Decoding Scrapping of Farm Laws

Micro-irrigation at Sikh owned farm in water starved Yuba City, USA. 2015
  • Given the traction 3 Farm laws have got sharing 8 observations  for e.g. role of SC, Protest is political, Regulating NRI ownership of land, National Market, Chinese attack.
  • Punjab is dying-Will the State Government save it? To escape that Sikhs will buy land in other states of North India and then seek to control farming there.

The Prime Minister’s announcement on national television that the government would withdraw the three farm laws took many by surprise. It led to celebrations by farmer groups and activists spoke about the power of democracy/satyagraha. For the first time in decades saw a Prime Minister who publicly apologised, forget right or wrong.


Some see it as a success of Rahul Gandhi. I see it as a failure of the BJP to communicate effectively and Punjab farmer’s refusal to change. BJP needs tips on Change Management.


Also read How the BJP can effect change


Given the traction these laws have attracted am sharing eight observations, starting with key dates.  


1. June 5, 2020: Government promulgates ordinance on three farm laws.

2. Sept 27: Bills notified, become law.

3. Nov 26: Farmers reach Delhi borders and gherao city.

4. Dec 11: Bhartiya Kisan Union moves Supreme Court (SC) against laws.

5. Jan 12, 2021: SC keeps laws in abeyance and sets up a committee to suggest changes. Later, farmer groups expressed no faith in the Committee.

6. Jan 26: On Jan 19, SC refuses to stop tractor parade on January 26. Republic Day violence by farmer groups and Khalistani sympathisers amidst tractor rallies.

7. March 11: Committee submits report to SC. Farmer unions refused to meet panel. 

8. November 19, 2021: Prime Minister announces withdrawal of farm laws.


Key Observations


1. SC - It is not known on what basis the SC stayed the implementation of Farm Laws. Did these laws violate any fundamental rights? 


Perhaps the judges were worried there would be a repeat of the violence and hurt Sikh sentiments like when Akali leader Harchand Singh Longowal announced, on 6 November 1982, that the Akali Dal would demonstrate in Delhi during the Asian Games. Instead, Delhi Police were beaten by Sikhs on 26/1/2021.


Question–is this a matter of law and decision for the Honourable Judges to take?


Groups petitioned the SC too. According to this report, “On October 12, 2020, SC issued notice on petitions that challenged the three farm laws. The petitions challenged the constitutional validity of these laws and also questioned the competence of the Parliament to enact the same on the ground that these were state subjects.”


Between 12/10/2020 and 19/11/2021 the SC did not pass an order on the legality of the three farm laws.


The expert committee submitted their report on 19/3/2021. Up to 20/11/2021 i.e. for 8 months, SC did not make the report public.

Drip Irrigation in Kutch. 

2. Agriculture, State Subject: One of the basis on which Farmer groups and politicians challenged the farm laws was that agriculture is a state subject.

States have no qualms in taking advantage of centrally sponsored schemes yet argue that agriculture is a state subject. According to a Tribune report on Punjab Budget 2020-21, officials admit dependence on grants from the Centre for various centrally sponsored schemes. “Punjab’s former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh asked the Centre to create a fund of around Rs 25,000 crore to help farmers switch from paddy to maize.” Source Indian Express

These double-standards need to end.

Also read Indians need a masterclass on responsibility and accountability of each arm of the government


Centre must withdraw the Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess that was levied on petrol and diesel in Budget 2021 since agriculture is a state subject. Atleast consumers will enjoy lower prices.


3. Protests is about politics, not farmer rights: The late Sunil Jain (Managing Editor of Financial Express) wrote in November 2020, “The agitation is purely an attempt to corner the Modi government, to boost the sagging fortunes of the Congress party by deliberately misleading farmers. That is why, before Captain Amarinder Singh decided to fuel the agitation, he used to be batting for increased diversification to non-MSP crops/livestock in the state.” Congress leader Sunil Jakhar praised Amarinder Singh’s handling of farm stir, says protest was directed towards Delhi.” Source New Indian Express

Thus, whether or not these farmer protests are political is for you to judge?

If agriculture is indeed a State subject, farmers should have directed their anger against state governments instead of the Centre.

The BJP government looked at it as a farmer issue, when it is an out an out political issue with support of Khalistan sympathisers. We must know that the protest is largely Punjab centric, where the maximum number of farmers are Jat Sikhs who were the biggest votaries of the Khalistan Movement of the 1980s.

A Sikh is by nature, ready for a fight and happy to make the supreme sacrifice. The Centre understood this and denied Sikhs a chance to become shahid. One can expect the opposition to play with public sentiments by making a memorial for those who died during protests (no fault of Centre).

Also read  95 years old Nihang dies at farmer protest site

4. Possible Chinese Attack: Though not in public domain, it is possible the government is expecting a Chinese attack, remember the attack on NEFA started in October 1962.  At time of external attack the government did not want to be pre-occupied by internal disturbances.

5. Let Punjab farmers decide their future: The problems of Punjab are known-over-exploitation of ground water, excessive use of pesticides, misplaced subsidy like free power etc. and also Cancer. 

In fact farmers might know that, according to a draft report of the Central Ground Water Board (North-Western region), Punjab will be rendered a desert within 25 years if the exploitation of its underground water resources continues at the current rate. Source

Also read Groundwater misuse may rise manifold in Punjab due to lower charges

It seems that today’s farmers are not concerned about the future of the next generation, hence desire to maximise gains from the present.

An enlightened farmer group would have realized the benefits of the farm bills and suggested changes that addressed their concerns!

The Central government realized that its communication of farm law benefits had miserably failed, so why should it also lose political capital in trying to make farmers realize its benefits.

Let farmers of Punjab have their way even if it means Punjab becoming a desert with more sick people. Eventually, these farmers will pay for their Karmas. However, farmers across India could suffer.

Also read Free Power, MSP and Cancer, Is Punjab Dying

Do not be surprised if farmer groups, across the country, soon petition the Centre and SC for restoration of some positives in the farm laws. After all, why should they lose out because of Punjab? The agitation has made them aware that procurement is skewed in favour of Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh, which accounted for 54% of the total rice procured by FCI in 2017-18

For that, WE need to give up our obsession with the Hindi heartland.

Centre must promote consumption of Millets. Credit Bio-Basics. 

6. National Market and Storage: For long farmer groups and experts wanted a national market for their products and an increase in storage facilities. The government tried to create a national market for agricultural products by starting the eNAM portal in 2016, but it never took off. Farm Bills sought to create a national market.

The Essential Commodities Bill (ECA) of 1955 has its origins in Defence of India Rules, 1943, when India was ravaged by famine and facing the effects of World War II. Agri-economist Ashok Gulati wrote, “Current laws discourages private sector investment in storage, as the ECA can put stock limits on any trader, processor or exporter at the drop of a hat.”

Since the Punjab government fritters away its resources on power subsidy, some want the Centre to build storage facilities. Manjit S Kang wrote in Tribune Chandigarh, “As of 2018 figures, India’s total grain storage capacity was 88 million tonnes- of which some 13 million tonnes were in the Cover and Plinth (CAP) storage under the skies. The Central Government should allocate Rs 10,000 crore to create a grain storage capacity of 15 million tonnes in the food-bowl states. Public-Private Partnership (PPP) could work here, with the government providing the land needed and the private players investing capital to construct silos.”

They do not realize resource constraints. Hence, the farm laws sought to encourage private investment. This will change now.

Farmers will continue to suffer and hear state governments blame the Centre.

Also read Farmers oppose land record details upload in Punjab

Orchha near Jhansi is a must visit. 

7. Foreign Hand in farmer protests: While the Centre will take up the matter with foreign governments it can regulate ownership of agricultural land. Suggested framework. 

NRI’s cannot purchase agricultural land, plantation or farm land in India. But can inherit and hold agricultural land. However, details of such inheritance must be uploaded on the Reserve Bank of India and the state government websites. Details of lease agreements, including Batai, between NRI and resident Indians have to mandatorily be registered online, with state governments, by the lessor.

An individual who is not citizen of India and whose agricultural land yields any agricultural produce cannot sell it at MSP to the state government or any Central government agency directly or indirectly and receive sale proceeds. Any income of a NRI who is not citizen of India, from inherited agricultural land given on lease, has to be deposited in a NRO account and income-tax paid thereon.  

Simply put, agricultural income exemption and purchase at MSP is available only to resident Indians who are citizens of India.

Also read Regulatory Framework for NRIs owning AGRICULTURAL Land

There is more to India than the Taj.  

8. Impact on Punjab and Uttar Pradesh Elections: Captain Amarinder Singh has limited appeal so if the BJP thinks it could form a government with him it is an illusion. Captain Singh did not implement the SC order on Sutlej-Yamuna canal arguing it would revive the demands for Khalistan. He might repeat the argument, and not reform even he forms a government with BJP support. Modi might want to ensure that Sidhu or AAP candidate do not become CM because of their ability to create irritants in the government’s policy towards Pakistan.

If there is an impact, it could be in U.P. where the RJD (Rashtravadi Janata Dal) and Samajwadi party are itching to return to power.

As farming in Punjab becomes difficult, Sikh farmers will buy land in Madhya, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. This way they will seek to control farming in large parts of North India and hold every government to ransom, with the sword of Khalistan looming large, being aware of Pakistan’s long-term support for it. 

BJP leaders would do well to read how appeasement led to Bhindrenwale achieving cult status in the early 1980s.

Also read Why mandatory MSP is a bad idea

Note-Another fall-out is that the risk-weightage by India Inc’s investments (storage, warehousing and processing) in Punjab shall increase significantly. Migration of Sikhs to North America shall increase. Sikhs must realize that modern day Sikhism is a colonial creation.

Pressure groups and vested interests will try make the Centre reverse decisions like CAA. The government must stand firm or it runs the risk of becoming a lame duck government till 2024.

Hope State governments and politicians stop playing lip service to farmer’s welfare and assume complete responsibility since agriculture is currently a State subject.

Shall always remember PM Modi’s apology, requires guts. Do not view apology as victory or defeat but focus on how to save Punjab!

Author is a Chartered Accountant and does not claim to be an expert on agricultureAll pictures by author. Article and pictures not to be used without specific written permission from

Also read

1. Repeal of farm laws: What the Modi govt gained and lost

2. A setback in the history of economic reforms

3. How the British divided Punjab into Hindu and Sikh

4. What is the problem in Punjab

5. What happened during the Khalistani Movement

6. What were the events that led to Operation Bluestar

7. Unity between Sanatan and Sikh Dharma

8. Pics Golden Temple or Hari Mandir

9. Pics Keshgarh Sahib Gurudwara where Khalsa was founded on 30 March 1699

10. Did Sikhs save Hinduism

11. Are Hinduism and Sikhism different religions

12. Why Dera Sacha Sauda draws followers

13.  CAA redeems historical promises

14. Guru Nanak on Babur invasion 

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