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How do blockheads like me see the farmers’ strike?

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Shafeeq R. Mahajir The government is alleged to have told many incorrect things, jumlas . Who do we citizens, bombarded as we are by an unending blizzard of noise, fake noise, and find ourselves in a situation where doublespeak is passé, multiple-speak is common, and every political figure adopts a stand that simply confronts and contradicts the other without regard for national interest, without regard for their own stands while either in government or opposition, without regard for the great responsibility they are carrying, or are supposed and required to carry, give credence to? Recently I read farmers got Re.1/- per kg of tomatoes. I read that Sant Ram Singh committed suicide. Today I read advocate Amarjit Singh committed suicide, complains also about the judiciary. They died “in support of the farmers”.
Whatever be the facts, farmers are on strike.  It appears the UPA, Sharad Pawar as Agriculture Minister, set up three High Level Committees to make recommendations on reforms in the agriculture sector. Each group held meetings and finalised reports, and sent them to the PM Man Mohan Singh. ATRs were sought. Farmers had hardly any choice in marketing their produce, have to bring their produce to regulated agriculture mandis, monopoly institutions for sale of farm produce, near their villages. Absent credit and storage facilities, farmers made distress sales.
Mandis being of Government, private investment was not forthcoming for handling, storing, and transporting crops. Changes to bring in private sector investments for developing marketing infrastructure were felt necessary. Ministry of Agriculture circulated a Model Agricultural Marketing Law in 2003 for adoption by States. It provided for alternative marketing channels via establishment of private markets, contract farming and direct marketing and promotion of e-trading.  State APMC Acts were to be amended as per the model. Automation of operations recommended as a system of automated mandis, connected with major consumption markets and also with ports in case of exportable commodities, for which massive investments in marketing infrastructure from private companies were suggested.  No monopoly, including that of APMCs or corporate licensees, was to be allowed and markets where farmers could freely sell to consumers directly, were to be promoted. Dr Ashok Gulati, Chairman, CACP during UPA regime, Agri-Economists Suresh Pal, PCP Joshi, Meher Chand and Mahendradev all were apparently of the same view. Now a volte face by UPA, if the above is true, leaves the citizen non-plussed. What does he make of this? Now, famers are willing to lay siege to the capital to force a rethink. They brave water cannon and blockades of roads. The government does not want an impossible-to-handle-without-violence situation on its hands so digs trenches across roads, blocks transport, barricades entry points. Why? To prevent the protest from reaching where it will become a focus of media. Well, if a protest is in a not-in-the-eye-of-the-storm locale, it won’t cut much ice, will it? Is a right to protest a right that can be exercised where the protest will remain unseen? Is that not defeating the very objective of the protest? Question: If farmers are to be benefited from the changes, why would they object? It appears Adani and others have built bulk farm produce storage facilities already, in preparation for this law. The allegation is that these people were tipped off about what the government would do, a la insider trading, and prepared facilities in advance for what was yet to come.  The consequential unstated allegation is that this is a conspiracy between the big corporate honchos and the government servile to their interests, screwing up farmers’ rights selling its soul to corporate big guns to whom it has already parcelled out even those PSUs which were making profits. So, say the farmers, we no trust! 


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