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US statement on India's farm laws balances 'market efficiency', protests

The US recognised that peaceful protests are a hallmark of a thriving democracy

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United States | Farmers protests | New Delhi

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Farmers and their supporters during their ongoing agitation against the farm reform laws, at the Ghazipur border in New Delhi, Saturday, Jan 30, 2021. (PTI Photo)
Farmers and their supporters during their ongoing agitation against the farm reform laws, at the Ghazipur border in New Delhi, Saturday, Jan 30, 2021. (PTI Photo)

Recognising that peaceful protests are a hallmark of a thriving democracy, the US on Wednesday said it welcomes steps that would improve the efficiency of India's markets and attract greater private sector investment.

"In general, the welcomes steps that would improve the efficiency of India's markets and attract greater private sector investment," a State Department spokesperson said, indicating that the new Biden Administration is supportive of the Indian government's move to reform the agricultural sector that attracts private investment and greater market access to farmers.

Responding to a question on ongoing farmers' protests in India, the State Department said the US encourages that any differences between the parties 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," the State Department spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, several American lawmakers came out in support of the farmers' protests in India. "I am concerned by the reported actions against peaceful demonstrators protesting new agricultural reform laws in India," Congresswoman Haley Stevens said.

In a statement, she encouraged the Narendra Modi government and representatives of the protesting farmers to engage in productive discussions.

"I will continue to monitor this situation closely. It has been particularly valuable to engage with stakeholders across the district on this topic and I remain appreciative to all who have reached out to share their perspective," Stevens said.

Another Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, expressed solidarity with all the farmers protesting for their livelihood across India. "India must protect their basic democratic rights, allow for the free flow of information, reinstate internet access, and release all the journalists detained for covering the protests," she wrote on Twitter.

Referring to the farmers' protests, Meena Harris, niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, alleged that the world's biggest democracy is under an assault.

"It's no coincidence that the world's oldest democracy was attacked not even a month ago, and as we speak, the most populous democracy is under assault. This is related. We ALL should be outraged by India's internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters," she said in a tweet.

In a separate statement, Gurinder Singh Khalsa, chairman of the Sikhs Political Action Committee, said the "historic" farmers' protest is turning out to be the "biggest-ever revolution" against the Indian government's crony capitalism.

"This is the beginning of a movement for better accountability and transparency against crony capitalism. World was watching and now it has started reacting and mobilising in support of this historic revolution of Indian farmers. This will be bigger than India's freedom Revolution," Khalsa, who is based in Indiana, said.

Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said India's new farm laws have the "potential to represent a significant step forward" for reforms in the agriculture sector.

"We believe the farm bills do have the potential to represent a significant step forward for agricultural reforms in India. The measures will enable farmers to directly contract with sellers, allow farmers to retain a greater share of the surplus by reducing the role of middlemen, enhance efficiency and support rural growth," IMF Communications Director Gerry Rice told reporters here last month.

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First Published: Thu, February 04 2021. 15:37 IST
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