With protests underway near Delhi for over a month, National Farmers' Day falls against a grim backdrop in 2020. Since Wednesday morning, countless people have taken to social media platforms reminding that "farmers are the backbone of our country". For many, this has become yet another opportunity to hit out at the Modi government over the recently passed farm Acts.
But why is Kisan Diwas celebrated on December 23? While a day to commemorate farmers is not unique to India, the choice of date is of particular meaning. You see, India celebrates the birth anniversary of India's fifth Prime Minister, Chaudhary Charan Singh, as National Farmers' Day.
For the uninitiated, Chaudhary Charan Singh, often dubbed as the "champion of India's peasants" had taken many steps to safeguard and promote the interests of farmers. His efforts did not begin after he became Prime Minister. Even before Independence, elected to the Legislative Assembly of the United Provinces, he had introduced an Agricultural Produce Market Bill in the Assembly.
He had been critical of Nehru's economic policies, and eventually left the Congress to form the Bharatiya Kranti Dal in 1967. For a long time, peasant communities across castes had looked to Singh as a leader and spokesperson. Soon after Raj Narain formed the Janata Party (Secular), Singh had taken over the party leadership. Singh's tenure as Prime Minister was brief. He led the country from 28 July 1979 to 14 January 1980.
"Humble tribute to former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh ji on his birth anniversary. He remained devoted to the development of villages and farmers throughout his life, for which he will always be remembered," PM Modi tweeted on Wednesday morning.
But if those against the Farm Acts have utilized the occasion to reiterate their stance, so has the government.
"Today, on the occasion of Farmers Day, I greet all the contributors of the country. They have provided the country with food security. Some farmers are agitated about agricultural laws. The government is talking to them with full sensitivity. I hope that they will withdraw their movement soon," tweeted Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.