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10 senior economists write to Modi govt, demand repeal of ‘fundamentally harmful’ farm laws

The economists, from institutions in different parts of India, have given Agriculture Minister N.S. Tomar five reasons why the new laws should be scrapped.

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New Delhi: As the farmers’ protest on the outskirts of Delhi completes three weeks, 10 senior economists have written a letter to Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, demanding the repeal of the Modi government’s three contentious farm laws.

In the letter, accessed by ThePrint, the economists say the laws need to be repealed as they are not in the interests of small and marginal farmers, and list out five reasons why.

“We believe that the Indian government should repeal the recent farm acts which are not in the best interests of the small and marginal farmers of the country, and about which a broad section of farmer organisations have raised very critical objections,” the letter states.

The economists have also said that while there is a need to improve agricultural marketing, these laws do not serve the purpose. “They are based on wrong assumptions and claims about why farmers are unable to get remunerative prices; about farmers not having freedom to sell wherever they like under the previously existing laws and about regulated markets not being in the farmers’ interests,” the economists have said in the letter.

Also read: Farmers formally reject Modi govt’s proposal to amend farm laws, demand total repeal

Who are these economists?

The economists who have penned the letter are:

– Prof. D. Narasimha Reddy (retd), formerly of the University of Hyderabad;

– Prof. Kamal Nayan Kabra (retired), formerly of the Indian Institute of Public Administration and the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi;

– Prof. K.N. Harilal, professor (on leave) at Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, and member of the Kerala State Planning Board;

– Prof. Rajinder Chaudhary, former professor at M.D. University, Rohtak;

– Prof. Surinder Kumar of CRRID, Chandigarh;

– Prof. Arun Kumar, Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Chair Professor at the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi;

– Prof. Ranjit Singh Ghuman, professor of eminence at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and professor of economics at CRRID, Chandigarh;

– Prof. R. Ramakumar, NABARD Chair Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

They are joined by Vikas Rawal and Himanshu, both associate professors of economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning (CESP), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

‘5 reasons why laws are fundamentally harmful’

The economists listed five reasons why these laws are “fundamentally harmful” for small farmers.

– The laws, they say, undermine the role of state governments, which are far more accessible and accountable to farmers’ interests than the central government.

– The laws also create two markets with two rules — “a practically unregulated market in the ‘trade area’ side by side with a regulated market in APMC market yards, subject to two different acts, different regimes of market fees, and different sets of rules”.

– The laws create fragmented markets, and the experience in Bihar (which removed the APMC Act in 2006) shows that farmers have less choice of buyers and less bargaining power, resulting in significantly lower prices compared to other states.

– The laws bring in unequal players in contract farming, so farmers’ interests aren’t protected.

– And finally, the laws bring in concerns about domination by big agricultural businesses.

Amending the clauses in the new laws isn’t enough, the economists say, urging the government to withdraw them. They add that farmers’ genuine concerns should not be portrayed as their “being misled”.

“We strongly believe that it is not desirable to perpetuate the impression that farmers are misled by others, when they are raising valid and genuine concerns. The current impasse is not in anyone’s interests, and it is the responsibility of the government to proactively resolve it by addressing the farmers’ concerns,” the letter states.

The economists also call for the government to hold extensive consultations with farmer organisations and other stakeholders on what measures would really bring equitable and sustainable benefit to the farmers and the economy.

“It would be the truly democratic thing to do,” they say.

Also read: SC proposes to form committee to settle dispute between govt and farmers over 3 new laws


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  1. My main concern is why the bill was bulldozed in the Parliament? If they couldn’t impress their old partners, the Akalis who left their side, why bring such law. Naturally the opposition waits for such a chance to put down the Govt. Lastly why only Punjab and Haryana farmers are objecting?

  2. Government has no idea about farming. It is only running on the money given by corporates. So it has to dance to their tunes. Government has no will to govern the nation. Only dramatic announcements here and there and tremendous acting by PM, country has been brought to it’s knees. It’s a wake up call before everything in this country is sold off to the corporates

  3. What these economists were doing all these years. They are not farmers who are as slaves to the middle men. Sitting in room and having sample survey these economists can say anything. As an Agricultural retd professor and farmer in Tamil nadu knows the role of middle me. Why they have not advised the world best economist Manmohan singh hi and chidhambaram who ruled this country for 10 long years.

  4. These economist are the agents of Dalals. The new farm laws will bring much needed investment in farming and will enable India to export quality food products to the world. These economist cannot answer why we need these middlemen and why all the farmer deaths have taken place so far if these Dalals where so good to the farmers

  5. My response point wise

    1) state role diminishes – states have to rework their role to remain relevant to their farmers interests. Clearly they failed in the past miserably due to which every party had it in their manifesto And these laws have been passed. Farmers are getting additional option and if that option is not good, they would sell in Mandi. Ultimately farmers would chose better deal. Today he does not have any option other than to sell in Mandi

    2) creation of 2 markets one regulated and other unregulated – very valid point which govt should consider to make it an even playing field

    3) not succeeded in Bihar by giving better option- it might not have succeeded for other reasons as well. Just because it failed in Bihar does not mean that it is bad, instead the learning’s from Bihar should be mentioned which the govt should consider and avoid those pitfalls
    4) unequal players with farmer being in weaker position – the law is giving a right to the farmer to back out of the contracted terms but not the corporate. So this is one sided advantage being given to farmer rightly so. Hence this is totally false and misleading interpretation
    5) domination by big corporates – government to come out with regulations to prevent dominance and unfair practices and trade terms.
    There will be a need for a regulator to ensure that farmers interests are protected with severe fines/ penalties/punishments for corporates found to be flouting the regulations

  6. I did read the points with an open mind. Was extremely disappointed. These points have no substance. I am shocked. The best of socialist communist minds could find NOTHING except unsubstantiated noise against the farm bills. This letter is proof that that the bills are good for farmers. I recall Kangana Ranaut asking a fellow named Diljit dosanjh to clarify what he is protesting against in the faem bills exactly? I was again amused to see that the gentleman instead of answering her question started deflecting the matter and attacking her with weird comebacks completely unrelated to her question. It just seemed he had actually o idea what he was opposed to! It does seem that the opposition is to Modi, Yogi, Amit Shah, Bjp, RSS & cultural nationalism as espoused by bjp. CAA, NRC, Farm Bills are just excuses.

    • Communist China has always been far more ‘left’ that India. Its success owes a great deal to a superior financial system that almost no one in India is aware of. This system was pioneered by the Japanese in Manchuria, and later adopted by South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore – and ultimately, the PRC. (For details see C. Johnson, MITI and the Japanese Miracle, and E. Fingleton’s ‘In the Jaws of the Dragon’).

      Our English-speaking elite was always far more interested in what was going on in the UK and US, than in what was going on in their fellow Asian countries. Hence it continues to champion Thatcher-Reagan-style neoliberalism long after it has been thoroughly discredited, and seems unaware of the dreadful consequences of this approach (see US trade deficits and deindustrialization).

      The entire country is paying the price for their Anglomania.

  7. The new farm laws cannot be panacea for all these problems. Why not consult and discuss with all stake holders before formulating laws with far reaching consequences? India is still a democracy, not an autocracy or theocracy.

  8. Govt.shouldactinfavouroffarmerinthemannerprescribedintheconstitutionalprovisionofenactmentwhichisnotharmfulltofarmer’sbenifittoearnthierlivelyhoodwithdignity&honourremainintactwithoutanyharmtolndianagriculturaleconomy&international law.govt.shouldnotbeadamentinenforcinganyactpassessintheparliamentwithouttheconcentofoppostinsviewinrespectofnewruleadaptedandforcfullyimposeduponthem.theyshouldabidebythedirectivesofstatesrulingprincipleundertheconsttution&directiesofsupremecourtinthisrespectforamicablesettlementoffarmersprotest&agitation.

  9. Bunch of socialist geriatrics who wish farmers to be at the mercy of middlemen, consumers to pay higher prices, the water table in Punjab and Haryana to further decrease by growing excessive water guzzling crops subsidised by the tax payer, air pollution to increase by burning stubble. And finally for farmer suicides to continue with the old farm trading regime.

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