Farmers' protest in Delhi: Students come out in hordes to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with farmers amid grave agrarian crisis

While farmers have been the face of the rally, planning it from scratch, mobilising 200 different farmers organisations and unions across the country, students have been playing their part to help the farmers, facilitate their march in Delhi.

 Farmers protest in Delhi: Students come out in hordes to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with farmers amid grave agrarian crisis

Farmers queue up at the protest site in Delhi. Image/@PARInetwork

AIKSCC (All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee) had planned to organise the march involving the middle class and the urban population to be part of these demands for the two Kisan Mukti bills to be passed. In order to do so, the mobilisation involved people from different professions to get involved such as techies for farmers, artists for farmers, photographers for farmers and students for farmers.

About a month ago, with the help of senior journalist Palagummi Sainath, a group of students from different universities started mobilising students online under the name of Nation for farmers to show solidarity for the farmers' march. The online group primarily started with understanding why the march is important to students and how students can relate to the struggles of the agrarian class. It grew into a platform where students began to think they are connected to the agrarian crisis on a macro level and began to organise themselves to support the march in physical terms. This materialised in the form of guiding the farmers from each of the railway stations to the nearest Gurudwaras, where they were given accommodation, food collection and distribution, money collection from their respective colleges and helped them organise the march.

“Students from farming families are among the students with the highest dropouts in the country today. A week ago, I was in a march in Nasik, researching on farmers’ suicides, where the dropout rate among the farmers’ children is the highest because they had to fend for their livelihoods,” says Bibin Thomas, a student from TISS Hyderabad, who has been actively taking part in organising the march.

This phenomenon of increasing dropout rate among farmers' children is a concern because of the larger fight for social justice in universities.

Why would any privileged student be part of the march is the question that's often been asked. To this, the students say that the idea is to make students understand how exactly the agrarian crisis is part of their crisis. However, that's not the agenda the students are trying to drive.

“We're not trying to evoke the consumer in the students. We want to appeal to the social justice conscience of the students and members of the education society,” says Bibin.

Largely students from Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University have been actively involved in mobilising students and the middle class on the ground level. Part of the mobilising process involved solidarity march, talks on the significance of the agrarian crisis and majorly seeking out help in the form of providing food and water for the farmers while marching. Jamia Milia Islamia University, Ambedkar University and Delhi University have formed their own groups for farmers.

The special session of Parliament the farmers have been demanding for isn't the end goal of this mobilisation. The movement among the students aims to go much beyond merely expressing solidarity for the march on Friday.

Many students have shown up for volunteering in addition to organisations like SFI (Student Federation of India) and All India Students' Association (AISA) which had their own set of volunteers matching with the farmers.

Groups like artists for farmers and photographers for farmers have created the art forms and have captured the essence of the farmers’ struggle by documenting the farmers' lives to appeal to the middles class and members of the education society.

Utkarsh, the convenor the SFI wing in Delhi University, says, “As part of ‘Nation for farmers’ we have been preparing for this for the past two months. The agrarian crisis might not affect the students of Delhi directly but a lot of students come from different rural backgrounds. And the crisis has hit the student community also. Our classmates are not able to continue their studies because some of them come from families where one member or the other committed suicide owing to farm distress. Apart from this, we are participating because we feel it's our responsibility as a mass organisation, we need to support the farmers and workers in their struggle against the neo-liberal policies.”

Deepali Aparajita, a member of the SFI and a PhD student from JNU says, “The past two decades, the kind of agrarian crisis that has been going on in the country, the food on our plate is at stake. There's constant cut in public funding that's been happening and the farmers are facing the brunt of such economic policies adopted by the government.”

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Updated Date: Nov 30, 2018 15:15:50 IST