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BBC News

Live-streaming the revolution: historic tractor march documented on social media

By:
Rumneek Johal (@rumandwoke)

The revolution will be documented, and we are all watching it in real time.

As many of us in the diaspora are aware and have been following along closely to the farmer’s protests in India, many activists have been trying to get the world to #AskIndiaWhy.

On India’s Republic Day, January 26, advocates and activists on the ground and abroad amid the farmer protests in India are asking India why “the government is willing to kill its farmers to further enrich the ultra-wealthy.”

According to this group of activists, “India is rapidly moving towards a fascist, violently oppressive regime. In the last year alone, the Indian government passed various policies which put it on the Global Human Rights Watch.”

“On January 26th, 2021, India will celebrate its 72nd Republic Day to mark the day the Constitution of India came into effect. India’s constitution has long been celebrated as an exemplar of the world’s largest democracy, but this Republic Day, we ask the international community to put all eyes on India to ask why a supposedly democratic government is killing its own people.”

As the largest protest in human history continues -- it remains important for those of us in the diaspora to continue to keep our focus on the ground in India, where many of the farmers took part in a historic tractor march to Delhi that was documented on social media for Republic Day.

Social media is an integral part of disseminating information, and documenting and calling out power abuses as they happen in real time, and we witnessed how important this was during the march, when reports of violence began to come to the forefront.


As reported by Sandeep Singh for Baaz News, farmers were unable to sleep through the night as “excitement” mounted ahead of the march.

But as morning arrived, feelings of pride coincided with the very real fears and threats of violence.

The images and videos circulating on social media tell a million stories -- of resilience, of community, and of resistance -- that have come to represent the protests and those standing up for their livelihoods.

As farmers arrived in Delhi they were met with a warm reception by supporters, throwing flowers upon the hundreds and thousands of protesters joining the rally.

As one commenter noted, instead of Republic Day, it should be known instead as “Farmer’s Day”.

It was a sobering moment to be able to watch the protests unfold in real time, with a melancholic sense of pride and anxiety washing over those who were following the live-streams and social media posts.

The focus of the diaspora, and of the world remains so important, and we must keep an eye on the situation at hand to ensure that the Indian government, who is known for their terrible track record on human rights, is unable to threaten the rights of the protesters -- despite the fact that they already tried.

Some on social media and some Punjabi news outlets reported the fact that tear gas and force was being used, as well as intentional internet outages impacting those on the ground.


There was also ample misinformation, as well as calls for violence against peaceful protesters on social media.


While the most many of us could do was watch from afar, we must remember that keeping a watchful eye over those who are quite literally risking their lives in the name of their livelihood, is of the utmost importance, and we must use our collective voices in whatever ways we can.

The revolution is being live-streamed, and we can’t afford to change the channel. 

If you are interested in joining the movement to #AskIndiaWhy, you can sign this petition and check out the resources compiled by Ask India Why here.

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About the author: Rumneek is a journalist, blogger and podcaster, and Editor of 5X Press.She is founder of her own podcast, RumandWoke which centres on the trials and tribulations of being a woman of colour in the diaspora. She is a recent graduate of The University of British Columbia's Masters of Journalism program, and has previously worked as a writer at Daily Hive Vancouver and CBC Toronto. She thinks she's funny on twitter @rumneeek

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