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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Agriculture Bills 2020

21st Sep 2020

Why in News?

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 .

What are these ordinances?

They are called –

  1. The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020
  2. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020
  3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020

Why are farmers protesting?

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:

What is a ‘trade area’?

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;

(c) warehouses;

(d) silos;

(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”.

 About the Ordinances

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

  • Farming agreement: The Ordinance provides for a farming agreement between a farmer and a buyer prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce.  The minimum period of an agreement will be one crop season, or one production cycle of livestock.  The maximum period is five years, unless the production cycle is more than five years.
  • Pricing of farming produce: The price of farming produce should be mentioned in the agreement.  For prices subjected to variation, a guaranteed price for the produce and a clear reference for any additional amount above the guaranteed price must be specified in the agreement.  Further, the process of price determination must be mentioned in the agreement.

Dispute Settlement:

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.

  • If the dispute remains unresolved by the Board after thirty days, parties may approach the Sub-divisional Magistrate for resolution.
  • Parties will have a right to appeal to an Appellate Authority (presided by collector or additional collector) against decisions of the Magistrate.
  • Both the Magistrate and Appellate Authority will be required to dispose of a dispute within thirty days from the receipt of application.
  • The Magistrate or the Appellate Authority may impose certain penalties on the party contravening the agreement.  However, no action can be taken against the agricultural land of farmer for recovery of any dues.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020:

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.

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Official Secrets Acts :

Why in News?

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.

About:

  • Official Secrets Act has its roots in the British colonial era. The original version was The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act XIV), 1889.
  • It was amended and made more stringent in the form of The Indian Official Secrets Act, 1904, during Lord Curzon’s tenure as Viceroy of India.
  • In 1923, a newer version was notified. The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act No XIX of 1923) was extended to all matters of secrecy and confidentiality in governance in the country.
  • It broadly deals with two aspects — spying or espionage, covered under Section 3, and disclosure of other secret information of the government, under Section 5.
  • Secret information can be any official code, password, sketch, plan, model, article, note, document, or information.
  • Under Section 5, both the person communicating the information and the person receiving the information can be punished.

Facts for Prelims:

1776 COMMISSION”

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to set up a “national commission to promote patriotic education” in the US.

About:

  • The 1776 Commission is an education commission proposed by U.S. President Donald Trump to support “patriotic education”.
  • The initiative is an apparent counter to The 1619 Project, a Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of essays on African American history of the past four centuries, which explores the Black community’s contribution in nation-building since the era of slavery to modern times.
  • Trump announced the move at a history conference celebrating the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution (on September 17, 1787); the document being written in the decade after the original 13 colonies declared independence from the British Empire in 1776.
  • Trump said students in US universities are ‘inundated with critical race theory, a Marxist doctrine holding that America is a wicked and racist nation’, and the new project would teach the youth to ‘love America.’

 

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