Currently Delhi, the Indian capital city, is surrounded on all sides by thousands of farmers who are protesting against major policy changes that the Government has implemented. Farmers have arrived on their tractors from the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, and have blocked the border crossings into Delhi.
Every day more farmers pour in from all over the country, and it would seem that most of the population is with the farmers.
A lot of the original protestors are Sikhs, and in their customary way, they have set about cooking food for everyone – cops included – but make no mistake, the farmers are in it for the long haul.
For, you see, these organised chaps have brought enough food with them to last for months. They have brought their bedding. The only thing they lack is toilets, but I read a report the other day that people are opening their homes to the farmers so they can use the loo, and garages are staying open so they can use their bathrooms – amazing stuff.
I’m not going to go into details of the the policy nor the wrongs/rights of this protest here, but suffice it to say I’m on the side of the farmers, who fear they will lose out to huge corporates if the Government has its way. The Government says that by dismantling the current system of middlemen, the farmers will be free to negotiate their own prices. Sounds fine in principle, but when you consider that many of the farmers have small-holdings – perhaps under an acre – where on earth is their bargaining power?
But what I really want to share with you here is a brilliant article I read in the paper this morning. On January 26th each year, India celebrates Republic Day with an impressive parade in Delhi, and it is a spectacle of note. Lots of pageantry and colourful floats, and important special guests (Boris Johnson in 2021 we are told. No comment).
And this is what the farmers have to say on the subject:
“Reiterating the stance that they will not settle for anything but a complete rollback of the three new laws that seek to open up farm trade, farmers protesting on the Ghazipur border said they will stay put and participate in the Republic Day parade on their tractors in Delhi, if their demands are not met.
Rakesh Tikait, farmer leader and spokesman, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) said, “Since talks with the government have not yielded any results so far, we are going to camp at the border at least until January 26. We have enough rations to camp here till January end. If the situation remains the same, we have planned to march up to India Gate in our tractors to participate in the parade. We want the country to see the real farmers.”
Given that these organised fellas have come prepared for a long protest, on January 26th, they could indeed quite easily drive their tractors into Delhi and I doubt many people would object 🙂
Obviously, for the sake of the farmers I hope the issue is resolved in their favour, and soon. They may be hardy souls, but sleeping outdoors in the Delhi winter is brutal.
If the government doesn’t yield to their demands, I have to say the thought of hundred of tractors rolling into the posh heart of Delhi is an amazing one…