Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and all those who supported the move to scuttle the passage of the PM Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s Land Acquisition Bill in Parliament...
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and all those who supported the move to scuttle the passage of the PM Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s Land Acquisition Bill in Parliament would do well to read the World Bank policy research note, ‘Ending Extreme Poverty and Sharing Prosperity: Progress and Policies’ carefully.
The study shows why PM Narendra Modi was right in pushing for the changes in the UPA’s Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013, by diluting its consent and social impact assessment clauses which are seen as a major impediment for land acquisition – and, in turn, why Rahul Gandhi’s opposition along with other parties of these changes are against the poor and also farmers.
The note which brings out how different policy measures of the governments across the world had helped reduce poverty and also the steps required to improve the situation further is attached with the World Bank’s latest report on poverty which says, “India was home to the largest number of poor in 2012, but its poverty rate is one of the lowest among those countries with the largest number of poor. A new methodology applied to household surveys in India suggests that its poverty rate could be even lower”.
While the improvement on the poverty front in India is already known, measure it by whichever method, the World Bank research note points out that, “Access to infrastructure has potentially important effects on the ability of the poor to generate income. Connective infrastructure is a crucial means of linking the farms and firms where the poor live and work to markets”.
It has mentioned two examples here.
1. Electrification of poor areas in South Africa has resulted in a 9 percentage point increase in female labor force participation, consumption, and earnings by allowing reallocation of time use within the household thanks to time-saving appliances (Dinkelman 2011).
2. Along the same lines, rural electrification in India has caused changes in consumption and earnings, with increases in the labor supply of both men and women, and promoted girls’ schooling by reallocating their time to tasks more conducive to school attendance.
The study has further noted that, ‘Investment in integration and connectedness through railroads in India helped reduce the exposure of agricultural prices and real income to rainfall shocks, and helped diminish the famine and mortality risks associated with recurrent weather shocks (Burgess and Donaldson 2010)”.
This is exactly the reason why easier land acquisition is necessary to develop an infrastructure which can connect the rural economy to the marketplace and help the poor and also farmers get a better deal.
So, it is good to claim victory on the Land Bill and call it a farmers’ win as it is politically very satisfying, the reality is quite different.
PM Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, therefore, are doing the right thing by promoting states to amend their Land Acts to do what they have not been able to do by making changes in the Central Act due to the lack of majority in the Rajya Sabha.