By Raveena Hargun
In 2020, a farmer’s protest was organised in India lasting for over a year. The protest started from the state of Haryana and Punjab which is the area where most of the food is grown.
The protest spread around India very quickly stretching over a year from the 9th of August 2020 when it started to December 11th, 2021.
The protesters were camping in the open and they could be seen everywhere blocking some of the roads as well.
Farmers were protesting in Punjabi because the government was only buying a couple of their produce at low prices. According to reports, 52% of Indian farming households are indebted.
There were three acts which the government introduced which prompted the protest and they are:
- The first act was to unregulated trade which means spaces outside of the markets and the law will override the wholesale of market rules and such trading opened up to a lot of trade taking place outside of it already.
However, there are two parallel markets with different rules – one is an oversight and another one creates a big room for big corporate players that come into the unregulated market.
This means they can move out and go to deregulated spaces hence putting farmers at risk of losing.
- The second act creates a contract for farming deals and business agreements would be strictly between the farmers and the traders. This will give farmers more options to fight a bad deal. In addition to this, the agreement shows that small farmers are either dependent on the big corporations or they can be chucked out of the industry altogether.
- The final act affects the different parts of the chains which eliminate the storage limits that had been previously set out by the government to control the prices. Unlimited storage means that anyone with enough money can stock up. This act creates problems for farmers because it paves the way for corporate organisations to dictate the market and prices.
Altogether the three acts can invite skilled people into a fragmented or deregulated market, it can lead to rapid prices for farmers.
Farmers need government protection in order to make money and trade their produce to other people or countries.
The wholesale market had seen a few crops arrive at the market. In the state of Madhya Pradesh more than 40 markets have lost their businesses. This shows that people are losing money and food as well.
Many people died during this protest and the figures show the number was over 670 deaths. Some of them became ill during the protest as a result of dire situations while others committed suicide.
This protest attracted international attention with prominent people like Rhianna, the famous singer and Greta Thunberg, Climate Change activist retweeted an article and said ‘’why aren’t we talking about this #Farmersprotest’’.
Rhianna then had support from the Indian community and celebrities thanking her for her support. Her tweet angered the Indian government, and she was asked to take it down for reasons of maintaining public safety.
Greta Thunberg retweeted a different article to Rhianna saying, “We stand in solidarity with farmers’ protest in India”. Such reactions showed people outside India had a lot of interest in what was happening in the country.
In the UK, the Indian community held protests in Birmingham, London and Leicester calling with the hashtag “I stand with farmers’ protest”.
People in these communities were feeling upset because their families took to the street demanding for change toward farmers’ plight and much had not been done.
One of the protesters said, “my family has a full history of farming throughout different generations, and I am extremely upset because my 80-year-old grandad is on those on streets protesting right now in India.”
Many protesters in the UK expressed their dissatisfaction in the Indian government saying “here, we have houses and electricity and in India, people are on the street without housing or food.”
Others opined that many of the spices that are sold in the Indian shops and supermarkets in across the UK are produced by our farmers in India.
There were reports that some people went to India to help give the protesters with food and other forms of assistance.