Indian government offers to put hold controversial farm laws for 18 months amid mass protests

The Indian government has offered to put three controversial farm laws, that have sparked mass protests on hold for 18 months.

Farmers from all over India, but mostly from Punjab and Haryana have been camping at Delhi’s borders since 26 November 2020 to protest against these laws that brings major changes to the agriculture markets.

Farmer groups who are pressing for a complete repeal of the laws say they will consider the offer. This follows several rounds of failed talks between both sides.

The government has said the reforms will not hurt farmers. But farm groups say the laws threaten decades-old concessions and subsidies they receive, thwart their bargaining power and expose them to private and big corporate companies.

Earlier India’s Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the laws “until further notice”, and appointed an independent committee to broker a deal between the farmers and the government.

The farmers, however, have not accepted the committee saying that all of its panel members are pro-government. One of the members has also stepped down.

India’s vast agriculture sector, which makes up nearly 15% of the country’s economy employs about half of its 1.3 billion people.