Several of those observing the farmers' protest woke up to headlines on Thursday morning stating that the US is backing farm reforms. But it took some time for the clarification to follow.
A tweet from White House reporter of the Wall Street Journal clarified that the US State Department urges 'dialogue' on farmers' protest. Further, it backs peaceful protests and of course, criticises internet shutdowns. At the same time, it also welcomed market reforms.
"We recognise that peaceful protests are a hallmark of any thriving democracy, and note that the Indian Supreme Court has stated the same. We encourage that any differences between the parties be resolved through dialogue. In general, the United States welcomes steps that would improve the efficiency of India's markets and attract greater private sector investment. We recognise that unhindered access to information, including the internet, is fundamental to the freedom of expression and a hallmark of a thriving democracy," reads the statement.
MEA response awaited
Very few of those who have approached the issue without any bias echoed that it would be wise if the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India responded to the statement but in totality. Those who have had a rationale and objective stance on the issue have always pressed for the dialogue as the only future course of action to resolve the issue.
But the absence of any trust between farmers' bodies and the government has made the dialogue impossible. Reforms cannot be put on hold, but a staggering majority of India's farming community can't be left behind. Their fears need to be allayed and trust needs to be rebuilt.
Internet shutdown brings forth global attention
All over the world, internet shutdown is viewed as a sign of oppressive regime, and it has cost the government its image across the world. In 2019 alone, India shut the internet down more than 100 times. As per one of the estimates, internet shutdowns have cost the Indian economy more than $1.3 billion in five years.
A study by the global think-tank Brookings Institution estimated that India lost $968 million due to internet shutdowns between July 2015 and June 2016. Internet shutdowns in the country are ordered under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.