Monday, Sept. 27 marked approximately one year since India’s Farmers’ Protest began, causing protests in and around India’s capital city of New Delhi. About a year ago, the Indian government passed laws that minimized the government’s role in farming, thus leaving farmers vulnerable to corporate farms controlling prices. These laws have devastated the income of many farmers with smaller plots.
These protests have posed immense opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Given the way Modi has treated India — throughout the Farmers’ Protests, the COVID-19 pandemic and with the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), to name a few — it is high time people worldwide hear what Modi’s opposition has to say and take note. Modi’s government does not adequately protect the basic human rights of all people in India, and this is not something people should forget or take lightly.
In terms of the Farmers’ Protests, the Indian government maintains the idea that the laws will help modernize the nation by, according to an article by AP News, “boosting production through private investment.” However, the government has constantly failed to hear the concerns of the citizens actually involved in the agricultural industry. During the protests, the Indian government has restricted and arrested journalists and shut down internet access in certain states. The Indian government’s response to the Farmers’ Protest clearly violated human rights in this way.
Apart from the Farmers’ Protests, the Indian government had a dismal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, India’s health system was collapsing with overwhelmed hospitals and a shortage of ICU beds, supplemental oxygen, antiviral medications and vaccines. Instead of taking preventative action, Modi as well as other members of the BJP held massive rallies in order to win local elections and, in April, held a large religious pilgrimage event where thousands of participants tested positive for COVID-19.
Early during the pandemic, Modi enacted a lockdown of the country preventing people from leaving their homes for about 21 days except in extreme circumstances where people could obtain a travel pass. The lockdown did allow people access to necessities such as shops, banks, gas stations and other essential services, but this was unclear when the announcement was first made.
Although at first this may seem like a good idea, Modi only gave the people about four hours’ notice before ordering this lockdown. This is extremely sudden for a country with such a large population. In addition, with such a large homeless population and long commuting distances, this announcement was disorganized and did not accommodate everyone’s needs.
Modi’s knee-jerk legislation and announcements is not just a one-time, COVID-19 related occurrence. Similarly in 2016, Modi demonetized the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes. Modi’s announcement gave people 50 days to exchange their money for new rupee notes to be accepted, however this was still not enough time. This announcement caused extremely long lines at banks as it affected more than a billion people.
This is a pattern for Modi and his government — they create laws with no concern for the population nor its effects. Rather than listening to the people and understanding what would most benefit the majority, Modi’s laws only benefit the elite, if even that.
Modi’s government has a notorious reputation of being anti-Islam, seen with the passage of the CAA in Dec. 2019, which provided a path to citizenship for undocumented Indian immigrants based on religion. However, the legislation failed to include Muslims, with the reasoning that Muslims are welcomed in neighboring nations. This reason did not take into account the fact that Muslims who follow certain sects of Islam, such as Rohingya Muslims and Ahmadiyaa Muslims, do face persecution in nearby nations such as in Myanmar and Pakistan.
In conjunction with India’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) which documents all legal citizens of India, the CAA has created concerns for current Indian citizens who do not have adequate documentation to prove citizenship. This could lead to deportation or to many current citizens being declared stateless.
Modi’s legislation and announcements in all these cases emphasize how dangerous he is to India as a nation. His actions are classist and favor people based on religion.
People should pay attention to the opposition he has faces and why so many people protest his legislation. When the next election comes in May 2024, allowing Modi to win would be dangerous for India and has implications for the world. Modi’s actions cannot continue to go unpunished with unwavering support. It is high time people everywhere pay attention to his abuse of power and the dangerous environment he has created. Modi clearly does not care about the population of India and will engage in dangerous actions and violate human rights to fulfill his goals.