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Why there is so much protest against farm laws

Surinder Kumar & Kulwant Singh Nehra

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Amidst strong protests by Opposition parties and farmers’ organisations, the Central government got the three farm bills passed in Parliament. With the assent of the President of India, these bills have now become Acts or the laws of the land! The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020 implies that private traders can now bypass Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis and purchase agricultural produce to sell it anywhere in India. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020 means freedom for contract farming and price negotiations and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 provides freedom to agribusiness and trades to stock any agricultural produce in as much quantity as they would like to. In effect, it means that the corporate sector has been given free hand to enter in agriculture, contract farming on ‘mutually agreed terms and conditions’, purchase, storage, processing and other market operations, with little legal protection to the farmers. Even the constitutional validity of Central acts in a federal state of India, where agriculture is a state subject in the constitutional scheme, is being questioned. 

The Central government has claimed that this move has liberalised agricultural markets and will facilitate improvement in market’s efficiency, attract private investment in agriculture and would ensure better prices to farmers for their produce with high transparency. This would mean farmers will get out of the clutches of the monopoly of APMC mandis and evade the rent-seeking behaviour of the traditional intermediaries (arhtiyas). The polar opposite viewpoint of the protesters is that this move, towards greater play of free markets, is a ploy by the government to get away from its traditional role of being the guarantor of Minimum Support Prices (MSPs). For this, farmers argue that the government should have provided for statutory guaranteed MSP for their marketed surplus. 

Farmers, especially in Punjab and Haryana where MSP for their two major crops is almost assured, are suspicious of what the markets will offer and how the “big companies” will treat them, where they may be minor players and incapable of bargaining effectively. There are many structural problems like lack of information with farmers which inhibits their ability to make informed decisions. Even if they have market information, their capacity to bargain or hold their crop is very limited, forcing small and marginal farmers for distress sale and getting further into debt trap and pushed out of their agricultural occupation and be landless labour.

 It is nobody’s case that agriculture market reforms were not required. There have been many problems with APMC mandis. They were getting inefficient, opaque, politicised and often controlled by cartels. Need of the hour was to clean the system than to make it defunct. Two parallel systems of marketing, one operated by private corporates where there will be no government charges and the other APMC mandis, where mandi boards and ‘ahrtiyas’ charge a fee, a dual price structure will encourage unregulated trade detrimental to providing access to farmers for better price recovery and assured prices. Soon APMC mandis will become defunct and it will pave the space for withdrawal of MSP rendering farmers more vulnerable to unregulated market operations. Corporatisation does not reduce the role of middle-men, they will now have a new role as market integrators between corporates and farmers without any government regulation, rendering farmers more vulnerable to exploitation of the middlemen and corporates. Provisions of Agricultural Marketing Acts are highly skewed in favour of private capital, with no limit on stock holding and with restrictions on the government interventions, there is limited recourse to any independent grievance redressal mechanism as SDMs/DCs are prone to pressures from the state and corporates, without judicial review.

 Very little attention has been paid to the implications of amendment to the Essential Commodities Act. Even recently, when onion prices shot up, the government was forced to ban its export to protect the interests of the domestic market. With amendment to the Essential Commodities Act, policy space for government intervention will get reduced, rendering domestic consumers to be more vulnerable to the operations of the market mechanism. These agricultural market reforms are consistent with neo-liberal macroeconomic policy regime being adopted by the Government of India since 1991 in general and 2014 in particular. But the moot question is how they will impact small and marginal farmers, rural employment, distribution of income, food security and consumer protection?

 Experience, of the advanced capitalist countries of Europe and the US, shows that unregulated markets always lead to pushing the small farmers out of agriculture. In India, about 80% farmers have a holding of less than 5 acres, they will have no option but to become wage labourers. Crisis will deepen further when there is no alternative strategy to generate employment to absorb farmers’ rendered surplus from agriculture. During 2011- 19, India had a jobless growth. Post Covid-19, Indian economy is in a very bad shape which reveals falling GDP and worse employment situation. Crores of semi-skilled labourers have got unemployed. It is reported that 2.1 crore salaried jobs have been lost and people are in great stress. This has been no time to tinkle with a relatively smooth-running machine of APMC mandis, further aggravating the worsening state of the economy. These agricultural market reforms, in the name of safeguarding the interests of farmers, are out and out structural changes to give free play to the corporate sector with little protection to the farmers.

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AN INSTITUTION DEDICATED TO PRACTICAL LEARNING

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The National High School, a government-affiliated institution, is managed by the director of MCube Practical Classes, Manoj Mehta. The school is established close to Parshwanath Jain Derasar, Bhuyangdev, Ahmedabad. “It has been three wonderful years since the journey of making MCube Practical Classes the best perceived establishment began,” said Mehta.

According to the director, the fundamental mission of the institution is to offer value-based practical knowledge and shape the youth to spread light in the world through their insight and experience and be the best version of themselves in the future.

“We ensure that we provide a rich learning atmosphere where students can work courageously on all features of their character, be it physical, mental or scholarly. The practical institute works on addressing the requirements, expectations and dreams of the students,” he said.

MCube Practical has well-equipped labs for all subjects. It has modern scientific supplies with some of the best instructors. Since the institute is dedicated to practical classes, the labs are given utmost importance and kept up to date for the benefit of the students. The faculty is also a significant aspect of the establishment and the institution guarantees that the staff is experienced, skilful and able enough to draw out the best in their students.

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UID IS EMERGING AS A HUB FOR DESIGN THINKING

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Design education is different from other types of education, and Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID) offers students the opportunity to interact with the world through their design ideas.

UID, which is considered to be one of the fastest growing institutes in India, is a constituent college of Karnavati University. The institution was recently in the news for sharing expert information on Design Thinking. Colonel Surojit Bose, Director, Academics, Administration & International Collaboration at UID, was interviewed by India News wherein he shared UID’s thoughts on the future of design education.

“Design Thinking is now being thought of as a problem-solving activity,” said Colonel Bose in the interview. He also discussed UID’s areas of focus, and the foundation stones of building a student-centric, innovative and future-ready knowledge hub of design.

UID has recently launched a course on Global Design, as part of which, students will visit different countries in each year of the programme. “Accreditations, credentials, infrastructure, faculty, and functional international collaborations are the pillars of UID’s success,” added Col. Bose.

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OFFERING THE BEST OF TECHNOLOGY AND MACHINERY

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Rubbing shoulders with the best in the country is Bhavya Machine Tools, an established and trusted name in the field of engineering workshop machinery. It is serving different manufacturing industries like chemical, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, steel and metal, automobile, textile, FMCG and more.

The company has a vast product basket and an immensely large network of industrial clients across the globe. With the help of a dedicated and diligent team, Bhavya Machine Tools provides 100 percent solutions to the requirements of customers at extremely competitive rates, adhering to stringent quality and service standards. The company has decades of experience and a market-focused approach which has led to a steady but phenomenal growth, from a meagre 20 products to a colossal range of 200+ products with a parallel increase of clients, both numerically and geographically.

In the past few years, the directors of Bhavya Machine Tools, Jatin Shah and Rohit Shah, have been honored by the Chief Minister of Gujarat twice because of their excellence in the field of engineering machinery and technology. Their primary focus has always been to bring the best emerging technology to serve customers domestically and globally, and empower the ‘Make In India’ campaign, empowered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Customer satisfaction, a positive attitude and a solution-oriented approach are the pillars of Bhavya Machine Tools. Remaining connected with customers and treating them as family is inculcated in each and every member of the team, which is evident from their tagline — ‘Solution with Difference’.

“The journey of Bhavya Machine Tools started 50 years ago when our father Kirtibhai Shah pioneered the business on a small scale on Relief Road. Later, in 1991, when we joined the business, we had absolutely no technical educational background,” said Jatin Shah. Despite the lack of technical knowledge, the two brothers, with their relentless determination, strived to make Bhavya Machine Tools a leader in the market of products that provide technical solutions.

When questioned about the business strategy of Bhavya Machine Tools, Rohit Shah said, “Our constant endeavour is how emerging technology can be brought to India. Being innovative is Bhavya’s ultimate strategy. To enable us to achieve this, we have not failed to participate in most of the significant exhibitions across India as well as in the Gulf countries. We believe, participating in exhibitions will update us on the latest technology and tools across the globe which Bhavya can bring to the Indian market and cater to the unfulfilled gaps. Also, we can make the world aware about the technology and machines that small scale units in India have but aren’t able to sell to the international market.”

Moreover, this is a company that creates families. The company is a platform to grow for anyone and everyone. The doors of Bhavya Machine Tools are always open for anyone who wants to enter. Anyone from any field or in need is provided the backup and support they require. The company believes that it needs to know the employees not only at the professional level but a personal level as well. The first priority is to solve the personal issues of the employees. As Bhavya’s wings spread to the international markets, the third generation of the Shah family, with their creative ideas and new technology, is set to join the family business.

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SFW THE GYM AND ZUGGOO ARE TAKING PATRONS TO THE PEAK OF FITNESS

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SFW the Gym has been on a mission to transform the citizens of Gujarat and the rest of the country into their fittest and healthiest selves for the past 7 years. It offers a unique gym and fitness club in almost all areas of Ahmedabad and Gujarat, where patrons are welcomed warmly.

SFW the Gym is known for the fundamental virtues of its excellence, passion and true understanding of sports and fitness. It is also the first to come up with the concept of the gym with a library, which helps members achieve mental health goals along with physical fitness.

Moreover, in order to bring out true transformations among members, in terms of fitness and health, people at the gym make sure that they talk to each member every day. “We inquire about their goals, tweak their fitness plans accordingly and provide guidance on how to move forward to bring out the changes that they seek,” said Manoj Rajput of SFW.

SFW the Gym also boasts of a team of highly skilled and knowledgeable trainers who assist members in their fitness journeys and make sure that they achieve their health and fitness goals. With a wide variety of workout plans and alternatives as well as the latest machines and equipment to suit the personality and lifestyle of all patrons, SFW the Gym also offers a varied range of membership plans to suit people from every walk of life.

“We, at SFW the Gym are not only proud of our mentorship for fitness, but we also take pride in changing the lives of our patrons. Though all are of different ages and body types, they have the same aspirations and passions to be fit and healthy. We are proud to be a part of their long-lasting fitness journey,” said Rajput.

He added, “We know that working out in the gym is only half the battle won. The other half depends on the food you eat. Knowing this, we have come up with a new venture, called Zuggoo.”

“We strive on providing food that is healthy, full of good nutrients and as safe as home-cooked meals. A lot of emphasis is given on quality checks and providing the best quality food,” he explained.

Besides taking people ahead in their pursuit of good health, Zuggoo is also contributing to the employment of many. The venture aims to establish about 100 franchises next, and even step into exporting.

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RONIL SHAH: THE MASTER OF CONTEMPORARY REAL ESTATE PROJECTS IN AHMEDABAD

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Ronil Shah started his career in 2013 and, within no time, made his mark on the industry. His first real estate project in Paldi area was a staggering success and there has been no looking back ever since.

Many prosperous commercial and residential projects in areas like South Bhopal, Mithakali, Paldi and Makarba have been finished under his competent guidance. He has successfully given shape to 11 projects in the past 7 years and crossed a whopping 5 lakh square feet mark in a short span. “We are aiming to cross 6 to 7 lakh square feet area by launching some groundbreaking projects in the city within the year 2020 itself,” said the young entrepreneur.

Ronil Shah also has a thriving group of employees who make sure that his visions are met without compromising on quality and concept. Distinctive concepts and designs are constantly adopted in his real estate projects to ensure that every client gets the best of both contemporary style and constructional value. “Creating a place that every person can call their own is what drives my purpose through every project I undertake,” said Shah, explaining his decision-making process and smooth running of the company.

Real estate has taken a drastic turn in the bustling city of Ahmedabad. Every residential project, commercial hub or industrial park has to abide by different sets of government rules. This creates a challenge, which Shah turns into opportunities. He keeps up with the changing times and has adapted to all new changes like RERA registration to ensure that no customer has to go through any kind of hassles while buying their dream home or office.

Ronil Shah also emphasizes on efficiency and precision in the everyday working of his company. According to him, every idea and concept has a life of its own and he always encourages employees to hone their skills by keeping up with changing scenarios in the market.

Shah has created a niche for his company and has a vision to transform the mega city of Ahmedabad into the city of contemporary style, aided by his constantly evolving and charismatic real estate projects.

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CHINA TO SANCTION LOCKHEED MARTIN, BOEING UNIT OVER TAIWAN ARMS SALE

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China said Monday it would impose sanctions on Lockheed Martin, a Boeing defence division and other US firms involved in arms sales to Taiwan. The two US companies were involved recently in a sale of nearly $2 billion worth of missiles to Taiwan.

The status of Taiwan holds potential for conflict between the United States and China, during a wider struggle for technology, security and trade supremacy. Beijing says Taiwan is an inviolable part of China to be reclaimed, by force if necessary.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the sanctions were “to safeguard national interests” and would apply to those who have “behaved badly in the process of arms sales to Taiwan”.

“We will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard national sovereignty and security interests,” said Zhao, without giving further details on the sanctions.

Under the Donald Trump administration, the US has brought Taiwan into play as part of a wider diplomatic and economic squeeze of its rival, sending high-level envoys and boosting arms sales. The State Department said last week it had approved the sale of 135 air-to-ground missiles, in a move welcomed by Taiwan. Also approved was the sale of six MS-110 air reconnaissance pods and 11 M142 mobile light rocket launchers, taking the value of the three arms packages to $1.8 billion.

Beijing has intensified diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who believes the island is not part of “One China”.

A statement from the US State Department last week said the SLAM-ER missiles would help Taiwan “meet current and future threats”. The missiles provide “all-weather, day and night, precision attack capabilities against both moving and stationary targets” on the ground or ocean, the statement added.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said the weapons would help it “build credible combat capabilities and strengthen the development of asymmetric warfare”.

With agency inputs

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