Data Mismatch Denies Farmers In UP PM Kisan Scheme Funds

In a digital economy data is the power and government cannot take data creation and its management issues lightly. In India we have Digital India project that is a technology driven project and is dependent upon robust data creation and data management practices. However, till May 2019 data related issues are creating trouble for Indian government.

The latest to this series is revelation that 1.5 lakh farmers in Uttar Pradesh (UP) are yet to get PM Kisan Scheme Funds. UP Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Sahi said funds under PM KISAN scheme could not be transferred to about 1.5 lakh farmers owing to “data mismatch”, which he said will be corrected soon.

According to the Minister the UP government has sent data of 1.56 crore farmers to the Centre, of which 1.11 crore farmers have already got the first instalment of the Kisan Samman Nidhi. In the country, nearly three crore farmers have got the first instalment. UP’s share of partnership in this scheme stands at 38 per cent according to the Minister.

The PM-KISAN scheme also aims to supplement financial needs of small and marginal farmers in procuring various inputs to ensure proper crop health and appropriate yields, commensurate with the anticipated farm income at the end of each crop cycle.

Farmers all over India are protesting for one reason or other. For instance, recently farmers in Haryana have blockaded the National Highway (NH) 73 for non payment of enhanced compensation by BJP government for the acquisition of their lands by Congress government in 2013. Similarly, farmers in MP have complained that Congress government had promised to waive farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh ahead of the Assembly elections. Now after being elected, the government has failed to fulfill its promise.

Farmers have other problems too. For instance water shortage has become a crisis now and a comprehensive Techno Legal Water Policy of India 2019 is urgently needed. Similarly, Digital Village project of Modi government is also lacking actual implementation and skills shortage. To resolve problems of farmers and rural communities, PTLB has launched a TeleLaw Project that would become a voice for marginalised people of India and ensure Access to Justice (A2J) for them.

We would update our readers about this issue soon.

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Digital Village Project Of Modi Government Is Very Promising If Actually Implemented

Digital India project of Narendra Modi Government is yet to take off as right now it is just on books and is part of political rhetoric only. Actual Digital India implementation is still missing even in May 2019. However, the objectives and components of Digital India are very promising and can make India a Global Leader for Digital Economy. What is required is removal of bureaucratic hurdles and development of political will to actually implement various projects under Digital India.

One of such projects is Digital Village project. We are not talking about the political jargon that is often found in the media where a village is adopted and declared as a digital village. We all know the condition of such adopted digital villages in India. They are in ruin and they have nothing digital about them. This has happened as Indian Government was more interested in browny points that actual growth and devekopment of India. For the past 5 years, Modi Government has failed on all fronts of economic development.

Let ByGones BeGone and let us focus upon coming 5 years that can be used by Modi Government to transform India into a Digital Economy. We at AFPOH are very much interested in rural empowerment, farmers’ empowerment and empowerment of rural communities. Thus, when we read about Digital Village project of Modi Government, we were excited to hear about it.

We were excited because it is not just a political jargon but it has elements that if actually implmented can make Digital Village a wonderful project. For instance, Digital Village initiative would utilise broadband connectivity provided through BharatNet for providing health and financial services, skill development programmes and education to villagers across the country. BharatNet is an existing infrastructure and so is common service centres (CSCs) that would provide low-cost WiFi connectivity to all villagers to facilitate a service delivery ecosystem. To start with, the Government hopes to provide services in over 700 villages—one in each district of the country—within the first three years, before extending it across the country. So Government’s proposal makes some sense as it is not a political rhetoric.

Now the only concern pertains to actual implementation of Digital Village project. The first key offering under the project would be a platform for different educational courses through collaboration with the National Institute for Electronics and IT (NIELIT) and Tally Solutions, leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) software provider. In health services, the focus would be on providing primary care to citizens and cattle in the villages. In primary care services, patients can avail doctors’ advice on non-emergency medical problems that do not require doctor’s location visit through tele-consultation, where the consultation would take place through video conferencing. Government is also looking forward to arrange a system through which the villagers can avail the consultation of an expert veterinarian from the centralised location for their cattle. Under skill services to be imparted across the villages under Digital Village platform, common service centres would primarily focus on skills pertaining to automotive service technician, handset repair engineering, field technician for home appliances and electrical technician. As far as the financial services are concerned, the idea will be to provide access to useful and affordable financial products and services to each individual of the villages by creating awareness through the financial awareness inclusion programme. While Government would try and deliver these services, it would also look at more eco- friendly and sustainable energy resources such as powering streetlights through solar panels. So the implementation plan for Digital Village is good, at least on paper and till now.

This a a very ambitious and expertise oriented project and AFPOH is committed to extend its Techno Legal expertise for Digital Village project. We wish all the best to Modi Government in this regard and we are optimistic that Digital Village project would be a big hit.

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Kamal Nath Government Has Failed To Fulfill Its Loan Waiver Promise So Far

It is a common trend among Indian politicians to first make false election promises and then conveniently forget about them after being elected. Not a single political party of India has fulfilled its promises and commitments made to farmers so far. This has resulted in commission of suicide by farmers on the one hand and mass agitation and violence on the other hand.

For instance, Madhya Pradesh’s Congress government had promised to waive farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh ahead of the Assembly elections. As they have been elected now they have no urgency and desire to fulfill its commitments. As a result farmers in the state are holding a three-day protest to press the Kamal Nath government to fulfill its loan waiver promise. Milk and vegetable supplies in Madhya Pradesh are likely to be affected due to this.

Update 30-05-2019: MP Govt has decided to form a State-level committee to sort out farmers’ issues and farmers have called off the strike.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) state chief Anil Yadav said the promise was yet to be fulfilled, as many farmers were still getting notices from banks threatening to declare them defaulters. The farmers are also asking for implementation of the Swaminathan panel recommendations and minimum support price (MSP) for their produce.

Protesters said supplies were disrupted in Dewas, Dhar, Ujjain and Rajgarh on the first day of the stir on Wednesday. State Agriculture Minister Sachin Yadav met the protesting farmers on Tuesday evening, but failed to pursuade them to end the demonstration. BKU leaders insisted that they wanted to meet the Chief Minister to discuss their demands.

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Farmers Under The Banner Of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Haryana Blockaded The National Highway (NH) 73

Farmers have been neglected for decades by multiple political parties and governments. They have been stressed to the extent of committing suicides. The position of farmers is still grim in May 2019. So why farmers are tormented so much by all political parties from time to time?

The single explanation for this question is the “exploitation tendency” of political parties and those close to them. Instead of supporting farmers finacially and technologically, political parties and those having close connections to them have been exploiting farmers for decades.

Take the example of defaulting sugar factories in Maharashtra. Of the total 180-odd defaulting sugar factories in Maharashtra, 77 are owned by BJP leaders, 53 are under the possession of NCP leaders, 43 by Congress leaders and the rest fall under the ownership of people close to Shiv Sena. Be it in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra, sugarcane farmers across the country are yet to receive a huge amount from the mills. So far, the mill owners owe around Rs 24,000 crore to the sugarcane farmers.

Take another erxample of Haryana. it is only now that the Haryana government has released Rs 350 crore to help cooperative sugar mills pay the arrears of sugarcane farmers for the crushing season 2018-19. The sugar mills may pay the outstanding dues to the farmers in the next week but there is no gurantee that this may happen.

If the objective of government, PSUs and people well connected with political parties is to take from instead of giving to the farmers, their exploitation would continue. We must strive to give farmers a good sum for their products and services but we are actually taking away their products and services without any money. If this is not enough, government in some cases take away the land itself levaing the farmer no means to survive.

For instance, in 2013, the then Congress government, under Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s leadership, had acquired 427 acres of land in 28 villages of the district for construction of a by-pass on the outskirts of the city, which connects NH-73 highway from Panchkula to Roorkee. The farmers had challenged the land acquisition price and went to the court. On December 16 last year, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal intervened into the matter and asked the administration to provide a compensation of Rs 42.5 lakh per acre. Since then, farmers have been protesting for the pending amount while the district administration is not paying heed to their demands.

In a protest, farmers under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Haryana blockaded the National Highway (NH) 73, on Monday, near Kail village in Yamunanagar district. They had given 11 days time to authorities to deposit the pending amount in the farmers’ account or they would gather on June 6 and start an indefinite agitation. But the farmers have lifted the dharna after a meeting with the administration.

 

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A Comprehensive Techno Legal Water Policy Of India 2019 Is Urgently Needed

In today’s meeting of members of Association For People Of Haryana (AFPOH) we discussed about contemporary problems and future potentials of argiculture in India. What we realised from the discussion is that agricultural productivity is continuously becoming affected by multiple factors. We discussed all these factors one by one and also explored supplementary activities that can support and strengthen agriculture in India.

However, one thing caused great cause of concern among the members. It is the lack of water for agriculture pruposes and the reducing level of ground water all over India. Members also discussed that not only decreasing water levels but even the quality of water is not good for agriculture purposes. The most important component of agriculture is in severe scarcity and farmers have limited options in this regard.

So how India has reached to this dangerous situation? May be we over exploited the natural resources like water or may be our policies in this regard are not workable. We explored various possibilities to improve the situation and come to the conclusion that urgent action is needed in this regard before it is too late. Clearly we need a new and better Water Policy of India 2019 so that water crisis can be managed before it gets out of the hand.

We discussed various traditional and contemporary solutions for water crisis of India. What emerged from this discussion is the need to formulate a Comprehensive Techno Legal Water Policy of India 2019. This is the right time to take help of AgTech Startups and other Startups. We at PTLB Projects are also eager to provide Techno Legal solutions for this water crisis of India and would use the TeleLaw Project of PTLB to get best results for farmers and rural communities.

However, we may face two problems in this regard. First, Indian Government may not be very receptive to this idea as for the past 5 years it has adopted super conservative approach. Risk taking and taking bold steps is need of the hour and Indian Government has to move out of its conservative shell. Second, even if Government decides to act there is still the implementation problem. Bureaucratic hurdles, lack of performance analysis and missing accountability for non performing individuals/organisation would make this entire exercise futile.

Nevertheless, PTLB Projects has already starting working upon the Comprehensive Techno Legal Water Policy of India 2019. We would appreciate if the Indian Government supports us in this regard and make this aspect part of its 100 days agenda. If Government is involved at the very first stage, we can incorporate the concerns and suggestions of Indian Government too. That is why an open and healthy discussion between indian Government and PTLB Projects/AFPOH is absolutely required.

According to Praveen Dalal, founding member of AFPOH, agricultural reforms in India need direct involvement and financial help of Indian Government. Incentives and taxation benefits must be given to farmers and Startups helping farmers in India. The Income Tax Act, 1961 also needs some fine tunning keeping in mind the support we have to extend to agriculture community in India opined Praveen Dalal.

Technology should be used to get best results out of water management practices and for getting best agricultural productivity. Soil testing, water testing, providing best quality seeds and organic fertilizers, etc are some of the aspects that can be part of the Techno Legal Water Policy. We intend to work upon this policy on priority basis and if Indian Government is able to extend its expertise and guidance, that would be a great help.

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Telelaw Project Of PTLB Would Resolve Ground Level Problems Of Rural Communities And Farmers

It was the year 2007 when Association For People Of Haryana (AFPOH) was created by Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) and PTLB. Since then we have learnt a lot and we have shared our Techno Legal views, opinions and expertise with national and international stakeholders.

We were comfortable with our limited growth and limited role of Techno Legal policies formulation for national and international stakeholders. However, things have taken a nasty shape in the past 10 years. Farmers are starving, dying and committing suicide. They are highly unorganised and they know nothing about their legal rights.

The worst aspect is that big farmers are getting bigger whereas small farmers are either heavily indebted or they are killing themselves due to bad crops, high debts and poor agricultural productivity and sale. This is not what our Constitution has aspired for them and these marginalised segment and poor farmers need a level playing field.

But they are no match to crony capatilists, monopoly creating multi national companies (MNCs) and greedy money lenders. Even the policies of central and state governments are not in their favour. No matter how much Indian government glorifies its agrarian achievements, the ground reality is that farmers are either dying or killing themselves. Agriculture itself is in grave danger as the successors of these farmers are not willing to take up a super risky and unproductive profession and the youth are either leaving India or are moving to metropolitican cities of India for jobs.

This is where the Telelaw Project of PTLB intends to step in. If nobody is helping them Telelaw would help them. If nobody is listeneing to them, Telelaw would listen to them. Not only we would listen to their problems but we would also provide Techno Legal services to them at affordable and concessional rates. All that is required is a Telelaw Reference and once that is made/given, we would help the concerned person or organisation.

But what if an individual or organisation belonging to rural community is unable to get a reference? No problem. AFPOH has been authorised by PTLB to make a reference on behalf of rural communities, farmers, rural entrepreneurs, marginalised segments, etc. We will make a reference on your behalf and then TeleLaw Project of PTLB will take care of your legal problems.

PTLB has many more Techno Legal Projects that would be combined with the Telelaw Project of PTLB soon. Once that is done Telelaw Project of PTLB would become a single place solution for all problems of rural communities and farmers. We hope rural communities and farmers would find this project of PTLB useful.

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E-Agriculture In India: Techno Legal Analysis By Praveen Dalal

Praveen-Dalal

Use of information and communication technology (ICT) can facilitate many business and commercial activities in India. Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) has been advocating use of ICT for various commercial and vocational activities in India. P4LO is also a stern supporter for strengthening of e-agriculture in India. This is the reason why we started the project titled Association For people Of Haryana (AFPOH) in the August 2007 so that ICT for development (ICT4D) can be a reality in India. After 9 years of launch of AFPOH, we are now witnessing some positive developments in the e-agriculture and ICT4D fields due to increased use of e-governance and launch of Digital India project in India.

Agriculture in India is considered to be a primary occupation for a major segment of population in India. A vast majority of rural population depends upon agriculture as their primary occupation. However, agriculture in India is in doldrums and needs rejuvenation. In this interview with Mr. Praveen Dalal, the Leading Techno-Legal ICT, Cyber Security and Cyber Law Specialist of India and Managing Member of AFPOH, the agricultural development aspects are analysed keeping in mind the benefits of e-agriculture in India. This interview was given in April 2008 and the same is still providing a techno legal strategy to the Narendra Modi government that can be implemented on an urgent basis.

SP-1: What do you think about the present state of agriculture in India?

PD-1: The agricultural sector in India is currently passing through a difficult phase. India is moving towards an agricultural emergency due to lack of attention, insufficient land reforms, defective land management, non-providing of fair prices to farmers for their crops, inadequate investment in irrigational and agricultural infrastructure in India, etc. India’s food production and productivity is declining while its food consumption is increasing. The position has further been worsened due to use of food grains to meet the demands of bio fuels. Even the solution of import of food grains would be troublesome as India does not have ports and logistical systems for large scale food imports.

SP-2: What according to you are the possible solutions that may be adopted by India in this situation?

PD-2: The ultimate solution to this problem is a solid political will along with a competent bureaucracy as without them all proposed reforms remain only paper works. India must also act at the grassroot and ground level. For instance, Panchayats should encourage cooperative farming, power and irrigational facilities must be provided to the farmers, easy and effective financial access must be provided to the farmers, direct marketing and sale must be adopted by farmers, public investment in agricultural infrastructure must be enhanced, a minimum support price for food grains must be set, etc. Finally, farmers in India must use Information and Information Technology (ICT) for agricultural purposes.

SP-3: How can ICT be used for strengthening agriculture in India?

PD-3: India’s food production and productivity may be increased by an effective use of ICT for agricultural purposes. The Developed Nations are using laser technology instead of tractors to plough lands. This helps in optimising the use of various inputs such as water, seeds, fertilisers, etc. The problem is that Indian farmers cannot afford this technology and unless government comes in support for agricultural infrastructure the same remains a dream only. Further, power and electricity also remains a major problem for Indian farmers and alternative means of power like solar energy panels, regulated and optimised by ICT, can be a blessing for them. Thus, e-agriculture in India can put India on the higher pedestal of Green Resolution making India self-sufficient in the matters of food grains.

SP-4: What are the advantages of ICT/e-agriculture in India?

PD-4: Some of the benefits of ICT for the improvement and strengthening of agriculture sector in India include timely information on weather forecasts and calamities, better and spontaneous agricultural practices, better marketing exposure and pricing, reduction of agricultural risks and enhanced incomes, better awareness and information, improved networking and communication, facility of online trading and e-commerce, better representation at various forums, authorities and platform, etc. E-agriculture can play a major role in the increased food production and productivity in India.

SP-5: Have you or your organisation started any initiative(s) for e-agriculture in India?

PD-5: Yes. The Association For People of Haryana (AFPOH), established in the year 2007, has taken many steps and initiatives at national and international level in the fields of agriculture, health, rural infrastructure development, revitalising financial access to rural farmers, etc. As far as initiatives for e-agriculture in India are concerned, we have shared our research works and suggestions with national and international community. We have also started an initiative titled e-agriculture in India that would endeavour to amalgamate ICT with agriculture in India.

SP-6: Tell us something more about AFPOH?

PD-6: Well AFPOH is a social initiative by an association of people who are working in the direction of empowering the marginalised and deprived people in rural and other areas. The area of operation of AFPOH covers segments like agriculture, health, banking, finance and insurance, education, rural infrastructure development, power, etc. We have strengthened the initiative of AFPOH by extending support for legal and regulatory measure that farmers and other people may face in various situations. Similarly, for ICT matters our other initiatives would provide their support and expertise.

SP-7: How is AFPOH using ICT for its mission and objectives?

PD-7: AFPOH is using ICT for all its objectives and areas of functioning. For instance, concepts like e-agriculture, e-health, e-learning, e-commerce, e-banking, etc are some of the initiatives that are in the process of implementation by AFPOH. Further, AFPOH is also working in the direction of use of ICT for communication and sharing of views, expertise, suggestions, problems, etc at national and international level. AFPOH intends to provide a “voice to the marginalised and deprived segment so that national and international communities can coordinate and collaborate their empowerment initiatives.

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