By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
In the past few days, the national capital has witnessed thousands of angry farmers protesting on the artillery highways of Delhi. Before I further ahead I would like to disclose that I am not a farmer and have little to no knowledge about farming but despite many Indians who have limited perspective in the field, there is an awareness among city-dwelling Indians like me that the Indian farming sector is not in good health. In fact, mostly what we hear about farmers of our country is Suicide, loss, and bankruptcy.
Though it’s a general inconvenience that the roads of the national capital are blocked I tend to sympathize with the protesters on the grounds that just like any other Indian citizen they have the right to be heard by their government. The use of water cannons, tear gas, trench obstacles, and physical force against protesting farmers are not a welcome sight in the democracy. Despite being labeled Khalistani, terrorist, and sponsored trouble makers by government fawning media channels, farmers have got support from different parts of the country and citizens from various walks of life. Many Indians who do not speak openly are acknowledging that the Central government cannot just make decisions for people by keeping people out of the decision-making process.
From the beginning, the new farm laws were not welcomed. The farmers in Punjab and Haryana were first protesting on streets, then they occupied the rail tracks in Punjab, and after few months of trying and failing to get their voices heard they decided to blockade the roads of the national capital. The way these farm bills were passed in Rajya Sabha was also questionable, what was the need of passing the bills by mere voice votes. The government looked in a hurry to form these new laws and now it’s on the back foot and forced to negotiate with Farmers unions. It should not have come to this; BJP may not accept this but the central government has disastrously miscalculated the response of farmers on this issue. Why force a law on someone that they don’t want? Why not consult with farmers and all the involved stakeholders to reach a solution that is agreeable to all.
The government has made this an ego issue, democracy runs on engagement, on dialogue between the rulers and the ruled. By saying that Farmers are misled and ill-informed for protesting, the government seems to have cornered itself in a difficult position. No wonder faced with such an attitude farmer unions are demanding nothing less than the repealment of the new farm laws. Farmers in 2014 and 2019 have overwhelmingly voted for PM Modi. Even if for a vote bank and politics sake, his government should treat the farmers with little more courtesy.