Why farm reforms in India have been met with widespread protests : Planet Money For decades, India has shielded its agricultural sector from the free market. Now, the government wants to let it in. Millions and millions of farmers are not happy about it. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
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India, Farming, and the Free Market

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India, Farming, and the Free Market

India, Farming, and the Free Market

India, Farming, and the Free Market

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/988247568/988269614" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images
Farmers take part in a tractor rally as they continue to protest against the central government's recent agricultural reforms, in front of Red Fort in New Delhi on January 26, 2021.
SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images

There's a battle raging over just how free market India's economy should become.

For months, India has been dealing with the one of the largest protests the world has seen in modern history. Tens of thousands of farmers across the country are demanding that the government revoke a series of reforms that will change India's agricultural sector.

Agriculture is by far the largest employer in India. 700 million people make a living from it. For decades, the government has shielded farmers from the free market by providing price supports on some crops, running wholesale markets where farmers can sell their goods, and rounding up buyers to guarantee sales. Now, the government plans to take a step back, with the hopes that the free market will boost an industry that has stagnated over time. But farmers fear they'll get the raw end of the deal, even if the free market helps the overall economy

Today on the show, we follow a farmer who decided to enter the free market 25 years before these laws were passed, and hear how his story serves as an example of both the prospects and the perils of liberalization.

Music: "Soul Sitar" and "Seismic Encounter."

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