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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Freshly made pizza:
A mall for all your basic necessities:
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.
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.
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.
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.