Three ordinances were proposed and passed in the monsoon session of the Parliament earlier this year. These aimed to introduce private competition in the agricultural sector, remove hoarding limits on crops, and introduce contractual farming.
1. Thus, these acts sought to push the agricultural sector into the hands of corporates and private players, a result of decades-long attempts to take capitalism out of the crisis of demands.
2. While this is the first step towards protecting the rights of farmers and farm labourers, the struggle continues till the state ensures land distribution to the farmers from landless castes and migrant agricultural labourers are provided with fundamental needs – health, education and minimum wages. The protesters are also demanding the release of the political prisoners – student and farmer leaders, anti-NRC agitators and human rights activists, who have been jailed under false cases.
3. The introduction of unbridled competition introduced by these reforms will inevitably result in the closing of Mandis, removing MSP, and hoarding of crops. As a result, the farmers would be exposed to and utterly dependent on market forces and market fluctuations artificially introduced by large corporations and monopolies, further destroying the public distribution system.
4. Small farmers do not have the produce or the power to bargain with large corporations; thus, small farmers will be thrown out of their lands, and larger farms with intensive mechanization will be set up by corporations, raising unemployment.
5. These bills will affect Punjab, particularly as the agricultural sector here is already mechanized, further lowering the scope of employment. Added to that, Punjab is relatively less industrialised and has a massive influx of migrant workers. Agriculture forms the backbone of Punjab’s economy. Any move that affects the sector is bound to affect the entire state.
6. The Central Government has touted these bills to be an avenue of fulfilling the farmers’ aspirations for higher income and more rights and opportunities. However, in reality, these would provide free reign to the corporate, further affecting the continuously declining conditions of the farmers.
7. In response to the protests and struggles, the Centre has withheld the GST share of the state as well as the rural development funds. The peaceful march to Delhi has been met with barricades, tear gas, and water cannons.
8. We, concerned students and alumni of IISER Mohali, strongly condemn the brutality on the farmers and stand in solidarity with them in their struggle against the corporatisation of the agricultural sector and neoliberal policies as a whole.