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India needs to protect its farmers from neocolonial targets | Ideas

On November 19, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi lifted three lawsuits on a farm after a year of farmers’ protests. The law seeks to eliminate subsidies for farmers and to regulate crop prices.

Made for “modern” agriculture, these policies would have left millions of people without government support, as well as at the mercy of private and international organizations in companies with a problem of inequality.

These harmful laws have been strongly influenced by Western countries that are determined to lift Indian farmers out of poverty for their own capitalist goals. To avoid this, the government of India should put in place measures that will help farmers survive and repudiate these harmful practices from the West.

Although the government has been forced to change, farmers in India are still facing serious problems such as poverty and rising debt which are leading many to commit suicide. Currently, there are no government regulations regarding the increase or decrease of a farmer.

Current income helps farmers to do less well, but it is often impossible to make a profit considering the high cost of yield compared to the lower prices at which crops are sold. Farmers are now calling on the government to impose a ban on the sale of cheap produce and for the profitability of farms.

One way would be for the Indian government to establish a subsidy policy (MSP) in its agricultural policies throughout the country, as it is currently only available in some countries. Indian farmers are now pushing for MSP to ensure that the prices of their crops are set in a way that allows smallholder farmers to cultivate and that the price of the crop is affordable for the people.

So what is stopping the Prime Minister of India from moving forward and establishing an MSP? Aside from its well-known proximity to Indian companies and the silent support of regulators only, they also face strong pressure from the World Trade Organization and countries such as Canada, the United States, and Australia.

Over the past few decades, these Western countries have been pressuring India to withdraw agricultural subsidies through the WTO. In 2018, the US also reported that India reported low MSP reports of wheat and rice. In 2019, both Canadians and the US strongly opposed the growing number of MSPs in India, where in WTO terms it is called MPS, while Australia directly criticized the cane support and made complaints. In July 2020, Canada joined Paraguay criticizing India for bringing in more money than allowed.

The WTO enactes legislation on domestic farm produce, as well as international trade in agriculture, promoting free trade and banning subsidies that lead to “market disruption”. It allows investment to exceed 5 percent of the cost of developing developed countries and 10 percent of developing countries.

These plans, however, are based primarily on the development of the agricultural sector in rich Western countries where agricultural farms are the largest – 400 acres (162 hectares) in the US, e.g. 5 percent support for such farming businesses is sufficient.

By contrast, a typical farm in India is about two acres (0.8 hectares). Supporting the 10 per cent approval of the WTO is not enough to keep the agricultural family alive. This is why some Indian countries have introduced a MSP of up to 50 percent of the cost of growing other crops. However, farmers say that the method used by government officials to calculate the MSP they usually provide does not reflect the actual cost.

In addition, in their campaign against India, what developed countries fail to realize is that they provide other forms of funding for their citizens, including farmers, which are not available in developing countries. In the US, for example, there are food stamps, health care, money to buy in times of economic crisis, unemployment benefits, social security and health insurance to help families in need.

The architecture of developing countries is not consistent with the establishment of common social norms. An Indian citizen cannot rely on any assistance other than his or her income.

In the case of farmers, who make up about 60 per cent of the Indian population, living in the misery of the global market with local speculators without any form of assistance or funding can be devastating. This is why India has an alarming risk of suicide among people who depend on agriculture.

Without guaranteed income, farmers cannot survive. Without an MSP, the risk of death for small farms is imminent. When this happens, where will the food come from? India needs to import it – and this is where the interest of Canada, the US and Australia lies.

South Asia with a population of 1.3 billion is the most lucrative market in the western world. To that end, they seem to be promoting neocolonial principles, with the WTO acting as the new East India Company.

Whereas in the West, agriculture can be a part of the economy, in India, it is more. Indian farmers not only produce the food that their peers eat, but also become more adaptable to their environment in terms of culture and lifestyle. They call their field “mother” and see their relationship with a relative – an “umbilical” union that cannot be resolved politically.

Although the West may not understand the meaning of agricultural culture, the Indian government does. There is no reason why it should follow Western failed agricultural policies and place Indian farmers in the hands of controlling countries or corporate greed.

Its mission is to protect the interests of the Indian state which is developed by Indian farmers. Getting a global MSP can be a big part of this.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al Jazeera.

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