It is inexplicable why the union government is taking so long to resolve an issue which is so simple to resolve . Millions and millions of people including farmers put their faith in wisdom of Narendra Modi in the last general elections; he was without doubt the biggest vote catcher for the BJP and the NDA. This faith is now being tested severely. Millions of people are wondering why there has been such long delay in resolving the stand-off when the path for this is so simple. In the past Indian democracy has resolved much more complex issues much more easily.
Essentially there are four simple steps to be taken. Firstly, the government should certainly repeal the three controversial farm laws. It is by now amply clear that these are bad laws. This is evident as in negotiations with farmers even the government side and the Agriculture Minister agreed to make a number of amendments. The government side has also expressed agreement with farmers that it was a mistake to hastily draft laws without consulting with farmers. Once this is agreed it is only the next logical step to agree to repeal the laws, given the fact that there is such a huge demand for this from farmers and various other sections of society as well. Where are the democratic impulses of the government? The Ministers say there are some good points also in these laws. There may be , but who prevents you from a including your few good points in any new laws that you can enact later after consultations with farmers? But first meet the main demand of the movement by repealing the three controversial farm laws. Please do not try to divide farmers, or to create needless complications. Be democratic, be sincere. Solve a simple issue in a simple way. Do not delay matters unnecessarily. Don’t consider your own people as your enemies. Many of them voted for you or your allies. They will garland you many times if you accept their well-justified democratic demands for which they have struggled so much.
The second step on which consensus can be reached even more easily is to withdraw all legal cases in which the various participants in this movement have been implicated, on the basis of their participation and related activities.
Thirdly, once the first two steps are taken, the farmers’ movement should withdraw their dharna ( protest sit-in) , without creating any additional demands or complications for the time-being, saving their energy for another day and also allowing them time for a lot of careful thinking they need on the path ahead . This thinking and wider discussion, consultation is going to be very important for them in the near future.
Last but not the least, the government , farmers and other stakeholders such as landless farm workers should engage in a wide-ranging democratic debate on changes that are really needed in farming and rural livelihoods and life so that sustainable prosperity, not just short-term prosperity, comes to all sections of all our villages, particularly the poorest ones.
No one has all the wisdom and all the readymade answers, not the government, not the farmer unions, not anyone else. We have to look at all available evidence in a rational way in order to get the most effective and sustainable solutions. This will take time and effort. It is with this longer vision that these rather obvious four steps are suggested.
The first two steps are entirely in the realm of the government to take immediately. There has been a lot of unfortunate already. Now the government should immediately announce the first two steps of repealing the three laws and withdrawing all cases, to be followed by the next two steps mentioned above.
If the government does not follow this obvious and simple path for resolving this crisis then, I regret having to say this, questions will inevitably be raised about the wisdom and/or the real intentions of the union government. For the time being, however, I end with the hope that the government is wise and sincere and will immediately repeal the three farm laws and withdraw the cases.
Bharat Dogra is a freelance journalist and author who has received several awards for reporting on rural, food , labor and human rights issues. He has written several previous articles on the ongoing farmers’ movements for countercurrents.org