Monday, April 05, 2021

Indian Farmer Protests

I know nothing, of course.  I heard a podcast on Razib Khan's Brown Pundits about the topic and was able to pick up a few things that intersected with my own knowledge.  The site and the podcast are a refreshing difference from the appeal-to-the-popular American press.  The writers and podcasters are Western, usually American, of Asian descent. They have an ability to interpret for people like me some of the events going on in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Arab world etc.

Razib and Mukunda Raghavan interviewed the economist Abhinav Prakash of Delhi University about one of the new causes of the International Left, the farmer protests in India. Prakesh is conservative by Indian standards, though he and Razib laughingly note that the Indian right-wing is more socialist than the American left-wing. Prakash says he is a neoliberal, but I can't tell if he means a Milton Friedman/Reagan/Thatcher sort or one of the newer meanings, nor what it means in the context of a (weirdly) socialist country like India. Prakash was involved in a controversy last year in which leftist students from his alma mater Jawaharial Nehru University accused him of being a nazi. He is puzzled by the response of the Western press and Western liberals to the issue, because the farmers who are protesting are not the poor farmers, but the richer ones, who have been receiving price supports for particular crops and thus grow those exclusively, which is bad for the national economy and bad for the environment. The prime minister, Narendra Modi, has been instituting economic reforms urged on India by liberal institutions such as the IMP and the WTO, he has opened up economic choices for the poorest castes, including the Dalits, he is trying to bring the Green Revolution to southern India (it has been strongest in the north in the Punjab region, now wealthier - I had not known that) - what's not to like? he wonders. India went very socialist in the 60s under Indira Gandhi and Nehru and is just now introducing market reforms long known in Europe.

Razib explained it to him that they think Modi is a nazi, and they are therefore on the side of anyone who opposes him. "Ah yes, I understand now.  This is making it clear for me." Prakash's accent makes it harder to listen to, and another source noted that he has a stutter - which I did not pick up - and the names are unfamiliar, so you will likely have to double back if you are listening. Khan and Ragahavan returned frequently to questions of class and caste with the disclaimer that they didn't think so, but knew that their listeners might be trying to understand the issues in those terms. Prakash stated generally not, but the prosperous farmers in the north are heavily Jat, so it ties in indirectly. He saw regional politics as more the issue, as the Punjab farmers are much closer to Delhi and have always had outsize influence and are now more capable to blockading Delhi than the southern farmers, who likely have the better claim.

If any of you know more, or know why this is all wrong, please feel free.

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