The right to dissent is a core principle of democracy. A pluralist democracy has to be anchored in healthy debate, cutting across political and ideological lines, in the temple of democracy

The right to dissent is a core principle of democracy. A pluralist democracy has to be anchored in healthy debate, cutting across political and ideological lines, in the temple of democracy — the Parliament.


Dissent cannot and must not, however, be confused with disruption. Democratic dissent in an informed and constructive manner is the cornerstone of our polity and one of its greatest strengths. Disruptions, delusional narratives and partisan campaigns, on the other hand, can be the biggest bane of a democracy.


India’s democracy embraces the feedback loop of healthy debates and discussions. Our Parliament has witnessed some of the most animated and momentous discussions being deliberated and voted upon. This environment of acceptance and tolerance for diverse views is a result of institutional dignity, mutual respect and established decorum, which has been upheld for nearly 70 years.



On September 20, during the monsoon session, complete disregard of this rich legacy was witnessed in the Rajya Sabha. Dancing on top of tables, breaking equipment and flinging abusive barbs at the Deputy Chairman is not an expression of dissent but an act of hooliganism. The fact that the Deputy Chairman offered tea the next morning to those who behaved like that with him shows his gracious and large-hearted nature.


Thirty-three of 107 members of opposition parties, including many prominent and senior leaders, were absent at the time of voting. This in and of itself demonstrates their seriousness about the bill. What prevailed in the House in the name of democracy and dissent was rank dishonesty, as the same measures enunciated in the bill had been hailed by opposition parties in the past as a panacea to our farmers’ ills.


In 2010, a working group of ministers formed during the Manmohan Singh government — comprising Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Parkash Singh Badal and others — also recommended adoption of these agri reforms. The ‘death of democracy’ that opposition parties are drumming up now is complete hogwash, which has turned into a misinformation campaign to create fear among innocent farmers and traders who are still reeling from affects of the pandemic.



Our agriculture sector has been mired in challenges of high wastage of output, fragmentation, uncertainty and lack of price discovery for the farmer. As one investor remarked, we live in an India where a farmer gets ?5 per kg for his potatoes but a consumer pays ?40 per kg. He foresees an India where farmers will get ?10 per kg and a consumer will pay ?25 per kg.


For this transition towards more efficiency, better utilisation of resources and large investments in technology, the shackles of APMC Act need to be broken. An ecosystem for farmer-sponsor agreements, with due safeguards for our farmers, had to be created and contract farming enabled.


While these reforms had been recommended and supported by politicians, economists and policy thinkers of all hues, they required tremendous political will to implement due to sensitivities involved. When Prime Minister Modi implemented these reforms, displaying enormous courage and conviction, the opposition resorted to obfuscation and misrepresentation to mislead our farmers.


The landmark farm bills will help create an ecosystem to facilitate remunerative prices to farmers through competitive alternative trading channels, which allows the producer to get fair value for produce while helping build mutually beneficial trading opportunities with a diverse set of consumers from the convenience of their farms.


The farm ordinances were promulgated in May 2020. No opposition was witnessed at that point of time. This is also indicative of the kind of support these agri reforms have had across the spectrum in political parties and states. The Congress had the reforms as a part of its manifesto in 2019.



The arhtiya (commission agent) community, a product of the green revolution, is also being misled by this misinformation campaign. They need to recognise the enormous opportunity for their growth by developing services that can be useful to local farmers like seed/soil testing facilities, cold storages, insurance services, technology-intensive agriculture and contract farming. The agri reforms that have been introduced will help us support farmers better as well create the correct investment and trade environment for them to grow while adopting new technologies and agri-solutions.


These agri reforms are the economic follow-up to the green revolution, an attempt towards getting all stakeholders into a more organised and mutually-beneficial environment, rather than an exploitative and backward one.


Vested political interests have been driving mistrust and uncertainty among farmers by spreading rumours on MSP and stoking insecurities about land rights. Disruptions and theatrics in Parliament are being disguised as democratic virtues when their members didn’t even find deliberation and voting to be worthy of attendance. Our farmers deserve better.

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