What are the methods used by the farmers’ organisation to influence the policy-makers in India and how effective are these methods?
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Farmers’ organizations are seen as a useful organizational mechanism for mobilizing farmers’ collective self-help action aimed at improving their own economic and social situation and that of their communities. Such organizations are perceived to have the ability to generate resources, mobilise support and exert pressure with the help of their members. They operate at different levels from the local to the national.
Methods used by organizations
▪️Awareness generation: They try to gain public support and sympathy for their goals and their activities by carrying out information campaigns, organising meetings, filing petitions, etc. Most of these groups try to influence the media into giving more attention to these issues.
▪️Lobbying: Powerful farmers groups like sugarcane farmers of Maharashtra and UP try to influence policy making in their favour like getting favourable MSP and payment of arrears.
▪️Protest: They often organise protest activities like strikes or disrupting general administration. These protests of late have centred around issues like loan waiver, higher MSP, free electricity, etc. The recent farmers’ march to Delhi under the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh banner was such an example.
▪️Activism: This method includes publicizing important issues, petitioning courts, preparing draft legislation and gaining public attention in matters related to farmers like issues pertaining to GM crops.
▪️Recent trends: Farmers organisations recently have also employed innovative ways like spilling milk and vegetables on highways or appearing to consume dead rats, soil and urine at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar etc.
However, these moves have hardly bore the desired results:
▪️In a situation of impending unrest the government often takes to populist measures instead of employing a solution which is good for the nation and the farmers in the longer run.
▪️The government often takes short term respite such as farm loan waiver, higher MSP, cash transfers in farmers’ accounts, etc.
▪️Even if the government resorts to such populist measures its effective implementation is often absent. For example, rise in MSP is of no use if there lack of infrastructure to procure grains from the hinterland or if the masses are unaware of such a scheme.
▪️Moreover, several policy recommendations have not been implemented as the government is not fully aligned with the suggestions. For example, the Swaminathan Committee recommendations is yet to be fully implemented.
Thus, although organising the protest and mobilising support help in gaining the attention of the public and the government, it can be argued that they have resulted in little on the ground.