Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


Older farmers hold the fort at the protest site as younger farmers go back to villages in the sowing season.

Farmers from North India have spent more than eight months at the longest-running protest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, turning several highways on the outskirts of New Delhi into temporary settlements.

In winter they huddled in farm trailers. When winter gave way to a scorching summer, the farmers erected structures with bamboo and aluminum sheets on the road to shelter them from temperatures that touch 44 degrees Celsius in the Indian capital and equipped them with fans and coolers.

Now they are throwing tarpaulin sheets over the roofs to keep monsoon rains out of their shelters. Holding firm on their demand that three farm laws passed last year to open agricultural trade to private companies must be scrapped, the farmers shrug aside the hardships of living on the highway through winter, summer and the pandemic's ferocious second wave.

"In winter, we leave our homes at night to water fields at night because that is the time we are given electricity, in summer we work under the sun, we sow our land during the monsoons," said Harjinder Singh, a farmer who has come from Punjab, a primarily agricultural state.

"In any case, a protest means bearing hardships. Only then you succeed," he said, retreating into his structure, as rain drips through a plastic sheet after a monsoon shower.

Singh did not leave the highway, even when Delhi huddled indoors as the coronavirus infected tens of thousands – for him the laws represent a bigger threat than the virus.

Discontent among farmers, who mostly own small plots of land and complain of falling incomes, has been brewing for years. They have complained that rising costs for supplies such as seeds, fertilizers and diesel fuel had eroded their profits.

The recent laws have become a flashpoint amid their fears that they pose an existential threat to their livelihoods.

The farmers worry that the new laws will take away decades long government support, which ensured a fixed price for crops, such as wheat and rice, and eventually force them to sell their land.

Being a landowner is the only identity they know, said farmer Darshan Singh as he walked down the highway.

"I am attached to my land in the same way that my nail is joined to my flesh. It is both my mother and father; it is everything to me. If my land does not stay, there is no point in my living any longer," Singh, also from Punjab state, said.

Modi has assured them that the laws will help them gain access to new markets, bring in new technology and raise agricultural incomes.

Some economists say the farm reforms are necessary to modernize Indian agriculture, improve productivity, draw in private investment and encourage farmers to shift to more profitable crops rather than continue growing cereals, such as rice and wheat, which fetch a fixed, government-set price. They say this will help improve incomes in the farm sector that supports half the country but accounts for less than 20% of India's gross domestic product.

However, the farmers distrust market reforms.

"The government says that we do not understand the law and some people have criticized us as illiterate," Singh said.

"Why don't they explain the benefits to us?" he asked.

Political analyst Neerja Chowdhary said the protesters remain firm because the stakes are very high for them.

"The fear is that the laws will corporatize agriculture and ultimately lead to smaller farmers becoming workers in their own fields," she said.

The protesters are counting a small victory. Limited numbers have been allowed to come from their heavily barricaded sites since mid-July to hold a daily protest outside Parliament while it is in session.

The farmers have warned lawmakers that they will withdraw support from parties that do not back their demand that the laws be repealed.

If the impasse is not resolved, it could cost the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party some political support as it gears up to face crucial elections in five states next year.

"It is something to worry about for the BJP, particularly in the largest state, Uttar Pradesh, where a victory is crucial for the party," Choudhary said.

Negotiations have been stalled since talks broke down earlier this year. The government has ruled out scrapping the laws but has offered to put the laws on hold for up to a year and a half and make amendments. The farmers say they will not settle for anything less than a total rollback.

"If the government is showing us a rigid face, then farmers can also be very stubborn. We also will never step back," Harjinder Singh said.

"If we return without achieving our target, in any case our entire life's work stands defeated."

Like the seasons, the mood at the protest site swings – at times charged, at times languid. With the sowing season on during the monsoon, many young farmers have gone back to villages to plant seeds in their fields, while older farmers hold the fort at protest sites.

Even when he is back in his village, the struggle remains his primary concern, Darshan Singh said.(Anjana Pasricha/VOA/HP)


Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

India has been ranked 139 out of 149 countries in the list of UN World Happiness Report 2021.

By Aishwarya Jain

According to the World Happiness Report 2021 which was released by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Finland was once again crowned as the world's happiest country. India has been ranked 139 out of 149 countries in the list of UN World Happiness Report 2021. To make society happy, firstly it is really important to spread awareness on how it is okay to relax, chill and take a break. People tend to normalise overworking, which is so wrong. Of Course, we need a job to live and sustain ourselves but you shouldn't be working yourself to death, and the fact that this is seen as normal is really worrying. You spend more hours at work than you do awake at home, so if those hours are drenched in misery then sadness basically becomes the norm. A study from Gallup (2017) found that happier employees were more engaged, which resulted in improved customer relationships, and a 20 percent increase in sales.

Also, lowering down the crime level would act as a major factor towards a happy society. People who witness crimes, or come across evidence of a crime in their local area, can suffer anxiety and may feel demoralised or powerless. We should also teach them to stop judging people by materialistic things and accept everyone with all their flaws. Media plays an important role in making society happy because they have the power of reaching out to billions of people and helping them out through a solution-based approach.

woman in black shirt smiling beside woman in black shirt Media plays an important role in making society happy because they have the power of reaching out to billions of people and helping them out through a solution-based approach. | Photo by Dave Goudreau on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

There are so many incredible movies and shows on Netflix that are sometimes not available in specific locations.

By- Jake Melnik

With the accessibility to high-speed internet, affordable OTT platform subscriptions, the popularity of binge-watching culture is at its peak. Now, we get unlimited shows to watch every day. In fact, it has brought entertainment to our fingertips. Among the popular platforms, Netflix is one of the favourite names for binge-watchers.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Bryant Churckyno on Unsplash

In the era of computers and smartphones, it is hard to imagine a task that hasnt been made easier by some sort of technology.

In the era of computers and smartphones, it is hard to imagine a task that hasnt been made easier by some sort of technology. You all may know how harmful the blue light emitted by computers, smartphones, tablets, televisions, and other electronics is for your eyes. Since the inception of the pandemic, the use of these electronic devices has increased, and we all know it can have multiple undesirable effects on the eye.
Dark circles are formed mostly due to the reflection of the dark maroon underlying orbicularis oculi, a circular muscle around our eye. The dark pigmentation gives you an exhausted look which makes you seem sick or sleep-deprived. The skin around the eye is the thinnest, results in reflection of the said dark maroon underlying orbicularis oculi. The artificial light from the screen of your electronic devices causes a lot of drying, as it steals the moisture from the skin and also causes a breakdown of collagen

close up photo of gray-eyed man Reduce overhead lighting to minimize screen glare. | Photo by Quinten de Graaf on Unsplash

Keep reading... Show less