The frustration of Indian farmers over falling farm incomes has been shown into the streets as farmers from India’s largest states have been protesting as they are struggling with deflation and a breakdown of the spontaneous agriculture economy. Problematic conditions are at its peak for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a huge slowdown in the Indian economy and emerging job cuts in manufacturing has led the protestors to highlight the PM that he’s not able to fulfill the promises, which helped him to come into the power.
The 60-year-old leader of the All India Kisan Sabha (farmers assembly that represents 15 million members), Amra Ram, said on the phone from Sikar, Rajasthan that “We’re planning a national rally on Oct. 30 when we would carry torches to show light to state administrations bumbling in the dark. Our farm incomes are falling and there are no jobs for us anywhere else” Many farm and labor unions with an estimated combined membership of 30 million are expected to take part in the movement of protests. The agricultural sector, which has more than 50% of the India’s working population, witnessed the poorer by Modi’s November cash ban which led to crashing produce prices.
In spite of experiencing various hardships, farmers blindly supported the PM Modi’s move as they were hopeful that a large number of illegal cash would come back and it is being done for their welfare. This support also helped the saffron party to win elections in key states like Uttar Pradesh. ““There’s an uncertainty on the farm product prices — what will we do if we aren’t getting the right prices for our produce? Farmers have the potential to bring the downfall of this government — the government won’t even know how quickly the tide will turn against it,” said Arun Muluk, from Vadgaon Kashimbe near Pune, who participated with no less than 100,000 others in protests last month that shut down India’s financial capital, Mumbai.
The Congress, on the other hand, is making plans to highlight this as a key election issue. “This government is destroying farmers. And going by the huge protests across the country we can see that people are coming around to this realization. We have stood by farmers in Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Haryana and our leader Rahul Gandhi is right now in Gujarat raising his voice for them,” said Ajoy Kumar, New Delhi-based spokesman for the Indian National Congress. The wheat farmers suffered after the government cut import duties on wheat, first to 10 percent from 25 percent and later zero in December. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised higher prices and reforms in 2014 and included MSP for grains, protecting small farmers and taking care of their farming risks.
“I think those are tough questions that the government will face in 2019. If half your workforce has not seen an income growth, should you act on it or not?” said Neelkanth Misra, Credit Suisse’s India Equity Strategist. “This struggle is not for us, it’s for the next generation — if our kids didn’t find jobs, they would at least have comfort that they can return and rely on the traditional profession to feed themselves. But now, where do we go?” said Muluk at the Mumbai protests.