Pakistan: (By Fatimah Hassan, Pakistan Press Foundation) Pakistan is one of the countries where the profession of journalism is dangerous because t
Agitation practically called-off. Sikh farmers got what they wanted, Hindu farmers hoping against hope, Buddhism didn’t try for farm laborers. By Hem Raj Jain
December 9, the day of launch of ‘Democracy Summit’ in the USA and the day for practically calling-off the farmer’s agitation in India is of-course a mere coincidence but it has a profound relationship (ii)- Religions will decide the ultimate fate of farmer’s agitation in India.
–Even in secular societies, religion is the custodian of the values of society but in secular democratic India different religions have direct influence and even involvement in the temporal (this-worldly) matters of their followers. The ‘Sanyukt Kisan Morcha’ (SKM), an umbrella of over 40 farmer’s unions (which was agitating by Dharna at Delhi borders for the last more than one year) on December 9 formally announced that it has called off the PHYSICAL agitation after the government of India (GoI) allegedly agreed on all pending demands. At the same time SKM leaders said that- “[But it is not the end of our movement and SKM leaders will meet again on January 15 in Delhi to review the assurance given by the GoI and will accordingly prepare a course of action]” - as reported at
Notwithstanding what SKM leaders are saying, the following is the role of different religions about this farmer’s agitation and given below is the status report of this agitation in which not only the national but even international community was showing interest including by Biden-Administration (as reported at https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/farm-reforms-biden-administration-backs-modi-govt-us-state-dept-says-peaceful-protests-hallmark-of-democracy/2187680/ ) hence there has been wide coverage of this agitation in international media too:-
(1)- About two third of India is fully or partly dependent on farm income and farmers were committing suicide for decades in hundreds of thousand due to non-remunerative prices of farm produce hence they were agitating for ‘Legally Enforceable Minimum Support Price’ (LEMSP). But there are two aspects of this agitation (i)- The farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Western U.P. were already getting MSP before 3 controversial farm laws through elaborate mechanism of ‘Mandis’ (agriculture markets, which were developed during green-revolution era) hence they were agitating for repeal of 3 farm laws (ii)- The farmers of rest of India were not getting MSP so much so that only about 6 % farmers were getting the benefit of MSP (as reported at https://www.dnaindia.com/india/news-farmers-protest-only-6-of-farmers-get-benefit-of-msp-majority-of-them-in-punjab-and-haryana-2859704 ) hence their main demand was LEMSP.
(2)- The relief provided by GoI through merely the repeal of 3 farm laws by Parliament on November 29, was not acceptable to agitating farmers hence farmers didn’t withdraw the agitation and continued to demand mainly the LEMSP for all the 23 MSP items (even some more may be 40 that is 23 plus some dairy-poultry products, fruits, vegetable etc). Even on December 8 the protesting farmer’s unions were opposed to the inclusion of ‘pro-farm bill’ leaders in the panel on MSP and in their reply to the government demanded that only the members from SKM should be included in the MSP panel as reported at https://www.deccanherald.com/national/national-politics/farmers-protest-set-to-be-withdrawn-after-centre-reaches-out-1058846.html
(3)- The GoI in its December 9 letter has mentioned that others (pro-farm bill) will also be included in MSP panel including some from SKM but surprisingly now the SKM has decided to leave the Dharna site by declaring that after January 15 (if the GoI doesn’t do ‘as promised’) then SKM will revive its agitation. But after dismantling Dharna at Delhi borders, it will not be possible for the SKM to revive the agitation after January 15 because the main power behind Dharna at Delhi border were Sikh farmers and they got what they wanted by way of repeal of 3 farm laws hence now onwards Sikhs will not take interest in this agitation . The SKM should know also from the example of farmers from Tamilnadu (who were drinking urine https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/protesting-tn-farmers-drink-urine/article18192439.ece in 2017 and when they declared that they would eat latrine then they were got removed from Delhi by the GoI through Tamilnadu Chief Minister) - that they wouldn’t get anything if they leave Delhi but at the same time they wouldn’t get anything if they remain merely at Delhi and do not organize Dharnas at the Tehsil / Taluka headquarters all across India.
(4)- The Sikh farmers provided Langars and other facilities to these Dharna giving farmers. Sikh farmers were getting money even from foreign countries (very few from Khalistanis too). The continuation of Dharna at Delhi border was allegedly providing support to Khalistani elements hence PM Modi (through address to nation) promised on November 19 to repeal 3 farm laws (which as per PM Modi were supported by majority of farmers) in the ‘national interest’ (without giving any details of it) which BJP supporters claimed on social media that it was due to danger of Khalistani movement gaining strength (due to prolonged Dharna at Delhi border) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rktaZ_QSnvA . This Khalistani influence (Sikh v/s Hindu fight’ was confirmed by ‘Akal Takht Jathedar’ also, who congratulated PM Modi for promising to repeal 3 farm laws which, as claimed by Jathedar, would be beneficial in eliminating Khalistani factor from farmer’s agitation as reported at https://www.opindia.com/2021/11/akal-takht-jathedar-thanks-pm-modi-repeal-farms-laws-sikh-vs-hindu-fight/
(4)- In other words the Sikh farmers (who provided the crucial support to agitation) got what they wanted (by way of repeal of 3 farm laws). Whereas the Hindu farmers from rest of India are hoping against hope by depending on the MSP panel in which as per SKM itself the ‘pro-farm bill’ members will be in majority. But the worst sufferers remain the farm laborers who are mainly from Dalit castes (SC and ST) who once thought (as told by Dr Ambedkar) that their sufferings would come to an end if they adopt Buddhism. What can be better (rather worse) proof of the irresponsible attitude of Buddhism that it even didn’t rake -up the issue of minimum wages to farm laborers.
(5)- This dereliction on the part of Buddhism is mainly due to its failure in understanding the main problem, which is small land holdings. The land-holding agitating farmers are also not as innocent as they are being projected because (i)- The farm sector does not have merely land-owning farmers but farm laborers too who are mainly from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of India, the poorest of the poor and about these nobody is bothered (ii)- Small land holdings are denying the benefit of labor laws to farm laborers (iii)- MSP can’t be given even to these 23 items because production of many items is much more than what India is consuming or can consume (iv)- Even LEMSP will not solve the problem because the private players will not purchase these items at MSP as despite ‘Minimum Wages Act’ the private contractors pay less than minimum wage and get signatures on minimum wage of the poor laborers (v)- The only solution is ‘Comprehensive Public Distribution System’ (CPDS) for which elaborate infrastructure of outlets, mandis, godowns, cold storages, transport facilities etc will be needed and for which huge State-capital will be required.
(6)- This huge State-capital can easily be provided, if the GoI recovers Rs 1,000 Lakh Crore (and increasing), from about one million fake farmers (as mentioned at http://www.newsnation.in/article/121125-news-nation-disclosure-on-blackmoney-kharabpati-farmers-take-agriculture-route-t.html and https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Prominent-people-hiding-taxable-income-Jaitley/articleshow/51408323.cms ) but these agitating farmers (and farm laborers) are not demanding it.
(7)- Prez Biden at ‘Democracy Summit’ said that - [trends were ‘largely pointing in the wrong direction’ and that democracy needed ‘champions’.
‘We stand at an inflection point’ He said - Will we allow the backward slide of rights and democracy to continue unchecked?] - as reported at https://www.france24.com/en/americas/20211209-biden-to-host-virtual-summit-for-democracy-amid-tensions-with-china-and-russia . But Prez Biden is not realizing that ‘authoritarian Chinese democracy’ is getting increasing support & attraction in the developing world even in the largest democracy India because China economically has progressed immensely whereas India couldn’t under ‘liberal Western democracy’. Hence this agitation by farmers (two third of India which is fully or partly depended on farm income) and the on-going ‘Democracy Summit’ in the USA, has profound relationship.
(8)- The Sikhism (through Langars etc) could have easily organized Dharna by farmers all across India (at all Tehsil / Taluka headquarters) which would have brought relief to farm sector in rest of India (as it has brought to the farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Western U.P.) but it is not interested, maybe due to the reason that Sikhism doesn’t see any potential of spreading in the rest of India.
Now when Sikhism is not interested and Hinduism & Buddhism are finding it difficult (to mobilize farmers from the rest of India and the farm laborers from entire India), there is only one hope left for the farm sector. Either some other existing religion will come for it’s relief or some new religion will emerge in India for making democracy successful in India (by ensuring suicide-free honorable livelihood for the overwhelming majority of its people, without which democracy, being canvassed by Prez Biden through ‘Democracy Summit’ has no meaning).
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