Farmers fear law will drive them into poverty, while government says it will boost private investment

Thousands of Indian farmers blocked traffic on major roads and railway tracks outside of the nation’s capital on Monday, marking one year of demonstrations against government-backed laws that they say will shatter their livelihoods, the Associated Press reports.

The government has defended the legislation, saying it is necessary to modernize agriculture and that the laws will boost production through private investment. But the farmers say the new legislation will devastate their earnings by ending guaranteed pricing and force them to sell their crops to corporations at cheaper prices.

The farmers have renewed their protests with calls for a nationwide strike on the anniversary of the legislation’s passage. The drawn-out demonstrations have posed one of the biggest political challenges to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who swept the polls for the second time in 2019.

Waving colorful flags and distributing free food, hundreds of farmers gathered Monday at one of the protest sites on the edges of the capital, New Delhi.

“The enthusiasm we had on the first day, it is much stronger and bigger now,” said Manjit Singh, a 45-year-old farmer and protester.

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