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The Agrarian Uprising: The Dynamics Of Farmer's Protest

Farmer protests have become a prominent socio-political phenomenon in recent years, drawing attention worldwide and igniting discussions about social fairness, rural livelihoods, and agricultural policies. The many facets of farmer protests are explored in this article, along with their underlying causes, socioeconomic effects, and possible future ramifications for governance and agriculture. Based on an extensive analysis of academic literature, news articles, and case studies from different areas, this study pinpoints the main causes of farmer demonstrations, such as land rights disputes, agrarian hardship, insufficient government assistance, and policy changes.

The farmer has long played a significant role in Indian history, representing tenacity, labor, and the foundation of the country's agrarian economy. But since 2020, intense protests have tarnished the rural scenery, drawing attention from across the country and beyond. What started as a small-scale protest against agricultural reforms quickly spread throughout the country, striking a chord with millions of farmers throughout India. This essay takes the reader on a tour through the turbulent history of farmer protests in India, from the divisive agricultural legislation of 2020 to the most recent demonstrations in 2024, revealing the complex layers of unhappiness, solidarity, and political repercussions.

Ignition Of The Revolution

The Indian parliament passed three bills in September 2020: the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. Farmers feared that enacting such laws would make them vulnerable to big corporate firms as the umbrella of government protection would no longer protect them.[1]

These bills were meticulously reviewed and debated by the Indian Parliament before being presented to the President for his assent on 28 Sept 2020. With the President's approval, these bills then transformed into acts, marking a significant milestone in agricultural reform. The three acts in question were the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. These laws sought to transform the agriculture industry by giving farmers more freedom and advancement opportunities.

Soon after these acts were introduced farmers unions from different states started protesting mostly from Punjab and Haryana. After a few months of local protest farmers from north neighboring states such as Up, Punjab, and, Haryana called for a movement named � dili chalo, meaning let's go to Delhi. Eleven inconclusive rounds of talks took place between the farmer's unions and the central government between 14 Oct 2020 and 22 Jan 2021.

The Supreme Court of India after reviewing the situation in the country and considering the petitions received stayed the implementation of newly introduced farm laws in Jan 2021.
Also, the protests were criticized by the government for being infiltrated by Khalistanis.
After almost a year of protest by the farmers, the central government repealed the farm laws in 2021.
This was not the end, farmers' unions continued with their demand for MSP(minimum support price), unions also wanted the government to double the farmers' income by 2022 and the 2004 M S Swaminathan headed � The National Commission on Farmers Reports.

Why are they protesting again?

Once again the farmer's unions have started their protest in India, alleging that their demands other than the repealing of farm laws are not fulfilled. The Samyukta kisan morcha and kisan mazdoor morcha are leading the Delhi chalo march, backed by more than 250 farmers' unions. The farmers' union's main demands are to get full loan forgiveness for all farmers and legal certainty of the minimum support price (MSP) for all farm produce.

Their demands include ensuring a minimum support price for all farm produce, debt waivers, fair compensation for land acquisition, withdrawal from world trade agreements, pensions for farmers, compensation for those who lost their lives during the 2020-21 agitation, improving seed quality, justice for the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, providing MGNREGA employment opportunities, and scrapping the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020. These demands are crucial for the well-being and livelihood of farmers across the country. These demands must be met to address the grievances and challenges faced by the agricultural community.[2]

Financial security:

Guaranteed income- farmer's unions are demanding a monthly pension of 10,000 rupees for those farmers who are above 60 years of age.

Wages under MGNREGA- protestors are seeking fixed daily wages for farm laborers working in agriculture fields under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The proposed wage rate is 700 per day with 200 days of work annually.

Market support:

One of the most important demands of the protest is securing a legal framework guaranteeing minimum support price (MSP) for all farm products. Till now only a few crops have been covered under MSP, leaving the others vulnerable to market fluctuations.

Protestors are calling for implementing recommendations by M.S. Swaminathan's Committee on Agricultural Issues in India, which was set up in 2006 with a mandate to look into Indian agricultural issues. Various measures to improve the incomes and welfare of farmers, including improvements in infrastructure, investments in R&D, and market reforms are proposed by the EESC report.[3]

Farmers also ask for the withdrawal of charges that were filed during the previous agitation in 2020�2021. Farmers are also demanding that the government fulfill its promise of doubling their income, complaining that cultivation costs have increased in recent years as incomes stagnate and farming is being made a losing business.

What is the minimum support price?

The minimum support price (MSP), which is part of a larger package of agricultural policy in some parts of India, functions as an advising price signal. In contrast to procurement or issue prices, the government suggests this informal "support" price. It is meant to protect farmers from making less than a minimum profit on their production while also boosting food security in the nation. In the 1960s, MSP was once intended to encourage farmers to use technology to increase the productivity of agricultural land; however, in the 2000s, it came to be perceived as a market intervention and a program for farmer income.

The results of this kind of pricing strategy have differed greatly throughout commodities and states. Farmers barely know about 23% of MSP procurement agencies, and only 20�25% of wheat and paddy products are sold at MSPs. Farmers also have low knowledge of MSP presence.

The Indian government sets the pricing for about twenty goods twice a year. MSP is determined by recommendations made by the Ministry of Agriculture's highest advisory body on pricing policy, the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). The MSP technique includes FRP for sugarcane within its entire coverage of 23 commodities.[4]

Government proposal to farmers

A five-year plan for the purchase of pulses and maize at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) was suggested by the central government after the fourth round of negotiations between a panel of government representatives and the farmer. To protect farmers from market uncertainty, the government created the MSP as a safeguard. It guarantees farmers a price for their output. Recognizing the importance of pulses and maize in the agricultural landscape, the government's proposal aims to provide farmers with long-term support by guaranteeing a consistent income.

Over the following five years, a set amount of maize and pulses will be purchased at MSP by the proposal. This program is critical to maintaining price stability, reducing middlemen's abuse of farmers, and promoting agricultural sustainability. The initiative aims to encourage farmers to continue growing these commodities by creating a stable market and fair pricing structure, supporting the nation's efforts to ensure food security.[5]

Controversial protest

Questions and discussions have been sparked by the rallies, which saw farmers marching from Punjab to Delhi and voicing a variety of demands. Doubters doubt the protest's authenticity as a farmer's movement and whether other motives are at work. The deployment of security personnel, the closure of Delhi's borders, and conflicts in specific districts have all contributed to the growth of doubts. However, the administration is still determined to talk with farmer leaders to address their issues and devise a solution.

Much conjecture has been made regarding the protests' funding, with suggestions pointing to particular terrorist groups like ISIS or Khalistani organizations. Farmers who are protesting, meanwhile, claim that they are only on the road to further their objectives. Despite the guarantees of the minister of agriculture, the farmers' stay for an extended period and the accessibility of resources such as alcohol have resulted in ongoing inquiries on possible funding sources for the protests.[6]

Between February 16 and 23, 2024, five farmers lost their lives as a result of the protests along the borders of Shambhu and Khanauri According to hospital data, cardiac arrest was the cause of three deaths.
Shubhkaran Singh, a 21-year-old protester, passed away from an unknown cause. Farmers claim he was shot by police, but hospital records indicate he was "brought dead." There hasn't yet been a postmortem.
Darshan Singh (62), Manjeet Singh (72), Narendra Pal Singh (45), and Gyan Singh (65), are among the other deceased. [7]

Reaction and responses
A video including remarks by prominent protest leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal of BKU (Dallewal) has stirred up some debate. In this video, Dallewal expresses their desire to topple Narendra Modi's popularity graph, which skyrocketed following the Ram Mandir's consecration, and how these protests present a window of opportunity to do so. The chief minister of Haryana, Khattar, took issue with these statements. The Indian National Congress's Pawan Khera, however, agreed with Dallewal's statement that farmers have every right to voice their political opinions.[8]

The Indian parliament passed three bills in September 2020, including the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill. These acts aimed to revolutionize the agricultural sector, providing farmers with greater autonomy and opportunities for growth. However, farmers' unions from different states protested against these laws, leading to a movement called "dili chalo" (let's go to Delhi).

The Supreme Court of India stayed the implementation of newly introduced farm laws in January 2021, and the protests were criticized by the government for being infiltrated by Khalistanis. After almost a year of protest, the central government repealed the farm laws in 2021. Farmers' unions continued their demand for MSP (minimum support price) and demanded the government to double farmers' income by 2022.

The farmers' union's main demands, in the 2024 protest, are to obtain legislative guarantees for the minimum support price (MSP) for all agricultural products and total loan forgiveness for all farmers. They also demand guaranteed income, wages under MGNREGA, and market support. A price signal with advisory status, the minimum support price (MSP) is a component of India's larger agricultural policies. A five-year plan for buying maize and pulses at the MSP was presented by the government to support agricultural sustainability and shield farmers from unstable market conditions.

  1. 2020�2021 Indian farmers protest:
  2. 2024 Indian farmers' protest -
  3. Swaminathan report: National commission on farmers -
  4. What is minimum support price -
  5. Government proposal to farmers -
  6. Punjab farmers' protest takes a controversial turn -
  8. Jagjit Singh Dallewal statement against PM Modi -

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