1. Do you think the decision to withdraw the three farm laws was a retrograde move? Critically comment. (10 Marks)
क्या आपको लगता है कि तीन कृषि कानूनों को वापस लेने का निर्णय एक प्रतिगामी कदम था? समालोचनात्मक टिप्पणी करें।
Candidates need to write about the how much prudent it was to repeal the farm laws candidates has to highlight both side of arguments and also write implications in short.
The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 repeals the three farm laws passed by Parliament in September 2020. The laws sought to reorganise India’s agriculture sector more in accordance with the principles of market economy.
Farm law was to diversify its cropping pattern into export-oriented and high-value crops. Repealing of laws stood as the retrograde move because:
- Improving Storage infrastructure: Similarly, the advocacy for the amendment to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 rested on the view that private corporate investment can be incentivised into storage and warehousing if stock limits are relaxed for traders.
- Marketing Freedom to Farmers: The Centre’s farm laws were an attempt to ensure that farmers get the right price for produce, and have the freedom to sell where they want to.
- Incentivising Private entry: The APMC Acts discriminated against farmers by not allowing them to interact directly with the big corporate buyers and exporters. So, the APMC Acts must be amended so that any private market or rural collection centre can freely emerge anywhere without approval of the local mandi or the payment of a mandi tax, and so that contract farming can be popularised.
Repeal of the farm laws was the prudent idea step:
- Bihar’s example showed that private investment was unlikely to flow into agricultural markets even if APMC Acts were annulled. In fact, the exploitation of farmers by unscrupulous traders intensified in Bihar after 2006.
- Maharashtra delisted fruits and vegetables from the ambit of APMCs in 2016. Still, the inflow of private investment into agricultural markets was only marginal.
- Possibility of Fragmentation of market: Thus, what was likely was that a formal and regulated market (through APMC) might fragment itself into an informal and unregulated market if the APMC Acts were weakened.
- Criticism of Grievance Redress Mechanisms: Eradicating the power of civil courts and their substitution with a weak mechanism led by the sub-divisional magistrate threatened to be a serious impediment to a just redress of complaints. It was feared that this may benefit corporate sponsors more than the contracting farmers.
- Mishandling of Farmer protests: Efforts were made to break, divide, buy out, demean, denigrate, demonise and shame the protesters, who were conveniently branded as terrorists and Khalistanis.
- Violation of Federal principles: The Union government invoked Entry 33 of the Concurrent List to intervene into matters in Entry 14, Entry 26 and Entry 27 of the State List. Thus, to begin with, the farm laws were reasonably and justifiably argued to be unconstitutional.
Implications of move:
- Democratic Victory: Marks a historic victory for the farmer’s movement in India. For more than a year, thousands of farmers had barricaded Delhi, and their protests were gradually evolving into a pan-Indian movement of resistance. Repealing of farm laws has helped put an end to the protests.
- End of Confrontation: The repeal of the farm laws has, at least temporarily, put an end to confrontation between the Union government and the farmers.
- Positive Politicisation: The agitation has led to a positive politicisation of several agrarian demands, including the need for stable markets and remunerative prices.
- Set a precedence: A confidence has grown that committed struggles matter and even aggressive governments can be made to kneel. New rural mobilisations around demands to address the larger and persistent agrarian crisis are likely to emerge and grow.
Government has done well to acknowledge that laws are not as good as their enforcement by state machinery, but only as good as their capacity to win people’s trust. Most important process of economic reforms has to be more consultative, more transparent and better communicated to the potential beneficiaries.