On 29 and 30 November, farmers from across India will gather in Delhi and march towards the parliament to demand a special three-week joint session on India’s agrarian crisis. The march—named the Kisan Mukti March, or Farmers’ Freedom March—has been called by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, an umbrella group of at least 130 farmer organisations, formed in June 2018. Along with one lakh farmers and agricultural labourers, the two-day protest is also expected to see participation from middle class citizens, walking in solidarity with farming communities.
Mounting debts, annual droughts and farmer suicides have marked the story of Indian farmers for decades. In November 2004, the government constituted the National Commission on Farmers, under the chairmanship of professor MS Swaminathan, to examine the causes of farmers’ distress and recommend ways to resolve it. Between 2004 and 2006, the commission submitted five reports. None have been implemented.
In recent years, farmers have begun to collectively assert their rights through public protest. In March this year, at least 35,000 farmers walked 182 kilometres from Nashik to Azad Maidan in Mumbai, demanding land rights, loan waivers and support for crop losses. Taking this forward, the Kisan Mukti March in Delhi aims to engage the people’s representatives in a long-overdue conversation about what concerns India’s farmers.