Growing Trend of Farmers Quitting Agriculture?
Agriculture, especially food production, is facing a structural crisis globally. World food demand is growing in absolute terms. For instance, world's population is increasing rapidly at a rate of 1.05% per year, i.e., 81 million people per year reaching up to 9.7 billion by 2050, as noted by World Bank (according to UN population projection, it could reach only 9.15 billion by 2050). Hence, taking the insufficient availability food at present into consideration, a minimum 70 percent increase in global food production (along with its doubling in poor countries) within 30 years is required to meet the emerging demand. However, as of now, almost one-third of the food produced globally is either lost or wasted, which is more than enough to feed world’s 690 million (8.9 percent of world population) most poor and starving people, while nutritious and healthy diets are still unaffordable to more than 3 billion people.
While farming and food demand are growing in general, world is also confronting an existential question as to who (and how) will produce the food for people’s sustenance. For, according to global and country-specific studies, large number of farmers are quitting agriculture even as the new generation is increasingly becoming disinterested in farming. Or, as the elder generation is to retire from cultivation, it is not being replaced by the next generation, and the stark reality at a global level is that even rural youth is reluctant to resort to farming as a profession. Even where agriculture is the dominant means of livelihood, for majority of the youth there, it is only a default source of livelihood simply by inheritance. Consequently, agricultural population across the world is ageing without an adequate replacement by the next generation. For instance, in Japan, within a decade, around 40 percent of farmers will quit agriculture without being replaced, and the average age of farmers there is 67 now; in Europe it is 65 and 58 in US. In view of this grave situation, imperialist governments like Japan have reportedly embarked on a massive plan including the provision of a series of material incentives to encourage people below 45 years of age to remain in farming or become farmers.
India is widely held as an agricultural country as almost half of the population is still depending on agriculture and allied activities. The average age of operational land landholders in the country is around 55. Though majority of India’s youth have rural/agricultural background and still live in rural areas, they also, in accordance with the general global trend, are not interested to pursue agriculture as their principal means of livelihood. At the same time, based on available data, rural India is also becoming less and less ‘agrarian’ in terms of income. For instance, while around three-fourths of rural households’ income came from farm sources in 1970, today, after half-a century, it is much below one-third, and major part of rural earnings now comes from non-farm sources. And the average income of a farmer is estimated at around one-fifth of that with people having non-farm sources of livelihood. Obviously, today agriculture’s share in India’s GDP is reaching around 15 percent (compared to an average 4 percent in western imperialist countries) compared to 43 percent in 1970. In US and EU, on an average, only less than 2 percent of the population works in agriculture, On the other hand, with around 50 percent of the population still clinging on to agriculture, the dependency load on agriculture is probably the heaviest for India. However, India is no exception to the general trend towards large number of people leaving agriculture. According the last Census (2011), with the dawn of the 21st century, the number of Indian farmers giving up agriculture has been 2000 per day, in addition to tens of thousands of peasants forced to end their life every year.
Corporatisation as the Neoliberal Panacea
Taking note of this emerging trend of large number of farmers leaving agriculture, corporate think-tanks and neoliberal ruling classes along with agencies like World Bank and WTO have proposed replacement of peasant/farmer farming with corporate farming as an alternative. In the process, capitalist farmers who may withstand in agriculture will be transformed as junior partners of agribusiness MNCs. The idea is to convert agriculture as a multi-million profit-oriented business and to replace the entire conventional farming with high tech agriculture ranging from “smart farms” to “digital food activism” involving investors and high-tech youths. Up-scaling conventional farming to digital platforms, extending digital solutions to farming practices and use of specific crop models, collection and exchange of farm data that cover a host of multidimensional tasks such as prediction on crop health, soil quality and water availability, provision of aerial imaging data on weather conditions even using drones, information on market linkages, and online/digital trading, banking and financial services and so on, which are frequently lauded by neo-colonial-neoliberal institutions such as World Bank and WTO, are the striking features of emerging corporate agriculture. “Agri startups” with cross-border links akin to that in industrial/service sectors have also started on a flourishing basis.
For instance, a 2019 report by the Delhi-based Maple Capital Advisors has estimated an investment worth $244.59 million in agri startups oriented towards smart-farm based premium quality fresh fruits and vegetables through efficient marketing and supply-chain management. These emerging but fast-growing initiatives are inalienable subsets of the multi-billion dollar empire of agricultural-corporatisation led by agri-business MNCs that embrace everything from farming to retail trade through specialised corporate structures controlling input factors like seeds, irrigation, chemical fertilisers and electricity cost, management of output and product pricing complex networks of both offline and online trading. Of course, this macro aspect connected with agricultural corporatisation as embodied in global agricultural policies, the manner in which corporate boardrooms are dictating policies, how corporate lobbyists work in government institutions and influence policies and direct agricultural research, etc., being widely discussed issues, are not taken up for discussion here. Obviously, corporate control over agricultural means of production (including land through contract farming) and chains of marketing and trade and tariff policies are already known to all concerned people.
This multi-dimensional high-tech, corporate-financed farming has already proved to be highly profitable and lucrative for investors. In the liberalised input-output market, it became easy for agribusiness giants to impose high input prices on farmers on the one hand, and to pressurise farmers to accept low prices for their products on the other. While corporate MNCs make super-profits from rising food prices, the farmers bearing all risks associated with cultivation are denied even reasonable prices, forcing many of them to ‘get out’ of agriculture at the earliest, while the poor are either being unable to buy adequate food or forced to set apart the whole of their earnings to purchase food. Meanwhile, the corporate agenda is to bring the entire agriculture under its firm grip as its appendage through such methods as ‘contract farming’ and finish off farmers as an independent category or class. As is obvious, and as already discussed, the three black Farm Laws promulgated in India are envisaged to fully accomplish this corporate task.
The concrete Indian situation needs to be evaluated amidst the emerging general global trend of replacing peasant agriculture by high-tech corporate farming. Though the general trend towards large number of farmers quitting agriculture is visible in India too, for the vast majority of Indian peasants, together with its role as the sole source of livelihood, on account of historical, social and cultural factors, agriculture is a way of life too. The most decisive role of agriculture in India’s sustenance has been brought to the fore during the pandemic. While all other sectors of the economy collapsed on account of the utter mismanagement of the ruling regime, agriculture with a ‘positive growth rate’ remained as the only saviour of the country and the last resort for the millions of migrant workers, amidst many adversities most important of which are the anti-farmer policies of Modi government. However, the social devastation and economic distress of the rural India including peasants that lay behind this positive macro-level agricultural data still remain unreported by official statistics. Despite being stamped as unproductive and inefficient by neoliberal ideologues, Indian peasants are still in a life-and-death struggle to cling to land even in the midst of superimposed neoliberal- corporatisation policies that have undercut the economic viability and sustainability of peasant farming. In this context, it would be in order to reiterate certain crucial issues relevant to peasant farming today with specific relevance to India which are applicable to other non-western societies too.
- Large scale shift of people from the primary (agricultural) sector to secondary sector composed of industry and to tertiary sector (even bypassing the secondary sector) or service sector is part of the mainstream conceptualisation on capitalist development that evolved mainly in the west. For instance, while the percent of population in western imperialist countries on average vary within 1-2 percent, in imperialist China, the economy of which is world’s largest in terms of Purchasing Power Parity, 35 percent of the population is still depending on agriculture. Hence the theory of an absolute ‘sectoral transition of population’ from agriculture to industry and then to services, and the consequent prediction on the demise of peasant farming as an indicator of economic advancement is a western notion having little relevance to non-western societies such as India.
- Another crucial question is linked with the much trumpeted efficiency and productivity of big farms. The criteria based on which productivity is measured with respect to mono-crop/ single crop farming as practiced in corporate agriculture are inapplicable to multi-crop, inter-crop or mixture-crop cultivation pursued by traditional farmers. Small and middle peasants unlike corporate farming follow an integrated system of farming with crop rotation, often combining cropping with livestock breeding, all of which serve replenishment of soil fertility, better quality air and water and overall maintenance of the eco-system. Hence, from the perspective of eco-friendly farming that makes efficient use of soil, inputs, and above all labour, peasant farming should be considered as more productive, and the quantified definition of efficiency and productivity as usually applied to mono-crop agriculture becomes totally irrelevant here.
- Thus, if we take all the various factors, both tangible and intangible, that involve in agricultural production, then the ‘total factor productivity’ in small farms could be seen as larger than the corporate-controlled mono-crop farms where everything is mechanised. Labelling of small peasant-farms as inefficient/unproductive and as obstacle to development has no scientific basis. On the other hand, for sustaining the livelihood of large sections of the population as well as for the production of staple food crops and for serving community food needs, peasant farming plays a central role in Afro-Asian-Latin American countries. One of the immediate consequences of the penetration of corporate capital into agriculture at a global has been the sky-rocketing prices of food. Hence, prediction on the imminent demise of small and family farms in dependent countries is part of a propaganda blitzkrieg intended to lay red carpet for the corporate penetration into their agriculture.
- According to recent farm studies by well-meaning scholars, small/ family farms are the safest route for sustainable agriculture avoiding loss of biodiversity. Equally important is its importance in respect of broad-based economic development and community empowerment that are well-nigh impossible in the case of corporate-style agriculture. The common/public gain from peasant farming in terms social and institutional factors are not generally discussed in mainstream development discourse. For instance, an immediate outcome of corporate onslaught on agriculture is the growth of absentee land ownership, loss of employment for rural population, the draining off of income and wealth to urban centres, neglect of rural towns, wiping out of local trading shops, and all civic amenities such as rural roads, water supply, etc., leading to large-scale migration to urban centres, growth of slums and consequent social tensions.
- The ultimate of outcome these and other trends will be horrific concentration of land and rural assets in the hands of a few corporate agribusiness companies and their local junior partners. It will result in hitherto unknown levels of pauperisation of the peasantry, rapid rise in the number of unorganised/informal workers and slave labour and above all an unprecedented growth in unemployment and underemployment throughout the country.
The Political task
The historic farmers’ struggle in India against the three Farm Laws becomes significant in this context. While an all-out offensive to repeal these pro-corporate laws is the immediate need of the hour, in view of the emerging agricultural trends and consequent strengthening of both market and political power of corporates with far reaching consequences, progressive-democratic forces should go beyond that and should have an objective evaluation of the emerging scenario based on which a pro-active political approach against agricultural corporatisation should be put forward. That’s there are so many covert moves for surrendering agriculture to agribusiness which is the dominant trend today. What requires is a comprehensive initiative for sustaining peasant farming, focussing on the most challenging task of production of adequate food, protection of environment and ensuring quality of people’s lives.
To be precise, moving away from text-book oriented formulations and stereo-typed perspectives on agriculture on the one hand, and avoiding both establishmentarian and sectarian solutions on the other, the task is to develop a political alternative based on a comprehensive evaluation of the corporate threats that are multifarious and complex that cannot be resolved at the individual-farmer level. The core of such a people’s alternative is public/community intervention resolutely isolating the pro-corporate sections who are the logical enemies of a pro-people, pro-nature and sustainable agriculture. Instead, a scientific approach to peasant farming, focussing on the most challenging task of production of adequate food, protection of environment and ensuring of quality of people’s lives is to be evolved as part of a program of democratisation of the society. Discarding the mainstream model of development, a program of generating adequate employment in agriculture and allied sectors, including ‘professionalisation’ of agriculture for attracting youth, is to be put forward
Essential component of such a public intervention is removing the reactionary pro-corporate sections from land-ownership and assign it to landless peasant farmers whose principal means of livelihood is agriculture, along with the use of such land as ‘model farms’ under state supervision according to the concrete situation. Appropriate credit facilities and required input-output marketing linkages so as to eliminate exploitative are also required. In the present context where corporate-market forces are dominant, instead of leaving everything to individual farmers, they may be organised under cooperatives/peasant committees backed by the technical and financial support from the state which should also ensure adequate and appropriate agricultural-scientific research. Along with this urgent political intervention should be initiated to thwart superimposition of all World Bank and WTO dictated neoliberal agricultural policies that out-rightly serves corporate-agribusiness MNCs.
In brief, taking in to account these and related fast-moving developments in agriculture (of course, intertwined with other sectors), it is necessary to appropriately update and refresh the agrarian program.
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.
Punjab Peasantry Re-Write History in Delhi
In depth they summarized how it gave Corporates a license to plunder the peasantry by having a total monopoly in dictating prices or obtaining land. The speakers elaborated how now the Corporates had a complete monopoly over the public distribution system and thus morally were a far greater menace to the peasantry than the traditional middlemen.”
The peasantry of Punjab belonging to 32 different organisations of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee have literally written a new chapter in history after igniting a spark into a Prairie fire. Arguably in the entire world has a farmers movement hit such a crescendo. There is hardly a adjective in the dictionary that can do justice to the extent of intensity or relentless spirit of the peasant agitators. Facing the deepest depths of despair and thwarted by impregnable police barriers they revealed death defying courage of an army. It was not just the vast numbers which climbed over 10 lakh but the great qualitative or electrifying impact it had striking the ruling classes in their very backbone.
Contribution of BKU-Ekta (Ugrahan)
The greatest credit for galvanisng the combat forces and their crystallisation in such magnitude goes to the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugarhan).It galvanised over one and a half lakh people, including around 50000 women alone. More than 50% of the protestors were the youth which was a positive trend. It was a perfect illustration of their surgical mass line practice. It confronted any type of legalism or economism to the core, by sustaining the agitation when other organisations decided to withdraw. Their storming into Delhi reminded one of a surgical operation of an Army batallion, with in depth understanding of the subjective conditions. It created the impact of a tornado in bordering regions of the capital. It has created such a thorn in the flesh for the ruling classes who are now even embarrassed to deploy the police to foil the protest.
It may take a book to describe the most soul-searching scenes at Tikri, Singhu, Jharoda, Ghazipur and Chilla, areas at the border of Delhi. The farmers confronted the teargassing, water cannons and barricades of the police weathering the chilliest of temperatures, with courage in proportions of Vietcong challenging the might of America in the Vietnam war. It was reminiscent of a boulder weathering the most turbulent of storms or gales. It set up Langars, established base camps, raised slogans waved flags and pounded tractors in. With the great methodology of an architect or surgeon it chalked out strategic points to agitate.
Significant solidarity was initiated by the Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa), Nauawan Bharat Sabha and Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union. It speaks volumes of the painstaking class -mass work to sharpen essence of revolutionary democratic politics has been undertaken at the very base. I would compare this effort of Ugrahan group with the best ever mass organised protests of the poor peasantry in world history. I apologise if I am being partial but most intellectuals have failed to portray the distinguishing features of the Ugrahan group in this development.
Speeches were continuously made highlighting how the agricultural bills were morally neo-fascist and destroy to dust any democratic aspirations of the peasantry. In depth they summarized how it gave Corporates a licence to plunder the peasantry by having a total monopoly in dictating prices or obtaining land. The speakers elaborated how now the Corporates had a complete monopoly over the public distribution system and thus morally were a far greater menace to the peasantry than the traditional middlemen.
The speakers stated that the dominance of corporate houses in agriculture sector meant the complete tarnishing of public distribution system. The new sytem would l ensure profit for the corporate houses and imperialist multinational corporations by depriving people of essential commodities. The new system would also increase black marketing and artificial glut and scarcity in the market. The leaders stated that this agitation was an attempt to save a profession like agriculture and to ensure food security of the masses. This is the reason that the agitation is getting support from people across the country and different walks of life.
The connivance of opposition parties be it the Congress or Aam Admi party or Akali Dal was exposed in no uncertain terms explaining that their economic policies were an integral part of the semi-feudal,semi-colonial state and thus in essence not different from the Bharatiya Janata Party. However still the main attack was on the Narendra Modi led Bhartiya Janata party illustrating how it blessed imperialism at crescendo never reached before or patronizing corporates more than any ruling party ever did in India. The expression on the faces of the peasantry was the very writing on the wall on the semi-slavery they were subjected to. The relevance of a broad united front of al democratic classes was brought to the fore. The manner reinforcements are sent reminding one of how a great army replenishes its forces.
In recent days it even highlighted how Industrial families were seizing Panchayat land and violating the Punjab Village Common land rule of 1964.They narrated how the state has about one and a half lakh acres of Panchayat land and their contracts and make crores of income with the government’s eye now on these lands. The intention of looting the prices of Panchayat lands is a direct raid on the interests and rights of the poor farmers. Whose interests are in farming on these lands.
Contribution of Other Democratic Forces
I also applaud the heroic role of the Kirti Kisan Union and the Naujwan Bharat Sabha who most qualitatively shimmered the spark of resistance and also mobilised a significant dalit landless labour section. Around 20,000 participated from Kirti Kisan Union who placed accent on the fascist rule unleashed by the centre and how it was empowering itself to crush all federal status of Punjabi people. In recent days some very notable work has been undertaken by the Punjab Students Union in solidarity and consolidation.Many convoys of Punjab Students Union are on their way to Delhi .No organisation shave mobilsed the Dalit agricultural labour Community as these forces. The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda)) has too risen to the hour significantly.
Sadly some important leaders of Kirti Kisan Union accused the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) of sabotaging the movement projecting is as trying to promote its own image and violating the collective spirit. This was countered by many intellectuals and refuted by Urgahan activists themselves who explained that only by prolonging resistance can any revolutionary alternative path be paved. Even an ex- cadre from their camp to the core was critical of the comments of Comrades Sardara Singh Mahil and Rajinder. Publicly such leaders expressed that the BKU (Ugrahan) hosting a langar at the initial stages near the border was derogatory. However, the Ugrahan group gave no counter statement in light that it would cause friction amongst the participants. Almost every day interviews were carried out with Joginder Singh Ugrahan,the president of the BKU.
Reports of Important Protests in Delhi Movement
On 4th December BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) continued its protest at Tikri border where protesters have occupied kilometres of road and established five stages to address the gatherings. Shingara Singh Mann, Jaswinder Singh Soma, Harinder Kaur Bindu, Paramjit Kaur Pitho, Zora Singh Nasrali of Punjab Khet Mazdoor union, Amolak Singh of PLS Manch, Amitoz Singh Maur of Punjab student union (Shaheed Randhawa), Sushil Kumari, Rajesh Dhankar, Mukesh Khasa and Khushbir Kaur from Haryana addressed the gathering. The speakers explained that Modi government Is responsible for the discomfort of the local community is facing due to ongoing agitation. It was reiterated that this is an agitation for the security of the farmer as well as the food security of the country. (Sukhdev Khokri)
The speakers stated that the dominance of corporate houses in agriculture sector mean end of public distribution system. New system will ensure profit for the corporate houses and imperialist multinational corporations by depriving people of essential commodities. The new system will increase black marketing and artificial glut and scarcity in the market. The leaders stated that this agitation is an attempt to save a profession like agriculture and to ensure food security of the masses. This is the reason that the agitation is getting support from people across the country and different walks of life. The speakers appealed to the residents of Delhi that they should take the purpose of agitation into account while facing the problems caused by it. While appreciating the cooperation extended by the local community the speakers asked for more support from the capital city. (Information from Sukhdev Khokri)
A play, Superpower was performed along with choreographies by PALS Manch. Jagsir Singh Jida and his Lok Sangeet Mandali Jida performed in their typical style. Ajmer Singh Akalia presented revolutionary songs on the occasion.
On 4th December BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan) has named five protest sites after the names of historical personalities representing the legacy of struggles leading up to the ongoing agitation against farm Bills passed by the Modi government. The protest site spread over kilometres have been divided into cities named after these personalities – Baba Banda Singh Nagar, Chacha Ajit Singh Nagar, Bibi Gulab Kaur Nagar, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar and Shaheed Sadhu Singh Takhtupura Nagar.
Union’s state secretary Shingara Singh Mann and Wome leader Harinder Singh Bindu said that these cities have been settled on the names of the heroes of our fighter heritage. They told that this city was settled in the name of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Uncle Ajit Singh, Gadri Gulab Kaur, Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Shaheed Sadhu Singh Takhtupura.
Shingara Singh Mann e said that a press gallery has also been installed in the name of Shaheed Ashfaq Ula Khan to provide information to the press in the ongoing front. He said that Baba Banda Singh Bahadur is the hero of the great rebellion of the farmer who has made the farmers own the lands with the strength of long and slowing down. He said that uncle Ajit Singh is the leader of the Jatt movement to take care of the Shanamati turban against the British government which is still a light torch for the farmers fighting for their rights. He said that Gadri Gulab Kaur is the heroine fighting against the colonial government who is fighting for his rights and is a light for the women in the Delhi front.
He said that Shaheed Bhagat Singh is the great martyrs of the National Liberation Movement who first presented the program of the British government as well as the elimination of the loot of indigenous robbers for the freedom of farmers, labourers, youth and countrymen. He said that Shaheed Bhagat Singh is still a great hero who made the heartbeat of farmers, laborers, women and youth who struggle to get rid of loot. He said that Shaheed Sadhu Singh Takhtupura is the hero of the current Kisan Movement who has been important in giving the form of a huge movement to our organization and the farmer movement by drinking the jam of martyrdom against the government-sponsored Bhau Mafia during the Akali BJP rule. Played the role.
Farmer leaders said that the towns, named after these heroes of their great fighter heritage, are the symbol of the narrow element of the Kisan Movement, whose roots are in the great heritage of the country’s secular and democratic traditions. He said that the city is also a symbol of the strong intentions of farmers, labourers, youth and women who stand against agriculture laws that they will return home after returning the five laws.
The leaders explained that the sites named after these legendary personalities manifest the progressive and secular character of the ongoing agitation against farm laws. The ongoing movement is in continuity with the glorious history created by struggling masses and that history inspires farmers, workers, women and youth to struggle against the injustice, they said. The duo remained confident that the ongoing movement would carry the people’s history forward and emerge victorious.(Tribune News )
On 5th December BKU Ekta Ugrahan embarrassed the Modi Government at its boiling point at six places and more than 500 places in districts in Punjab and Delhi Kisan Morcha.
Gathering together Shingara Singh Mann, Harinder Kaur Bindu, Paramjit Kaur Pitho, Amarjit Singh Saidoke, Jaswant Singh Tolewal, Puran Singh Doda, Manjit Singh Niyal, Gurpreet Singh Noorpura, Jora Singh Nasrali, Amolak Singh, Rajasthan leader Santvir Singh Mohanpura Haryana Teke Ram Narnol, Manjeet Julka, Om Prakash Rathi, Joginder Kathota Sarv Employees Association Haryana, Munisa Student Ekta Manch Haryana, Chandigarh, Young Student Amrit Kaur, Leader of Five Member Kisan Sangharsh Committee Gurbaz Singh.
Shingara Singh Mann said expressing solidarity on the invitation of all farmer organizations in the country that the BKU unity will also take a strong participation. Invitation to the different workers of the society to connect their leaders with this solution. Addressing them especially to the Dalit community and farm workers, they said that they should be a big part of the society in support of the movement of the labor stage and give a strong reply to the politics of the BJP which is distributing caste distribution. He said that shopkeepers and small businessmen who are being oppressed by the FDI and GST should raise a joint voice to dismiss these people’s killing policies. In the same way, this day should be made a joint voice of people of every stage including the workers, employees, students.
Solidarity Protests in Punjab
In solidarity in Punjab to illuminate spark of the agitation in over dozen places in Punjab solidarity rallies have been launched or cultural programmes.
On December 3rd on invitation of the Kirti Kisan Union, the leader of the Rural Labor Union Hariram Rasulpuri, Mata Gujri Women’s Chetna Committee, was held in support of the historic farmer’s struggle in the country at village Mehmudpur (District Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar). Addressed by Mehmudpur President Madam Kulwant Kaur, Secretary Ranjit Kaur and Press Secretary of Democratic Rights Sabha Punjab Buta Singh. Bawa Singh Atwal, the leader of Kirti Kisan Union and rational leader Ninderpal Maidita were also present on this occasion. The people of the village responded to the invitation of Jago with so much enthusiasm that more than 200 villagers including young people, children and women joined. And for two hours in the village, the slogans of Modi government Murdabad, Farmer’s struggle Zindabad, Labour-Farmer unity Zindabad were echoed. Demanding the abolition of anti-people agriculture laws and opposing the dictatorial decisions of the fascist Modi government, the villagers were invited to reach the maximum number of protests in Nawanshahr on December 4.
On December 5th effigies of the Modi government were burnt in Rasulpura, Mehamudpur and Kahma. At Chandigarh Road on December 4th Kirti Kisan Union undertook a major solidarity action in support of the Farmer Morcha organized in Delhi on December 8, Nawanshahr announced to close the district Nawanshahr on Langdoa Bypass on December 8. In the meeting, Auto Workers Union, Tempu Union, Taxi Union, Women Jagriti Manch, Indian Federation of Trade Unions, Kirti Kisan Union, Rehri Workers Union, Migrant Labor Union, Bhatha Workers Union, Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Rural Labor Union, Medical Practitioners Association, Democratic Teachers Front, Punjab Students Union, Sikh Organizations, Social Organizations, Leaders of Cooperative Meeting, Traders and Panchayat Representatives attended. Representatives have announced to make this closure a success with an opinion. Kirti Kisan Union Nawanshahr leader Tarsem Bains, IFTU state president Kulwinder Singh Waraich, Jasbir Deep, Buta Singh of the Democratic Legislative Assembly, said that people are protesting against the central government’s agriculture laws, electricity bill 2020.
On December 2nd in Bathinda city, the Farmers Struggle Support Committee conducted a huge torch march in the city in support of the farmers sitting in Delhi. The number of 4-500 mobilised comprised of 100 women, of whom 80 % were teachers. The projection of the slogans was contentful and the enthusiasm and rally completely effective. Funds were also given by the shopkeepers from the same market.
Support to Farmers Protest and Most Positive Happenings
Arguably never in Indian history has the base of Hindutva neo-fascism been given such a striking blow by democratic forces illuminating spark of liberation. There could hardly be a better illustration of the peasantry to establish its own striking power or how in essence the so call neo-liberal economy is model or manifestation of proto-fascism engripping the entire nation.
Major solidarity has been undertaken in states like Andhra Pradesh,Telangana, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh etc. Farmers organisation have openly intervened from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Very impactful solidarity demonstrations were undertaken by workers in industrial areas of Ludhiana. It is also a significant development that many small traders, shopkeepers or businessman have supported the struggle and even integrated with it. The student and youth community most sporadically came out in support of the peasantry which must be welcomed.
One of the most inspiring instances of this agitation was how BKU women leader Harinder Bindu shimmered flame of resistance to mobilize over 10000 women. It paid a fitting a tribute to the valiant effort of the organised movement to make women an integral part of the movement. The morale support of singer Diljit Dosanjh also was most inspirational in an era when most commercial singers turn their backs on people’s movements and literally sell themselves like slaves of the culture of imperialism or exploiter classes. I was also most impressed by a University student Hindol Mazumdar from West Bengal openly describing the BKU (Ugrahan) movement as an outstanding one which distinguished itself from economist or sectarian trends. It highlighted how the BKU Ugrahan thwarted leader Yogendra Yadav from making the peasants retreat. Even this is rare today when most revolutionary sympathisers are either absorbed in heroics of Maoist armed squads or neo-Ambedkarist pro-Dalit movements. In a small article he narrated the class essence of this struggle.
A most welcome developments has been the support of top sportsman and artists from Punjab wholeheartedly supporting the farmers struggle and willing to relinquish their awards or medals. This is a very rare occurence in India where top sportsman and artists are sold on making hordes of money and have scant respect for social values. Such a phenomena is a vitally lacking ingredient in the Indian democratic movement today.
Gatherings were also addressed by young film Saj Jatinder Mahar, renowned Rangkarmi Samuel John, student Vijay Dhankhar teacher leader Haryana. On this occasion, plays were played by Manavata Kala Manch Nagar (plus stage) and revolutionary songs were presented by Jagsir Jida, Ajmer Singh Aklian and Nargis.
The leaders of this struggle are not willing to sit on the negotiation table after even the fifth talk and have boldly declared a bandh on December 8th.They find the Govt.solutions or amendments futile after 5 successive rounds of talks ending in a stalemate.
A most welcome development has been the support of top sportsman and artists from Punjab wholeheartedly supporting the farmers struggle and willing to relinquish their awards or medals. This is a very rare occurrence in India where top sportsman and artists are sold on making hordes of money and have scant respect for social values. Such a phenomena is a vitally lacking ingredient in the Indian democratic movement today.
On December 4th Hundreds of students, Women’s Rights leaders, industrial workers and intellectuals of Delhi rallied today at Jantar Mantar to protest against the Govt. of India’s callous attitude towards the just demands of the Farmers. They were stopped and heckled by the Delhi police, but they held their ground and continued with their meeting, where leaders expressed their anger firstly the repression and hurdles placed on the march of the Punjab & Haryana farmers, then the failure to address their main concern and now the repression that has begun by giving Police Notices and preventing protests.
All over the nation organisations are boycotting toll plazas supporting the peasant protest. Above all, whatever differences the basic unity of the agitation against the bills has not been broken which is most heartening.
What Steps Should Be Taken to Consolidate Agitation
What is binding and will intensify this stir is the solidarity from force s outside Punjab and abroad. However, one must guard against trends that wish to portray this uprising as a resurgence of ‘Sikh movement’ confronting the anti-federal dictates of the state or a consolidation of ‘only rich peasantry. ‘Here I remind readers that Sikh or Punjabi people do not comprise a separate nationality. Tooth and nail we must of course refute those who identify Khalistani politics in this agitation. The essence of class polarisation must not be diffused here particularly by Ruling class politicians fostering Sikh identity sentiment and dividing the movement on communal lines. Leaders must also strike a balance and not become victims of either compromising with ruling class leaders or under estimating subjective forces at crucial junctures.
So far, the leaders have shown great political maturity when participating in talks with the rulers. Another crucial aspect is that it should not just reduce the Dalit landless labour community into an appendage or cosmetic force but an integral part of the agitation. The working class must also be mobilized in tandem with the peasantry, highlighting its relationship with their day to day lives or class struggles. I have never witnessed an agitation which has harnessed support from such a wide range of sections.
It is important that democratic forces all around the nation are galvanised in support to form a broad spectrum and that every oppressed or democratic section must form separate platforms in support be it students, teachers, government employees or doctors. It should also be connected to the secular democratic revolutionary resistance to Hindutva fascism as a whole with an acute connection made between Hindutva ideology and patronage to classes of Corporates and big landlords.
A protracted effort must be made to sharpen revolutionary class politics sand make peasantry demarcate from the ruling class ideology which in essence only divides the rich and mighty. It is also important that caste politics does not intervene to divide the agitation and even Ambedkarites come out in full support. It is important that Communist revolutionaries do not claw the agitators with their political line and pursue a patient, painstaking approach to educate the peasantry.
It can also develop in a platform to demarcate from the revisionist or reformist policies of the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and win over m any cares belonging to peasant unions of those parties.
In my view however acute is the contradiction with feudalism such a development testifies the role or impact of imperialism in determining feudalism and how in regions like Punjab feudalism may not be the principal contradiction.
It is also of vital importance that polemical issues do not break the fundamental unity of the organisations, which would splinter the movement. Sharp demarcation must be made of electoral politics which in the past has often induced parliamentary tailism by democratic peasant forces.
A most important contribution will be a report on the agitation by Punjabi revolutionary journal ‘Surkh Leeh’. It should be propagated very widely in all circles with its incisive revolutionary democratic analysis. In detail is publishing a study on its political significance. For politically advanced leftsis sections the statement of the Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist) when it is published which would be of great relevance in connecting this agitation with the interest of the agrarian revolutionary movement as a whole
I thank the inputs or reports from BKU (Ugrahan) secretary Sukhdev Singh Khokri, Surkh Leeh editor Pavel Kussa, Rupinder Chaunda of Naujwan Bharat Sabha, Shingar Singh Mann of BKU (Ugrahan) as well as from Kisan Morcha and Delhi Kisan Morcha
FARMERS' STRUGGLE AGAINST CORPORATIZATION OF AGRICULTURE INTENSIFIES
UNDER the initiative of Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (Joint Farmers Front)m which coordinates more than 500 farmers’ organizations from all states of India and which includes All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), the famers in India are waging a relentless struggle against the three black Acts enacted by the RSS/BJP government bulldozing them through both houses of parliament, especially through the upper house, the Rajya Sabha where a vote was not allowed even when these bills had no majority support. These three Acts are: 1). Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020. 2). Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. 3.) Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. The farmers and all progressive agricultural experts like P Sainath were repeatedly explaining, and the farmers from their experience have learned that these Acts will put an end to government procurement of agricultural products, with frequently reviewed Minimum Support Price (MSP) through Agricultural produce Marketing Cooperatives (APMCs) and will throw them to the mercy of the giant corporates. When farmers are committing suicides in big numbers in most of the states due to economic crisis already, this corporatization, they fear, shall lead to their total ruin.
In India there is a regulatory system for food distribution that has been built up since the 60s. It consists of many Government regulated market yards (APMCs) all over the country. Farmers can take their produce to such market yards to avoid being cheated by the traders. The produce is weighed and sold at a price which is fixed by open auction. Further, the Government had set up the PDS (public distribution system) which provides ration to all citizens. For this the Government had to set a MSP (minimum support price) for each product – rice, wheat, pulses, etc – every year. The Government had to set up a procurement machinery. The FCI (Food Corporation of India) was set up which stores crores or tonnes of grains. Also corporations like the Warehousing corporation etc.
This was still felt to be insufficient both for the farmers and the consumers. For the farmers many commissions were set up. The Swaminathan Commission has suggested that the MSP should be fixed such that the farmer will get 50% profit over the cost of production. In fact the manifesto of the BJP in the last election had promised to implement this. For the consumers, after much struggle, under orders from the Supreme Court the Government of India has enacted, in September 2013 (effective July 2013), the National Food Security Act which promises to provide subsidized food-grains to two thirds of the population of India. All this was also not really sufficient. Farmers in our country are still among the poorest and people are still dying of hunger.
There has always been pressure from imperialist countries, through the WTO and other organisations, on our Govt. to dismantle this system. They wanted that food should be subject to an “open” market like any other commodity. In reality they know that food is the final captive market – human beings cannot live without food – and therefore they want to control this market.
The Modi Government has enacted laws which threaten even the meagre regulatory system. Big multinational food conglomerates are to be allowed to enter the market. The rules of the APMC will now be restricted to the premises within the four walls of the market yard. Outside the market yard the big corporations will be free to enforce their own writ. The effect on the farmers will be devastating. It is not only their produce that will be looted but the big corporates will enslave them by telling them what they should grow, what seed they should use, what fertiliser, etc. These laws were made unconstitutionally by Parliament though “agriculture” is a state subject
This will not only affect farmers (and of course the agricultural workers who are dependent on them) but also workers and the common persons. With the dismantling of APMCs and large corporations like Fci, millions of jobs will be lost. With the removal of price controls food inflation which is already very high will shoot through the roof. And the effect is not only economic. With big corporations controlling our economy the very democratic fabric of our country will be affected. For example, when large Government corporations are closed and private players move in thousands of reserved jobs will be lost. In short, these bills, like the labour codes, threaten the very independence and sovereignty of India – they threaten to obliterate the poor and weak sections of society and remove the very last vestige of democratic society that may exist.
When the Congress-led UPA government had initiated this move under pressure from the corporate forces, the farmers all over the country had started agitating and the UPA govt was forced to stop the move. The corporate like Ambani and Adani within the country, and MNCs heavily funded BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and Modi govt came to power. But, as it had no majority in the upper house, its implementation was delayed. In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, these three Acts were first issued as an Ordinance, without bothering for consulting the farmers’ organizations or opposition parties. Against this, the farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana, where the farming is done in developed form and where they are best organized, had started protesting through various forms. Recently this same government has passed four labour codes which basically introduce “hire and fire” and remove many of the protections given to workers. Most trade unions (including those associated with the BJP and its partners) have been agitating against these. These were the cause of the major strike on 26th November.
On the same day in September that Parliament passed these labour codes, the three acts against farmers were also passed. Notably, the opposition had declared a boycott of parliament on that day and had called for a day of protest. All opposition parliament members were outside taking part in the protests. At such a time, these acts were pushed through both houses of parliament and made into laws.
Soon after this the AIKSCC which was formed against the Ordinance, launched state level campaigns and then various struggles while asking the central government to revoke them. At this time, the BJP government gave another blow to the farmers abolishing the subsidy they were getting for the electricity, and introduces the Electricity Bill 2020 which stipulates that the farmers also should give the pwer charges equal to industrialists. So, the agitation against the 3 Farm Acts and the Electricity Bill 2020 soon spread all over the country, and in Punjab and Haryana took massive forms. As the central government has enacted these laws in the field of agriculture, which is a state subject according to Constitution, the state governments led by opposition parties announced that they will not implement it. Still the fascist BJP government was not prepared to re-consider them. So, the AIKSC decided to give a Delhi Chalo call all organizations to send members to Delhi on 26-27 November.
Following all India campaign and public announcements when the farmers’ started marching to Delhi on 25th November, especially hundreds of thousands of them including very large number of women farmers from Punjab, who had already paralyzed the railway services through the state, at the behest of central government the BJP led Haryana govt put strong barricades, dug out the roads, and as the marchers were still moving ahead breaking all obstacles, they were water cannoned, lathi charged and hundreds of tear-gas shells were fired at them. Still, overcoming all these the farmers started reaching the borders of Delhi, the national capital. When they were asked to move to a ground near a Gurudwara (Sikh shrine), recognizing the trap to make it as an open jail, they refused. The very large number of farmers have come with their tractors and trailers with food for six months and cloths and bed to brave the very cold climate. This march by the farmers’ organizations and the general strike of tens of millions of workers on 26th November demanding the repeal of the four labour codes were a big challenge to the RSS/BJP forces.
Though three rounds of discussions took place with the government delegation, as the government is not ready to accept the four core demands, the AIKSC called for a Bharat Bandh on 8th December. All opposition parties, and revolutionary left organizations including CPI(ML) Red Star, along with a large number of class/mass organizations supported this call while large number of workers, students, youth, women and oppressed sections participated making it a great success. Roads into Delhi were blocked upto 3 pm and farmers and workers and youth held demonstrations in various parts of India. Angered by it, the home minister Amit Shah met the leaders of AIKSCC in the night and told them that only amendments shall be accepted, the anti-farmer Acts will not be repealed and Electricity Bill will not be withdrawn. Responding to this arrogant approach, the AIKSCC has called for intensifying the struggle making the protest programs countrywide, boycott all Jio, Reliance and Adani products including Sim cards, to block other roads to Delhi and close down all toll gates. It has become something like a do or die struggle, and in coming days various steps shall be taken to compel the government to accept the farmers’ demands.
What is happening is a mass upsurge of the farmers against the corporatization of agriculture to serve the crony capitalists like Ambani and Adani using Manuvadi Hindutva as an ideological cover. The farmers have decided to go forward with the struggle prepared to face all consequences. From 14th December the BJP offices will be gheraoed by the farmers. This is an all-out move to intensify the movement.
The Central Committee of CPI (ML) Red Star and all class/mass organizations in which party comrades are active, has extended full solidarity with the farmers’ struggle. The All India Krantikari Kisan Sabha (AIKKS). The Central Committee has called for focusing all activities in order to strengthen the farmers’ movement in the coming days also.) politically led by the party is a constituent in the AIKSCC. The Party has mobilized hundreds of farmers, agricultural workers and other sections and actively worked for the success of the Bharat Bandh.
If the corporate fascist government of Modi is thinking that this movement can be suppressed, it is going to be big folly for the RSS/BJP. It will only weaken the unity of the different peoples in this multi-national country. In this critical situation, CPI(ML) Red Star is trying to mobilize all like-minded forces to help the AIKSCC to achieve its demands.