As the Farmers’ Struggle to Repeal the 3 Farm Acts for Corporatization of Agriculture Gets Increasing support through Maha Panchayats, Modi Government Hatches More Conspiracies and Uses Fascist Terror to Oppose it!

Even after completing four months, the farmer’ siege of Delhi by the farmers’ movement is continuing more vigorously than ever. During this period the corporate fascist government of RSS/BJP led by Modi-Shah has used every weapon in their anvil to divide, defame and suppress it. It used Supreme Court also to intervene and weaken it. It used the isolated incidents during the massive rally of lakhs of farmers and lakh tractors on 26th January to unleash violence and to throw away the struggling farmers from around Delhi. But, when the farmers retaliated by expanding the scope of the movement by organizing Maha Panchayats all over the country, trying to  involve all the farmers and other struggling sections of the people in the country in the movement, people effectively boycotting the BJP leaders in Punjab and Haryana, Modi found the second wave of the pandemic, forcible collection for Ram temple and raising Jai Sri Ram as the war  cry of the RSS parivar are not sufficient to divert attention from his war of attrition with the farmers. So, he has decided to move out of Delhi, engaging fully in the campaign for the elections to the five state assemblies, especially in W. Bengal, to divert attention of the people. He is not leaving any stone unturned to win the elections especially in Bengal and to use it as a trump card to unleash another round of fascist terror to weaken and suppress the farmers’ movement. This is a great challenge, and the AIKSCC and SKM have decided to meet the challenge. They have given the slogan: No Vote to BJP and appealing to defeat it in all the states. This slogan which was already raised and popularized by the revolutionary left and struggling forces in these states got a further boost with the farmers’ leaders going to all the states and calling for the people to defeat BJP and its allies as a sign of solidarity with the farmers’ movement.

The RSS/BJP led Modi government is in desperate situation. It does not mean that it will lay down its arms and surrender. History teaches that the fascists shall try all heinous means to prolong their rule till they are hanged by the people or forced to shoot themselves. But in the present Indian situation, the Manuvadi Brahmanical fascist forces are still having the upper hand ideologically, culturally and politically within the ruling system. They have penetrated all sectors of administration through the domination of the Brahmanical upper caste sections who control more than 75% of the top layers of all departments, police, judiciary, armed forces. Their domination is more in the corporate sector and media. All institutions where the progressive elements had a say are entirely saffronized. All central agencies like CBI, ED, NIA etc are under RSS control and are used to win over, to terrorize and silent the opposition, or to throw them in to jail. Besides, as the RSS chief often boasts, RSS is not only working through the BJP, it has penetrated almost all the mainstream parties and even the leaders of the minority religions, the Savarna sections as I now happening in Kerala. It was easy for RSS to create this situation as not only Congress or other ruling class/regional parties, even the parliamentary left, all of whom pursuing soft Hindutva for vote bank politics, have never launched any campaign against RSS and its ideology; on the other hand all of them still pursue an appeasement policy towards RSS. So, the evolutionary left and struggling forces while mobilizing their full force to strengthen the farmers’ movement and for its victory, have to intensify the campaign and politicization against the RSS ideology and practice, the main prop of neoliberal corporate politics wielding political power in our country.

In the present situation, not only to mobilize the masses more widely and to make the farmers’ struggle victorious, besides helping to initiate movements of the working class and other sections to beat back attacks on them, the most important task is to build the broadest possible anti-fascist united platform of all forces opposed to BJP and its allies. At the same time, the revolutionary left and struggling forces have to wage an uncompromising campaign against the RSS ideology and practice, while putting forward an alternative program and line of action, to polarize the revolutionary forces. With this clear perspective let us rally as many forces as possible and spread the movement at all India level so that conditions can be created for the victory of the farmers’ movement against corporatization of agriculture.

Delhi police under central HM Amit Shah has a notorious of protecting the RSS goons who have openly called for butchering  Muslims and political opponents during the anti-CAA movement, Delhi assembly elections, before Northeast Delhi riots and after the farmers denied permission to enter Delhi and present their demands to government started siege of the capital from 27th November. As a cover up for the sabotage planed by Amit Shah with top cops of Delhi and RSS goons to infiltrate and create violence including a raising of a religious flag at Red Fort, keeping its doors open and removing the military guards protecting it for a day, creating all the disturbances that happened by diverting a small fraction of the rally to this area by erecting barricades at strategic points, these criminals in Khaki, top bosses of Delhi cops have come out with a cock and bull story that it is a team of environmentalists in India, Disha Ravi, Nikita Jacob  and Shantanu sharing a tool kit from Greta Thunberg who lead an environmental movement internationally, had conspired with Khalistanis to create disturbances and vandalize Delhi and its Red Fort on the rally day!

 

After creating all the disturbances that happened on 26th January killing a truck driver in police firing also using the RSS goons till afternoon, and then attacking the rallyists in its name, the Delhi police, which has the record of the horrific attacks on the Jamia and JNU students last year, and has not filed any FIR against anyone still, which had alleged the whole farmers movement as Khalistani led, and filed FIRs against all farm leaders for instigating all the criminal incidents on rally day, has now come out with this story and abducted Disha from her home and now searching for the other two who have sought bail from Mumbai High Court, to escape from Modi-Amit Shah teams’ fascistized police.

History teaches that, those who follow Hitler and Mussolini will definitely face the fate decided by the people.  As it is the people who create history as they are already on the move in our vast country, no force on earth can save the fascists and their mercenaries from the fate going to be drafted by the great people of this country. Fascists always commit blunders which dig their own graves. Turning against the students and youth who are fighting for a new world, defeating the efforts of these fascists who are leading the earth to an ecological catastrophe, they have challenged all the students and youth of this country. Along with the struggling farmers and the working class who are also going to join the farmers soon, the new generation shall dig the graves for these enemies of humanity. We appeal to all compatriots to come out to oppose this fascist reign of terror; let us demand our voice against the witch hunt against the environmentalists; Let us demand immediate release of Disha Rawi!

 

KN Ramchandran

General Secretary

CPI(ML) Red star

 

New Delhi

15th February 2021

Sunita Narain, Down to Earth (CSE)


As Indians break into 2021 with the fervent hope that it will be different from last year’s devastating pandemic, we have angry faces staring us down. Farmers — many thousands — have gathered peacefully at the doorsteps of the nation’s capital, demanding that the government repeal the recently formulated agriculture-related laws. There is a lot of noise on who is right and who is wrong. But this protest should challenge us to think — not as researchers or academics or even policy wonks, but as consumers of food that farmers grow.

The question we need to ask is why does the food that we consume need to be subsidised? Why are farmers, not just the ones camping in the bitter cold at the capital’s borders, but also the voiceless silent majority, demanding price support? Are they unproductive and lazy?

The fact is that across the world — even, and especially, in the rich world — agriculture is heavily funded by governments. Paris-based inter-governmental think-tank Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates support to this sector through what it calls producer support, as a percentage of gross farming receipts.

It finds that in rich countries like Japan, South Korea, Norway and Iceland, producer support ranged between 40 and 60 per cent of the gross farming receipt in 2019. In the United States it is roughly 12 per cent and in the European Union (EU) it is 20 per cent.

But in India, the producer support — what the government pays as a percentage of the farming receipt — is actually negative (-5 per cent). In other words, the farming sector, owned and managed by some of the poorest people in the world, subsidises what we eat.

But that’s not all. Rich countries are also innovating fast to support their farming sector in the time of growing climate change risks — the payment is not paid directly for production, but is conditional to the farming sector adopting practices that are more sustainable.

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy will now be directed towards ecosystem services payment to farmers. So, more subsidy, but with new names. In this way, almost all large food-producing countries include subsidies as part of their social and environmental welfare measures.

The subsidy may be given through direct payments to farmers or through support pricing for certain crops, or through investment into key agricultural inputs like water, fertilisers and seeds.

It is in this world that farmers of the poorer world — including those from India’s rich states of Punjab and Haryana — have to compete.

First, they are disadvantaged because they do not get the financial support needed to make farming lucrative. Second, when their crops become costly due to either extreme weather or other reasons of scarcity, the government steps in to import cheaper food. Our farmers suffer at both ends.

It is for this reason that farmers are demanding a minimum support price (MSP) as an insurance against price volatility. At present, there is no doubt that the system is broken. While MSP is fixed for 22 crops, in reality, it is used only for a few crops — wheat and paddy, where the government has a procurement system.

It is this reason that the farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are up in arms, fearing that the system will be disbanded. They grow wheat and rice that is mostly procured by the government.

But for the remaining crops, MSP is an empty promise. As my colleague Richard Mahapatra has analysed in his recent article on the farm support, the market does not end up paying the price that is required to the farmers.

According to the government’s own data, almost 70 per cent of the market transactions for 10 select crops in 600 wholesale markets were at prices lower than MSP.

The key issue is what should be the price of food? The fact is that the cost of inputs is increasing — from seeds and water to labour. Then there is the fact that the risks are increasing because of extreme weather due to climate change. In this way, farmers need to be paid both for the increased cost of growing food and for the increased risk of loss of crops.

Indian farmers invest huge amounts of private capital into building infrastructure for their operations, unlike any private company or industry. They pay to build irrigation facilities — more than half of the irrigated land uses groundwater. Some 19 million wells and tube wells have been built with private capital.

Nobody pays for this — in fact, the computation of MSP is rigged against the farmer because the government needs to ensure that the cost of food is cheap for its procurement system and stays affordable. The worst fear of any government is food inflation, as consumers then fret and fume.

This is when government imports food to drive down prices — food from rich countries, where food growing is subsidised and against whom our farmers cannot compete. It is time we talked about the real cost of our food, about how to benefit farmers who grow our food. This is not a business we can afford to lose.

This is what the farmers at our doorstep want us to discuss. Let’s not let them down.

The farmers’ movement for the repeal of the three farm laws which affect them closely but have been rammed through without consulting them, has now entered its second month. It is of historic significance. It is not just about minimum support prices but also about the survival of the entire system of public procurement and distribution of foodgrains. Without ensuring the economic viability of foodgrains production in North India  the grain basket of the country no continuity can be ensured for the public procurement and distribution system, which, despite its drawbacks, continues to provide a modicum of food security to vast numbers of our population.

Recreation of Colonial Times

Northern industrial countries, namely the United States, Canada and the European Union (EU), cannot produce the tropical and sub­tropical crops in high demand by their own consumers while they have mountains of surplus grain and dairy products, the only goods their single ­crop lands are capable of producing for climatic reasons. They must find export markets for these. For over two decades, they have put relentless pressure on developing countries to give up their own public procurement systems, insisting that they should buy their food grains from advanced countries, while diverting their food­crop­producing land to contract farming of export crops that these industrial countries want but cannot themselves produce.

In short, they want a recreation of the economic scenario of the colonial period. Dozens of developing countries, ranging from the Philippines in the mid­-1990s to Botswana (Africa) a decade later, succumbed to this pressure. They paid the price when with rapid diversion of grain to ethanol production in the U.S. and the EU, world grain prices trebled in a matter of months from end­2007. Thirty seven newly import dependent countries saw food riots, with urban populations being pushed into greater poverty.  Food security for the developing world is far too important a matter to be left to the global market, but the relentless attack on their public stocking of grain for ensuring food security continues. India had barely managed to pull back from the brink a decade ago: procurement prices were raised substantially after virtually stagnating during the six years preceding the 2008 price­spike and grain output in Punjab grew again from near­stagnant levels as economic viability improved. But absorption of foodgrains did not improve as much owing to continued exclusion of many of the actually poor from ‘Below Poverty Line’ ration cards, while unemployment caused by the 2016 demonetisation followed by the 2020 pandemic has reduced aggregate demand by now to a historic low.

A Case of Unfair Trade

Our farmers have been exposed for no rhyme or reason to unfair trade, and to the volatility of global prices that has plunged them into unrepayable debt and distress — in one village in Punjab, there were as many as 59 widows of farmers forced into suicide. Trade with the North is unfair, because the  advanced countries in the mid­1990s, converted their own price support measures to massive subsidies given as direct cash transfers to their own farmers, transfers that in a blatantly self-serving manner they wrote into the Agreement on Agriculture as ‘not subject to reduction commitments’.

India along with other developing countries signed the  Agreement with very little idea of the implications of the small print. For the U.S., the direct cash transfers it gives to its 2.02 million farmers, amounting to a huge half or more of its annual farm output value, uses up only 1% of its budget. For India, over 50% of the entire central government annual Budget would be required to give even a quarter of annual farm output value to our 120 million farmers, which is an economic impossibility and an administrative nightmare.

It’s About a Reasonable Price

The farmers have made it amply clear that they do not want petty cash handouts; all they want is a reasonable price for the vital crops they produce for the nation, so that they can cover costs and live at a modest  standard. In Indian circumstances, the price support system is in fact the only feasible one. While depletion of groundwater in Punjab is a real problem, the solution lies in introducing improved agronomic practices such as the System of Rice Intensification which economises water, not in reducing rice production. One does not cut off  one’s head because of a headache. It is precisely the support prices for crops that had been deliberately put by advanced countries under completely arbitrary and absurd computation rules in the Agreement on Agriculture.

The U.S. complained against India to the World Trade Organization in May 2018 that since the ‘reference price’ for calculating support was the 1986­88 average world price of a crop which they converted to rupees at the then prevailing ¹ 12.5 per dollar exchange rate, India’s support price per quintal for rice and wheat in 2013-14 should have been at the most 235 and 354, respectively! The actual support prices were 1,348 and 1,386, and the difference, over 1,000 per quintal, was then multiplied by the entire 2013­14 output of rice and wheat, and came to 77% and 67% of their output values (https://bit.ly/3mROANe). 

This, the U.S. claimed, was support provided in gross violation of the permitted 10%!  Two months ago the U.S. sent fresh questions to India. Every kind of dishonest and absurd rule had been put into the Agreement on Agriculture to short­change gullible developing countries. Our farmers are among the lowest cost producers in the world, and the support prices in 2013-14 at the prevailing exchange rate of ¹ 60.5 per dollar were well below global prices, which mean that actual support was negative.

Right Assessment

Current compression of global demand means that wheat and riceprices are at historic lows, advanced country farm subsidies are at historic highs and their desperation to dump their grain on our markets has intensified. While our protesting farmers have correctly identified domestic firms as potential beneficiaries of the new marketing laws that they oppose, foreign agribusiness corporations are as great a danger.

Farmers have already experienced contract farming with foreign agribusinesses in Punjab and Haryana. They say clearly that they do not wish to deal with powerful, faceless private corporations that renege on price and quantity contracts when it suits them. Despite all its inefficiency and payment delays, they prefer to sell to government agents at the stipulated minimum support prices. They are absolutely correct in thinking that deregulation of markets as mandated by the new laws, and the entry of business firms, which will be not only Indian but also foreign mean a severe undermining of the entire system of public procurement and minimum support prices.

The ‘Green Energy’ Push

There are many Indian intellectuals who argue that importing subsidized grain from the North will benefit poor consumers here. They forget that there is an increasingly powerful opinion advocating ‘green energy’ in advanced countries, pushing for even greater conversion of grain to ethanol; hence initial low­priced grain imports, if permitted today, will not only destroy our farmers but will soon give way to a scenario of price spikes and to urban distress as experienced earlier by developing countries forced into import dependence. Anyone with a concern for our own hard­ working farmers and poverty-stricken consumers must support the farmers’ demands against the machinations of both local and global business elites.

Delhi Police And Those Criminal Elements Who Infiltrated In The Rally Are Responsible For The Violence!

Do Not Allow Modi Government, RSS Parivar And Godi Media To Divert Attention From The Central Issue, Repeal Of Three Farm Acts, To Vandalism, For Which They Are Responsible!

Rally In Support Of Repeal Of The Three Farm Acts And The Farmers’ Struggle Till It Is Achieved!


CPI(ML) Red Star extends revolutionary greetings to the hundreds of thousands of farmers and supporters who organized a mighty rally along with thousands of tractors through the streets of Delhi reiterating their demand for repeal the 3 farm laws for corporatization of agriculture.

Earlier, after the Supreme Court asked the Delhi police to take decision on allowing the rally, the Delhi police and central home ministry under Amit Shaw were consciously creating confusion, repeating that permission will not be allowed either inside Delhi or through the outer ring road, forcing the Kisan Sangharsh Morcha  to declare that whether permission is given or not they will organize the rally. It was at this stage, Delhi police came forward announcing permission for the rally and through mutual discussion three routes were agreed upon. The KSM and AIKSCC leaders made all arrangements accordingly.

But from 26th morning the police tried to create problems by not removing the barricades as agreed upon; instead they strengthened the barricades in the night and erected numerous other barricades on the way. Enraged by it the farmers who had endured all difficulties for last 61 days in the bitter cold conditions during which more than 150 of their comrades became martyrs, decided to break the barricades and march in to Delhi.

By 9.30 they broke the barricades at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders and started the march with the farmers on foot in the front and tractors next. But the police and other security wings created provocations lathi charging and firing tear gas shells on the farmers near Azadpur by-pass and Nangloi, and killing a farmer in police firing near ITO. Along with this some criminal elements infiltrated the rally and tried to create disturbances allegedly with the knowledge of police and RSS parivar.

Because of these disturbances some of the farmers were provoked, forcing them to march up to ITO, Red Fort and some other spots in the city. Utilising these  incidents the spoke persons of Modi government, RSS parivar and Godi media have started malicious propaganda that farmers resorted to vandalism, diverting attention from the fact that in spite of the participation of so many lakhs of people, vast majority of them maintained discipline as instructed by their leaders, and it was the provocation from the police and the acts of the criminal infiltrators responsible for whatever disturbances happened.

There is a conscious effort by these forces and Amit Shah to use these disturbances in order to divert attention from the central demand of the many lakhs of people who rallied in Delhi and the many more lakhs who rallied in Mumbai, Kolkata and other centers calling for repeal of the three farm laws for corporatization of agriculture.

We appeal to the working class, all oppressed classes and sections of people to reject this conspiracy of the corporate fascist Modi government to malign the farmers movement against corporatization and to firmly stand behind the demand of the farmers for the repeal of these farm laws with the slogans given above.

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The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.