Author: Yash Prakash Yadav, first year law student at Campus Law Centre Faculty of Law University of Delhi
My Mother land India has two children known as JAWAN and KISAN. Both have worked day and night to feed this nation, to defend this nation and make their Mother and all her children proud of them. And the phrase JAI JAWAN JAI KISAN is not just words merged together but the principles when turned into emotions are spoken, take the form of a slogan used to express the core of our society.
The constitution of India has laid the foundation of this society in which we all live, respect, and protect our Mother land and provide justice for all. And 26th day of January every year marks the proud moment, celebrated as the REPUBLIC DAY of our country.
But Republic Day this 21st year of 21st century has gone down in the pages of history when two sons stood face to face in a clash.
Recently in September 2020 the Parliament of India passed three laws, The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, together famously known as Farm laws as part of broad strategy to reform the agriculture sector of India. But a huge number of farmers, represented by a united front of many farmer organization, believes that these laws combined together will lead to a market condition where farmers will not be able to get fair price for their produce and will be at a disadvantage on the bargain table with the private players.
This fear (well-founded or not?) among the farmers of different states led many state governments to send a number of pleas and suggestions to the government in the center for reconsideration. The Chief minister of Punjab even came to Delhi to meet the President of India but was refused to get an appointment and then the representative of the people of Punjab sat on the street of Parliament for a DHARNA but at last went back empty handed after hours of protest. Now although the motive of state governments and center government may be at conflict due to political interest, but the fact remains that none was able to bring ease to the fear of the farmers which was chilling up their spines more than these winter winds. The farmers led many protest in their regions and even sat on roads for months. After November small protests came together and formed a large movement and the united front of the farmers led the inspiring march to the Delhi and the call of CHALO DELHI once again came alive for a purpose that farmers believe in.
All the tactics of the forces of the executives of India were no match to the might of the Kisans, when faced the lathis they kept on walking when the roads were blocked with buses and barricades the tractors of Kisans cleared the way and when moon was high, they offered food to the same police who were at day following orders to stop them. No matter what, water cannons or tear gas nothing was able to break the spirit of the farmers, they kept on walking. And finally, the borders of Delhi became the homes of the farmers where peace and patriotism are covering everyone and helping them through these sever winter winds.
Now comes the Attention
Finally, the farmers were near and thus loud enough to the ears of those chairs in the parliament and a committee was formed chaired by current agriculture minister of India to hear out the farmers suggestions. But now the farmers are in no mood to negotiate, government after few talks agreed to make amendments in the laws but now the simple farmer wants a simple solution and that is “remove these laws from existence” and assurance of MSP (minimum support price) by making it a law, and few more suggestions in the same regard. But government’s spokespersons have said that this is not going to be the stand of the current government. And therefore, a standoff is what we see till date.
So, after protesting in their regions for months a combined force of farmers came to the borders of Delhi and has been there since December 2020 till date in peaceful manner, claiming their peace as their strength.
26TH JANUARY 2021: Farmers claim the Red Fort
Now farmers decided to hold a Tractor Rally on 26th January 2021 in Delhi and after few days of round table discussions with the Delhi Police both the parties came to a concession that the Rally will take place on a fixed route and in a peaceful manner.
Everything started as planned in the morning of 26th January, the so called ‘Kafila’ of farmers started around 8 am on planned routes and the streets of Delhi were filled with supporters’ and flyovers of Delhi were used not to rush to work but to wait for the farmers and shower love in form of flowers. But then came the news around 10 am that a group of tractors have gone off the route and reached to ITO from where two routes lead to two power centers of the India, Red Fort and Parliament (where the prestigious Republic day parade was going on). From 12pm to 3 pm a constant struggle went on between the farmers and the police, the streets were filled with almost 2000 police personal equipped with tear gas, lathis and protective gears trying to scatter the group and forcing them behind the ITO but this use of force did nothing more than creating a sense of anger and confusion for those unknown to the streets of the Delhi. At last, after the death of one farmer and injuries to 83 police personal the tractors went through the barricades laid waste to the efforts of the Delhi police and in a sense defeated the force in front of its headquarter and drove to the Red fort, a huge convey followed them.
The leaders of the movement although issued videos asking everyone to join the rally only on fixed routes, still the Red fort of Delhi and all routes leading to it, for few hours, were under the control of farmers without a known leader and after a long time a flag other than the national flag stood high at the Red Fort pole.
The united front of farmers has issued official statement stating that some organizations have tried to bring bad name to the movement. Now the rally is over, and farmers are back to the borders of Delhi to carry on peaceful movement, which has already taken lives of 100 plus farmers due to ill health in severe cold climate.
The question remains, will this situation of JAWAN V/S KISAN bring new face to this movement or the farmers will win hearts through peace, which they claim to be their weapon in their struggle against current government’s farm laws. Whatever happens will go down in the pages of history and this day will be a chapter worth remembering, one brother fought for his land and other for the law of the land.
Why so concerned?
I want to use my last words here to mark a simple economic reasoning about the movement. I am not going to argue about the so-called farm laws and support or refute there relevance instead I want to question the relevance of addressing this fear of the farmers.
The actions of the government imply that they want to tell the farmers that government knows what is best for the farmers (assuming that for the government welfare of this nation is the motive, why shouldn’t it be?) and now in reply farmers are trying to tell the government that they know what is best for them. These laws have created a sense of uncertainty in the minds of the farmers about the profession, the profession that feeds not just their nation but also the child growing in his home. Whenever economic agents face uncertainty then at individual levels the agents start taking precautions, now these precautions lead to lower investment (this is the general behavior of almost all large portfolio investors, foreign or domestic). Whenever investments go down (which also leads to lower employment) production is reduced leading to fall in income generation. Lower income results in lower purchasing power, to avoid unwanted stocks production is further reduced and this vicious circle of events leads to slowdown in the concerned economic activity and other activities related to it and at last leading to hardship which is also called poverty when it reaches the level specified by the government. I believe uncertainty among the kisans is a reason good enough for them to fight for what they believe (at-least feel) is best for them.
And thus, the question remains, misguided farmers or conscious citizens?