Protests have continued in Bengaluru opposing the amendments pushed in by both central and state governments to agricultural laws. The protests have been led by Aikya Horata Samiti, AIKSCC, Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions and Karnataka Janashakthi. Senior author and activist Devanooru Mahadeva joined the protests and spoke. Here is the full text of his speech:
Sitting in the state capital, we are shouting out loud. There are three ways around us here. There are more and more vehicles moving around us. Vehicles do not care about their neighbors. They claim that it is this speed and the sense of urgency that must characterize our cities. Will anyone listen to us in places like these? Yet, I would provide a small piece of advice for those who are running fast. That do not listen to us. 78 former IAS and IPS officers have written an open letter. In that they have questioned, “Why is the Narendra Modi government ushering in such vital changes when agrarian laws are related to the states?” They fear that these (Modi) laws are an attack on the federal structure adopted by the Constitution of India.
Further, these experienced retired bureaucrats said, “Government has not discussed with farmers about agricultural laws directly with its the farmers who are directly affected by it before they were implemented. The government has not heeded the objections raised in Parliament against the laws. There was no opportunity to debate about the bills. Amidst the chaotic atmosphere, the bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha on voice-votes. It’s suspicious”.
Yes, it is an attack and suspicious. No one would dare to dissent during these difficult Covid pandemic times. Thinking that its the right time, the BJP government has revoke the agrarian laws that were earlier withdrawn. It is the epitome of cruelty.
Yes, it is an attack on the constitution, on democracy, on the nature of the Indian union, in other words on the dream of India’s independence. This is an attack on all citizens. Also, one more word of wisdom. I request people who are moving fast without looking around.
According to the Global Hunger Index 2020 study conducted in 107 countries, India ranks 94th and is facing very serious conditions. It is placed with Africa’s poorest country, Sudan. India’s neighboring countries such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh are performing better than India according to the study. Is this enough? Or do we still want dinner served by Modi-Shah? Even in such humiliating situations, the central government is attacking India’s food security. The Shantaram Committee, appointed by the Central Government, now recommends that food rations provided to people through Public Distribution Systems (PDS) be reduced to 40 percent by 67 percent under the Food Security Act. It seems that these came into just strangle agriculture to death. What would its effects be?
According to the Global Hunger Index, India accounts for one-third of malnutrition in the world. This is twice as much as Africa. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Survey on Anemia, India ranks 170th out of 180 countries. Similarly, India is ranked 114th on the 132 surveyed in Growth Decline Survey. Not just this, according to estimates provided bu our government the children affected by malnutrition has increased between 2015 – 2020. We must question atleast now – we ought to shout it loud that the aggravation of poverty, hunger, malnutrition, and anemia must stop. We don’t want an India which contributes to inflation, wherein its rural population’s roots are removed from agriculture to be at the mercy of the urban centers, which increases slim-dwellings.
But Modi-Shah are not listening. They have buried themselves in their delusions and lies. They have no eyes. They aren’t listening also. What to do? They seem to be arrogant that ‘They know .. how to win’. If the very heel of such politics is cut-off and their run stops, they will soon begin to see and hear. Sensitivity may also sprout. Humanity can breathe in people like them too. For this, we must talk to voters at least now.
Senior activists including Sivasundar, Aralalu Anusuyamma, Noor Sridhar, B. Sripad Bhat, Kumar Samathala, Sirimne Nagaraj, and Varadarajendra were amongst others who participated in the protest.
The article was first published in Kannada in naanugauri.com. It was translated into English by Shashank SR.