Journal Articles

Indian agriculture and its contradictions

Mekhala Krishnamurthy


January 3, 2022

Over the last year, the physical presence, economic place, and political magnitude of Indian farmers and farming have occupied the national capital region and preoccupied national public debate in a truly extraordinary manner. The ensuing polarization has also brought to the surface some of the most deep-rooted and deeply felt contradictions of agrarian economy and society in contemporary India.

The conflicting perspectives that define this moment are well known but bear repeating. At the end of 2021, with the Union government’s repeal of the three farm laws, the historic farmers’ protest has been heralded by many as a lifeline for a battered democracy and broken federal compact. But this same show of collective strength has been vilified by others, who view the entrenched political economy of agriculture as the most regressive roadblock in the way of economic progress.

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