One of the recent controversies that has been part of 2020 was the recently passed farmers bill. Ever since the passing of the bill, many farmers have assembled in large number in Delhi to show their disagreement towards the passing of the bill. Farmers have been upfront with their protest showing solidarity together against the passing of the bill.
The following are the bills passed by the Government of India
The Farmers Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill 2020
This bill allows farmers to sell their produce to anyone another than the government. It gives farmers a choice on who sell their produce to, whether they want to sell to the government or third party. Earlier the government bought produce from the farmers under the Agricultural Product Market Committee (APMC).
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill 2020
This bill talks about setting up a framework for contract farming. In this a farmer and a buyer can make a contract even before the farmer makes the produce. The goods can be trades outside the premises of the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee)
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020
This act allows inter-state and intra-state trade of farmers produce by eliminating the government in between. A third party can involve in the business.
These were the three new bills passed by the government. They stand as controversial because the farmers feel that it would eliminate the concept of MSP.
Concept of MSP
MSP stands for minimum support price. This price is offered by the government to the farmers on buying the produce. Government for ages have taken produce from the farmers under MSP and subsidised it and sold it to the people. This made it easy for both the people as well as the farmers. With the assurance of the MSP the farmers could rely on the government even in the times of a bad crop or drought situation. They were sure of the MSP but now this is not the case as seen by many farmers. With the introduction of the bill the farmers are scared that the government has withdrawn the MSP and instead bought in Contract farming.
Problems with the Bill as perceived by the Farmers
Farmers are afraid that they will be cheated with the coming of this bill. They feel that the government has withdrawn the MSP and put them in danger. Farmers have been gathering in Delhi ever since the passing of the bill. They have assembled in huge numbers trying to give it all they got and asking the government to take back the bill. The government has responded with saying that they have no intentions of withdrawing the MSP and all they hoped for were the welfare of the farming community and the people.
Like the two sides of a coin, this bills also have their flip side, the farmers believe that they can be easily tricked into any kind of traps with the contract farming by legal clauses. These powerful companies can easily manipulate and exploit the farmers as they wish. But the government says otherwise, they believe that with the coming of contract farming in India there will be a huge profit as well as private investments.
This act also allows the trade of produce to other states without MSP, this has caused problems too because this will enlarge the gap between the rich and the poor farmers. It will create a gap which cannot be closed and will only widen with the passage of time.
Protests across India
Farmers have been protesting about these bills ever since it was passed and the government has initiated talks with the farmers where they were assured of the fact that the MSP won’t be cut off.
This protest has turned into a massive one where farmers had even blocked roads to Delhi. They also observed a strike on December 8 as part of their dissent all across India. The idea of protesting without the usage of violence enshrines as a part of our Right to Freedom but there have been insights of violence too. As many as 31 organisations are said to be taking their stand against the bill, most of them are protesting against the first bill in fear of the removal of MSP. There have almost been 5 rounds of talks which had failed. Home Minister Amit Shah had called for a restructuring of the bill but the farmers have said no, they wanted to the full bill to be rolled back. Farmers have threatened to expand the protests by closing the Delhi –Jaipur Highway, capturing Reliance malls and capturing toll plazas.
There have been a series of misunderstandings that needs to be understood and changed for both the government and the farmers to put an end to this issue, only then the true essence of a democracy will prevail.