Skip to main content

Police crackdown: When will farmers' unions 'entertain' landless workers' issues, too?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*

The police brutality on farmers protesting against the three farm bills passed by Parliament needs to be unconditionally condemned. The farmers are agitating against the bills since these were passed without proper discussion in Parliament. The fear is that these bills will pave the way for corporatisation of agriculture and will leave farmers and other sections of dependent on the farming community, especially agricultural workers, at the mercy of corporate houses.
The farmers fear that without minimum support price (MSP), putting them at the mercy of corporate houses would ruin them. They feel left out, as they were not involved in any discussion, one reason why they decided to protest. The protests have grown in different parts of the country, particularly Punjab and Haryana, but also in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
The protesting farmers, mainly from Punjab, were brutally stopped at the Haryana border and then at the Delhi border. This brings to light questions on the way the Government of India as also state governments, particularly those under BJP, are handling protests. If the farmers have grievances, these need to be formally discussed in all seriousness. They were forced to protest only after they were not heard.
In fact, even as protests were taking place, efforts were made to turn farmers a publicity tool in order to divide farmers’ organisations. After all, farmers’ organisations are politicised, and every party has its own farmers’ wing. Yet, it is a fact that there is unprecedented anxiety among farmers against the government's apathy towards them.
November 26 was the Constitution day. The government claims to be promoting the ideas of constitutionalism, but the issue is: What is wrong if the farmers went in for peaceful democratic protests? Why did the government panic when the farmers wanted to reach Delhi? The government had to finally relent, and allow them to hold a public meeting at Burari, Delhi, after the entire protest was badly mishandled.
It seems, the government feared adverse publicity. Of course, some media channels, close to the government, waited to turn the police brutality on farmers into big news by seeking to find conspiracy theories. A section of them tried to avoid discussing the farmers’ protest, apparently waiting for a Sushant Singh Rajput-type issue to divert people’s attention from the protest.
Political protests are part and parcel of democracy. When the government criminalises protests, these become out of control. Where will people go and lodge their complaints if the avenue of protest is also closed? They know well that the power to change or abrogate the farmers’ bills rests only with the Central government. However, they found that it was not interested in listening to them.
There is a need to highlight another issue here. No doubt, corporatisation of farming is not an alternative to resolve India's food crisis and poverty alleviation. It will only bring disaster on communities and will not make us food sufficient.
Instead of corporatising the farm sector, there is a need to democratise it by taking initiatives such as distribution of land to the landless, even as encouraging family farming. Family farming can be the backbone of not only anti-poverty programmes but also for strengthening India's resolve to democratise the highly iniquitous rural social order and make us food sufficient. 
Unfortunately, farmers’ issues in India have remained confined to MSP. Farmers’ unions are little bothered about agricultural workers
Unfortunately, farmers’ issues in India till now have remained confined to providing MSP. Farmers’ unions are little bothered about agricultural workers and marginalised farmers. Powerful farmers are united on the issue. During election times, they become prisoners of caste politics. No one entertains the issues bogging landless workers, many of who are Dalits, and other marginalised communities. The result is that most of these protests are confined to powerful farming communities, in which the Sangh Parivar has made inroads.
No doubt, the police brutalities against the peaceful protest by farmers needs to be unequivocally condemned. The government must negotiate with them and should not look at corporatisation as panacea to all the ills of our agricultural sector. Protests and negotiations are part of democracy and must be encouraged.
However, at the same time, farmers’ organisations should begin addressing the issues faced by agricultural workers. The governments must be pressed into promoting family farming, which is only possible through land redistribution initiatives. It will democratise rural societies.
Land reforms can bring social equity and strengthen social democracy which is important and essential for our political democracy to succeed – a fact highlighted by Baba Saheb Ambedkar while presenting the Constitution to the Constitution Assembly on November 26, 1949. Let us rededicate ourselves to democratise the social system, as envisaged by Dr Ambedkar. The key to doing this is land reforms. The question is, whether the government has the will to do it.
---
*Human rights defender. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vbrawat, twitter: @freetohumanity

Comments

TRENDING

'Halt Covid-19 vaccination drive': Indian doctors join campaign across 36 nations

By Rosamma Thomas*  A group of Spanish doctors first got together to call for a halt to the Covid-19 vaccinations, and doctors from other countries too later joined them – there are now over 12,000 doctors from India, Portugal, Canada, Hungary, South Africa, Israel and a host of other nations who have issued a call to halt vaccinations. On September 10, a group of Indian doctors came together to address the press over a webinar to explain why they thought the vaccination drive should end forthwith. Dr Amitav Banerjee, who after a career as an epidemiologist in the Indian Army now teaches at a private medical college in Pune, said there was no longer a medical emergency. Children are at low risk of infection, and there is good reason to halt vaccination and conduct proper research, given the high number of adverse events. There is a sudden and poorly explained spike in the number of young and healthy people dying. While it may be impossible to attribute deaths entirely to the vaccinatio

Did Mother Teresa trivialise poverty? 'You are suffering, that means Jesus is kissing you'

By Harsh Thakor*  The world commemorated the 25th death anniversary of Mother Teresa on September 5. Whatever her flaws, she rendered service to humanity in regions almost untranscended, resembling the relentless spirit of the waves of an ocean. Irrespective of community or religion, she offered her service. Even those not drawn by sainthood revere the role of Mother Teresa. For 68 years, she had worked selflessly and tirelessly in India and elsewhere in the world, taught the destitute, healed the sick, fed and clothed the poor, cared for abandoned children, housed lepers and those afflicted with HIV/AIDS and offered dignity in death to desolate persons abandoned by family and society. Mother Teresa was born in Skopje in 1910 to an Albanian family as Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. She became wedded to religious vows at an early age and moved to India to join the missionary work of the Catholic Church. Heartshaken by the misery faced by the Indian masses, in 1950 she set up her own

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey*  The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022. Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times. However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively partici

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Excess to cheetah in Kuno to increase 'woes' of local people, 'disturb' wildlife balance

Bharat Dogra*  The release of eight cheetahs into the Kuno National Park ( Madhya Pradesh) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, although accompanied by a media blitz, has raised several questions. The animals were flown from Namibia to Gwalior and from there they were taken to the release site in a helicopter. Official sources have stated that this is the first time a large carnivorous species has been moved across continents for establishing a new population. This first release will be followed by others under this project. However, precisely for this reason, it is important to be cautious because if such translocations have been generally avoided in the past, there may have been reasons for this and at the same time we do not have much learning experiences from the past. The Cheetah became extinct in India in 1952, although this very fast moving animal is still remembered in the folklore of many areas. Hence the first impulse is to say that trying to introduce and revive

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".