Notifying Farming as an Essential Service-An Authoritarian Manoeuvre

HRF/223/12 | 18 September 2012

Dear Madam/Sir,
The Government of India is considering a proposal to notify farming as an essential service. This is ostensibly to bring drought relief to farmers suffering from a weak monsoon - a laudable goal indeed. However, if farming is deemed an "essential service", farmers and farm workers could lose many of their political and civil rights because the government can then invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act to ban strikes by agricultural workers, leaving them without collective bargaining power.

It appeared in the 22 September 2012 issue of the Economic and Political Weekly.