What Is Going on With India’s Protests? | Cami Dominguez
India is currently having one of the single largest protests in human history with over 250 million people, even in the subcontinent, participating in a 24-hour strike in solidarity. The proletariat is finally taking a stand against the bourgeoisie that has been the source of oppression for so long. Indians throughout the nation are standing up against the neo-liberal policies of the prime minister, Narendra Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist government.
Famine, oppressive government policy, climate change, and no other than COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on the Indian economy. Forced into a recession, India’s GDP has plummeted by 23.9%, sending unemployment soaring by27%. Agriculture is still the largest source of livelihood for most Indians and makes up more than half of the subcontinent’s workforce – while contributing to society and the wellbeing of the economy, the farmers needs are far ever from being met. This combined with the side effects of a pandemic has left farmers absolutely distraught.
In September, Modi eagerly passed three legislations that were supposed to better the conditions of the nation — to remove taxes and other government-imposed financial burdens on farmers and to make the selling process more direct from farmers to corporations, which would hopefully encourage private investment in agriculture. The legislations sounded like a miracle, as they supposedly guaranteed big businesses from hoarding produce, keeping prices fair, and even offering financial protection to farmers. But alas, the bourgeoisie will always do what is convenient for the bourgeoisie.
The legislation actually strips the remaining support guaranteed to farmers. They are already deprived of much of the support they need and these bills would allow corporations to be exploited by big agribusiness firms and corporations. The protection was never for the worker but rather the companies. The protections which include guaranteed government-based marketplaces and frameworks to establish minimum prices of goods are removing any shield workers have from exploitation from big companies.
Even before the legislation was passed, it gained enough notoriety that people started to protest against it back in August. While farmers and labor unions are the face of it all, allies such as student activists, industrial and transportation workers, women’s rights organizations, domestic servants, and civil society groups all are a part of this movement. They took their voice straight to the capital to demand the full retraction of the laws and insist on remaining at the capital until their needs are met.
This, however, did not sit well with the Indian parliament — protesters were met with police who used tear cans, water cannons, and obstructed roads outside the city preventing anyone from entering. Modi’s public statements have consisted of calling the protesters “misled on these historic reform laws”, but as the protests started to make headlines outside of India, government officials began meeting with the union leaders and provided a designated area of Delhi to protest, which unsurprisingly were nowhere near the Parliament House.
What was an effort to quietly facilitate corporation exploitation quickly turned into one of the biggest proletariat uprisings in world history. Who knows, this hopefully might encourage more of the proletariat to rise against their oppressors. And while Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has sided with the working class, let’s hope the US doesn’t feel the need to intervene in the movement of the working class.