Why Indian Farmers Are Protesting

Why Indian farmers are protesting - an inspirational uprising

An Inspirational Uprising

There’s been a topic in the news lately that has really hit close to home. I mean, really hit home. As a Canadian Punjabi, it saddens me to see that Indian farmers have been fighting for their rights for months, with no apparent progress. After all their activism, the Indian government has yet to acknowledge their concerns.

Rather, it has responded with violence and oppression. Despite the government backlash, protesters remain committed. Witnessing this from all the way in Canada, I can’t help but also feel inspired by the political action taken on by so many. Here they are organizing for their rights, motivated by a sense of justice and a desire to protect their future.

When the government fails to represent its people.

So What’s This All About?

There’s been an ongoing uproar in New Delhi for the past few months now. Thousands of Indian farmers went out into the streets to protest Prime Minister Modi’s new farming laws. Hailing primarily from Punjab and Haryana, for many of them, this reform threatens their only source of income. Why does a regulated market need to be free and open to private buyers? Especially one that is vulnerable to the affects of climate change.

From an environmental perspective, I’m genuinely concerned for the future. These new laws threaten the livelihood, and well-being of Indian farmers. Farmers are already a vulnerable group, as they face a plethora of issues daily. Specifically, the agricultural sector in India has experienced extreme monsoons, floods/cyclones, and droughts throughout the past few years. The new laws put additional pressure on an already vulnerable group. 

No! to these new laws that detrimentally impact Indian farmers!

What Do These New Laws Propose?

The Indian government is arguing that these laws would allow farmers to sell outside their previously established jurisdiction. The result? The farmers would be more profitable. The central government is stating that these laws help to prioritize the farmers. The supposed goal is to invest and strengthen infrastructure. Obviously, not everyone is convinced.

Given the history of the Modi government, farmers have little trust that the minimum support price (MSP) would remain untouched. This policy is integral to the conflicts. The proposed laws would give private corporations the upper hand in price negotiations.

If these laws are passed, Indian farmers would enter a free-for-all open market where they would be at the mercy of corporations and price collusions. Till now, the MSP has helped protect them from that. It acts as a ‘safety net’ for farmers. Indeed, it has already provided support and helped in job creation. Losing the MSP could therefore reverse the direct economic benefits for Indian farmers and the families they support. 

Canadian Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan, “The reports of peaceful protesters being brutalized in India are very troubling. Many of my constituents have family there and are worried about the safety of their loved ones. Healthy democracies allow peaceful protest. I urge those involved to uphold this fundamental right.”
From Harjit Sajjan’s Twitter feed. Click the image for more on protecting democracy.

Farming & Climate Change in India

About 58% of people in India are involved in the agriculture business. The changing environment is having a huge impact on profitability and stability for the future. The new laws would serve to undermine an already unprotected sector.

Agricultural leaders have also cited environmental factors as a cause of damage to crops year round. India is also a massive polluter, and environmental issues continue to keep farmers in a level of uncertainty.

Dr. Vandana Shiva Tweet, "Corporations have been trying to impose #freetrade #deregulation 
of #Agriculture since 1990s. Freedom for corporations translates into unfreedom for farmers & consumers. Farmers income collapse, 
consumer pricesincrease #PolarisationofPrices = superprofits for corporations."
From Dr. Vandana Shiva’s Twitter feed. Click the image for more from Dr. Shiva.

Some Lighter, Viral Moments

The farmers that set up camp in New Delhi have definitely protested in style. A few events even went viral on social media, and rightfully so. In the Sikh community, elders are placed on a pedestal. So, the support the farmers received really showcased the genuine respect and dedication to this cause from organizations worldwide. For example,

Relaxing foot massages:
Indian farmers take foot massage, set up by an international NGO, at Singhu border during their sit-in protest against the Centre's farm reform laws, in New Delhi. Leaders of farmer organizations participated in a day-long hunger strike.
Some Indian farmers being treated to a foot massage after a day-long hunger strike. Click the image for more. [Photo by Manvender Vashist/ PTI].
Freshly made pizza:
A pizza langar that was setup to feed protesting Indian farmers and boost morale has also been winning the internet.
A pizza langar that was setup to feed protesting Indian farmers & their boost morale has also been winning the internet. [Photo/Twitter].
A mall for all your basic necessities: 
Khalsa Aid sets up Kisan Mall at Tikri border to provide free items to protesting Indian farmers.
There’s even a mini mall set up to help support the protesters. [Photo/Reddit].

Non-Controversial Care

Prime Minister Modi seems to argue that real farmers don’t eat pizza ,so it’s all propaganda. The truth is that the Sikh community has always uplifted values of service and giving back. So for these hard-working, relentless farmers to have massage chairs, a functioning ‘mall’, and pizza is not so surprising at all! Punjabis tend to take very good care of their elderly.

Jagmeet Singh Tweet, “The violence perpetrated by the Indian govt against farmers peacefully protesting is appalling. I stand in solidarity with the farmers from Punjab and across India - and, I call on the Indian govt to engage in peaceful dialogue rather than violence.”
From Jagmeet Singh’s Twitter feed. Click the image to hear Jagmeet discuss the NDP’s Canadian climate plan.

What Can We Do?

Now that you’ve reached the end of this article, you’re probably wondering, “What can I do to help?” To start with, you’ve already become more educated on the topic, so good on you! However, as January drags on, Indian farmers face harsh winds, snow, rain, and the continued fear of possibly contracting Covid-19. If you can, making donation to one of the following organizations can help ensure you are assisting those who need it the most.

Aid Resources 

KhalsaAid International: A Sikh-led humanitarian group supplying food, money, and supplies to the protesting Indian farmers. 

Association For India’s Development: is a volunteer movement promoting sustainable, equitable and just development. AID supports grassroots organizations in India and initiates efforts in various interconnected spheres such as education, livelihoods, natural resources including land, water and energy, agriculture, health, women’s empowerment and social justice.

"Keep Going!" gif.

The Fight Goes On

The sad reality is that these Indian farmers are still out there! Even during the cold winter weather. The appointed leaders of the farmer organizations have rejected the government’s proposals and want to see the laws completely revoked. Until then, they will continue protesting peacefully, fighting for what they belief is right. I for one am inspired!

Editing by Marc-Antoni Tarondo.

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