PM Modi’s Rajya Sabha speech has set the benchmark — a speech which said the right things, exposed many mistruths but most importantly one where India’s small farmer was brought into the national discourse (ANI)
PM Modi’s Rajya Sabha speech has set the benchmark — a speech which said the right things, exposed many mistruths but most importantly one where India’s small farmer was brought into the national discourse (ANI)

India’s small farmer finds a champion

PM Narendra Modi’s speech, marked by bipartisanship, spelt out a great vision for India and Indian agriculture
By Jyotiraditya Scindia
PUBLISHED ON FEB 08, 2021 09:07 PM IST

Words carry the power to shape the future. Not many statesmen can speak in a manner as powerful as Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi. His response to the debate on motion of thanks on the President’s address pressed all the right buttons with people at this critical hour.

Replete with hard facts, and with a sprinkle of humour and wit, his speech addressed apprehensions related to crucial issues such as the farm laws. His message to the nation was clear — this is India’s moment under the sun and we must seize every opportunity for growth that lies ahead of us. It is time to re-energise our inherent capabilities and rebuild our nation. It would be a colossal mistake to lose sight of the big vision for India, and so, our differences should not come in the way of this vision.

The most important aspect of the PM’s speech was the elaborate explanation of the government’s aim to empower small and marginal farmers through the three farm laws. In all discussions with regard to agriculture in India, this section is often forgotten. It is a well-known fact that, after all these years, the Green Revolution’s gains have not trickled down to this section. India’s small farmer has neither the ability to organise, nor the time to devote himself to political pursuits. Thankfully, India’s small farmer has got a powerful spokesperson in the form of the PM.

That India’s agriculture is riddled with many challenges is not hidden from anyone. Land holdings are shrinking, agri-technology is becoming obsolete, and farmers face exploitation at the hands of middlemen. To free the small farmer from these shackles, the government has combined an innovative approach with zero tolerance towards malpractices. PM Modi referred to modernising the long-standing mandis, while also complimenting efforts by various states towards improving agriculture systems. The unequivocal message — minimum support price (MSP) was there, is there and will remain — should answer all those who have spread canards about MSP. After all, it is this government that has increased MSP to 1.5 times the cost of cultivation. Other initiatives, be it neem-coated urea or the modified crop insurance scheme, have touched the lives of small farmers the most.

At the bedrock of good governance is listening and accommodating divergent views. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has always shown utmost empathy and sensitivity towards the issues of the poor and the marginalised. This is why it initiated an unprecedented 11 rounds of talks with the farmers. At a time when egos and oneupmanship are rampant, it takes a big heart to offer to put the laws on hold for 18 months until all the issues are addressed. PM Modi is a leader who understands the pain of the farmers, and every step taken under his leadership will, undoubtedly, be in line with their best interests.

To elaborate, as the PM underlined, there is a need to widen the ambit of what we see as “improvements” in agriculture. At the base of it, if infrastructure, including roads, rail and air connectivity improves, farmers will be able to gain access to distant and diverse markets. The government’s focus on allied sectors such as dairy and fisheries is aimed at generating additional revenue for the farmers, and giving them opportunities to showcase their innovations. Similarly, the PM’s vision for water in every household too has its gains for the farmers.

Today, millions of small farmers need our attention. They are talented and hardworking. They do not need doles to keep them poor. They need support to enable them to rise and contribute to the welfare of India. No less a leader than the PM speaking about them is noteworthy. He addressed every critical issue with farsightedness. At no point were those protesting called names. He highlighted the monumental contribution of the Sikh community to national development. He appreciated (rightfully) the pioneering contribution of HD Deve Gowda towards the cause of farmers. He referred to Sharad Pawar and appreciated Ghulam Nabi Azad.

These are things to learn — we may all be on different sides of the political spectrum and will certainly fight electoral battles with our full might but on the floor of the House, decency rules the roost. Our friends in the Opposition who boycotted the President’s speech and indulged in sloganeering could learn from PM Modi.

PM Modi quoted two former prime ministers, the farmer leader Chaudhary Charan Singh and Dr Manmohan Singh. From their words, we understand that there has always been a desire for agricultural reform. It was the inability to navigate the roadblocks that delayed them. PM Modi has tried to navigate the roadblocks. It should, as a nation, make us happy that a PM is fulfilling some of the ideas of his predecessors despite having different political affiliations. Such continuity and bipartisanship augurs well for our future.

Parliament was also the right forum to isolate those who are perpetual mischief-sniffers (Andolanjeevi as the PM called them), who lack the ability to ignite a positive change but are quick to latch on to others, and subsequently, mislead them. The PM was right to caution us about such elements. After all, when a nation’s economic revival is right on track; when the world is all praise for India’s humanitarian ethos of supplying vaccines; when India’s young are scaling new heights, who gains by causing mindless roadblocks?

PM Modi’s Rajya Sabha speech has set the benchmark — it was a speech which said the right things, exposed many mistruths but most importantly one where India’s small farmer was brought into the mainstream of national discourse.

Jyotiraditya Scindia is a former Union minister, Member of Parliament and a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party

The views expressed are personal

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
The BJP’s political dominance may, paradoxically in some ways, deepen social divisions (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
The BJP’s political dominance may, paradoxically in some ways, deepen social divisions (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

The disruptive social effects of Hindutva 2.0

PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
It is the electoral hegemony of the BJP which can deepen the sense of betrayal among those who feel short-changed by the side effects of Hindutva 2.0
Close
The Chinese had earlier planned to build a series of 11 dams on the river, of which several are complete (REUTERS)
The Chinese had earlier planned to build a series of 11 dams on the river, of which several are complete (REUTERS)

The Brahmaputra is in danger. Delhi and Dhaka must challenge Beijing

By Sanjoy Hazarika
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
China’s decision represents a strike at the heart of a sacred and ancient land and tampering with forces we do not fully comprehend
Close
With the SC order, Nepal has possibly averted a crisis which would have torn apart its nascent democratic system, shaken the constitutional structure, pushed the country towards prolonged political instability and led to the entrenched authoritarianism of KP Oli (REUTERS)
With the SC order, Nepal has possibly averted a crisis which would have torn apart its nascent democratic system, shaken the constitutional structure, pushed the country towards prolonged political instability and led to the entrenched authoritarianism of KP Oli (REUTERS)

Where Nepali and Indian interests meet

UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 07:12 PM IST
With the judiciary standing up to Oli, the room is open for an alternative. India must revise its approach
Close
People in custody, whether accused or convicted, must be considered a priority for the immunisation drive (Shutterstock)
People in custody, whether accused or convicted, must be considered a priority for the immunisation drive (Shutterstock)

Why India must include prisoners in its immunisation drive

By Amrita Paul
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 12:53 PM IST
Prisoners are guaranteed the right to basic health needs. As India undertakes its biggest immunisation drive, it must overcome the hurdles that exist within the system and ensure that the incarcerated are not left out
Close
An electric car charging station is positioned outside the Science Museum. (AP File Photo )
An electric car charging station is positioned outside the Science Museum. (AP File Photo )

When the fantasy of better battery science doesn’t match reality

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:39 AM IST
Car companies are fueling the hype and safety is an ongoing issue — we’re still a long way from the ideal solution for eco-friendly vehicles.
Close
Indian luxury goods have always been defined by their exceptional heritage value in that they were invariably handmade, using skills inherited over generations.
Indian luxury goods have always been defined by their exceptional heritage value in that they were invariably handmade, using skills inherited over generations.

Linking fashion, crafts and livelihood

By Ritu Kumar, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:13 AM IST
The pandemic has resulted in reduced domestic demand, shrinking exports, and unemployment. The sector needs support.
Close
India also needs to strongly step up the projection of its most laudable climate actions and bring adaptation to focus in the climate discourse. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
India also needs to strongly step up the projection of its most laudable climate actions and bring adaptation to focus in the climate discourse. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

India will have to step up climate diplomacy

By Manjeev Singh Puri
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:13 AM IST
Ministries in India are notorious for working in silos. Climate is an honourable exception with the ministries of environment and external affairs working together for years. These ministries need to be even stronger in partnership for more intensive engagement across the globe, including through coalitions that push Growth with Renewable Energy, Entrepreneurship and Nature (GREEN). The International Solar Alliance needs to add to this push.
Close
Farmers shouting slogans at the demonstration site during the ongoing protest against the new farm laws, Ghazipur , February 20 (ANI)
Farmers shouting slogans at the demonstration site during the ongoing protest against the new farm laws, Ghazipur , February 20 (ANI)

India can’t lose out on this window of economic reforms

By Gopal Krishna Agarwal
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:14 AM IST
The government is not inclined to repeal the farm laws. The responsibility of building the right narrative for it rests on all well-meaning citizens. It cannot be left to political class alone. Politics will be what it is with limitations in a democratic ecosystem. Let us all rise to the occasion.
Close
The effect of these laws will neither be revolutionary nor disastrous for farmers and Indian agriculture. But in this hyper-mediatised age, both sides are playing to the gallery leaving no room for genuine conversation (PTI)
The effect of these laws will neither be revolutionary nor disastrous for farmers and Indian agriculture. But in this hyper-mediatised age, both sides are playing to the gallery leaving no room for genuine conversation (PTI)

India needs a new elite compact

By Rahul Verma
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST
No regime can govern a vast and diverse country such as India without taking social, political, and economic elites on board. PM Modi must create the space for it
Close
If the stalemate continues, there is a grave risk of the saner talking heads losing control to potentially militant elements. The farmers must not return defeated to their villages (ANI)
If the stalemate continues, there is a grave risk of the saner talking heads losing control to potentially militant elements. The farmers must not return defeated to their villages (ANI)

Punjab’s history has cautionary lessons for New Delhi, farm unions

By Vinod Sharma
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST
Punjab’s history dictates that the effort should be to isolate and punish miscreants. Blaming everyone for the misdeeds of motley groups could foment social divides, possibly fetching the popularly discarded K-word a wider communal-political traction
Close
To enable India and its firms to be globally competitive in digital solutions and services, policies to improve infrastructure and regulatory costs or even innovation capability will not be enough (The India Today Group via Getty)
To enable India and its firms to be globally competitive in digital solutions and services, policies to improve infrastructure and regulatory costs or even innovation capability will not be enough (The India Today Group via Getty)

In a post-Covid world, a new toolkit for governments

By Amitabh Kant and Arindam Bhattacharya
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST
Traditional supply chains do not possess all the capabilities to solve customer needs. An ecosystem of partners with different skills can do that
Close
VK Sasikala (L), who in 2017 was expelled from her leadership position in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party and recently released from prison after serving a four-year sentence for corruption, pays homage at the statue of AIADMK party founder M.G. Ramachandran in Chennai on February 9,(AFP)
VK Sasikala (L), who in 2017 was expelled from her leadership position in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party and recently released from prison after serving a four-year sentence for corruption, pays homage at the statue of AIADMK party founder M.G. Ramachandran in Chennai on February 9,(AFP)

The Sasikala factor in Tamil Nadu politics

By Venkatesha Babu, Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 09:42 AM IST
  • The importance of VK Sasikala lies in the fact that while she may not be able to ensure AIADMK a victory even if she rejoins it, she can ensure its defeat if both factions go separate ways electorally.
Close
Local pollution, climate damage and new economic opportunities tied to climate and environment are all important to our national interests. India needs more, not less, engagement around environmental issues (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Local pollution, climate damage and new economic opportunities tied to climate and environment are all important to our national interests. India needs more, not less, engagement around environmental issues (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

Give young environmentalists a voice

By Navroz K Dubash
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:35 AM IST
India has always argued that climate is linked to development choices, livelihoods and equity. Don’t ask activists to narrow down their concerns
Close
The anti-defection law has been singularly responsible for stifling debate in our Parliament and state legislatures. For example, approximately 250 Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Lok Sabha have declared their profession as farmers. They are from different political parties and represent people across the country. During the debate on the three farm bills, they could not support or oppose these bills based on their knowledge and experience of the agricultural sector. (Mohd Zakir/HT Archive)
The anti-defection law has been singularly responsible for stifling debate in our Parliament and state legislatures. For example, approximately 250 Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Lok Sabha have declared their profession as farmers. They are from different political parties and represent people across the country. During the debate on the three farm bills, they could not support or oppose these bills based on their knowledge and experience of the agricultural sector. (Mohd Zakir/HT Archive)

The anti-defection law continues to damage Indian democracy

By Chakshu Roy
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:36 AM IST
With assembly elections three months away, the confidence motion’s outcome will be unimportant in Puducherry’s history. But the event will highlight the failure of the anti-defection law and raise an important question. How long will a law which continues to stifle debate in our legislatures continue to be a part of our Constitution?
Close
The farm agitation may not be spreading to other states but in the states where it is present, it seems to be covering more ground (PTI)
The farm agitation may not be spreading to other states but in the states where it is present, it seems to be covering more ground (PTI)

How will farm protests affect electoral landscape?

By Shashi Shekhar
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:33 AM IST
Will a social movement born out of economic compulsions end up changing political equations drastically? This is now within the realm of possibility.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP