It is reported that India has some one hundred and fifty million farmers who directly own land and use it for farming. Amongst them, there are around 2 million farmers in Punjab and Haryana state.
For the last twenty days and more, a few thousand farmers and middle men (traders) largely from Punjab and Haryana state are protesting against Farm Law, passed by Indian parliament with large majority. These farmers and middle men from Punjab and Haryana say that their interests have been affected by Farm Law. May be the interests of middle men and traders could have been affected by the Farm Law but certainly not the farmers, particularly the small and medium level farmers. It is pointed out that some large farmers also act as middlemen or traders ,whose interests could have been affected by the Farm Law.
It has to be necessarily noted that only farmers from Punjab and Haryana are leading the protest and almost all farmers in other parts of India are not participating in this agitation.
The ministers in the Government of India and leading agricultural economists have repeatedly said and explained that none of the existing privileges enjoyed by the farmers would be adversely impacted by the Farm Law. No less a person than the Prime Minister of India has assured the farmers that their interests would be the highest priority for him and the measures such as minimum support price will not be withdrawn.
But, the protesting farmers are not listening and it appears that they have closed mind for whatever reasons. This has resulted in suspicion amongst cross section of Indians that the protesting farmers and middle men have vested interest and they are dancing to the tune of some opposition political parties, some secessionist groups and motivated activists.
To achieve their demands, the protesting farmers are resorting to coercive method by blocking the roads and threatening to surround the capital city and preventing movement of goods, services and men and women causing lot of inconvenience for the people and further causing loss of several thousands of crore of rupees to Indian economy. These are unacceptable strategies by any groups in a democratic society, whatever may be the cause , which would inevitably create chaos and serious disruption in the society, and administration.
When farmers are refusing to listen to voice of reason and causing hardships to others by their coercive methods, many people wonder whether these agitators should be viewed as law breakers and dealt accordingly.
However, traditionally and historically, all Indians have huge respect for farming community and any government would hesitate to the maximum level to disperse the crowd of protesting farmers by using force, however illogical may be the stand of the protesting farmers.
What could be the reason for the ostrich like stance of the protesting farmers and middle men?
The Farm Law effectively dislodge the traders and the middle men from exploiting the farmers. The law enables the farmers to sell their produce to whomever they want. This provision of the law would relieve the farmers from the stranglehold of the traders and middle men, which the traders and middle men do not want.
In states like Punjab and Haryana, the big farmers and traders ./ middle men are controllers of the Mandi ( big market )and they are the people in control of the financial empire surrounding the agro product industry in these two states. Whatever may be the disapproval of the protests by millions of Indians spread around the country, the rich farmers and middlemen / traders do not seem to care and want to continue the protests, whatever may the cost to the nation until the Government of India would surrender to their demands.
These protestors have the money power and muscle power and all the time in the world to indulge in theatrics that are happening now in Punjab, Haryana and it appears that they have no hesitation to cozy up with the motivated politicians and activists and even with secessionist forces.
It is known that there is prevalence of massive and rampant corruption in the agricultural economy and these are the people who have minted money on commissions over the last several decades. They can carry on their agitation for several months together and disrupt normal life without any concern for money and resources as they have deep pockets.
It is said that in Punjab and Haryana states, the food crops arrive in the godowns of Food Corporation of India but are really not taken into the godown entirely but disposed off from the front gate to the mills, traders, middle men and speculators. This does not come into any account. The small farmers get paid pittance and is given generous loans by the middle men and traders at high interest rates for the next cropping and is in a permanent state of debt to the middle men. Many people suspect that some government procurement officials are in collusion with the commission agents.
Many farmers are forced to sell to the Mandis operated by the middle men and traders , who resell the products at their own convenience at exorbitant price and make huge money in the process.
The ground reality is that the small farmers in Punjab, Haryana have nothing to lose except the chain over them, under the control of Mandi owners and middle men.
Many small and medium farmers are not able to understand the logic and mechanism of fluctuating prices and how the middle men make huge money sitting in comfortable chairs. The small farmers just want the money immediately desperately and be done with it.