Every move made in a game of chess involves understanding potential threats to the pieces, pawns and position, possible countermoves by the opponent, unseen advantages and precise understanding of the theory of the game. Infinite patience, firm resolve and unwavering faith in one’s ability has been deemed to be the greatest strengths of a fine player. India has seen many political grandmasters over the years. However, we now have the privilege to witness a unique combination of four exemplary grandmasters working in unison and ably supported by astute seconds (seconds are chess coaches with whom the players have been working to prepare for the match).
One of the most brilliant tactical moves made by the NDA Government was the introduction of the Farmers Bill in 2020. It is imperative to understand the groundwork laid by the Government of 2014 – 2019 to truly understand the goal of the Farmers Bill. So, let us go back in time.
The NDA Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a progressive scheme, “Pradhan Mantri KIsan SAmman Nidhi” also known as PM-KISAN which came into effect from 1 December 2018. Under this scheme, the Government promised to provide financial support to all small and marginal landholding farmer families with total cultivatable land of up to 2 hectares. The Government agreed to pay Rs 6,000 per annum payable in three installments every four months.
This scheme was revised in 2019 and is now expected to help more than 14.5 crore farmers. All the details of the farmer are verified such as Citizenship certificate, Jan Dhan Bank Account number (the amount is directly transferred to the farmer’s bank account), Aadhaar, mobile number and landholding documents.
This scheme also aims to supplement the financial needs of the farmers in procuring various inputs to ensure maximum yield commensurate with the expected income.
Interestingly, this is the first time since independence that the Government has managed to secure land records of genuine farmers under one umbrella. The original scheme launched in 2018 has details and data of farmers holding less than 2 hectares of land and the revised scheme launched in 2019 where the same income benefit was offered to farmers irrespective of landholdings will now see the Government holding the data of farmers with more than 2 hectares cultivable land.
Two separate databases acquired with vital information on farmers, land ownership details and actual crop procurement paved the way for the game changing land reforms in the form of the Farmers Bill 2020. It was clear to the present Government that loan waiver will be a constant cause for concern and thereby, it became necessary to redefine the existing agricultural laws to empower the genuine farmers.
The three main objectives that the Farmers Bill achieves are:
- Farmers can sell their produce anywhere and to anyone bypassing the draconian system of APMC yards or mandis.
- The bill makes provisions for setting up of a framework for contract farming wherein the risk is transferred to the businessmen and companies in deals made over a crop even before the yield is made or met.
- Allows intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce beyond the physical premises of the APMC markets. Farmers can now bypass the Essential Commodities Act and be free to store inventory where they choose to.
However, this comprehensive database painstakingly created by the Government has an even more important agenda. This database will weed out those who have been proclaiming themselves to be farmers and asserting that “agricultural income” is exempt from income tax. Case in point – P. Chidambaram (Google terrace and cauliflower). This practice was adopted by many former ministers, bureaucrats and “film stars and celebrities” to avoid paying tax for decades.
It also makes one ponder why only one state (WB) has refused to share the data of over 77 lakh farmers with the Central Government.
The so-called “farmers” protest is all about – middlemen losing their cut, certain states and political parties who have deep links with APMCs will see their ill-gotten gains disappearing into thin air and those who have managed to fly under the radar evading payment of income tax on the pretext of availing “agricultural income” for decades will now be in the limelight.
The real question is are these “farmers” the real farmers (citizens of India) and if not, why was the Indian flag desecrated at the Red Fort on 26 January 2021? Why are these alleged farmers still protesting when farmers from top-performing states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh have made more money in the sale of just one crop outside the mandis than they have in an entire year?
Written by Byomkesh Bakshi: Satyanweshi