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Farmer agitation and economic reforms

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Ajay Sudame
Ajay Sudame
Ajay Sudame aka 'Pakodewallah' is for Free Markets and is a Nationalist. He is the founder and editor of the Marathi OpEd website - Also runs a YouTube channel by the same name. Tweets @IndicVichaar

Don’t be fooled by TV images of Farmers fighting for justice. They represent the privileged lot, who’s making money by holding Government to ransom.

For a month and a half now, the farmer agitation is going on at the Delhi border and TRP hungry News Channels, 24/7 are beaming the images of the farmers sleeping in tents or weeping for justice. Pictures of farmers reading newspapers atop a Mercedes Jeep, or farmers enjoying Pizza or relaxing in the Spa were dug out by Social Media users. But that’s beside the point. Since this agitation has begun, terms like ‘Economic Reforms’, ‘Modi’s 1991 moment’, ‘Authoritarian’ and ‘Failure to communicate(with farmers)’ are back in circulation. 

Even economists like Ashok Gulati, who fully backed these laws are now beating a retreat and want the Government to hold the laws in abeyance for 6 months. Please get this fact straight, that this BJP Government is not going to repeal these laws. Also, rent-a-cause-activists (which now includes Khalistani supporters and Urban Naxals) posing as farmers and abundant supply of merriments for agitators continuing, this circus will not be dispersed in a hurry. They are going to stay put at least till 26th Jan. On that day they surely will try their version of the Capitol Hill attack and disrupt the Republic Day celebrations. How can they miss this opportunity when the global media is going to be in Delhi?

But before getting into the politics and economic argument behind these laws, let us look at these three laws and what they intend to facilitate. 

The Farmers’ Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Law,2020

This act allows farmers to bypass APMC and sell their produce in open markets. Please note, there is no intention of closing down APMCs. But to create competition for them. 

The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Law

This bill aims at providing a framework to those farmers who want to get into contract farming with Private Companies. 

Essential Commodities act,2020.

This allows Agents freedom to stock on agricultural commodities as much as they want,without the fear of being prosecuted by Government agencies. 

The whole aim of these three laws is to provide a robust legal framework, allow farmers freedom to better price discovery and eliminate middle men. So, you see, there is nothing here which should provoke such a furore.  

Devil in the details:

But then why are these ‘farmers’ not getting this argument? We will come to that in a bit. But before that, just think, if these laws are so unpopular, why is Modi so adamant about continuing with them and why Amit Shah is not worried about losing elections? Because only 6 % of farmers sell their produce at MSP. And most of them are from Punjab and Haryana! Can you believe that? Take a look at a little piece of stat, given out by Prof Gulati in an interview. 

Total households growing: 

Paddy: 4.35 Crores – Of which only 42.86 % Sold it (Others consumed it for themselves). Of this only, 13.49% sold it to Govt Agencies at MSP. This equals 5.78% of total Paddy cultivators. 

Wheat: 3.52 Crores – Of which only 36.9 % Sold it. Of which 16.23 % of this sold at MSP. Which is 5.99% of total Wheat cultivators. 

This brings out the truth clearly and shows the mirror to those who are peddling the lie that farmers across the country are up in arms against the Farm Laws. To reiterate, these laws will benefit a vast majority (90%) of farmers. Hence the agitators are mostly from Haryana and Punjab and protests are confined to the borders of these two states. 

Politicians or Middle-men :

There is another angle to this whole farce. Once these laws are implemented Private players will be allowed to compete with APMC! That’s where the whole problem lies. In another article, Professor Gulati has dwelled on this. He says that after these laws are implemented the APMC will face competition from private mandis. These APMC Mandis are the fiefdom of so-called ‘Agricultural Leaders.’ By acting as a mediator between farmers and buyers, they have amassed massive wealth over the last decades. To understand what I mean, refer to this, this, this, and this. Once private corporations come in, they fear losing monopoly and money. Hence the heartburn and agitations. 

Now coming to the criticism faced by the BJP, that it’s because of Modi’s arrogance that opposition is not cooperating. This is as big a lie as it can get. Pure rubbish! Taking the prognosis further the paid experts and opposition leaders argue that, contrast this with how the minority Congress led by PV Narsimha Rao brought the biggest reforms in the history of independent India in 1991 and how tactfully implemented them. Ditto for reforms brought by the UPA Government in 2004. Hardly any doubt that these two regimes brought many radical reforms that businesses needed desperately. That’s not all. Even legislation such as the Right to Education (RTE) and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA), both passed in 2005, were also implemented peacefully. There were no protests or Morchas organized by BJP? So what’s the magic Narasimha Rao or Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi had, which Modi lacks?

Congress magic missing?

Well, there is no magic. The simple truth is at that time BJP was in opposition. And hence,reforms and legislations which were in National Interest or BJP thought will result in larger good, were not opposed at all. I mean if you want to take a cynical, gerrymandering view of everything, then those who were going to be benefitted by NREGA and RTE were not exactly BJP voters then. Notwithstanding which, BJP not only allowed these laws to be passed,but implemented in their own states (MP,CG,Raj to name a few). Instead, like Captain Amrinder is bankrolling farmers’ protest at Singhu border, Shivraj Singh Chouhan could have organized protests in multiple cities of MP and made the central Govt look anti-upper caste. But the BJP never did it! Why? You must ask!

Because for the BJP, Parliament is supreme. Laws cleared by this august institution are meant to be implemented. If they are repealed or amended it must be done through Parliament only. Not by holding cities to ransom and making life difficult for the common man. For example, a significant portion of the Indian population thought that article 370 was unfair. But to show displeasure BJP did not occupy Srinagar with its volunteers, and caused inconvenience to Kashmiris. What they did was, that they challenged the Islamic Terrorists, and Modi and Murli Manohar Joshi unfurled the Tiraanga in Lal Chowk on 15th Aug 1992. And when it had a majority in Parliament, Modi made Article 370 operable. That’s the way to do politics. 

Democracy? No Mobocracy!

What Congress, AAP and other opposition parties are indulging in is plain Goondaism! This is nothing, but legitimizing mob violence. Opposition parties are trying to mainstream anti-social elements along with Khalistanis, Urban Naxals, and Anti-Nationals. You see this is not a coincidence, that this is happening for the second time within a year. Anti-CAA protests were also following the same modus operandi. I wrote a while back on, how Anti-CAA protests and ensuing riots are different, and why they should not be taken lightly.  

And yes, the Anna Hazare Andolan, which RSS supported was not against any law passed by the Parliament, but against massive corruption indulged in by Sonia led Congress. I hope you see the difference between the two. 

Another fact to end the article. Even after the new farm laws were notified, BJP won Bihar Assembly elections. In fact, it won only one seat less than RJD and emerged as the second-largest party. Also, it emerged as the biggest gainer in Bodoland Territorial Council local body elections in Assam. Hardly any doubt, that Modi knows his politics and by bringing these farm laws, he has decided to reinvigorate the economy bottoms up. In 2015, when he tried to pass Land acquisition bills, BJP was short of majority Rajya Sabha and hence it was stalled. Now there is no impediment of that sort. 

Hence, no question of Modi budging and repealing these laws. So, don’t hope that the images of farmers ‘fighting’ for justice on your TV will change in the next few days. At least till these professional Activists, will not find another cause that will guarantee wall to wall coverage throughout the day, and free fun in the evening!

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Ajay Sudame
Ajay Sudame
Ajay Sudame aka 'Pakodewallah' is for Free Markets and is a Nationalist. He is the founder and editor of the Marathi OpEd website - Also runs a YouTube channel by the same name. Tweets @IndicVichaar
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