People on a tractor shout slogans at a site of a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi, India, December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Tens of thousands of farmers have descended on India’s capital in protest of recent farming laws that they say could ruin them. Protests began last week and reached new heights over the weekend with tractors and trailers traveling miles to block access to New Delhi, where India’s central government passed agricultural policies in September that allow farmers to sell their goods to any buyer and at any price. 

The new policies are a departure from a previously government-controlled market that guaranteed prices for certain crops and capped prices on commodities. Without price guarantees, India’s farmers argue they will not be able to financially prepare for the next crop cycle and that corporations will be free to drive down prices when supply exceeds demand, leaving small farmers unable to compete. About 58% of India’s population relies on agriculture as their primary livelihood.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi drove the decision to deregulate India’s agricultural markets, arguing that the new policies will ultimately free farmers and afford them “new rights and opportunities.” With the country in the midst of a pandemic-induced recession, Modi said he pushed for deregulation to spur growth. However, farmer coalitions say the government did not consult them before passing the legislation.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Why are thousands of Indian farmers protesting? – Al Jazeera – 12/1/2020
A set of three laws passed in September aims to deregulate India’s enormous agriculture sector. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said they will “liberate” farmers from the tyranny of middlemen.

Farmers at Delhi borders: Why protest over farm laws may end with mere assurance – India Today – 12/1/2020
No one knows for sure how the new mechanism set up through the three laws will work in future. The Modi government has argued that since the old system did not provide all-round benefits to a vast majority of the farmers, it needed a paradigm shift. Beneficiaries of the old system are not happy and demand a recall of the three laws alleging the farmers were not consulted before the new regime was rolled out.

India Begins Talks With Farmers’ Groups as Protests Simmer – Bloomberg – 12/1/2020
Tuesday’s meeting remained inconclusive. The government offered to set up a panel to consider the demands, which was rebuffed by leaders of the agitating farmers, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told reporters in New Delhi after the discussions. The next round of talks would be on Dec. 3, he said.

Unwarranted, says MEA after Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s comments on farmers’ stir – Tribune India – 12/1/2020
The Ministry of External Affairs has unfavourably viewed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remarks on the farmers’ stir made during a virtual interaction organised by his Parliamentary colleague Bardish Chagger to mark Guruparb.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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