Dilli Chalo has evolved as a direct result of the apathy of not only our nation’s leaders, but also the complicity of indifferent citizens. Those who have profited , dismissed or merely been complacent about the rising inequality in India. Those who have witnessed the deepening misery of the dispossessed, including the death by suicide of well over 300,000 farmers these past 20 years. Grave problems of farmer suicides, deaths of children due to starvation, growing unemployment, increased informalisation, wide spread indebtedness, a devastation of the country’s cattle economy and overall precariousness, has led to a collapse of agriculture. And yet we remain unperturbed. This crisis, which is no longer just a measure of loss of land, incomes, jobs and productivity, but of our own humanity demands our attention now.
Dilli Chalo is not the culmination but rather the beginning. It is the beginning of the long overdue collective mobilisation against the economic and social injustices meted out to over 70% of our population. A response to the need for new radical forms of urban and rural solidarity. We need to encourage dialogue regarding rural Indias’ quest for social and economic justice, for liberation from debt, remunerative prices, fair wages, employment, education, health and nutritional security. A dialogue initiated by the very victims of the agrarian crisis themselves. The rest of us need to be made cognisant of the impact of devastating farming policies, the lack of rural credit and fair prices, and the unbearable violence of privatising water, healthcare and education.
The pleadings, over the past 25 years, by distressed farmers, landless agricultural labourers, forest communities, fisher folk and the foot soldiers of our country’s literacy and health care programmes – Anganwadi, Accredited Social Health Activists and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife workers, have failed to galvanise successive governments into taking concrete action to address agrarian distress. Little has been done to address the additional vulnerability of women, Dalit and Adivasi farmers and agricultural workers whose tireless labour upholds the rural economy.
This has prompted the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), representing almost 200 farming organisations and millions of our country’s farmers, workers and agricultural labourers, to organise a Kisan Mukti March to Delhi for 2 days on the 29th & 30th of November. For the first time they will be placing their demands in a statutory framework by asking for the implementation of two Kisan Mukti Bills.One bill is around Freedom from Indebtedness and another is about Guaranteed Remunerative Prices.
Nation For Farmers, a diverse group of volunteers from various sectors and active in several states across India, was formed to both support and supplement the Kisan Mukti March, and we too hope to carry forward the work of the Dilli Chalo movement. We are making a determined attempt to reach out to all sections of people across India because the agrarian crisis ultimately affects everyone. Our attempt is to generate an understanding of the long historical processes, especially of the past two decades, that have precipitated the agrarian crisis. This has meant organising teach-ins and public lectures across India, mobilising people and resources – both material and informational, co-ordinating with farming groups and communities in various states and even partaking in door-to-door mobilisation. With your support and solidarity, we hope to carry on the work of this watershed movement, a movement that will force the deaf listen, and the blind see.
Dilli Chalo! The war cry given by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, a defiant patriot, called on the oppressed and enslaved to go forward and capture the seat of power. It is now time for our most vulnerable masses, the rural Indians enslaved by agriculture, to reach the Parliament. To have their pleas answered, or in the very least, have their voices heard.