ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Language of Compensation

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Natural disasters, such as floods, cyclones and torrential rains, have become frequent and have caused colossal destruction to life and property in India. It is but natural for victims to make a genuine case for compensation for the losses that they would have incurred due to a natural calamity. However, there have been two distinct words—“demand” and “appeal”—that were often used while making the claim for compensation. Interestingly, the leaders from the opposition and from the farmers’ movement seem to have used the word demand in their campaign for compensation. However, “demand,” if used with a singular reference to compensation for the loss occurring from the natural calamity, is likely to bring into sharp focus the tension between itself and the idea of compensation.

However, there are two conditions that make “demand” commensurable with the claim for compensation. First, it is the domain of social relations based on the conception of private property that provides the grounds for compensation to acquire the value of the entitlement. Thus, in a juridical sense, private ownership, for example, in land, forms the basis of the agreement between the farmers and the crop insurance company. In the event of the loss of crop, the affected farmer is entitled for compensation. They can legally demand compensation. Thus, compensation as an entitlement can be defended against the violator of the agreement. The violator essentially becomes a wrongdoer. In the theoretical sense, there could be a situation where a farmer, due to certain compulsions, may end up violating the contract. But in the context of the agreement between the crop insurance company and the farmer, it is the former who is the violator. In actual practice, what we see is that it is the insurance companies that seem to share the dubious distinction of being a regular wrongdoer. Hence, in the recent case, the disaster-affected farmers can make a demand for compensation to the insurance company and to the state should the company fail to comply with the agreement, which is why one often hears the farmers’ outcry against the companies either inordinately delaying or totally refusing to pay the compensation to farmers.

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Updated On : 10th Nov, 2020

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