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Indian Citizens Grapple with Political Challenges: Democracy Under Scrutiny

Democracy

Democracy: The Indian National Congress (INC) has positioned itself as a staunch defender of farmers’ rights amidst the controversy surrounding the three agricultural laws introduced by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government: The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020;

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. The INC criticises these laws for potentially dismantling the existing Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) system, thereby risking the Minimum Support Price (MSP) framework that safeguards farmers’ income.

The Congress party and its leader, Rahul Gandhi, have supported the farmers’ protests, arguing that the laws would subject farmers to the mercy of corporations and eliminate the price assurances provided by the MSP.

The party contends that with the APMC mandis, farmers gain a critical platform for getting fair prices for their produce, facilitated by the competition among buyers in the mandis, and a guarantee of MSP that helps in price discovery and ensures fair transactions.

One of the core criticisms is that these laws favour big corporations and undermine the small farmers, who constitute a significant portion of India’s farming community.

Most farmers owning small landholdings need help to afford the logistics of selling their produce far from their local markets, contrary to the government’s claim that farmers can now sell anywhere in the country. Moreover, the Congress party argues that these laws could lead to job losses among those working in the mandi system and reduce states’ revenue, impacting rural development.

The INC also fears that these laws align with the recommendations of the Shanta Kumar Committee Report, which suggested limiting the government’s procurement of crops at MSP, thereby saving the government a substantial amount but at the cost of the agricultural sector’s stability and additionally, removing stockholding limits on essential commodities benefits only hoarders and big corporations, not the farmers or consumers.

The Congress party accuses the BJP government of not consulting states adequately before passing these laws, thus undermining India’s federal structure, as agriculture is a state subject.

The demands from the Congress include revoking these laws, a parliamentary session to discuss agricultural reforms transparently, an apology from the Prime Minister and the Haryana Chief Minister for their remarks, direct talks with protesting farmers, withdrawal of FIRs against farmers, and a new law to make MSP a legal right.

In essence, the Congress party’s stance is that these laws threaten the livelihood of farmers by weakening the MSP system, risking the farmers’ exploitation by large corporations, and disrupting the traditional mandi system without adequate safeguards. The party calls for empathy and substantive action from the BJP government to address these concerns and protect the interests of the farming community.

The controversy surrounding the three farm laws and the subsequent protests by farmers have highlighted deeper issues within India’s agricultural sector and governance. The Congress Party’s opposition to these laws is part of a broader political and social debate about the future of agriculture in India, the state’s role in supporting farmers, and the impact of liberalisation on small and marginal farmers.

Economic and Social Concerns

The Congress Party’s critique of the BJP’s farm laws is rooted in economic and social concerns that extend beyond the immediate legislation. The fear is the potential undermining of the MSP system and the APMC markets and the broader implications for rural livelihoods, food security, and economic inequality. The INC argues that the laws would exacerbate the vulnerabilities of small farmers, pushing them into precarious agreements with more giant corporations without sufficient legal or financial protections.

Rural Livelihoods and Food Security

The potential dismantling of the APMC system and undermining of the MSP regime poses risks to rural livelihoods, which are already under significant strain due to various factors, including climate change, debt, and urbanisation. The Congress Party, by demanding a legal guarantee for MSP and the continuation of the APMC markets, is advocating for a safety net that supports prices for farmers’ produce and maintains food security for the nation.

Political and Governance Issues

How the farm laws were introduced and passed has also been a point of contention. The Congress Party has criticised the lack of consultation with states and farmers’ organisations, the hurried passing of the laws without adequate debate in Parliament, and the use of ordinances as undermining democratic processes and federalism. These governance issues are central to the Congress Party’s opposition, reflecting broader concerns about political centralisation and the erosion of democratic norms.

The Path Forward

The Congress Party’s demands for repealing the laws and introducing a new law to make MSP mandatory reflect a vision for India’s agricultural policy that emphasises state support for farmers, price stability, and food security. This vision contrasts with the BJP government’s approach, which advocates for market reforms and increased private sector involvement in agriculture. Therefore, the debate over these laws is part of a larger conversation about the state’s role in the economy, the future of India’s rural communities, and the path to sustainable and inclusive agricultural development.

In conclusion, the Congress Party’s stance against the farm laws represents a complex interplay of economic, social, and political concerns. It reflects a broader ideological battle over the direction of India’s agricultural policy and the rights and protections afforded to its farmers. As the country grapples with these issues, the resolution will require legislative changes and a deeper reevaluation of the values and priorities guiding India’s agriculture and rural development approach.

Community Bonds Frayed: Navigating the Erosion of Neighborhood Unity Democracy

This article critically analyses India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, mainly focusing on the “Neighbourhood First” doctrine. The initial promise was prioritising relations with South Asian countries to ensure regional stability and prosperity. However, the author argues that this policy has failed and led to a deterioration in India’s relations with its neighbours, describing it as a shift from “Neighbourhood First” to “Neighbourhood Lost.”

The article outlines several instances where India’s diplomatic relations have soured:

1. Nepal: The imposition of what was perceived as an undeclared blockade during the 2015 constitutional crisis and alleged attempts to influence Nepali politics have damaged the long-standing friendly ties between India and Nepal.

2. Sri Lanka: Accusations of Indian interference in Sri Lankan elections and a general drift of Sri Lanka towards a neutral stance between India and China, despite historical ties.

3. Bangladesh: Differences over the handling of the Rohingya crisis and India’s stance on deporting Rohingya refugees have strained relations with Bangladesh, overshadowing past successes such as the Land Boundary Agreement.

4. Afghanistan and the Maldives: The article suggests stagnant diplomatic progress with both countries, indicating a lack of significant advancements in bilateral relations under the current Indian administration.

5. Russia: A traditional ally, Russia’s relationship with India is described as fraying due to India’s increasing military purchases from Western countries, leading Russia to seek closer ties with Pakistan.

6. China: The Doklam standoff is mentioned as a significant foreign policy challenge, with the resolution and aftermath raising questions about India’s strategic position.

The author concludes that India’s approach to handling its neighbours under Modi’s leadership has been counterproductive, emphasising the need for more mature and skilful diplomacy rather than coercive tactics. The decline in regional relationships is a critical issue the government must address to restore India’s standing and influence in South Asia.

This summary encapsulates the core arguments and examples in the critique of India’s foreign policy direction under the current government, highlighting the perceived shift from a proactive neighbourhood engagement strategy to one marked by mistrust and isolation.

Modi Government’s Employment Challenge

This piece scrutinises the employment record of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, contrasting its performance with its promises and the achievements of the previous Congress-led UPA II administration. An essential criticism is the government’s discontinuation of employment data release, suggesting an attempt to ignore the employment crisis. Despite Modi’s election promise of creating two crore jobs annually, the reality has been starkly different, with only 7.9 lakh jobs created in three years, significantly lower than the 18.8 lakh jobs generated in the first two years of the UPA II government.

The analysis highlights a concerning drop in micro-enterprises, a crucial employment sector, by 24.4% under the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), attributed to Modi’s focus on securing international business deals for particular associates. The dire state of joblessness is further emphasised, with only 500 jobs available daily for 30,000 job seekers, exacerbating the employment crisis.

Moreover, the narrative points out the disproportionate impact on women, with a decline in female employment since the BJP came to power, challenging Modi’s portrayal of his government as pro-woman. The article concludes with a call for accountability, suggesting that the only way to address the job destruction issue is by challenging the job security of Modi and his ministers in the upcoming elections, urging voters to recognise the urgency of the employment situation in India.

The Disaster In Indian History 

Demonetisation, introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016, aimed to eradicate black money and counterfeit currency by invalidating 86% of India’s cash overnight.

This drastic measure plunged the Indian economy into chaos, disproportionately harming the poor and lower middle class, who lacked the means to adapt to the sudden economic shock swiftly. Banks, crucial to the policy’s execution, needed to prepare better, exacerbating the situation as they struggled to distribute new currency.

The economic slowdown was immediate, severely impacting cash-dependent sectors such as agriculture, fishing, and the informal market, leading to widespread business failures and loss of livelihoods. Contrary to its objectives, demonetisation failed to significantly unearth black money, with 99% of the demonetised notes returning to the banking system. It did not achieve its goal of a cashless economy, as digital transactions eventually reverted to pre-demonetisation levels.

The policy’s aftermath saw a significant economic downturn, costing an estimated 3 lakh crore rupees in national income and the loss of 115 lives, primarily among people with low incomes, without any substantial action from the government to address these grievances.

Additionally, demonetisation raised concerns over increased state surveillance and privacy violations due to the push for digital transactions. Ultimately, the move, intended to disrupt illegal wealth accumulation, resulted in substantial economic and social costs, highlighting its failure as a policy initiative.

News Shot 24
Author: News Shot 24

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