The Prowess of Indian farmers?

Over a month farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are continuing to block key highways on the outskirts of New Delhi as they demand a total repeal of the farming Bill which seeks to deregulate crop pricing.  

The farmers worry that the three laws, designed to deregulate the agricultural sector, do not include a Minimum Support Price (MSP), a minimum price guaranteed by the government at which farmers can sell their crops. Without this safety net, farmers fear they will have to participate in contract farming with private corporations, where these companies determine what the farmer grows and the price they sell at.  

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi argues that these laws will modernise the agricultural sector, farmers will have more autonomy, as they can set their own price's and sell directly to private businesses, farmers insist that without a guarantee of an MSP, opening the market to contract farming and mass privatisation will pave the way for exploitation.  

Who feeds the farmers as they protest?  

“In the beginning nothing had been decided about the food, so we brought our own: atta, dal, ghee,” says Bikramjeet, a 25-year-old farmer from Tarn Taran in Punjab. “Then we got so much support from the people of Delhi, from the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, from the AAP, the neighbouring villages in Haryana. Thoda-thoda bhi aa raha hai; jada-jada bhi aa raha hai (things are coming in a little at a time and a lot at a time). We are very thankful to everybody,” he says, readying to camp on the Singhu border (with Haryana) for a year if necessary, and to live this life. 

A group of five friends from Amritsar, who wished to organize a langar but didn’t have much time to prepare food. So, they decided to buy regular-sized pizzas from a Haryana mall and set up a stall at the Singhu Border. If we go by the report, around 400 pizzas were distributed within minutes as a huge crowd, including the protesting peasants and residents from nearby areas, queued up. 
As soon as the videos of this unique langar surfaced on social media, called ‘Pizza Langar’ it made headlines and garnered compliments from across the country. 
Both the Singhu and tikri border are serviced by a range of organisations, individuals, and informal groups, who have come out to support the farmers. A few langar cooks have travelled with them and some of the older women make food. Mostly though men cook themselves, shelling peas, chopping cauliflower, stirring cauldrons of milk, pounding the almonds for kheer.  

Farmers Counter Propaganda War 

Throughout the protests, we have seen the way false narratives about them were spread through fake news. The fact is the BJP and its IT cell dominate the social media platforms. This time around, however, they underestimated the wide network of the farmers from across every sector and country. The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) has set up its own IT cell to counter this false propaganda. They have launched their own Facebook page,
Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat handles. They also are imparting training to their leaders to speak in English to reach out to a wider audience so that they can counter the ‘propaganda war’ against the three Bills. On December 20, they launched their Facebook page with live streaming and within a few hours, they got 94 lakh views. Something the IT cell and the BJP leaders may not have imagined. What happened next? Predictably, Facebook removed the page. That news spread like wildfire and there was outrage on social media and Facebook had to restore the page. 

How farmers are funding their protest?  

The ongoing protest also brought into focus the farm outfits for their funding and resource management. Farmers insists that their funding system is well-oiled and has been in place for years — the reason why they have been able to manage this protest seamlessly.  

The farmers’ organisations say that their main donors are none other than their own activists, farmers, adding that they have developed systematic methods to collect these funds where they record collections in the books in a transparent manner. 

Donations are not only coming from India but also from overseas. International non- profits organisations such as Khalsa Aid, and International Punjabi foundation, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Mgmt Committee, All India kisan Sabha, Indian overseas Congress Germany and many more are taking part in donation drives.  

 Medical camps at Protesting sites : 

Medical camps have been set up at the Singhu border to help farmers which are protesting there against the Centre’s farm laws and trying to enter the national capital. The camp has been set up in view of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic which has already infected over 10 million people in the country.  

According to Dr Anshuman Mitra from Kolkata-based non-profit, Medical Service Centre, there are around 12 such medical camps operational 24X7 at the Singhu border.  Doctors, nurses and paramedics at his camp, Dr Mitra said, examine around 200 people a day. Around 30 percent of them are from poor families in neighboring villages, he said. 



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