The Zero-sum Game Politics
It has been five months since the protests against the new Farm bills began. The protests have given the Modi government a pushback on their views of domestic agricultural policies with world leaders criticising the bills. Initially, the three acts expand the farmer’s scope of trading and prohibit state government from levying a market fee which would possibly, later on, result in a private agricultural monopoly
For the last month, the Union Government and several farmer unions have been engaging in talks but apparently, none of them succeeds in the way either party involved wants to. The lakhs of farmers protesting on the border of Delhi seem to be stubborn and unyielding. Over 70 people have lost their lives amidst the protests. It has also led to hatred against the Modi regime. The protests have also reached the Supreme Court of India and asked the government to put the laws on hold but they refused. On 4 January 2021, the court registered the first plea filed in favour of the protesting farmers.
The Indian Government did agree on two of the farmers’ demands, specifically the pollution laws and electricity ordinance but the farmers insisted on meeting all of their demands. It was another round of talks which happened to be unsuccessful in terms of coming to a mutually satisfactory agreement. But is that even possible?
A zero-sum game is a representation of a situation where the gain of one participant is balanced out of another participant’s loss. Diplomacy is one of the strongest suits of politics. It requires compromise and understanding between the two parties involved. In the case of our farmers, they are led by no superior authority other than themselves. Supported by people across the world, raising questions about the importance of agriculture and the role of farmers and how essential they are. There is no gain for them without the government’s loss.
The Modi government intends on transforming the agricultural sector with these new laws by introducing private players and by changing mechanisms of the system. There are on-going debates on newspaper columns and primetime news about if the farm laws are actually beneficial for the farmers. The government has its advantages by making a new system which would be better for India’s agricultural economy in the long-term. But it failed to cooperate with the foundations of the agricultural economy, the farmers. Clearly, the stance is strictly to meet their said demands but cooperation from the farmer’s side is also necessary as their responses and reactions to negotiations are firm and unchanged. They also oppose the Supreme Court ordered experts’ committee which they claim favours the farm bills and the Modi government.
There are two strong forces which are determined and wilful of their aspirations. Whichever decision is made in the future, it will strongly impact the minds of people and change their opinions about the farmers and the government. The upcoming months will show us how history will be written and what side it favours.