Farm laws suspended, not repealed . . .
The Supreme Court of India (SC) today announced the suspension of three controversial farm laws that would liberalize the purchase and sale of agricultural products. The farm laws would do so by deconstructing long-established systems through which farmers sell to government-controlled wholesale markets at guaranteed prices, frequently through middlemen. The SC has appointed an independent committee to bring the government and protesting farmers together to hammer out a deal that has for months proved elusive. The government insists the laws will be implemented, perhaps with slight amendments, while farmers are demanding nothing less than their repeal.
Protests to target Republic Day . . .
Farmers have occupied a huge protest camp on the borders of the capital of New Delhi since late November. Protest leaders have threatened to disrupt the country’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26 with a large ‘tractor march’ in and around the capital. The federal government has already issued an injunction against the tractor march while the SC has asked the government for guidelines on where protests will be allowed. The protests have taken a toll on farmers’ lives, as dozens have succumbed to the brutal cold, accidents, and lack of timely medical aid at protest sites. However, the farmers are determined to achieve their demands even if it means months of wait and agitation.
Diaspora solidarity with the farmers . . .
Last Saturday marked the final day in the ‘5 Days for Panjab Kissan (farmer)’ anti-farm bill demonstrations by Indo-Canadians in front of the Indian Consulate in Vancouver. Globally, thousands of Indians, primarily from the Punjabi-Sikh diaspora, in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and Australia have been rallying in support of Indian farmers since December 2020. Most demonstrators still have family and land in India, which ties them directly to the repercussions from the farm bills. One of the bills’ potential impacts is the reduction in value of farmland owned by the non-resident Indians, which can negatively affect their yearly income earned from land contracts.