India's parliament passes bill to repeal farm laws

Farmers ask administration to introduce a law to secure government prices for crops beyond rice and wheat
calendar icon 29 November 2021
clock icon 3 minute read

The move was the result of relentless pressure from Indian farmers who protested for over a year, reported Reuters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration introduced the farm bills last year through an executive order, traditionally reserved for emergency legislation, triggering India's longest-running farmers' protest. Parliament then passed the legislation via a voice vote, drawing widespread criticism that it had rushed through the laws without proper debate.

In a bid to end the protests ahead of the state assembly election in India's most populous Uttar Pradesh state early next year, Modi said this month his government would repeal the laws in the new session of parliament.

As parliament reconvened for its winter session on Monday, both the lower and upper houses passed the bill to withdraw the laws meant to deregulate and open up agricultural markets to companies. Farmers have said the laws would leave them with little bargaining power against big private purchasers.

The controversial laws saw tens of thousands of people, including many elderly growers and women farmers, brave extreme weather and a severe second wave of coronavirus infections to camp out on the outskirts of New Delhi over the past year.

In addition to their repeal demand, protesting farmers are also asking that Modi's administration introduce a law to secure government prices for products beyond just rice and wheat.

The government currently buys rice and wheat at state-set Minimum Support Prices (MSPs), but the subsidies only benefit about 6% of India's millions of farmers.

Protesters are demanding MSPs for all crops - a move that has galvanised growers across the country and taken the protest beyond India's grain-growing states of Punjab and Haryana.

The government has not yet made any comment on the protesters' demand for MSPs.

Farmers celebrated the development but said the protest would only be called off when the government promised legislation on MSPs for all produce.

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