By: Harsimranjit Kaur
Concerning the featured image: Image shared by Kamala Harris in February of 2021 on Twitter to express the outrage against the Indian “internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters.” She viewed this as an assault to the world’s most populous democracy.
November 26 2020 marks the commencement of possibly the single largest human protest in world history as an upward of 250 million Indian residents took part in a 24-hour strike in solidarity with the thousands of farmers protesting new legislation. Amongst recent industrialization, the subcontinent of India has always remained connected with its agricultural roots and traditions, as agriculture remains one of the biggest industries in the country. Despite the fact that these hardworking farmers feed the country and significantly contribute to India’s economy, they continue to be suffering through harsh and brutal conditions due to climate change, exploitation, colonial-instigated famines and oppressive government policies. Late 2020 saw a change in governmental policy which further worsens their situation, causing suicide rates to soar.
I am also an Indian immigrant, and have strong emotional ties with these farmers. This statement also holds true for much of my surrounding community as I reside in a Canadian sub-urban city where a significant portion of the population is immigrants from India.
Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, concealed the negative implications of this legislation, encompassing three laws, by claiming that it would introduce farmers to new markets and encourage private investment in this sector which would supposedly decrease governmental financial burdens such as taxes. However, this overshadows how the absence of already-insufficient governmental protection would allow large agricultural corporations and firms to exploit farmers and swallow up market share in the country. As 60% of farmers in India rely solely on farming as their main source of income, this would make it increasingly harder for them to continue sustaining themselves and their families.
These peaceful protesters have been met by police violence, including the implementation of water cannons and tear gas. Despite this, several kind-hearted farmers have been seen feeding and helping the very same officers who targeted them. The protest had seen mass publicity on social media platforms such as Instagram in late 2020 and early 2021, but unfortunately, awareness has decreased and faded away like a social media trend. However, several determined farmers continue to renew their fight and will not back down for a compromise.
As 45-year-old protest farmer, Manjit Singh said, “the enthusiasm we had on the first day, it is much stronger and bigger now.” To ensure their efforts don’t go to vain, we can help by donating to authorized platforms, signing petitions, and continuing to raise awareness of this issue. Some resources are listed below for further reference.
India Today. “On Farmers’ Protest in India, Kamala Harris’s Niece Says Most Populous Democracy under Assault.” India Today, 3 Feb. 2021, http://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/farmers-protest-india-kamala-harris-niece-most-populous-democracy-assault-1765416-2021-02-03. Accessed 3 Oct. 2021.
Pahwa, Nitish. “What’s Driving the Biggest Protest in World History?” Slate Magazine, 9 Dec. 2020, slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/12/india-farmer-protests-modi.html#:~:text=In%20late%20November%2C%20what%20may%20have%20been%20the. Accessed 29 Sept. 2021.
Sengar, Shweta. “The Plight of the Farmers Fighting to Save Their Livelihoods Is Heartbreaking.” IndiaTimes, 29 Nov. 2020, http://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/swollen-face-injured-eye-farmers-who-feed-the-country-do-not-deserve-such-brutality-528580.html. Accessed 27 Sept. 2021.
The Economist. “Why Are Indian Farmers Protesting?” The Economist, 5 Feb. 2021, http://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2021/02/05/why-are-indian-farmers-protesting. Accessed 28 Sept. 2021.
Lekhi, Rishi. “India’s Farmers Renew Protests, Challenging Modi Government.” CTVNews, 27 Sept. 2021, http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/india-s-farmers-renew-protests-challenging-modi-government-1.5601580. Accessed 28 Sept. 2021.