Always, the young and the restless have catalysed change in human history—gerontocrats have no stake in the future. Climate change is a reality only the deeply compromised or the deeply irrational deny. Even our government is in sync with this global consensus. Should we then criminalise those who bring our attention to this reality? The government says the farm laws will ensure a paradigm shift. Can that be achieved in silence in a buzzing democracy?
Beyond their pros and cons, the farm laws also help focus our attention on a necessary revisionist reading of the Green Revolution, in terms of its long-term ecological effects. It’s possible to be on the side of farmers—whose toil has erased endemic food shortages—and also wish for a truly green farming paradigm. Supporting both is a sign of creative idealism that will save India.
It’s simple: being pro-farmer and pro-environment is being pro-India. There is no occasion here for the mighty Indian state to shake in anger or cower in fear. That too for a Google document—the fabled ‘Toolkit’—that outlined a perfectly legitimate, non-violent protest calendar. Whisking away a 21-year-old girl from Bengaluru in secrecy, and responding to her wish for a better planet with sedition charges, is not going to ennoble India. Disha Ravi is not Mata Hari. No sane mind would have wished to see disorder on R-Day, or any other day for that matter.
In its zeal to unearth a larger ‘conspiracy’ that would help delegitimise the protests—a ‘network of evil’ out to ‘destabilise India’—the Delhi Police should be careful. An over-the-top crackdown will only scream out to the world that there is a deficit of democracy in India. Every party, including the one in power, has creatively engaged in protests. If draconian laws could stop their politics, Indian democracy would have long ceased to exist.