Modi Relents to Protests as India Moves to Repeal Farm Laws

NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India announced that his government would repeal contentious farm laws aimed at overhauling the country’s struggling agriculture sector, in a surprise concession to yearlong protests by angry farmers.

“We have decided to repeal all three farm laws, and will begin the procedure at the Parliament session that begins this month,” Mr. Modi said in a televised address early on Friday. “I urge the protesting farmers to return home to their families, and let’s start afresh.”

Mr. Modi’s government had stood firm behind the market-friendly laws it passed last year even as thousands of farmers who protested at the gates of the capital refused any compromise short of repealing the measures. The protesters remained in their tents through last year’s harsh winter, the summer heat and a deadly Covid-19 wave that caused havoc in New Delhi.

Mr. Modi’s government argued that the new laws would bring private investment into a sector that more than 60 percent of India’s population still depends on for their livelihood — but has been lagging in its contribution to India’s economy.

But the farmers, already struggling under heavy debt loads and bankruptcies, feared that reduced government regulations would leave them at the mercy of corporate giants.

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