On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India would discard three laws that farmers objected to. The protests started last year. According to a CNBC translation, Modi said that they have decided to cancel the three agriculture laws.
He also said that the government would soon start the legal process in parliament to repeal the laws. Modi, in his address to the nation, also asked protesters to go back to their homes.
The Indian National Congress, the country’s main opposition party, named Modi’s announcement on Friday as a historic achievement for their farmers, people, and democracy.
The Indian parliament established these farm laws at the beginning of September 2020. The reforms would have weakened some of the laws that have protected India’s farmers for several years. These reforms would subject them to unrestrained free-market mechanisms where competition might be higher.
Agriculture is considered the primary source of living for nearly half of India’s population, while it estimates for just around 16% of GDP. Statisticians and economists agree that the agricultural sector in India needs changes to encourage faster growth and use more sustainable utilization of limited resources such as water.
However, farm reform policies seem to be politically sensitive.
Farmers in India have been struggling for years because of the low crop prices, increasing costs, demonetization, and widespread dryness despite income tax releases and extensive government subsidies. Many farmers decided to take debt, which led to a surge in farmer suicides in the last couple of years.
Since the beginning of last year, the government has met farmer representatives a couple of times to tackle and solve their concerns. However, the negotiations did not lead to any solutions.
Thousands of farmers have complained about the rules for longer than a year. According to media reports, many demonstrators from states like Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and other northern states have been protesting in camps in Delhi since the end of 2020. They remained there despite the coronavirus pandemic and harsh winter.
Farmers claim that the new rules reduced crop prices and affected their earnings.
Protesters in Dehli confronted the police several times.
According to media reports, hundreds of activists and demonstrators died during the demonstrations.
Last month, several people died after a politician’s car ran over demonstrating farmers.
Next year, the current president’s party (Bharatiya Janata) will contest local elections in some of the country’s biggest farming states. Those states are Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
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