Why are India’s farmers agitating? What are the real problems plaguing India’s farm economy, which forced farmers to stage massive protests in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, among other places?

An answer has finally come – from journalist and founding editor of People’s Archive of Rural India, P Sainath.

The recent farmer’s strikes, he says in a 90-minute live video session, were only the “manifestations of the crisis”, and not the actual crisis itself, which goes much deeper. The need of the hour, he explains, is to understand the farm crisis not through the events but through the lives of farmers, agricultural labourers, and people dependent on farming.

Fielding questions, Sainath explains, among other things, why loan waivers are not a solution and why the entry of GMO crops is a bad idea. He also points out that the protests this year began in relatively prosperous areas of Maharashtra such as Nashik, and not in the more impoverished Vidarbha and Marathwada.

Talking about the Modi administration’s chief promise of job creation, Sainath asks in the context of the farmers’ crisis: “Fifteen million people have been pushed off agriculture, where are they going?”