Given the coronavirus pandemic and the current state of India's economy, the government should consider a temporary withdrawal of the three farm laws, until some significant signs of recovery are not seen, Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee told NDTV.
"I would say the pandemic is not a good time to have this conversation (about farm laws). The economy has shrunk. People don't know what will happen to agriculture prices... either in the world in the next few years, or in India in particular. There is a sense the economy is in freefall. All these macroeconomic concerns feedback into people's insecurity," he said.
Responding to a question on why there has not been any conclusive verdict on the issues, Banerjee said the 'deep lack of trust' of the farmers in the government is one of the major reasons for the breakdown of talks. It's not that they think, 'Well, the government will eventually make it good for us'," he said, adding that it's not unreasonable on their part.
Listing the other reason, the professor said that the government has not fully detailed their proposal. Currently, farmers fear that they might be handed over to the corporates and heavily depend on them. The government hasn't even responded to the steps it will take to deal with the worst-case scenarios.
He said the farmers are insecure, and with a cash crop and demand deficit, this may be a good time for the government to extend a helping hand. "People are feeling insecure... and with a bumper crop and demand deficit, this may be a good time for the government to say, 'We hear you. We don't agree, but we hear you, and we are going to withdraw this until we have a parliamentary discussion'," he said.
The ongoing farmers' protest has entered the 19th day, with thousands of them protesting against the new Agri laws, while the government holds out hope.