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Farm laws 'look good' on paper to an MBA or economics graduate, but wouldn’t work

By Anurag*
MSP or Minimum Support Price sits at the very core of this protest by various farmers’ unions across the nation. The income level of the farmers in India is among the lowest. And when tw-thirds of the nation’s population is suffering and has not seen much improvement since the independence, you have got to stop and start thinking and analysing.
Most of the farmers in India barely make their ends meet. They are not here for luxurious lifestyle. They are here to survive. Lakhs of farmers have committed suicide over the last decade. Sadly, the government has failed them by not taking cognizance of that fact. State machineries have let them down, a big time, by not doing anything to end their miseries.
If we closely look and analyse the current farmers’ protests and their demands, we do not see them making any demands for their upliftment or for their betterment. They are just protesting so that they do not get deprived of the means and their rights that they currently have with them. Think about that for a second.
They are protesting because someone else decided for their future, without asking them. They are here just to make sure that whatever little they have with themselves; those are not taken away from them. They are apprehensive of the intention and the possible results coming out of these three farm laws.
And rightly so. For example, see other agricultural related schemes. In most of these schemes, farmers do not get the sole and whole benefits. Some sound very good on paper, but if we see their implementation, it is not even close to being called as optimal or just acceptable. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out as to why farmers’ conditions have only worsened over the years.
These laws may sound and look good on paper to an MBA or Economics graduate, but the ground reality is far away from what these laws appear to be. One does not have to actually be on the ground to see them. See the example of farmers from Bihar. The Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) system is not there in Bihar, which these farm laws are trying to bypass and gradually remove.
A system of free market that these farm laws project to create, is already there in Bihar. I have myself seen my maternal-grandfather selling his maize and paddy way below the just price. Same is the story of every other farmer in Bihar, and many more states. The current system is working like a parasite, sucking blood from the marginalised farmers. They do not get MSP on any farm produce. But these farm laws will not help them.
The current system is working like a parasite, sucking blood from marginalised farmers. They do not get MSP on any farm produce
What the farmers are demanding is very basic. They do not want to be left at the mercy of traders or big corporates. They would never survive in such a condition. All these three specific farm laws are connected, and works against the farmers’ benefits. If the government thinks otherwise, it should make laws pertaining to the apprehensions of the farmers.
Mere assurance would little to thwart away their fears. Attempts are being made to showcase the protest in a bad light, giving it some political and divisive angles. Some are alleging that only the affluent farmers and middlemen are protesting as these laws negatively affect just their interests. Do not make the mistake of agreeing to this narrative.
The only reason the poorest of the farmers are not there on the streets is because they simply can’t afford to. They could not even afford to be away from any possible earning, whatever little it might be, even for a day. This is what the situation at the ground is.
The way forward? ‘Repeal the laws’ is what the farmers are demanding. A deadlock is there and neither parties are budging from their stands. The government has to make inroads in convincing the farmers. If not, maybe it would be right in taking them back. If any such law is to be made, it has to be made by following and going through the due process of law, by engaging in a dialogue with all the stakeholders involved.
Send back these bills to the Parliament Select Committees or the Standing Committees. Have debates. Guarantee them MSP as a law, as they do not want to live in uncertainty as to what happens after a period of five or ten years from now. Engage with them, listen to them and do the right thing. Modify the grey areas. Remove the parts for which the farmers are apprehensive about. After all it is for their betterment, right?
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*Student, Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indore

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