Will India learn from other countries and avoid making the same mistakes? Farming & Labor Leaders from Brazil and USA join Global Webinar with the Indian Farmers Protest Leaders and Over 20,000 Global Attendees
Feb. 27th 2021, We Support Farmers, a coalition of volunteers and the Indian farmers protest digital arm, Kisan Ekta Morcha held a global webinar entitled, “For the Future of the Land and the People.” More than 20,000 joined over the seven-hour webinar from all around the globe- US, Canada, U.K, Australia, Philippines, UAE, India, and more. The Indian farmers protest is the largest peaceful protest in history, over 250,000,000 have participated, and millions continue to all over India.
The highlight of the event was the live question and answer session. Participants from all around the globe were able to get responses directly and in real time from the leaders of the protests, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which included Kavitha Kuruganti, Baljeet Singh, Amarjit Singh Rara, and some of the senior leaders Abhimanyu Kohar and Jagjit Singh Dalewal. In addition, the legal team representative, Prem Singh Bhangu, provided a summary of the new laws and an update on jailed farmers and activists. The SKM leaders updated the audience about the status of the repeal, current events on the ground, and upcoming collective actions. During the webinar, we discovered that Nodeep Kaur had received bail, finally, after being tortured and falsely charged in retaliation for speaking up on behalf of unpaid laborers and protesting farmers. The event was moderated by Harbir Kaur, Civic Entrepreneur and Board Member of Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce* (* for reference only), and volunteers of We Support Farmers.org
Jagjit Singh Dalewal explained that the gap between the rich and the poor widens as large corporations solely capable of storing grain can artificially control the purchase price and also the selling price. He described the impact of similar laws in the State of Bihar, where small farmers are now landless laborers. As other publications have reported, these migrant workers seek work in the fields of other states like Punjab, where the APMC remained intact. Though everyone wants reform to help the farming industry, these three laws would make things far worse.
Abhimanyu Kohar said that this is a movement for everyone. For anyone that eats 3 times a day, this is their movement as well, peoples movement. It will be gaining strength in the coming days.
Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch leader Kavitha Kuruganti shared a detailed analysis of all three farm laws noting that every transaction within the food chain has been deregulated. Kuruganti explained that “we know that the farmers are the weakest points in the supply chains and the government has taken a policy decision that it will no longer invest in farmers.” She pointed out multiple predictable consequences including the reduction of prices offered to farmers already, the erosion of collective bargaining power and the removal of judicial review.
Joel Greeno, President of Family Farm Defenders and a farmer from Wisconsin, joined to share the solidarity and lessons from their experience having faced similar laws. In 1979, 60,000 farmers came to Washington, D.C. in their tractors to demand fair pay and access to the market. More than half of the family farms in the U.S. disappeared after the Reagan era policy of ending parity for farmers. Mr. Greeno emphasized that “the citizens should consume the food produced by the nation’s farmers,” an anchoring principle of food sovereignty. Otherwise, they will face the same outcomes, and would need significant subsidies by the government to survive.
A comprehensive and colorful presentation was provided by Dr. Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, a Professor at American University, to reveal the dual impact of the neocolonial Green Revolution and Neoliberal free
trade policies upon the commodity crop surplus. She heads the Disparity to Parity project (D2P) and concludes that “the millions of Indian farmers are right in their political analysis. Indeed, so much depends on a fair price floor and preventing a surplus.” Otherwise, it will be the end for the majority of India’s farmers and possible price hikes for the consumers.
Dolores Huerta, the legendary community organizer, founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and cofounder of the United Farm Workers Union shared her experiences fighting for landless farm workers in the United States. She explained how it took them five years of continuous organizing to win the rights for decent wages, collective bargaining and toilets in the field. They won the support of 17 million people that boycotted and stopped eating grapes and lettuce to showcase the impact. “I am happy to see that this is becoming a worldwide movement because this is the only way that they will win. This is a movement, the Punjabi farmers are fighting for every single small farmer in the world.”, she said. Huerta ended with a call to not quit and her famous signature Spanish saying: Si Se Puede! (Yes we can)! In 2012, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama for her lifetime of activism.
The amount of dialogue and activity generated by this global webinar shows the growing solidarity and strength of the movement. These organizations plan to conduct monthly global webinars to raise awareness about the farmers’ protest and garner global solidarity by sharing their challenges and lessons learned from the similar laws in the 1970’s-90s.
The general consensus and observation is that India’s leadership should learn from the other nations to avoid the same mistakes and collaborate with the farm leaders for the right reforms to create a win-win. The majority of India’s farmers own 2-3 acre farms and need protections against large corporations because of the great wealth and power disparity. Privatization already exists but needs better policies and programs to enable reform and success. Large corporations are in the business of profit creation, not farming. These laws would allow them to practically create a monopoly, such as the most invested thus far, the Adani and Ambani corporate houses, which are worth over $75 billion, 5,38,68,75,000 INR.
Will India learn from other countries and avoid making the same mistakes?
Online Webinar https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=185608109607916&t=1134
About “We Support Farmers'': A coalition of supporters and volunteers raising awareness and support with the people and public officials about the farmers' protests to the Indian leadership to work with the farmers on reforms. Though we are a global movement, it’s mostly led from the USA, because of the relationship with Punjabi farmers that migrated from the early 1900s. These pioneers shared their innovative irrigation methods to help develop agriculture and make California one of the largest agro-economies in the world. We continue to provide more specifics and events. Please stay tuned for more events and initiative. Get more info from fb.com/kisanektamorcha (the farmer struggle communications page) and www.wesupportfarmers.org, which also provides other sites and resources.
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All social @kisanektamorcha