Agri, Health Bills Passed in Lok Sabha Parliament Session

Parliament of India. Image - YinYang, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Three bills aimed at transformation of agriculture in the country and raising farmers’ income were introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday to replace ordinances promulgated on June 5.

Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar tabled the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 in the House.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced by Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Raosaheb Patil Danve.

Tomar said that the measures contained in the new laws will enable barrier-free trade in agricultural produce, and also empower farmers to engage with investors of their choice. “These steps are only the latest in a series of measures taken by the government, which shows its continuous commitment to championing the cause of welfare of the farmers of India,” he said.

Responding to the members opposing the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, Tomar said that this measure will enable farmers to decide the prices of their produce and they will be free to sell their produce wherever they want.

This bill seeks to provide for the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers’ produce which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free intra- and inter-state trade and commerce of farmers’ produce outside physical premises of markets or deemed markets notified under various state agricultural produce market legislations.

It will also provide a facilitative framework for electronic trading.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 seeks to provide for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for farm services and sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework in a fair and transparent manner.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities.

The government maintains that as India has become surplus in most agri-commodities, farmers have been unable to get better prices due to lack of investment in cold storage, warehouses, processing and export as the entrepreneurial spirit gets dampened due to the Essential Commodities Act.

Noting farmers suffer huge losses when there are bumper harvests, especially of perishable commodities, an official statement said that this legislation will help drive up investment in cold storages and modernisation of food supply chain.

It will create competitive market environment and also prevent wastage of agri-produce that happens due to lack of storage facilities, as per the statement.

he Lok Sabha on Monday passed the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2020 and the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2020 by voice vote on the first day of the Monsoon Session.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan introduced both the bills in the absence of AYUSH Minister Shripad Yesso Naik in the House.

The homoeopathy Bill seeks to improve the medical education system through the availability of adequate and high-quality homoeopathy practitioners across the country. The Bill promotes equitable and universal healthcare by making the services of homoeopathy professionals accessible to all citizens.

The Bill promotes national health goals, encourages homoeopathy practitioners to use the latest medical research in their work and also to contribute to research, and facilitates maintenance of a homoeopathy medical register for India. It is flexible to adapt to the changing needs and ensures an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill too aims to improve access to quality and affordable medical education. The purpose is to ensure availability of adequate and high-quality professionals in the Indian System of Medicine in the country.

It also promotes equitable and universal healthcare, promotes national health goals, encourages medical professionals to adopt latest medical research in their work and also to contribute to research.

The Bill also focuses on an objective, periodic, and transparent assessment of medical institutions and facilitates, maintenance of a medical register of the Indian System of Medicine and enforces high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services, and flexibility to adapt to the changing needs, and an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

Ranchi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sanjay Seth raised the issue of religious conversions in Jharkhand during the Lok Sabha session on Monday.

“The religious conversion of tribals is a major issue in Jharkhand. Whenever BJP has been out of power in the state, conversion has gained momentum. During the current Jharkhand government regime, the religious conversion by alluring has risen manifold in the state,” said Seth.

“In the small district of Simdega alone, there are 2,400 churches with 300 in Simdega town alone. The missionaries are involved in luring innocent tribals and converting them. Nirmal Hridya, a Christian missionary, was exposed for selling children in 2018. In the name of adopting children, the sale of children takes place. Unmarried girls become mothers and the majority of them are tribals. The then BJP government had lodged a case and many people were arrested for the sale of children,” he added.

He alleged that during the lockdown, missionaries were active in distributing rations at Giridih, Simdega, Ranchi, Khuti and other districts and put the condition of conversion for rations.

“The Christian missionaries are involved in conversion but the living standards of people have not improved” said Seth.

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