Thousands of protestors gathered in Sacramento to protest India’s new agriculture laws on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020.
The car rally started off in Sac State’s parking lot. It continued by blocking traffic on Highway 50. To then finish at the California State Capitol.
Leaders of the car rally gave speeches and prayers. Thousands of protestors held the Sikh and American flags outside their car windows in solidarity. The streets were filled with tractors, protesters playing the drums on the beds of pickup trucks, and many families singing India’s latest hits out of their sunroof.
The sayings “No Farmers No Food” and “I Stand With Farmers” were placed all over from hand made signs to vinyl lettering on cars.
Gurtej Atwal, a high school student (16), described the controversy over the new Indian agriculture laws.
Atwal stated, “The 3 new farm laws passed by the Indian government essentially get rid of the MMP [mandated minimum price] a corporation has to pay for a crop. It’s kind of like a minimum wage. Now imagine if the United States got rid of minimum wage, corporations could pay employees whatever they wanted.”
Atwal expressed the importance of advocating in America for a problem that is affecting people 8,000 miles away.
“My grandfather and great grandfathers were all farmers in Punjab, India. The only reason I’m in America is because they worked hard enough to get my family here. Farming is a big part of Punjabi culture, the majority of people in Punjab rely on farming to survive. In the last 10-20 years the agricultural economy of Punjab has been destroyed. Farmers in Punjab are overwhelmed with debt and as a result thousands have committed suicide.”
Atwal then described the intensity of the protests in India and why he believes America’s support is greatly needed.
“In India right now millions of farmers from regions like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab have surrounded the Capital of India, Delhi. The farmers have cut off Delhi’s power, railroads and businesses… using the roads of Delhi as a camp sight. The farmers want Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, to use his executive power to take back the three bills. Negotiations with the government have made no progress, but the farmers are willing to stay in Delhi for as long as it takes. We must put pressure on the government to take back the bills.”
Atwal finished with his greatest worry, “I’m concerned that greedy corporations will take advantage of small farmers and destroy their livelihoods… These new bills could potentially be the last straw that wipes out my motherland, Punjab.”