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Citing several examples of how Congress also wanted barrier-free trade of agricultural produce in the past, government sources said the opposition party was being two-faced on the “pro-farmer bills” introduced by the Modi government in Parliament.

Here’s what Congress’ stance has been on farmer’s bill in the past:

1-The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020: The 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.

Congress in the past:

Congress in its manifesto 2019 mentioned that “Congress will repeal the Agricultural Produce Market Committee’s Act and make trade in agriculture produce-including export and inter-state trade-free from all restrictions.

The UPA government prepared the draft Bill titled as “Agricultural Produce Inter State Trade and Commerce (Development and Regulation) Bill 2012”. However, it was not pursued further.

Congress just before 2014 Lok Sabha elections publicly announced that Congress ruled states should de-notify the fruits and vegetables from the APMC Act. In pursuance, Congress ruled states of

Karnataka

, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalya and

Haryana de-notified

the Fruits & Vegetables.

The UPA government led by Congress after coming into power in 2004 started persuasion with the states to adopt the Model APMC Act 2003 to liberalize the state agricultural marketing laws. The UPA government also formulated the Model APMC Rules 2007 for implementation of Model APMC Act.

Cabinet Secretary while considering the Note for COS suggested in April, 2011 that to promote Inter-State Trade and Commerce of agriculture produce across States/UTs through the instrument of Central Legislation. This time also there was the rule of UPA led by Congress.

2-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.

Actions of Congress in the past:

Contract farming has been recognized as a chief enabler in various reports of the Planning Commission and has been implemented by many states under the State APMC Acts. The 11th Five Year Plan, 2007–12, which was released during the tenure of the UPA government, mentions –

“Several States have amended the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Acts to allow private markets to be set up in competition with the existing mandis.”

Various states such as

Andhra Pradesh

, Assam,

Chhattisgarh

, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana (2007, INC), Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka (2003, INC), Maharashtra (2006, INC-NCP), Madhya Pradesh (2003, INC), Mizoram,

Nagaland

,

Odisha

(2006, BJD), Rajasthan, Sikkim,

Telangana

, Tripura and

Uttarakhand

have made provisions for contract farming under the state APMC Act. Three states including Punjab (2013, SAD), Tamil Nadu (2019, AIADMK), Odisha (2020, BJD) have passed separate Contract Farming Acts.

PepsiCo started working with farmers in Punjab in 1980s for pulping tomatoes and with orange farmers for making Tropicana juice. Incidentally, from 1987-92, Punjab was under President’s Rule i.e. it was run by Central government. It was mostly either Congress party in power in Central government or there were Governments led by Shri V. P. Singh and Shri Chandra Shekhar. From 1992 till 1997, again the Congress party was in power in Punjab.

3-The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. This will remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations.

Actions of Congress in the past

In 2019 Lok Sabha Elections Manifesto, Congress promised to replace the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 by an enabling law that can be invoked only in case of emergencies.

The Mid Term Appraisal of Eleventh Five Year Plan during UPA years states – “Improving marketing conditions and encouraging private sector participation require reforming the APMC Act and abolishing the Essential Commodities Act (ECA).

UPA constituted ‘Committee of State Ministers, In-charge of Agriculture Marketing to Promote Reforms’ under chairmanship of Shri Harshvardhan Patil, then Minister for Cooperation and Parliamentary Affairs, Govt. of Maharashtra. In its report in 2013 stated – “…Essential Commodities Act and plethora of Orders promulgated under this Act by the Centre and States prevented development of free and competitive marketing system in the country.”

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

India calls for complete ceasing of support to terrorist forces in Middle East

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UNITED NATIONS: India has called on all concerned parties to completely stop supporting terrorist forces, like the ISIS, while urging all stakeholders in the Middle East to work constructively for peace, stability and development.

India underscored that it has invested considerably in the peace and stability of the region by deploying its personnel as part of UN peacekeeping forces, through humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, capacity building, and will continue contributing towards peace-building in the Middle East.

“India calls on concerned parties to completely stop support to terrorist forces, like ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and others. India also urges all parties in the region to work constructively and in good faith to promote peace, stability and development for the benefit of all people in the Middle East,” India said in a written statement on Monday on the Security Council’s open debate on ‘The Situation in the Middle East’.

India said the truce between Israel and the Hamas has eased the humanitarian situation in Gaza and expressed hope that the temporary truce is converted into a permanent ceasefire, which can save precious human lives on both sides and create a conducive environment for talks.

“It is an unfortunate reality that the interlinked and mutually reinforcing challenges faced by the people of the Middle East have not yet been resolved. Political instability, long-festering conflicts, sectarian divides, issue of refugees and terrorism continue to plague the region. The COVID-pandemic has only exacerbated the threats posed by these challenges,” India said.

The statement made India’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador T S Tirumurti, will go as part of the official record of the Council.

India said it appreciates the agreement between Fatah and Hamas for holding Parliamentary and Presidential elections and also elections for the Palestinian National Council, which will help fulfill the democratic aspirations of the Palestinian people.

India also welcomed the agreements for normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. “India has always supported peace and stability in West Asia, which is our extended neighbourhood,” India said.

Further, India said the commencement of discussions on the disputed border between Israel and Lebanon is a significant development, expressing hope that this will provide an opportunity to resolve the longstanding issue between the two countries.

India highlighted that Palestinian aspirations for a sovereign and independent state are yet to be fulfilled and stressed that New Delhi has been unwavering in its commitment to the Palestinian cause and continues to remain supportive of a peaceful negotiated resolution of the Palestinian issue.

“India has supported the two-state solution as a just and acceptable solution to the conflict. Establishment of a Palestinian State living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel, within mutually agreed borders should be achieved through negotiations directly by the two parties,” India said adding that any stalemate could strengthen the hands of extremists and shut the door to cooperation thereby jeopardising the security, stability and prosperity of the people on both sides and the region.

Accordingly, India urged Israel and Palestine to resume direct negotiations at the earliest and called upon the international community to take concrete steps towards resuming and facilitating these negotiations quickly.

India noted that the decade-long armed conflict in Syria has claimed over 400,000 lives, displaced 6.2 million people internally and compelled another 6.3 million people to seek shelter in neighbouring countries.

“While we are heartened to see return of normalcy to major parts of the country, we are also reminded of the enormous resources that would be required to provide urgent humanitarian aid, rebuild infrastructure, enable return of the refugees and restore a normal and dignified life of all Syrians,” the statement said.

India said in the statement that it is not only contributing to the return of normalcy and rebuilding of Syria, but has also consistently called for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict through a Syrian-led dialogue, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria.

India voiced concern over the security and humanitarian situation in Yemen and said the recent exchange of prisoners by the Government of Yemen and Ansar Allah, who had been detained in connection with the conflict, is a welcome development.

“India hopes that the parties will take more confidence building measures to provide the necessary impetus for the full implementation of the Stockholm Agreement,” the statement read.

India also hopes for peace and stability in Iraq with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

India noted that in the aftermath of the August blast that brought destruction to vast swathes of Beirut and inflicted heavy loss of lives, India stood in solidarity with Lebanon.

New Delhi sent emergency humanitarian aid of over 58 metric tons to Beirut. “We look forward to the swift formation of a new government that can offer political stability and also tackle the grave socio-economic challenges being faced by the people of Lebanon,” the statement said.

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INDIA

US, India must focus on threat posed by China: Secretary of state Mike Pompeo

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NEW DELHI: US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Tuesday stressed on the need for Washington and New Delhi to work together to counter the threat posed by Beijing to “security and freedom”

Pompeo’s comment came during the crucial 2+2 dialogue between India and the US, which saw the signing of a crucial defence agreement between the two countries.

“There is much more work to do for sure. We have a lot to discuss today: Our cooperation on the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom to promoting peace and stability throughout the region,” Pompeo said during talks with defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar. Pompeo was joined by defence secretary Mark Esper.

Esper too focussed on the apparent threat posed by China, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Our focus now must be on institutionalising and regularising our cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific well into the future,” Esper said.

The comments assume significance as India is locked in a border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.

In June this year, 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of PLA soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, hardening the mood in India against China and driving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to seek closer military ties with the United States.

In the US, President Donald Trump has made being tough on China a key part of his campaign to secure a second term in next week’s presidential election and Pompeo has been trying to bolster allies to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

This month, India invited Australia to join naval drills it holds each year with the United States and Japan, brushing off Chinese concerns that the exercises destabilise the region.

(With inputs from agencies)

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INDIA

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defence Secretary Mark Esper meet NSA Doval

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NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper on Tuesday held talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, covering key aspects of growing strategic ties between the two countries.

Issues of strategic importance were discussed at the meeting, sources said.

The meeting took place ahead of the third edition of 2+2 ministerial dialogue. Esper and Pompeo arrived here on Monday for the crucial talks aimed at further boosting the defence and security ties between the two countries.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held separate talks with their US counterparts on Monday.

Earlier on Tuesday, both the top US administration officials visited the National War Memorial and paid tributes to India’s fallen heroes.

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