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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

Making it happen: Did ‘Make in India’ happen?

Anil Swarup

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With a view to attracting international investment, while making his speech during the World Economic Forum recently, PM Modi announced that this was the “best time to invest in India”.

In the aforementioned context, I had tweeted: “Best way to attract international investment into India is not merely by saying that it is the best time to invest but to demonstrate that it is indeed the best time. Same ‘noises’ were made under ‘Make in India’ campaign”. Did Make in India happen?

Make in India was launched in 2014 with a lot of fanfare. While launching the Make in India initiative, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi said, “I want to tell the people of the whole world: Come, make in India. Come and manufacture in India. Go and sell in any country of the world, but manufacture here. We have the skill, talent, discipline and the desire to do something. We want to give the world an opportunity that comes to make in India.” This iterates the whole gist of the program.

Did the “whole world” come to manufacture in India?

The main aim of this initiative was to make India a global manufacturing hub by encouraging both multinational as well as domestic companies to manufacture their products within the country. It was declared that in 2013, India’s growth rate had fallen to its lowest level in a decade, thus putting it into the category of “Fragile Five” nations. 

Did India become global manufacturing hub?

The main objectives of the campaign were to:

1. To transform India into a global design and manufacturing hub.

2. To introduce new initiatives for the promotion of foreign direct investment

3. To implement intellectual property rights.

4. To develop the nation’s manufacturing sector.

5. To boost the confidence of investors and manufacturers to build and invest in India.

6. To improve India’s rank on the Ease of Doing Business index.

7. To eliminate the hassles of laws and regulations in the bureaucratic process of business.

8. To promote job creation and innovation in the limits of the country.

9. To make government transparent and accountable in its working.

10. To encourage the avenues of skill development.

11. To improve the global competitiveness of the Indian manufacturing sector.

To promote the sustainability of growth:

1. To increase growth in the manufacturing sector to 12-14% per annum over the medium term.

2. To raise the contribution of the manufacturing sector to 25% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from its current 16%.

3. To create 100 million additional jobs by 2022 in the manufacturing sector.

4. To increase domestic value addition and technological depth in the manufacturing sector.

“Make in India” campaign was launched world-wide at the expense of millions of Rupees. However, there is no formal evaluation available in public domain about the outcomes of this initiative that was launched with so much fanfare.

What needs to be examined is whether the objectives were actually achieved from the available data.

One of the primary objectives of the campaign was to increase growth in the manufacturing sector to 12-14% over the medium term. COVID did have an impact but well before its arrival, the numbers were dismal. In fact, the actual manufacturing growth rate has been much below the targeted one

2016: 2.8%

2017: 4.4%

2018: 4.6%

2019: 3.9%

(Source: Statista 2021)

Poor growth in manufacturing sector got reflected in the overall GDP growth as well:

2016-17: 8.2%

2017-18: 7.2%

2018-19: 6.1%

2019-20: 4.2%

(Source: GoI Data)

It is evident from the above that this particular objective of “Make in India” was missed by a long margin.

There was also an objective of creating 100 million additional jobs by 2022. COVID has made this task extremely difficult. However, even before COVID arrived, the country was facing the worst unemployment crisis ever. Ministry of Labour and Employment used to release the official employment data periodically but it was stopped in 2016 perhaps because it was revealing the ground reality. There have been doubts raised about CMIE data but that is what we have. The CMIE Data shows that for graduates in the age group of 20-24 years, unemployment was 42% in 2017. It rose to 55.1% in 2018 and to 63.4% in 2019. The World Bank data is also pretty damning. Youth Unemployment data has been released by the World Bank for 2019 for 181 countries. India is placed even below the Congo Republic at 23%. Countries like Thailand (4.2%), Philippines (6.7%), China (11.0%) and Indonesia (13.4%) are well ahead.

So, where did “Make in India” go wrong?

First and the foremost is the faulty approach adopted under the Make in India initiative. The primary focus on road-shows proved its undoing. People travelled all over the world conveying to investors to come to India and invest. There were grand announcements and lion became the symbol of Make in India. It was visible in all the Indian embassies abroad. I saw one in Warsaw during my visit to Poland in my capacity as Secretary, Coal.

Climbing ease-of-doing business ladder became the primary objective and all effort was made to “please” the mandarins of the World Bank. It worked well in the beginning as India did apparently climb the ladder and everyone went to town. Whether the business actually became easy is a million-dollar question. The whole process was a dubious one and recently, the World Bank has itself “dumped” this charade of comparing countries on the basis of ease-of-doing business.

There was no effort to engage intensively with the investors in India to ascertain why wasn’t investment happening here and what could possibly be the way forward. The road-show approach never revealed the ground reality as the investors didn’t have the courage to reveal the “truth” in public glare.

No concurrent evaluation of the scheme was done to ascertain what was going wrong to bring about a course correction. In fact, there was apparently never an admission that anything was going wrong. It was all hunky dory.

There were factors beyond “Make in India” that disrupted it. A well-intentioned but poorly implemented demonetization devastated the economy. Similarly, Goods and Services Tax was long overdue and eminently required but launching it without necessary preparatory work, virtually destroyed the small and medium sector. COVID arrived much later but devastated the economy that was yet to recover from earlier blows.

It is evident that the “Make in India” approach did not work. We have to first admit that and then find a new way of moving forward. There are huge lessons to be learnt from sectors like national highways that did very well irrespective of COVID.

Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.

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Policy & Politics

Don’t thrust learning poverty upon children

Pandemic threatens to jeopardise the future of kids, and their emotional intelligence is likely to be impacted too.

Vijay Darda

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The precious lives lost in the aftermath of atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki turned out to be the gravest tragedy in human history and its after-effects were far more painful as those who survived it contracted several dreaded diseases. Their life became miserable. They went through severe trauma and got frustrated with their sufferings and started to think as to what is the use of such a life? Its deleterious effects on the later generations are still visible. While feeling the pain of people during my visit to Japan, my eyes moistened and my heart wept. Will the future of our children follow a similar trajectory after coronavirus?

Since the initial days of the coronavirus epidemic, I have been very anxious, especially about children. I have also been constantly talking to experts and psychologists in the field of education about the ill-effects it can have on the personality of children. Now my concern has exacerbated following the statement of Jaime Saavedra, Global Education Director, World Bank. He has stated that the effect of the epidemic on the education of children is going to be more severe than what was thought. A situation of learning poverty is emerging. Learning poverty means inability to read and understand even a simple sentence by the age of 10 years. In common parlance, we can call it learning or academic poverty.

I have been constantly monitoring the mental state of the children. I have realised that children have suffered the most but how can they express that? The effect varies according to age. Children in KG or primary schools may have a different effect, while those in secondary schools show some different changes. The children of KG and primary schools have started believing that there is nothing called school. And if it is, it is online and at home! Whenever you feel like learning, sit in front of the tablet and do something! It will take time to change their perception. It will not be easy for them to go to school and follow the routine. Though a lot of changes are taking place, I will not call them permanent, and the effects of the epidemic will linger on long after its departure. For example, the children of KG had barely started going to schools when they were closed following the pandemic outbreak. Now these kids are over two years old and when they go to school again everything will be new and adjusting to it won’t be easy for them.

The school has its own environment. Its discipline has a profound effect on shaping the personality. Children have been deprived of it for two years. Everyone is at home but they are all lost in themselves. It is not yet clear how much attention those at home pay towards the children. Some people pay attention, but many parents have become so irritable that they have started venting their ire on the children.

There is a greater risk of personality disorder affecting children under these circumstances. Older children are victims of different problems. In the initial phase of school shutdown, many parents pushed children towards mobiles and computers so that they could keep playing games and not disturb the parents. Many parents didn’t care what else the kids were watching. It is feared that many may also have gotten addicted to porn. Staring at the screen continuously will also harm the eyes of the children. They will have to wear glasses.

Of course, technology should be used and is being utilised in education but technology cannot be the answer to the traditional style of face-to-face learning. When the eyes of the teacher and the children meet, it has a different effect. What other children used to ask inside the class and the conversation that used to take place are missing. This emotional power cannot be gained by learning online. There is no such situation as the emotional bond between the teacher and the children. Therefore, the personality of the children is not taking the desired shape. A few years later, when the situation becomes normal, we will definitely see its ill-effects in some form or the other. Due to the lockdown, children are not able to go to the playground to play games and they are unable to meet friends. Most importantly, there will be a change in emotional intelligence. Let me illustrate the definition of emotional intelligence by citing an example. Whenever there is an accident, a lot of people gather but there are very few people who call an ambulance. Some people just look the other way while some others even crack jokes. This behaviour depends on emotional intelligence. One cannot learn these things sitting at home. It is learnt along with others. The child learns a lot from the feeling of touch. Thus, there has been a huge loss in the field of emotional intelligence in the last two years.

Children in rural areas are worst affected. They have no access to proper internet connection, smartphones and tablets. This lack of electronic resources has alienated children from studies. They are under tremendous pressure that time is running out and they are not able to study. This pressure is impacting them psychologically. Therefore, it is high time the schools reopened all over the country. It is a welcome development that some states have reopened schools or the date of reopening has been announced.

As I said, there have been serious and far-reaching effects on children. If there is going to be a long-term effect, it is necessary that substantive research is conducted on this serious problem and the focus should be on what emotional support is needed to bring the children back to normal. The opinion of psychologists, educationists and other experts should be taken into consideration and corrective steps should be initiated accordingly. The government has to take some extraordinary steps. We are the youngest nation in the world. These children are our assets, strength and future. Let us hope our future is not jeopardised in any way. Stay safe!

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

Will the coronavirus pandemic prove as destructive as the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? The nuclear bombs had killed thousands in the blink of an eye and made lives of the survivors miserable. Its impact can be felt even today. Similarly, the impact of the pandemic is feared to last long too, especially in the field of education. India is facing a grave risk of learning poverty.

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Policy & Politics

IT’S TIME TO REVIEW INDIA’S ANTI-DEFECTION LAW

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INTRODUCTION

When Haryana held its first election in 1967 after the state carved out from Punjab, an independent candidate named Gayalal won the assembly elections. Later he joined the Congress party; in the evening, he joined the United front, and within 9 hrs he joined the Congress again, which ultimately means M.L.A. Gayalal switched his party thrice within 9hrs. This incident gave rise to “Aaya Ram Gaya Ram” politics in our country, and the defection got the new term, “Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram.” Unfortunately, this didn’t end here. Within 15 days, Gayalal again joined the United front. In another notorious event in 1979, Haryana also came into the limelight when Bhajan Lal became CM of the state. The next, year Indira Gandhi came into power in the central government. He joined the Congress party with forty other M.L.A.s. It is worth mentioning here that more than 50 state governments have fallen because of these defections since Independence’s enactment.

These acts of defections had to be curbed to maintain the dignity of the constitutional machinery and assemblies; then, the prime minister of the country, Late Rajeev Gandhi, enacted the 52nd amendment of the Constitution, and the 10th Schedule was added, which defined the word defection and known as Anti-Defection law. Various provisions have been provided by the law, which discusses grounds under which any member of the state legislature or Parliament can be disqualified. In most common forms, defection means jumping from one political party to the other after getting elected.

HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF LAW

After enacting the Constitution in the year 1950, we had the first general elections in our country in which Congress secured a whopping victory. Still, with time, the political scenario took a turn, and we came across coalition governments in various states. Floor crossing started which led to a vicious cycle of defections and floor crossing. In the late 1960s, most defectors were from Congress. In 1977, the Bhartiya Lok Dal ran 94 turncoat candidates, including 21 from Congress. Many of them migrated back to the Congress once it became clear that Indira Gandhi was set to win the 1980 elections. This period is considered a weak point of Congress in Indian Politics.

With all those defections in this phase, the most dramatic case of the defection in that era was that of Mr. Gaya Lal, who contested state assembly elections as an independent candidate. After results, he switched the parties between Congress and United Front thrice in a day. Ultimately, the president was forced to implement President rule in the state, giving rise to Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram politics in our country.

THE INTERNATIONAL SCENARIO ON ANTI-DEFECTION LAW

Anti-defection law isn’t applicable in India only. It’s rife in various other countries like the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Kenya, an African country, etc. Article 70th of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Constitution says a member shall vacate his seat if he resigns from or votes against the directions given by his party. The Speaker refers the dispute to the committee. Section forty of the Kenyan Constitution states that a member United Nations agency that resigns from his party must vacate his seat. The choice is by the Speaker, and therefore the member might consider attractiveness to the state supreme court.

Article forty-six of the Singapore Constitution says a member should vacate his seat if he resigns or is expelled from his party. Article forty-eight states that Parliament decides on any question about the Disqualification of a member. Section forty-seven of the South African Constitution provides that a member loses membership of the Parliament if he ceases to be a member of the party-appointed him.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF PRESIDING OFFICERS IN THE CONTEXT OF ANTI-DEFECTION LAW?

The tenth Schedule provides presiding officers of legislatures with the power to make your mind up cases of defection. However, it’s been noted that because the Speaker relies upon continuous support of the bulk within the House, he might not satisfy the need of associate freelance adjudicating authority regarding the decision of defection.

In the past, adjudication of the Speakers with relation to disqualifications are challenged before courts for being biased and partial. Many knowledgeable committees and commissions, together with the Dinesh Goswami Committee (1998), Commission to Review the Constitution (2002) so the| and also the} Law Commission (2015) have therefore counseled that defection cases should be set by the President or Governor for the center and states severally, World Health Organization shall act on the recommendation of the committee. This can be an equivalent observe that’s followed for deciding queries associated with the Disqualification of legislators on alternative grounds, like holding an associate workplace of profit or being of unsound mind, beneath the Constitution. However, note that the Supreme Court has upheld the availability granting the leader the ability to require these selections on the bottom that,

“The Speakers/Chairmen hold a polar position within the theme of republic and square measure guardians of the rights and privileges of the House. They’re expected to require way reaching selections within the functioning of the republic. Vestiture of power to adjudicate queries beneath the Tenth Schedule in such constitutional functionaries shouldn’t be thought of objectionable.”

JUDICIAL VIEW ON DISQUALIFICATION BY THE SPEAKER FOR DEFECTION

Dr. Koya defied a celebration whip requiring him to be a gift within the House and vote against the Motion of Confidence for the government. He claimed he was too unwell to be a gift within the House. The Speaker over that Dr. Koya abstained from choice by remaining absent, and therefore the proof of the ‘illnesses isn’t decent to conclude that he was thus unwell that he couldn’t be a gift within the House.

Shri Prasad defied a celebration whip requiring him to be a gift within the House. In his defense, he denied that any whip was issued or served. The Speaker commands that visible of the fact that there’s proof to indicate that the whip had been delivered to Shri Prasad’s House, and had been punctually received, it can’t be aforesaid that Shri Prasad had no information of the whip.

The opposition alleged that Shri Bishnoi usually dissented from and criticized the Congress government in public and demanded the govt’s dismissal. In Haryana. The Speaker command that an individual obtaining elective as a candidate of a party also gets elective thanks to the party’s programs. If the person leaves the party, he ought to return before the citizens.

It was alleged that Shri Akhlaque joined the Samajwadi Party in an exceedingly public meeting. It was alleged that at this meeting, Shri Akhlaque had aforesaid that inside, he had invariably been a member of the S.P. The Speaker reasoned that there’s no reason why news clippings and stories within the media would be lying. The Speaker, so command Shri Akhlaque disqualified for having voluntarily given up membership of the B.S.P. The foremost recent case about anti-defection is from the Mysore State assembly wherever B.J.P. is that the ruling party and fourteen members of B.J.P. and five freelance members sent a letter of discontent against the Chief Minister.

A criticism was created against them, and Speaker disqualified them from their membership. The case is unfinished within S.C.

CHALLENGES TO ANTI-DEFECTION LAW

The Constitution (32nd Amendment) Bill 1973 and thus the Constitution (48th Amendment) Bill 1978 had provisions for decision-making by the president and governors of states in connection queries on Disqualification on the ground of defection.

The Constitution (52nd Amendment) Bill 1985 suddenly introduced the provision that queries of Disqualification on the ground of defection shall be determined by chairmen and speakers of the legislative bodies. The intention was to possess speedier assessment processes at a lower place in the Tenth Schedule. This provision was a problem matter of excellent discussion in Parliament once the bill was being passed.

The 91st amendment to the Constitution was enacted in 2003 to tighten the Tenth Schedule’s anti-defection provisions, passed earlier in 1985. This change obligates all those political modification sides — whether or not on a private basis or in groups — to resign their legislative membership. They presently have to be compelled to search for re-election if they defect and cannot continue work by engineering a “split” of the simple fraction of members, or among the pretense of a “continuing split of a party.” The change jointly bars legislators from holding, post-defection, any work of profit. This amendment has therefore created defections concerning insufferable and may be an important breakthrough in cleansing politics. The irony of matters today is that the events have invalidated the vital intent of the dream of Rajiv Gandhi Their area unit instances whereby once the declaration of election results, winning candidates have resigned from their membership of the House additionally due to the party from that they got elective. Instantly, they have joined the party that has formed the govt and have yet again opposed that party, which looks to be a fraud and goes against the spirit of democracy and 52nd constitutional modification. The ingenious human brain unreal innovative ideas to induce resignations and, in effect, created the anti-defection law as a cover to hide their atrocious crime.

This law excluded the jurisdiction of the judiciary from reviewing the choices of Speakers. This half was controlled to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, whereas it upheld the remainder of the law. The Supreme Court was unanimous in holding that paragraph seven of the tenth Schedule utterly excluded all courts’ jurisdiction together with the Supreme Court beneath Article 136 and High Courts beneath Articles 226 and 227 in respect of any matter connected with the Disqualification of the member of a House.

The Constitution doesn’t enable the general assembly to limit the powers of the judiciary. ‘The Speakers/Chairmen, whereas effort powers and discharging functions beneath the Tenth Schedule act as assembly adjudicating rights and obligations beneath the Tenth Schedule and their choices therein capability area unit amenable to judicial review,’ Supreme Court same. Consequently, the Supreme Court reviewed and smitten down the order gone by the Speaker of province Assembly to disable two members in violation of the constitutional mandate in paragraph three of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution.

Suppose we tend to run into the impact of this law. In that case, it curbs the legislators’ freedom of opposing the incorrect policies, dangerous leaders, and anti-people bills projected by the ‘High Command’ in a whimsical and monarchical manner. This law has given extra dictatorial power to the organization to stay the flock along for a complete term.

“Section 2(b) of the Tenth Schedule puts the Member of Parliament into the straight jacket of obedience to the despotic dictates of the party whips that undermines the democratic spirit. It conjointly violates the principle of representative democracy by empowering the party and undermining nonappointive representatives and constituents’ connection.

The anti-defection law makes a mockery of the republic by marginalizing debates because the legislators aren’t allowed to dissent while not disqualified by the House. Disruptions, instead of substantive dialogue, become the sole style of opposition attainable. The parliamentary discussion has thereby become, for the most part, redundant”.

The Tenth Schedule has set down bound norms for keeping the flock of legislators of every party along. Therefore, the ‘whips’ within the hands of legislative party leaders, reducing the Hon’ble leaders and people’s representatives into shepherds and sheep. Because of the political parties’ unreal mechanisms to fail this constitutional legislation, the judiciary competes for a vital role in upholding the lawfulness and morality of the law besides increasing its horizons to curb the most treacherous observation unforeseen political infidelity.

This Tenth Schedule whenever used to enhance the burden of courts. Instead of maintaining standards within the party with effective leadership, the political parties are resorting to litigation, begging the courts to decide the political issues they failed to settle. It is not fair to blame the judiciary for taking the time to determine this tricky question within the framework of the Constitution. Neither the Governor nor the Speaker is bona fide. Their moves are not fair. They desperately try to use Constitutional power to settle political scores and wreak political vengeance. In the process, they do not care about the people’s will in electing a party to power, for whatever reasons that might be.

MERITS AND DEMERITS OF ANTI-DEFECTION LAW

Like every law, anti-defection laws accompany their own deserves and demerits. Looking at the positive aspect, the law aims at providing stability to the government by significant members-only just in case of any party shifts on their parts. Also, anti-defection laws try to induce some way of the members’ loyalty towards their party. This it tries to realize by guaranteeing that the members selected among the party’s name and its support conjointly as a result of the party tell to remain loyal to the party of that he is a member and its policies.

Turning to the downsides, anti-defection laws limit the freedom of speech and expression of the members by preventing them from expressing any opinion in relevant party policies. However, it has been managed in varied judgments that the freedom of speech provided below Article one zero 5 and 194 is not absolute. It’s subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the Tenth Schedule being one in all them. Another demerit of the law is that it reduces the irresponsibility of the government. To the Parliament and the parents by preventing the members of the political parties from changing their parties.

CONCLUSION

The introduction of the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution was in gear toward edge political defections. Though the law has succeeded in associate degree extremely low-cost suggests that but because of the variety of its loopholes, it hasn’t been able to reach the foremost effectiveness it’ll. Through their dishonesty, corrupt politicians have noticed the defects among the law to suit their wishes among absolutely the best suggests that. The following changes among the law might facilitate it to develop to the utmost adequate possible extent:

The power to the lawgiver needs to be reduced so that only those members’ administrative body vote against the party declaration is subject to disqualification associate agreed, not those who vote against the party in an extremely not-so-important matter or a matter that may not core to the party declaration. This might, in an associate degree, extremely suggest that facilitate the members to possess some individual viewpoint on varied issues.

The law ought to expressly launch what it means by the words’ voluntarily jettisoning Membership’, thus avoiding any confusion. The provision with relevancy mergers whereby it exempts members from Disqualification if they defect in large numbers, i.e., two-thirds, ought to be amended to form the reason for defection due to the idea of exemption from Disqualification rather than mere numbers.

Turning to the downsides, anti-defection laws limit the freedom of speech and expression of the members by preventing them from expressing any opinion in relevant party policies. However, it has been managed in varied judgments that the freedom of speech provided below Article one zero 5 and 194 is not absolute. It’s subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the Tenth Schedule being one in all them. Another demerit of the law is that it reduces the irresponsibility of the government. To the Parliament and the parents by preventing the members of the political parties from changing their parties.

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Where did the farm laws go wrong?

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The three new agriculture laws implemented by India in September 2020 with little public or legislative debate have piqued the world’s curiosity. The initiatives were portrayed as a gift to farmers by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, but farmers in various Indian states, headed by smallholders in Punjab and Haryana, have refused to accept them.The three laws are:

• The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act,

• The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act and

• The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.

The court stated that dozens of rounds of negotiation between the Centre and farmers had yielded no breakthroughs, despite the fact that senior individuals, women, and children among the protestors were exposed to major health risks caused by the cold and COVID-19. It was stated that deaths had already happened, not as a result of violence, but as a result of illness or suicide. The court praised the protesters’ nonviolent character and indicated that it did not intend to stop them.Essentially, in the midst of a pandemic, with a critical vaccination drive underway, the government appears to be employing a two-pronged strategy to break the impasse: reaching out to farmers to bridge the trust deficit in farm laws, and combating disruptive forces that are attempting to take advantage of the situation.

Farmers are concerned that agriculture sector changes would result in the abolition of the minimum support price (MSP) system and the abolition of APMC markets. The government buys farm commodities at a fixed price under the MSP framework. The MSP guarantees that farmers are guaranteed a set price, regardless of supply and demand limits. Farmers have been calling for legislation to ensure that agricultural food is purchased at the MSP. They also urge the government to repeal the Electricity Act modifications.Farmers are concerned that it would lead to the corporatization of agriculture, which will eventually force them out of the industry. They contend that the sale of agricultural produce would be governed by contracts, rendering the MSP regime ineffectual. The law permitted farmers to engage into a direct arrangement with the buyer before to the sowing season and sell their goods at the agreed-upon price at the time of contract signing.

What were the main issues in THE FARMER’S PRODUCE TRADE AND COMMERCE (PROMOTION AND FACILITATION) ACT, 2020 OR THE FPTC ACT as regarded by the farmers?

Though farmers objected to all three agricultural laws, the main issue was this Act, commonly known as the ‘APMC Bypass Bill.’ Cultivators were concerned that its provisions would undermine the APMC mandis.

Sections 3 and 4 of the Act permitted farmers to sell their goods in regions beyond the APMC mandis to purchasers from inside or outside the state. Section 6 barred the collection of any market charge or cess under any state APMC Act or other state law in connection with trading outside the APMC market. Section 14 overruled the contradictory sections of the state APMC laws, while Section 17 enabled the Centre to make regulations for enforcing the law’s provisions.

Farmers were concerned that the new laws would result in insufficient demand for their goods in local marketplaces. They said that moving the produce outside of mandis would be impossible due to a lack of resources. This is why they sell their goods at prices lower than MSP in local marketplaces.

Farmers were also upset with the provisions in Section 8 of the law that stated that a farmer or merchant might approach the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) to reach an agreement through conciliation procedures. While farmers claim they lack the right to enter SDM offices for conflict resolution, others say this amounts to seizure of judicial authorities.

POSSIBLE ISSUES WITH FARMERS (EMPOWERMENT AND PROTECTION) AGREEMENT OF PRICE ASSURANCE AND FARM SERVICES ACT, 2020

Sections 3-12 of the statute attempted to provide a legal framework for contract farming. Before the planting season, farmers might get into a direct arrangement with a buyer to sell their products at predetermined pricing. It enabled farmers and sponsors to enter into agricultural partnerships. The law, however, made no mention of the MSP that purchasers must provide to farmers.

Though the Centre claimed that the law was intended to liberate farmers by allowing them to sell anywhere, farmers were concerned that it would lead to the corporatisation of agriculture. They were also concerned that the MSP will be eliminated. Critics also claimed that the contract system would expose small and marginal farmers to exploitation by large corporations unless selling prices were continued to be regulated as they were before to the new law’s implementation.

HOW DID THE FARMERS REACT TO THE FARM BILL?

Despite the potential benefits, both parties were unable to reach an agreement on the farm laws, which resulted in their repeal. Farmers who have been protesting at Delhi’s borders and in their states since last year have rejected the Central government’s offers to alter the contentious new agriculture rules. They said that the plan was insufficient and accused the administration of being “insincere,” while also warning the Parliament to step up their protests. Parliament approved these Acts during the monsoon session in 2020. Farmers have long feared that the Centre’s farm reforms will pave the way for the demise of the MSP system, leaving them at the whim of large corporations. However, no resolution was reached, and no date for the next round of discussions was set for the first time. Following the failure of these discussions, the Supreme Court suspended the execution of these farm legislation. Farmers were overjoyed when these rules were removed on November 19, 2021.

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Declaring vaccination mandatory in India: A last resort towards battling Covid-19

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With the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across the globe, there is hardly any country which has been able to protect its citizens from it. During this unprecedented situation which has persisted more than a year, this pandemic has claimed as many as 3.18 lakh lives in India itself, making the situation abysmal and chaotic in the country. But a silver lining arose on January 03rd, 2021, when the Government of India approved emergency authorization for Covishield and Covaxin for effectively tackling the pandemic situation.

Till date, around 160 crore people have been vaccinated out of which around 4.24 crore have been fully vaccinated. As can be evidently seen, India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive is alarmingly behind schedule, especially when India is facing an unforeseen situation and it is the need of the hour to rustle up the vaccination drive. Indubitably, the government has miserably failed in procuring vaccines leading to an inordinate delay in inoculating people. One of the reasons behind such a delay is an acute shortage of supply of vaccines from the manufacturers. But there is another hidden but known facet which has conspicuously reduced the percentage of vaccinated population despite vaccines being available at local vaccination centers. Suspicions and myths pertaining to vaccines in general are creating mistrust among people, especially for those residing in rural or marginalized areas, who are very skeptical about getting inoculated. Due to such fear and apprehension, people are not registering for vaccination and even after scheduling an appointment, they are not turning up for vaccination at the centers leading to wastage of thousands of doses raising a cause for concern in the entire country.

First and foremost step to be taken by the government is to initiate an awareness drive throughout the country by educating the people residing especially in rural and marginalized areas about the various personal and community health benefits of getting vaccinated. However, in case there is timely and unhindered supply of vaccines and yet people refuse to take it then the government must promulgate laws making vaccination compulsory in the nation. Although, it is not always necessary to go through the trouble of making vaccination compulsory but it should only be kept as a last resort to tackle the problem. It is well within the legislative powers of the State Legislature to enact such a law related to public health and sanitation. (vide Entry 6 List-II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution on India). Here, a focus needs to be drawn to a similar step taken by the British Government to make smallpox vaccination compulsory by way of the Vaccination Act of 1892. Another example was laid down by the US Supreme Court which upheld the law made by the State for compulsory vaccination stating that is well with its police power for the protection of public health.

LAWS EMPOWERING THE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE VACCINATION MANDATORY

The Epidemic Disease Act of 1897 contains provisions empowering the government to take whatever measures it deems necessary to prevent the outbreak or spread of an epidemic disease, provided the existing laws are not sufficient to deal with the situation. Moreover, a collective reading of numerous provisions of the National Disaster Management Act of 2005 shows that the Central Government is empowered to constitute a National Disaster Management Authority which can lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management for ensuring timely and effective response to a disaster. The Central Government has invoked its power under Section 6 (2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 directing the State Governments to restrict the movement of people and various other activities in the beginning of the pandemic and those can be applied for the process of vaccination too. Under such laws, the government can formulate policies for compulsory vaccination during the current unprecedented situation in India.

ENFORCING MANDATORY VACCINATION

It is certainly not advisable to impose penal action like imprisonment against an individual who refuses to get inoculated. There are several ways through which the government can enforce mandatory vaccination on such individuals. For instance, it can impose fine on people who refuse vaccination. Another way can be by imposing a reasonable restriction on the movement of an individual within any part of this country since the freedom to move freely within the territory in India is subject to reasonable restrictions as laid down under Article 19(5) of the Constitution of India. Moreover, for the people who are visiting India, vaccination must be compulsory upon failure of which can lead to restricting the use of their passport by the Government by exercising its powers under the Passport Act, 1967. Alternatively, if a person still refuses to get vaccinated upon his arrival in India, he shall be mandatorily kept under 7 days institutional quarantine as per the guidelines for international arrival issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). Moreover, for foreigners who are not vaccinated, the government can pass an order under Section 3 (2) (e) of the Foreigners Act, 1946. For example, people applying for immigration to the United States need to show their vaccination certificates. Otherwise the applicant must be given those vaccines at the time of medical exam.

PERCEIVED CRITICISMS

Making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for people can have some serious legal concerns. A person can claim that the legislation making vaccination compulsory is violative of the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The term privacy has been interpreted in its widest sense so as to restrict the government from infringing it by way of an unfair, unjust and unreasonable laws and regulations. But it is pivotal to argue that the right to privacy is embraced under the right to life and personal liberty which may be restricted according to the procedure established by law. Therefore, the right to privacy can very well be curtailed by the government by way of enacting just, fair and reasonable law which is in interest of public at large (vide K.S Puttaswamy v Union of India). Further in the case of Evara Foundation vs Union of India in the affidavit it was stated that “It is humbly submitted that the direction and guidelines released by Government of India and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, do not envisage any forcible vaccination without obtaining consent of the concerned individual”.

At this juncture, it is also pertinent to give reference to Hohfeld’s theory of jural relations. As Hohfeld says, if a person has a right, then that right is accompanied by a duty to protect the rights of others. In other words, the people are guaranteed the right to privacy which can be restricted by making the vaccination compulsory for the people refusing to take the vaccination for collective public interest, since COVID-19 will continue to spread if people do not get vaccinated. For instance, if majority of the population in the Country is vaccinated then it will obviously break the chain of the spread of the virus and the positivity rate will come down.

Moreover, there are many developed countries across the world like U.K., Australia, France, Italy, who have made the vaccination mandatory for their citizens despite the fact it is not the last resort but it was the only way to break vicious cycle of waves of the virus. In addition, India is a developing country where the health care system is ineffective to cater the vast number of populations. So, India should also follow the footsteps of the developed countries in order to save the lives of its citizens.

SUMMING UP

In order to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating a large number of people either by way of voluntary vaccination or forced vaccination, equitable distribution of vaccines is a pre-requisite, failure of which can render the former otiose. There is an obligation on part of the government to ensure that there are no obstacles or impediments in providing vaccines all across the nation without any discrimination.

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PIYUSH GOYAL CALLS UPON STARTUPS TO LEVERAGE ‘DEEP TECH’

Goyal says start ups to build solutions for local & global markets: AI, IoT, Big Data, etc.

Tarun Nangia

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Piyush Goyal

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal today called upon the Indian industry to aim for raising 75 unicorns in the 75 weeks to the 75th anniversary of Independence next year.

“We have added 43 unicorns added in 45 weeks, since the start of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ on 12th March, 2021. Let us aim for atleast 75 unicorns in this 75 week period to 75thAnniversary of Independence,” he said, while releasing the NASSCOM Tech Start-up Report 2022.

Goyal said Startup India started a revolution six years ago and today ‘Startup’ has become a common household term. Indian Startups are fast becoming the champions of India Inc’s growth story, he added.

“India has now become the hallmark of a trailblazer & is leaving its mark on global startup landscape. Investments received by Indian startups overshadowed pre-pandemic highs. 2021 will be remembered as the year Indian start-ups delivered on their promise, – fearlessly chasing opportunities across verticals – Edtech, HealthTech & AgriTech amongst others,” he said.

Goyal lauded the ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) industry including the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector for the record Services exports during the last year. “Services Export for Apr-Dec 2021 reached more than $178 bn despite the Covid19 pandemic when the Travel, Hospitality & Tourism sectors were significantly down,” he said.

• “Let us aim for at least 75 unicorns in the 75 weeks to the 75th Anniversary of Independence”: Piyush Goyal

• Goyal lauds the ITES industry including the BPO sector for the record Services exports during the last year despite the pandemic

•  Piyush Goyal says the PM’s interaction with Startups a week ago has supercharged our innovators

• The next “UPI moment” will be the ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) – Goyal

• New India is today being led by new troika of Innovation, Technology & Entrepreneurship (ITE), ‘India at 100’ will be renowned as a Startup nation: Goyal

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