It’s not often that a woman comes to mind when one talks about a farmer because most conversations tend to focus on kisaan bhai, or farmer brothers. For the past weeks, farmers have been protesting against new legislation, but women aren’t seen or heard as often as the men though they constitute over 42% of the agricultural labour force in India. It’s a reflection of the way their work is unseen too, and our cover story this week highlights the invisibility of gender in Indian agriculture, and those speaking up against it.
The first ask for women in agriculture in India is being recognised as a “farmer”. Suicides of male farmers and migration of men to cities for non-farm work have put more women in charge of raising, harvesting and selling the crop, but without title to the land they till or the homes they live in, they have no social or economic security. Without title, government schemes and subsidies aren’t open to them. India has a long history of farmer movements, and over the past few years, movements to secure the rights of women farmers have grown across the country.
Speaking out is a thread that runs through other pieces in this issue too—actor Swara Bhasker discusses the individual’s responsibility in being alert to misuse of power and the importance of nuanced introspection, while recognising that “flying solo will only take you that far”. Artist Masood Hussain explains how his art reflects the grief and anger of people around him, but also the hope for change in Kashmir. We examine what lies ahead for Lewis Hamilton after a record-breaking 92nd Formula One win, the only black driver and one of only two non-white drivers on the grid, who has used his pole position to push the F1 management to re-examine its policies, demanding diversity and inclusion in a largely male, mostly white and very privileged sport. Hamilton has had an inspired year despite the many changes this season—and with all the other voices in our issue, he reminds us that the personal drives the professional, and that questioning or speaking one’s mind is crucial for change.
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