Illustration: Soham Sen | ThePrint
Illustration: Soham Sen | ThePrint
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Cop-out, mission abandoned, cold feet, tactical retreat, stalemate. You choose the description for the Modi government’s predicament on its farm reform laws. It is a setback if not an outright defeat or surrender. Which is tragic, because these laws are reformist, bold, and would help farmers by and large, rather than harm them.

Nevertheless, all substantive reform has to be marketed politically. The days of incremental reform by stealth are over. There isn’t any low-hanging fruit left in the reform orchard. That’s why it is important that we understand what went wrong here. Because, an idea is only as good or as bad as those most affected find it.

In our view, here are the seven main reasons why the Modi-Shah BJP has failed to convince the farmers.

– They cannot accept that there is a non-Muslim state in the north where Narendra Modi doesn’t hold the same magisterial sway over public opinion as in the Hindi heartland.

– Because they do not accept it, they never saw the need for a local ally. That’s why they dumped the Akalis so contemptuously. The Sikhs of Punjab are not like the Hindus of Assam who will vote for Modi even when you marginalise their pre-eminent regional party and steal its leaders.

– We have said this before in a National Interest, they do not understand the Sikhs. They see them essentially as Hindus if sartorially different. Fact is, they are, and yet they aren’t. But understanding subtleties isn’t exactly the Modi-Shah BJP’s strong point.

– They never appreciated the deep Left influence among the Punjab peasantry, going back to the early 20th century, since even before Bhagat Singh. Sikhism, the institution of the gurdwara, has a unique tradition of community mobilisation. Add to that the organisational skills and political savvy of the Left. That is what Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal face session after session.

– It is because of a combination of these that the Modi government didn’t bother to market the reforms ideas early on. You do not tell surplus-producing farmers of the Green Revolution states that the very regime under which two generations have prospered is broken, and make three laws to fix them.

– You cannot use force against the Sikhs. To put it more rudely, you can’t treat them like Muslims. And you can’t question their patriotism. You do the first, the entire country will protest. You do the second, the Sikhs would laugh at you and the rest of the country would ask what’s wrong with you. This crisis denies you all your usual weapons: Force, agencies, propaganda, hyper-nationalism and so on.

– And finally, there is the Modi-Shah BJP’s hallmark: Contempt for history. Because, you presume history of the Republic only began in the summer of 2014 and anything that happened before that was a disaster and not worth learning from.


Also read: Shambles over farmers’ protest shows Modi-Shah BJP needs a Punjab tutorial


Let’s discuss the seventh point in some detail. If the post-2014 BJP leaders had not been so caught up in the headiness of power and adulation, they would have asked somebody to fill them in on some earlier experiences of India. Besides all the supposed follies of Jawaharlal Nehru they’d been taught about in the “Sangh”. They would then have known how a supremely powerful leader, at the peak of her popularity, can go wrong and be forced to retreat.

Because then, Narendra Modi would have known how Indira Gandhi erred in 1973, by nationalising all of India’s grain trade. This was her socialist peak, she was riding her post-Bangladesh ‘Durga’ crest and could do nothing wrong. This is also when the economy, reeling from the ravages of war, her dictatorial socialism and then the oil price shock following the Yom Kippur War, was in a tailspin and inflation had reached 33 per cent. A good account of the period is found in historian Srinath Raghavan’s essay in Builders of Modern India, edited by Ramachandra Guha.

This was also when Mrs Gandhi had ushered in her perfect world — a Soviet-style socialist utopia in which prices of everything, including cars, were fixed. Business Standard’s editorial chairman T.N. Ninan described this period in this 2014 article, and called grain trade nationalisation Mrs Gandhi’s greatest folly.

The short version of the story is, she was persuaded by her deep pink counsels, especially her chief commissar and Planning Commission deputy chairman D.P. Dhar, that the best way to control prices was to take the markets out of grain trade by nationalising it. Of course, no public opinion was built. What’s the point of being a strong, supremely popular leader if you still have to do those tedious things?

This led to a disaster. Farmers, traders and consumers were all furious. Further, prices went up, grain shortages were back and farmers were driven deeper into poverty. The one person in her ‘system’ who saw the looming disaster and tried to caution her was a noted economist and, predictably, a Punjabi: B.S. (Bagicha Singh) Minhas, a graduate of Khalsa College, Amritsar, who also studied at Panjab University and got a PhD from Stanford. He knew the farming business and the farmer’s mind. But he was overruled.

This was the only major decision that Mrs Gandhi was forced to withdraw, when she had no political challenge. Once she blinked, it gave impetus to her opponents, and Jayaprakash Narayan’s Navnirman Movement picked up momentum.

We do accept the contrasts in the two situations. Mrs Gandhi tried to take the private markets away from farmers and lost. Modi is bringing more markets to the farmers, and they don’t want them.

In terms of the philosophical direction of the economy, the two situations are contrary to each other. But there is no contradiction politically. In each case, unassailable, supremely powerful and popular leaders failed to see their limitations. Mrs Gandhi, then, of 352 seats in the Lok Sabha; Modi, now, of 303.


Also read: Neither ‘udta’ nor ‘padhta’ Punjab. Question is how India’s no. 1 state in 2003 fell to 13


Even in a classical dictatorship, like China or Russia today, there are limits to a leader’s powers. India is nowhere near that league. In a diverse democracy, there are also limitations to any leader’s popularity. That’s why leaders have to know the art of persuasion.

Which Modi knows well. That’s why his government talks of ‘nudge’ economics. Or, to put it more accurately, a ‘nudge’ approach to political economy. Modi did it where it was easy, as say with the ‘Give It Up’ LPG campaign, when much larger populations were involved, including his base. He neither enjoys the same popularity in Punjab nor the unquestioning trust that he’s used to in Gujarat and the Hindi heartland.

If his dispensation wasn’t so overconfident, if there was still a culture of his political aides and bureaucracy intervening with some counsel and caution, he might have understood that this situation was different. And the need for persuasion, nudge, preparing the ground. In politics, if your objective is only winning elections, just Chanakya neeti (strategy) might do. For governance, you need both Chanakya neeti and Ram rajya (listening to others, give-and-take). You can neither beat up the farmers into submission, nor dismiss them as ‘Khalistanis’. We cannot answer these questions. But it is evident that this ground work was missing.

It is from this lack of patience and non-understanding the limitations of personal popularity in Punjab that we face this looming disaster over farm laws. This explains the first six points listed by us.

This deserved to be the high, reformist point of Modi’s second term after a messed-up economy in the first. But, as we well know, what is economics in a democracy if not politics by another name?

This article has been updated to correct the fact that D.P. Dhar was the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission during grain trade nationalisation and not P.N. Haksar. The error is regretted.


Also read: Thatcher or Anna moment? Why Modi’s choice on farmers’ protest will shape future politics


 

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89 COMMENTS

  1. illegitimate coitus of communists and indian crabs give birth to cynics, they dont have life they do full time commentry and smoking weed.

  2. new army of cynics being produced by illegitimate coitus of communists and indian crabs. regular hired commentators get some life.

  3. Col, everybody pays taxes in this country. The farmers pay indirect taxes and even poorest do. Banias are smart and they know how to avoid taxes. So also many professionals like chartered accountants, lawyers, doctors, self-employed etc are smart income tax evaders. And how many of our politicians have paid any income taxes?

    Maybe the PF scheme for salaried employees should be stopped because that also is hurting the nation’s finances. Also think of the pension burden and health insurance burden for govt employees. We are primarily a socialist nation, but you only pretend to be capitalistic and cite “free markets”. Why does government ban farm exports when prices rise – why can’t it allow farmers to make good profits? Go further and abolish the PDS – why subsidise the poor for cheap rice and wheat?

    Wasteful expenditure by governments is more dangerous for our nation’s finances.. Nobody is looking at this elephant in the room. If our country’s finances are so bad, why did Modiji order a special plane worth billions of dollars? Why spend 20 thousand crores on Central Vista?

    • “.. If our country’s finances are so bad, why did Modiji order a special plane worth billions of dollars? Why spend 20 thousand crores on Central Vista? ..”

      Brilliant Mr Kapil ! You hit the nail on the head !

      I would also add that this smacks of “wonderful” timing: diverting scarce resources to fund frivolous megalomaniacal projects when the economy is in doldrums, people are dying from COVID and the Chinese are slowly capturing Indian territory.

  4. Just a correction – the book edited by Ramchandra Guha is titled “Makers of of Modern India” and not “Builders of Modern India”.

  5. If rice and wheat rotting in FCI is an issue at least let the tax paying middle class buy the rice and wheat at cheaper rates from the PDS. Instead of paying for rice at above Rs 50 per kg at private retail shops we could buy it from the PDS at say Rs 20 per kg. That way the government will get some money to relieve the burden on FCI. This facility should be made available only for income tax payers.

    Today middle class in most states are not eligible for rations from the PDS. The PDS is completely skewed towards providing free or cheap rice and wheat for the poor. We can’t keep going on like this and bankrupting the finances of the nation.

  6. I read every where that why only the farmers of 2 states Punjab and Haryana are protesting..?? The simple answer is they are very near to central govt in Delhi and logistically possible for them organize long time protests. I still remember the protest by Tamilnadu farmers in Delhi few years back which was not reported by the main stream media..

  7. Sekhar Ji, you open with a remark that these laws are intended to help than harm and then write so confusingly that I miss the wood for the trees. Please publish my essay here that will fix all farm issues for the Nation and farmers in particular.
    Atmanirbhar model for the uplift of small and marginal farmers

    The Prime Minister’s clarion call of making “Atmanirbhar Bharat” can be achieved easily if we first achieve “Atmanirbhar Kisan”, in every Indian village. This is because; over 45% of our population comprise of farmers who live in villages and are in dire need for uplift from their plight urgently. The profile of our nation’s small and marginal farmer largely symbolizes him as a poor man toiling hard to make ends meet with the small pieces of land he received from his parents to secure his survival and security. He replicates the practice to secure for his children similarly, and this feature is endangering the livelihood of such a large number of farmers in our country. This is incapacitating enough, amongst others in growing crops on the lands that are intended to feed them and make some money by selling the balance into the market. He is poorly educated and adopts agricultural practices left behind by his forefathers and relies mostly upon rain-fed agriculture that can barely grow one crop. Failure of one monsoon will drive them to penury and abject poverty. This is what’s going on with farming in India presently.

    The challenges faced by these farmers are never-ending, as solutions offered by a number of NGOs and Government have not worked so for. Since 1995, a significant number of 296,438 farmer suicides have been reported and registered by National Crime Records Bureau of India. They are only growing unabatedly every year. They lie at the bottom of the pyramid and nothing other than an out of the box solution can change this phenomenon. Surprising as it appears, the scene around the world on farmer distress emerge similar, but for different reasons.

    Fundamental economics teaches that four factors of production are vital for optimizing wealth; land, labour, capital and enterprise (that includes technology and management). Deficiency even in one can create an imbalance, enough to topple the apple-cart. That is exactly the problem with Indian agriculture today. These farmers are categorised as small, marginal and semi-medium farmers, as per the Government. The small, marginal and semi-medium farmers have a staggering 95% land-holding with 68% of arable lands. The minuscule balance is held by medium and large landowner farmers. This asymmetry is glaring. The medium and large land owning farmers are able to conduct agriculture very profitably, as they are able to assemble all the four factors of production. They are prosperous and wealthy, politically powerful and occupy a position of influence in social life. A continuous land fragmentation by small and marginal farmers wrecks Indian agriculture. There is not enough narrative from the Governmental or from enlighteners on how to find a workable solution. If this remains unattended, the consequences will compound the distress further. This forced the Government to devise various forms of subsidy for the benefit of distressed farmers; without any distinction between the farmers. This has not worked the way it was intended to, as wealthy farmers secure these subsidies easily while small and marginal farmers struggle to access their due share and often fall into the hands of errant babus or middlemen. In the bargain, the Government’s resources are rendered futile for the poor. The Government of the day is trying very hard to ensure that the poor get their dues but the system does not appear to bell the mysterious cat! Realising that these subsidies are not serving their purposes, recently the Government has resorted to sending cash to each farmer family a sum of Rs 6000 per annum, in three installments of Rs 2000 each. In effect, it works to Rs 500 per month for each farmer family!

    We must not lose sight of an important element in agriculture, which is a real problem that confronts anyone including the government to find an effective and sustainable solution.

    Farmers are individuals conducting their vocation independently. There is no medium through which the Government can communicate with farmers so that it reaches every farmer in the country. Even though there are village offices called the Block Development Officers in every ‘mandal’, they are dysfunctional to say the least and are not proactive to farmer needs. Let us examine the following.

    1. For instance, if there is a shortage of say pulses, how does the government communicate to farmers to ask them to sow more pulses against what they are already growing? By some means even if they are able to do, what is the guarantee that these farmers will grow pulses? Even if a price is guaranteed, it may suit some and may not for the others. Then how will the Government procure these from thousands of small farmers from their fields?
    2. For over 13 years, the Government has been pleading with the farmers of Punjab and Haryana not to grow paddy as they are guzzling away the underground water and creating scarcity for those growing fruits and vegetables but these farmers are adamant and continue to grow paddy. In addition, the production far exceeds our requirement for the nation and the go downs have no storage to contain the production and are rodent infested. Yet, the Government procures and pays them the MSP. Now the farmers want MSP legalized!
    3. The Government has announced that it will ensure that farmer’s income is doubled by 2022, five years ago. Farmers don’t keep accounts of how much they spend to grow their crops. Each farmer may have his own methods and in this process, how will anyone determine the earnings of farmers to double it? Even if it is averaged, how can an assessment are made? I suspect that these three contentious farm bills were to achieve this very feature and this is hanging in a balance with protest from farmer group to repel the law!
    4. Whilst every village has Panchayat and agricultural officers like the Block Development Officers, these agencies are slothful and apathetic towards poor farmers.

    On the flip side, one can read almost daily that many have left their lucrative jobs, both locally and abroad and are taking Farming. What attracts them when millions of farmers are in penury? They have obviously found out the inadequacies prevailing and have solutions for. That attracts them to buy lands in villages and they conduct agriculture profitably! In particular, most of them have realised the advantages of growing their crops organically for their own consumption and for the market, as it is far less expensive to grow and tasty to consume! In addition, they enrich their soil and do not pollute the underground water resource. This exemplifies that to conduct profitable farming, orderliness and an organized manner of agriculture is essential to manage this huge and important sector of the economy. If this can be done somehow through all farmers in the country, the Indian agricultural sector can catapult growth, employment GDP. It is rather strange that those who qualify with an agriculture degree do not work in farms with farmers and never tried to create an opportunity for both farmers and themselves.

    We also witness a huge number of youngsters in the country struggling to be employed. They are on the lookout to build a sustainable business opportunity for them. Farmers also look for sustainable vocation in farming. The two appear synonymous. Fulfilling the aspirations for both can create enduring and satisfying opportunities. Moreover, agriculture is indeed an intricate science that is taught to students in their colleges for five years to earn a degree for enabling them to make a living. Therefore farmers are ill-equipped to handle independently. It is a paradox that these students do not stay with this knowledge to produce crops and food but work in a bank or any institution or teach or write a book or be in the media but be in agriculture. Those who never stepped into a college, produced crops and food on their tiny lands that lack every aspect of the applied science of agriculture, are living with this vocation. On the other hand, the medium and big landowner farmers with their land holdings and arable lands can engage agronomists, arrange to market or value-add and export their produce profitably. This exemplifies the deficiencies but why then are we missing the wood for the trees in finding a solution?

    Unfortunately, not only depletion of resources that affect the lives of farmers but a lot is also to do with the greed and avariciousness on the part of certain vested political interests and misdemeanors has taken a toll on farmer’s lives. A very recent example is witnessed at the massive protests that are afoot in the capital by inciting farmers for making three landmark amendments in the farm sector. The benefits from these legislations have been misinterpreted to farmers and they have been pulled into the roads from Punjab and Haryana to the National Capital. Despite the Government assured that the existing MSP will not be dismantled, farmers need not sell through APMCs only, farmers can make their arrangement with bulk or corporate buyers, these protests are engineered to exhibit unfound fears that they are anti-farmer bills. These protests are from the farmers of the Punjab and Haryana only for the moment and could soon spread all over. It is my firm belief that farming should have nothing to do with the Government or anyone.

    Independently, farmers can create a self-reliant approach as described in the following lines and need no one’s help or assistance. The Government has failed to realise this fact.

    Many NGOs in the environment try various means to help farmers. These are in the form of teaching them good agricultural practices, getting them good unadulterated seeds, hiring equipment required for farming, showing them where finances can be obtained, how to tap markets, creation of apps that will facilitate their farming in a variety of ways and many similar initiatives. However, these farmers are unable to make use of this help because they essentially lack the impetus, as their existing domestic life is in abject poverty and distress already. That is why these initiatives of the NGOs have not been able to resurrect these farmers. Maybe a few who are not so downtrodden farmers make use of those help but majority farmers need a different type of hand-holding.

    Optimisation of agriculture can only happen when scale, capital, technology, management of the business and labour is available to these farmers. This is exactly how the farmers with bigger parcels of lands develop to make good money from agricultural operations. Applying the same analogy, by pooling the lands in a village of small, marginal and semi-medium farmers, the required scale can be created. Enjoining them with non-exploitative entrepreneurs can create a synthesis that can benefit both the farmers and entrepreneurs in developing an agribusiness on a sound base. This can become a game-changer in our country and could also work well in any agricultural system in any developing or even a developed economy. Looking from another perspective, this can also help enhance world food security and become the root of the economic development of any nation. The development of the application of agricultural science should be focusing on these issues. This appears to be lacking throughout the world, as there is poverty with all developing and some developed nations. Farmer suicides are not peculiar to India alone but are also a malady in the US and other developed countries. The average holding of an unviable farmer in the United States of America is 444 acres; whereas in India, it is 2.7 acres! Secondly, the use of fertilizers and pesticides has taken an untold toll of poison-free food and soil health all over the world. In this context growing organic farming (that nature taught us) takes a perfect displacement for growing food crops with fertiliser and pesticides used at the centre of production all over the world. When agriculture commenced delivering crops for humans and animals, fertilisers and pesticides were neither unknown nor required for crop production. Nature showed its way and it was only during the 90s that fertilisers and pesticides were manufactured to grow more from the same unit of land. Greed and avarice took centre stage in agriculture all over the world that turned to rapaciousness. Today, in the minds of an average uneducated Indian farmer, fertiliser alone produced more crops and so he dumped chemicals that overtime destroyed their lands and polluted the subsoil water resources. Whole-foods in the US, an enterprise that is bought over by Amazon, sells only organic food in its chain and is gaining momentum with sales touching the US $15 billion and is very popular. Since the Industrial revolution, the pollution in the air has depleted the amount of carbon resulting in the exhaustion of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) levels. Use of fertilisers depletes SOC levels. A rejuvenated approach is necessary for agriculture to take care of all the adverse aspects enunciated above.

    In this manner, farmers need not look for any subsidies and the Government can withdraw all these give-always. All the monies poured into these subsidies can be converted into investments. The “Har Khet Ko Pani” scheme should be expedited that was flagged off by the present PM on July 1, 2015. India will be in an unassailable position at the WTO with the removal of all subsidies and become competitive world over, with excessive grain production that today is wasted in the country and are eaten by rodents. Agriculture with millions of farmers can become well manageable when in each village if we have farmers and entrepreneurs conduct agribusiness that is needed most.

    The way ahead is to install a simple Model as described hereunder:

    1. Pool contiguous lands of small and marginal farmers in a village; to begin with around 200 acres. With pooling, the large tracts can contribute to several advantages, the biggest being arresting physical fragmentation of land and giving rise to scale. However, on paper, a farmer can continue to apportion his land amongst his children. This is the only way land fragmentation in physical terms can find a sustainable solution that is very important. Next, this enables sourcing for water on the large tracts, water harvesting from run-off from rain if required, digging ponds or well etc., or install a bore or open well. Individually farmers can never realize these advantages. Further, soil profiling on the pooled lands will facilitate identification of a basket of crops that can be grown, from which a selection of the most profitable crops in terms of profitability, value-addition, and distance to the marketplace, export or domestic sale can be judiciously made. This flexibility is unavailable to independent farmers without being in the pool.

    2. The pooled lands offering the scale provide a great attraction for entrepreneurs to develop a business with the farmers due to the aforesaid factors. This does not happen automatically but a catalyst in a village needs to be identified. After he is convinced of the model that can create a common good for both, he will need to convince farmers after clearing all doubts in their minds. This is most vital and needs to be done by giving time for the farmers and not be rushed. Farmers need to be assured that their lands will not be hypothecated to any outsider or institutions to raise loans and assurance needs to be provided by the company that will be formed between farmers and the entrepreneurs. Farmers will also give a written assurance to the company that they will not separate from the pool to jeopardise interests of other farmers in the pool.

    3. Thereafter farmers and entrepreneurs can join hands and create a Business Enterprise and register to give it legal status. It can provide equity shares to farmers and entrepreneurs that build ownership in the enterprise. The entrepreneurs with their skills in managing a business can list the company to raise funds for the future and build valuations along with growing profitability of the enterprise. This also builds resilience to repay any borrowed funds by the enterprise. In other words, the entrepreneurs bring in what is lacking with the farmers in terms of capital, technology (including Management of the business), production and marketing the produce including value–addition and export. Similarly, I farmers bring in what is unavailable like land and workmanship.

    4. Farmers will work under the guidance of the agri-experts and be remunerated like a factory worker throughout. Farmers will be consulted and explained the advantages of conducting organic farming. The salary will remunerate a farmer for his work, which otherwise in his independent operations goes unremunerated for his toil. Farmers usually do not maintain accounts to know what they spent to grow the crops, and therefore, the MSP concept does not make sense to him. Farmers will be shown the profitability by maintaining accurate records and realisation on sales and expenses for running the enterprise. In other words, an inclusive management style of operation will be in place for any external agency like District Administration will be possible.

    5. In this collaboration the farmers should be treated with dignity and respect by the entrepreneurs. Some farmers are intuitively well enlightened and such farmers will be a part of the management as well, to express the inclusiveness in operations. This is a very important ingredient in the model and a significant winner in the approach, and a miss-match can even collapse the model. A fine tuned Human Resource Management skill will need to be exhibited by the entrepreneurs.

    6. After accounting for all the expenses of running the enterprise, the profits will be divided amongst the farmers in the proportion of the acreage pooled in the formation. This will be the second source of remuneration for the farmers that he never receives for the value of his lands in his independent endeavor.

    7. The remuneration for the entrepreneurs will be in the form of salaries paid to them and will be provided with accommodation and food to remain in the village with some comforts to be attractive. Some recreational activities can also be developed and that farmer and their children can also participate. This will create cohesiveness and goodwill besides friendships.

    8. Overtime agri-tourism can be organized to showcase operation to the urbanites and is very popular in many parts of the country. It will also add substantially to the revenues for the company. A number of such agri- tourism spots are already n operation in the country.

    A critical examination of the model presented above will elucidate the removal of all the existing impediments as enumerated and also shows how farmers can operate without any external or Governmental support of any kind. This is indeed a very significant change that can free farmers from the malady and not be swayed by external influences on them in any manner. This will make farmers indeed very proud of their contribution to the society and security of food for the community will be best served by these initiatives.

    One sample project properly can pave the way for replication in many villages. We have many young agricultural graduates coming out of the college and if the curriculum can juxtapose principles of agri-business appropriately enough, this can become a great game-changer throughout the world.

    Based on the above lines, a project for execution has been readied in a tribal village in Maharashtra, with the assistance of an NGO, Gramin Samasya Mukti Trust (GSMT). Several rounds of discussions with farmers have brought to a stage that 30 farmers (out of 54 farmers who were spoken to) with their 174 acres of contiguous lands are in the pool at this stage. An expert in Zero Budget Natural Farming technique, who is associated with the initiative, has drawn up a crop plan after visiting the village and examining crops grown by the villagers. He is available to guide the enterprise and he shall also train the farmers on what and how their labour will produce the desired results. Also, it is proposed to induct trainees so that they can at some point in time branch off to initiate a similar project in their respective village after carefully following the model. There is a large water body nearby and a plan for lifting water to irrigate the lands can be initiated. Marketing through an outlet is also available to absorb the produce. There are also staff members of the GSMT who will be assigned to the project.

    Financing has become an issue as no institutional finance is available without mortgaging the farmer’s lands and this is not an option envisaged in the model, as this will jeopardise the lands belonging to these farmers. Therefore, a Grant or anyone with investing for a return is the options and the profitability is such that the money can be paid back. One successful model can lend for replication in many villages in the country and can turn agriculture into industry.

    A persistent effort is on to get a Grant from some institution.

    S. Raghavan
    Former Director (Petroleum) Indian Oil Corporation (IBP Unit)
    farmeremancipation@gmail.com
    Chennai, India: November 29, 2020.

  8. I like the previous article on this topic. This is indeed Modi’s Thatcher moment. We knew there are going to be protests. We can’t be surprised about it and also we cannot blame BJP for ignorance. We can blame them for lack of preparation. Having said that, as SG said in the previous article, its time to follow through and not blink.

    I dont think they could have done any better. Someone or the other is always unhappy with the reforms. I also don’t think its for lack of trying that we are here. Socialist roots are deep in our country, and the protesters believe that since they are protesting, they must be right. The arrogance shown by farmers’ leaders is astounding in itself that they have shown no inclination towards a compromise. Blaming the government does not seem appropriate here. 

On the other hand, this is the moment to show resolve and support. We should support Modi government in fighting this through. If they can push through Kashmir and CAA then they can also push through this reform. Fact that they haven’t, shows that SG is wrong in his reading for once.

  9. It is very sad that the situation has come to such a pass on these farm laws. As an ordinary citizen of this great nation, my heart is with the farmers and “khalisthanis” sitting there on the borders of Delhi over last two months. While there may be a need for new laws to possibly reform the agriculture sector, it cannot be brought in by bulldozing the views of the very people they are supposed to “save”. I am reminded of Shri Chandrababu Naidu’s drive to change things in AP when he came to power. He went about certain changes with similar gusto and disregarded the views of those sections which were opposed to those changes. Yet he bulldozed his way through. But soon after that he was sent packing by voters, to the sidelines and has never recovered from that blow in 1989. Irony is that today’s Hyderabad is in many ways reaping the benefits of the changes that Chandrababu’s govt. pushed through then. But voters have probably not forgiven the party for treating their views without respect.

    • Difference between Naidu and Modi is that Modi has the support of Hindus. Most Hindus especially in the Hindi heartland see him as a protector of Vedic culture and ideas. It’s not governance and reforms but the image of a protector that makes him win elections. In short he is a beacon of hope for a good 40% of people in India, mostly Hindus. And that’s a big number.

      • Mr Jayaram: I agree with what you write:

        “.. Most Hindus especially in the Hindi heartland see him as a protector of Vedic culture and ideas .. that makes him win elections ..”

        But I also think that North Indian consumption of gomutra might also have a say in why the Hindiwalas vote for a man who has made them economically much worse off … !!!

  10. Dear The Print team,

    It’s common to find errors in reputed newspapers of India, the most you can find in times of India and least in the Hindu but you do find errors. In past they used to to be regretful about the errors and now they are not bothered. And no wonder the is reflects in the state of affairs of journalism in India.

    Therefore, please raise the standard of quality because if i am willing to put money to subscribe you then i will not tolerate the same nonsense which happened so far.

    Lastly, your articles are top notch on depth and the variety of thinking. Well-done.

    Regards

  11. Demonetization was not by stealth? Passing the farm bills in Rajya Sabha with voice vote was not subterfuge?

  12. Bank nationalization was “marketed politically” by Indira Gandhi? Dismantling of licence-quota-permit raj was “marketed politically” by Narsimha Rao? Reading Mr Shekhar Gupta’s articles over the last six months on the farmers agitation I can’t help but notice that he too behaves very much like a weather vane.

  13. Sir,

    I respect your view. Am little concerned that this article, though not openly, looks at the current situation of land laws as failure of the govt of the day and in particular failure of the NM-AS combination. What i expect from such an experience media people like you to call out the issues on the other side when majority of the farmers have not raised concern on the farm laws.
    If the print genuinely believes ( I have seen your views on the new farm laws) that these land laws are critical for the country, then use your media tool to convince the other side rather than making political issues out of it.

    • Ramanan avargale:

      You seem to be upset over the fact that your beloved gods NaMo & AmSha are being held responsible for the troubles they have brought upon themselves by stirring the hornet’s nest. But tell me Ramanan Saar, who else should be held responsible for these self-inflicted wounds of 2020? Nehru? RaGa? Andimuthu Raja ? Sasikala ? Rajnikanth?

      Democracy is based upon dialogue and debate between the citizen and his elected representatives. Diktats from above worked in Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China or Idi Amin’s Uganda. Diktats will not work in a very heterogeneous country like India where even the very idea of an Indian identity is subject to debate. Punjab has seen enormous bloodletting during the Khalistan struggles and riding roughshod over Sikhs is the recipe for a re-opening of these simmering conflicts. Your Gujarati gods NaMo and AmSha seem to have forgotten that haven’t they ?

      The real tragedy in today’s India is that educated, middle-class persons like you have stopped using your faculties and have outsourced your thinking to a Gujarati with a pogrom under his belt and poverty as his legacy.

      Pathetic Ramanan Saar !

  14. i dont agree with this simplistic analysis. they make modi a boxing bag if anything fails. had he succeeded the same listed reasons will be told as contributing factors for the success. modi has shortcomings but not this one..
    my understanding is that the Punjab farmers and middlemen have two key powers a)Govt. MSP and subsidies which they milk for profits b) the Political Power ( SGs famous example of 1 farmer family gives four times political GDP in terms of votes). so together its a powerful combo and the punjab farmers and middlemen are drunk in that powerful combo. which motivates them not to lose powerful position. this force was mobilised and channelised by the LEFT, which is struggling for its existence in Lutyens and in India perse… this had a synergistic effect which current dispensation is unable to break….
    It is a well calculated move by rich and powerful farmers and middlemen and the LEFT (mainly YOYA, and silent partners) …which was unexpected..

  15. The govt asked the famers to discuss the laws clause by clause and offer amendments. They did not.
    That means it is not the laws themselves but something else is at play.

  16. SG’s and some others’ opinion that these farm laws are good for farmers are ‘just’ their opinions without any logic. They have so far completely failed to explain how these laws will benefit farmers. As a student of business and economics, I understand that these laws will benefit the government and corporates and may be consumers, BUT these will completely destroy small farmers. Thats the truth.

  17. 7 Rules of Success.
    7 Habits of Highly Effective People
    7 Deadly Sins
    7 Wonders of the World
    7 Reasons why India will suffer due to unsustainable farming in Punjab (strike this out!)
    ….and only 1 reason why the reader should subscribe to Shekhar Gupta’s Print. Gosh, not 10 or 12, or 19…..but the lucky number 7. Seven reasons nicely served on a platter. Aren’t we readers so lucky — not only in this life but Saato janam.

    • Why don’t you go back to your work in Seven-Eleven and leave political analysis to those who can read, write and above all think ?

  18. Actually, there aren’t “seven reasons why Modi Govt is in retreat in farm reform laws!”

    Just ONE. One that the article fails to even mention. Leave alone address!

    There are no “REAL BENEFITS” in these farm laws for farmers directly. None that farmers did not already have, or ones which could not have been provided by a little tinkering in existing laws.

    Instead GOVT claims to have brought in laws supposedly “HUGELY BENEFICIAL” to farmers. And, funnily enough, are now willing to tinker with all three laws, clause by clause! BUT NOT REPEAL THEM! Bruised egos at work?

    If there were genuine benefits, does anyone believe Modi – the great communicator – could not have shown the farmers those benefits.

    But not Modi, not Rajnath Singh, not the Agri Minister, not even ONE spokesperson of the Govt has been able to articulate the BENEFITS OF THE FARM LAWS FOR THE FARMERS! Clearly, cogently and honestly!

    There is not even a list if benefits which is accessible.

    There are “NO REAL, SIGNIFICANT” benefits for farmers in these laws!

    Would be happy to hear from someone/anyone who can share a list of genuine, relevant, immediate benefits to farmers emanating directly from these bills. Benefits they would not have got, but for these bills.

    In my opinion “LACK OF BENEFITS IS THE SINGLE REASON WHY MODI GOVT IS IN RETREAT IN FARM REFORM LAWS!”

  19. The Laws of the government are for the entire country and not only for a State two. This being the case, viewing the participants in the ongoing agitation at the Delhi border one can not understand why only the Punjabi farmers are seen in the agitation ? Does this not hint at the fact that the farmers from other parts of the country are not unhappy with the said controversial Laws even if one can not confidently say that they happy. The agitating farmers are not prepared to spell out the clause/s in the said Laws that they deem detrimental to their interest. Their one point agenda has all along been repealing the laws and nothing short of the same. They are quite adamant on this point. One can admit that there could some points that the farmers are happy about and not the law in its entirety. How can the farmers of one or two State speak for entire country ? What if the farmers other parts of country are in favour of the Laws ? Can their interest be sacrificed for the sake of the agitators ? Implausible. The writer Mr. would have done well if these points were also discussed. One can not express view on being pro-Modi or anti-Modi which is very much visible in the write-up

    • Mr V.S.Patil: When the government is a one-man show run by your fellow Gujarathi, shouldn’t he be held responsible for his undemocratic ideas?

  20. I guess you forgot that Chandigarh has not been transferred to Punjab….then some 6 other points that was cause of terrorism in Punjab but now it is not a issue. It goes down to religious fanaticism and fukragiri. Soon or later masks will fall of as it did last time.

  21. Shekhar Gupta has become too smart for himself by doing Over analysis, Shekar is talking as if farm laws were enacted to Punjabi farmers because they were Sikhs, in fact they will benefit the most.

  22. Sorry SG:

    Bring Hindu Muslim aspect into this was least expected from The Print.

    You have missed the main point of political maneuvering and predominant influence of MIDDLEMEN (ADITYAS) in Punjab . Whatever, the media including THE Print, have failed to communicate the pros of the farm bills and taken the non conformist stand (always against the establishment; pro establishment shows a weak press).

    The major issue here is NOT the protests but the farm bills. You missed the point this time.

    Unfortunate.

    • Sir, I am a farmer from Punjab, let me tell you that Adityas are not middlemen as politicians want you to believe. The provide a service which is to clean the produce, bag it and then sell it for a commission of 2.5%. Farmers have no issues with Adityas,

      • Fine Jas,
        Thanks for your reply
        Then pray tell me what exactly is your problem with the farm laws. My understanding is that the laws give the farmer to sell to anyone anywhere including the Adityas (even if they are what you say they are); more freedom

        Rest assured all of us want the best for our farmers.

        Thanks

      • Excellent comment by Jas. Most commentators here, including Shekhar Gupta are completely unaware of this fact. What they are also unaware is that private buyers have always been present in Punjab, Haryana, western UP but they are seen as leech and not aadtiyas. For example, in western UP any farmer can sell cane to private player at any time but at close to half the price of what they can get at MSP. All farmers know this. Sooner people realize this, less they will write extremely biased opinions.

        • There is a lot for farmers in the new laws. The present system of trade of farm produce has pitfalls, pan India. I am not sure the farmers are really happy with these conditions, except for the MSP in some products. The MSP regime in itself is a form of contract farming.

          A myopic and political approach to the issue is self defeating. In a large country as India looking at any single factor in isolation is short sightedness; an entire orchestra needs to be put together to create a symphony.

          The Indian Farmer (at various times and places) enjoys the following (No envy here, please; we are OK with it)
          1. Free electricity
          2. Free water
          3. Free /subsidised fertiliser
          4. No income tax from farm income
          5. Subsidised ration through PDS
          6. Direct income transfer
          7. MSP – some items
          8. Writing off of loans
          9. Easy loans
          10. Free / subsidized cooking gas

          The new laws do not change any of the above.

          These farmers are the only producers (for argument’s sake manufacturers, services sector, dairy sector, farmers of perishable crops etc. are also producers) who is assured of a fixed price (MSP) for some of their produce.. It is recorded that even then he does not get what is due to him as he does not have the freedom to directly and freely interact with the market. For instance, there is no MSP for eggs, milk, milk products, perishables (vegetables and fruits) et al.
          Hence for a common Indian it is beyond comprehension why he can’t get direct and free access to all markets anywhere. Some trepidation is natural while migrating from one system to another. A pragmatic approach for long term benefits have to be considered, rather than make it a political battle ground which benefits none.

          As a Nation India can’t forever sustain subsidies (ALL subsidies including outside the farm sector) forever.

          Tail piece: WE the people of India want the best for ALL our farmers.

          • Over 90% farmers in India already use private buyers so not sure what is this excitement about having private players buying farm produce is about. Incidentally suicides is highest also among these group using private buyers.
            Bihar is the best examples where mandi system and msp combination was removed in 06 and everybody know how that went. Most laborers in India are from this one state who can be counted as small farmers but are not really focused in agriculture as they do not get rght price.
            Orissa is another example which recently instituted mandis and MSP combo and now procure 100% produce of some of the crops. Their farmers have leap frogged not only Bihar but almost all but a handful states of the country. Just a decade ago Orissa was like Bihar but not anymore after copying mandi model of Punjab and Haryana. Current mandi system/MSP has to be expanded many fold to extend this benefit.
            Current laws say not one word about existing mandi system and MSP which benefit a farmer the most. All we hear from govt is words that these will not touched, which is just empty words. It has to be passed as law and not verbal assurance. At best current laws can be termed as AGRI-BUSINESS laws and not agriculture laws.

  23. The write up by Shekhar Gupta ji is to be viewed with two different goggles. One from is economic angle and another from political level. Most of the agro-economists agree that agricultural reform initiated by the Modi government are needed on economic logic and keeping in view the health of economy of the whole country on one hand and economy of different states of India on other hand. Indian economy can not go on using the medicines used in 1960-79 to treat food shortage hit economy eternally specially when food shortage economy has been a thing of past .
    But earnings and prosperity has to be based equity and justice. Agriculture is economic activity undertaken by the people to earn livelihood and prosperity . Whether one agrees or not but there is impression throughout in India that farmers in Punjab and northern Haryana and there adjoining areas benefited immensely from Government largesse in shape of free electricity, free irrigation, loan –wavers etc at the cost of the poor farmers in other parts of India. This lop-sided preferential treatment has made farming community Punjab and north Haryana to behave like spoilt –child .They claim and want to exercise VETO power on farm laws that has potential to benefits farmers in whole of India.
    If the farmers of Punjab think they will not be able to work under newly created economic environment under new farm laws , they should approach their state Government to help them in learning and adopting some new profession and work-culture . In 21 st centaury there is NO DEARTH of professions. The state Govt. can develop their state as , Industrial Hub, IT HUB or like or can enjoy and sleep peacefully and allow developing of their state as MANPOWER EXPORT CORPORATION , as many states in India have done . No need to give name of states . Every one knows.
    The artiyaas, (middlemen ) , disgruntled and defeated politicians and journalists who were beneficiaries their booty , self-declared leftists are , and to a large have been successful in creating a narrative Modi governments reform will benefit big names of Indian industry. The honorable Supreme court , too , tried to constitute an expert committee to address the problem – of misgivings on farm laws and hardship to common public and agitators arising from amassing of so many persons on entry points of NCT of Delhi , had no impact on the arrogant farmers leaders. It clearly shows they are more interested in politics than economic logic .

    NOW COMING TO POLITICAL ASPECTS — The so-called farmers struggle against farm laws is nothing but a SECOND battle of political war against the winners of ELECTION -2019 initiated by the defeated warriors of ELECTION -2019 . First was agitation against CAA. Next year it may be on some other issue. First full-term NDA government of Mr. Vajpeyi ji was easily defeated in 2004 by the combination of Congis, leftists and regional leaders. They hoped to repeat the same feat in 2019 , but alas they failed to capture PMO , because Modi is made of some other political clay than that Vajpeyi was made of. And they also failed to grasp the most underlying aspiration of the voters of India to eliminate Congress party from political landscape of India as voters of India never gave Congress party individual majority after 1984 elections and party is disappearing as a political force in state after state. 2020 was most difficult year in the life most of the countries of the world due to corona pandemic , lock downs and subsequent economic down turn. But by and large , The leadership of Modi was above average , even the Chinese army was stopped from indulging into any 1962 like misadventure .
    What ever may be written in favour of or against the Government of the day Voters will Give their verdict in 2024 , but please also keep in mind — Modi too will Show his CARDS at time of his choice .But definitively before next battle for votes starts.

  24. Sikhs are the most pampered lot in the country, despite their insignificant contribution to taxes. You won’t find Sikhs in science and technology, or even in sports barring hockey (Bumrah is from Gujarat), not one single well known entrepreneur is from Sikh community – the ‘famous’ ones have done massive frauds. Even in armed forces their numbers are dwindling, besides we need more machines than men for armed forces, it’s not a personnel game any longer as we saw in Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Robots will win wars not men. Only those men will count who will make those robots, so worship engineers and scientists instead.

    Why this pampering of this state Punjab which is not even in top 3 in any crop and is falling behind in farming – the only thing they were good at. They are also good at loud obnoxious music but that’s not something to be proud of.

    • Please educate how much income taxes all our ministers in the Union Cabinet have paid before they became ministers.

      Most of them started out their career in the states. Before any of them got to a ministerial or chief ministerial position at state government level, I am also keen to know how much income taxes they paid.

    • Sikhs did not benefit from reservation, that is probably why many Sikhs do not make it to careers in science, medicine or engineering. It is the same for Christians, Muslims and other minorities as well.

      Poorer sections of such communities have to utilise their chances only within the EWS 10% quota and can only hope to diversify their community representation over time in these areas.

    • You vilified Muslims, now you vilify Sikhs. It won’t be long before Christians and North East natives, tribals all over India will be vilified too.

      • And it won’t be long before South Indians become the target of Hindutva goons like Percussionist. Indeed, the BJP’s alienation of the other reminds one of the image of the notorious lungi clad “kaala madrasi” that Hitler admirer Bal Thackeray invoked to create the Shiv Sena. And heap violence upon South Indian. Thackeray then trained his sights on Muslims, Biharis, North Indians and then Gujaratis !

        What gomutra sipping gentlemen like Percussionist forget is the fact that India is a tremendously heterogeneous country and the Hindutva ideology of Hindu superiority will only serve to weaken the already fragile unity of the country. But them I guess they don’t teach him such facts in his shaka do they ?

  25. Two penny socialist Bharat doesn’t have the appetite for farm reforms. Jai karl marxa, jai comrade Raja say the protesting ‘farmers’.

  26. The so called ‘Kisan Morcha’ is a misnomer and hides much more than what it reveals. Being far more than a brilliantly marketed political challenge to the governing dispensation it is a trap timed to weaken India it self. The forces backing this well designed game are not necessarily domestic. This is precisely why the hard nosed Modi regime has taken an uncharacteristically soft approach aware of the emotional minefields surrounding this challenge.
    The talks, negotiations and proposals are all a charade and each side knows it.
    Let us see where it ends up in a week’s time !

  27. It is one of the best article I have read so far. SG was very articulate in explaining one of the complicated issues of the time.

  28. Free electricity, free water, subsidised seeds, guaranteed markets, guaranteed prices…no income tax. Why wouldn’t anybody protest. So much for analysis. “Vested interests” are the words Shekhar Gupta is looking for, but cannot utter coz the pappu is against these laws and pappu’s govt gave him the padma bhushan.

  29. As usual, Shekhar is playing on both the sides and makes no sense at all. Not only Modi but no one else could foresee power of middlemen and transporters lobbies (and also Khalistan lobby) aroused by Paadi Sambal Jatta emotional pitch, could be so well funded, organized and obstinate. Farms laws are fine and in fact, more reforms must come. Modi should stay firm; he is the only leader who can change India. We need him badly for that.

  30. Of course there is a difference between the reaction to Indira Gandhi’s laws and the present reaction. Her nationalisation of agriculture markets was protested against by the entire country but in case of the present laws only a few entitled states are protesting. Make no mistake this is no nationwide protest as it was in Indira Gandhi’s time. She would never have withdrawn the nationalisation act if the protests were as limited as now. Since the majority of India’s farmers are not protesting one can assume the government hasn’t been as off the mark as the author says. Btw not sure how many stakeholders GOI whilst ushering in the 1992 reforms, which were not by stealth.

  31. The protest is limited mostly to Punjab farmers. The reason is obvious. They get to sell paddy and wheat at a price higher than market price without bothering about quality and the actual requirement. They keep supplying surplus grains which is given free to the liquor producers at the cost of tax payers’ hard earned money. What is more, they literally suck out the water from the mother earth using free electricity to produce what is not needed. In the process, they damage the environment irreversibly. This can go on only in India where pseudos like Shekhar Gupta exist. He cannot find farmers’ stand rigid and impractical. He happily ignores the misinformation campaign by the opposition. It is better that such pseudo intelligent lefties become inconsequential. They love India remaining poor and restless. They love even more when fools like Rahul Gandhi become rulers so that they can become rich darbaris giving sermons to the nation.

  32. Sikhs didnot jump from the heavens . Wish they had shown some spine when their gals in Pakistan are kidnapped, raped, converted . Nor do they show courage when the missionaries convert them .
    The Sikh gals , women in UK are trapped, sexually exploited by the Pakistani grooming gangs. Not a single voice but they protest about a bill long over due passed by the Government just for their welfare .
    Ofcourse it is not as ludicrous as the bones thrown at them from outside .
    There are millions of farmers outside of Punjab .
    Btw, did they protest against the drug over dose in the state . No. Because they are dealers .

  33. Indian Parliament enacts law for the entire nation not for a particular state. Shekar Gupta in his earnest to pay back for the favours he received in the past blacks out this point.

  34. If there is a way to apply these laws to states who opt for it then we can have this implemented in NDA states. Let the private markets make farmers here prosper over the years.

    Meanwhile MSP can be brought under control by letti g inflation take care of it. Hold the price line tight and gradually MSP’s real value will become inaignificant.

    Punjab farmers are prospering on subsidy provided by rest of the country and dont want to give it up. What a shame. I thought Punjabis were industrious and hard working lot. I guess free money has eroded those values.

    • This is a good idea but “Hold the price line tight ” that will be difficult, if there is a regime change. THis is the same problem Europe faced reforming CAP. The solved it by cash transfer.

  35. What is Gupta yapping about aimlessly? The fact is, the farm laws would not change a thing for the Punjab farmers if they prefer to ignore the laws. They can keep growing what they have been growing and keep selling it at the MSP. Your writing is trying to create an impression that the farm laws are going to damage the Punjab farming economy – which is a plain lie. We can see through your transparent attempt at demagoguery and misinformation.

  36. howmuchsever you may feel happy at the status of the matter, please understand the farmers of punjab does not constitute india and the rest of the country is solidly behind mr.modi on this issue.

    • Kasiviswanathan Krishnan: In your infinite wisdom you pontificate:

      “.. he farmers of punjab does not constitute india and the rest of the country is solidly behind mr.modi on this issue ..”

      That raises the question:

      Have you conducted any polls to back up preposterous claim Mr Krishnan? After all, the BJP receivee only 37,63 % votes in the last Lok Sabha elections, a far cry from the “rest of the country” rubbish you spout here.

      What blinkered, blind and utterly bonkers Modi worshippers like you forget is that change in a country like India where people are so heterogeneous and divided cannot come by way of diktats from a saffron dictator. That may suit may middle-class “fascists lite” like yourself but not the rest of the country.

      India is a country that is in many ways held together by force and does not consist of states and regions that have willingly come together to forge a country. Hence, national unity and strengthening of national unity is a never ending exercise for any Indian government. Don’t forget that many Sikhs in Punjab wanted to create their own country and leave the Indian Union. Modi’s amateurish and yet cynical approach to resolving the issue runs the risk of re-igniting many still simmering grievances in the Punjab. Aided and abetted by uncritical members of the Modi cult such as yourself Mr Kasiviswanathan Krishnan.

      Pathetic Mr Krishnan !

  37. In every article, i don’t know why, Shekhar vascilkates between left and right. Reforms have to be seen with a view to why they are being introduced vs the opposition to reforms…….in every thing reading a d bei going in Sangh ideology is ridiculous..

  38. Sir, your headlines should have been “what India is missing due to anti national people despite Modi Trying so hard” or “What power Modi has to fight for India” anyway, you have your compulsion. We will give you answer in 2024.
    Pls prepare your speech like in 2019.

  39. Name calling and singling out ‘Assam Hindus’ is problematic Mr Gupta. Can and should be articulated in another manner, if at all the example is so important.

  40. It was an interesting read, but I wonder when have major reforms happened based on consensus? It’s either a mega crisis or a big push and most often both. There are major beneficiaries of every broken system who will make a big cry against reforms, Punjabi farmers in this case. It’s not like they would have seen reason had they been spoken to before. There is no reason – they were benefiting off a system, which is unsustainable for the country. So whether it’s Punjab or Greece, whenever you take away the freebees, people cry.

  41. Poor have become poorer under Narendra Modi’s rule – – that was the sentiment pre-pandemic. The pandemic saw them become destitutes. All the people’s despair and anger will find a focus in the farmers agitation because now even their subsidized food is in a danger of disappearing from their plate. With Lakshmi (read money) worshipping capitalists of this country who are mostly Hindus getting unlimited powers to corner supplies of foodstuff and who are anyways steeped in the Manusmriti which teaches them to hate the less privileged human beings, that fear of the poor won’t be too far fetched. It is sad, surprising, and disgusting how a man who himself claims to have belonged to the poor classes can so callously be unaware of this commonsensical anxiety. These laws will DEFINITELY NOT benefit the poor masses of the country who are the eventual customers of farm produce

    This must be, or at least should be a major reason for self-doubt in the minds of the Modi government. I also fail to understand how these laws are for the benefit of the farmers. If he is not guaranteed a minimum income from his crop, how will he assure a minimum wage for the worker who has worked on that crop? The moneybags can twist the farmer’s arm because he cannot wait endlessly to bargain, because he has to work on his next crop. And if he is unhappy with the treatment he is being meeted out, HE HAS NOONE TO COMPLAIN TO. If Modi government doesn’t even want to assure the farmer an MSP and thereby a minimum income, then HOW CAN IT SAY THAT FARMERS INCOME WILL BECOME DOUBLE BY SUCH AND SUCH TIME?? Was that a fraudulent promise.then?True colors of Modi government are in a danger of getting revealed if these farm laws are not repealed, and that is truly what is putting it on the backfoot. It is begging to the farmers to accept ANY non-repeal formula, and the latter are rightly in no mood to oblige. Narendra Modi cannot hide behind any RISHI-MUNI demeanor now under which he hides his 56 inch chest. He has to step out like a man and accept his mistake.

  42. Such a load of bullshit from couptaji . He says you cant fight sikhs. Couptaji, the khalistani sikhs were fought , killed and brought under control by the state, not many years ago. Thus typical north indian bravado of Sikh, muslim invincibility is good for bollywood nonsense. Real life is different. The farm leaders are getting exposed daily as agenda driven trouble makers. Wait for the day when it fizzles out like CAA protests and you eat crow for breakfast

  43. Shekhar Gupta’s article proves the protests are based on Modi’s non-Sikh identity rather than on the farm bills.

  44. YOUR article says, these laws are reformist, bold, and would help farmers by and large, rather than harm them.
    Once this is stated as an opinion the analysis and criticism need to focus on the obvious vested interests who will be the losers and the forces that wants to fire off their shoulders to gain political mileage or get even with Modi and his Government, even if it leads to violence.
    Two great figures of the old TV and media have gone to the extent of fear mongering by making the agitation a possibility of Sikhs vs Delhi or even Sikhs vs India. A quote about how many people per 1000 join forces from different states was a shameless attempt at hinting towards divisions, that too coming from people who have enjoyed power and audience. They are expected to talk sense to agitators to uphold the constitution and not instigate no matter how obliquely.
    Everyone living in this country has pledged to abide by the constitution. Any difference in understanding or the interpretation can only be resolved by the SC and the pledge includes the commitment to respect that supremacy of the SUPRIME COURT.
    The understanding / concessions shown to any group can 0nly be within the established norms of the constitution, not based on the ability to create disorder. NO GOVERNMENT CAN ALLOW THOSE LIMITS TO BE THREATENED OR CROSSED

  45. 1st step of the Congress-Left-China conspiracy is the “kisan andolan” which is nothing more than criminal vested interests exhibiting street power & mobilizing the poor farmers by spreading falsehoods, deception & disinformation.
    The 2nd step is articles like these in English media proclaiming that the Government’s mature and sensitive handling of the “kisan andolan” is actually a defeat.
    3rd step is that the usual suspects in the Western media will pick up & start quoting these articles.

    These acts are so blatant that it is now apparent to even the most disinterested citizen in the country.

    Is it still surprising that the Congress has been comprehensively defeated in most elections since 2014?

  46. Modi is not a reformist by nature – he is an old time statist. Nehru, PVN, ABV, MMS – they were true reformists. If Modi was a true reformer he would have a. Not opposed the GST when he was Guj CM. Even if he had a change of heart, he would have apologised and credited the Congress’ efforts and tried to take the entire country along.
    b. Helped the common man through his economic woes thereby kick starting the economic cycle rather than helping his rich industrialist friends and waiting for “trickle down” effects.
    c. If he was so convinced of his reforms, he would have called for a full parliamentary debate (like MMS-Sonia did in 2008 with the Indo-US nuclear deal) and then asked the country to make a choice.
    d. Instead of giving priority to messing with Article 370 or citizenship laws, he would have given priority to fixing the economy (which has been in shambles since 2016) after the 2019 results.

    Modi has been enjoying the fruits of power uninterrupted since 2001. Even Nehru did not enjoy the high office for such a long period as Modi has. Such absolute power is not good for the ego. One loses the capacity to listen and understand other’s pain.

  47. The long and short of the story is that we usually thought that the Biharis were “buddoos”. No. They are not. Punjabi farmers are. For their sake, Modi government must not let down the farmers in the rest of the country.

    • These brave, generous farmers have demonstrated a greater capacity to bend the sovereign’s will than the combined Opposition has. In a practical sense, what do Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav add up to in terms of restraining the many transgressions and failures of their state government. Governance – ideally politics as well – will have to return to the drawing board. Hubris and amateurishness are not a happy confluence.

  48. I endorse the views expressed in the article. Though the need for having reforms in the Agri sector is genuine, these cannot be imposed in dictatorial manner. The simple solution to the imbroglio, as it occurs to me, is to leave this to states. Let them decide. After all we have a federal polity. Agriculture is primarily a state subject. Let each state decide if they want to implement the laws or not. If a state wants its own own legislation let it be so. However, if a state wants the center’s legislations, they should be free to adopt them. Thus, each state will be responsible for the farmers’ conditions in the respective state. However, the demand to have a statutory obligation of MSP for wheat and rice is not justified. FCI can make procurements to the extent our economy can sustain. But beyond certain limits, this demand is not justified. Punjab cannot have a privileged right on the central exchequer and demand unlimited resources. The Centre should remain firm on this. Beyond this, let each state decide its own fortune. They would accountable to their own voters and farming community.

  49. I think you have got it wrong here. I am a farmer. If you think that a consensus on farm laws could have been achieved with Ardhitiyas & Middlemen BEFORE enacting the laws then you probably are out of touch with the power and influence of these people. ALL farmer’s unions are headed by them, and most farmers are under financial debt to them. Some of them are farmers too but are also ardhitiyas. You have no idea how much of the political funding of local MLAs are done by ardhitiyas. To hope for a consensus with them or give them an advance notice would never have allowed these laws to see the light of the day for next 50 years. What the govt has done is brilliant. Is is being called courageous. Why ? Because what is happening was very much expected and still the govt went ahead and took the decision. Otherwise no “courage” was needed to enact a progressive law.

    What is happening was very much along expected lines. Farmers have not cited a SINGLE sentence or clause in the three laws which is against the interests of the farmers. You seemed to have missed this point big time. It is not a disaster. Small farmers (which is 90% in India) are quietly praying that govt should not buckle because without contract farming they will die (with 1 acre being an average holding).

    You should applaud the risks taken by any Govt when they enact progressive laws. Maybe some bias is preventing you from doing that. Your credibility amongst the informed readers is going to suffer.

    • Well you should see the interviews of farm leaders and they will tell you what’s wrong, instead of studying from whatapp college and trusting godi media like this one👍🏻

    • I can cite several flaws with the 3 laws which is anti-farmer. The most glaring to even a layman is the lack of judicial redressal in the Contract farming bill. This is not the first reform which has been done by the Govt. You might recall the Hindu Code which saw fierce opposition. But those were different leaders in a different world. The present Govt should have debated these bills in Parliament, sent it to Select Committee, floated the draft laws and several other things to percolate the idea. And not behave like head-less chickens.

      • An outstanding comment Mr Sourav !

        Indeed, you hit the nail on the head with your excellent diagnosis of the way Modistan functions today – an all-knowing Delhi university graduate who knows more than anybody else on every matter under the sun and does not need any advice, far less constructive dialogue with his countrymen. But much worse are the blinkered, blind bhakths who follow his every word and regard it as the gospel truth – as a sample of the comments of middle Modi supporters here shows.

        No democracy can function without a constant dialogue and consultation between the people and their elected representatives. But clearly, Modi and his blind bhakths would rather dismantle democracy and have the country dance to the rhythms of this Delhi University graduate and master-of-all-trades.

        Hope to read more of your insightful comments Mr Sourav.

    • absolutely. you cannot achieve consensus on contentious issues. if more benefit from the reform then one must go for it

    • excellent analyses. Govt has grand visions but lacks effective strategies. Some appreciable thoughts: “India didnt begin in 2014 and everything done before that was not broken”; “Indians are very diverse group and their needs and want are not alike”….

    • “I’m a Modi supporter” …

      Time to reconsider your support for the Delhi University graduate perhaps ?

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