ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Deepening Agrobusiness Capitalism and Centralisation

BJP’s Farming Policies

Agricultural market reforms recently enacted by the National Democratic Alliance government reflect the Bharatiya Janata Party’s determination to introduce agrobusinesses into agriculture and push further its agenda of centralisation of economic power and decision-making. The opposition to the reforms by farmers, many state governments, and regional political formations poses the most formidable challenge, so far, to this government. The contesting claims have missed the dimension of the damaging ecological  implications of these reforms.

The Government of India had brought in three ordinances on 5 June 2020 in the name of agricultural marketing reforms: the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; and the Ess­en­tial Commodities (Amendment) Ordi­nance, 2020. These ordinances relating to trading and pricing of agricultural products have now become acts after having been passed as bills by India’s Parliament and approved by the President of India. The farming policy of the present government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as articulated thro­ugh these enactments constitutes a watershed moment in reflecting this government’s agenda in favour of deepening the entry of agrobusiness capitalism and that of increased centralised control of agriculture in India. The opposition to these bills has emerged from three quarters: first, from the farmers’ organisations, fearful about the survival of farming communities as a result of agrobusiness corporations’ takeover of the farming sector; second, from state governments, fearful about increasing central intrusion into states’ federal rights over agriculture; and third, from regional parties, fearful about these bills further empowering the several aggressive centralist attacks of this government on regional identities and aspirations.

The haste with which first the ordinances and now the bills have been rushed through provides a reasonable clue to the government’s economic and political agenda on the issue. There is no food emergency in the country that could have required the government to act with such haste as it has. It can be inferred, therefore, that agrobusiness interests that fund and support the BJP must have impressed upon the government to use the opportunity of health emergency created by COVID-19 to get these enactments done quickly without much notice and critical evaluation. The government, it seems, had not anticipa­ted the scale of opposition that these farming measures have provoked.

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Updated On : 13th Jan, 2021

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