An ongoing protest in India has developed over the last month. Two hundred and fifty thousand people are protesting three farm acts passed by the Indian government, led by the Prime Minister and leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Narendra Modi.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act were all passed by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind.
The government passed the bills saying that they will, in fact, help farmers. Opposition parties have criticised the government for passing the bills too quickly, not allowing for any further deliberations.
The bills themselves relax rules that have traditionally protected farmers from the free market. Rules like, the sale and pricing of their produce. Farmers will be permitted to compete with private buyers. The issue is, we do not know how the rules will play out.
Farmers say that the new rules threaten their livelihood, with the new regulations only benefiting big corporations and leaving farmers ‘slaves’ to the free market. Farmer suicides in India have risen year on year, primarily due to being riddled by debt.
Agriculture, as of 2018, contributes to 17-18% of India’s GDP, and 50% of the work-force are employed in the industry. As such a large part of India is affected by the three farm acts, it is understandable that such legislation would cause an uproar.
Some farmers travelled more than 300 Kilometres from the State of Punjab in Northern India to join protests in India’s capital, Delhi. With protestors Locking their doors, vowing to return only when the rules are repealed.
Protests were not just limited to India. There have been protests reported all over the world, including in Birmingham. A number of nations have also stressed the need for the Indian government to allow peaceful protest.