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Farmer protests in India

By Rick Majumdar

A reported 250 million people turned out on December 3 to protest three oppressive farm bills in India. The record-breaking number of farmers, trade unionists, communists and socialists mobilized from Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra to protest the anti-farmer laws. Farmers over the years have turned out in the tens of thousands to protest the unjust laws, worsening conditions of cultivation, and the introduction of businesses to take over their livelihood. The upcoming days will see more resistance from people.

The farmer protest in India is sparked by the introduction of three oppressive bills. They were introduced under false promises. One claims to give farmers more leeway to sell crops outside the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee without paying the necessary taxes; that bill’s official name is “The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020.” The second, called “The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020” allows private/corporate companies to invest in farming. The third, the “Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020” deregulates production, storage and movement of essential commodities. On the surface these bills seem to benefit farmers, but ultimately the introduction of corporate financial entities into the agricultural sector will take away people’s land and livelihoods.

The lives of Indian peasants began declining faster with the growth of imperialist globalization in the early 1990s and with the insertion of multinational private players in the agricultural sector in India. Small-scale farming is hampered to a great degree because of the corporate profiteers who have no intention of paying the fair prices for the crops they acquire.

Imperialist countries like the U.S. impose trade laws that force Indian farmers to sell their produce at dirt-cheap prices. These anti-farmer policies will put further stress on small producers, peasants, and local businesses with the introduction of these new bills.

As reported by the National Crimes Bureau of India, the number of farmer suicides is 296,438 since 1995 with more than 60,000 deaths in Maharashtra alone. These deaths are due to poor crop yields, a decrease in the level of the water table, drought, anti-farmer policies, high debts, and corruption in subsidies.

Multinational corporate companies have no intention to keep the welfare of farmers in mind while they exploit them. In 2019 Lays potato chips, a $177 billion dollar company, sued poor Indian farmers in Ahmedabad, Gujarat for cultivating a specific variety of potato that Lays had apparently patented. These entities will stop at nothing to worsen living conditions of farmers, worsen environmental conditions, and monopolize agricultural industry – ultimately rendering these farmers landless and then eventually displacing them from their homes. On December 8 another major strike is planned by five major socialist and communist groups. It is expected to outdo the previous record-breaking numbers.

#India #Asia #PeoplesStruggles #Strikes