DAILY EDITORIAL (UPSC) |23 Jan 2021| RaghukulCS

Daily Editorial

A new framework around caste and the census

Source: The Hindu

Written by: DivyaVaid (teaches at the Centre for theStudy of Social Systems, Jawaharlal NehruUniversity)

Topic in syllabus: Human geography, Indian society (GS-1)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about issues related to the census & Socio-Economic and Caste Census. It also suggests a road map to tackle these issues.

Introduction:

  • It is important for the government & social scientists to enumerate, describe and understand the society and what people have access to, and what they are excluded from. In this regard, the Census of India, enumerates and collects demographic and socio­economic information on the Indian population.
About the census:
  • The census has been undertaken every 10 years, beginning in 1872 under British Viceroy Lord Mayo, the first complete census was taken in 1881.
  • To capture the Indian population, its access to resources, and to map social change It has been used by the government, policy makers, academics, and others.
What are the concerns?
  • “the census is a large, immensely powerful, but blunt instrument unsuited for specialised enquiry”. In 1940s, W.W.M. Yeatts, Census Commissioner for India said this for the 1941 Census.
  • According to some scholars, for a detailed and comprehensive understanding of a complex societythe Census is not useful enough.
  • To capture contemporary Indian society and to understand and remedy inequalities some scholarssee the inclusion ofbroader caste information as a necessity, whileothers believe that this large administrative exercise of capturingcaste and its complexities is notonly difficult, but also socially untenable.
    • Following decades of debate, the Socio­Economic andCaste Census (SECC) was conducted in 2011 and took a few years to complete;this was a distinct exercise fromthe Census of 2011.
  • There havebeen concerns that counting castemay lead to solidifying & hardening identities, or that caste may be context specific, and thus difficult to measure.
  • Even if a caste is captured completely bythe Census, the concernremains onwhether the SECC is able to coverthe effects of caste as an aspect ofIndian social structure in everydaylife, or at least to illuminate ourunderstanding of its impact at the local,the regional and the nationalscale.
  • It is very difficult for SECC to take into account the nuances that shapecaste and simultaneously the waysin which caste shapes everyday life in India.
  • The Census thus provides a portrait of theIndian population, while the SECCis a tool to identify beneficiaries ofstate support. It issignificant but it has the potential for misuse of data.
  • There are also concerns regarding the time lag betweeneach Census, and the second tothe delay in the release of data.
What is the necessity?
  • There is a need of the discussion on the caste data that alreadyexists, how it has been used andunderstood by the governmentand its various departments togrant or withdraw benefits, and also its utility for the important academic exercise of mapping socialinequalities and social change.
  • There is a necessity to link & synch aggregatedCensus data to other large datasetssuch as the National Sample Surveys or the National Family HealthSurveys that cover issues that theCensus exercises do not, such asmaternal health.
  • It would be significant for a more comprehensiveanalysis, enabling the utilisation ofthe large body of data that alreadyexists.
  • Care musthowever be taken to ensure thatdigital alternatives and linking ofdata sources are inclusive and non-discriminatory, because of thesensitive nature of the data.
  • Since the Census and the SECC are projects of governance as well as of academic interest, there needs to be a closerand continuous engagement between functionaries of the Censusand SECC, along with academicsand other stakeholders concerned.
  • Before another SECC is conducted, a comprehensive analysis of the previous exercise is needed to understand what has been learnt fromit, and what changes are necessary.
  • Concerns about methodology, relevance, rigour, dissemination, transparency and privacyneed to be taken seriously if thisexercise is to do what it was set upto do.

Explained: The cost of guaranteed MSP

Source: The Indian express

Written by: Harish Damodaran

Topic in syllabus: Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Prices (GS-3)

Analysis about: This article talks about what the implications would be if the government did provide the guarantee of assured minimum support price.

Introduction:

  • Farmer unions protesting near Delhi are raising two fundamental demands.
    • Repealing the three agricultural reform laws enacted by the Centre.
    • Provide legal guarantee for the minimum support prices (MSPs) that the Centre declares for various crops every year.
  • Currently, there is no statutory guarantee for these prices & there is no law mandating their implementation.

How can we make MSP legally binding?

  1. Force private buyers to pay it.
    • In this case, no crop can be purchased below the MSP, it will be the floor price for bidding in mandi auctions.
    • There’s already a practice: In sugarcane, mills are required to pay growers the “fair and remunerative price”.
  2. The government itself buying the entire crop that farmers offer at the MSP.

But how much of farmers’ produce can the government buy at MSP?

  • The MSP is now applicable on 23 commodities:
    • 7 cereals (paddy, wheat, maize, bajra, jowar, ragi and barley), 5 pulses (arhar, chana, moong, urad and masur)
    • 7 oilseeds (groundnut, soyabean, rapeseed-mustard, sunflower, sesamum, nigerseed and safflower)
    • 4 commercial crops (sugarcane, cotton, copra and raw jute).
  • The total production of the 23 crops worked out to around Rs 10.78 lakh crore in 2019-20.
  • The marketed surplus ratio for different crops is estimated to range from below 50% for ragi and 65-70% for bajra (pearl-millet) and jowar (sorghum) to 75% for wheat, 80% for paddy, 85% for sugarcane, 90% for most pulses, and 95%-plus for cotton, jute, soyabean and sunflower.
  • Taking an average of 75% would yield just over Rs 8 lakh crore.
  • This is the MSP value of production which is the marketable surplus — that farmers actually sell.

Is this the money that the government would have to spend in order to ensure farmers get MSP?

  • Not actually. One must exclude sugarcane from the calculations. The onus for paying cane MSP, lies on sugar mills and not the government.
  • The government is already procuring many crops – likewheat, paddy, cotton and also pulses and oilseeds.
  • Government agencies don’t have to buy each and every grain that comes to the market. Purchase of even a quarter or third of the market arrivals is usually enough to lift prices.(You are reading this article on RaghukulCS.com)
  • The crop bought on government account also gets sold. While such sales in wheat and paddy – which are distributed under the National Food Security Act – entail heavy losses, those are very less in the remaining MSP crops.
  • The revenues recieved from sales would partly offset the expenditures from MSP procurement.
  • Totally, the additional fiscal outgo, from the government undertaking the maximum required procurement for guaranteeing MSP to farmers, will not be more than Rs 1-1.5 lakh crore per year.

What would be the better way?

  • Rather than forcing private players, the government undertaking to buy at MSP is definitely better.
  • If the record of sugar mills – their inability to pay farmers on time despite statutory provisions of the Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966 issued under the Essential Commodities Act – is any guide, no trader or processer will purchase crops at prices beyond what the market supply-demand dynamics permit.
What are the concerns associated with assured MSP-based procurement by the government?
  • The coverage of MSPs today does not include fruits, vegetables and livestock products that together have a 45% share in the gross value of output of India’s agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
  • The value of milk and milk products alone is more than all cereals and pulses combined.

Conclusion:

  • It is very challenging to extend MSP to all farm produce and guaranteeing it through law.
  • It also explains why economists& scholars are in favour of guaranteeing minimum “incomes” rather than “prices” to farmers.

Explained: When Parliament passed Bills but government did not give effect to those laws

Source: The Indian express

Written by: Chakshu Roy

Topic in syllabus: Polity, Governance (GS-2)

Introduction:

  • In ruckus between protesting farmers and the Centre, the government has repeated its offer of keeping the three contentious farm laws on hold for one to one-and-a-half years, while the farmers have insisted that the laws be repealed.
  • Since many years, Parliament has repealed several laws — and there have also been several examples of the government not bringing a law into force for many years after it has been passed.

Bringing/removing a law:

  • Parliament has the power to make a law and to remove it from the statute books.
    • A law can also be struck down by the judiciary if it is unconstitutional.
  • But the mere passing of a Bill does not mean that it will start working from the next day.
  • There are some more steps for it to become a functioning law.
    • The President giving his or her assent to the Bill.
      • Article 111 of the Constitution specifies that the President can either withhold his consentor sign off on the Bill.
      • A Bill is sent to Parliament for reconsideration if the President withholds his assent on it.
      • If Parliament sends it back to the President, he has to approve it.
      • President does not have a time limit to approve a Bill.
    • Then the law comes into effect from a particular date.
      • In many cases, Parliament gives the government the power to determine this date.
      • The Bill states that the law “shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Act”.
    • Giving effect to a law
      • There are some instances when the government does not bring a law into force for many years.
      • Two examples are the National Environment Tribunal Act and the Delhi Rent Control Act. (passed during P V Narasimha Rao’s tenure)
      • The government never implemented these laws, which were passed in 1995 and cleared by the President.
      • What happened to these laws? – The National Green Tribunal Act repealed the environmental tribunal law in 2010. A Bill to repeal the Delhi Rent Control Act introduced in 2013 is still pending in Rajya Sabha.
      • The 2013 land acquisition law put an outer limit of three months for the Centre to bring it into force after the President approved it.
    • The government frames the rules and regulations to implement the law on the ground.
      • For the law to start working on the ground, some individuals need to be recruited.
      • The implementing ministry also needs to finalise final forms to gather information and provide benefits or services.
      • These regulations are very important for the functioning of law.
      • If the government does not make rules and regulations, a law or parts of it will not come into force.
      • The Benami Transactions Act of 1988 is an example of a complete law remaining unimplemented in the absence of regulations. The law has given the government power to confiscate benami properties. For 25 years, such properties were immune from seizure in the absence of framing related government rules.
      • (In the case of farm laws, the government has made some rules in October 2020.)
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