By Poojil Tiwari
Earlier this month, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) launched the ‘Kisan Ki Loot’ Campaign in response to the government’s unfulfilled promises vis-a-vis the farmers. The campaign agenda not only includes physical protests in the form of marches and sit-ins but also includes the initiation of the social media hashtag #KisanKiLoot as an online campaign. With the launch of the campaign, the AIKSCC, which is a coalition of over 180 Farmer organisations, is gearing towards the nationwide farmers march slated to take place in Delhi on November 20.
The governments failed promises
In his election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to fix the minimum support price (MSP) at cost plus 50 percent. The primary objective of the MSP is to safeguard the farmers against sharp falls in produce prices. However, according to AIKSCC, the total loss suffered by the farmers this year due to inadequate MSP setting is estimated to be ₹35,968 crore. In their press conference to announce the launch of the campaign, representatives of the AIKSCC said, “After four successive seasons of drought, farmers are suffering from three successive seasons of low crop prices. All major crops are selling below the government’s own MSP.” The steep decline in crop prices has only contributed to the already high farmer suicide rates, which already account for 9.4% of the total suicides in the country.
#KisanKiLoot: Incidents of individual plight
The exclusivity of the Kisan Ki Loot campaign lies in highlighting individual incidents of being ‘robbed’ by the government. Before the launch of the campaign, the AIKSCC had undertaken a 10,000km long journey spanning over 18 states in the country to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the issues that farmers are currently facing. In their first press conference, the AIKSCC showcased photographs and stories of farmers from states such as Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana.
“Bhagat Singh, a farmer from Haryana, was forced to sell his 19 quintals of Bajra crop for Rs 1,135 per quintal where the MSP exists as Rs1,425 in papers. A woman farmer from Andhra Pradesh, Gaddam Lalithamma sold 31 quintals of groundnut at mere Rs. 2600 per quintal while the MSP is Rs. 4450 and PM’s promised MSP would be Rs. 6134. The Kisan Ki Loot of this farmer is Rs. 1,09,554,” the AIKSCC said in their press conference. The idea behind bringing these stories into the limelight is to ensure that this time, individual stories gain attention and differentiate the campaign from any preceding protests.
Efficacy of the ‘Digital’ campaign
It is no secret that ‘Digital India’ has gained primacy in the centre’s policies. A huge part of the campaign has included bringing digital literacy to farmers. This includes the digital green campaign, which utilises social media platforms to spread participatory videos of farmers demonstrating better management techniques. By taking their campaign to social media via #KisanKiLoot, the AIKSCC intends to incorporate more people into their movement. However, the larger aim is to compel the government into action by using a platform that the government itself actively promotes and advocates.
The centre has recently announced its ‘7-point plan’ to double the income of farmers by 2022. However, the AIKSCC claims that it shall not fall for any more false promises that the government has grown accustomed to making. With #KisanKiLoot, the farmers intend on subjecting the government to widespread public accountability.
Featured Image Credits: AdityaSSingh via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND