WHAT IS FARM BILL 2020?

     We have been hearing the term ‘Farm Bill’ but seriously, What is Farm Bill 2020?  And how it affects the farmers?

     The Farm Bill 2020 refers to the agricultural bills passed by the Lok Sabha on 17 September 2020 and by the Rajya Sabha on 20 September 2020. The bills collectively seek to provide farmers with multiple marketing channels and provide a legal framework for farmers to enter into pre-arranged contracts among other things. The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent for the three bills on 27 September 2020. The Farm Bill 2020 includes the three acts

  1. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Farm Services Act, 2020.
  2. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020.
  3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

First of all, What is “The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Farm Services Act, 2020? And how it affects the farmers?”

     It provides a legal framework for farmers to enter into pre-arranged contracts with buyers including mention of pricing and defines a dispute settlement mechanism.

     The agreement will outline conditions for the production of farm products and delivery requirements, the farmer then agrees to the supply products based on the quality standards, and in return, the buyer agrees to buy products. The primary purpose of this act is for contract farming whereas the secondary purpose of this act is to provide a nationwide legal framework wherein the farmer produces crops as per contracts and the central government says that it transforms Indian Agriculture and attracts private investment. As we see it does attracts private investment. This act may lead to the exploitation of farmers legally by buyers.

     Now coming to the second bill “The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020”. It allows the trading of farm goods outside the Physical premises of Mandi and APMC Yard.

     As we know all the subjects in India are divided into three lists

  1. Union List
  2. State List
  3. Concurrent List

Agriculture comes under State List, states like Punjab and Harayana could lose a big source of state revenue. We may have seen our parents going to Mandis’ to buy vegetables and other agricultural products. These Mandis’ are spread across the country. Farmers usually sell their products in Mandis’ and these Mandis’ are managed by the state government through APMC ( Agricultural Produce Market Committee).

There are some conditions for the farmers to sell their products outside Mandis’ because the products which have all the minimum support price need to compulsorily go through Agricultural Produce Market Committee (AMPC).

     Otherwise, farmers can directly sell their products to consumers, the small-scale farmers are still doing it now. If a farmer like a larger-scale farmer wants his products to be sold through the government then he has to notify APMC or trade with only AMPC licensed traders. This bill will allow barrier-free trading of Agricultural produce outside the notified APMC Mandis’. With the help of this bill, the state government will not impose any tax on the purchase and selling of agricultural products outside the Mandis.

     This Bill is more beneficial to Large-scale farmers because it gives more options to them to sell their products and this bill makes hardly a difference to the small-scale farmers because anyhow, they are selling outside the Mandis.

      But the other perspective of this bill is it gives a way to the government to get out of the Agricultural business, once the farmers enter the market, their income will depend upon the ups and downs of the market.

The third bill is ‘The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020’.

     This is not a new bill, the government had an amendment to the existing bill. Basically, it is a law that controls the production, supply, and distribution of certain commodities.

What is the essential commodities bill?

With the help of this law, the government can include new commodities to the essential commodities list to make sure that they are available to everyone when the need arises and take them off this list when the situation improves. For example, if someone illegally stores onions to create artificial demand (Hoarding) the government adds onions to the essential commodities list under this act to make sure that onions are available to the people at the right price.

     Recently in March 2020, the Central government added Masks and sanitizers under this act to make sure that all are available to the people in the pandemic situation at the right price and right quality, and again on 1 July 2020, the government removed them from this act.

     The amendment added in this bill is government removed certain commodities like cereals, pulses, potatoes, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils from this act even though they are daily used by everyone. The government will regulate and supply them only in case of Famine, High Price Rise, or Natural Calamities. There are more conditions to add this into essential commodities

  • If there is a 50% increase in the retail price of Non-Perishable items like cereals, edible oilseeds, and oils then only the government will add them back into the essential commodities list.

For example, If the retail price of the rice is 100 Rupees/Kg and it suddenly increased to 151 Rupees/Kg then, the government adds them back into the essential commodities list until the situation improves.

  • If there is a 100% increase in the retail price of Perishable items like onions, potatoes then only the government will add them back into the essential commodities list.

For example, If the retail price of the potatoes is 50 Rupees/Kg and it suddenly increased to 101 Rupees/Kg then, the government adds them back into the essential commodities list until the situation improves.

In one way this act is a good step because it boosts farmer’s income but on another hand, it leads to hoarding and black marketing.

US CAPITOL STORMED BY TRUMP SUPPORTERS

On Wednesday, the US Congress resumed the process of certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory. But something very unusual and surprising happened and the session had to stop midway. Trump supporters violently invaded the US Capitol and created heavy chaos in Washington DC.  

The violent riots left four people dead and the Washington Mayor had to impose a curfew immediately beginning 6 pm on Wednesday. The curfew has now been extended for 15 days. 52 people have been arrested so far. 

A lot of senators who were to support the objection reversed their decision after the violent riot.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation’s capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The US Capitol has seen violence many times in the last 220 years but such an event has never been witnessed before. The mob forced its way past the majestic marble columns, disrupting the passage of power and desecrating the seat of the world’s greatest democracy.

The lawmakers were forced to flee the Capitol and resulted in the death of one woman. The Senate, however, resumed the process of certifying more than six hours after the attack.

Leaders from around the world condemned the act of supporters of President Donald Trump.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain tweeted, “disgraceful scenes in US Congress”. Britain has been a staunch ally of the US for generations. He further added, “The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also tweeted, “Trump and his supporters should finally accept the decision of the American voters and stop trampling on democracy”. He added to it “contempt for democratic institutions has disastrous effects.”

The personal assistant of the President of Nigeria, Bashir Ahmed with a shrug emoji tweeted “The beauty of democracy?”. Nigeria and the US have seen several coups ever since independence.

“In this sad episode in the US, supporters of fascism showed their real face: anti-democratic and aggressive,’‘ tweeted Luis Roberto Barroso, Brazilian Supreme Court justice and the head of the country’s electoral court. He said he hoped “American society and institutions react with vigour to this threat to democracy.”

In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was distressed to see news about “rioting and violence” in Washington DC. “Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue,” PM Modi said. 

Venezuela, which is under U.S. sanctions, said the events in Washington show that the U.S. “is suffering what it has generated in other countries with its politics of aggression.”

“This is the widely anticipated outcome of Trumpism,” tweeted a retired Italian centre-left politician, Pierluigi Castagnetti. “And unfortunately it won’t end today. When politics is replaced by deception and fanaticism of the people the drift is inevitable.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country was “deeply disturbed” by the events in the U.S., Canada’s closest ally and neighbour.

Former US President Barack Obama also condemned the violence, saying: “History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonour and shame for our nation.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook also said in a tweet, “Today marks a sad and shameful chapter in our nation’s history. Those responsible for this insurrection should be held to account, and we must complete the transition to President-elect Biden’s administration. It’s especially when they are challenged that our ideals matter most.”

President Trump and his supporters are receiving backlash and resistance from all around the world. President Trump might even be removed from office before his term ends in January. The discussion is still ongoing amongst the members of President Trump’s cabinet.

The discussion is focused on the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, which allows for a president’s removal by the vice president and cabinet if he is judged “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

The lawmakers said, “The president is unfit to remain in office for the next 14 days. Every second he retains the vast powers of the presidency is a threat to public order and national security.”

Ancient marine creatures called radiodonts had incredible vision that likely drove an evolutionary arms race

The international study, led by Professor John Paterson from the University of New England Research Centre, in collaboration with the University of Adelaide, the South Australian Museum and The Natural History Museum (UK), found that radiodonts developed sophisticated eyes over 500 million years ago, with some adapted to the dim light of deep water.

“our study provides critical new information about the evolution of the earliest marine animal ecosystems,” Professor Paterson said. “In particular, it supports the idea that vision played a crucial role during the Cambrian Explosion, a pivotal phase in history when most major animal groups first appeared during a rapid burst of evolution over half a billion years ago.”

Radiodonts, meaning “radiating teeth,” are a group of arthropods that dominated the oceans around 500 million years ago. The many species share a similar body layout comprising of a head with a pair of large, segmented appendages for capturing prey, a circular mouth with serrated teeth, and a squid-like body. It now seems likely that some lived at depths down to 1000 meters and had developed large, complex eyes to compensate for the lack of light in this extreme environment.

“When complex visual systems arose, animals could better sense their surroundings,” Professor Paterson explained. “That may have fuelled an evolutionary arms race between predators and prey. Once established, vision became a driving force in evolution and helped shape the biodiversity and ecological interactions we see today.”

Some of the first radiodont fossils discovered over a century ago were isolated body parts, and initial attempts at reconstructions resulted in “Frankenstein’s monsters.”

But over the past few decades many new discoveries — including whole radiodont bodies — have given a clearer picture of their anatomy, diversity and possible lifestyles.

Co-author, Associate Professor Diego García-Bellido from the University of Adelaide and South Australian Museum, said the rich treasure trove of fossils at Emu Bay Shale on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island in particular has helped to build a clearer picture of Earth’s earliest animals.

“The Emu Bay Shale is the only place in the world that preserves eyes with lenses of Cambrian radiodonts. The more than thirty specimens of eyes we now have, has shed new light on the ecology, behavior, and evolution of these, the largest animals alive half-a-billion years ago,” A/Prof. García-Bellido said.

This new research published on December 2, 2020.

What is the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution that could be used to remove Trump?

In the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump supporters storming the Capitol building, which houses both the US Senate as well as the House of Representatives, there are calls by many to either impeach President Trump or invoke the 25th Amendment.

What is the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution?

This amendment lays out how a US president and vice president may be succeeded or replaced.

According to Cornell Law School, “The Twenty-fifth Amendment was an effort to resolve some of the continuing issues revolving about the office of the President; that is, what happens upon the death, removal, or resignation of the President and what is the course to follow if for some reason the President becomes disabled to such a degree that he cannot fulfill his responsibilities.”

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, while the first section codified the traditionally observed process of succession in the event of the death of the president—that the vice president would succeed to the office—it also introduced a change regarding the ascent of the vice president to president should the latter resign from office.

“In the event of resignation, the vice president would assume the title and position of president—not acting president—effectively prohibiting the departing president from returning to office,” states Britannica.

The second section of the amendment addresses vacancies in the office of the vice president.

The third section of the amendment set forth the formal process for determining the capacity of the president to discharge the powers and duties of office.

If the president is able to declare his/her inability, then the vice president takes over as the acting president.

In case the president is unable to declare his/her incompetence, the fourth section of the amendment requires the vice president and the cabinet to jointly ascertain this and if they do so, then the vice president immediately assumes the position of acting president.

It is this fourth section of the 25th Amendment that many are asking Vice President Pence to invoke against President Trump.

When was it introduced and has it been used in the past?

In the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the 25th Amendment was proposed by Congress on July 6, 1965, and ratified by the states on February 10, 1967.

According to Cornell Law School, “The Watergate scandal of the 1970s saw the application of these procedures, first when Gerald Ford replaced Spiro Agnew as Vice President, then when he replaced Richard Nixon as President, and then when Nelson Rockefeller filled the resulting vacancy to become the Vice President.”

However, the fourth section of the 25th Amendment has never been invoked.

Role of Biodiversity and Agriculture in making of Atmanirbhar Bharat

While flipping pages of my Geography textbook, a fact caught my eye – two third of the population of India is engaged in agricultural activities. We are blessed to have diverse climatic conditions because of which we see a variety of flora and fauna, and grow so many veggies, fruits and other crops. But India still imports a lot of harvested produce from other countries.

Atmanirbhar Bharat

Atmanirbhar Bharat, which translates to ‘self-reliant India’ or ‘self-sufficient India’, is a policy formulated by Prime minister of India Narendra Modi for making India a bigger and more important part of the global economy. It was launched on 12 May 2020  during the announcement of India’s COVID-19 pandemic related economic package. Not only should products be ‘made in India’, but the promotion of those products should take place so as to make those products competitive.  We should appreciate our local products, if we don’t do this then our products will not get the opportunity to do better and will not get encouraged. The agriculture and biodiversity sector were also given a lot of importance in it. This scheme helps farmers by providing better financial help, good prices of crops and a lot of new schemes are introduced which will help to support farmers and other people who are dependent on the agricultural sector for their livelihood. The improvement in PDS (Public Distribution System) has also started. Sustainable fishing practices and organic farming practices are encouraged, beekeeping shelters are increased and Rs 1500 crore is specified for animal husbandry. Many medicinal herbs are to be grown by the shore of river Ganga. Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers, D V Sadananda Goda, in September 2020, said that “India will be self-reliant in fertiliser production by 2023”. Three Farm Bills passed in September 2020 provide the legal framework to give the farmers the right to choose the price and people to whom they want to sell. Coir Udyami Yojana aims to develop the coir-related industry’s sustainable development.

Role of Agriculture and Biodiversity

From my point of view, the making of New India does not mean cutting the forests to make big buildings, industries or exploiting the natural resources without limit. When I think about a new Bharat, I imagine a country with minimum degradation of natural resources while still sustaining the agricultural demand of our country. 

Important focus on agricultural exports should also be given so as to improve the quality of exports rather than just quantity, thereby fetching more price for the farmer. Exports of medicinal herbs and oils, agricultural produce and raw materials like cotton and jute will increase drastically; also aiding the economy. Correspondingly, many people will start to prefer Indian exported products.

Great biodiversity will help to maintain ecological balance for ecosystem stability and support ecotourism. We can use resources and conserve them due to eco-friendly practices in farming, fishing, etc. 

At school level, a new subject – Agriculture should be introduced with hands-on experience and interaction with farmers. This will inspire many students to study agriculture and forestry streams. 

I think that biodiversity and agricultural prosperity will highly assist in the making of New India. Our new Bharat will be more sustainable and more developed. India will promote eco friendly practices, biodiversity, organic farming, quality produce and build a strong economy. From a developing country, it will turn into a super-power.