IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 8th September, 2016
General Studies 3
Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
e-technology in the aid of farmers, Technology missions
Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies
Science and Technology-developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
General Studies 2
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Farmers can lean on LIN- A solution for doubling farm income
Farmers in India face tough time in getting bank loans due to lack of collaterals, thus making government policies and programmes towards farm and agricultural loans to farmers ineffective.
Hence as a solution, LIN- Land Identity Number which gives unique identity to a registered land by locating it through a GIS marker, seeded with the owner’s Aadhar details and fixed on a digital map, can be used as a platform to establish farmer rights and gain access to various benefits which can increase their income.
For a successful farming output, access to technology like improved seeds, irrigation, farm machinery, etc. and easy and affordable capital is needed.
However, due to lack of collaterals, the bank loans are not available to farmers which forces them to borrow money from informal credit markets at 24-72% annual interest.
The farmers can’t give securities to banks because they don’t have legal title of land ownership even if it is an inherited land.
The tenants, who farm roughly a quarter of the country’s cultivated area, have more sorry state as they might not have documentation of the land they till.
These records of ownership or cultivation rights could exist with village-level revenue officials but getting access to them is their biggest woe.
Hence, a legal registration of land ownership or land tenancy is the first step towards getting legal benefits.
A new beginning
The farmers should ideally get their land properly registered. But, high stamp duties for registration averaging 6-7% and ranging from 4% in Maharashtra to 14.5% in Uttar Pradesh discourage such an action.
The Telangana state government has allowed farmers to register their land free-of-cost even if the land was bought on hand-written notes, locally known as ‘sada bainama’.
Benefit of formal registration: the informal sale documents conferres no real legal ownership. Thus, farmers were not entitled to seasonal agricultural loans from banks or government compensation against crop losses.
Moving forward from registration of land titles, the aim should be complete digitisation of land records by using LIN.
LIN- Land Identity Number
The LIN can be used in various ways for farmers’ benefit—
Linking LIN to JAM, i.e. the farmer’s Jan Dhan bank account, Aadhar unique identification and Mobile numbers will transfer all the available legal benefits.
LIN can be connected to a data server that would have details of which crop farmer is cultivating on the particular plot. Farmer can provide such information to server via SMS.
Geography-specific weather irregularities can be monitored and crop production estimates revised in real time.
The LIN enables each farmer to be tagged to the nearest weather station. If the station indicates a bad weather event (drought or excess rain), there could be a system-generated signal to the insurance company to process the agreed compensation to the farmer’s Aadhar-seeded bank account within 24-48 hours.
Thus, with a planned grid of weather stations, it is possible to also implement a foolproof crop insurance scheme.
Crop loans can similarly be processed smoothly with minimal formalities.
The LIN-JAM confluence make the details of the plot of land and credit history of each farmer available. Thus, no further document is required for processing such loans.
At a later stage, there could even be credit information bureaus providing credit rankings for individual farmers against their LINs.
In fact, a model almost based on these lines is currently being piloted in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Land is a sensitive and emotional subject which has been previously associated with violence and disruptions. With LIN and digitisation of land records, owners can be assured that their ownership rights are protected.
Matching the Aadhar details of the landowner and tenant with LIN makes it possible to also create a record of tenancy. This would help the government to move from the existing system of non-targeted agricultural input subsidies to making direct cash transfers.
Right now, in the absence of identification of the real tiller of the land, there is the danger of such transfers being made to unintended recipients. All this is expected to change once tenancies are legalised through simultaneous protection of landowners’ rights.
LIN will also enable land aggregation.
With secure titles and replacement of physical boundaries by digital ones, there would be incentives for pooling and creation of larger land parcels, on which advanced farm machinery technologies can be deployed.
Use of planters and harvesters can cut cultivation costs by 15-30%, laser levelling machines could help boost yields by 10-15% and reduce water requirement by 20-30%. Using these equipment is not possible on small, fragmented plots.
Thus, the overall increase of up to 50% in farmers’ incomes—from productivity gains and reduced costs of cultivation, improved access to capital, crop insurance and government transfers—would mark a significant step towards realising the Prime Minister’s goal of “doubling farm incomes by 2022”.
All the stakeholders in agriculture viz. farmers, traders/processors, bankers, insurance companies and the government itself will be supported by LIN in ease of doing business.
The costs of putting up the infrastructure for digitisation on such a scale will be initially high but the cost benefit ratio is favourable when the gains will be made in the short and medium term.
It will be also a challenging opportunity for India’s IT giants to provide best, affordable and sustainable digital tools in this field.
Apart from LIN, other focus areas to increase farmers’ income include large investments in irrigation, quality seeds, soil health, cold chain and warehousing to prevent losses, value addition through food processing, creation of a pan-India national market for farm produce and diversifying into areas like poultry, bee keeping and fisheries.
Together with these new initiatives, the farmer will be encouraged to explore new opportunities and also the young generation will develop their interest to create a sustainable farm enterprise model.
Connecting the dots:
Is doubling of farmers’ income by 2022 economically possible? Critically examine.
Farmers share a special bond with the land they till as it is a means of their livelihood. However, there are various stakeholders who contribute towards upkeep of this limited means of livelihood. Discuss the role of these stakeholders in improving the farmers’ income.
Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India
Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
Clash of Tradition and Fundamental Rights
The article discusses:
Constitutional Vs Traditional Beliefs
Bombay High Court verdict in the Haji Ali case
The struggles by groups of Hindu and Muslim women to lift bans on entry into some places of worship have been in the public limelight over the past year.
The exclusion of women from the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali Dargah by the Dargah Trust.
Holy sites with Sabarimala temple of Kerala.
Shani temple in Maharashtra.
The bans involve notions and norms which directly clash with ideas of modernity and are also incompatible with rights enshrined in the Constitution.
When Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was asked why he was so passionate about the issue of temple entry for Dalits, he replied: “The issue is not entry, but equality.”
The recent Bombay High Court verdict, (Justice Revati Mohite Dere) said that the exclusion of women from the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali Dargah by the Dargah Trust violated not only their fundamental right to religious freedom but also their right to equality and non-discrimination under the Indian Constitution.
It was the efforts of The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, the women’s organization that initiated the public interest litigation against the Dargah Trust, invoked the protection of Articles 14 and 15 (rights to equality and non-discrimination), and 25(1) (right to religious freedom) of the Constitution.
Court intervention in Religion:
The Supreme Court has previously ruled on the legality of religious barring, the exclusion of Dalits from temples, and the hereditary caste-based succession of temple priests.
The Supreme Court invented essential religious practices test wherein the presumed religious practices could gain constitutional sanction only if they were “essential” or “integral” to the religion in question, in the eyes of court.
Later, the apex court began to take an increasingly interventionist stance, using the essential religious practices test to make wide-ranging—often untethered—claims about religions, and even trying to mould religions into more rationalistic and homogenous monoliths, while marginalizing dissident traditions.
The Bombay High Court verdict in the Haji Ali case, however, is an example of a judgment that cleverly negotiates its position to solve age-old, intractable social problems, and treads forward on adventurous tracks where both their competence and their legitimacy can be called into question.
Putting onus on the state:
Prima facie, the State should play a pro-active role in rectifying such violations of FRs. The argument of freedom to profess, propagate and practice religion (article 25, 26) cannot act as an umbrella to proliferate such skewed outlook as banning.
As Justice Dere observed— The state was constitutionally bound to respect fundamental rights, not merely by refraining from infringing them, but also by actively intervening in order to protect them when they were threatened by others. Consequently, it was for the state to ensure — whether by providing adequate protection or otherwise — that women who wanted to exercise their fundamental right to equal access could do so.
In the exercise of their constitutional functions, there are times when it becomes necessary—and inevitable—for courts to consider and decide deeply divisive and polarizing questions about gender relations, the family, religion, and society.
It is necessary to change the patriarchal mindset of society to remove the conscious and unconscious prejudices towards women which is possible only when civil society, NGOs, local bodies, educational institutes and especially the priest and worshipping devotees themselves must take the baton of change. State can show the way, permanent solution will come from society within.
The crux is what takes precedence and whether the State/courts have jurisdiction over customs presumably sanctioned by religion but which took shape in the distant past when the predominant view was that women did not enjoy equal rights. In this clash of tradition and fundamental rights, definitely later must prevail.
As Gandhiji said “the Shastras can be ignored if they hide the truth as the truth itself cannot be confined to the covers of a book.”
Connecting the dots:
The recent controversy surrounding temple or dargah entry of women in many states of India paints a regressive picture of the Indian society. In the clash of tradition and fundamental rights, later must prevail. However, the change has to be brought bottom up and not imposed by the State. Do you agree? Critically examine.