OP-ED: Giving priority to farmers | Dhaka Tribune
Women farmer shake vegetable green cultivated land agriculture Mahmud Hossain Opu / Dhaka Tribune
A comparison between the agricultural policies of India and Bangladesh
India and Bangladesh are both agrarian countries; about 60% of their working populations are involved in agricultural activities. Over 87% of the rural population of Bangladesh and 70% of the rural population of India derive at least part of their income mainly from agriculture.
Recent agricultural bills in India
Recently, three reformist farm bills were introduced to the Lok Sabha (lower house) by the Indian government.
Even though agriculture is on the list of states, meaning the state has almost autonomy to develop bills related to the agricultural sector, the bills proposed by the GOI bypass the powers of the government to the state.
The bills are the Farmers ‘Trade and Production (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill 2020, the Farmers’ Agricultural Price Assurance and Services Agreement 2020 (Empowerment and Protection) and the Bill 2020 on essential products (amendment).
The bills were passed in Lok Sabha by an overwhelming majority. They were then presented to Rajya Sabha (upper house) and were adopted again, but this time with a voice vote.
Voice voting is a process in which members of the house express their decision by shouting. Even though it is legal, it goes against the spirit of the Indian constitution.
In this process, the president of the chamber can decide according to the intensity of the shouting whether the majority is in favor or not of the bill. This puts the spirit of democracy on fragile bases.
Since almost 60% of the livelihoods of the Indian population depend on agriculture, the government should be more thoughtful when enacting laws regarding the agricultural sector as it will impact millions of lives.
Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are furious with the bills because they believe that once they become an act the corporate powers will exploit them as there will be no practical checks and balances for ensure their safety.
The government has said that the farmers have been misled and therefore the Indian government should at least try to answer all the farmers’ questions and concerns so that there is no confusion or chaos.
Agricultural reforms in Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s agricultural sector is thriving. Even though Bangladesh is a much smaller country than India, it performs much better than India today, well ahead of India in terms of agricultural growth.
Through key reforms in the agricultural sector, Bangladesh has been able to significantly reduce poverty. These reforms have also liberalized private trade in grain markets (both nationally and internationally), input imports, and significant reductions in long-standing public grain distribution programs.
The Bangladesh Agricultural Market Regulation Act 1964 provides for the management, control and regulation of the marketing of agricultural products in designated markets. This law falls under the functions of the Agricultural Marketing Department.
This gave enormous power to the government, but it also placed a significant amount of power in the hands of local authorities. This system of checks and balances ensured that residents were comfortable with the rules / regulations.
After relaxing the laws on the import and export of materials and products, Bangladesh has also become one of the major producers of clothing.
High-end brands such as Zara have their clothes manufactured in large quantities in Bangladesh. There is a glaring difference between the image the country had decades ago and the image it has now.
International players are generally unwilling to locate in India due to the draconian laws put in place by the Indian government while they are happy to do so in Bangladesh where they can expand.
It seems that the governments of the two countries do not like dissent, whether it is Bangladesh officials asking editors to stop publishing reports that would “tarnish the image of Bangladesh” or the government. Indian who rejects activists who have raised their voices against CAA and NRC laws. bars.
One of the reasons all Indian farmers do not protest the bills is because they fear jail time.
Those who dared to speak up have been labeled as “middlemen” who are concerned about their profits.
Aashish K Shrivastava is a journalism student at the Jindal School of Journalism and Communication, OP Jindal Global University. Mozammil Ahmad is an independent researcher and law student at the University of Delhi.