India is a diverse country. It is a country that holds pluralism from all corners. Sometimes harsh steps come into play to build a more vibrant country. Get back to the past and consider the year 1991. At that time economic reforms took a giant step. With that socialism somewhere came into verbal spat and combat with it. But, today, we came out with another set of reforms in the form of farm laws that are facing immense opposition. At NayaTaaza, we will put a clear cut view of new farm laws and protests associated with them. So, we ensure that the readers will get a detailed picture of the farm laws and protests.
Freedom to Sell is Freedom of Choice
The quote “Apada Ko Avsar” gave that golden moment to Central Government to bring their type of 91 reforms in 2020. Hence, they came up with two laws and amended one law, made during the regime of our first Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru. The first law deals with the freedom of choice to the farmers to sell their agricultural produce outside the APMCs. The Mandis and APMCs that have somewhere infrastructure issues and have many cases where they failed to regulate the problems of the MSP is a golden chance to the farmers. Also, this law tries to remove any fees and cess that the state governments can impose on the farmers. Apart from this, a grievance redressal mechanism will help the farmers.
Corporate Culture Farming
The second law is pushing towards corporate farming. Corporate farming has a different structure. Here the business organizations come with the seeds and agreement for purchase from the farmers if the farmers grow the same delivered by them. This practice has been very successful in many states. It has somewhere improved the conditions of farmers there. Hence, one can expect this law will help to accomplish one of the government’s goal to double the farmers’ income by 2022. The law restricts the corporate house to construct any permanent structure on the farmers land. Also, this law promotes the formation of Farmers’ Producer Organizations (FPO) to have pool agreements to avoid any wastage of time and constraints to business. It has given ample space to safeguard the farmers after what happened in Gujarat, where Pepsi was trying to impose a fine over four farmers.
The third law is an amendment to the Essential Commodities Act. The Centre has brought this law to regulate the supply of certain food items only under extraordinary circumstances (such as war and famine). Any action on imposing stock limit is going to be based on price rise and order for regulating stock limit of any agricultural produce can be issued under this Act. This law also takes care of the stock for the Public Distribution System.
When the Green Revolution arrived in India, it prospered the regions like Punjab, Haryana, Western UP, and Andhra Pradesh. But, this reform somewhere created disparity. The farmers who could afford the technologies and pesticides were able to drink the spillover effect of the Green Revolution. Also, the farm policies in these areas somewhere hampered the farming system. High MSP for rice and wheat, subsidy in electricity, over-usage of water guzzlers deepened the crisis at other places. Today, when the new farm’s laws came up, the protest started rising from these regions. These farmers fear that it will culminate them to tap MSP for their crops. According to the farmers, corporate farming will ruin their current economic conditions. So, the only way left with them is to proceed to the place where the law got its shape. For the new farm laws, protests are rampant on a scale one is witnessing near Delhi borders.
Are these Unconstitutional?
We decide unconstitutionality when we think a law is not in compliance with our constitution. But, these laws are from nowhere unconstitutional. First of all, the Centre used the 7th schedule (Division of subjects) with great care to frame these laws. Hence, this law is not affecting or challenging the federal structure of our country. Secondly, if some think that the way these laws passed in the Upper House, i.e., Rajya Sabha, can be challenged, they should be aware of the provision of joint sitting. So, if Rajya Sabha would have rejected the law considering the government is not having a majority there, the government can take steps and call a joint sitting where they can easily pass the law. Therefore, the question of unconstitutionality is over.
What should be the real concerns?
Farmers should focus on the key issues that are somewhere incorrect, although the intention of the government is perfect. Firstly, the dispute mechanism system framed under the law talks about the SDM of the district to resolve the issues. The government should think to create a tribunal with the provisions of appeal. This law is somewhere providing extra-judicial powers to the SDM that is not an elected figure. Next, if the farmers get the choice not to sell in the APMCs, how will the government regulate that the farmer’s produce is going to sell at MSP. Also, if the farmer is getting the choice to sell their produce at any other Mandis, they may travel more that can increase the transportation cost. So, the government needs to check how they are going to decide MSP at the pan-India level. Then, the government should provide structures where sustainable agricultural practices become handier.
There have been many rounds of talks already completed between government and farmers, with no constructive results. For the sake of law and order and peace, both parties should resolve it at the earliest. Farmers should understand the real concerns, and the government should look out for eliminating the remaining loopholes.