After many distressing developments in the country some good news had to simply emerge during 2020 to end the year on a note of hope and it has finally emerged in the form of a growing unity of farmers and workers. This will strengthen our democracy and increase the ability of people to defend themselves and crucial national interests from authoritarian trends of crony capitalism.
This is yet another reminder that people should never lose hope. Even when difficulties and dangers increase a lot, within this increasing mountain of problems there emerges the possibility of seeds of hope sprouting as overburdened people try to find a way out of their deepening troubles and so reach out to each other.
In 2020 as farmers and workers became increasingly troubled by drastic legislations harmful to their interests being passed very quickly without proper debate, taking undue advantage of covid and the very shortened monsoon session of the Parliament, farmers and workers felt greater need to resist this onslaught, the culmination of a much longer series of government decisions which they felt were going against them , and so felt greater need to reach out to each other and explore possibilities of united action.
There were earlier protests also but the last week of November proved to be the critical time with workers organizing a massive one-day national strike coinciding with the march of many organizations of farmers towards Delhi for a more prolonged protest. This has continued since then with a renewed round of negotiations scheduled for December 30.
In addition some organizations of landless rural workers have either already joined these protests , or announced their decision to join, or at least expressed their support. Some farmers organizations participating in this protest have their fronts of farmers as well as workers, and so can move forward for such unity. The demands and needs of the weakest section of rural landless workers should also be taken up in these protests.
Of course this broad unity and possibilities of united actions are still in an early stage. Much more needs to be done, several issues have to be resolved, but at least this much can be clearly said that a very good and hopeful journey of united action has already started with the potential of making very good progress in the coming year.
Already issues like resisting the plunder inherent in crony capitalism are finding more articulation. It does not matter whether the plunder is by foreign multinationals or by local crony capitalists, both must be resisted to protect the rights of farmers and workers and to protect the wider national interests.
One weakness which is still seen is this mobilization is that issues of environment protection are not being articulated yet in a strong way. It is hoped that this weakness will be overcome very soon as it is very important to link ecological issues with issues of justice and equality issues and this is very, very important for a safe future and for resolving critical issues.
There are many challenges ahead but still it is a sign of hope that possibilities of unity of farmers and workers are becoming stronger. Public-spirited intellectuals should extend their full support and cooperation to this unity.
Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His latest books include Protecting Earth for Children and Azadi Ke Deewon Ki Daastaan ( in Hindi).