What’s happening right now?
On the 9th of August 2020, 5 months ago, begun the Indian farmers’ protest, an ongoing protest against three farm acts which were passed by the Parliament of India in September 2020.
Farmer unions and their representatives have demanded that the laws be repealed and tens of thousands of farmers from the northern states of India have marched to the capital city to protest these unjust farming reforms.
They have covered at least 5 major highways around the city, asking to be heard with peaceful protests, only to be met with tear gas and water cannons.
However, protestors have persevered and set up camp around Delhi, gathered at various border point.
Delhi has responded with war-like fortification, including iron rails, rods, barbed wire and boulders.
Most concerning are the makeshift walls used to barricade Delhi’s borders against the thousands of protesting farmers, likened to the fencing at international borders, a harrowing imitation of Trumps US and Mexico border.
The government are taking inhuman steps in attempts to control the protestors, including cutting electricity, shutting off water and shutting down the internet.
To add to this, the Indian media are working to silence farmers and those raising awareness online. Including the spreading of fake news. A large number of twitter accounts sharing information about the farmers protests have also been blocked, whilst journalists covering the protests on the ground have been arrested.
The government are violating human rights all in hopes of silencing agricultural workers, who, out of 1.4. billion people make up half of the labour force.
Despite the bitter cold and the police force, farmers are braving these conditions until theirs are met.
Why are farmers protesting?
- The new agricultural laws will leave farmers at the mercy of corporates, which will inevitably result in the end of Minimum Support Price (MSP)
(MSP is the rate at which the government buys crops from farmers in case they fail to sell it to middlemen – this acts as a protection for farmers. Protection that if they are stripped of, could be fatal.)
- This deregulation of the markets could lead to volatile prices for farmers and corporates will have an upper hand in fixing prices and resolving disputes in courts.
- Small farmers will be left in the lurch as corporates likely won’t deal with them
- The Mandi system will eventually collapse.
This all has to be considered within the context of the wider problem within the farming industry.
Since the days of the Green Revolution agriculture has gone from accounting for 50% of the economy to just 15%. This shrinking economy means that more than half of India’s farming households are in debt.
This growing debt has led to a suicide crisis.
For decades farmers have asked for reform and this has fallen on deaf ears. As a result of economic hardship, in the last 2 years alone, more than 20 thousand farmers have taken their life.
At a point where reform is so necessary, the Government have pivoted in the opposite direction. Instead of providing the much-needed protection for this vulnerable and shrinking community, they have introduced farming acts that leave farmers far more vulnerable to the exploitation by private companies, weakening their bargaining power, an action which seems to suggest a direction of dismantling them.
What do protestors want?
- The withdrawal of the three laws which deregulate the sale of their crops.
- Protect APMC markets (Mandis) where they can sell produce in a regulated environment
- Legal assurance of regulation of MSP so farmers can get fair price for their produce
What can you do? The most important thing you can do is educate yourselves and those around you on what is happening around the world, just like the Farmers Protests in India.
Learn the context behind the problems and bring those conversations into as many spaces as you can.