Modi withdraws agricultural reform, victory for farmers
India's prime minister has announced a u-turn on the disputed laws. Small farmers had been protesting for a year that subsidies and state warehouses would suffer under a new system they feared would favor monopolists. The president of the Indian bishops' labour commission: "The cry of the poor has been heard".
New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The three contested agricultural market reform laws against which thousands of Indian farmers have been protesting for a year now will be withdrawn. This was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech to the nation.
"We haven't been able to explain to our farmers. This is not a time to blame anyone. I want to tell you that we have taken the farm laws back," said the Prime Minister, urging farmers to return to their homes and fields. Modi further stated that his government "will continue to work for their welfare."
The government's turnaround comes as India approaches local elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, scheduled for early 2022 and considered a crucial appointment for the Modi government, which has been weakened by the pandemic.
Passed on September 20, 2020, the three contested measures reduced subsidies to support agricultural products and limited the possibility of storing production in state warehouses, a system with many flaws but which offers guarantees to small producers since farmers are paid in advance by the State. The fear was that with the new scheme introduced by the Modi government, the agricultural market would end up in the hands of monopolistic groups.
For this reason, hundreds of thousands of farmers have mobilized in recent months, both locally and with oceanic demonstrations in Delhi, resumed in recent weeks after the blockades imposed by the pandemic.
Modi's decision was welcomed by the Indian Catholic Church, which had expressed support for the farmers' protests by meeting their representatives. Mgr. Alex Vadakumthala, bishop of Kannur in Kerala and president of the Commission for labor of the Bishops' Conference of India (Cbci) commented to AsiaNews: "We welcome this news, farmers are the backbone of the country. We were all worried because their cry had not been heard for a year. It is a signal in the right direction for the future.
"These agricultural laws - explains Mgr. Vadakumthala - were not written with the well-being of the people at the center and were becoming a burden. The Church is on the side of the poor, with those who suffer from any form of injustice in society. We help the last ones to make their cries heard and that is why I am happy that the request of the farmers was accepted."