NEW DELHI: Over 400 academicians from India and several universities abroad have extended support to the protesting farmers and urged the Centre to repeal the three new agri reform laws, which they said, “pose a major threat to farming communities”.
Expressing concerns about the ongoing farmers’ agitation and their suffering at the borders of Delhi, they, in a joint statement, said: “The three new laws that have been enacted by the government are aimed at bringing in fundamental changes in the way farming will be done in the country and they pose a major threat to farming communities all over India.”
The government must re-look at these issues and a nationwide debate should be launched starting at the village level, involving stakeholders from all sections of society before framing laws and policies which will help farming communities and other marginalised communities in the long-term, the statement said.
Last month, over 850 academicians from various educational institutions across the country had signed an open letter backing the legislations.
The 400-odd academicians in their statement said, "The three new laws that have been enacted by the government are aimed at bringing in fundamental changes in the way farming will be done in the country and they pose a major threat to farming communities all over India."
"The government must re-look at these issues. A nationwide debate should be launched starting at the village level, involving stakeholders from all sections of society before framing laws and policies which will help farming communities and other marginalised communities in the long-term. To pave the way for solving farmers issues, the current laws should be abandoned without any further delay," it added.
The 413 signatories to the statement include academicians from universities and institutions including Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jadavpur University, IIT Kanpur, IIT Madras, IISc Bangalore, Indian Statistical Institute Kolkata, Delhi University, Panjab University, Tezpur University, Central university of Punjab, IIT Bombay and IIM Calcutta.
A few signatories are from foreign universities including University of Zagreb, Croatia; London Film School, University of Johannesburg, University of Oslo, University of Massachusetts and University of Pittsburgh.
The academicians recommended that farming could be made into a sustainable and profitable activity by announcing minimum support price (MSP) for a large number of crops, specifying state-wise quotas for government procurement, and making the MSP rate legally binding for all other buyers as well.
The statement also called for price control on farm inputs such as manure, seeds and power, farm loan waivers, and a revival of the village-based development model so that migration to cities could be curtailed.
It warned that the Centre's proposed "commodity market model" was not viable in India as it could lead to food instability and exploitation of small farmers.
"The winding up of government controlled markets allowing contract farming by companies will lead to land-owning farmers slowly being forced to become tenants, the way they were in the older feudal system of land holdings," said the statement.
Thousands of farmers have been camping at several Delhi border points, demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws -- the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act -- and legal guarantee of minimum support price for their crops.
Enacted in September 2020, the government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers' income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and "mandi" (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.
The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws.
(With PTI Inputs)