OpinionLegal View

Farmers shall benefit from the reforms & will benefit the Nation

India is currently facing a protest by the farmers. Farmers issue has always been very important for India as over 60% population is involved in farming, yet their income has been very low.

The National Commission on Farmers popularly known as Swaminathan Commission is an Indian commission constituted on 18 November 2004 under the chairmanship of Professor M.S. Swaminathan to find solutions of the problems faced by farmers and to address the nationwide calamity of farmers suicides in India. He was selected as he is best known as the father of Green Revolution. The commission was formed by Manmohan Singh during UPA regime.

Swaminathan Commission submitted five reports between December 2004 and October 2006 whereby suggesting that farmers needed assured access and control over resources including land and water. Manmohan Singh led UPA brought ‘National Policy for Farmers 2007’ however it did not include ‘Swaminathan Committee’ recommendations. In 2008, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) which is currently protesting in Delhi has staged protests & demanded for increased Minimum Support Price (MSP) & allow Private Companies to procure wheat. On the other hand, Sharad Pawar as the Union Agriculture Minister under Manmohan Singh Government has written a letter to Chief Ministers of every state of India in August 2010 to undertake APMC reforms to encourage participation of private sector. Sharad Pawar as Union Agriculture Minister further wrote a letter to all Chief Ministers in November 2011 talking about the need for such reforms. In December 2012, another key member of Congress and Cabinet Member Kapil Sibal spoke on agriculture reforms and the need for a legislation in parliament bringing such reforms for the betterment of the farming sector.

Senior most leader of Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi in a press conference assured that All Congress ruled states will delist fruits and vegetables from APMC Act to lower prices.

Right before 2019 elections, Congress in its manifesto promised abolition of ‘APMC Act’ and making agricultural produce free from restrictions. Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) demanded to liberate farmers from Middlemen. Other demands of BKU included abolishment of APMC Act and Essential Commodities Act. Due to similar demands, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) praised Congress & Rahul Gandhi, gave open support to them in 2019 elections while giving “Go Back Modi” campaign against Bharatiya Janata Party. Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party has promised private sector in agriculture sector during Punjab elections and have notified the reforms introduced by Modi Government in Delhi where it is ruling currently.

With the three new laws, Modi Government has brought reforms fulfilling the promises made by these Parties as well as implementing the recommendations of Swaminathan Commission which has been in cold storage since 8 years. PM Modi while addressing farmers of Madhya Pradesh through video conferencing said that,

Farm Laws have not been introduced overnight. Over last 20-30 years, central government & state govternments had detailed discussions on these reforms. Agriculture experts, economists & progressive farmers have been demanding reforms.

Main issue or demand led by the farmers doing protests are a guarantee on MSP. However, Modi Government has brought laws which is not replacing Mandi system which allows them to sell their crops in Mandi but provides an alternate option to the farmers. Manmohan Singh government purchased Pulse of Rs 635 Cr on MSP between 2009-2014 whereas Modi government purchased 49000 Cr, between 2014-2019 which is 75 times more than the previous tenure.

Another concern of the farmers is that their land will be taken away by the private players due to farming agreements. However, government has clarified it time and again that farming agreement exists in multiple states. Even in Punjab, farming contract of over 800 crores has been done recently. In the new laws passed by the Modi Government, private player could only do agreement on crops and not on the land, whatsoever. In case of natural calamities, farmers will not be on the suffering side. In case of rise in the prices, private players shall have to share the amount with the farmers. Private players cannot end the contract however the farmers could do the same on their own. Overall, the farmers shall benefit from the reforms and will benefit the nation.

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