International Waste Pickers Day and Informal Waste Pickers:

– March 1 marks International Waste Pickers Day, commemorating murdered waste pickers in Colombia in 1992.
– Informal waste pickers are crucial but marginalized workers in waste managementecosystems.
– They collect, sort, trade, and sometimes reintegrate discarded waste, yet face systemic marginalization.

Challenges Faced by Informal Waste Pickers:–  Lack of recognition, representation, social security, and legal protection.
– Often women, children, elderly, disabled, and poorest of the urban poor.
– Subject to violence, sexual harassment, and health hazards due to hazardous work without safety equipment

Extent of Informal Waste Picker Workforce:
– Globally employs about 0.5%-2% of urban population, with many in India.
– Indian urban workforce includes nearly 1.5 million waste pickers, half a million of whom are women.

Issues with Private Sector Participation and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR):
– Private sector involvement in waste management alienates informal waste pickers, pushing them into hazardous work.
– EPR, while promising, redirects waste away from informal sector, threatening displacement.
– EPR guidelines overlook the role of waste pickers and fail to prioritize their inclusion.

Role of Waste Pickers in Plastic Waste Management:
– Globally, waste pickers collect and recover up to 60% of all plastic, preventing landfill and ocean pollution.
– Despite critical role, waste pickers struggle to earn decent living and face health risks.
– Plastic Treaty must ensure a just transition for waste pickers and integrate them into new legal frameworks

Should MSP be legalised?

Farmers’ Protests for Legalised MSP and WTO Withdrawal:
– Farmers began a march to New Delhi demanding legal MSP for crops and India’s withdrawal from WTO.
– MSP, primarily implemented for rice and wheat, lacks legal guarantee for other crops.
– Debate centers on whether MSP should be legalized, considering its implications and feasibility.

Justification for Protests:
– Singh argues protests stem from longstanding issues in agriculture, including lack of attention to farmer demands.
• Legal MSP sought to ensure national food security amid shifting focus to nutrition security.
• Demand aligns with government actions like export bans during food shortages, reflecting broader concerns.

Feasibility and Challenges of Legalising MSP:
– Hussain acknowledges farmers’ concerns about low crop prices but emphasizes the complexity of addressing them.

– Implementation challenges include lack of functional mandis and incomplete procurement data.
– Extending MSP nationwide raises questions about government’s capacity and procurement policies

Concerns about Legalised MSP:
– Fear of consumer price hikes and inflation amid legal MSP implementation.
– Hussain highlights need for policy balance between farmer incomes and consumer interests.
– Singh emphasizes importance of regulating markets to prevent inflationary pressures.

Input Cost Calculation and Farmer Income:
– Debate over methodologies like A2+FL and C2+50% for determining input costs.
– Singh supports C2+50% to ensure remunerative prices for farmers.
– Hussain acknowledges challenges in ensuring MSP covers cultivation costs.

Role of Cooperatives and Alternatives:
– Hussain and Singh discuss the potential of cooperatives and FPOs in improving farmer income.
– Cooperatives’ success depends on supportive legal frameworks and infrastructure.
– Singh stresses the need for diverse interventions and infrastructure support for cooperatives to succeed. Challenges in Implementing Legal MSP:
– Limited trading through mandis complicates MSP implementation despite legalisation.
– Lack of transaction records poses obstacles to effective MSP enforcement.

Understanding Minimum Support Price (MSP):
– MSP guarantees a minimum price for farmers’ produce, determined by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).
– CACP considers factors like production costs, market trends, and inter-crop price parity to recommend MSP.
– Final MSP decisions are approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). Crops Covered Under MSP:
– MSP recommendations cover 22 crops and fair prices for sugarcane.
– Mandated crops include kharif, rabi, and commercial crops.

Three Production Cost Categories:
– A2: Direct paid-out costs for seeds, fertilisers, labour, etc.
– A2+FL: Includes A2 plus imputed value of unpaid family labour.
– C2: Comprehensive cost including rentals and interest for land and capital assets

Need for MSP:
– MSP ensures fair prices for farmers amidst economic challenges like droughts, policy
changes, and input cost hikes.
– It plays a vital role in reducing farm distress and poverty, especially in agrarian states.

Concerns Related to MSP in India:
– Limited extent of MSP implementation beyond rice and wheat
– Ineffective implementation leads to minimal benefits for farmers.
– Skewed cropping pattern favoring rice and wheat.
– Dependency on middlemen in MSP procurement.
– Financial burden on the government due to MSP operations

Way Forward:
– Gradually expand MSP coverage to encourage crop diversification.
– Focus on essential crops for food security and farmer livelihoods.
– Improve procurement mechanisms to ensure farmer access to MSPs

Cross-voting in Rajya Sabha elections:

Understanding Rajya Sabha Elections:
– Rajya Sabha members are elected indirectly by the elected members of State Legislative Assemblies.
– Cross-voting, as witnessed in recent elections, raises concerns about the election process.

Procedure for Rajya Sabha Elections:
– Elections held if number of candidates exceed vacancies.
– Previously, elections were typically uncontested, but instances of cross-voting led to changes in voting procedures.

Introduction of Open Ballot System:
– In 2003, the Representation of the People Act was amended to introduce open ballot voting for Rajya Sabha elections
– Political party MLAs must show their ballot to their party’s authorized agent. Failure to do so results in disqualification.

Role of the Tenth Schedule:
– The Tenth Schedule, introduced in 1985, addresses anti-defection issues.
– MLAs voting against party instructions can face disqualification.
– However, Tenth Schedule provisions do not apply to Rajya Sabha elections.

Legal Perspectives:
– Supreme Court rulings uphold the open ballot system for transparency.
– MLAs voting against party lines may face disciplinary action but not disqualification under the Tenth Schedule.
– Disqualification for cross-voting in Rajya Sabha elections is determined by individual state laws.

Way Forward:
– Cross-voting threatens democratic principles, prompting potential judicial intervention.
– Supreme Court may review its stance on cross-voting in light of recent developments.
– Disqualification for cross-voting could serve as a deterrent against future incidents.