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Explained Ideas: Six reasons why farmers are justified in protesting against the farm laws

Farm laws alter bargaining landscape in favour of corporate players, write Aadil Boparai and Salman Khurshid.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 21, 2020 3:00:02 pm
Farmers protest, Farmers protest explained, farmers protest in Delhi, Farm Bills 2020, Farmer bills explained, Indian ExpressFarmers protest at Singhu border of Delhi in New Delhi on December 11, 2020. (Express Photo: Abhinav Saha)

In their joint opinion piece, Aadil Boparai and Salman Khurshid — both of the Indian National Congress — explain why farmers are justified in doubting the government when it asserts that the three farm laws in question will help the farmers.

For one, “it is an undisputed fact that there was no consultation undertaken by the central government at the time of promulgating the ordinances, and subsequently while pushing the bills through the Parliament”.

Two, notwithstanding the several pro-corporate and perceived anti-farmer provisions in the farm laws, the Union government has by-passed the federal structure by legislating on subjects that exclusively fall within the domain of the state government under the state list of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

Three, the global experience across agricultural markets demonstrates that corporatisation of agriculture without a concomitant security net in the form of an assured payment guarantee to the farmers results in the exploitation of farmers at the hands of big business.

“This poses a significant challenge to small and marginal farmers who constitute 86 per cent of our agricultural class,” they write. “The present laws alter the bargaining landscape in favour of the corporate players to the detriment of the farmers. The fact that farmers believe this to be so cannot be shrugged away.”📣 Follow Express Explained on Telegram

Four, the primary cause for concern is the systematic dismantling of the APMC mandis, which have stood the test of time and have provided farmers the remuneration to keep themselves afloat. “The farm laws open the field to an alternate set of markets/private yards, where the buyer will have no statutory obligation to pay the minimum support price (MSP). Since the said markets/private yards will not be charged any market fee/levy; the agricultural sector will see the gradual shifting of trade from the APMC mandis to these private yards,” they point out.

Five, the market fee collected by the APMC mandis is used for the development of rural infrastructure, link roads and storage facilities. The shifting of trade to avoid payment of any levy/market fee by private players and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will eventually witness the redundancy of the APMC mandis, leaving the farmers at the mercy of the corporate sharks.

Six, the new farm laws expressly exclude the jurisdiction of the civil court, leaving the farmers remediless and with no independent medium of dispute redressal mechanism.

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