Recurring Protests and Minority Rights Violations in India

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday that India’s international image has taken a “massive hit” and the country’s biggest strength, its soft power, has “been shattered” by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) because of the manner in which the government has “crushed basic rights of farmers” in the course of the ongoing farmers’ agitation. Indeed this has been the real depiction of the Indian image. The country has been failing to ensure measures to the citizens who could be in their favor; the first famous policy introduced by the Modi government which caused several protests across the state was the Citizenship Amendment Act. On December 11, 2019, the Indian government introduced a bill which stated that they will allow the status of citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities who fled from the neighboring Muslim majority countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh before 2014. The amendment bill excluded Muslims. The bill was unfair for the people of Assam and therefore the protests erupted. The highlights of the protests which later spread across the country were the discriminatory policies against Muslims and that it had violated the right to equality enshrined within the Indian constitution. In their defense, the government stated that countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan were Muslim majority countries and therefore the Muslims would not have faced any religious persecution there.

Correspondingly, the currently ongoing Farmers protests in India have emerged because the government introduced three major reforms against the favor of the working class farmers. The first would permit farmers to sell their products straightforwardly to dealers and companies, including general stores and online grocers, and also to retail clients whoever offers a greater cost. The farmers would have the option to do so without being burdened by those sales. The second bill permits farmers to go into contract farming deals with purchasers at pre-decided costs and give local dispute settlement systems. The third bill diminishes the central government’s inclusion in directing the supply of certain food sources, permitting them to do so only under special conditions like war or starvation. It will also allow the purchasers to buy, store, and distribute food items, such as; grains, pulses, onions, potatoes, oils without any limitation. The public authority said that it anticipates that this should assist drive with increasing investments and modernization of the food supply chain network.

However, India’s farmers have packed the capital of the state, Delhi to display their rage against the bill. According to one of the protestors, Kaljeet Singh, Modi wants to sell their lands to corporate while also emphasizing the fact that the country is home to millions of farmers who for generations have worked hard under their profession, for them, their land is more precious than their lives. The farmers fear that the new laws will lead the government to stop buying grain from farmers at minimum prices while resulting in exploitation by corporations who will be pushing the prices further lower than actual. The demand for a minimum guaranteed price has attracted support from many activists and agriculture experts in the country.

The new reforms will likewise get rid of specialists who go about as agents between the farmers and the government directed wholesale markets. Farmers state that the specialists are an indispensable gear-tooth of the farm economy and their principle credit line, giving fast funds to fuel, composts, and even loans if there should arise an occurrence of family crises. The laws have intensified existing resentment from farmers, who frequently protest for being disregarded by the public authority in their push at better harvest costs, extra credit waivers, and irrigation system frameworks to ensure water during droughts.

Keeping that in mind, it is important to recall the tensions rising for minority rights within India. In many ways, India could be defined as a country full of minorities with its changing ethnic and cultural dimensions. The government has failed to ensure protection to its minority groups whether religious or marginalized communities from frequent mob attacks as well as introducing favorable reforms for everyone in the country. Being the world’s largest democratic state, India has failed to be fair to its citizens. The rights of farmers have been exploited by corporations for ages and the farmers have had enough of the mistreatment which as a driving force is leading them to protest against the laws being introduced by the State.

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