NEW DELHI (INDIA) – The annual budget failed to address the farmers’ concerns, with no mention of raising incomes or generating jobs, pointed out angry Indian farmers protesting against the agricultural reforms. They have vowed to press on with their protests.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting on the outskirts of New Delhi against the laws introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in September.
The government says the new laws will open up opportunities for farmers. Protesters say the laws benefit large private buyers at the expense of growers.
In her annual budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman raised healthcare spending by 135% and lifted caps on foreigners investing in the insurance sector.
She raised the target of agricultural credit to 16.5 trillion rupees ($225.74 billion) from 15 trillion rupees and said the government would raise 300 billion rupees in the next fiscal year with a new tax to boost agricultural infrastructure.
“Forget about these targets,” protest leader Kirankumar Visa said. “There is not even one measure to either raise farmers’ income or generate jobs in the countryside. She didn’t talk about her government’s promise of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.”
“Although the government has tried to isolate farmers by using barricades, razor wire and shutting down the internet, we are determined to carry out our peaceful protests,” said Rakesh Tikait, president of one of the largest farmers’ unions, the Bharti Kisan Union.
A farmers’ procession turned violent on Republic Day on Jan. 26, when some protesters broke away from a rally of tractors to storm the historic Red Fort complex.