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Friday, April 16, 2021

What problems India may face if farmers’ protest goes on? Here are 6 major crises

This everyday growing agitation might just soon explode and cause major worrying concerns for India. Keeping farmers angry will not serve India well in any way. Wondering why? Read on.

If the farmers protests are continued to grow, the protests will have major impact multiple facets of India.

Farmers’ protest in India is not an isolated issue. This everyday growing agitation might just soon explode and cause major worrying concerns for India. Is the Modi government at the Centre aware of this? Can they foresee the future? Well, if it does, the coming months don’t look much promising. Keeping farmers angry will not serve India well in any way. Wondering why? Read on.

The background: Farmers’ protest India

Farmers’ protest can lead to multiple hardships for our country. We have to remember that India is already suffering from record bad economy, poor growth, rising unemployment, food crisis and other such issues since the pandemic began and raged across the world. The pandemic is not over yet. Therefore, the challenges that come along the pandemic remain and the situation will only aggravate if farmers are not pacified. The Centre must realise this and fulfil the farmers’ demand. It is high time that the Modi government realises that the agitation can reflect in massive damage for our country if the farmers’ demands are not met.

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What is the present scenario at farmers’ protest?

There is no end in sight for the nationwide farmers’ protest. The scene in capital Delhi and NCR is witnessing widespread agitation, police intervention and raging emotions of the country’s food growers. No doubt, after the mass and violent protests over the National Register of Citizens and Citizenship Amendment Act in previous years, this is the major upheaval against the Centre’s Modi government.

Farmers protesting the Centre’s new farm laws have agreed to a sixth round of talks – scheduled for Wednesday – after today’s meeting yielded no breakthrough on the key issue – the repeal of the three farm laws. The government, during the meeting, said it needs more time for internal discussion. It told the farmers that it will place the proposal on December 9. This means things are far from being resolved and the agitation is only growing with each day.

What problems India may face if farmers’ protest goes on? Here are 6 major crises

1. Inflation fear looms large

The farmers’ protest has entered day seven on Monday. Two borders of Delhi, Singhu and Tikri, have been sealed completely and the two markets of Azadpur and Ghazipur have not been receiving fresh stock of vegetables from Punjab. This is the reason that Delhi and NCR may have to shell out more money to buy the same amount of vegetables. The question is, can India afford inflation at this point in time amid Covid-19 economic crisis?

India’s economy has been facing stubbornly high inflation for over almost one year now. Food inflation has been the main reason behind the rapid rise in inflation. Core inflation has been higher than expected as well, caused by disrupted supply chains related to local lockdowns. Higher oil prices, global inflation and a closing output gap will result in higher inflationary pressure by the beginning of 2021. Given the explicit inflation mandate of the Reserve Bank of India and the importance of the central bank’s credibility, the Monetary Policy Committee will likely remain reluctant to cut its policy rates.

2. Disruption of governance

It is very obvious. The country will go through a chaotic time as long as the farmers’ protest continues. It will affect not only the normal life of the Capital, but also hamper the day-to-day governance by the rulers. This is true both for the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government and Narendra Modi-led Centre.

Therefore, the farmers’ protest issue cannot be seen as an isolated incident or development. The agitation may disrupt various sectors of the country. Development projects could be affected or delayed, several important governmental decisions could be impacted by the agitation. The country is already facing unprecedented times this year because of the pandemic, natural disaster among several other issues. The farmers’ agitation will only worsen the overall situation if it’s not resolved.

3. Auto production looks at uncertainty

The protests by farmers at the Delhi-Haryana border could hurt automobile production and even impact demand momentum in the short term. The disruptions could disrupt supply chains crucial for smooth production of automobiles, The Economic Times reported. Deepak Jain, president, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association told The Economic Times that the protest could disrupt the industry logistics since Haryana is a major components hub.

“We hope the situation stabilises soon as it will be a pity to lose production and demand during these times when the industry has just started to recover volumes,” said Jain, who is also the Managing Director of Lumax India. “The outbound and inbound movement of goods is impacted, resulting in supply-chain disruptions,” Hemant Sikka, President, Farm Equipment Sector, Mahindra and Mahindra told the paper. Tractor makers told the publication that the protest is unlikely to significantly hurt sales since the buying season has almost ended. “By Diwali, the buying season gets over and now the season for buying tractors will begin in February next year,” TR Kesawan, president, Tractors Manufacturers Association.

4. Transport unions may call strike

Transport unions may soon call strikes, adding more misery to the country. The Indian Tourist Transporters Association (ITTA India) and Delhi Goods Transport Association have already called for the strike on December 8 in solidarity with the farmers’ protest in Delhi.

The future situation looks worrying. Around 51 farmers and trade unions from more than 12 states, including the whole of northern India, have so far extended their support for the ‘Bharat Bandh’ call of farmer organisations on December 8 to raise their voice against the Centre’s three contentious farm laws enacted in September during the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.

Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Tamil Nadu are among the 12 states that are together in this. They form a joint platform of 10 central trade unions have so far extended their support to the call which was made public after the fifth round of the government-farmer talks remained inconclusive with both sides adamant on their points.

5. Covid crisis may aggravate, linger on

The protest by thousands of farmers who have stayed put at various border points of Delhi for days against the Centre’s new agriculture reform laws may act as ‘superspreader’ event for coronavirus infection, say experts. The national capital has already been witnessing a spike in Covid-19 cases post-Diwali celebrations and amid rising pollution levels. Any agitation or gathering may cause the spread of Covid-19 and thus we must avoid gatherings during this time and must maintain social distancing norms, Sanjay Rai, professor in the Department of Community Medicine at AIIMS said.

We already know how Delhi is facing a brutal third wave of the pandemic since the winter season began. Therefore, amid such a time, the Centre must take the farmers’ protest seriously and end this crisis. Otherwise, this will make India pay price for the pandemic consequences as well. We have to remember that doctors and health staff are tired and medical resources already exhausted. At this time, all we should focus on is containing the further spread of the disease.

6. Farmers’ protest India: Negative impact on economy

All these above cases will only worsen India’s economy. We must remember that India recorded a historic low GDP of -23.9% this year following the outbreak of Covid-19. Extended and unplanned lockdown almost left the spine of India’s economy broken. Though the government has announced various stimulus and welfare packages, financial experts believe nothing will help until poor are given direct cash aid. We cannot forget the scenes of lakhs of migrants workers returning to their homelands amid extensive hardships.

The pandemic disclosed the harsh realities of life and economy in general. Therefore, we cannot certainly afford any further crisis when the economy is trying to recuper. Amid such a juncture, the Modi government must listen to the farmers’ demands and put an end to the crisis. After all, India is still an agrarian economy and farmers still are the backbone of it.

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