Weekly Current Affairs Mains (14th to 20th October, 2018)
Topic: All about India’s data localization policy
Topic in Syllabus: GS Paper 3 : Indian Economy
Several laws and regulators are converging on the hot button topic of data localization. The deadline for a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) mandate for fintech firms to house data only in India lapsed last week. Other norms around holding accounting data dating back to 2014 locally, the draft ecommerce law that requires firms to locally store “community data collected by Internet of Things devices in public space” and “data generated by users in India from various sources including e-commerce platform, social media, search engines, etc,” only queer the pitch further.
- The Global data protection wave is approaching the Indian shores as well. Different steps in the last few months indicate that the country is adopting mandatory local processing and storing of critical personal data.
- According to government sources, first data localization requirement will be imposed on the ecommerce sector. Towards this, a draft ecommerce policy is prepared, and companies must keep critical personal data within the country.
- The ecommerce policy draft is based on the proposed Data Protection Bill. The Bill says that “Every data fiduciary (any entity processing personal data) shall ensure the storage, on a server or data centre located in India, of at least one serving copy of personal data to which this Act applies.”
What does Data Localization mean?
Data localization is the act of storing data on any device that is physically present within the borders of a specific country where the data was generated. Free flow of digital data, especially data which could impact government operations or operations in a region, is restricted by some governments. Many attempt to protect and promote security across borders, and therefore encourage data localization.
Data localization as a global trend:
- Data localization is the new trend in the internet world where there is borderless flow of information. In recent years, countries are instructing companies to keep critical data about consumers to be stored and processed within their domestic territories. Laws asking entities to keep data about citizens were enforced by several jurisdictions including the EU. As per the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), important data are to the stored within the EU territory.
- Nigeria has, for example, required all subscriber and consumer data of tech and telecom firms and government data to be located locally, since 2013. Germany mandates that telecom and internet service providers store data locally, while Russia’s rules mandate citizen data be stored within its borders.
- The GDPR is now emerged as the model data protection law for several countries.
- Most Data protection legislations are aimed to give protection to the privacy of individual’s data. At the same time, they contain provisions for national control over critical citizen information. Here comes the role of data localization clauses under the data protection legislations.
- Data localization laws are regulations enforcing how data can be processed in a certain territory. Though the internet is a borderless world, where companies like Facebook, Google etc. would like to have a centralized store house for data without keeping data in individual countries; governments prefer the opposite.
India’s data protection:
- The move towards data protection in India has been accelerated after the recommendations of an Expert Group on data protection, headed by Justice BN Srikrishna. The Committee brought out a draft Data Protection Bill along with its final report. Government is inviting public opinion about the Bill and is expected to introduce it in the Parliament soon.
- Interestingly, the Bill’s origin is not just in the Srikrishna Committee Report. The Supreme Court in a historical verdict that is going to influence the character of the Indian society in August 2017 ruled privacy as a fundamental right. Since then, legislations were on the card for protecting privacy. Appointment of the Expert Committee on data protection was indeed a beginning.
- The Srikrishna Committee necessitates companies to store a copy of a user’s personal data in the country. Hence the draft bill prepared by the committee also has several clauses regarding data protection and also gives enough attention to data localization.
- The draft ecommerce policy incorporates Srikrishna Committee’s suggestion that the government would have access to data stored in India for national security and public policy objectives subject to rules related to privacy, and consent.
- Data localization requires ecommerce firms like Amazon to keep consumer information in servers located in India. Here, the Amazon Web Service is a gigantic cloud-based server; but Amazon has to change its server policies in the context of legislative interferences. Similarly, most other players also have to go for Indian servers.
Data protection bill seeks localisation of data:
- The Justice Srikrishna Committee in its report accompanying the draft Personal Data Protection Bill notes that eight of the top 10 most accessed websites in India are owned by U.S. entities
- This reality has often hindered Indian law enforcement agencies when investigating routine crimes or crimes with a cyber-element
- Police officials are forced to rely on a long and arduous bilateral process with the U.S. government to obtain electronic evidence from U.S. communication providers
- The committee seeks to correct this
- The Bill calls for a copy of user data to be mandatorily localized in India.
Data Localization under the Data Protection Committee’s Report and the Bill:
- Data Protection Committee’s Report provides compelling arguments on ‘Transfer of Personal Data outside India’, where the Committee notes Laissez Faire economy of data, i.e. where free flow of data is the norm and to restrict as an exception.
- It also recognizes that an embargo on data crossing borders as curbing personal liberty of people.
- The Committee recommended that even if the intended destination is across borders, all data to which Indian laws would apply would need to be stored locally as well.
- The Central Government shall determine categories of sensitive personal data which are ‘critical’ in nature having regard to strategic interests and enforcement, this personal data can only be processed in India.
- Transfer of other non-critical personal data will be allowed subject to one serving copy of it being stored in India.
- Cross border transfers of personal data, other than critical personal data will be through model contract clauses with the data transfer or being directly liable to the data principal.
Mandatory Data Localization being prescribed under different aspects:
- Localization of Payment Systems Data mandated by RBI: Even before the release of the Committee’s Report and the Bill, data localization was touched upon by RBI in its Notification of 9 April 2018, where it directed all payment system providers to ensure that all data relating to the payment systems are to be stored in systems situated only in India.
- Localization of Data under the National E-Commerce Policy: The Draft National Policy Framework (the “National e-commerce Policy”) concerning the ‘Digital Economy’ seeking to regulate the ‘e-commerce’ sector in India, proposes localization of several categories of data involved in e-commerce.
Benefits of Data Localization:
- Reduction in the costs of enforcement of India’s own laws because of easier availability of data within its jurisdiction, the cost and time spent on coordinating with foreign agencies for access to requisite data being reduced.
- Overseas transactions of data involve reliance on fibre optic cable networks spread around the world, which are vulnerable to attacks and perhaps localisation of data may reduce this security risk.
- Having copies of all data collected in India will be a huge boost to the digital infrastructure as the domestic industry will now be able to harness a lot of data. For instance, the report points out that developments in Artificial Intelligence will see a great boost from this.
- As a matter of national security, the complete localisation of critical data prevents any foreign surveillance of India’s internal affairs.
The negatives of data localization:
- To make storing of data mandatory in India, will result in a burden on the domestic enterprises which use foreign infrastructure like cloud computing for running their businesses.
- The implications include the increased costs of doing business for small and medium businesses, also there may be the danger of monopolization in the digital infrastructure because only a few firms would have the expertise and capital to invest in creating huge data centres in India.
- Companies want to store, process and analyses data from multiple geographies. Some companies and lawyers argue that restricting the free flow of data may be counterproductive. “Excluding all Indian payment data from transfers is onerous, expensive, and can potentially limit the functionality which is currently available,”
- While the tussle over data localization started off within India, intense lobbying by tech MNCs has meant that this issue has now snowballed into one relating to free trade.
- Large tech companies are unhappy with such restrictive laws “Mechanisms allowing for cross-border data flows are critical to the modern economy. Countries should adopt an integrated framework of privacy regulations, avoiding overlapping or inconsistent rules whenever possible.”
- Another area of caution for policy-makers is to prepare adequate ground through holistic analysis, before mandating data localisation, especially on devising an optimal regulatory and legislative framework for data processors and data centres operating in the country.
- Adequate infrastructure in terms of energy, real estate, and internet connectivity also needs to be made available for India to become a global hub for data centres. Promoting confidence in users without sacrificing expectations of privacy, security, and safety must also be worked upon.
- With the BN Srikrishna Committee’s ‘Recommendations on the data protection legislation’, and the Telecom Regulatory Authority’s ‘Principles on data ownership, security and privacy’ expected soon, the emerging trend of cross-border data flow restrictions becomes worrisome.
- While the government’s policy goals are certainly having the right intention, adoption of the age-old route of protectionism for their realization may not be appropriate. Formulating policies that create boulders in cross-border data flows should not be promulgated unless backed by adequate and inclusive research on its multi-faceted impact on relevant stakeholders.
- Also, the possibility of triggering a vicious cycle of data localization requirements by other countries as a response to India’s possible data localization mandate will be detrimental for the global data economy.
What do you understand by data localisation? Discuss the importance of data localisation for India .
Topic: When a woman is harassed at work
Topic in Syllabus: GS Paper 1: Role of women and women’s organization.
Over the last several days, a number of women in India have called out influential men — actors, standup comics, senior journalists — for alleged sexual harassment. Some of these allegations relate to actions of then colleagues of the women.
Definition of sexual harassment at work:
The Supreme Court directive of 1997 clearly and unambiguously provides an answer to the question ‘What is sexual harassment?’
As defined in the Supreme Court guidelines (Vishakha vs State of Rajasthan, August 1997), sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour as:
- Physical contact
- A demand or request for sexual favours
- Sexually coloured remarks
- Showing pornography
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature, for example, leering, telling dirty jokes, making sexual remarks about a person’s body, etc
Sexual harassment is a behaviour with a sexual connotation that is abusive, injurious and unwelcome and makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated.The International Labour Organization (ILO) recognizes sexual harassment at workplace both as an aspect of gender discrimination and as a form of violence against women. Sexual harassment at workplace can be of two types:
- Quid pro quo (this for that) harassment: There is a promise of a work-related benefit, or the threat of a work-related sanction, in exchange of sexual favours
- Creation of a hostile work environment based on sex: actions/ behaviours which make working environment hostile for female employees.
Identifying sexual harassment:
Sexual harassment can take many different forms – it can be obvious or indirect, physical or verbal, repeated or one-off and perpetrated by males and females against people of the same or opposite sex.
Sexual harassment may include:
- staring or leering
- unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against you or unwelcome touching
- suggestive comments or jokes
- insults or taunts of a sexual nature
- intrusive questions or statements about your private life
- displaying posters, magazines or screen savers of a sexual nature
- sending sexually explicit emails or text messages
- inappropriate advances on social networking sites
- accessing sexually explicit internet sites
- requests for sex or repeated unwanted requests to go out on dates
- behaviour that may also be considered to be an offence under criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.
- Forty-five percent of the the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) harassment claims were sex-based.
- At least 25 percent of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Seventy-five percent of harassment victims experienced retaliation when they reported it.
- Somewhere between 87 and 94 percent of employees experiencing harassment do not file a formal complaint.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a government agency tasked with enforcing the laws that make harassment at work illegal, released a report last year detailing the findings of “The Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.”
The Handbook says “unwelcome behaviour” is experienced when the victim feels bad or powerless; it causes anger/sadness or negative self-esteem. It adds unwelcome behaviour is one which is “illegal, demeaning, invading, one-sided and power based”.
What were the Vishaka guidelines?
These were laid down by the Supreme Court in a judgment in 1997. This was on a case filed by women’s rights groups, one of which was Vishaka. They had filed a public interest litigation over the alleged gang-rape of Bhanwari Devi, a social worker from Rajasthan. In 1992, she had prevented the marriage of a one-year-old girl, leading to the alleged gang-rape in an act of revenge.
Legally binding, these defined sexual harassment and imposed three key obligations on institutions — prohibition, prevention, redress. The Supreme Court directed that they establish a Complaints Committee, which would look into matters of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.
The Vishakha guidelines categorically state that:
It is the duty of the employer or other responsible persons in the workplace or institution to:
- Prevent sexual harassment
- Provide mechanisms for the resolution of complaints
All women who draw a regular salary, receive an honorarium, or work in a voluntary Capacity in the government, private sector or unorganized sector come under the Purview of these guidelines.
- All workplaces should have an appropriate complaints mechanism with a complaints committee, special counsellor or other support services.
- A woman must head the complaints committee and no less than half its members should be women.
- The committee should include an NGO/individual familiar with the issue of sexual harassment.
- The complaints procedure must be time-bound.
- Confidentiality must be maintained.
- Complainants/witnesses should not experience victimization/discrimination during the process.
- Sexual harassment should be affirmatively discussed at workers’ meetings, employer-employee meetings, etc.
- Guidelines should be prominently displayed to create awareness about the rights of female employees.
- The employer should assist persons affected in cases of sexual harassment by outsiders.
- Central and state governments must adopt measures, including legislation, to ensure that private employers also observe the guidelines.
- Names and contact numbers of members of the complaints committee must be prominently displayed.
- Recognize sexual harassment as a serious offence.
- Recognize the responsibility of the company/ factory/workplace to prevent and deal with sexual harassment at the workplace.
- Recognize the liability of the company, etc., for sexual harassment by the employees or management. Employers are not necessarily insulated from that liability because they were not aware of sexual harassment by staff.
- Formulate an anti-sexual harassment policy. This should include:
Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013:
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is a legislative act in India that seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work. It was passed by the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament) on 3 September 2012.
- The Act defines sexual harassment at the work place and creates a mechanism for redressal of complaints. It also provides safeguards against false or malicious charges.
- The Act also covers concepts of ‘quid pro quo harassment’ and ‘hostile work environment’ as forms of sexual harassment if it occurs in connection with an act or behaviour of sexual harassment.
- The definition of “aggrieved woman”, who will get protection under the Act is extremely wide to cover all women, irrespective of her age or employment status, whether in the organised or unorganised sectors, public or private and covers clients, customers and domestic workers as well.
- An employer has been defined as any person who is responsible for management, supervision, and control of the workplace and includes persons who formulate and administer policies of such an organisation under Section 2(g)
- While the “workplace” in the Vishaka Guidelines is confined to the traditional office set-up where there is a clear employer-employee relationship, the Act goes much further to include organisations, department, office, branch unit etc.
- Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees. The District Officer is required to constitute a Local Complaints Committee at each district, and if required at the block level.
- The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence.
- The Complaints Committees are required to provide for conciliation before initiating an inquiry, if requested by the complainant.
- The inquiry process under the Act should be confidential and the Act lays down a penalty of Rs 5000 on the person who has breached confidentiality.
- The Act requires employers to conduct education and sensitisation programmes and develop policies against sexual harassment, among other obligations.
- Penalties have been prescribed for employers. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to ₹ 50,000. Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or registration to conduct business.
- Government can order an officer to inspect workplace and records related to sexual harassment in any organisation.
Criticism of the Act
- The Sexual Harassment Act only addresses the issue of protection of women employees and is not gender neutral. Male employees, if subjected to sexual harassment, cannot claim protection or relief under the law.
- The definition of ‘aggrieved woman’ does not make a reference to victimization (on the part of the employer) of the employee who has made the complaint of harassment, which would be fairly common in such situations.
- It may become a challenge for employers to constitute an ICC at “all administrative units or offices”. It may also become necessary for the employer to spend more time and efforts in training members of the ICC who are to be replaced every 3 years.
- The ICC also needs to involve a member from “amongst non-governmental organisations or associations committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge.
- The law casts an obligation upon the employer to address the grievances in respect of sexual harassment at workplace in a time bound manner, which in several cases may not be practically possible as the employees or witnesses involved may not easily or readily co-operate.
- The law allows the employer to initiate action against the complainant in case of a false or malicious complaint. This provision, although meant to protect the employer’s interests, is likely to deter victims from reporting such incidents and filing complaints, which may in turn defeat the purpose for which the law was enacted.
- The Sexual Harassment Act does not stipulate any monetary liability on the employer in case of harassment on the part of an employee against another female employee.
The Effects of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
- Emotional Well-Being: Sexual harassment can jeopardize the victim’s emotional and mental health. It can lead to the loss of self-esteem and it may even compromise personal relationships. Sexual harassment in the workplace can cause significant stress and anxiety. An employment harassment lawyer is also likely to work with clients who have suffered from long-term clinical depression as a result of sexual harassment.
- Physical Health: Physical health and emotional health are closely linked. When victims of sexual harassment experience mental and emotional problems, it often leads to physical health issues, such as loss of appetite, headaches, weight fluctuations, and sleep disturbances. Sleep disturbances can, in turn, lead to other serious health problems, such as hormonal imbalance, an increased risk of high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system.
- Financial Challenges: In addition to causing health problems, sexual harassment frequently leads to financial challenges. It’s important to tell your sexual harassment attorney in San Jose about any financial consequences of sexual harassment, such as lost wages and unpaid leave. Some victims of sexual harassment may even face broader career repercussions, such as the loss of job references. They may decide to leave their current position or employer to avoid a hostile work environment.
- Global Consequences: Sexual harassment has a direct effect on employers and the global economy. Each year, millions are lost due to absenteeism, low productivity, employee turnover, low morale, and legal costs stemming from sexual harassment. The economy also suffers due to premature retirement and higher insurance costs.
- Organisations should focus on gender diversity at a workplace not only in terms of increasing numbers of women but also ensuring a safe working environment for them and that their voices are heard.
- It is important for organizations to educate their employees on proper conduct at the workplace, conduct regular training and aware about severe repercussions of any unwelcome behaviour. Women employees should be made aware of their rights and about what constitutes sexual harassment at workplace
- Organizations need to tighten their internal processes to respond to sexual harassment complaints and take the requisite steps to appropriately respond to such cases through ICCs
- Concerned state governments should take urgent steps to examine the establishment and functioning of LCCs and address issues of sexual harassment in unorganized sector.
- The issue of sexual harassment cannot be addressed by mere enactment of laws. Sincere efforts need to be made in overcoming stereotypes, narrow-mindedness and gender biasness. A more gender-neutral approach needs to be taken to address sexual harassment.
In any civilized society, it is the fundamental right of people to be able to lead their lives with dignity, free from mental or physical torture. To ensure this, transgressors must pay for their unsolicited sexual advances. At the same time organizations such as Men against Violence and Abuse, that conduct gender-sensitization programmes and self-defense classes to combat sexual harassment at the workplace, must be encouraged
To effectively prevent SHW we need both a top-down initiative by the state and employers and civil society initiatives from citizens’ groups, women’s organizations and trade unions.
What is Sexual Harassment? What are the effective ways for preventing and responding to Sexual Harassment?
Topic: Helping the invisible hands of agriculture
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society: Role of Women
October 15 is observed, respectively, as International Day of Rural Women by the United Nations, and National Women’s Farmer’s Day (Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Diwas) in India. In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare decided to take the lead in celebrating the event, duly recognizing the multidimensional role of women at every stage in agriculture — from sowing to planting, drainage, irrigation, fertilizer, plant protection, harvesting, weeding, and storage.
Feminization of agriculture:
Feminization of agriculture refers to the measurable increase of women’s participation in the agricultural sector, particularly in the developing world. The phenomenon started during the 1960s with increasing shares over time.
- Economic Survey 2017-18 says that with growing rural to urban migration by men, there is ‘feminization’ of agriculture sector, with increasing number of women in multiple roles as cultivators, entrepreneurs, and labourers. Globally, there is empirical evidence that women have a decisive role in ensuring food security and preserving local agro-biodiversity.
- Rural women are responsible for the integrated management and use of diverse natural resources to meet the daily household needs.
- This requires that women farmers should have enhanced access to resources like land, water, credit, technology and training which warrants critical analysis in the context of India.
- In addition, the entitlements of women farmers will be the key to improve agriculture productivity. The differential access of women to resources like land, credit, water, seeds and markets needs to be addressed.
- With women predominant at all levels-production, pre-harvest, post-harvest processing, packaging, marketing – of the agricultural value chain, to increase productivity in agriculture, it is imperative to adopt gender specific interventions.
- An ‘inclusive transformative agricultural policy’ should aim at gender-specific intervention to raise productivity of small farm holdings, integrate women as active agents in rural transformation, and engage men and women in extension services with gender expertise.
- Women’s role in the agricultural sector increased during the 1960s and has continued to grow. Women have been increasingly counted as heads of household, running their own farms without male assistance.
- These households are often poorer than their male counterparts. Their plot sizes are usually smaller and have less access to other productive resources, like education, tools, and seeds, something termed “investment poverty”.
- Women agricultural workers are also less likely to have social connections, like credit and market networks.
- In the rural environments there are two types of crop orientations, subsistence and export. Female-headed households are more likely to be subsistence orientated, which are often poorer.
- According to Oxfam India, women are responsible for about 60-80% of food and 90% of dairy production.
- The Agriculture Census (2010-11) shows that out of an estimated 118.7 million cultivators, 30.3% were females.
- Out of an estimated 144.3 million agricultural labourers, 42.6% were females.
- In terms of ownership of operational holdings, the latest Agriculture Census (2015-16) is startling. Out of a total 146 million operational holdings, the percentage share of female operational holders is 13.87% (20.25 million), a nearly one percentage increase over five years.
- In 2009 World Bank, FAO & IFAD found that over 80 per cent of rural smallholder farmers worldwide were women, this was caused by men migrating to find work in other sectors.
- Out of all the women in the labor sector, the UN found 45-80% of them to be working in agriculture.
Role of women in agriculture and its allied fields:
- Women play a significant and crucial role in agricultural development and allied fields. The nature and extent of women’s involvement in agriculture varies greatly from region to region. But regardless of these variations, women are actively involved in various agricultural activities.
- As per Census 2011, out of total female main workers, 55 per cent were agricultural labourers and 24 per cent were cultivators. However, only 12.8 per cent of the operational holdings were owned by women, which reflect the gender disparity in ownership of landholdings in agriculture.
- Their activities typically include producing agricultural crops, tending animals, processing and preparing food, working for wages in agricultural or other rural enterprises, collecting fuel and water, engaging in trade and marketing, caring for family members and maintaining their homes.
- Many of these activities are not defined as “economically active employment” in national accounts but they are essential to the wellbeing of rural households.
- Rural Women form the most important productive work force in the economy of majority of the developing nations including India. Rural women often manage complex households and pursue multiple livelihood strategies.
- Variations in women’s participation in agricultural work depend on supply and demand factors linked to economic growth and agricultural modernization.
Activities taken up by women in Agriculture and its allied activities are as follows:
Mainly rural women are engaged in agricultural activities in three different ways depending on the socio-economic status of their family and regional factors.
They work as:
- Paid Labourers.
- Cultivator doing labour on their own land.
- Managers of certain aspects of agricultural production by way of labour supervision and the participation in post-harvest operations.
The types of agricultural activities taken up by women include the following:
- Nursery management
- Fertilizer application
- Plant protection
- Harvesting, winnowing, storing etc.
Livestock is the primary livelihood activity used to meet household food needs as well as supplement farm incomes. It is a common practice in the rural areas to give an animal as part of a women’s dowry. Studies have revealed rural women earn extra income from the sale of milk and animals. Mostly women are engaged in cattle management activities such as
- Cleaning of animal and sheds
- Watering of cattle
- Milking the animals
- Fodder collection
- Preparing dung cakes
- Collection farm yard manure
Except grazing, all other livestock management activities are predominantly performed by women. Men, however, share the responsibility of taking care of sick animals. It is evident that the women are playing a dominant role in the livestock production and management activities.
Poultry farming is one of the major sources of rural economy. The rate of women participation in poultry farming at household level is central in poultry industry.
Issue of land ownership
- The biggest challenge is the powerlessness of women in terms of claiming ownership of the land they have been cultivating.
- In Census 2015, almost 86% of women farmers are devoid of this property right in land perhaps on account of the patriarchal set up in our society.
- a lack of ownership of land does not allow women farmers to approach banks for institutional loans as banks usually consider land as collateral.
Lack of Access to Credit
- Research worldwide shows that women with access to secure land, formal credit and access to market have greater propensity.
- They performed better by making investments in improving harvest, increasing productivity, and improving household food security and nutrition.
- Better access to credit, technology, and provision of entrepreneurship abilities will further boost women’s confidence and help them gain recognition as farmers.
Under-represented and Un-organized
- As of now, women farmers have hardly any representation in society and are nowhere discernible in farmers’ organizations or in occasional protests.
- They are the invisible workers without which the agricultural economy is hard to grow.
Land Holdings are on Decline
- Land holdings have doubled over the years with the result that the average size of farms has shrunk.
- Therefore, a majority of farmers fall under the small and marginal category, having less than 2 ha of land — a category that, undisputedly, includes women farmers.
- A declining size of land holdings may act as a deterrent due to lower net returns earned and technology adoption.
The Unshared Double Responsibility
- Female cultivators and labourers generally perform labour-intensive tasks (hoeing, grass cutting, weeding, picking, cotton stick collection, looking after livestock).
- In addition to working on the farm, they have household and familial responsibilities.
- Despite more work (paid and unpaid) for longer hours when compared to male farmers, women farmers can neither make any claim on output nor ask for a higher wage rate.
- An increased work burden with lower compensation is a key factor responsible for their marginalization.
The World Bank has made gender equality in the agriculture and food sector an explicit goal. Each project includes actions based on a thoughtful gender analysis that aim to result in positive gender outcomes.
- Expand women’s access to land and rural finance: Providing women with greater access to land, finance, and production inputs is critical to closing the productivity gap between men and women. Microfinance institutions and other financial service providers with presence in rural areas can play a key role in supporting women farmers. The Bank also ensures that women benefit from land titling projects.
- Link women to agricultural value chains: When women are linked to agricultural value chains from production all the way to processing and marketing, they help make traditional farming more productive and commercially viable. Inclusive value chains also offer work opportunities for women and men off the farm.
- Improve rural women’s access to training and information: Knowledge of farming techniques is critical to productivity, however women farmers have inadequate access to agricultural extension and training services. It is also important that training and agricultural technologies are accessible and adapted to rural women’s needs and constraints.
- Produce knowledge, data and tools that promote gender equality in agriculture and food sector projects: The Bank produces resources that help practitioners integrate gender-sensitive actions in their projects. This includes the Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook and an e-learning course, as well as the World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development.
The measures taken by the Government for upliftment of women in the agriculture include:
The following measures have been taken to bring women in the mainstream agricultural sector:
- Earmarking at least 30% of the budget allocation for women beneficiaries in all ongoing schemes/programmes and development activities.
- Initiating women centric activities to ensure benefits of various beneficiary-oriented programs/schemes reach them.
- Focusing on women self-help group (SHG) to connect them to micro-credit through capacity building activities and to provide information and ensuring their representation in different decision-making bodies.
- Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare decided to celebrate 15th October of every year as Women Farmer’s Day. This marks a significant step forward in women empowerment.
- Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme Support to States Extension Programme for Extension Reforms, mainstreaming gender concerns in agriculture is being addressed by ensuring utilization of minimum 30% of resources on programmes and activities for women farmers and women extension functionaries. In order to encourage women farmers’ participation in planning and decision making process, their representation in Farmers’ Advisory Committee at Block, District and State level has been provided under the Scheme’s guidelines.
- Under Sub Mission on Seed and Planting Material (SMSP), the training is provided under the components of the Scheme Seed Village Programme and Quality Control Arrangement of Seeds in which women farmers are equally benefitted. State Governments are also advised to allocate adequate funds to women farmers.
- Under the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) implemented in 28 states, 30% of allocation of fund is being earmark for women farmer. There is also an intervention under NFSM providing cropping system based training to farmers including SC, ST and women farmers to create awareness on improved technology for increasing production and productivity of crops. State governments are implementing the NFSM as per the provisions of the guideline.
- Under the National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP), 30% of budgetary allocation is being earmarked for women beneficiaries/farmers. Concerned implementing agencies will be responsible for monitoring implementation of these components i.e. allocation of resources for SC/ST/Women beneficiaries and maintenance of database for the same.
- Under the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM), 31 drudgery reducing technologies for women in agriculture developed by ICAR are promoted through training, demonstration and financial assistance. Women beneficiaries are also provided 10% additional financial assistance for purchase of various agricultural machines and equipments. Farm Machinery Training and Testing Institutes conducts training on Agricultural Mechanization for women farmers on regular basis and in the year, 2014-15, 936 women farmers were trained.
- Under the National Horticulture Mission, women are organized into Self Help Groups and farm inputs and technological & extension supports are provided to make women self-reliant.
Discuss the role of women in agriculture in India.