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What India's Farmer Protests Reveal About The World's Largest Democracy 

Farmers shout anti-government slogans as they march during a protest in Amritsar, India, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Prabhjot Gill)
Farmers shout anti-government slogans as they march during a protest in Amritsar, India, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Prabhjot Gill)

Millions of farmers are protesting in India. What’s driving them? And what does it reveal about India?


Mandakini Gahlot, independent journalist based in New Dehli. Contributor to France 24, USA Today, Al Jazeera English and more. (@MandakiniGahlot)

Vikas Rawal, professor of agricultural economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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Hartosh Singh Bal, political editor of the Caravan Magazine. (@HartoshSinghBal)

From The Reading List

Washington Post: “Opinion: India is at war with itself — and even Rihanna is noticing” — “‘This flag is our life, it’s drawn from the blood and toil of our ancestors,’ a farmer from Punjab told me, pointing to the Indian tricolor fluttering from the corner of his tractor as it joined a cavalcade of thousands on the morning of India’s Republic Day on Jan. 26.’

New York Times: “Why Are Farmers Protesting in India?” — “At least one protester was killed and 300 police officers were injured after tens of thousands of farmers, many driving tractors, took to the streets of New Delhi on Tuesday to call for the repeal of contentious new agriculture laws.”

The Atlantic: “The End of the Indian Idea” — “For the past several years, warnings have been sounded about democracy in India—whether they be about the fate of the country’s minorities, its courts, its intellectuals.”

Associated Press: “India farming protests resonate with US agriculture” — “Images of thousands of farmers streaming into India’s capital on tractors and carrying banners to decry potentially devastating changes in agricultural policy can seem a world away, but the protests in New Delhi raise issues that resonate in the United States and have led to dramatic change in rural America.”

The Guardian: “‘This has to end peacefully’: California’s Punjabi farmers rally behind India protests” — “Sukhcharan Singh grows walnuts in Yuba City, California, about 40 miles north of Sacramento. Like many Sikh farmers in this small Central Valley city, Singh’s thoughts are occupied by the ongoing protests in India.”

The Conversation: “Why Indian farmers are so angry about the Modi government’s agricultural reforms” — “India’s farmers have been protesting since the autumn, with a growing intensity that culminated in a violent breaching of barriers in the Red Fort in Delhi during India’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26.”

The Tribune India: “10 economists write to Tomar, seek repeal of farm laws” — “As the stand-off between the agitating farmers and the BJP-led central government continued for the third week, top economists from some of the most reputed research institutions in the country, have raised serious concerns about the farm laws, and demanded their repeal.”

Al Jazeera: “Free speech under threat as India clamps down on farmer protests” — “When Vinod K Jose, executive editor of The Caravan, India’s leading investigative magazine, logged onto Twitter on Monday, he was shocked to find the magazine’s account had been blocked.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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