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Farmers’ Protest: Congress resolution on making MSP a legally enforceable right of farmers

Why Farmers are Protesting?

According to official statistics, the average monthly income of a farm household in 2018–19 was Rs 10,218, which was considerably lower than the national per capita income of Rs 10,495 for the same year. This has brought to light the startling fact that, on average, non-farm families in India have more financial prosperity than agricultural households. As the Reserve Bank of India projects inflation to reach 5.1% in the 2023–24 fiscal year, potentially outpacing the growth rate of the minimum support price (MSP), worries about MSP hikes falling short of inflation still continue. The problem has been made worse by commission agents who frequently buy below the MSP, delays in the establishment of procurement centers, and a significant portion of farmers’ lack of awareness. Despite the fact that MSPs are meant to stabilize output and manage consumer prices, farmers all around the country have had difficulty getting their crops sold at these MSPs. Although this demand has always existed, it is now more urgent due to the difficulties farmers are currently facing. Farmers’ long-standing desire for an MSP has regained momentum due to recent swings in produce prices, especially those of tomatoes and onions. Farmers are now demanding that the MSP be given a “legal status” and that an “assured market mechanism” be created by both the national and state governments to make sure the MSP is more than just a paper promise.

What is MSP and Dr M S Swaminathan Formula?

The Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a crucial component of the government’s agricultural pricing strategy, the rate that the government commits to buying farmers’ goods throughout the season. A scientific formula for it had been developed by a committee led by the late Dr. M S Swaminathan, who suggested that MSP be 50% higher than input costs. In his investigation, Dr. Swaminathan has also said unequivocally that farmers ought to have the legal entitlement to MSP. There have been suggestions to update the MSP calculation process in response to the aforementioned issues. These suggestions also include accounting for extra expenses, such produce transportation costs and the imputed rental value of owned property. Nevertheless, as these suggestions have not yet been put into practice, farmers all throughout the nation are left to fight for substantial change and monetary stability in an unpredictable agricultural environment. The BJP administration just gave Dr. M. S. Swaminathan a Bharat Ratna; however, it looks like it is not happy to put his recommendations into practice.

How BJP is handling the problem?

An MSP is the price at which the government agrees to buy output from farmers for a specific growing season. What’s funny is that throughout his 2013-14 campaign, Narendra Modi supported the demand for MSP for all crops. However, rather than granting farmers’ legitimate demand for an MSP, the BJP-led national government is locking them up in jail and deploying tear gas and rubber bullet on them. In its ten years in power, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) administration led by Narendra Modi has torn down both jawan and kisan. The government now claims that granting farmers the legal entitlement to MSP for all crops will cost an Rs 10 lakh crore along with guarantee to the nation’s bankruptcy. On the other side, the government has reduced corporate tax and wiped off Rs 14 lakh crore of bad loans that corporations had taken out. The BJP government’s much-discussed crop insurance policy is also not practical nor farmer-friendly; instead, it has been identified to be a system designed to profit private insurance business organizations. Expert estimates suggest that if MSP gets broadened to all crops, including fruits and vegetables, at the current rate, the government will only need to pay around Rs 50,000 to 60,000 crore. The government’s yearly procurement costs would only be around Rs 2 lakh crore, far below to waived gift given to the corporate friends, even if they choose to use the more egalitarian methodology proposed by Dr. Swaminathan. In an attempt to silence farmers who are just calling for greater compensation for their labor-intensive work and agricultural output, the BJP administration has crossed all limits to suppress the voice of farmers labelling them anti nationals.

Congress Resolution for Farmers:

The Indian National Congress resolves that MSP must be a right that farmers may enforce legally whereas it should be illegal to buy agricultural products below MSP. In addition, the party commits that no land will be auctioned off to recoup unpaid debt and that no criminal charges will be brought against farmers for debt. In a resolution on farmers and agriculture, the Congress also decided to bring forth a loan waiver program that will compassion for up to Rs 6 lakh in debt for each farmer, giving them instantaneous one-time relief from debt. The resolution commits taht the MSP should be determined using the C-2 cost + 50% profit, as proposed by the Dr Swaminathan Commission. The National Farmer Debt Relief Commission will be also established by the Congress in order to recommend ways to address farmers’ debt-related complaints. This will be done through negotiation and conciliation, just like with business loans and no criminal actions will be taken, and farmers’ land will not be auctioned off in order to recoup unpaid debt.

Furthermore, the Congress also planned to charge a minimal cost for health and life insurance covering up to Rs 10 lakh to agricultural laborers and small-scale farmers and also agreed to revise and update the plan in order to fix all the flaws and make insurance universal, meaning that all land used for farming would be covered. Public sector organizations would handle the insurance and charge a premium based on the idea of no profit, no loss. In order to guarantee sufficient and prompt payment of compensation, the Congress proposes to establish a revolving fund to compensate farmers for their losses and to have the government, not insurance firms, analyze crop losses. Additionally, the party intends to implement the Rajiv Gandhi NYAY Scheme of the Chhattisgarh government nationwide, which has increased revenue by up to Rs 10,000 per acre. The MGNREGA will be also redesigned and expanded with higher compensation and more guaranteed work days, which will also be connected to agricultural operations including small-scale irrigation projects, the restoration of water bodies, and the redevelopment of waste land. In order to preserve farmers’ rights, the Congress party also commits to explore creating a separate pension plan for farmers and agricultural laborers as well as to introduce the National Farmers Protection and Rights Act in compliance with the Consumer Protection Act.

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