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An Objective Analysis Of The Farm Laws Farmers Are Protesting Against

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On September 27, 2020, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his approval to the three new farm laws that were earlier passed by the Indian Parliament. These Farm Acts are as follows:

1) Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, which provides provisions that regulate pricing, production, time period and settlement of disputes in farming agreements between a farmer and a buyer prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce.

2) Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, which allows the farmers to trade in outside trade areas such as farm gates, factory premises, cold storages, and so on. Previously, it was only permitted in the APMC yards or Mandis. The State Governments are now restricted from charging any market fee on traders, farmers, and electronic trading platforms for trading farmers’ produce in an ‘outside trade area’.

3) The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act was first enacted in 1995. With the amendment in the Act, the Government of India will list certain commodities as essential to regulate their supply and prices only in cases of famine, war,  natural calamities, or extraordinary price rises. The commodities that have been deregulated are food items, including cereals, pulses, potato, onion, edible oilseeds, and oils.

Image: Twitter

The introduction of these laws was met with heavy backlash from farmers, especially in the states of Punjab and Haryana, as well as criticism from prominent political leaders, such as Former Chief Minister of Punjab, Prakash Singh Badal, who returned his Padma Vibhushan to protest “the betrayal of farmers by the Government of India”.

Protests by farmers were quick to follow.  The demonstration on November 26, against the farm and labour laws, saw approximately 25 crore workers participate in the protests, media reports suggest.

So what exactly are the farmers’ objections to the new farm laws?

Farmer unions in Punjab and Haryana say the recent laws enacted by the Centre will eventually dismantle the minimum support price (MSP) system, which is an agricultural product price set by the government to purchase directly from the farmer. This rate safeguards the farmer to a minimum profit for the harvest. Over time big corporate houses will dictate terms and farmers will end up getting less for their crop, they fear.

Farmers argue that with the virtual disbanding of the mandi system, they will not get an assured price for their crops and the “arthiyas” – commission agents who also help by pitching in with loans for them -will be out of business. The farmers are also upset with the removal of guaranteed MSP, which they say will leave them at the mercy of big corporations.

Their main demand is the withdrawal of the three laws. They can also settle for legal assurance that the MSP system will continue, through an amendment to the laws. They are also pressing for the withdrawal of the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, fearing it will lead to an end to subsidised electricity. Farmers also say rules against stubble burning should not apply to them.

In response, the government proposed to make necessary amendments on at least seven issues, including one about the weakening of the mandi system. The government also said it is ready to provide all necessary clarifications on their concerns about the new farm laws, but it did not mention anything about the main demand for the repeal of the laws.

The farmer unions were said to be discussing the proposals, but there was no immediate reaction from them, except that they continue to stick to their main demand for the withdrawal of the laws. The two sides are set to resume talks on Saturday, 12th December. While officials have said they will not give in and repeal the laws, they could compromise on one of the farmers’ demands: enshrining minimum prices for some crops into law.

In conclusion, the scrimmage between the government and the farmers is not likely to die out soon. Farmers are the backbone of our country, and thus it is the responsibility of the government to implement policies best suited to their interests. As tensions are on the rise, farmers are beginning to lose trust in Indian institutions. The government needs to take substantial measures to ease tensions and allay the farmers’ fears.

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  1. Mansi Saroha

    Right to protest and expressing one’s view point is a fundamental right of every citizen.The on going farmer’s agitation on outskirts of Delhi borders is one of such instance.While both parties are trying hard to come up on some page to resolve this issue as soon as possible amidst pandemic.But it’s rudimentary duty of the authorities to ensure to consider opinions of the others(stakeholders,oppostion party etc) while formulating any policy as it might not turned out as expected and further end up with people coming up on streets and questioning the existing system which they elected with faith.

  2. ananya sharma

    From the past 70 years Indian economy has been an agrarian economy, employing about 55-60% of the total population either directly or indirectly, and has farmers as its backbone. But, over the years the agricultural output growth rate has declined and so has its contribution to the Indian gdp which lead to the introduction of the three farm bills. And, today as we face this existential crisis because of the farm bills passed, the farmers line together to fight for their survival rights. After the introduction of the three farm bills, what feared the farmers most was the weakening of MSP and the mandi system. With corporate farming being the main agenda, the farmers are afraid that they will become the puppets in the hands of corporates and will lose their freedom of pricing. In spite of the government taking in consideration few of the demands proposed by the farmers , no stance has been taken on the main demand of repealing the laws.

  3. Gurteshwar

    Farmers fear the two recent bills as they feel these agriculture reform processes will kill the government procurement process as well as the MSP.In my opinion, everything that the Government does these days is hailed as ‘historic’. But will the ‘historic’ farm reforms turn into historic blunders like the earlier Demonetisation, GST. I want that these black laws should be withdrawn.

  4. Sakina Nadeem

    Most of us have been watching the news, seeing the farmers protest against new farm laws. However, the sad state is that we do not understand the reason behind their ire. Reading this article, I received specific information about each farm law in brief. I, myself thought the laws would only help the farmers, seeing that their options for selling the produce have increased (among other provisions). But this article shed light on the real dilemma of the farmers. It gives us an insight on their thought process and the problems that could erupt in the future, as a result of these laws. In addition, we realise that the issue is not as simple as it may appear to the public. The farmers are concerned about the future, while the government is focused on changing existing laws, striving to make a farmer’s life better. But when it comes down to it, if the farmers aren’t satisfied with the laws, then they need to be rethought and restructured.

  5. Gaurav Gupta

    I think the above written article is coherent and comprehensively put out but conspicuously missed the government’s point of view which led to the implementation of the laws in the first place.
    Minimum Support Price in it’s essence is an obsolete concept belonging to an era of scarcity. It was envisaged as a safety cushion for the disadvantaged and destitute farmers in mid 20th century to provide them with a livelihood and assure the existence and growth of the agricultural sector which couldn’t be sustained without government intervention.
    Looking at the long term impact of the farm bills, it will completely transform the primary sector and privatise it to an extent by opening up various new avenues for business expansion, growth and revenue generation. Farmers can now take charge not only of production of crops but also marketing, distribution and sales. They can strike partnerships with corporates and transfer the entire risk to them before the harvest season even begins (Contract Farming), they can sell their produce directly to consumers eliminating the role of middlemen via e-commerce which can boost their profit margin. Government is even forgoing it’s own revenue and market fee by completing letting farmers earn every penny of what they sell outside trade areas. Speaking about the Essential Commodities Act, food grains and other crops have deregulated from essential items which had several restrictions on their supply, storage and pricing. This will enable farmers to stock their produce and sell it in the market when there is a shortage or excess demand which will make them extra revenue, albeit this a bit unethical.
    What probably needs to be done is to educate farmers about the benefits and inculcate the necessary skills and expertise in them related to business dealings, corporate communication and marketing strategies.

  6. Aryaveer Prabhakar

    Governing a nation and taking decisions which directly impact 120 crore people is always going to be full of challenges, differing views, compromises and adjustments. It’s good to see a challenge against any law but the challenge should always be logical. The government of any country cannot take burden of buying all the produce of their farmers at MSP so the introduction of corporate houses at regulated prices makes it feasible for the country’s economy to progress. Also, the farmers now get the advantage to sell their produce on multiple fronts rather than just the mandis and APMC yards which only adds to their advantage. The discrepancy has only aroused due to misinterpretations and the hype created by the opposing parties, arthiyas and celebrities.
    My personal take on the whole situation is what any logical person could think. The discrepancies are only erased when the concerned people talk which is clearly being obstructed due to certain reasons. I believe that if the talks are focused on the core matters of the Farm Laws and the concerning parties disregard the distractions vested by personal interest, an amicable solution will soon be reached.

  7. Garv Sood

    I think there are a few fundamental issues that have given rise to arguably one of the biggest protests in Indian History. The most contentious development in this whole episode was the passage of the three bills itself. We all saw how hastily the bills were passed in the parliament amidst opposition from various parties. Even the demand to refer the bills to an Expert Committee was not entertained. This was the government’s biggest mistake. The government should have taken all the stakeholders in confidence before introducing such extensive reforms and should have addressed their fears and apprehensions before passing the bills. After the movement gathered momentum and after multiple rounds of talks with Farmer Unions, the government did come up with a proposal addressing almost all the grievances of the farmers to strike a deal and end the protests. But this proposal was outrightly rejected by Farmer Unions who continued to press their demand for the repeal of these laws. Personally, I feel that this was the moment where politics hijacked the Farmers Protest. The government’s proposal was reasonable and should have been taken seriously by the Farmer Unions but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
    Each day this protest goes on the government loses crores of rupees and the protesters face the hardships of living away from home in biting cold in makeshift tents and trolleys. It is imperative that a viable solution acceptable to all the parties be worked out as soon as possible.

  8. Akshat Bhardwaj

    Keeping in mind all the recent developments, we must take some time to appreciate the fact that all the protests are peaceful so far. These protests are a great example ‘Gandhian’ approach of ‘non cooperation’ and ‘Satyagraha’. Considering that the protests are carried out in a peaceful manner, there is no issue in those peaceful protests, but the main issue in india is that people don’t wake until something loud happens. Well it may not be considered as ‘Hate speech’ but analysing the issues from past, our present government only wakes up when protests become violent, untill then such protests are pure politics for our current ruling government. From treating farmers as ‘terrorists’ to defaming them to have shaken hands with congress for the matter of vote politics. A testimony was presented by a soldier (name won’t be disclosed) where he mentioned how proud he was while he was at borders of India, and how insecure he is now to see his family on chilly roads of Delhi border. Well it’s a matter of concern which should be dealt and appropriate solutions needs to be worked out to help the ‘Annadaata’ of India.

  9. Pari Gupta

    According to the government, these bills are likely to open up the controlled agricultural sector to free market forces with include the private sector. With these bills making it easier for farmers to sell their produces to the private buyers directly and entering into contract with various private companies, these bills do not have a legal policy to back them up leaving scope for the poor to get cheated on. It is believed that with these investments, the country’s agricultural sector will grow but will also result in a threat to the ownership rights of farmers. The farmers feel that the Parliament would eventually manipulate them to sell their land to these private entities. The domination of APMC mandis will end, but not shut down along with that the minimum support price won’t be scrapped. In my opinion as a citizen, the bill might have given farmers a broader and more flexible system to trade their produce for money as well as promoted inter and intra state trade by allowing them to sign contract deals with large industries and get a fair price for their produce but the protest taking place are more like a politically motivated campaign as this bill allows farmers to trade outside the mandis and will therefore affect the state revenue in the form of mandi tax especially for states like Punjab who have about 50% of their working population associated with the agricultural sector. But with every coin having two sides, because of the farmers bill passed, if US companies are allowed to access the same due to the bilateral relations and trade promoted by Joe Biden, India can expect investments and profits with USA being one of the major economies, therefore benefiting India indirectly. (Pari Gupta)

  10. Khanak Lashkari

    It is clear that the laws have created an intense atmosphere in the country and it is unhidden that agriculture is a sector which makes the maximum amount of contribution to the Indian economy even during crisis, We saw a live example during the pandemic when all other sectors dropped yet agriculture remained unaffected. Therefore the government needs to understand that the builders of this sector, Our farmers, know it better than any of us even the government, and hence negotiations, vague arguments, and not addressing the demands can lead to severe situations for which the country isn’t prepared.

  11. Devansh Singhal

    Starting with the very fact that how the farmers protests are going well on the dharma of non violence or Satyagraha . IN the starting of the protests basically when it was in Haryana and Punjab the central government efficiently ignored them and started laying their politics to fetch votes in the upcoming state elections . From defaming farmers as the terrorist to being declaring them the puppets of the Puppets , this all went up . The government even ruthressly responded with the water cannons in the chilly winters to the peaceful demonstration . The government enacted once they tried their politics and power to stop the demonstration . The explanation of the farm bills were not even given up to the mark to the people . It is a matter of great concern and need to take into foremost consideration to maintain the integrity of India .

  12. Pragyansh Nayak

    The article is well written!
    Most of the farmers in India are classified as small farmers, who already are in debt and are being exploited because of the loans they took from informal sources of credit. The Promotion and Facilitation Act has a positive factor to it and a loophole as well, if farmers trade directly with company then the middlemen (who used to auction for prices in mandis, usually traders) are removed, and the farmer can gain more profit but the setback is that a company won’t contract with small farmers, and even if they do, the small farmers don’t have adequate resources and education to judge on whether the contract should be considered or not, companies have legal branches which design the contract, and the farmer again, might be exploited, which already has happened. A body should be formed to negotiate the contract on the behalf of farmers. This would be a slow and gradual process which would take time.
    The foundation of this exploitation is that farmers don’t know the fair price for their crops, an organization by the farmers must be set up to decide the fair price to maintain uniformity in the prices, price discovery can be done by finding the share price of crops, NCDEX and MCX offer commodity derivatives, and the future prices of several crops can be checked here, farmers can decide their price by using these share prices.
    In the end, a new Farm Law should be introduced if and when certain standards are achieved and this again, should be a gradual process with the consideration of stats and the condition of farmers

  13. Aachman Kapoor

    I made an analysis of the Farm Laws and necessity to look at sustainable goals. After a deep reading, I came across a few more reasons to favour or oppose them.

    Firstly the farm laws, the way they are written, though I had to read it many times, clears the meaning to everyone. It explains the necessity of these to poor farmers. I do agree that such laws should not be abolished, otherwise they lead to the public losing the trust in the central government of our country. I do agree with the way the farmers are protesting. There is complete harmony with the ambulance, girls, and other emergency vehicles at the borders. But this is actually not enough to discuss as a priority for the government.

    Talking about the necessity to look at the sustainable goals, the article is very impressive and informative. The agenda and the theory of the whole SDG is well explained. Whereas, looking at the implementation, the results are not very impressive. This is still looking like an SDG that is postponing itself. The policies themselves are very useful, but the implementation of these should not only be done by the government and UN, rather we people should take a step for them.

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