Saturday, June 22, 2024

Why protests? What is the logic?

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has moved the Supreme Court on Farm Laws:

According to reports, the BKU went to the Supreme Court to challenge the farm laws.  The reason cited largely in the petition is “fear of corporate greed.”  According to India Today report, “In the petition, BKU (B) claimed that the Farm Laws would pave the way for cartel formation and commercialization of agriculture ”, and would make farmers“ vulnerable to corporate greed ”.

Since the government was willing to make a written commitment to the MSP with the APMC system intact, this particular assertion of the farmers union that the law would monopolize agriculture and exploit farmers has no data to support it.  The law has specified that companies cannot take control of farmers’ lands in any eventuality. Now, since MSP cannot legally be enforced on State APMCs & Mandis, it is applicable only on government purchases as part of its own policy, the situation clearly benefits “middlemen” as such. So as per the government assurances… 

•The state APMC will remain, the Center cannot and is not touching them.

•Private Mandis are also activated, now similar sales taxes will apply to them as government Mandis

•The MSP is not legally applicable to “middlemen.” So it’s not loss for middlemen also.

If these are the facts simply showing the fear of corporate greed as a case of a vivid imagination, the discussions on social media point to old reports showing how some of the prominent unions protesting have said just the opposite. In any case, under the new laws,

•Farmers are not obliged to sell their products to corporates. 

•They can still sell to the local Mandis and assurance has been given countless times that the MSP will continue and if required ill give in writing.

Debate on stakeholder consultation prior to the introduction of these laws:

Another caveat now being expressed by some unions is that there was insufficient stakeholder consultation prior to the introduction of these laws. These agrarian reforms have been debated for at least a decade, and even the governments before the Modi government tried to implement some changes. As per the data, in view of the announcement of the reforms,

•The ministry was consulting various experts and former officials.

•They were also in contact with the departments of agriculture in various States throughout the formulation process.

•Feedback was also obtained from a few progressive farmers and knowledgeable Mandi officials. 

•There have been several meetings with the FPOs by video conference. 

•The ministry also consulted a major farmers’ union and even changed the ordinance after their comments. 

•Political groups, aadhatiya groups and industrial groups participated in workshops organized by Krishi Vigyan Kendras.

The central government also reached out to grassroots farmers, running webinars and training courses to alert farmers to the reforms through SMS. 

•In June, 708 training courses and webinars were organized for 21,231 farmers. 

•A total of 873 training courses and webinars were held in July, targeting 26,196 farmers.

•A total of 852 and 840 training and webinar sessions were held with 25,569 and 25,205 farmers, respectively, in August and September.

•In October 2020, a total of 36,102 training and webinar sessions were held with 27.07,977 farmers.

•In November 2020, 97,679 such meetings were held with 64,36,198 farmers. 

•A total of 1,37,054 training and webinar sessions were held for 92,42,376 farmers between June and November 2020.

•In addition, the farmers were asked to train at a common location in Gram Panchayat. In addition, 2.23 million SMS messages were sent to farmers in October. So claiming that the laws have been rushed does not cut the ice

So, why protests?  What is the logic?

The protest is essentially from Punjabi farmers, fuelled by a specific group of politicians from all political parties, who have controlled the agricultural sector for decades, fear loss of control / grip, have turned small issues into big confusions, they also funding big farmer leaders and set goals for them,

The goal given to farmer leaders is to have the Agricultural Reforms repealed.  Those political leaders who are fuelling this know that such moves are never repealed, less so with Modi, who will not buy the bluff.  They hope that the confrontation will exacerbate relations between Modi and Farmer.

And then on the pages you got professional protesters who run NGOs, foreign funding whose FCRA is heavily bolted.  Together with the foreign agencies, they use every protest in India to run an anti-India and anti-Modi agenda. Some vested interests carefully planted kalistani stories to farmers protests to spoil the relations.

But government till now has been far more sensitive and sensible. Moving on to yesterday’s press conference, despite the farmers’ one-point agenda of “Repeal Agricultural Reforms”, government ministers maintained a compassionate approach, centered on key grouse areas, offering an open-minded compromise on those. Therefore, if the soldiers only lost their advantage during the unjustified payment of OROP Matter, the farmers would now lose their advantage if they don’t compromise. The government has shown honesty, sensitivity and sensibility in dealing with these protests.  An entire nation has seen it.

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