The last round of talks between farmer and government representatives had ended on a note of partial optimism, with some negotiators from farmers side saying that they expected a clincher agreement in the next round of talks in the new year on January 4 Monday. Even ministers on the government side voiced expressed high hopes of final agreement, one Minister saying he hopes protesting farmers will depart happily after these talks on January 4.
By now the three controversial farm laws have been trashed so much, not just by farmers but by several eminent experts as well, including top economists, that these have become unworkable any way. If the government is only looking for an honorable way out, this can be easily achieved by the government playing the role of high democrat savior, saying it brought the laws with the best intentions but finding so many apprehensions among farmers , as a firm believer in democracy it has agreed to repeal them.
Briefly all aspects can be taken care of by both sides agreeing to a seven point settlement. ( This is only in terms of a suggested agreement of course ).
- In year 2020 the government brought forward three farm laws with the noble intention of many-sided improvements in agriculture but it subsequently became clear that several farmers’ organizations have some serious apprehensions regarding these laws. Therefore the government called them for talks so that their viewpoint could be heard and understood in detail. After hearing their views over several days and keeping in view the highest respect for farmers and democratic processes of resolving differences, the government has agreed to repeal the three laws.
- During the course of these debates in the country a view was unfortunately spread that the existing system of mandi and MSP purchase is threatened. The government would like to dispel these notions and reconfirm clearly that the system of food security and farmer welfare built on government procurement of crops on the basis of MSP in designated APMCs/mandis as well as public distribution system supported by this will continue. Henceforth the government will expand these operations significantly by increasing procurement also for pulses, oilseeds, millets etc. The system of periodic rise of MSP as per certain norms will also continue. In addition the government and farmers will cooperate to find various ways of reducing costs significantly in various ways, including by moving in the direction of atma nirbharta, or self-reliance, as per already declared policy of the government which has been widely welcomed, and this will contribute further to the well-being of farmers.
- There have been apprehensions regarding strong penal provisions in new environment law which could be used against farmers for parali burning. Farmers are assured that these penal provisions will not be used against them but at the same time farmer organizations in all areas of parali burning, or other similar damage, will cooperate with the government to find suitable solutions, giving this proper priority.
- There have been apprehensions that with the coming of new electricity law subsidized supply of water to farmers can be adversely affected, increasing their costs. The government assures that this will not happen, but at the same time farmers will be careful to avoid excessive exploitation of water and will cooperate with all government and community/panchayat efforts for water conservation, and the urgency of conserving water and checking further depletion of water table is accepted fully by both sides.
- Keeping in view considerations raised in the previous clauses as well as wider considerations of sustainability, particularly soil health and bio-diversity, both the government and farmers’ organizations agree to move in the direction of ecologically protective farming and will give due priority to protection of environment.
- Both sides recognize the important contribution of all farm workers in agriculture and related activities, and will cooperate to promote their welfare in various ways.
- All legal cases registered against participants in this movement, relating to this participation, will be withdrawn unconditionally.
Such an agreement will take care of all aspects and create a lot of goodwill all around. This protects the honor of government, meets all stated demands of workers and also includes other important aspects raised by well-intentioned persons in a non-complicating way. Efforts should be made to include all these aspects as each one of these aspects is very important.
Bharat Dogra is a veteran journalist and author. His reports from remote rural areas have received several awards. His recent books include Planet In Peril and Man Over Machine.