#5. Mobocracy Vs democracy: farm law repeal

An elected government is forced to repeal the three farm laws after a mob of land owners and middlemen masquerading as farmers created anarchy for more than a year. The country needs bold leadership who can take tough and fair decisions.The government which steadfastly refused to reconsider the well meaning legislation caved in favour of the electoral prospects for a few states early next year.

👍. प्रस्ताव / For the motion

  1. The three laws each intended to remove constraints on buyers to stock, contract and purchase agricultural commodities. Whereas the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 (ECA) was largely the prerogative of the Centre, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 governing contract farming and the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 (henceforth, the APMC Bypass Act), focusing on the public regulated markets were hitherto issues that were under the State-level Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Acts, therefore under the purview of the States. The reforms were aimed to wipe out the middlemen in the food chain and directly benefit the farmers. The government was held ransom by a mob of large landowners and middlemen commission agents. Mobs cannot replace law makers. 10% of farmer association led by non-farmers wielded disproportionate say in policy making.
  2. Today mobs have dictated reversal of a well-meaning law, tomorrow it will be compromise on national security like repealing Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) and Article 370. Is this the beginning of what came to be called policy paralysis in the erstwhile Manmohan Singh government? The image of the PM Narendra Modi who presented himself as a tough decision-maker and pro-development leader comes under scanner now.
  3. The farm laws were seen to be heralding a new era in Agriculture Reforms where food security, employment and income issues could have resolved to a great extent. Agro-Produce Market Committees (APMCs) are largely absent in half of the states and the remaining are highly politicised. The protests were primarily led by Haryana and Punjab middlemen who corner more than half of the procurements under Minimum Support Price (MSP) scheme. These farmer leaders who do not pay any taxes and worth several crores each had their self serving agenda on board. The government has succumbed to the pressure tactics outside the “temple of democracy” and let down the taxpayers.

👎अप्रस्ताव / Against the motion:

  1. Steamrolling the farm bills without discussion is not a healthy sign for parliamentary democracy. The malaise has been gaining momentum in last two decades where brute majority is the norm. Intellectual debates on policy making has been given a passe. Even the Supreme Court Chief Justice has, uncharacteristically, complained about lack of debate in Parliament. The law being repealed after two decades of debate in and outside the parliament has to see this ignominy pinches upon the conscience of public at large, who nevertheless choose to keep mum over national issues.
  2. “Nor let us be resentful when others differ from us. For all men have hearts, and each heart has its own leanings. Their right is our wrong, and our right is their wrong.” ― Amartya Sen, in his ‘The Argumentative Indian’. Indian Policy Making has been plagued by too many discussions by armchair intellectuals and less efficient execution. In this case, a law however well-meaning it may be, was reviewed and put in back burner to bring back later when time is ripe.
  3. Government of India has signed for building data stacks with Cisco, Jio, ITC, NeML, Ninjacart, Microsoft, Amazon, ESRI India Technologies, Star Agribazaar and Patanjali Organic Research Institute. While claiming to not involve private sector players, these select few have been granted limited access to “data from the Federated Farmers’ database” for specific areas. This, it seems, might be the thin edge of a wedge. A “trade” area under full control of the central government would potentially offer big business a digital data consolidation route to controlling supply chains. Corporate farming or Corporates playing a more direct role in the distribution of food chain will wipe out self sustenance in the agrarian economy churning out highly paid clerks of those corporates. Let the government focus on providing enough impetus and infrastructure to embrace agriculture as a viable career options for the masses.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s