Connect with us

South Asia

Indian Democracy in Retreat: A Case for the Indian Farmers

Avatar photo

Published

on

Barricades were set, water cannons were sprayed, tear gas was used and even highway was dug to quell thousands of protesters rejecting the three Agricultural Acts passed by the India parliament. The demonstrations under Dilli Chalo (Let’s go to Delhi) Movement have shaken the highest echelons of Modi government with the massive global attention. However, Modi government, known for its audacious reforms targeting specific communities, is feeling less bridled in response with brutal use force against the farmers, hailing mostly from the largest agricultural provinces Punjab and Haryana. In doing so, the BJP government has undermined the basic values of democracy and freedom of association for the due rights of the farmers not also with its controversial reforms but also with the treatment of the demonstrations itself.

In December last year, the same BJP government found itself in hot waters for introducing the controversial CAA-NRC laws targeting minorities including Muslims and revocation of Article 35A and 370 from the Indian constitution to strip the disputed Kashmir region of its special status which attracted widespread criticism. This time, however, the Sikhs of Punjab are the primary targets of the draconian legislations of the BJP government. More insulting to the democracy is the deliberate neglect of the government in consulting the stakeholders including the opposition and passes the laws from the parliament with a classic use of majoritarianism.

Critical analysis of the Agricultural reforms suggests that it gives more autonomy to the corporate sector while deepens farmers exploitation by deregulating the sale prices of the agricultural production. Abolishing the guarantee under Minimum Support Prices (MSP), the reforms aggravates the farmers’ insecurity about purchase of their produce, especially the wheat in Haryana and Punjab which was previously procured 65 percent by the government as part of the MSP. Besides this, it strips the farmers of their already declining bargaining power to sell their produce at reasonable prices and privileges the corporate sectors to push down the prices and affect the farmers earning. Therefore, the reforms are slammed as ‘corporate friendly and anti-farmer’ with a draconian nature affecting a large portion of the proletariat.  

Despite Modi’s bold claims of his intentions being “as pure as the River Ganges”, his latest series of three Agricultural reforms enlarges the gap between the rich bourgeoisie corporate sector and proletariat farmers in an India which already struggles with a huge agricultural disparity. The top 10 percent of the households owns 50 percent of India’s total cultivable land while leaves only 0.5 percent for the rest of the bottom 50 percent which is on steady decline. Now interestingly, the bold claims of the government regarding improvement in farmers’ earning with the legislations are ill founded in an agrarian structure where 85 percent of the farmers falls either in small or marginal category with less than 2 hectares of cultivable land. By undermining the MSP and APMC, the legislations are expected to exploit the large proportion of the farmers and hence damage the fragile structure of Indian agrarian edifice.

India, whose 60% population relies on agriculture and the labeled ‘largest democracy’, is subject to a social contract with its more than a billion people to mitigate their socioeconomic concerns. Prime Minister Modi The BJP government and the rightwing propaganda on the other hand doubles down on the protests’ legitimacy by linking them with ‘Khalistan’, a movement that seeks independence from India, and labeling them as ‘misguided’ and ‘anti-nationals’. Modi called the protests a norm in response to any legislation the government comes with, however, what he forgets to mention is the unbridled use of force and the extra-judicial labeling of individuals and groups demanding their due rights as anti-national and traitors which brings democracy in India to the darkest level found anywhere in history.

Shive Sena leaders have even demanded the government to  conduct surgical strike on neighboring states following the Union Minister Rao Saheb Danve’s accusation on Pakistan and China for backing the protests which is a strategic mockery of the democratic norms found in the ‘largest democracy’ on earth.

Irrespective of the government’s efforts to demonize the peaceful protests by the aggrieved Indian farmer’s by linking them with foreign propaganda, the farmers continue to earn unwavering international support. The Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau expressed his concern over treatment of Indian farmers and reiterated Canada’s commitment to stand behind the Indian farmers in their due ‘right of peaceful protests’, ignoring the warnings issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs the previous day. Not only this, the British MPs and US lawmakers such as Doug Lamalfa have also voiced their concerns over the ‘misguided and manipulative government regulations’ which threatens the livelihood of the Indian farmers.

The case for the Indian farmers is simple, defining movement and a test for the Indian democracy. The continuous grievances of the Indian Sikhs and brutal treatment of the peaceful protests reminds them of the carnage on Golden Temple in Indian military Operation Blue Star that killed hundreds of unarmed civilians back in 1984 and a series of human rights violations since then. This has resulted in years of state alienation among the Punjabis which could further aggravate if their concerns over the Agricultural legislations are not addressed by the Indian government.

The new set of agricultural reforms is set to encourage systemic weakening of the Indian farmers and make them subordinate to the privileged corporate by stripping them of their autonomy over their value of production. However, this time, when the Punjabi Sikhs in tens of thousands in number are there to confront and give the Indian government a ‘bloody nose’, the Indian government should demonstrate flexibility and negotiate with the farmers to ensure the due rights of their farming.   

Like all the previous legislations, the reforms challenge the vision of a democratic India that Gandhi fought for and Nehru set the foundation for to emerge as welfare state. Nexus with the rightwing propagandists, linking democratic movements with Pakistan and likens mere issues of socioeconomic concerns to separatist movement like Khalistan, and labeling the individuals and groups as anti-national are the vital undemocratic tools continuously used by the BJP government in the Center to promote their malign agendas. Whether it is the NRC-CAA, removal of Article 370 and 35A, or it is the systemic weakening of the farmers in Punjab, the current BJP government continuous to threaten the credibility of India as a democratic country. Therefore, India needs a systemic recheck to its constitutional compliance before finding a place in the row of respected democracies and its aspired position as the regional power in South Asia.

Khadijah Saeed is a bachelor’s student of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the National Defence University, Islamabad. She is a prolific writer on war and peace, security and conflict resolution. Her areas of interest include South and Central Asia, history and contemporary conflicts in the Middle East.

Continue Reading
Comments

South Asia

Floods; A Challenge to Comprehensive National Security of Pakistan

Avatar photo

Published

on

Starting mid-June 2022, flooding and landslides caused by heavy monsoon rainfall have brought widespread destruction across Pakistan. © WFP/Saiyna Bashir

Pakistan is encountering one of the major catastrophic occurrence in the present day history. The colossal floods, along with the glacier melt, have prompted 33% of the nation to submerge underwater with more than a million individuals being displaced along with a loss of above 43 billion.  The rising recurrence of floods, outrageous rainfall, and heatwaves have moved environmental change from a hypothetical conversation to an intense burden on the country and its people. Looking at the human perspective, the losses are too grave to quantify. However, in political terms, they address the missing area of climate security in the state’s national security paradigm, which could present existential difficulties for Pakistan.

Pakistan’s comprehensive national security is under stress by the adverse consequences of outrageous weather events across different areas. It isn’t just about financial security versus traditional security any longer. Comprehensive National Security can never be comprehensively achieved because national power comprises of all components and assets that facilitate the state to pursue interests. Hence, all these components, resources, and areas form the crux of what we call comprehensive security. Subsequently, to address the existence of multiple threats, an extensive perspective on national security is expected with an equivalent focus on all areas, while prioritizing climate security because of its seriousness and immediacy. The grave economic losses may be quantified in the long run but societal and political impacts also cannot be ignored. Pakistan’s representative of UNICEF, Abdullah Fadil reposts that “At least 18000 schools have been damaged in the flood, which have affected an estimated 16 million children. Many children are now at heightened risk, without a home, school or even safe drinking water. There is therefore a risk of many more child deaths.” International experts, humanitarians and Social workers visiting Pakistan have termed it as one of the largest catastrophe of the modern history. South Asian expert Michael Kugelman states “that the only hope within the flood victims is the International aid but it is slow to come”. The international world needs to respond to the aid appeals as a collective responsibility rather than a favor to Pakistan because the climate change crisis is largely driven by the world’s most industrialized countries.

The 2022 floods in the country have uprooted entire communities, finished occupations and revenue generation sources, and have drastically expanded migrations inside the country and levels of urbanization. Assume relief projects are not comprehensive and the impacted population feels that they have not been accommodated Post-catastrophe which they themselves didn’t create.  Considering all this, their confidence in the legitimacy or administering authority of the state could be antagonistically affected, creating threats of mass unrest. Destroyed homes, displacement within the country, and temporary camp-like arrangements have a potential of posing critical identity challenges and meanwhile create financial instabilities among impacted communities. Such aftereffects severely hurt the societal and political segments of security, undermining comprehensive national security. Such extreme climatic disasters account for short term reliefs along with long-term impacts on the resources of state. Increased displacement within the country, increased poverty with unemployment rate on the surge creates huge risks which directly impact the comprehensive national security. Violence against women tend to rise, Children drop out of school as there exists no infrastructure, food security is challenged, health security is badly endangered and quality of human life declines in a worst possible way. Extremists, Proxies and non-state actors may capitalize on resentment felt by the displaced. In short, human security is challenged in all basic forms.  So when human security is challenged, how can a state achieve comprehensive national security which itself places human as a center point.

Another challenge which is indirectly affiliated with the climate change is directed towards military. Pakistan’s military has played a crucial and a comprehensive role in flood through its rescue efforts, humanitarian relief and rehabilitation process. Military has rendered sacrifices in these flood operations especially when a Corps Commander along with senior officers embraced martyrdom in the Lasbela district in Balochistan while overlooking relief activities. The IPCC report itself states that Pakistan’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) will only increase over time. Military resources being expended to HADR will obviously take away military’s attention away from hardline security issues and put it under increased management stress in times to come.

It can be asserted that the comprehensive national security is under stress by the negative impacts of horrific weather incidents across the various sectors of the society. It isn’t only about economic security versus the traditional security anymore, because today what constitutes the national power and comprehensive national security isn’t only the traditional and economic security but all societal elements form a collective part of this comprehensive framework. Thus, a comprehensive outlook of national security is required with equivalent focus on all sectors, with a priority on climate and food security due to its immediacy.

Continue Reading

South Asia

Political Scientist: Taliban Rule will not bring Afghanistan to the Stability and Development

Avatar photo

Published

on

The evidence suggests that the Taliban movement cannot stabilize Afghanistan and does not want to fight international terrorism that threatens the region and stability globally.

The day before, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a report on Afghanistan, citing increasing security problems. For example, the paper states that foreign terrorist groups remain in the country. “The security situation reveals a worrisome trend in recent months, particularly the series of attacks by ISIL-K, recurring armed opposition clashes with Taliban de facto security forces and the continuing presence of foreign terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” the UN Secretary General’s report says. The report also declared that the US statement on the elimination of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul “highlighted the ongoing ties between the terrorist group and the Taliban, which go against the latter’s obligations to combat terrorism.”

At the same time, the Taliban claims that there are no more terrorist groups in Afghanistan. “We will never allow anyone to pose a threat from Afghanistan to other countries,” Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Thakur said.

It should be pointed out that the leader of Al-Qaeda was destroyed in the guarded central district of Kabul, where international organizations, diplomatic missions and administrative facilities are located. It is pretty tricky to assume that the leadership of the Taliban movement was not aware of the presence of this terrorist. If the Taliban security forces did not know that Zawahiri was hiding in Kabul, they would not control the situation even in the heart of Afghanistan. If we assume the opposite, the Taliban’s policy of supporting or, at least, reluctance to fight international terrorist organizations is apparent. Recall that the Taliban promised the international community to fight international terrorism more actively in exchange for humanitarian aid and possible recognition of their regime in the future.

Moreover, it gives the impression that the main sponsor of the Taliban, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, has lost control of the movement. It is obvious that organizations similar to the Taliban cannot function successfully without foreign economic, military and political assistance. The Pakistani military, particularly the ISI, took part in creating the Taliban movement in the 1990s and patronized them all this time. It is known that there are many Islamabad henchmen in the Taliban leadership, and either radicals or Pakistanis do not hide close ties and contacts. However, neither the Pakistanis nor other players can exert pressure on the Taliban. At least, the political pressure that is being exerted now by the international community is not enough: the Taliban do not show a desire to begin the fight against terrorism.

In the theory of political science and international relations, I am unaware of cases when similar regimes have gained success and contributed to the long-term development of their countries, societies and regions. In this regard, it can be considered that the Taliban and their patrons must significantly and profoundly transform their guidelines, ideology and management strategies. Otherwise, as experience shows, in the future, similar regimes end badly, which affects the stable development and position of their countries and nations.

Continue Reading

South Asia

World ‘must engage’ or risk Afghanistan’s collapse

Avatar photo

Published

on

A woman walks through a corridor in a village in Zindajan district, Afghanistan. © UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani

“Patience is running out” for many in the international community when it comes to effectively engaging with Afghanistan’s de facto rulers, the Taliban, senior UN envoy for the country, Markus Potzel, told the Security Council on Tuesday.

Despite some positive developments over the past few months, the Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan said they have been “too few and too slow and they are outweighed by the negatives”.

Women’s rights

He drew attention to the ongoing ban on girls’ secondary education and growing restrictions on women’s rights, as “signals that the Taliban are indifferent to more than 50 per cent of the population” and are willing to risk international isolation.

“The relegation of women and girls to the home not only deprives them of their rights, but Afghanistan as a whole is denied the benefit of the significant contributions that women and girls have to offer,” he detailed.

Terrorism concerns ‘dismissed’

Meanwhile, from armed clashes to deadly terrorist attacks, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has monitored a steady rise in security incidents by terrorist groups and others.

“Our earlier warnings about the capabilities of Islamic State Khorosan Province (ISKP) were dismissed by the Taliban”, he told ambassadors.

“But ISKP has demonstrated in the last few months alone that it can carry out assassinations of figures close to the Taliban, attacks against foreign embassies, as well as fire rockets across Afghanistan’s border to attack its neighbours – all while maintaining its long-standing sectarian campaign against Shia Muslims and ethnic minorities,” said Mr. Potzel.

Provincial rights violations

And armed clashes are continuing between Taliban security forces and armed opposition groups in the Panjshir, Baghlan, Kapisa, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces, the UN envoy continued.

“There are disturbing reports, as well as videos and photos, indicating possible serious human rights violations committed in Panjshir,” he said, calling for an investigation into allegations of extra-judicial killings there.

The mission will continue to carefully monitor these and other reports of serious human rights violations, he added.

UN bolstering cash economy

As per capita income has collapsed to 2007 levels – erasing 15 years of economic growth – the country’s economic situation “remains tenuous” (with little detail forthcoming from the Taliban) due in part to Afghanistan’s isolation from the international banking system.

Liquidity remains heavily dependent on the cash that the UN continues to bring in for humanitarian operations – cash, I must stress, that supports the needs of the Afghan people and does not directly reach the de facto authorities,” said Mr. Potzel.

But even the funding is uncertain as the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan has only received $1.9 billion out of a $4.4 billion requirement.

No representation

Humanitarian and economic measures will not meet the Afghan people’s longer-term needs, and the emergency aid cannot replace essential service delivery systems, such as health and water, or hold off an economic collapse, he warned.

Moreover, a continued lack of political inclusivity and transparency in decision-making leave most Afghans without any government representation.

“There are no consistent mechanisms for citizens to provide feedback to the authorities and little indication that the Taliban wish to even hear any,” the UN envoy said.

‘We have to engage’

While the Taliban’s self-identified emirate has not been recognized by any State, the international community also does not want to see the country collapse, Mr. Potzel stressed.

“If the Taliban do not respond to the needs of all elements of Afghan society and constructively engage within the very limited window of opportunity with the international community, it is unclear what would come next,” said the Deputy Special Representative.

“Further fragmentation, isolation, poverty, and internal conflict are among the likely scenarios, leading to potential mass migration and a domestic environment conducive to terrorist organizations, as well as greater misery for the Afghan population.

“That’s why we have to engage”, he declared, adding that “continued qualified engagement” was the most realistic way of helping the Afghan people.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

South Asia13 mins ago

Floods; A Challenge to Comprehensive National Security of Pakistan

Pakistan is encountering one of the major catastrophic occurrence in the present day history. The colossal floods, along with the...

Energy2 hours ago

U.S. Government Likely Perpetrated Biggest-Ever Catastrophic Global-Warming Event

On September 28th, the AP headlined “Record methane leak flows from damaged Baltic Sea pipelines” and reported that “Methane leaking...

Energy4 hours ago

Solar Mini Grids Could Power Half a Billion People by 2030 – if Action is Taken Now

Solar mini grids can provide high-quality uninterrupted electricity to nearly half a billion people in unpowered or underserved communities and...

Russia6 hours ago

The Road Ahead: Dissecting Russia’s Economic Diplomacy With Africa

During the September ceremony to receive foreign ambassadors, Russian leader Vladimir Putin offered spiteful goal-setting policy outlines and some aspects...

Defense8 hours ago

India overreacted to the US $450 million deal with Pakistan

India registered a strong protest with the US last week over the latter’s decision to approve a $ 450 million...

South Asia11 hours ago

Political Scientist: Taliban Rule will not bring Afghanistan to the Stability and Development

The evidence suggests that the Taliban movement cannot stabilize Afghanistan and does not want to fight international terrorism that threatens...

Defense13 hours ago

Military Aspects of Russia’s Stance in the Arctic

In the midst of a deepening multidimensional crisis in contemporary international relations, it is increasingly important to ensure a nation’s...

Trending