Farmers in India have been organizing massive, sustained, historic protests against proposed neoliberal reforms
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CAGJ acknowledges the assistance of comrades all across the world who we consulted to create this alert.
What is happening in India right now?
History is being made. Millions of Indian farmers are protesting new reforms passed undemocratically by the far right-wing government that would deregulate agricultural markets and undermine farmer livelihoods. They have been protesting for months, but this has gained recent attention as protesters have occupied Delhi and were met with police brutality. An estimated 300 million workers have participated in strikes against these neoliberal labor reforms and in solidarity with farmers. These are said to be the largest strikes ever recorded in global history. The Indian government and protesters have not come to an agreement and farmers are prepared to protest until January 26th (India’s Republic Day) or beyond. The media is almost silent.
What are they protesting?
They are protesting three new farm bills, passed in September 2020, which outline rules for unregulated contract farming and lead to the end of regulated wholesale markets (“Mandis”) and assured “Minimum Support Prices.” Approximately 60% of India’s 1.3 billion population relies on agriculture for a means of life, making these ordinances devastating to a majority of the population. The protests also address extreme income inequality in India, heightened by the pandemic. Unemployment is at 27% and three fourths of the rural population cannot afford a nutritious meal, meanwhile the small portion of billionaires in India added 35% to their wealth during the pandemic.
What are the protesters’ demands?
- Repeal the 3 new anti-farmer and anti-worker policies
- Stop the privatization of the public sector
- Governmental support of producers via legalized price guarantees (MSPs) and regulated markets (Mandis) instead of free market deregulation
- Greater representation of farmers voices in government decision making
What’s wrong with the farm acts?
Deregulation allows for rampant privatization and corporate monopolization of the farming economy, driving crop prices too low and crippling small farmers. Without regulated markets and floor prices, farmers will be left at the mercy of the market and prices will drop dramatically. Less earnings will force farmers to sell their land, contributing to corporate land grabs. These rules also destroy small and marginal women farmers’ collective bargaining power, allowing for greater exploitation by wealthy corporations of those most vulnerable. The acts also encourage corporate hoarding by giving them unlimited stocks. Lastly, the bills specifically prevent farmers from pursuing litigation against corporations for contract violations and abuses, gutting legal avenues for redress.
Facing debt, extreme poverty, suffering crop yields, falling water tables, and an increasingly worse climate crisis, the situation is bleak for farmers. Farmer suicide has reached epidemic levels. Many are led to despair by falling incomes and frustrated with the government’s general lack of concern and ongoing privileging of profit over people. The Green Revolution, beginning in the 1960s, launched this trend as large foreign corporations like Monsanto began to control markets and policy alike. This has created an over-reliance on harmful chemicals at the expense of local food sovereignty, soil health, and farmers wellbeing. Increased neoliberal reforms throughout Prime Minister Nerendra Modi’s regime and supported by the US and the World Trade Organization continued this trend on valuing corporate profits of people’s wellbeing, contributing to the alarming rates of farmer suicide we see today. These amendments also come after the Citizenship Amendment Act (2019) and the Indian occupation of Kashmir which were met with global protests and faced repression and police backlash in India.
But change is possible!
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” – Arundhati Roy
Striking farmers and those protesting in solidarity around the world remind us that true power belongs to mass movements for justice. People built these harmful systems and people can build new systems that do not oppress but support the flourishing and liberation of all. The global struggle for food sovereignty reminds us that corporatization and privatization is not the answer. A brighter future can exist if we invest in it. We at CAGJ believe farmers and those who produce our food deserve a spot at the table and are committed to working in solidarity with those struggling for justice worldwide. We hope you join us.
La Via Campesina South Asia made this statement: “As La Via Campesina South Asia, representing and led by small-scale food producers in the region, we call upon all peasant organisations around the world to send messages of support and solidarity to the protesting Indian farmers and echo their demands. It is time that peasants of the world unite, as the struggle for dignity and respect binds us all together, irrespective of where we are. Time has come to ‘Globalise the Struggle and Globalise the Hope’ for a dignified life for the communities who feed a majority of the world’s population. It is essential to show our collective strength and remind the world that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!”
- Why India’s Farmers are in revolt in the middle of a pandemic (Washington Post)
- P Sainath Explains Why Farmers are Protesting ( Faye D’Souza YouTube)
- Indian Farmers Lead Historic Strike & protest against Narendra Modi, Neoliberalism, Inequality (Democracy Now)
- Why Landless and marginal farmers are the backbone of farmer protests (NewsLaundry)
- Why Indian Farmers are protesting against new farm bills (Al Jazeera)
- Indian Farmers vow to intensify protests, reject gov’t talks offer (Al Jazeera)
- Farmer Protest: All you Need to know (Hindustan Times)
- India’s Farmers Protests Challenge Modi’s Market Deregulations (WSJ)
- Angry Farmers Choke India’s Capital in Giant Demonstrations (NYT)
- Indian PM Modi refuses to back down on farm reforms despite huge protests (Reuters)
1) Follow and amplify voices of Indian protesters and grassroots farmer organizations
- La Via Campesina
- All India Kisan Sanghrash Coordination Committee (https://twitter.com/aikscc)
- Kisan Sabha
- Asha Kisan Swaraj
- NAPM – National Alliance of People’s Movements
- Kavita Kuruganti
- Yogendra Yadav
- Ramandeep Singh Mann
- Kiran Vissa
- Devinder Sharma
2) Attend a protest near you
3) Donate to support striking Farmers:
- Your country’s chapter of Khalsa Aid (tag @KhalsaAidUSA, @KhalsaAid)
- Support Farmer Protest GoFundMe (from our comrades at La Via Campesina India)
- Punjab Kisaani Support Fund
- Sahaita Farmer Support Project
4) La Via Campesina South Asia calls for Photos/Video/Written statements of solidarity! Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
5) Write letters to Indian High Commissions in your country and extend your solidarity to India’s small-scale food producers.
Embassy of India in US
2107 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 939-7000
Fax: (202) 265-4351
Ambassador: Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu Deputy Chief of Mission: Mr. Sudhakar Dalela
6) Use your consumer power and buy Fair Trade and ethically sourced imported goods when possible
7) Follow Independent Journalists/Local Media:
- Caravan Magazine
- People’s Archive of Rural India
- Faye D’Souza
- Rana Ayyub
- The Wire
- The Print
- Gaon Connection
9) Share this post and news about India on your social media platforms
- Share this alert from CAGJ’s Instagram: CAGJ Posts
- Use hashtags #StandWithFarmers #SupportIndianFarmers #FarmerProtest #KisaanEktaZinzabaad #NoFarmersNoFood #DilliChalo