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Explaining Indian farmer protest for dummies

Explaining Indian farmer protest for dummies

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What’s happening:

Thousands of farmers have entered the capital New Delhi for a planned protest against new farm laws hours after the police fired several rounds of tear gas and used water cannons to stop the Dilli Chalo (Go to Delhi) march.

More than 300,000 farmers marched from the states of Punjab and Haryana – on foot and in convoys of tractors – at the weekend to reach the Indian capital for what they described as a “decisive battle” with the central government. These protests are a reaction to a pro-market bill which was introduced by Home Minister, Amit Shah.

Pro-Market Bill

In the simplest form , these pro-market bills, passed by India’s parliament, make it easier for farmers to sell their produce directly to private buyers and enter into a contract with private companies. The government hopes private sector investments will stimulate growth

These laws will also allow traders to stock food items. Hoarding food items for the purpose of making a profit was a criminal offence in India.

“Black law” and  “Pro-corporate” 

The main opposition Congress party has called the bills “black law” and “pro-corporate”. Its top leader Rahul Gandhi accuses Modi of 

“making farmers ‘slaves’ of the capitalists…”.

While talking to reporters Rashpinder Singh, a farmer from north Punjab said, 

Government officials have said that farmers can sell their produce to whoever they want, whenever they want. How can a small farmer store his produce for months on end? He will not have access to storage facilities. As a result, it is very likely that the produce will be sold at a rate which is unsustainable for the farmer.

The bills further state that farmers can come into an agreement with private companies. Such deals are financially attractive but because there are so many terms and conditions attached, it is difficult for a farmer to cope with them. You become the slave of the company. This fight is not just about economics, but also our right to grow what we want and our self-respect.

Government’s reaction:

Police in New Delhi’s neighbouring state of Haryana, governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the farmers who tried to march towards New Delhi on foot, in buses and tractors, NDTV news channel reported

Lack of media coverage: 

Either Media has not covered the protest whatsoever or declared these farmers as terrorists and anarchists. “Do we have any weapons?” asked 26-year-old Prabhjit Singh, a farmer from Ludhiana in Punjab. “On whose behalf are they saying that we are terrorists? We are farmers, educated farmers.”

He explained why accurate reporting was essential. “The day the stock limit gets over, that is the day the common man will die,” he said. He was referring to the provision in one of the new laws that lifts limits on the quantities of stocks of essential commodities like cereals and pulses that traders can hold.

“The common man is not yet aware of how this will impact them and the national media is not showing it.”

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