Bharat: Its economy shows fresh signs of recovery in September. Manufacturing activities expanded to their highest level in more than eight years due to increase in export and domestic demand. It may be natural for this increase as both export and demand were subdued, thus it may be a one-time spurt, but if such growth sustains over the coming months we can be more sure of a full fledged economic recovery. Employment has not improved due to various factors like social distancing guidelines and uncertainty as to impact of Covid-19. Investment in all sectors remains negligible. Hospitality and tourism remain the worst sufferers.
In the middle of October, many Bharatwasis will be celebrating the Durga Pujas, that is, the arrival of Mother Durga to her home, our earthly abode, with deep devotion. She is not only the killer of the asura, Mahishasur, but also the Divine Mother who grants true wealth to the virtuous, intelligence to the pure-minded, faith to the truthful and humility to the noble souls.
Bharatwasis celebrated the birth anniversary of Gandhiji and Lal Bahadur Shastri on October 2 with the message of being Swadesi, self-reliant, fostering rural development, and valuing truthfulness, simplicity, austerity and compassion.
Lal Bahadur Shastri gave the slogan of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” to boost their morale and inspire the people to respect and recognise the value of their services. He stressed on the development of dairy and the abolition of many counterproductive regulations and practices.
Nobel laureate economist Abhijit Banerjee said that India is amongst the worst performing economies in the world. The government‘s economic stimulus was inadequate to tackle all the problems. Growth was slowing down even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Another Nobel laureate economist, Joesph Stiglitz, also voiced his concerns about the Indian economy in his recent interaction with FICCI West Bengal chapter. He felt that the planning behind the implementation of the lockdown was not adequate and the great migration helped in spreading the virus to the interiors. Talking about what he perceives as an ongoing ‘politics of division’ which is weakening the country, he stressed on the creation of an inclusive society.
Bharat economy: The rating agency, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) reaffirmed India’s sovereign rating at the lowest investment grade (BBB)with a stable outlook as it expects Asia’s third largest economy to bounce back in 2021-22. It expects India’s financial deficit to rise to 12.5% GDP in FY21 driven by weak revenue generation, while the debt-to-GDP ratio is set to exceed 90% this year.
Middlemen like Kabuliwala and merchants’ rate of interest: It was being alleged that they were charging high rates of interest and compound rate of interest. Banks and other lenders have been charging interest on interest and penal interest. Government has directed not to charge interest on interest on loans of size up to `2 crore on the direction of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court further raised the question of relief as to interest to big borrowers. Government needs to make the industry globally competitive, at least, with the industries of China.
Forex reserve: As of October 2020, Forex Reserve stood at USD 545.65 billion. To cover external volatility, USD 300 to USD 325 billion is just adequate. It has risen due to inflow of FPI (Foreign Portfolio Investment)and lower prices of oils. If the oil prices rose and outflow of portfolio fund, the reserve may not be large. China and Japan, too, have large increase in their reserves. Reserve can be used only for essential sectors like healthcare, critical equipment, etc. Flow of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) may fall due to a stiff tariff on key components and regulation of flow of fund from China.
Agriculture: Government has enacted three agriculture bills to improve the farmers’ income for assessing the market for their produce. These aim to provide more competitive and hassle-free ecosystem where farmers get the choice to sell their products at the best prices. Traders are allowed to buy from the farmers directly. These allow farmers to get a share of cost-contract price surge after they sign agreements of contract farming with private players. It is delicensing of the agriculture sectors. Procurement will continue at Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Agriculture Produce Marketing Cooperatives (APMC). Contract farming providing trade agreements for sale and purchase of farm products are allowed. These open opportunities to private players to play their role for the development of agriculture and augment income of the farmers and provide the finance needed for cultivation.
Under the new laws, a host of entities including corporates, traders and even the end customers can procure from farmers without a license or payment of fee, unlike in the APMC structure. This opens up the floodgates to corporates who can directly procure from farmers without the interference of middlemen. Some are scared that large corporates will exercise control over farm prices.
Some political parties are opposing the Acts. This will encroach upon the function of the states and is claimed to be against the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution. They allege that the farmers will be at the mercy of big corporates.
Government should monitor the regulation. Farmers should have the choice either to sell to APMC Food Corporation of India or to state government organisation or to the corporate who gives the best price or at MSP. It is expected that there will be competition, reduction in marketing cost, private investment in storage, reduction in wastage in storage of FCI and government agencies. Government should come up with the scheme to build silos for storage of grains at a distance of 100 km near the highway, allowing the facilities to store the grains like cold storages. It is expected that private sectors will come in this way. Adequate infrastructure for storage will help the farmer to sell the products not necessarily at the harvest time but any time when the prices are good or when they need the money. However, a pre-requisite for setting up such silos like cold storages would be assured supply of electricity at reasonable tariff. Government must ensure that first they are keen to uplift the condition of the farmers.
APMC has not been helping the farmers. It is expected that the new acts will help the farmers and consumers and will improve the rural economy. Farmers will be guided to cultivate the right crops according to the demand in the market. Cereals, pulses, oil seeds, onions and potatoes are removed from the list of essential commodities. This liberates the farm sector and allows the market to determine the prices. Export of the farm produce will boost income. Farmers can now enter into the long-term contract (five years) with agriculture business firms for selling their produces at a pre-agreed price covering their cost of production, the risk of uncertainty and fall in the prices. Corporates will provide modern technology and modern agriculture practices to reduce cost and have the best quality produce.
Government should continue to procure agri-produce at the MSP so that the corporate buyers cannot misuse their bargaining power to give lower price to the farmers. Farmers will have the choice to sell their produce where they get the best price. There have been malpractices in buying the produce from the farmers by the government agency on grounds of quality standard. Farmers should have the option to withdraw from the farming contract with the corporate at any time without penalty. Corporate buyers will have to pay the agreed price and penalty for breach of contract.
If monitored well, these Acts can usher an agriculture revolution benefitting the farmers in terms of better finance, better seeds, other improved technology, equipment, and of course, better price.
Let all Bharatwasis perform their duties with discipline, righteousness, faith and devotion.
Dear Bharatwasis, I sincerely urge you to maintain strict protocols of social distancing and use of protective gear during the coming festivities in order to contain the spread of the virus. We must enjoy responsibly to ensure that we do not digress from our fight against COVID-19.
Mother of the Universe – Maa Durga
O Mother of the Universe! The Power of the Absolute!
Purifier of all minds and hearts.
As the sublime fruit of the spiritual quest!
Ma! Ma! Ma!
You who liberate every conscious being!
Most compassionate Ma Tara!
You who bear all beings tenderly to truth!
Grant us the fragrant shade of your lotus feet
on this auspicious day!
Mysterious Ma Kali!
Consort and power of Absolute Reality!
Please be present! Please absorb us!
Please be gracious to us O Mother!
Dr. H.P. Kanoria
Editor in chief
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