Education, labour and agriculture reforms will usher in freedom to Women power to unlesh their true potential in taking India to a $5 trillion Economy.
The 3 reforms in education, agriculture and labour laws are related because employed poverty is a bigger challenge than unemployment, farmers are not self-employed but self-exploiting, our employers are mostly dwarfs not babies, our labour is handicapped without capital, our capital is handicapped without labour, unemployability is a bigger problem than unemployment, helping farmers involves having less of them, our government school teachers have no fear of falling or hope of rising, and our universities are over-regulated and under-supervised.
The big gainers from these individual freedom reforms will be the youth, factories, farmers, MSMEs, and wages:
· Youth because an employment contract that is marriage without divorce doesn’t lead to fewer marriages, but fewer registered marriages;
· Factories because nobody could comply with 100 % of our labour laws without violating 10 % of them. The criminalisation of politics and politicisation of trade unions is a poisonous combination and China factory refugees hesitate with laws that make them ATM machines for labour inspectors.
· Farmers will get a larger share of retail prices and the farm to non-farm labour transition is easier to factories than services.
· MSMEs don’t have the margins to manufacture their own employees and labour laws are inimical to scale
· The only sustainable and scalable minimum wage programme is higher human capital and formal non-farm job creation
India has a unique chance to create mass prosperity because structural opportunities (a new world of work, organisations and education), global opportunities (capital glut that overvalues growth, China fatigue, toxic politics in ageing countries such as Europe, Japan, USA etc.) and domestic opportunities particularly women (young population, productivity frontier distance, and lower corruption) combine to create a potent policy window. Our choices must reflect our hopes rather than our fears.
There are 3 lessons for reforming dysfunctional regimes:
1. Any change needs evidence and government data has proveed exploitation of India’s women
2. Any change must be balanced between conservatives & radicals (Extreme Left & extereme right or Typical Communist & typical Capitalist) and should be moderate, practical
3. Any change requires openness because you can’t simultaneously regret and defend the status quo
India’s old economic path often cited Economist J.M. Keynes’ 1923 comment, “In the long run, we are all dead”, allowed vested interests to control our land and labour markets, and blunted individual economic freedom. Our new path involves changing our minds, taking risks that expand individual choice for our workers and farmers, and citing Keynes’ 1942 comment that, “In the long run, almost anything is possible”.
Delivering the equality and justice is the dream of our Constitution which needs individual economic freedom particularly in the case of women who have been operresed for long.
These reforms are structural & substantial but must be followed by civil service (Police and way of working in government offices, banking, compliances, decentralisation, and urban reform.
Over the next decade, they will combine to raise manufacturing employment from 11 % to 18 % of workers, reduce farmers from 45 % to 15 % of workers, raise women’s labour force participation from 25 % to 50 %, and raise India’s per capita income from $2,500 to $10,000.
Education Reform- New Education Policy 2020
NEP is a comprehensive framework to guide the development of education in the country which was last revised in 1992. NEP only provides a broad direction and is not mandatory to follow. Since education is a concurrent subject (both the Centre and the state governments can make laws on it), the reforms proposed can only be implemented collaboratively by the Centre and the states. Sufficient funding is crucial as Education was hamstrung by a shortage of funds in our Budgets in Center & States.
1. The 10+2 structure of school curricula is to be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively. This will include 12 years of schooling and 3 years of Anganwadi and pre-schooling.
2. Schooling from 3 years, children will be part of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) delivered through a) standalone Anganwadis; b) Anganwadis co-located with primary schools; c) pre-primary schools/sections covering at least age 5 to 6 years co-located with existing primary schools; and d) stand-alone pre-schools - all of which would recruit workers/teachers specially trained in the curriculum and pedagogy of ECCE.
3. Creating Bal Bhavans as a special daytime boarding school, to participate in art-related, career-related, and play-related activities.
4. Teaching up to class 5th in the mother tongue/regional language
5. Academic Bank of Credits for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned.
6. Multiple entry and exit points in higher education under the four-year programme, students can exit after one year with a certificate, after two years with a diploma and a Bachelor's degree after three years and Bachelor's with research after 4 years.
7. Affiliation of colleges will be phased out in 15 years and granting graded autonomy to colleges
8. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree
9. Easing of board exam wherein the board exams for class 10 and 12 will continue. However, the board exams will be made 'easier' as they will primarily test core capacities, competencies rather than months of coaching or memorisation.
10. Holistic, 360-degree, multidimensional report card that will reflect in great detail the progress and uniqueness of each learner in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. The progress card will include self-assessment, peer assessment, and teacher assessment.
11. Foreign universities can set up campuses India
12. NEP ends rigid separation of science-commerce-arts streams. Students will now be able to choose subjects like history and physics at the same time in class 11 and 12.
13. National Educational Technology Forum to provide for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration.
14. Common entrance exam for college admission, National Testing Agency (NTA) will conduct entrance examinations for admissions to universities across the country like JEE Main, NEET, UGC NET etc.
With this 29 central labour laws have been codified into four broad codes to improve ease of doing business and providing universal social security to workers as well. India’s current labour laws are remnants of an archaic past, ineffective for workers and unnecessarily burdensome on the employers and hence will contribute to a better working environment which will accelerate the pace of economic growth. Currently only less than 10% of the workforce is formal and informalisation has always been the overwhelming reality in India.
New labour codes changes for workers & hirers are:
1. To increase the ambit of social security by including gig workers and inter-state migrant workers,
2. Provides greater flexibility to employers to hire and fire workers without government permissions
3. The new labour code universalises minimum wages, timely payment of wages and gives priority to occupational safety of workers
4. An increase in the threshold relating to layoffs and retrenchment in industrial establishments having 300 workers from 100 workers or more at present
5. Industrial Relations Code introduces new conditions (arbitration proceedings ) before carrying out a legal strike
6. IR Code Bill has also proposed a worker re-skilling fund and this will help in emplyees facing serious challenges due to technological disruptions like Robot, AI, Machine learning, Digitisation of all financial transactions etc.
These steps are likely to provide more flexibility to employers for hiring and firing workers without government permission. These are futuristic legislations to empower enterprises by reducing compliance, red-tapism and ‘Inspector Raj’. The reforms also seek to harness the power of technology for the betterment of the workers and industry both.
The three bills, however, have been viciously protested by the opposition who claim that the Centre is trying to do away with the minimum support price (MSP). Essential Commodities Act defanged, inter-state crop movement freed, and contract farming to be legalised
So what are these bills and why are the farmers protesting against them?
Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation):
This allows intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce beyond the physical premises of APMC markets and will also permit the “electronic trading of scheduled farmers’ produce. Farmers can bring their produces to cities and directly sell to customers removing all middle men from the value chain.
The state governments will also be prohibited from levying any market fee, cess or levy on farmers, traders, and electronic trading platforms for a trade of farmers’ produce conducted in an ‘outside trade area’. This will take out 8.5% levy by Punjab Government and hence will reduce prices to consumers.
Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services
This Act talks about creating a framework for contract farming through an agreement between a farmer and a buyer before the production or rearing of any farm produce. With this large customers like Reliance Fresh, Macdowells, Pizza Brands can source their requirements directly from farmers by entering in to agreement with farmers at a price in advance bringing certainty in prices and supplies to both farmers and large corporates and removing middlemen from the chain.
Essential Commodities amendment
Existing 65-year-old Essential Commodities Act (ECA) was terrorising traders and food processors—and even importers and exporters, which ensured that there was no steady buyer of farm produce leaving farmers to the mercy of APMC.
This will allow it to regulate the supply of certain food items only under extraordinary circumstances (such as war and famine). Stocks limits may be imposed on agricultural produce only if there is a steep price rise like in case of Onions, potatoes or Tomatoes for a limited period.
How these bills will benefit the farmers?
The government has repeatedly said that these bills will revolutionarise the lives of the farmers in India, asserting that "MSP was, MSP is, and MSP will continue in the future". These bills will help the farmers to get connected to big traders and exporters, bringing profit to agriculture and avoid role of multiple middle men like APMC Traders, Whole Sellers, Distributors, Retailers and last mile vendors.
Few people have opposed it for sheer political reasons under the garb of MSP.
This Farm Reform is the 1991 Moment for India’s Agriculture Sector.
Remember 1991 when Narsimha Rao & Man Mohan Sing reformed Industrial sector by removing all resptriction on licences & quotas.
With these significant agricultural marketing reforms, agricultural marketing and supply chain will get modernised which hasn’t seen any developments since seventies as it largely remained a public sector domain (FCI).
How will Women benefit from this trinity of reforms?
1. Education Reform is geared “towards the demands of the 21st century” and will be at par with advanced countries.
2. Gender Inclusion Fund toward equitable education for girls
3. There would be substantial increase in public investment in Education to bring education spending to 6% of GDP, which will revolunise infrastructure, syllabus, delivery and focus on employability.
4. NEP will boost public-private partnership in education leading to focused players (including foreign univercities) entering the field in place of Politicians controlling the sector. This will bring credibility to institutions resulting in ease of finding jobs after you finish your studies.
5. The policy recommends whittling down the number of colleges, which will be done through corporate mergers with private players resulting in large Institutuions with credibility. Such big Institutions will bring technologies (digital schooling) to enable reach to rural area, which are currently deprived of this facility.
6. Women have clear path to become Teacher by obtaining a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree so as to remain active even after marriage and responsibility of raising family.
7. These Refirms will raise women’s labour force participation from 25 % to 50 % with new opporchunities.
8. Real chance for Women to become Enterpreauner with simplified Labour laws.
9. Agriculture Reform will result in lower food prices and better quality products
Only question mark remain is “Reservation”. Whether Reservation will continue and if so to what extent and how long?