Updated August 14, 2022
Farmers’ Organizations to Influence Policy making is an important study if you are an aspiring civil servant. The large population of farmers in India is vulnerable to many adversities including nature’s blow and flawed policies. And, to make their voice heard by the policy makers the farmers often resort to one or another ways.
Public demonstrations, petitions, Rallies, supporting a particular party are few to cite among the methods employed. The recent year long protests of farmers’ organization causing reversal of Farm Bill 2020 is known to everyone.
The farmers’ Organizations are the groups of farmers which often come-forth to protect their own interest like MSP, Subsidies, Welfare Scheme for the farmers, procurement prices of agricultural products, fertiliser, tenancy rights, electricity charges, etc. Farmers’ organizations existed even before the Independence and their main aim is to influence the policies of the government.
All India Kisan Sabha (1936) a large organization for Indian farmers had prominent in pre-independence era. After Independence, several farmers’ organizations were formed to handle the issues of farmers like Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, All India Kisan Kamgar Sammelan, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Hind Kisan Panchayat etc. So, farmers’ organization is an effective institutional mechanism for self-help to overcome the economic and social hardships.
Methods of Farmers’ Organizations to Influence Policy Makers
There are many different ways through farmers’ organizations make the farmers’ voice heard by those in policy making and implementation. Let’s have a look into methods of Farmers’ Organizations to Influence Policy making in India.
Public Protests & Demonstrations
The farmers’ organization often chose strike, Bandh etc. to put pressure on the government to grab attention on their demand like Loan Waiver, High MSP etc. This method is carried out at the state or national level. Protests may take any form – from a peaceful gathering to competing elections against some unpopular politician or even bandhs and hartals.
Such methods help get media attention as well as the government’s attention. Sometimes these protests turn into the violent strike, as it happened in Madhya Pradesh a couple of years ago. In fact, protest always disrupts the general administration of the country. That is why this type of demonstration was carried out by the farmers for self-help to overcome the economic and social hardships.
Ex- (a) ‘Sansad Chalo’ from Sugarcane farmers demanding to clear of dues.
(b) In 1970, Zamindari union in Punjab carried out many strikes against the water rates, taxes.
(c) ‘Sansad Chalo‘ by Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) in Protest of Farm Laws of 2020
Undertaking Long March
In recent times, the long march of farmers to prominent cities has become a powerful method of voicing their issues. Recently, Mumbai was gheraoed by hundreds of thousands of peasants comprising various agrarian outfits. Or (a) Recently, farmers march by barefoot to Delhi under Bharatiya Kisan Sabha.
Supporting Political Parties in Election
The farmers’ organizations often support the political parties during the election time and sometimes even during the non-election times to meet their demands. Eg- Loan waiving in Karnataka and UP
Sometimes, some of the farmers’ organization contest the election. Raju Shetti, MP from Kolhapur and president of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, said general elections in 2019 will mainly be fought on issues related to agriculture and farmers. So, the task ahead is to create a farmer pressure group at the national level that could act as a major influence on policy decisions. Eg- Political outfits such as Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha Or Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana contest election in Maharashtra
Using Mass Media by Organization
Media is one of the major methods to come across the issues over the world and the pressure groups use it very efficiently. The experts and members of these farmers’ organization use mass and media to raise their issues and opinions. Through this, they have tried to influence public opinions.
Prayers and Petitions by Farmers’ Organizations
These Organisations through prayers and petitions to the legislators and executive draw attention towards various demands. Ex: Meeting Finance Minister during pre-budget discussions.
The farmers’ organization sometimes chose the method of making sensation to the strike, they gain public support by street drama, public specify campaign etc.
Lobbying- As One of The Organizational Methods
Lobbying is a powerful means for the farmers to influence the policy-makers for their own interest. They influence the policy-makers by telling their grievances and problem. They enforced the government to take attention to the issues. Recently in Maharashtra, the All India Kisan Sangh is striking for the rights of dairy farmers. eg- The price of Milk increased by Rs. 2 per litre by KMF after the protest.
Close Rapport with the State Apparatus
The agrarian pressure groups also maintain a close harmonious relationship with the State Apparatus, viz., the bureaucratic machinery. The more organised pressure groups maintain a wavelength with the key bureaucrats and executives in the framing of Agri. policies.
Effectiveness of Methods Used by Farmers’ Organization
Every action has a reaction and, so applies to the methods and measures adopted by farmers’ organizations. The protest and other actions from the end of the organizations are in some aspects very effective for objectives of farming community but in other areas these actions have feeble impact or they have undesirable fallouts.
Areas Where Methods have been Effective
It is not easy for any elected government to ignore the sentiments of the farming Community not only because farmers themselves are more in absolute numbers but also because those engaged in other occupations have strong roots related to farming.
(a) The overall impact on the landless or tillers of the soil has seen to be tremendous
(b) The farmers’ organization succeeded in many places i.e. increasing in wages rates for agricultural labourers and securing due share for poor peasants.
(c) Organised agrarian lobbies have exerted immense pressure on the government to improve the socio-economic position of the farmers. Hence various land reforms measures have been adopted since independence.
(d) The interventions of the pressure group led to major reforms consisting the abolition of Zamindari system, tenancy, reforms, a ceiling of land holdings, setting up of co-operative farms etc.
(e) As a result of these interventions, intermediaries between the actual cultivators and the states have been abolished.
(f) These organisations have enforced the government to realise the better prices for farm produces through policies like MSP and Agri. export policies etc.
Areas Where They have feeble or ill Impact
The overall influence of these groups is very less because of the politicization of movement and lack of proper organization and Unity. The organizations have limited territorial reach because of a fractured mandate, political party’s support, geography and various other factors.
These farmers’ organizations have become a tool for the vote bank politics and because of lack of a truly national organization since the last couple of decades, has rendered these organisations ineffective in their persuasiveness.
The interplay of language, caste factor, weak financial positions, etc. have been greatly responsible for non emergence of national-level pressure groups.
Farmers’ organised groups largely influence the administrative process rather than the formulation of policy. This created a gap between policy formulation and implementation.
Farmers’ Organizational Measure in Conclusion
The agrarian pressure group is crucial to resolve the core issues or the formulation of policies in farmers’ interest. Farmers’ Organizations have played a key role in putting farmers issues and problems in the public domain. However’ the methods by Farmers’ Organizations to Influence Policy making for redressal of the actual issues doesn’t seem much efficacious.
The organized group of farmers aiming to influence the public opinion or policies/ action of the government works as pressure groups. To date these groups are the only outfit to protect the interest of the farmers. And, although with lesser efficacy these legitimate organizations have crucial roles as saviour to the vulnerable agrarian community
It would be important to note that the emergence of farmers’ organizations in India became possible because of certain political and administrative changes. These include the abolition of Zamindari System, implementation of Panchayati Raj, land reform measures, Green Revolution Movement etc. We can hope that the farmers’ organizations will come up with other innovative ways to reach out to policy makers and thereby the effectiveness of measures would only grow.
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