New Delhi: Hours before the fifth round of talks between farm union leaders and the central government over the three new agriculture laws, farmers Saturday said anything short of complete rollback of the laws will not be acceptable.
The farmer unions are scheduled to meet Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar for talks at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan at 2pm. This will be the third round of talks to be held this week. Two other meetings were held in October and November, but all remained inconclusive.
“We have decided that we will go into the meeting and tell them that there have been enough talks already. We demand that the three farm laws as well as the Electricity Bill be repealed completely. We will only talk about the MSP after the government assures us that the laws will be repealed,” said Satyavan, working group member, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella group of 31 farmer unions organising the protests in Punjab and Haryana.
‘No discussion on MSP unless laws repealed’
At the fourth round of talks held Thursday, the government had considered the 10-page document prepared by the farmers’ unions with clause-by-clause objections to the three laws and offered to make amendments. But the unions have refused to relent. “We want the three laws repealed. That is our main and only demand. As for the rest we will see how the meeting goes,” said Gurnam Singh, chief, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Haryana.
The farmers have been camping in and around Delhi to protest against the three farm laws — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 which allows farmers to sell their produce outside Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMC) constituted by different state legislations; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 which allows contract farming; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 which deregulates the production, supply, distribution of food items like cereals, pulses, potatoes, onion and edible oilseeds.
The farmers say that the laws will pave way for “corporatisation” of agriculture and that they will not get a fair price for their produce.
At Thursday’s meeting, the government had offered to make amendments to the laws which included strengthening the APMC system, as well as a look at the grievance redressal mechanism which would allow farmers to take their grievances to the judiciary instead of the district collector in the present structure.
The government also offered to consider a discussion on MSP, but the farmers said that unless the three laws are repealed there will be no discussion on MSP.
“Reiterating its demand of repeal of the three Farm Acts and EB 2020, the Working Group of AIKSCC has said there is no space absolutely for any discussion on MSP as farmers interest can be safeguarded only when MSP is given at the Swaminathan formula of 1.5 times the cost of all inputs, it is declared for all crops and there is guaranteed environment of purchase of crops from all farmers,” said AIKSCC in a press release Friday.
Also read: Acupuncturist, ex-Army man, doctor — 5 farmer leaders who shaped protest against farm laws
Call for Bharat Bandh
Agitating farmers Friday called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on 8 December and threatened to occupy toll plazas. “We will hold a nationwide shutdown on Tuesday against these three laws. Awareness programmes have already been started in villages to ensure everyone participates in the strike,” said Satyavan.
Ahead of the meeting Saturday, Union Agriculture Minister Tomar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and Home Minister Amit Shah met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence. “I am very hopeful that farmers will think positively and end their agitation,” Tomar said.
Also read: Punjab’s frustration & anger is rooted in its steep decline, now visible in farmers’ protests
Kudos to the learned authors. One wishes they had been so expressive when they were in the jobs or the then government would have cared for their valuable interpretations and suggestions. This post reminds me of a folk tale from India that illustrate how different perspectives lead to distinct points of view.
Long ago six old men lived in a village in India. Each was born blind. The other villagers loved the old men and kept them away from harm. Since the blind men could not see the world for themselves, they had to imagine many of its wonders. They listened carefully to the stories told by travellers to learn what they could about life outside the village.
The men were curious about many of the stories they heard, but they were most curious about elephants. They were told that elephants could trample forests, carry huge burdens, and frighten young and old with their loud trumpet calls. But they also knew that the Rajah’s daughter rode an elephant when she travelled in her father’s kingdom. Would the Rajah let his daughter get near such a dangerous creature?
The old men argued day and night about elephants. “An elephant must be a powerful giant,” claimed the first blind man. He had heard stories about elephants being used to clear forests and build roads.
“No, you must be wrong,” argued the second blind man. “An elephant must be graceful and gentle if a princess is to ride on its back.”
“You’re wrong! I have heard that an elephant can pierce a man’s heart with its terrible horn,” said the third blind man.
“Please,” said the fourth blind man. “You are all mistaken. An elephant is nothing more than a large sort of cow. You know how people exaggerate.”
“I am sure that an elephant is something magical,” said the fifth blind man. “That would explain why the Rajah’s daughter can travel safely throughout the kingdom.”
“I don’t believe elephants exist at all,” declared the sixth blind man. “I think we are the victims of a cruel joke.”
Finally, the villagers grew tired of all the arguments, and they arranged for the curious men to visit the palace of the Rajah to learn the truth about elephants. A young boy from their village was selected to guide the blind men on their journey. The smallest man put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. The second blind man put his hand on his friend’s shoulder, and so on until all six men were ready to walk safely behind the boy who would lead them to the Rajah’s magnificent palace.
When the blind men reached the palace, they were greeted by an old friend from their village who worked as a gardener on the palace grounds. Their friend led them to the courtyard. There stood an elephant. The blind men stepped forward to touch the creature that was the subject of so many arguments.
The first blind man reached out and touched the side of the huge animal. “An elephant is smooth and solid like a wall!” he declared. “It must be very powerful.”
The second blind man put his hand on the elephant’s limber trunk. “An elephant is like a giant snake,” he announced.
The third blind man felt the elephant’s pointed tusk. “I was right,” he decided. “This creature is as sharp and deadly as a spear.”
The fourth blind man touched one of the elephant’s four legs. “What we have here,” he said, “is an extremely large cow.”
The fifth blind man felt the elephant’s giant ear. “I believe an elephant is like a huge fan or maybe a magic carpet that can fly over mountains and treetops,” he said.
The sixth blind man gave a tug on the elephant’s coarse tail. “Why, this is nothing more than a piece of old rope. Dangerous, indeed,” he scoffed.
The gardener led his friends to the shade of a tree. “Sit here and rest for the long journey home,” he said. “I will bring you some water to drink.”
While they waited, the six blind men talked about the elephant.
“An elephant is like a wall,” said the first blind man. “Surely we can finally agree on that.”
“A wall? An elephant is a giant snake!” answered the second blind man.
“It’s a spear, I tell you,” insisted the third blind man.
“I’m certain it’s a giant cow,” said the fourth blind man.
“Magic carpet. There’s no doubt,” said the fifth blind man.
“Don’t you see?” pleaded the sixth blind man. “Someone used a rope to trick us.”
Their argument continued and their shouts grew louder and louder.
“Wall!” “Snake!” “Spear!” “Cow!” “Carpet!” “Rope!”
“Stop shouting!” called a very angry voice.
It was the Rajah, awakened from his nap by the noisy argument.
“How can each of you be so certain you are right?” asked the ruler.
The six blind men considered the question. And then, knowing the Rajah to be a very wise man, they decided to say nothing at all.
“The elephant is a very large animal,” said the Rajah kindly. “Each man touched only one part. Perhaps if you put the parts together, you will see the truth. Now, let me finish my nap in peace.”
When their friend returned to the garden with the cool water, the six men rested quietly in the shade, thinking about the Rajah’s advice.
“He is right,” said the first blind man. “To learn the truth, we must put all the parts together. Let’s discuss this on the journey home.”
The first blind man put his hand on the shoulder of the young boy who would guide them home. The second blind man put a hand on his friend’s shoulder, and so on until all six men were ready to travel together.
Comments are closed.