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Agricultural Reform Promises and Realities: Navigating India’s Policy Shifts and Farmer Unrest

NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 22: Senior Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh speaking to media personnel regarding Land Acquisition Bill as Prime Minister talks about his speech on "Man Ki Baat", at the AICC on March 22, 2015 in New Delhi, India. Ramesh alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to create a 'smokescreen' to benefit the corporate sector with his false claims that the defence and national security projects were delayed due to the Land Acquisition Bill passed by the UPA government. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images) Farmer

Farmer: The contention around Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promises to India’s farming community, particularly in the north, has been a focal point of political and social discourse. Modi, leveraging promises of significant agricultural reforms, including a 50 per cent profit over input costs and a doubling of farmers’ incomes by 2022, effectively garnered support from this demographic.

These pledges were grounded in the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, aiming to enhance farmers’ financial security through minimum support prices (MSP).

Jairam Ramesh on Farmer protest

However, the Congress party, through its communications chief Jairam Ramesh, has highlighted a perceived inconsistency between Modi’s assurances and his actions, especially regarding the legal guarantee for MSP. Ramesh recalls Modi’s advocacy for MSP during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat and his subsequent retreat from these promises upon becoming Prime Minister.

This issue has resurfaced amidst protests by farmers against the government, facing severe resistance as they attempt to voice their grievances in Delhi.

Video Credit: Congress Website 

The barriers, both physical in the form of concrete boulders and barbed wires and symbolic, in the form of unfulfilled promises, have led to a loss of trust in Modi among the farmer community, underscoring the complexities in India’s agricultural policies and the political promises made to its farmers.

The events and policy shifts concerning the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and agricultural reforms under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership have sparked significant debate and controversy.

Initially, Modi, through various platforms and reports, advocated for the implementation of MSP to safeguard farmers by ensuring that no transactions fall below this threshold, aiming to protect their financial interests against market volatility.

This approach focused on supporting farmers against the risks posed by intermediaries and fluctuating market dynamics, especially for perishable products.

However, the narrative shifted dramatically when the Modi government, in an affidavit to the Supreme Court, declared that implementing a 50 per cent profit margin over input costs as part of the MSP was impractical. This stance was further reinforced by a response to an RTI query 2016, suggesting that such a profit margin could distort the market.

Video Credit: Congress Official Website

These developments were perceived as a clear departure from earlier promises, leading to widespread farmer protests. In a significant move, Modi, in November 2021, sought to quell the unrest by withdrawing the contentious farm laws and proposing the formation of a committee to deliberate on MSP legislation.

This sequence of events raises questions about the government’s commitment to its initial promises on agricultural reforms and MSP, leading to scepticism and criticism from various quarters, including the Congress party, which views these actions as a betrayal of the farmers’ trust and a reversal of Modi’s own earlier recommendations.

News Shot 24
Author: News Shot 24

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