Modi Relents to Protests as India Moves to Repeal Farm Laws

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In one of the most significant concessions made by his government, Narendra Modi has announced that he will repeal three contentious farm laws that sparked a year of protests and unrest in India.

The prime minister announced in an address on Friday morning that “we have taken the laws back,” a huge victory for India’s farmers who had fought hard for the repeal of what they called the “black laws.”

Modi had approved the three farm laws in 2020 in a contract offer to overhaul India’s archaic agriculture sector. The agricultural industry still utilizes about 60 percent of India’s workforce, but is plagued with issues of poverty, debt and inefficiency.

They rapidly became a major cause of discontent among India’s millions of farmers, who accused the government of enacting the rules without consulting them. They said that the measures jeopardized their livelihoods and given corporate enterprises power over agricultural prices.

Last year, after the government failed to abolish the legislation, hundreds and thousands of farmers marched to Delhi’s borders, where they were confronted with barricades, teargas, and water cannons, and set up protest camps along the main routes entering the capital.

Since then, the farmers have stayed at Delhi’s boundaries, posing one of the most persistent obstacles to the Modi administration, even though cold winters, scorching summers, and the terrible second wave of Covid-19.

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The protests became violent in February, when farmers marched into the heart of Delhi and temporarily seized control of the iconic Red Fort in the ancient city Centre.

The government agreed to suspend the rules earlier this year, but the farmers, who are supported by powerful unions, said they would not move unless the laws were completely abolished.

Previously, the Modi government stated that it will not cave in to farmer pressure and repeal farm rules. However, it is believed that Modi’s desire to repeal the restrictions is linked to impending key state elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, where farmers account for a substantial share of the “vote bank” and farmers’ unions wield enormous power and influence. The agriculture restrictions sparked outrage in the north Indian states that are Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s base (BJP).

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