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

Articles By Sukhpal Singh

Understanding Menstrual Hygiene Management

Menstrual hygiene management plays a vital role in the physical, economic, and psychological development of adolescent girls. Traditionally, women in rural societies relied on used clothes for menstrual management, but more recently, their preferences have shifted towards market-based formal products. This paper examines the usage of different types of menstrual absorbent material among rural adolescent girls. It analyses their purchase and use behaviour, factors that affect the choice of these products, and ways to make them more accessible and affordable.

Farmer Suicides in Punjab

The article is based on a primary survey carried out to ascertain the magnitude and determinants of deaths of farmers by suicide in six districts of Punjab. It recommends the provision of financial compensation to victim families, waiving of debt, and strengthening of public healthcare and education system as the main policy measures for addressing this tragic phenomenon.

The (Repealed) Union Contract Farming Act, 2020

The rationale and the implications of the now repealed Union Contract Farming Act of 2020 and its implications for farmers is the focus of this article. It highlights some major lacunae in it from a design and small farmer perspective informed by experience of contract farming in India. The article argues for better provisions to protect smallholder interests and the need to leverage contract farming for their development.

Agrarian Crisis and Agricultural Labourer Suicides in Punjab

Punjab’s economy is engulfed in a serious agrarian crisis. The capitalisation of agricultural production processes has squeezed employment opportunities and wage rates in the farm sector. The agrarian crisis in the state has pushed the agricultural labourers towards low earnings and debt traps, which have led them towards death by suicide. Based on a door-to-door and village-to-village survey of 2,400 villages falling in the jurisdiction of six districts of Punjab, the present study reveals that 7,303 agricultural labourers died by suicide in the state during 2000–18. The financial compensation, debt waiver, provision of healthcare and education of victim families along with safeguarding of legal entitlements regarding wage enhancements and land rights, and agro-industrialisation are main policy measures for addressing the act of suicide by agricultural labourers.

 

MSP in a Changing Agricultural Policy Environment

The minimum support price and the public procurement system are indispensable for national food security, public distribution system, farmer livelihood and welfare, and agricultural growth. Over time, the MSP regime has been beleaguered with weaknesses. Thus, agricultural reforms are essential to rectify these primarily by firming the government’s role in agricultural marketing to ensure farmer welfare. However, the new farm laws foster a policy environment based on the laissez-faire approach that will be inimical to farmers’ interests.

 

Punjab Agriculture

Punjab’s economy, including its agriculture, has been in crisis for some time on various fronts. But the pandemic provided an opportunity to the state government to set up an expert committee to suggest measures for rolling out a medium- and long-term strategy for the revival of the state economy. This article provides critical commentary on the various recommendations of the committee to deal with the agrarian crisis and presents an alternative perspective.

Punjab’s Agricultural Labourers in Transition

Agricultural labourers are undergoing a socio-economic transition due to the intensified capitalisation of agriculture. The change in structure of rural employment in Punjab, over a period, has two prominent facets: shift of agricultural labour to non-farm sector, and conversion of permanent/attached labour in agriculture to casual labour. This longitudinal study, in 1987–88 and 2018–19, presents the transition in agricultural labour households in the state. While the agricultural labour households, solely depending on meagre income from the agricultural sector are struggling, the ones shifting to the non-farm sector are switching over to menial jobs. Rural agro-industrialisation for overall improvement in the employment situation along with enhanced wages, liberal institutional credit and debt waiver specific to workers are vital aspects that need attention.

Reforming Agricultural Markets in India

The union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare had prescribed a model Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act in 2003. The state-level adoption of the act has been tardy and varied in terms of both the magnitude and content of agricultural market reforms. Yet, the ministry under the current central government has come up with another model act, the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2017, supposedly an improvement over the 2003 act. Among other things, the provision that has grabbed much attention is the removal of contract farming from the APMC domain to a separate model act of Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion and Facilitation). Analysing these draft acts, the paper finds that both the model acts suffer from serious conceptual lacunae that have implications for their application and governance, and, consequently, for inclusive and sustainable agricultural development.