‘The Farm Laws Aren’t Farmer Friendly, they ONLY Benefit BIG Corporates ‘- Ms Bhavya Narasimhamurthy

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‘The Farm Laws Aren’t Farmer Friendly, they ONLY Benefit BIG Corporates ‘- Ms Bhavya Narasimhamurthy

  •  ‘The Farm Laws Aren’t Farmer Friendly-they ONLY Benefit BIG Corporates ‘- Social Activist Ms Bhavya Narasimhamurthy

Mangaluru: It should be noted that the government rushed the farm laws without proper discussion in Parliament,even though the Central government leaders say the reforms will lead to new opportunities in agriculture trade. While Opposition parties have mounted pressure on the Union government after violence erupted during a protest by farmers who are opposing three new agricultural laws, there are other social organizations raising their voices against these three farm laws implemented by the government, and there are a few social activists who also have spoken against these Farm Laws, and one among them is social activist Bhavya Narasimhamurthy from Bengaluru, who was the keynote speaker during a talk organized by Commission for Lay Faithful; and Commission for Development, Diocese of Mangaluru, held at Golden Jubilee Hall, Bendore Church, Mangaluru on 4 February 2021.

Fr J B Crsata , the Secretary of Commission for Lay Faithful welcomed the gathering, introduced the keynote speaker Social Activist Bhavya Narasimhamurthy and briefed about the programme. Addressing the audience on the topic “FARM LAWS” social activist Ms Bhavya Narasimhamurthy said, ” Even though the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of three controversial farm laws, calling its order “extraordinary” and a “victory for fair play”, it is not helpful to the farmers. The three Farm Laws are: The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act. The stay on their implementation means the Centre cannot, for the time being, proceed with any executive actions to enforce the laws”.

“Even though there had been several rounds of negotiations between the Centre and farmers, it has produced no results, even as senior citizens, women and children among the protesters were exposed to serious health hazards posed by the cold and COVID-19. There were few deaths, not due to violence, but either of illness or by way of suicide. The three farm laws have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector to remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country. The government projected the laws as an antidote to lowering demands caused by the pandemic. However, protesting farmers consider the laws as a key to an exploitative regime that would ultimately lead to the loss of their lands. While the rich like Mukesh Ambani are making Rs 90 crore per hour, 25% of Indians are earning Rs 3000 per month”.

Fr J B Crasta- Secretary of Commission for Lay Faithful and Fr Oswald Monteiro- Secretary, Development Commission – of Mangaluru Diocese

“During the lockdown the rich,like Ambani and others have made billions, while the hard working Indians and farmers suffered a lot. The Union government intends to liberalize farming with a short term goal of doubling their current average monthly income. Trying to deregulate the farming sector and offer farmers the freedom of choice to sell their produce without restraint. By allowing verbal and written contracts the farmers will be placed vulnerable in the hands of BIG corporates. There is no real law to safeguard the interest of the farmers. Therefore, the consumers and farmers are at risk. It is sad to note that the farmers have been protesting since 26 November 2020, and the Central government has turned a blind eye towards their demands” added Ms Bhavya.

She further said “No matter who gets hurt, the country will suffer damage. Take back the anti-agricultural laws in national interest. It is the responsibility of the central government to talk to the farmers and solve this impasse, which they are not doing. The entire country is deeply disturbed by worrying and painful developments that have unfolded until now, with farmers still protesting day and night for days. The Centre’s insensitive attitude and indifference towards our farmer brothers and sisters has to be blamed for this situation. The state of Indian farmers- 18% GDP, average monthly income Rs 3100; 52% are under heavy debt . Govt should eliminate APMC monopoly; Do away with long standing challenge of middlemen; leads to open market, improved price discovery, supply chain efficiencies and dynamic market linkages” .

“Contract farming provides farmers with a price assurance instead of subjecting them to market uncertainty. Do away with rest on stock piling. 80% have no access to market or transportation facilities. Farmers will be exposed to risk by frauds since no need for a license. In case of dispute the BIG corporate buyers will be benefited. We need to create avenues for farmers to engage in contract farming through verbal or written contracts. What is there in farm laws that make them so contentious? The government says the farm laws open up new avenues for the farmers to increase their income. The protesters, on the other hand, say the new laws will make them vulnerable to private traders”.

“The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act provides for setting up a mechanism allowing the farmers to sell their farm produce outside the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs). Any licence-holder trader can buy the produce from the farmers at mutually agreed prices. This trade of farm produce will be free of mandi tax imposed by the state governments. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act allows farmers to do contract farming and market their products freely. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act is an amendment to the existing Essential Commodities Act. This law now frees items such as food grains, pulses, edible oils and onion for trade except in extraordinary situations. The government has presented these laws as reforms akin to the 1991-opening of the Indian economy linking it with the globalised markets. It has argued that the three laws open up new opportunities for the farmers so that they can earn more from their farm produce.

The government has said the new laws will help to strengthen basic farm sector infrastructure through greater private investments. Successive governments have found financial constraints in investing in farm and rural infrastructure. It is argued that with food markets growing exponentially in India, private players would make agriculture profitable for the farmers. But farmers are worried over MSP assurance. The MSP assurance has emerged as the main sticking point in the farmers’ protest. There is an apprehension among the farmers that allowing outside-APMC trade of farm produce would lead to lesser buying by the government agencies in the approved mandis.

“The protesting farmers say the new laws would thus make the MSP system irrelevant and they would not have any assured income from their farming. Right now, the government announces fixed MSP for around two dozen crops. However, paddy, wheat and some pulses are the ones that are procured by the government agencies at the APMC mandis. The working of the MSP system has been such over the years that it benefits only a handful of farmers at all-India level. So, the fear that the MSP system may crumble and get dismantled after the new farm laws are implemented has become a very emotive issue for the farmers, especially in Punjab and Haryana. And, that is why they are the ones who are most vocal in their protest against the farm laws and demanding that the MSP should be made mandatory for both APMC and private mandis”.

“Some states are unhappy with the new farm laws as it denies them the right to collect fees from outside-mandi trade of farm produce. The fee varies from 1-2 per cent to about 8-9 per cent in different states, which argue that they already have limited sources of revenue collection and are heavily dependent on the Centre for meeting their expenditure needs. This explains why states, particularly those ruled by the Opposition parties, support farmers’ protest over the new farm laws. We as citizens of India need to fully support the farmers in their struggle until justice is served ” concluded social activist Bhavya Narasimhamurthy.

Following her speech, a few members in the audience namely- Fr Alwyn Dçunha-Parish Priest Omzoor Church; Er Rajendra Kumar- AAP active member; Ms Mansi Pint- a CA Student; Ln Ronald D’silva- former Lions Club Governor and Retired entrepreneur; Fr Joachim Fernandes- Pastoral Council; Dennis Lobo-Agriculturist; Alwyn Patrao- Entrepreneur; Ms Shalet Pint- President,Congress Mahila Sabha; and Ms Rita Noronha- Social Activist, interacted with Ms Bhavya by posing relevant queries to the Farm Laws topic , which Ms Bhavya answered and clarified their doubts. The vote of thanks was delivered by Fr Oswald Monteiro- Secretary of Development Commission, and the programme was compered by Fr Vinod Mascarenhas- a social activist from Belthangady. The session was attended by a large audience, making it a success.

ABOUT Ms BHAVYA NARASIMHAMURTHY :

EDUCATION : COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, New York, USA Master of Public Administration Concentration : Economic and Political Development Specialization : Gender And Public Policy M S RAMAIAH INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, Bangalore India Bachelor of Engineering : Electrical and Electronics Engineering

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE : UN WOMEN, United Nations Headquarters, New York, USA • Ending Violence Against Women Section : Worked on creating the Global database on Ending Violence against women. UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND, Regional Office, Cairo, Egypt • Gender Based Violence Section: worked on preparing scorecards on gender for 15 Arab Countries. UNICEF, Nepal • Worked on a Nationwide Multi – Sector Nutrition Project. KPMG, Bengaluru, India Manager

NAVAKARANATAKA, Vision 2025 Document : Government of Karnataka Project on drawing a Vision document for Karnataka in 13 key Development sectors for 2025 POLITICAL EXPERIENCE IN POLICY MAKING INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS Indian Parliamentary Election 2019 • Worked on designing Campaign Strategies in office of Ms. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra General Secretary Incharge for Parliamentary Elections 2019 in Uttar Pradesh East district. • Worked under the able guidance of Ms Sushmita Dev, Former Lok Sabha MP and current President of All India Mahila Congress in preparing the Gender Justice Chapter for the Parliamentary Election Manifesto 2019 .

Worked under the able guidance of Professor Rajeev Gowda, Rajya Sabha MP and Chairman, AICC Research Department for the Parliamentary Election Manifesto 2019 Karnataka Assembly Election Manifesto 2018 • Worked under the able guidance of Dr Veerappa Moily, in preparing the Congress Manifesto for the Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018.

CURRENT POLITICAL POSITION : Priyadarshini, Youth wing of All India Mahila Congress State Coordinator, Mahila Congress, Karnataka. Priyadarshini is a recently formed women’s youth wing of Indian National Congress. It is a safe and soft political platform for women and girls between the age of 16 to 35 years. Aimed at making policies more inclusive by making their voices be heard in the field of Education, Health, Safety and Employment. Vision Karnataka Committee, KPCC Invitee Committee set up by KPCC President Sri D K Shivakumar, with Sri R V Deshpande as the Chairman and Prof Rajeev Gowda as the Convener.

In order to revive and strengthen Karnataka’s economy in the wake of CoronaVirus Pandemic and the lockdown that is expected to inflict a blow on our economy. Committee is responsible to list suggestions and concrete plans to effectively tackle the slowdown by consulting stakeholders and to set a Vision for the state of Karnataka in making it a globally competitive state.

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1 Comment

  1. As a micro-farmer, I welcome the govt’s move to open up the farm sector. The sole problem I have is that the govt. is pushing this much needed reform without following due democratic process.
    The only “poor” farmers in the country are people like Deve Gowda, Hema Malini/Dharmendra, Amitabh Bacchan. These are the kind of people who reap the benefits that they do not deserve while the real poor farmers continue to languish for lack of freedom of choice.

    Farmers are industrialists and producers just like any other entrepreneur. They face losses and profits just like any other entrepreneur . Protection never strengthens rather it weakens growth and progress. People living in “cities” should stop treating the real farmers as illiterate poor morons. Farmers have no desire to be poor they wish to sell their produce for its worth and not the pittance that is paid to them by those who wish to keep them poor.

    I largely agree with the below submissions:
    http://swarnabharat.in/Documents/Shetkari_Sanghatana-SCcommitteFeb2021.pdf

    http://swarnabharat.in/Documents/SBP-submission-SCFarmLawsCommittee.pdf

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