Sanjeev Sabhlok's blog

Thoughts on economics and liberty

Jon Alpert’s brilliant documentary on Cuba based on visits across 45 years

Almost finished watching this documentary, Cuba and the Cameraman, which is probably one of the best examples of high quality journalism I’ve seen. A genuine attempt to understand Cuba and its people. In the process, the doco also shows the total mess that socialism creates.

Jon covered some of the same people across these years (including their children) and in parts the documentary tugs at your emotions like no movie can. The story of Cristobal the farmer is endearing at a level I’ve rarely come across.

The people of Cuba are wonderful. Their stupid socialist leaders have let them down.

It is very rare that I recommend anything. This one I strongly recommend. But be patient.

 

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Please download and share Amar Habib’s excellent book, “Anti-farmer Laws” – for free

I mentioned this book by Amar Habib yesterday.

Mr Habib has been kind enough to permit me to share this book on the internet even though it is priced at Rs.20. I would encourage everyone who can, to contribute their mite to Kisan Putra andolan if they can.

This is an extremely valuable book that educates India about socialist laws which have crushed farmers.

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I’m extracting a few key sections from it below:

Three key offensive laws

1) Agricultural Land Ceiling Act.
2) Essential Commodities Act.
3) Land Acquisition Act.

Liberalization means reducing the governmental interference. These acts are not limited to interference, but they are evidence of governmental restrictions/prohibitions. These Acts should have been repealed when liberalization was adopted. They were not repealed. During the existence of these Acts, who can say that liberalization, openness or globalization has permeated agricultural sector? It is as clear as sunlight that above mentioned Acts is the root cause of farmer suicides.

  1. What are the different Constitutional Amendments that are anti farmer?

Original constitution of India is founded on individual liberty. Economic freedom was given to the farmers just like other professionals. But after the promulgation of the Constitution, many Constitutional Amendments were introduced to take away the freedom of farmers. Till the end of 2015, constitution was amended 94 times. Out of them seven amendments i.e. 1st, 3rd, 4th, 24th, 25th, 42nd and 44th proved most detrimental to the farmers.

1st constitutional Amendment:- On 18th June, 1951, 1st amendment was made to Art.31 and Schedule IX, which had no mention in the original Constitution, was added to the constitution. Judicial remedy is barred against the Acts included in this Schedule. The right to seek judicial redress of the Indian farmers was abolished by this constitutional Amendment.

3rd Amendment:- On 22nd February, 1955, 3rd Constitutional Amendment was made in Schedule 7 of the Constitution. According to the Constitutional scheme of things agriculture is a State Subject. Previous Entire matter in para 33 of concurrent list was deleted and by introducing classification like food items, animal fodder, raw cotton, raw jute etc. provision was made for control of central Government. Thus, the central Government encroached on the jurisdiction of State Government and established control on the market of agricultural produce.

This amendment is considered the mother of Essential Commodities Act. It needs to be understood that the Constitution was amended in February 1955 & Essential Commodities Act came into operation in April 1955.

4th Amendment:- On 27th April 1955, Article 31 was againamended and 4th Constitutional Amendment was made. It gives unrestrained power to the government to acquire land. This amendment not only diluted fundamental right to property but also revoked the protection provided by the framers of Constitution to all Fundamental Rights under Art.13. After this amendment the government got undisputed right to acquire land. Courts were distanced from intervention.

24th Amendment:- On 5th November, 1971, Art.13 was amended with a view to make the way of land acquisition unhindered and unrestrained. This amendment directly takes away the protection given to fundamental Rights of the citizens Art.13 had conferred on the Indian Citizens protection of their Fundamental Rights. In this article, a stern warning was issued to the government not to pass any law or issue any orders which infringed on the Fundamental rights. 24th Constitutional Amendment removed the protective shield of citizen’s ‘Fundamental Rights.’

25th Amendment:- On 20th April, 1972, a new part (c) was added to Art. 31 and the Directive Principles of State Policy included in the Constitution were given predominance over Fundamental Rights. Directive Principles were supposed to be non-binding. This amendment gave them importance and the citizens were deprived of basic freedom under the pretext of ‘welfare of the people.’

42nd Amendment:– On 18th December, 1976, in a single day, 59 amendments were made in 7 different articles and the Preamble of the Constitution. It does not appear that such a record of effecting these many amendments in a single day has been achieved anywhere else in the world.

This was the period of Emergency. Broadly speaking, a review of 42nd Constitutional Amendment can be taken as follows:-

i. The words ‘Socialist ‘ and ‘Secular’ which were not there earlier were inserted in the preamble to the Constitution

ii. New Part 31(c) was added to Article 31. By this amendment the scopes of Article 14 which upheld the principle of Equality before law and Art.19 which gave right to freedom were narrowed down.

iii. Art.19(1) (F) which provided freedom to property rights (to acquire, hold and dispose of property) was repealed entirely.

iii. To give a free run to the Acts enacted for Land Acquisition, provision was made to make Art.14 (All are equal before law) and Art.19 (Right to freedom) ineffectual.

44th Amendment:- On 30th April, 1979, the 44th Constitutional Amendment which abolished Fundamental Right to Property was made. By this amendment a new Article 300(A) was introduced. Fundamental Rights i.e. rights to freedom are considered the Soul of the Constitution. The Constitution makers had mandated by Art.13 that the government should not interfere with these rights. These rights were diluted during the term of Prime Minster Nehru. During Indira Gandhi’s rule they were made almost dead and the last nail was fixed in the coffin during the rule of Janata Party by abolishing Fundamental Right to property. Right to property has now remained only a Constitutional Right.

5) What Acts in relation to farmers are anti-farmer?

There is so Many Acts are anti farmer. For the sake of understanding, the Acts can be classified under 3 types:-

1) Laws establishing system.

2) Detrimental Laws.

3) Deceitful/ delusive Laws.

Ceiling, Essential Commodities, land Acquisition Acts and Acts prohibiting sale of agricultural lands by Tribals to non-tribals, by agriculturists to non-agriculturists etc. are laws establishing system. These are the laws making the farmers permanent slaves.

There are many detrimental laws like Wild Life Protection Act, Progeny of Cattle Slaughter Prohibition Act. Evenwhen these laws did not exit, thefarmers were committing suicide. Such Acts prove detrimental to the farmers.

There are some ‘deceitful laws’. On a cursory glance, they appear to be favorable to farmers, but they benefit others, e.g. Act exempting the farmers from Income Tax. The farmers have absolutely no use of this Act because their occupation runs in loss. Income is not sufficient to make them liable for income tax. But this Act benefited those who get black money and they showed it as agricultural income and made it white.

The benefit of subsidies on fertilizer and pipelines did not accrue to the farmers, but to the industrialists and traders.

All these 3 types of laws are anti-farmer. The list of anti-farmer laws is pretty long. All these must be repealed. If the laws maintaining the system are scrapped, no time will be required for other laws to vanish. Therefore, these must be considered first.

6) Why there is opposition to Ceiling Act?

The land has been fragmented into very small pieces. About 85 percent of the farmers in the country are small or marginal. Average holding in India is 1 hectare. It means 85% farmers make a living on an area less than 2.5acres. The families of the farmers cannot survive on dry land measuring 2 or 2.5 acres. Fragmentation of the lands has been a major problem.

This Act restricts freedom of individual and is unconstitutional. As a result of this Act, the farmers cannot follow their occupation freely.

To join the competition in the world, direct capital investment in agriculture is very essential. Nobody will invest for owners of small parcels of land.

Due to restriction of the holding limits of area under cultivation, the competent persons desirous of proving their ability in agriculture lose enthusiasm. For these and many other reasons, Ceiling Act must be abolished.

8)  How is the Ceiling Act discriminatory?

Even if it is presumed that the rate of agricultural land is Rs. 1 crore per acre (This rate obtains nowhere), 54 acres are valued at Rs. 54 crores. In other words, a farmer in Maharashtra cannot hold agricultural landed property valued at an amount more than Rs. 54 crores. (It is a different thing that owners of 54 acres are now difficult to find). Against this, Ambani’s wealth is of a few lakh crores. He can hold it at pleasure. Is this not discrimination?

There is no limitation on how many factories an industrialist should construct. An Hotelier can start as many hotels as he likes. There is no limit on the cases a lawyer should handle. There are no restrictions on number patients a doctor should examine. Not only this, there is no limitation on the number of heads a barber should shear or the number saloons he should set up. Traders, industrialist, professionals, nobody is subjected to restrictions. The restrictions are imposed only on farmers. If this is not discrimination, what is?

13)   What benefit would accrue to the farmers on revocation of Ceiling Act?

The loss the farmers are suffering due to the existence of Ceiling Act will not occur if the Ceiling Act is repealed. This is the real benefit.

Average holding in our country is less than 1 hectare. 85% of the farmers are marginal holders. This is a horrible reality of condition of agriculture. No rational investor will take the risk of providing capital to an account holder of one or two acres. If the capital investment in agriculture is to be increased, the fragmented structure of agriculture will have to be altered. If Companies working on areas of 100-200or 1000-2000 acres are formed, local-foreign, private –public or Banks –financial institution will come forward to invest capital in them. Expecting Capital investment without changing the structure of agriculture is meaningless. Such companies will start processing industries. New jobs will be generated out o that.

In many states including Maharashtra the Ceiling Act was strictly implemented. What was the result? A farmer with 54 acres begot 4 children. Partition took place among them. Each got 13 ½ acres. In next generation they had 4 children. There was partition among them and they became small farmers. Savings were not allowed to remain in agriculture. The ambition for progress was killed and jobs outside agriculture did not come up. The burden on agriculture kept on increasing and the agricultural land was fragmented in to very small pieces. Today 85% holders are small. Many measures will be required to escape from this condition of penury. Abolition of Ceiling on agriculture is one of the very important measures.

Land became divided due to imposition of Ceiling. Very small pieces occurred. As a result the number of sellers of agro produce went on increasing. Thanks to Market Committee Act, the number of purchasers of agro produce decreased. If sellers are more and buyers less, the rates are bound to fall. This is the reason why the prices of agro produce always remain at the bottom level. If the number of producer sellers goes down, they may get fair price for their produce. The ability to wait till fair price is received and infrastructural facilities (Warehouses and capital) will be with them. If Ceiling Act is abolished, farmers’ companies will emerge in agricultural sector and the situation may turn favorable to the producers. From the decade of 70s, the sizes of land ownership are increasing world over. But in India, the size has been getting smaller and smaller. It means that in the world, few people make living on a large tract of land and in India more persons are required to survive on a small piece. While they can use new technology, we can’t cope with that technology. How can our 2 acre farmer compete with the world agriculture? After lifting the Ceiling Indian farmer will be able to enter in the competition. He will get benefited from it.

A two-acre farmer, even if there is abundant production and even if twice of today’s price is attained cannot live the life of a human being .(At least at par with Class 4 employee) If this is the condition we need to revisit the benefits of Ceiling. The farmers cannot be released from bonded labor unless there is complete overhaul of agriculture. Those who are desirous of maintaining the farmers as slaves and think that there should not be any improvement in their livelihood, cry aloud on behalf of the farmer. But when the subject of changing law surfaces, they split hairs.

Many changes are taking place in agriculture world over. Their cost of production has reduced. The agricultural production in the world is soaring up rapidly. As a result the prices of agro products are falling in world market. If we are to face this competition, we will be required to make many changes. The beginning will have to be made by abolishing anti farmer laws. The geographical condition in India is very favorable to agriculture. On lifting of the Ceiling Act, the farmers capable of facing world competition will be able to use their talent. Sustainable employment will be created in agriculture. The time has come to decide whether we want short-term gains or freedom for long-term benefits? The situation emanating from abolition of Ceiling

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