The 2020 Farmers’ Protest in India has become a cultural movement in itself. People are genuinely passionate about the issue and have mostly formed their opinion and sticking with it. This issue has brought rift among friends and family — I know because I have experienced it first hand.
Reportedly, this is the single largest protest in the history of mankind. No doubt, when Indians do something, they do in numbers that are unmatched anywhere in the world. It applies to E-commerce, Edtech, Social media and everything else too.
The Khalistani separatists are smelling an opportunity too. I have spent enough time with the American and Canadian sikh communities to say that the Khalistani sentiment is very much alive among a certain section of sikhs. Sitting comfortably far away, American and Canadian sikhs earning in “dollars” believe that every Sikh in India is oppressed but it’s a topic for another day.
What is impressive about the rally is that considering how large the crowds are, people largely respect democratic values. Another thing that’s impressive is that people really care to form a political opinion which shows we aren’t yet approaching an Orwellian world, at least not in India, yet.
Most of my knowledge of the farm bill is from the arguments made by my friends on either side, whom I have listened to patiently, cross checked with some central tenets that I knew about the bill, before forming my own opinion.
There seem to be mainly four camps:
The corporate world haters
who say that this bill will destroy the small farmers because the Ambanis, Adanis and the Amazons will take over the industry and will suck the small farmer dry. They stand against the bill either because they believe that Modi favors corporatist corruption, which is his real motivation for the bill or that the corporates are “too efficient” and hence will produce better yield at lower prices than an average farmer can.
This is the kind that has no clue about the bill or have any framework of thought other than the sentiment that this is a bill “against the Punjabi community”. These include all the college students who are protesting everywhere in Punjab and also housewives that have never cared to understand the issue at hand but want to protest anyway.
“We hate Modi” camp
These are the typical AAP or Congress party supporters but also the communists who just want to get rid of the current government. Their only reasoning is that Modi is a bad man and this is a large movement against him so why not join the party.
The Modi bhakts
These are the lovers of Modi, blinded by the “purity” of the Hindu culture manifested in the Hindutva movement, who just believe whatever he does is right. They support the bill because…..it’s Modi’s bill.
What I understand is that this bill will end price guarantee and will allow farmers to sell anywhere at any price. But that puts the burden of selling on to the farmer reducing the burden on the tax payers (to pay a minimum guaranteed price). Remember, large or small, farmers get price guarantees and also they don’t pay any income tax.
If you peel away all the passion, love and hate for Modi and remove all the other noise, I think the real issue here’s that farmers, especially the ones who own large pieces of land, want to enjoy their guaranteed incomes which inherently prevents competition (from hard working small farmers who haven’t inherited large pieces of land from their ancestors) and hence allowing them to remain the feudal lords that they are. Yes, deep inside, that’s what really an average Punjabi jatt wants to be (along with owning his gun, lamborghini and pitbull). He hates every “bhaiya” and a “bihari” who dares to own land (or anything else) in Punjab.
Farming sector has major issues that need urgent solutions:
- Low and poor quality yield
- Poor storage conditions
- Low per capita income for the farmer
- Massive government debts to bail out farmers
I see that this bill, by enabling free markets, is trying to solve the above problems and I do believe it will bring significant benefits.
Let me be precise — free markets don’t solve problems by themselves. It’s the entrepreneurs who do but they need free markets to function. By not allowing free markets to function, we can expect the landowners to continue their feudal, rascist practices that nurtures the caste system — the underbelly of rural Punjab that no one talks about.
No doubt, there’s a lack of trust with the Modi government given how much people hate Amit Shah, how the government cracks down on free speech and how this government isn’t ready to get rid of the draconian sedition laws, among many other issues with this government.
I hate many of Modi’s policies like a lot of people do but I see this farm bill to be a solution to long standing problems of the farming sector by allowing free markets to function. I hate to see average, good people lose their minds, either protesting based only on emotions or supporting because they are blind Modi bhakts.