, Ashok Lavasa. Various such people and such opposition leaders were somehow against the BJP government having their phones hacked with the NSO-owned spyware. All these instances and the names in the leaked list have pointed figures towards the Modi Government.

The Modi government’s stand on this case was put forward in Lok Sabha by two serving ministers, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel. These two leaders were also featured in the leaked database. The recent Information Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw defended the BJP government in the parliament by saying, “the expose was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.” She even said, ‘any form of illegal surveillance is not possible with the checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions.’

This case has adjourned the parliament proceedings due to the protests inside and outside the house of parliament by the opposition party.

Pegasus Spyware and World.

 In the statement given to the agency, Access Now, an organisation defending the digital rights of global users, said it was outraged that products sold by NSO were allegedly “used to hack and invade the private communications” of thousands of people across the globe.

At a global level, France’s Emmanuel Macron was targeted in the Pegasus spyware case. As the phone of French President Emmanuel Macron was hacked, the investigation was carried out and later on was published which was directed by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden.  After this case came in front of the whole world, the Pegasus spyware surveillance came into the picture.

If this continues for some more time, it will ruin India’s Democratic values at a global level. As well as this might become a huge technological threat between the different nations around the globe.

Continue Reading


Modi Cabinet 2.0: Young and Dynamic Leadership or Otherwise



Cabinet II News Aur Chai

On the 7th of July, the union government announced the biggest cabinet expansion in the 7 years of NDA rule. The recent expansion increased the size of the Council of Ministers from 53 to 77. About 43 new ministers were sworn in, 15 of which were Cabinet Ministers and 28 Ministers of State (MoS). This is the first cabinet overhaul in the second term of NDA governance.

Experts however claim that the new cabinet expansion is a pre-emptive measure to balance electoral formulae in different states ahead of the 2022 State Assembly elections. It is also conjectured that the reshuffle comes as rectification of prolonged criticism about BJP’s governance in the past 2 years, including the Healthcare management during the Pandemic.

The Performance Paradox

This recent cabinet expansion is a report card of the BJP government’s performance in the last 2 years. Major ministerial changes, such as the resignation and replacement of Dr. Harshvardhan as the Health Minister indicate a confession of their mismanagement of the pandemic.

He has been replaced by Mansukh Mandaviya, a 2 time Rajya Sabha MP who has also been awarded by the UN for initiatives in Women’s healthcare in the past. His appointment as the Health Minister is one of hope for BJP, to change and streamline (a.) the COVID-19 Pandemic response and (b.) BJP’s image in the name of healthcare management.

On the contrary, Anurag Thakur’s promotion from MoS Finance to a Cabinet Minister defies all logical explanations for awarding performance. Not only has India’s economic condition worsened under his management, his controversial statements like “Desh ke Gadaaro ko…” do not present a strong case for him. His appointment is a political investment by BJP in Himachal Pradesh’s state elections next year which happens to be Thakur’s home state.

Similarly, Sitharaman’s finance ministry has remained untouched, after historical mismanagement of our Finance capabilities. All of this reflects a selective approach adopted by BJP, which is one of political hesitation and hyperopic ignorance.

BJP’s Political Calculator

Apart from the ‘punishment’ narrative, the new cabinet expansion has also given an insight into BJP’s political planning.  This expansion has incorporated key leaders from several states that go to elections next year. Moreover, it has also been carefully planned to cover the losses BJP has incurred in the past two years.

As a reward for dismantling the elected Madhya Pradesh government and tipping scales in BJP’s favor, Jyotiraditya Scindia was appointed as the Cabinet Minister for Civil Aviation (a post held by his father as well in ’91) almost after 3 years.

On the contrary, Pashupati Kumar Paras got an early reward for breaking down Lok Janshakti Party’s (LJP) representation in Lok Sabha. He was appointed as the Union Minister for Food Processing, after the attempted coup on Chirag Paswan’s leadership.

Sarbananda Sonowal, who was replaced by Himanta Biswa Sharma as the Chief Minister of Assam after the fresh elections, was also awarded a berth in the Cabinet. It is conjectured that this development was in talks ever since Himanta Biswa Sharma was chosen as the CM.

As the Uttar Pradesh elections near, BJP also made sure to improve representation from the state. Major appointments such as Niranjan Jyoti (MoS Food Processing), Anupriya Patel (Mos Commerce and Industry), and Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma (MoS MSME) were made majorly because of their heavy support base in UP.

Following the same lead, Ajay Bhatt from Uttarakhand was appointed as MoS Defence and Tourism. As seen earlier, BJP has made major organizational changes in Uttarakhand which goes to elections next year.

Some Positives

In the mirage of calculated placements and image reconstruction, BJP has hit a few rights with this organizational change. The new cabinet includes a maximum number of women to have ever served in a Union Cabinet, a first in a nation with largely patriarchal tendencies.

The cabinet has also tried to focus on bringing people with commendable background experience and education on board. Ashwini Vaishnav, former IAS and an alumnus of Wharton School have been given major ministries such as Railways, Communications, and IT. Similarly, Anupriya Patel who has been given the Commerce and Industry as an MoS has also served as an educator at Amity University.

Moreover, the diffused reliance on regional strength has become the overarching theme in this cabinet reshuffle. Even though the ruling party intends to balance the voter dynamics, this regional unity has become something to watch out for.

Yet, the big story remains the ouster of major politicians who have served loyally and faithfully to this government. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Jaavedkar, and Dr. Harshvardhan are major losers in this dynamic reshuffle. While the current government has tried to modernize the leaders of this nation, it has set a new precedent that loyalty is not the most critical virtue anymore; Election Commission’s schedule is.

Continue Reading

Most Popular