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Professional revolutionaries like Yogendra Yadav, Medha Patkar fuel farm stir

Yogendra Yadav is a psephologist, commentator, activist, politician—and, we came to know recently, also a farmer leader. He was detained on Thursday afternoon while protesting against the new farm laws. Then there is an activist called Medha Patkar who has ‘saved’ the Narmada, Singur, Nandigram, Maharashtra’s sugar co-operatives, etc. She too, along with 500 other protestors from Madhya Pradesh, was held by the UP Police. And now she wants to save farmers from the machinations of the Narendra Modi government, allegedly in league with big corporations. Yadav, Patkar, and other activists leading the stir want us to banish commonsense and reason—which indicate that the intent and the content of the new farm laws are good. Professional revolutionaries like Yadav and Patkar want us to unquestioningly accept whatever they tell us.

Unfortunately, we often do that, for our public discourse is dominated by such Left-leaning intellectuals. The narrative they are now presenting is: poor farmers protesting against a highhanded regime hell-bent on helping corporations; good against evil. If the agitation doesn’t peter out soon, auxiliary groups of professional revolutionaries will join in the fun—cause-hunting celebrities, artists, poets. Revolutionary poets will be quoted. Sahir: “<em>zulm phir zulm hai baḌhtā hai to miT jaatā hai/ḳhuun phir ḳhuun hai Tapkegā to jam jā.egā</em> (Tyranny is ephemeral as its excess ends up killing itself/But when rebellion spills over, it establishes itself).

And Faiz’s famous poem ‘Hum dekhenge’: “<em>Sab taaj uchhale jaayenge, Sab takht giraye jaayenge</em> (All crowns will be thrown out of the window, all thrones will be trampled upon).

As it often happens, facts will get buried in poetry, clamor, and baloney. We have pointed repeatedly (link and link) said that the new farm laws are good for agriculture; they indeed have the potential to double the farmer’s income in a short period, if not by 2022 as the government claims. For the new laws are primarily emancipatory in nature; they free the farmer from clutches of mandis which, intended to helping agriculturists, are dominated by middlemen. They also empower producers to sell their produce to the corporations.

But such is the toxicity of misinformation that big opportunities appear as imminent calamities. As we wrote earlier, “Public discourse and folklore in India is generally against corporations—or corporates, as the ugly Indianism has it. Our intellectuals never tire railing against big corporates. We are told that these companies exploit their employees, bribe politicians and bureaucrats, break or mould rules and regulations, evade taxes, and don’t care a hoot about the environment.”

The corporate sector is bad for the nation but not for me. As we pointed out, “Yet, if you ask anybody, intellectual or otherwise, if they would like to work with a big company—or if they want their children to be employed by it—the answer would be a big ‘yes.’ For everybody knows that big companies pay well, have a better working atmosphere… They are happy working with big companies.”

It is not just misinformation but also hypocrisy and sanctimony that are feeding the farmers’ stir. By the way, these ingredients always nourish professional revolutionaries. As these are doing now..