Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the three contentious farm laws will be repealed, eminent journalist and former Rural Editor of The Hindu, P Sainath announced that “the process for the formation of an independent Kisan Commission has begun”.
Addressing media on Thursday, Sainath along with Nikhil Day and others said that the Commission will have agriculture experts, scientists, activists, and members from farmers’ unions as members and study the state and crisis within the agriculture sector.
“Why a Kisan Commission? Because Commissions set up by officialdom have been buried whenever their recommendations ran counter to government and corporate interests,” said Sainath.
Saying that the Kisan Commission will be holding a process of public inquiry in collaboration with the organisations of different types of farming across the length and breadth of the country, the statement issued by the Nation for Farmers – an organization set up by the members of the civil society to garner support for the farmers, said, “The idea is to create a robust vision and strategy of agrarian transformation with the active participation of farmers’ organisations with the aim to integrate the agenda of politics of food diversity, ecological sustainability, equity and social justice into the process of agricultural transitions without being influenced by corporate capital.”
Criticising consecutive governments at the Centre for neglecting farmers, Sainath said that the recommendations of the ‘Swaminathan Commission’ have not been implemented yet, despite it being submitted 16 years ago.
“The commission’s important recommendations remain immensely popular with farmers everywhere in the country. Some of those – especially those relating to formulation of a Minimum Support Price for crops – remain to be addressed immediately to get the farmers to return to the states,” said the Nation for Farmers.
“It is 16 years since the Swaminathan Commission submitted the first of its five reports to government…For years now, the Nation for Farmers platform has been calling upon the government to organise a special session of Parliament to discuss the report and related issues in the context of the ongoing agrarian crisis that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of farmers these past two decades,” reads the statement released by the Nation for Farmers.
Notably, the first report of the Swaminathan Commission was submitted in December 2004 and the last in October 2006.
Despite it being one of the most comprehensive and detailed reports on agriculture, it has not been discussed in the Parliament. And the three farm laws were passed by the Modi government which are in contravention of the recommendations made by the Swaminathan Commission.
Saying that the Commission will produce “a comprehensive report on the state of, and crisis within Indian agriculture and the distress within the larger agrarian society” the Nation for Farmers added, “The Commission will make recommendations on the real reforms needed in India – reforms that favor farmers and farm labor, that are in the interest of local communities, not of corporate interests.”