It has been six months since farmers from across Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh rose in an epic and mostly peaceful struggle against three farm laws rushed through hastily in Parliament last autumn by the Modi government.
As important as what they’re fighting for is how they need chosen to fight. The protest sites are luminous with their displays of solidarity and resolve. within the course of this struggle, the farmers have developed their own idiom of resistance, combining Gandhian non-violent satyagraha with the pledges of freedom, equality and fraternity of the Constitution and have woven into these the iridescent traditions of sewa or service from Sikh teachings.They are convinced that these new laws, if operationalised, will sound the death-knell for the Indian farmer. The laws would go away them exposed and powerless before colossal corporate muscle, because the state would retreat from its role in ensuring remunerative prices for his or her farm produce.
The Union government has skilled the protests with its well-practised playlist for crushing all peaceful and democratic dissent, by ignoring the protests hoping that they might be wearied into a retreat, by blocking the free movement of the protestors, by refusing to barter with the protestors and by discrediting and criminalising the protests as violent and insurrectionary.
But none of those has worked. The farmers remain determined to stick with their struggle until the farm laws are withdrawn, however long this might take.Indian agriculture secures livelihoods, at mostly bare levels of survival, to quite half the Indian workforce, yet it’s slipped over many decades into the dark abyss of glacially slow growth, very low public investments, a possibly irreversible agro-ecological crisis, uncertain and unremunerative prices for his or her produce, the preponderance of very small holdings, massive landlessness and share-cropping, a continued dependence of most farmers on fickle monsoons, and debilitating indebtedness.
The despair and penury of the countryside thus far manifested itself mostly within the tragic and shameful steep rising graph of farmers’ suicides, and an ever-swelling exodus from villages to lowest-end add inhospitable cities.
Nothing therefore had prepared the govt for the size , power and determination of the farmers’ protests against the three farm laws. Nothing had prepared them for the steely resolve of the farmers. Something had broken for those that till the lands.
The government had long allow them to down in numerous ways, starving agriculture of public investment, sustainable cultivation practices, expanded irrigation, debt from public institutions instead of usurious moneylenders and guaranteed remunerative prices. But this point was different. They were convinced that the govt was crossing with these laws a line it had not transgressed this far.
By these new legal arrangements, they believed that the govt was abandoning the farmers and throwing them into highly unequal individual negotiations with super-rich corporations. So far, there was an imperfect arrangement of minimum support price purchases by the state governments in mandis. This was meant to be an assurance for twenty-four crops altogether parts of the country.Effectively, however, arrangements were made only in some states like Punjab, Haryana and West Uttar Pradesh to assure farmers MSP purchases which too mainly for paddy and wheat. The protesting farmers demanded not just the withdrawal of the three laws, but also a legal guarantee for the acquisition of all farmers’ produce at MSPs set at A level that takes under consideration not only the prices of inputs but also calculations of the value of family labour and land.