Land Acquisition: Kurushetra for Modi Government

farmers

Land Acquisition Bill blindly targets every land owned by the farmers. It is an undeclared emergency in the country. Despite heavy losses, farmers are proud to practice their profession. They are the life saviors of India. Without food grains where will the nation go? The Western mentality of destroying India’s agriculture indirectly through liberal advice, think-tanks and professionals are easily listened by every person who is occupying the seat of power in New Delhi. Why our governing people lose their head and thinking capacity? Instead of acquiring farm lands for private development, government must encourage private investment in agriculture. Farmers must be given loans at lowest interest, subsidy, encourage organic farming, discourage heavy usage of fertilizers and pesticides. Wastelands must be used for industry. If wastelands in villages close to ports and railway stations are used then there is no need for agricultural lands.

If agriculture is saved; India is saved. If farmers are destroyed then the nation is destroyed. Why to confront the wise farmers who are passionate to save this nation?

Times of India writes on 24 February 2015

Acknowledging the growing storm of opposition unity to changes in land acquisition legislation, Prime Minister Modi has sought cooperation of all parties, saying that “in a democracy, there should be dialogue, discussion and positive outcome.” President Pranab Mukherjee too sought “cooperation” from all MPs, telling both Houses of Parliament that the land acquisition law had been “suitably refined” even as he declared that the government attaches “paramount importance to safeguard the interest of farmers and families affected by land acquisition”.

The ordinance on land acquisition was part of Modi’s initial push to kick-start domestic investments. Yet, just weeks after the sobering Delhi verdict and under attack from motley opposition parties as well as groups within the Sangh Parivar – who accuse it of being “anti-farmer” and “pro-industry” – there are signs that the government may take a conciliatory approach and meet opposition half-way. The PM’s wedding diplomacy in Saifai with Mulayam Singh Yadav and Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu’s meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi reflect this new approach.

BJP’s problem is that it supported the original land bill when in opposition. It has contributed as much as anybody else to the aura of piety around the bill. But the fact is that stringent conditions in the original bill hobble economic growth and state governments, across party lines, have complained that its clauses are unworkable in practice. If farmers get fair compensation for their land, they shouldn’t be seen universally as “victims” of land acquisition. And it’s quite plausible that their children will be happier with jobs in industry than having to till subdivided plots of land inherited from their parents. There should be no shame in course correction now and it’s the government that must bell the cat.

While there may be some give and take on the fine print, Modi must stick to his guns while deploying all of his diplomatic skills in bringing sections of the opposition on board. In a make-or-break budget session which will be a test case for his credentials as an economic reformer, the fate of land legislation is symbolic. If Modi blinks it will give a negative signal to industry which is impatient for big-ticket reforms. Restrictions on buying land are one of the key reasons holding up projects worth almost $300 billion and the PM must walk his talk.

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