CATEGORY: SOCIAL ISSUES/ POLITY
- 50:50 Reservation in PRIs: Rotation of Panchayat Seats Between Men and Women
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
The Haryana government has planned to bring a Bill with regards to 50:50 reservation in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) for men and women candidates, and to rotate the seats between male and female representatives after each term.
- Under the odd-even formula both Men and women will be able to contest panchayat polls.
- This will be implemented for sarpanches and members of village wards, block samitis and zila parishads.
- Pros: the bill if passed will ensure equal opportunities for men and women, and women from all constituencies will have fair share in terms of reservation.
- Cons: reservation for only one term and rotation of reserved seats and posts of chairperson can hinder the consolidation of leadership qualities among women representatives as it takes time for them to learn the skills of handling and negotiating various conflicting interests within the panchayat.
- To deal with this issue, some states like Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka have made provisions for two term reservation of seats at
- Also, Haryana previously enacted Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015 laying down eligibility criteria to be able to contest Panchayat elections in the
- It included disqualification in case of non-completion of minimum educational criteria (like class X pass for general category and Class 8 for SC), non-payment of arrears and debts to co-operative banks or electricity bills, and not having functional toilets at home.
- The Supreme Court upheld this decision arguing that prescription of an educational qualification is not irrelevant for better administration. Also, the criteria of insolvency and toilets will encourage good practices among legislators.
Constitutional Provisions for Women Representation in PRIs:
- The 73 Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 mandates 3% reservation for women in PRIs across the country.
- The 73 Amendment envisages the Gram Sabha as the foundation of the Panchayat Raj System to perform functions and powers entrusted to it by the State Legislatures.
- This has been increased to 50% reservation in several states like Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar etc. Out of the 30.41 lakh elected representatives of PRIs, 13.74 lakh (45.2%) are women.
- Article 15 (3) to the Constitution of India empowers the State to make special provisions for women.
- Article 243D provides that one-third of the total number of seats and offices of the Chairpersons in PRIs at each level shall be reserved for women to be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat.
- Such reservations of seats and offices of the chairpersons for women are also within the reservations for SCs and STs in all three tiers of PRIs.
- In order to bring about 50% reservation for women in Panchayats in all States, the 110 Constitution Amendment Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2009, but it was not passed despite being tabled several times.
Challenges for Women in PRIs:
- Inadequate Capacities
- Violent Opposition from community
- Two Child Norm for contesting in Panchayat election (like in odisha and rajasthan)
- Caste System:
- Lack of Women at Other Levels
Efforts by Government to Promote Women in PRIs:
- The Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) has been making continuous efforts by launching and implementing various schemes for capacity building of women representatives in PRIs, like
Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA)
- RGSA was launched in 2018 for developing and strengthening the capacities of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) for rural local governance to become more responsive towards local development needs, preparing the participatory plans that leverage technology, efficient and optimum utilization of available resources for realizing sustainable solutions to local problems linked to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- It included rewards for ensuring women participation in PRIs Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP)
Panchayat Mahila Evam Yuva Shakti Abhiyan (PMEYSA)
- It was implemented from the year 2007-08 till 2012-13 with the broad objective of empowerment of Elected Women & Youth Representatives of Panchayats.
- Recently, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has directed all the States and Union Territories to organise Special Gram Sabhas and Mahila Sabhas (Women’s Assemblies) in all Gram Panchayats
- The government must bear in mind that equality in representation is not enough to ensure socio-political equity among genders, as the relatively disadvantaged position of women must be taken into account.
- Increasing women in PRIs will increase the probability of their better representation in parliament, which as of now is only 14%.
- To further promote women participation in PRIs, emphasis must be made for gender sensitization of male elected representatives and functionaries of PRIs.
- Farmers’ Income and Agri Profits
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
the rating agency Crisil recently did a detailed analysis of 25 key field and horticultural crops and has indicated that per hectare profitability will improve 3-5% year-on-year to Rs. 10,0000 in the Kharif (Summer Crop) Season 2020.
- The economists however say that individual farmers are unlikely to see any hike in their own income.
Expected Profits in the Agriculture Sector:
- To support farmers in effectively undertaking the post-harvest rabi produce and preparatory work for kharif crops, 30,000 crore additional emergency working capital fund through NABARD and Rs. 2 lakh crore of concessional credit have been provided by the government.
- The agriculture sector showed growth of 5.9% in the last quarter of 2019- 2020.
- Impact on the Farmers’ Income: Some economists have opined that despite a hike in overall profits, per capita (per farmer) income may see a dip.
- Reverse migration due to Covid-19 may have resulted in the number of people employed in the agriculture sector this summer rising by up to 16% over farm employment in 2019.
- to the data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the farm sector gained 14.9 million jobs in the April-July 2020 period.
Reasons Behind Reduced Income of Farmers:
- Reverse Migration: Because of the Covid lockdown, large numbers of people have gone back to rural areas, and apart from MGNREGA and agriculture, there is not any significant work.
- Agriculture as an Employment Option: In general, people just migrate out of farming, mostly voluntarily, in search for better paying employment. But, people who can, do migrate into farming when they lose non-farming jobs.
- Demand for Labour: Till the sowing season ends in August, there will remain demand for farm labour.
- This means, even if there is an increase in farm profits, it will not help in reviving rural demand, as too many people are dependent on farm income this year.
- Rise in Covid-19 cases in Rural India: There could be an adverse impact on harvesting and supply chains.
- Decrease in the Prices of the Produce: Whether growth in agricultural output also implies growth in the income of farmers depends on a lot of things. Most importantly, it depends on the prices received by farmers for the produce that they sell.
- While cereal prices continue to show positive inflation, most other food groups, such as fruits and vegetables, eggs, poultry and fish, continue to see prices decline.
- Further, with input prices also rising, most small and marginal farmers are likely to witness a decline in incomes rather than an increase.
Steps Taken by the Government:
- The three ordinances introduced under the Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme in May 2020 – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance – will give the farmers the benefit of ‘my crop, my right’ and help them gain higher prices for their produce.
- Launch of Agriculture Infrastructure Fund of Rs.1 lakh crore by the Prime Minister for setting up cold chains, refrigerated transportation, etc. will help farmers command better prices.
- Initiatives undertaken by MNCs such as ‘e-choupal’ by ITC Limited which enables rural India with technical know-how for an effective agri ecosystem and facilitates transparent mechanism for price discovery should be encouraged.
- Government should consolidate and leverage the CSC (Common Service Center) pan India network.
- It should also focus on promoting cottage industries, provide better amenities in terms of health care, education, road network, communication and power so that the rural population can also be in a position to access quality life on par with the urban sector. This will also lessen migration towards cities in search of job opportunities.
- NBFC-MFIs: Credit Guarantee
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Recently introduced Partial Credit Guarantee Programme for Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) – Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs).
- This programme aims to ensure unhindered flow of credit in rural areas hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Under the programme, NABARD will provide partial guarantee on pooled loans extended to small and mid-sized MFIs.
- This has come in the backdrop of most MFIs being excluded from the moratorium benefits from banks, creating a dip in collections, resulting in widening asset-liability mismatch, credit downgrades and spike in cost of fresh funding.
- NABARD will facilitate Rs. 2,500 crore funding in the initial phase and will further increase the funding.
- The program is expected to cover over 1 million households across 28 states and 650 districts.
- NABARD has signed agreements with Vivriti Capital and Ujjivan Small Finance Bank to roll out the initiative. Vivriti Capital is a non-banking financial corporation.
- The partially guaranteed loan facility will catalyse much-needed financing to millions of households, agricultural and business markets to sustain in the post Covid-19 environment.
- MFIs operate in rural hinterlands and serve farmers, traders, rural businesses and households.
Pooled Loan Issuance (PLI):
- Under a PLI structure, a bank or an NBFC (Principal Lender), provides loans to identified Microfinance Institutions/other NBFCs/corporates (Borrowers).
- Each of these loans are made as per terms agreed upon between the Principal Lender and the Borrowers in keeping with the Principal Lenders underwriting and credit evaluation practices.
- The PLI structure provides the lending bank adequate comfort through the guarantor’s partial credit protection, it also reduces cost of capital as the rating of the loans get increased and helps lenders meet priority sector goals.
Non-Banking Financial Company-Micro Finance Institution
- The NBFC-MFI is a non-deposit taking financial company.
- Conditions to qualify as NBFC-MFI:
- Minimum Net Owned Funds (NOF) of Rs. 5 crore.
- At least 85% of its Net Assets in the nature of Qualifying Assets.
- The Qualifying Assets are those assets which have a substantial period of time to be ready for its intended use or sale.
- The difference between an NBFC-MFI and other NBFC is that while other NBFCs can operate at a very high level but MFIs cater to only the smaller level of social strata, with need of smaller amounts as loans.
- NBFC-MFI plays a crucial role in sustaining consumption demand as well as capital formation in the smaller level of strata, thus it is essential that they continue to get funding without disruption, and the partial credit guarantee programme is expected to systematically enable the same.