Kisan Diwas or National Farmers’ Day is observed on December 23 every year to mark the birth anniversary of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh. It is a day to acknowledge and praise the role India’s farmers or the ‘Annadata’ play in the nation’s society, economy and food security.

Since India is a largely agrarian nation, over 60% of the working-age population is engaged in agriculture and allied services, farmers play a major role in the national economy. Over the decades since the Green Revolution, India has moved from being a food import-dependent country to one of the largest producers and exporters of agricultural goods. This, thanks to the role farmers have played in strengthening the country’s food security.

Contribution of Charan Singh

Chaudhary Charan Singh was born on December 23, 1902, in Uttar Pradesh, in a middle-class peasant family. Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence, Singh entered the Independence movement. After Independence, he associated himself with socialism in rural areas.

Charan Singh was known for his farmer-friendly policies. He served as the country’s fifth prime minister between July 1979 and January 1980. In his short time in office, Singh introduced several welfare schemes for farmers and channeled public investment to raise farm productivity.

He played a key role in bringing the issues of small and marginal farmers to the forefront. One of his most popular quotes is: “The true India resides in its villages.”

Significance of Kisan Diwas

To honour Chaudhary Charan Singh’s contribution, the Indian government, in 2001, decided to mark his birth anniversary as Kisan Diwas. On this day, the government organise various programs such as discussion, exhibitions, workshops, etc just to spread awareness among the people.

Kisan Diwas is also the day when state governments usually announce special schemes and welfare initiatives for farmers. Political events are held in rural areas where farmers and activists discuss issues facing them and engage in consultations with local leaders.

Farmer agitation on Kisan Diwas

This year, Kisan Diwas will get heightened attention as the farmers agigating against the new farm laws have vowed to go on a hunger strike on the occasion. The protesters are observing Kisan Diwas to intensify their stir seeking repeal of the farm laws passed in September.

The farmers started observing a relay hunger strike from Monday, in which a batch of 11 farmers will take turns every 24 hours to sit on hunger strike. Protesters have also appealed to fellow citizens to skip a meal on Kisan Diwas in solidarity with their agitation.