NEW DELHI – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that his government will repeal controversial agriculture laws aimed at restructuring the country’s troubled agricultural sector, in a surprise concession to year-long protests by angry farmers.
“We have decided to repeal all three agricultural laws and will begin the procedure at a parliamentary meeting that begins this month,” Mr. Modi said in a televised address earlier Friday. “I urge the protesting farmers to return home to their families and let’s start over.”
Mr. Modi’s government has stood firm behind the market-friendly laws it passed last year, even as thousands of farmers protesting at the gates of the capital refused to compromise other than lifting the measures. Protesters remained in their tents during last year’s harsh winter, summer heat and the deadly Covid-19 wave that wreaked havoc in New Delhi.
Mr Modi’s government argued that the new laws will bring private investment to a sector that continues to depend on the livelihoods of more than 60 percent of India’s population, but which lags behind in its contribution to the Indian economy.
But farmers, already under heavy debt and bankruptcy, feared that government cutbacks would leave them at the mercy of corporate giants.