New Farm Laws Need of the Hour
When there was no technology, no modernisation, no urbanisation they were by and large at par with other sections of society. Farmers were exploited during Mughals and then by Britishers and very little has been done for then in independent India.
Nearly 70% population is on agriculture and their contribution is 16% of GDP. This speaks volumes of their plight. In the world, we are second in population in 7th in area. This clearly indicates that we need to increase the productivity. There is an urgent requirement of another green revolution.
In USA 1.5% population depends on agriculture and they are not only feeding their own people but also export food grains. Isreal can also be mentioned in adopting modern technology.
Now the formers’ agitation is against three laws enacted by the parliament. The main objections of the farmers are MSP, APMC and Contract Farming.
We need to understand that there are only 23 items under MSP and only 6% of produce is purchased through MSP. This law does not say that MSP will be repealed and this myth is being spread by opposition parties. MSP was never a law. It was under the executive power of the government and all previous government did the same.
Second issue is of APMC. Government has clarified that this will continue and farmers can sell their produce anywhere thereby increasing the horizon of market.
Third point is of Contract Farming. The myth being spread that land will be taken by the corporates under this law. But the reality is the contract is of crop only and not of land. Contract farming is already being done in some parts of the country.
Now we come to political parties supporting the edutation and opposing the laws. The CPM which ruled in Tripura, West Bengal (now TMC) and Kerala has done nothing for farmers.
Many of these points were mentioned in the congress manifesto, the laws they are opposing now. Kapil Sible spoke in favour of the same reforms in the parliament. Sharad Pawar as agriculture minister wrote to the state governments about the same, then what is the logic behind back-tracking and opposing the same? Opposition has been in the habit of opposing all the policies of the government. They were against the purchases of Rafel, abrogation of article 370 to name a few. The BJP did the same when it was in opposition.
Let’s recall that the economic reforms in 1991 by then Narsimha Rao Government were also opposed. For any vibrant democracy a healthy opposition is required but with constructive support.
86% of the farmers own less than 2 hectares of land and are known as small farmers. And the remaining 14% are rich farmers. Agriculture produce is tax free. Rich people including industrialists and film stars own farm land and convert their black money into white and misuse in the tax free policy of the government.
Are the farmers facing problems in Punjab and Haryana only? As per data the farmers of these states are richest ones having maximum per capita income in agriculture sector. There are farmers in all the states of the country but they are not the part of this agitation. This all started from Punjab properly supported by the congress CM Cap. Amrinder Singh and slowly spread to Haryana and other neighboring states.
Agriculture is in the state list of the Constitution. Entry 33 of concurrent list provides centre and states powers to control production, supply and distribution of products of agriculture. This clearly suggests that state government can also do a lot to help the farmers.
How many marginalized farmers are protesting on Delhi borders? As per media reports, most of the farmers present there are not knowing about the laws they are protesting. This shows that they have been brought there to increase the numbers. There is also a question mark on who is funding their stay at the site? We should not be surprised if some anti-social elements are there. As shown on some TV Channels Khalistan posters are seen in the crowd, which is very disturbing.
In democracy peaceful protest is the right, Mahatma Gandhi used the Satya Grah against the British Government. The farmers must keep in mind that their agitation is not causing hardships to fellow farmers and other countrymen. Let us understand that one section of farmers is supporting the government and the agitating farmers do not represent the voice of all the farmers in the country.
We appreciate the efforts by our farmers (Anna Data). Efforts must be made to improve their income and upliftment of their lifestyle. But at the same time we have to consider Vastra Data (Weavers), Jivan Data (Doctors) and Kar Data (Tax Payers). Everyone in this society is indispensable and contributing to the growth and development of the nation.
When government is inviting them for talks assuring to discuss point wise all the clauses of the laws, our dear farmers must come forward to discuss the matter. Simply putting the condition of repealing the laws enacted by the parliament through due process is reflection of their rigid attitude.
The Government has assured to give in writing about MSP, APMC, Contract farming and redressel of problems through court.
Repealing the laws would be a precedent and in future making reforms would be difficult for any government.
The farmers in Punjab mainly produce wheat and paddy. It will be better if they also focus on pulses and oilseeds to get better returns of their crops. We all have to be competitive in this global market and increasing MSP beyond a limit will entail imports. We need to increase the production for the better life of the farmers. It is suggested that our farmers are talking to the Government without any precondition sitting in corona time and cold wave will harm everyone. may the better sense prevail.
By Dr Manoj Dubey
(The writer is Principal, Delhi Public School, Rajkot)