AEI fellow: Indian farming protests are Modi's 'most serious test'

American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Sadanand Dhume said Tuesday that the ongoing farm protests in India represent the “most serious” challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he took office.

Dhume said in a Hill.TV interview that the farmers demonstrating against agricultural reforms “do have reason to be worried, because if the government moves away from this old system that gave them support prices, the government says that it’s not going to end the support prices, but I think many farmers see the writing on the wall.”

In the six years Modi has been in power, he added, “this is probably the most serious political test he has faced.”  

Farmers who have “done okay from the old system are naturally worried,” he added. The core of the protests, he said, are middle-class farmers of crops like wheat and rice who have prospered in recent decades, but he added that general critics of Modi had also taken advantage of the movement.

“More than half of Indians are involved in farming, and even though most of them are not going to be directly affected by these farm laws in the way the guys who are protesting are, it’s still very sensitive in Indian politics … to go anywhere near agriculture in terms of reforms,” he added.