The Power of Communication
How does a society thrive and grow? By exchanging views, ideas, debating, delving deeper into issues, and finding a solution.
The nation also takes the same course to flourish. No wonder, democracies are rooted in communication and debate. The Parliament across the world is a debating platform for arriving at a consensus that the people's representatives think to be the best for the nation. Presidential Elections are based on debates. How did Modi come to power? Via initiating a communication channel with people via rallies, Augmented reality platforms. Till today, he uses ‘Maan Ki Baat’ to communicate with a large audience.
However, for reasons not clearly known during Farmers Agitation, both the parties, the agitating farmers and the Government are not communicating enough.
I know the Government will say that it is always ready for a dialogue but the farmers come with ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. The farmers will be cursing the government for not getting the crux of their problem. So where is the real problem? COMMUNICATION.
I don’t doubt Modi’s intent. He is a great reformer and surely wanted to impact the lives of farmers by bringing this much-needed bill. I have read the bill and have a fair amount of understanding of its pros and cons. Largely, it is a bill that will provide new impetus and improved earnings to 118.9 million cultivators across the country or 24.6% of the total workforce of over 481 million.
But then if PM Modi was doing something as momentous as this, surely he could have waited for a parliament session, debated the bill, and then taken the verdict ahead. I am not suggesting that this could have prevented the agitation but surely would have taken the bite out of it.
I know his apprehension of putting the bill up for debate was seeded in the debacle of the Land Reform Bill. But unlike the Land reform Bill, which was another historic bill that had to be aborted mid-way, this time the majority was on Modi's side, both, in the lower and the upper house.
Also, in a democracy, irrespective of your noble reformist mindset and good intentions, every such agenda needs to be debated and passed by the Parliament. After all, who would decide if an agenda is a reform or some ill-intended whim?
Also, akin to numerous other occasions, this time also BJP failed miserably in deciphering the bill for the grass-root level. Most of its spokesperson had no clue about the farm, farmer, or the bill. India is a humungous country. The issues of sugarcane farmers in western UP is entirely different from that of rice farmer of Kicha region, while the farmers of Punjab face the problem of overproduction the ones based out of Assam have a different story to tell.
Led by one of the greatest communicators of our times, PM Narendra Modi, his party BJP failed to communicate the inherent advantages of the bill. The party MPs, spokespersons should have opened public forums, discussing the bill, listing out its importance.
Let us explore the other side too, the farmer’s side. As per Agriculture Census 2015–16, the average size of landholding has declined to 1.08 hectare in 2015–16 as compared to 1.15 hectare in 2010–11. The small and marginal holding, less than 2 hectares now constitute 86%, while the large land holding, more than 10 hectares merely 0.57% of the total landholdings.
This one fact will give us a new perspective on this entire deadlock. The government needed to build a consensus amongst the 86% of the farmers as this bill was aimed at impacting their lives. As it did not, the broad-based effect of the bill was twisted by the 0.57% landowners who could see their clout slipping away. No wonder, this agitation is so well funded. When was the last time you saw farmer agitators getting pampered by massage chairs, pizza, and dry fruit?
As far as I can remember, the 3 pronged law is more or less based on the wish list of farmer leaders like Chaudhari Charan Singh, Mahendra Singh Tikait, and on the manifestos of political parties like AAP and Congress.
So what is the problem? This social bill like many others, CAA, Triple Talak, Land reform, abrogation of 370 comes with a political jagged edge. In a democracy, communication is the only way to smoothen jagged edges. Of course, the other way being the ordinance route.
The choice is clear. Without robust communication machinery, can this government implement reforms that impact nearly one-third of our population? Why can’t it have debates on public forums? Why can’t both parties have a series of debates, televised live, and let the nation decide?
What scares me is that with the UCC bill around the corner, if BJP fails to get its comm structure in order, the results could be devastating. As far as this agitation is concerned, the solution lies buried somewhere in the annals of political management.