Taking back the three controversial agriculture laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised farmers on 19 November 2021 that a committee would be formed soon to consider the demands of farmers on the Minimum Support Price (MSP). Eight months after that announcement, the committee was formed. Although the committee was constituted on 12 July, its notification became public a week later on 18 July. Looking at the agenda of the committee and the kind of people who have been included in the committee, it seems that nothing is going to be achieved from it. This committee will become a way to keep the farmers entangled. Just as the government’s talks with the farmers were held during the agitation and nothing came out of it, so will the talks of this committee also take place. With the formation of the committee, many reasons are visible, due to which it seems that this committee will not be able to do justice to the demand of the farmers or it is sure to fail.
The first reason is that it has been made a committee of government babus. Along with the chairman, dozens of officers of the central and state government will be its members. Its chairman is Sanjay Agarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, along with Ramesh Chand, a member of NITI Aayog, has been made a member of this committee. Think, Ramesh Chand was among those who drafted all three controversial laws and they were implemented under Sanjay Agarwal’s secretary. Both these people were defending the laws until just before the Prime Minister announced the withdrawal of the three laws. When the Prime Minister withdrew the three controversial laws unconditionally, he kept quiet. But now the government has brought these two to the committee to consider an important demand of the farmers. The question is, when every time the talks with him were politically led during the farmers’ movement, then why would the former Agriculture Secretary hold talks now? If the government was serious, the leadership of the committee would have been given to a political person and an officer could be placed in it like a member secretary.
Another reason for the failure of this committee is that a large number of people have been included in it, who are associated with BJP or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or such agricultural and cooperative organizations which support the government. In this, a seat has been left for three members for the United Kisan Morcha, which will be filled after they are named. The question is that when the names of the members of four-five other farmers’ organizations have been included in it and their announcement has been made, in the same way, before the formation of the committee, after talking to the United Kisan Morcha, why three names were not announced simultaneously? After all, the farmers’ organizations whose names have been announced, including Bharatiya Krishak Samaj or Shetkari Sangathan or Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, must have been discussed earlier? Did the people whose names have been announced suit the government, so their names were declared first and the United Kisan Morcha left for later?
The third reason is that there are many people in this committee. It has several dozen members. People of many farmers’ organizations are members in it and people of many cooperative organizations have also been included in it. Agricultural scientists, scholars associated with agricultural universities, officers of the central government and many officers of state governments have been included in this. The officers who have been made members as representatives of the Central and State Governments are ex-officio. That is, if the officers change, the members will change. Think, what would such a committee do? Anyway, the committee which has too many members is not able to give results.
The fourth reason for its failure is that no time frame has been fixed for when the committee will recommend. That is, the meetings of the committee can go on till eternity. The fifth reason is that its recommendations are not binding on the central government, that is, the committee will only make recommendations and it is up to the government to accept it or not. The sixth reason for its failure is that the committee has to consider not only the MSP, but many issues related to agriculture. The agitating farmers were demanding legal guarantee of MSP. They were demanding a law to make it mandatory that no trader, anywhere in the country, can buy food grains at a price lower than the MSP. Such purchases should be made illegal. But instead of the legal guarantee of MSP, many other things have been included in the agenda of the committee.
The agenda of the committee will in itself become a reason for its failure. Announcing the committee, it has been said by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare that ‘A committee has been constituted to promote zero budget based agriculture, change cropping pattern and make Minimum Support Price (MSP) more effective and transparent’. Is’. It has been written that the committee will consider making MSP more effective and transparent, while farmers want to consider giving legal guarantee of MSP. The issue of changing the cropping pattern or promoting zero budget agriculture is already being worked on and that is not the real concern of the farmers. The agitating farmers wanted a guarantee of MSP. But this committee will not consider it. The issue of a law guaranteeing MSP may not come before the committee. Keep in mind that this year the government has procured very little food grains. About half the purchases have taken place compared to last year. On the other hand, in view of the international situation, private traders procured a lot for export and in many places farmers got more price than MSP. But this does not mean that the MSP has become irrelevant. MSP is needed and will continue to be so. With the government’s procurement going down, the need has increased to provide a legal guarantee of MSP.