It’s a new age democracy and standing for a cause is often ignored unless you sit down on the street.
The year began with massive protests against CAA by students and intellectuals. 11 months down the line, we are ready to bid goodbye to the year with another section of society left on streets, enraged and vulnerable. Farmers, the producers of food for the India, are left with no choice then protesting on the streets of Delhi and this takes me back in time.
In February 2020, I set out for a day trip to Kurukshetra to carry out research work for an NGO I was volunteering with. I encountered a farmer’s family and ended up having an enriching conversation about the details of their profession. While walking around their field, I remember a very tiny crash course on farming techniques that I later used for metaphorical demonstration on a lot of occasions (just another day in a writer’s life).
- “There are two practices of preparing the soil for crops- cultivation and tilling. Cultivation breaks up the crusty surface soil of the land to prepare it for better retention of water, nutrients and air and removes any weeds occupying the area. Whereas, tilling is the process of deeper cultivation going 8-10 inches down the soil, even more, basically during the fall. It requires huge machines and creates a suitable bed for the crops growing into the approaching season.”
I was bestowed with these critical details by a farmer who was well-to-do and had employed equipment in his fields. And I instantly deliberated about the struggles that farmers with limited means would go through to make a living, who FYI are in a huge number in India.
Fast forward to November 2020, an upsetting thought has now turned into a boulder propped on my and the nation’s heart. The weight is heavy, it hurts but it’s nothing compared to the fear and rage of the ones who are sitting on Delhi’s border, refusing to take home anything less than a substantial fix.
What makes the weight of this boulder heavier is the response from the central government, especially from the national media against the farmer’s protest in India. Citizens of the country who have managed to keep themselves from brainwashing into the extremist propaganda anyway don’t expect better from the Central government. However, after Mumbai government’s unfair but much needed control measures against Arnab Goswami’s repugnant reporting, the country was expecting a little improvement in the 24×7 news channels.
Journalistic ethics were already a thing of the past, the world is now witnessing the brainless TRP mongering running naked on the street. There were incidents at the farmer’s protest sights in India where the reporters dodged questions like ‘how can a farmer wear jeans and speak English?” in addition to claiming that the protestors were driven by a separatist movement.
And this compels us to ask an essential question-
Does Constitution Of India Uphold Any Value For The Government In Power?
What do citizens mean for the government and its pedals when they choose to exercise their democratic rights? The answer is not a quantum mechanics equation to crack.
The job of a democratic government is to form laws that bring convenience to people’s lives, with people’s consent. Then why doesn’t the government back off when people themselves tell the lawmakers how unfit the law is for them? Probably because the government knows it already and doesn’t care. It is said for democracy ‘by the people, for the people’. Maybe it’s time we change the phrase to ‘by the corporate, for the corporate’. Because the new Farm laws clearly benefit the private behemoths and endanger the farmers who have been signed without consent to undergo vicissitudes they aren’t protected against.
As for ‘by the corporate’, let’s not choose to turn a blind eye to the escalating reach of capitalism under Prime Minister Modi’s government. There is a saying about capitalism that goes like ‘corporations write the bills and then bribe the governments until it becomes a law’.
In a mixed economy like India, it is not only necessary but obligatory for a government to jump in the protection of industry that is unprepared for competition against the private sector. When the government should be standing like a bulwark in defense of the farmers that are incompetent to work with the private giants, it is chastising them with violence.
Even if the government plans to transition to a capitalistic structure of economy (which India, with all the poverty and unemployment, is definitely not prepared for) violence against farmer’s peaceful protest in India is condemnable and unacceptable. If the most significant section of society, the one who feeds the nation, are on road, the government can’t sit with folded hands waiting for the resistance to subside.
Industrial reforms always breed paranoia among people and the nation. Maybe BJP can take this moment to learn from Dr. Manmohan Singh administration how to prepare a nation for change and take the resentment from people to turn it into acceptance.
In 1991, the country witnessed the biggest economic reform in history, the one that saved Indian economy and took it to new heights. There were denials, doubts and anger among people and politicians but the answer came through institutional briefings and parliamentary debates. Not through water cannons and tear gas.
And it becomes a concern when the reforms are fundamentally flawed and breed inequality and exploitations.
The country and its people have the right to ask where the nation is going and when a regime soaked in disdain choses to shut down the voices and not pay a heed, people hardly forget.