Unsurprising that India’s farmers are anxious about agricultural reforms: US lawmaker

Washington, December 9 

In the midst of a global pandemic, it is unsurprising that India’s farmers are worried about the impact of the recent agricultural reforms, a top American lawmaker has said, coming out in support of the agitating farmers who have been protesting against the new farm laws.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and several other states have been protesting on various borders of Delhi since November 26, seeking repeal of three farm laws enacted in September.

Dubbing these laws as “anti-farmer”, these farmers claim that the newly enacted legislation would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.

However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s unsurprising that India’s farmers are worried about the impact of recent agricultural reforms. As we know from our own experience in the US, citizens have every right to protest peaceably, be accommodated and their concerns listened to,” Congressman Brad Sherman, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, said on Tuesday.

“As chair of the Caucus on India & Indian Americans, I’ve proudly championed the close partnership between the world’s largest and oldest democracies. It’s a partnership built on both interests and values, including a shared dedication to human rights and freedom of speech,” he said in a series of tweets.

India has called the remarks by foreign leaders and politicians on protests by farmers as “ill-informed” and “unwarranted”, asserting that the matter pertains to the internal affairs of a democratic country.

“The farmers yearning to be heard are another powerful example of how peaceful protest is just one of the many cherished democratic traditions binding our countries together,” Sharman said.

Congressman-elect David G Valadao also supported Indian farmers.

“As farmers peacefully make their voices heard, the Government of India has a responsibility to allow their citizens to exercise this right to assemble,” Valadao said.

Farmer leaders have been firm on their demand for the repeal of three new farm laws. They have claimed that the laws will benefit corporates and end the mandi system and the minimum support price (MSP) regime.

The government has maintained that it is committed to the welfare of farmers and have presented these laws as major reforms for their benefits.

A late-night meeting called by Home Minister Amit Shah ended in failure on Tuesday as farmer leaders rejected the government’s offer to amend new farm laws, saying they would settle for nothing less than the scrapping of the legislations, while many of them threatened to boycott Wednesday’s scheduled talks with ministers. PTI

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