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Here is What CM Jairam and MLA Dhawala Said While Proposing Legalization of Cannabis (Hemp) Cultivation in Himachal

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Cm jairam on cannabis legalization at budget session

Shimla-As usual, while the Budget presented by the Himachal Pradesh Government for the 2021-22 financial year is being hailed by legislators and leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party, the oppositions are terming it an eye-wash and a directionless budget. As usual, the budget speech contains a plethora of promises including filling up about 30,000 functional posts and constructing 12,000 news houses for the poor.

However, there is one proposal that deserves appreciation in particular. Not only it would open more doors of employment in rural areas, but could also prove to be a crucial decision in revolutionizing the state economy. A potential source of income that remained untapped.

It’s about permitting commercial hemp cultivation in the state. In his budget speech, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur told the House that the State Government would frame a policy to legalize hemp cultivation.

“Commercial hemp cultivation is permitted & regulated in many countries and in some States in India. This creates investment and employment opportunities. State Government proposes to frame a policy to permit commercial hemp cultivation with the proper regulatory framework,” he said during his budget speech on March 6, 2021.

The State High Court had already given its nod and put the ball in State Government’s court by stating that it has no objection over permitting the cultivation of industrial and medicinal hemp. Himachal Watcher had covered the issue when it was in court.

It’s pertinent to mention here that Hemp is one of the varieties of Cannabis sativa, which cannot be used as a psychoactive substance to get high. In simple words, it would not get you high even if you try to do so by smoking it because it contains negligible amount (.3%) of the psychoactive substance Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Also Read: Misconceptions keep Himachal from making fortune on ‘green gold’ and eradicate charas mafia

On March 5, 2021, Ramesh Chand Dhawala, MLA of Jawalamukhi constituency, introduced a resolution in the Budget Session proposing the legalization of the cultivation of hemp.  He had argued over the benefits of doing so at a length. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had also agreed that the state should frame a policy and undertake the cultivation of cannabis in a controlled manner. Chief Minister had also said that cannabis is has a strong association with the culture of the state. He admitted that traditionally fibre obtained from cannabis plants, which is known as “Shail” was used to make ropes, shoes and matts. He mentioned how extracting cannabis oil to use it in winters with food or as body lotion was common practice. Further, these seeds were used to be a part of the famous Himachali cuisine “Siddu”, he mentioned.

“American Cancer Research Association has found that cannabis is effective in slowing down the development of brain tumour and lung and breast cancer,” he said in the House.

Further, he mentioned that the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) has remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs — where it was listed alongside specific deadly, addictive opioids, including heroin, recognized as having little to no therapeutic purposes.

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Dhawala, prior to Chief Minister’s reply, told the house that the NDPS Act was introduced to check substance abuse, not to prevent the manufacturing of clothes and medicine. Traditionally, the cannabis plant was used locally to create clothing. Currently, he said, 70-80 percent of prisoners are booked under the NDPS Act. Record cases under NDPS have come to light in Kullu and Chamba for the illegal cultivation of cannabis.

Also Read: Industrial hemp can revolutionize Himachal’s economy, end war on drugs, says petition seeking legalization

These include poor people who remain behind bars for decades as trials take a huge amount of time. The use of cannabis as a drug is rising among youth who are getting addicted to it. Legalizing hemp cultivation can solve this problem along with opening new doors for employment, he told the House.

In higher hills, the rural people can harness only one crop as the land remains covered in a thick blanket of snow for six months. Which pushes these people to get indulged in illegal cultivation of cannabis and paddling of smokable substances extracted from cannabis plants, like charas and hashish, for livelihood.

While those who are caught with a quantity more than 100 grams and kingpins must be acted upon, there are youngsters who are booked for possessing even small quantities, he said.

Further, emphasizing on commercial use of hemp, he told the house that a large number of goods that can be manufactured from hemp in addition to cannabis oil, which is in huge demand in the international market for its medicinal use, can bring fortunes to the state and the rural population deprived of any other sources of income.

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He referred to other states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand etc. where the governments have framed policies to permit the cultivation of commercial hemp. He said industries have been established which uses this cultivated hemp, especially its oil for the manufacture of medicines.

Further, not only goods like cloth, shoes, furniture, ropes etc. but bricks can be manufactured by using waste material. These bricks are highly durable when combined with lime. He said these bricks have more strength, are light-weight and are waterproof. In Island, Mark and Spencer’s company constructed its showroom completely using these bricks and world-renowned car manufactures like Ford are also using hemp for manufacturing of car accessories, he said.

Also Read: Two Himachal Youngsters to Launch State’s First Hemp Start-up: An Online Market for Green Products

Dhwala also said that legalizing hemp cultivation can also revolutionize the clothing industry. In India, mostly cotton is used in the clothing industry. Cultivation of cotton requires double the land and four times the water required for the cultivation of hemp. Also, hemp can be harnessed within three to four months as compared to cotton which takes about nine months, he said.

He also referred to the mention of cannabis as a medicine in Vedas.  All parts of the cannabis plant – root, stem, leaves, fruit, seeds- are usable for various purposes. Ayurveda, in which cannabis is called ‘Vijaya’, also recommend use of cannabis for cancer, neurological diseases, bacterial infection etc. and modern science also verify it, he said. The United States of America is using cannabis-based medicines for the treatment of diseases like Parkinson’s, Autism, Alzheimerinn ol, and others related to dementia. Other foreign countries are also using it as a medicine to treat heart-blockage, he told the House. Further, it is also used to provide relief to people suffering from disorders like migraine and stress.

Back in old days, cannabis oil was used as a pain reliever to mothers during delivery, he added.

The cannabis plant is the only plant that has up to 80 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids and a high quantity of nutrients Omega-3, Omega- and Omega-9. Other than cannabis, only fish contains these nutrients.

India’s neighbouring country Nepal has realized the potential of this plant and has formed a separate ministry that looks into the cultivation of hemp.

“It’s a matter of surprise that clothing, bags, shoes etc. made of hemp in Nepal are sold at high prices in Dharamshala, McLeodganj, and Manali,” he said.

Instead of wasting time and energy of police force in uprooting cannabis plants and wasting them, the state government should permit its cultivation for industrial and medicinal use under Section 8, 10 and 14 of the NDPS Act, like it has been permitted in Uttarakhand, M.P , Orissa and some North Eastern States.

Scientists have confirmed that cannabis can be used for the treatment of cancer patients and to stimulate appetite in AIDS patients.

Clothing made of hemp fibre is known for its anti-bacterial features, which is why countries like Canada has patented undergarments made of hemp fibre, he said.
cannabis cultivation in himachal

He further argued that currently, the wood used for the manufacture of furniture takes years before it’s ready for use, while a hemp plant takes only four to five months. Comparatively cheaper furniture could be prepared from this plant, which would not only offer an alternate source of income and employment but also prevent deforestation.

Though the United Nations had prohibited cannabis cultivation from 1985 onwards, in 2020, the same organization has lifted the restriction on its cultivation considering its immensely beneficial medicinal use, he told the House.

This plant is in high demand in the international pharmaceutical market and this demand is only growing.

The ban on cultivation relates to using cannabis as a psychoactive drug, which is only one of its 400 characteristics. There are two sub-species of cannabis – one which has a high amount of THC and others which have a negligible amount of THC (.3%), he said. In Uttarakhand, the type of plant which is being cultivated possess a negligible amount of THC and, thus, can’t be used as a psychoactive substance, he said.

Though Himachal Pradesh is known for apple production, the fact is that the cultivation of apple is limited to only Kullu, Shimla, Kinnaur, Bharmaur etc.

He also compared it to alcohol in terms of hazards.

“People die after consuming alcohol, but I never heard that anyone ever died after consuming cannabis, “he argued.

Citing another example to control use of cannabis as a psychoactive substance, Dhawala said,

“People in a village that doesn’t have a legal liquor vendor start producing and selling home-made liquor. But if a legal liquor shop is allowed, it works as a deterrent for illegal production and sale.”

“Similarly, I believe that cultivation of cannabis should also be legalized so that not only people could get employment but also refrain from indulging in peddling, he said.

He also referred to the dependence of the State on debt taken from the Centre and said legalizing cannabis cultivation can help solve this problem.

“When the laws are more dangerous than the drug itself then a fight for civil liberties becomes necessary. Stopping research and knowledge is not only unconstitutional but a crime against evolution, Deven Khanna, a practicing advocate at Himachal Pradesh and the man behind this initiative to transform the state’s economy.

Deven has been working with policy makers and arguing his petition to legalize cultivation of industrial hemp in the State High Court since the last four years. It was on his petition that the court had given a go ahead to the government. Not only the court, Deven had been collaborating with stakeholders in the hemp industry.

“The purpose of my petition was to open the market for non-narcotic/medical and industrial use of Hemp so that the locals have an alternative source of income, patients have access to safer natural medicines and for making available biodegradable /organic alternatives to plastic and construction material in the state,” Deven told Himachal Watcher.

“The foremost objective was empowerment and “creation of choice” for the local inhabitants who presently are being lured into illegal activities due to lack of avenues for making a decent livelihood. The only way to prevent people from doing illegal drug trade is sadly not deterrence which everyone is really fond off, its actually giving them an alternative choice to make a decent life,” he added.

“People are deterred by hunger more than jail. If these plants is used for non-narcotic purpose generates money for the locals then there is a hope that they will choose the less risky and equally rewarding source of income rather than selling contraband,” Deven said.

“Right now, there is very little choice/opportunity in the villages and the drug mafia is solely controlling this plant. What we seek is that the plant is rather put in the hands of our doctors, industrialists, food manufactures and not in the hands of the illegal drug market, he said.

“There are 100s of industries and youth startups who want to open hemp businesses in the State and with a billion dollar industry the state can prosper a lot, this plant can do more for the people of the state than what apple did many years ago,” Deven said.

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HP Budget 2021-22: Key Sector Allocation in Seven Charts

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HP Budget 2021-22 simplified charts

By – Utkarsh Berwal and Vijay Kumar, both Research Scholars at the Centre for Studies in Economics and Planning, Central University of Gujarat

Chief Minister, Mr. Jai Ram Thakur, presented the Budget of Himachal Pradesh for the financial year 2021-22 on March 6, 2021. He referred to the problems created due to the COVID-19 pandemic and potential of the state to overcome it. The focus was on boosting the Service and Tourism sector and in that respect here is the breakdown of the 50,192 Crore budget in seven charts concerning key sectors.

General Services

The allocation of  the budget to the general services for the coming financial year is Rs. 18146.99 lacs, i.e., less than what was proposed last year. The general services include fiscal services, police, stationery & printing, public works, and other administrative services. Among all the departments, highest allocation of budget is provided for public works (Rs. 9274.99 lacs) and least is provided for fiscal services (Rs. 0.00 lacs). Further, capital outlay on police, stationary & printing, and other administrative services are Rs. 7230, Rs. 42, Rs. 1600 (in lacs) respectively.

General Services

 Social Services

The government proposes to spend Rs. 159052 lacs in 2021-22. As per revised estimates, the government spent Rs. 191176.63 lacs in 2020-21. Though 2021-22 budget allocation is higher compared to the actual spending (Rs. 122386.1 lacs) for the year 2019-20 but still it is less than what was proposed in the 2020-21 budget. The social services include: education, sports, art & culture; health and family welfare; water supply, sanitation, housing, and urban development; information and broadcasting; welfare of SC, ST, and OBC; social welfare and nutrition; others. Among all the departments, highest allocation is provided for water supply, sanitation, housing and urban development (Rs. 112667.01 lacs) and least is provided for information and broadcasting (Rs. 61 lacs).

HP budget 2021 for Social Welfare

Education, Sports, Art and Culture

It has been around a year since schools and colleges are closed because of COVID-19. The education sector has been shifted towards exploring the online space and due to this many individuals have lost their jobs and educational opportunities. However, instead of increasing the planned expenditure, government reduced the spending in the present year budget plan. The allocation of budget for the education, sports, arts and culture is only Rs. 28400 lacs which is even less than previous year revised estimates (Rs. 34708.37 lacs).

HP Budget 2021 for education

 Health and Family Welfare

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a serious strain on the Indian health sector and thus, it was expected by everyone in the state that the allocation for the healthcare sector would rise tremendously. However, allocated spending for healthcare was least in comparison with past budgets. The actual spending for the year 2019-20 was Rs. 22842.74 lacs while the revised estimates of the budget in 2020-21 was Rs. 32857.54 lacs. But for this year, the total amount allocated is Rs. 16304 lacs only. It was totally a surprising step taken by the government considering the present status of the health sector in the province.

HP Budget 2021 for health

Economic Services

In the previous year, budget estimates (Rs. 308780.96 lacs) and revised estimates (Rs. 320494.09 lacs) were less than the 2019-20 actuals (Rs. 340281.45). But this year there is a big jump in the budget estimates for economic services. The allocation of budget to economic services this year (2021-22) is Rs. 429934.15 lacs. The economic services include agriculture & allied services, rural development, irrigation & flood control, energy, industry & minerals, transport, and general economic services. Among all the departments, highest allocation of budget is provided for transport (Rs. 306785 lacs) and least is provided for rural development (Rs. 489 lacs).

HP Budget 2021 for economic services

 Agriculture and Allied Services

As the farmers are opposing the new agricultural law introduced by the centre, it was predicted that the allocation would rise considerably for the agriculture sector. And in that respect a huge difference has been witnessed in the budget allocation for the current year in comparison to the previous years. The government’s plan to spend Rs. 16810.64 on agriculture is a huge rise from the proposed sum of Rs. 11397.25 lacs for the financial year 2020-21. The agriculture & allied services include crop husbandry, soil & water conservation, animal husbandry, fisheries, forest & wildlife, food storage & warehousing, and co-operation. Among all the sectors, highest allocation of budget is provided for crop husbandry (Rs. 7338.05 lacs) and least is provided for co-operation (Rs. 17 lacs).

HP Budget 2021 for agriculture

Tourism

It was predicted by economic pundits that the allocation would rise for the tourism sector as this sector is the backbone of Himachal’s economy, but such an enormous increase in the budgetary allocation was quite surprising. Tourism industry of the hill state has been badly affected by the COVID-19 and to overcome this, the government has allocated Rs. 5376.01 lacs for the year 2021-22. The allocation for the specified sector is nine times more than the previous year allocation.

HP Budget 2021 for tourism

Overall, the budget amount is Rs 1061 crore more than the last budget. Also, the debt liability of the state is at an all-time high at 60,500 crores and it remains to be seen whether the gamble taken on some key sectors will pay off in these unprecedented times where a new coronavirus wave is very well on the cards. Especially concerning the increase of the allocation to the tourism sector and allotment of a very low amount for the health and education sector. Rest, only time will tell whether this was the correct move by the government.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Himachal Watcher or its members.

 
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Opinion

Financial Abuse: The Dominant Yet Invisible Side of Domestic Abuse

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financial abuse

By – Megha Manju Promodu an independent scholar and researcher based in Kerala. She previously worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, New Delhi and handled content creation for various marketing companies.

2020 was the year of the global pandemic. It was also the year that saw massive attacks on women, the rape cases alone as always topping the charts. But rape doesn’t even account to 10% of the crimes conducted against women. So, what really takes the cake in terms of crimes against women? The answer is domestic abuse! Along with it comes violence, emotional abuse, marital rape and even the lesser known but more sinister and widespread financial abuse.

So, what is financial abuse anyway?             

Never heard of it? Me neither until a year back, when in a fit of anger, a person I know threatened to withhold money from his wife for buying something not of his liking. He did not mean it seriously, but this certainly made me think of all the homes where this is an everyday reality. Researching on it made me realize more often than not we are all victims of financial abuse in some way without really realizing it. Financial abuse in simple terms can be understood as controlling a person’s ability to earn, utilise and preserve money through manipulation, coercion or brute force. Often the victim has no or little control over their own money or any money for that matter. Financial abuse can affect both partners in varying degrees but a large number of victims of financial abuse turn out to be women, at least in the Indian scenario.

Why is it more dangerous?

Financial abuse often comes as a forerunner to domestic abuse and the dangerous aspect is that it cannot be traced easily. By the time the victim realizes what is happening it is already too late leaving them shattered in debts, financial losses and years of earnings lost with no retribution. Often it starts as a helping hand in managing finances, to sharing and managing finances together, to slowly the victim losing control over their finances, and ultimately all financial decisions are taken by the abuser with no consent of the other. It may take years for a relationship to deteriorate in this manner. The gradual loss of control along with no awareness of something like financial abuse makes it harder for a woman to realize the abuse. It is even harder in a country like India where women are not even expected to work but rather appreciated if they sit at home looking after the kids and in-laws.

In India marriage is rather a system of ownership than companionship, the transfer of ownership of the woman to the husband from the father and ultimately to the son from the husband when the time comes. We have misogynist texts like the Manusmrithi to blame for the sources of these absurd ideas and quotes like “Pitah Rakshathi Koumare, Pati Rakshathi Youvanne, Puthro Rakshathi Vardaykye, Na sthree swathanthram arhati” (Father protects in teenage, the husband protects in youth and the son protects in old age, hence woman does not deserve freedom) internalize that it’s okay to abuse and even physically assault her.

Awareness concerning financial abuse?

This idea that the man owns the woman after she becomes the wife is internalised not simply by men but also by women. Which restricts women from recognising domestic abuse, marital rape and financial abuse as problems that need fixing.

With financial insecurity woman can feel helpless and have no safe place to go. Without a stable income daily expenses become a burden and even forces the victims to go back to their abusers. Households which are relatively free of physical abuse still undergoes some sort of financial abuse as part of the power dynamics. The manipulation and emotional abuse taking place makes sure that the victim has no means of escape or survival without the abuser. It is here that we see the sinister nature of financial abuse, it threatens the victim from ever even thinking of existing outside the relationship. Along with the emotional abuse that can be in belittling the victim, attacking her mental capabilities at earning wages and even resort to name calling. Financial abuse is normalised to such a degree that victims often go their entire life without realizing that they are in an abusive relationship.

How to recognize it?

There are multiple ways financial abuse plays out. To understand this one must realize that marriage is not really about being a non-existent presence who has no desires or emotions and exists simply for serving the other person but rather it’s about a mutually respected companionship. I am here referring simply to a typical patriarchal Indian household, but one must be cautious that the opposite might also be happening with many men going through financial abuse. One way to recognize this is by figuring out if money plays a major role in the arguments that ensue. Arguments in relationships are natural and to some degree even considered healthy but if more than 70% of the arguments stem from money matters then it is time for a conversation.

Some signs you might be in an abusive financial relationship:

  1. All your bank accounts, passwords and sources of income are not in your control or are being monitored by your spouse.
  2. You have no real sources of income and hence get told off as useless despite the physical work you do around the house.
  3. Your interests and likes are being constantly ignored while there is no problem spending money for the spouse’s needs.
  4. You are given the bare minimum to survive or told that “we can’t afford that” even for simple needs or necessities but money flows for anything else.
  5. Almost all the important decisions regarding money are taken by your spouse leaving you confused or at a loss to what is really happening with money in the house.
  6. Each penny given to you needs to be accountable and you even need to show bills.
  7. You are forced to leave your job, either by force or by manipulation, often using kids as an excuse.
  8. Your job is belittled either by your spouse or in-laws to the point that you end up leaving it.
  9. You feel you have no means of survival even if you want to leave your spouse as you have no idea regarding money management.
  10. You are asked to sign bank papers and other important documents without really being explained what it is.

What can you do about it?

So, if you have ever threatened your spouse by saying you will withheld from giving them money at the first sign of any resistance from them. Or if you are on the other side of the spectrum, and you are the one who pacifies every fight with a costly gift or a lavish dinner then you might need to do some thinking. Things might not need to be this extreme but if you are resorting to using money as a weapon in marriage or in any relations then there might be some inherent problems that need fixing.

Firstly, threatening to withhold money might have the opposite effect of what you intend. The partner may be silenced for now but the resentment within them towards you will only grow. They might not trust you in future as they know that you see them in monetary terms only.

Secondly, your brattish behaviour comes from the idea that you are the bread winner of the house and has the complete authority to “own” the other.   However, “ownership” was not a term agreed by both of you while signing up for the marriage. Rather the marriage or relationship was based on equal partnership and trust.

Thirdly, as a partner if your only way of reaching your spouse is by manipulating them through money then you are not much of a partner. A responsible partner should be able to have an open communication. If being in control was your only intention, then you should have just hired a maid and pay her the cash that she deserved. A wife is not a low maintenance slave/maid/nurse etc all rolled into one. She does not exist to please you. She is a person of her own who has her own desires, emotions, feelings and dreams.

Remember, good relationships are not made over a day, it takes effort and strong conviction. There should be quality time spend, earnest conversations and many divided chores to build a relationship with a strong foundation of trust and companionship. It’s not easy but it’s definitely worth it.

Lastly, though financial abuse can be a horrifying experience for the victim along with the emotional abuse and domestic violence that accompanies it. It still can be tackled and the single most effective way to cope with this is to be economically independent and learn money management. It might be hard but not impossible and acknowledgement is the first step towards it.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Himachal Watcher or its members.

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