India: Tens of thousands of farmers, workers converge on New Delhi

April 12, 2023
India farmers protest
Farmers across India have played a key role in protests against the government’s policies. Photo: CITU

Tens of thousands of farmers and workers from across India came to the capital New Delhi, on April 5, to protest the central government’s anti-farmer and anti-worker policies. The rally was held at the Ramlila Maidan grounds.

The rally was jointly organised by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), and the All India Agriculture Workers Union (AIAWU) — some of the biggest organisations representing farmers, workers and agricultural labourers.

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 (A$475) a month, debt relief, a pension for all farmers above the age of 60, repeal of the four anti-labour codes, and the withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020, among other measures.

Unions have highlighted several issues plaguing 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 past 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 (2019–21). 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 Narendra 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.”

[From Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service.]

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