Indian parliament passes bill to repeal agricultural laws

This decision is the result of relentless pressure from Indian farmers who protested for over a year, Reuters reported.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration introduced farm bills last year through an executive order, traditionally reserved for emergency legislation, triggering the longest protest by Indian farmers. Parliament then passed the legislation by voice vote, sparking widespread criticism that it rushed through the laws without proper debate.

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

As parliament convened for its winter session on Monday, the lower and upper houses passed the bill to withdraw laws aimed at deregulating and opening up agricultural markets for businesses. Farmers said the laws would give them little bargaining power against large private buyers.

The controversial laws have seen tens of thousands of people, including many elderly producers and women farmers, brave extreme weather conditions and a second severe wave of coronavirus infections to camp on the outskirts of New Delhi in the past year.

In addition to their demand for repeal, the protesting farmers are also calling on the Modi administration to introduce a law to guarantee government prices for products other than 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 the millions of Indian farmers.

Protesters are demanding MSPs for all crops – a move that galvanized producers across the country and pushed the protest beyond the Indian grain states of Punjab and Haryana.

The government has yet to comment on the demand from the MSP protesters.

Farmers celebrated the development, but said the protest would only be canceled when the government promised PSM legislation for all products.

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