November 22, 2021 - 9:18 am

All Three Farm Laws Repealed 

PM Modi has announced the repeal of the three contentious farm laws : The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Felicitations) Act, 2020, which is aimed at allowing trade in agricultural produce outside the existing APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) mandis; Thee Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, which seeks to provide a framework for contract farming; The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, which is aimed at removing commodities such as cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potato from the list of essential commodities.

                              There are numerous implications of PM taking a U-turn on India's agricultural reforms : after the GST (Goods and Services Tax), this was Modi's deepest and most far reaching reforms. The saddest part of this U-turn is that India's agriculture has now been condemned to be crushed under the feet of wealthy farmers, traders and middleman for another full generation - no political party will dare touch these reforms for a quarter century. This is a big loss for India. Those who supported the three farm laws have been deserted, gotten a second wind and they will demand more. Will this U-turn deliver political returns in the two states of Punjab and UP ? Unlikely. Those on the outskirts of agrarian reforms now have a toolkit with which to oppose any and every Modi undertakes.

                              The timing of announcement, was being made on Guru Nanak Jayanti, is being widely seen as a concession to the Sikh community, to which a significant segment of protesting farmers belongs. From the opposition perspective, the decision has been timed with the elections in Punjab, UP and Uttarakhand. In the immediate term, the repeal exposes the government to charges of being on the wrong path and against popular sentiments, notwithstanding its claims to the contrary. This is the second rollback by the NDA government - the first was of land acquisition reforms in 2015 - and on both counts issue related to rural farmers.

                              For those late to this farm party, the three farm laws are the biggest reforms in the sector since independence. They were a part of Modi's continuing signature as a reformer. With the U-turn Modi has condemned them to another quarter century of economic subjugation.

                              The repeal has been considered a good and in the history of India in will be counted in the same way as August 15 and January 26. In the end it is not important why the government retreated. It is important that it knows that in a democracy, winning a majority is not enough . It is only the beginning of the work of governance, which calls for persuasion. Pushing economic reforms, especially those that upend long-held assumptions, needs, hard work and humility. Neither self-serving lectures nor flaunting Loksabha numbers will do. After all, it's a good day for democracy.