Lessons learnt in the struggle of farmers in India

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Dear Editor,

The WPA’s Walter Rodney Groundings TV programme joins the millions of Indian farmers and their supporters worldwide in celebrating their victory in the struggles to get new agricultural laws repealed.

The Friday announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that his government has decided to withdraw the three agricultural laws that resulted in a year struggle/protest is a welcome decision that should have come months earlier.

We, on the Groundings programme, had highlighted the just struggle of the Indian farmers and called for the withdrawal of the unpopular laws. Farmers occupied a section of the capital, blocked streets protesting their opposition against the new laws forcing farmers to sell their products to government-sponsored private sector agricultural businesses/ corporations.

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We had called on the local representative of the Indian government to inform Prime Minister Modi of our solidarity with Indian farmers and their just demands. We supported the farmers right to determine who to sell their products to and negotiate for fair prices. We got no official response from the Indian High Commission. Following our call, there was a letter in one of the Guyana newspapers propagandising the Indian government’s position as progressive measures to modernise Indian agriculture. This local missive was critical of the Indian farmers protest actions. Months after the will of the people prevailed over the machinations of the Indian government.

There are lessons in the continued struggle of the farmers that Guyanese must take note of: (1) the conviction of farmers that their struggle is a just one; (2) the leadership of unions, the support of civic organisations and the political opposition in the struggle to overturn the terrible laws; (3) peaceful and militant protest actions which at times got violent in response to state repression – a reality of protest; (4) the staying power of the farmers and their allies; (5) the refusal of the farmers to end their protest until Parliament repealed the laws; and (6) their demand that government pass laws for minimum prices for agricultural products. These are lessons that can be of great benefit to Guyanese in the struggle for justice.

Editor, I end by citing the leader of the Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi’s, tweet: “The country’s farmers, through their “resistance” (my emphasis) made arrogance bow its head”.

Sincerely,
Tacuma Ogunseye



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