Indian-Americans in the USA see the massive farmer protests on the outskirts of New Delhi through an American lens. When the farmers, many from the Punjab were met with tear gas, water canons and lathi sticks, it was reminiscent of what happened in the USA to some Black Lives Matter demonstrators says Hardayal Singh, the US director for International Civil Rights and Humanitarian Development for United Sikhs, a global humanitarian organization.
The response has come from many diverse sectors of the expatriate Indian communities spread across America, not just from Sikhs, says Singh. Given the pandemic situation, many of the demonstrations involved caravans of automobiles driving to Indian consulates in cities where they exist— New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Houston.
His organization has provided shelter material and medical assistance to the thousands of farmers who are protesting. In America it has organized numerous discussions in the virtual meeting space of the Internet with Congressional persons and other influential Americans. Asked about relations between the new Biden-Harris Administration and India, Arrayal Singh said it mostly depended on how Prime Minister Narenda Modi reacted, acknowledging that with US Vice President Kamala Harris of Indian decent, there should be a better understanding regarding marginalized communities in India and America.
Govinder Singh works for the same organization in Dallas. He says that local community made clear its opposition to what is happening back in India. Many Indians living in the USA, he says, are not in farming here but have families who farm in India.” They care deeply about the plots of land that have been in their family for generations.
Indian farmers, they told this reporter, have been quite successful in California, with land holdings much larger than what they had at home. “The land is loved like a child. If you take care if it properly it will take care of you by producing a crop,” said Singh. The Bay Bridge to San Francisco was blocked for a time on the weekend as protestors from around the state organized a miles long caravan to the consulate on 540 Arguello Boulevard, in the heart of downtown San Francisco.
Demonstrations also took place in Indianapolis, Indiana and in Toronto, Canada. All intended to let the world now how angry the Sikh community is and urge condemnation of the hastily passed laws. Farmer organizations say the legislation will dismantle the minimum price support system (MPS) and make small farmers vulnerable to corporate agribusiness. The government, of course, has a different point of view, saying the new laws will give farmers better opportunities and bring new technologies to agriculture