Amid the continuing standoff between farmers’ groups and the central government over the agricultural laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that reforms are needed for development.

“Reforms are very much needed for a new order and to give new facilities,” Modi said at the launch of the Agra metro rail project via video-conference. “We cannot build the next century with the laws of the previous century. Some laws that used to be good in the past century have become a burden in the present century. Reforms should be a continuous process.”

Without making any direct reference to the new laws or the farmers’ protests, Modi said that his government was carrying out holistic reforms. “Earlier, reforms used to happen in a piecemeal manner, or keeping in mind some sectors and departments,” he added.

The prime minister said that people will be satisfied if they go through the finer details of the reforms undertaken by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Citing election results, Modi said that people approved the decisions taken by his government. “A glimpse of this confidence is seen in the election results in every part of the country, including Uttar Pradesh,” he said.

Farm laws

The Parliament had passed three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 – in September. They were signed into laws by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27.

Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi for the last twelve days against the laws. The farmers fear the agricultural reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations. The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies.

Last week, Modi had said that agricultural reforms brought new opportunities to farmers as new rights were accorded to them. He added that the Parliament passed the farm ordinances after a “rigorous brainstorming”.

Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory to all the states and Union Territories that no untoward incident should occur during the Bharat Bandh called by the farmers’ on Tuesday. Farm leaders have said that the strike will start from 10 am to 3 pm, but no essential or emergency services will be disrupted.

Also read:

  1. Why did the BJP feel empowered to push through laws widely seen as anti-farmer?
  2. Scenes from a farmers’ protest camp: It’s hard to see how the Modi government can shut this down