India witnessed farmers’ uprisings against the British in 18th, 19th and 20th century where they fought and sacrificed their lives for their rights. Now years 2016 and 2017, marking centenary for Champaran Satyagrah are turning out to be 21st century uprising of farmers – a modern age farmer uprising. This week twitter has been abuzz with three calls #KisanKiLoot, #Indebted2farmers ,#KisanMuktiSansad, an indication that farmers are stepping up and trying to build itself into a formidable political constituency and a strong pressure group in democracy.
These social media campaigns have been launched by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC). It has been possible because the new generation of farmers has got educated over the years and understands the reason for bad condition of farmers across the country. Consequently, we are seeing new farmers’ movements and new farmer leaders. It is not surprising that they have taken on the government using the social media, the non violent way. This is the result of over 180 farmer organizations joining hands earlier this year to form AIKSCC to fight for the due place and rights of farmers.
The campaigns – #KisanKiLoot was centred on capturing pictures of individual farmers and the low prices realized by them and #Indebted2Farmers campaign highlighted the debt burden of farmers and the debt of gratitude society has towards farmers that the nation has to support farmers in their crisis time.
What was missing in the movement so far was it’s connecting with urban population but AIKSCC has tried to address it through the small programmes for young interns and campaign #Indebted2Farmers. So far, AIKSCC has been able to strike chords with the urban people as many well-known celebrities have stepped up their support to farmers. Actor Kamal Haasan, actress Swara Bhaskar, singer Rabbi Shergill, Oscar nominee Vetrimaran, actresses Revathy Asha, Music director Prakash Kumar and Rohini posted their pictures with a placard that said “Indebted2Farmers” on twitter and facebook.
Trying innovative methods, the volunteers hanged farmer-dummies from flyovers in different parts of Delhi during peak traffic hours to sensitize people of Delhi about the farmer suicides which are still continuing unabated. It is always very disturbing and shameful that we lost over three lakhs of farmers in last two decades through suicides.
Earlier this year India saw Tamil Nadu farmers camping in Delhi and protesting with innovative methods, also the farmers in the other states resorting to strikes to protest against government apathy towards them. India also saw protesting farmers killed in the police firing in Madhya Pradesh.
Indian farmer’s family is surviving with a meagre average monthly income of less than Rs 4000 and out of this he also has to spend for seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, etc. If this figure can bring some tears in the eyes of Indians, the farmer will definitely get justice. It is important because farmer is the one that toils for us, whatever the weather is, whatever the loan burden and poverty he is carrying on his shoulders, farmer has never failed in his duties towards the nation. In fact, farmer is doing record production without getting deserving price for his work and produce. There is an urgent need for setting up farmers’ assured income commission and farmers’ pension and a mechanism for giving appropriate prices for their produce.
This is a situation where our food growers are begging for their own survival. Our heads should hang in shame. No wonder, India forgot to think and erect a National Farmers Memorial – in recognition to farmers’ services, sacrifices, dutifulness and responsibility towards the nation.