FARMERS' LIVELIHOODS ARE THREATENED
Current status: heightened police presence & brutality, journalist arrests, cement walls & barbed wires locking farmers out of Delhi capital! Twitter shutting down pro-farmer accounts!
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Why are farmers protesting?
More than 400 farmer organisations in India, mainly from the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have united in forming a peaceful protest in response to three different farm laws passed by the Prime Minister - Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Jayanta Party (BJP).
These farm laws, which were passed controversially in India’s parliament, seek to implement certain ordinances which will, essentially, leave the agricultural markets at the behest of private organisations.
Unfortunately, this will lead to exploitation on a mass scale, leaving farmers to be exploited when it comes to selling their produce. With farmer rates of suicide already at their highest, in India - these ordinances will only exacerbate the traumatic and impoverished state of farmers across the country.
When peacefully protesting, farmers were met with tear gas, water cannons and roads which had been dug up by government contractors. Nothing stopped the farmers from reaching the border near Delhi.
For an unbiased, informative and factual background on the situation, with accurate English subtitles, please watch the three following videos – in the correct order.
1. Why are farmers protesting?
2. How did the bills pass through parliament? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9IjiW5pULc
3. The role of the media and the current situation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kmDsLp0xnw
What are the farmer's demands?
Farmers, who continue to peacefully protest near the border of Delhi, have a few demands.
Most importantly, they want all three laws to be repealed with immediate effect as they fear these ordinances are in the interest of privatisation and corporations.
However, the government claims that transforming the agricultural market into a freer market will be beneficial. However, the model the Indian government seems to be following has failed in Western Countries such as America and France.
Furthermore, farmers want a guarantee that a MSP (minimum support price) is established and enacted in law to protect them and their livelihood. This MSP will guarantee a ‘fair price’ for when their crops are procured.
There are also other demands from the farmers, including the withdrawal of an Electricity Amendment Bill as farmers would no longer benefit from support such as free electricity. They also want to end the sentences of jail and fines for stubble burning. Farmers want these demands to be met and negotiations are currently ongoing.
Unfortunately, it seems that the government is adamant that they will not withdraw these three laws. At the same time, the farmers are adamant that they will not withdraw from their peaceful protest.
The situation is currently at a standstill and close attention needs to be paid to avoiding nationalist media as attempts have been made to divide and malign a peaceful protest.
Why does this issue matter?
No farmers. No food.
This slogan has been at the forefront of the protest movement.
Farmers account for around of 50% of India’s workforce. Their livelihood matters to all of us as the food we consume every day is produced through their diligent work. Farmers are the backbone of India. And, quite frankly, they are the providers for all of humankind around the world.
Most of these farmers already live in impoverished areas. They are already struggling with harvesting and maintaining their produce. They are already struggling with debt. They are already struggling to support their family.
What will they be able to leave behind for their next generation?