Saturday, December 9, 2023

Second-guessing the PM and his grand strategy in coming weeks

You are an Indian citizen and witness to the most difficult times in our nascent Republic. 

  • You see a much-loved Indian prime minister roll back laws which could have allowed farmers to sell their agri-produce wherever they deemed it profitable; 
  • You see measures which could’ve goaded them into high-value agriculture to interest private sector enough to invest in logistics, storage, processing, e-commerce, digital technologies etc; 
  • It had the potential to nudge farmers towards crops, say oilseeds and pulse, away from paddy, wheat and sugarcane which has dried water tables and degraded soil in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh; and shackled the government enough to offer free water and electricity and Minimum Support Price (MSP);
  • You imagined a dawn which would break the unholy nexus of rich, fat farmers, middlemen and corrupt state governments where they looked after each other, never mind the ruin it brought on India’s exchequer and reduced majority of farmers to slavery; 
  • It had the promise to bring most of 45% of our workforce, that’s farmers, to live beyond the inadequate 13,000 rupees and an extra 500 month under PM-KISAN scheme. 

Now what do we have?

  • Protesting farmers have shifted their goalpost to an MSP Bill which is as impossible as an ant eating up an elephant. (I would detail it later);
  • India now has dropped guard to be disrobed by the street mob, unleashed by evil forces who have anything but good of the country in heart; 
  • It suggests that a government which can’t lift a baton, and a judiciary which can’t enforce justice, are nothing but nautch-girls who would dance to whatever beat the anarchists set for them on the floor;
  • That any reform by Modi government would be stillborn, reduced to a lump of flesh and broken bones under the boots of anarchists;

Is there a bigger picture we are missing than the mere political goals we are ascribing to the prime minister’s decision? 

  • After all, Yogi Adityanath would still win in Uttar Pradesh without the carrot of farm laws repealed; 
  • Punjab, as a political candy, is not big enough for the prime minister to destroy his political career and legacy, not to say the gut blow to his own BJP whom he has nursed to the pole position in Indian politics. 

A sensible reason does appear that in the name of farmers’ protest:

  • Sikhs and Hindus were being alienated which was paying into the hands of secessionist forces of Khalistanis who have the back of ISI, China and Western forces;
  • That any untoward incident, like the one in Terai region (Lakhimpur Kheri) where Sikhs abound, could play into the hands of Islamists who have gained in Afghanistan; sprung to life in Jammu and Kashmir and slowly spread their tentacles in Punjab;
  • The next corollary would’ve been Islamists and Khalistanis stoking up Muslims and Sikhs into a kind of brotherhood—like the Gurdwaras offering to open doors to namaz in Gurgaon—and the nation torn asunder from the middle. 

Much as it explains the prime minister’s decision, one can’t escape but reflect that:

  • This issue was allowed to grow bigger and the government had multiple moments, nothing better than the hideous Republic Day incident, to free up Delhi’s gates; 
  • That there were rape and Talibani murder by a Nihang, at the Singhu border, which deserved swift reprisals; 
  • That it didn’t behove the Supreme Court, free from any political imperative, to pause the farm laws in January this year; to set up a committee only to hide its recommendations; and thus abandon its morality and obligation to India’s constitution. 

Now, we would still pay attention to:

  • November 29th when the winter session of the Parliament gets underway; 
  • We also won’t take our eyes off on December 9 when the Supreme Court is to take a call if a whip needs be cracked to free up Delhi’s Gates; 
  • And we certainly would be very keen to know the decision three gentlemen—Dr Pramod Kumar Joshi, Ashok Gulati and Anil Ghanwat—who spent months in preparing the farm recommendations for the SC, come up with in its meeting on Monday. Ghanwat says that if the other two disagree with him, he would make the report public in nation’s interest; and
  • Above all, if it’s only an opening gambit by Modi and a new tack, Plan B as it were, would unfold in coming weeks for India’s agriculture, Occupy Street mafia and even India’s judiciary which has betrayed feet of clay. 

India’s manifest destiny at the moment is with Modi. He can’t abandon it. Hopefully he would offer a lot more to sweeten the hurt his decision has caused to majority. 

(The demand for MSP as a legislation is at stupid as it gets. What happens:

  • When there is surplus of crops? MSP for all would fuel huge inflation. Every one percentage point increase in MSPs leads to a 15-basis point increase in inflation; RBI would have to upend its inflation targets; economy would suffer; 
  • What happens to free economy, as professed in India’s constitution, dictated only by demand and supply? Why would private sector enter the deal blind-folded? 
  • Since MSPs are oriented towards foodgrains, is it helping or depleting water-table and degrading soil? 
  • What incentive is then left for, say pulses and oilseeds, which we are left to import at a great cost: 
  • What do you to answer WTO with if you subsidize surplus in cereals, ignoring the 10% limit to the total value of agricultural produce placed by the world body; 

Yet Modi has promised a committee to look after the MSP matter. Let logic and reason, and not agenda, take a call. At best the States could be asked to decide on MSP as per their crop outputs and ecological issues. But then it’s only a brave, or a fool, who would second guess the prime minister.)

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