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Synopsis: Farmer movement strengthened a new coalition of different interest groups and challenged the hegemony of agri-business.
The article highlights the nature of ongoing farmer protests which was held against the three farm acts passed by the government. It dismisses the Marxian Maxism view which discussed the capacity of mobilization.
Farmer movements instead combined their forces to challenge the agricultural policies. The movement now seeks to address not only issues of agricultural policy, but also that of the decline of democratic structures and processes.
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What is the nature of farm protests?
Media Savvy: Farmers themselves have deployed their own media to disseminate information and represent themselves. This indicates that sharing information and open communication are key to democratic movements.
Ahimsa approach: Farmers’ movement is evolved on principles of non-violence and non-cooperation. They have also engaged in humanitarian acts even cases of violence that happen against them.
Women Participation and inclusion of young leaders: Women, who are the backbone of the Indian agricultural system, are actively participating in the movement. The movement also saw the emergence of some young women farm leaders on both the regional and national political front.
Coalition: Coalition of various groups like farmers, workers, students, Dalits, and civil society members is visible in the movement.
Global Media Attention: Farmer protests have been closely monitored by the global media houses. Most of the farm communities of other countries like in the US, Europe have extended solidarity to the movement. The movement has the ability to challenge the hegemony of corporate agriculture or agri-business and to find a way forward on its own terms.
What is the way forward?
The idea of a subsidy-based system or a purely corporate system has failed to lift agriculture in India. Leaders thus need to evolve an innovative approach that should consider growth, equity and sustainability.
It is time for all policymakers and farmers to recognize that neither populist policies, nor submission to corporate interests will resolve the deep problems that beset rural and agrarian India. There is a need to re-assign agricultural issues to the state level and to return agriculture to its constitutional status.
Source: This post is based on the article “Ten months on, what lessons have we learnt from the farmers’ movement?” published in Indian Express on 30th September 2021.