Mandi Acts and Market Lore: Regulatory Life in India’s Agricultural Markets
The “APMC Act” remains among the most widely commented upon and most deeply misunderstood laws governing Indian economic life. APMCs - Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees, more commonly known as mandis - are notified, physical primary markets designated as the main and, in some cases, the only state-sanctioned sites for the regulation of the critical “first transaction” between the primary producer and the buyer of his or her agricultural produce. The APMC is not the regulated market itself, but the local body constituted to oversee its regulation, and this is only one of many conceptual and practical confusions generated under the diverse state-specific agricultural marketing acts, which have been implemented with even greater diversity across varied agro-ecological, political-economic, and administrative contexts. Drawing on long-term archival and ethnographic research in a mandi and market town in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, this chapter sketches out the regulatory biography of an agricultural market, the diverse narratives and experiences of legislative amendment and yard-level market “reform,” and illustrates the empirical and analytical purchase of embedded exchange and contested jurisdiction of markets on the ground.