Indian agriculture minister to hold talks with farmers

Indian Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar will today hold talks with agricultural interests amid protests against the government’s recently passed

Indian farmer protests

Photo: Altaf Qadri/ AP

Indian Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar will today hold talks with agricultural interests amid protests against the government’s recently passed farm legislation.

The legislation will deregulate the Indian agricultural sector, which employs over half the nation’s workforce. Farmers argue that the new laws erode the policy of government-set minimum prices that protect their livelihoods. Protests began in the state of Punjab with the passage of the laws in September, but have since spread to the highways surrounding New Delhi. Protesters claim to be prepared to block the causeways until the government repeals the legislation.

Despite the talks, it is unlikely that an agreement will be reached. It is unclear what concessions, if any, Minister Tomar can offer in the upcoming talks. Similar talks broke down after only an hour earlier this month.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reaffirmed his commitment to enforcing the new laws to the benefit of farmers and accused the opposition of misrepresenting their potential effects. Expect Modi, who remains broadly popular, to ignore the protests until they sputter out, a real possibility as farmers will lose more income the longer they protest.

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