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Beyond Bharat Bandh: in search of protest in the south of India

Around 50% of South India's population is engaged in agriculture, however their voice against the farm bills that invoked large scale protest in North India is missing

Beyond Bharat Bandh: in search of protest in the south of India

Around 50% of South India's population is engaged in agriculture, however their voice against the farm bills that invoked large scale protest in North India is missing

Beyond Bharat Bandh: in search of protest in the south of India

Around 50% of South India's population is engaged in agriculture, however their voice against the farm bills that invoked large scale protest in North India is missing

Beyond Bharat Bandh: in search of protest in the south of India

Around 50% of South India's population is engaged in agriculture, however their voice against the farm bills that invoked large scale protest in North India is missing

Around the capital and throughout the north of India, thousands of farmers are out on the streets in demonstrations against the new agricultural laws. The same laws affect farmers in the south of the country – so where are the protests?

Farmers throughout India fear that the new agricultural laws of September 2020 mean that the cooperative system that guarantees a fair price for produce is being dismantled. Instead, the economic landscape is being privatised, leaving small-scale farmers at the mercy of big agribusiness.

As a result, one of the biggest protests in India in decades is currently underway as thousands of farmers take to the streets. They have declared a Bharat Bandh, a nationwide general strike, to demand that the laws be repealed. More than fifteen opposition parties have backed the strikes, as well as nearly 500 farmers’ unions from across India.

Just over half the population of India is employed in the agricultural sector. Yet the high incidence of suicide among farmers is proof of how hard it is to make a living; in 2019 well over 10,000 farmers took their own lives in the face of crippling debt. The new agricultural laws will make things even harder. The only people they benefit are those working with large trading and retail corporations, which will be able to grab a greater share of the profits. And, of course, the government.

Both farmers and opposition leaders have warned Modi that leaving the agricultural sector to market forces could be a disaster for food security, as well as for farmers themselves. Yet the BJP appears to be putting the interests of corporations first. It is a case of profit before people – even before food.

 

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