BBC Young Reporter @ LCS
No Farmers, No Food!
In September 2020 three new farm laws were created by the Indian government. These new laws have sparked protests all over India such as Punjab, Haryana and more. The laws have changed the rules on how crops are produced, stored, and sold.
The reforms at the base of the protests are: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) and Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, gave his consent to these new laws on 27th September. However, the Essential Commodities act aims to remove cereals, pulses, oils, onions, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. The Indian Government have said that these new laws will increase growth in the sector through investment in a private sector and it will supply chains for farm produce in national and international markets. It seeks to allow farmers to sell their produce outside agricultural markets and to whoever they want meaning farmers will get better prices.
On the other hand, farmers do not agree with this. Farmers are angry about these three new farm laws and they say this was done without them being spoken to and they are afraid about losing their earnings and their protection over prices. Lots of farmers sell their produce at government-controlled markets for a certain price but now with these new laws they are worried the private sectors could take control over their prices which might result in farmers getting paid less therefore causing a struggle in their life.
Now people from Punjab and all the other states have come together at the capital, Delhi, for one ultimate protest, they are not leaving till the government change their minds. Protest sites have now turned into campsites with families sleeping and eating in the cold day and night waiting for the government to reconsider their actions. Many adults, children and celebrities believe that this is terrible. Celebrities like Rihanna and Greta Thunberg have shown their support, this has drawn many other people to show their support. Here are what (Jenisha and Manvir) two sixth formers of Littleover Community School think:
1. How do you feel about the Indian Farmer’s protest?
“I am deeply saddened by the protests. Especially during this pandemic, I feel as though the government has been very cruel in introducing these new laws. Farmers have been protesting on the streets for months now and there seems to be improvement. India is meant to be the largest democracy but did not consult farmers before introducing the laws. Since protesting the government has not made any adequate negotiations with the farmers. Seeing people protest on the roads in harsh weather conditions is disheartening, especially when the government does not care and is not listening. Instead, they are dehumanising and changing the narrative for the protest.”
2. How do you think other countries can show their support during this difficult time?
“Other countries need to issue statements condemning the human rights violations and police brutality. It is important that international pressure is applied. Everyone should have a right to protest. The media blackout, police barricades, cut of electricity and essential supplies, kidnapping and arrests of journalists must be criticised. The online propaganda and censorship on social media should also be addressed. Momentarily trade deals, which Britain are planning on making with India, should be stopped.”
3. What do you think should be changed to make these farmer’s happy?
“Modi should scrap his plans for the farmers bill and leave it how it is. “
4. Do you agree with this protest and why?
“I agree with the protests since the proposed bill would result in a lot of economic harm to the poorest in Indian society, whilst making the rich richer. “
5. Would you join this protest if you could and why?
“Had there not been COVID travel restrictions I would have liked to join in to show my support. My ancestors were farmers, so it is an important cause for me. End of the day standing in solidarity is the right thing to do and if more people do so then the Indian government will have no other option left than to make amends.”
6. Why do you think the Indian government have changed these rules on how crops are produced, stored, and sold?
“The Indian government does need to reform Indian agriculture. Currently 60% of India’s population work in agriculture yet that only contributes to 10% of GDP and so people are doing very inefficient work. The government must do a reform to transform India away from agriculture. However, the bill proposed won’t really do that. The government may have good intentions, but they are missing the mark.”
Even though standing for what you believe in is the right thing to do, Delhi have barricaded their borders with barbered wire and iron nails to stop protesters coming but this doesn’t stop these determined farmers. This protest has clashed with police as thousands of protesters entered Delhi on a tractor, this may seem violent, but these farmers are trying to go to extreme measures to make the government listen. People all over the world are showing their support; car rallies in London for example are taking place to support them. This issue has even been raised with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. No matter how violent or how horrible these protests get, the farmers won’t stop trying till the government listen to them.