Why are Indian farmers protesting? in Jhansi UP
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of furious farmers are crowded in a rough ring around Delhi, India’s capital. Many came in November from the nearby states of Punjab and Haryana, riding tractors and lorries provisioned for a long protest. On Republic Day, January 26th, thousands demonstrated against the national government with a series of orderly tractor-parades, while a smaller contingent broke away and scuffled with police around the Red Fort, a 17th-century monument long associated with India’s ruling powers. The police fortified barriers around the protesters’ camps, cutting off water, electricity and the internet. And then Rihanna got involved. On February 2nd the Barbadian singer alerted her 101m followers on Twitter on February 2nd to a news article about the conflict between police and protesters: “why aren’t we talking about this?!” A few other international celebrities followed suit, prompting India’s foreign ministry to tweet in rebuke, instructing them to resist the “temptation of sensationalist social media” and undertake a “proper understanding of the issues at hand”. What, then, are the issues that provoked the farmers in the first place?
Why are Indian farmers protesting?
Their foremost complaint has been plain since September 2020, when the prime minister, Narendra Modi, rushed through parliament three bills to reform Indian agriculture. The new laws were supposed to empower farmers by giving them a greater say in the sale of their produce. For over five decades, they have been selling only in designated wholesale markets controlled by state governments, never directly to buyers. Why are Indian farmers protesting? Why are Indian farmers protesting? Why are Indian farmers protesting?The markets, or mandis, are supposed to protect farmers from bigger players by interposing a layer of carefully monitored middlemen. The basic idea, according to Mekhala Krishnamurthy of Ashoka University, is that “wherever you find a very large number of small sellers, they are vulnerable to monopsonies. Why are Indian farmers protesting?” But over time the mandis and associated laws have proved disappointing to all parties. Lack of transparency, collusion among traders and price-fixing agreements have reduced farmers’ earnings. Delayed payments push them to borrow heavily from moneylenders. Shocking numbers are driven to suicide. With nearly 60% of all Indians depending primarily on agriculture for their income, any hindrance to the sector has a colossal impact on the whole country.