KPU to host online lecture covering the farmers’ protests in India

UFV director of South Asian studies wants to educate and raise awareness of peaceful protests

( Faculty of Arts)

KPU will be hosting an online event in partnership with the University of Fraser Valley. The event, “The Collision of Power and Protest in the Farmer’s Movement in India,” will be held via Zoom on June 17 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm.

Dr. Satwinder Kaur Bains, associate professor at UFV and director of South Asian studies, will discuss the importance of and the context surrounding the farmers’ protest movement.

Bains says the event is about the “diasporic response to movement of protest in India,” and people need to know about it because it’s happening in the local community.

“It harks back to our Canadian value system that says that we will support peaceful protests anywhere in the world, whether it’s a democracy or not,” Bains says.

The farmers’ protest movement picked up popularity and momentum around November last year in response to new farm laws that were created by India’s current prime minister Narendra Modi.

In their states, farmers would sell their produce at an auction in an “Agricultural Produce Market Committee,” where a certain price was set for the product to be sold. The law had included “restrictions on who could buy, and prices were capped for essential commodities.”

The new laws will now have farmers selling their products to whoever they want at any price point. Modi said these new laws will put farmers in a position to have more freedom to sell their products to supermarkets and decide on the cost of their produce.

Farmers in India argue that the laws benefit big companies more than farmers themselves, as the big companies will be allowed to offer prices below the current minimum. They also argue that eventually, if there is too much product supply, it could be hard for them to meet the minimum price for produce.

About 58 per cent of India’s population relies on agriculture for their livelihood, and a large percentage of the voters in India are farmers who have been protesting against the changes to the law.

The event will give background on the laws and better understand why different age groups of “intergenerational, first-generation, Canadian born, and South Asian Canadians are interested in [the] topic,” says Bains.

“I’m hoping that people will see it as a learning moment about something [they] may have seen on TV or may have heard someone talking about.” Bains wants attendees to get a “deeper understanding of the laws that have been promulgated in India.”

Bains will be working on papers about the protests and a documentary that looks into the response to the movement from diasporas abroad.

More discussion on the topic will happen in the fall semester, and the situation will continue to be monitored, Bains says, as she wants the public to get a “deeper understanding of the laws that have been promulgated in India.”

Another Zoom discussion that looks into the farmers’ protests will be held on June 22 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm. Dupinder Saran, a registered nurse, will be speaking at that event.