Indian Farmers Protesting New Agricultural Laws

Indian Farmers Protesting New Agricultural Laws

Linnea Fry, Writer

Tens of thousands of Indian farmers have taken to the streets, to protest India’s new agricultural law that was approved on 17 September 2020. At least one protester killed, and over 300 police officers injured when many flooded the streets of New Delhi, and stormed the Red Fort -which is a 400-year-old landmark. They’ve blocked off at least five of the major highways leading to the capital.

 

The police met the protesters with tear gas and water cannons, but they made it through and have now set up camp in and around Delhi. This is all happening because Prime Minister Modi’s government has passed new farming laws that will change how the agricultural industry has worked for decades, and in a country of 1.4 billion people, where agricultural workers make up a lot of the population, this law change could be devastating. Since the days of the “Green Revolution”, agriculture has gone from accounting from nearly 50 percent of the economy to just 15. The “Green Revolution”, was a new development in the 1960s, that introduced high amounts of wheat and rice production, in order to alleviate the hunger and poverty that was taking over the newly independent country. This economy is not lasting though, and the government set new laws that will go against the farmers wishes of more protection. The problem is that millions of farmers already have trouble making ends meet in the shrinking economy, and more than half of India’s farming households are in debt.

And this debt has contributed to a suicide crisis. In the last two years, more than 20,000 farmers have died by suicide. Because of this economic hardship farmers have been asking for reforms for decades. But this year, instead of providing more protections for this vulnerable community, the central government went in the opposite direction, and farmers fear that the direction in which the reforms are happening are actually a direction of dismantling the agricultural product price, which keeps these farmers in business.The three farming acts that sparked all of these protests, deregulates a different part of the system, but they essentially say that anyone with money can buy stock, or take over the agricultural business. These laws would ruin many of the farmers, and the rest would fall even further into debt. According to many of the protesters, they are willing to protest for as long as it takes, up to years.