Understanding the Indian farmers’ protest
While farmers and their families have been protesting for months in India, the western world hasn’t paid too much attention. Although you may have seen the odd post or article, you may not know what is happening and more importantly, how you can help. In our latest article, we’re giving the lowdown on the farmers’ protest and sharing some ways you can support the movement.
Why are farmers protesting?
In short, millions of farmers are protesting in response to three new agricultural laws passed in 2020. The new regulations are intended to ‘modernise and deregulate’ the country’s agriculture industry, loosening the rules around the sale, pricing and storage of farm produce.
The new laws mean that farmers can now sell directly to private buyers rather than government-controlled markets known as ‘mandis’ where they were previously guaranteed a minimum price for their crops.
The government argues the new laws will ensure farming is more efficient while attracting more investment. On the flip side, farmers fear that big businesses will exploit these laws, ultimately leaving them worse off. As their livelihoods are at stake, they’re in a standoff with the government to reevaluate these damaging laws.
In January, the protest gained more media attention than ever as thousands of protesters took to Delhi’s iconic red fort. While the protests started back in November 2020, they’re showing no signs of letting up as the government and farmers have failed to reach a deal. Today, it’s now been more than 100 days since the protests started.
What’s happening in Delhi right now?
Throughout the protests, organisers have been offering meals, housing, washrooms, showers, education and first aid should protestors and journalist need it. Although organisers also welcomed the police to take advantage of these benefits, the very people in power are exploiting the farmers.
State police have instigated violence and chaos, attacking peaceful protestors with barricades, water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets. In an attempt to conceal what’s going on, Indian police cut the internet and blocked journalists attempting to report from the protest sites.
As the government attempts to halt communications between protestors and the outside world, state-owned media outlets have created false propaganda as thousands of protestors have been injured by the police.
Furthermore, protestors and journalists are being abducted by the police, as reports of sexual assault and torture are pouring out from prisons.
Facts and figures
- 4 out of 10 Indians work as farmers, with the wider agricultural industry accounting for around 50% of jobs in the vast and varied country.
- By estimates, over a million different people have taken to the streets to protest for farmers rights, making it the largest protest EVER. But of course, the revolution will not be televised.
- As of today, over 180 farmers have died while protesting in Delhi.
- Over 200 protesters have been arrested without evidence, including activist Nodeep Kaur. The 23-year old was tortured and sexually abused while in custody. (Source sikhexpo).
- Save Indian Farmers reports that according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, since 1994, one farmer commits suicide every 41 minutes.
While you may think this doesn’t impact the western world, it almost certainly does. From food to clothing, the work of Indian farmers benefits people all around the world. So, if you haven’t paid the protests any attention until now, it’s about time you did.
How you can help
Educate yourself, amplify the important voices and take action. Write a letter to your local MP, discuss the protests within your community or donate what you can. Whatever you do, please don’t walk away from reading this without doing anything. Just last week, it was reported that the UK parliament is set to debate the protests’ after 100,000 people signed a petition to support human rights and freedom of the press. Your voice can make a difference, please use it.
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