BROADCASTING MEDIA PRODUCTION COMPANY,PUBLISHER,NON -PROFIT ORGANISATION

KSM CHANNEL / GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE HUMAN OPINION " We are an international online news media, providing news with a India perspective to a worldwide audience through Multiple cross-platform editions, Multiple with distinct live TV channels". kanishk Channel is designed to create this grounded knowledge that is the need of the hour across Indian. The sites of this creation are the five interdisciplinary, each of which will focus on a particular transformational theme: Governance, Human Development, Economic Development, Systems and Infrastructure, and Environment and Sustainability. Each of the Schools has concrete pathways to impact. These are drawn from specific epistemic traditions linked to disciplines and innovative inter-sectoral, intersectional, and interdisciplinary approaches. The key common imperative, however, is to ground knowledge creation and pedagogy in the Indian context and for developing countries across the world, Renewing the civil rights movement by bringing the world of ideas and action. We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure.
Showing posts with label Agriculture NEWS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Agriculture NEWS. Show all posts

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Under PMGKAY, Centre allocates over 198 lakh tonnes of food grains for next 5 months


 
@FCI_India
The Centre is running the longest ever exercise of distributing free food grains to people during this COVID pandemic time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana to ameliorate the hardships being faced by the poor due to economic disruption caused by Corona virus.

AIR correspondent reports that under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, free food grains are being distributed to around 80 crore beneficiaries covered under National Food Security Act, NFSA. Five kilograms per person per month food grains will be provided from May to November this year. The NFSA beneficiaries belonging to both Antyodaya Anna Yojana and Priority Householders categories will get the allocation, over and above their regular monthly NFSA entitlement. Last year, the government had also provided the benefits to the people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the Scheme, a total of 305 lakh tonnes food grains had been lifted between April to November last year by the States and Union Territories.

Consumer Affairs Ministry said that for PMGKAY-3 a total of over 78 lakh tonnes of food grains have been lifted by the States and Union Territories for two months for May and June this year. A total over 198 lakh tonnes of food grains have been allocated to States and UTs for next five months from July to November under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana – 4. Out of this, around four lakh tons of food grains have been lifted by States and UTs so far.

 

Social media is bold. 

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Bidders go to HC over lack of transparency in EESL’s Solar Pumps Auction

 Solar Pumps.jpg 

Last week, the Delhi High Court directed the Government of India to respond to a petition filed by domestic solar manufacturers, who have requested the termination of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) tender, floated by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), in January 2021.

EESL had issued a tender for an off-grid solar photovoltaic water pumping system in select states on a pan-India basis under Component-B of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE) PM-KUSUM program. In all, 317,975 solar pumps were slated for installation across 30 states and five union territories.

According to the petitioners, EESL has not been transparent during the bidding process as they refused to explain why 30 bids were dropped from the technical bid of the tender. Of these 30 bidders, 12 have filed a petition before the court.

The petitioners who have combined pleas, in this case, include SG Enterprises, V Tech Sunsystems, Australian Premium Solar (India), V Tech Engineers ECE, and VRG Energy.

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court has asked the respondents (EESL) to file a reply within two weeks, and until then, the bid will not be finalized.

 

Background

One of the petitioners told Mercom that roughly 87 bids were submitted during the submission round, of which only 65 bids made it to the technical round. According to the petitioner, the EESL canceled 18 bids because they had not submitted the hard copy of the documents.

The tender was made public on January 14, 2021, and stakeholders were asked to file their questions within five days. The petitioners have alleged that the EESL issued clarifications on the queries on February 12, 2021, and asked bidders to submit the bid within five days on February 17, 2021. However, the EESL website crashed, and they once again extended the deadline by another two days.

 

This time, however, there was no indication regarding the opening of the technical bids. On March 3, 2021, through industry sources, we learned that 65 bids cleared the technical round. The petitioner has alleged that there was no response from EESL, despite several attempts to communicate.

The petitioner further alleges that the price bid was opened a day before the declaration of the technical bid without even declaring the disqualified bids.

On May 20, 35 bids that cleared the technical round were announced. Interestingly, those who were rejected included some large players who had earlier developed the PM-KUSUM projects, including Premier Solar, Gautam Solar, and Claro solar. These companies have already installed several solar pumps but were still rejected by EESL.

 

When the petitioner emailed EESL regarding the status of their bids, they received the reply that their bids are ‘non-responsive.’ When the manufacturers contacted MNRE, they were told that there could be some issues with their bids but refused to offer further clarifications.

The petitioners have alleged that the EESL has not explained the reasons behind the disqualification of their technical bids. The website now shows that the tender has been closed as of May 21, 2021, and without explaining reasons for disqualification, the price bids were opened.

According to EESL’s tender document, the list of bidders who have cleared the technical bid will be listed, and the reasons for the acceptance or rejection of each bid will be notified. If there are further grievances, the bidders can approach the EESL with their queries, and once all queries are cleared, the price bid will be opened.

 

The petitioners have alleged that none of these protocols were followed by EESL.

Moreover, the petitioner has claimed that all bidders can see each other’s bids on the online platform, but the same practice has not been followed by EESL.

The petitioner told Mercom, “If the EESL had to favor certain companies, it would have made more sense to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with them. The case was filed on May 29, 2021, while the tender was closed on May 21, 2021. For eight days, we ran from pillar to post but did not receive any answers. If it were a few companies that were disqualified, then it would not be an issue, but 30 companies were rejected.”

 Component B under the KUSUM program involves the installation of 1.75 million standalone solar-powered agriculture pumps.

 SOURCE ; /mercomindia.com/


Social media is bold. 

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure.

   

CreditPlus [CPS] UA

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Rs 22,215 crore and Rs 12,384 crore transferred directly into farmers’ accounts in Punjab and Haryana respectively against sale of their Wheat crop


 
Representational Pic

The Centre has said that nearly Rs 22,215 crore in Punjab and Rs 12,384 crore in Haryana have been transferred directly into farmers’ accounts so far against sale of their Wheat crop. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in a statement said, in the ongoing Rabi Marketing Season 2021-22, the Government of India is continuing to procure Rabi crops at MSP from farmers as per existing Price Support Scheme. 

It said, wheat procurement is going on smoothly in the procuring States and Union Territories of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and other States. So far over 341.77 Lakh Metric Tonnes of wheat have been procured against 252.50 Lakh Metric Tonnes during the corresponding period of last year. Out of the total purchase of wheat, major contribution has been made by Punjab with over 129 Lakh Metric Tonnes. The Ministry added that about 34.57 lakh farmers have already been benefitted from the ongoing wheat procurement Operations.

 

Social media is bold.

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Why the Centre's PLI Scheme for Food Processing Sector May Not Be a Big Job Generator

 While the policy is a welcome development, the scheme may not immediately translate into creating productive jobs, unless well targeted policies are adopted to address the structural factors that inhibit its employment growth.

 Why the Centre's PLI Scheme for Food Processing Sector May Not Be a Big Job Generator 

Representative image of workers weighing cans of corn for packaging at Haryana. Photo: IFPRI/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

BY ;  Seema Bathla and Prateek Kukreja 


In a major push towards ‘atmanirbhar Bharat’, the Centre earlier this year announced a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for 13 key sectors with a total outlay of Rs 1.97 lakh crore. In all, nine sectors have already been approved for the scheme, and the remaining are in the process of obtaining nod from the Cabinet.

While this initiative is expected to benefit all the sectors in accelerating growth and employment, the food processing sector is being looked at with high hope, being a sunrise sector and having immense potential to absorb labour.

Enough evidence is available to show that India’s urban population is increasingly diversifying their food consumption towards processed food, fruits-vegetables, fish, meat, eggs and other dairy products. This move is visible among the rural population as well, albeit at a slow pace. Changing food consumption basket along with rising per capita income, and increasing urbanisation may encourage more number of food units and investment therein. The food industry has an untapped potential in many products, particularly fruits and vegetables.

For instance, India is the world’s second largest producer of fruits and vegetables but hardly 2.2% of it undergoes processing.

The planned outlay for food processing under the PLI scheme is about Rs 11,000 crore. The scheme is likely to create an additional output worth Rs 33,500 crore, with a potential to generate 2,50,000 additional jobs by 2026-27.While the specific eligibility criteria for it is awaited, the government plans to achieve these targets by supporting processing firms and meeting a stipulated minimum sales and investment requirement. The firms who would meet this criterion shall be extended an incentive ranging between 7% and 10% on incremental sales over the base year.

 

The product segments that the scheme aims to target include ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat foods, marine products, processed fruits and vegetables, and mozzarella cheese and innovative and organic products.

A farmer transports vegetables on an improvised tricycle towards a wholesale agricultural market in Kolkata. Credit: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

A farmer transports vegetables on an improvised tricycle towards a wholesale agricultural market in Kolkata. Photo: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

These measures may help the organised food industry, which has been facing the problem of low-capacity utilisation. The average estimated capital-output ratio in it during the mid-2015 was high at 4.89 compared to an average value of 2.07 during the eighties. It may imply that capacity utilisation in food and beverage industry is low and such incentives may offer an opportunity to use the resources and equipment’ efficiently and hence earn profit.

Trends in organised food and beverage industry

From the Annual Survey of Industries, we find that the number of factories in organised food and beverage processing sector has increased since 2000-01 from 23,988 to 40,162 in 2017-18 and so have their investment, output and total factor productivity growth. In contrast, the number of workers has increased from 13.5 lakh to nearly 18 lakh during the same period, growing at a modest 1.7% rate per annum.

The processed food and beverage has 17% share in total number of manufacturing units; 14% share in total manufacturing employment and 9% share in total gross value added (GVA) in manufacturing. The share of firms and hired labour (employment) is much higher in unorganised micro and home-based processing units but tend to have a very low share in GVA.

 

A higher employability in the unorganised enterprises may be explained by the fact that food processing is a traditional sector that has strong backward linkages with agriculture. Most of the establishments are engaged in primary processing of wheat, paddy, oilseeds and spices and significantly contribute towards self-employment and labour absorption.

Falling labour intensity and other challenges

The PLI scheme is a step in the right direction. However, the major concern remains with respect to the perceived impact of the scheme on generating large scale employment. A sluggish growth in employment is explained by a steady fall in labour intensity. Simply put, labour intensity is the proportion of labour used relative to the capital stock to produce the output. A declining labour intensity indicates an increased substitution of labour with capital; output increases but it does not generate enough employment.

Labour intensity has plummeted consistently in processed food and beverage industry from 0.68 during the 1980s to 0.10 in recent years. It is slightly above 0.06, the average estimated for overall manufacturing, implying that processed food has the potential to absorb people, albeit at a slower pace.

The PLI, which is mainly a sales-linked incentive scheme may end up increasing the speed of this substitution of labour with capital, and hence contribute to a further decline in labour intensity. The real challenge, therefore is to accelerate employment, which is possible only if structural issues responsible for declining labour intensity are addressed. Increasing automation and mechanisation of production and rising wage to rental price of capital have badly hit demand for labour.

Labourers load sacks of vegetables on a hand pull cart during the nationwide lockdown imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, in Kolkata, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Photo: PTI/Ashok Bhaumik

The unskilled and low-skilled workers are at the margins. The government must focus on creating employment opportunities, perhaps through increasing the pace of skills and training to the workforce. Incentives should also be given to firms engaged in subcontracting with the unorganised micro and small establishments for raw material or intermediate products.

The organised food and beverage industry face many other challenges which deserve attention: production and packaging is expensive; safety and quality management procedures are inappropriate; access to regular finance is poor; the investment in transport and cold chain infrastructure for perishables is inadequate; technology adoption is poor; and the produce is not competitive in world markets.

While the PLI scheme is a welcoming policy initiative to boost the processing industry, it may not immediately translate into creating productive jobs, unless well targeted policies are adopted to address the structural factors that inhibit its employment growth.

 

Seema Bathla is a Professor at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development. Prateek Kukreja is consultant at ICRIER, New Delhi.

Statistics quoted are sourced from Seema Bathla and Elumalai Kannan’s edited volume Agro and Food Industry in India: Inter-sectoral Linkages, Employment, Productivity and Competitiveness, Springer Nature, Singapore, 2021.

SOURCE ; THE WIRE

 

Social media is bold.

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure.

Govt issues guidelines for Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Food Processing Industry


@MOFPI_GOI
Government has issued guidelines for ‘Production Linked Incentive Scheme for the Food Processing Industry (PLISFPI). Minister of Food Processing Industry Narendra Singh Tomar also launched an online portal for the PLISFPI.
 
The Ministry said, as part of the Prime Minister’s announcement of Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, the Government  has approved a new Central Sector Scheme namely PLISFPI for implementation during 2021-22 to 2026-27 with an outlay of 10 thousand 900 crore rupees. The aim is to support creation of global food manufacturing champions commensurate with India's natural resource endowment and support Indian brands of food products in the international markets.
 
The Ministry said, it is inviting applications for availing sales based incentives and grants for undertaking Branding and Marketing activities abroad under the scheme from three categories of Applicants. In Category-1, the applicants are large entities who apply for Incentive based on Sales and Investment Criteria. Applicants under this category could undertake Branding and Marketing activities abroad also and apply for grant under the scheme with a common application.
 
In category-2, Small and Medium Enterprises Applicants manufacturing innovative products who are applying for PLI Incentive based on Sales. In category-3, applicants who are applying solely for grant for undertaking Branding and Marketing activities abroad, the Ministry said, details regarding eligibility conditions, minimum investment, selection criteria and scale of incentives are covered in the operational guidelines. The detailed Scheme guidelines are available on the Ministry's Website.

 

Social media is bold.

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Agriculture Minister again appeals to farmers to end their agitation in view of rising Corona cases

 


@nstomar

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has once again appealed to farmers to end their agitation in view of rising cases of Covid 19. Talking to the media in New Delhi, Mr Tomar said the government is always ready to continue the dialogue with farmers protesting near Delhi borders. He said, many farmers unions, economists and people from different walks of life are supporting the Agricultural Bills but some people are protesting against it. Mr Tomar said the government had held 11 round of talks with protesting farmers. He said, government is ready to clear the doubts about the three new farm legislations.

 

Social media is bold.

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure

Sunday, 21 March 2021

The Tremors of India’s Farmer Protests Are Sparking a Rumble in Chautala

 The future of Indian agriculture and the Chautala family’s political fate are intertwined. 

 The Tremors of India’s Farmer Protests Are Sparking a Rumble in Chautala 

 

Chautala: A no-confidence motion in Haryana, a farmer revolution growing in their backyard and an ongoing tussle between the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress for the state – the Chautala clan have had a lot on their plate over the last few months. 

Both factions of the clan – Dushyant’s Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) and Abhay Chautala – have positioned themselves cleverly. But what are they really thinking? One has to go back to their roots to understand this. 

So, this writer began a 400-km journey from Delhi to the Haryana-Rajasthan border to the family’s native village of Chautala. A village with metalled roads, a sports stadium, drinking water troubles, clan wars and interestingly, no mandi for its farmers. 

Culturally speaking, this area is seeped in Bagri Jat culture, which is closer to Rajasthan culturally. 

The village is a political Mecca in Haryana politics since Devi Lal, a Sihag Jat from Chautala, rose to prominence here and even played kingmaker in the V.P. Singh’s Janata Dal government. Hence even Rakesh Tikait and Baldev Singh Sirsa, both prominent farmers leaders, took time out to visit and address the region’s farmers on March 17.

Chautala: A no-confidence motion in Haryana, a farmer revolution growing in their backyard and an ongoing tussle between the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress for the state – the Chautala clan have had a lot on their plate over the last few months. 

Both factions of the clan – Dushyant’s Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) and Abhay Chautala – have positioned themselves cleverly. But what are they really thinking? One has to go back to their roots to understand this. 

So, this writer began a 400-km journey from Delhi to the Haryana-Rajasthan border to the family’s native village of Chautala. A village with metalled roads, a sports stadium, drinking water troubles, clan wars and interestingly, no mandi for its farmers. 

YOINS - World

Culturally speaking, this area is seeped in Bagri Jat culture, which is closer to Rajasthan culturally. 

The village is a political Mecca in Haryana politics since Devi Lal, a Sihag Jat from Chautala, rose to prominence here and even played kingmaker in the V.P. Singh’s Janata Dal government. Hence even Rakesh Tikait and Baldev Singh Sirsa, both prominent farmers leaders, took time out to visit and address the region’s farmers on March 17. 

But does the region’s political clout get its farmers their share of the minimum support price (MSP)? Randhir Singh, a 53-year-old farmer, sums it rather well: “Only few farmers get MSP, for the rest of our crops like cotton, mustard, channa, etc, there is no MSP. Without a mandi for these crops, how can we even think of MSP?”  

Photo: Indra Shekhar Singh

Net Print

Perhaps that’s why Chautala village is up in arms and protesting at the village gate.  Farmers from the village were first encamped at Tikri border, and as the protests grow, have come back to stir things up in their area.

Sanjay Sihag, a farmer and also kin to Devi Lal family, tells this writer: “It’s been over three months, no one from JJP or the BJP can enter the village. There is a complete political boycott, which will also reflect in the next elections.” Many farmers in the village were expecting a debt waiver, but instead find themselves being pushed toward corporatisation. 

Daya Ram, a 48-year-old wheat farmer, notes that “there was panchayat in the village condemning the Dushyant’s JJP” and most of the farmers felt a betrayal. “Chautalas can only come to our village as a resident, not as politicians. They will only be allowed to join our panchayat once they resign or repeal the laws,” said Pavan Kumar, a 50-year-old farmer. 

“Today the JJP, campaigns in the name of Sir Chotu Ram, but our village knows that when Sir Ram came to this village, Devi Lal himself showed him black flags,” Sanjay remarked.  It was surprising to hear this fact. Most of the farmers are scared of the political clout of the Chautalas, yet have been protesting in Chautala and nearby hamlets.

 

But are these protests political motivated? Financed by opposing parties, as some may claim? 

Mukharam, a 77-year-old farmer, helped us understand this better. “Modi government and JPP have helped the farmers unite. Keeping political affiliations aside, farmers have collected Rs 50/acre donation from each farmer. Traders and small business owners have also given donations for the farmers revolution. Dushyant came to power appealing to the anti-BJP wave, and now has joined hands with them,” he said.

“We are positive, Chautala brought them to power and we shall take it back too,” Mukhram added. 

Photo: Indra Shekhar Singh

BILET Privat Bank UA

Some also feel Abhay Chautala has played a better hand by resigning. “L.K. Advani when he campaigned in Hisar many years ago, spoke out against regional parties. The BJP always eats into their regional partners. Nitish is a good example. It is only matter of time JJP vote base will also be absorbed by the BJP,”  said Pradeep Godhara, resident of Chautala and progressive farmer. 

Doubling farmers’ incomes

“There is a big difference with gur (jaggery) and gur-bag (gunny bags in which jaggery is transported),” said Surjeet, a 60-year-old an agricultural labourer, when asked about Modi’s agriculture policy. 

Contrary to doubling farmers incomes, reducing fertiliser (urea and DAP price are to be increased from April) and fuel subsidies, have impacted farmers real incomes. For many the farming may not have a future.  “Our younger generation will have to face the brunt of Modi’s bad policies,” Yuvraj, a 26 year old, told me.

“Farming is no longer tenable for us. Our milk is selling cheaper than water, input costs keep going up, people are at a breaking point already,” he added. 


Yuvraj’s remarks appear to reflect the general mood around Modi’s government’s policies in this small part of the world – from crop insurance to property card schemes. 

The future of Indian agriculture and the Chautala family’s political fate are intertwined. If the laws are not repealed, the collateral damage will be Haryana farmers and this politically influential clan. 


Social media is bold.

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  


We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure

 

Teana-labs

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Tikri Border: Another Haryana Farmer Dies By Suicide Near Protest Site

 In February, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha had said that as many as 10 protesters had died by suicide at Delhi's borders.

Tikri Border: Another Haryana Farmer Dies By Suicide Near Protest Site 

 

New Delhi: A 49-year-old farmer from Haryana’s Hisar district was found dead around seven kilometres from the Tikri border protest site. Thousands of farmers have been protesting against the Centre’s new farm laws at Delhi’s borders for over 100 days now.

Police suspect that the farmer, named Rajbir, died by suicide. He left a note, PTI quoted Bahadurgarh City police station station house officer Vijay Kumar as having said.

Police also said he was a supporter of the farmers’ agitation and had hanged himself.

Talks between farmers protesting against the laws and the Centre have stalled since January 26, when a tractor rally by farmers along pre-approved routes faced police barricades and turned violent after a section flouted the original routes.

In the note assumed to have been left behind by Rajbir, he says that the three farm laws were responsible for him having to die by suicide. “He also said that the Centre should fulfil his last wish by repealing the legislations,” police told PTI.

 

This is not the first death by suicide among farmers protesting against the laws.

Last month, a farmer from Jind in Haryana died by suicide two kilometres from the Tikri protest site.

Earlier, another Haryana farmer had allegedly consumed poison at the Tikri border and died at a Delhi hospital later.

In December last year, a lawyer from Punjab reportedly died by suicide a few kilometres away from Tikri.

Sikh preacher Sant Ram Singh had also ended his life near the Singhu border protest site, noting that he was “unable to bear the pain of the farmers”.

A 39-year-old farmer also died by suicide at the Singhu site in January.

In February, the Centre told the Lok Sabha that one suicide had been reported by Delhi Police during the Delhi border protests. However, the umbrella body of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha said as many as 10 had died by suicide at the borders of Tikri, Ghazipur and Singhu.

(With PTI inputs)

If you know someone – friend or family member – at risk of suicide, please reach out to them. The Suicide Prevention India Foundation maintains a list of telephone numbers (www.spif.in/seek-help/) they can call to speak in confidence. You could also refer them to the nearest hospital.

 

Social media is bold.

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure

 

Friday, 26 February 2021

किसान आंदोलन : किसानों के हौसले बुलंद , आंदोलन का बदलती तस्वीर

 किसान आंदोलन अपने तीसरे माह में प्रवेश कर गया है। ये आंदोलन दिल्ली की सीमाओं पर भीषण ठंड में शुरू हुआ था जो अब धीरे धीरे गर्मी के मौसम में प्रवेश कर रहा है लेकिन किसानों के हौसले आज भी बुलंद हैं। 

 


किसान आंदोलन अपने तीसरे माह में प्रवेश कर गया है। ये आंदोलन दिल्ली की सीमाओं पर भीषण ठंड में शुरू हुआ था जो अब धीरे धीरे गर्मी के मौसम में प्रवेश कर रहा है लेकिन किसानों के हौसले आज भी बुलंद हैं। दूसरी तरफ सरकार आज भी अपने कृषि कानूनों के वापस न लेने के हट पर अड़ी हुई है। अब आंदोलन स्थलों की तस्वीर बदलने लगी है जहाँ पहले ठंड से बचने के इंतेज़ाम रजाई और आलाव जलाने के सामान दीखते थे अब वहां गर्मी से बचने के लिए कूलर पंखे दिख रहे हैं।

जबकि भीषण गर्मी और ताप से बचने के लिए फूस और चटाई की छत और दीवार तैयार की जा रहीं हैं। प्रदर्शन स्थल पर मौजूद किसान लगतार कह रहे हैं वो जब तक कानूनों की वापसी नहीं होगी वापस नहीं जाएंगे। इसी पर शाहजहांपुर बॉर्डर से देखिए न्यूजक्लिक की ग्राउंड रिपोर्ट,

SOURCE ;  newsclick.

सोशल मीडिया बोल्ड है।  
सोशल मीडिया युवा है।
  सोशल मीडिया पर उठे सवाल सोशल मीडिया एक जवाब से संतुष्ट नहीं है। 
 सोशल मीडिया में दिखती है
 बड़ी तस्वीर सोशल मीडिया हर विवरण में रुचि रखता है।
  सोशल मीडिया उत्सुक है। 
  सोशल मीडिया स्वतंत्र है।  
सोशल मीडिया अपूरणीय है।  
लेकिन कभी अप्रासंगिक नहीं। 
 सोशल मीडिया आप हैं। 
 (समाचार एजेंसी भाषा से इनपुट के साथ) 
 
  अगर आपको यह कहानी पसंद आई तो इसे एक दोस्त के साथ साझा करें! 
  हम एक गैर-लाभकारी संगठन हैं। हमारी पत्रकारिता को सरकार और कॉरपोरेट दबाव से मुक्त रखने के लिए आर्थिक मदद करें !

Nearly 95.81 lakh farmers benefitted from ongoing Kharif Marketing Season procurement operations


 
Nearly 95.81 lakh farmers have been benefitted from the ongoing Kharif Marketing Season procurement operations with MSP value of over one lakh 24 thousand 826 crore rupees. Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in a statement said that Paddy procurement for Kharif 2020-21 is continuing smoothly in the procuring States and Union Territories including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar and West Bengal.
 
So far over 661 lakh Metric Tonnes of paddy have been procured which shows an increase of 16.48 per cent against the last year corresponding purchase of 567.60 lakh Metric Tonnes.
 
The Ministry said, based on the proposal from the States, approval was accorded for procurement of 51.92 Lakh Metric Tonnes of Pulse and Oilseeds of Kharif Marketing Season 2020 for the States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh under Price Support Scheme.

 

Social media is bold.

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure

 

Central govt putting in due diligence in developing bamboo sector: Agriculture Minister


Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said that the Central Government is putting in due diligence in developing the bamboo sector. He said, bamboo can be a key crop to double farmers’ income, enhance employment opportunities and improve the livelihood of the people, especially in the North East region.  Mr Tomar was virtually addressing the inaugural session of National Consultation on Opportunities and Challenges for Bamboo in India yesterday.
 
The two-day long Manthan on Bamboo sector is jointly organized by National Bamboo Mission, NITI Aayog and Invest India. The Agriculture Minister also emphasized the formation of Farmers Producer Organizations-FPOs to encourage small and marginal farmers for taking up bamboo plantation. He said, it will ensure hand-holding of the groups for providing correct procedures for raising nurseries and plantations. He urged the states to send proposals for the formation of FPOs for the bamboo sector.
 
Talking about the achievements in the bamboo sector, the Minister said that commercially important bamboos have been planted in an area of 15 thousand hectares in the last three years. He added that to ensure Quality Planting Materials supply to the farmers, 329 nurseries were set up under the National Bamboo Mission. Seventy nine bamboo markets have also been set up under the mission.
 
On the occasion, Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Nitin Gadkari said, to transform the the bamboo sector, it is very important to explore big investments and industry. He appreciated the works being done by the National Bamboo Mission. He said that Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare and MSME Ministry should work together for greater progress for bamboo in India.

 

Social media is bold.

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure

 

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Foodgrain production in country to touch all time high of over 303 million tonnes during current fiscal

 


Union Agriculture Ministry has said that the country’s foodgrain production is projected at a record 303.34 million tonnes. Releasing the second advance estimates of production of principal crops for year 2020- 2021, the Ministry said, it is higher by 5.84 million tonnes than the production of foodgrain of 297.50 million tonnes achieved during 2019-20.
 
The Ministry said it clearly outlines the tireless hard work of farmers, research by the agricultural scientists, and farmer-friendly policies of the Central Government. The Ministry said, all-round agricultural reforms will also benefit the country in the long run. As per second advance estimates, total production of Rice during 2020-21 is estimated at record 120.32 million tonnes which is higher by 7.88 million tonnes than the last five years’ average production of 112.44 million tonnes. While Wheat production during 2020-21 is estimated at record 109.24 million tonnes which is higher by 8.81 million tonnes than the average wheat production of 100.42 million tonnes. The Ministry siad, total Pulses production during 2020-21 is estimated at 24.42 million tonnes which is higher by 2.43 million tonnes than the last five years’ average production of 21.99 million tonnes.
 
It said, the cumulative rainfall during this year’s southwest monsoon season upto 30th September last year has been 9 per cent  higher than Long Period Average. Accordingly, most of the major crops producing states have witnessed normal rainfall. The production of most of the crops for the agricultural year 2020-21 has been estimated higher than their normal production.

 

Social media is bold.

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

NDA government's flagship programme PM KISAN completes two years today

 



Today is the second anniversary of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, PM KISAN. The Scheme was formally launched on 24th February in the year 2019 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a function at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. PM KISAN was started with a view to augment the income of the farmers by providing income support to all landholding farmers’ families across the country.

Bellelily WW  

Under the PM KISAN Scheme, an amount of 6000 rupees per year is transferred in three installments of 2000 rupees directly into the bank accounts of the farmers. The Scheme initially provided income support to all Small and Marginal Farmers’ families across the country, holding cultivable land upto 2 hectares. Its ambition was later expanded to cover all farmer families in the country irrespective of the size of their land holdings. Affluent farmers have been excluded from the scheme. Since this scheme started, more than 1 lakh 10 thousand crore rupees have reached the account of farmers.

Myntra

 

Social media is bold.

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure

PaisaBazaar Credit Score [CPL] IN  


IGP [CPS] WW    

МТС Банк РКО [CPS] RU    Reseller Club [CPS] IN

Tomtop.com - World    Stylekorean

Thursday, 18 February 2021

How Punjab's Rural Women, Neck-Deep in Debt, Are Trapped in Microloan Cycles

 RBI regulations to check over-borrowing or ghost borrowers have failed to deliver, catching women in a cruel cycle of taking loans to repay loans.

 How Punjab's Rural Women, Neck-Deep in Debt, Are Trapped in Microloan Cycles    

Mansa/Sangrur/Barnala: “I feel like ending my life but who will look after my kids,” says Sukhdeep Kaur, from Joga village in Mansa district. She took her first micro group loan of Rs 30,000 in 2016 to open a cosmetic shop.

Kaur soon took another loan, and then another.

Tempted with easy loans, she then joined other borrowing groups in the village. She availed herself of more loans before getting herself in a Rs 3-lakh debt from as many as seven different loan firms. She also took another loan of Rs 50,000 on her husband’s name.

Barring a few initial loans, the amount from which she spent on the shop, Sukhdeep says most of her loans which were paid in instalments were spent on household expenses.

Even before the COVID-19 lockdown, her repayments were irregular.

“But COVID-19 disturbed everything,” she said. She stopped repayments as earnings from her shop stopped. Her husband, who is an electrician, also could not find work.

Things have not improved, she said. Her monthly repayments are over Rs 10,000 whereas the family income at present is not more than Rs 15,000 a month.

Loan agents often visit her house and threaten legal action, she said.

Worse, she is not even aware of the outstanding amounts against each loan. “I do not know of the interest and penalties. Most of my loan cards were taken by group leaders,” she added.

Surinder Pal Kaur, another woman from the village is trapped in a similar situation. She is under a debt of Rs 3.2 lakh, thanks to loans taken from six different loan firms. For a loan of Rs 1 lakh, Surinder had to mortgage her plot.

Surinder said her loan amounts were spent on opening a tailoring shop and repaying earlier loans. But after the lockdown, earnings from her shop went down drastically and she had to even sell cattle to pay for her husband’s medical treatment.

“I am not in a position to pay house rent, leave aside pending debt,” she says.

Deepening rural distress

The microfinance sector claims to bring poor women out of poverty by offering them loans in groups. It is getting easier, even for those in Punjab’s poverty-stricken districts like Mansa, to get microloans now.

As of September 30, 2020, the number of women borrowers swelled to 12.88 lakh in Punjab with a total gross loan portfolio (outstanding principal amount) of Rs 4,387 crore, according to a statement from the communications department of Microfinance Institute Network (MFIN), an association of the microfinance industry in India and one of the two RBI-appointed regulators.

But the state that is already battered by the indefinite farmers’ protest outside Delhi’s gates, is also witness to sordid tales of distressed village women, who take loans for household necessities or repayments only to find themselves unable to repay them. In the post-COVID-19 world, this has only deepened rural distress.

In Narinder Pura village near Mansa, elderly Nirmala Kaur who cannot read or write, not only took microloans, but also collected a huge sum from over 20 women who took ‘ghost loans’ for her in exchange for Rs 4,000-5,000 commission for each loan.

Agrrez Singh, the sarpanch’s son said the matter was exposed just before the lockdown when these women approached village sarpanch Balbir Kaur alleging that Nirmala was not repaying their loans and in turn, loan recovery agents were harassing them.

Nirmala was then taken to the police station. Eventually, she sold her house to repay the loans. Her son Ravinder Singh said whatever the family earns goes to repay these loans.

Visibly upset, Nirmala, who now lives in a small house in a corner of the village, said that she has already repaid over Rs 5 lakh. Some people took a commission as high as Rs 10,000 from her, for a Rs 30,000 loan.

She said a single look at her house is enough to reveal that “everything” has been sold off. “I needed money after my son’s in-laws dragged us in a false police case. Even today, many in the village and recovery agents force me to pay more. I have no money now. I don’t even know how much more I owe. I am a poor lady. I request everyone to spare me now,” she added.

Ranjit Singh, a village resident, said that the poverty level in their village was always high. These loans not only deepened economic distresses, but have led to incidents of domestic trouble, also leading to violence on women.

“Women even sold their beds, gas stoves and gas cylinders to repay loans, yet their debt has not dissolved,” he said.

In the Chotian village of Sangrur’s Lehra block, over-borrowing on microloans allegedly claimed the life of Dalit woman Sawaranjit Kaur.

Over-borrowing occurs when a person or a business has borrowed too much money and is unable to repay interest and principal amount due to the debt burden.

Her husband Palla Singh said that she was under a lot of stress due to multiple loans, perhaps eight or ten. She even took loans on others’ Aadhaar cards.

“I still wonder where all the money she took was spent. On the morning of September 9, 2019, she consumed poison and ended her life,” he said.

Swaranjit’s mother Jaswant Kaur said that since these loans were of short duration, she kept taking one loan to pay another and this was how she got neck-deep into debt.

“She sold whatever little jewellery she had to repay the loans. But the burden of loans exceeded far beyond her ability to repay it,” she added.Jaswant said that on the day she ended her life, she appeared anxious. She had to pay Rs 20,000-25,000 to loan agents that day. She sought help from many in the village. “When she did not get any help, she took her life,” he said.

       

“Loan agents often harassed us for recoveries after my mother’s death. But they stopped coming later,” said Swaranjit’s son Manjeet Singh.

The tendency of borrowers to take money to manage expenses rather than for income generation possibilities is seen elsewhere too.

In Barnala district’s Badbar village, Gurjeet Kaur is under a debt of five loans worth over Rs 1.5 lakh. She said she took loans as she needed money to bail her son out of jail after he was arrested in a drug case.

“He was not aware that a box he had picked up from a doctor’s house had banned tablets in it,” said Gurjeet.

“It has been a year since my repayments have got irregular. I explain to recovery agents that my husband and son are not earning much these days but they don’t listen and pressurise me for payments,” she said.There are women like Jasbir Kaur of Sangatpura village near Moonak in Sangrur who used microloans to buy two cattle but they died of disease soon after, leaving her in debt.

 

Kaur who claims to be under a Rs 3 lakh debt now, said that the burden to repay initial loans forced her to take more loans and this is how she fell into debt.

Her husband Jeet Singh said they are not alone in this mess. There are several cases even of ‘ghost borrowers’ in the village, who use loans sanctioned on someone else’s Aadhaar card. Field agents also know of this, he said.

Last September, a video went viral in which people near Faridkot held back a loan recovery agent and bound him with ropes, alleging misbehaviour.

As seen in the video, the agent had been arguing with a woman who he claimed was using the money from four loans sanctioned in the name of other real borrowers. In the commotion, her husband kept insisting that there was no loan in his wife’s name.

Finally the woman confessed to ‘ghost’ borrowing and said she would pay up later.

Are regulations working?

Industry regulations to check over-borrowing or ghost borrowers fail to deliver.

The mess continues despite there being high-level introspection through the appointment of the Malegam committee in October 2010 that reviewed the working of the microfinance sector in the wake of a spate of microfinance-linked suicides by poor borrowers in Andhra Pradesh.

The microfinance model that traces its origin to Bangladesh was first pioneered in India through a self-help group-bank linkage model before private loan firms entered into the loan business (mainly for profit) and the mess began.

The committee report in 2011 talked about the protection of low-income borrowers “who lack individual bargaining power, have inadequate financial literacy and live in an environment which is fragile and exposed to external shocks which they are ill-equipped to absorb, therefore, they can be easily exploited.”

Based on the report’s recommendations, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced a series of regulatory steps.

One that is vital for borrowers’ protection is that the private players now categorised as non-banking finance companies-microfinance institutions (NBFC-MFIs) can’t give more than two loans to the same borrower, who also can’t be a member of more than one joint liability group.

The industry that also includes lending by regular private banks, small finance banks and their private associate partners, must ensure that one borrower has no more than three active loans with a total lending limit in a rural area of not more than Rs 1.25 lakh (revised from Rs 1 lakh in 2019) and also household income loan eligibility of the same amount.

Rajinder Kaur of Herike village in Sangrur’s Dhuri tehsil opened a small cloth shop in her home in 2018 with a Rs 3 lakh individual business loan she took from an MFI at Rs 9,750 per month for 61 months.

She said that since income from the shop was not steady and her husband, who owns just two bighas of land, too fell ill, she started taking out small amounts of loans in a group with other women, to clear off pending dues.

By 2019, her gross loans touched Rs 5 lakh, including four from registered MFIs totalling Rs 1.65 lakh and two from a private bank and associate banking partner worth Rs 65,000.

She said most of her loans are unpaid. “I make repayments of as high as Rs 20,000 a month when my earning is not even half of it,” she said.

Jaspal Kaur of the same village faces a similar problem.

As per her list of lenders, she had taken Rs 1.95 lakh from five registered MFIs, Rs 67,000 from banks, apart from Rs 1 lakh of individual loans from another MFI.

On how she came under so much debt, she said she initially took out one loan for cattle. “When I was unable to pay it, I took another loan and this cycle continued,” she said.

“I could hardly use the money productively since there was a pressure of paying back instalments immediately after taking out loans,” said Jaspal.

The stringent payment schedule, according to Mushfiq Mobarak of Yale University, is one of the major drawbacks in the microfinance industry.

He mentioned in his 2019 article that since many microcredit programmes require that repayment starts almost immediately (in weekly or bi-monthly mode), and these strict requirements make it difficult for borrowers to use the money they receive for productive investments.

He also wrote that a series of careful, empirical evaluations in recent years have shown little or limited impact of microcredit on household welfare in developing countries.

Loan market troubles

Branch manager Kamaldeep Singh (name changed) of an MFI firm posted in Sangrur said the loan market is working under acute competition.

In Sangrur alone, there are as many as 40-42 loan branches with every branch having loan distribution targets of not less than Rs 70-80 lakh a month.

“In many cases, we refused borrowers with multiple loan records but they got the loans from other firms,” he said.

He added, “Sometimes, the entire loan history of the borrower is also not seeded in the data of credit information companies like Cibil, etc. The borrowers don’t disclose their loan pendency either.”

“But then the onus is equally on the borrowers. If they took loans they were conscious of the fact that they had to pay it back too,” he added.Harjinder Singh (name changed), a branch manager of a loan firm in Patiala, said that the tendency of multiple lending is more common among loan firms that have entered the Punjab market in the last couple of years.

They disburse loans even if one borrower already has four or five loans, he said.

He said this impacts overall loan recovery in the market as well. “Suppose we declare a customer ‘defaulter’. Why will he return money to us if he keeps getting loans from other companies,” he said.

“I believe that there must be 20-25% customers who are multiple lenders. But all this is happening due to competition in the market. Companies feel that once they give out the loans, they will somehow recover the money,” he said.

As per RBI guidelines, at least 50% of the loans should be used for income generation.

Further, MFIs must also ensure that greater resources are devoted for appropriate training and skill development activities for capacity building and empowerment after formation of the borrowing groups and also educating their borrowers on the dangers of wasteful conspicuous consumption.

Sundari, head of a borrowing group in Ganduan village of Sangrur’s Sunam tehsil, said loan agents are often asked as to why they did not stop village women from taking frequent loans knowing well that they mostly consumed loans for necessities.

“Many of them sympathise with us. But they insist on recovery since the loans can’t be written off after having been taken,” said Sundari, who has an outstanding loan of Rs 1.75 lakh from five loan providers including three registered MFIs.

She has formed a group of 40-45 women from her village who are heavily under debt, to ward off pressure from loan agents.

   

Harjinder confessed in cases where borrowing is heavy, borrowers end up consuming loans in repayments, leaving little scope for income generation.

Kamaldeep said the field officers of loan firms randomly conduct post loan verification but a visit to every member’s house post loan disbursal is very difficult due to limited staff.

But such verifications are not often reliable, said Raj Kaur, who is in charge of a lending group in Badbar village of Barnala district.

She said many of their group members have used loans for house emergencies despite committing to buy cattle or opening shop in the loan agreements.

“No one made any verification later,” she said.

Jeet Singh of Sangrur’s village Sangatpura said that in case verifications take place, group leaders get a call from loan agents asking their members to borrow someone else’s cattle if they don’t have their own.

Sinder Kaur, who is in charge of a borrowing group in Sangrur’s Harike village, said that before the lockdown, each woman in the group was under tremendous social pressure to pay back instalments on time. The rule was that if any member defaults, the remaining group will have to pay for them.

“But after lockdown they are now visiting individual houses for recovery and harassing members. I want to tell these firms that my members took loans in a group and will pay in groups only but only after our financial position is improved,” she said.

A field agent of a registered MFI, who distributed loans in Herike village before his transfer to Talwandi Sabo, said, “She (Sinder Kaur) is misguiding her members and telling them not to repay loans. Many of them have paying capacity. If they have taken loans, they must repay it too,” he said.

Sinder Kaur along with other women borrowers of Sangrur’s Herike village say that firms paid them loans in groups, and they will repay in groups only when their financial condition improves. Photo: Vivek Gupta

‘Unlicensed’ lenders another cause of worry

As per RBI rules, there is a proper registration process for private loan firms wanting to operate as NBFC-MFIs. Further, they are encouraged to become members of at least one of two RBI-appointed regulators MFIN and Sa-Dhan. These also known as self-regulatory organisations (SRO), who have the responsibility to ensure compliance with RBI regulations.

During field visits, the reporter found that at least three active lenders were not on the list of authorised MFI lenders shared by both these regulators.

One of these lenders was involved in coercive recovery, otherwise banned as per RBI rules, which led to suicide of a woman, as alleged by a Dalit family of Bhasaur village in Sangrur’s Dhuri block.

According to the family’s complaint filed with Sangrur senior superintendent of police on August 26, 2020, it is alleged that Mulkit Kaur, a Dalit woman of the local Majhabi community, died by suicide on August 8, 2020, due to undue pressure of loan repayment.

Her 20-year-old son, Amarpal, said, “We are a poor family and mostly survive on odd labour jobs. My mother took two loans worth Rs 80,000 but this was used on household expenditure, leaving the family in debt,” he said.

He said their loan repayments were regular until COVID-19 came and there was no work for over a month. The earnings did not improve even after the lockdown.
 

“Then by July, loan agents began pressurising us to clear pending dues. They often came home and insulted my mother. A day before she hanged herself, some agents came and threatened that they would take away household stuff,” said Amarpal.

Inspector Deepinderpal Singh, station house officer at Dhuri Sadar police station, which handled the complaint, said that loan officials were summoned but both parties entered a compromise.

But Amarpal said that the family was assured by police that the loan firm would give compensation, and also return the blank cheques that his mother gave at the time of the loan sanction. “But nothing happened later. Firm officials did not respond despite my repeated calls. There was no help from police either,” he said.

Labour unions demand loan waivers, stricter regulation 

Several Dalit labour organisations aligned with Left parties have been regularly conducting protests in Punjab, asking the state government to waive off pending micro loans and strict regulation on microfinance firms operating in Punjab.

On February 8 and 9, Punjab Mazdoor Mukti Morcha held protests outside the residences of Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal in Bathinda and Punjab education minister Vijay Inder Singla in Sangrur, primarily on the growing debts of rural women.

Bhagwant Singh Samaon, state president, Punjab Mazdoor Mukti Morcha said that these firms claim that they charge interest rates of not more than 20-25% per annum. But the overall impact of their interest rate is much higher.

“For example, every loan is disbursed after deducting file and insurance charges which is as high as Rs 5,000 on a loan amount of Rs 50,000. Even when half of the loan is pending, the borrower is refuelled with another loan again after deducting outstanding principal and these unwanted charges. So how come their committed interest remains of the level that these companies claim?” said Samaon.

He said that these loans are in no way helping the poor, rather they are creating a new sort of crisis in rural Punjab that will be uncontrollable in few years.

Bhagwant Singh Samaon, state president, Punjab Mazdoor Mukti Morcha, while addressing a gathering in Sangrur on the rising indebtedness among rural women in Punjab. Photo: Special arrangement

Lachhman Sewewala, president of Bathinda-based Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, said that the microfinance model is a failed concept that has not benefitted the poor labourers or marginal farmers in the villages. Instead, they mainly became the prime target of these companies.

He said they conducted a survey of the state of labourers in Punjab in 2017 in which the expenditure on construction of houses (25%), illness (20%), weddings (16%) and domestic needs (15%) emerged as prime reasons for their borrowings.

“That time, borrowing from MFIs was on the third spot since these firms were new to the market. Now they have become prime lenders in villages, replacing local moneylenders in a matter of few years,” said Sewewala.

“But, has it made the lives of the poor better than earlier when they were under the debt trap of local moneylenders? The answer is no, because loan culture is not a solution to bring them out of poverty.”

He said the government must ensure a better public health system so that people are not forced to borrow for treatment in private hospitals. The government must also focus on agro-based industries in villages so that these labourers get regular jobs and decent wages.

“Why can’t they get low interest credit for construction, like middle-class borrowers get?” asked Sewewala.

“Instead of these reforms, the government is bringing agriculture laws that will now surrender the rural economy to corporates, pushing further poverty in villages and further prepare fertile ground for these loan companies,” he said.

Ramvir, a 2009-batch IAS officer, who is deputy commissioner at Sangrur, and got several representations by MFI borrowers in the last several months, said that initially, during the lockdown, these complaints were of coercive recovery, but then these firms themselves announced moratoriums as per RBI instructions.

“Beyond this, we could not do anything since these MFIs follow self-regulation. But in a developing country like ours, such systems don’t work,” said Ramvir.

He said although the MFIs are needed to cater to poor borrowers, there is also a need for an autonomous government-regulated body to ensure better management so that issues of over-borrowing or indebtedness can be effectively addressed.

As per the RBI circular, the responsibility for compliance to all regulations prescribed for MFIs lies primarily with the NBFC-MFIs themselves. But the industry associations appointed as SROs will also play a key role in ensuring compliance with the regulatory framework.

When contacted, the communications and marketing department of MFIN, one of the two RBI-appointed SROs, declined to comment on over-borrowing, suicides and the practice of ghost borrowing in Punjab, although they shared case studies of various women claiming that they benefitted from micro loans.

It also claimed that since the economy of Punjab is primarily driven by agriculture and allied sectors, the impact of COVID-19 on Punjab has been relatively lesser. “For borrowers who are still finding it difficult to repay debts, we strongly advise them to be in close touch with their providers so that they can be supported,” it added.

Meanwhile, Mukesh Malaud, the convener of Sangrur-based Zamin Prapti Sangarsh Committee, demanded the state government bring a Bill to regulate these loan firms as the Assam government did last month after poor women there came under a similar and acute debt problem.In Assam, these micro loans have become an election issue with every political party promising to write off these loans.

 

“We also want the Punjab government to bring such a law and waive off the outstanding loans of women here in Punjab,” he said

This story was reported under NFI Fellowships for Independent Journalists.

 


 

Social media is bold.

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.

(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure

 

Monday, 15 February 2021

Not Essential but Extraordinary: Farm Laws will Boost Hunger and Deprivation

 Not Essential but Extraordinary: Farm Laws will Boost Hunger and Deprivation 

The farmers’ protest is as much about their right to produce sustainably as about the food security of 1.2 billion Indian citizens. Amendments to the Essential Commodities Act undercut this life-saving potential and aim. This marks a shift in the standards of governance and demonstrates a change in public policy that is detrimental to consumers across the country, writes AMRITANANDA CHAKRAVORTY.

——-

IT is SonyLiv Premium [CPS] IN seventy-nine days into the protests led by thousands of farmers at the borders of Delhi, and the Indian State, using all its might, has almost cut them off from the city and the country. It has put up multiple layers of barricades, planted nails into roads, cut off their water and electricity supplies, and has the protest sites from Singhu to Ghazipur heavily patrolled by paramilitary forces. Here is a government at war with its people. First, it went after civil rights activists, then university students, then journalists, and now our farmers.

Two of the three farm laws passed in summer 2020—the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020—are at the heart of the discontent of farmers.

The third law—the contentious Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act (ECA), 2020—hardly features in the public discourse. From the perspective of consumers, this law has massive implications on food security. To understand why this is so, we must understand the objectives of the original ECA.

ROOTS OF THE ECA

The colonial administration framed the Defence of India Act, 1939, to combat shortages of essential food supplies and other items during the Second World War. After Independence, India struggled with massive food shortages. It was critical to insulate supplies of food grains, edible oil, kerosene, pulses, and other essential commodities from market vagaries and seasonal variations in output. The need for price regulation was keenly felt as well.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that maintaining adequate supplies of essential goods and their equitable distribution and availability at fair prices are fundamental purposes of the Essential Commodities Act. Its object is to secure equitable distribution and availability at fair prices in the interest of the consumer and not the producer.

This is evident from the Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in Part IV of the Constitution. Article 39(b) mandates the State to distribute the ownership and control of material resources of the community to serve the common good. Article 39(c) provides that the State ought to ensure that the economic system does not concentrate wealth and the means of production in a way that is to the common detriment.

Accordingly, Parliament enacted the ECA in 1955 to empower the Centre to control the production, supply, and distribution of certain essential commodities in the public interest. Though the Act did not define an essential commodity, section 2A(1) said that any commodity included in its Schedule was essential. Section 3 empowered the central government to control the production, supply, and distribution of essential commodities to maintain supplies of any essential commodity or secure its equitable distribution or availability at fair prices. It could do so by capping the stocks that a whole-seller or retailer could keep by issuing “control orders”. In effect, the crux of the Act is to maintain adequate supplies of essential goods, available at fair prices.

Initially, the list of essential commodities included coal, automobile parts, cotton and woolen textiles, iron and steel, paper, and sugar, amongst others. Presently, the list includes merely seven items, including drugs, fertilisers, foodstuff (including edible oilseeds and edible oil), petroleum and petro products, raw jute and jute textiles, seeds of food crops, and seeds of fruits and vegetables, seeds of cattle fodder and jute seeds.

WELFARE LEGISLATION

The courts have repeatedly emphasised that the ECA is a welfare-oriented legislation to prevent the hoarding of essential commodities, shortage of supplies, and consequent spikes in the prices. In 1974, a Constitution Bench of five judges of the Supreme Court of India in a landmark decision in Shree Meenakshi Mills v. Union of India elaborated on the object behind the ECA and how it ought to be implemented, by noting in para 65 that the “question of fair price to the consumer with reference to the dominant object and purpose of the legislation claiming equitable distribution and availability at fair price is completely lost sight of if profit and the producer’s returns are kept in the forefront.” It further said, “The maintenance or increase of supplies of the commodity or the equitable distribution and availability at fair prices are the fundamental purposes of the Act.”

Further, the Apex Court held in para 73, “In fixing the prices, a price line has to be held, in order to give preference or predominant consideration to the interest of the consumer or the general public over that of the producers in respect of essential commodities. The aspect of ensuring availability of the essential commodities to the consumer equitably and at fair price is the most important consideration.”

Source: Business Standard

Thus, laws like the ECA and the Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980, were enacted to address the dangers of profiteering, hoarding, and practices such as creating artificial shortages by penalising the offenders with imprisonment and fines.

THE AMENDMENTS TO ECA IN 2020

In September last year, as part of so-called reforms in the agricultural sector, the ECA 2020, was amended and enacted. This amended law removes certain food items from the framework of price regulation by the government, subject to exceptions by adding a new provision in section 3 of the Act, as follows:

“(1A) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1)—

  1. the supply of such foodstuffs, including cereals, pulses, potato, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils, as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify, may be regulated only under extraordinary circumstances which may include war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity of grave nature;
  2. any action on imposing stock limit shall be based on price rise and order for regulating stock limit of any agricultural produce may be issued under this Act only if there is—
  3. hundred percent increase in the retail price of horticultural produce; or
  4. (ii) fifty percent increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural foodstuffs, over the price prevailing immediately preceding twelve months, or average retail price of last five years, whichever is lower…”

In effect, the ECA, 2020, implies:

  1. The government will not intervene to regulate the prices of food items such as cereals, pulses, potatoes, onions, and edible oil and oilseeds, except in case of war, famine, extraordinary price rise, or natural calamity of grave nature.
  2. Even in these exceptional cases, the government could impose limits on stocks only if there is a 100% increase in the retail prices of horticultural produce, such as fruits and vegetables, or 50% in the retail prices of non-perishable items such as cereals, pulses or oil. So, if the price of potatoes increases from Rs. 40 to Rs. 80 or of onions from Rs. 50 to Rs. 100, only then the government may issue price control orders, and not in other cases.
  3. Even in cases where the government can impose stock limits, those limits would not apply to agro-food processing companies, or exporters if there is an export order exceeding the government-stipulated stock limit.
  4. The stock limits do not apply to the public distribution system.

It is well-known that the three farm laws were passed in Parliament without any substantive debate, especially on the impact of the ECA, 2020, on consumers, including the poor and vulnerable communities who are excluded from the PDS, owing to Aadhaar mismatch or other exclusion issues. Since the Amendment Act itself does not state the rationale for this policy change, one has to rely on statements of the government’s ministers or the Economic Survey 2020-21, which was tabled by the Ministry of Finance in Parliament on 31 January 2020, to understand its objectives.

OSTENSIBLE OBJECTS OF THE AMENDMENTS

As per the press release issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB), “The Survey describes inter alia, the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) as anachronistic and irrelevant in today’s India as the Act was passed in 1955 in an India worried about famines and shortages. The Survey observes the frequent and unpredictable imposition of blanket stock limits on commodities under the ECA distorts the incentives for the creation of storage infrastructure by the private sector, movement up the agricultural value chain, and development of a national market for agricultural commodities. The Survey further notes that imposing stock limits on dal, sugar, and onions did not affect the volatility of retail and wholesale prices. The Survey, providing clear evidence, suggests that the Act must be jettisoned to grant more economic freedom to the market and facilitate processes of wealth-creation in the economy. The Survey further says that the ECA only seems to enable rent-seeking and harassment.”

Letyshops [lifetime] INT

The Economic Survey and various government officials have said in recent months that the ECA must be jettisoned in order to free the market and facilitate wealth-creation. Yet the Global Hunger Index, 2020, ranks India at the 94th position among 107 countries. A free reign of markets will not solve this crisis. 

Similarly, on 20 March 2020, Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman, Niti Aayog, was quoted in Business Today magazine as saying, “These regulations are like a sword hanging over farm producers. They must be reviewed in the interest of farmers and the economy.” He also reportedly said, “Today, India is foodgrain surplus. If we improve our post-production value chain, our foodgrain surplus shall be efficiently utilised. We have to improve our labour productivity and yield in all crops and focus on capacity building of farmers. Our costs must be globally competitive. We need a second green revolution to increase farmer income and double exports.”

It can be inferred from the above that the objective of the ECA, 2020, is ostensibly to benefit farmers and increase India’s food export. Importantly, neither the Economic Survey nor the Niti Aayog was quoted saying anything in favour of the consumers or how to ensure that consumers can avail themselves food and other essential commodities at fair prices.

The ECA was enacted to counter shortages during war or famine and ensure that citizens can access quality food at reasonable prices. This object has been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in several cases, including a seven-judge decision in Prag Ice and Oil Mills v. Union of India (1978). In this case, the apex court stated that the object is “to secure equitable distribution and availability at fair prices so that it is the interest of the consumer and not of the producer, which is the determining factor in applying any objective tests at any particular time.”

The court further noted that price control is required not just for wartime exigencies, but also to deal with peacetime problems. “Price control and planning may have been forced upon all nations of the world due to the needs and exigencies of modern ‘total’ warfare. But, as has been observed, the problems of the aftermath or of the peace and reconstruction, which follow (according to some they ‘break out’) are no less demanding. In addition, it is common knowledge that the population explosion, unemployment, and rising prices in our country, due to the inflationary spiral pose problems with no less grave implications for the whole country than a war. It would be no exaggeration to say that the fate of every government depends ultimately upon a satisfactory solution of these problems, and, particularly, on its capacity to check rise in prices of essential commodities.”

Source: Statesman

IGNORING GROWING HUNGER AND POVERTY

Considering the economic devastation of India owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and also because of the anti-poor policies of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, it is completely disingenuous to say that since India is allegedly a food-surplus country now, therefore the ECA has lost its purpose.

No one denies the need to review laws, including the ECA, keeping in mind the changing times and context but that does not mean that the government gives up on its constitutional duty to protect the socio-economic rights of the people. In the last year, even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s unemployment rate rose to the highest in the last 45 years.

As per the data released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), India’s joblessness was at a record high of 10% in December 2020. In the same vein, more than two crore salaried people lost their sources of income or employment in India during the COVID-19 crisis, with virtually no assistance from the government in terms of cash transfers to withstand the loss of livelihood and financial insecurity.

Similarly, as per the Global Hunger Index, 2020, India is ranked at 94th position out of 107 countries. The low ranking means India is classified as having a “serious hunger problem”. It also means India is far behind its neighbours in the region, Bangladesh is ranked 75th, Pakistan 88th,  Nepal is at 73rd place, and Sri Lanka at 64th position.

The ECA can be reviewed like any law, but the government cannot give up its constitutional duty to protect citizens from deprivation. The devastation owing to the pandemic, anti-poor policies, rampant unemployment and rising prices is no less grave than war. It is disingenuous to say that India is a food-surplus country and therefore the ECA has lost its purpose.

According to the Livelihood Survey conducted by Azim Premji University in July 2020, “Almost 8 in 10 are eating less food than before. More than 6 in 10 respondents in urban areas did not have enough money for weeks worth of essentials. More than a third of all respondents had taken a loan to cover expenses during the lockdown. More than 8 in 10 respondents did not have money to pay next month’s rent. The impact of job losses and food insecurity has been higher for certain groups of people: Muslims, Dalits, women, and those with lower levels of education. Urban residents and migrants have been impacted more.”

Trip.com / CPS

In October-November 2020, India’s food inflation had touched a record high of 11%, while as per IMF estimates, 40 million Indians are said to have slipped into extreme poverty during the pandemic.

It in this context of widespread economic devastation, loss of livelihoods, rising hunger, and extreme poverty that one has to consider the aims and objects of the ECA 2020, which the government claims is no longer required to regulate the supply of food items, to keep prices under control. Neither the government’s ministers nor any document from the government indicates how it seeks to ensure that food inflation is reduced or that people can buy food at cheaper prices.

Only having PDS is not the answer, and that too when the PDS is under attack from many quarters of the Government itself. The ECA is an integral part of the food security framework in India, and to have diluted the same in the name of food surplus is highly arbitrary and ill-thought-out, resulting in severe consequences for the people’s ability to feed themselves and their families, amidst economic depression.

Several studies have shown that the middle class, too, has been severely affected by food insecurity, wherein people are cutting down on green vegetables or pulses or meat, to feed the family members, and has no social safety net to fall back on. Further, if the ECA, 2020 would benefit the farmers as producers, then millions of farmers would not be opposing these laws for almost the last three months.

In conclusion, one can say that ECA, 2020 has been enacted, contrary to the objects of the main ECA, i.e., to maintain the regular supply of essential commodities at a fair price for the benefit of the consumers. The ECA is not meant to profit the big agricultural businesses or to help to increase India’s agricultural exports.

The farmers know it well that all these three laws, including the ECA, 2020, have been enacted for the benefit of large agri-food businesses or exporters, and neither for the regular farmers nor for the common consumers. With the world’s largest democracy with the second-highest population languishing at the bottom of the global hunger ranking, it is a shame that this government is only interested to open the agricultural market to few big businesses, while the majority of the population do not even have three meals a day.

The farmers’ protest is as much about their right to produce sustainably, via minimum support price, as about the food security of 1.2 billion Indians in the 21st century.

(Amritananda Chakravorty is a practicing lawyer based in New Delhi, with a special interest in constitutional and human rights issues. The views expressed are personal.)

 

SOURCE ; theleaflet.
 
Social media is bold.

Social media is young.

Social media raises questions.

 Social media is not satisfied with an answer.

Social media looks at the big picture.

 Social media is interested in every detail.

social media is curious.

 Social media is free.

Social media is irreplaceable.

But never irrelevant.

Social media is you.



(With input from news agency language)

 If you like this story, share it with a friend!  

    We are a non-profit organization. Help us financially to keep our journalism free from government and corporate pressure

Yourroom        Miuz   Huawei    Shafa    

Fairyseason WW