For the past few months, tens of thousands of Indian farmers have been protesting against new Farm Bill they say the changes will hurt their livelihoods by making them vulnerable to big corporations. But the government insists the regulation of the industry is badly needed. Police say at least 100 people have died, several of them from cold weather as farmers continue to block highways and camp on the outskirts of New Delhi. Why is the Farm bill, directed at making the lives of farmers better, proving to be so controversial?
THE FARM BILL:
In Late 2020, The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government decided to pass the new Farm bill, which is aimed to change the dynamics of the agricultural industry.
Up until this point, the farmers used to sell their produce in wholesale markets (mandi) through an auction system. The base prices for different commodities were set by the government so that the farmers received sufficient money for their produce. Once bought from the farmers, these products were sold by the markets either to the end-user or to certain middle-men. This system was quite complex and not a perfect one. In many states like Bihar and West Bengal, where markets have been eliminated or are slowly being eradicated, the farmers hardly receive anything for their produce.
This system, however, provided financial transparency to the farmers up to a great extent. But the cons overshadowed the pros in the eyes of many. Thus, the Prime Minister of India came up with the new Farm Bill to change this ‘obsolete’ system. The bill comprises of three acts:
- Act 1: This act, in a nutshell, creates unregulated trade spaces outside the market. Basically, this act is aimed at eliminating the wholesale markets, to benefit the farmers.
- Act 2: This act enforces contract farming. Any deal struck between the farmer and big organisations will be confidential, with no oversight.
- Act 3: This act restricts the storage limits previously set by the government to control prices.
CONS OF THE FARM BILL:
The bill has more cons than pros. Let’s take a look at the cons act by act:
- Act 1: According to this act’s clause, two markets with different rules are expected to function parallelly: One, where the operations are regulated by the government, and the other where big corporate organizations dictate their own terms and conditions. Many people operating in the regulated market are expected to move out and operate in the unregulated market. As a result, the farmers will lose out on a lot.
- Act 2: Since there is no oversight, the farmer’s will be left only with few options to avoid a bad deal. At the same time, the farmers have to work and sell their produce at a price set by the corporate.
- Act 3: Since there is no storage limit, one who has more money will stock up more goods than the other. This benefits only a few companies.
THE FARMER’S PROTESTS:
The farmers are pretty upset by the terms set by the Modi government. Many see this as the government’s attempt to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor. The government doesn’t seem to consider the farmer’s points. Many talks with the government have gone in vain. To make their point clear, the farmer’s across the country started blocking the major highways surrounding New Delhi. They set up tents and have been staying outside in the blistering cold to present their demands. The police, on the other hand, have been attacking the farmers with tear gas and high-pressure water jets. The farmers also raided the Red Fort on 26th January (Republic Day), 2021 to express their views, only to be called as “anti-national” by the government and certain media channels.
Not only the farmers but also celebrities across the globe have spoken in support on the Farmers. Notable celebrities like Rihanna, Greta Thurnberg have tried expressing their views but were brutally trolled for interfering in the internal affairs of India. Even cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli have urged the other nations not to interfere in the internal matters. But this time, people spoke against them. The views on this issue are pretty conflicting, and any wrong comment can even land one in Jail.
The Farm bill, by far, is the most controversial bill to date, apart from the CAA & NRC bill. India has seen such huge protests within the span of just a year. The only way this situation can be resolved is:
- The government understands the Farmers’ point of view and makes necessary changes to the bill.
- Farmer’s give in to the new laws.
Hopefully, both parties will conclude before taking a drastic step and make things worse.