Tech-savvy farm­ers

India Today - - UPFRONT -

As au­thor­i­ties strug­gled to con­trol farmer un­rest in Mad­hya Pradesh in which five farm­ers were killed by po­lice fire on June 6, they searched in vain for lead­ers with whom they could ne­go­ti­ate. But, it turned out the farm­ers spoke for them­selves, or­gan­is­ing through so­cial me­dia and re­fus­ing to cede their cause to “spokes­men” or groups that claimed to rep­re­sent farm­ers’ in­ter­ests. Us­ing the ex­cuse of fake news and un­tram­meled ru­mour-mon­ger­ing, in­ter­net ser­vices were shut down in sev­eral dis­tricts. But surely part of the rea­son was the ef­fec­tive­ness with which farm­ers had co­or­di­nated on­line. “Our mes­sage,” said one farm­ers union leader, “was to keep one hand on the trac­tor steer­ing wheel and the other on the phone to send tweets.” And why are we so sur­prised that farm­ers know how to use their phones?

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