Over the past couple of months, farmers in India have been peacefully protesting every day. It has become the world’s largest labour protest, with millions marching in solidarity. But global media attention has fallen flat and neglected to recognise the importance of a peaceful protest and the increase in human rights violations.
In simple terms, the protest is taking place because the Indian government has produced three bills which intend to disadvantage the farmers. One bill’s aim is to remove the Minimum Support Price (MSP, which is similar to a minimum wage) – meaning that farmers lose the right to bargain a fair price for their crops. However, by removing this, larger companies will be able to exploit the farmers, an inevitable consequence of a capitalist society. The Third bill allows companies to hoard agricultural products after purchasing them, giving the privatised companies an advantage over selling prices, production, and distribution.
More than 60% of India’s 1.3 billion people still depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Hence, by implementing these bills, the Indian government will force the farmers to live in absolute poverty. They aim to project a narrative that these bills will provide more freedom for farmers regarding their agricultural produce. However, in a capitalist economy with the intention of maximising profit, it is hard to believe a reality in which larger companies will fairly pay the farmers. There is a toxic hierarchy between privatised companies and the labour work force. Their lack of ethics and moral values allows them to profit off hard-working individuals without paying them a fair price.
The farmers will forever remain in poverty and be subjugated to exploitation without the eradication of those bills. The government, as well as companies, see the farmers as disposable, defenceless objects, allowing capitalism to live on and thrive in India. Once corporations assume dominance over agricultural commodities, they will broaden their control and ultimately steal from farmers who have dedicated their livelihoods for their families and their country.
However, in a capitalist economy with the intention of maximising profit, it is hard to believe a reality in which larger companies will fairly pay the farmers
Prime Minister Modi has failed to protect his farmers. The protest itself exposes a multifaceted atmosphere of political corruption, exploitation, abuse of power and a constant violation of human rights. Modi quite frankly does not deserve the title of “Prime Minister”, because his actions and the government expose that they will kill their citizens for economic gain and prosperity. He is nothing but a poor leader who abuses his power.
Police are attacking peaceful protestors, with bats, weapons, and tear gas. The government is cutting off all internet access (creating a social media blackout). They are also cutting off food and water supplies. They have created borders and divisions, with spikes, to stop protestors moving. There have also been reports of the kidnapping and disappearance of protestors and journalists.
And these horrid events only scratch the surface of what we are hearing and seeing. Democracy protects us, but there is no democracy protecting our farmers. India has a history of silencing those who speak out through violence. So, we must use our voices to speak on behalf of our farmers in India, to protect not just them, but to protect others globally from capitalist control and anti-democratic policies.
So, we must use our voices to speak on behalf of our farmers in India, to protect not just them, but to protect others globally from capitalist control and anti-democratic policies
Only this week did the media gravitate towards the severity of the situation. Yet, not from the protestors, but Rihanna tweeting “why aren’t we talking about this?!” BBC News and Sky News have only just discussed the abuse of power embedded within the Indian government, and the importance of our farmers’ protest. And yes, I am incredibly grateful that the news agencies are reporting the protest. But, I find it incredibly disturbing that we must rely on a celebrity to bring awareness to a protest that should speak for itself. The reliance on Rihanna to bring awareness exposes the silencing of the farmers’ voices globally. For the rise in awareness, it takes a celebrity who doesn’t live in India to bring attention to the severity of the issue at hand.
Yet India’s own Bollywood stars can’t support their own. The farmers’ protest speaks volumes towards a united group, determined to protect themselves against people in power who have an objective to ruin their lives. They are fighting for what is right, even if it means risking their own lives. And for that, this protest deserves every bit of recognition.
You do not have to be Sikh to support the farmers. You just have to support human rights and acknowledge that the oppressed deserve a voice and deserve recognition for a fight that protects all.
To stay up to date on the protest follow:
@sikhexpo (both twitter and Instagram)