The US has finally made an official comment on the ongoing nationwide farmers’ movement in India. Responding to a question by India Today at a State Department press briefing, a spokesperson said, “We recognise that peaceful protests are a hallmark of any thriving democracy, and note that the Indian Supreme Court has stated the same,” adding, “We encourage that any differences between the parties be resolved through dialogue.”
On the subject of internet shutdown in areas near the protest sites on Delhi’s borders, NDTV quoted the spokesperson as saying, “We recognise that unhindered access to information, including the internet, is fundamental to the freedom of expression and a hallmark of a thriving democracy.”
The spokesperson also said, “In general, the United States welcomes steps that would improve the efficiency of India’s markets and attract greater private sector investment.”
This comes shortly after a series of social media posts by international celebrities such as singer Rihanna, climate activist Greta Thunberg and other influencers put the farmers’ protests under the global spotlight.
Recently American lawyer-activist Meena Harris who is also the niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris had also tweeted in support of India’s farmers saying, “It’s no coincidence that the world’s oldest democracy was attacked not even a month ago, and as we speak, the most populous democracy is under assault. This is related. We ALL should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters.”
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar had also tweeted, “Solidarity with all the farmers across India protesting for their livelihood. India must protect their basic democratic rights, allow for the free flow of information, reinstate internet access, and release all the journalists detained for covering the protests.”
The Indian government clearly did not appreciate the international spotlight, and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a statement saying, “Respecting the sentiments of the protestors, the Government of India has initiated a series of talks with their representatives. Union Ministers have been part of the negotiations, and eleven rounds of talks have already been held. The Government has even offered to keep the laws on hold, an offer iterated by no less than the Prime Minister of India.”
It also said, “The Parliament of India, after a full debate and discussion, passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector. These reforms give expanded market access and provided greater flexibility to farmers. They also pave the way for economically and ecologically sustainable farming.”