Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced sweeping changes to agricultural reform on Tuesday, and, unsurprisingly, he did so by repealing old laws that many farmers and many rural communities have found hard to swallow. Modi had promised to overhaul farm policy while he was campaigning in the 2014 general election. It was, at the time, a major gamble for the beleaguered prime minister, who had come to power promising that he would manage the economy and usher in inclusive, growth-driven development. While he has managed to achieve some of these goals, he has often failed to satisfy the masses.
One of the most ardent critics of Modi’s reform has been farm leader and leader of India’s Communist Party of India (Marxist), Sharad Yadav. Yadav had long been arguing that reducing food price volatility was essential to avoiding price hikes that had led to widespread protests. Now, Yadav — who has in the past been known to stand side by side with hard-line socialist organizations like the Communist Party of India (Marxist) — may be on his way out. In his speech following the announcement, he said that not a single farmer, no farmer, no leader “will have the guts or energy to continue a fight with the corrupt ruling class, the contemporary capitalist type.” He also declared that his party will no longer support any reform that either lops off subsidies or hurts farmers, but that it will continue to support reform that benefits them. As Bloomberg Businessweek explains, Yadav may have been making a shrewd political maneuver.
Tuesday’s announcement offers some hope for the 100 million farmers that comprise India’s traditional farming community. While it won’t eradicate the current set of problems, it will, at least, weaken the anger that was stirred in recent months as thousands of farmers took to the streets protesting implementation of a set of agricultural laws, and accusing the prime minister of presiding over a “decline in food security and a rise in price volatility,” notes the Financial Times. A farmer from Bihar, named Sanjay, cited another issue that affects many farmers: a lack of a safety net. “I have sold my goods, but I still have a small debt to pay off,” he said.
Watch Prime Minister Modi’s statement about his farm reforms below.
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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