Farmers' march in New Delhi: Photographers across India take to social media to support the movement

More than one lakh farmers from across the country have taken to the streets and marched to Delhi in protest of the agrarian crisis in the wake of the farmer-unfriendly policies set by the current government. On 25 November, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), in association with CPI-M, proposed a protest march on 29-30 November to the Parliament, demanding a loan waiver and better prices for agricultural yield.

Also read — Farmers plan march in New Delhi: Agrarian crisis is deep and pervasive, but not fully appreciated or remedied

This move found great support from various agricultural organisations, farmers and other support groups. The movement grew as it gained attention on social media with a number of artists, photographers, and academicians raising their voice in support of the cause. On 29 November, farmers from different states including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh reached Delhi — on tractors, by train, on jeeps and even on foot — and marched ahead towards Ramlila Maidan in the capital.

Renowned photojournalist and Padma Shri-awardee Sudharak Olwe conceptualised the idea of bringing together photographers from across the country to support the farmers' protest. He invited all the photographers to document the farmers’ march and upload pictures using the hashtag #PhotographersForFarmers on different social media platforms.

"It all began when I met P Sainath a while ago, and he told me that there was going to be this protest in November and that we should do something about it. After we left, it struck me that as a photographer, as an artist, I should really do something... I come from the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra where there have been many cases of farmer suicides. I have made a film and documented those farmers. In fact, when I look at my body of work, it is mostly centered on the farmers," Olwe tells Firstpost.

In spite of the fact that India has an agrarian economy, most people are often ignorant about the agrarian crisis the country has been facing for so long. "It is such an important issue — the environment is changing, the market is changing, and nobody is actually paying heed to the demands of the farmers. So, I thought since photography is my forte I should give a call to all my photographer friends around the country to reach out to the farmers and document them, so that everyone knows that these are the farmers of our country and they need support," says Olwe.

Olwe's beckoning was received positively by other senior photographers and it became a discussion on social media too. By 29 November, around 160 people had uploaded pictures with the #PhotographersForFarmers hashtag, including an architect/artist friend from Istanbul who also extended his support to this cause, informs Olwe. When many professional photographers uploaded their works on the farmers, other social media users too followed suit. Soon, timelines were filled with pictures and photo essays from across the country representing Indian farmers, their daily struggles and the plight that follows when the administration ignores their concerns.

"Our aim was to sensitise people about this issue. Almost everybody in our country has a phone today, so everyone is a photographer. The mobile phone is one of the most important communication tools in today’s day and age, and with the dominating presence of social media, it is even easier. So I wanted the common people to meet these farmers, talk to them, understand their problems and document all of that through pictures. It is not just a picture, it is much more than that. These people are walking barefoot, in the direst of the situations. We should help them, offer food, water etc. This is a way to connect the country and make it more inclusive. After all, these issues do not pertain solely to the farmers, it is a national issue that affects all of us. Hence everyone has to look into it, only then we will be able to look at the larger picture," says Olwe.

Speaking about what lies ahead, Olwe responded with a mix of optimism and resolution: "It is a continuous process, it doesn’t and shouldn’t end with this protest march. This is just a small drop in the ocean, we still have a lot to do. Just this hashtag won’t do, we need many other hashtags for our country and our people."

— With inputs from Suryasarathi Bhattacharya

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#farmersmarch #kisanmuktimarch #dillichalo #photographersforfarmers

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All India Kisan Sangharsh Samiti Coordination Committee is organizing farmers for a protest. In solidarity citizens will gather outside Dadar East station Mumbai,India today at 5.30pmpic bu Gajanan Dudhalkar #photographersforfarmers#Nationforfarmers#DilliChalo#kisanMuktiMarch#farmers#farmersprotests#mumbai#indianfarmersprotests

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भारत इस शब्द के अर्थ खेतों के उन बेटों में है जो आज भी वृक्षों की परछाइओं से वक़्त मापते है उनके पास, सिवाय पेट के, कोई समस्या नहीं और वह भूख लगने पर अपने अंग भी चबा सकते है उनके लिए ज़िन्दगी एक परम्परा है और मौत के अर्थ है मुक्ति जब भी कोई समूचे भारत की 'राष्ट्रीय एकता' की बात करता है तो मेरा दिल चाहता है -- उसकी टोपी हवा में उछाल दूँ उसे बताऊँ के भारत के अर्थ किसी दुष्यन्त से सम्बन्धित नहीं वरन खेत में दायर है जहाँ अन्न उगता है जहाँ सेंध लगती है! SFI Sanjauli Unit In Solidarity With Kisan Mukhti March ✊ #kisanmuktimarch #StudentForFarmers #LeftUnity #photographersforfarmers #studentsforfarmers A post shared by SFI Sanjauli Unit (@sfi_sanjauli_unit) on

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#dillichalo Head to Warje Maalwadi any morning. Close to the express highway that connects Pune to Mumbai(Maharashtra, India), there is a flyover that sees a congregation of hundreds of men and women under its dusty pillars.  Daily wage workers, they gather in the hope of being picked up by a contractor who would herd them on to the back of a lorry to some faraway worksite to build the city’s suburban sprawls, roads and flyovers, or dig wells and ditches. Most of them have migrated form some village nearby or the neighboring states due to the long, unending farming crisis and are living wherever they can get roof over their head in the city. They gathered with an array of tools depending on their specific skills – spades and gloves for gardening or masonry, pick axes and shovels for farming or building. But most came barehanded except for one thing – their tiffin carriers.  And these came in all shapes and sizes: small polythene packets tucked in pant-pockets and cloth satchels carrying three decker metal dabbas. We are what we eat. Food is political and, I hope these pictures will provide some clues to the lives of these faceless people we pass by daily –who live their lives one day at a time, one meal to the next. I did this photo story back in 2012. Nothing much has changed. Except they now occupy much more space under and around this flyover as the number of them waiting for work has steadily gone up. #nationforfarmers #dillichalo #kisanmuktimarch #photographersforfarmers #rojandari #india #agriculture #farmingcrisis #permaculture #peoplesarchiveofruralindia #foodispolitical

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Indian Farmer #photographersforfarmers #dailylifeindia #dailylife #indian_village

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The farmers will arrive at the RamLila Maidan, New Delhi on November 29th 2018 and march to Parliament on November 30th 2018 to demand the passing of the Kisan Mukti Bills and a special session on the agrarian crisis. #photographersforfarmers @sudharakolwe @photographypromotiontrust #indiaphotosociety #indianphotography #reportagespotlight #mumbai #yourshotphotographer #bbcindia @natgeotravellerindia @photographers.of.india @indianshutterbugs @dslrofficial @nikonindiaofficial @bbcnewsindia @pixels_iitb #indiaphotoconcept #dillichalo #NationForFarmers #kisanmuktimarch #supporting #theKisanMuktiMarch #DilliChalomovement #together #makeadifference #lives #empower #farmers #India #priyankagowa @priyankagowa_ A post shared by priyanka gowa (@priyankagowa_) on

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Updated Date: Nov 30, 2018 18:25:03 IST

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