NEW DELHI — Before India’s farmers rose up in anger, presenting an increasingly difficult challenge to a government already grappling with the coronavirus outbreak and a devastating economic slump, Devinder Singh set his field on fire.
Mr. Singh would have preferred to clear his rice field. A 41-year-old farmer in the parched region of Punjab, he knew that setting piles of field waste on fire after harvest contributes to the pollution that often chokes New Delhi and the rest of northern India.
But he is one of thousands of farmers in an increasingly nationwide pushback against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal to overhaul the way many of the country’s 146 million farms do business. Mr. Modi has said that his market-oriented reform would free them from the constraints of a state-run system.
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