For the last several decades, many politicians, activists and farmers in India have been saying that agricultural farmers get least income for their produce, consumers pay high price for the agri products and middle men and traders get the maximum benefits by hoarding the product and artificially increasing the price in the market by several dubious ways, even as the farmers are paid much less by the traders and middle men.
Many people have opined that the role of the middle men and the traders should be curtailed to the extent possible and farmers’ dependence on them should be reduced and the farmers should be free to sell wherever they want in a free market, to ensure that farmers who toil hard in the fields get the maximum profit.
This is precisely with this idea that Farm Laws have been passed with majority support in Parliament by a democratically elected Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
However, a section of people, (most of them from Punjab state where the traders, middle men and mandi owners are dominant players in agricultural marketing) are protesting against the Farm Laws. Their protests have been launched in coercive ways by blocking the roads and paralyzing the transportation and affecting millions of people in several ways.
What is noteworthy is that these protests have been immediately backed by several opposition political parties ,who have been demanding similar farm laws earlier when they were in the government. What is shocking is that some governments abroad such as Canada where the Prime Minister and MPs have protested against the Farm Laws in India and some MPs in Britain have protested, though it is an internal issue in India.
What is even more shocking is that secessionists who demand Khalistan for the Sikhs by splitting India and who are organizing themselves in comfort zones in a few countries like Canada and Britain, have extended support for the agitation against the Farm Laws and have organized several processions in a number of cities in the world.
All these people have succeeded in their objective of sending a bad message to the world about the Government of India, painting as if the Government of India is anti farmer, which in reality is not so.
The advantages of Farm Laws have been seen by a large section of people in the country, who understand economics of agriculture operations and understand the need for reforms in the agriculture front to support the farmers.
As the agitation by small section of farmers (amongst the millions of farmers in India), largely from one state are now continuing, Government of India has repeatedly called the agitators for discussions, explained the benefits and check and controls introduced to ensure that that big traders and speculators would not have free run and the government have agreed to make several changes to “appease” the agitators. However, the agitators, who include some farmers, middle men, traders, activists, some politicians and some Khalistan supporters, have refused to accept the government’s amendment proposals and have said that they would continue their agitation until the Farm Laws would be entirely repealed.
Certainly, the agitators are not a representative gathering of farmers in India and they should not have the last word.
But, in a democratic country like India, a few thousands of people can paralyze the administration and bring the government to its knees, even as millions of silent majority of people watch the situation helplessly and with frustration.
The propaganda that Farm Laws are aimed to help the corporates and big traders, is being spread rapidly by sections of media and motivated by people in the social media.
Obviously, the Government of India should be wondering how to solve this problem.
Prime Minister Modi made a remarkable observation that if the country would like to move on and progress towards the next century, it cannot have the law that was in vogue in earlier centuries, benefiting some rich traders and middle men. Now, the Prime Minister has said enough.
With the media being preoccupied by excessively focusing on the agitation by a few thousand people and some politicians and activists trying to make it look like an All India protest against Modi government, a quick solution has to be found, so as to ensure that the mood and spirit of the country would remain in forward looking direction.
There seems to be only one way of achieving this at the present juncture, so that there would be no crisis of confidence amongst the people in various walks of life.
Let the Government of India allow the individual state governments to decide about implementing the Farm Laws or not implementing the Farm Laws as the state government decide and deem it fit.
It is known that several state governments and a large number of farmers understand and support the Farm Laws.
Let the will of the people prevail, to ensure peace remains in the country.
It is possible that in some states, where the Farm Laws would not be implemented, the middle men, traders and mandi owners will have the last laugh but if that should be so, let it be so.