ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Manish Kumar

Political Aspects of ‘Freebies’

The attempts to disparate the state governments’ expenditure on subsidies by the votaries of the neo-liberal fiscal regime, do not stand the scrutiny of facts and reason. The use of terms like “freebies” and “revadi culture” is an assault by the state-capital nexus on the lives of millions of working people, by keeping them vulnerable in order to discipline them, as an integral part of the neo-liberal agenda.

Foodstuffs Market Regulation

Despite several objections, the three farm laws, including the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, were enacted with full force by the union government. However, after more than a year of the farmers’ agitation, the government decided to withdraw these laws. The amended ECA had some contradictory provisions and, in sum, limited the scope for regulation by local/state/union governments. The present article discusses the provisions of the amended ECA and its impact on the scope for regulation of the foodstuffs market.

 

The Government’s Retreat from Agricultural Policy

The Government of Bihar repealed the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act in 2006 intending to encourage private parties in agricultural marketing, which was supposed to provide more options to farmers to sell their produce. The experience from the state suggests that repealing the APMC Act did not persuade private entities to set up agricultural markets. This saw the number of mandis remaining stagnant, and with poor agricultural market density combined with negligible public procurement, it led to a lower price realisation by farmers in the state.

Marginalised Migrants and Bihar as an Area of Origin

Outmigration from Bihar in search of livelihood has been normalised over several decades, with Bihar being one of the topmost states of origin for the migrants. Unemployment rate in Bihar remains higher than the country average. Agriculture has become unviable over the years due to low yields, increasing landlessness and lack of financial support by the state. The return migration to the state in the wake of COVID-19 necessitates that the state generate farm and non-farm employment to address the crisis situation.

COVID-19 and the Public Health System in Bihar

Bihar’s public healthcare system is not equipped to deal with the challenge of COVID-19. The density of testing centres is the worst for Bihar in the country, with one testing centre for a population of 110 million. Besides, it lacks in both infrastructure and human resources in the health arena and, thus, is unprepared to deal with and properly respond to the health crisis.