There was a debate that took place in the British parliament on Monday to discuss the safety of farmers in India and the freedom of the press in India. This discussion or debate in London evoked quite a biting response from the Indian High Commission. The High Commission of India was reported to have made a statement saying that the debate was purely based on false assertions and did not have any kind of substantiation or facts. It also managed to explain that the foreign media, which also includes the British media, was also present at the time of such incidents so the question of freedom of the media in India should not even arise.
Why was the topic Discussed and what Happened at the British Parliament?
A petition started by Gurch Singh who is a Maidenhead Liberal Democrat leader received one lakh signatures from the UK residents within a few weeks. The parliamentary debate was opened with remarks explaining to everyone that the farm laws and reforms are solely the Indian government’s decisions and that the debate won’t involve discussing those reforms or laws instead the debate will be more on the lines of the safety of the farmers in India. Issues like violence against protestors in terms of firing water cannons and tear gases, constant battles between police and the farmers leading to several injuries and deaths, interruption in the internet facility, and the rising suicide cases of the farmers, become a point of concern for everyone and hence need to be discussed.
In the discussion, the Indian High Commission made a statement saying that it does not matter how good or how close of ties the country claims to have with India, it should not possibly have any aspersions cast on India without setting the record straight.
Why Are The Farmers Protesting?
Since the 26th of November 2020, several farmers from Haryana and Punjab have been reported to be protesting around the borders of Delhi. The two Farm Bills on which the protest is based are:
1. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020.
2. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill
This bill lets the farmers sell their produce outside the government regulated markets, giving the farmers a choice in terms of who they want to sell their products, the decision was made to benefit the farmers by providing them a better market and competition and hence better prices for their produce while also allowing cost-cutting on transportation
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill
This bill allows the set up of a framework for contract farming. Before the production begins, the farmer and an ordained buyer can strike a deal. This will allow the farmers to get in direct contract with the agri-business firms on prices that were pre-agreed for their produce.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill
This bill has been designed to eliminate commodities such as cereals, onions, oilseeds, pulses, potatoes, and edible oils from the list of essential commodities. The bill is expected to attract more and more private sector or foreign direct investment in the agriculture sector.
Now as good as these rules may sound,
The farmers of the country, majorly Punjab and Haryana, are scared that the recent laws will destroy the Minimum Support Price(MSP) system. The farmers argue that over a course in time, the big corporations will take control of things, and then the farmer will end up earning lesser and lesser for their produce, benefitting only the big corporations.
What Do Farmers Want?
The main demand of the farmers is that they want the government to withdraw these laws which are going to deregulate the sales of their crops. However, the farmers are also ready for a smaller compensation, that is, if the government will make such an amendment in the act that it still allows the same functioning of the MSP system which existed earlier. Farmers are also protesting against the proposal Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020, they are scared that the bill will end the subsidized electricity system.
Now coming back to the debate which happened a few days ago,
It was reported that considering the kind of good relations that the UK has with India, and with Brexit, the trade and commerce relations are also expected to build up, whatever may be the case the fact is it did not stop them from discussing the thing that concern the nation’s safety and integrity which becomes very important. It also becomes important for us to acknowledge how when these issues are discussed, the Indian High Commission dismissed it by saying that the discussion was based on false assertions.