Fact Check

When a Few Journalists Became Economical with The Truth – Putting Sense in a Snippet by Sushma Swaraj

Agriculture

Even as the two bills related to agriculture reforms were passed, no thanks to unruly opposition, we had several propaganda peddlers of Lutyens New Delhi putting out ‘facts’ by editing speeches of the late Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj ‘supporting’ APMCs and criticizing the government of the day led by Dr. Manmohan Singh for ‘bringing reforms’.

Before such blasts from the past are seen, it is important to note one thing. People who engage in fisticuffs everywhere claim to be journalists and objective fact providers. That in itself is a laughable assertion.

Having said that, it is important that people not get misled by such clever editing. The entire speech of Mrs. Swaraj is available on the internet. It was perhaps part malicious propaganda and part poor knowledge of Hindi that prompts propaganda peddlers to put out cropped portions without giving access to the viewers and readers access to the whole truth. We at The True Picture however are committed to put out certain facts that put this in perspective.

The speech is from 2012. Mrs. Swaraj starts off by remarking the pullback on the government’s promise to take all parties on board before the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail is introduced. In this speech Mrs. Swaraj highlighted challenges that the government had failed to address in its attempts of reforming agriculture. First, the government did not want to abdicate its responsibility towards farmers by getting rid of the entire minimum support price (MSP) mechanism altogether. This is where the Modi government has ensured that the floor price can not at any circumstance fall below the MSP especially for cereals. Moreover, with the inter state trade of items, farmers are now free to sell wherever they want to. What had stopped the government of the day from introducing such a provision?

Secondly, Mrs. Swaraj has actually said that the APMC system was flawed right before she went on to say what these propaganda peddlers have tried to say. However, her purpose was starkly different to the opposition being put out- these agents and middlemen served as the unofficial banking system of the country. They act, in Mrs. Swaraj’s words, as the farmers’ ATMs. That is Congress and its leaders’ gift to India in the past seven decades – an extremely excluded society. Financial inclusion has finally seen the light of the day with more than 40 crore people getting Jan Dhan bank accounts. With the bank now going to the people and penetration of rural services improving thanks to bank correspondents, the need to depend on middlemen agents can become a thing of the past in due course of time as the unofficial banking system of Indian farmers.

Third, when Mrs. Swaraj says that you cannot end middlemen by these reforms, she was right. The attempt of the Congress government has never been to allow farmers to sell wherever they wish to. This is where the Modi government has actually changed the tide and the narrative – it has given farmers the right to choose where, to whom and when to sell, something that was literally unthinkable in public conscience. The revolution ongoing with the ordinance and now the act itself is evident in numbers reported in the media, and speaks for itself.

Therefore viewers, think twice before you buy the words of North Korean styled Lutyens propagandists on the farm bill. See the video for yourself and reflect upon the wise words of Mrs. Swaraj, and reflect on how Mr. Modi’s government has actually addressed her concerns thoroughly. It is sad to note though that those who preach to the right wing not to rake up the words of the dead never desist from doing it themselves to score cheap debating points.

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