The government of India has decided to scrape off the archaic legislation that deals in matters of tea cultivation, management, control of the tea undertakings, control and export of tea seeds, etc. In its press release, the Tea Board of India (i.e to be renamed as Tea Promotion and Development Board after this legislation) signified that ”after more than 68 years, some of the existing provisions of the Tea Act, 1953 have become redundant due to the efflux of time, for which it has been proposed to bring a new Act in place of the present Act under which Tea Board will act as a facilitator for the benefit of the tea industry”.
According to certain sources, the Centre may soon implement similar changes in other commodity boards such as rubber and spice. There has been much speculation that the government plans to abolish the existing Boards.
To further understand the intricacies of the proposed Bill, The Policy Times presents to you an illustrative analysis of the upcoming proposed bill and puts into perspective a bigger picture to determine what lies ahead.
Key Objectives of the Bill
The following objectives are included in the Bill, by the Union Government.
- Optimizing the production, sale, and consumption of Tea., which might include
- Promoting the export of tea
- Promoting the sale and consumption of tea including through E-Commerce platforms.
- Promoting the quality of tea cultivation and tea which is consumed in India and exported from India
- Promoting branding with product diversification value addition packaging and furthering the interest of stakeholders involved in the IT industry
- Promoting the sustainable cultivation of tea for increasing production and productivity
- Providing support and encouragement to small growers,
- Encouraging fair and remunerative prices for the growers
- Safeguarding the interests of tea plantation workers
- Increasing awareness about the general among the general public about the tea industry in India.
- Promoting economic, scientific, and technical research into the tea industry, which might include-
- Collecting analyzing and disseminating economic scientific and technical data, information, statistics, and studies related to the steel industry in India
- Encouraging the adoption of the best available technologies and minimizing the adverse impact of Climate Change
- Promoting an understanding of plant ecology physiology and Pathology among the growers
- Aligning the practices in the IT industry in India with the Global best practices
The bill takes into its ambit the auction organizers, blenders, dealers of broken mixed fiber, origin tea packers, and primary and secondary buyers. As the role of all the aforementioned stakeholders as defined in the old Act of 1953.
The newfound board would consist of not less than 20 members. The composition of the board would be set in a hierarchy. Whereby the Chairperson would occupy the apex position and would be appointed by the Central Government itself. The two members of Parliament will be nominated by the House of the People and the Council of States, (one member from each body). Ten other members will be appointed by the Central Government. All these members are supposed to be endowed with interests and experience in one or more categories/fields-
- Governments of the states where tea is grown
- Interest of labor
- Member of institutions or authorities which specialize in research in the tea industry, agriculture, foreign trade, food safety, advertising, e-commerce, etc.
The Board shall be responsible for promoting and developing the Indian tea Industry. All the members of the board will be entrusted with key powers such as monitoring of export-import, price setting of both tea and tea leaf and propagating data and other information regarding the demand for and marketability of tea in India and a foreign market, etc.
No suits, prosecution, or legal proceedings can be brought in against the Board, the members of the board or the employees of the board, for anything that is done or intended to be done in the good faith or welfare of the general public.
Tea Industry at a glance
Assam’s tea industry is suffering greatly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and floods. In comparison to the previous year, the production loss until August was approximately 25%.
The coronavirus-induced lockdown and devastating floods have taken a heavy toll on the state’s 180-year-old tea industry, resulting in a revenue loss of Rs 1,200 crore. According to the Tea Board India, the state produced 222.37 million kg of tea from January to July 2020, compared to 274.58 million kg of tea produced the previous year. The state produced 716.49 million kg of tea in 2019.
Tea planters in North Bengal have also suffered significant losses as a result of the country’s precipitous drop in tea prices. (The tea industry in North Bengal employs up to five lakh people, either directly or indirectly.) Experts believe that the TBI, or Tea Board of India, should set a base price for tea in order to close the gap and balance the demand and supply.
The proposed Bill is expected to resolve this problem as the TBI is expected to resort to an entirely different mode of functioning., which is said to be in the interests of tea production in India.
The aforementioned Bill has the propensity to cater to the paradigm shift that has occurred throughout 1953- 2022. If we observe, examine, and take into account the situation at hand, we would realize that multiple aspects such as growth, production, marketing, packaging consumption, etc. which are involved in the process of tea production have been subjected to considerable alterations over time. Thus, an Amendment of 1953 legislation is above all the need of the hour. So that the development and expansion of tea production in India are arcticized and advanced.
Invitation for public comments
A copy of the draft Bill has been placed here as well as on the Department of Commerce Website to seek comments from the public or stakeholders till 21st January 2022.
Views, comments and suggestions about the Bill may be sent via mail: before January 21, 2022.