Why No Special Session for Farmers but for GST, Asks P Sainath

“In last 14 years, Parliament hasn’t found the time to discuss the report,” Sainath said. 

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There’s an agrarian crisis gripping our country and pushing the hands that feed us to commit suicide, says senior journalist P Sainath.

There has never been an urgent need to address this crisis more than now, and the hundreds of country’s farmers want the parliamentarians to listen, he points out.

Sainath, a renowned journalist known for his ground reports that focus on the plight of the farmers, has been participating in protest marches organised by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).

Speaking to The Quint, he says that the primary aim of the march was to draw the government’s attention towards the agrarian crisis in the country.

“The message behind this march is that people expect Parliament to work for the people and not just for the corporate world. When a special session of Parliament can be called for the rollout of GST, with virtually no notice, then why can’t one be called for the farmers’ issues,” he asks.

He says that the first Swaminathan commission report was submitted in 2004 – and the last in 2006 – which means that “in 14 years, Parliament has not found the time to discuss the report.”

“So, we demand a special session of Parliament on the agrarian crisis, and the related issues, which should run for at least three weeks as there are many issues to discuss,” he adds.

We also need to discuss the water crisis in the country, which is not just limited to droughts, he added.

“Senseless utilisation of resources is taking place. There are massive transfers of water from agriculture to industry, from village to the city, from food crop to cash crop, etc,” Sainath says.

He said that apart from the mentioned issues, there is an urgent need to discuss the declining public investment in agriculture.

‘Must Uphold Rights of Women Farmers’

Sainath says that there is also a need to engage with, and uphold the rights and needs of those who do the greatest amount of work in agriculture: The women farmers – both landed and landless.

“More than 60 percent of work in agriculture in India is done by farmers but we do not even give the status of farmers. (Instead) We call them farmers’ wives,” he said.

He said that another major differentiation of this protest was how seriously “the middle class is now taking the issues of farmers, after almost 20 years of indifference.”

“Be it Mumbai, Nashik or Delhi... doctors, teachers, and students from universities all over the country have come out in support of the farmers,” he says.

Sainath has been mobilising support for the farmers' march to Delhi, which has been organised in collaboration with over 200 farmers’ outfits.

Hundreds of farmers from different locations marched to Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan on Thursday, 29 November.

On Friday, 30 November, the farmers will walk from Ramlila Maidan to the Parliament Street to demand a Joint Session of Parliament to discuss the agrarian crisis.

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