Reason Wounded—Government and Judiciary Miss the Essence of Farmer Protests

Farmers Bill cartoon english

The stalemate in resolving key issues relating to farmers’ movement continues, even though millions and millions of people in the country want the prolonged stalemate to end on a note of satisfaction for farmers.

Although attempts are being made repeatedly to depict the farmers as being unreasonable and obstinate, in fact they have displayed remarkable maturity as well as foresight in understanding the enormous dangers of the three controversial farm laws before many reputed intellectuals and experts could do so, and courage as well as patience in building a successful, peaceful, prolonged resistance to three laws in conditions of media hostility and clever manipulations by the powerful establishment. It has been a great achievement, despite some limitations.

A leader of the country who is devoted to harnessing the  talents and creativity of the people of our great country for ensuring national progress would have taken great pride in the wisdom and courage of farmers and would have been very willing to learn from them to evolve the right path, perhaps not accepting all that they are saying but certainly grasping the essence of what they say and accepting it readily to prepare the ground for  benefiting from the wisdom of farmers and walking together with them, in the process also preparing them to listen to the wisdom and needs of some other people as well. Alas the current ruling dispensation seems to lack such leaders. The leaders who exists prefer to be guided by billionaires than by farmers and workers.

Hence the current establishment has failed to even understand the essence of the prolonged and determined protest of farmers, which has  continued with remarkable commitment, in the middle of many difficulties,  ever since the three ordinances which preceded the three laws were issued in a highly arbitrary way.

The most disrupting and harmful aspect of the food and farming system worldwide in recent decades has been the growing grip of big business, billionaires and multinational companies, resulting in great harm to farmers and consumers, health and environment, food security and animal welfare. In India also the same trend has been seen, but given the large number of small farmers and compulsions of democratic politics, this trend could be checked to some extent. But more recently, with the rapid spread of crony capitalism centered on the very close alliance of top billionaires and the ruling regime, there was much faster spread of corporatization of agriculture and this is what is reflected in and what is the pushing factor behind the three controversial farm laws.

It is for this reason that farmers are opposing the three controversial farm laws and their demand for repeal is based on a holistic view and not any single particular clause. When the government side insists on a clause by clause discussion as the most rational approach, it fails to grasp the essence of the opposition voiced by the agitating farmers.

Again when the government and even the judiciary seek to reassure farmers that they will not lose their land due to any particular clause of these laws, they miss the point made by the farmers that it is not any particular clause of the three laws but the accentuation of certain trends by the overall impact of the three laws which will push farmers toward loss of their land, a highly disturbing and disruptive phenomenon already leading to 100 farmers being turned into landless workers every hour.

While the government has been singularly incapable of understanding this perspective of farmers, the Supreme Court showed signs of a much more sympathetic response and understanding on January 11,when it rebuked the union government for its unhelpful negotiations so far, only to belie this hope the very next day by appointing four known supporters of the three controversial laws ( and the overall  thinking they represent ) on a committee to take forward the sensitive matter. The farmers’ movement has not endued such great hardships for so many months , even sacrificing many precious lives in the process, to finally hand over the fate of the entire movement to four gentlemen of such established repute that the protesting farmers can least expect justice and understanding from them.

So the stalemate continues. But no sacrifice, no sincere movement , no great commitment is ever wasted. Despite the unsympathetic response of the establishment, everyday we learn and benefit, our unity grows, in the course of the movement.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His recent books include When the Two Streams Met ( Freedom Movement of India ) and Man Over Machine ( Gandhian Ideas For Our Times).



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