The beauty of a farmers’ protest is that it gets all non-farmers excited and united to support the farmers’ protest. While the people on the right side of things could clang utensils for a cause, those on the left have had little causeful days in the corona times. Ideology needs the oxygen of a grievance. It came in tractor trollies to Singhu border. Farmers of course are not equally excited or usually united over farmers’ protest. The farm reform bills of 2020 did unite some of them but by and large, it’s a protest of farmers from two and a half states: Punjab, Haryana and Western UP. This can also be called the GT Karnal Road protest because it’s farmers from along the Grand Trunk Road between Amritsar and Delhi whose wrath is blocking the same road.
Farmers protest in Delhi. (Photo: PTI)
The government believes farmers have been shackled for seventy years under a system where the middlemen made all the money while farmers toiled in misery. The farmer agrees about the misery but wants the middlemen to stay because the middlemen and farmers are together in this. They have a bond. The farmer exploits the soil, thanks to subsidised electricity and free canal or ground water. The middleman exploits the farmer. They both exploit the APMC system that the political system exploits for electoral gains. Disgusting chain of mouths to feed and ends that meet. Do not google the Human Centipede. Give them a break because it's a break for the humble farmer. The stubble has been burnt and Delhi has inhaled. The sowing is still some weeks away. Protesting is right here, right now. Like every protest, the slogans are changing from the specifics of the farm bills to jarnails of a federal structure.
The soil changes every three miles, how can farmers of India demand only three things. The farmers have different demands and are right now united under the three farm bills banner. Let me not bore you with details of the bills because even the farmers haven’t bothered to read the lines. Reading between the lines and concluded that crony corporates would take away their land if the bills came into effect. They believe the middleman called aadhatiya in soiled kurta is better than the middleman in a sparkly suit. Aadhatiyas know their secrets and together they can exploit the exploitative terms of MSP.
Farmers can reap three crops from a two-crop tract, poison the ground with pesticides, fill berths in the Cancer Express train, sow paddy in the arid wheat-growing regions because canal systems afford them this luxury. Because nobody takes paddy seriously, the government is forced to buy them at throwaway prices so that both the farmer and aadhatiya retain their genuine grievance about the MSP not being enough. Throwaway prices, throwaway grains. It’s a vicious cycle, the crop cycle. So devastating that the young have taken to drugs and the old have to defend against Bollywood's attempts to smear the fair name with accusations of flying without licence. Udta Punjab!
The English-speaking singer-farmer Deep Sidhu drove the revolution (Inquilab) to Delhi and vowed to fight for the federal structure as Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale did. Lockdown Lazarus Sonu Sood said Kisaan is his Bhagwan. From bowler Monty Panesar to bawler Manns Bhagwant and Gurdas, Punjab pop icons have declared this a freedom struggle. The government insists theirs is a struggle against freedom; that from the middleman. Also, the farm bills upset the status quo. For good or bad, we don't know but we are very sense-tiff about status. Change begets resistance. Viva la resistance! Biba pa resistance.
India lives in its villages because it’s the villages that have resisted the change the most. The farmers are the chiefs. India’s upstart smart cities and even the traditional tony towns have moved away from the salient features of our culture after being bitten by the Western bug. It’s these farmers who have kept caste alive in the true sense, else we could lose the 5,000-year-old system that ties us all together. The city boys and girls have no idea about gotra, it’s the khap panchayats that keep gotra boys and girls apart. There is a lot of sex and occasionally love but seldom any jihad in our villages because any moral decay is plastered with dung. No ding dong, only ding dung.
So, when they are here, you better listen. When they talk about changing the geopolitics of the subcontinent, you pay heed. The government would want to tire them out. Mistaken. Shaheen Bagh was not defeated by fatigue but by corona. This time, the protesters have come despite corona. There were Sikhs around to feed Shaheen Bagh. This time Shaheen Bagh is around to feed the Sikhs. Who feeds whom is not an issue. The issue is what you are fed. Have you been fed the annadata line? The line that says farmers feed the nation? Well, it’s true. They grow what you eat. Have you been fed the propaganda that the farm bill frees them? Well, it’s true too. Giving the farmers the choice to sell to whoever he likes at whatever price he wants is a kind of freedom. I used he for farmers because you won’t find her in these protests. She is milking the buffalo and feeding the cattle at home, a veil drawn over her face. Add another precious tradition to the mores the villages of India have preserved. Ye dil maange mores.
India lives in its villages. Farmers are the chiefs. Especially the rich farmers. The likes of those who own tractors to till the tracts that are large enough to require tractors to till. For everything else, there’s the Bihari labourer. He has no say. And Dilli is still very duur for him. How duur? As far as the slogans are? Jai Jawaan. Jai Kisaan. Jai Hind. The answer my friend is blowin' in the pind.