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The Farmers' Protests 2020


India is seeing the world's biggest protest unfold, curiously it is a peaceful one. To understand these protests one has to take a journey through India’s independence to Modern Day “Hindustan”

India has always been an economy dependent on its agricultural produce, its geography and vast expanse of area allowed a multitude of crops to grow sustaining everyone who resides here this is also probably why one has heard “Bharat ek krishi pradhan desh hai” and the popular slogan from back in the day, “Jay Jawan, Jay Kisan” which can still be heard every so often.

Apparently to combat the issues in the above video, the current Government brought the following three laws, it should be noted however that most other parties had these laws or something similar to them in their manifestos with the notable exception of the Communist Parties.

If you wish to understand the current protests in India in more depth, you have to understand the history of this situation. This problem, rooted during British rule, is one that has lead to the events spanning the last few months. Learn more about the history of the AMPC, MSP & Zamindari System by clicking this link and watching the video.


The Legal Matter:

These are the 3 acts introduced :

  1. The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 is an act of the Indian Government, permits intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce beyond the physical premises of ​Agricultural Produce Market Committee​ (APMC) ​market yards​ and other markets notified under state APMC Acts.

  2. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 is an act that creates a national framework for ​contract farming​ through an agreement between a farmer and a buyer before the production or rearing of any farm produce.

  3. Essential Commodities Amendment act: In accordance to this amendment, the supply of certain foodstuffs — including cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, potato — can be regulated only under extraordinary circumstances, which include an extraordinary price rise, war, famine, and natural calamity of a severe nature.

These new laws have not been popular and there are a few reasons why:

  1. Most farmers are worried about MSP, they want the Modi Government to state that MSP would remain a thing in the APMCs. Some also want the MSP to cover all food crops.

  2. However the more sinister accusation and which is most probably true is that these new laws allow heavy privatisation of the agriculture industry. By incentivising purchase of goods outside of Mandis by the virtue of making them tax free the government has openly called private players to monopolise the agriculture business. This would not only cause huge supply demand issues but also cause huge markups whilst ripping off farmers. The MSP would basically disappear as there would be no regulation over trade and farmers would suffer even more.

  3. There also is a hidden provision under these laws which applies to contract farming, it says in rather ambiguous terms that if any person associated with the corporate/contractor the farmer would not be able to go to court instead would have to go to a DM or other IAS based authorities. This is a serious blow to the legal institutions of India and the current government seems to have gotten off scot free on this issue.

Response to the Laws:

Government:

The Modi government has repeatedly advised the farmers and corroborated with farmers that they should not worry as these laws do benefit them and safeguard the constitution. PM Modi also in a national statement advised and requested the opposition parties to not mislead the farmers with false claims and interpretations of the laws. The Government is advocating for 1 India 1 Market however it doesn't seem to understand the ground reality that farmers don't cross their states to go to another far flung one to sell their produce.

Opposition Parties:

The farmers have received support from far and wide, be that within the borders or outside and for the first time in a long 5-6 years the opposition has shown that it still has a vital role to play in the Indian Democracy, not only that but this has also brought back faith in mass scale protests. The Communist Parties have a staunch anti-capitalist/neo-liberal stance on the matter calling for repealing all of these laws however unfortunately they have been vilified by the current puppet media. The INC and Co. have also extended their support to repealing these laws however it's curious that this is the same party which seemed to promise similar proposals in their manifesto.

Farmers and Indian public:

Nationwide protests to repeal these laws took place. Farmer and union committees organized rallies and discussions The next topic talks more about the protests currently going on. The Indian Public right now seems to be split in 2, the rationalists and the dogmatics, The Dogmatics claim to understand and just so happen to support every single decision of the current Government mostly because the INC has let them down for the last 70 years. The Rationalists

understand that the laws are flawed and so is the system but they also know that to clear one patch of land you don't burn the entire forest.

Farmers protest

Not long after the demonstrations were presented, associations started holding nearby rallies and protests, generally in Punjab. Following two months of fights, farmers mostly from the states of Punjab, Rajasthan, and Haryana started a movement named 'Dilli Chalo', in which a huge number of farmers walked towards the country's capital. On 26 November, a cross country general strike that supposedly around 250 million people protested for the plight of the farmers as per the worker's organizations and farmer unions that coordinated the protests. On 30th November, an expected number of around 200,000 to 300,000 farmers were met at different points of the derwhile in transit to Delhi.

More than 500 Farmer associations have been dissenting. Transport associations spoke to more than 14 million driver drivers and have turned out on the side of the farmers and warned the government of India that they'd stop working and functioning in several states of India if the farmers’ demands were not met. After the public authority neglected to acknowledge the Farmers' requests during formal discussions on 4th December, the Farmers wanted to increase the activity to another India-wide strike on 8th December 2020. Although the frigid winter of Delhi is affecting the farmers’ living conditions, it does not affect and put out the fire for justice and equality in their minds.

Our Opinion:

The Protest have done one thing at the very least, they have instilled hope in a rather dystopian India, they have shown us that yes there is still some space for democracy. If they achieve their goal or not stands to be a completely different matter. It's dangerous to see the growing trend of 1 India 1 something, who knows right now its 1 India 1 Market, tomorrow it may be 1 India 1 Faith and then 1 India 1 party. The current government, whatever our personal feelings are towards them have done one good thing they have tried to bring in change, much required change perhaps, not in the right direction but at least they have tried. There still seems to be a disconnect between the people of India and the rulers of India, something which we will hopefully overcome.

~ Aadi Sardesai & Amey Parekh



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