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What Should We Learn from India’s Farmers’ Protests?

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Outside the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C., a saffron-turbaned man distributes water bottles to families of protestors with signs reading, “No Farmers, No Food.” The protest represents growing international concern, particularly from Indian diaspora communities, towards Indian farmers peacefully protesting recent farm bills that would deregulate Indian agriculture.

As the protest concludes in D.C., my family and I leave; a woman stops us, spotting our posters. She asks me, “it makes sense that protests are going on there [India], but why are you all protesting here?” She was really asking, in an era of protests, why the hell should the global community care and why have these particular protests gathered such sustained momentum? The answer lies not so much in what the protests counter, but how protesters are actually protesting in New Delhi.

The eerie parallel of images of Sikh protestor Ranjit Singh’s face under the boot of an Indian police officer and the photo of an American policeman’s knee on George Floyd’s neck reminds us that injustice unchecked reverberates beyond borders. For over four months, farmer protesters have peacefully camped in their tractors and trolleys outside New Delhi. India’s farm bills, aimed at deregulating agriculture, would abruptly halt farmers’ agrarian livelihoods and cause ecological degradation, a shift reminiscent of American agricultural deregulation that historically crippled small-scale farmers and accelerated........

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