In six years of the BJP government, nothing much has really changed. Today PM endorsed self-reliant India, an Atma Nirbhar Bharat. But on the other hand, the farmers across the country took to the roads for several reasons. On Gandhi Jayanti, several farmers took to the protest for their demands, but shockingly they were welcomed by right-wing goons manhandling them. Angry farmers tried to break the barriers and raised slogans forcing the police to use batons, tear gas shells, and water to disperse them. Several protesters were injured in the process. In a similar protest in March this year, about 35,000 farmers walked for about 180 km in the blazing sun from Maharashtra’s Nashik to Mumbai to press their demands. Like many rich and famous people in post-independent India, who have declared themselves as farmers, albeit only on paper, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, too, called himself a farmer, but for motives completely opposite. While the rich ‘farmers’ were trying to benefit from several government schemes and/or for getting exemptions, freedom fighter Gandhi wanted to associate himself with the real India — the country of villages and farmers. As India witnesses’ farmers’ protests against the Narendra Modi government’s farm legislation, it’s worth understanding Gandhi’s worldview on farmers. During the historical sedition trial of 1922, Gandhi had identified himself as a farmer and weaver by profession in a special court at Ahmedabad. His declaration for Navjivan Trust, Ahmedabad, in November 1929, read: “Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Age 60 years, Hindu, profession weaving and farming. Today Rich becoming richer and the farmers are at stake.
The distressed farmers are marching as part of their “Kisan Kranti Padyatra” to demand loan waiver, demand subsidized electricity and fuel, pension for farmers above 60, and implementation of recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission. Intensifying their agitation against the new agriculture laws, farmers today blocked highways and rail tracks across the state as part of their ‘rail roko’ agitation. Farmers protested at a utility store and petrol pumps of Reliance and Essar companies near Bhucho Mandi and Rampura areas. Members of various factions of the BKU and various other farmer unions also blocked tracks on the Bathinda-Delhi railway line and sat on a dharna. On the other hand, some farmers from hailed new agriculture reforms. They are hopeful that agriculture reforms will be beneficial for them. One farmer said, “The new farmer bill is good and is beneficial. Earlier, prices were used to be decided by merchants but now it is up to us. We can sell our goods anywhere in the country. The farmer thanked the Modi government for bringing the bill.
On International Day of Non-Violence, the BJP’s Gandhi Jayanti celebrations started with an attack on farmers who were peacefully marching to register their protest. This government has not fulfilled the promises it made to the farmers, so it is natural that farmers would protest. It is calamitous, why the attack on them they should have been allowed to voice their concern. If a Loan waiver is not possible, then the government should provide them reasonable prices for their crops, electricity, connectivity, and needed infrastructure and lower fuel prices. Their core problem will automatically solve. The government needs to understand that farmers are not bagging. It is their right. BJP is making things beyond worse than the earlier congress. Loan waiver lollipop will not help farmers in the long run and implementation of Swami Nathan committee’s recommendation is needed otherwise the situation will become worse sooner or later.
After industry, the agricultural sector contributes the maximum to India’s GDP and is deemed the primary occupation for a majority of the masses, according to our textbooks. If this is the case, why has it been faring so poorly in the past decade? His four years as prime minister, Narendra Modi has taken many big-ticket decisions including demonetization and surgical strikes against Pakistan. With the growing rate of farmer suicides that has been witnessed since the beginning of 2015, one has to wonder why the government, despite its many claims, hasn’t sprung up and adopted any drastic measures to help change the helpless situations the farmers find themselves in, leading them to turn to the noose. Farmers in India, particularly marginal farmers, suffered in silence – closeness to the earth and its soil and to nature imparts certain strength of character that allows for enduring harsh circumstances, they say. Occasionally, however, these sons of our soil would vent their frustration by resorting to suicide. And over the years, the suicides grew in number, commensurate with the general suicide rate. Given this background, the now oft-witnessed farmers’ rallies in the Capital and other parts of the country could be seen as motivated by an awakening that was imminent. However, with political parties- led by the CPI and joined by several opposition parties — now having taken up cudgels on behalf of the farmers, it appears to have become a movement of sorts against the Central government. Their threats to escalate matters by ideas like “fill the jails” and comparing it with the Indian freedom movement are proof that the agitation is unlikely to die down in a hurry. Despite India being an agricultural country’ most of its youth are darting away from the sector, looking instead to take up menial jobs in big cities. For the past decade, only 15 million jobs have been made available to the teeming billions on the prowl, during the 10-year reign of the UPA government. Investment proposals received by DIPP for new projects to be set up in 2019–20 showed a possibility of creating a maximum of 4.11 lakh jobs — not nearly enough to meet the needs of the majority of the population. Well, so far, the government to help educate and train the existing farmers in the happenings of the sector has implemented no measure. 80 percent of the public expenditure going to agriculture is in the form of input subsidies like fertilizers, power, and irrigation, with only 20 percent being direct investments in agriculture. There is a lot more that needs to be done and delivered, or else PM Modi should accept that he made hollow promises just to garner votes.