Modi’s repeal of agricultural laws will bring new energy to besieged Indian civil society


Narendra Modi’s announcement on Friday that controversial new farm laws would soon be repealed is certainly a moment of rejoicing. Although farmers across the country have led a sustained protest against the laws for nearly a year, the possibility of a victory for their just struggle only seemed like a dream the day before.

This triumph will help combat the sense of defeat that has taken hold, especially in civil society, since the government led by the Bharatiya Janata party returned to power in 2019. Farmers have shown that the gross majority the party commands in Parliament can bow to the resolution of the people of the street.

In fact, it would be fairer to say that the farmers, taking the path followed by Muslim women when they decided to launch their fight against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, have shown that instead of depending on the courts and legislature for justice, the street must be transformed into a theater of politics.

Democratic politics take on its full meaning when people take charge of their destiny. This moment belongs to the farmers and we must not take away their glory by talking about the cunning of a retreating autocratic leader in an attempt to confuse the electorate ahead of the crucial state election.

It is not a masterstroke. He was forced to back down.

Crisis and change

The decision also demonstrates that unless citizens rush the crisis for a government insensitive to their interests, they will never emerge from chaos. Democracy works through crises and not by evading them. The job of citizens is not to make the life of government easier. He should always be on guard and his decisions and actions regularly reviewed.

Governments that have the support of an absolute majority in the legislature demand even more scrutiny from the people they claim to work for: History shows that the people’s mandate is often usurped to deprive them of their rights. Their own voting choices are used to make them powerless. The only remedy is the action of strong people.

This government retreat is a reminder that ordinary citizens should not be intimidated by the arrogance of “specialists” and “experts”: often these figures exist to serve the establishment and the status quo. For example, supporters of demonetization and the goods and services tax made fun of those who criticized these decisions even though they destroyed millions of lives.

Critics have been portrayed as negativists and accused of taking India out of the path of progress.

The long struggle of the farmers has gone through many turbulent phases. The chaos of the January 26 protest at the Red Fort and repeated attacks on the Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur protest sites aimed to defame the movement and anger the leaders. Whether they held on has something to do with their status as farmers: Nehru acknowledged this when he wrote that they have a certain grace due to their relationship to the land.

Agriculture actually gave them the tenacity to fight a long battle, to face uncertainty.

It is clear that a government antagonistic to one part of the electorate – Muslims and Christians, in this case – cannot bring good to any part of society. This government’s record is proof of that. Citizens’ initiatives, the removal of the special status enjoyed by Kashmir under the Indian Constitution, the introduction of demonetization, the dilution of environmental protections and other similar actions have caused great upheaval in the lives of many. ‘Indians. The only part of India that seems to benefit from this government’s initiatives is the corporate capitalist class.

This victory should give the educated middle class the opportunity to reconsider its tendency to blindly accept all diktats of government, even those that harm them. Perhaps this will also prompt the judiciary to review its ordinances supporting government decisions and not act as mere legitimators for the powers that be.

This victory should give citizens the courage and the energy to resume just battles and to start new ones. Victory depends on factors, many of which are beyond the control of citizens. In the end, all they can do is fight to achieve their goals. There is no respite in this.

Apoorvanand teaches Hindi at the University of Delhi.


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