After more than a year of protests, India has finally decided to repeal the three controversial farm laws, which aimed to deregulate the country's agricultural sector. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement during his address to the nation Friday morning.
Modi said the constitutional process to repeal the three agricultural laws would begin later this month in parliament. Modi added that the proposed laws were created with "good intentions," and he admitted that it was the government's failure in being able to make the farmers understand the importance of the proposed legislation.
The three laws, which were introduced in September of last year, aimed to deregulate the pricing of agricultural products. Under the proposal, farmers would be able to sell their products beyond the government-regulated minimum price at wholesale markets.
Farmers who protested the passing of the law argued that deregulation would make them more vulnerable to competition from large agricultural corporations. Farmers added that without set minimum prices, they could lose price support for stable products such as rice and wheat.
Government officials and lawmakers said the proposal was meant to benefit farmers by giving them new opportunities and better prices for their products. India's agricultural sector accounts for about 15% of the country's $2.7 trillion GDP.
Farmer groups welcomed the announcement, stating that it was a big achievement for their movement. Farmer's group leader Darshan Pal said that their unity and struggle have finally produced results. He added that the announcement was a big win for India's farming community.
"Ultimately, after one year of struggle, in spite of 700 martyrdoms, facing repression from the BJP government, the farmers have won," Pal said.
Rakesh Tikait of the Indian Farmers Union said the fight is not yet over, and they plan to continue their protests until the laws are repealed. He said his group would continue to discuss with officials other issues that are affected farmers across the nation.
Modi's administration had so far given little in response to the long-running protests, which had been one of Modi's toughest electoral problems since sweeping elections for the second time in 2019.
The farmers increased their action in November of last year by camping on the outskirts of New Delhi for over a year, including through a hard winter and a coronavirus outbreak that struck India earlier this year.
While most of the protests have been peaceful, protestors stormed the iconic Red Fort in Delhi's old quarters in January, breaking over police barricades. One demonstrator was killed, and hundreds were injured in clashes with police.
Another eight people were killed last month amid protests in Uttar Pradesh, where Modi's BJP is hoping to maintain power in state assembly elections scheduled for early next year.