Protesting farmers in India continue to draw global support for their agitation against the new laws, the latest being a solidarity statement from 87 farmers’ unions of the United States. The group has denounced the laws and deemed them unjust. It has further alleged that the Indian government has used undemocratic measures to end the peaceful protest. A report by MANYA SAINI.
IN a major boost to farmers protesting against the new agricultural laws in India, 87 farmers’ unions and allied agroecology, farm and food justice groups of the United States have issued a joint solidarity statement in support of the agitation. The group has called for a unified struggle and urged the governments of both countries to protect the livelihood of millions of farmers.
The statement goes on to say that Indian farmers have mobilised international support to create “one of the world’s most vibrant protests against unjust farm laws.” Further, it reiterates the concerns of the protestors that the laws allow for excessive corporatisation in agriculture increasing the vulnerability of the group.
The farmers’ protest has been receiving global attention since last month, following a tweet by pop singer Rihanna condemning the internet shutdown at protest sites. The issue was also taken up by climate activist Greta Thunberg, Sikh poet Rupi Kaur, and Meena Harris, the niece of US Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Demanding that the “unjust” farm laws be repealed, the organisation has said that they have been passed without due consultation with the farmers and did not follow prescribed parliamentary procedures of the constitution. The allegations against the Centre in the statement include denying the farmers their constitutional and democratic right to dissent using “authoritarian tactics.”
It further adds that this move to liberalise will endanger not only the farming community but also the food security of India’s poor. Sophia Murphy, executive director of the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) in a recent press release said that the measures undertaken by the Indian government do not take into account the political voice of the farmers.
The IATP in collaboration with Grassroots Global Justice and Rural Coalition alongside over 80 other organisations has condemned the farm laws and the detention of those supporting the agitation including the arrest of 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi. It said, “A majority of India’s farmers are hurting, and the draconian steps that the Indian state has taken in response to peaceful farm law protests (demanding assured returns on farm produce).”
The group has cited damning examples from the Reagan administration stating that American farming faced irreparable damage due to systematic erosion of parity prices and deregulation forty years ago. It has also said that due to pro-corporate policies and growing monoculture commodities, farm suicides in rural America are 45 percent higher than the rest of the population.
Among the demands put forward by the group, one key issue includes the continuation of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all crops to assist farmers amid highly volatile markets and exploitative business practices.
Recently, a full-page advertisement found its way into The New York Times commissioned by a US-based advocacy group, Justice for Migrant Women expressing solidarity with protesting Indian farmers. It said, “You have ignited one of the largest protests in human history. From the fields of Punjab to the villages of Kerala, to the streets of New Delhi, your voices echo around the world.” The group also gave a call to action for people and activists around the world to demand accountability from the Indian government on the rights of the farmers and for it to respect the core principles of democracy.
(Manya Saini is a student of journalism at the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication and an intern with The Leaflet.)