Crisis looms / India’s National Day parade

Crisis looms / India's National Day parade

Photo: a farmer throws back tear gas fired by police during an anti new agricultural law demonstration in New Delhi on June 26. /Agence France Presse

[Ta Kung Pao] according to the associated press, India today and CNN, January 26 is India’s Republic Day. Prime Minister modi inspected the army to show his image as a military power at home and abroad. However, tens of thousands of farmers from 20 states across the country held a large-scale “tractor protest” on the same day and marched to the capital New Delhi in three ways to demand the abolition of the new agricultural law. They drove more than 5000 tractors directly into the world cultural heritage building, which is also India’s important world wonder and power landmark – Red Castle. Under the severe epidemic situation and economic downturn, agricultural reform has become one of the most serious ruling crises faced by modi government.

In September last year, the Indian government passed three new agricultural laws, which caused a sharp rebound of farmers. Since November last year, farmers have been protesting in the streets. On the 26th, tens of thousands of farmers flocked to the capital, New Delhi, on the national day. Many people drove tractors to break through police roadblocks and even broke into the ancient imperial palace “Red Castle”, which made the modi government feel embarrassed. On the same day, violent physical clashes broke out between the police and the people, and police officers used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. One demonstrator died and 86 police officers were injured in the chaos.

No treatment for tractor rollover

According to the report, the Indian government originally intended to refuse the application for the rally. Later, the police allowed farmers to March peacefully along the designated route in the suburbs without affecting the military parade ceremony. Meanwhile, 40000 police were sent to maintain law and order, block the main intersections with roadblocks and close 15 subway stations. However, after walking or taking a tractor for a certain distance, the protestors deviated from the original route, broke into roadblocks and had physical conflicts with the police. Police dispersed the crowd with tear gas and batons, but failed to stop the riot. Some people even broke into the historic ancient palace “Red Castle” and climbed the high walls and dome to hang the Sikh banner.

In order to control the situation, the interior ministry has asked 15 auxiliary military companies to strengthen security in the capital, and another five companies are on standby. Some telecom service providers said that the Ministry of the interior even ordered to cut off Internet services in several areas of the capital. According to a police statement, a 30-year-old protester who was driving a tractor in the chaos was seriously injured after turning over at the intersection, but farmers’ groups insisted that the dead were shot by police officers. In addition, the police also reported that at least 86 police officers were injured, and there were 22 complaints against the protestors for damaging public property, assaulting police and rioting. However, farmers’ groups still plan to march again on February 1, when modi’s government will submit its annual budget to Parliament.

More than half of the population in the capital is infected

Agricultural reform has become one of the most serious ruling crises faced by modi government. The authorities are trying to promote the marketization of agricultural products, hoping to activate market competition and reduce the government’s financial burden. They are also trying to lay a foundation for the future economic integration of India and Thailand through reform. However, the farmers believe that if the market decides the price of agricultural products, the bargaining power will be in the hands of monopoly consortia; in addition, a large number of unemployed migrant workers return to their hometown to work in agriculture under the epidemic, and the authorities force to reform the agricultural market before the epidemic stops, which also ignites farmers’ anger. Since the end of November last year, peasant groups have camped in the outskirts of New Delhi to block roads.

In addition to the economic downturn and the obstruction of reform, the Indian government’s failure to fight the epidemic and the uncontrollable epidemic situation have also exacerbated the domestic crisis. India today reported on the 25th that the fifth round of serum antibody testing was conducted in New Delhi from January 10 to 23, and 28000 samples were collected in 280 regions. The test results showed that more than 50% of the samples in most areas had antibodies to the new coronavirus, and even more than 60% in a specific area. New Delhi has a population of 20 million, and more than 10 million people are expected to have been infected with the new coronavirus. In addition, the citizenship law passed by the modi government at the end of 2019 allows illegal immigrants to obtain citizenship quickly, excluding Muslims only. The storm of religious discrimination has not yet subsided.

The analysis shows that in the context of India’s domestic political chaos, instigating nationalism and playing the “China card” against China has become modi’s government’s “political correctness” and “political need”. Instead of relieving people’s hardship, modi’s mind is to stir up disputes in the border areas of China and India, trying to divert the attention of ineffective governance.

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