Farmers’ agitation related dharna is now reaching 80 days and there is no resolution in sight. Lot of politics has been played. Cacophony raised by the vested interests has drowned the real issues rising out of new Farm laws. To simplify the discussions about the reforms for the common citizen suffering from confusion and inconvenience, I put below certain questions. If these can be answered logically by the critics, the solution to the logjam will crystallise.
- Since, Shri Rakesh Tikait has become the new face of the agitation, one needs to ask him why he has changed his views on the new laws. He had welcome them in June and said that these are fulfilment of his late father’s dreams. What changed? I asked this question to his followers on two TV debates, no answers were given.
- Farmers are fed falsely with the hypothesis that their farm lands will be taken away under the new Contract Farming provisions. Punjab already has contract farming law in which there is a provision of severe penalty on farmer including risk of losing land if he revokes the contract. The new law removes these penalties. Then why this falsehood being perpetrated? Multinationals are already working in Punjab, why are politicians afraid of Indian companies then?
- If the laws about APMC/Mandi framed in socialist era of earlier phase of Green Revolution in 1960 are so good, why have farmers, barring a few thousand big ones not prospered? Why the marginal and small farmers are suffering and unable to pay back debts?
- Sharad Pawar ji was agriculture minister for 10 years under UPA and he championed reforms and diluting APMCs. Now he is championing APMCs. Why? Why did maximum farmer suicides take place under his term? What stopped him from reforms in ten years though his major partner Congress passed resolutions in its favour? Why can’t a farmer go to a mandi 1 km from his home that is in another district but travel 10 km to go to his district’s mandi? Like Mr. Tikait, he should answer clearly what has changed.
- APMC’s exorbitant fees are supposed to be used for infrastructure improvement. Why are there no infrastructure improvements in decades? How many good warehouses, cold storages have been constructed? Why pick-up from location of farmers not implemented all these years? Where did the funds disappear? Why the second largest wheat mandi in Asia – Moga in Punjab – appears same as it was 50 years back?
- If earlier laws are so good, then why are farmers using more and more chemicals, more water, ending up with cancer? Knowing rice is not the right grain for Punjab farming and Sugar cane is not right for UP, why are we wasting natural resources? Why are tax payers being made to pay for these subsidies rather than change farming patterns? What has any Punjab government done to check this decline? Why couldn’t even open good hospitals for cancer that farmers get due to over use of pesticides; and farmers have to go to Bikaner via train nicknamed Cancer express?
- Every commission set up by different governments have demanded reforms, all of them provided similar solutions just as various governments did. Then, why are farmer leaders not ready to discuss the laws clause wise and find solutions for problematic clauses? Why are they insisting on withdrawing the laws and going back to the earlier days to laws that are counter-productive? Why should farmers suffer from regionalism and not get advantage of “One Nation – One Market? Why can’t safeguards be discussed, if they are lacking?
- Nearly all the experts have welcomed the laws across the academic and political spectrum. Then, what is the balancing act of asking government to consider farmer agitation and talk when farmer leaders simply don’t wish to listen to the Parliament, the government and the Supreme Court? Should I conclude that the agitation is not about farmer laws but about political animosity against Mr. Narendra Modi?
I have deliberately kept political arguments out of the discussion so we don’t cloud the issues by bringing in international conspiracy, Khalistani mischief mongers and caste politics etc. I could add 1000 more words, but let us keep it simple so we can understand the key issues. Can we hope to get answers? Obviously, clear thinking on key points would result in solution, but how many people are interested in solution?