As farmer protests against new farm laws entered the 24th day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said reforms brought by his government six months ago have started benefiting farmers.

“Farmers have begun to benefit from the agriculture reforms initiated six months ago,” he said without elaborating.

Hundreds of farmers from States like Punjab and Haryana have blocked some of the highways leading to Delhi for more than three weeks now against the new farm laws which they fear will prompt the Government to stop making direct crop purchases at minimum state-set prices, called minimum support price (MSP).

The Government, however, says the three new laws remove restrictions on marketing farm products and allow cultivators to engage with private companies to sell their crops. This, it says, allows farmers an alternate avenue to sell crops, raising their income, and is aimed at making farming more competitive.

Also, the new laws do not end MSP-based procurement and mandis would continue to function, the government has stressed several times.

From ’Why India’ to ‘Why Not India’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Centre has changed the world perception about the country from ‘why India’ to ‘why not India’.

Speaking at an Assocham convention, Modi highlighted reforms spanning from the manufacturing sector to labour to say India has during the last six years emerged as the world’s preferred destination for investment.

Record foreign direct investment (FDI) and foreign portfolio investment (FPI) during the pandemic is a testimony to the faith that the world now has in India, he said.

“There was a situation in the past when investors would question ‘why India’ (for investing in the country). With reforms (of past six years) and their effects, its proposition has changed to ‘why not India’,” he said.

He cited scrapping of 1,500 old and obsolete laws and farming new ones that in tune with the changing investment order as an example of his government’s outlook.

“Earlier investors cited high tax rates to say Why India but today (corporate) tax rates are so competitive that they say ‘why not India’,” he said.

Previously, a web of regulations and rules were cited by investors to ask why to invest in India but easing compliance burden in the new labour laws have made them say ‘why not India’, he said.

Red tape previously made investors say Why India but a red carpet is now making them say ‘why not India’, he said.

From a non-existent culture for innovation to a new ecosystem promoting and nurturing startups has given the world confidence to say ‘why not India’

“Earlier there was so much government interference that investors said ‘why India’ Today the faith reposed by the government in the private sector and encouragement of foreign investors have made the same people say ‘why not India’,” he said. He stated that new India is pushing towards AatmaNirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India).

The Government’s main focus is on manufacturing and production linked incentives have been given to boost domestic capabilities and capacity, he said.

The Prime Minister called on the industry to make all efforts to make India self-reliant.

“Reforms have changed global perception from ‘why India’ to ‘why not India’,” he said. “The world trusts the Indian economy. Record FDI and FPI during pandemic testimony of that.”

Modi asked the industry to adopt the best corporate governance and profit-sharing practices.

He also said investment in research and development (R&D) must be increased and the private sector must scale up investments.

“There is a great need to increase investment in R&D. In the US, 70 per cent of investments in R&D is done by the private sector, in India the same is done by the public sector. A big chunk of this is in the IT, pharma and transport sectors. Today the need is of increasing the private sector share of investment in R&D,” he said.

More R&D funds should be set aside across sectors such as agriculture, defence, space, energy, and construction.

“Today when we are on mission mode to make local-global, we have to react fast to geopolitical developments. A mechanism has to be developed to see how India can meet any sudden spurt in demand in the global supply chain,” he said adding there was a need for better coordination between the Ministry of External Affairs, Commerce and Trade, and industry associations.

“I would urge you to give suggestions on how to react fast and respond on global transformation, how better mechanism can be developed,” he told India Inc.