As protesters attack India's big business and economy, a question arises: Who gains?

For nearly the past 50 days, around a lakh farmers and motley activists (some reports put it at between a lakh-and-a-half and three lakh) have pitched tents at Delhi’s Singhu border and the Delhi-Jaipur highway. It has been quite a festive protest, with pizza counters, gym booths, massage stalls and a steady stream of hot, delicious food.

If you take a conservative ballpark of Rs 1,000 per head daily including decorators, tents and other event costs, the maths works out to Rs 500 crore spent so far. This does not include money to keep the key organisers and event managers happy.

The question is, who is footing the bill for this flashy kermis?

If the farmers could spend that much, one would presume they would not be protesting.

Besides, for months even before the protest, pro-Khalistani group have been running busy global call centres from countries like the US, Canada, and the UK to drum up discontent. The calls are still coming. As are the mailers from abroad offering huge sums to any Punjab farmer who hoists the separatist Khalistan flag at India Gate on Republic Day.

The question is, who gains from destabilising and undermining a politically stable India?

Who has lost much of the world’s trust by bullying smaller powers, being greedily expansionist and unleashing a crippling pandemic?

Who fears losing business and influence to a rising India?

Who gains from stalling India’s key reforms?

Whose language have sections of India’s Opposition including the Congress and the Left been speaking for a while, signing memorandums of understanding with its ruling party, clandestinely meeting its envoys during a raging border conflict?

Who has the financial might to endlessly fund trouble elsewhere?

The finger points only in one direction.

The longer the farmers’ protest drag on, a clearer agenda emerges.

These protests have been the missile-launcher at India’s big business. The prime target has been Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, which stands in the way of Huawei's plan to wire the world with its 5G plan. Jio is building a robust 5G network, and is fast emerging as a global option to export its services and beat Huawei in the race.

Is it coincidence then that farm law protestors vandalised and destroyed more than 1,500 mobile towers of Jio in Congress-ruled Punjab?

Or that there is a bizarre and concerted attempt to link Jio with recent bird deaths? Some on social media have given the avian flu a clean chit. They are blaming Jio 5G testing for the death of the birds.

Clearly, who can be the beneficiary of this? Jio is going in for indigenous 5G tech and not using Huawei tech. It has said it can even export 5G tech.

Some verified users have been tweeting with hashtags like #BoycottJio, #BoycottJioSim, and #BoycottAdaniAmbani, followed by handles with few followers and no bio.

After causing the public exchequer an estimated hit of more than Rs 30,000 crore, the farmers’ protest is spreading out into more disturbing territory. And it increasingly feels like an invisible power is aiming its lance right at the heart of India by using Indians.

Disclaimer: Reliance Industries Ltd. is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd which publishes Firstpost.

Views expressed are personal.



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