National Affairs

Pandemic Not A Good Time For Farm Laws, Says Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee

Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee has said the coronavirus pandemic is not a good time to have a conversation about farm laws. He also advised the Centre to temporarily roll back the farm laws till the economy sees signs of recovery. Banerjee also said a “deep lack of trust” between the Centre and the farmers is one of the reasons behind the breakdown in talks. “I would say the pandemic is not a good time to have this conversation. The economy has shrunk. People don’t know what will happen to agriculture prices… either in the world in the next few years, or in India in particular,” he told.  Banerjee said that there is a general sense that the economy is in freefall and all these macro-economic concerns are feeding into people’s insecurities. He added that with a bumper crop and demand deficit this might be a good time for the government to say that they hear the farmers — not agree with them — but hear them and withdraw the laws till a parliamentary discussion can be held. Banerjee said that the laws must be temporarily rolled back till the economy is on the path of recovery and a more ‘parliamentary discussion’ can be arranged with the farmers who believe that the laws would leave them at the mercy of corporate interests. The Nobel laureate said that there is a deep lack of trust between the farmers and the Centre. “In general, I think there is a deep lack of trust and that is what keeps getting articulated. It’s not that they think, ‘Well, the government will eventually make it good for us.’ And that’s not unreasonable,” he said. He said the other reason for the breakdown in talks is that the government’s proposal is not fully spelt out. He said that farmers believe that they will be at the mercy of corporates but whether or not that will happen is anybody’s guess.

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