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The court-appointed committee, where all members are in favour of the laws, will only deepen the mistrust among protesting farmers who fear the laws will pave the way for the entry of large corporations into agriculture and weaken existing support price based purchases.
The court-appointed committee, where all members are in favour of the laws, will only deepen the mistrust among protesting farmers who fear the laws will pave the way for the entry of large corporations into agriculture and weaken existing support price based purchases.

Pro-farm law members irk farmer unions

  • All members of the committee expressed their opinion in favour of the three farm laws in the recent past

All four members of the committee set up by the Supreme Court on Tuesday have expressed their opinion in favour of the three farm laws in the recent past, prompting the protesting farmer unions to decline to appear before the panel.

Among the expert members of the committee is Ashok Gulati, chair professor of agriculture at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, Delhi, and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.

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In an opinion piece in The Indian Express newspaper, he described the reforms as the ‘1991 moment for agriculture’, arguing that the reforms were long pending and will “go a long way in building efficient value chains and ensuring better returns for farmers."

Gulati has often argued in favour of replacing in-kind food subsidy with cash transfers and ending government purchases from farmers at minimum support prices.

The other expert member of the committee is Pramod kumar Joshi, the former south Asia director of the International Food Policy Research Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

Like Gulati, Joshi, too, has weighed in favour of the reforms.

In an opinion piece published by the Financial Express in December, Joshi (co-authored with Arabinda Padhee) argued that “any dilution in the farm laws will constrain Indian agriculture to harness emerging global opportunities."

He reasoned that the opposition to the laws is due to misinformation spread among farmers, and advised the government to go on a publicity drive to explain their benefits.

The other two members of the committee—Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president of the All India Kisan Coordination Committee; and Anil Ghanwat of Shetkari Sanghatana, are among the few farm unions which are in favour of the reform laws and have written to the agriculture minister extending their support on 14 December.

Both the organizations were founded by the late Sharad Joshi, a farmer leader from Maharashtra, who argued that a liberal trade regime in agriculture is beneficial to farmers.

The court-appointed committee, where all members are in favour of the laws, will only deepen the mistrust among protesting farmers who fear the laws will pave the way for the entry of large corporations into agriculture and weaken existing support price based purchases.

“It is clear that the court is being misguided by various forces even in its constitution of a committee. These are people who are known for their support to the three Acts and have actively advocated for the same," the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the coalition of farm unions which is leading the agitations, said in a statement.

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