Discover more from Learning by Proxy with Vivek Srinivasan
Farm Bill Impasse
Conciliation is the act of reducing anger in the discourse. This often helps find middle ground. All of us are guilty of not playing a role in taking things towards conciliation.
Place a vessel with milk on the stove. Let it simmer and leave it. For the first few minutes, nothing will happen. You might even have to check if the stove is lit. Perhaps 10 or 15 minutes will pass by and then suddenly the milk boils over. This illustrates two thing - entropy and geometric progression.
Entropy is the measure of the disorder in a system. And entropy always rises. Geometric progressions are not intuitively understood by humans.
Multiply - 2 with 2 - 30 time.
Your mind cannot even fathom the number you will end up with. At first, it will seem like a string of small numbers, and then suddenly it will become too big and you will have to write it down.
On the 20th September 2020, the Rajya Sabha passed the farm bill. Follow this link to see what happened on that day blow by blow. In the following weeks, protests started in Punjab. Farmers were squatting on railway tracks and demanding the repeal of the law. The central government stopped railways and arrested the movement of people and goods in and out of Punjab. Faced with this situation, the farmers made their way to Delhi by road and that is how we arrive at the border of Delhi.
In December, when the action moved to Delhi, I had written a piece about the farm bill, what its implications are and why the reforms are much needed. I stand by what I had written.
The agitation continued at the Delhi border and the opposition aligned themselves behind the protests because they had had little of an agenda to align behind till them. The elections in 2019 had been a walkover for BJP simply because there was no realistic way to project Rahul Gandhi as a leader and PM material. They need something that can weaken BJP.
Imagine, you were upset by a law. Imagine you went to protest. How many days would you protest? 1, 5, 10, 100 days? At some point, having to make a living would catch up with you. Unless someone was financing you to continue with the protest.
Would you want to find a solution or would you say there is only one way?
Source: Indian Express
Pieces like this make me wonder if this is even about the farmers or the aim is just rabble-rousing.
Obama once said you have got to stop out-woking each other.
“If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because ‘Man did you see how woke I was? I called you out!’”
The liberals in India seem to be on the same boat. They are just happy till they point out someone and say that something is wrong. These people won’t offer any solution. They are just content in knowing that they found the fault.
On the other hand, you have BJP, which is supported by the RSS. A lot of the fieldwork that is undertaken for BJP is undertaken by RSS. When BJP gets pushed into a corner, their first port of call is RSS and that unleashes Hindu extremism.
All extremism is thoughtless. Extremism in any form is not looking for a solution or a compromise. It is only interested in shouting out its opinion louder and louder till the others can be completely drowned out.
Rihanna posted a tweet that would have been forgotten to history.
But between ‘Wah! Rihanna ne tweet kiya’ of the liberals; and the ‘Haww, Rihanna yeh boli’ of the not so liberal; and all the coordinated tweeting by the Indian film industry and sportspeople - Rihanna garnered a few million followers.
Think about it, had Arijit Singh tweeted about Black Lives Matter, do you think all of Hollywood and the entire sporting fraternity of the United States would have felt the need to respond?
Who the hell is Rihanna and why was this response necessary?
The Twitter pundits on either side would not have even known who Meena Harris was, 3 months ago.
Last week we belittled ourselves as a nation. All of us! Does not matter if you were right, left, underground or up in the air.
By framing the conversation around the farm protest into a subject of uncompromising rollback, the Congress and its allies seem to think that they have forced BJP into a corner. To the contrary, they are unleashing some of the worst instincts that there are.
This is a classic case or prisoner’s dilemma:
Case One - The farmers get nothing and back away, BJP gets to push forward with the Bill intact.
Case Two - The farmers get the bill completely dismantled, and the BJP bends backward completely.
Case Three - The Farmers cannot dismantle the bill and continue with their agitation till it turns into a civil war; the BJP unable to let any sanity prevail also unleashes the forces (governmental or otherwise) to stamp things down.
Case Four - The farmers make the government agree to putting off implementation till a proper committee can discuss their concerns and provide amendments or safeguards; The BJP gets to save face on its legislative agenda and implements something, if not everything.
The first two cases are highly unlikely given the shape and form that this movement has taken up. If the farmers had to back down, they would have by now. Also, the government will not abolish the law and move away, given that it is a huge part of the reforms agenda. Also, it would be political suicide.
Case Four is the best outcome for all. Frankly, both sides should push for this result. It helps calm things down. BJP gets to save face and the farmers do not immediately travel down a path they do not want to.
To be honest, the government has even taken steps in the same direction and shown intent.
Case three is lose-lose. Nobody wins. Truth be told, everything looks poised to go this way. I hope it does not. This is the path that leads to institutional breakdown, a path that either result in revolution or fascism.
When the CAA protests were on, the pandemic provided a simple way out for the government to move away from the agenda through the lockdown. Even the BJP has not raked it up thereafter with the same vigour. I see this as proof of the fact that the government just wants to save face; not that they want to implement something no matter what the push back.
Rihanna and Sachin Tendulkar are all sideshows in the grand scheme of things.
This is about the farm bill, not Khalistan, not Congress, not what some 18-year-old halfway across the world tweeted.
There is a need to focus on the main issue and find a middle ground and walk it. Alternately, we can keep turning up the heat, bring unrelated issues in the midst and see how it boils over.
When Trump asked his supported to charge the Capitol, he would have wished that the lawmakers see that as a sign of how popular he was. That everyone just agreed to give him a second term because of the damage he could cause. Instead, they shut him up and shoved him in a corner.
We face a similar situation here. Do we want to discuss the actual issue and find a resolution, or would we let political expediencies take precedence? Are we just going to be outraged about tweets? Would we allow this to drag us down? Ultimately, it is not in the hands of those 500 or so people we have put in power.
It is in our hands.
What we say enrages or calms tempers, forms opinions, and creates discourse. What we say matters.
I say, instead of calling each other fascists, we find a middle ground.