If you’ve turned on the news recently or scrolled through your social media feed, you may have noticed a growing movement of support for farmers. From hashtags that remind you to support farmers if you ate today, to watching traffic jams in London, Toronto, San Francisco, and Surrey. All in support of farmers.
Farmers from all over India are protesting the potential critical impact of three new “Farmer’s Bills” that are posed by the Indian government. In fact, there are some 250,000 million farm workers in India who are protesting. That makes this the largest peaceful protest in history. In the history of the world. They have in fact taken their protest to India’s capital, New Delhi, to make their voices heard.
What are the Farmer’s Bills:
To be completely transparent, I am not an economist. It is important to read multiple sources of your own to truly understand the issues (see list of resources at end). In essence, the Indian government wants to deregulate and modernize farming in India. Small farmers across the country are strongly opposed because this threatens their livelihood in the long run…all in a country where farming is the leading source of income for more than half of its population of 1.3 billion. These farmers’ ancestral homes, lands and way of life is at stake. Implementing these changes in a pandemic causes further concerns for stability. Many families in India with agrarian roots feel threatened. Globally, governments provide subsidies to help retain a vibrant agricultural sector – be it through production quotas like Canada or direct subsidies like the US and the EU.
Why this needs to matter to all of us:
So then why does this matter to me, a Canadian? It matters because I am the daughter of a farmer. I am the granddaughter of a farmer. The rich brown soil of Panjab has been cultivated by my ancestors on our small family farm for decades. It matters because this is my heritage. This heritage is one that is tied into my faith, as it is for many Sikhs.
But why then should this matter to you? We are all global citizens, part of the same community. We are citizens of a democracy who are also fed by farmers. This system of a democracy is one that our children will inherit. So when the world’s largest democratic state attacks its own citizens while they exercise their rights in a peaceful protest, that is an attack on the very principles of democracy. Can you say that you watched that video of a senior citizen being hosed by water canons and felt nothing? Or that the image of the police violently using a baton against an unarmed older Sardar had no affect on you?
Many of us may not understand this agrarian crisis. But we do understand when democracy is threatened. To be silent about that is not ok. As we’ve seen as a result of George Floyd’s murder, it is important that we stand up for those who are being disenfranchised and lend our voices to the oppressed. To be silent about that is not acceptable. If you ate today, thank a farmer. If you ate today, support a farmer. Did you go about your day with safety and security? Then exercise your own democratic rights. Use your access to information to learn. Exercise your freedom of speech to call out a media source who may report a bias in their news report (the use of the term terrorist or extremist for example is a red flag about bias).
Use your voice. Read. Learn. Donate. Share legitimate information. Be an ally. This is not just a Panjabi issue. Nor is it just a Sikh issue. Neither is it just a Indian issue. It certainly isn’t just a farmer issue. This concerns everyone who believes in protecting the democratic process.
What you can do:
- Educate yourself: While there still is a lack of adequate mainstream media coverage, there are legitimate sources available. Always check your source and take a moment to examine the motive of the source. Not all journalists are able to provide a non biased news report, which was witnessed in a Canadian national broadcast.
- Amplify Voices: Share and amplify voices of those Indian farmers who are protesting. Listen to their stories and why they oppose this bill. Listen to how their democratic rights have been violated. We can do this online by reading and sharing sources that are legitimate.
- Speak Up: Tell your elected officials where you live to show solidarity and condemn the Indian government’s response to the protest. When the democratic process is threatened in one country, it is a threat to all. Find a template for US citizens here and for Canadians here.
- Attend a protest: If you are able to, you can join in on the largest peaceful protest in the world from where you are. (Wear a mask and socially distance).
- Donate: There are many organizations that support these farmers and can direct aid, resources and support to them directly. Check out Khalsa Aid, Sahaita Farmer Support Project and Kisaani.
Rajbinder Grewal (@thismamaneedsavacay) is a Sikh + Canadian mom of three girls who have forced her to show her dedication to motherhood by freezing her behind off in hockey rinks. Raj started her blog as an outlet to write and create. Now she loves the connections she has made with other moms in sharing the joys and realities of motherhood. She is an advocate for diversity and representation in all aspects of life, but her true passion is working to educate about social & racial inequities and biases. Her other passion is basketball and specifically, the Toronto Raptors. The only hockey she watches is her girls playing.