IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 2nd Dec 2020

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #272 :“New farm laws : Chaos in the Mandis | UPSC

New farm laws : Chaos in the Mandis | UPSC

Ashok Gulati
New farm laws : Chaos in the Mandis | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

Centre must carefully consider options, close communication gap with farmers

      CENTRAL THEME:

This communication gap was fully exploited by some political parties and social activists.

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Agriculture

      MAINS QUESTION:

What are the internal reforms needed in Mandis of India? How will procurement become easy with efficient Mandi system ? Discuss -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Farmer’s Agitation and dilemma’s
  • Far from the truths
  • Farmer’s vs MSP
  • Mandis in India
  • Way Forward

      INTRODUCTION: 

  • FARMER’S AGITATION : Farmers have protested against the recently enacted farm laws by converging on Delhi’s highways connected to neighbouring states.

There is a gross communication failure on the part of the state to explain to farmers what these laws are, and how they are intended to benefit them.

  • MISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN : A massive misinformation campaign was launched, saying that these laws are a sell-out to corporate houses, will abolish the MSP system, dismantle APMC mandis, and even capture farmers’ lands.

      BODY: 

FAR FROM THE TRUTHS

  • MSP MYTHS : Neither do the laws say anything about it, nor is the MSP/APMC system going to disappear with these laws.
  • MANDI FEES : What would certainly come under pressure is the high commission of arhtias, mandi fees and cess that states collect, which account for as much as 8.5 per cent over the MSP in Punjab.
  • MANDI SYSTEM : Milk, poultry, fishery, etc. don’t go through the mandi system and their growth rates are 3 to 5 times higher than that of wheat and rice. Overall, almost 90 per cent of the agri-produce is sold to the private sector.

Punjab is the biggest gainer as its 95-98 per cent of market arrivals of wheat and paddy are procured at MSP by state agencies on behalf of the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

  • FILLED GRANARIES : The FCI is overloaded with grain stocks that are more than 2.5 times the buffer stock norms, indicating massive economic inefficiency in the grain management system.

WILL FARMERS GET MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICE?

  • MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICES : Most of the slogans at the farmers’ protests revolve around the need to protect MSPs, or minimum support prices, which they feel are threatened by the new laws.

These are the pre-set rates at which the Central government purchases produce from farmers, regardless of market rates, and are declared for 23 crops at the beginning of each sowing season.

THE REALITY

  • SELECTED PURCHASE : However, the Centre only purchases paddy, wheat and select pulses in large quantities.
  • MSP AND FARMERS : Only 6% of farmers actually sell their crops at MSP rates, according to the 2015 Shanta Kumar Committee’s report using National Sample Survey data.

None of the laws directly impinges upon the MSP regime.

  • APMC MANDIS : However, most government procurement centres in Punjab, Haryana and a few other States are located within the notified APMC mandis.
  • TAX-FREE PRIVATE TRADE : Farmers fear that encouraging tax-free private trade outside the APMC mandis will make these notified markets unviable.
  • REDUCTION IN MSP RATES : Tax free trade could lead to a reduction in government procurement itself.
  • MSP CAN SET A FLOOR PRICE : Farmers are also demanding that MSPs be made universal, within mandis and outside, so that all buyers, government or private will have to use these rates as a floor price below which sales cannot be made.

New farm laws : Chaos in the Mandis | UPSC

MANDIS IN INDIA

NEED FOR MORE MANDIS

  • In 1976, there were 4,145 large markets in India, with the average area served at 775 km2.

The National Commission on Agriculture (NCA) had recommended that every Indian farmer should be able to reach a mandi in one hour by a cart. .

  • But there were only 6,630 mandis in 2019 with an average area served of 463 km2.
  • Using another set of criteria, a government committee in 2017 had recommended that India should have at least 10,130 mandis.
  • So, by all counts, India needs not less but more mandis.

TRADE AND MANDIS

  • TRANSACTIONAL COST AT MANDIS : In the existing private markets too, there is no evidence of farmers receiving higher prices than in the mandis.
  • EXCESS PRODUCTION : The private sector will not come forward to buy at MSP, and the state will not have the viable outlet to buy all.(Over-occupied FCI granaries).

It will massively distort markets, make Indian agriculture non-competitive and stocking of these will be financially unsustainable.

  • PENALISING OR IMPRISONMENT : By creating stringent rules (fine or imprisonment), the state may create a situation where farmers would not be able to sell at all.

The state is trying to liberalise and open the market to encourage private buyers, then it can’t, at the same time, mandate at what price they should buy. 

  • MANDIS ARE THE LAST RESORT : For small and marginal farmers, APMC mandi is the last resort channel of sale.
  • WELCOMING PRIVATE INVESTMENT : If APMCs are reduced in importance, they will lose rather than gain unless more of them are organised into FPOs and become attractive to private agencies for contract farming or direct purchase.

      IASbhai Windup: 

  • PRICE STABILISATION SCHEME : A Price Stabilisation Scheme to give a lift to market prices by pro-actively buying a part of the surplus whenever market prices crash, say more than 20 per cent below MSP can help farmers.
  • DECENTRALISED APPROACH : Totally decentralise the MSP, procurement, stocking, and public distribution system (PDS).

Since MSP and procurement exist basically to support farmers for supplying grains to the FCI to feed into the PDS.

  • BOOSTING INFRASTRUCTURE : APMCs need internal reform to ease the entry of new players, reduce trader collusion and link them up with national e-trading platforms.
       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | New farm laws : Chaos in the Mandis | UPSC

 

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