Indian farmers’ protests triggered by agricultural law reform continued on the 4th. According to India’s New Delhi TV (NDTV) on the 4th, farmers’ representatives held more than seven hours of negotiations with government officials on Thursday, but the deadlock was not broken.
Farmers’ representatives previously warned that Thursday’s negotiations were the “last chance” for the Indian government to convene a special session of Parliament to repeal the three controversial agricultural bills, and that farmers’ representatives would not participate in the follow-up negotiations on the 5th if the government did not meet their demands.
The atmosphere of negotiations on Thursday was tense. NDTV reported that farmers’ representatives raised 39 shortcomings in the above three controversial bills to the government and asked the government to repeal them. Government representatives said that the relevant laws could be amended and farmers could be given more rights, but this did not satisfy farmers’ representatives.
Tomar, India’s Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, who negotiated on behalf of the government and farmers, said bluntly that the government “has lost dignity”. During the lunch break, farmers’ representatives refused to eat government-provided food.
The Indian government approved three controversial agricultural bills in September. According to the website of Vox, the Modi government said that these bills will give farmers more pricing power and help India modernize agriculture.
However, Indian farmers do not believe the government’s statement. While the government said it would not lower the “minimum support prices” for crops such as grain, farmers feared that the minimum price guarantee system would be abolished, and they would be at the mercy of large companies and stuck in debt.
Starting in late November, large numbers of farmers from all over India in tractors and cars rushed to the capital New Delhi. According to the Vaux website, more than 200,000 Indian farmers and their supporters occupy the streets of New Delhi.
They also blocked the main highway to the capital and vowed to stay there until the controversial bill was repealed. They were greeted by riot police and high-pressure water cannons. While reassuring farmers that the new bill would benefit them, Indian Prime Minister Modi accused the Indian opposition party of inciting farmers by spreading rumors.
Reuters said on the 3rd that these protests posed a major test for Modi’s ability to reform India’s huge agricultural sector. According to AFP on the 4th, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau had previously expressed concern about Indian farmers’ protests, which aroused dissatisfaction with the Modi government. The Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Canadian ambassador on the 4th, warning that the Canadian Prime Minister’s statement may cause serious damage to the relations between the two countries.
Agriculture plays an important role in the Indian economy. According to the Associated Press, farmers have long been regarded as the “heart and soul” of India, and more than half of India’s 1.3 billion people live on agriculture.
The plight of Indian farmers is worrying, according to the Vox website. A 2018 study by the National Agricultural and Rural Development Bank of India found that more than half of farmers in India were in debt. From 2018 to 2019, over 20,000 farmers committed suicide in India, with debt being a major factor.