The year-long struggle of the farmers
will now be registered on the pages of history.
Prime Minister Modi's decision
of repealing the three farm laws,
is a big win for the farmers.
A big win for Democracy.
After this decision, many people were seen celebrating.
And many people were also seen quite frustrated.
Especially our news channels.
They worked hard throughout the year to show that
these farm laws were masterstrokes.
And why the protesting farmers were anti-national.
And now they'll desperately try to show that
repealing these farm laws was the real masterstroke.
Some people became so frustrated by this decision
that they started calling India a 'Jihadi Nation.'
And have started demanding dictatorship.
The Padma Shri winning actress,
isn't happy with democracy now
so wants a dictatorship.
These farm laws were introduced in September 2020.
First, how these farm laws were passed in the Rajya Sabha
was unconstitutional and undemocratic in and of itself.
what was in the farm laws that the people considered so disastrous?
Why were there so many protests because of these farm laws?
I discussed the exact details in this post.
With agriculture expert Devinder Sharma.
In short, these laws would've made it easier for the corporates to exploit the farmers.
Private mandis (wholesale markets) were made tax-free.
No Minimum Support Price was guaranteed for the farmers.
And such provisions were also added
that in case of a dispute between a farmer and a business person,
the farmers couldn't approach a court.
At a glance, it would seem like the farmers were free to sell their produce anywhere
and the companies were free to buy produce from the farmers from anywhere.
But in reality, with the help of these laws,
food hoarding by the companies would have been encouraged.
Making it easier to exploit the farmers.
The companies could buy anytime and at any price,
and sell at the price they wanted.
This made way for such news.
Like in Himachal Pradesh, where the company Adani buys apples from the farmers
at around ₹12 - ₹72 per kilo,
and then sells it in the market
for up to ₹250 per kg.
In such cases, most of the profits are gobbled up by the company.
The consumer, the common man has to pay an inflated price.
And the farmers are forced to sell at a low price.
They don't get any minimum support price.
The people supporting the farm laws argued that
the small farmers with small landholdings,
would have benefitted the most from these farm laws.
But this entire argument is based on the assumption that
the companies that they would be dealing with,
would treat them fairly.
But the protesting farmers could not blindly trust large corporates.
That the companies wouldn't exploit the farmers.
How can a small farmer be expected
to maintain his side of the bargain
against a large corporate company?
How would small farmers build their cold storage facilities?
How would they have their godowns
or establish their private mandis?
These were the reasons that led to the farmers' protest.
And hundreds of thousands of farmers,
especially from Haryana and Punjab,
came out to the streets.
With the slogan of 'Chalo Dilli.'
The government tried really hard to quash their protests.
First, they tried to stop them on the roads.
By the Haryana Government.
When roads were destroyed to dig trenches.
The farmers jumped over the ditches.
Barricades were placed at Delhi's borders.
Rows of barricades with barbed wires atop.
They were beaten with sticks.
Tear gas was deployed at places.
And water cannons at others.
On Delhi's border, three main protest sites of the Formers Movement formed.
The most famous among them was the
The Singh border and the Ghazipur border.
At one point, the police cut off the access to drinking water and toilets.
Metal spikes were laid on the ground.
But these were only the physical techniques to stop the farmers.
In addition to it, a new story was being spun online.
The famous trolls of the government,
and some celebrities
like a Padma Shri winning actress comparing the farmers to terrorists.
Said that old women were brought in to protest
by hiring them for ₹100.
Obviously, these were fake news.
But they were spread in such a way that
they were intended to discredit the protesting farmers.
The Farmers' Movement was the first movement in the country where
the protesters had to collide with the government
and had to maintain their image when faced with an army of online trolls and the media.
All the movements before this in our country,
whether the Nirbhaya Protest or the Anti-Corruption Protest,
the media had more or less, either favored the protestors,
or at least presented it neutrally.
This was the first movement where the media
did their best to discredit the protestors.
To label them anti-nationals.
To label them terrorists.
It was very difficult to earn the support of the masses.
Because people were constantly bombarded by the news
that these farmers were terrorists and Khalistanis.
This was done at each and every point.
If the farmers ate pizza at the protest site,
the news would run "How could it be a protest when the farmers are having pizzas?"
Is the right to have pizza limited to only the anchors of the news channels?
Why can't a farmer have a pizza?
Politicians tried to incite people.
"They are having a picnic.
They are eating chicken biryani there.
Eating cashews and almonds,
There may even be terrorists among them."
"It's not a protest, there are only a handful of people.
They are the alcoholics and the jobless people from the villages.
They are useful neither in their homes nor at work."
"Move in masses when you're strong.
Treat them like they deserve,
and they deserve sticks."
"We will teach you a lesson,
it wouldn't even take 2 minutes to do so."
They even tried to get their goons into the protests to create violence.
So that the protest can be shown as violent.
Like in this instance when hired goons were sent.
They were throwing stones at the farmers
and the police were standing there watching.
"And they are still throwing stones.
The stones are thrown at the other side where the farmers are standing behind the barricading.
They are being targeted.
The policemen are just standing there watching it all play out."
But most of the farmers were strong-willed.
And they tried to continue their peaceful protest.
With time, this movement spread to other states.
Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Maharashtra.
Several retired army veterans had also joined this protest.
And had returned their medals.
If you are wondering why most of the protests were held in Haryana and Punjab,
then there's a very simple reason for it.
The Green Revolution had come to Punjab and Haryana.
The APMC mandis were mostly seen in these two states
where the farmers get the most benefit from these mandis.
In this movement, a new form of Unity was also seen.
Like the one present in the CAA-NRC protest.
Many elders, women, and even children participated in the protests.
Also, people set aside the divide of religion and came together to protest.
Rakesh Tikait came up with a slogan related to it.
'Allah hu Akbar,
Har Har Mahadev.'
"Both the slogans come from the same Earth."
Later, the people in the media clipped it to show
that he's saying 'Allah hu Akbar' only.
Claiming that Islamic forces were behind this protest.
Another amazing thing that could be seen in these protests was
the makeshift libraries.
Libraries were built at the protest sites so that they could read books.
Books of revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Che Guevara, and many others.
Akbar Allahabadi, a famous poet, said
"Don't aim the arrows,
Don't pull out your sword,
When you are faced with cannons,
Bring forth the newspapers."
The farmers did exactly this.
To counter the fake news propagated by the pliable media,
the farmers started printing their own newspapers.
A 4-page, biweekly newspaper.
Additionally, they created their digital handles on social media.
Kisan Ekta Morcha.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube,
were available everywhere.
In total, in this struggle more than 600 farmers achieved martyrdom.
And this struggle turned out to be a success.
Repealing these three farm laws was a major demand by the farmers.
But another major demand was raised by the farmers throughout the movement.
To be guaranteed MSP.
Minimum Support Price.
Friends, in reality, the farmers are often forced
to sell their produce at meagre prices.
Because they have no option of availing of cold storage.
They don't have large godowns.
Like the ones large companies have.
A large space is required to store food grains.
And they need to be kept in special conditions.
To protect them from insects and to prevent spoilage.
So when a farmer goes to sell his produce in the market,
he doesn't have much-negotiating power.
The price that he is offered,
he has to sell at that often.
Because what other option does he have?
If he refuses, he has to transport all the harvest back to his place,
and since he has no place to store it properly,
it will be spoilt, wasted.
It's blackmailing of sorts.
If you've watched the film Mother India,
this condition is brilliantly shown in it.
Farmer leader Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram was the person
who played a major role in the 1930s
in starting the concept of government wholesale markets.
So that the farmers could get a place to sell their produce.
In 1939, he was the reason behind the passing of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act.
He was the leader of Sikandar Hayat Khan's Unionist Party then.
Several years later,
when C. Subramaniam became the Food and Agriculture Minister,
he implemented the concept of MSP in June 1964.
"Either sell your crops at this price,
or take them back."
To stop such blackmailing, the concept of MSP was introduced.
So that the farmers could get at least that price
when they go to sell their crops in the market.
Do you what's the reality now, friends?
If you take the rate of inflation into account
and account for the cost of various things and salaries,
then you'd see that now the MSP
is very low.
One of the demands of the farmers has also been
the increase of MSP
by the report of the Swaminathan Commission.
First, the MSP is so low,
And the second problem is that the MSP is applicable only on 22-23 crops.
And only 6% of the farmers in the country get to sell their crops at MSP.
More than 90% of the farmers can't even get the MSP.
Because it is not a part of any codified law.
That's why the protesting farmers also demanded that
MSP be made into a legal guarantee.
"It will be repealed in the Parliament."
"Yes, we welcome the repeal.
And they should also bring a law guaranteeing MSP.
It is also a huge issue for the farmers in the country."
The Modi government had promised that by 2022,
they would double the income of the farmers.
We can't see any scope of it happening.
That's why I'm saying, repealing these farm laws now,
is only the beginning.
If one wants to truly improve the lives of the farmers,
one hasn't even begun to do that.
Enacting these farm laws would have made their lives way worse.
That has been avoided.
But now, the situation is stuck at the level
at which it was earlier.
The condition of the farmers is still terrible.
Repealing these farm laws doesn't suddenly improve everything.
The Central government and the State governments have to take several steps
to improve the lives of the farmers.
In yesterday's speech, Prime Minister Modi talked about Zero-Budget Farming.
How farming can be done without using chemical fertilizers and insecticides.
How cow dung and urine can be used as manure.
And there are several other techniques as well.
Like compost pit and shallow plowing.
And apart from natural farming,
crop rotation, multi-layered farming
the skills and knowledge required to practice these must be brought to the fields.
The farmers must get this knowledge.
Perhaps the government can hire trainers
to train the farmers in these.
Additionally, we need thousands of more mandis in our country.
To build a decentralized ecosystem.
Small and numerous wholesale markets.
1 mandi for every 10 districts.
And online portals complimenting them.
The central government has taken steps in this direction.
They launched a portal named eNam.
This needs to be made popular.
So that it becomes easy for every farmer to register on it and to list their products.
So that the farmers could go and sell their products through the portals.
Also, perhaps there's a need to encourage the Co-Operatives.
So that the farmers with small landholdings
can come together to form joint co-operatives
like Amul and Lijjat Papad.
So that they can become joint owners of the cooperatives.
Once they work together, they would be able to compete with the companies too.
The government has taken a positive step in this direction as well.
By creating a separate Ministry in July 2021.
Ministry of Cooperation.
Hopefully, it will play a positive role here.
Time will tell if these steps remain merely theoretical, on paper,
become false promises,
or if they bring forward real change for the better.
But there are some things that we can do ourselves as common people.
To bring about a change.
Like whenever you go to buy something,
try to buy from the farmers near you.
In your neighborhood.
Or wherever you shop.
Try to find out the farms around you.
And to contact the farmers there.
And to buy things directly from them.
You'll get fresh produce.
At a lower price.
And the farmers would also be benefitted.
And the middleman wouldn't take away any profits.
This will be the best option for all.
I hope you found this post informative as always.
Let's meet in the next post.
Thank you very much!