THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 14 MARCH 2019 (Swaraj is the kisan’s birthright and he should have it (Indian Express)

Swaraj is the kisan’s birthright and he should have it (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 5: Economy
Prelims level: Agriculture
Mains level: Economic growth and development related to agriculture

Context

  •  One of the Narendra Modi government’s first decisions, in July 2014, was to bring potatoes and onions under the ECA’s purview, empowering states to impose limits on stocks held by individual traders.
  •  Besides, restrictions on exports via fixing a minimum price below which shipments couldn’t take place were clamped from time to time.
  •  In pulses, the government not only banned exports while allowing imports at zero duty, but extended stockholding limits even to dal millers and large retailers.

Highlighting the indicator for pricing system

  •  The best indicator of it is prices, with annual wholesale inflation in 2017 and 2018 for both “food” (2.2 per cent and minus 0.3 per cent respectively) and “non-food” agricultural articles (minus 1 per cent and 1.9 per cent) averaging lower than the corresponding rates of 3.4 per cent and 4.3 per cent for “all commodities”.
  •  Kisan Long March rallies in Mumbai and Delhi, “public opinion” is geared towards understanding things from a farmer’s rather than the consumer’s perspective.
  •  For an average family consuming five kg of sugar per month, a Rs 5/kg price increase hardly pinches.
  •  But for the cane farmer in Bijnor who has a hectare of land and harvests 80 tonnes, that increase assuming 11 per cent sugar recovery and the mill sharing three-fourths of the sale realisation would translate into an extra income of Rs 33,000.
  •  The same logic applies to onions, potatoes or chana, where the gains to individual producers who sell in tonnes/quintals far outweigh any losses to consumers buying in kilos.

Way forward

  •  Indian agriculture is today crying for investment in processing as well as backend procurement, grading, warehousing, cold storage and transport infrastructure.
  •  That cannot happen if farmers and agri-businesses continue to operate in an environment of uncertainty about the government’s next “supply-side management” action.
  •  Nothing stops the government from building a buffer stock of any “essential” commodity, whether for the public distribution system or for market intervention operations.
  •  The government can procure, stock, and distribute grains in the interest of consumers, so long as this does not infringe upon the commercial freedom of farmers and agri-businesses.
  •  Better seeds, agronomic practices, crop protection chemicals, machinery, and also rural roads, electricity, irrigation and communication infrastructure have reduced the supply response time to just the next season in most crops.
  •  The policy take-way is clear: Price matters more to the person who sells in quintals than who buys in kilos.
  •  Swaraj is the kisan’s birthright and he should have it.

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General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) India’s first floating elementary school was recently inaugurated in which of the following states?
a) Odisha
b) Gujarat
c) Manipur
d) Mizoram

Answer: A

Mains Questions:
Q.1) Agrarian crisis is an opportunity, for the government that assumes office after elections, to enact a law giving farmers the right to sell any quantity of their produce to anybody, anywhere and at any time. Comment.
 

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