Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

Paddy field

The Contentious Anti-farmer Farm Laws are An Instance of Exploitative Corporatisation and Government Misrule in India

The idea of a corporate state is not new to India and there has been massive corporatisation in various sectors in the country. But the move that could prove to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back could be the attempt the present government is making to privatise the farm sector by giving an huge advantage to the corporate sector by way of the contentious farm laws which, whatever arguments its supporters may put up for it, are clearly meant to give a free run in the agricultural sector to the private players in the country. The government is clearly buying a political favour from the private sector leaders in return for the three new farm laws and one can make out that the leading private companies batting on the government’s side obviously get their fair share out of this whole corporate-government alliance. Contrary to its avowed spirit of nationalism which the government is promoting as part of its image building, it is quite evident the government most of the time only revels in its past electoral successes or keeps daydreaming of its future electoral prospects, for which it fully understands and bows down to corporate demands on the government.
Another feature of the attempt to stem the farm laws protest and consequently the use of various instruments which are available to the government to subdue the protests, the most appalling has been the internet shutdowns which have been enforced unabashedly by the ruling government. Like other instances of the same, the government this time, through its agency the Delhi Police, shut down the capital city’s internet for some time following the Red Fort protests by the farmers, affecting 52 million mobile phone subscribers in New Delhi. Such shutdowns have taken place in Kashmir earlier. Internet shutdown has become a tool in the hands of the government to control entire populations, and it did not matter to it that the shutdowns cost 2.8 billion dollars a year in India, which figure was 70% of the global cost of shutting off the internet in 2020, according to data available. Why is the government willing to foot this bill unless it has something in mind, which may not be necessarily issues like national security but something very political like staying in power? The ongoing farmers’ protests challenges the authenticity of the mandatory basic allegiance the government owes constitutionally under a democracy to the vast section of the population composed of farmers.
For those not fully aware of the idea of a corporate state, it’s a merger between the government which is supposed to be a public state and the corporate sector where the corporate controls the government and dictates terms. Natural resources meant for the public of the country, even basic resources like water, are owned by the corporate entities today. The bottling of drinking water at a huge cost to the consumer is an example of this corporate takeover, as if the government is not capable of providing drinking water at nominal cost, or else free, to the consumers. Drinking water of course is a glaring example of how the corporate with connivance of the government fleece the public of huge amounts of their hard earned money. The example of water is just the tip of the iceberg. Forest resources, minerals, oil, so many things are controlled and held by the government not because it wants to use them ideally for the larger welfare of the country’s citizenry, but only to contrarily amass wealth which they can use in the next elections to get back into power. To put it plainly it’s a vicious circle the government has generated and the masses in the country are caught in it because they are getting fooled into believing that the government’s tall promises will someday materialize for the good of the common man. It never happens, neither globally nor locally. So the least one can do as a people is to stop believing that the wealth amassed by the corporate helps the economy in any way; in the sense that the economy is supposed to improve the condition of the people, but it never has and in fact has made the mass of people in this country poorer by way of health and economic insecurity.
It is quite obvious that the farmers protest, mainly at the Delhi borders, and supported morally at other parts of the country and world is being treated by the government as a purely political gambit supposed to serve its and of course its corporate sector cronies’ interests implicit in furthering these laws. The laws have nothing to do with the often cited plans to improve the economic condition of the farmers. It’s purely business and everyone mature enough of course knows how money works; it does not regard even one’s family or friends, then how are the corporates which care only and solely for money are to be understood to respect the lives of the poor agricultural landholders of India. Of course the government cannot have such an oversight as not to understand the manner in which these new laws will put these small landholders at the mercy of the corporates. But it doesn’t want to reconsider its move against the farmers and otherwise too most policies and projects of the government betray this underlying arrogance.
The way the farmers protests have been handled by the government in recent months, and the way in which any decision on the rollback of the laws have been postponed for a year and a half, shows by itself that the government is more keen on keeping any terms that profit itself via the corporates intact, rather than stop the suffering of protesting farmers through winter chill, rains, and now sweltering heat. Already 248 farmers have succumbed through these over four months of protest. What the government has failed to gather most, in spite of being so vocal on its brand of nationalism through several years in power, is that India has a traditional economy especially in agriculture. We just cannot afford to introduce a systemised corporate marketing modelled on western premise because the vast fields in India look lush green and profitable only while the crops are occupying the vast, sweeping and open eye-catching land in the season they grow; and maybe that’s what the economic sense of the government and private corporates is limited to. The fact is the produce is not so much, landholdings are small, and population and poverty is a major factor in the country. People do not get much to eat and the food value is also not high like before when the food grains were traditional and not genetically manipulated. In these circumstances it would be suicidal not to revive traditional practices but to try and introduce alien agricultural and marketing practices that do not support nutritional content.
How can the government even think of introducing a corporate stake in these appalling conditions of countryside life in the country? If the government still goes ahead with its corporatisation plan in the agricultural sector in the country it will destroy whatever little community contact, culture, traditions and livelihood that has been preserved from the past across India. That would be a great and debilitating loss, for without a traditional livelihood the Indian economy which is still 70-80 percent farmer based will collapse taking the country down with it into an economic abyss and loss of characteristic identity.

Also Read