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Letter to PM from Kisan Putra – essential reforms for agriculture

Sharing this letter (PDF here).

KISANPUTRA ANDOLAN

Amber, Housing Society, AMBAJOGAI-431517
(Beed) Maharashtra

Mb.8411909909 Email- habib.amar@gmail.com

26th January 2017

26th January 2020

TO,

The Prime Minister of INDIA

New Delhi

Subject: – Abolition of Anti-Farmer Laws.
Respected Sir,

You are very well aware that the financial condition of the farmers has become very pathetic, pitiable and critical and the spree of suicides of the farmers are not coming to an end. This situation has not been changed even after rendering the govt. help like financial packages and the waiver of loan etc. The land holdings of the farmers have become so small that they cannot maintain their families. Hence, the time has been reached to root out the problems of the peasants and to abolish the laws pertaining to the agriculture and farmers. Your kind help and cooperation is earnestly requested in this regard.

The following three laws have become the hazards of the farmers.

  1. Agricultural land [Ceiling on holding] Act.
  2. Essential Commodities Act.
  3. Land Acquisition Act.

The agriculture sector can be liberalized only on the cancellation of the above three Acts.

Agricultural land [ceiling and holding] Act comes under the jurisdiction of the State Govt. The Essential Commodities Act and Land Acquisition Act come under the purview of the Union Govt. Therefore, both Central and State Governments have to consider these acts in view of the farmers.

The reasons for repealing these laws are as under –

A. These laws are contradictory and biased with principles of constitution of India and denying the freedom of the business of the farmers and have become outdated and now they are not justified in the present scenario.

Agriculture land [ceiling and holding] Act was struck down by the Hon’ble Court but o the reason that it was included in the 9th Schedule of Constitution, it was protected.

The fundamental rights are soul of our Constitution and now these laws have been proved to be contradictory to them.

B. In the changing scenario, these Acts are not favourable. The per capita holding of agricultural land in the world is increasing but only in India it is decreasing.

If this trend is not stopped, Indian agriculture would not stand in the global competition. In view of the current developments in the agricultural science, it has become necessary to attract the experts who can face the contemporary challenges.

Unfortunately above laws create hurdles and discourage their excitement and initiatives.

C The climate and the weather condition of India is most favourable for the agricultural activities. The employment relating to the agriculture can give the economic stability and sustainable employment too.

The conclusive atmosphere for the agro based employments cannot be created unless the above laws are not abolished.

D. Lack of investment of capital is the main problem for agriculture.

Due to the above mentioned three laws, business of agriculture always remains in loss. Consequently, the farmers cannot make their saving and hence they never make investment. Since it is always loss-making business, there is no attraction for any external investment.

Average land holding is so small as 2 acres due to Agricultural land [ceiling on holding] Act. Essential commodities act is a tool for interference of Govt. in the market. Land Acquisition Act is always threatening to farmers, These situations conclusively discourages investment in agriculture sector. Therefore the path of the agricultural development can be opened only after the abolition of the above acts.

We have already seen the limitations of the industrial development at the cost of agriculture. Therefore it has now become very necessary to develop the agriculture sector in its totality and the natural development of the agriculture as a business,

Suggestion for immediate steps-

1. Appointment of a Committee –

We demand to Government to appoint a committee immediately to evaluate the relevance of these Acts.

2. Farmers companies should be exempted from Agricultural land [ceiling on holding] Act. 

The Govt. is promoting the companies formed by the farmers. The State Government can initiate to exempt farmers companies from Agriculture Land ceiling Act. These companies should be permitted to hold the price of agricultural land as a share. If the banks provide finance to these agro based companies, then they can stand in the competition.

Those farmers, (whose livelihood is depend on Agriculture) are living a very bad life. Even after the fair prices paid to their agricultural yields, they cannot lead there life of a class – IV employees, who is getting at least Income of salary of Rs.18,000/- per month.

In this situation, it has become necessary to make reconstruction of the agriculture sector.

We therefore, request you to look into this matter and take initiation to abolish the above three Acts,

Yours,

Amar Habib

Kisanputra Andolan

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Key points to note from Doniger’s The Hindus

Since I’m trying to build a strong repository of info to confirm whether Sanjay Sonawani’s hypothesis regarding Hindusim and Vedic religion being totally distinct religions, it is useful to extract relevant info from Doniger’s book, The Hindus.

Let’s never mistake Rig Vedas with later Vedas

“The Rig Veda consists of 1,028 poems, often called mantras (“incantations”), grouped into ten “circles” (“mandalas”). (It is generally agreed that the first and last books are later additions, subsequent bookends around books 2-9.) The verses were rearranged for chanting as the Sama Veda (“Knowledge of Songs”) and, with additional prose passages, for ritual use as the Yajur Veda (“Knowledge of Sacrifice”); together they are known as the three Vedas. A fourth, the Atharva Veda (“Knowledge of the Fire Priest”), devoted primarily to practical, worldly matters, and spells to deal with them, was composed later, sharing some poems with the latest parts of the Rig Veda.” [Doniger in The Hindus]

Even Rig Veda is complicated: it adopted many new Dravidian words

Many of the words that the Rig Veda uses for agricultural implements, such as the plow, as well as words for furrow and threshing floor and, significantly, rice, come from non-Sanskritic languages, suggesting that the Vedic people learned much of their agriculture from communities in place in India before they arrived. But the Indus people, who obviously did have plows and mortar, presumably would have had their own words for them. [Doniger in The Hindus]

Most of Hinduism is distinct from Vedas

“most of what Hindus have written about and talked about and done, from the Mahabharata on, has not come from the Veda.” [Doniger in The Hindus]

Harappan (Hindu) and Vedic civilisations are distinct

“It is hard work to fit the ruins of the IVC into the landscape of the Rig Veda. The Rig Veda does not know any of the places or artifacts or urban techniques of the Indus Valley. None of the things the Veda describes look like the things we see in the archaeology of the Indus. The Rig Veda never mentions inscribed seals or a Great Bath or trade with Mesopotamia, despite the fact that it glories in the stuff of everyday life. It never refers to sculptured representations of the human body. It has no words, not even borrowed ones, for scripts or writing, for records, scribes, or letters” [Doniger in The Hindus]

“But how could the Vedic people have forgotten about architecture, about bricks, about mortar (let alone about writing)? The answer is simple enough: They had never had them. In the good old days they had always slept on their saddlebags, and once they got to the Punjab they built in wood and straw, like the first two of the three little piggies, not in brick, like the third (and like the Indus people).” [Doniger in The Hindus]

Bricks

“The authors of the Rig Veda did not know about bricks; their rituals required only small mud altars, not large brick altars.”Doniger in The Hindus]

No archaeological record of Vedic culture – no temples, no cities

“The Vedic people left no cities, no temples, scant physical remains of any kind; they had to borrow the word for “mortar.” They built nothing but the flat, square mud altars for the Vedic sacrifice and houses with wooden frames and walls of reed stuffed with straw and, later, mud. Bamboo ribs supported a thatched roof. None of this of course survived.” [Doniger in The Hindus]

The animals are distinct

“The evidence of animals suggests that the civilizations of the Indus Valley and the Vedas were entirely different, though this does not mean that they did not eventually interact. The Rig Veda mentions (here in alphabetical order) ants, antelope, boars, deer, foxes, gazelles, jackals, lions, monkeys, rabbits, rats, quail, and wolves, and other Vedas mention bears, beaver, elk, hares, lynxes, and otters. The Rig Veda also mentions lions (10.28.11), though the Vedic people had to invent a word for “lion” (and to borrow a word for “peacock”). (Lions may or may not be depicted in the Indus Valley; there’s a figurine that might be a lion or a tiger.)

“The Vedic people knew the elephant but regarded it as a curiosity; they had to make up a word for it and called it “the wild animal with a hand” (mrigahastin ). But they do not mention tigers or rhinoceroses, animals familiar from the Harappan seals. Nor are there any references to unicorns, mythical or real. The zoological argument from silence (“the lion that didn’t roar in the night”) is never conclusive (beware the false negative; the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence), but all this suggests that the Vedic people originally lived north of the land where the tiger and the elephant roam, and generally north of the Indus rhinoceroses, on the nonfalsifiable assumption that people who had seen an animal as weird as a rhinoceros would have mentioned it.”  [Doniger in The Hindus]

The problem of the cow

“no figurines of cows have been found [in the Indus Valley – although bulls are plenty]”. Marshall even comments on this absence, the cow that does not moo in the night, as it were: “The cow, even if it was regarded as sacred, was for some reason, at present unexplained, not represented in plastic form or carved in stone.” [Doniger’s The Hindus]

The problem of the horse

“the IVC does not seem to know, or care about, the horse, who speaks loudly and clearly in the Vedas (as horses are said to do, beginning in the Vedic tale of the Ashvins—twin horse-headed gods)”. [Doniger’s The Hindus]

“the spread of the Central Asian horse (and, after around 2000 BCE, the chariot, for people rode astride for a long time before they began to drive horses) suggests that in general, when Indo-Aryan speakers arrived somewhere, horses trotted in at the same time, and the archaeological record supports the hypothesis that Indo-European speakers did in fact ride and/or drive, rather than walk, into India. For the horse is not indigenous to India. There is archaeological evidence of many horses in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent only in the second millennium BCE, after the decline of the IVC. ” [Doniger’s The Hindus]

“horses are not depicted at all in the extensive Indus art that celebrates so many other animals. The Indus people were crazy about animals, but not about horses. “The horse, the animal central to the Rig Veda, is absent from the Harappan seals”50 and “unimportant, ritually and symbolically, to the Indus civilization.” It is very hard to believe that the hippophiles who composed the Veda would exclude the horse from the stable of animals that they depicted on their seals.” [Doniger’s The Hindus]

 

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India’s Economic Survey released recently copies what I have been saying for 20 years

For the first time ever, the Indian government has started copying – virtually verbatim – what I’ve been saying for 20 years – See the latest Economic Survey. [Copy on my server for future reference]

EXTRACTS BELOW

EXTRACT FROM PREFACE

The Survey documents that ideas of wealth creation are rooted in India’s old and rich tradition ranging from Kautilya’s Arthashastra to Thiruvalluvar’s Thirukural, which emphasizes ethical wealth creation as a noble human pursuit. The Survey uses the ancient literature and contemporary evidence and to show that India’s dalliance with Socialism – a few decades is after all ephemeral in a history of millennia – is an exception with belief in the invisible hand of markets being the norm. Maddison (2007) provides the historical evidence that India has been the dominant economic power globally for more than three-fourths of known economic history. Such dominance manifests by design; not happenstance. The Survey draws on literature describing the ancient system to show that the invisible hand of the market supported by the hand of trust led to such dominance. The growth performance of the Indian economy and various sectors after India returned back to its roots post economic liberalisation in 1991 provides the contemporary evidence. Events from the Global Financial Crisis and the problems with the Indian financial sector provide evidence of the need for the hand of trust to support the invisible hand. Introducing the idea of “trust as a public good that gets enhanced with greater use”, the Survey also makes some suggestions for enhancing this public good. The Survey’s conceptualisation of wealth creation, thus, presents a synthesis of the old and the new, be it in the combination of ancient Indian tradition with contemporary evidence or in suggesting the use of FinTech for our Public Sector Banks.

EXTRACT FROM Chapter 1 Wealth Creation: The Invisible Hand Supported by the Hand of Trust

“Wealth, the lamp unfailing, speeds to every land, Dispersing darkness at its lord’s command.” – Thirukural, Chapter 76, verse 753.

“Make money – there is no weapon sharper than it to sever the pride of your foes.”

– Thirukural, Chapter 76, verse 759.

For more than three-fourths of known economic history, India has been the dominant economic power globally. Such dominance manifested by design. During much of India’s economic dominance, the economy relied on the invisible hand of the market for wealth creation with the support of the hand of trust. Specifically, the invisible hand of markets, as reflected in openness in economic transactions, was combined with the hand of trust by appealing to ethical and philosophical dimensions.

The Survey shows that contemporary evidence following the liberalization of the Indian economy support the economic model advocated in our traditional thinking. The exponential rise in India’s GDP and GDP per capita post liberalisation coincides with wealth generation in the stock market. Similarly, the evidence across various sectors of the economy illustrates the enormous benefits that accrue from enabling the invisible hand of the market. Indeed, the Survey shows clearly that sectors that were liberalized grew significantly faster than those that remain closed. The events in the financial sector during 2011-13 and the consequences that followed from the same illustrate the second pillar – the need for the hand of trust to support the invisible hand.

The Survey posits that India’s aspiration to become a $5 trillion economy depends critically on strengthening the invisible hand of markets together with the hand of trust that can support markets. The invisible hand needs to be strengthened by promoting pro-business policies to (i) provide equal opportunities for new entrants, enable fair competition and ease doing business, (ii) eliminate policies that undermine markets through government intervention even where it is not necessary, (iii) enable trade for job creation, and (iv) efficiently scale up the banking sector to be proportionate to the size of the Indian economy. Introducing the idea of “trust as a public good that gets enhanced with greater the Survey suggests that policies must empower transparency and effective enforcement using data and technology to enhance this public good.

IMPORTANCE OF WEALTH CREATION

1.1 For more than three-fourths of known economic history, India has been the dominant  economic power globally (Maddison, 2007). The country has historically been a major wealth creator and a significant contributor to world’s GDP as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Global contribution to world’s GDP by major economies from 1 AD to 2003 AD

Source: Maddison A (2007). Note: X-axis of graph has non-linear scale, especially for 1-1500 AD, which underestimates the dominance of India.

1.2 Economic dominance over such long periods manifests by design, and not by mere chance. In this context, the Survey notes that our age-old traditions have always commended wealth creation. While Kautilya’s Arthashastra is given as a canonical example, wealth creation as a worthy human pursuit is recognised by other traditional literature as well. The Thirukural, a treatise on enriching human life written in the form of couplets by Tamil saint and philosopher Thiruvalluvar, asserts in verses 753 of Chapter 76: “Wealth, the lamp unfailing, speeds to every land; Dispersing darkness at its lord’s command.” In verse 759 of the same chapter, which forms the second part of the Thirukural called Porul Paal or the essence of material wealth, Thiruvalluvar, declares: “Make money – there is no weapon sharper than it to sever the pride of your foes.” Needless to say, Thirukural advocates wealth creation through ethical means – an aspect that is discussed later in this chapter. Verse 754 in  the same chapter avows: “(Wealth) yields righteousness and joy, the wealth acquired capably without causing any harm.”

1.3 Despite such a “rich” tradition of emphasizing wealth creation, India deviated from this model for several decades after independence. However, India returned back to these roots post economic liberalisation in 1991.

1.8 Wealth creation happens in an economy when the right policy choices are pursued. For instance, wealth creation and economic development in several advanced economies has been guided by Adam Smith’s philosophy of the invisible hand. Despite the dalliance with socialism – four decades is but an ephemeral period in a history of millennia – India has embraced the market model that represents our traditional legacy. However, scepticism about the benefits accruing from a market economy still persists. This is not an accident as our tryst with socialism for several decades’ makes most Indians believe that Indian economic thought conflicts with an economic model relying on the invisible hand of the market economy. However, this belief is far from the truth.

1.9 In fact, our traditional economic thinking has always emphasized enabling markets and eliminating obstacles to economic activity. As far as half-a-century back, Spengler (1971) wrote that Kautilya postulated the role of prices in an economy. Kautilya (p. 149) averred, “The root of wealth is economic activity and lack of it brings material distress. In the absence of fruitful economic activity, both current prosperity and future growth are in danger of destruction. A king can achieve the desired objectives and abundance of riches by undertaking productive economic activity (1.19)”. Kautilya advocates economic freedom by asking the King to “remove all obstructions to economic activity” (Sihag, 2016).

1.10 A key contributor to ancient India’s prosperity was internal and external trade. Two major highways Uttarapatha (the Northern Road) and Dakshinapatha (the Southern Road) and its subsidiary roads connected the sub-continent. Meanwhile,  ports along India’s long coastline traded with Egypt, Rome, Greece, Persia and the Arabs to the west, and with China, Japan and South East Asia to the east (Sanyal, 2016). Much of this trade was carried out by large corporatized guilds akin to today’s multinationals and were funded by temple-banks. Thus, commerce and the pursuit of prosperity is an intrinsic part of Indian civilizational ethos.

1.11 Much before the time period that Maddison (2007) analyses, a stakeholders-model existed in India as is discernible in Arthashastra in which entrepreneurs, workers and consumers share prosperity (Deodhar, 2018). Arthashastra as a treatise on economic policy was deeply influential in the functioning of the economy until the 12th century (Olivelle, 2013). During much of India’s economic dominance, the economy relied on the invisible hand of the market.

1.13 The evidence since 1991 shows that enabling the invisible hand of markets, i.e., increasing economic openness, has a huge impact in enhancing wealth both in the aggregate and within sectors. Indeed, the evidence presented below shows clearly that sectors that were liberalized grew significantly faster than those that remain closed. This is not surprising as the market economy is based on the principle that optimal allocation of resources occurs when citizens are able to exercise free choice in the products or services they want.

1.17 The freedom to choose is best expressed in an economy through the market where buyers and sellers come together and strike a bargain via a price mechanism. Where scarcity prevails and choice between one use of scarce resources and another must be made, the market offers the best mechanism to resolve the choice among competing opportunities. This principle is fundamental to a market economy. The command and control approach contends that the price of a good should be regulated. Our economy still has some of the regulatory relics of the pre-liberalisation era. The survey provides evidence in Chapter 4 (Undermining Markets: When Government Intervention Hurts More Than It Helps) that government intervention hurts more than it helps in the efficient functioning of markets. For instance, in the pharmaceutical industry, government regulated formulation prices increase more than unregulated formulations. Moreover, the supply of unregulated formulations is more than that of regulated formulations. Government interventions often times lead to unintended consequences such as price increases, when compared to markets that are unregulated. Unlike in command economies where prices are determined by the government, in a market economy, price of a good is determined by the interaction of the forces of supply and demand. The survey finds that unshackling the economic freedom for markets augments wealth creation.

 

 

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