It is a difficult topic to write about so I am just going to jot down some thoughts that come to mind when I think about this whole movement. Our generation hasn’t really seen anything like this in their lives. The scale, the way it was organised and sustained is an example in itself. Now when their demands have been met and they are going back, it is also a lesson on how to organise a protest and put your point of view across without resorting to any unconstitutional ways or means. Lakhs of people came together to protest with a single agenda; asking for rollback of laws and a law on MSP. It went on for an year and it is not easy to sustain a protest for that long. Imagine lakhs of people living on the roads and to arrange for all their daily needs. It takes some spirit to be able to sustain it. Few things that i think have been unique with this protest:
- I think for me the biggest take away is the fact that there exists a huge, huge disconnect between urban class’s understanding of rural issues and the ground reality. Taking example of this protest, most of the folks who are into agriculture were with the protest and the new era desh bhagts were calling them terrorists and so on. They claim to understand the farmers’ problem better than farmers themselves. That is simply ridiculous.
- Most of the people who were supporting the farm laws were basically BJP supporters and they were supporting BJP, not these laws. When they support BJP, support automatically comes for anything being done by BJP, irrespective of the fact that it is worth supporting or not. That is the sad part of politics in this country. No issues based support or opposition.
- Taking advantage of the pandemic and the majority that they have, they bulldozed these laws through the parliament. But it is for the first time that the government was challenged like this. They may have expected some resistance but I don’t think they expected anything of this scale. The way the resistance was organised was unique. The scale of it created tremendous pressure on the government.
- People stayed united throughout the movement. There were no talk of where you come from and what religion you have. Everyone made sure to support each other at every point in the movement.
- Govt used all kinds of means to defame the movement especially on social media. Farmers gave it back wherever there was a propaganda being done. Daily there used to be a Twitter trend about farmers’ concerns. So by being active on social media, not only they were able to put and end to the propaganda being run by the trolls, they also successfully put their own point of view forward.
- It started from Punjab but soon gathered support from other states especially Haryana when they were trying to enter Delhi. Then the support from other states like UP, Uttrakhand and Rajasthan proved to be critical to sustain the protest.
- A lot of people from outside Punjab couldn’t figure how can they provide free meals for so many people for an year. I am not surprised. Everyone would feel like that unless you know about the concept of langar. In Punjab and in India, tens of thousands of people eat for free at different Gurudwaras/temples daily and that continues for the whole year. All of this comes from the ration/money given by sangat (folks who give money and ration). Simply put, this was another langar they had to run and they did it. No rocket science there.
- Sewa bhaav (the will to serve/help the needy) can make you do wonders. There were thousands of people who helped in this movement but one name that comes to my mind is Dr Swaiman Singh. He spent a full year here and helped the movement in multiple ways right from treating the sick to keeping everyone in high spirits. People like him are our pride.
In the end, the sad part about this whole thing is that it does no wonders for making the farmers’ situation better. At the expense of an year of protest and loss of hundreds of lives, it just restores the status quo and saves them from corporate exploitation. Also, these laws may come back in some shape and form in the future. Specifically Punjab may have to pay the price for holding this resistance but then that’s what we have been doing for ages; standing against the wrong. Reminds me of Gurbhajan Gill’s lines
ਗਰਦਨ ਸਿੱਧੀ ਰੱਖਣ ਦਾ ਮੁੱਲ ਤਾਰ ਰਹੇ ਹਾਂ,
ਬੇਸ਼ਰਮਾਂ ਦਾ ਨੀਵੀਂ ਪਾ ਕੇ ਸਰ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ।
gardan sidhi rakhaN da mull taar rahe haan,
besharma’n da neevi’n paa ke sar janda hai.
Featured image taken from here