Farm Laws Agitation Completes One Year, Movement Going Strong

by GoNews Desk 9 months ago Views 4205

Farmers' Protest 1 Year
The agitation by farmers across India against the three contentious ‘farm laws’ has completed a year since its inception. The AAP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have marked today as “Black Friday” in protest against the Bill. While the government has claimed that these are important “reforms” intended to benefit farmers, farmers themselves have argued that this facilitates a “corporate takeover” of the agricultural sector.

The names of the three Acts popularly known as “farm laws” are:

  • Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020
  • Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and
  • The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.

It is significant that the new legislations were introduced during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic when urgent relief measures were being anticipated. Today, Punjab CM Capt. Amarinder Singh of the Congress party has called on the Centre to scrap the laws and listen to the demands of the farmers.

 

It is also notable that the demand for this “reform” was not initiated by farmers themselves. On the contrary, agitations related to various issues like input costs, MSP (minimum support price), and loan waivers, delayed payments, low insurance coverage etc. had been ongoing since much before the anti-farm laws protests:

  • 2017 Tamil Nadu Farmers Protest At Jantar Mantar
  • 2017 Mandsaur agitation which saw 6 farmers killed
  • 2018 Mumbai protests in which farmers walked 180 km. from Nashik to Mumbai
  • 2018 Farmers’ march to Parliament in Delhi
The Hindu cited the CSE’s report ‘State of Environment in Figures 2021’ in June this year which said that the number of farmers’ protests grew five times from 2017 to 2021.

It says that in 2017 there were 34 protests in 15 states, which grew to 165 in 2021 over 22 states and UTs. The report also stated that there are more farm labourers than land owning cultivators in India now, in 52% of all districts nationwide.

“India is sitting atop a massive time-bomb of agrarian crisis and disquiet, and the clock is ticking away” the CSE stated.

Why Farmers Want The Farm Laws Repealed

The discourse of “corporate takeover” has been prominent within and outside the protest. The three laws have relaxed the conditions for sale, storage, and pricing of agricultural produce.

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020:

  • Being seen as a mechanism whereby state-controlled marketplaces or mandis will eventually be bypassed and dismantled.
  • The government has ‘expanded’  the permissible area for trading agricultural goods outside the designated mandis to “any place of production, collection, aggregation”.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act

  • Allows pre-arranged contracts between farmers and private parties
  • Imbalance of power between farmer and buyer.
  • In the name of “assured income” at the time of sowing, farmers will be exposed to exploitative practices such as unfair terms and rejection of produce, delayed payments, and insufficient redress mechanisms
  • Farmers forced to settle disputes through bureaucracy instead of judiciary. A Conciliation Board will be appointed by the Sub- Divisional Magistrate. The Act bars civil courts from deciding on disputes.
Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act

  • Controls over hoarding and over stocking relaxedand will only be triggered by a 100% rise in cost of perishables and 50% rise in that of non-perishables.
  • This will lead to rising prices and loss of control over which crops farmers can grow as private mandis will decide both according to their own interests.
The farmers’ agitation is among the world’s longest-running democratic and peaceful agitations. The demands articulated by protestors have taken them beyond the ambit of strictly agriculture into a broader democratic movement. It remains to be seen whether a government going full-throttle on privatization will be forced to relent against the groundswell of opposition.

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