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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 52, New Delhi, December 12, 2020

Accord Highest Priority to Resolving the Farmer Issue: A Simple Three-Point Agreement Can Show the Way Forward | Bharat Dogra

Friday 11 December 2020, by Bharat Dogra

It is amazing that a resolution of the stand-off with farmers’ movements has been delayed for so long. A government which never misses a chance to announce its patriotism has allowed issues which harm the national interests of India to fester for so long. I am writing this note on the morning of December 10. A satisfactory solution acceptable to all should have been announced at least a week back and an agreement reached on this basis.

The solution can have the following three basic points —

1. The three controversial farm laws should be repealed. Farmers need not insist on calling a Parliament session for this immediately. The government telling them and the nation that these will be definitely repealed in the next session and will not be taken forward in any way is enough. The government can perhaps also consider bringing ordinances to repeal these laws if this is possible; after all it did use the ordinance route to bring in these laws with unseemly hurry in the first place. However this is more a matter of detail. The main point is that the government agrees in very clear terms to repeal the three controversial farm laws. There is not even a fig leaf left now for defending the three controversial farm laws as by now even organizations which are an integral part of the Sangh Parivar have come out with their strong criticism of these laws. First there was strong criticism of long –term allies like the Akali Dal, then the criticism of its own close colleagues—why is the Modi government still waiting to take the inevitable decision of taking back these controversial laws?

2. Secondly, all cases lodged against the participants and supporters of this movement in the context of activities relating to this movement anywhere should be taken back immediately.

3. The protests and dharnas should end on this basis and for future a plan to involve farmers, their unions and organizations, plus other stakeholders, including landless farm workers and their representatives, plus those with a proven record of ecologically protective and sustainable farming, in decision making should be drawn up so that a consultative, participatory and democratic process can be evolved to find farm policy best suited for India in these difficult times of climate change and other adversities. There should be balanced and more or less equal consultation with farmers of all states and agro-climatic regions.

On their part the protesting farmers’ organizations should agree to withdraw their movement and protest dharna as soon as the two key demands of repeal of the three laws and withdrawal of all cases against movement participants are accepted. They should not bring in any additional demands just now, leaving this for the future, as bringing in additional demands just now can delay a settlement, which is needed rather immediately now with a sense of urgency.

(The writer is a veteran reporter on rural and development issues whose reports on these issues received several prestigious award. His latest books include Man Over Machine ( Gandhian ideas for our times ) and Protecting Earth for Children. )

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