JOINT STATEMENT: Salute to India’s Farmers! A Big Win for Peoples’ Power!
In a big win for India’s protesting farmers, who were leading a historic agitation for nearly a year, the Government of India – on the 19th of November - announced the repeal of three controversial farm laws that threatened to corporatize the country’s agricultural sector. It is an inspirational account of what peoples’ power can achieve even in the most adverse conditions.
The Indian farmers' protest, one of the largest mobilizations in recent history, completes a year on 26th November 2021. In the course of this historic protest, peasants and workers have braved harsh winters, heavy rains, brutal crackdowns and a wave of campaigns that tried to criminalize, imprison, defame and delegitimize the protestors and their supporters.
According to Samkyukta Kisan Morcha, the coalition spearheading this agitation, at least 650 farmers have died in the past year while on protest. Among these are five farmers who were heinously mowed down by a car in October 2021, allegedly driven by a Union Minister's son.
Despite all the adversities and oppressive measures, the millions of farmers who have laid siege to the borders of New Delhi for a year are in no haste to call off their protest. While they welcome the announcement to roll back the three laws as a step in the right direction, their other crucial demand to bring a legal guarantee for a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce remains unmet. The government is planning to constitute a committee that would make the procurement system more transparent, but agitating farmers insist that a legal guarantee is an absolute necessity. They also demand that the government withdraws all the criminal cases filed against the protestors during the year.
India’s farmers have inspired the world with their resilience. They have shown us what a united struggle of the working class and the peasantry can achieve even in the face of all adversities. Over the last year, this protest has stitched alliances with workers unions and other social movements and issued inspiring messages of solidarity, communal harmony and unity among rural societies.
We, the global civil society members, offer our unwavering support and solidarity for India's farmers. We salute your resilience. You inspire every social movement everywhere. We stand with you in your demands to resist the corporatization of Indian agriculture that endangers India's food sovereignty. Your protest resonates with every peasant and indigenous community in every corner of the world. Behind you, we stand united and alert to the daily developments.
The threat of privatization and corporatization of agriculture is not unique to India. But what is at stake for India is the lives and livelihoods of nearly 600 million people linked to agricultural and allied sectors.
History teaches us the perils of agribusiness expansion. Europe, the US, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia, and several wealthy nations are living evidence of how agribusiness expansion marginalizes small-scale food producers and tilt agricultural production to large industrial farms. It is a model that pushes millions out of their farms, leads to large-scale land concentration, and turns precious natural resources into the hands of a few. It is a model that takes away small-scale food producers' autonomy and control over their seeds, farm inputs, and farm machinery. It is a model favouring large-scale monoculture with devastating consequences for the planet, soil health, biodiversity, and our communities' nutritional choices.
For a predominantly agrarian society like India, to undergo this path of corporatization - primarily when a large majority of its peasants comprise tenant farmers and small-holder farmers - is akin to inviting despair to the doors of millions. And when farmers of the country lose autonomy over their food production, it endangers their food sovereignty.
India is a signatory to the UN Declaration on Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), which lays out the obligation of the State in guaranteeing adequate income and fair price to its food producers (Article 16). Despite its commitment to the UN Declaration, and contrary to the spirit of this Declaration, the Indian government brought in three controversial laws, in the middle of a pandemic year, without consulting the farmers. We insist that any attempts to reform Indian agriculture must be conducted with due consultation with the small-scale food producers through a transparent and democratic process.
Over the last two decades, the agitating farmers in India have carried out several mobilizations demanding a legal guarantee for a minimum support price and a robust mechanism to ensure efficient public procurement of their produce. At this point, the protesting farmers fear that in the absence of such a legal guarantee, there is still scope for a backdoor entry for private corporations. That is why they insist on a legislation that ensures a Minimum Support Price to farmers in every state of India.
As a signatory to the UNDROP, India must listen to its people, and institute a process to consult the unions before instituting any reforms. It must bring in a legal guarantee that offers a minimum support price for its farmers. It must acknowledge and compensate the families of those who lost their lives in this struggle. It must immediately bring to justice the culprits who mowed down protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri. It must stop any actions that criminalize the leaders or members of the protesting unions and immediately resume the dialogue and negotiations.
Call for Global Solidarity Actions:
On 26th November, we the members of the global civil society will carry out peaceful solidarity actions – online and offline – in support of India’s farmers.
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Globalize the Struggle, Globalize Hope!
Salute to India’s farmers! You inspire us!
Statement Signed by:
FIMARC – International Federation of Adult Rural Catholic Movements
FOEI – Friends of the Earth International
HIC – Habitat International Coalition
IITC – International Indian Treaty Council
LVC – La Via Campesina
URGENCI – International Network for Community Supported Agriculture
WAMIP – World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples
WWM – World Women March