Saturday, September 30, 2023

Farm Law controversy: How Indian farmers challenging problems and getting things done


After a yearlong protest, Indian farmers have come out victorious in forcing the government to repeal the controversial Farm Laws. The farmers have shown an indomitable stance against Farm Laws despite the adversaries. Here is the what, why, when and how of the much-discussed farmers’ protest that drew the attention of the whole world.

“It’s the battle won, not the final victory”, says Gurjeet Singh, a protesting farmer as he and his ‘partners in crime’ assembled at the Singhu border with boondis, samosas and merry dancing moves. To give a little context, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared repealing of the Farm Law on 20th November.

The 3 Farm Laws that were introduced and passed right in the middle of the pandemic about a year ago faced massive challenges from farmers who came down to the capital city and demanded its withdrawal. Otherwise, they would stay back in the borders and go on indefinite protest until the government withdraws the bill. And the government was compelled to. Although the Prime Minister frames it as ‘failed to persuade a section of our farmer brothers’.

Main aaj deshvaasiyon se kshama mangtey huye, sachhe mann se aur pavira hridaya se kehna chahta hoon ki shayad humarai tapasya mein hi koi kami rahi hogi jsk karan diye ki prakash jaisa satya kuchh Kisan bhaiyaan ko hum samjha nahi paya

~ Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Although Modi delves more into the government’s ‘failure to persuade’ their ‘farmer brothers’, isn’t the gaslighting too prominent? The yearlong oppressive operations that the government tried and tested to shun the farmers were not the best way to persuade them. Barricades were formed, trenches were dug and even public toilets were exempted from use.

The list just doesn’t end here. They cut the power and water supplies and threatened the farmers to evacuate the space. They did not shy away from even putting nails on the roads and barricades to prevent cars from entering. Wonder why such persuasion tactics failed to bring the farmers in confidence! The farmers stayed back and stood tall against all odds. And the odds included witnessing the death of over 700 farmers.

The demands were very pristine: Roll back the farm laws because they would shift the authority over market prices to the private companies and put the farmers’ rights at stake. The indefinite yearlong protest of farmers brought forth the agronomical crisis, something which is seldom talked about.

Although the government has legally agreed to discontinue the farm acts, farmers have reinforced the implementation of legal MSP of all agricultural crops. They have further demanded that the criminal charges pressed against them on several courses of agitation be withdrawn. Most importantly, what happens to the 700 farmers at Lakhimpur Kheri who were run over by the minister’s son? The demand for justified compensation to those families still stands.

Farm bill farm law

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha have reminded us that their demands to the Central Government were not limited to the withdrawal of farm laws but also to guarantee the remunerative price for all the agricultural produce and for all farmers. The Electricity Amendment Bill 2021 must also be revoked.

M K Stalin, Chief Minister of Tami Nadu has expressed his concern over this issue saying this Bill would de-license the public network of power distribution, allowing the private companies to play monopoly over the public network of power and restrict its use among their consumers. With so much on the plate, the farmers’ unions are marching towards a bigger movement, a greater fight against the rapid privatization in the name of urbanization and progress.

The rate of women farmers in India is as high as 84% yet they are always overshadowed.

The Kisan Movement stands tall for so many reasons. The rate of women farmers in India is as high as 84% yet they are always overshadowed. This movement brought forth the voices of women, their fights and their shared struggles. They are seen dancing with red flags and pride in their eyes because this movement belongs to them as much as it does to the men.

This movement also belongs to the activists who were unlawfully put behind the bars for protesting against this kaala kanoon. The farmers organized langars and served food and shelter to those who visited the sites will be a permanent picture in the history of India in the name of Sovereignty and  Republic. This movement stands as a testimonial to reclaim rights and dare to dissent. The land of Khudiram, Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar reimagined.

Amidst the joyous victory and its rightful celebration, a grave concern still looms around – The intended silence of the Indian Media that refuses to shed light on the janta’s voices and grievances. The idea of two India can be broadly visualized if you zoom out Media accusing farmers of becoming anti-nationals and ‘Khalistanis’ whereas farmers along with students and activists challenging the undemocratic and unfair system of the country. This Jang, this fight and its unprecedented victory have clearly shown, As P Sainath says, ‘Farmers win on many fronts, Media fails on all.’

Let the farmers be given the mileage and support as they prepare for a bigger movement. The march to victory has just started.

Also Read: Farm bill debate: Are small scale farmers benefiting from the existing structure?

(Ankita Paul is a student of Masters in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University and a Teach For India fellow.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)


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