Farmer’s Protest — The New Sunburn
Who is right and who is wrong? Is the government strangulating the farmers?Are the farmers agitating for the right reason or are they being used by the opposition parties?
The questions are varied.
Sadly, for most of us, this agitation is not about the Farmers or their issues. It has turned out to be a pre or anti-Government issue. People who oppose the bill are doing it just because they have to oppose the government and the ones supporting it are doing it due to their love for the government.
In a Democracy, to ensure the nation is on the right trajectory, we have to lend issue-based support or criticism. Blind support or one-sided opposition will always hurt the nation in the long run.
One of these days, I was surprised to see Rajdeep, a seasoned anchor having no clue on the nitty-gritty of the Farmers Bill 2020 when Gaurav Bhatia put a few pointed questions across to him. Flummoxed, Rajdeep was desperately googling, trying to put on a brave face. If he does not know about the act then how come he has so much venom against it?
So let us understand the Famers Bill 2020 first. It has 3 parts to it.
- Farmers’ Produce trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation): This expands the trade areas allowing farmers to sell via electronic trading, prohibits state government from levying and market fees, cess, etc
- Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance: Simply put it allows the farmers to enter into pre-arranged contracts with buyers on a certain pre-decided price
- Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act: This one removes certain produce like cereals, pulses, onions from the list of essential commodities, and removes the upper limit of stockholding on these items.
Now, let us understand what the Modi Government is trying to do. They are trying to deregulate the farming ecosystem like any other vertical.
The government wants Farm Produce to be treated as a product and the producer to have the freedom to sell his or her products to anyone, anywhere, whosoever gives the maximum price. Sounds fair enough, right? So why the protest?
The Farm Produce was produced by the farmers, who got it to the Mandi. Now, these Mandis were controlled by the Middlemen called Aadhatiyas. They decided the quality of the produce, they fixed the price for the day, and they decide if the crop was worth anything or not. This gave them immense clout.
Small farmers who came to these Mandis, often on hired trolleys, had no other way than to sell their produce at whatever rates they were offered. This exploitation went on for decades and the Aadhatiyas made a fortune. This segment is the worst hit segment and therefore it would be safe to assume that a large part of this agitation has been sponsored by them.
I am sure you would have seen pictures of Massagers, Pizza langars and comfortable beds. It looks more like a picnic that poor farmers agitating over some bill.
A large part of the agriculture vertical is being controlled by influential people.
From Badal to Pawar, the list goes on. Controlling agriculture and farmers makes sense, both politically and economically. It not only gives immense clout as farmers are a revered lot in India but also tax-free income makes it a lucrative vertical. Sukhbir Agro, a company owned by the Badals is a multi-million company. Google it and you will know what I mean.
Similarly, Sharad Pawar controls the Sugar lobby of Maharashtra and his daughter, Supriya Sule deals in Onion, Grape, and Chilli, making a fortune. These are the people worst hit by the present bill.
Using this agitation, defunct parties like the Left and the Congress are also trying to get some mileage out of it. Though it is noteworthy that Congress has been advocating the same changes for years. Kapil Sibal in a speech spoke on how the farmers needed 3 points that this bill addresses. BKU, the leading organization of this agitation has been advocating the same changed for nearly ten years now.
So why this opposition?
The answer is simple; deep-rooted hatred for Modi, the poor, and this country.
Anything that promises to change the lives of people, bringing them out of their long sustained poverty is abhorred by Congress. This is the same party that had an inhuman, regressive MANREGA that ensured the poor always remained poor. Devoid of any vision, the party believed in subsidies, alms, ensuring the poor always stayed poor and voted for them.
This entire agitation is a motley assortment of middlemen, opposition leaders, anti-national forces, and terror organizations. How else do you explain anti-India slogans? How would you justify slogans to release Sharjeel Imam, a known India hater, and a terrorist sympathizer? Would a farmer that too a Sikh Farmer ever abuse India, threaten to assassinate the PM, and support terrorists?
I am not against any agitation. We are a Democracy and if we think there is a need to protest against any act or action, it is our fundamental right. But then along with Rights, we have duties too. It is our duty to expose protests held by anti-India forces, terror outfits. It is our duty to fight such protests, to protest against any protest that wants to destabilize India.