Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 200, 10 December 2020

India: Farmers' protests intensify as deadlock persists
Alok Gupta

In the news
On 9 December, in a bid to meet the demands by the farmers protesting in New Delhi, the Indian government said the minimum support price (MSP) for crops would stay as it draws up a written proposal. 

Since 26 November, farmers mainly from Haryana and Punjab have been protesting against three farm acts - the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. Later, farmers from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh also joined them. 

On 8 December, the protesting farmers have met with the Union Home Minister Amit Shah with no resolution to the deadlock as both sides remained resolute on their demands. The farmers' said, "they would settle for nothing less than the scrapping of the legislations." 

Issues at large
First, the farm laws and indebtedness. The bills were brought to address farmer's entitlements in light of the Swaminathan report that identified freedom from indebtedness which has been the main cause for increasing farmer's suicide in the country. Also, the report highlighted guaranteed remunerative prices that often leads to mounting debts as farmers are forced to sell even at half the MSP (Minimum Support Price) declared by Governments for 24 crops. 

Second, the protests are mainly against the first two acts. The FPTC Act allows farmers to sell their produce outside the erstwhile Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), the government-controlled regulated marketing arrangement called mandis. This provides a wider choice to farmers for selling their produce anywhere to anyone. APMC became infamous for monopoly-cartel fixing low prices for the produce, forcing distress sales on farmers, as well as for market fees and levy by state governments. Farmers are apprehensive of the government's plot to eliminate MSP safety net. Farmers are not convinced about the provision of the Act as it leaves them at the mercy of big corporates increasing their vulnerabilities further. Adhatiyas (commission agents) would lose substantial commissions. State government stands to lose revenue as a sale through APMC would shrink substantially.  

The second Act provides a regulatory framework towards striking a deal between a farmer and an ordained buyer before producing a crop, ensuring predetermined quality at minimum guaranteed prices. Contract farming has been operational in different crops. Potatoes used by beverages and snacks company PepsiCo for Lay's and Uncle Chipps (wafers) for exports. It has assured farmers buyback at pre-agreed prices alongside companies providing seeds/planting material, and another extension supports to farmers to maintain product's standard. Hence, the Act formalizes voluntary contract cultivation for crops not traded in APMC. Sugarcane and milk are also not sold in mandis but through contract. The Act prohibits sponsor firm from acquiring land of farmers through purchase, lease, or mortgage protects them. Act again considered having potentials to kill government procurement process, which procures nearly 85 per cent of paddy and wheat grown in Haryana and Punjab. Farmers also have a trust deficit with corporates. 

The third Act will not affect the farmers rather would serve their interests. It mitigates Centre's powers to impose stock holding limits on foodstuffs, except under 'extraordinary conditions' like war, famine and other natural calamities and annual retail price rise exceeding 100 per cent in horticulture products like onions and potatoes and 50 per cent for non-perishables like cereals, pulses and edible oils. Hoarding has been beneficial to traders and not to farmers. Earlier, despite being a criminal offence, the practice was there. The government argues this would attract private investment and FDI in agriculture, cold storage, warehouses and would facilitate farmers when bumper crops are there. 

Finally, the threat to food security. The opposition parties have castigated all three Acts as anti-democratic as it threatens food security and would destroy farmers through mortgaging agriculture and markets to the caprices of multi-national agri-business corporates and domestic corporates. Hence, they are standing by farmer's demands. 

In perspective
Amid deadlocked negotiations between the government and farmers, the latter firmly demand repeal of all three acts. Negotiation is, however, limited. First, the problem of the farmers confines mainly to the FPTP Act as it weakens APMC mandis. The government could make MSP a legal right. The act proposes disputes to be referred to the offices of SDM (sub-divisional Magistrates) and District Collector, which are not an independent court, hence justice would be a casualty. Proper Dispute Resolution Mechanism for a transaction outside APMC could be negotiated for timely payment and all transactions. State and adhatiyas too are required to be assured of their revenue. Nearly 86 per cent of farmland are smallholder farmers owning less than five acres (two hectares) of land each. Hence, farmers would continue to be vulnerable before the corporate giants, for lack of bargaining power to get fair prices. Both need to listen and understand each other, and neither should hijack the nation's interests. 

November 2021 | Conflict Alert # 459
Europe: Restrictions lead to Widespread Protests
November 2021 | Conflict Alert # 457
Cuba: Between bouts of demonstrations
November 2021 | Conflict Alert # 454
Pakistan: A month-long ceasefire with the TTP
October 2021 | Conflict Alert # 447
The US: Protests against the Texas anti-abortion law
October 2021 | Conflict Alert # 444
Brazil: Anti-Bolsonaro protests across the country
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 441
Yemen: Houthis continue to capture territories

September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 439
Europe: Pride Marches in Serbia and Ukraine
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 437
Brazil: Protestors call for the impeachment of Bolsonaro

September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 435
Guinea: Another coup in Africa
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 431
Climate Change: Hurricane Ida destructs the US Gulf Coast
August 2021 | Conflict Alert # 422
Europe: Measures to curb pandemic trigger protests
August 2021 | Conflict Alert # 418
Peru: Protests a sign of challenges facing Castillo
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 411
Wildfires: Siberia to the US
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 409
Bosnia: 26 years after the Srebrenica Massacre

July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 405
Colombia: Two months of protests

June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 399
Myanmar: New UNGA resolution
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 397
Myanmar: The Aung San Suu Kyi trial begins

June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 390
Burkina Faso: Another massacre in Africa
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 386
Nigeria: Another mass abduction grips Niger state
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 385
Colombia: The protests continue

May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 382
Israel-Hamas ceasefire: The long road to peace
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 380
Colombia: Three weeks of protests
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 378
Israel-Palestine: Who wants what?
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 374
Yemen: The Battle for Marib rages on
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 371
Pakistan: Meetings with Afghan leaders
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 369
Israel-Syria: Continuing Missile Strikes

April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 362
Iran: Another act of
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 358
India: Another Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 356
Global Gender Gap Report 2021: Main Takeaways
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 353
Niger: 137 massacred in the latest attack by gunmen
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 351
Yemen: Saudi Arabia announces ceasefire
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 347
Australia: Women fight against sexual violence 
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 345
The US: The George Floyd trial begins
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 340
Syria: UN report calls for a complete ceasefire
February 2021 | Conflict Alert # 333
South Korea: The 'Comfort Women' issue returns to haunt
January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 222
Russia: Pro-Navalny protests turn anti-government 

January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 220
COVID-19: The Vaccine Wars
November 2020 | Conflict Alert # 191
Pakistan: Anti-French protests called off
October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 174
Bangladesh: Protests intensify against sexual violence
October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 167
India crosses 6 million-mark in COVID-19 cases
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 166
Pakistan: The persisting polio problem
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 156
Pakistan: Targeted Violence continues in Waziristan
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 154
The anti-Racist Protests in the US: Between
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 148
Israel and UAE normalize relations
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 146
Bolivia: Protests against the Election postponement
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 138
In Iraq, the protestors return to the streets 
July 2020 | Conflict Alert # 118
J&K: Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence
June 2020 | Conflict Alert # 105
Black Lives Matter brings the US to its knees
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 86
Libya: Khalifa Haftar announces ceasefire 
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 81
India: The surge in violence in J&K
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 71
Afghanistan: 300 Taliban prisoners released
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 67
Syria: New UN Report on Idlib
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 64
A lethal impact on the Refugee/Migrant Camps 

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 63
Indigenous Communities battle a complete wipeout 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 51
Coronavirus & China: Fall in numbers 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 47
Coronavirus & Nepal: In the second stage, cancels
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 44
Two Presidents in Afghanistan

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 42
'Aurat March': A New beginning across Pakistan 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 38
Sri Lanka withdraws from 30/1 Geneva Resolution
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 35
A ceasefire between Israel, Islamic Jihad in Gaza
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 34
Libya: rivals withdraw from Geneva peace talks
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 33
India: Violence in Delhi
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 32
Afghanistan: Seven Days of Peace

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 31
Climate Change Fallouts: Impacts the Bird population
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 28
Pakistan: Court convicts LeT founder Hafiz Saeed

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 27
Pakistan: Suicide terrorism returns to haunt Quetta
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 26
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban Seven Day Deal
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 24
Israel: Violence in post  Trump-deal

January 2020 | Conflict Alert # 20
Kenya: Al Shabab and a week of killings

December 2019 | Conflict Alert # 19
Citizenship Amendment Bill:2019
November 2019 | Conflict Alert # 18
Lebanon: PM Hariri quits, but protests continue 
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 16
Bolivian unrest

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 15
Hundreds protest in Haiti
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 14
Protests rock Chile
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 13
Hong Kong Violence: A divide within
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 12
Spain: The trouble in Catalonia

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 11
Turkey's Offensive in Syria
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 9
Africa to be Polio Free
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 7
Myanmar: Teenage girls traded as brides to China
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 6
Moscow Protests: Thousands rally in Moscow
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 3
Jordan Restores diplomatic ties with Qatar