The 2020 Indian Farm Laws in an emergent Global Financial – AgriTech Accumulation Regime by Bikrum Gill

Fall 2021
Much of the popular analysis of the 2020 farmers protests in India identifies an “authoritarian” BJP government as the primary antagonistic force threatening the livelihoods of farmers in major grain producing states such as Punjab.  This paper is motivated by concern that such a “methodologically nationalist” and “presentist” account risks obscuring more than it reveals regarding what is at stake in the contestations over the 2020 farm laws. It addresses these limitations by asking instead how the contestation over the farm laws renews the confrontation over the appropriation of the surplus value of the “agrarian South” that was set in motion by the rise of the neoliberal form of global capital accumulation in the late twentieth century. Locating the contemporary moment within the long history and broader geography of neoliberal capitalist imperialism brings to light the accumulation imperatives of global financial-agribusiness capital as key motive forces underpinning the farm laws. Attention is thus drawn in this paper to how the deepening of the privatization, liberalization, and financialization of agriculture in the Global South remains a key strategy for addressing global capital’s structural crises of over-production and over-accumulation. The paper argues that the intensification of neoliberal agrarian restructuring in India via the 2020 farm laws has opened further space for both a familiar mode of global agribusiness accumulation that aims to capture the surplus value of the real agricultural economy and for an emergent agritech mode of accumulation that is centered more on harvesting data in order to generate profits through financial speculation in the derivative agricultural economy. The paper concludes by emphasizing that the farmers movement is correct in contesting the farm laws, as the deepening of Indian agriculture’s integration into global capitalism threatens to render farmers into a category of permanently surplus labor.

Keywords:  international capital, agribusiness, privatization, neoliberalism, Green Revolution

The 2020 Indian Farm Laws in an emergent Global Financial – AgriTech Accumulation Regime by Bikrum Gill
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Bikrum Gill
Department of Political Science, Virginia Tech, USA

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