Emotional writing is powerful. We are taught this as we apply for private schools or graduate colleges.
If you can connect an issue to a personal story, it will help you win your argument. Students are taught this; lawyers practice this and sadly, so do news journalists and opinion makers now a days. Since when did opinions based on unrelated feelings triumph facts?
Rupi Kaur, a recognized Indian name, a name Indians are proud of – and why shouldn’t we be- a girl, an Indian girl who breaks stereotypes and defines her path in a western world, is someone we are root for. Yet Rupi can’t root for India. By posting a very anti-Modi article in The Washington Post; driven by emotions and zero factual arguments, it seems Rupi is here to cause a stir and grab some fame, by playing western media’s favorite game- blame Modi. So here is a letter from a simple Indian girl, born in India and still living in India to another Indian girl, hoping it makes a difference.
I don’t know when was the last time you visited India; but it is not as bi-partisan as you portray it to be. This isn’t America; most of India’s state parties are formed through coalitions. Yes we do have two major parties but they are NOT the only two parties in play. So no, our choice is not “to Modi or not to Modi”- it’s not that simple a question. To call for people to stand for or against him, is essentially asking us to have political divisions, divisions that break up families and embitter friends, in a Biden-Trump fashion. That has never been the case here so please stop instigating people, especially brown people not in India, into believing it is so.
Secondly, your article, while being emotionally provoking, skipped over the entire actual debate about the law in question. So let me break it down for you and everyone else who has a Stater Brothers, Walmart or Trader Joe’s to pick up their fruits and vegetables from. Moreover, Indian roadside ‘mandees’ are NOT organic farmers markets either, so remove that image from your mind as well.
Here is the reality: India is an agricultural nation, with farmers constituting a majority of our population- in ALL states, not just Punjab. The old system had farmers sell their produce to a middle man- APMC (Agricultural Produce Management Committee)- who then sold it to vendors and distributors. In theory, this was supposed to help stabilize prices against a collective inventory. There was also minimum price and government purchase; ie; there is a governmentally set minimum price of purchase of produce, below which a farmer does not have to sell. Even then, if no one is willing to buy at that minimal price, the government themselves will buy it from the farmer and store it as part of our National Food Reserve. Neither of these two parts have been touched by the policy change. So then why change the policy?
In the past 20 years, APMCs in India slowly started acting like the Food mafias. They would purchase at a low price ( little above the minimum price) from farmers and then do controlled selling to surge up the prices to consumers and then pocket the substantial difference in price. It made the middle man rich and kept the hardworking farmer, like your aunt, poor.
Meanwhile, there was a global industrial boom, driven by technology. Better machinery, smarter logistics and efficient algorithms helped India also see the opportunity to improve its corrupted systems and so, it decided to do so. It decided to cut out the middle man, enabling companies and farmers to directly talk to each other and set prices. None of this changed the underlying safeguard- fixed minimum prices and governmental purchase. Most farmers rejoiced. I know a lot of them in Maharashtra did. It was a win for the little guy.
Then came the Punjab farmer protests. And that directly speaks to the insidious side of technology. With smartphone and internet penetration in even the smallest of Indian villages, WhatsApp is as much of a liability as it is a boon. Instigated into believing that these new policies are here to doom them; financially encouraged to protest them by political parties; and have all amenities provided for a three-month stay-cation in the name of “protesting”; you or I would have done the same thing that these poor Punjab farmers are doing.
But we are not them.
I implore you to use your education and your intelligence and the tools at your disposal that they do not have. READ the actual policy and think about the change it represents. THINK about why is it that only Punjab, a hugely politicized state- the Michigan of India; is the only one protesting these National changes which no other farmers seem to mind. ANALYZE the historical trend of the agricultural produce; it’s per capita income over the years; it’s output per state; its impact on Indian GDP. SEE for yourself how a policy change towards Open Markets instead of controlled APMCs, benefits the farmer and allows him to finally make the money he deserves- without a middleman.
Look at the policies and not the politics.
After doing these very basic Google searches and after becoming better INFORMED about the topic you are giving an opinion on; I urge you to do so once again. I guarantee you, your opinion will change.
Think of India and not politics.
Think of the Farmers and not Modi.
I choose my country, not a political figure.
I choose my country, what do you choose?
Just a Girl from India.