Daily Current Affairs – 2020Topic: For Prelims and Mains
Two of the three agriculture-related legislation piloted by the central government, aimed at liberalising the farm sector, were passed by the Rajya Sabha by voice vote recently. The bills were protested by the political parties & Famer’s union .
They are called –
While farmers are protesting against all three ordinances, their objections are mostly against the provisions of the first. And while there is no uniform demand among the protesters or a unified leadership, it emerges that their concerns are mainly about sections relating to “trade area”, “trader”, “dispute resolution” and “market fee” in the first ordinance.
A look at these sections, one by one:
Section 2(m) of The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 defines “trade area” as any area or location, place of production, collection and aggregation including –
(a) farm gates;
(b) factory premises;
(e) cold storages; or
(f) any other structures or places, from where trade of farmers’ produce may be undertaken in the territory of India.
The definition does not, however, include “the premises, enclosures and structures constituting (i) physical boundaries of principal market yards, sub-market yards and market sub-yards managed and run by the market committees formed under each state APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) Act”.
It also excludes “private market yards, private market sub-yards, direct marketing collection centres, and private farmer-consumer market yards managed by persons holding licences or any warehouses, silos, cold storages or other structures notified as markets or deemed markets under each State APMC Act in force in India”.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020:
Trade of farmers’ produce: The Ordinance allows intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce outside:
(i) The physical premises of market yards run by market committees formed under the state APMC Acts and
(ii) other markets notified under the state APMC Acts. Such trade can be conducted in an ‘outside trade area’, i.e., any place of production, collection, and aggregation of farmers’ produce including: (i) farm gates, (ii) factory premises, (iii) warehouses, (iv) silos, and (v) cold storages.
Electronic trading: The Ordinance permits the electronic trading of scheduled farmers’ produce (agricultural produce regulated under any state APMC Act) in the specified trade area. An electronic trading and transaction platform may be set up to facilitate the direct and online buying and selling of such produce through electronic devices and internet.
The following entities may establish and operate such platforms: (i) companies, partnership firms, or registered societies, having permanent account number under the Income Tax Act, 1961 or any other document notified by the central government, and (ii) a farmer producer organisation or agricultural cooperative society.
Market fee abolished: The Ordinance prohibits state governments from levying any market fee, cess or levy on farmers, traders, and electronic trading platforms for trade of farmers’ produce conducted in an ‘outside trade area’.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020
A farming agreement must provide for a conciliation board as well as a conciliation process for settlement of disputes. The Board should have a fair and balanced representation of parties to the agreement. At first, all disputes must be referred to the board for resolution.
Regulation of food items: The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 empowers the central government to designate certain commodities (such as food items, fertilizers, and petroleum products) as essential commodities. The central government may regulate or prohibit the production, supply, distribution, trade, and commerce of such essential commodities.
The Ordinance provides that the central government may regulate the supply of certain food items including cereals, pulses, potatoes, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils, only under extraordinary circumstances.
These include: (i) war, (ii) famine, (iii) extraordinary price rise and (iv) natural calamity of grave nature.
The Delhi police has arrested Rajeev Sharma, a journalist, under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
The police claimed that he had passed on information such as the deployment of Indian troops on the border to Chinese intelligence officers.
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to set up a “national commission to promote patriotic education” in the US.