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Opinion

New Laws Aimed To Make Farmers Prosper: Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday vigorously defended three laws enacted by his government to open up agricultural trade that he said would attract investment and technology, open up alternative markets and boost farm incomes, as farmers concentrated on the borders of Delhi promised to intensify the protests. against legislation.

In a speech at the annual meeting of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (FICCI), Modi said that the agricultural sector reforms enacted in September were part of the government’s efforts to remove obstacles hampering agriculture, pledging your commitment to protect the interests and welfare. of farmers.

“The reforms will help attract investment in the agricultural sector and benefit farmers,” the prime minister said via video link. “The goal of all government reforms is to make farmers prosper. The new legislation, which was passed in the previous session of Parliament, gives farmers an additional option outside of designated mandi to buy or sell their crops.

Recent laws allow companies to freely trade agricultural products outside of the government-controlled mandi system, allow private traders to store large quantities of commodities for future sales, and establish new rules for contract farming. Farmers fear that the reforms could pave the way for the government to stop buying basic products at minimum support prices (MSP) set by the federal government, erode their bargaining power and leave them at the mercy of private buyers.

Modi tried to allay those concerns, which have brought farmers in Punjab and other parts of northern India to the gates of Delhi, blocking key roads. Farmers unions have vowed to expand their protests unless the government scraps the new farm laws. “Farmers now have options to sell their mandi crops as well as to third parties,” the prime minister said. “While the mandis are modernized, farmers also have a digital platform to buy and sell their products.”

“All of these efforts are aimed at improving farmers’ income so that they are prosperous. When farmers prosper, the country will prosper, ”he added.

“After the implementation of recent reforms, farmers will gain new markets and new opportunities and receive help from technology. The country’s cold storage infrastructure will be modernized, ”the prime minister added. “Of all these, there will be more investment in the agricultural sector. The maximum benefit from these reforms would be for small and marginal farmers who make a living from small land holdings. ”

Modi said that economic growth in the 21st century would be supported by small towns and villages, so entrepreneurs should look to invest in these places. “They must not miss the opportunity. Your investment will open new avenues for the people of the towns. Government policies are designed to promote the rural economy based on agriculture. “

Even when Modi offered an olive branch to farmers, the Minister of Railways, Trade and Industry, and Food and Consumer Affairs, Piyush Goyal, claimed that the protests are no longer a farmers’ movement. He said leftist and Maoist elements had infiltrated the campaign and demanded the release of those imprisoned for anti-national activities. This, he said, was clearly intended to derail the agricultural reforms introduced by the government. “We now realize that the so-called farmer agitation is hardly still a farmer agitation. It has almost been infiltrated by leftist and Maoist elements, a flavor of what we saw in the last two days when there were external demands to free people who have been imprisoned for … anti-national activities, ”Goyal said at the FICCI Meeting. “I urge all well meaning business leaders and all well meaning intellectuals who are involved with FICCI, who are in this webcast, to talk about the benefits of these farm laws, to understand the laws. If you have any concerns, please speak to us, ”Goyal said. In response to Goyal’s comments, former Ficci Chairman and Bharti Enterprises Vice Chairman Rajan Bharti Mittal said: “Clearly, you can see when tough reforms like farm laws are being made, please don’t back down. The industry will back it up. ”

On Saturday, the opposition Congress accused the Modi government of calling all those who oppose him Maoist and anti-national, and urged the Center to accept the demands of protesting farmers.

Congressional Chief Speaker Randeep Surjewala tweeted: “Mr. Modi, autocracy has no place in democracy. His policy and that of his ministers is to declare all Maoist and anti-national opponents. “

“Apologize to the farmers who are in a sit-in braving the fierce cold and rain, and agree to their legitimate demands immediately,” he said in a Hindi tweet.

Farmers picketed the toll plazas in Haryana, not allowing the people who operate the booths to charge motorists fees. More than 100 farmers led by the leaders of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Malkit Singh and Manish Chaudhry, gathered at a toll plaza on the Ambala-Hisar highway, about 15 kilometers from the city of Ambala. In Punjab, tolls are not charged to travelers as farmers have been organizing sit-ins at toll plazas since October 1. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is suffering a loss of ₹ 3 crore per day due to Farmers Protest at the state toll plazas. There are 25 toll plazas on Punjab’s national highways. Meanwhile, Delhi police increased the deployment of their men on Saturday and put up more concrete barriers at border points; The farmers have announced that they will intensify their protests by blocking the Delhi-Jaipur Highway and the Yamuna Highway. Social activist Yogendra Yadav, who is part of the ongoing protests, said that farmers from the Rajasthan and Haryana areas were gathering on Saturday and that their “Delhi Chalo” march would start on Sunday. “The farmers’ ‘Delhi march’ on the Jaipur-Delhi highway will not start today and will start tomorrow at the Shahjahanpur border. Today, farmers from Rajasthan and Haryana will flock to Kotputli and Behror, ”Yadav tweeted.

(PTI contributed to this story)

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