QUESTION : Reforms in the agricultural sector are an important prerequisite for ensuring inclusive growth. Critically analyse.
Topic- IT’S A NO GREEN SIGNAL FROM THE FARM WORLD
- New Agriculture Bills And Opposition To It
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Recently, there have been strong protests from farmers, especially from the states of Punjab and Haryana, against three farm bills that seek to replace ordinances issued in june 2020 .
These are –
- The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
- The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020
- The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020
WHAT DO THE ORDINANCES NECESSARY?
1) The Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill has following provisions
- Opens up agricultural sale and marketing outside the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis for farmers
- Removes barriers to inter-State trade
- Provides a framework for electronic trading of agricultural produce.
- Prohibits State governments from collecting market fee, cess or levy for trade outside the APMC markets.
2) The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance relates to contract farming. It has following provisions
- Provides framework on trade agreements for the sale and purchase of farm produce.
- The mutually agreed remunerative price framework envisaged in the legislation is touted as one that would protect and empower farmers.
- The written farming agreement, entered into prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce, lists the terms and conditions for supply, quality, grade, standards and price of farm produce and services.
3) The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance
- Removes cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. The amendment will deregulate the production, storage, movement and distribution of these food commodities.
- The central government is allowed regulation of supply during war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity, while providing exemptions for exporters and processors at such times as well.
- Imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce must be based on price rise. A stock limit may be imposed only if there is a 100% increase in retail price of horticultural produce; and a 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural food items
WHY ARE THESE BILLS BEING OPPOSED ?
- Against the Spirit of Cooperative federalism :
- Since agriculture and markets are State subjects – entry 14 and 28 respectively in List II – the ordinances are being seen as a direct encroachment upon the functions of the States
- The provisions are viewed as against the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution.
- End of MSP
- Critics view the dismantling of the monopoly of the APMCs as a sign of ending the assured procurement of food grains at minimum support prices (MSP).
- To the Centre’s ‘one nation, one market’ call, critics have sought ‘one nation, one MSP’.
- No mechanism for price fixation
- The Price Assurance Bill, while offering protection to farmers against price exploitation, does not prescribe the mechanism for price fixation.
- There is apprehension that the free hand given to private corporate houses could lead to farmer exploitation.
- Critics are apprehensive about formal contractual obligations owing to the unorganised nature of the farm sector and lack of resources for a legal battle with private corporate entities.
- Food security undermined
- Easing of regulation of food items would lead to exporters, processors and traders hoarding farm produce during the harvest season, when prices are generally lower, and releasing it later when prices increase.
- This could undermine food security since the States would have no information about the availability of stocks within the State .Black-marketing may increase.
BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH THESE BILLS ?
- The Bills aim to do away with government interference in agricultural trade by creating trading areas free of middlemen and government taxes outside the structure of APMCs.
- It will allow farmers an option to sell their produce directly to these new zones, without going through the middlemen and paying levies such as mandi fees.
- It sought to remove stock holding limits as well as curbs on inter-State and intra-State trade, and create a framework fo contract farming.
- Also, these bills promote the creation of (FPO) on a large scale and will help in creating a farmer-friendly environment for contract farming where small players can benefit.
- These bills may enable private players to invest in warehousing, grading and other marketing infrastructure.
- A combined effect of these bills will help in creating’ One Nation One Market’ for agricultural produce.
WAY FORWARD :
- Improve Agricultural Infrastructure to Strengthen Competition: Government should massively fund the expansion of the APMC market system, make efforts to remove trade cartels, and provide farmers good roads, logistics of scale and real time information.
- Empowering State Farmers Commissions: Rather than opting for heavy centralisation, the emphasis should be on empowering farmers through State Farmers Commissions recommended by the National Commission for Farmers, to bring about a speedy government response to issues.
- Consensus Building: The Centre should reach out to those opposing the Bills, including farmers, explain to them the need for reform, and get them on board.
QUESTION : Curbing hate speech and fake news has emerged as a critical challenge for governments globally. Discuss.
Topic- DEFINE THE CONTOURS OF HATE IN SPEECH
- Free Speech And Hate Speech
WHY IN NEWS ?
- On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of India injuncted a Hindilanguage television channel, Sudarshan News, from continuing its broadcast of a series titled “Bindas Bol”.
- A plea was made to stop the telecast of a programme ‘Bindas Bol’ on Sudarshan TV containing objectionable content against the Muslim entries into the civil services.
- The SC held that the content was prima facie “plainly hurtful” to the community and asked the NBA to suggest measures to strengthen the self-regulatory mechanism to prevent or penalise airing of communal or derogatory content in the electronic media
SUGGESTIONS BY NBA:
- All news channels, whether they are NBA members or not, will have to follow the Programme Code containing the proposed amendments.
- The News Broadcasters Services Authority (NBSA) should be granted recognition as an independent self-regulatory mechanism to receive and deal with complaints which would strengthen News Broadcasting Standards Regulations of NBSA.
- NBSA is an independent body set up by the NBA. Its task is to consider and adjudicate upon complaints about broadcasts.
MAINTAINING THE EQUILIBRIUM :
- The government feared that if it did not have the power to regulate speech, it will threaten the stability of society.
- The hate and violence got the state to betray its own liberal commitments
- Liberals never acquired the confidence of people to let go of state regulation in the name of defending the republic.
- The spread of hate speech and its political consequences are now infinitely greater.
- The situation, where communication mediums are used to target communities, are not outside the realm of possibility.
- It is for this reason we still have so many restraints on speech.
- Indian laws present several complications when an attempt is made to distinguish permissible speech from hate speech.
- There is no international legal definition of hate speech, and the characterisation of what is ‘hateful’ is controversial and disputed.
- Generally, hate speech refers to utterances that incite violence, hatred, or discrimination against people on the basis of their collective identity, be it race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality.
- It attacks two key tenets of a democratic republic: the guarantee of equal dignity to all and the public good of inclusiveness.
- It is the speech which has reached a level of incitement and is beyond advocacy.
- Section 153A and Section 295A of the (IPC), which criminalise, respectively, speech that seeks to promote enmity between different groups and speech/acts that outrage/s religious feelings.
- Both of these are vaguely worded and are frequently invoked to suppress speech.
- They militate against the permissible grounds for limiting free speech enumerated Article (19) (2), and, in particular, the restrictions allowed on considerations of public order and morality.
- There is a need to infuse clarity in legislation by identifying the distinction between merely offensive speech and hate speech, and by making clearer still those categories of exceptional cases where the Constitution permits prior restraint.
- Speech that merely causes offence and is no more than disparaging or unpleasant, should continue to remain shielded.
- However, the speech that treats communities with disparate concern, by creating in them a sense of dread, a sense of exclusion from civic life, should go unprotected.
- Limitation in cases involving the issue of speech should be restricted to those categories of minorities who are vulnerable and a merely offensive statement should not qualify as hate speech.
- The SC should not be afraid of delineating the ambiguities and has to handle the exercise delicately. A working definition of hate speech will have to be discovered by interpreting laws in conjunction with the constitutional right to free speech.
WHAT IS HATE SPEECH?
- Law Commission 267th report: In this background, Law Commission of India submitted its 267th report on Hate Speech in 2017, in which it drafted The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2017 by inserting new Sections in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to deal with hate speech. New Sections recommended are:
- Insert Section 153C to penalise incitement to hatred.
- Insert Section 505A to make ‘causing fear, alarm, or provocation of violence in certain cases’ a specific criminal offence.
- There is no legal definition internationally for hate speech, and the characterization of what is ‘hateful’ is controversial and disputed.
- It is generally understood as any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are.
- In other words, it is based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factors. This is often rooted in, and generates intolerance and hatred and, in certain contexts, can be demeaning and divisive.
- International law prohibits the incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence rather than prohibiting hate speech
IMPACTS OF HATE SPEECH ?
- Human rights violation Atrocity crime Terrorism
- The spread of violent extremism Gender-based violence
- Communal Violence Polarization of communities and sections of the society
- Threat to the protection of civilians, minorities, refugees, women and children
- Alleviate the fight against all forms of racism and discrimination Erosion of democratic values
- Mobocracy and Mob lynching Deteriorate peace, growth and development Hate speech alienates, marginalizes and undermines personal dignity Hate crime Property damage- public
- Deteriorate peace, growth and development
- Hate speech alienates, marginalizes and undermines personal dignity
- Hate crime Property damage- public and private Rape Genocide
HATE SPEECH AND COMMUNAL TENSIONS IN INDIA :
- Hate Speech and Communal tensions in India Communal violence has a long history in India.
- In fact, communal violence had started before the arrival of the British rulers in India. Because of communal hate campaign, India has experienced many communal riots in past as well as in present. Out of which the recent example is Delhi Riots 2020.
- In a country like diverse India, it is easy to incite an immediate breach of peace by using fighting words on the bases of religion and caste and in the present era, many controversial people for getting unfair advantage have been using their freedom of speech and expression for inciting violence between people belonging to different religion, caste, beliefs and customs.
WAY FORWARD :
- Not post facto content regulation, but a market structure that can help provide more checks and balances.
- Not let bad media drive out good.
- The Court suo motu setting up a regulatory framework does not inspire confidence. It is not its jurisdiction to begin with.
- This is something for Parliament to think about.