Why have Indian farmers been protesting for over a year?

Here’s a look at the longest-running farmer protests in the country’s history, as unions stepped up their year-long protests on the New Delhi borders ahead of a crucial court hearing on October 21.

Hearing a petition asking if Indian farmers have the right to protest, the Indian Supreme Court said farmers can protest but cannot block roads indefinitely.

The judgment came on Thursday, giving farmers unions three weeks to remove their protest tents outside the New Delhi border.

How did India, a country proud of its farmers, come to a point where farmers have been camping outside the capital for over a year?

It all started almost immediately after India’s parliament led by the majority government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved farm laws last fall. Tens of thousands of farmers from Punjab, an agricultural state known as the breadbasket of India, and its neighboring state, Haryana, descend to the capital New Delhi.

Police blocked the procession at the New Delhi border, but farmers were determined to revoke agricultural laws. The situation got to the point where the Modi government entered a year-long stalemate with the farmers. Their movement has become the oldest protest by farmers in India against the government.

Although the Modi government initially downplayed or dismissed the farmers’ agitation, it eventually came to the table with them, holding several rounds of talks with farm union leaders.

Deadlock ensued, however.

While engaging in talks with the farmers union and ensuring that the police barricade remains intact to keep the Protestant farming population of the north outside the borders of the capital, the Modi government has failed to convince communities the rest of the country with the new firm laws.

Farmers from other parts of the country joined the protest and simultaneously led a series of protests in different states.

For several decades, Indian farmers have relied on 7,000 government-regulated wholesale markets to sell their annual crop yield.

These markets are largely managed by committees made up of farmers with large land holdings, local traders or agents who arbitrate between a farmer and a wholesaler. The committees also deal with logistical needs, such as organizing transport and storage.

The new farm laws contain certain provisions that farmer unions fear will render these committees unnecessary, allowing farmers to lessen their reliance on these wholesale markets and direct them to the big companies that have strong financial capital to monopolize the market. whole agricultural sector.

“We will lose our land, we will lose our income if you let the big companies decide the prices and buy the crops. We don’t trust big business. Free markets work in countries with less corruption and more regulation. It can’t work for us. here, “Gurnam Singh Charuni, one of the main leaders of the unrest, told the BBC at the height of the unrest last year.

A year later, the farmers’ unions demand the complete withdrawal of the laws and demand a new law that would legally oblige the government to buy every agricultural product at a price regulated by the state.

The new demand has become very popular among the Indian farming community. Now, farmers’ protests are not limited to the states of Punjab and Haryana. It has become a pan-Indian unrest.

Farmer unions are playing hard

Aware of the strong will of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party to win elections in every state and to maintain a strong presence in the central parliament and state assemblies, union leaders waged their struggle in the state of Uttar Pradesh , in northern India, which will organize elections. in May 2022.

Home to 240 million people, Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India, led by the Bharatiya Janata party since 2017.

Farmer union leaders plan to portray the BJP as an anti-farm party, knowing that rhetoric would cost them electorally, especially in western Uttar Pradesh, where agriculture is a mainstay.

Farm leaders plan to visit every town and village in Uttar Pradesh to educate people about how dangerous Modi’s government is to the farming community.

Election victory in Uttar Pradesh, which sends the largest number of lawmakers to parliament, is often seen as a significant indicator of which party will come to power in national elections.

As a result, farmers’ unions are now focusing more on the state to upset the ruling party as much as possible.

Source: TRT World

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