A year of massive protests by working farmers in India has forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce Nov. 19 he had decided to withdraw laws that threaten their livelihoods. The measures would have removed state-guaranteed minimums for staple grain prices, allowing big capitalist traders to force down the prices they pay to farmers. If implemented, farmers say, the laws would lead to rising indebtedness and drive many of them off the land.
“This is a win for all those farmers who laid down their lives to save hundreds of thousands of poor farmers of this country from corporate greed,” Jagdeep Singh told the New York Times. His father, Nakshatra Singh, 54, was among those killed in Uttar Pradesh last month when a deadly clash occurred between protesters and government officials.
Hundreds of thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh launched huge protests and set up encampments jamming highways into the capital, New Delhi, beginning after the government announced the new laws last September. They organized themselves and their families to maintain the encampments, enduring police attacks, summer heat, bitter winter conditions and pandemic lockdowns.
The makeshift townships were sustained by peasants and their supporters from many thousands of villages.
“Farmers will continue to agitate until the laws are taken back in parliament,” Rakesh Tikait, a prominent protest leader from Bhartiya Kisan [Farmers] Union, told Asian News International.