Front Burner

321 days of protest — India's farmers deepen resolve

CBC’s Salimah Shivji takes a closer look at India’s farmer protests where a fatal collision has ignited more anger in the 300-day standoff with the government.
People shout slogans during a Maha Panchayat or grand village council meeting as part of a farmers' protest against farm laws in Muzaffarnagar in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, September 5, 2021. (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

For over 300 days, India's farmers have been taking part in massive protests against new laws brought in by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government last year. Modi says the laws will modernize a decades-old agricultural system, but farmers fear it will leave them at the mercy of corporations and wipe them out. 

The protests are mostly concentrated in three major states — Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh — where farming is the lifeblood of the economy and where for decades, farmers have been struggling to survive. Nearly 60 per cent of India's population of 1.3 billion people depend on agriculture but more than half of the country's farmers are in debt. Then last Sunday in Uttar Pradesh, long-drawn out tensions boiled over when a convoy of cars drove into a group of protesters. At least eight people were killed, including four farmers. 

Today on Front Burner, we talk to CBC's India correspondent Salimah Shivji takes a closer look at a crisis decades in the making, now engulfing India -- and what the future holds for its farmers.