Indian protesters will not back down till their demands are met

Indian farmer protests explained

Tens of thousands of Indian farmers have been protesting against three new farming bills for almost seven months now. Around 60 per cent of India’s population works in the farming industry and many are living in poverty. They fear these new laws will make their current situation even worse.

The new bills seek to reform India’s current farming system by:

  1. Allowing farmers to sell directly outside of Mundis (state-owned markets)
  2. Allowing farmers to enter into contracts with the private sector by allowing orders on future crops
  3. Removing hoarding regulations, allowing traders to stockpile food

The Modi government claims that these new regulations will “liberate” the farmers; however, farmer’s unions believe that the government is “throwing them to the wolves.”

Farmers claim that these laws will put them at the private sector’s mercy, since their obligations are to their shareholders and not the farmers’ wellbeing.

In the state-owned Mundis, there are currently Minimum Support Prices (or MSP) in place, which guarantee the farmers a minimum price to sell their crops. These new bills will remove MSP pricing since the private sector’s goal is to increase profitability.

Additionally, nearly 70 per cent of Indian farmers are small producers, which means they will have little to no bargaining power against big corporations.

The only way Indian farmers and farmers’ unions can spread their concerns is by protesting. This is why tens of thousands of farmers from the Punjab and Haryana regions marched to India’s capital on January 26th. They have been protesting in the region for over 100 days.

Farmers have set up camp, brought food, and are ready to stay for as long as needed. They have already stated that they will not leave until the government rectifies the bills.

Overall, the farmers protest civilly and peacefully per their rights in the Indian constitution. However, the Indian government has been using “war-like measures” to disperse the protesters and stop them from exercising their rights.

Indian officials have put up barricades and nail strips around the Delhi region to prevent farmers from entering the area. Additionally, police have used tear gas and water cannons against the crowds. Some protesters have reported being beaten with batons. At one point during the protests, the government even cut off internet access.

Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, even called out the Indian government by saying, “People have a right to demonstrate peacefully, and authorities need to let them do so.”

With the Indian government refusing to rectify the farming bills, the protests could last several more months.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab

Swept under the rug: disappearing Indigenous languages

Brazil’s native identity threatened amid COVID-19

Around 7,000 languages are spoken worldwide today, yet over 40 per cent of them are at risk of disappearing before the end of this century. On average, one Indigenous language dies every two weeks, and this rate has only accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brazil is one of the most vulnerable countries currently seeing its native languages disappear, despite being a very diverse nation. The largest and most populated country in South America is home to 305 Indigenous ethnic groups, with almost every tribe having its own language. The number, however, was much higher before the 16th century: thousands of Indigenous languages have disappeared in Brazil since it was colonized by Portugal during that period.

Elderly natives are almost always the last representatives of their tribe’s language, since languages disappear when the younger generation no longer uses, or even understands, them.

First, the language dies when it loses its last native speaker. Then, it becomes extinct when it is no longer understood even by second-language speakers.

Such occurrences are far from uncommon, as elders and parents face challenges when passing their language to the next generation. As a result of European colonialism, Indigenous languages were unable to solidify their position not only in Brazil, but also in most of sub-Saharan and West Africa, as well as North America.

English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese became the lingua francas of the former colonies. Different ethnic groups would use European languages to communicate with one another. Moreover, when young Indigenous people look for opportunities in their own country, mastering a European language is a necessity, while their mother tongue’s use in the professional world is virtually non-existent.

However, the Guaraní people in Brazil managed to resist assimilation and keep its language alive. There are over 50,000 Guaraní people in the country, and their language is even taught in the community’s public elementary schools.

Other Indigenous languages in Brazil, though, have an unfortunate fate. Puruborá, Omagua, and Tariana are already considered critically endangered, with only 100, 10, and two native speakers left on the planet, respectively.

In 2020, the biggest challenge for endangered Indigenous languages is the pandemic, as elders are the age group most vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus. With over 175,000 pandemic-related deaths in Brazil, the situation is alarming for Indigenous groups. Not only their language, but also their history, values, traditions, and entire cultures are at risk of being permanently erased.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab

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