Rihanna voices support for Indian farmers' protests against controversial new laws

The Barbadian pop star has backed farmers' campaign to repeal the Indian government's new agriculture laws.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 24: Rihanna attends the "Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets" European Premiere at Cineworld Leicester Square on July 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

In a tweet to her 101 million followers, Rihanna lent her support to the farmers protesting India’s new agricultural laws. 

Riri retweeted a CNN article about the Indian government’s retaliatory internet shutdown in response to the protests, with the caption, “Why aren’t we talking about this?!” 

The post has brought worldwide attention to the issue, garnering over 567k likes and 254k retweets in under 21 hours. 

Rihanna’s expression of solidarity with the movement motivated other celebrities to weigh in on the story. Additionally, environmental activist Greta Thunberg and Meena Harris, the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, have also shown their support. 

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 What are the farmers protesting in India? 

The farmers are protesting three agricultural reforms, which the Indian Parliament passed in September. Before those laws were passed, the Indian government offered guaranteed prices to farmers for specific crops. 

Farmers would sell their produce in an auction at a state-regulated market, where they were guaranteed to receive at least the government’s price. Prices for essential foods, such as potatoes and pulses, were also capped at these auctions under the Essential Commodities Act. 

Demonstrators raising slogans as the protest against new farm laws continues at Ghazipur on February 2, 2021 in New Delhi, India.

(Image credit: (Photo by Sakib Ali/Hindustan Times via Getty Images))

The Indian government has argued that by removing this regulation, market competition will grow. Farmers will have the opportunity to sell directly to buyers and other states, expanding their income sources. 

However, many farmers believe that the changes will endanger, rather than enhance, their livelihoods. With 58% of the country’s population working in agriculture, any threat to the industry is a threat to society. 

Protestors of the new laws fear that deregulation could make it easier for large corporations to exploit small farmers. Farmers are already struggling to make ends meet with minimum pricing, so removing these protections could wipe out their income. 

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In response to the widespread protests, which have seen hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets of New Delhi, the Indian government has blocked internet access across several areas of the state. 

Despite these punitive measures, the people show no sign of backing down. 

"This is killing democracy," said protester Bhavesh Yadav. "People's rights are being subjugated. It's our right to gather people in our assembly. However, the government is trying to suppress it by cutting the internet fearing that it will reach every nook and corner of the country."