Gandhian imprint in the farmer’s protest

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus:

GS 4 – Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world.

GS 3 – Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System-objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping.

Synopsis: The protesting farmers are going through physical and mental suffering in Delhi’s severe winter. But the Government and the urban middle classes do not seem to felt a sense of discomfort.

Background

  • Gandhi always backed non-violent methods of protest. Gandhi also believed rural economy based mass movement follow non-violent methods. This is evident in the incident when he cancelled the Non-Cooperation Movement after Chauri Chura.
  • Today also, India is facing a rural economy based mass movement, following the principle of non-violence (Farmers protest). But the government and supporters of the farm laws are not respecting the non-violence.
  • Scholars, columnists and advisers supporting the laws are of the view that farmers who are protesting are being misled and do not represent the farming community as a whole.

What steps should the government take to end the farmers protest amicably?

  • Firstly, Persuasion approach- Persuading farmers about the benefits and other important efforts towards farmer’s welfare can end the protest.
  • Secondly, Dialogue between equals- The Government should reach the farmers for negotiation as an equal partner.
  • Thirdly, Removal of stereotypical perception- The urban educated class has certain stereotypes about farmers. These stereotypes have to be removed during negotiations. According to urban educated class:
      • Farmers do not know their own benefits due to the general ignorance and lack of education.
      • The farming community is simple-minded and therefore can be easily misled.

How the farmer’s protest and the Gandhian principles are relatable?

  • Firstly, the idea of a peaceful protest is a legacy of Gandhi.
  • Secondly, the faith in non-violence by the protesting farmers must be respected by the other side (the government).

Thus, according to Gandhi’s view the protester’s willingness to undergo physical or mental sufferings is a means of awakening opposite party’s human instincts.

Way Forward

  • The government and the urban middle classes need to change their stereotypical perception regarding farmers.
  • The government should also consider the suffering [physical as well as mental] of the farmers equal party to the negotiations
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