Amid protests by a section of farmers against farm reform bills, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that a large number of peasants have benefitted since fruits and vegetables were brought out of the APMC Act in some states a few years ago and asserted that grain-producing farmers will now have the same freedom.
In his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ broadcast, Modi also took a swipe at economic policies pursued by successive Congress governments since Independence.
Had the country followed the essence of Mahatma Gandhi’s economic philosophy, there would not have been any need for the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign as India would have become self-reliant much earlier, he said.
Lauding farmers for strengthening the country’s agriculture sector, he said the farm sector is playing a major role in efforts to build a self-reliant India and showed its prowess during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stronger it is, the stronger will be the foundation of a self-reliant India, he said.
The prime minister said he receives many letters from farmers and also interacts with farmer groups, as he spoke of changes taking place in agriculture and new dimensions being added to it.
He cited example of a Haryana farmer as to how he and other farmers benefited a lot after fruits and vegetables were in 2014 brought out of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act, allowing them to sell their produce outside government-controlled mandis.
He spoke about similar examples of farmers benefitting in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, and also noted that they formed groups to come out of the clutches of middlemen and received remunerative prices.
“Now they have got freedom to sell not only fruits and vegetables but whatever they produce; paddy, wheat, mustard, sugarcane, anywhere they get a better price,” he asserted.
The prime minister made no direct mention of the farm bills brought by his government and passed by Parliament or of the opposition-led protests against them. Critics have called these measures as “anti-farmers”.
These bills, the government has asserted, will allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere they want at a better price.
He also shared the success story of a Gujarat farmer as to how he did well after adopting innovative methods to grow potatoes.
The agriculture sector will benefit immensely with greater use of technology, he said.
Modi also reiterated his request to people to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. These few rules are the weapons in the fight against the novel coronavirus, he said.
In his address, he also remembered many noted figures, whose birth and death anniversaries fall in the coming days.
Modi paid tributes to Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Vijayaraje Scindia, Jayaprakash Narayan, Nanaji Deshmukh and Bhagat Singh.
The prime minister began his monthly broadcast by talking about storytelling, saying it has been a part of our nation for centuries.
“Storytelling is as old as civilisation…These days, stories relating to science are gaining popularity,” Modi said.
He said many people are making storytelling popular across the country and underlined that India has a glorious tradition of storytelling.
He also interacted with members of the Bangalore Storytelling Society.
Modi also requested all families to set aside some time for storytelling and said it will be a wonderful experience for them.