Memorandum to the President about farmers’ anguish and indignation
On June 26, which marked the completion of seven months of the farmers’ protest against the three farm laws, the SKM submitted a memorandum to the President through the Governors in the respective states to get the three “anti-farmer laws” repealed and to get a legal guarantee of MSP for farmers.
On June 26, which marked the completion of seven months of the farmers’ protest against the three farm laws, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) leaders submitted a memorandum to the President through the Governors in the respective states to get the three “anti-farmer laws” repealed and to get a legal guarantee of MSP for farmers. In Delhi, a virtual meeting of the farmers was held with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal in the office of DCP (North-East). The secretary to the Lieutenant Governor received the memorandum.
The farmers observed June 26 as “Save Agriculture, Save Democracy Day” to mark seven months of their protest. Incidentally, the day also happened to be the 46th anniversary of the Emergency.
According to a press release issued by the farmers’ group, the “letter” was written “with deep anguish and indignation.” The farmers were writing, the release said, “from all parts of India about the twin challenge of saving our agriculture and saving our democracy.”
The letter then talks about the achievements of the “Annadatas”, the name given to the farmers by Indian society. “When India became independent, we used to feed 33 crore citizens in the country; today, in about the same extent of land, we manage to feed around 140 crore Indians. During the coronavirus pandemic, while the other sectors in the economy decelerated and slumped, we achieved record production in agriculture, ensured that our granaries were overflowing and did so risking our own lives.”
The farmers then express their anguish about what they got in return: the “three anti-farmer black laws which will destroy our farming as well as our future generations, laws that will snatch agriculture from our hands and hand (it) over to big corporations.” Besides, the release says, “other swords were also hung on our heads – penalties and jail terms for stubble burning in a new ordinance related to Delhi’s air pollution, and subsidy withdrawal through the Electricity Amendments Bill 2020.”
In the letter, the farmers call the three laws “unconstitutional” because “the Union Government has no authority to make legislation in the area of (agricultural) markets.” They also call the laws “undemocratic” because no consultations or dialogues were held with the farmers before making them. Besides, these laws “were brought in covertly in the form of Ordinances” and “not sent to Committees for further study and debates.” In the Rajya Sabha, “voting by division was not allowed.” It was to these laws, the letter lamented, that the President had given his assent.
The letter then talks about Minimum Support Price (MSP). It says that the farmers are not “asking for any charity” but “for just and remunerative returns for our hard work and toil.” The farmers feel that they have been exploited “when it comes to prices for our produce” to the extent that farming has become an “unviable profession”, leading to debts and a spate of farm suicides. It is therefore imperative that the MSP be fixed “using the Swaminathan Commission formula of C2 cost + 50%, and that such an MSP has to be guaranteed for all farmers in a legal framework.” Instead, the letter says, the government “started a false jumla around ‘doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022’ which is clearly not being achieved.” That the President too spoke of this in some of his speeches, the farmers feel, brings “down the dignity of (his) esteemed position.”
Given this scenario, the memorandum hopes that the President will “direct the Union Government to immediately accept the legitimate demands of the farmers’ movement, repeal the three anti-farmer laws and to enact a law that will guarantee remunerative MSP at C2+50% for all farmers.”
The memorandum concludes by reminding the President that he has “taken an oath which is not about saving the government, but an oath to save the Constitution of India.” Since the SKM-led movement “is not only a movement to save farming and farmers of the country, but also democracy of our country”, the memorandum is optimistic about getting full support from the President “in this sacred mission.”