A Bitter Harvest

Despite the grand ambition of doubling farmer’s income latest by 2022, recent bills of the government of India are just revealing. These bills make us think – Are we able to envision the upcoming 10 years on or are we in a state of chronic myopia?

Recently, the new farm laws have brought the farmers of different parts of India to the streets of Delhi and other representative stakeholders. These bills attempt to weaken the most fundamental constituent of India’s economy – its agriculture sector. These fragments of legislation will undo the hard work of farmers and policymakers, which were undertaken to make the country self-sufficient in food grains. These bills would place the food security of the nation in the hands of corporations pauperizing the condition of our farmers.

There is another concern regarding the democratic system of the country. Recent bills have been brought into consideration without debate in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament. The proposal by the Opposition parties to reference the bills to a parliamentary select committee was not even deliberated. The founding fathers of the Constitution knew well that for a diverse country like India, no laws for agriculture can be successfully implemented without participation of the states. This government’s constant infringement on the federal structure and sanctity of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution places agriculture in the State List, has been ruptured. 

Worldwide experiences validates that corporatization of agriculture lacking an affiliated security net in the form of an appropriate payment guarantee to the farmer’s results in the exploitation of farmers. In India agriculture is the principal source of livelihoods, around 70 percent of rural households rely primarily on agriculture. This poses a challenge to small and marginal farmers who constitute 86 percent of agricultural class. The disproportionate negotiation between the corporates and the farmers will invariably lead to repudiation of their rights. 

The chief cause for apprehension is the organized dismantling of the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis which have given farmers the remuneration. These farm laws open the field to an alternate set of markets, where the buyer will have no statutory compulsion to pay the minimum support price (MSP). Since these private yards will not be indicted for any market fee, this will gradually shift trade from the APMC mandis to private yards. Market fee collected by the APMC mandis is used for expansion of rural infrastructure etc. The shifting of trade will eventually witness the redundancy of the APMC mandis, leaving the famers at the mercy of the corporates.

The current farms laws also eliminate the dominion of the civil court. Hence, the farmers will be remediless and will have no autonomous medium for dispute redressal mechanism. These laws empower the Sub-Divisional Authority to arbitrate on clashes concerning the traders and farmers. All this clearly shuts the doors of the farmers to approach the judicial system for the resolution of claims and disputes. Therefore, the greater bureaucratic control over the arbitration will pave way for corruption and exploitation of farmers.

The government has constantly proclaimed that the farm bills will usher in an age of enlarged freedom of choice and will help in realizing the goal of doubling farmer’s income. The government’s hostility towards these sensible ultimatums puts their sincerity to the cause of farmers under severe clouds. As a result, the spiel given by the government that free markets will serve in favor of farmers is farthest from the truth.

GYG stands in full solidarity with the farmers of India who are peacefully protesting at the borders of the National capital for 21 days now and appeal to the government of India to agree to farmers demand and repeal the 3 farm bills that they have brought. 

GYG Steering Committee

Author-Janmejai Tiwari

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