“Why Aren’t We Talking About This?”

It’s Only the Largest Protest in Human History

Ajuny Hansra, Guest Writer

Popstar Rihanna recently tweeted “Why aren’t we talking about this?!” with an image of Sikh men and women waving orange and white flags, riding tractors, in New Delhi, India. 

The post accumulated a million likes, sending Twitter into a frenzy. Other celebrities joined in including climate activist Greta Thurnberg, LA Laker Kyle Kuzma, and Mina Harris (niece of Vice President Kamala Harris). 

So, what was it that they were talking about? 

The largest protest in human history is currently taking place in India involving over 200 million people. 

The agitation centers around the introduction of three new farm laws. These laws are being touted by the Prime Minister Modi and his administration as a means to deregulate the current system that has been in place for seventy years.

Prime Minister Modi argues that the laws are a way to modernize the industry. 

However, the farmers, who make up 58% of India’s population, perceive the new laws to be potentially devastating to their income, resulting in further debt and loss of their land. 

These farms have been passed down in families for many generations, therefore the farmers have a tremendous stake in the outcome. 

Currently, farming is highly fragmented with the average farmer owning a little over five acres of land. 

The belief of the farmers’ is that the government would like to consolidate their lands and move toward corporate farming. 

They claim that although it appears the laws would promote a free market economy, the lack of regulation has resulted in only two corporate conglomerates that farmers can sell to, led by billionaires Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, effectively stifling competition and driving down prices that farmers receive for their crops. 

These giant corporations have already built large storage facilities where they can store grains for over a year, thus driving prices down even further. 

In addition to objecting to the contents of these new laws, the farmers are also crying afoul at the process in which they were enacted. 

They are claiming corruption as Ambani and Adani are close friends with Prime Minister Modi and have joint business holdings with his family. The farmers also assert that the bills, which bypassed the legislative process and were enacted by emergency orders, are illegal.

Another point of contention has been the government’s reaction to the protests. 

Protestors allege that their right to demonstrate have been marred by human rights violations. On the way to New Delhi, the farmers were met with barricades, water cannons, tear gas, and police batons.

Upon arrival, thousands have created makeshift camps on the outskirts of Delhi. Internet access and water have been cut off for the protestors and over 200 have died over the last several months. 

Despite the hardships, the farmers remain steadfast in their resolve to not leave until there is a full repeal of all three laws, and the Modi government is not showing any signs of backing down. 

The situation has given rise to the largest protest in human history.