Open House: Do you think farmers’ protest is justified and the Centre must have a rethink?
Central government took a hasty decision
The Central government has taken a hasty step by passing three agriculture Bills. It should have taken the farming community and other stakeholders into confidence before implementing its decision. Farmers are being convinced that these Bills were in no way a threat to mandi system and MSP regime. It would rather open up new opportunities for farmers to sell their produce to private players. The chief apprehension of the farming community is that it will spell doom to a time-tested mechanism of selling farming produce through mandis, rendering farmers hapless. It would strengthen big players, who in turn would exploit farmers. If it is so, it would then jeopardise the food security of the nation, too. The Central government should come clean over the issues raised by the farming community. Politics on this issue is unwarranted.
Prof Rajan Kapoor
Black laws should be immediately revoked
The three ordinances regarding agriculture and farming, which have been made into laws through unconstitutional means sounded the death knell for not only the farmers of Punjab and Haryana, but other parts of the country as well. The Modi government has brought these secretively amid the pandemic. The statements of ministers, including the PM, are completely false and misleading. Just think about his previous promises —demonetisation, GST, bringing back black money, two crore jobs every year — these were all lies, nothing else. They just want to hand over the farming land to their corporate cronies. MPS will be abolished though they were denying it. Even now, farmers are selling maize and cotton below the MSP. Now, the corporates will buy these and wheat, rice etc. below the minimum price and stock these to sell later at exorbitant rates. If the government was really serious about it, then they should have made a law wherein no corporate house are allowed to buy these crops below the MSP. Only then will it benefit farmers in the real sense. The arhtiyas or commission agents have close bonds with farmers and help them with finances wherever they need it for marriages of their children and other social events. The relationship with the corporates will be quite impersonal and dry. Even BJP minister late Sushma Swaraj spoke in the Parliament that arhtiyas were like ATMs for farmers, so that they can take money from them. These black laws should be immediately revoked to save farmers and society in general.
Dr JS Wadhwa
Sans checks, it will lead to exploitation
Farmers in large numbers are vehemently opposing the recently passed farm Bills, which provide for open market by dismantling the existing APMC and MSP framework. Apprehending it an apparent roadmap towards the corporatisation of agri sector, strong undercurrents are being felt by the peasantry, where both purchase and price of their produce would be determined by private traders. In the absence of any regulatory check, it would lead to exploitation of gullible farmers, especially those that fall in small and marginal category. On the contrary, the government is claiming that these three Bills were intended to boost farmers’ income by empowering them to sell their produce at competitive rates to anyone and anywhere, thus freeing them from the clutches of middlemen. Despite all kinds of explanations, these laws have raised more scepticism than rendering a solution to double the income of ‘sons of the soil’, who take it as a death knell to their age-old occupation and its allied activities. They seem to be arguing justifiably that when Covid-19 has paralysed the entire economy, what was the rationale behind hurrying up with these legislations through ordinances and then passing it in the Parliament without any debate on the vital issues. The ongoing scenario warrants the Centre to hold the new laws till all aspects are addressed and stakeholders adequately convinced.
Nirmaljit Singh Chatrath
Ensure communication between govt, Farmers
The Centre has initiated major agricultural reforms through enactment of three pivotal laws, but the farming community, particularly in Punjab and Haryana, have vehemently opposed the same and resorted to protests and agitation. A wide gap of communication between the government and the beleaguered farming community needs to be narrowed down. Instead of playing politics over the issue, major political parties of Punjab should come forward to alleviate the apprehensions of farmers. At present, a majority of farmers were distressed and the agriculture needs revolutionary changes, especially in marketing structure. The change must be given a chance if status quo over a long period fails to yield desired results. These laws aim at growing farmers’ markets open, free and wider under the concept of ‘one nation one market’ without diluting the present structure enshrined through the APMC and commission agents, while keeping the MSP regime intact. Under such a scenario, where without carrying out major changes in existing set up, additional reformatory measures are going to be taken, the farmers are expected to cooperate and support them for their implementation in true spirit.
Successive Govts made false promises
After leading India’s Green Revolution, Punjab, is in the throes of a deep agrarian and socio-economic crisis, manifesting itself in the form of rising input costs, low productivity, market manipulation, sinking income and employment, perpetually escalating indebtedness, mounting rate of suicides, large-scale overseas migration of educated youth and ecological imbalances. Over the decades, successive governments have been making tall promises to resuscitate the perennially ailing agriculture sector, but nothing concrete has been done on the ground level, courtesy lack of pro-farmer policies, corruption and mismanagement due to politico-bureaucratic apathy. What is needed is scientific and eco-friendly long-term planning to make agriculture more attractive, economically viable and sustainable to ameliorate the lot of beleaguered, toiling farmers and labourers, who are the backbone of Indian economy. The hasty and untimely passage of contentious farm Bills in the Parliament has sparked countrywide protests by farmers and their organisations and the Opposition. While the government maintains that these Bills aim at creating a common market for agricultural produce, contract farming and diversification of crops will be the harbingers of innovative transformative reforms in the agriculture sector, farmers and their organisations and the Opposition dub them as anti-farmer and undemocratic. The unprecedented legislative overreach — flouting of accepted parliamentary principles and procedures, and the failure to build a healthy consensus after reasoned debate on such a critical national issue — has raised serious concerns about the gradual withdrawal of the MSP and subsidy on fertilisers and electricity, food procurement process of the government and corporatisation of agriculture. The ruling dispensation should shun its aggressive and pro-capitalist agenda and clear these misconceptions to ensure the vibrancy of rural economy and redeem its promise of doubling farmers’ income by 2024.
Dialogical approach the only solution
Discussion, dialogue and debate are the pillars of a strong democracy. But the current regime at the dispensation has marred the spirit of a diversely democratic nation like ours. The three draconian laws have spelt doom for the farming community throughout the nation. The northern belt of India, especially Punjab and Haryana, are after the Cental government with hammer and tongue. The reason is simple as their repeated and consistent pleadings have fallen on deaf ears. It is the constitutional duty of our representatives, specifically the PM, to give a rethink to aforementioned contentious and vicious Bills to safeguard the future of farmers, who have fed the nation even in the darkest hour. The dialogical approach is the only solution. We need to take on board farmers. The ruling government should order a rollback and stand by the innocent and hard-working sons of soil. There is no point in corporatisation of the produce as seed, crop and produce belong to farmers only. Then why to nullify his fundamental right to sell it at market price to earn profit after covering all other essential costs? Hope wisdom will prevail.
Simranjeet Singh Saini
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