The decision to call off the farmers’ stir brings down the curtains on one of the most turbulent and prolonged agitations in recent history; the protests that had forced the Centre to make a climb down and repeal the controversial farm laws.
It is a victory for the democratic process that helped the farming community to assert its rights in the face of arbitrary actions of the Union government under the guise of reforming the agriculture sector. The year-long protests, marked by resoluteness and sacrifices, must serve as a lesson for governments that the legislations of far-reaching consequences should not be bulldozed in Parliament.
In the future, any key reforms must be implemented through a process of consultations and consensus among stakeholders. The pros and cons of any reform policy must be debated thoroughly before framing the laws. The consensus route is particularly important when the issue involves farmers who provide food security for a nation of 1.38 billion people.
No major changes in the agriculture sector can be contemplated without taking farmers on board. It is a matter of great relief that farmers have decided to withdraw their agitation following the government accepting all their demands, including closing cases against protestors and compensating families of farmers who died during the protests. The government of India should keep their words and refrain from making any attempt in the future to bring back the bill bitterly opposed by the farmers. The bill should not be passed without discussion in the parliament houses in the future. Parliament has already repealed the controversial laws last month. The legislative guarantee over the Minimum Support Price (MSP) remains a major bone of contention. Besides, there are fears that the planned privatization of power distribution could lead to hurdles in the working of the system of farm subsidies.