Another Jalianwallabag in the Making?

The farmers' movement against the new farm laws continues and has drawn nationwide attention, and all the repressive measures and Goebblesian lies of the Modi government and the chilling cold of Delhi have failed to crush the determination and patience of protesters. No doubt the anti-farm laws movement started from Punjab, but it was quickly joined by farmers from other states, and solidarity rallies were held across the country. The Modi government tried to malign the movement by suggesting Khalistani links without any proof. For one thing the movement is not exclusively kulaks' (rich farmers') protest march, and that participants are from all sections of peasants, big and small. Various aspects of the anti-farmer and pro-corporate nature of the farm laws, as well as of the hollowness of the various claims made by the government, have been pointed out by competent experts including eminent economists. Such analyses suggest that the new farm laws are largely a replication of the old British policy of forcibly imposing indigo cultivation on the Bengal peasantry, which gave birth to the historic indigo rebellion. The prime interest of the ruling party lies in fattening the coffers of corporates who are the principal financiers of Nrendra Modi and his party—Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Only those who do not want to know about the contents of the farm laws, let alone undertake a scrutiny of them, will refuse to support the farmers' movement. Again, the amendment to the Essential Commodities Act has clearly demonstrated that the government is willing to give a free hand to hoarders and black-marketers, whose only aim is to acquire more profits at the expense of the consumers, particularly the poorer sections, and this they achieve by hoarding essential commodities and creating artificial scarcity in the market.

It is a matter of hope that the farmers' movement has shown a great degree of courage. The chilling cold of Delhi has cost more than a hundred lives. Besides, the NI A has been employed to terrorise the agitationists. Yet the agitating farmers have not relented in the face of heartlessness and brutality of the government. They have participated in talks with the government, but didn't move away from their principal demands, namely the repeal of the laws and written assurance for Minimum Support Price (MSP). They have intelligently refrained from taking any harsh action while making it extremely difficult for the Modi government to launch a full-scale onslaught on the farmers. They have also prevented the movement from turning the unique mass movement into a party platform. Given the docile nature of opposition parties, including left parties it is very important. It is these people who have made India self-reliant in the production of food crops and has proved the excellence of some agricultural products in the international market. In contrast to that, the achievement of the industrial big houses is quite negligible. The change that the government seeks to bring about may wipe out this advantage; this may also lead to the loss of India's self-sufficiency in food production.

The sacrifices made by the farmers have not been in vain. The government is visibly shaken. That is why they have even offered to suspend the implementation of the farm laws for twelve to eighteen months, so as to prevent the announced tractor rally. Also, they would like to avoid embarrassment on the Republic Day Parade. But given the past record of false promises made by the Modi government on various issues, this offer should not be taken at its face value. Anything short of the repeal of the new farm laws must not be accepted, because that will give the corporate—Hindutva alliance a fresh reprieve and blunt the edge of the movement. If anything the ongoing farmers' movement of India will attract more intensified nationwide and international attention in the coming days. That is what the government is scared of. With the authorities trying to unleash a fresh wave of repression a Jalianwallabag-type situation seems to be in the making, but that will evidently is hard to digest. Farmers, while fighting for their just demands, are unlikely to be swayed by the hysteria of chauvinism and carefully crafted communal propaganda of the saffron brigade.  ooo


Vol. 53, No. 31, Jan 31 - Feb 6, 2021