Golden opportunity for India to become economically developed country if farm-laborer’s unions approach Supreme Court Committee on farm-laws. By Hem Raj Jain

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The Supreme Court of India (SCI) on January 12 (after staying the implementation of controversial 3 farm laws) constituted a four members committee for the purpose of listening to the grievances (relating to these farm laws) of farmers and views of the government and to make recommendations as reported at https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/politics/farmers-protest-here-are-the-highlights-of-supreme-court-order-staying-the-implementation-of-farm-laws-6336941.html  . This Committee will hear not only the farmers and government but also the other stakeholders hence it is an opportunity for solving most of the economic problems of India if some registered trade unions of the farm-laborers (as other stakeholders) approach this committee.

It should be appreciated that the SCI has constituted this committee not only for solving the problems which have grown due to these newly legislated three farm laws but also to avoid any bloodshed which is highly like to happen given the intransigent position (during 8 rounds of talks between them) taken by government and the unions of the farmers who in hundred of thousand have encircled Delhi and due to the infiltration of Khalistanis (backed by Pakistan) among these agitating farmers around Delhi, as alleged by the government of India (GoI) about which the GoI has submitted an affidavit in the SCI.

While criticizing the SCI for its inclination of giving its judgments / orders in favor of the GoI especially since 2014 (when Modi government led by the BJP of Hindutva forces came into power at Centre) and also where the interests of the religious minority the Muslims were involved and criticizing even the unbecoming behavior of some CJIs (since 2014) which gives an impression of SCI coming under political influence,  the President of the SCBA (Supreme Court Bar Association) as mention in the interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QEp1pWQlZw  has practically supported this laudable effort of the SCI (in the interest of avoiding imminent bloodshed) by saying that he wishes that the SCI had shown similar concern when the bloodshed of Muslims was also involved.

But some confusion and misinformation is doing round in media about said SCI order & Committee which needs to be clarified :-

(i)- It is not an usurpation of the power of the Parliament by the SCI because this committee will merely listen to the grievances of the farmers, government and other stakeholders.

(ii)- The SCI will also merely make recommendations to the GoI for getting these considered by the Parliament (as the President of the SCBA has also said) or even by sending it to the President for getting these considered by the Parliament by invoking Article 86 of the Constitution.

(iii)- The SCI is not bound by the report / recommendation of this Committee and can add or subtract from it hence even if four members (as alleged by farmer’s unions) are pro-farm-laws it does not matter much. Otherwise also the farmers or other stakeholders can always approach the SCI for including more members (suggested by them) in this Committee.

(iv)- Some are saying that many of the farmer's unions may not go to this Committee. This is wrong if the text of the SCI order is read carefully. It reads as - “[The representatives of all the farmers' bodies whether they are holding a protest or not and whether they support or oppose the laws SHALL participate in the deliberations of the Committee and put forth their viewpoints]”. It also reads as - “[The Committee SHALL, upon hearing the government as well as the representatives of the farmers bodies and other stakeholders, submit a report before this court containing its recommendations]”.

(v)- The use of the word ‘shall’ in these two sentences of this order means that all the registered trade unions of farmers (who’s list can be got by the Committee from registrar of such trade unions with Centre and States) are mandated to participate in the deliberations of this Committee, otherwise the SCI can even order to cancel their registration and debar their office bearers from holding office for some years of any other existing or new trade unions.

(vi)- The Committee is also mandated to hear other stakeholders like trade unions of the farm-laborers (who are the most important stakeholders of the agriculture sector of India) who have been neglected for 73 years since independence because they are economically and socially humble citizens of India. This exercise of the SCI and its Committee will not be worth the time, resources and efforts if do not serve the interests of the farm-laborers (who, and not the so-called ‘Anndatas’,  do the major part of manual & hard labor in the farms of India).

In view of the above mention it is a golden opportunity for India if Farm-laborer’s unions approach this Supreme Court Committee on farm-laws as explained below:-

(1)- First and foremost the farm-laborers should not commit the same mistake as farmers have done all along. On the contrary the farm-laborers should protect the interests of the farmers and other Indians especially the economically humble Indians. The Farmers (while rightly saying that agriculture, in the interest of protecting the most fundamental right of food security, should not be considered as other economic & trading activities susceptible to market manipulations) committed the mistake of (i)- Not demanding larger land holdings which will facilitate modern mechanized farming as is happening in all the economically developed countries where the population engaged in agriculture is about 2 % and contribution of agriculture in economy is also about 2 % (in contrast to absurdly high of about 16 % in India) and the rest is manufacturing and service sector (ii)- Not demanding labor laws (about minimum wages etc) to the farm-laborers which is not possible in small land holdings (iii)- Not demanding legal measures to stop the fake-farmers who are evading income tax by posing as genuine farmers (iv)- Not demanding comprehensive ‘Public Distribution System’ (PDS) which is essential for the majority of the population of India which is economically humble (v)- Not demanding recovery of State-capital which is needed for financing this comprehensive PDS.

(2)- For achieving larger land holdings the farm-laborers should ask this SCI Committee to send the report / recommendation to the SCI that the land ceiling laws should be repealed (with condition that only the farmers should be allowed to purchase the lands of farmers in the interest of keeping the corporates away from acquiring large agriculture lands). 

(3)- The farm-laborers should tell this SCI Committee that the farmers are not getting even the present day MSP (which is not legally enforceable with the private players to whom most of the agriculture produce is sold by the farmers) hence only with legally enforceable ‘Minimum Support Price’ (MSP) applicable to private players too for presently 23 items (which should be increased to about 35 by including some vegetables etc also in it) the problems of the agriculture sector will end to some extent (till comprehensive PDS becomes fully functional). 

(4)- If farmers do not get proper price of their produce then how will they pay reasonably to farm-labors. Hence the farm-laborers should further tell this SCI Committee that even the legally enforceable MSP (applicable to private players) will not solve the problems of the farmers because like ‘minimum wages act’ the poor labors do not get minimum wages because private contractors etc get signatures on minimum wages and in reality gives less. Hence the only guarantee of MSP to farmers is that the government should purchase and sell all the items of the MSP through comprehensive PDS.

(5)-  The farm-laborers should tell this SCI Committee that for this comprehensive PDS the GoI should  have one outlet for every 1,000 people. This will require about 14 Lakh (hundred Thousand) shops / outlets (owned by the GoI) all over India which will require a commensurate network of godowns, cold storages, purchasing centers, transport facilities etc. This of course will require (i)- Huge State capital and (ii)- Competent Ministers who can run the Ministry of such comprehensive PDS efficiently. If a Minister can’t run a business activity of PDS efficiently [which even the ‘Banias’ (as called in Hindu order) can run easily with profit & efficiency] then how he / she will run the country.

(6)- The farm-laborers should ask this SCI Committee to request the SCI to initiate proceedings for the recovery of the State-capital of Rs about 1,000 Trillion (Lakh Crore from about 1 million fake farmers) which the GoI  is  not recovering (as discussed in Parliament too in 2016 as reported at https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Prominent-people-hiding-taxable-income-Jaitley/articleshow/51408323.cms ) though this huge State-capital of about 1,000 Trillion can solve all the economic problem of India including of agriculture sector & comprehensive PDS.

(7)- In order to mobilize further funds for agriculture sector and food security programs the farm-laborers should tell this SCI Committee that under the influence of unbridled usurers, India has  incurred public debt much more than consolidated funds of the governments in violation of Article 292 & 293 of the Constitution by taking excuse of unconstitutional FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Act. Hence the SCI Committee should request the SCI to initiate proceedings for quashing unconstitutional FRBM ACT and forfeiting all the public debts of Union & States governments which are above their consolidated funds.

(8)- This is a golden opportunity also (not so much for such trade unions of large political parties who bother MOSTLY about well paid employees) for the small registered trade unions of farm-laborers because they can also get these reliefs / benefits through this SCI Committee without paying exorbitant fees of the Supreme Court advocates, which they normally can’t afford.

It is hoped that some farm-laborer’s unions, as mentioned above, will approach the Supreme Court Committee on farm-laws which will solve the economic problems of about two third of India (farmers & farm laborers) who are directly involved in agriculture and of remaining Indians (who are indirectly linked to agriculture sector) and who both constitute about 85 % of the population of India and which is unnecessarily dragging India to the status of an economically humble country.

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