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Farmers agitating against the new farm laws of the NDA government have called for a nationwide bandh on December 8 to press for the withdrawal of the new measures which had received the President’s nod a few months ago.

Farmer leaders camping on the outskirts of Delhi remain adamant about their demand despite indication from union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar that the government could amend a few provisions in the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act that has been a major stumbling block in the negotiations between the two sides.

Most of the farmers gathered along the Delhi border to protest the new laws are from Punjab, and the Congress government of the state has been extending them all kinds of support.

While there is no denying the right of the farmers to stage protests, they need to realize that measures such as Bharat Bandh will only end up causing extreme inconvenience to common people across the country. Their own families will be hit by such agitations which usually bring normal life to a halt.

This is the reason Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have been urging the farming community to try and understand the long-term positive impact of the new laws on their lives instead of being misled by some vested interests.

The Prime Minister, in fact, had described the Constitutional approval of the farm bills as a “watershed moment” in the history of Indian agriculture and expressed confidence that the new laws would bring about complete transformation of the farming sector in the country by empowering crores of farmers.

Opposition to the new farm laws comes only from a section of farmers who have the backing of opposition parties. In contrast, a sizeable section of farmers in different parts of the country have begun realising that the laws are going to benefit them immensely by liberating them from the clutches of middlemen. As it is, the Prime Minister has assured the farmers right from the beginning that his government is committed to protecting their interests.

This, in fact, is the sole objective of the new farm laws. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, for example, seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside the notified APMC market yards (mandis), which will help them get remunerative prices for their yield. This will also give farmers more options while reducing their marketing costs.

Similarly, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, seeks to give farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters and big retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price. Significantly, it transfers the risk of market unpredictability from farmers to sponsors. In every aspect, the new law appears to be revolutionary move aimed at the betterment of the farming community. The protestors will do well to see it for what it is and call off their agitation.

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