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Policy & Politics

India’s foreign trade: Examining September 2020

Overall imports in April-September 2020-21 are estimated to be $204.12 billion,
exhibiting a negative growth of (-) 35.43 per cent over the same period last year.

Tarun Nangia

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Major commodities/commodity groups which have recorded positive growth during September 2020 vis-à-vis September 2019 are other cereals (337.22%), iron ore (109.65%), rice (93.86%), oil meals (47.52%), carpet (42.89%), ceramic products & glassware (36.17%), oil seeds (35.69%), cereal preparations & miscellaneous processed items (33.57%), drugs & pharmaceuticals (24.38%), handicrafts excl. handmade carpet (21.82%), meat, dairy & poultry products (19.97%), Jute mfg. including floor covering (18.64%), cotton yarn/fabs./made-ups, handloom products etc. (15.39%), spices (11.44%), tobacco (11.09%) and RMG of all textiles(10.22%). 

India’s overall exports ( Merchandise And Services combined) in April-September 2020-21* are estimated to be USD 221.86 Billion, exhibiting a negative growth of (-) 16.66 per cent over the same period last year. Overall imports in April-September 2020-21* are estimated to be USD 204.12 Billion, exhibiting a negative growth of (-) 35.43 per cent over the same period last year. 

I. MERCHANDISE TRADE EXPORTS (including re-exports) 

• Exports in September 2020 were USD 27.58 Billion, as compared to USD 26.02 Billion in September 2019, exhibiting a positive growth of 5.99 per cent. In Rupee terms, exports were Rs. 2,02,694.07 Crore in September 2020, as compared to Rs. 1,85,642.32 Crore in September 2019, registering a positive growth of 9.19 per cent.

 • Major commodities/ commodity groups which have recorded positive growth during September 2020 vis-à-vis September 2019 are Other cereals (337.22%), Iron Ore (109.65%), Rice (93.86%), Oil Meals (47.52%), Carpet (42.89%), Ceramic products & glassware (36.17%), Oil seeds (35.69%), Cereal preparations & miscellaneous processed items (33.57%), Drugs & pharmaceuticals (24.38%), Handicrafts excl. handmade carpet (21.82%), Meat, dairy & poultry products (19.97%), Jute mfg. including floor covering (18.64%), Cotton yarn/fabs./made-ups, handloom products etc. (15.39%), Spices (11.44%), Tobacco (11.09%) and RMG of all textiles (10.22%). 

• Major commodities/ commodity groups which have recorded negative growth during September 2020 vis-à-vis September 2019 are Cashew (-44.25%), Gems & jewellery (-24.67%), Man-made yarn/fabs./made-ups etc. (-9.12%), Mica, Coal & other ores, minerals including processed minerals (-6.71%), Marine products (-5.41%), Leather & leather products (-3.36%), Tea (-2.27%) and Fruits & Vegetables (-1.44%).

 • Cumulative value of exports for the period April-September 2020- 21 was USD 125.25 Billion (Rs. 9,38,529.94 Crore) as against USD 159.16 Billion (Rs. 11,13,886.17 Crore) during the period AprilSeptember 2019-20, registering a negative growth of (-) 21.31 per cent in Dollar terms (negative growth of (-) 15.74 per cent in Rupee terms). 

• Non-petroleum and Non-Gems and Jewellery exports in September 2020 were USD 21.27 Billion, as compared to USD 19.00 Billion in September 2019, registering a positive growth of 11.94 per cent. Non-petroleum and NonGems and Jewellery exports in April-September 2020-21 were USD 104.51 Billion, as compared to USD 118.65 Billion for the corresponding period in 2019-20, which is a decrease of (-) 11.92 per cent. 

IMPORTS

 • Imports in September 2020 were USD 30.31 Billion (Rs. 2,22,708.15 Crore), which is a decline of (-) 19.60 per cent lower in Dollar terms and (-) 17.18 per cent in Rupee terms over imports of USD 37.69 Billion (Rs 2,68,891.09 Crore) in September 2019. Cumulative value of imports for the period AprilSeptember 2020-21 was USD 148.69 Billion (Rs. 11,14,686.58 Crore), as against USD 248.08 Billion (Rs. 17,35,550.99 Crore) during the period AprilSeptember 2019-20, registering a negative growth of (-) 40.06 per cent in Dollar terms and a negative growth of (-) 35.77 per cent in Rupee terms. 

• Major commodity groups of import showing negative growth in September 2020 over the corresponding month of last year are: 

CRUDE OIL AND NON-OIL IMPORTS 

• Oil imports in September 2020 were USD 5.83 Billion (Rs. 42,812.35 Crore), which was 35.88 percent lower in Dollar terms (33.95 percent lower in Rupee terms), compared to USD 9.09 Billion (Rs. 64,815.60 Crore) in September 2019. Oil imports in April-September 2020-21 were USD 31.86 Billion (Rs. 2,38,995.70 Crore) which was 51.14 per cent lower in Dollar terms (47.60 percent lower in Rupee terms) compared to USD 65.20 Billion (Rs. 4,56,108.64 Crore), over the same period last year.

 • In this connection it is mentioned that the global Brent price ($/bbl) has decreased by 34.08% in September 2020 vis-à-vis September 2019 as per data available from World Bank.

 • Non-oil imports in September 2020 were estimated at USD 24.48 Billion (Rs. 1,79,895.80 Crore) which was 14.43 per cent lower in Dollar terms (11.85 percent lower in Rupee terms), compared to USD 28.61 Billion (Rs. 2,04,075.49 Crore) in September 2019. Non-oil imports in AprilSeptember 2020-21 were USD 116.83 Billion (Rs. 8,75,690.88 Crore) which was 36.12 per cent lower in Dollar terms (31.56 percent lower in Rupee terms), compared to USD 182.88 Billion (Rs. 12,79,442.35 Crore) in April-September 2019-20. 

• Non-Oil and Non-Gold imports were USD 23.88 Billion in September 2020, recording a negative growth of (-) 12.63 per cent, as compared to Non-Oil and Non-Gold imports of USD 27.33 Billion in September 2019. Non-Oil and Non-Gold imports were USD 110.05 Billion in AprilSeptember 2020-21, recording a negative growth of (-) 34.13 per cent, as compared to Non-Oil and NonGold imports USD 167.08 Billion in April-September 2019-20. 

II. TRADE IN SERVICES EXPORTS (Receipts)

 • As per the latest press release by RBI dated 15th October 2020, exports in August 2020 were USD 16.44 Billion (Rs. 1,22,768.07 Crore) registering a negative growth of (-) 9.88 per cent in dollar terms, vis-àvis August 2019. The estimated value of services export for September 2020* is USD 16.34 Billion. 

IMPORTS (Payments) 

• As per the latest press release by RBI dated 15th October 2020 imports in August 2020 were USD 9.60 Billion (Rs. 71,662.62 Crore) registering a negative growth of (-) 20.06 per cent in dollar terms, vis-àvis August 2019. The estimated value of service import for September 2020* is USD 9.49 Billion. 

III.TRADE BALANCE MERCHANDISE:

The trade deficit for September 2020 was estimated at USD 2.72 Billion as against the deficit of USD 11.67 Billion in September 2019, which is a decline of (-) 76.66 percent. *Note: The latest data for services sector released by RBI is for August 2020. The data for September 2020 is an estimation, which will be revised based on RBI’s subsequent release. 

SERVICES 

• As per RBI’s Press Release dated 15th October 2020 the trade balance in Services (i.e. Net Services export) for August 2020 is USD 6.84 Billion. The estimated trade balance in September 2020* is USD 6.85 Billion. 

OVERALL TRADE BALANCE 

• Taking merchandise and services together, overall trade surplus for AprilSeptember 2020-21* is estimated at USD 17.74 Billion as compared to the deficit of USD 49.91 Billion in April-September 2019-20.

Policy & Politics

Online dispute resolution policy is a game changer for online consumerism

The European Union adopted this mechanism of consumer dispute resolution in the year 2013 through a directive on consumer ADR and a regulation on consumer ODR. The European Union model and the technical notes by UNCITRAL lay down the ground for an ODR mechanism to be followed by different nations. ODR mechanism has the potential to be the next big thing in the field of dispute resolution at the world level

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The Right Time

 From Exchanging goods in the barter system in the old times to coins, notes, cheques, to digital transactions and crypto-currencies in the present times, the global market system has evolved enormously. This transition from a physical marketplace to a digital marketplace can be attributed to the global internet revolution which started in the 90s era of the twentieth century. In India, online shopping sites started to take small steps in the early 2000s but it saw a rise in the latter half of the decade and today it is a big reality. 

The big reason for a late bloom of e-commerce was spread of internet accessibility in different parts of the country. Consumerism has been given various connotations but according to a Cambridge dictionary it means “protection of consumers against harmful products or business methods.” In India, Consumer Protection Act of 1986, came as a result from global wave of consumerism. But when this act came into force at that time e-commerce was not a thing at all. In the present era, where everyone is shopping at the tap of their fingertips, the consumer disputes arising out of such transactions posed technical barriers which couldn’t be sorted out with the previous act in an efficient manner. 

To overcome the legal and practical obstacles presented by the previous act, a new Consumer Protection Act came in force in the year 2019. An express inclusion of online consumer disputes was made thereunder. There are many provisions in this act which expressly recognizes e-commerce transactions. A Central Consumer Protection Authority is established under this Act for better well-being of the general interest of consumers. For the first time an ADR mechanism is introduced in resolution of consumer disputes. Mediation is adopted as a mechanism for dispute resolution of consumer disputes under this act. Filing of consumer dispute complaints has been made easier in the greater good of the consumers’ community by expanding the jurisdiction of consumer courts. 

Online Consumerism as a concept for safeguarding the consumer interest in the current times is evolving rapidly in some parts of the world such as in the European Union. It has adopted a model of ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) for resolving all the disputes arising out of consumer matters. The United Commission on International Trade Law in the year 2016 adopted a non-binding document in the form of Technical Notes on Online Dispute Resolution. The European Union adopted this mechanism of consumer dispute resolution in the year 2013 through a directive on consumer ADR and a regulation on consumer ODR. The European Union model and the technical notes by UNCITRAL lays down the ground for an ODR mechanism to be followed by different nations. ODR mechanism has a potential to be the next big thing in the field of dispute resolution at the world level. According to a report, India will witness 220 million online shoppers by 2025. It means that there will be a rise in online consumer disputes also. Although the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 covers online consumer disputes under its sphere but it needs a big stride to provide access to speedy and complete justice. Online Dispute Resolution as a channel for resolution of consumer disputes arising out of online transactions should only be covered in the present times under the present Act.

 Online Dispute Resolution: Global Perspective

 It is an extended form of ADR mechanism which takes place on a digital platform. Currently in some parts of the world it has effectively started for resolution of disputes such as in European Union, US, Hangzhou Internet Court of China and Brazil and the data in Brazil shows that 2 million cases were resolved there in the course of 5 years. It doesn’t act as a substitution of existing legal framework or any other dispute resolution mechanism but it complements the existing system to work efficiently and it is to provide “new and better ways to resolve the disputes that arise in connection with [network] use.”

 UNCITRAL Technical Notes on ODR define it as a mechanism to assist parties to resolve disputes without any requirement of physical presence of the parties through various alternative dispute resolution methods and any other type which may be formed. It does not give an exhaustive list of forms and approaches under ODR method. A difference which can be drawn between the ADR mechanism and ODR mechanism is that the former is done through a third party involvement and the latter is done by indulging a fourth party i.e. ‘technology’. Technology acts as a tool to reach the parties without them being required to be present physically. It acts as an aid to the third party to resolve the dispute in hand between different parties.

 ODR: The missing block in Consumer Protection Act, 2019

 The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 has provided Indian consumer rights a whole new direction from the previous act working in the field. Specifically with regards to the aspect of e-commerce and alternative dispute resolution mechanism, the present act has made a path-breaking impact. The previous 1986 Act was not in tandem with the present day problems and situations. It was enacted when there was nothing like e-shopping in India. Amending that act would’ve also not done a great deal. So it became necessitated to bring a whole new legislation with regards to the consumers’ rights. The whole consumer dynamics is changing vigorously so it was required to be done.

 The legislature has taken care of most of the situations and problems of the present day and has presented a quite comprehensive act. The present act has brought a lot of new dimensions to consumer rights. The major highlights of the current act is introduction of mediation as an alternative method of resolving the disputes, introduction of the concept of product liability for differentiating the liabilities of product manufacturer and product seller, establishment of a Central Consumer Protection Authority, specific recognition to the e-commerce transactions etc. The missing block which can make the present act fully comprehensive consumer protection legislation is inclusion of an ODR scheme as a method of dispute resolution. According to a report India will surpass United States by the year 2034 to become the second largest e-commerce market in the world. Though the present act has given recognition to the e-commerce market but a modern world requires a modern solution to its problems. ODR will provide a simple, secure, feasible and a fast method of dispute resolution. In the present times where Artificial Intelligence is also taking shape it can be used as a great tool for a smoother functioning. The recently formed Central Consumer Protection Authority can play a major role in setting up a ODR platform in India and administering the affairs. An ODR platform common for all in the country acting as a single point of entry of disputes just like EU will be effective when combined with the stages of dispute resolutions laid down in the UNCITRAL Technical Notes.

 A Possible Indian Model We don’t have many models in the world to look around to see how the effectively a system like Online Dispute Resolution is working. There are very few countries which are having such a system. Member states of European Union follow the Regulation on consumer ODR, which we’ve seen above. The others are the US model where few county courts are adopting this mechanism as the first step, else it is done privately by the e-commerce companies since 2000 itself, in China an Internet Court is set up in the city of Hangzhou for resolution of e-commerce disputes through ODR mechanism, Brazil also allows companies to directly resolve their disputes online with the customers. In India also many companies have started to using ODR mechanism for resolution of disputes so it is a good sign to introduce this system in a nationwide aspect. The Indian Model which can be imagined can be made through a culmination of all the above mentioned models and the model presented by the UNCITRAL.

Firstly, the newly established Central Consumer Protection Authority, shall be made the principal body managing and running the Online Dispute Resolution system in India acting as an ODR Administrator as mentioned in the technical notes. It shall be the governing and supervising body under which the functioning of ODR machinery shall take place.

Secondly, an ODR platform should be created and that shall be the only platform running in the country and no other private firms should be allowed although they can become a part of this platform where they can provide their services. It shall be done to bring a level of uniformity in the dispute resolution system.

Thirdly, rules shall be framed for the governance of the dispute resolution of the process. Again this will bring uniformity to the system as different rules will again act as a hindrance in enforcement of consumers’ right.

 Fourthly, all the e-commerce websites shall be registered on this platform and shall be provided with a certificate. And it should be made a mandatory requirement for such companies. And following the EU model the websites should provide a link to the ODR platform increase awareness in the consumer. 

Fifthly, the dispute resolution clause in the standard form contracts shall be in accordance with the guidelines which shall be formed by the Central Consumer Protection Authority. And violation of this rule shall attract heavy penalty as it will act as a protection of consumers from unfair terms made by the companies.

Sixthly, due to low awareness and low digital literacy it shall not be made a compulsory first step. Otherwise it will create more havoc than helping people.

Seventhly, the dispute resolution process as provided in the Technical Notes, should be multitiered. Firstly there should be negotiation, then mediation, and then it will be on the authority to decide whether to send it for arbitration or any other method. 

Sometimes many person from different places are affected by a single cause of action e.g. deficiency in services by an airline company. With the present act where a consumer has been given an option to file a complaint where he resides or where the business takes place of the service provider, increases multiplicity of complaints against the trader. For this ODR mechanism will be of great use where all the complaints can be clubbed into a single one when the relief claimed is common. It will reduce hardship on such a service provider also.

 Issue Of Arbitrability

 Introduction of an ADR mechanism in the form of Mediation for resolution of consumer disputes is a big welcome step. But the Indian courts have always shown apprehension in promoting ADR mechanism such as Arbitration in resolving consumer disputes because of unfair terms provided in the standard form contracts. These unfair terms jeopardize the consumers’ interest at a great extent. But the present act specifically deals with unfair terms provided in the contract between a trader and consumer which prejudicially affects consumer’s rights. But still the issue of non-arbitrability haunts the consumer disputes. 

In the case of Fair Air Engineers Pvt. Ltd. and Anr. v. N.K. Modi, the Supreme Court of India for the first time gave precedence to the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 over the Arbitration Act of 1940, despite the presence of a valid arbitration agreement between the parties. Regarding the consumer legislation as a lex specialis (special law) and the arbitration act as a lex generalis (general law) the court should give precedence to a welfare legislation. In the case of Thirumugugan Cooperative Agricultural Credit Society v. M. Lalitha, the remained firm with previous stand by giving the reason that if arbitration will be allowed in the consumer disputes then the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 will become redundant. Again in the case of A. Ayyasamy v. A. Paramasivam and Ors., the court took the stand by providing the reason that the parties cannot opt out of the exclusive jurisdiction of the consumer forum. But in many cases it has been held that it is at the option of the consumer to decide whether to arbitrate or not and remedy provided under the Consumer Protection Act is an additional remedy and is not in derogation to other remedies. So the biggest problem which can arise by making consumer disputes arbitrable will be that traders will take undue advantage of consumers by forming unfair terms of contract. 

They can make terms like the seat of arbitration will be at a foreign place and many such other terms which can prejudice the consumers’ interest. The issue of arbitrability can be settled after inclusion of the ODR mechanism in the consumer dispute resolution scenario. As we have seen in the above discussed probable Indian model, the Central Consumer Protection Authority’s role becomes pivotal in balancing both the consumers’ interest and access to justice through ADR/ODR mechanism. After the setting up of the Central Authority in regards to consumer protection, it can lay down a specific dispute resolution clause and through incorporation method it should be adopted in all e-commerce and standard form contracts for the protection of consumers’ interest. 

The Covid Times

 Instances of hoarding of necessary items witnessed a steep rise in the early phase of coronavirus pandemic. The consumers were in middle of a life threatening pandemic and non-sympathetic greedy traders. Online shopping rose up as the most viable and efficient option in the hands of consumers. The whole country went through months of lockdown and is still opening up in phased manner. During such hard times e-commerce proved to be a boon for the society. Just imagine being under lockdown in the year 1920, the conditions would’ve been worse. 

Though e-commerce acted as succour in such gloomy times but the consumers went through many hardships dealing online. Consumers faced regular ecommerce challenges like frauds, bad quality, etc. but now they were completely handicapped in legal sense. People could not file their complaint and remained vulnerable to such challenges. The lockdown phase in India became witness to an unprecedented surge in e-commerce market. But it also reflected the need of establishing an Online Dispute Resolution mechanism for the purpose of enforcement of consumers’ rights. Had there been any such mechanism in place, the consumers could’ve easily placed their problems in front of the appropriate authorities. 

Conclusion

 New problems require new solutions. ODR is that new thing which is going to bring further changes in dynamics of consumer protection. A consumer will be able to file a complaint without being required to go to a physical court. He can file all the pleadings and evidences through the online platform. It is on the consumer to get a help of a lawyer or not. Though the same was in the case of forums and commissions where they can represent themselves by their own. But the fear of a common man to go into the court stopped them from representing themselves. The world is witnessing the new age consumers who prefer to stay at home and do all the shopping and book services ranging from getting a massage at home to shopping gym equipment. Everything is getting done on a finger tap on the screen. 

Though ODR is in a nascent stage right now but will certainly be the dispute resolution mechanism in future. Adopting it early when there will be less traffic, the lacunas will be done away with in a more swiftly manner rather than when adopting it will be the urgent demand of the time. The meteoric rise of internet penetration India is witnessing in the current times shows how things are going to be changed and a robust system shall be in place to handle the problems arising out of it. With great internet penetration the e-commerce sector is also witnessing a sharp rise. In India currently few ODR firms are working and some e-commerce and banking sites are also using it. Starting with consumer disputes is a first step in the direction of getting internet courts in India. Consumer disputes being not of much legal nature involving any question of law shall act as a testing object for achieving a complete ODR mechanism for resolving other kinds of dispute also.

 It will certainly help in clearing the backlogs of the cases in the Indian courts. India requires such a system as soon as possible because the numbers of cases pending to the numbers of judges is really worrying state of affairs. Online dispute resolution policy is a game changer for online consumerism ANALYSIS The Indian model which can be imagined can be made through a culmination of all the above-mentioned models and the model presented by the UNCITRAL. First, the newly established Central Consumer Protection Authority shall be made the principal body managing and running the Online Dispute Resolution system in India, acting as an ODR Administrator as mentioned in the technical notes.  

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Policy & Politics

Farmers Produce Act, 2020: Policy and legal analysis

The explanation of scheduled farmers’ produce does not pertain to farmers’ produce. It rather pertains to agricultural produce, which has not been formulated under the Act. It additionally refers to State APMC Acts, the state-specific statutes that govern the buying and selling of agricultural produce. The State APMC Acts are supported by schedules, which list out several commodities of agricultural produce.

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INTRODUCTION

 Farmers Produce trade and commerce (promotion and facilitation) bill, 2020, received presidential assent on 24th September, 2020. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman motioned the Union government’s expectation to legislate a new central law that would override prevailing state regulations that prohibit the farmer from fairly selling to anyone other than a buyer licensed by the local Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC). The outcome to push for a central law appears after displeasure with two decades of unfair and unequal reforms by various states. 

However, after examining and analysing the aforementioned Act, it can be referred that, this particular Act carries a lot of loopholes. In this problem, the authors are intended to address those legal issues and concerns, which remain unanswered by the legislatures. In our further study, we shall discuss the issues confronting by the farmers concerning the complication between farmers’ produce and schedule, and its consequences, issues related to jurisdiction, and disproportionate penalties, etc. The difficulties farmers confront are not merely an outcome of granted, monopolistic interests, but are grounded in bigger structural circumstances that considerably diminish their terms of engagement in agricultural markets. The former may be dealt with regulatory intervention, But the latter will require location-specific strategies, well-directed investment, and wellfunctioning agricultural organizations. It is difficult to comprehend how either can be attained without a great deal of consensus, coordination, and ability in which the states will require to play a crucial role.

 COMPLICATIONS WITH RESPECT TO FARMERS’ PRODUCE OR SCHEDULED FARMERS’ PRODUCE 

As per the Farmer’s Produce Act, 2020, sec. 2(c) “farmers’ produce” means, (i) foodstuffs including cereals like wheat, rice or other coarse grains, pulses, edible oilseeds, oils, vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices, sugarcane, and products of poultry, piggery, goatery, fishery and dairy intended for human consumption in its natural or processed form; (ii) cattle fodder including oilcakes and other concentrates; and (iii) raw cotton whether ginned or unginned, cotton seeds and raw jute.

 On the other hand, sec. 2(j), defines, defines “scheduled farmers’ produce” as agricultural produce specified under any State Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act for regulation. The explanation of scheduled farmers’ produce does not pertain to farmers’ produce. It rather pertains to agricultural produce, which has not been formulated under the Act. It additionally refers to State APMC Acts, the state-specific statutes that govern the buying and selling of agricultural produce. 

The State APMC Acts are supported by schedules, which list out several commodities of agricultural produce. Thus, the term scheduled farmers’ produce refers to the united set of all commodities of agricultural produce that are governed under any State APMC Act. These are comprised of commodities such as cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, flowers, tendu leaves, bamboo, timber, wool, honey wax, tulsi, catechu, tobacco, etc. 

However, not all of these commodities would come under the ambit of farmers’ produce. This is because commodities such as flowers, bamboo, camel hair, etc., which are all commodities of scheduled farmers’ produce, do not come in any of the three pigeon holes of the term farmers’ produce. Therefore, the word “scheduled farmers’ produce” comprises various commodities that do not fit within the purview of farmers’ produce. 

The Consequence 

Section 2(b) defines ‘farmer’ as somebody who produces farmers’ produce. Similarly, Section 2(n) defines ‘trader’ as somebody who buys farmers’ produce. Likewise, Sections 2(e) and 2(f) clarify inter-state and intra-state trade concerning farmers’ produce. 

Therefore, according to the aforementioned Act, it is clear that all the activities related to buying and selling of farm products and commodities are defined under the concerning farmers’ produce and with the regard to scheduled farmers produce. Hence, illustratively, bamboo cultivators, tobacco producers, and flower producers are not farmers under this aforesaid Act, because these commodities are scheduled farmers’ produce that does not come under the ambit of farmers’ produce. 

The peculiarity in Section 4(1)

 Additionally, Section 4(1) authorizes a trader to freely engage in interstate and intra-state trade of scheduled farmers’ produce with a farmer or another trader. As clarified above, under this Act, inter-state and intra-state trade have been interpreted with reject to farmers’ produce and not concerning scheduled farmers’ produce. 

Thus, according to the interpretation of section 4(1), it is understandable that the right of trading freely, in buying and selling of commodities of inter-state and infra state border is only given to framers produce and its commodities not to the scheduled farmers produced. 

Accordingly, Section 4(1) bars a broad range of farmers that do not produce commodities that would come under the ambit of farmers’ produce but produce commodities that would differently come under the ambit of scheduled farmers’ produce (such as tobacco, wool, etc.). A similar is the role for individuals who entirely trade in scheduled farmers’ produce. 

Can a trader sell?

 Interestingly, the explanation of the trader is also likely with other provisions of the aforesaid Act. According to Sections 2(e) and 2(f), which formulate inter/intra-state trade, two traders can trade on farmers’ produce with each other. However, Section 2(n), which explains trader, prohibits the acts to only purchasing farmers’ produce. These inconsistencies completely bloom in Section 4(3), which specifies that a trader shall pay for the scheduled farmers’ produce to the grower ideally on the same day or maximum under three days. Once again, the stipulation pertains only to dealers and growers, as explain under the Act and eliminates individuals that do not grow/trade-in farmer’s produce, but differently produce/trade-in commodities that come under the ambit of scheduled farmers’ produce. Likewise, this section also eliminates the buying/selling of scheduled farmers’ produce between two dealers. Accordingly, the Act may inconsistent with Article 14 of the Constitution of India, as it bars a whole variety of individuals and commodities without any adequate justification.

 JURISDICTIONAL ISSUES 

Chapter III, from sec. 8 to sec. 10 of the farmers produce, Act, 2020, deals with Dispute Resolution. Section 8(1) furnishes that in case of any conflict between a farmer and a trader, the parties can initiate conciliation by filing a request by application with the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM). Regardless, the Act does not stipulate which SDM would territorial jurisdiction perform.

 It could be the SDM of the region where the farmer resides or ordinarily labors for income and/or where the trader lives or ordinarily trade for income and/or of the trade region, where the agreement took place. At the time, the Act provides all SDMs all-India jurisdiction. Once again, the advantage of dispute resolution is not available in disputes where the individuals produce/trade entirely in scheduled farmers’ produce, which does not come under the ambit of farmers’ produce, and/or if both parties are dealers. 

APPELLANT PROCEDURE

 Section 8(8) of farmers produce, Act, 2020, furnishes for an appeal from the SDA’s judgment to the Collector (or the Additional Collector nominated by them). Regardless, the appeal is irrelevant because, under the Act, there is no provision for the SDA to report any justifications for their judgment. In the dearth of justifications, the appellate authority does not have the advantage of the purpose of the SDA’s dignity.

 Furthermore, there is no additional appeal from the Collector’s decree to any judicial authority, evacuating only the solution of a writ petition. Pertinently, Section 15 also excludes the jurisdiction of civil courts.

 DISPROPOSINATE PENALTY 

The farmers produce Act, 2020, under section 4, it is stated that (1) Any trader may engage in the interState trade or intra-State trade of scheduled farmers’ produce with a farmer or another trader in a trade area: Provided that no trader, except the farmer producer organizations or agricultural co-operative society, shall trade in any scheduled farmers’ produce unless such a trader has a permanent account number allotted under the Incometax Act, 1961 or such other document as may be notified by the Central Government. According to the reference of the aforementioned provision and after analyzing the said provision it can be referred, that, a constraint order is grossly irrelevant to the second contravention. 

The unpaid farmer’s dues are a contractual infringement between the farmer and the dealer and accordingly cannot have effects availing against, such that the privilege of the trader to confront in trade and commerce is entirely taken away. Pertinently, it is not the case that the cancellation shall put up with only one reiterated default, as the Act does not include any provision to that consequence. The defaulter dealer can be weeded out of the business invariably and in all geographies, at the very early instance of default. 

SEGREGATE OFFENDERS: ONCE AND FOR ALL

 The farmers produce an Act, 2020, under Section 8(5), if the conciliation between the parties goes wrong, they can reach the SDM for compromise of such conflict. Under Section 8(7), the SDM (acting as the Sub-Divisional Authority – SDA) shall determine the conflict in a summary way after providing the parties a chance of being heard. Afterward, the SDA may depart a decree of recovery of the amount or assess a compensation or pass judgment regulating the trader in conflict from attempting any trade and commerce of scheduled farmers’ produce, directly or indirectly under the ambit of said Act for such duration as it may consider fit. (i) No authority to reject – Under Section 8(7), of farmers produce, Act, 2020, there is no stipulation for acquittal of the conflict.

 Therefore, even when the SDA does not discover any inconsistency, they cannot reject the conflict and has to award one of the assistances prescribed in Section 8(7). (ii) Mutually restricted choices – The assistance under Section 8(7) are mutually limited, as each of them is pursued by the term ‘or’. Accordingly, if the SDA judgment recovery of money, then they forced liabilities and vice versa. 

Conclusion 

There is no question that the agricultural sector in India expects considerable investment and lawful reforms to accomplish considerable livelihood and productivity. Regardless, the farmers produce, Act, 2020, during a pandemic that (i) eliminate a huge number of individuals; (ii) fail to furnish introductory clauses; and (iii) grant uncontrolled and unguided authority upon administrative officials, amounts to poor law and harshly weakens the dignity of the farmers in the government. 

An unconstitutional Act, in entire or in portion, establishes considerable separations between the three pillars of the State. The government would do well to imbibe the tolerance and persistence of the farmer when striving to govern their existences.

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Policy & Politics

Bihar Assembly elections: Analysing candidates

There are many interesting facts in the data compiled in an ADR research below that readers would find useful and thought provoking.

Tarun Nangia

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The story if Bihar elections is an intersting tale by itself. Around 23 per cent or 244 candidates are facing serious criminal cases, says a data fished out by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR). That some of such alleged law breakers will be our law makers is a scary thought indeed, but i would like to caveat this with a fact that that one is innocent until proven guity. 455 candidates have declared their education to be between 5th to 11th standard. In next two years, India would celebrate its 75th indepencence day, we must seriously introspect that even after all these years, why education levels of candidates contesting to become law makers are wanting in education qualification. There are many such interesting facts in the data compiled in an ADR research below, I am sure you would find it useful and thought provoking.

CRIMINAL BACKGROUND

• Candidates with Criminal Cases: Out of 1064 candidates analyzed, 328 (31%) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.

• Candidates with Serious Criminal Cases: 244(23%) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.

Party wise Candidates with Criminal Cases: Among the major parties, 30(73%) out of 41 candidates analysed from RJD, 21(72%) out of 29 candidates analysed from BJP, 24 (59%) out of 41 candidates analysed from LJP, 12 (57%) out of 21 candidates analysed from INC, 15 (43%) out of 35 candidates analysed from JD(U) and 8 (31%) out of 26 candidates analysed from BSP have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

• Party wise Candidates with Serious Criminal Cases: Among the major parties, 22(54%) out of 41 candidates analysed from RJD, 20(49%) out of 41 candidates analysed from LJP, 13(45%) out of 29 candidates analysed from BJP, 9(43%) out of 21 candidates analysed from INC, 10(29%) out of 35 candidates analysed from JD(U) and 5(19%) out of 26 candidates analysed from BSP have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

• Candidates with declared cases related to crime against women: 29 candidates have declared cases related to crime against women. Out of 29 candidates 3 candidates have declared cases related to rape (IPC Section-375 and 376).

• Candidates with declared cases related to murder: 21 candidates have declared cases related to murder (IPC Section-302) against themselves.

• Candidates with declared cases related to attempt to murder: 62 candidates have declared cases related to Attempt to murder (IPC Section-307) against themselves.

• Red Alert Constituencies*: 61(86%) out of 71 constituencies are Red alert constituencies. Red alert constituencies are those where 3 or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.

• The directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties in selection of candidates as they have again followed their old practice of giving tickets to around 31% candidates with criminal cases. All major parties contesting in Bihar phase I elections have given tickets to 31 % to 70% candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves. The Supreme Court in its directions dated 13th February, 2020 had specifically instructed political parties to give reasons for such selection and why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates. As per these mandatory guidelines, the reasons for such selection has to be with reference to qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned. Therefore, such unfounded and baseless reasons given by political parties like popularity of the person, does good social work, cases are politically motivated etc are not sound and cogent reasons for fielding candidates with tainted backgrounds. This data clearly shows that political parties have no interest in reforming the electoral system and our democracy will continue to suffer at the hands of lawbreakers who become lawmakers.

FINANCIAL BACKGROUND

• Share of wealth among candidates: The share of wealth amongst the candidates contesting in the Bihar assembly elections 2020 phase I is as follows:

• Crorepati Candidates: Out of the 1064 candidates, 375(35%) are crorepatis.

• Party wise Crorepati Candidates: Among the major parties 39(95%) out of 41 candidates analysed from RJD, 31(89%) out of 35 candidates analysed from JDU, 24(83%) out of 29 candidates analysed from BJP, 30(73%) out of 41 candidates analysed from LJP, 14(67%) out of 21 candidates analysed from INC and 12(46%) out of 26 candidates from BSP have declared assets worth more than Rs. 1 crore.

• Average assets: The average of assets per candidate contesting in the Bihar Assembly Elections 2020 Phase I is Rs 1.99 Crores.

• Party wise average assets: Among major parties, the average assets per candidate for 35 JD(U) candidates analysed is Rs. 8.12 crores, 41 RJD candidates analysed is Rs 6.98 crores, 21 INC candidates have average assets of Rs 6.03 crores, 41 LJP candidates have average assets of Rs 4.62 crores, 29 BJP candidates have average assets of Rs 3.10 crores and 26 BSP candidates have average assets worth Rs. 1.36 crore.

• High asset candidates: The details of top 3 candidates with highest declared assets, contesting in the Bihar Assembly Elections Phase I are given below:

• Zero assets candidates: There are 5 candidates who have declared zero assets. The details of these candidates is given below:

• Low assets candidates: The details of three candidates with lowest assets (excluding zero assets candidates) are as follows:

• Candidates with high liabilities: 453(43%) candidates have declared liabilities in their affidavits. The details of top three candidates with highest liabilities are given below:

• Candidates with high income as declared in the ITR*: The details of top 3 candidates with high income declared in ITR are given below:

• Candidates with high income as declared in the ITR*: The details of top 3 candidates with high income declared in ITR are given below:

• Candidates with high Assets who have not declared Income Tax Details*: 5 candidates with assets worth more than Rs. 95 lakhs have not declared Income Tax details. The details of these 5 candidates with highest assets who have not declared their IT returns are as given below:

• Undeclared PAN: A total of 116(11%) candidates have not declared their PAN details.

OTHER BACKGROUND DETAILS

Education details of candidates: 455 (43%) candidates have declared their educational qualification to be between 5th and 12th standard while 522 (49%) candidates have declared having an educational qualification of graduate or above. 74 candidates are literate. There are 5 candidates who are Illiterate and 7 candidates are Diploma holders. One candidate namly Bindu Vikash Atal of Jagrook Janta Party from Bodh Gaya constituency has not declared his education details in the affidavit.

Age details of candidates: 403(38%) candidates have declared their age to be between 25 to 40 years while 548 (52%) candidates have declared their age to be between 41 to 60 years. There are 112(11%) candidates who have declared their age to be between 61 to 80 years. 1 candidate has declared his age 82 years.

Gender details of candidates: 114(11%) female candidates are contesting in the Bihar assembly election 2020 Phase I

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Policy & Politics

Convention on rights of child: Is it time to change childhood?

International Labour Organisation was the first one to react to Convention 182, which focused on the worse form of
child labour, and bring up that the child inclusion in armed conflict is an extreme form of child exploitation. After the
ILO reaction, the Security Council of the United Nations adopted several other resolutions to condemn child labour.
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Introduction 

“There can be no impatient utterance of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” —Nelson Mandela 

Convention on Rights of Child is an international agreement or accord signed between various countries 30 years before from now which transfigures the lives of children all over the world due to which this convention is considered as one of the historic and judgmental conventions of the United Nations adopted by many other countries. The United Nations Convention on Rights of Child embarks with the transfiguring the life’s of children all over the world but this accord is not able to accomplish its agenda and some sort of children cut off from this convention. 

Now the question arises why this convention on rights of Child particularly minded towards the Rights of the child not able to accomplish its agenda. The simple reason behind this is that with the changing government and passing of time, its implementation is getting weaker day by day, and youth are not much aware of the convention which is very much earlier passed on Rights of Child. 

Violence against child and the violation of child rights 

These two both concept or terms are somehow interrelated with each other as if there will be violence against the child then it must be there that there is some violation or infringement of child rights which were provided by the Constitution of India and also with the proper care and attention, the child rights were been safeguarded. Government and many national and international organizations were much more concerned about the protection of child rights and if there is a violation of the child rights then also mention or include a strict and severe punishment for that act which leads to the violation of the child rights.

 If we look globally the common violence that majorly takes place with the child is corporal punishment and Psychological violence. And also if we look at the data on the sexual abuse of children is very difficult to capture and this situation occurs only due to the non-reportable of the offense which takes place with the children and also one reason is that some offenses can’t be even identified by the children or didn’t recognize by the children as an offense which is also the main reason for the absence of proper data on child sexual abuse. 

As, mentioned above about the two common violent disciplines that are (1) Corporal punishment and (2) Psychological violence. But, first, we need to understand the meaning of violent disciplines. Violent disciplines are the violation of a child’s right to protection from all forms of violence while in the care of their parents or other caregivers, as set forth in the United Nations Convention takes place on the Rights of the child. Violent psychological disciplines involve “the use of verbal aggression, threats, intimidation, denigration, humiliation to control children”. According to UNICEF, Physical discipline, also known as ‘corporal punishment’ refers to any punishment in which physical force used to cause any degree of pain or discomfort. It includes pinching, hitting, spanking children with a hand.

 Convention on Rights of Child: 

A Brief Overview Convention on Rights of Child known by the name of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Children which is a children treaty focused on political, civil, economic, social, health, and cultural aspects of children. The UN Convention on Rights of Child came into force on 2nd September 1990 after the endorsement by the number of states required for the convention. First, before finalizing this convention on the rights of the child, the United Nations propounded the definition of child and set the ambit of child rights.

 Before this convention, a plethora of definitions was propounded by different Nations. According to the UN Convention on Rights of Child, “Any human who is under or below the age of 18 years and didn’t attend the majority as per National legislation” considered as a child. All the Nations who approved or ratified the convention were bound by the International law and act as per the provisions of International law. 

A committee of the United Nations on Rights of Child supervises the convention and submits the report to the third committee of the UN General Assembly. Currently, 196 states are a member of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Child that includes all the states of the United Nations except only one i.e. The United States of America. After some years, the UN General Assembly adopted a total of 3 optional protocols in order to strengthen the convention on the rights of the child i.e. (1) involvement of children in the area of armed conflict, (2) Sale of children for their own benefit, (3) the involvement of child into pornography and forceful entry in prostitution. 

Children in the area of armed conflict

 This optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict adopted on 25th May 2020 to prohibit the recruitment or entry of children in armed forces and armed conflict and it is the duty to implement and preclude the entry of children in war or armed conflict who are below the age of 18 years as per the National legislation. This Protocol is also considered paramount because it jogs people’s memory that children’s physical and mental condition is not mature enough to set foot in armed conflict and unable to understand the seriousness of war and its consequences. International Labor Organization is the first one to react, in the 182 conventions which focus on the worse form of child labor and bring up that the child inclusion in armed conflict is an extreme form of child exploitation. After the ILO reaction, the Security Council of the United Nations adopted several other resolutions to condemn child labor. Children in cases of armed conflict are continuously facing or at risk of being exploited in the form of separation from their parents, sexually exploited, raped, and tortured. School children are more targeted towards the area of armed conflict which eventually leads to disruption of their studies and denied access to the right to get an education. If we notice on Article 38 of the Convention on Rights of Child then this Article constrains state parties to ensure the safety of children who were targeted for armed conflict and to respect the rules laid down in Humanitarian law. State parties should make all efforts in order to bring effective administration and lay down all measures for preventing children from involving in armed conflict or in the military. The Committee established for the convention on rights of the child that recalls Article 30 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people which undertake possible solutions and measures to avoid the military activities and interference in the Indigenous territories. 

Sale Of Children For Their Own Benefit

 Ambit and meaning of Sale of Children are first clarified in Article 2 of the Optional Protocol which says that “Transaction or any trade that involves the transfer of children from one person or from one group of people to another person or group in lieu of remuneration or some amount equal to that. Many states came up with new legislation for the prohibition of Human trafficking but lack in bringing legislation for the sale of children and this is because many states believe that both are identical and laws for human trafficking will also solve the issue of sale of a child. 

Afterward, Article 35 of the Convention on Rights of Child constrains the government to take necessary measures to tackle both the issue i.e. sale of children and human trafficking. Many people get confused between child trafficking and the sale of the child but the on-ground reality is totally different. In the case of Child trafficking, there is the movement of a child from one place to another but in the case of sale of the child, there is no movement and it is not compulsory to be moved from one place to another.

 Article 3 of the Optional Protocol on the sale of Children mentioned that the state parties should ban or forbid all transfer of children which are for the purpose of child labor. It also laid down that state parties should forbid or prohibit any type of order, transfer, or purchase of children which are for the purpose of organ transfer and selling of their organs for profit. Sale of Children transpires not only for the purpose of sexual exploitation but also for some more reason which was covered under the sale of child and all other reasons were mentioned below. 

• Transfer of organs of the child for profit or for commercial purposes.

 • To Grab Children with the intent of engaging them in forced labor. 

• The sale of Children takes place with the intent of adopting the child.

 Involvement of Child in Pornography and Forceful entry in Prostitution

 Optional Protocol on Involvement of Child into Pornography and forceful entry in Child Prostitution was triggered by the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR). In the year 1994, Cuba is the sole country which indicated that the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) developed an optional protocol on the involvement of child into pornography and child prostitution. Article 34 and 35 of the Convention on Rights of Child that instruct state parties to take several measures in order to avert children’s involvement in pornography and forceful entry in prostitution and also enjoined state parties to take bilateral and multilateral measures in respect of Child involvement into pornography and prostitution. 

The OPSC holds out that according to Article 1 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, child inclusion into pornography and entry in prostitution should be banned and according to Article 3 of the same consider out some of the specific actions that must be criminalized in minimum form. The OPSC (Optional Protocol on sale of Children) admonish state parties to protect the child rights which were getting victimized or rights of the victim and to provide all possible measures for the rehabilitation of child victims and remedies for the act they suffer as per Article 8 and 9 of Convention on Rights of Child. Also, they call out International cooperation in the field of investigation, detection, and punishment for these offenses. 

Inclusion of Rights under the Convention on Rights of Child 

United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) through its drafted document a total of 40 rights were included under the Convention on Rights of Child and all the specific 40 rights were categorized into different categories and also UNCRC avers that all the governments must initiate to safeguard the interest, rights of children.

 General Principles 

Under the categorization of General Principles, numerous rights were embraced to make children entitled to these rights. Some of the specific rights of children included were mentioned below.

 • Right to life, survival, and development.

 • No discrimination should exist in between. 

• Right to put forward their views without any coercion.

 • In any circumstances, child rights safeguards should be the primary motive. 

Civil Rights and Freedoms

 Everyone has the right to a name and a proper nationality of any nation. Freedom to speak as well as express thought. The right to access any information which he is entitled to. 

Right to be treated properly and with utmost respect without any ill-treatment. 

Violence against the Children

 This categorization is considered most impactful and prime among all the categorization of rights and the simple rationale is that this prevents children from all peril and acts as a buffer for children from all sorts of violence.

 Protection of children from any sort of danger and vulnerability. It gives protection to children from any sexual abuse and exploitation. 

Rights to abolish the traditional practices that act as detrimental to children’s health. 

Core Principles spelled out of the Convention 

The United Nations Convention on Child Rights laid down 4 core principles which are contemplated in the interest of children. All four conventions are mentioned below to specifically analyze its relation with children’s life. 

1. Non-discrimination: According to Article 2of the Convention on Rights of Child, every child is entitled to rights irrespective of gender, race, colour, sex, language, religion, or any ascribed status.

 2. Devotion toward best interests of Child: According to Article 3of the Convention on the Rights of Child, the interest of child or child rights safeguard must be primary deliberation in all the decisions affecting them.

 3. Survival and Development: As per Article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of Child, all children have the right to life, survive and develop physically, mentally, morally, and psychologically up to their full potential. 

4.Views of Child should be respected: As stated in Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child, children can convey or express their views without any coercion, and views of the child should be treated with the utmost respect. 

UNICEF: A Chief Contributor and influencer

 UNICEF is one of the UN organizations whose target is to protect the rights and safeguard the children from any risk or imperil and also to anticipate the future unavoidable circumstances. UNICEF is the one that is considered to be the sole organization mentioned under the Convention on the Rights of Child as an expert and assistance provider. “Child Rights are the epicenter of every action of UNICEF” UNICEF works for almost 70 years for the children’s welfare and safeguarding children’s rights and support children to achieve their dream without any ill-treatment and without being exposed to any danger or harm. 

UNICEF helps state parties to act and bring up policies in respect of children’s safety and act as a buffer for the children. It also assists and promotes the ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child and its optional protocol. Some of the contributions and roles of UNICEF mentioned below.

 • UNICEF Supports state parties in carrying out the convention through different policies and laws enforcement.

 • UNICEF assists the government in the consultation process prior to the drafting of reports and also provides aid in monitoring the different policies in accordance with convention. • Supports the different committees drafted for the rights of the child.

 • UNICEF through its wider reach helps the government to put forward different implementation strategies so that the convention rules should be imposed effectively and efficiently. 

Conclusion

 Let us conclude it, Child right means providing any person who is below the age of 18 with some special rights which is provided with the special care and for the safeguard of the rights various laws mere wade. This article clearly shows the linkage of the Convention on Rights of Child and its optional protocol with violation of child rights that how the UN Convention on Rights of Child proves effective in dealing with the violation of child rights. 

Child right is something which is seen as very due diligence and is handled with a proper way. Instead of so many laws of the government and also the support of the many national and international organizations, violation of child rights rate is not decreasing which is a major concern for all either it at a national level or at a global level. 

The government should handle it with more precisely and with more concern and establishing a secret body which keeps a look over and it and also collects the data related to the violation of child rights and finds the main reason why is it increasing day to day and not decreasing instead of a lot of effort of the government and the organizations. 

References 

Convention on the Rights of the Child, [Online], Available at: https://www.ohchr. org/en/professionalinterest/ pages/crc.aspx [Accessed on 19th May].

What is the Convention on the Rights of the Child? [Online], Available at https:// www.unicef.org/child-rightsconvention/what-is-theconvention [Accessed on 18th May].

UN Convention On The Rights of the Child, [Online], Available at https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/whatwe-do/childrens-rights/ united-nations-conventionof-the-rights-of-the-child [Accessed on 20th May].

The convention on the Rights of the Child, [Online], Available at https://www. acyp.nsw.gov.au/about/theconvention-on-the-rights-ofthe-child [Accessed on 20th May].

Convention on the Rights of the Child, [Online], Available at http://wikiprogress. org/articles/children-youth/ convention-on-the-rights-ofthe-child/ [Accessed on 21st May]. 

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Policy & Politics

Making things happen: Scarcity management, the Solapur way

Tukaram Mundhe and his team proved that it-can-happen because they made-it-happen, setting an example for others to follow.
The Solapur approach can be extremely useful in the implementation of recently announced Jal Jeevan Mission by Government of India.

Anil Swarup

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The district administration focused on the issue of development and strengthening of existing water sources. The main strategy being recharging of wells/ borewells. Of the 6,400 drinking water sources, recharging was undertaken before the monsoon of 2015-16.

Solapur has been a perennially water-scarce district. It lies in the rain shadow region of western Maharashtra. Ironically, despite being in the semi-arid zone, Solapur has the dubious reputation of having the largest number of sugar factories in Maharashtra. Sugarcane and sugar mills have created a vicious circle of unscientific farming practices that have led to disastrous consequences. 

The rainfall pattern and its utilization has led to depletion of water resources. What was lost sight of was the correlation between rainfall, runoff, recharge and usage of water. Scarcity of water had been a recurrent phenomenon throughout the state and especially in Solapur. A holistic view of scarcity was taken by Tukaram Mundhe who took over as Collector of the District in 2014. He and his team analyzed the reasons behind it. Non-availability of water in the sources and data relating to water resources, transportation of water and its improper distribution, and quality of water were identified as primary causes of this perennial problem.

 After the most devastating droughts in the year 1971, the Government had come out with number of legislations and rules thereunder to counter the impact of the drought. The provisions mandated water management through a two-pronged approach:

 • Immediate measures to make water available to the people through requisition of private wells/borewells, pipelines, digging new borewells, special repairs, tankers etc (Proforma A measures)

 • Measures to prevent recurrence of scarcity condition such as well/borewell recharging, desilting of water bodies to increase storage capacity etc. (Proforma B measures) Over a period of time, the focus had been on immediate measures while the preventive and promotive measures had been totally ignored. This had aggravated the scarcity rather than preventing it. Tukaram Mundhe got an action plan prepared. 

The plan focused on implementation of long-term measures as in Proforma B vigorously. It was felt that unless the Gram Panchayat took up the development of sources (through recharging water sources, recharging ground water etc), the problem would not be taken care of. The regulation and development of sources were taken simultaneously. Government Rules mandated following steps to be taken in times of scarcity before making tankers operational, which is a last resort. 

1. Completion of piped water supply schemes (WSS)

 2. Special Repairs of piped water supply schemes

 3. Special repairs of Borewell 

4. Digging of new Borewell 

5. Temporary piped WSS 

6. Digging small wells in river beds/dams 

7. Desilting and Deepening of existing wells

 8. Private well requisition

 9. Water supply through Tankers/Tractors/bullock carts The first major step was identification of public drinking water sources. Once sources were declared as public sources, regulatory provisions of Groundwater Act came into play. In December 2014 about 3000 sources were declared as public drinking water sources. This number increased to 15533 by March 2016. These sources were being exclusively used for drinking water purposes like wells, jack-wells, borewell, hand pumps etc. 

It was soon discovered that non-availability of sources was far from the truth. Solapur had 1144 revenue village s a n d around 15500 drinking water sources. Thus, per village availability was in sufficient. However, the policy and its implementation had been focused on provision of more public drinking water sources. Hence, the strategy of providing more water sources was incorrect. Instead, the focus should have been on development and strengthening of existing drinking water sources so that the drinking water sources became functional.

 The District administration focused on the issue of development and strengthening of existing water sources. The main strategy being recharging of wells/ borewells. Of the 6400 drinking water sources, recharging was undertaken before the monsoon of 2015-16. Almost 5000 of these sources were recharged leading to water availability in these sources. 

The results were there for all to see. Had these water sources not been recharged, 127 tankers would have been required for each village and hamlets. Identification and recharging of drinking water sources in itself did not help in doing away with scarcity. It had to be in tandem with implementation of Ground water Act and its rules. The transportation infrastructure for water supply either did not exist or was dysfunctional. 13 of the 29 Regional Water Supply Schemes (RWSS) were dysfunctional in the District on account of nonpayment of electricity bills and non-maintenance of pipeline system. However, the real issue was not payment of electricity bill or non-maintenance of pipelines but the entire approach to the issue. 

These schemes were made operational only during scarcity situation for 2-3 months. Electricity bills were paid by government under scarcity head and were used as tanker feeding points to the villages, for which the RWSS was meant to supply the water. A decision was taken to make water available permanently through the RWSS to these villages. This was done as reforms and not as a dole. The villages covered under RWSS which had assured drinking water source were told that the scarcity measures would be provided if the scheme was accepted for the entire year for which electricity bills have to be paid. There was a lot of initial resistance. Ultimately the gram panchayats had to pay outstanding bills as the saw the benefit in doing so. These funds were utilized for special repairs of the pipelines and made the RWSS functional. No additional financial assistance was taken from the government. 

The transformation of non-functional to functional water supply schemes helped in reduction of tankers from 165 villages and hamlets. Reform of extension of distribution network was undertaken in the uncovered areas through extension of water supply schemes and commissioning of either the borewells or handpumps where piped water supply did not exist. Consequently, 35 villages and 92 hamlets were made tanker free. Finally, the water quality issue had to be addressed. Water was polluted primarily on account of industries or because of depletion of water source. Provisions of the Groundwater Act were implemented firmly to take care of errant industry. Gram Panchayat funds were utilised for water purification. The focus in the District was on revival of existing RWSS and that was found to be feasible and economical as against starting new schemes. 

The revival required just Rs 64.75 lakhs per village which was equivalent to the cost of supply of water by tankers every year and it provided a long-term solution. Tukaram Mundhe and his team proved that itcan-happen because they made-it-happen, setting an example for others to follow. The Solapur approach can be extremely useful in the implementation of recently announced Jal Jeevan Mission by Government of India.

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

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Policy & Politics

Why can’t Indian politicians and police contain crime?

Organised crime is rising. It is very essential to make our country’s police force smart and hi-tech.

Vijay Darda

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The new IPL cricket season is currently underway. People are glued to their television sets anticipating the fours and sixes from their favourite batsmen, but my eyes have been on a booming betting racket with transaction values in thousands of crores during the IPL this season. The Commissioner of Police Amitesh Kumar dropped a bombshell by conducting a surgical strike on bookies and hawala traders which have statewide ramifications from Nagpur to Mumbai. In my early days of journalism, during 1968-69, I worked as a crime reporter in Mumbai. I used to meet and interact with underworld dons right from Haji Mastan to the then biggies of the crime world.

 I also used to visit the hideouts of many dreaded criminals. I still keep an eye on crime news. Apart from my state, I have also seen brave and honest officers in uniform in other states of the country who have brought glory to the police force by their hard and honest work. Certainly Maharashtra has led the others in this respect. Didn’t we capture Ajmal Kasab of 26/11 fame? No doubt, the brave police officers can manage their respective states. However, the system cannot be transformed without changing the entire culture of policing. This responsibility rests with the state governments alone. The Chief Minister, Home Minister, DGP and CP of a state should decide that every type of crime that spreads in society, whether it is overground or underground, whether it is in water or in air, is a crime and needs to be eliminated! Do they not know where arms or gold is being smuggled?

 Where the dance bars are operating, where the drugs are being peddled? All that is required is political will. When politicians and police join hands to achieve some noble social mission, everything is possible. The tentacles of the criminal world cannot be unentangled as long as there is misuse of money in politics and there is no transparency in the postings and transfers of government officials. The wave of crime is moving from village to metropolis and acquiring a formidable shape. As long as you don’t improve the status of police, including at the mental, social and economic levels, you cannot expect them to do better. Is the cop not a human being? They are being made to work for 18 hours nonstop. They are seldom able to celebrate Diwali, Christmas and Eid with their family members. Despite being provided with quarters, they lack their own home. In such a situation, how will they be able to fulfil their duty? And yes, I do not know what is true and what is false, but when people say that there are many officials in Mumbai who have amassed illgotten wealth worth thousands of crores, then does not such a thing merit a discussion?

 When I compare the police here with their counterparts abroad, the comparison seems pointless. They are way ahead of our police because of the kind of physical training they get, modern weapons they are equipped with, an impressive uniform they are provided with and they have no domestic worries. We cannot even dream of such a blissful situation here! The police forces abroad are free of political interference. I would like to point out that whether it’s London’s ‘Bobby’ or the cops of Israel, Europe, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong or the US, they are free of corruption. No one can even think of bribing them the teeniest-weeniest bit! Those who indulge in corrupt practices are severely punished. 

London’s ‘Bobbies’ have acquired such an iconic reputation that tourists vie with each other to be photographed with them. Their statues are also found in souvenir shops. Let me narrate an anecdote from Singapore. A friend once came to the airport to receive me. When the flight was delayed, he decided to while away the time drinking beer at the airport. It was night and when we got out of the airport, the car stopped at an intersection and the constable waved a stick from afar and said, “You are drunk. Park the car on the side.”

 My friend tried to convince him that he had only drank one glass of beer, but the constable was in no mood to show leniency! Meanwhile, a female police officer stepped out of the car and came to us. She immediately recognized us, yet she got our challan deducted and asked us to hop into her car. That female officer was none other than my friend’s elder brother’s daughter. She dropped me at the hotel. On the way, I asked her why she hadn’t spared us. She said that the rule is uniform for one and all. “I would have lost my job and would not have been able to drive a car for the rest of my life,” she explained. “Now he will be produced in the court and the licence will be suspended for one year,” she said. I always wonder why politicians do not introduce this type of system in our country. We hardly come across such an instance of highest professional probity.

 For example, when the US President came to India and his security personnel did not follow the protocol, a Mumbai Police officer stopped their car. But this kind of thing is rather an exception here, whereas the need of the hour is that every state should have this type of smart, dynamic and law-abiding police officer. For this, it is necessary that the government takes necessary steps. Human rights organisations and the judicial system should help them. And at the same time, it is most important that there should be some effective coordination between the states because the network of criminals is spread all over the country. Especially in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Kerala and Punjab, the network of organised crime has deep roots. Strict coordination is necessary to eliminate it. 

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

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