This refers to ‘A farmers’ agitation like no other’ (December 15). The scale of the farmers’ protests holds a lesson for the government. Democracy is tested by its ability to sustain institutions that provide interfaces to an ethos of constructive dialogue. Else, it breeds distrust for every major intervention by the government. The ongoing discussions with farmer representatives should have been done before the passing of the farm Bills.
Apropos ‘How the world will handle China in 2021’ (December 15), there is no second opinion about the predominant position enjoyed by China as a manufacturing hub. With about 110 Fortune 500 companies in its fold, it is set to dominate the global economy for a few more years. Though factors such as cheap labour, lax regulatory system, currency manipulation and skilled workforce could be attributed to the economic surge, the fact remains that industrialised countries in the US and Europe had immensely contributed to its growth through massive imports. In this regard, it is worth referring to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ or self-reliant India while announcing the economic package of ₹20 trillion to tide over the coronavirus crisis. One feels that exploring ‘technical knowhow” should take precedence before India embarks upon the journey of boosting its manufacturing sector.
The reduction in retail inflation from 7.64 per cent to 6.93 per cent in November (December 15) may be due to seasonal factors and the bumper kharif harvest in some areas of the country. The sustainability of the reduction and further fall are to be watched to warrant a reduction in interest rates. The retail inflation is likely to go up in the coming months due to excess liquidity in the system and the cost of major components of CPI like education, medical services, etc., will increase in the coming months due to increase in input costs and pent-up demand. The impact of amendment to the Essential Commodities Act on price of goods is another relevant factor. All these underline the need for more storage facilities so that price stability of agricultural produce can be maintained.
Hartals and bandhs have become a part and parcel of our daily life. All political organisations, irrespective of their ideological leanings, announce strikes quite often. While it is their Constitutional right to air their grievances and protests in the form of hartals, political parties as well as other associations must always ensure that strikes remain peaceful. Strikes can be inconvenient for the common people in more ways than one and can also lead to immense financial losses. At a time when our economy has entered a technical recession, any financial loss will only add to the common man’s miseries.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 has effectively put the shackles on the regulations on stocks of agricultural produce. After the notification of the Act, the stocks of such foodstuffs, including cereals, pulses, potato, onions, edible oilseeds and oils, can be regulated only in certain extraordinary circumstances.
The unfettered sanction given to a processor or a value chain participant now to undertake any activity from production of any agricultural produce in the field to final consumption, involving processing, packaging, storage, transport and distribution or all, helps it stretch the stock limit. Determination of the overall ceiling of installed capacity of processing, especially if multi-shift working and sub-contract(s) needed to be factored, is a dicey exercise. Thus, a prescription for the stock limit of any agricultural produce on ground of the extraordinary price rise is difficult, nay, impossible. This amendment serves neither the interest of the farmers nor the people.
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