Indian farmers to hold antigovernment protests

Ten central trade unions will hold protests at government houses across India today in solidarity with the farmers’ unions. Today

Indian farmer protests

Photo: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP

Ten central trade unions will hold protests at government houses across India today in solidarity with the farmers’ unions.

Today marks seven months of political protest against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) agricultural reform plan. The unions will hold rallies and sit-ins across India. They are demanding new labor codes, an income transfer scheme for the poor, and a repeal of new farm laws.

Agitation began last November in response to new farm laws, which liberalized the price of agriculture goods in a move to market forces. Most of India’s farmers are small producers and fear this will end minimum price guarantees and invite exploitation by larger private companies.

Expect a large turnout from today’s protest as the movement remains highly popular. Short-term, it is unlikely the unions will win any concessions as the BJP insists the new bill benefits farmers and will not end price floors.  In the medium- to long-term, the government may be forced to concede certain aspects of the market reforms, due to growing unpopularity for the farm bill and BJP’s increasing unpopularity due to its COVID-19 response.

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