Farmers of India have felt exploited for long. The reforms that the Centre brought in, apparently to make the agriculture sector more efficient and lucrative in the form of three ordinances in June, have had the effect of upsetting large sections of them further. Parliament passed them into Acts in September. More than 500 farmers’ unions are now on a path of agitation. Thousands of farmers from the neighbouring States, stopped by the police on their way to Delhi, are camping at several points around the national capital. They have refused to move to a designated site, a condition set by the Centre for talks. The Centre has aggravated its original mistake of rushing through these laws without wide consultation and political consensus by taking a condescending attitude towards critics. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that farmers stood to benefit from the new measures, and this may well be true. The trouble is that most farmers are not convinced by the assurances and fear

The fact that India’s economy entered a technical recession in the July-September period has now been confirmed by National Statistical Office data. Provisional estimates of gross domestic product for the second quarter of the year ending in March 2021 show economic output shrank by 7.5%, following the 23.9% contraction in the first quarter. Not only has the economy shrunk for a second successive quarter, marking a recession for the first time in independent India’s history, but the overall GDP figure of ₹33,14,167 crore (at 2011-12 prices) reveals output has slid back to the lowest level in 12 quarters. This one fact alone ought to give cause for serious concern, notwithstanding the apparent improvement in economic momentum that helped narrow the contraction from the preceding period’s precipitous fall. Even there, a closer look at both the expenditure side and the gross value added across various industry categories leaves little room for comfort. Private consumption expenditure —

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