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Indian farmers are a powerful force in Indian politics, and here's why their protests matter

A large number of women have joined the protests against new farm laws in India. Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Indian farmers are a powerful force in Indian politics, and here's why their protests matter

A large number of women have joined the protests against new farm laws in India. Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Indian farmers are a powerful force in Indian politics, and here's why their protests matter

A large number of women have joined the protests against new farm laws in India. Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Indian farmers are a powerful force in Indian politics, and here's why their protests matter

A large number of women have joined the protests against new farm laws in India. Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The government claims that the new laws are meant to raise farmers’ incomes and transform Indian agriculture.

Surupa Gupta, University of Mary Washington

For over two months, farmers in India have been on a largely peaceful protest over three laws the Indian Parliament passed in September 2020 to liberalize how and to whom farmers can sell their produce.

Men and women, young and old, have been participating in these protests and show no signs of giving up. Tens of thousands of farmers from all over India came together on Feb. 6 to set up blockades across all main roads in the country, shutting down all traffic for nearly three hours.

As a scholar of the political economy of India’s agricultural sector, I argue that farmers in India, though not organized, have nonetheless been a formidable political force in the country. In the past, they brought the nation’s cities to a near standstill in disputes with the government, and they could do so again.

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