India is witnessing an unprecedented movement launched by farmers against anti-farmer policies of the Central government. Since 26 November, huge number of farmers from across the country led by Punjabi farmers have been holding sit-in at the borders of Delhi demanding the repeal of three agriculture laws recently passed in the parliament. The protesters include all kind of people – elderly, women, children who are braving the freezing cold of Delhi to protest against these agri laws.
Like Shaheen Bagh sit-in, the ruling BJP and its Hindutva supporters tried initially to defame these protests by the help of its Godi media. They termed the protesters as ‘Khalistani’ and ‘payroll farmers’ saying those who are protesting have nothing to do with the farms. They have also tried to make their protests ineffective by shifting their sit-ins to the Burari ground from Delhi borders. But the government failed to do so as the farmers refused to go there. After failed attempt of defaming and shifting the farmer protests, the government started talks with them. In order to patch up the burning issues of these farmers, the government proposed to set up a committee for the issue but the farmer refused to accept it. The farmers made it very clear that they are not ready to accept anything less than the repeal of those three controversial agriculture laws and they are not going to go back from the protest unless their demands are fulfilled. Given farmers’ determination towards the repealing of these laws, the talks between the farmers and the government are underway. On 8 December, the farmers called for Bharat Bandh which is being supported by all opposition parties. On 9 December, there will be another round of talks between the farmer leaders and the union ministers.
But what is the most important point which the passage of the three controversial farm laws and the farmer protests against them underline is the acute apathy of the ruling class towards farmers in India. The main issue with those farms laws is that they completely ignore concerns of the farms.
The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 are the controversial agriculture laws which triggered farmers’ protest.
These laws will somehow abolish the system of mandi and the Minimum Support Price (MSP) by bypassing APMCs. They will force the farmers to sell the crop to corporate companies as per their arbitrary price. These laws will also end the system of license and registration which will expose farmers to the risk of fraud due to the entry of people without license or registration. In case of any dispute in the business with the corporate buyer, there will be a danger of farmers’ interests being ignored.
These are some of the major concerns of the farmers regarding the controversial agriculture laws. The problem is that the government have passed the laws-related to farmers but it did not consult with the farmers and hear their concerns. Why did the government make farmers-related laws without taking into account their concerns? There are two reasons behind it: first, the laws are against the interest of farmers and second, there is a complete apathy from the government towards farmers in India.
The fact of the matter is that these laws have nothing to do with the benefits of the farmers. They have been brought in to serve the interests of the corporates. These laws will make India’s agriculture industry a hub for the exploitation of farmers by the corporate players and throw them in further hapless conditions. Everyone knows that India’s farmers are already in a miserable situation. They are already facing many problems. They are victim of climate changes and natural disasters. They are indebted. Due to such many issues, many farmers are committing suicides when their produce are destroyed, when they are burdened with debt and when they don’t get appropriate price of their produces.
Not getting appropriate price of the produce is one of the fundamental problems. Despite putting in their all efforts and labouring in the farming, they don’t get appropriate price of the produce in the market when it comes to the time of selling it. The main reason behind this issue is that the buyers are buying their produce at an arbitrary price. The farmers are being forced to sell their produce at a far less price than the Minimum Support Price (MSP). The farmers are compelled to sell their produce at the arbitrary prices. If they don’t sell their produce at the arbitrary prices, they can’t be sold. And they will face complete loss in farming.
Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) is the provision which makes the sale of produce mandatory at the mandis according to the MSP. Due to the APMCs, there was a system in place which help the farmers to sell their produce according to the MSP. But the new agri laws will finish the APMCs and the feeble system of providing the appropriate price of the produce to the farmers will come to an end.
This will make very deep adverse impact on farmers and India’s agriculture industry. In the absence of not getting appropriate price of their produce, the suffering of the farmers will get doubled down. They will suffer major losses in farming. The incidents of suicides by farmers will increase. Many of them will leave farming and enter into another profession. As 50 percent Indian population is involved in farming, half of India will always remain under distress. Hence, agriculture industry, which is backbone of Indian economy, will always remain in crisis.