As the government continues to use all its powers, including pliable media houses, to fuel the narrative that the Farmers movement protesting the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, scores of civil society movements are standing up in support of the farmers.
Over 200 people attended an online meeting and pledged their support to the lakhs of farmers fighting against this law. Those speaking in solidarity and reassuring that the farming community was well aware of the impact of the news laws and that the government must listen to their demands included leaders from All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), All India Peoples’ Science Network (AIPSN), All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), All India Mahila Sanskritik Sangthan (AIMSS) ANVESAN Financial Accountability Network (India), Forum for Trade Justice INSAF, Janwadi Lekhak Sangh Nation for Farmers, National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), People First, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Right to Food Campaign, Working Group on IFIs and others.
They have demanded that the Union government unconditionally withdraw and “repeal of the new farm laws,” and show its “sincerity to meet the farmers’ demand”.The civil society group has demanded that the government “immediately promulgate an ordinance to stop the implementation of these laws.”
They have also sought the “withdrawal of all cases imposed on the struggling farmers and leaders of the farmers’ organisations”. Farmers’ organisations from across the country, have been consistently raising the demands of loan waivers and fixation of a minimum support price on the basis of the report of the Swaminathan Commission, stated the meeting. They have also sough the “immediate grant of loan waivers for farmers, especially widows of farmers who have committed suicide and those who have taken loans from microfinance companies and SHGs”.
The movement is not just a Punjab farmers movement, said Dinesh Abrol, of Nation for Farmers, one of the organisers, “this is an all india movement”. The speakers including eminent citizens, academics, writers and activists such as P Sainath from People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI), MG Devasahayam (Former Chief Secretary, Government of Haryana), Mariam Dhawale from All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), Praveen Jha from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Shalmali Guttal of Focus on the Global South, Annie Raja from National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), Kavita Krishnan (Politburo member, CPI(ML)), R Ramakumar from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) spoke in one voice against the “pro-business and anti-farmer legislations passed undemocratically by the Indian Parliament in September 2020,” and stated that they continue to stand in solidarity with the farmers who are lead the mass peaceful protests across the country.
The collective strongly condemned the brutal repression of the struggle, tear-gassing and water cannoning on the peaceful farmers as they marched towards the Delhi borders, where they have now been camping for almost a week in the biting cold. “We believe that these laws will lead to further landlessness and destitution because the laws permit the unsparing loot by the lobby of corporate producers. The Government is also under pressure from the United States and other developed market economies in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to dismantle the subsidy regime and the public procurement and public distribution systems put in place in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and many other states,” stated the citizens group.
They added that while India has taken progressive positions at the WTO to withstand the pressure of developed countries so far and argued for a ‘peace clause’ to defend its public stockholding of food, “the passing of the new farm laws gives an opposite impression.”
The new laws they explained will expose farmers to fluctuating global prices, demand and supply. The farmers of India are the “backbone of the food security of the Indian people” and are already “reeling from persistent agrarian distress and the economic impact of the measures taken by the past and present governments.” This has put them in debt and in turn resulted in increased farmers suicides.
The group has also demanded that the government extend support to all vulnerable families with monthly incomes, and demand the implementation of MNREGA scheme, along with universal social security support systems.
They also called “upon all progressive and democratic organisations and individuals across the country to be in solidarity with and support the farmers’ movement in their just and democratic struggle for a life with dignity”
The widespread farmers agitations against the pro-business and anti-farmer legislations passed undemocratically by the Indian Parliament in September 2020, has been met with a predictable insensitive and muted response from the Government. At the meeting called by the Union minister of Agriculture on December 1, 2020, ostensibly to break the deadlock arising out of these mass protests, the Government defended the laws and offered to set up a panel to defuse and kill the protests and play politics of divide and rule.
“The Joint Action Committee, representing over 500 farmers organisations working across the states and at an all India level, has rightly rejected the proposal of the government to set up a committee to presumably educate the farmers, rather than address their genuine demands,” stated the speakers at the solidarity meet. The collective also called for the repeal of the two new farm laws, and the reversal of amendments to the Essential Commodities Act, and the withdrawal of the Electricity Bill 2020.
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