Newly-elected chairman of industry chamber Ficci has said that the right to protest must be exercised to resolve a problem and not to perpetuate a deadlock disturbing normal lives of other persons, as the farmers' agitation against the three new farm laws entered the 28th day on Wednesday.
Protesting farmer unions deferred a decision on the central government's offer for fresh talks to Wednesday, even as Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday expressed hope that they will soon resume dialogue to resolve the impasse over the new agri laws.
Responding to a question on the ongoing agitation of farmers in support of their demand for repeal of the three farm laws, Ficci Chairman Uday Shankar said most importantly, there is a need to have a dialogue in a constructive framework.
"I do fail to understand that on the one hand everybody believes that the farm sector is one of the least reformed sectors, we need to raise the agricultural output, the yields, we need to increase the income of the people who depend on the farm sector including the landowners as well as those who work in the farm sector, we need to unlock the flow of capital," he said.
He said India is a very heterogenous democracy and people have the right to express their dissent and raise their point of view.
"I have two views on that. First of all, somebody's protest should not paralyse other people's normal life. While we must respect the right of the people to protest, we must also respect the right of the people to conduct their normal lives and business. Protests do not mean holding something to ransom and that is very important," Shankar said.
He observed that protests and expression of all points of view should be done "with the spirit of resolving the problem rather than just perpetuating a deadlock. That is not good and does not help anyone. Farmers don't benefit from it and while they must raise all their concerns, those should be done with a mindset that we want to resolve the issues, address the concerns and move on".
Farmers from different parts of the country, including Haryana and Punjab, have been camping at various border points of Delhi for more than three weeks to demand repeal of three recent farm laws.
Responding to questions on the economy, Shankar said given the shock that the country has gone through on the supply and demand side, the larger social shock, the health destabilisation and disruption on account of the pandemic is enormous and considering that "we faced the brunt of it for so many months, the economy seems to be making a very robust recovery".
"But these are still early days, we are seeing the green shoots and those green shoots are very promising. There are sectors of the economy where we are seeing expansion. We are seeing a recovery of demand but there are still a large number of areas where we need to make sure that the revival is better.
"So whether it is sub sectors of the service industry, sectors like tourism, travel, aviation, etc. and many of those, they still need stimulus and support and policy reform to make sure that we come back," he said.
To a question related to the forthcoming Union Budget, Shankar said the government must look at ways to raise resources and FICCI has suggested that probably there could be an opportunity to pledge some of the PSU shares with the likes of the RBI, as with such a measure it can raise as much as Rs 5 lakh crore of extra resources that could be very useful to support investment.
"I am one of those who believe that fixing or management of the economy is not a silver bullet exercise and that silver bullet cannot be the Budget. Budget is a strong device and strong indicator of how government is looking at the larger economy but it is an ongoing process," he said.
When asked about violence at Wistron's iPhone manufacturing plant at Narsapura in Kolar district of Karnataka, the FICCI president such incidents are really unfortunate.
"As we all know these things sometimes tend to get out of hand and you really have to examine deeply how much of it was avoidable accident and how much of it was deliberate mischief and there is often more than one reason behind all this.
"But all I would say is that at a time when the country is trying to rebuild itself, this kind of message is not really great and it is strictly avoidable," he said.
Shankar further said he has a larger point to make on all this.
"We have to have a national consensus around some issues and one of the foremost issues is, what is the vision for the country. Are we going to continue to pull each other down just because it is in our short term selfish interest or there are some areas like the growth of this country and creating opportunities and resources for the larger population of this country," he said.
"Is that going to be an issue of bipartisan consensus because countries that have grown rapidly have created a consensus around growth and I worry that in this country we are making everything into a matter of selfish debate," Shankar added.
Workers at Wistron's iPhone manufacturing plant at Narsapura in Kolar district had gone on a rampage on December 12 over the alleged delay in payment of salary and overtime wages.