This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Pratik Deka. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Remembering Charan Singh In The Wake Of The Farmer’s Movement

More from Pratik Deka

Starting With A Story

One day, some farmers from Charan Singh’s constituency went to Delhi to meet him regarding an issue they were facing back home. When Charan Singh met them, the first question he asked was, “how much money have you spent to come till here?“. The farmers replied that they had to spend around Rs. 120. Charan Singh did not like the fact and scolded them saying, “when you can send a postcard of 5 paise mentioning all you want to say, why to waste 120 rupees unnecessarily?

In 2021, Farmer’s protests have continued for months outside Delhi without any remedy from the government.

Charan Singh, who is frequently referred to as the “champion of India’s peasants“, served as the 5th Prime Minister of India between July 28, 1979, and January 14, 1980. Because of his dedication and devoted service and his love for the farmers of the country, his memorial in New Delhi is named “Kisan Ghat” and his birthday on December 23 is celebrated as “Kisan Diwas” in India.

The Kisan Neta

Charan Singh was born in a farmer’s family, so he closely witnessed the harsh realities of Indian farmers. The debt traps, the exploitation, and everything around it. As a member of the Legislative Assembly of the United Provinces (British India) elected in 1937, he took a deep interest in the laws that were detrimental to the village economy and he slowly built his ideological and practical stand against the exploitation of tillers of the land by landlords.

He led a very aggressive approach while dealing with farmers’ issues. Once, when Singh was the Minister for Revenue and Agriculture, he found out about the malpractices that go on in the ‘patwari (lekhpal)’ system that existed in most parts of India. Taking immediate action, he ordered for the dismissal of service of about 28,000 ‘patwaris‘.

Some of the other significant bills and reforms that took shape during the Charan Singh years were – the Debt Redemption Bill, which gave relief to the peasantry from moneylenders, and a land utilization bill to transfer the proprietary interest in agricultural holdings to the actual tillers of the soil.

In a newspaper article, he discussed the blueprint of the land reform he would pursue after Independence. That land reform had at its core the abolition of landlordism – the zamindari system. He also exempted fertilizer from sales tax and the land revenue for farmers owning land up to three and a half acres.

Moreover, he proposed the idea of a 50% quota for children of farmers in government jobs, which must be given irrespective of their caste.

At the core of the ideas of Charan Singh lies the inspiration he took from Gandhi. Gandhi believed in a development model that should go from the bottom to the top, today we see the opposite. But Charan Singh attempted to articulate an alternative model of development for India which was inspired by Gandhi.

He is also famously known for his strong differences with Jawaharlal Nehru on approaches to development. Nehru was more focused on and prioritized the development of industries and urban centers. But Charan Singh believed that in a nation where around 80% of the population, in that era, lived in the villages and were dependent on agriculture and other occupations around it, the developmental activities must be more inclined towards the rural areas.

Absence Felt Today

It’s been a year, and farmers in northern India are still out on the streets and highways. They had to be out of their houses at a time when the whole world had to remain indoors. They had to bear the bitter cold of Delhi for days. They had to face the obstacles and atrocities of the puppets controlled by the Home Ministry. And above all, they are away from their farms because they are fighting for them.

But why they are not able to reach the people in power and convince them? During an interview with the YouTube channel “The Lallantop“, noted poet Kumar Vishwas pointed out a significant problem because of which the farmers are not being heard – the absence of a Charan Singh inside the parliament.

The farmers, for the last one year, are acting as an external force to convince the people in power, but the farmers will need true representation in power. That insider voice is going the shake the parliament and take the protest forward and maybe to a fruitful outcome. That insider can tell the legislature what good they are doing for the farmers, and what is being rejected or is not wanted by the farmers themselves.

Hence today’s politics miss leaders like Chaudhary Charan Singh. May we see more Charan Singhs in our politics and inside the legislatures today and may the voice of the kisans stay alive so that the nation can stay alive.

You must be to comment.

More from Pratik Deka

Similar Posts

By Ishmeet Kaur Mac

By Aayush R. Sinha

By Ayan Tanweer

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below