By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2020-12-01 12:29:45
Wounds left unattended soon turn into ulcers. If the government does not talk to the farmers who are camping on the fringes of Delhi, three things will happen: one, support for the farmers will multiply; two, people will start thinking that despite Prime Minister Modi defending the farm bills, the government does not have the solid arguments to convince the farmers; and three, the congregation will soon turn into a Covid hotspot.
The BJP has decided to term the protests as a conspiracy by the Congress and other "unwanted elements". It also says that the farmers have been misled by those who benefit by the existing system. Even if it were true, it is the duty of the government to talk to the farmers, understand their objections to the bills and explain to them how their fears are unfounded. The government has drafted the bills after accounting for all problems that were there in the existing system of marketing of farm produce. Obviously, the government thinks the new system will benefit the farmers. Hence, it should now explain the rationale behind the bills to the farmers unions.
The farmers are mainly agitated on two points: one, that the MSP will be withdrawn once the new bills come into force and two, that the corporate world will crush them by playing games which they do not understand. The farmers have been used to the mandi and the MSP system for ages and are bound to resist change. No one voluntarily likes to leave his or her comfort zone. It is upon the government to convince them how the new system is not going to let prices fall below the minimum support price declared by the government and how it will lead to better pricing, better farming (with investment in new technology, irrigational and storage infrastructure and better seeds by corporate houses) and more produce.
The sterling performance of the agriculture sector even in these difficult times for the economy will suffer if the farmers keep agitating. The opposition will obviously try to fan the fires. The government should have reached out to the farmers earlier and should not have let things come to such a pass. But now, time should not be wasted. If the government wants to prove that it is not against the farmers (as the Congress is trying to prove, which the slogan in the lead picture sums up nicely) they need to be convinced and left alone to do what they are best at: turning out the produce that has made India self-sufficient and even an exporter of agricultural produce.