Credit should be given to restless farmers for taking the bull of neoliberal policy by the horns and mitigating its debilitating impact. They have also exposed corporate backers in political leadership, bureaucracy and the media, not to mention agricultural “experts” and “economists” with questionable skills and credentials who support corporate agendas.
This success would not have come without a united struggle by farmers supported by the disadvantaged sections of society like workers, students, unemployed youth, contract workers, etc., who have also suffered from the government’s neoliberal policies. The most important result is the formation of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) platform, made up of 32 agricultural unions supported by around 500 organizations nationwide. The unity of peoples transcending caste and religion is what India’s rulers fear most, as it can tear apart the polarizing “us versus them” narrative needed to perpetuate their exploitation.
The withdrawal of controversial laws was inevitable. Every story disseminated through compliant and now discredited media has crumbled as people turned to alternative news platforms, social media and YouTube. After every trick to crush, divide and vilify the movement failed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi realized it was time to cut losses and announced the withdrawal of the three controversial laws. Meanwhile, farmers faced all kinds of repression and braved inclement weather during protests that lasted throughout the year. Over 700 restless farmers lost their lives and millions suffered.
In fact, prior to the announcement, discouragement had set in as all government enforcement agencies were used to quell dissent and target those who opposed BJP policies. The veil of sadness and helplessness that had engulfed this country after every institution was overthrown, justice openly denied and constitutional guarantees undermined with impunity slowly lifted. By looking down on the government, therefore, farmers created hope where there was none.
Another positive result of the protracted unrest has been the creation of an unprecedented awareness among the masses of their political and economic rights, which cannot be addressed by those whose elections are funded by the very companies they are against. are opposed. The credibility of the political class is so weak that the farmers refused to quash their agitation despite the Prime Minister’s promise to repeal.
They are well aware of how every political party that has assured them an appropriate minimum support price (MSP) for their crops has deceived them after gaining their votes and coming to power. As SKM’s demand for the MSP takes center stage, a campaign against it has already been unleashed in the media by the very people who backed the controversial farm laws.
The repeal of agricultural laws will not end the agrarian crisis or the growing inequalities and concentration of wealth. The granting of the MSP is the next logical step in increasing the incomes of farmers, who constitute around 50% of Indian households. Rather than triggering repression again, it is in the general interest of the nation that the government initiates a dialogue with farmers to implement PSM.
Once the MSP is granted, the nation would expect the farmers themselves to present a plan to improve farming methods so that income support, food security, better nutrition and environmental protection can be achieved. go hand in hand. The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have offered humanity a mirror. The pursuit of growth cannot be done on the basis of “business as usual” practices.
In addition, SKM’s platform should be expanded to include other disadvantaged people who are also pushed further down the economic ladder. The larger coalition of mass organizations should establish a national platform and demand that all political parties work for a fair distribution of wealth. SKM has the responsibility to form this broad coalition and to bring everyone to guarantee the Indian people justice, freedom, equality and fraternity, which should not remain confined to the preamble of our Constitution.
Avinash Mohananey is a retired Indian Police Service and Intelligence Bureau officer.