An unstoppable force has met an immovable object

An unstoppable force has met an immovable object

An unstoppable force has met an immovable object

Gurbax Rawat March 30, 2021

2020 had been a year of anxiety and melancholy for everyone. The collective leadership, all over the world, has been questioned regarding the handling of the pandemic. India has been closely watched by the world as many theories support it to be the next super power in Asia. As if the PM’s highly randomized and unthoughtful announcements like GST, demonetization, CAA-NRC followed by unscientific addresses to the nation during the pandemic, bordering the absurd, were not enough the center govt decided to pull another vicious snake from the bag. The 3 farm laws were passed by the BJP government with its brute majority in Parliament without any consultation with farmers’ organizations and opposition parties. The new farm laws introduced by the Centre violate the basic ethics of farming, their sense of dignity and their intuitive sense of what is their due. The farmers may not read the fine print of these laws, but they can sense the gradual dismantling of the Mandi system (APMC) that has been their lifeline for the last few decades.

The govt made a big mistake of underestimating the farmers, especially their women folk from Punjab and Haryana. It has been almost a month that lacs of farmers are braving the harshest winters of the decade and protesting at the Delhi border along with their wives and children against the anti- farmer laws. Like all other protests, this protest began with the male farmers in lead challenging the govt’s efforts to exploit their farmland and produce. Unexpected by anyone, their women folk back home, who clearly understand the repercussions of these laws, realized that the time has come to unleash the women power and join their men at the protest point. These women have broken the myth that village women do not understand politics & economics and that their place belongs in the confines of four walls. This has acted like a shot in the arm for the protesting farmers and unions representing them. They know that the govt is capable of anything in order to appease their corporate friends who have been investing in land and making large storage spaces since 2017. A visit to the protest site reveals the upsurge of a new power in a stale and decaying political space. When one sees a group of elderly women shouting slogans and singing patriotic songs, it is enough to convince any living soul that they’ll either emerge victorious by forcing the government to withdraw these bills or they’ll fight till the last breath. Their motivation comes from the women protestors of Shaheen Bagh, who tirelessly protested against CAA-NRC.

BJP led Center govt passed these laws without agreement of state governments on a matter which falls under their jurisdiction. It is aiming to turn them into puppet governments. The raids on the arhtiyas in Punjab make it easy to put 2 and 2 together. They’re being targeted for backing up the farmers. Why shouldn’t they? It’s a time tested relationship. The center govt has employed its puppet media and venom spitting television anchors who have tried to discredit the farmer movement by calling them anti nationals, khalistanis and tukde-tukde gang. It was inspiring to see that farmers have an IT cell to counter the negative propaganda of the govt. The recent launch of “Trolley Times” is another innovative idea to tackle the false media hype. The center is operating to concentrate all power arbitrarily into its own hands, and playing havoc with the lives of the people.

The contributions for the ongoing protest are not only coming from India but also from international organizations that are helping the farmers such as Khalsa Aid, International Punjabi foundation, Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, All India Kisan Sabha, Indian Overseas Congress Germany and many more. Local people have been pouring support in plenty. Langars have been ongoing ever since the protest picked intensity and magnitude with farmers from Punjab, Haryana, UP, MP, Rajasthan and south joining the protest. Almost all daily need items are available at the Langar counters including toiletries, warm clothing, mosquito repellents, footwear and other essentials. The Sikhs proudly say that there are two prominent viruses in their community, “sacrificing” and “servicing” nature. And there is no anti-dote to this good VIRUS. Most food camps have a medical facility. The electricity generation is being done through solar panels and many farmers are running their tractors round the clock as generators. The petrol pump owners in the vicinity are offering their premises for sleeping and using their toilets. Youth from the farming community and related workforce including the students have also joined the protest and are determined to stay as long as possible and required. This is not just a farmer’s protest or farmer’s movement anymore. This is the 21st-century version of highly educated and tech-savvy farmers who cannot be intimidated or bullied.

The Modi government is handling it as it would handle any trade union protest. Attempts of dividing the movement have met with the ridicule it deserved. Farmers across the country now share a sense that the government is doing something big and bad. This is why the government's handling of this upsurge is counter-productive. The longer the government takes to realize this, the higher the cost for it and the country and national security. The govt-corporate nexus is now clearly visible. The hubristic attitude of the center must change and pragmatic, well thought and consulted decisions must be taken for not only the farmers but also for their brave cavalry of women who’re ready to see this battle to its logical conclusion.

Any sector that has been privatized, by the govt policies, has witnessed monopoly by the private players at the top, whether it is the education system or the telecom sector. The buy-in is generated, by the private firms, by passing on some immediate tax benefits to the other party that is exploited once the existing system succumbs to the new system. The next Rabi crop is due for harvesting after almost 4 months. The govt could have easily waited and held discussions and negotiations during these months instead of letting farmers camp at the protest site. Over 50 farmers have died and few have committed suicide, naming PM Modi in their suicide notes. Unless the govt wakes from its deep slumber and arrogance, one can witness a blatant disregard and slow suicide of democracy.

The Supreme Court has done the right thing by looking at the ramifications of the present situation. It has lit a candle in the dark. We need a solution out of calmness and not by the stakeholders taking strong positions. It will, however, be very tough for the farmer community and its representatives to put faith in the committee set up by the govt.

Mrs. Gurbax Rawat is a consecutively elected Councilor and an Ex-Deputy Mayor of Chandigarh.

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