Before the coronavirus pandemic, Rakesh Arora used to be a vendor at the India Gate, but his business did not pick up after lockdown. Now, the farmers' stir at the Singhu border has given him a chance to improve livelihood, selling badges and stickers.
With the protesting farmers staying put at the border point of the national capital for over six weeks now, a number of small business have sprung up at the site, the newest being sale of pro-protest badges and stickers.
Shopkeepers with basket full of badges and stickers with 'I love Kheti (farming)', 'I love Kisan', and 'Kisan Ekta Zindabad' printed on them have seated themselves at every nook and corner of the highway. Almost every protestor could be seen donning a badge, while the tractors and trolleys flaunt the stickers.
Rakesh Arora and his nephew brought in inventory worth Rs 2,500 two days ago from Ambala and have managed to sell products worth Rs 700 so far.
"I used to be a vendor at India Gate. But after lockdown, business has been really poor. So we decided to set shop at the protest once we saw an opportunity," Arora said.
Amaan, an electrician from Delhi's Okhla has also taken to selling these badges and stickers, owing to lack of work. Both badge and sticker are being sold at Rs 10.
"It doesn't yield much income, but something is better than nothing. Barely 15-20 people buy these each day," he said.
Brothers, Moin, 17, and Nadeef, 11, from Uttar Pradesh's Loni, have also ventures in this business. "We bring in 500 of these badges every day. We manage to sell some 300 of them," said Moin, who set up shop in Singhu a week back.
Many shopkeepers at Singhu border are hoping to make most of the agitation, by earning whatever little they can. Many of these badges are sourced from Delhi's Sadar Baazar market.
Chandan Kumar, who has been running a electrical equipment shop at the Singhu border for over five years now, has pushed bulbs, switches and wires to the back and lined his shop with 'No Farmer, No Food' stickers and badges.
"The electrical business had completely taken a backseat. I realised that the farmers liked stickers about their agitation. So I started getting radium paper from Kashmere Gate market and started printing the stickers myself," he said.
Kumar added that while it was not at all a close substitute for his earlier business, but it did bring in some income.
For over a month several farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, are camping at the borders of Delhi to protest the three farms laws, which the NDA claims will reform the agri sector. However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandi system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.