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A holistic approach in agriculture development: Part 1

For any agro-climatic zone area it is important to have one-point delivery system to get land-related issues settled, provide the right cropping patterns, optimise water use, ensure right technology, and provide inputs, knowledge, local value addition and marketing, leading finally to storage.

Aruna Sharma

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Agriculture is still providing a livelihood to more than 70% of India’s population and is the backbone of the country’s self-sufficiency in food grains. However, the last few years have seen India go through a severe agrarian crisis and record lower-than-expected agricultural growth. The average annual growth rate in real terms in agriculture as well as its allied sectors has remained static in the last six years, in turn impacting farmers’ income, the Economic Survey 2019-20, released on January 31, 2020, has said.

The annual growth rate in real terms in agriculture and its allied sectors was 2.88 per cent from 2014-15 to 2018-19, according to the Survey. The estimated growth rate in 2019-20 is 2.9 per cent. This is a critical situation for a country in which two-thirds of the billion-plus population depends on agriculture. About 115 million families are classified as farming families. Furthermore, a country with a large population has to be nearly self-sufficient in essential food items; otherwise supply constraints could upset macroeconomic stability and growth prospects.

 India also has the greatest concentration of rural households that are totally landless — 17 million households. Landlessness and rural poverty are closely linked. In fact, as a World Bank report stated, landlessness is by far the greatest predictor of poverty in India—even more so than caste or illiteracy. According to a USAID Country Report on India (quoting Government of India 2013 figures) “landless and marginal landholders still make up 82.8 percent of rural households”.

All of this underscores the importance of the country’s agricultural policy in determining the socio-economic status of its citizens. When the First Five Year Plan was launched, the central purpose of planning was identified as that of initiating “a process of development which will raise living standards and open out to the people new opportunities for a richer and more varied life.” The manner in which this purpose has been translated into specific objectives has varied from Plan to Plan and has both impacted and reflected the prevalent status. In its early years, independent India suffered several famines, droughts and food shortages. But following the Green Revolution in the 1960s, yields and food stocks rose manifold. The approach to agriculture has seen a drastic change after the opening up of the economy – the changes have not always been positive. Commercial crops are eating into fertile land tracts meant for essential food grains. Land under agriculture has reduced. Overall, the anticipated gains for India from the trade liberalization process in agriculture have not been to the desired extent. Perhaps nothing has awakened the country to this agrarian crisis more than the headline-making suicides by farmers.

This article analyses the shortcomings of the steps taken so far and offers a solution which will target a holistic approach, a shift from traditional silo-based policy making. For any agro-climatic zone area it is important to have a holistic approach as well as a one-point delivery system to get land related issues settled, provide the right cropping patterns, optimize water use, ensure the right technology, and provide inputs, knowledge, local value addition and marketing, leading finally to storage.

 NEED FOR HOLISTIC APPROACH TO ENSURE OPTIMISATION OF PACKAGES GIVEN TO FARMERS

The investment in the agriculture sector is by itself not sufficient to resolve the issues of providing sustainable employment to India’s farmers who comprise a major part of the population. The need is to optimise these investments in the farm sector, intensify the gains from cultivable land, improve the land and find alternate sources of livelihood if necessary. Agriculture not only provides an income source but also sustainable employment.

 Every district should draw up a district plan that fully utilizes an initial resource envelope available from all existing schemes, state or Central, including resources at the district level from Central schemes such as those of Rural Development. The district agricultural plan should include livestock and fishing and be integrated with minor irrigation projects, rural development works and with other schemes for water harvesting and conservation. The planning process should be objective-based and outcome-oriented keeping in view the sustainable management of natural resources and technological possibilities in each agroclimatic region. This needs to be ingrained in the system of delivery.

 Whatever action has been taken so far towards policy making is incomplete. For example, horizontal linkages between agencies have not been identified and each of them is again emerging as a watertight compartment. The last functionary at the grassroots level needs crystal clear instructions to optimize development initiatives. But schemes with similar objectives are not yet merged and the different schemes of different agencies have their own set of instructions, making convergence a challenge.

Unfortunately, at the state level the strategy towards agriculture does not cover micro level planning. Often the broad themes that guide the Central sector and the centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) are reflected in the states’ agricultural plans. In many cases these are only little more than the state’s share of CSS whose guidelines are centrally determined and timely release of funds is always an issue. Some states are more guided by the schemes of the Centre than the local needs for agriculture in the state. Each state must focus on the issues suitable to not just its land and climate types but also its social ethos. Moreover, since Central funds flow through different channels and to different levels, district plans are no more than a collection of proposals to different Central department schemes. Since each Central department clears proposals on its own priorities, the resulting state and district plans do not always offer region-specific solutions or have a unified focus. The district plan is often just an accumulation of plans of various agencies with no detailing of an inter-related sequence of execution of activities. Apart from the scores of schemes emanating from the Agriculture Department, there are programmes of other ministries and departments concerned with micro credit financing; major, minor and micro irrigation; wasteland development and forest area projects. Things are somewhat better where the state component of the total plan expenditure on agriculture is high, but this is getting rarer.

 However, it is important that the integration should not remain restricted to the Agriculture Department alone but should also extend to interventions of other departments– such as those related to land development, rural development, irrigation, and credit schemes.

The basic objective of agriculture is to optimise the output from available land, keeping track of environmental concerns and maximizing benefits to farmers.

 A holistic approach cutting across various ministries and departments is needed between the specialised units in the Department of Agriculture; the Agriculture, Forest and Wasteland Development Board; micro finance institutions like the newly created Jal Shakti banks ( still at conceptual levels) and the private sector; government nurseries and private providers of seeds and fertilizers, suppliers of agriculture instruments, sprinklers and drip irrigation instruments; as well as with subsidy schemes in this area and programmes for the empowerment of women in agriculture . All these agencies and schemes will have their specific criteria, focus, priorities and norms even when the objective is the same. Thus the challenge is to harmonise all these and evolve a system to bring in convergence between these inputs and have an integrated plan with both horizontal and vertical linkages. The need for monitoring cannot be undervalued as an essential part of resource management. The monitoring has to ensure that the resources are not just optimised but utilised as per seasonality.

Given below are the various components that need to be addressed for developing a holistic approach to agriculture.

Land: The first step is to map the cultivable land and the potentially cultivable land in the district and to list the present agriculture practices. The listing should include land under cultivation (cropwise)/ barren land/ land under forest actual coverage. This is not a difficult job and can be completed within 15 days as the statistics are already available with the district’s statistical officer, planning officer and the office of deputy director for agriculture. The Windows-based mapping tool gramDRISHTI can be valuable as it enables the user to translate any information available in Excel sheets into a special display. Where land records are not computerized the consolidated village-wise information covering details of land, crop sown, source of irrigation, etc. can be easily fed into an Excel sheet in a decentralized manner so that it is then available for informed and systematic decision making. This activity needs convergence between the departments of Land Records and Agriculture.

Land for landless: Several efforts to distribute ceiling surplus land, land under bhoodan and wasteland to the landless have failed in their objective. The beneficiary leaves the land and goes back to working as an agriculture labourer or he sells off the land or it gets occupied by the previous land owner or people with clout. The reason for this failure is lack of convergence. The activity of allotting land was seemingly considered an end in itself. It is essential to converge this action with training the new land owner, land improvement activities, and hand holding for at least four to five crop cycles by giving him a mini-kit of inputs and establishing market contacts. Only then will it lead to sustainable livelihood for the beneficiary. This requires convergence between revenue agencies, agriculture extension agencies, credit agencies, coordination with other poverty alleviation and development schemes and also with marketing. The software helps the planners and implementers of this activity find the schemes available for each component and successfully converge them for execution.

 Land shaping: The land needs to shaped and treated under a scientific plan to ensure that there is no water logging and there is optimum utilization of available water. This should be part of the watershed activity as each land comes under a watershed project. The fund availability should not be restricted to that available for the watershed project alone but dovetailed with employment schemes. The individual can work on his/ her own land and get wages for his work under employment schemes. Watershed itself needs convergence as it is handled by different agencies — the Ministry of Rural Development, Waste Land Development, Agriculture, Soil Conservation agencies etc. Employment guarantee schemes are currently part of infrastructure development i.e. labour intensive asset-building exercises. Land development too not only provides the beneficiary immediate employment but also develops his land and thus ensures him a source of increased income for the future. Under the Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Scheme once an individual registers in the Panchayat indicating his/her readiness to take on unskilled work, it is mandatory to provide employment within 5 km within 15 days. The best employment for a person with land can be in his/her own land or own watershed. This approach, executed in a systematic manner, not only ensures that the beneficiaries’ gets wages but also enables them to develop their own assets, thus triggering further sources of employment.

Soil conservation: It is necessary to focus on soil conservation measures both for environmental concerns and long-term sustainability. Unfortunately, there are few experts on soil conservation at the grassroots level, where soil conservation measures are unfortunately seen in the narrow sense of just building structures. The result is wasteful and unproductive resource spending. A systematic convergent plan drawn and executed under the technical supervision of an expert will optimize the outcome. The few available local experts should be converged and used by different agencies, which is feasible if the plan is drawn not independently for each agency but by adopting the convergence model.

Cropping pattern: Unfortunately after the Green Revolution no systematic efforts were made by research agencies and the extension staff to educate and inform farmers about the crops most suitable for a specific kind of soil and land. That would have been the right time to incorporate the concept of an Agriculture doctor who analyses soil type, the location of the land, its slope, climatic conditions etc. and then recommends the right crop and the cropping pattern. This would have optimized the effects of the Green Revolution. Instead, this kind of decision was left to the farmers who either blindly followed what others around them were doing or got lured by the economics advocated by seed manufacturing agencies or succumbed to the market forces without any systematic analysis. This is the main reason of heavy indebtedness among farmers. Holistic approach gives a platform for initiating such a process either in the government sector or by private-public partnership. The Agriculture doctor prescribes what is best suited and then the components can be tapped by converging the schemes to ensure horizontal linkages, holistic planning and, most important, optimum use of the resources available for the best suitable and sustainable outcomes.

 Combination with allied activities: The Resource Convergence Mantra facilitates systematic mixed farming in terms of combining crops with poultry, piggery, and fisheries, depending on the land and other factors. The Northeast pattern of combining piggeries in the basement of a house on stilts and horticulture requires careful planning and complete information about the gestation period. For example, while growing fruits with a long gestation period, famers should be advised to also grow intermediate crops. Thus a farmer who introduces an orange crop, which bears fruits in four to sevenyears, should additionally plant, say, coriander in year one and papaya the next and so on…till the orange starts fruiting. This will ensure him a regular income in the intermediate period as well. But planning has to be specific for each land holding. At the execution level it should not be just statistics but it should be planning by name and face to ensure sustainable outputs and surplus income to farmers.

Training of farmers: Proper training of the farmers has to be a part of any initiative or new methods introduced. The extension staff should take the farmer into confidence before either introducing a new crop or a better practice and follow that up with complete information, orientation and training. I would like to illustrate this with the excellent work done by the village extension officer in the District of Raipur when I was a probationer there in 1983. Thanks to his initiatives and efforts the village had the second highest productivity of paddy per acre in the country. He started off by first targeting farmers with large land holdings, introducing them to better seeds, agriculture practices and inputs. The following year he took the seeds from the first lot of farmers and gave them to the others, thus making the whole village a model for best agricultural practices for paddy cultivation. Such a systematic approach needs to be monitored and encouraged. The training, which can be done on demonstration plots, must also include confidence building and should empower them to take decisions on the play of market forces and commercial advocacy targeted at them for a particular kind of agriculture practice or specific seeds, chemical fertilizers, oil seeds, pulses etc. They should also be able to access targeted schemes. There are several agriculture extension schemes run by the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, which have provisions for training self-help groups (farmers SHGs can use this fund). For example, the Department of Horticulture has demonstrations for best practices in growing specified crops. There is also training by lending institutions and by private manufacturers of products. Some training programmes include interphase workshops with the experts using modern means of communication and media at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK).

Availability of good quality seed/ saplings: There is an urgent need for new highquality seeds which are resistant to diseases and give the desired yields in several crops, especially soya bean (Madhya Pradesh) and cotton (Maharashtra). The KVKs and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research should not only address these specific needs but also target their research observations to the concerned farmers. The ongoing debate on genetic seeds needs to be explained to the farmers. In fact, it should be made mandatory for selling agencies to declare the pros and cons of their products and for seed manufactures to guarantee insurance in case of failure so that there is some level of accountability.

The seed production programme need not be funded just from resources of the Agriculture Department but also from employmentgeneration schemes of other departments of the government and private sector since all these schemes generate employment. These include Integrated Pest Management (IPT)demonstrations, targeted schemes for better seeds in pulses and maize, distribution of mini-kits for spices and floriculture seeds, Annapoorna Yojana to enable exchange of seeds (give low yielding and get better variety) for SC/ST farmers, and horticulture top working for ber (also known as Indian jujube – budding of ber ensures that the next crop itself is of a very high yield and quality).

 Similarly when there is limited funding for a scheme for a specific crop or component (grafting, budding, top dressing) gaps can be filled by dovetailing it with supplementary and complementary schemes and tapping other resources. Most executing agencies don’t do this as they are caught in compartmentalized mindsets. The holistic model guards against this by linking each thrust activity with schemes that supplement and complement the objective. This utilization of optimal inputs ensures an increase in productivity.

End of Part 1, Part 2 will be published on July 7, Tuesday. Dr. Aruna Sharma has served as Secretary, Govt. of India. She is a Development Economist and served as Secretary, Ministry of Steel; Secretary, Electronics and Panchayati Raj. She also held charge of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj in Madhya Pradesh state government. She conceived and launched governance software like Samagra, now operational in 10 states and coordinated for Direct Benefit Transfer. She was member in 5 member high level committee of RBI for deepening digital payments.

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Policy & Politics

India emerges as the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar and world’s 2nd largest exporter of sugar

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India emerges as the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar and world’s 2nd largest exporter of sugar

In Sugar Season (Oct-Sep) 2021-22, a record of more than 5000 Lakh Metric Tons (LMT) sugarcane was produced in the country out of which about 3574 LMT of sugarcane was crushed by sugar mills to produce about 394 LMT of sugar (Sucrose). Out of this, 35 LMT sugar was diverted to ethanol production and 359 LMT sugar was produced by sugar mills. With this, India has emerged as the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar as well as the world’s 2nd largest exporter of sugar.

The season has proven to be a watershed season for Indian Sugar Sector. All records of sugarcane production, sugar production, sugar exports, cane procured, cane dues paid and ethanol production were made during the season.

Another shining highlight of the season is the highest exports of about 109.8 LMT that too with no financial assistance which was being extended upto 2020-21. Supportive international prices and Indian Government Policy led to this feat of Indian Sugar Industry. These exports earned foreign currency of about Rs. 40,000 crores for the country.

The success story of sugar industry is the outcome of synchronous and collaborative efforts of Central and State Governments, farmers, sugar mills, ethanol distilleries with very supportive overall ecosystem for business in the country. Timely Government interventions since last 5 years have been crucial in building the sugar sector step by step from taking them out of financial distress in 2018-19 to the stage of self-sufficiency in 2021-22.

During SS 2021-22, sugar mills procured sugarcane worth more than 1.18 lakh crore and released payment of more than 1.12 lakh crore with no financial assistance (subsidy) from Government of India. Thus, cane dues at the end of sugar season are less than ₹ 6,000 crore indicating that 95% of cane dues have already been cleared. It is also noteworthy that for SS 2020-21, more than 99.9% cane dues are cleared.

Government has been encouraging sugar mills to divert sugar to ethanol and also to export surplus sugar so that sugar mills may make payment of cane dues to farmers in time and also mills may have better financial conditions to continue their operations.

Growth of ethanol as biofuel sector in last 5 years has amply supported the sugar sector as use of sugar to ethanol has led to better financial positions of sugar mills due to faster payments, reduced working capital requirements and less blockage of funds due to less surplus sugar with mills. During 2021-22, revenue of about ₹ 18,000 crore has been made by sugar mills/distilleries from sale of ethanol which has also played its role in early clearance of cane dues of farmers. Ethanol production capacity of molasses/sugar-based distilleries has increased to 605 crore litres per annum and the progress is still continuing to meet targets of 20% blending by 2025 under Ethanol Blending with Petrol (EBP) Programme. In new season, the diversion of sugar to ethanol is expected to increase from 35 LMT to 50 LMT which would generate revenue for sugar mills amounting to about ₹ 25,000 crores.

There is an optimum closing balance of 60 LMT of sugar which is essential to meet domestic requirements for 2.5 months. The diversion of sugar to ethanol and exports led to unlocking of value chain of the whole industry as well as improved financial conditions of sugar mills leading to more optional mills in ensuing season.

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Policy & Politics

DFS modifies Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme for Civil Aviation sector

ECLGS necessary for collateral-free liquidity at reasonable interest rates to tide over their present cash flow problems

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DFS modifies Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme for Civil Aviation sector

Recognising that an efficient and strong civil aviation sector is vital for the economic development of the country, the Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance, has modified the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) yesterday to enhance the maximum loan amount eligibility for airlines under ECLGS 3.0 to 100% of their fund based or non-fund-based loan outstanding as on the reference dates or Rs. 1,500 crore, whichever is lower; and of the above, Rs. 500 crore shall be considered, based on equity contribution by the owners.

All other criteria terms and conditions parameters prescribed under the operational guidelines of the ECLGS on 30.8.2022 shall be applicable as it is.

The modifications introduced are aimed to give necessary collateral-free liquidity at reasonable interest rates to tide over their present cash flow problems.

Earlier in March 2022, the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) was extended beyond March 2022, till March 2023, to implement the announcement made in the Union Budget 2022-23 by Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman. Keeping in view the high proportion of non-fund based credit in the overall credit of the civil aviation sector, the eligible borrowers were permitted to avail up to 50% of their highest total fund and non-fund based credit outstanding, subject to a maximum of Rs. 400 crore per borrower. 

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Analysis on “Climate resilient housing structures for marginalised communities living in coastal areas” 

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Analysis on “Climate resilient housing structures for marginalised communities living in coastal areas” 

Introduction 

Climate change has emerged as one of the pressing issues of the 21st century. Climate change is like a pandemic, it does not spare even the most advanced countries. Weather and climatic extremes are becoming more common as a result of human-caused climate change across the world. Acute occurrences of storms, droughts, floods, cyclical fluctuations in precipitation and long-term variations in temperature and sea levels, are all made more likely by climate change. This will result in deaths, injuries, and poor health related diseases, as well as damage to infrastructure, livelihoods and natural resources. Marginalised communities who live in old and substandard houses and have limited resources are especially susceptible to floods and cyclones. Approximately 40% of the world’s population now lives within 100 km of a coastline and 100 m of sea level. it is anticipated that by 2030 half of the world’s population would reside in coastal areas. As per the World Bank study (2018), climate change will relocate 143 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and south Asia. Climate proofing the houses and infrastructure for all is a necessity.  

Climate change and vulnerability of India’s Coastal infrastructure 

India is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change and simultaneously suffers from endemic levels of poverty. In recent years, India has experienced an increase in the severity and frequency of weather events and climate-related natural disasters.India is the third-worst-affected country due to the climatic disasters. In India 170 million people live in the coastal regions. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, between 2008 and 2018, over 3.6 million Indians were moved every year, the majority as a result of monsoon rains, which are the heaviest in South Asia. As per the report Human Cost of Disasters (2000-2019) published by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, India has the third highest number of disaster events. It is also the second most impacted country by floods with 345 million people affected. Extreme cyclones namely the recent Yaas, Amphan, Fani, Gaja, and Hudhud, as well as catastrophic floods, have wreaked havoc on its coastal states of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. The mangrove ecosystem, which acts as a natural barrier against cyclones and coastal erosion in coastal areas, has been badly harmed and is expected to be further harmed as an outcome of climate change. According to estimates from the Central Water Commission, the total damage from climate-related extreme weather events on infrastructure and housing is more than INR 36 million, or 3% of India’s GDP. 

The major cyclone Fani hit Odisha with a population of around 46 million people, in May 2019. State authorities used an effective early-warning system to evacuate 1.2 million people in 24 hours, making it one of the largest evacuations in history and earning praise from the United Nations. With the increasing effects of climate change, tens of thousands more people may be forced to migrate or be displaced from high-risk areas along the Indian coast. Many families may be forced to relocate within their own state or further afield to avoid the effects of sea level rise and coastal inundation if concrete climate and development action is not taken. It is imperative that climate resilient infrastructure and houses are built which are affordable, safe and adequate which could benefit the people living in poverty.  

Safeguarding future prosperity

Acknowledging the effects of climate change on our lives and directing all our resources and efforts towards the attainment of climate resilience is important. Climate resilience refers to the ability to predict, prepare for, and assess how climate change can create hazardous events and take steps to cope with such events. Adaptation to climate change for people living in coastal areas is a necessity. Infrastructure that is both accessible and functional is critical to human well-being and economic progress. People living in coastal areas are vulnerable to triple threats which are limited resources for affordable housing infrastructure, socioeconomic vulnerability, and increased flooding due to sea level rise.


Analysis 

As climatic conditions worsens and extreme weather events like floods, storms and cyclones are becoming normal in the climate-constrained weather. To maintain the global average temperature below the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree safe limit, collaborative action and funding is required. Government and Non Governmental Organisation should come together to take preventive measures which would ultimately reduce disaster risks and post recovery losses. It is imperative to invest in making climate resilient housing for the people. There is a huge requirement of funds which can be solved if the government incentivises private investors to enter into the long term contracts with Development Financial Institutions to work on innovative and sustainable houses for the marginalised communities. If appropriately managed, relocating communities from hazard-prone places can be a valuable adaptation strategy for providing alternatives to physical protection. However, there is a need for more forward looking sustainable housing planning to protect the people living in coastal areas who are vulnerable. Sensitising and raising awareness amongst the people about the benefits of climate resilient houses is also a significant component for the planning. Furthermore, strong community demand and community support can lead to decision-makers and planners reaching a consensus. Currently, India’s construction industry is altering its building processes in order to minimise greenhouse gas emissions and make sustainable buildings more accessible to individuals with limited financial resources. Failure to do so sufficiently will put marginalised communities in more danger in the future.

Abhinav is an Practicing Advocate based out of Delhi & Parth is a law Scholar. 

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Dispute, Discrepancy, and Debate: Anti-Arbitration Injunctions in India

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Overview of Anti Arbitration Injunctions
The conundrum of anti-arbitration injunctions is similar to the relationship between a devil and deep blue sea, thereby, addressing the two-sided sword of danger and distress irrespective of choosing directions. India’s approach on anti-arbitration injunctions can be summarized more or less on the same lines. In common parlance, an anti-arbitration injunction suit seeks to injunct the initiation of arbitration proceedings. Generally, the parties prefer to take this recourse before the initiating arbitration proceedings. However, the same is not confined to narrow boundaries and hence, recourse can be availed before the tribunal passes the final award.
There are two broad limbs while dealing with such injunctions. On one hand, it is argued that this remedy strikes the power of arbitral tribunal to regulate or decide its own jurisdiction which results in increasing judicial intervention. On the other hand, it is argued in cantena of judgments that the duty of the court to ‘refer’ parties to the arbitration plays a vital role. The Hon’ble Apex Court in Vidya Drolia & Ors. v. Durga Trading Corporation (“Vidya Drolia”) reiterated four-fold conditions for determining arbitrability of disputes by appropriate forum viz., (i) instances where cause of action and subject matter of the dispute relates to actions in rem, not pertaining to subordinate rights in personam which arise from rights in rem, (ii) mutual adjudication would not be appropriate when cause of action and subject matter of the dispute inherently affects third party rights and hence, centralized adjudication must be there, (iii) mutual adjudication not possible when cause of action and subject matter of the dispute relates to sovereign and public interest functions of the State, and (iv) when the subject-matter of the dispute is expressly, or by necessary implication non-arbitrable as per mandatory statute.
Further, in P. Anand Gajapathi Raju v. P.V.G. Raju (Died) another set of principles were crystalised, viz., firstly, there must be an arbitration agreement; secondly, a party to the agreement must bring an action in the court against the opposite party; thirdly, similar subject matter of the action and arbitration agreement; and fourthly, the other party must move to the court for arbitration before it submits its first statement on the substance of the dispute. Simultaneous reading of S. 8 & 45 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”) makes it clear that the remedy of anti-arbitration injunction sustains limited judicial intervention. India is struggling to find a fine line of balance on the issue of autonomy to arbitral tribunals and ability of courts to interfere in matters pertaining to jurisdiction, injustices, or aggravation in any arbitration proceedings.

Narrow Bridge Prior to Bina Modi-Lalit Modi and Amazon-Future Retail
Section 16 of the Act encircles the principle of Kompetenz-Kompetenz which talks about the issue of jurisdiction by arbitral tribunal as sufficient and efficient. In the case of Uttarakhand Purv Sainik Kalyan Nigam Ltd. v. Northern Coal Field Ltd, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, while examining this backbone principle applied this principle and held that “the dispute related to the arbitrability should be decided by the tribunal itself and courts can interfere only when there is no agreement at all or whether the consent to enter into an agreement is vitiated by fraud or misrepresentation.” Hence, under the said Act, the challenge before a court is maintainable only after the final award is passed as provided by sub-section (6) of Section 16. In the case of N.N. Global Mercantile v. Indo Unique Flame Ltd, similar footings were observed while dealing with the said principle. Interestingly, in Kvaerner Cementation India Limited v. Bajranglal Agarwal, it was held that the civil court do not have the jurisdiction to interfere in arbitral matters, owing to the principle of Kompetenz-Kompetenz which focuses on the competence of a court.
Quite recently, the Calcutta High Court denied the contention of forum non conveniens while restraining the other party from taking steps for a London-seated arbitration while reiterating that the contract was signed cautiously. Similarly, in Sancorp Confectionary v. Gumlik, the Delhi High Court refused to interfere and stated that all objections shall be heard by the arbitral tribunal itself. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in World Sport Group v. MSM Satellite Singapore Ltd while analysing the issue whether the arbitration agreement was null and void applied the principles of Section 45 of the Act. However, it is interesting and vital to note the case of Board of Trustees of Port of Kolkata v. Louis Dreyfus Armatures SAS & Ors where the Calcutta High Court granted anti-arbitration injunction and warned that it must only be granted in exceptional and unprecedented circumstances.

Window of Interference Post Bina Modi-Lalit Modi and Amazon-Future Retail
Recently, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Vidya Drolia laid down certain principles while analysing the issue of non-arbitrability, while placing substantial reliance on Duro Felguera and Boghara Polyfab. Firstly, the scope of judicial review under Section 8 and 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”) is identical but vastly limited, secondly, arbitral tribunal is the preferred authority to determine and decide all questions of non-arbitrability and court is the second option on such aspects, and thirdly, the court may interfere rarely only when it is manifestly and ex facie precise that the arbitration agreement is non-existent, invalid, or / and the disputes are non-arbitrable. Further, while following the principle of Kompetenz-Kompetenz, the Apex Court strongly observed that it is the arbitral tribunal which must be preferred as first authority to determine and decide all questions of non-arbitrability. 
Recent judgments have shaken the balance between the courts and tribunals while sliding towards granting autonomy to arbitral tribunals. The suits in Bina Modi vs Lalit Modi were dismissed while reiterating the observation in Kvaerner Cementation wherein the Hon’ble Supreme Court dismissed suits as unmaintainable since an alternative remedy was present under Section 16 of the Act. Reliance was also placed on Section 41(h) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, which bars the grant of injunctions when there is a possibility of deriving equally effective relief by any other usual mode of proceedings. The court while disallowing observed that the adequate remedy would be to approach the arbitral tribunal instead.
While hearing the Amazon-Future Retail, Justice Amit Bansal, stated that “there is only a very small window for interference with orders passed by the arbitral tribunal while exercising jurisdiction under Article 227. The said window becomes even narrower where the orders passed by the arbitral tribunal are procedural in nature.” The bench while upholding non-interference stated that the willingness of the court must be of utmost importance and added that arbitrators have a far greater flexibility in adopting procedure to conduct the arbitration proceedings as compared to civil courts and concluded by stating that nothing was found to suggest that the arbitral tribunal has denied equal opportunity to the parties or that it has not been accommodating towards the requests of the petitioners. Recently, the Supreme Court has set aside the orders of the Delhi High Court which initiated coercive steps against the companies and its promoters Biyanis for alleged violation of the Emergency Award passed by the Singapore Tribunal on the application filed by e-commerce giant Amazon.

Conclusion
In Vidya Drolia, the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s attempt to pose responsibility on the lower Courts while ensuring caution in exercising authority over proceedings referred to it under the Act clearly shows that we’re moving towards a pro-arbitration regime which must be accepted by open arms in order to curb over-burdening of judiciary. Prima facie, there are two important questions; firstly, can we have a common rule that everything must be decided by the arbitral tribunal with no power in hands of the court?, and secondly, has India approached this issue as if it were caught between the devil and the deep sea in choosing to exclusively rest the jurisdiction with the arbitral tribunal? Practically speaking, in the Indian context, we cannot shut eyes on the fact that there may be instances wherein the courts need to interfere in rare and exceptional circumstances. At times, the arbitral proceedings can be oppressive, vexatious, and inequitable. The law on anti-arbitration injunction suits in India has certainly reached a stifling point and hence, aim to not evolve as oppressive, manifestly unfair, unreasonable, and prejudicial to the interest of the parties.

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Policy & Politics

Bapu! Why don’t you come back again?

Not only India but the whole world celebrated Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, which made me think…

Vijay Darda

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Dear Bapu!
Let me say sorry to you. Your birthday was celebrated yesterday, October 2. It has become a tradition to write something on your birthday, just as there is a tradition of garlanding your statues at various intersections. There is the tradition of singing panegyrics to your virtue and then the misfortune of forgetting everything the next day. Even though I did not write anything, Bapu, my mind kept me restless throughout the day. Several questions kept raising their heads. I kept wondering who imprisoned our dear Bapu only in statues. Bapu! You took on the world’s biggest empire with such an ease and patience that the world was stunned! Have we forgotten the great man who freed us from the slavery of centuries?
As the Sun was about to set after celebrating your birthday, I felt that the questions which were stirring my mind must be agitating more people like me. Was it any easy task to awaken an almost uneducated country that had been in a deep slumber of ignorance for centuries? Bapu, when you came to India in 1915, toured the whole country and became active in the freedom movement in 1917, the literacy rate of the country was not even 7 per cent. The British were sending your sons and daughters across the sea as indentured labourers. The morale of the country was shattered but you did an amazing thing Bapu! No one had even imagined that your efforts, which looked very simple, would infuse consciousness in the country. Be it the Nilaha Kisan movement of Champaran or the 24-day Dandi March in March-April 1930 for the right to salt, they shook the sleeping soul of India awake. You taught this country to talk to the British on equal terms. When the Viceroy gave you the message to come to Delhi to meet him, what a befitting reply you gave! That, this country is ours. If you want to meet me, come down to Sevagram and I will be there! This also reminds me of the incident when you met George V in London. You were asked why you were clad in so few clothes? And what a wonderful answer you gave him: The king is wearing all the clothes!
Bapu! You were a source of inspiration for not just India but more than 40 countries. Thanks to you Bapu, those countries are free today! It was you who created awakening against apartheid. During his visit to India, Barack Obama too had said in the Parliament that had Gandhiji not been there, he would not have become the President.
You experienced and understood the pain in the common man’s life, and that is why you could do what no one could imagine. There is no such feeling of sensitivity left in our leaders, Bapu! I wish our leaders could learn from you! Today, the whole country is engaged in the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, something which you taught us Bapu. You fought for women’s education and equal rights when neither family nor society even thought about it. Today, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is in full swing, but the credit goes to you, Bapu! You must be seeing from wherever you are Bapu that the daughters of Mother India are scaling the pinnacle of success today. The national flag is flying high all over the world. There is a discussion to give one-third reservation to women today, whereas you had said long ago that if the country has to be taken on the path of progress, women will have to be given equal rights. If I think about your philosophy of life, I feel proud that on our soil there was a Mahatma called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who thought about the welfare of humanity. Seeing the women using blowpipes to blow air into the hearth and ending up with damaged lungs, Bapu called the scientist Magan Bhai to Sevagram and asked him to invent such a hearth that would rid women of this problem. In this way, the Magan chulha came into existence! The practice of open defecation is being phased out today, and the credit for this too goes to you, Bapu. You taught us the skill of digging a pit and burying the dirt so that it gets converted into manure. Your goal was that man should get freedom from manual scavenging.
You understood India in a true sense and also found solutions to the problems in accordance with its ambiance. You talked about naturopathy. You taught us the value of everything right from the value of livestock to the value of soil. Rajiv Gandhi talked about ensuring and taking the fruits of democratic power to the last person in the villages, and today our Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making rapid efforts in that direction, but you are the father of this concept of village development, Bapu! You understood the power of youth, recognised the power of women, and realised the need for solidarity in society.
You started the eradication of untouchability and opened the temple gates for Dalits. You propagated humanity as the biggest religion to unite the country divided by caste, religion, and creed. When you talked about Ram Rajya, there was no religious exclusivity anywhere in it. There was a sense of equality for all. You paved the way for truth and non-violence when history was being stained with blood due to long periods of violence. That’s why you taught us to sing: Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, Patit Pawan Sita Ram; Ishwar Allah tero naam, sabko sanmati de bhagwan! You believed in forgiveness, non-violence, fasting, friendship, and brotherhood. Lord Mahavir and Lord Buddha resided in your conscience.
You also wanted the villages to benefit from science, so you became friends with the great scientist Albert Einstein. He rightly said about you: “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.” The situation is the same today. It is our fault Bapu that today’s generation does not know anything about you properly! Bapu, why don’t you come to this land of Bharat once again? Many of your dreams are still unfulfilled, Bapu!

The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.

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Bombay High Court grants bail to Anil Deskmukh, remains in jail

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In a money laundering case brought by the Enforcement Directorate, the Bombay high court on Tuesday granted bail to former Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Anil Deshmukh.

The bail was granted on a surety amount of Rs 1 lakh. The ED has asked for a two-week delay in the order’s implementation.

Deshmukh was arrested in November of last year and moved the high court after his bail request was rejected earlier this year by a special PMLA court.

Deshmukh has been given bail in the ED case, but he will continue to be held in relation to the CBI case that was brought against him in April of last year.

The Supreme Court had earlier ordered the High Court to quickly hear and resolve the NCP leader’s case because it had been pending for six months.

Deshmukh’s lawyers, Vikram Chaudhari and Aniket Nikam, argued that the senior NCP politician ought to be given bail in light of his age (72), good health, and lack of prior convictions.

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