onsdag 23. september 2020

Farm bills: Are India's new reforms a 'death warrant' for farmers?

Three contentious bills that will change the way India's farmers do business have roiled the country's parliament and sparked protests that have spilled onto the streets. The upper house or Rajya Sabha passed two of the bills on Sunday in a charged session. The bills will become laws once the president approves them, which is a formality at this stage.

Opposition parties accused the government of flouting parliamentary procedure by passing the bills hurriedly and not listening to their demand of sending the bills to a parliamentary committee for further deliberations. The row led to the suspension of eight opposition members, who staged a sit-in outside the parliament through Monday night.

But beyond the political fracas, the bills have also split opinions - while Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the reforms a "watershed moment" for Indian agriculture, opposition parties have termed them "anti-farmer" and likened them to a "death warrant". Angry and worried farmer groups see them as unfair and exploitative. Pro-reform economists have partly welcomed the move, but say it's a piecemeal approach that is unlikely to do much.