On the sacred occasion of Guru Purab on 19th November, PM Modi announced that the three contentious farm laws will be rolled back. He also apologized to certain sections of farmers to whom he couldn’t convince despite many efforts. He assured the farmers that the farm laws will be repealed in the upcoming winter session.
What did PM Modi say in his speech?
Along with declaration of repeal of farm laws, PM Modi urged the farmers to go back home and celebrate the pious occasion of Guru Purab. He also announced the opening of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.
PM Modi decorated his speech with many welfare schemes for farmers undertaken by his government such as soil health card scheme, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna, crop insurance, plans related to Neem coated urea etc. He said that almost 80% farmers are small and marginal who don’t have much land and they could have benefited from the farm laws.
Now a committee will be formed including the representatives from both Central and State Governments to give suggestions on the issues related to agriculture such as: zero budget farming, fertilizers, crop pattern, MSP (Minimum Support Price) and many more. PM Modi has also expressed gratitude to farmers who supported the laws.
Central government had previously also offered to halt the laws for 2 years but farmers were not convinced. Even after the intervention of the Supreme Court, the matter has not been decided yet.
What were the Farm Laws?
The three contentious farm laws were-
Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce( Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020
Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm services Act, 2020
Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act,2020
Government was trying to persuade farmers that these laws will facilitate contract farming, increase interstate trade and attract more investment in the country.
But farmers were worried that these laws have the potential to threaten the Public Procurement System and open India’s agricultural market to foreign imports. These laws can destroy the Mandi system and make farmers the puppet of the corporate.
The protests have been continuing for more than one year now. The protests were initiated by the farmers of Punjab and Haryana but later more farmers across the country joined it. Also, we witnessed the resignation of the Minister of State for Food Processing Industries of India - Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the Modi government after condemning the laws.
Can the government actually repeal these laws?
The Farm laws were a part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat package; these were not passed through a proper passage. These laws were first promulgated as an ordinance and later passed by both houses. Also, the bill was not sent to any select committee for scrutiny. So, farm laws were already contentious.
Now, either the government can bring a bill to repeal the laws or the president can promulgate an ordinance using his powers under article 123 and then parliament has to pass it within 6 weeks.
As per article 245 of the constitution, parliament has the power to repeal a law. As per the official data, the Modi government has repealed 1428 acts in its first term.
Is it just a political stunt?
The upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are said to be a major reason for this rollback because protestors are mainly from these states.
The repeal of farm laws is proof that the system of checks and balances which was laid down by the constitutional fathers, is still working quite effectively. Government must listen to the people. People have the fundamental right to protest in a non-violent way which the farmers have done effectively. Even before the green revolution, the government had done 5 years of persuasion, extension work and direct communication with the farmers. This time, when farmers were unaware of the upcoming agricultural reforms, the protests and confusions were bound to happen.
Is there any international angle of this situation?
Western countries like the US, UK, Canada and EU are persuading WTO (World Trade Organization) to pressurize developing countries, especially Asian and African nations to eradicate their Public Procurement System and grow only tropical and subtropical crops which are native to them. They are forcing countries to produce regional crops. Western countries cannot produce tropical and subtropical crops due to their climate. They can only produce grains and dairy products and they don’t have enough markets to export them.
That’s why the US backed these farm laws and said that these laws will improve the efficiency of the international market. Many countries like Botswana and Philippines diverted their agricultural pattern under this pressure. It has affected their economies badly because they are paying high prices for imported grains now. They are proceeding towards poverty now.
On the other hand, Developed nations such as Switzerland give high subsidies to farmers. These dual standards should be criticized.
Also, there is one more thing, as per the Intelligence Bureau report dated June 3, 2014 on ‘The concerted effort by select foreign funded NGOs to “take down” Indian Development Projects’ commissioned by the previous UPA government, and has been submitted to the current NDA government. Some of the civil societies are getting foreign funds to protest and halt the projects and bills in India. NSA Ajit Doval recently said that “civil society is the new frontier of war which can be manipulated to hurt a nation’s interests”. Few months ago, the government amended.
Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 to tighten and keep an eye on the funds coming from foreign countries to Indian Civil Societies which has been criticized by the Supreme Court.
Will the farmers end protests now?
Bhartiya Kisan Union’s (BKU) Ugrahan faction has welcomed this move by the government but the major leader of these protests, Rakesh Tikait has said that the protests will not end till the laws get repealed constitutionally. Also farmers want to negotiate MSP on certain crops now.