By Mahek Chaudry
In September 2020, Indian Prime Minister Modi passed three new policies: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce Act, Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and the Essential Commodities Act. Government officials stated these policies would “modernize farming by liberalizing the industry.”
However, because of these policies, farmers have been left with fewer government protections and will likely lose markets that are government regulated, which is a major part of their income. These new policies have also become a common reason for the spike in farmer suicides. Since farmers are struggling with continual economic crises and tolerating already meager wages, many are in serious debt, making matters even more challenging. Farmers fear that these new policies will cause big corporations to replace smaller businesses, especially since Prime Minister Modi and government officials are known for acting closely with big agricultural corporations.
Source by Saanvi Mirchandani
Indian farmers play an extremely crucial role in supplying the world's produce, having them account for 70% of the world's spices.
Small protests began in New Delhi after these policies were implemented; however, government officials brushed it off. As the government ignored these small protests, farmers became infuriated at the indifference and these protests have become larger ever since. As these policies became bigger, more farmers from all over the country began to travel, so government officials dug trenches and ditches in hopes of stopping them. However, at the end of November, farmers on tractors from all around India successfully gathered at New Delhi to protest these policies, despite the government’s attempts to stop them. In New Delhi, farms set up small townships providing shelter, food, and free laundromats for protestors. However, these peaceful protests soon turned violent.
“Farmers fear that these new policies will cause big corporations to replace smaller businesses...”
These farmers started peaceful protests, but government officials initiated the start of the violence on India's Republic Day, January 26, 2021. Since the violence erupted, many farmers have been injured and killed, with police officers showing no mercy. In some areas, video footage has been shared in which police have been beating the farmers. These videos have brought light to this issue, causing an uproar of the injustice.
“I personally think the farmers are fighting for what they believe in, but the way that they are being treated is unfair. But what is truly bothering me is when they can't even do that peacefully. When did peacefully protesting become a threat?” said junior Avneet Ghotra.
People all around the world share this same opinion, believing that the farmers did nothing wrong and are just fighting to see some positive change. Widespread rhetoric is that these farmers need to be empowered during this difficult time, especially since so much of the world depends on them.
This issue doesn't just affect Indian farmers; it is a global concern, since almost 70% of the world’s spices come from India. The United States also has a relationship with India and its farmers, with a growing economy of $149 billion.
“The farmers protesting in India have been met with nothing but violence and empty promises. With agriculture being a vital part of the nation’s economy and so much of the population being farmers, it is crucial for the government to take into account how their legislation affects farmers and their livelihoods,” said junior Laaibah Shoaib.