Farmers still talking of two 2018 private member Bills
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Through the Bills, the farmers wanted freedom from indebtedness and remunerative price for their crop.
- Two private member Bills presented in Parliament in 2018 could hold the key to loosening the deadlock between the government and protesting farmers in North India.
- The Bills could not be enacted despite huge pressure from the farmers, who even met the President in May 2018 for seeking his pro-active intervention in the enactment of these legislations.
- The Bills are now in focus again during the ‘Dilli Chalo’ protest of the farmers.
- The first Private member Bill was ‘The Farmers’ Freedom from Indebtedness Bill2018, and the second was ‘The Farmers’ Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Agricultural Commodities Bill 2018.
- These Bills were drafted by the members of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), the umbrella organisation of 500 farmers’ unions across the country in the ongoing ‘Dilli Chalo’ Protest.
- The Bills were presented by the then Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetty, a renowned farm leader, and got the support of 21 political parties including Congress, Shiv Sena, CPI (M), BSP, TMC, DMK and NCP.
- As the very titles of these suggested that farmers wanted freedom from indebtedness and remunerative price for their crop.
- The first bill obligates the govt. to waive all loans of all peasants, including landless peasants, agricultural workers, sharecroppers, fishermen which includes declaration of private loans as null and void and payment to the creditors by the govt. without any recovery from the debtors.
- The first Bill includes demands like an immediate one-time complete loan waiver, a right on all farmers to obtain institutional credit; a provision for farmers suffering from natural disasters or distress to obtain protection from the debt trap, and the subsequent constitution of a National Commission and State Commissions with power to pass awards and recommend appropriate measures for the relief of farmers from disasters and distress.
- The Bill further says that the reason to make this bill is that the nation is indebted to farmers for the food security and sovereignty functions that they contribute.
- In spite of their contribution, 1000s of farmers are committing suicide, millions are in distress due to indebtedness and it is the obligation of the government to prevent such things which are related to government policies.
- The second bill obligates the govt. to regulate and decrease the cost price of farm inputs including diesel, seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, machinery and equipment, to set up a Cost and Prices Commission in order to assess all the cost of production which shall include computing of paid-up costs, family labour, rent of land, depreciation of capital inputs, interest and insurance costs designated as C2 costs, and to ensure through public and private purchasing agencies that the farmers get a guaranteed MSP of C2 + 50%.