Updated: February 4, 2021 10:26:21 pm
The US State Department has “acknowledged” steps being taken by India towards agricultural reforms, the Ministry of External Affairs said Thursday in its response to the former’s reaction to farmer protests in India. It also said that any protest must be seen in the “context of India’s democratic ethos and polity, and the ongoing efforts of the government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse”.
The MEA said that India and the United States are both vibrant democracies with shared values. The incidents of violence, vandalism at Red Fort on Jan 26 have evoked similar sentiments and reactions in India as the Capitol Hill incident, the ministry said in its statement.
On internet restrictions at the protest sites along the border, the government said that it was done to prevent further violence. “The temporary measures with regard to internet access in certain parts of the NCR region were therefore understandably undertaken to prevent further violence,” it added.
The US administration under President Joseph Biden earlier today said that it “encouraged” differences between the parties to be resolved “through dialogue”. Referring to internet restrictions at the protest sites, the US administration said that it recognises that “unhindered access to information, including the internet, is fundamental to the freedom of expression and a hallmark of a thriving democracy.”
The US embassy spokesperson in New Delhi said, “We recognise that peaceful protests are a hallmark of any thriving democracy, and note that the Indian Supreme Court has stated the same. We encourage that any differences between the parties be resolved through dialogue. In general, the United States welcomes steps that would improve the efficiency of India’s markets and attract greater private sector investment.”
In a highly unusual move that has raised eyebrows, the government had on Wednesday slammed “celebrities and others” for their comments in support of farmer protests, calling them “neither accurate nor responsible”.
The MEA had said, “Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained, and a proper understanding of the issues at hand be undertaken. The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible.”
Defending the farm laws, the MEA, in its statement, had given a full account of the process: “The Parliament of India, after a full debate and discussion, passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector. These reforms give expanded market access and provide greater flexibility to farmers. They also pave the way for economically and ecologically sustainable farming.”
It said “a very small section of farmers in parts of India has some reservations about these reforms”.
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