The two-week-long protests by Indian farmers keep growing and gaining steam. Farmers leaders now plan to intensify the nationwide protests from this weekend by blocking national highways and toll plazas. The farmers’ main grievance is against new farm laws that they say are designed to benefit big companies that are already making billions even while the national economy flounders under the impact of India’s pathetic Covid-19 response. Now they stand to make even more money off their agriculture interests. Meanwhile, poor farmers stand to lose as deregulation will cost them guaranteed sale prices and allow large food companies to dictate the prices of their crops.
While the government claims they will let control prices remain, the truth is that many farmers were already being shortchanged by corporate customers. Modi just formalised it. While the government claims the move is intended to increase efficiency in the agriculture sector, the problem is that those who lose or quit farming — agriculture accounts for half of India’s workforce — have no other options. They are not educated enough to find any reasonable alternative means of income, which is not to say they are making much even now. After all, that is why we regularly read about Indian farmers committing suicide due to poverty.
But these laws, like so many other controversial ones recently passed by the Modi government, involved no input from actual farmers. Yet, instead of admitting to their mistake and negotiating amendments with the farmers, India has turned its brutal law enforcers on them. Meanwhile, their internet propaganda squads are slandering their own citizens, from celebrities and activists backing the farmers, to entire ethnic groups, and even subsistence farmers. Unsurprisingly, when Canada, the UK, and others spoke out against the violence, the fascist government told them off. Meanwhile, here in Pakistan, the increasing pressure on the Indian government has caused concern in security circles, with speculation that Modi may try another false flag operation to change the news cycle.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2020.
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