Resurgent India: Peasant farmers’ democracy

farmers march

Does the multitude signal the birth pangs of change? The coalition of agricultural workers, marginal landholders, oppressed castes led by rich peasantry surrounding Delhi constitutes a counter-power. Coming alive and united in its opposition to the Farm Bills; a pan Indian gathering calling to account the dominant tyranny enthroned in Delhi and Nagpur. Camped on the highways leading to Delhi under the reassuring presence of drones this gathering of people composes the ‘performative act’ scripted by the ‘sovereignty of the many’. Reconstituting India as a ‘real’ democracy – by the multitude. United in rage against corporatisation of Indian agriculture this unity of peasant workers is to avert rural unemployment, hunger, and dispossession. This upsurge, the siege by the multitude is the prelude to changing regimes, constitutions, laws and archaic ancient Codes.

Reconstituted Republic

This siege of Delhi challenging the Farm Bills on the highways of the nation is a clarion call to dismantle the Government machinery that confers more wealth and power to the oligarchs while denying it to the people solely because of their poverty. The moving feet, calloused hands of the sloganeering farmers surging towards Delhi has created its ‘kairos’; drowning the brahmanic chants rendered for another religious consecration by the Prime Minister. While the ever-increasing multitude, and their repeated act of gathering all over India displays the intent to tear the ‘lip service Indian democracy’; it also unveils ‘the manifesto’ to restructure a new people oriented democracy. Constituted by the performative act of the surging mass of people gathering, and repeated across India – WE- the people are Re-Writing the exploitative identity of who WE are and what WE wish to become – starting with the Peoples Preamble to a new Constitution dated : 26 November 2020.

Resistance on the streets

The convergence of people across India led by farmers is the constituent assembly convened against the threatened dispossession of land: earmarked as enclosures for JioKrishi, Adani Wilmar led agro industry. Acts of Parliament intended to consolidate privatisation of the agriculture sector has instead galvanised the people. A catalyst reviving the dormant counter-power to the dominant regime in Delhi. Always paying obeisance to the Washington Consensus, this ‘resistance to power’ on the streets of India ‘has set in motion a transformative machine for the attack and destruction of Power’ (Negri, Antonio). This mobilisation of the eternal political constituency united on specific issues is the demonstrable, visible exercise of ‘freedom that consists in obeying the laws WE make for ourselves’ (Robespierre). As 303 seats in the Lok Sabha and 37.38 percentage of votes polled have been offered to the Ambani, Adani led brigands; the rejection of the Farm Laws is an act of resistance, born out of necessity – a ‘sovereign act of the many’.

Such actions leading to struggle, intended to resist the impending corporate takeover of agriculture, and the consequential misery – the reconstitution, resistance, and demand for repeal is the act of necessity which is above all law. Declaring the Farm Laws as an abuse of majoritarian power, and non-binding on the multitude. The reconstituted people have stepped into the increasing divergence between citizens’ expectations, and the Modi regime’s capacity to fulfill their promises. The regime captured by corporate donors who have enriched the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party coffers with 95% of political funding (Electoral Bonds) has offered their soul to the corporate. Albeit money and wealth of billionaires dictate the Statement of Objects of statutes favouring donors to the Bharatiya Janata Party, and for interest-groups who donate to the public-but-private-exempt-from-audit PM Cares Fund. Naturally Farm Bills promulgated by corrupt representatives indebted to the Adani, Ambani combine are justifiably rejected by the multitude as illegitimate legislations. In this backdrop the promise maker Modi’s speeches are mere bluster, the hollow pristine abstractions to the nation reveal that truth has become oracular, and factual evidence irrelevant – the ‘ache din’ that never will come. Reclaiming the right to reject statutes framed by corrupt elected representatives ushers in a peoples’ raj were political decision-making reverts back to the people – from the periphery to the centre.

Seen through the prism of Machiavelli’s observation ‘re-appropriation of land by the plebs renewed the democracy of the Roman Republic’ (Discourses on Livy). This pan Indian gathering of peasant workers, from diverse castes, and cultures constitute the limbs united against the regime as collective resistance to the planned corporate appropriation of 52% of India’s landmass. The multitude gathering around Delhi signals the peasant farmers’ opposition to the pro-corporate, and anti-farmer Acts of Parliament, necessitating resistance and reclamation of land deceptively assigned by the ethnic majority to the corporate. The gathering of the multitude is not a violation of the law, but an obligation of the multitude that respects no other – ‘necessitas non habet legem’ – necessity respects no law.

The gathering of the people laying siege of Delhi, the ordinary people walking along the highways is a spectacular entry into Indian politics, challenging the established order, elites, crony capitalists, and agents of the Empire. This Long March to Delhi is the culmination of protests resonating from the universities, Shaheen Bagh, Azad Maidan, and other sites of protest – an expressive right to resistance against majoritarian oppression. The Delhi 2020 upsurge gathering farmers, peasants, workers, students, factory workers, pensioners, intellectuals in a specific place is the creation of a new popular unity resonating across India. Despite media blackouts, vilification campaigns, the increasing visibility of people on the streets, continue to demonstrate the ‘sovereignty of the many’ – this act of gathering to resist is the general will – the people raging with a purpose. That will dismantle the oligarchy that sustains the despot perpetuating parliamentary deceit with impunity over the people. Who as stakeholders of the nation has exercised their ‘freedom born from appropriation, a freedom that is spreading through the multitude, that potentially transforms into equality’ (Spinoza) pulling down statutes of Manu and other corrupt institutions. The winds of rage swirling from the soul of this resurgent India will reshape Antillia into a Modi-shaped- monument.

Unless repealed the Farm Laws will remain anti-people legislation approved by the ethnic majority of the Indian Parliament. And these are destructive statutes intended to dismantle the carefully structured socially relevant arrangements involving minimum support price, procurement prices, issue prices for foodgrains, and subsidies (Prabhat Patnaik). Signaling ‘desi servitude’ of the ethnic majority in Parliament to serve the forces of finance capital acting through domestic capitalist cronies who sustain the despotic reign. These laws remain a testament to the Modi regime respecting the ‘lakshman rekha’‘ drawn by the World Bank to ‘intervene less in industrial and agricultural pricing; deregulate restrictions to entry and exit’. As sector after sector is deregulated in India by policy and statute, Modi’s obedience facilitates a gradual ‘merger of the State and the corporation’ the definition of fascism coined by Benito Mussolini. The multitude has spoken with the authority of truth, the reconstituted people have raised the banner of revolt against the emergence of a ‘corporatized fascist Government.’

Vinod Kumar Edachery, currently works with a strategic advisory firm in the Middle East. He believes that neoliberalism creates inequality and transfer of wealth to the hegemony. [email protected]



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