The laws directly impact the farmers in India, but they could also have a significant impact to consumers globally, who rely on India for many key items such as turmeric, chili and ginger.
Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh arrived by tractors and on foot in New Delhi last month where they blocked roads and set up makeshift camps, according to protest leaders. Some slept on the road or in their tractors, and several places of worship offered protesters food.
It affects your pantry
The protests haven’t been exclusive to India.
“The pandemic has shown us that there are two economies,” he said. “Essential workers across the world are suffering. The farmers in India represent all of them, and their resistance to unjust legislation that privileges the uber-wealthy corporations is a resistance that speaks to so many of us all over the world.”
Herbs and medicine go hand-in-hand for those practicing homeopathy or Ayurveda, an ancient Hindu system of medicine based on the idea of balance within your body, built on the foundation of herbal treatment, yoga and breathing.
It affects your closet
“Although yields in India are well below the global average, cotton area in India dwarfs that of any other country, accounting for approximately 40 percent of the world total,” the department said.
What do the laws say?
For decades, the Indian government has offered guaranteed prices to farmers for certain crops, creating a stable guide to make decisions and investments for the following crop cycle.
Under the previous laws, farmers had to sell their goods at an auction at their state’s Agricultural Produce Market Committee. A government-agreed minimum price was set for items and the auction was regulated by restrictions on who could buy along with price caps on essentials.
Farmers argue Modi’s new laws help big companies drive down prices. While farmers could sell crops at higher prices if the demand is there, conversely, they could struggle to meet the minimum price in years when there is too much supply in the market.
“In the past, when Indian agricultural workers have protested for fair prices and working conditions, the Indian government has responded with violent crackdowns that include documented torture, human rights abuses, and extrajudicial killings,” Simran Singh said.
“It is critical that, in this moment of peaceful protest, we keep our eyes trained on India’s response, and ensure that they do not again resort to repressive tactics as a way to thwart free speech and protest.”
Voices on the ground
Police attempted to block demonstrators from entering New Delhi when protests first began — they fired tear gas and water cannons, after protesters pelted police officers with stones and damaged public property, according to Manoj Yadav, a senior police official from Haryana.
As a Sikh Punjabi woman, the fight for Ramanpreet Kaur in New York is about her “grandparents and parents who have lived through so many hardships and kept the farming culture alive in our families to provide for us.”
“Even if you don’t feel a personal connection to India or the farmers out there like many of us do, as a human being who lives on earth you should be concerned about exploitation of the people who feed you everyday,” she said.
Manveer Singh said he feels the impact of India’s new laws all the way in Vancouver, Canada, through his cousins in Punjab who still farm today.
“The entire world should care about this issue, because in a globalized society we are all connected,” he said. “Everything from turmeric to Basmati comes from Indian farmers.”
“And above personal interests, we need to value human beings over corporations. That in itself is the central ethos of what has become one of the biggest protests in human history.”
Rajbir Singh, from Amsterdam, said farming has always been the only way his family has made money — and for some of them, it still is.
“For me to see that all Indian farmers now indirectly have to work for these big corporations is unacceptable,” he said. “That’s why I am protesting and urge the rest of the farming communities in the world to stand with the Indian farmers.”
What happens now and how to help
On Wednesday, Indian farmers rejected the government’s proposed amendments, according to an Indian farmers union.
Darshan Pal, President of the Krantikari Kisan Union, a farmer’s union said protests will intensify and farmers plan to block the highway between New Delhi to Jaipur, the capital of western Rajasthan state, on December 12, which will lead up to a nationwide protest by December 14, with calls to gather outside the regional offices of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
CNN’s Julia Hollingsworth, Swati Gupta, Esha Mitra and Manveena Suri contributed to this report.
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