- Are we there yet?
- The Forests we Forgot
- The World is Pro-Protest
- On February 28, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared his dream of doubling farmers’ income by the time the country celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2022.
- Agriculture sustains livelihood for more than half of India’s total population. Doubling farmers’ income in such a short period is an overwhelming task for decision makers, scientists and policy
- Now, less than 20 months from the deadline, the government’s own data says that agricultural growth is nowhere close to realising that dream.
- After Modi’s declaration in 2016, experts had said that farmers’ incomes would need to grow at 14.86% per year to double by
- Ashok Dalwai Committee Report on Doubling of Farmers’ Income says that taking 2015-16 as the base year, the target is achievable.
- In March 2017, NITI Aayog policy paper stated that farmers’ income needs to grow at 4% to achieve the target.
- It also added that the productivity of India’s crop sector grew at 3.1% in 2001-2014. At that rate, income from farms would go up by 7% in seven years (from 2014 to 2021).
- The policy paper further says that if income generated from livestock is also added, farmers’ income is estimated to go up by 27.5 per cent by 2022.
But what is the real progress?
- Replying to a query in the Lok Sabha on September 15, 2020, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the National Sample Survey Office does track farmers’ income, but the last estimate was made in 2013-14.
- However, Tomar said that the work done to double farmers’ income indicates that the government is on track.
Doubling Farmers’ Income Villages
- Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Delhi, prepared plans on doubling farmer income to each state for implementation.
- In 2017, ICAR decided to adopt and develop atleast two villages in each district of the country as models. State governments would need to observe the schemes and practices adopted in these villages to frame their own policies in others.
- The responsibility to develop these adopted villages, named “Doubling Farmers’ Income Villages”, has been assigned to the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) of each district.
- Subsequently, 651 KVKs in the country adopted a total of 1,416 villages in 30 states and Union Territories.
Economic Survey – Needs & Challenges
- The National Sample Survey Office’s last survey on agricultural households was conducted in 2013. There has been no further assessment of the farmers income. Therefore there is an urgent need to track the progress of farmers’ income.
- To secure the future of agriculture and to improve the livelihood of half of India’s population, adequate attention needs to be given to improve the welfare of farmers and raise agricultural income.
- It is essential to mobilize States and UTs to own and achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income with active focus on capacity building (technology adoption and awareness) of farmers that will be the catalyst to boost farmers income.
Indian Forest Act, 1927
- The Indian Forest Act,1927 aimed to regulate the movement of forest produce, and duty leviable forest produce.
- This act has details of what a forest offence is, what are the acts prohibited inside a Reserved Forest, and penalties on violation of the provisions of the Act. After the Forest Act was enacted in 1865, it was amended twice (1878 and 1927).
- This Act impacted the life of forest-dependent communities. The penalties and procedures given in this Act aimed to extend the state’s control over forests as well as diminishing the status of people’s rights to forest use.
Indian Forest Act, 1927
- The village communities were alienated from their age-old symbiotic association with forests. Further amendments were also made to restrain the local use of forests mainly by forest- dependent communities.
- The Act, recognises only three categories of forests: reserve, protected and village. Still, the land records of almost all forest departments have “Section 4 forest” as a category, as if it is an unsaid rule.
- There is, however, no consolidated data on the extent of this ad hoc forestland.
Types of Forest
- Reserve forests are the most restricted forests and are constituted by the State Government on any forest land or wasteland which is the property of the Government. In reserved forests, local people are prohibited, unless specifically allowed by a Forest Officer in the course of the settlement.
- Village forests are the one in which the State Government may assign to any village community ‘the rights of Government to or over any land which has been constituted a reserved forest’.
Types of Forest
- The State Government is empowered to constitute any land other than reserved forests as protected forests over which the Government has rights and the power to issue rules regarding the use of such forests. This power has been used to establish State control over trees, whose timber, fruit or other non-wood products have revenue-raising potential.
Degree of protection
- Reserved forests > Protected forests > Village forests
- Most of the forest areas were demarcated in the 19th century by British administration. The demarcation broadly identified the boundaries using major landmarks like bungalows, rivers and roads.
- During the British rule, wasteland was a category of land which did not generate revenue. Over the years, the nature of these lands has changed. People now live there, cultivate the land and in some places, even forests have come up.
- No surveys have been conducted in past and the situation has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to correct it
Forest Rights Act, 2006
- The Centre passed the Schedule Tribe and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act or FRA in 2006 to undo this “historical injustice” and give rights to 300 million forest dwellers of the country.
- FRA was brought because of the failure of the Centre and state governments to implement the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
- This was despite the Union government, in 1980 and again in 1990, issuing notifications to the states, asking them to settle the rights of forest dwellers over their forest lands.
Forest Rights Act, 2006
- The Act recognizes and vest the forest rights and occupation in Forest land in Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD) who have been residing in such forests for generations.
- Forest rights can be claimed by any member or community who has for at least three generations (75 years) prior to the 13th day of December, 2005 primarily resided in forest land for bona fide livelihood needs.
- The Gram Sabha is the authority to initiate the process for determining the nature and extent of Individual Forest Rights (IFR) or Community Forest Rights (CFR) or both.
Forest Rights Act, 2006
- In a country which boasts of one of the top 10 forest covers in the
- world, it is ironic that the forest departments and the governments have not followed the law for over 90 years.
- Such government inaction means that even those forests whose protection triggered the entire process, are now left vulnerable.
- Protests are back in headlines across the world.
- In the “oldest democracy”, supporters of outgoing US President
- Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, demanding he be declared the winner because the elections were “fake and fixed”.
- In the “largest democracy”, farmers are camped at Delhi’s borders demanding a repeal of three recently adopted agrarian laws.
- Over the past three months, the US has reported over 50 protests against Joe Biden’s victory in the elections, while in India, there have been over 100 protests by farmers, labour unions, health workers and even elected panchayat leaders.
- The pandemic and the lockdowns have been no deterrence.
- In 2019, there were massive protests, like the ones in Hong Kong and the Global Climate Strike, in which 6 million people participated the world over.
- In December 2020 and the first week of January 2021, some 56 countries in the Americas, Africa and Asia reported protests, mostly led by youths.
- Of late, protests have been more contagious than any other political tool.
- In 2020, the killing of George Floyd in the US triggered worldwide protests, with solidarity groups using the racial murder to highlight their own plight.
- Even the ongoing farmer protests in India have found solidarity among groups in other countries. Same was the case with the protests over India’s new citizenship law last year.
- The spread and support base of these protests is unbelievably massive. And they are without identified leaders.
- The protests are not just by people of a specific ideology.
- They are equally huge, whether they oppose left-of-the-centre policies or right-of-the-centre politics.
- In democracies, protests are for more rights, and also question democratic institutions themselves. In non-democracies, protests are usually over economic hardship and for bringing in democracy.
- There are distinct periods of surge in protests across the world. In 2011-12, global protests recorded huge numbers. In 2015-17, there was another surge. The latest surge started in 2019, and seems to be continuing.
- In the three surges, one context remains similar: economic crisis.
- This has been the axis around which various other issues have What do these protests indicate?
- One aspect is clear—people have more democratic space to use this powerful political tool. In the mid-1970s, the world witnessed what is known as the “Third Wave of Democratisation”. There were only 40 electoral democracies at that time, which have increased to over 100 now.
- This raises another question: are these protests just a simple way of exercising rights in a democratic set-up, or a message about democracy itself?
Are we satisfied with our Democracy?
- The University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Future of Democracy recently examined data from 154 countries and 3,500 surveys to gauge whether democracy is still being preferred by the world.
- Their finding shows that people are constantly becoming dissatisfied with democracy in the last decade. For the US, the analysis found, public confidence in democracy is the lowest in It is the same for many developed countries, as well as countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.
- In most countries, people were “satisfied” with democracy until 2015. Since then, there has been a constant rise in dissatisfaction.
- This can be a turning point in the world’s most audacious political experiment of electoral democracy.
- It gave people the space to dissent; but if the satisfaction level is dipping, an evaluation of the system itself is needed.
- So, it is time for a democratic evaluation of the electoral democracy’s effectiveness in responding to people’s concerns and demands.