Dashing all hopes of support from the new government in the United States, on 3 February it came out in support of India’s new farm laws, looking at them as reforms. The Joe Biden administration said it welcomed steps that would “improve the efficiency” of Indian markets and attract greater private sector investment.
At the same time, the Biden administration did not wish to antagonise the noise makers either. Reacting to the ongoing protests by a section of the farmer population in India, the US government said that Washington recognised that “peaceful protests are a hallmark of any thriving democracy”. It said that differences between the parties must be resolved through dialogue.
“We recognise that peaceful protests are a hallmark of any thriving democracy, and note that the Indian Supreme Court has stated the same,” a US State Department spokesperson said.
“We encourage that any differences between the parties be resolved through dialogue. In general, the United States welcomes steps that would improve the efficiency of India’s markets and attract greater private sector investment,” the Biden administration said.
A rich section of farmers who have for decades benefited from the previous broker-friendly regime have been protesting on the borders of Delhi since 26 November against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
On 26 January, violence broke out during the farmer tractor rally on the occasion of Republic Day.
Protestors broke barricades to enter Delhi and indulged in vandalism across several parts of the national capital during their tractor rally organised to protest against the Centre’s three new farm laws.
On 22 January, during the eleventh round of talks with protesting farmers, the government proposed to suspend the new legislations for one-and-a-half years and also proposed to set up a joint committee to discuss the Acts.
The Indian government has so far held almost a dozen rounds of talks with the farmers and has also scheduled a debate in the current ongoing session of parliament.
As part of a compromise, the Modi government has offered to suspend the laws for up to 18 months. It had previously offered to amend provisions to allay farmers’ fears. Farmers’ unions have rejected both. On 12 January the Supreme Court had suspended the three laws till further orders and constituted an expert committee to submit a report within two months. However, farm unions have refused to appear before the committee and said they will only negotiate with the Union government.