Tuesday, August 16, 2022

“Over a lakh of farmers could hit streets of Delhi in support of farm laws”

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Anil Ghanwat, member of SC's committee on farm laws

A storm is brewing as over a lakh of farmers, at the other end of spectrum of the protesting farmers who have laid “siege” to Delhi for a year now, could come to the streets of the Capital on their own against the repealing of the three farm laws in the coming days. 

That’s what Anil Ghanwat, a member of the Supreme Court-directed committee on farm laws, has told media persons in the Capital. 

“One lakh farmers would come over to Delhi, from North East to Tamil Nadu, from Kerala to Kashmir—“reform ke liye hum pure desh mein ghumenge (we would go around the country for reforms),” said Ghanwat. 

Ghanwat said that farmers had kept their silence because they thought that finally the matter was being pushed in the right direction. 

“Aisa nahin hai ki jhoot moot bol diya aapko lal qila dikhate hain (It’s not that you lie to farmers and tell them that let’s take you on a tour to Red Fort). Whosoever farmer wants Azaadi, we would bring them over to Delhi. If BJP wants to get elected again, they would’ve to listen to us.”

Ghanwat said it would be a mistake to underestimate the resolve of farmers of rest of the country. 

“Farmer leaders chup rahe, eight months, kuch to hoga, kuch hoga (Farmer leaders were silent, thinking something would happen.) There is no limit to what they could do. But we didn’t want to do.”

Ghanwat, who is bristling in anger at how Supreme Court first formed the committee, asked them to submit their report on the three farm laws but thereafter, since March, have kept it under wraps and not made it public. He says he would request the apex court to make the committee’s report public—“in farmers’ interest”—or they “might think of daring and making it public even if invites contempt of court.”

“Supreme Court should list that matter for PIL and for hearing. And that this report ought to be made public,” said Ghanwat, “There is this matter of contempt of court but we may dare for that and think of may be whether we go public (with the report).”

“If this report had been made public then this matter would’ve been solved then and there. Because then it would’ve been debated in public space.”

Ghanwat has made no secret since prime minister Narendra Modi repealed the three farm laws on November 19 that these laws were much needed and could’ve pulled India’s farmers out of their misery. 

“10 saal baad bhi isi raste pe jaana padega” (Even after 10 years, one would have to take this road only.)”

Ghanwat was aghast that on one hand we say India is an agriculture-based country and on the other hand, there is no policy for farmers. 

“Krishi pradhan desh ki krishi niti hi nahin hai (We say we are agriculture-based country and yet we have no agriculture policy).”

Ghanwat had no doubt that the future of farmers and farming in this country is when new technologies are brought or it would remain mired in deep trouble. 

“In 1965, we were dying out of hunger. We came out of it because of technique.”

Ghanwat was bitter that farmers, largely of two states of Punjab and Haryana, have had their way at the cost of rest of farmers in the country. 

“Does MSP really work? It’s not the answer. They (farmers) have to diversify. Instead of MSP, give the farmers of Punjab and Haryana money to diversify. 

“They are only growing rice and wheat. The water table in the State is depleted to the extent that it’s under red zone.”

“There are so many options. Like the state of Maharashtra don’t have that kind (MSP) of support. Still they are doing well. Dairy, poultry and fisheries, they don’t have any so-called MSP but they are fastest growing sector in agriculture in India. 

“Maharashtra has conquered the market all over the world. The state is exporting to 50 countries.”

Ghanwat and his associate stressed that the existing system has only made farmers poor and killed them. 

“Shuru se hi badhwa mazdoor bana ke rakha hai (from the beginning they have made farmers bonded labour). They don’t owe more than Rs 15 lakh crore of debt. It’s the OECD report. (But) Rs 45 lakh crore have been looted from the farmers. Unse paisa lekar city mein transfer ho raha hai (their money is being transferred from villages to cities). Ye typical socialism hai—poor se lekar rich ko milta hai (It’s typically socialism—to take from poor and give it to the rich).  It’s difficult to explain how poor they are.”

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