Point Of View

An Open Letter to PM Modi

S Jeevananda Reddy

On september 27, 2020, the president of India Mr Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the three farm reform (?) bills that were passed in the dark in Rajya Sabha. They are:

 The Farmers’ Produce, Trade and Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill, 2020

 The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020

 The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Farmers started protests against these bills in severe winter cold in 2020 and continued still to date that enters another winter/2021. Unequivocally the farmers groups said they won’t stop their protests until they achieved the twin goals: “Scrapping of the three Agri Bills and getting the legal status to Minimum Support Price [MSP]”. To counter this, Prime Minister of India brought out a book “Putting Farmers First” of 106 pages and several ministers and spokes- persons of Bharatiya Janata Party( BJP) started high pitch propaganda in support of them using the media. After these, Supreme Court of India appointed a four member committee to submit a report on this—this writer submitted a lengthy report to them [this was published later in a Journal]. The Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the bills.

After the government of India announced the repelling of three Agri Bills—at the coming Parliament session on 29th November 2021 the farmers’ leaders announced that they continue their protests until the following six demands are accepted. They are [along with them presented the writer’s observations on them]:

 MSP based on the “comprehensive cost of production formula” for all agricultural produce;

This is bad for both farmers and nation but it is good for MNCs. Also this is not what the farmers demanded earlier: “Scrapping of the three Agri Bills and getting the legal status to Minimum Support Price [MSP]”.

“Comprehensive cost of production formula”, the author expressed his views against such a concept when they were submitted to government in 2004 itself. UPA government appointed Dr M S Swaminathan Commission and it submitted its recommendations on this in 2004 who proposed this concept. Later Communists got a report from Jayathi Ghosh. The reality with this concept is that “this concept help the multinational Companies (MNCs] [as seed is tailored to chemical inputs] involving Genetically Modified Seeds and chemical inputs manufacturing companies [green revolution technology]”. This is a system that produces health hazardous diet & air & water pollution—Stan Cox brought out a book titled “Sick Planet: Corporate Food & Medicine” in 2006.

India ranked in the world’s five largest producers of the over 80% agriculture produce items including many cash crops such as coffee, tea, cotton, livestock & poultry. But India is unable to control the waste in food produced, not meeting food quality and unable to protect the produce from the unseasonal weather fury, unable to stop the circulation of PDS rice in black market, etc. All these affect farmers’ income. Around 30% of the chemical inputs are going into black market. UPA government brought out a system to transfer subsidy directly to beneficiaries but not implemented.

India has been producing food in excess—around 40% is going as waste [according to FAO it is around 30% for the globe]; and thus natural resources used to produce that also has been going as waste. India achieved “White Revolution” & “Blue Revolution”. However India with 18% of global population: (a) Nobody knows whether the food, milk, meet, etc. produced with highly contaminated water or not; (b) None has the knowledge on whether they are eating polluted-adulterated food or not; (c) None has the knowledge on whether they are drinking/eating polluted-adulterated milk/milk based food items or not; (d) None has the knowledge on whether they are eating polluted-adulterated sea/river/lake food-meat, etc. or not; (e) But they all talk of hypothetical-time pass “global warming and climate crisis”—that is creating global warming hysteria, etc.

Governments must look into such issues that benefit farmers and general public rather than harping on issues that benefit to multinational companies. Insurance cover, loan waiver, chemical fertilizer subsidies, etc. benefit only one group of farmers and not all. In fact Respected PM himself said, with the farmers’ insurance cover, insurance companies are benefitting. Also chemical inputs are used by across farm size, state-wise, irrigated vs un-irrigated areas, across crops, etc. Government benefits are not reaching all farmers equitably. First this needs to correction and encourage low input cost technology.

The farmers and governments instead of harping on the “comprehensive cost of production formula” that basically help certain farmers growing certain crops, wet land crops, etc. study the loop holes in the system and bringing down the wasteful expenditure by government and farmers that save lakh of crores in each year. Also develop a system of exports and local food processing, storage facilities to minimise the post-harvest losses, etc.

 Withdrawal of the draft Electricity Amendment Bill;

PM Narendra Modi has already announced that meters will be fixed at transformer level instead of meters at farmers’ level. In fact this was proposed to two Telugu States CMs.

 Withdrawal of all cases against farmers;

This is quite genuine. Government must attend do this job immediately.

 Compensation to the families of 700 farmers who died in protests;

This is part of natural justice. The government must take action on this immediately. One politician proposed Rs 15 lakhs and another said Rs one crore per person. Government must look into this issue pragmatically.

 Land at Singhu border to build a memorial in their memory;

This is not a good policy.

 Resignation of Union Minister of State for Home;

This should have been taken long back by asking him resign from the ministry, when the case was filed and Supreme Court has taken up the case.

However, the great shocking news is Chief Minister of Telangana State K. Chandrasekhar Rao claimed [all TV Channels telecasted this also presented print media, day after day misleading the public sentiments] that the three Agri Bills were withdrawn from his protest few days back. Unfortunately, no media questioned him. It is a “greatest insult” to farmers who started their protest in winter 2020 and continued in winter 2021. Around 700 of these protesters lost their lives.

Regional parties have their self-interests, take the case of Dalitha Bandu as vote bank politics paying RsTen lakhs per family instead of developing infrastructure for their upliftment [see the fate of schools & healthcare and transport, etc. in the state of Telangana]. Always better to choose national parties at the centre that may do some justice to all states. Judiciary will be affected severely with regional orientations under regional groups at the centre.

[source: Janata Weekly]

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Vol. 54, No. 24, Dec 12 - 18, 2021