Follow Us:
Saturday, April 10, 2021

Jagmohan Singh Patiala Interview: ‘Govt should strengthen FCI rather than weakening it for better future of country’

In an interview with The Indian Express, BKU (Ekta) Daukunda general secretary Jagmohan Singh talks about the recent decisions of the Food Corporation of India and their impact on the farmers.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: March 21, 2021 1:01:51 pm
bharat bandh, bharat bandh today, farmer strike, farmer strike today, farmer strike news, farmer strike latest news, farmer protest news, farmer nationawide strike, farm bill 2020, farm bill 2020, bharat bandh live newsAt least 31 organisations, under the banner of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), are participating in the agitation. They have called for a complete shutdown of Punjab. In pic: Bharti Kisan Union (Dakaunda) state general secretary Jagmohan Singh Patiala addresses farmers at the Bhawanigarh-Sangrur highway.

BKU (Ekta) Daukunda general secretary Jagmohan Singh Patiala tells Anju Agnihotri Chaba reasons for the recent decisions of the Food Corporation of India and their impact on the farmers, poor people and the country as a whole.

The FCI proposed revised specifications for procurement of wheat in the next wheat procurement season from April, then it stepped back and issued another letter stating that procurement of wheat will be done as per the specifications of last rabi marketing season. Apart from this, the FCI has also issued another condition for wheat procurement under which it has asked for providing land ownership records of the farmers to make payment of minimum support price (MSP) directly into the accounts of farmers. Why is FCI taking such steps?

FCI has withdrawn its proposed revised specification at least for this season and we welcome it. But one should understand why FCI is taking such steps. Because the Centre does not want to purchase the foodgrain anymore from the farmers under pressure from the World Trade Organization (WTO), which is pressuring the country to stop every type of subsidy to the farmers and big corporate houses. After making three farm laws, which are the death warrants for the farmers of the country, now the government is using FCI to fulfil its hidden intentions of leaving farmers at the mercy of open markets where private players can loot them openly.

Everyone is aware that the majority of the farmers are having small landholdings and they are taking land on rent or doing farming by pooling land and taking it on rent. So providing ownership records of rented land is impossible and if the government runs away from procuring on MSP then how will they survive because the government hardly exercises any control on the private players? Moreover, it will promote private players in the mandis when their crop will not be purchased because the majority of farmers are not the owners of any land but doing farming to earn their living.

What will be the impact of these steps of FCI?

If FCI, which provides foodgrains to 56% poor people of the country under the public distribution system (PDS), stops fulfilling its responsibility of being a nodal agency for procuring foodgrain directly and indirectly, then rural and urban poor will be pushed to starvation.

One should remember that 68% rural poor and 56% urban poor are dependent on the PDS system which is possible only because the FCI procures grains through many channels and gets it transported to grain- deficit states so that the poor can get the benefit of subsidised grain. Both urban and rural poor are supporting the farmers’ protest because of which this more than 100-day-old protest of farmers at Delhi has become a movement in a real sense.

The Sukhbir-Kalia (former Punjab deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and former Punjab BJP minister Manoranjan Kalia) committee, which was formed in 2010-11, had recommended its closure and that had exposed the SAD-BJP’s intentions long back. Now this public undertaking is almost on the verge of closure due to poor policies of the Centre.

Earlier, the government attacked the PDS system by saying that it will transfer subsidy for purchasing foodgrain/ration into the accounts of the poor instead of giving them foodgrain on subsidised rates under the PDS system.

At present, a small child of eight to 10 years and an old person of 70 to 80 years has been bringing the entire month’s ration from the ration depot of his mohalla or area by paying in advance or on credit. Now if the government stops PDS then it should answer these questions: how will it transfer money into the accounts of such people and from where will they get ration and at what rate?

Stopping PDS will finish FCI as well as the country, which is at number two. It will be pushed back in foodgrain production. The absence of PDS and FCI will lead to starvation and anarchy in the country. Reforms are always welcome but not at the cost of the poor. Our government should strengthen FCI rather than weakening it for a better future of the country.




📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Chandigarh News, download Indian Express App.

  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.