For about four months, millions of farmers have been peacefully protesting in India for the government to repeal bills that remove government programs that benefit farmers, and give more power to corporations.
The three agricultural bills which were passed in late September consist of removing the minimum support price (MSP) which is an agricultural product price set for the government when purchasing directly from farmers. The MSP provides a safeguard for farmers, ensuring at least minimum profit for their crops.
The bills also remove the mandi system, which is a way for farmers to earn profits on the side by selling their crops in markets, and they allow for large corporations to determine the price of crops when they are sold.
The Indian government claims the passing of these bills will allow farmers to sell directly to larger grocery chains, but farmers disagree, claiming that the bills allow for corporations to decrease the prices of crops. By removing the MSP and other benefits for small farmers that allow them to earn profit, the bills could indirectly leave them at stake of losing their property.
Though the protests have been peaceful, a right which is protected under the constitution of India, protesters have been met with police brutality, barricades, and tear gas cannons. As a result, these protests have become a fight for human rights and the right to voice one’s opinion.
Due to police brutality, suicides, weather conditions, and accidents, there have been a total of over 200 casualties. With the events that took place on Republic Day, January 26, 2021, many farmers were left injured, and they once again had to face police brutality but in more severe forms, along with government planned scams portraying farmers in a negative light.
Over 100 farmers have been arrested with no proof of crime, and there have been internet bans across the city of Delhi. Journalists who are on protest grounds covering these protests have been arrested, some being abused and sexually assaulted, in an attempt to silence them.
21 year old climate activist Disha Ravi was recently arrested for sharing a Google Document which contained a toolkit on how to raise awareness for the protests; the same document Greta Thunberg had previously shared.
Following these tweets, other celebrities such as Amanda Cerny, Meena Harris, and athletes such as Kyle Kuzma and JuJu Smith have spoken out in support of the farmers, and donated to organizations dedicated to helping farmers who are protesting.
From then on, the support has been huge. Several other celebrities spoke out on the issue, leading to the UN tweeting a warning in response to the protests, regarding the ability for farmers to peacefully protest without the violation of their human rights by Indian government.
This is no longer an issue which resides within just India. This is a fight for basic human rights, and the world deserves to be aware of the truth.
To show support from a distance, a convoy of more than 350 cars that ran through the city was held in Kitchener-Waterloo, including people from Cambridge and Guelph. The convoy was organized by 4 university students, one being a former WCI student. I participated in the rally as well, where I witnessed a community united and determined to show solidarity for the protests in India.
Though there is growing support worldwide, we must continue to use media platforms to raise awareness and support these farmers from our homes as they fight for their livelihoods.
There have been many government based media platforms which portray biased information regarding the protests which are in favour of political parties. Their motive resides within India and the world being kept from hearing the truth. To seek a truthful insight into the protests, credible resources such as @sikhexpo on Instagram, BBC News, and CNN all display accurate information regarding the ongoing protests. It is important to follow credible sources as that allows for us to understand how and why we must show our support.
With news networks, celebrities, and political figures outside of India speaking out in support of farmers, perhaps the Indian government will realize the negative implications of such bills on farmers, and these bills might be repealed.
Until then, it is our job to continue reposting in support of farmers and using the hashtag #nofarmersnofood. Even the smallest action of using a hashtag will bring a greater audience to look into the issue. The media platforms we have can be our voices.
No one deserves to face injustice, and with farmers facing such treatment by the government, we must stand up and speak on behalf of them in order to make a change.
My connection to this issue is a result of the stories and experiences my grandfather has told me, and of my many visits to India.
From his days on the fields working morning to night, I can only imagine how dearly these farmers hold their land to their hearts. The control these bills will have over that land will tear the sacred relationship they have been building for years, not only with their land but with the next generation who are trying to connect with their cultural and family roots.
As a granddaughter of a farmer, I wish to no longer see the suffering of people like my grandfather.
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