As Bharat Bandh commenced on September 25 against the anti-farmer bill passed by the Indian Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Indian social media erupted like a volcano; hashtags like #BharatBandh, #AntiFarmerBJP and #ScrapAntiFarmerActs flooded the social media space. Millions of farmers from across India spread out blocking major highways, railway tracks, town halls and village panchayats.

Indian Wire magazine stated that over the last few weeks, farmers, largely in the states of Haryana UP and Punjab, have been protesting three agriculture ordinances which were introduced in May this year and passed by the Lok Sabha on September 15 amidst opposition by several political parties, including Bharatiya Janata Party ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The bills were also approved by the Rajya Sabha amidst protests from opposition parties on September 20 and 22. The issue grabbed front page space when SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal in a surprise move quit as Union minister for food processing industries, describing the three agriculture bills as ‘anti farmer’.

What is in the bill? It amends the Essential Commodities Act to deregulate prices and quantity sold of certain commodities deemed essential, it allows and facilitates contract farming and it allows private markets to be set up outside the physical boundaries of the ‘Agriculture Produce Market Committees’ (APMC) mandis.

Indian farmers have agitated because of the fear that once the prevailing system of the APMC collapses, private operators/traders/commission agents will dictate price. Farmers and farmer leaders fear that once private markets are set up outside the APMCs, the APMC will have few buyers. The new legislation tilts the balance in favour of the private markets set up by traders. “It is not a level playing field,” says social scientist and politician Yogendra Yadav, who has also been a leader of farmer movements in the last few years.

The experiment in the Indian state of Bihar, which was boasted as a successful model by Godi media, shows that lack of the system led to low prices for farmers and extreme volatility between seasons. For instance, the price of maize in Bihar dropped from around Rs 2,200 a quintal last year to around 1,300 per quintal this year.

Meanwhile, Godi media is trying hard to deflect the main issue of Bharat Bandh, focusing instead on drugs in Bollywood and targeting the celebrities who supported Shaheen Bagh protestors, actually it has turned out to be a witch hunt of female actresses of Bollywood like Deepika Padukone.

Liberal and left leaning opinion makers and journalists have regularly highlighted Modi’s nexus with Indian tycoons. An article with the title ‘Three Agri Bills of Modi Government: Profit for Adani – Ambani, Destruction of Lives and Livelihoods of Millions of Farmers’ appeared in AISA magazine on September 21. It stated that in 2014, the BJP had said that, if elected to power, Modi would design policies that would eventually double the income of the farmers. In a sheer parade of shamelessness, the same government disbands the very system that at least allows them some degree of income security through MSP or Minimum Support Price.

The article goes on to highlight constitutional protection afforded to farmers; ECA (Essential Commodities Act) of 1955 had been a useful measure in curbing hoarding and disproportionate stockpiling of food grains. This law empowered the government to draw limits to the amount of food grains stocks traders or companies could keep.

The article points out that a section of the neoliberal economists, peddling the argument for the big agro business houses of India, have been arguing for some time that the law was useful when India faced a food grain crisis but now that we have bumper harvests and sufficient production, it is useless if not an obstacle.

Playing to the gallery of these big agro business houses, the new ordinance has inserted a sub-section that says that it is only under the situations as extraordinary as war, famine, natural calamity etc. can the government “regulate the supply of such foodstuffs, including cereals, pulses, potato, onions, edible oilseeds and oil”, and price caps will be triggered only when prices rise by 100 percent (for horticulture produce) and 50 percent for other non-perishable items.

The AISA article considers the argument completely baseless and points out that these three bills have the capacity to jeopardise India’s self-reliance in food grain production. Given the rapidly expanding unemployment, and counter migration to the rural areas, caused by the pandemic, this triad of bills would only aggravate the economic deadlock.

How does this bill facilitate crony capitalism in India? The AISA article elaborates it as following:

These three bills will hand over the entire food chain (including farming, purchase, transport, storage and sale) to big corporate companies. This will destroy farmers, small shopkeepers and small traders. Foreign companies and national corporate companies will reap huge profits but the working class, especially farmers, will be ruined.

Modi from his first day in office has been working really hard to serve its electoral sponsors. It is not an unknown fact that BJP has surpassed all records of electoral expenses. At the same time the relentless high pitch propaganda through possible channels of public media is another expensive engagement. The corporate houses, those that have been funding BJP, have their plans. Both Reliance Industries of Mukesh Ambani, and the Adani group owned by Gautam Adani have been investing heavily into their agricultural and food processing franchises. So, these three bills are going to benefit these two business houses, along with a handful of agro MNCs at the cost of lives and livelihoods of millions of farmers and the food security of the 130 crore citizens of the country.

Modi has done it deliberately to favour his cronies like Ambanis, Shetties, Adanis and other corporate tycoons. This is nothing new; pro rich, anti-people and anti-poor policies of Modi have boomeranged on Indian economy in the past as well. Take for example the cases of GST and demonetisation, these two initiatives have cost almost 4 percent of loss to Indian GDP, the COVID-19 pandemic has further brought down Indian GDP by 24 percent and almost 500 billion dollars have evaporated from this falling economy in one year.

To conclude; the anti-farmer bill will further facilitate crony capitalism in India, leading to an economic system where big businesses thrive without much effort and as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class.

The global idiot Modi must be knowing that corporate India will create fake accounts of traders and purchasers to bring down market price of agriculture produce after harvest season; private operators, traders and commission agents of big corporate entities will dictate price and poor innocent farmers will suffer at the hands of these corporate thieves. Thus the Indian parliament, dominated by RSS goons, has created an environment where the hardworking but poor farmer of India becomes an eternal slave of corporate India.