India: Modi withdraws controversial agrarian reform

Status: 11/19/2021 10:21 a.m.

Indian Prime Minister Modi has surprisingly announced the withdrawal of the controversial agricultural reform. Thousands of farmers protested against the proposed laws for almost a year. The background could be upcoming elections.

After almost a year of mass protests by farmers, the Indian government wants to abolish its controversial agrarian reform. In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the three laws in question would be repealed by parliament in the next session, which begins at the end of November.

Since November last year, thousands of farmers had camped outside the gates of the capital in protest. “I appeal to all farmers who took part in the protests to return home, to their loved ones, to their farms and to their families,” said the 71-year-old head of the Hindu nationalist government. “Let’s make a fresh start and move forward”. He apologized for the government “failure” to convey the benefits of the reform.

Afraid of large corporations

The reforms adopted in September 2020 aimed to deregulate the markets for agricultural products. There, government agencies have been setting guaranteed minimum prices for the harvest for decades and are intended to ensure the survival of the often impoverished farmers. More than half of the country’s 1.3 billion people are dependent on agriculture.

The government had stated that the reforms wanted to make agriculture more efficient, as many products rot before they can be put on the market. The protesters, however, said the changes, which were never implemented because of the protests, would allow large corporations to completely take over the small-scale agricultural sector. Several demonstrators died in the protests and hundreds of police officers were injured.

Modi’s U-turn came in the run-up to major elections in states like Punjab – where many of the farmers come from – and Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with 220 million people.

After a year of protest – India wants to drop controversial agricultural laws

Silke Diettrich, ARD New Delhi, November 19, 2021 11:11 a.m.

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