Now that we have your attention, let us tell you that Deepika Padukone hasn’t said a word against the Centre’s agriculture reforms. We would like to inform you that the grilling of Bollywood members in the drugs probe is not the only thing happening in India right now. The Parliament, in recent days, has gone ahead with a slew of reforms. Farm Bills and Labour reforms are the most talked-about of them.
To quote columnist Arihant Pawariya, “The session was historic in many ways. Lok Sabha worked for 145% of the scheduled time. The same figure for Rajya Sabha stood at 99%. In all, 27 bills were passed.” While journalists are crying on social media that everyone is only obsessed with the drugs case, our Parliament worked overtime.
Agriculture reforms spawned by the Narendra Modi government have come in for severe flak from critics. Ashok Gulati, the chair professor for agriculture at ICRIER, however, has described the reforms as agriculture’s 1991 moment. “The latest reforms provide a legal framework and give the processors, exporters and organized retailers an opportunity to go big. They will help cut down the intermediation costs, which are pretty high now. The farmer will have a better choice. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, though. This is an opportunity to turn the agri economy into a demand-driven system,” Gulati recently told NDTV.
“Big players will buy in big quantities. Organized retail, which is less than 10% now, hadn’t been given full freedom. Massive investments have to come in now,” he added. Has the government done these reforms because its only concern is witch-hunting Bollywood actors? You decide.
Critics have talked as if farmers don’t need reforms in the first place. Did farmers tell them this? Amitabh Kant of NITI Ayog recently wrote, “We process less than 10% of our food production and lose approximately Rs 90,000 Cr annually due to wastage of produce. This is because of a fragmented cold chain.” This is just one of the demerits of the existing system, which the reforms seek to undo. Deepika Padukone may be the media’s concern, not the government’s.
What is the government doing other than harassing Deepika Padukone and other so-called dissenters? Here is an example: Rs 1 lakh crore has been allocated to the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) towards facilitating the development of farmgate infrastructure.
But why then are farmers protesting? It begs this question: How many are protesting and in which parts of the country? Outside Haryana and Punjab, says senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, Friday’s Bharat Bandh received a very tepid response.
Come to think of it. Why is it the case?