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

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Can Contract Farming Double Farmers’ Income?

Following its mandate to double farmers’ income by 2022, the central government has enacted a separate model contract farming act in 2018 based on the perception that contract farming is one of the several pathways for doubling farm income. However, findings from primary surveys in Moga, Tarn Taran and Amritsar districts in Punjab, reveal that despite bringing in new crops, technologies and markets for farmers, contract farming excludes the smallholder farmers. Unless such arrangements can protect the interests of the smallholders who constitute almost four-fifth of India’s farming population, doubling farm income will remain elusive.

Farmers’ Choice of Milk-marketing Channels in India

Using nationally representative household-level data, the structure of milk markets is examined and the factors that determine the Indian dairy farmers’ choice of milk-marketing outlets are identified. The analysis of participation in various milk-marketing channels indicates that dairy farmers, irrespective of their asset-status, sales volume, and socio-economic status, prefer to sell their output through cooperatives and government agencies, even if these offer lower prices compared to the local traders. Concomitantly, of the various direct-to-consumer outlets, cooperatives are more inclusive and largely transcend the boundaries of caste and land size. Of the various economic factors that influence farmers’ choice, the access to institutional credit is critical in driving sales through the formal milk-marketing channels.

Ensuring MSP to Farmers

In the wake of the central government’s minimum support prices hike for kharif 2018–19, the state government in Madhya Pradesh implemented a variant of the deficiency payments system called the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana for compensating the farmers when market prices fell below MSP. Besides the problems of long delays in payments to farmers, large transaction costs that farmers incurred due to multiple registrations, and the disposal of inferior quality produce by farmers, a major limitation of BBY is that it is a counter-cyclical payment, insulating farmers from the market by ignoring the demand side completely. A differentiated MSP based on quality and dovetailing with electronic National Agriculture Market may help address some of these problems. A carefully designed price deficiency payment system with partial procurement and dovetailing with e-NAM and other ways of ensuring MSP to farmers, such as direct payments and participation of private sector, are also discussed.

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.

Agricultural Transformation in Aspirational Districts of India

NITI Aayog is presently anchoring a programme to help develop 115 “aspirational” districts which can potentially catch up with the best district within the same state and subsequently become one of the best in the country. The composite index for identification of districts is problematic thereby excluding many relatively underdeveloped districts and including several that are more developed than the “aspirational” category in terms of per capita district domestic product or per capita agricultural income or yield of principal crops. However, a comparative analysis of the aspirational, non-aspirational and frontier districts in Bihar reveals that strategies for bridging the inter-district gaps should be sector-, location- and enterprise-specific. While irrigation, education, farm and non-farm diversification hold the key for acceleration of agricultural development in both aspirational and undeveloped districts, urbanisation, energy consumption and development of location-specific infrastructure would be essential for overall economic development.

Recent Perspectives on Urbanisation

Since the early 19th century, Ahmedabad has been at the forefront of urban development and redevelopment. The 11 books reviewed in this paper, explain and argue, often passionately, the significance of the city’s transformations. Six books are academically focused; three are journalistic, anecdotal, personal, and discursive; three deal with histories ranging from 50 to 200 years; four cover more recent events, of which two discuss urban renewal through riverfront restoration; and two cover the communal violence of 2002 and its aftermath. Ahmedabad remains a world city, a world heritage city, and a “shock city” of constant change in response to evolving challenges. Collectively, these works explore issues of urban transformation that are of relevance throughout India.

Mission Impossible

In the wake of the global enthusiasm for smart cities, the central government launched the ambitious Smart Cities Mission in 2015. Based on a detailed analysis of proposals of the top 60 cities, the mission is located within the larger urban reform process initiated in the 1990s. An attempt has been made to define smart cities to understand how they envisage questions of urban transformations, inclusion and democracy. The proposals reveal an excessive reliance on consultants, lack of effective participation, a common set of interventions that are accepted as “smart solutions,” and a shift towards greater control of urban local bodies by state governments.

Predicting the Future of Census Towns

The 2011 Census highlighted the enormous growth of census towns, which contributed more than one-third of the urban growth during 2001–11. Since the rural–urban identification process in India is ex ante , using past census data, the number of CTs that will be identified in 2019 for the 2021 Census are estimated. The present study finds that the importance of CTs will be maintained in the urban structure, and a significant share of urban population will continue to grow beyond municipal limits. The influence of large towns on the growth of CTs will be persistent in the future, but a more localised form of urbanisation is also evident where the effect of agglomeration is less. Such a pattern may be stable because these places are relatively more prosperous than their rural counterparts.

Negotiating Street Space Differently

An ethnographic study of Muslims in Hyderabad builds on two strands of research findings: the relative backwardness of Muslims on various social indices; and the confinement of Muslim communities into secluded, insular enclaves/neighbourhoods with minimal civic amenities. The multitude of ways in which young Muslim men in a predominantly Muslim neighbourhood, with little to no formal secular schooling, and hailing from the lower/working class, navigate the street space is examined, to reveal how street space is used as an avenue for informal alternative learning by participating in communities of practice.

Roads to New Urban Futures

The limited-access road infrastructure that state governments facilitated in peri-urban Kolkata and Hyderabad, post liberalisation, have been examined. These roads reveal the state’s flexible territorialisation strategies in peri-urban areas, and highlight state guarantees in land via infrastructure. These projects have been examined as strategies of delineation that deviated from practices of expanding urban limits via extension of jurisdictional boundaries; as state guarantees into peri-urban real estate markets, associated with new governance modalities, predicated on land; and as inter-scalar strategies, which legitimised state governments intervening at the city-level, within a context of competitive dynamics of economic and political regionalism.

Sensitivity of Traffic Demand to Fare Rationalisation

The Airport Metro Express Line and the implications of rationalisation of the price on its traffic and revenue are examined. The amel was incurring huge operational losses when the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation took over its operations, and was faced with the challenge of reviving it and making it operationally viable. The role played by price rationalisation to enhance capacity utilisation and revenue, which contributed to improving the amel’s “operating ratio,” is analysed. The strategy worked, and by April 2016 the amel was able to break even. This is an example of how a well-thought-out pricing strategy could improve the viability of a public utility.

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