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India farmer union representatives to conclude national convention


India farmer union representatives to conclude national convention

Sajjid Hussain AFP via Getty Images
Photo: Sajjid Hussain/AFP

1,500 Indian farm union representatives will convene today to discuss the future of their resistance to recent agricultural laws.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s liberalization of grain markets last September launched an agricultural protest movement. Over the past seven months, periodic mass demonstrations have disrupted daily life in New Delhi and other major cities with farmers setting up tent communities and blocking major highways in and around the capital. Nonetheless, negotiations with the government have gone nowhere. So far, the farmers have stuck to their demand of a full and immediate repeal of the new laws, while the government has offered a delayed implementation. Neither side has given way.

The farmers convention may discuss a change of tactics. The Indian Agricultural Minister has indicated some willingness for a solution aside from repeal. However, expect farmers to oppose compromise proposals due to a lack of trust in government negotiators.

Continued pressure on the government through public demonstrations will likely remain their strategy. On the other side, Modi, though facing a drop in public support, has stridently defended his reforms as necessary for his plan to double the size of the economy by 2024. Thus, he is unlikely to break the deadlock. Expect the standoff to continue.

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