“Put the farm laws on hold, uphold farmers’s rights” screamed the Op-Ed headline in The Hindu today. In her defense, the author gives multiple convincing examples on why Prime Minister Narendra Modi must “put the farm laws on hold”.
Foremost amongst them is that “Having set a target of doubling of farmers’ income by 2022, the Modi government seems to be in a hurry.” Oh boy, what a crime it is to be in a hurry! Since they have anyway suffered for 70 years, what exactly is the hurry of Prime Minister Modi now to make their lives better? This crass urgency to make the lives of the farmers of our country has to be immediately curbed. This is definitely not what is expected from the Modi government. He must take it slow, read intellectual stuff published in esteemed publications such as The Hindu and let the farmers’ struggle as they have for 70 years!
Two full paragraphs are dedicated to the section pompously titled – “It’s about corporatisation”. The essence of the two paragraphs is that “without adequately skilling, training and empowering the small and marginal farmers to become competitive…. the government bought in the laws in the ordinance route”.
What does “without adequate skilling, training and empowering” mean? The author doesn’t explain. It is left to our imagination. For example, Soil Health cards are provided to crores of farmers across the country to know what crop is best for their soil. Would that count as skilling them to be competitive? The author doesn’t bother to get into these mundane specifics because she must focus on words such as “empowerment”! You may also get a doubt as why the author is arguing about “ordinance route” in a section titled “It’s about corporatisation”, but the fault lies with you to expect a coherent argument from the communists!
We are also told that “the farmers are now faced with new amendments to Electricity Act which propose to fully privatise distribution of power, a crucial input in farm irrigation”. You would read this and definitely think that this is indeed a bad move being contemplated. Except that the new amendments don’t stipulate anything of this kind. You may please read the proposed amendments here and come to your own conclusion too. The communists are adept at this kind of fearmongering without having to actually fear about being called out for their lies.
The author asks us “Should there be efforts to lower input costs for farmers?” You would think – great question! Only to come to know that Prime Minister Modi already talked about lowering input costs way back in the year 2016! Soil Health cards, Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Neem-coated Urea etc have all led to a reduction of input costs and an increase in the output. But since communists are typically not familiar with happenings on the ground, we can’t really blame them for asking questions for which answers already exists.
The author tells us that the government has “fixed an ambitious target of 10,000 Farmer-Producer organisations by 2023-24…. but only 881 FPOs have registered so far”. Yes, this is very convincing to “put the farm laws on hold” because the target set for the year 2023 may not be met! And just in case you are not convinced, we are now told Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an affiliate of BJP, also wants changes to MSP laws so therefore we must “put the farm laws on hold”!
On MSP, the author tells us that even today “the payment of MSP is not mandatory inside the mandis”. Basically, the farmer today has the choice to either sell at MSP to the government or sell it in the mandi. The farmer will continue to have this choice but will also have more options to whom to sell the produce to. The farmer is no more bound to the politically controlled mandis in many states. The Prime Minister has guaranteed that MSP will stay. But the communists continue to spread lies about how MSP is being taken away and the farmer will stand to lose!
However, it is the conclusion of the article that takes the cake. The entire communist ecosystem is missing the glory days of the National Advisory Council that was headed by Sonia Gandhi. “Whatever be the criticism, the NAC during the previous UPA regime played a significant role…”. It doesn’t matter to the author that Sonia Gandhi’s party has been in favour of these amendments during those glory days of the NAC. While we understand their angst of missing out the various benefits of the NAC regime, the communists must realise that the people have rejected that regime not once, but twice!
The Prime Minister has clearly stated that these laws have not been enacted overnight but are a culmination of nearly 20 years of arguments and debates! The communists new found argument about “consensus” is amusing because we are a country of 130 crore people – a consensus is impossible! The political nature of these protests is evident from the fact that only farmers from Punjab are heading the protests. Nowhere else in the country do we have these protests. Perhaps time for the communists to reflect why this is the case!