To some Indians, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise announcement about repealing the three farm laws may be viewed as a victory for democracy. The forces at play in the political economy may have demonstrated their democratic strength. But India might have lost. For, there is no dispute that India’s economically and strategically important agriculture sector is in dire need of reform. Another thing that India needs to watch out for is that a weakened government, civil unrest, and inability to carry forward important economic reforms can all be exploited by foes.
For a few decades, farmers have been unwittingly imprisoned by the government, ostensibly to protect them. The argument for protection was based on the need to progress. However, India’s farmers must be set free to decide what they want to grow and whom to sell. Lack of reform has resulted in the overall awful state of the farmers. It is a long overdue and key public policy reform amongst several others for the agricultural sector. Barring some big farmers, the perpetual hardships and negative state of affairs of the majority of India’s farmers should be a cause of concern for the country’s political class.