India’s Rich Farmers Are Holding Up Reforms Designed to assist the Poor

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In 2018, tens of thousands of poor farmers flooded cities all across India calling for state action to ease their difficult lives. Their immediate demands were higher prices for his or her output and loan waivers for his or her debts. With elections looming in 2019, pundits predicted serious problems at the polls for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Modi offered the farmers limited price supports but held the road on loan waivers. Instead, he promised to implement structural reforms after the election. The opposition Indian National Congress countered with a promise to “waive all farm loans” across the whole country—an expensive solution decried by economists as a populist magic wand.

When the test came, Modi’s BJP won during a landslide. One year later, the Modi government finally skilled farmers’ concerns with structural reforms intended to permanently raise agricultural incomes by giving farmers access to raised prices from wider markets beyond their home districts—that is, with the 2020 farm acts. Rammed through the Indian Parliament in September on voice votes with little opportunity for correct legislative scrutiny, the three bills sparked pandemonium within the upper house. But that was nothing compared with the scenes within the streets.

Though opinion polls document broad popular support for Modi’s farm reforms, they need drawn a number of India’s richest farmers onto the streets of Delhi and into the world’s media spotlight. That’s right: India’s better-off farmers, or a minimum of farmers from those parts of India with the most important farms and therefore the highest farm incomes.

Despite what activists and Western celebrities supporting the protests would have us believe, most of these who’ve been protesting the new laws since September aren’t drawn from the ranks of marginalized subsistence farmers driven by debt and despair to the sting of suicide. They represent instead the politically powerful (and heavily subsidized) remnants of India’s traditional landlord caste. These farmers fear that the laws will help large agribusinesses undermine the present state-directed system for purchasing farm produce and ultimately cause the dismantling of the worth network on which they depend. they’re demanding that the govt repeal the reforms and guarantee the longer term of price supports.At the middle of the controversy are Modi’s three new farm laws. the primary allows farmers to sell their produce outside their local area if they think they will get a far better price than that offered by their local government-run markets. The second (and most controversial) allows farmers to interact in contract farming by selling their produce in advance—a widespread practice within the West but sensitive in India due to the potential for abuse. The third allows private distributors to line up large-scale warehouse operations without worrying of being prosecuted for hoarding food.

Source: foreignpolicy.com

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