Skip to main content

Evading federalism: Centre 'bracketed' farm laws under Union list's Trade and Commerce

Counterview Desk

The virtual Kisan Sansad, a civil society initiative held on January 23 and 24, 2021 at the Guru Teg Bahadur Memorial at Singhu, Delhi, has demanded the repeal of the three central farm laws, legalisation of minimum support price (MSP), and condemned the government’s “repression” of the farmer protests.
Participated by senior politicians from across the country, including past and present members of Parliament and MLAs, farmers’ leaders, academics, former civil servants, ex-justices, and well-known social activists, it saw speakers point towards how the three laws would pose a threat to farmers and food security.
Speakers said, the three laws were aimed at dismantling the public distribution system currently in place in order to replace it with cash transfer, even as underlining these were passed violating the Constitution’s federal structure. According to them, these were meant to please a few private companies. 

Text of the three resolutions: 

Legalising minimum support price

The National Commission on Farmers, better known as the Swaminathan Committee after its Chairperson Professor MS Swaminathan, recommended about 15 years ago in its report that farmers should receive a margin of 50% for their produce over and above their cost of cultivation. Political parties of different leanings have promised this in their manifestoes and even formed governments since then but this is yet to be implemented.
The current ruling dispensation at the centre has incorrectly claimed that it has implemented this by not calculating the cost of cultivation as recommended in the Swaminathan Committee report. Farmers in India have been agitating for months in their states and for around two months now in Delhi and one of their demands is to have a minimum remunerative price for their produce. They are demanding that the government provide a legal guarantee for a Minimum Support Price (MSP).
In solidarity with the farmers of India, this Kisan Sansad resolves that farmers must be guaranteed MSP in law and a guaranteed procurement of the notified crops at this MSP. The Sansad demands that the government immediately accepts this demand of the farmers in principle and form a suitable committee to recommend how this policy can be enacted in law and draft a bill which may then be placed before Parliament for deliberation and passing within a fixed timeframe, preferably in the next monsoon session to enable the farmers to benefit from this kharif harvest itself.

Government repression of the kisan aandolan

For several months, farmers across the country have been agitating against the three farm laws brought by the government and for getting a fair MSP for their crops. Lakhs of them have been living on the streets on the borders of Delhi since they were prevented from entering Delhi where they wanted to sit and peacefully register their protest against the laws. The government used water cannons, tear gas shells, dug deep trenches and put sand filled containers and trucks in the way to prevent them from entering Delhi. 
Many ministers of this government and spokesmen of the BJP along with their lapdog media have abused the protesting farmers and accused them of being Kalistanis, terrorists and in the pay of Pakistan and China. After a long and tortuous negotiation the government was forced to let the farmers organise their own Republic Day Tractor Parade in Delhi.
The sansad condemns the repression, disinformation and false accusations hurled upon the protesting farmers by the government and lapdog media and its insensitivity to the exemplary and peaceful protests in the harsh cold and rain in which over 150 farmers have already died. The sansad expresses its satisfaction that the government has finally realized the folly of not allowing the farmers to take out a tractor parade on Republic Day in Delhi. 
Kisan Sansad resolved that farmers must be guaranteed MSP in law and a guaranteed procurement of the notified crops at this MSP
But it condemns the government of Uttar Pradesh where farmers are not being allowed to participate in protests. The sansad salutes the resolute spirit that the farmers have displayed in protesting at the borders of Delhi and the remarkable organisation and spirit of service and solidarity that has been displayed by the farmers.

Repeal of three farm Acts

The Kisan Sansad demands full repeal of three recently passed agriculture related acts: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. The demand for repeal of these Acts is in support of and in agreement with the demands of the agitating farmers across the country because:
  1. These three Acts seek to alter the legal architecture of Indian agriculture to the detriment of the farmers. These acts would together give unregulated freedom to corporate and agri-businesses at the expense of crores of small and marginal farmers of India.
  2. The passage of these acts did not involve any pre or post legislative consultation with the principal stake-holders, the farmers. Farmers must be taken into confidence before a government seeks to alter the conditions of their life and livelihood. No draft bill was circulated for public comments as required by the rules. The bills were not referred to a standing committee or even properly voted on in the Rajya Sabha but were rushed through parliament in violation of parliamentary procedure. 
  3. ‘Agriculture’ and ‘markets’ are State subjects under the Constitution, and through these Acts, the Centre is blatantly encroaching into the domain of the State governments. The Centre is using the item "trade and commerce" under the Union List to justify these Central Acts, but farmers contend that it is ‘Markets’ that are being directly and drastically affected by the laws. 
  4. Any amendments to these laws as is being proposed by the government will continue to keep the Acts alive, allowing the government to pass executive orders that might once again weaken the position/protection of farmers’ interests. 
In light of this, the governments offer of suspending the laws for one and a half years makes no sense since that would also have to be done through legislation. Since the government seems committed to making amendments in the laws after consultation with farmer’s organisations, there is no reason not to repeal the laws and then bring in laws in the interests of farmers, afresh, after full consideration and consultation.
The government seems to be standing only on ego and prestige. The sansad therefore resolves that the three farm laws be immediately withdrawn through appropriate ordinance/legislation.

Comments

TRENDING

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Fascism on prowl? Religious meet 'deeply pained' at silence of Church, bishops, priests

Counterview Desk  The ‘Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace’which held its 17th National Convention at the Montfort Social Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana from 22 to 24 September 2022 on the theme “Deepening our Identity as Religious: Responding to the Signs of the Times”, has expressed concern “at the deteriorating situation of our nation on every front”, especially stating, “Fascism seems to have come to stay” in India. At the same time, the convention, which took place with the participation of 60 persons from 16 states representing 20 religious congregations, in its unanimously-adopted statement added, “We have reached abysmal depths on every parameter: be it social, economic and political”, underlining, “The poor in India become poorer every day; the rich and powerful continue to profiteer at their expense and amass scandalous amounts of wealth.” Text: We, members (63 women and men Religious, from 16 states representing 20 Congregations) of the Forum of Religious for Justice

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.