07 December, 2021
Letters | Jan 04, 2021

And Thus A Desh Was Born

Their Finest Hour

Jan 04, 2021

Thanks to Outlook for reminding us the great sacrifices—of Indians, the Indian armed forces, the int­repid Mukti Bahini and of the hapless people of East Pakistan—that led to the birth of Bangladesh (And Thus A Desh Was Born, December 28). The veterans’ acc­ounts, the views from Pakistan and Bangladesh and the short descriptions of the battles, too, were a great read. Our armed forcs have never looked back after the 1971 victory.

Within 25 years, Pakistan, born on the flawed logic of the ‘two-nation theory’, was torn apart, sending a clear message that religion cannot ever be the basis of long-surviving nationhood. Alas, the lesson that the inward-looking and prejudiced policymakers of Pakistan then learnt at such great cost, the current ruling dispensation is still not willing to heed. Little said about Pakistan, the better, but even the rulers of India—a nation proud of its plural, composite and all-acc­epting culture—is keen to follow suit. Not only did it pass the CAA, one of its high off­ice-bearers called supposedly ‘illegal’ immigrants ‘termites’. By the way, looking at the folly of these two large neighbours, Bangladesh must be laughing—its GDP grows at a faster rate than ours, with it doing much better than us on most human dev­elopment indices. Little wonder that, according to an estimate, over a million Indians have illegally crossed over to Bangladesh, a reverse migration if there ever was one. We have to find out if a Bangladeshi policymaker calls them ‘termites’!

Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun

Maximum Support Protest

Inviolable Rights

Jan 04, 2021

This is about Outlook’s cover story on the farmers’ protests that have gained mass around New Delhi’s borders (Maximum Support Protest, Dec 21). The right to life and livelihood is constitutionally guaranteed—this should be the touchstone for weighing up the pros and cons of the three new farm laws. Agriculture is the means by which millions make a living. The new laws threaten farmers with disempowerment and dispossession and, by extension, the curtailment of their right to livelihood and life. This exp­lains why farmers are not int­erested in the Centre’s offer of a raft of changes to the contentious laws and demand their complete repeal. The amendments proposed are not enough to detoxify the laws. The laws are more toxic and ominous than the sum of their parts. Actually, the laws, enacted ostensibly for the liberalisation of agriculture, are intended to facilitate its mon­opolisation by corporates. The government happily writes off liabilities of corporates worth thousands of crores of rupees to propel ‘economic growth’. But when it comes to subsidies to farmers, it turns stingy. It’s time we common citizens advance the causes of justice and freedom. We urge the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the new farm laws, not just the talks between the two parties.

David Milton, Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

Looking at the farmers’ fury, it seems we are heading towards a winter of grave discontent. As the agitation against the Centre’s new farm laws enters a month, the NDA government is probably facing its first major challenge. It is a case of a perfect plan going awry. Turning the pandemic into an opportunity for reform, the Centre brought in the farm laws. They seek to bring about a paradigm shift in the sector by making it dem­and driven, freeing it from the monopoly of the mandis and the hegemony of middlemen. This move to bring in the market forces and open up the farm sector to competitive pricing was slated to ring in the 1991 moment in the rural economy. It also aimed to remove distortions in the cropping pattern that the MSP and other incentives had caused, leading farmers to recklessly grow crops that maximised ret­urns under the said schemes. Growing rice—that drinks in a lot of water, and is grown only in rain-heavy parts of the world—in Punjab is one such instance. It has effectively lowered the water table. The opposition stems from the fact that any massive change is uns­ettling and creates legitimate concern. This begs the question: Did the government seek the views of stakeholders? Was a consensus built, arguments heard and farmers assured that the changes were in their best interest, that nothing short of these ref­orms could address the deep structural crisis the sector faces? The Centre just arrogantly pushed the laws through in great hurry. However, both farmers and the Centre would do well to remember Indira Gandhi’s visit to the US in 1966 during an extreme shortage of food. An American newspaper ran a headline: ‘New Indian leader comes begging’. That crisis spurred us on to usher in the Green Revolution. If Farm Revolution 1.0 was about creating abundance, Farm Rev 2.0 would be about creating smart processes to transform the face of rural India. Hopefully, the imp­asse would be resolved, giving India’s agriculture its second big push.

Sangeeta Kampani, New Delhi

Farmers claim the new laws are anti-­farmer; the government insists they will bring farmers better opportunities and exp­erts say the laws do bring overdue reforms in the sector, but safeguards to protect interests of farmers are missing. It was a huge mistake on the part of the Centre that it didn’t discuss the matter with farmers bef­ore framing the laws.

M.C. Joshi, Lucknow

Each day, as a result of the disruption caused by the farmers’ protests, the nation loses Rs 3,500 crores of business. Can a poor nation like us aff­ord it? At a time when China and Pakistan are waiting to create mischief on our borders, we should unite and support the government. Unfortunately, those who have lost the election have goaded the farmers on. They must und­erstand that the BJP was voted into power by Indians who have faith and confidence in their leaders.

S.P. Sharma, Mumbai

Indian farmers are of three categories—rich ones by legacy, those who have middling land holdings and, by far the most preponderant, marginal farmers who own less than five acres. Rich farmers have huge holdings with good infrastructure and can transport their produce and get their due. Medium-level farmers also manage to keep their nose above water in spite of vagaries of weather, low price for their produce etc. Marginal farmers are the worst hit when their crops fail. The government’s intention of doing away with middlemen is welcome, but does it have the wherewithal to connect the poor farmer with markets that would give him the correct price, provide him with seeds, fertiliser, water and power supply? It needs to improve on these, win the confidence of the farmer and then introduce the laws.

T.S. Rangarajan, On email

Dry Run To Test The Water

Left Winger’s Goal

Jan 04, 2021

I refer to Outlook’s story on the civic body polls in Kerala (Dry Run to Test The Water, Dec 21). In what was slated as a semifinal before the upcoming assembly polls next year, the polls handed out a thumping victory to the inc­umbent CPI(M)-led LDF Front which, ironically, was embroiled in a flurry of scams and corruption cases. The opposition Congress-led UDF and BJP-led NDA sensed ample reasons to sweep the polls, especially the latter, which has been trying to get a toehold in Kerala. But the electorate chose to reward the ruling front, which had been doing a commendable job.

George Jacob, Kochi

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