New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday stayed the implementation of the farm laws and set up a four-member committee to break the logjam in negotiations between the Modi government and the farmers protesting against the legislations.
The four members are agricultural economists Dr Pramod Kumar Joshi and Professor Ashok Gulati, Anil Ghanwat, president of the Shetkari Sanghatana, a Maharashtra-based farmer organisation, and Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president of a splinter unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU).
All four happen to be votaries of the three farm laws and have backed the government on the issue all along. Only, Mann’s BKU faction — BKU (Mann) — and the Shetkari Sanghatana want the laws implemented with some amendments.
Ghanwat and Mann had even met Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar last month to express their support for the three farm laws.
The committee will hold its first meeting on 22 January. After listening to both the farmers and the government, the committee will submit its report to the Supreme Court within two months from the date of its first sitting.
Dr Pramod Kumar Joshi, agricultural economist
A prominent name in the field of agriculture research, Joshi has earlier served as South Asia director at the International Food Policy Research Institute.
He has also held the positions of director in the Hyderabad-based National Academy of Agriculture Research Management, and the New Delhi-based National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research. He has also served as senior economist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics at Patancheru in Hyderabad.
Joshi’s area of research includes technology policy, market, and institutional economics, and he has received several awards, including the Dr M.S. Randhawa Memorial Award of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
Born in Almora, Uttarakhand, Joshi completed his graduation and postgraduation from GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar.
He has all along backed the three farm laws that Parliament cleared last September.
In an article he wrote in The Financial Express last month, Joshi said any dilution in the farm laws will constrain Indian agriculture in harnessing the emerging global opportunities.
Anil Ghanwat, farmer leader, Shetkari Sanghatana
Ghanwat is the president of the Maharashtra-based Shetkari Sanghatana. The organisation was founded by the famous farm leader Sharad Joshi. The Shetkari Sangathana is among the prominent farmer organisations that is fully backing the government on the three farm laws.
They were the first to announce that they will neither support nor participate in the ongoing protest. Along with the BKU (Mann), the members of the Shetkari Sangathana had met Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar last month to express their support for the laws. It was during this meeting that they submitted a memorandum that lauded the laws but sought certain assurances.
The organisation has made it very clear that they are dead against any rollback of the laws by the government.
Professor Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist
Noted agricultural economist Ashok Gulati is a former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, the government advisory body responsible for framing pricing policies.
He was among the youngest members of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. He has also served as member of the board of ICICI Banking Corporation and Agricultural Finance Corporation.
He is currently the Infosys chair professor for agriculture at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations.
Gulati was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest Indian civilian award, in 2015.
Gulati is a strong votary of farm reforms and has backed the farm laws enacted by the Modi government.
Bhupinder Singh Mann, farmer leader, BKU (Mann)
Mann is the national president of a splinter unit of the BKU that is known as BKU (Mann).
He is an open supporter of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and his faction of the BKU always supports him during elections. His son Gurpartap Mann is a member of the Punjab Public Service Commission.
Mann was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1990. In his letter to Agriculture Minister Tomar, Mann has backed the farm laws but said that they should be implemented with some amendments. He also wants a written assurance that the government will not do away with the Minimum Support Price — a key grievance of the protesting farmers.