Experts weigh in at webinar hosted by IAPC
New York: “Media projection is more important on the farmers’ agitation in India; and as a responsible media club, Indo American Press Club is prompted to impact the mainstream western media for global narrative,” Ambassador Pradeep Kumar Kapoor said while presiding over the Zoom meeting hosted by IAPC on “What’s the truth behind the Indian Farmers Protest?” on 26th December 2020. It saw vibrant participation by diplomats and political analysts from different parts of the world.
Since 26 November, farmers have been protesting outside Delhi’s borders, demanding the Farm Bills’ repeal. It is a complex issue facing the nation.
In his introductory remarks, IAPC Chairman Dr. Joseph M. Chalil mentioned the series of discussions by world renowned experts on current topics including Indo-US Relationship under Biden-Harris administration.
Ambassador Pradeep Kapur, a bestselling author of ‘Beyond Covid 19 Pandemic’ and former Ambassador of India, led the discussion. He said that the struggle of the Indian farmers has gained much global attention, but remains unresolved. Instead of holding on to the ‘no discussions until repealing all the bill’ both the farmers and the government need direct discussion for an amicable settlement.
Yogesh Andley, Director, WHEELS Charitable Foundation, explained the background of APMC and the evolution of mandis nearly 50 years ago. He educated the audience as to how the rice and wheat procured at Rs.18 or Rs.19 reaches Rs.35 at retail level, but distributed at Rs.2 or Rs.3 providing food security to millions of Indians. He also expressed the fear of the farmers that the private sector may buy at higher prices in the beginning, but lower the prices dangerously.
Khanderao Kand, Director of the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS), a Washington DC-based think tank, elaborated about how the Indian situation has changed from a poor country to an exporter of food products like rice and wheat. He condensed the view that the Indian government is not closing the ‘Mandis’, but encouraging to open more local markets in each village. He stated that the farmers are afraid that the new laws will lead to contract farming and losing their farmlands to a few corporates eventually.
Vimal Goyal, CPA and businessman from Long Island, argued that it was the most comprehensive farmers’ bill after farmers were left behind and that this bill is going to promote an abundance of rice and wheat. He also mentioned that the poor farmers do not have resources of e-commerce or transporting facilities, and hence they are at the mercy of greedy private middlemen mostly.
Dr. Nishit Choksi, an Interventional Cardiologist from Michigan, asked: “Who is actually leading the protest – poor farmers or the greedy dalals? He said no development happened in Punjab or Haryana during the last 30 years, even though many rivers and dams were provided years back. He called new laws good for the nation and asked the Indian government to properly educate the farmers.
Narender Kapoor emphasized the urgency of the matter and warned against the agitation getting hijacked.
Dr. Shyam Klvekar from London urged that we need more communication with end-users. A Q&A session followed.
Dr. Renee Mehrra, a tenacious broadcaster, was the moderator and vote of thanks was presented by Ajay Ghosh, Founder President and a Director of IAPC.