In repeal of farm laws, Modi showed statesmanship

With Pakistan and China wanting to fish in troubled waters in India, the Modi government has attempted to douse the fire by withdrawing the farm laws

N S Venkataraman Nov 23, 2021
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Modi addressing nation and farmer's protests

The Indian Prime Minister’s decision to repeal the much-debated farm laws has surprised both admirers and sworn critics of Narendra Modi. Modi’s announcement is being interpreted in one way or the other by the media. The merits and demerits of the move will be discussed for a long time.

In any case, while farmers in Punjab and Haryana carried out sustained protests against the farm laws, there has been no protest amongst farmers in other states including those where Modi’s party is not in power. Thus, one has to conclude that the farm laws have the support of a majority of those belonging to the farming community in India. 

Since the farm laws have been withdrawn, it is only of academic interest now to discuss their merits and demerits. However, when the farm laws were repealed, many experts who were not vocal in support for months now say that introduction of progressive reform measures have suffered a setback and politics has won at the cost of economics.

Vested interests backed farmers

It is obvious that the protracted agitation in Punjab and Haryana has been sustained by the middle men in the agricultural sector who have been cornering the lion’s share of farm income for decades and they funded the agitation. Further, it is suspected that some separatist groups from abroad infiltrated the protestors. No one could think even in their wildest imagination that thousands of farmers would leave their farms for months and sit on the highways to protest. 

The Modi government made several attempts to talk to the agitators and persuade the leaders to give up the protest. Gradually, constant propaganda by sections of the media and some opposition political parties (who sometimes do not distinguish between national and their narrow political interests), the movement gradually gained an image as if it was an agitation by those belonging to Sikh religion. 

With Pakistan and China wanting to fish in troubled waters in India, the Modi government has attempted to douse the fire by withdrawing the farm laws. 

Modi displayed statesmanship

Modi said the intentions of the government behind enacting the farm laws are honest and these would have helped small farmers in a big way. Modi showed high statesmanship when he confessed that his government was not able to persuade the agitators to give up their protests.

Further, Modi apologized for the entire episode. He did not apologize for introducing the farm laws, he did not apologize to the politically inclined agitators but he apologized to the country men for his inability to persuade the agitators to see reason. 

This act of Modi is a new high in the standards of statesmanship. Modi has the moral strength, courage of conviction and high level of confidence about the judgment capability of large numbers of compatriots. The criticism of critics that Modi has “climbed down” will not be accepted by discerning and thinking Indians. 

(The writer is a Trustee, NGO Nandini Voice for the Deprived, Chennai. The views are personal. He can be reached on nsvenkatchennai@gmail.com) 

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