The support extended to the ‘farmers’ agitating on Delhi’s borders by the likes of Rihanna and Greta Thunberg is symptomatic of the narrative that has been promoted on the government’s farm laws – deliberate mischief or deep ignorance of the reality. It is particularly so in the case of ‘environmental activist’ Thunberg, who is supporting a farm economy that is deeply disruptive of nature and requires subsidies to exploit resources, like groundwater, that are depleting fast. The government’s attempt to create financial incentives to make agricultural practices less destructively wasteful and more productive is being opposed by these new inheritors of the colonial ‘we know better’ mindset.
It cannot also be denied that there are forces operating with deep pockets to undermine India’s growing profile and clout. This pushback is being experienced in every initiative taken by the Modi Government. These will need to be countered through diplomatic and other means. It must be recalled that India’s demand for a permanent place in the UN’s Security Council has not gone down well with its traditional detractors. The struggle on the international front is just another one of the challenges India faces.
It is a relief that, thus far, none of the MPs arguing against the farm laws has quoted Rihanna or Thunberg, because that would be a new low in parliamentary debate. Not that they have made anything like an impression till now, repeating as they are the same old hackneyed arguments. Going by the speeches in the Rajya Sabha, most MPs are more interested in riding piggyback on this cause to push the demands of their own states or parties on other issues.
Modi’s opponents are hoping that the farmers’ agitation would cause mortal damage to his government so that they could actually hope for a victory in the next general elections. Some are particularly hopeful that the situation could deteriorate to the point where police is forced to fire on the protestors. This is why the non-fatal and unprecedented ‘hard’ precautions being taken are being derided as a symptom of paranoia. Sadly, when such incidents do take place, it is never the leaders who end up in the morgues, just those whom they have pushed to the frontlines. This is why action needs to be taken against all the irresponsible leaders who create such situations. They cannot be awarded the protection of the law for so recklessly endangering others. Hopefully, the government will establish a precedent in this regard also.