January 2021 | The Largest Farmer Strike in History is Underway in India
On this episode of Partisan Gardens, we are sharing a vital summary of the ongoing mass farmer protests in India. For almost six weeks, Indian farmers have blocked the major highways leading into the capitol, New Delhi. More than 100,000 people are maintaining tent cities on the highways themselves, in conjunction with a broader movement that mobilized 250 million farmers in strikes in November. These protests are pushing back on a suite of three neoliberal reform laws introduced by the ruling, right-wing BJP party, intended to remove protections for small farmers and increase the power of large corporations in the agricultural sector.
Last week, we spoke with Gaurika Mehta about the Indian agricultural sector, the neoliberal reform laws, and the massive movement organized by Indian farmers to shut down the capitol until these laws are withdrawn. Ranging from the self-organization of the blockades – including makeshift libraries, kitchens and self-published newspapers – to the role of the state in organizing food markets, her analysis helped us understand the movement and gain lessons for thinking about agricultural struggles in North America.
Further, her observations on the role of state racism and pernicious efforts to spread conspiracy theories discrediting the farmers are enormously timely, just as the farmers’ intelligent efforts to link themselves with other recent movements offer important instruction for us here.
On January 12th, the Indian Supreme Court suspended the laws until the government enters into a new committee-based consultation with the unions, farmers, and other actors. However, farmers have maintained their blockades, while continuing to demand the full repeal of these laws. Further, many farmers are refusing to engage with the consultation at all.