The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on 19th November announced the revocation of the three contentious farm laws, which attracted widespread protests mainly by the farmers from Punjab and Haryana and the borders of Delhi for more than a year. In the same televised announcement of the repeal, the Prime Minister also said that a committee would be formed to look into the issues of zero budget farming, fertilisers, change in crop patterns, etc.
By passing the Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act, the Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act in September 2020, the legislation attracted challenges from farmers’ organization and others in the Supreme Court. The implementation of these laws was then stayed by the Supreme Court through an order. The legislation aimed to reorganise India's agriculture industry more in line with market economy principles. However, it was speculated that they would have altered the country's food procurement and distribution procedures, raising concerns that producers and consumers might suffer as a result, to the benefit of large corporations.
The contentions with regard to the three laws were:
Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act- This law allowed farmers to sell their goods outside of the actual markets established by state Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee laws (APMC acts). It superseded all state-level APMC legislation. Farmers were concerned that the new laws would result in a lack of demand for their produce in local marketplaces. They claimed that due to a lack of resources, moving the produce outside of the mandis would be impossible. This is why they sell their produce at local marketplaces at a lower price than MSP (Minimum Support Price).
Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act- The farmers could enter into a direct agreement with a buyer before sowing season to sell their produce at pre-determined prices. Farmers were concerned that the law would lead to corporatization of agriculture, despite the fact that the Centre said it was an attempt to liberate farmers by providing them the option of selling anyplace. They also feared that the MSP will be eliminated as a result. Critics also said that the contract system would expose small and marginal farmers to abuse by large corporations unless sale prices were regulated as they were before the new law took effect.
Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act- The Essential Commodities Act, 1955, was amended to remove the Centre's authority to impose stock holding limits on food goods, save in exceptional situations. Foods like edible oil, onion, and potato were also removed from the list of vital goods.
This repeal of the farm laws is being seen as a natural fallout of the traction that protests by farmers’ groups against them have had in the states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Although the announced repeal has been welcomed with much celebration it has also been observed in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh that the farmers are still sceptical about the repeal and will only be completely satisfied with the victory once the Parliament in its real sense withdraws the farm laws. The repeal of these laws has also come at the cost of 669 lives and a year-long struggle.
The revocation also has gained much attention as it was done ahead of key state elections, which to many farmers, journalists and politicians comes off as an election gimmick. In addition to this, Modi also said that the Government would continue to try and educate the farmers about the laws and their implementation. This statement also invited the scepticism of the farmers with respect to the announcement of the repeal.
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