14 Feb 2024

Farmers' Protest: Bharat Ratna awardee MS Swaminathan's daughter speaks about peasants agitation at IRAI event

Madhura Swaminathan, a Developmental Economist and daughter of renowned agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan, emphasized on Tuesday that Indian farmers, often referred to as "our annadatas" (food providers), should not be treated as criminals. She expressed concern about the response of the Haryana government to the ongoing farmers' protests.

Addressing an event organized by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in Delhi's Pusa, which celebrated the posthumous conferment of Bharat Ratna to her father, Madhura stressed the importance of including farmers in any future strategies. 

She referred to the current farmers' march from Punjab to Delhi and criticized the reported preparations, including jails and barricades, by the Haryana government. Madhura highlighted that farmers are not criminals but they are seeking to address their grievances.

Following inconclusive discussions with union ministers, farmers began their march towards Delhi on Tuesday, with various demands, including legal assurance for minimum support price (MSP), implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations, pensions for farmers, debt waiver, resolution of police cases, justice for victims of violence in Lakhimpur Kheri, restoration of the Land Acquisition Act 2013, withdrawal from the World Trade Organization, compensation for families of deceased farmers from previous protests, and more.

Scientists urged to engage with farmers

Madhura urged the leading scientists of India to engage with farmers, emphasizing that finding solutions and treating farmers with respect is essential. She connected this approach to honoring the legacy of MS Swaminathan.

Madhura Swaminathan is the head of the Economic Analysis Unit at the Indian Statistical Institute in Bengaluru.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Madhura shared a statement from MS Swaminathan, dated November 2021, expressing his happiness over the Union government's decision to repeal three contentious farm laws. MS Swaminathan, often regarded as the architect of the Green Revolution in India, passed away in September 2023 at the age of 98.

Former IARI director R B Singh highlighted that MS Swaminathan played a crucial role in formulating the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and advocating for its implementation. Singh recalled the pro-poor, pro-women, and pro-nature approach of Dr. Swaminathan, emphasizing the importance of supporting farmers for a secure future in agriculture and food security.

Another daughter of MS Swaminathan, Soumya Swaminathan, who serves as the Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO), also spoke at the event.

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