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Opinion: When Will Indian People Wake Up To The Farmers Protest?

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As you drive around the agrarian state of Punjab, through the concrete jungles and peaceful rural areas you’ll see Punjab’s people. People from your community and mine. They stand at traffic signals, roundabouts, and on the streets carrying slogans boldly declaring solidarity with the farmers. Their vehicles drive around carrying the flags and stickers symbolizing their restless undefeatable spirits.

Farmers carry placards at a site of a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi, India, November 28, 2020. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

These are the people who accomplish what is expected from them throughout the day. Out of the same twenty-four-hour clock, they show up for their community, their people, and for the hands that feed them. While they stand here, there are farmers still very much at the borders of the capital protesting for what the government owes them.

The Government’s Reaction

It was very evident during the inception of the protest days that the struggle of the people made it to the news channels. Most of which were manipulative and very rarely portrayed the protests in their true essence at the national level. Moreover, as it evolved fighting the violent atrocities of the central administration, it gained international attention too. And as expected, the same was not taken well by many back in India.

Many only spoke about the protests when a situation of the violent pinnacle was reached. Since the movement has held and will continue to hold its dignity and peace, we as citizens have started to behave as if fascism has been defeated. Surpassing more than a hundred days with their forts set on streets, bearing the loss of three hundred and fifty-one lives. Now settling for less than what they deserve is not a win-win situation. It would be a clear loss.

The government refuses to listen to its citizens who plant the former at the parliament. Being a citizen serving the government is not what the Bharatiya Janata Party believes in. It holds up its conviction by silencing dissent, abducting the young and the elders (abducting not arresting), making the media a propaganda narrator, sending in goons to defame the dignity of the revolution to violating human rights, attacking the leaders leading the protest, curbing freedom to speech and expression, and then still claiming to be an absolute democracy.

The government only intends to show the sufferers in a bad light and entitles them to be unnecessarily adamant. They refuse to settle for something less than deserving because it would be a shame to the struggle and to those who laid down their lives. The central administration tries to pull out every string that would lead to the dismantling of the discipline of the farmers as a community and the revolution they stirred.

The Indian People Need To Wake Up

I still see people curious enough to have doubts as citizens about the movement. Rather than questioning the questionable or even being a tad suspicious about the accountability the center holds they try to tire the ones struggling for generations. It is a misfortune that there still are sleepy unaware heads that are ignorant of how adverse the situation is and all that is at stake.

Adding to it, their perspectives are victims to cavernous obliviousness leading them to blatantly ignore a wildfire evident enough. All they look for is certain old lies resting beneath the veil of their minds. The question marks being put on the Bharat Bandhs, Chakka Jams, rallies and local protests are extremely futile because all of the collective effort matters. Their effort is a ray of hope to our suffocating democracy.

Representational image.

Democracy in India has been slipping under the Bharatiya Janta Party.

We are seeing our democracy slip away from our hands at our watch and how is that okay or even comfortable? Foreign nations can see through our dying democracy. But ‘We, the people of India’ who ought to protect constitutional values have chosen to not see, hear, or even say anything. We have taken up the role of mute spectators to the disrespect of the constitution.

An institute based in Sweden declared India to be no longer an ‘electoral democracy’, declaring it to be an ‘electoral autocracy’. A US-based non-profit Freedom House downgraded India from a ‘free democracy‘ to a ‘partially free democracy‘. Then to add to the not-so-talked-about records, in the Democracy Index published by the Economic Intelligence Unit our nation’s rank dropped by two positions to 53rd position and got labeled as ‘flawed democracy’.

When people not at the receiving end of fascism can observe all the ramifications of our curbed democratic freedoms, why can’t we as vigilant citizens unveil our minds? There is an ardent need to dust off our so-called intellects and hold the ones responsible for the chaos accountable. And if it seems too much effort, then yes it requires too much effort to make the sinking ship float again just so that we are not at a loss of something very basic and yet very precious to something we can defeat collectively.

The farmers’ protest does not just belong to the farmers. The protest in itself is inclusive. Anyone who stands up fearlessly against injustice, anyone who fights the righteous battle through ideas are welcomed to the revolution. The movement always belongs to its people who choose to be on the right side of history. While some of us are silenced by the people in power, many in the crowd choose to stay silent. And the latter are the possessors of greater shame.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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