By : Rajiv Yadav (convenor of Lok Polity Manch) and Sandeep Pandey ( Magsaysay awardee and vice president of Socialist Party (India).
The whole country has seen how the central government passed the three agrarian bills in a hurry without debate or voting from Parliament. It has now become a way for the Modi government to get a decision from Parliament in which the democratic process is put on hold.
It is being told that the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 will free the farmers from the mandi system and now the farmer can sell his produce to anyone anywhere in the country. What has not been said is that the guarantee of minimum support price to the farmers will cease.
It is true that very few farmers in the country get the benefit of minimum support price and also that the minimum support price is actually the maximum price for the farmers. Nobody buys more than that and most farmers have to sell their produce outside the government procurement center to the brokers for less than the minimum support price.
But the MSP in a way acts as a shield for the farmers as it sets a standard in the market. If the minimum support price is not received, the farmer can at least fight to implement it.
Now under the pressure of the movement, it is being said that the system of mandi and minimum support price is not being abolished. But when the farmer will become dependent on the market gradually and the minimum support price and the system of mandi will become irrelevant, then the farmer will be completely handed over to the market.
The farmer should not only get the guarantee of the minimum support price as a legal right, but it should also be procured and the mandi system should be maintained so that the public distribution system or ration shops are also maintained.
Under the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Price Assurance Contract and Agricultural Services Act, 2020, large companies will get entry into the field of farming. They will form contracts with the farmers and decide what the farmer will grow and what he will get. She will also provide loans etc. to farmers. Is Indian farming ready to return to the days of East India Company and Champaran?
Under the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, products like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, potatoes, onions have been removed from the list of essential commodities, which means that there can now be unlimited storage of these items.
In other words, now black marketing has been legalized. This is not the first act of the Modi government to give legitimacy to corruption. Companies could donate only 7.5 percent of their average profits for the last three years with full transparency. The Modi government abolished this limit and made the system of donations to political parties obnoxious.
It is evident that the above three agricultural laws have been made in the interest of private companies, in which the companies have been opened all the way to earn profits and paved the way for further exploitation of the debt-ridden farmer.
We must remember that it is not just Modi-Shah’s government, it is also Adani-Ambani’s government whose Modi-Shah do not exist without the power of capital.
Under the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020, the right of state governments to give rebate on electricity rate will end. Farmers will have to pay the entire bill first and then the amount of rebate will go directly to their account.
It has been seen before, how the centralization of the Goods and Services Tax has caused problems to the state governments. Just as the decision making process of Bharatiya Janata Party or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is centralized, in the same way this government is also trying to centralize the federal structure of India. This is extremely fatal for democracy.
Under the Air Quality Management Commission Act 2020 in the national capital and the surrounding area, burning stubble can lead to a fine of Rs 1 crore and imprisonment up to 5 years. One should ask that till date any industry, for example Union Carbide plant of Bhopal or Sterlite plant of Thoothukudi, which has caused irreparable damage to the environment and has been fined in this way? It seems that the government is considering the farmer as the biggest enemy of the environment.
There is a pending demand of the farmers to form the Farmers Commission. Now the time has come that the government should take initiative in this direction so that along with other problems of farmers, the demand for its remunerative price which is not less than one and a half times the cost can be resolved.
Negotiations are going on with the farmers’ government but the stalemate remains. In these meetings, by taking their food and water with them, the farmers have given tremendous symbolic signs – the farmer is not dependent on the government but government officials and ministers are dependent on the farmers for their food. But it is an egoistic government.
It has not been long since the eminent scientist Sant Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand alias Prof Guru Das Aggarwal gave up his life in Haridwar by undertaking a 112-day fast in 2018 to demand a law to protect the Ganges. Swami Sanand wrote four letters to the Prime Minister but did not get a single reply.
Yes, Narendra Modi tweeted and paid tribute soon after he died. No expectation can be expected from such an insensitive government. Tilting the government with the strength of the peasant movement is another matter.