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Why farmers locked horns with Modi govt

6 12 31
03.10.2018

The eruption of farmers' agitations across India is beyond anything that has been seen in India since the late 1980s. At that time, such outrage presaged a change of government, with the rise to power of a coalition of parties, with some more identified with farmers' interests. Then, for around two decades, cultivators somehow lost their voice in national politics, even as neoliberal policy reforms made their situation more vulnerable.

October 2, 2018: Farmers were met with water cannons and lathis as they tried to enter Delhi. (Source: India Today)

The agrarian crisis that festered from the late 1990s, and then exploded in the mid-2000s, had its origins in the combination of trade liberalisation (which exposed Indian cultivators to highly subsidised, yet volatile global prices) and reduction in public expenditure for agriculture. Yet, that crisis was reflected more in significantly increased suicides among farmers and distress migration than in mass protests. Even so, simmering rural resentment helped to turn two crucial national elections, in 2004 and 2014.

Now, we have entered another phase of open protests by farmers.

All over the country, cultivators are angry, upset, even desperate — and they are expressing it in local, regional and national agitations: from the incredibly impressive long march in Maharashtra in late 2017 to the huge coming together of peasants and workers last month in Delhi, as well as many local protests in different parts of the country.

Mumbai: The kisan long march in 2017 shook the entire country. (Source: PTI)

They have a right to feel angry.

In his 2014 election campaign, Narendra Modi had promised to double farm incomes in five years: instead, they have actually declined on average in real terms, and in any case, become even more........

© DailyO