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Farmers' protests not against Farm bills, but due to lack of trust: Abhijit Banerjee

Haryana's BJP govt could be crucial in resolving the deadlock, says Nobel laureate

Abhijit-Banerjee-Kolkata-2-Salil-Bera [File] Abhijit Banerjee | Salil Bera

Nobel laureate and economist Abhijit Banerjee said the ongoing protests by farmer organisations have little to do with the content of the three farm laws passed by the Central government and have more to do with lack of trust. The farmers are essentially acting out of pure suspicion of the government's motive, LiveMint quoted Banerjee at the 18th edition of Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.

“It is not so much that you could not make a case for getting rid of many of these very old-fashioned institutions we have in the agriculture sector, we absolutely could, but the lack of trust is massive. The sudden cancelling of Centre’s liabilities under the GST Act does not help. You create these things and then you say we are going to have power delivered from top down and we are just going to take decisions. You can see that the states are lining up in partisan lines," he added.

“What they are saying is not that the reforms could not be good,” he noted. “They are saying that this is the thin end of the wedge...That something else, much worse, is about to happen.”

Banerjee also said that India's federal system has to live up to times. "At all levels, we have not adjusted to the scale. “We need much more federalism, the states are too big, the assembly constituencies are too big. Everything is off scale in my view. That’s a dip problem," he said. 

“This (the farm legislations) is a move at a time when states are feeling economically threatened because the economy is not delivering as much as it was earlier," he said. 

Responding to a separate question, Banerjee said that the role of the state government of Haryana could be crucial in resolving the deadlock, as the Bharatiya Janata Party is in power in the state and on the other hand, many of the Cabinet ministers come from farmer backgrounds.

Further, he said that he feels that the pandemic is not over yet with Covid-19 vaccines still far away. Banerjee said that it will take at least two quarters for the government to get everybody vaccinated.

On the state of the country’s economy, the Nobel laureate said that he doesn’t know “how quickly the recovery will be”.

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