Indian Overseas Congress, USA demands that Modi Government revokes the newly enacted farm laws and engage in a dialogue with the protesting farmers to resolve this serious crisis. “It is quite unfortunate to see the Government using water cannons and teargas against farmers who are peacefully protesting to safeguard their livelihoods,” said George Abraham, Vice-Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, USA. “The Modi Administration is systematically trampling the democratic rights of India’s people in terms of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” added Mr. Abraham.
Mr. Mohinder Singh Gilzian, President of the IOCUSA, criticized the way the new law was pushed through the Parliament without any consultation with farmers or any input from a select committee. “It is another example of total disregard of federalism and lack of respect for the Parliamentary procedures that have become the hallmark of this Government. It is quite incredible that those who are in power are questioning the patriotism of the farmers who feed the nation.” Mr. Gilzian added.
Mr. Harbachan Singh, the Secretary-General of the IOCUSA, called upon the Government to respond by saying that “if the minuscule corona virus can bring the world down to its knees, there is no telling that farmers can teach their elected officials some lessons when it becomes necessary. It helps, therefore, for the Government to listen to the legitimate demands and calls for protection by the people”.
The farmers express their legitimate fear that without Minimum Support Pricing, they may become victims to the crony capitalists who hold such sway and power over the country today. The Government is trying to assure them that it will continue with the supporting mechanism. However, nobody can blame the farmers for their skepticism as they were promised in 2014 to implement M.S. Swaminathan’s recommendations according to which farmers were to be paid 50% over and above the cost of the crop as the MSP.However, they have not only reneged in fulfilling those promises but went about filing an affidavit in February 2015 opposing it in the Supreme Court. It was nothing but a cruel joke played on the farmers and exposed the anti-farmer policies of the Modi Government at the Centre and Khattar-led BJP government in Haryana. Besides, farmers have not forgotten the police firing and killings in Madhya Pradesh that took place in 2017.
Thanks to the Nehruvian vision and past Congress governments’ policies, India’s food storage facilities are filled with food grains today; however, some would argue that India is not keeping up with changing times. The nation has just witnessed the distribution of free food grains during the pandemic times to those poor laborers. They were walking back to their home villages due to the Government’s draconian lockdown. Let us not forget the great famine in the 1940s, and an empty granary would have led to another disastrous famine in India today. Suppose the current enacted provisions of the farm law is fully implemented, it may eventually dry up the storage of foods in Government facilities and may even do away with ‘Food Corporation of India’ in favor of the corporate interests.
The existing Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) system may need reforming, but 425 of them plus 1400 or so purchasing centers are doing their job buying, storing, and forwarding those food grains to buyers across India. These APMCs include farmers, Traders, Agricultural experts, and others contributing towards the purchasing decisions. If they fail to meet a threshold in pricing, farmers currently have the option to sell that to the Government for the Minimum Support Price. This is the mechanism that has been removed in favor of the Ambanis and Adanis, who have taken over all other Industry and Business sectors and demanded that the Government now must do the same in the agricultural sector. Therefore, these laws are not enacted primarily for the benefit of the farmers but serve the interests of these billionaire businesspeople with little or no social concern other than to increase their wealth at any cost to the society-at-large. It is to be noted that in these pandemic times, when other sectors are showing a downward trend, they are casting their eye on the food grains to makeup the losses.
There is no empirical evidence to prove that getting rid of the Essential Commodity Act will help the farmers with more income and stabilize the prices for consumers. Under the new laws, corporates will be able to stock any amount, and the outlets like Reliance or Amazon could exploit the supply and demand situation to do price gouging. The recent pandemic in the west showed how the prices were manipulated to maximize these online entities’ profits.Farmers and Consumers alike would be placed under the mercy of these corporate giants.
Therefore, IOCUSA firmly stands behind these courageous farmers who are braving the severe cold weather and facing a threat from the COVID-19 infection to fight for what is right not only for themselves but also for the whole nation. We salute our valiant farmers! It is time for the Modi government to revoke the newly enacted farm Laws and end favoring a few crony capitalists.
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