Context- The government’s dismissal of the concerns of farmers and workers with bold reforms is not only bad for democracy, it reduces quality of policies and also makes them harder to implement.
What is the core problem in agriculture sector in India?
Largest source of livelihood – there are too many people employed in agriculture.
- The agriculture sector contributes 17 per cent of India’s GDP. As per estimate, about 57 per cent of the working population is engaged in agriculture.
- 70 percent of its rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood.
- Increase productivity– India needs to shift from basic farming to more efficient, sustainable, productive farming.
- More technology and automation will be required to improve productivity.
- Reduce the number of employed– The agriculture sector should employ only 17 per cent of the workforce as to become more productive like other sectors.
- India must figure out a way to provide meaningful employment to hundreds of millions of people outside agriculture.
What are the issues with new farms and labour laws?
- Issues in new Farm reforms-
- Agriculture is a state subject and regulation of agri-markets is very much in the domain of the states. Yet states have not been consulted on changes in agriculture laws.
- Deregulation– The new farm laws that aim to double farmers’ income in two years by deregulating agricultural markets may further widen the inequalities in the sector,
- The deregulation of Bihar’s APMC led to no significant changes.
- These changes will affect the small farmers the most because their low output does not allow them any bargaining power.
- Issues in new Farm reforms-
- Worker’s right of association in unions– In the labour reforms underway, it is the dilution of this fundamental right of collective representation that bodes badly for India’s workers
- The rights of the trade union to go on a lightning strike is sought to be curtailed heavily.
Therefore, new farm and labour reforms laws are the examples of diminishing democracy in India.
What are the set of reforms required to make India’s growth more inclusive?
- Policymakers must listen to the institutions that represent small people — associations and unions of farmers, informal workers and small enterprises.
- Formation of cooperatives of producers and workers- By aggregating the small into larger-scale enterprises.
- Government regulations must encourage the formation of strong cooperatives, and improve the ease of doing business.
- Indian agriculture marketing reforms should derive inspiration from Barbara Harriss-White, a scholar of India’s agricultural markets, who once observed, “deregulated imperfect markets may become more, not less, imperfect than regulated imperfect markets.
- Policymaker needs acknowledge public fears and reassure people, especially in periods of uncertainty.
- The concept of democracy should not be reduced to elections and political parties. Democracy is also a process of listening to all stakeholders.