This is not about Indian farmers getting shot by police or commiting suicide but I write this to also honour these lives lost in media (and locally, social media) silence.
I know there has been a good explanation going around using idli in an example. Although it captures something so widespread and personal (such as food), I don’t think it captures a more serious aspect of appropriation. And both the objects or forms I have in mind are for all to consume or use. Let’s take one example that included so much erasure that you and I never knew where it was really from, although we know people who exemplify this and although the person whom we attribute it to himself admitted but we people don’t understand Hindi nor read/ know of this necessarily:
“As Gandhi acknowledges, he did not “invent” satyagraha. He learnt it from the people of India. As he writes in Hind Swaraj: “The fact is that, in India, the nation at large has generally used passive resistance in all departments of life. We cease to cooperate with our rulers when they displease us. This is passive resistance.” [Ironic bc he is one ruling caste when the Brits weren’t around and even when they were, internally. And in India, people mostly dislike Gandhi said a friend from one ruling/forward caste, it has nothing to do with his casteism. His truth came to the surface and Indians are more informed]
“Movements of non-cooperation started wherever the British tried to tax the lands of the peasant and the homes of the people. The 1810-11 house tax satyagraha in Varanasi is the best recorded. But similar non-cooperation movements took place in Patna, Bhagalpur and other cities. Having learnt from the people how India stayed democratic over centuries through the power of non-cooperation, Gandhi first used satyagraha in South Africa in 1906 to refuse to cooperate with the laws of the apartheid regime imposing compulsory registration on the basis of race.”
“2017 is the 100th anniversary of the indigo satyagraha in Champaran. It was based on the refusal to grow indigo. The peasants had repeatedly said: “We would rather die than grow indigo”.” Quoting Vandana Shiva.
Tribals, Dalits and Bahujan (landless farmers) came up with this form of protest out of powerlessness, the only other alternative being death. Throughout my life, because of the term ‘satyagraha’, I falsely thought the protests were to be attributed to Gandhi, it is what trickles into our textbooks and cultural texts. I see Euro-centric journalists today attributing non-violent protests to Gandhi, I literally saw a new article on a reputed site, stopped reading and wrote this. What I mentioned is its history in India but surely there is similar movements from everywhere, every indigenous culture and because Gandhi is a brand (that impressed MLK and Nelson Mandela), we ignore or remain ignorant to the various other names. Even wikipedia has some history, if not names:
470-391 BCE The Mohist philosophical school disapproved of war. However, since they lived in a time of warring polities, they cultivated the science of fortification.
Before 1835: The Moriori‘s lack of resources and small population made conventional war unsustainable, so it became customary to resolve disputes nonviolently or ritually. Due to this tradition of nonviolence, the entire population of 2000 people was enslaved, killed or cannibalized when 900 Māori invaded the island in 1835.
Peaceful protests continued until the passing of a resolution to abolish apprenticeship and the achievement of de facto freedom.
1838: The Cherokee refused to recognize the fraudulent Treaty of New Echota and therefore did not sell their livestock or goods, and did not pack anything to travel to the west before the soldiers came and forcibly removed them. That ended tragically in the Cherokee trail of tears.
1879- 1881: The Māori village of Parihaka became the center of passive resistance campaigns against Europeans occupying confiscated land in the area. More than 400 followers of the prophet Te Whiti o Rongomai were arrested and jailed, most without trial. Sentences as long as 16 months were handed out for the acts of ploughing land and erecting fences on their property. More than 2000 inhabitants remained seated when 1600 armed soldiers raided and destroyed the village.
The bits on India are misleading and inaccurate. Folks pay attention to tables more than what was said in big paragraphs, so… And if it matches with what textbooks and news sources say, one may even think the first part is wrong, this is wikipedia. Students are lazy and don’t know about hackathons by movements.
And yes, currently, farmers in India and their families are starving and are once again left with no alternative to peaceful protests (no one cares about) or suicide.