We all heard about the farmer protest that is currently undergoing in Mumbai. The protest showcased events that are unprecedented. It leaves me in awe of the spirit of Mumbai and the farmers themselves. What a day it has been of twists and turns. It all started off with someone deciding to protest differently.
So why are farmers and tribals protesting?
Maharashtra farmers see successive droughts and are unable to make as much money as they should. They are in financial distress and are seeking financial relief. To save themselves from further droughts, they want to ensure that promises of river linking projects are implemented.
Tribals who joined the protest are not looking to seek any financial help though! “Their participation in the agitation in such large numbers suggests a new edge in the countryside’s despair — while successive drought years, inequitable water management and pricing policies have seen a slow impoverishment of the farmer community everywhere in Maharashtra, the circumstances for the landless are ever more exacting” (reports Indian Express).
The quintessential Maharashtra farmer is following a protest model from TN Farmers, who marched on in New Delhi last year. Tamil farmers raised slogans, shaved their half head and facial hair to protest their apathy. Mind you; the protest still did not gain the intended results. And farmers from UP got a loan waiver around the same time, based on a poll-promise by the Yogi government.
I wrote about this briefly, after a Quint video brought forth a question: UP farm loan waiver, in a way, is funded by Tamilians based on how fragmented our taxation system is. I do not want to diverge from the topic; you can read more on that post.
They decided to walk in the night, to avoid inconvenience to Mumbaikars!
That’s where things started to change. The Government, instead of walking towards them, shamelessly requested the group to delay their march to avoid inconvenience to SSC and HSC students who are appearing for their exams. This was a bid for them to delay the political inconvenience they will face!
However, the smart among them help decide that they would walk in the night, saving themselves from the scorching sun. And avoiding the fragile Mumbai infrastructure, often lamented, further trouble. This small gesture, and the smart thinking is downright awesome.
The Spirit of Mumbai invoked!
Wow! That was an incredible thought which touched Mumbaikars deeply. And Mumbaikar responded!
Amazing Photos from #KisanLongMarch
As the Long March enters the heart of the city, Mumbaikars start welcoming the fatigued farmers with water, food and flowers.
Photos via: Ramakumar Ram pic.twitter.com/SlX3jxv7M3
— Advaid (@Advaidism) March 11, 2018
Amazing Photos from #KisanLongMarch
As the Long March enters the heart of the city, People start welcoming the fatigued farmers with water, food and flowers. pic.twitter.com/SeMfdHaOv7
— Fazlur (@fazlurism) March 12, 2018
Mumbai Welcomes #FarmersMarch
Sikh brothers distribute food, muslim brothers distribute snacks,dates & water, some Mumbaikars provide breakfast @ Azad Maidan with footwears 2 farmers walking barefoot. Sea of farmers 2 meet CM over non fulfillment of promises made by Mah Gov pic.twitter.com/8YtsTo4BK6
— Niraj Bhatia (@bhatia_niraj23) March 12, 2018
Favourite photo from #KisanLongMarch this afternoon — Farmers have no access to electricity so Lakshman Bhasre from Tryumbakeshwar Taluka has been marching for 6 days with a tiny solar panel on his head. He uses it to charge his phone and help other marchers charge theirs. pic.twitter.com/3He32abd4z
— Pragya Tiwari (@PragyaTiwari) March 12, 2018
I am amazed at the thought itself, and the speed with which Mumbai realized the importance of the farmers. I have often lamented the Spirit of Mumbai as something of an adjustment they do with their helplessness of the infrastructure (during floods mostly). However, the 2007 blasts and yesterday’s event highlight the spirit and how heartfelt they are.
The farmer’s protest in huge numbers brings out Mumbaikars on the road, to be the Good Samaritan they always have been in crisis. Farmers are in crisis today, and the Spirit of Mumbai in invoked. Keep up Mumbai! The hands that feed deserve this small, but meaningful gesture.