Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced the repeal of the three farm laws after over a year of contention between the government and farmer groups. The legislative process to repeal these laws will be concluded during the winter session of Parliament that is slated to begin at the end of this month.
Modi's announcements also come on the day of Guru Nanak Jayanti, as he appeals to Punjab; a state where dissent against the laws has been strong and assembly elections due in February 2022, alongside the politically important state of Uttar Pradesh.
The three laws were passed by Parliament last year. While the government maintained that the laws aimed at benefiting farmers; farmer leaders, unions and activists felt that the government was trying to erode the minimum price support (MSP) system, and that they would be victims of exploitation by large corporations.
The agitation against these laws by farmers have claimed nearly 600 lives, according to their own estimates. In November last year, the farmers marched on to the Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri border, on the outskirts of Delhi. The protests also took an ugly turn in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh in October, when violence broke out after several farmers and a journalist were knocked dead by vehicles driven by workers of the ruling dispensation.
The laws in question are:
- The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020: This act essentially allowed traders to bypass the current APMC mandi system, and trade outside previously designated areas.
- The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020: A bill that creates a framework for contract farming through an agreement between farmer and buyer.
- The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020: Removes the supply of all food items from regulation under the previous act, except in "extraordinary circumstances". Under such situations, this allows the Centre to regulate supply of certain food items.
The opposition has hailed the move.
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