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

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Development Challenges for Agriculture in Maharashtra

Maharashtra is heralded as one of the economically advanced states, but this illusion crashed under the attack of Covid-19 virus and economic deterioration is expected to follow. It is argued here that the state policy dished out a raw deal to the agricultural sector and set the sector under severe stress. The path of this retrogression, reasons behind the trends and the possible policy platform for the last six decades are traced. Stagnation has gripped the agricultural sector, and it is losing cultivable land to other uses. This is accompanied by a sharp increase in small and marginal holdings. Surprisingly, the state has no agricultural policy document in place and the sector largely depends on only sporadic firefighting approaches with a policy paralysis.

Employment of Women in Rural Punjab

High economic growth has failed to improve the status or the participation of women in the labour market in developing countries. Taking into account the case of low labour force participation among women in rural Punjab, an analysis of existing policy prescriptions—of improving agricultural growth and crop diversification as a panacea to the problem—is revealed to be insufficient in improving the female labour force participation rate. In order for policy to successfully address these issues, it must consider the constraints imposed by gender norms.

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.

Small Farmers and Organised Retail Chains in India

This study compares farmers selling vegetables to Mother Dairy, an organised retail chain, with those selling to the local mandi in Haryana to find out the drivers and constraints determining their participation in these two types of marketing chains, particularly for the small farmers. The findings suggest the significance of farm size in determining farmers’ participation in organised retail chains. Using Heckman selection–correction model, the study found that though the income of participating farmers increases, the increase depends on farm size, while the Ginni coefficient shows that the inequality in income distribution is more among the participants than the non-participating farmers.

Droughts, Heatwaves and Agricultural Adaptation

Extreme events as floods, droughts and heat waves ensue from climate change. There has been an increase in the frequency and intensity of such events in the past two decades. Some of the recent events have caused substantial damage to agricultural crops and loss to human lives. The recurrence of such events is a threat to social welfare, economy and humanity as a whole. Adaptation to climate change is the key and the way forward. It is observed that agriculture has historically adapted to shocks and extreme events. Agricultural adaptation and resiliency to extreme events over the last three and a half decades is gauged using secondary data.

Crossroads and Boundaries

The absence of a gender perspective in the labour laws and the absence of any labour rights perspective in the anti-trafficking frameworks are the twin flaws that are particularly detrimental to the interests of migrant women workers in India. A corrective course that is cognisant of both the gender structures in labour relations and the gendered employment crisis is the need of the hour, if the state’s obligations under the Constitution are to be fulfilled.

Gamechanger or a Trojan Horse?

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, a key legislation in India that enables women to transcend the public–private dichotomy and stake their claim for productive participation in the labour force, saw major amendments in 2017. Four aspects of the amendments—increased maternity leave, maternity leave for adoption and surrogacy, provision of crèche, and paternity leave—are juxtaposed with feminist and constitutional principles as well as ground-level realities and practices. An increase in maternity benefits in law with a neglect of paternity leave and benefits is a lopsided approach that further reinforces gendered division of labour and care work as the domain of women. The social responsibility of employers is emphasised, and a deeper engagement of the state with the policy of parental benefits is advocated.

Examining Local Committees under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act

One of the major milestones of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is to provide a special redress mechanism for complaints in the unorganised sector. Section 7 of this act mandates the constitution of local committees by the state government. However, there remains a lack of data when it comes to understanding the functioning of the local committees. This paper examines the functioning of the local committees in general, based on the experiences of the author as an acting chairperson of the Mumbai city district local committee.

Impact of Uttarakhand’s Reservation Judgment on Women

Since the 1990s, the discourse around caste-based reservations has taken a sharp turn towards hostility, which has resulted in pushing individuals and groups obtaining reservations into marginalised corners in educational and professional spaces. The recent Supreme Court judgment about reservations in promotions in state employment in Uttarakhand reopens this legal and moral discussion about the need for caste-based quotas in employment. This paper evaluates the effects of the anti-reservation judgments with a gender lens, looking at the potential and possibilities for lower-caste women into education and employment. With the National Sample Survey Office data we consider the rate of participation of lower castes and women separately, as well as lower-caste women as a category in education and employment, and consider how they are affected at the entry point and in career progression.

Dispossessed Women’s Work

This paper examines the experiences of dispossessed women in terms of accessing work opportunities in a setting of opencast coal mining in Talcher coalfields of Odisha. Drawing its understanding from the framework of social exclusion and adverse inclusion in the discussions, it argues for the variegated experiences of women’s entry into different categories of work with reference to their gender, class and caste positions.

Social Reproduction, Constitutional Provisions and Capital Accumulation in Post-independent India

The relationship between social reproduction and capital accumulation in independent India is delineated by arguing that social reproduction subsidises wages through unpaid labour time and thus is crucial in the extraction of additional surplus in the wage–surplus relationship that constitutes capital accumulation. This process is dependent both on constitutional provisions and existing social relations.

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