Focusing on Four “I’s” after Repealing Farm Laws
On the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti, 19th November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Government of India would repeal the farm laws given the continuous protest happening over it. These laws were in effect for only 221 days.
A bill to cancel the three contentious farm laws that had the farmers up in arms was passed in record time in both houses as parliament’s winter session started on November 29th, 2021.
The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 is aimed at repealing the three farm laws – Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 – and amending the Essential Commodities Act 1955.
A survey has revealed that large sections of Indians supported the three farm laws. There were political and economic factors that have driven protests against the laws and was the reason behind initiating the long overdue agricultural reforms through these laws.
Half of India’s population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Still, the sector has lagged on various fronts from investment to innovation to insurance.
The Situation Assessment Survey of agricultural households (2019) by the National Statistical Office pegs the average income of an agricultural household at Rs 10,218 per month (in 2018-19). The income was only Rs 4,895 in Jharkhand and Rs 5,112 in Odisha. The same was Rs 6,762 in West Bengal and Rs 7,542 in Bihar.
To drive the agricultural economy of India, there is an absolute need for 3 “I’s”, which are, insurance, innovation, and investment.
Insurance would give assurance to the farmers, reducing their fear of losing out on income. Innovation should include not only the machinery but also research conducted on seeds, crops, farming techniques to be shared with a large number of farmers across the country. This can very likely be done through a common platform like e-NAM. The agriculture sector contains the potential to increase India’s exports. To make that happen, a huge amount of quality produce is required. Both aspects are possible when more private players are involved in this sector. Investment would increase the level of production and allow farmers to earn more income.
While focusing on planning and implementation of these three “I’s”, farmers should be a part of the whole process as trust needs to be built to set a strong foundation for their sector’s, and ultimately India’s, progress.
There are many kinds of policies formulated by different union governments and also by several state governments as agriculture is a state subject. However, the process of implementation has been a common lacuna. In implementation, a basic understanding that we require here is the way and technique to disseminate the right information regarding policy changes. Misinformation has created a lot of hurdles and fear amongst farmers though laws were beneficial to them. Farmers who were able to understand its perks were happy with the introduction of the laws.
The fourth “I” which every government needs to consider is ‘information’ as it would yield maximum benefit to society. It would serve the purpose of generating awareness among masses. Once farmers are informed regarding the new policies, schemes which are planned to assist them and help them improve their standard of living then they would contribute to the process of implementation. The scheme would reach the potential beneficiaries and welfare can be attained.
Ms. Vaibhavi Pingale is a Visiting Faculty of Economics at Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune & at Savitribai Phule Pune University. She is pursuing her PhD. She has been actively writing media articles other than academic research.