India slams international celebrities
Celebrities including singer Rihanna, climate change activist Greta Thunberg, US lawyer and activist Meena Harris — the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris — and lawmakers in the UK and the US have backed the protesting farmers in posts on social media. The Indian government slammed them for endorsing the huge farmers’ protests against new agricultural laws.
Contentious agriculture laws
In September 2020, India’s parliament passed three controversial agriculture bills aimed at liberalizing the country’s farm sector. They were subsequently signed into law, sparking farmers’ protests across the country. The government argued that the new laws will give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside regulated markets and enter into contracts with buyers at a pre-agreed price.
What are the protests about?
Farmers’ associations say the legislation does not guarantee the acquisition of farm produce at the minimum support price, thus leaving them at the mercy of corporations that are now expected to enter the country’s troubled farming sector. Violence erupted on January 26 during a tractor parade. Since then there have been sporadic skirmishes between protesters, police and anti-farmer groups.
The Barbadian pop star is among one of the international celebrities who expressed solidarity with India’s protesting farmers. She tweeted: “Why are we not talking about it?” referring to the demonstrations. Rihanna’s tweet has drawn a global outpouring of support. On the contrary, many Indian celebrities defend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s farming policies.
The 18-year-old climate activist shared a piece of news on Twitter about the internet shutdown in some parts of Delhi and wrote: “We stand in solidarity with the #Farmers Protest in India.” Thunberg’s message of support for Indian farmers angered the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party’s supporters, who condemned her stance.
The Canadian prime minister is one of the few heads of state who have expressed support to protesting farmers. In December 2020, Trudeau described the situation as “worrisome.” The Indian Foreign Ministry said that Trudeau’s remark was an “unacceptable interference in India’s internal affairs.”
The well-known Instagram influencer shared a picture of three Indian women on her account along with this caption: “The world is watching. You don’t have to be Indian or Punjabi or South Asian to understand the issue. All you have to do is care about humanity. Always demand freedom of speech, freedom of the press, basic human and civil rights-equity and dignity for workers.”
“We all should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters,” tweeted Meena Harris, a lawyer and niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris.
US Democrat Jim Costa also lent his support to protesting Indian farmers. “The unfolding events in India are troubling. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I am closely monitoring the situation. The right to peaceful protest must always be respected,” he said.
Kaur is a blogger best known for her short poems. In a Twitter post, she thanked Rihanna for highlighting the farmers’ plight. More than half of India’s farmers are reportedly in debt, with 20,638 committing suicide in 2018 and 2019, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau.
John Cusack, an American actor and activist, has been supporting the Indian farmers’ movement since January. He has been regularly tweeting messages in support of the protesting farmers.
Original posted at www.dw.com