Farmers road-block

Incompetence of Indian Govt in Handling Farmer’s Acts

Agriculture Ministers Farm Bill is a glaring example of how inept a passing of an excellent beneficial law can be. This too, happened after an ordinance on the farmer’s produce had been in effect. Right from the day the Bill was tabled in parliament, protests started on the streets…some in even the BJP ruled states. Akali Dal, a trusted ally of BJP parted with the NDA alliance. PM himself spoke to the nation about the benefits of the new act passed by both houses. He also advised his ministers to clarify it to the beneficiaries. All union ministers as well as BJP ruled states launched a massive drive to convince the farmers and it worked too to large extent. However, opposition (esp Congress) ruled states made it their prestige issue. They incited their farmers to protest and agitate.

There were three Farmers Bills linked to each other:—

  • the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill,
  • Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill
  • Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.

To an impartial party, the new farmer’s acts appears to be an excellent tool in the hands of the farmers. After the new act, they could sell their produce to anyone…even out of the state. It was the farmers who were to decide the price of their produce to be sold and choose the buyers too (if multiple). To a crop especially needed by the buyer, the farmers could even pre-decide the cost. Provisions were also made to prevent hoarding. The bill however, did not talk of the guaranty of the MSP which all opposition party and the farmers were asking for. There was apparently no harm in inserting that clause. However, an adamant agriculture minister just did not budge. He possibly felt as if his ego and prestige will be at stake. The other clause unacceptable to the middlemen in ‘mandi’ operations’ were that the new act bypassed them. Punjab & Haryana having maximum mandis, have maximum middlemen for whom it could be the only source of income. So they objected the new bill vehemently. Actually, the protesters are mostly the middlemen. Farmers have no problem except the few who have political allegiance with Congress (and some others) to save their faces. Remaining objections of the farmers are mostly the fear of unknown that could be clarified. Even their apprehension of MSP is unfounded as there is no mention of it in the act.

There have been unjust protests. Train services through Punjab remains suspended over a month now which is an avoidable loss to the railway. All is not lost yet. There is no harm in inserting a “guaranty of MSP” in the act. If it would have been done at the initial stage itself, losses to the states & union could have been prevented. Hope our ministers learn some tact of being democratic in their approach. Why should some ministers must act in a way that they must not? A million-dollar question for PM Modi.

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