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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Daily Briefing: PM Modi apologises, repeals three farm laws; AB de Villiers retires from all forms of cricket

Coming a few months before the Assembly elections early next year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement repealing the three farm laws has delivered a resounding victory to one of the longest farm agitations in independent India.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
November 20, 2021 8:08:33 am
A look at the top news today, November 20, 2021.

Good morning,

Farm laws repealed 

A year since farmers first showed up at the gates of Delhi to protest against three new agriculture laws which were later put on hold by the Supreme Court, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the laws will be repealed and the process completed in the upcoming winter session of Parliament. The announcement was a rare climbdown by the Prime Minister whose government defended the laws and criticised those opposing them. 

The decision to repeal the three farm laws marks the most significant step back by the Narendra Modi government since 2014. Both the ruling party and its allies had decried those protesting against it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had derided the protesters saying they were working at the behest of “Foreign Destructive Ideology”. A vocal section of the party saw in the protesters “Khalistanis” and an activists’ toolkit was seen as a sinister plot.   

The Narendra Modi government was spot on in identifying two big areas, land and farm, for reforms early on in its first and second terms, respectively. But in a remarkable parallel, in both cases, it relied too much on its numerical strength and refused to do the heavy lifting of politics. In both cases, it trashed opposing voices and attributed to its motives that effectively derailed the discourse.

Coming a few months before the Assembly elections early next year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement repealing the three farm laws has delivered a resounding victory to one of the longest farm agitations in independent India. “Kisaanon ne Modi ko jhuka diya, this is the first time that this government has rolled back a law,” said a euphoric Jagmohan Singh Dakaunda, president of BKU (Dakaunda), the second largest union of the state, and member of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha.

Only in the Express 

Explaining the significance of the rollback of the farm laws, Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: “The Modi government’s decision to repeal the controversial farm laws is a landmark moment. But quite what it signifies is very much an open question. The decision to repeal is the correct one even if it comes months late. Agriculture needs serious reform, but this legislation was not the reform it urgently needed.”

Speaking on why the rollback of the three farm laws announced by PM Narendra Modi holds importance in this day and age, an Editorial in The Indian Express reads: “In the end, it is not important why the government retreated. It is important that it knows that in a democracy, winning a majority is not enough. Pushing economic reforms, especially those that upend long-held assumptions, needs hard work and humility. Neither self-serving lectures nor flaunting Lok Sabha numbers will do.” 

Must Read 

But before PM Modi’s big announcement, BJP leaders, including the PM himself, were known to repeatedly target the movement and its leaders. The Prime Minister coined the term andolanjeevi (one who makes a living out of protests) to say that the farmers’ protests were being used as a tool by people who thrived on protests. Key BJP leaders, often seemingly in a coordinated fashion, also chipped in from time to time to target the protests. For instance, in November last year, BJP’s IT Cell chief Amit Malviya tweeted a video titled “Khalistani agenda behind farmers protest in Punjab”.

While most farmers have shuffled between Singhu and their homes in Punjab or Haryana, there are some who have remained here without a break, with their lives on hold. From a 32-year-old accountant, who is one of youngest people volunteering at the main stage at Singhu, to a 72-year-old farmer who stood his ground and remained at the protest site despite receiving eight stitches from a teargas bomb a day after he arrived — we share the stories of some of the protestors who refused to budge until the farm laws were repealed. 

Here’s what happened at Delhi’s borders, where farmers have been protesting relentlessly for over a year now: At Singhu, celebrations began by 10 am, with protesters rushing to nearby shops to purchase speakers, flowers and sweets. But some remained skeptical, asking for the PM’s promise on paper. Meanwhile, at Tikri, songs to celebrate Gurupurab echoed across the protest site. The mood here was more muted — but still buoyant. Some of the farmers, who have stayed put for more than a year, will soon be returning home to crippling debt. “A cost we were willing to pay,” a protestor remarked. 

Meanwhile, even after a committee overseeing five gurdwaras in Gurgaon had offered their premises for prayers, namaz was not offered at any gurdwara this Friday. Instead, for the second week in a row, members of the Muslim community offered Friday namaz at local businessman Akshay Yadav’s vacant shop at Sector 12. “When the gurdwara offered their premises, radicals pressured them. Last night, we got to know of this,” Former Rajya Sabha MP Mohammad Adeeb, who offered namaz at the shop, said. 

And Finally 

The enduring greatness of AB de Villiers, who retired from all forms of the game on Friday, and would no longer be that pillar of assurance in the RCB clothes, was not merely the volume or runs, the raft of records or the radicalism his stroke-play embodied. It was equally about his revving impact on the game: the visceral fear he instilled in the hearts of bowlers, the awe he inspired in fellow batsmen, and the range of emotions he made cricket fans traverse across formats. This prompts the question: Was there anything he could not do?

Delhi Confidential:  The National Human Rights Commission inaugurated a new seminar hall at its Manav Adhikar Bhawan office in the national capital. Although Chairperson and former Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra was slated to cut the ribbon for the new hall, Vimla, a housekeeping staffer, was called in last minute to inaugurate the hall. 

Until tomorrow,
Rahel Philipose and Rounak Bagchi

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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