IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 5th Dec 2020
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” – Robert Frost
EDITORIAL HUNT #278 :“Farmer’s Protest : United they Stand | UPSC”
Farmer’s Protest : United they Stand | UPSC
Valerian Rodrigues was a professor at Mangalore University and Jawaharlal Nehru University
The many layers to agricultural discontent
The Farm Acts that are the focus of the farmers’ protest bear variously on the different strata of the farming community
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3 : Agriculture
Farmer’s agitation as a whole did not give us a glimpse of stratification of layers in our society.Examine the concept of One Nation, One Market.-(GS 3)
- The intent of farm bills
- The response
- States have a pivotal role
- APMC as cushion
- FARM BILLS : The intent was helping farmers by liberalising access to agricultural markets, removing existing barriers to storage of agricultural produce, and facilitating contract-farming.
- ONE NATION, ONE MARKET : While these measures have been defended on the basis of slogans such as ‘One Nation, One Market’, they appear to be more directed to scoring brownie points in the ‘Ease of doing business’ index.
- STAUNCH OPPOSITION : State governments even enacted their own Bills that were largely directed against the key provisions of the central farm Acts even though the constitutional status of these enactments is highly dubious.
- INDIAN AGRARIAN DISTRESS : There are substantial evidences that demonstrates how the vagaries of the market and the role of the middlemen reinforce agrarian distress in India.
- PIECEMEAL LEGISLATION : Although a body of piecemeal legislation and regulative processes , yojanas have been promulgated — several key concerns of farmers have gone unattended.
STATES HAVE A PIVOTAL ROLE
- SURPLUS IS THE KEY : These issues and the relation across agrarian sector in India revolves around surplus and different produce.
- CONSULTATION AND DELIBERATIONS : While enacting the Farm Bills, the Centre extended little consideration to the sensitivity of the States, although some of them made their opposition to the Farm Bills quite explicit.
- APPLICATION OF LAWS : The three Acts bear differently on the different strata of the farming community and in different regions.
APMC AS CUSHION
- MANDIS ARE SUPPORT SYSTEM : This system provides a cushion, wherein the farmer can anticipate the cost of opting for these crops and tap the necessary supports through channels he has been familiar with.
- LIFELINE OF AGRARIAN STATES : The Public Distribution System (PDS) is the lifeline in these States.
- ASSURED MINIMUM PRICE : Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are heavily dependent on public procurement and assured price through MSP.
- MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICES : Most of the slogans at the farmers’ protests revolve around the need to protect MSPs, or minimum support prices, which they feel are threatened by the new laws.
- FLOURISHING TRADE : Farmers fear that encouraging tax-free private trade outside the APMC mandis will make these notified markets unviable.
- AWARENESS : India’s farmers are a constituency deeply aware of their interests and challenges before them and are sensitive to developments elsewhere.
- CORPORATE PLAYERS : The removal of stock limits and facilitation of bulk purchase and storage could bring large corporate players into the agriculture space.
- BARGAINING POWER : Although they will bring much-needed investment, they could also skew the playing field, with small farmers unlikely to match them in bargaining power.
- COMBATTING AS A WHOLE : Even though they were clearly directed by the concerns of the relatively better-off farmers, they attempted to reach out to the farming community as a whole.
THE FARMING STRATA
- MODERN CLASS OF FARMERS : Clearly, the rich farmers — those with large holdings and produce for the market — are spearheading the present stand-off against the Farm Bills, as it affects them very deeply.
- FARMING DISTRESS : The farming distress is shared in common by the different strata within the farming community, even though it has a differential impact on them.
- INVESTMENTS : Rich farmers have also invested their surplus in agri-business and clearly hold access to the wider economic and institutional domains.
- MARGINAL FARMERS : The lower strata of the farming community is invariably beholden to the rich farmer not merely for employment but also to access resources and services.
The Farm Bills have ignored that the rural is a vibrant space in India, with ‘elective affinities’ binding its vast expanse.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Farmer’s Protest : United they Stand | UPSC