The ongoing farmers' struggle in India has a long history of unheard demands and ignorance in revamping the agricultural sector.
Recently, farmers from 180 organisations under the umbrella forum, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, held massive gatherings and led a march from Ramlila Maidan to Parliament Street in Delhi that was headed by Yogendra Yadav, member of Swaraj Abhiyan. Farmers from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Punjab were part of the demonstration, voicing two major demands: loan waiver and increase in price for crops. Families of farmers who had committed suicide participated in huge numbers and addressed the gathering, especially women participants.
Resistance is often a consequence of massive endurance and woes.
Earlier, Tamil Nadu farmers who protested in huge numbers at Jantar Mantar by putting rats in their mouths, sleeping on the roads for days, drinking their own urine, unfortunately got minimal coverage in national media. Their resistance has a history, which is entwined with the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka water crisis and successive droughts that Tamil Nadu has endured in the past.
Not just farmers’ resistance, today, we are entrapped in a malevolent milieu, which highlights jingoism, hatred, bigotry and antagonism. Recent months resulted in innumerable protests: protests by BHU students demanding greater autonomy for students, especially girls, protests against cow vigilantes, killing Muslims in the name of cow protection and protests against killing of journalists like Gauri Lankesh, editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike who was also a hardcore critique of Hindutva ideology. Following are the prototypes of resistance and how retrospect events shape massive resistances.
Image: PTI photo
In 2015, in the first year of Modi government, the Central Statistics Office estimated 1 per cent of advance growth in agriculture. However, in the previous year it was 3.7 per cent. GDP from Agriculture in India decreased from Rs 4,493.13 billion in the first quarter of 2017 to Rs 3,897.32 billion in the second quarter of 2017.The National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) in 2015, depicted excessive rate of farmer suicides due to economic distress, drought, less production, lack of remunerative prices, inadequate credit from institutions, bankruptcy, rising cost of inputs. High-yield seeds, fertilisers and pesticides, deterioration of soil quality due to exceeding use of chemicals, higher use of expensive machinery, scissors crisis - enunciated as increasing cost of inputs without increase in prices - have only increased the farmers’ burden. Let’s not forget policies like demonetisation, which had voluminous objectives - from vanishing counterfeit money to making India a “cashles economy” and transcend “digitalisation” - that devastated the agrarian sector.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley in 2017-2018 Union Budget claimed, allocation for rural and agricultural sector would be increased to Rs 1.87 trillion. However, policies like demonetisation and GST, have only resulted in unfavorable effects. According to a blueprint released by the agriculture ministry in September, raising crop production, reducing cultivation costs and post-harvest losses, and reform of agriculture markets are among the focus areas of the central government to double farmer incomes by 2022. But will that even happen?
Be it Tamil Nadu, Punjab or Madhya Pradesh, where farmers were recently killed in Mandsaur at a protest against government, the demands have been same - loan waiver, better minimum price support and debt relief from private lucrative institutions that charge excessively.
Perversity is significant in making mere protests into big movements in order to appear larger than life and obtain justice, like the gallant citizenry of Egypt in 2011 at Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring, which resulted in the downfall of dictator Hosni El Sayed Mubarak.