Government’s benevolence towards striking farmers a responsible gesture
Despite the fact that they are being misled and misinformed on the farming reforms the authorities have displayed patience and resilience in continuing to negotiate with striking famer’s unions.
Despite backing its pathbreaking reforms that were designed to bring out the very best in India’s farming sector the Indian government has not made headway against the striking farmers after 11 rounds of inconclusive discussions with 41 protesting farm unions. The stalemate is unfortunate given that there are vested interests at play and a campaign of misinformation is being conducted.
While the authorities contend that the protests are off track, given that they are against deregulation of the agriculture sector, that allows farmers to sell their produce to buyers beyond government-regulated wholesale markets, assuring them of a minimum price, the farmers argue that the laws have been formulated to ensure that capitalists will get a monopoly on the trading of agricultural produce thereby giving the lowest rate to a producer.
Reforms designed to empower the farmers
The reforms were designed to ensure that the farmer managed to extricate himself from the vice-like grip of the corrupt middleman thus enabling a free trade environment. They would be empowered to negotiate contracts with food processing firms, exporters and retailers.
India’s revolutionary farm laws were shaped to ensure that the humble Indian farmer, in many ways the architect of the country’s economic recovery during the crippling pandemic, was going to witness a new lease of life.
The essence of the farm bills was endorsed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who noted that they had the potential to represent a significant step towards upliftment of all the stakeholders concerned provided there was a social safety net for those adversely affected by the transition to a new system.
“We believe the farm bills do have the potential to represent a significant step forward for agricultural reforms in India,” said Gerry Rice, Director of Communications, IMF to the media. “The measures will enable farmers to directly contract with sellers, allow farmers to retain a greater share of the surplus by reducing the role of middlemen, enhance efficiency and support rural growth,” he added.
Government’s gesture of benevolence
The Indian government under the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now come forward in a gesture of absolute benevolence to make another offer to the protesting farmers – a proposal to suspend the new farm laws for 1-1.5 years as the best solution in order to negotiate past the continuing impasse.
The government’s decision was conveyed to the striking farmers by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar in the hope that the opposing party would consider it and seek a solutions-based way forward. In doing so the authorities are sending a clear signal that above the laws and legislations they have the wellbeing of the farmers in mind. Sadly, the protestors are refusing to budge and find a solution.
The Indian agricultural sector is poised to receive a valuable boost but the key stakeholders, in this case the farmers who are being swayed by other agendas, are missing the woods for the trees.