Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Image: Twitter/@BJP4India)
Amidst raging protests by farmers on the borders of Delhi and other parts of the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the farm sector reforms passed by Parliament earlier this year, and said that these laws will lead to rising income for farmers and break down barriers between agriculture and other sectors.
“If you place barriers, which previous governments did, an industry or sector cannot grow. The recent agriculture reforms are a part of that barrier-breaking process. We are removing the barriers within the agriculture sector as well, be it agriculture infrastructure, food processing, storage and cold chain,” the Prime Minister said on Saturday while addressing the annual general meeting of industry body FICCI.
“Farmers will have access to new markets, thier incomes will improve, the country’s cold storage infrastructure will modernize. The biggest beneficiaries will be country’s farmers, especially the small and marginal farmers,” Modi said.
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Modi’s statement comes amid a standoff between the government and the farmers who are protesting for last two weeks demanding a repeal of recently passed farm laws. Thousands of farmers have been protesting on various borders of the national capital, and claim that the new laws wre aimed at benefiting corporates by weakening the mandi system and the minimum support price (MSP) regime for procurement of farm produce.
The government has said that it will give a written assurance that the existing Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime for procurement will continue, and that some of the provisions of the laws will be diluted.
The farmers, mostly from the states of Punjab and Haryana, have said that the protests will continue and intensify.
The Centre has said that an amendment can be made wherein state governments can register the traders operating outside mandis. States can also impose tax and cess as they used in APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) on private mandis set up outside the regular APMCs.
On concerns that farmers may be duped as anyone having just a pan card is allowed to trade outside APMC mandis, the government said the states can be given the power to register such traders and make rules keeping in mind the local situation of farmers.
Speaking at the FICCI event, Prime Minister Modi also urged industry and entrepreneurs to invest more in the rural economy and smaller towns and cities.
“Rural India today has more active internet users than urban India, most of the start-ups are from Tier 2 and 3 cities. I request industry to invest more in rural and semi rural sector. 21st centry India’s economic growth will be powered by villages and small towns,” Modi said.
Talking about green shoots in the economy in a pandemic year, Modi said that foreign investors have done record investments in India in the last six years and everyone is working to strengthen the Atmanirbhar Bharat. He said that the country's economic indicators are "encouraging" and it has the road map for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic situation.
"From manufacturing to MSME, agriculture to technology, there has been all around reforms and the corporate tax is the most competitive in the world. Be it mining, defence or space new opportunities are popping up and in a vibrant economy when one sector grows it impacts others as well," Modi said.
Talking about the Atmanirbhara Bharat campaign Modi said "we want infant industries in India to become independent and therefore Production Linked Incentive Scheme has been launched for those sectors which can make India a global champion."
"A decisive government reduces hurdles for others. The job of a decisive govt is to contribute as much as possible to the people of the country. India has a market, manpower, and capability to work with a mission mode. During pandemic we have seen how working together can help others as well," Modi added.