For the past seven months, there have been ongoing protests opposing three agricultural reform bills announced by the Modi government that would completely reshape agricultural markets. The protesters, who were initially predominantly Sikh, are opposing the bills alleging that the bills are pro-corporate and curtail necessary regulations that protect smaller farmers.
Since its beginning, the farmers’ protest received support from within and outside India. People from the film industry, sports, politicians, various organizations and university students were extended their support and actively participated in this protest.
At Delhi’s border, hundreds of students from different universities have joined the protest saying that they have joined in to be part of the “revolutionary movement”. Most of these students are from Delhi University (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Punjab University, Jamia Millia Islamia, and Ambedkar University.
In tête-à-tête with Sweta Sukumar, Mr. E D Davis, a subject expert elaborates on the flaws in the Agriculture Bill and the need for more student participation in farmer protest.
“The student fraternity in India must take up farmers’ protest. But the lack of proper coordination from the student unions is very evident. It’s an undeniable fact that the students’ strike associated with the farmer’s protest didn’t last long. Also, there was little or no support from any political parties,” explains Mr. Davis. The Indian media also showed less interest in farmers’ protests. Most of the media are just portraying the government version. The reason behind this biased nature is that a huge part of their income source comes from government advertisements. The restrictions brought to social media by the government in conjunction with this protest provoked students.
Food security is an issue that affects the entire population of India. There may be different opinions among the people of India about corporate farming. If we don’t have the right to decide what to cultivate on our own farmland, if the government fail to maintain the naturalness and sustainability of the farmland, and when these rights of the people fall into the hands of the monopoly capitalist, the life of common men can become hell.
On implementation of the law, the food that we are eating now may not be allowed to be made in our homes tomorrow. We may be able to cook and eat only the food provided by the corporates. Currently, there is a situation where corporate food items are conquering the market and the demand for items like potato chips, chocolate contented chips items, etc are increasing. Once the law comes into force, we may have access to only synthetic food and cereals. Previously, under the essential commodity act, a person could only collect or buy only a limited amount of goods. But now with this law, things are getting to the point where the government is promoting monopoly in business. Legumes and food items will be removed from the list of cereals.
What we actually need is a bill that helps the farmer to gets a fair price. The threat to food security in India will affect the entire population of the country as well as the entire generation. Therefore, the needs of the farmers are very relevant. Today, the majority of people in our country live on drugs. Instead of living on good food or living on the availability of fresh air and water in nature, markets are losing that natural life.
The moneylenders still play an important role in agricultural glory, where the interest paid to them is more than the profit the farmer earns from cultivating crops.
Every farmer wants his children to get out of agriculture because they are aware of the difficulty in agriculture. They want to give their children a good education and a better life. What the farmers in India need is land reform. Therefore, agricultural reforms must be implemented as a part of education.
The student fraternity should consider all the above-mentioned facts so that they can see it as not just an agrarian protest but also as a protest for food security and something that is vital for their future and life concluded Mr. Davis. Every day, there are reports of Indian farmer suicides from different parts of the country. People sitting in air conditioner rooms are formulating policies to rectify the problems of farmers.
Compiled by Swetha Sukumar