On April 5, tens of thousands of farmers and workers from across India came to the capital New Delhi to protest the central government’s anti-farmer and anti-labor policies. The rally was held at the Ramlila Maidan grounds.
The rally was jointly organized by some of India’s biggest organizations representing farmers, workers, and agricultural laborers—All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), and All India Agriculture Workers Union (AIAWU), respectively.
The protesters demanded relief from inflation, a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) on major crops, a minimum wage for all workers at Rs 26,000 ($317) per month, debt relief, a pension for all farmers above the age of 60, repeal of the four anti-labor codes, and the withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020, among other measures.
Unions have highlighted several issues plaguing Indian farmers such as stagnant wages, price rises, unemployment, job insecurity, and low returns for farm produce. According to a joint statement, 100,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last eight years. The unions also have raised alarm over the unprecedented increase in the number of suicides by daily wagers—112,000 in just three years from 2019 to 2021. Particularly since the historic farmers’ movement in India in 2020-21, farmers across the country have played a key role in protests against the government’s policies.
Protesters accused the Modi-led government of creating a livelihood crisis for all sections of the working class. KN Umesh, CITU National Secretary, told NewsClick that the fight might be multipronged, but the campaign generated much confidence among workers.
“Wherever we went, people said they were fed up with this government and it should go,” he said. “[The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party] may have a majority in Parliament, but people are on the streets.”
Credit Line: from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service