With photos of their late family members, skulls and placards, thousands of farmers marched from Ramlila Maidan to Sansad Marg wanting their demands to be discussed in the Winter Session of the Parliament. The farmers coming from different corners of the country shared their poignant stories and plight with the citizens and media to get a unanimous support from all quarters.
Organised under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella body of more than 200 farmer organisations from across the country, the ‘Kisan Mukti March’ moved towards Parliament for a peaceful rally after halting for a night at the Ramlila Ground.
The long-standing demands of the farmers, that is passing of two bills, seeking ‘freedom from indebtedness’ and the ‘right to guaranteed remunerative Minimum Support Price (MSP)’ were reiterated by them.
The government, which currently uses the so-called “A2” formula, a narrower measure that includes all out-of-pocket expenses, plus the value of family labour that is (A2 + FL) formula. The farmers, instead, demanded the government to use the “C2 formula”, which is a broader measure that includes the actual paid-out costs (on seeds, fertilisers, electricity, irrigation, etc.) plus the value of family labour, besides rent of owned land and imputed interest on owned capital.
In 2006, the National Commission for Farmers headed by MS Swaminathan submitted five reports, which contain a draft of recommendations that safeguarded the interest of farmers. The formation of national and state disaster relief commissions that can declare a region or a crop as distress-affected, and provide necessary relief, is also a demand.
The AIKSCC pointed out that the agriculture crisis has led to over to 3 lakh farmer suicides between 1995-2016, as per National Crimes Records Bureau data. According to the Economic Survey 2017-18, agriculture sector employs more than 50% of the total workforce in India and contributes around 17-18% to the country’s GDP. Hence, the demands of farmers need to to be looked upon seriously and should be met as early as possible.
In a pamphlet distributed during the protest at Ramlila Maidan, farmers said they had to buy farm inputs at higher price than the price they were able to sell their produce. The farmers’ protest got an unprecedented support from a large number of college students from different universities of Delhi, along with activists and NGOs who volunteered and gathered for their cause.
“We are farmers. We do not intend to annoy you. We are upset. We have come from distant places to make you and the government our voices heard. We just need one minute from your time,” read a pamphlet distributed by protesting farmers to residents in the national capital. With the country’s farmers now on street, the million dollar question which arises is, when will the government will pay heed?