Image courtesy: Deccan Herald
The central government is playing with fire by not repealing the three agriculture laws opposed by farmers, said People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI) Founder P. Sainath on January 16, 2021 during a dialogue co-organised by Nation for Farmers (NFF,) Bihar Mahila Samaj (BMS) and Tatpar Foundation.
Sainath, the former editor of Rural Affairs for The Hindu, demanded a special Parliament session for hearing farmers and their demands in the context of unprecedented mobilisation of peasants on the issue of farm laws – the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance & Farm Services Act, the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act – in Patna on Saturday.
He sought restoration of the farmers’ universe and status that collapsed because new economic reforms are not in sync with equality.
“Agriculture is a state subject under the Constitution of India. These three laws aggravate the existing agrarian crisis. APMC is to agriculture what the government school is to the education sector. APMC is like the government hospital of the health sector. Reforms must be farmer friendly, and not corporate friendly,” said Sainath.
Sainath also talked about how farmers have begun directly confronting corporate power. He said their protest is in defense of democracy and for reclaiming the republic. The renowned journalist questioned the enactment of these laws during the pandemic and talked about various aspects of the agrarian crisis. He also talked about the effect of these laws on many allied professions and the importance of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and its relation to procurement.
“This is one of a series of struggles. The nation is with farmers and this fight is ours. We need to show our solidarity with the mobilisation of farmers because it is not an ordinary event. It merits special attention from all sections of society because these laws will have adverse effects on the rights of all citizens,” said Sainath who returned to the state capital on January 17 to speak at the Kisan Sansad.
Similarly, NFF member Dr. Gopal Krishna introduced the subject and explained the backdrop in which Bihar’s APMC Act was repealed because of irrational and unconvincing reasons and made a case for its restoration.
Later, speaker Dr. Anamika Priyadarshini made a case for enactment of a law that protects women farmers. Social activist Nivedita Jha spoke about the march of women farmers which is being held on the occasion of Mahila Kisan Diwas on January 18.
Over the last 50 days or so, farmers in India have burnt copies of the three laws. On the call of the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), farmers near Delhi border are gearing up for a tractor rally on Republic Day, demanding repeal of these illegitimate unconstitutional laws.