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Indian government to hold talks with farmer unions following protests


Indian government to hold talks with farmer unions following protests

india farmer protest
Photo: Reuters

Representatives of the Indian government and leaders of the union of farmers protesting new agricultural laws will today meet for a fifth round of talks.

The laws, which seek to reform and deregulate the Indian agricultural industry, have sparked weeks of intense protests both in India and in Indian diaspora communities, leading to strikes, the burning of farmland and the blocking of roads. Farmers believe the government’s deregulation of crop sales and crop diversification incentive structures will favour large corporate farmers. Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi has insisted that the laws will ultimately benefit farmers—providing them with more market options while retaining the standardised minimum support price (MSP) price control mechanism—farmers have been reticent to believe these claims due to previously unfulfilled promises.

Expect today’s talks to be unproductive, as farmers seek a complete repeal of the laws while government officials look to amend them. As it is heavily invested in water-intensive crops such as rice paddies, India’s agricultural sector lacks a significant degree of diversity, making it unlikely that Modi will concede to repealing the laws entirely. Instead, expect protests to continue escalating in the short-term as farmers leverage their position within Modi’s electorate and their popular support amongst Indian communities abroad.

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