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Farmers Resist Neoliberalism: Protests against the New Farm Laws in India
January 21 @ 5:15 pm - 7:00 pm
In the second half of 2020, while the country was struggling with COVID-19 pandemic and impacts of a crippling 10-week national lockdown, the Indian government enacted three national laws related to agriculture. These laws created a new national framework for contract farming, deregulated agricultural marketing to open the doors for greater corporate control, and reduced the scope of state intervention for preventing excessive stocking of food commodities. The laws were enacted in an unusually hasty manner and without any discussion either with farmers or in the Parliament. The laws have met with stiff resistance from farmers. Protests erupted in various states, and have been strongest in Punjab and Haryana. In November, farmers took the battle to Delhi, breaking police barricades and braving teargas shells and cold-water-cannon sprays. Battling the bitter north Indian winter and the COVID-19 pandemic, which have taken lives of about 50 protesting farmers already, a historic number of peasants are protesting at different entry points to the national capital. Led by an umbrella platform of a large number of peasant organisations, farmers have made it clear that they will not settle for anything less than repealing of the three laws. The presentation will mainly deal with three questions. Why are farmers opposing these laws? What is the social and class basis of this resistance? And what is the potential of this resistance for bringing about a change in the direction of state policies?
Vikas Rawal is Professor of Economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His main research interests are in the area of food and agriculture. His research encompasses detailed field-based studies across many states of India, large-scale macro-level studies for India, as well as work that looks at global issues in the area of food and agriculture. Apart from having visited and lectured at many universities, he has also been a Senior Consultant for Governance of Agriculture, Food Security, Nutrition and Rural Development at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. His recent books include Ending Malnutrition: from Commitment to Action (co-authored and published by FAO) and The Global Economy of Pulses (co-edited and published by FAO).