A planned 10-day protest by farmers demanding better prices for their produce and farm loan waivers is a sign of the growing agrarian crisis in India that poses a stinging challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking re-election next year. The government claims that the income of the farmers will be doubled by 2022, but the farmers are still leading a miserable life. Every second day, we hear farmers committing suicide due to large debts and government insensitivity. The schemes of the government are clearly not tailored to make the farmers’ condition better.
Once again, farmer organizations have started movements pressing their demands across the country. In 2017, a large section of farmers marched from Nashik to Mumbai, most of whose feet were bruised and bandaged after walking on the scorching roads for six days. Later, some of their demands were accepted which the state government terming as the ‘biggest loan waiver in Maharashtra’s history’ but again this year, the farmers have threatened to stop sending goods like grains, milk and vegetables for a period of ten days which has been supported by 130 organizations in 22 states of the country. Here the question arises, why the farmers are forced to strike every year? Three farmers died in 24 hours in M.P During the protests, three farmers died in 24 hours in Madhya Pradesh. Two committed suicide due to debt, while a farmer died due to alleged disorder in agriculture produce market but the government is silent on this issue.
What are the demands of farmers
Farmers demand that the ‘Swaminathan Commission’ report is implemented. Agricultural debt should be waived and the farmers should be given the benefit of the cost of their crop. The notice issued for the land cover of the farmers should be withdrawn. All debts of farmers should be forgiven together. Based on the cost of all crops, one-and-a-half times the beneficial price should be increased. The income of the farmers who cultivate small farmlands or anybody else’s land should be fixed monthly.
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The impact of the farmers’ movement in Chattisgarh
The impact of the farmer’s movement was also seen in Chattisgarh, where the Kisan Sangathan has planned to close down villages and there is a plan to stop every kind of goods from June 1 to 10. Hundreds of farmers gathered in Chhattisgarh and protested in the National Highway. A large number of women were also involved in this movement and the opposition parties of the state supported the farmer’s cause. Rajkumar Gupta, convenor of the organization said, they are strengthening the agenda of the Narendra Modi government. Also, Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan president Sudesh Tikam said that farmers have collectively complained about the Raman Singh government in past three and half years due to their insensitivity towards farmers’ rights, but still the ruling government has not taken any initiative to fulfill their promises.
Farmers of Chhattisgarh have three specific demands. A bonus of Rs 300 per paddy bag, government stopping land acquisition and to give a land lease to tribals under Forest Rights Act, 2006. Tikam hopes that the assimilation of Chhattisgarh movement with the national protests will create a new wave. He also accused the state government of snatching the rights of tribal people through the back door, rights that they got under Land Revenue Code 2013, which is not just unethical, but also unconstitutional. It also violates the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) law and it also flouts the 5th schedule of Constitution.
It is notable that the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasang has called for nationwide peasant movement from June 1 to 10. Chhattisgarh Pragatishil Kisan Sangathan, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti, and All India Revolutionary Kisan Sabha are major farmer organizations in Chhattisgarh. The Pragatishil Kisan Sangathan has a lot of influence in the Durg division. The Sarai Pali and Krantikari Kisan Sabha of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangh have an influence in the Giriyaband area. Despite this, the movement does not seem to have any particular impact.
1,344 farmers committed suicide in Chhattisgarh
According to figures, 1,344 farmers committed suicide in Chhattisgarh during the last three years. State home minister Ramsewak Paikra said, “A total of 14,705 suicide cases have been registered between 2015–16. Apart from Chattisgarh, states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Chattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have all reported farmer suicides. According to the NCRB report, in 2015, MP reported 1290 suicides by farmers and agricultural laborers. States like Punjab have witnessed a high number of suicides in 2016-17, or Odisha where the matter of farm suicides has been a raging public debate for months.
The stand of Congress
While supporting the farmers’ movement, the chief opposition party has demanded that the central government should forgive the farmers’ debt and charged that the Narendra Modi government is importing sugar from Pakistan instead of paying attention to the problems of sugarcane farmers here.
Farmers committing suicide just for media coverage:
The man in charge of the welfare of farmers across the country says there is no real reason for farmers to be protesting. “There are crores of farmers in the country but only a few farmers have been staging protests. It has no relevance at all.” Singh further claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Madhya Pradesh was pro-farmer and had been doing a lot in the interest of farmers.
Prior to the elections, the politicians promise hundreds of sops for the farmers but after winning elections, they seem to turn a blind eye on the condition of farmers. The government should not forget that 70% of the country’s population lives in the village and the country is still dependent on agriculture.