Chilly and merciless

It is freezing and also raining in north India; every compassionate soul ought to offer the warmth of her hearth to those out on the streets. It is a sad irony that thousands of proud farmers with homes and farms are braving one of the worst cold waves in recent times, sitting out in the open at the Delhi border demanding their fears be assuaged. Today, when the government representatives meet the farmers again for yet another round of talks, they need to put an end to the misery of these landed people who are not asking for any material relief, but their right to continue farming and selling their produce the way their parents and they have been doing for decades.

The government insists that the new farm laws will revolutionise the Indian agriculture sector and make farmers prosperous. But change has to be brought in only with the consent of the stakeholders. If the intended beneficiaries do not accept a particular change, it will be undemocratic, rather authoritarian, to impose a new order. And the Government of India is doing exactly that — imposing a big shift in the way of farming without the willing consent of the farmers of Punjab and Haryana. The government should pause now for a couple of years and allow agriculture to remain a state subject, letting the state Assemblies decide whether they need to adopt the new farm laws.

The best course of action would be to make the new farm laws a success in Bihar and any other willing state in the next two years and make the farmers of Punjab and Haryana seek out the promised prosperity by forcing their respective state governments to enact the new laws. A farmer looks only at the price of the produce and not at the buyer. It does not matter whether a government agency or a multinational company buys wheat and rice, what is important are the best price and practices. Let the laws be proved good elsewhere before provoking farmers to break police barriers and march towards Delhi in this terrible cold.

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