India Repeals Farm Laws After a Year of Constant Protest
India’s government announced Friday it would repeal three “farmers laws” passed last year to reform the country’s agricultural sector after they prompted a year of protests and unrest, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
“We have decided to repeal all three farm laws. We will start the constitutional process to repeal all the three laws in the parliament session that starts at the end of this month,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech on November 19.
India’s parliament passed the three laws in September 2020 “in a bid to overhaul India’s archaic agriculture sector,” the Guardianrecalled on Friday, noting the sector remains “riddled with issues of poverty, debt, and inefficiency” despite employing roughly 60 percent of India’s workforce.
The legislation in question aimed to deregulate India’s agriculture sector. This would have allowed farmers to sell their produce to buyers outside of government-regulated wholesale markets, where a minimum price guarantee is assured. Indian farmers opposed to the laws argued the reforms threatened to undermine the prices of their produce.
Farmers from India’s Sikh-dominated state of Punjab led protests against the legislation starting in September 2020. Sikhs, who constitute a sizeable religious minority in India, wielded their tremendous lobbying powers to fuel global support for the protests. The demonstrations converged on the outskirts of Delhi, India’s National Capital Territory (NCT), last autumn and have lasted through the present day following a violent crescendo in January.
“I appeal to all the farmers who are part of the protest … to now return to your home, to your loved ones, to your farms, and family. Let’s make a fresh start and move forward,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during his speech on Friday, acknowledging the continued presence of “protest camps” in and around Delhi.