Hundreds of thousands of farmers in India, especially the majority of Sikhs and from the northern Indian state of Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting over the new bill that has passed in India. The farmers marched and drove their tractors to the outskirts of Delhi and have made protests camps in Ghazipur, Singhu, and Tikri. The farmers have vowed not to leave until the farm laws have been repealed. These farmers are led by a well-organized union and have also mentioned they will expand the protests nation-wide in the coming weeks.
Statistically, farming employs more than 50% of India’s workforce. These new measures introduced by the Government are one of the many changes that have been introduced into the agricultural industry since the 1990s, especially in relation to how the crops can be sold on the market. The Government is arguing that the law is necessary in the modernization of agriculture, which will allow farmers to sell crops to private firms rather than the state-controlled markets where the prices are subsided greatly by taxpayers. The farmers are contesting these laws, stating that it will leave them at the mercy of these corporations by taking away the guaranteed safety net prices for certain crops. They have also objected to the clear absence of communication between the farmers and the government regarding the introduction of these laws, as they are continually sprung upon them without warning.
The farmers have forced the government into negotiations, but even after 11 rounds of discussions, a consensus has not yet been reached. The government has taken serious actions and has been taking legal action against journalists and politicians for tweets that are related to the protests, and the riot police have gone to the farmer’s camp barricading them. The mobile internet access in the camps was also suspended for several days. The prime minister, Narendra Modi, has accused the protest of being infiltrated by agitators who were never dedicated to the cause but were simply there to stir up trouble.
There have also been tweets from Rihanna, the singer, and Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmentalist which drew attention to the farmers and the government also responded strongly to them by condemning the celebrities who were “rushing to comment on such matters” without any “proper understanding of the issues”.
Although the supreme court has suspended the implementation of the laws for 18 months, the farmers are not happy with it and will only accept a full repeal.