Dear Comrade President and Comrade Delegates,
It was three and half years back that we met in Varanasi in our 23rd. session. The 24th. Session should have been held in April 1982. But due to the General Elections in four States and some by-elections in some others, we had to postpone the Session.
The period intervening between the two conferences has been full of events. Many important developments, both in the international and national sphere, have taken place. This conference has to make a proper assessment and chalk out the line of advance. This also has been a period of growing mass actions sad the delegates who have assembled here bring with them the experiences of these mass actions. This will immensely help is in working out the concrete tasks.
At the outsset let me pay homage to many leaders of the Kisan Sabha, members of the CKC such as Coms. Suhrid Mallik Choudhury, Ramanand Singh, General Secretary, Bihar Kisan Sabha and Hardit Singh Bhattal, Vice-President, Punjab Kisan Sabha, A. V. Kunhambu an important leader of the Kerala Kisan Sabha, Satya Narayan Singh, former President of U.P. Kisan Sabha and Fauja Singh Bhullar, who all departed sad whose contribution to the cause of the kisans will always remembered by us.
Let us remember on this occasion, those comrades who died Is the intervening period, the martyrs who laid down their while defending the interests of peasants and agricultural workers, those who became victims of the attacks of separatist and extremist forces, those who lost their lives at the hands of sited goondas of the landlords and these who fell victims to its attacks of other vested interests. We are proud of them, those sacrifice and dedication to the cause has made this organisation the most powerful organisation of the Indian peasantry.
We are holding this session in West Bengal which has remained in the forefront of the Peasant movement since the two decades and where the peasant’s organisation has gripped the mass of agricultural workers and peasants. Three-fourth of the total membership of A.I.K.S. comes from West Bengal today. The advance made by the West Bengal Kisan Sabha inspiring the peasantry all over the country. Their achievements are of immense inspiration for the development of organisation of the Kisan Sabha. Let us remember the outstanding leaders of the peasant movement like Muzzafar Ahmed, A.K. Gopalan, Bankim Mukherjee, Harekrishna Konar and others who contributed a lot for the development of peasant movement in the country. With the powerful Kisan movement in West Bengal the present session will be of great significance for charting out the path for further advance.
The last session had noted a big defeat for the imperialists and many victories for the forces of national liberation, intervening period has witnessed the further aggravation of world capitalist crisis. Faced with serious economic crisis US imperialism is preparing for a nuclear war, a war which would be more destructive than any waged so far in human history U.S imperialism is determined to make Western European ope the theatre of a nuclear war in which most destructive weapons are intended to be used against the Soviet Union. With This purpose in view, the U.S. is forcing its NATO allies to install cruise missiles in their countries. Although the Western power are alarmed at the consequences of stationing of the missiles on their territories and the preparation for the nuclear war they are lining up behind the Reagan administration and wing their countries to become a theatre of the nuclear war.
As against this drive towards nuclear war, the Soviet has taken one initiative after another to ward-off the held crust. Unilateral declaration, pledging that the Soviet Union would not be the first to use nuclear weapons, together with fervent appeal to other nuclear powers to make a similar decleration is being widely acclaimed. It has also declared cades that it would not install any more medium range missiles in Western part of Soviet Union if U.S.A. agrees to do the same in Europe. The U S.A. refuses to respond to these initiatives, making it clear that its leaders are determined to pursue a path of unleashing a nuclear war. But the US imperialists are also facing stiff opposition to this policy, and powerful mass movements against war danger are developing throughout the Western Europe, and America. Huge demonstrations have taken place in the capitals of West European countries against the danger of war and a one million strong demonstration took place in New York against Reagan’s policy in which people belonging to all shades participated, which is a pointer to the growing awareness of the masses against the danger of nuclear war.
War manoeuvres of US imperialism are not confined to mere installation of nuclear weapons in Western Europe. It is creating hot-beds of tension and war in many places all over the world with a view to suppress the forces of national libe ration and recapture the lost positions in the economic and political field in various former colonial countries. The US lmperialists have succeeded, through Israel, in invading Lebanon and in inflicting a temporary military defeat on the Palestinian Liberation Forces. It has actively backed Israeli aggressors to drive PLO out of Lebanon. The massacre of Palestinian refuses in Western Beirut has aroused the anger and conscience of all the freedom loving people against Zionism and US Imperialism. This has given birth to a powerful anti-war movement even inside Israel. This shows that the US imperialists and the Zionists cannot easily succeed in their murderous manouvres PLO, as an organised political and military force, we are confident, will continue to fight till the Palestinian State is established as an independent homeland for them.
It is very distressing to witness a prolonged war between Iran and Iraq the two newly liberated and non-aligned nations is the gulf region and let us hope that this war would end, and peace restored in the area.
In the Indo-Chinese region where the heroic Vietnamese along with their brothers from Laos and Kampuchea had a crushing defeat to the U.S. imperialists, efforts are again being made for a new intervention through the socased Kampuchean Government in exile, headed by former Prince Shihanouk, But the principled policy adopted by the there states of Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea, we are confident would defeat this new threat and that these countries which suffered for three decades of war of aggression by the US imperialists will be in a position to concentrate their efforts on socialist reconstruction of their countries.
Another hot bed of imperialist war and aggression continues to be South Africa, where the racial regime of Pretoria is not only violating all the U.N. decisions regarding independent of Namibia but also continues to commit aggression again Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, with the aim of suppressing the SWAPO, the true representative of the Namibia people recoginsed by UNO. The U.S. imperialists are also trying to disrupt the Organisation of African Unity which has been playing a very important role in defending the African people from the on-slaught of imperialism. Utilising Morocco which with U.S. help, tried to annex Western Sahara, whose people led by the Polisario have established, the independent Sahara Arab Republic, the U.S. imperialists recently torpedoed the 16th. Summit of OAU which was to be held in Libya in the first week of September, 1982. In the American continent the U.S. imperialists are holding threats of war against Cuba and Nicaragua. They are doing everything to suppress the National Liberation Movements in El Salvadore, Guatemala and other Latin American countries. It has to be noted in this connection that the US support of Britain on the issue of Falkland war led to the political isolation of US in the Latin American and Carribean region Every Latin American country has stood in support of Argentina against UK and USA.
The U.S. imperialists continue to station 40,000 armed per sonnel in South Korea and are using the puppet regime to perpetuate the division of Korea and to endanger the security of the People’s. Democratic Republic of Korea. In our own region the U.S imperialists have further strengthened their base in Diego-Garcia with nuclear weapons and are arming the militarist regime of Pakistan to create a situation of destabilisation and war tension in this region.
As against this counter offensive of imperialism, all forces of national liberation in cooperation with the socialist countries and the peace loving people, the world over are developing further resistance. They are against the imperialist policies of war and are opposed to the attempts of shifting the burden of the crisis on to their shoulders. The movement of the Non-aligned countries, the Group of 77, the North-South Dialogue, the growing cooperation with the socialist countries all indicate towards this direction. All is not well with the imperialist countries. With the deepening of economic crisis they are not able to take a united stand on economic policies. The resistance to U.S. embargo against the Soviet Union on the gas pipeline is a pointer. Moreover powerful working class struggles are developing in the capitalist countries exposing the very nature of the system itself. Growing inflation and unprecedented rise in unemployment has exposed various theories advanced by the bourgeois economists in defence of the decaying world capitalist system.
As against this, the advances made by the socialist countries in the sphere of economy and well being of the people is in a sharp contrast to the crisis ridden capitalist system. This expresses itself in the attitude of socialist states towards nuclear war, national independence and self-reliance of countries.
This period has also witnessed the growing unity of the three currents of the period i.e. socialist world, working class and the national liberation movements, and this is a pointer to the future course of development.
On this issue of war and imperialist aggression in various regions the Government of India has taken a correct attitude. This has got particular significance, when imperialism is out to disrupt non-aligned movement and the unity among the developing countries. But because of the economic situation in the country and the heavy dependence on foreign finance capital and the world Bank etc. this support cannot be taken for granted unless powerful mass movement is developed against the war danger and in support of national liberation struggles. In this connection the 4th October rally organised by the Left Parties acquired special significance. It is for the first time after independence that such an anti-war mobilisation has taken place. This will have to be carried forward and the entire peasantry all over the country is to be constantly mobilised against the war danger and for world peace, and in support of the national liberation movement.
Many changes have taken place in the national situation since our last conference. It is not within the scope of this report to deal with that in detail. The features of the economic crisis with special reference to the agrarian sector not only continue to operate but have further aggravated resulting in growing discontentment in all sections of peasantry. But the more important change which has to be taken note of is the fall of Janata Government, only 8 months after the last conference. When the country went in for new General Elections, the Congress (I) with its authoritarian policies has come again into power. Nearly three years, rule of the Indira Gandhi regime has proved that whatever may be the slogans and claims made by it, the Congress(I) Government is not able either to solve any problems of the toiling people or to take the country out of the morass of the crisis. They are more and more resorting to attacks on democratic rights and are threatening even to change the constitution to make it more authoritarian. The other alarming development is that the divisive forces instigated and abetted by the imperialists, are trying to utilise the discontentment and diverting it into various disruptive channels, with the aim of destablisation of the country. In its two planks i.e the 6th. Five Year Plan and the New 20 Point Programme the Congress(I) regime has given up the task of land reforms without which it is impossible to tackle the crisis of the economy. As against this, there is growing resistance among the people to attacks on democratic rights and a broad platform is developing which is seen in the resistance which has developed on the Bihar Press Bill inside the Parliament and throughout the country. The growing resistance against the anti-people policies is also seen in the activities of the National Campaign Committee as well as in the united actions developing on the peasant front. The peasant upsurge of 1980-81 showed great potentialities. These united movements are bound to strengthen the democratic movement in the country which is very essential to fight for alternative policies which alone are capable of giving a solution to the problems created by the bourgeois-landlord policies pursued by the ruling classes today. Our country is still an agrarian! country, where 70% of the population depends on agriculture. Unless this vast ocean of peasants is organised and brought into action, one cannot think of building and developing an alternative to the bourgeois-landlord class rule. In this context, the All India Kisan Sabha which is the premier organisation of the peasantry in the country has to play a very important role in defence of interests of the peasantry, in defence of the democratic rights and against drive towards authoritarianism and for mobilising the peasants in the struggle for peace and in support of national liberation movements. Let us discuss what we have been able to do since the last conference and what situation we are facing concretely on the peasant front.
TWENTY THIRD CONFERENCE
The 23rd. conference of the AIKS held at Varanasi in April 1979 was a landmark in tha history of Kisan Movement in our country. Setting at rest many controversies that had cropped up regarding the tatics of Kisan movement and impact of agrarian policies of the post-freedom Congress Governments, the conference elaborated the slogans and tasks for Kisan movement. It analysed the main weaknesses in our mode of functioning and emphasised the importance of expanding and strengthening of basic units of the Kisan Sabha, need and scope of building united actions, training of cadre and building effective centres at all levels.
The conference took place when the country was under the Janata Party Government, which was soon replaced by the Lok Dal-Congress(S) Government led by Sri Charan Singh. But even this Government could not last for long; general elections were ordered and the year 1980 opened with the authoritarian party led by Smt. Indira Gandhi once again in power. Talking about Janata Party rule, the General Secretary’s report characterised it as the rule of the same classes as were previously ruling in the name of its predecessor Congress Government. Charan Singh Government was not different. Naturally these Governments pursued the same class policies which Congress Government led by Smt. Indira Gandhi implemented during her earlier rule sad which she is once again pursuing after being back in power through 1980 Lok Sabha Elections. The report analysed their policies dealing with land reforms, “garibi hatao”, problems of bounded labourers and agricultural workers (the 20 Point Programme), control over prices, planning for agricultural development etc. and opined that as a result of these pro-landlord, pro-monopolist and anti-people policies the agrarian crisis was getting more deepened and the conditions of the weaker section, was getting worse and worse. It stated:- “The crisis is manifested in the growing concentration of land, increasing poverty, and unemployment, mounting burdens of debt, shrinking real prices of agricultural produce, and in several ways,”
In the three years following the Varanasi Conference the crisis has got further deepened. Concentration of land continues to exist and the manner in which ceiling laws have been implemented, they have not been able to make any dent in this monopoly of landownership. Poverty and unemployment situation is much worse, indebtedness continues to grow, the market conditions for agricultural producers are becoming more and more unfavourable for them and so on.
DROUGHTS—FLOODS AND CYCLONE
Natural calamities like drought, flood and cyclone have made matters worse for the people in the background of deepening agrarian crisis as our agriculture despite 30 years of planned development is still precariously dependent on nature.
The drought and floods in 1979-80 according to official estimates caused a total damage of about Rs. 3226 crores Eleven states reported drought and 14 reported flood damages in 1980-81 while heavy rains caused extensive damages in U.P. & Rajasthan. The 1981-82 drought caused serious damages in 9 and floods in 7 states. The current year started with damages caused to standihg wheat crop in Haryana Punjab, and Western U.P. by untimely rains. In June 1982 a cyclone caused extensive damages in Orissa & West Bengal and then came the most devastatinng drought in living memory followed by equally devastating floods in 4 States—Assam, Orissa, Bihar & U.P. The damage caused by floods is estimated officially to be of the order of Rs. 1150 Crores affecting 3.35 crore population, destroying crops over 76 lakh hectares of land and drowning nearly a thousand people. The drought conditions severely affected 13 out of 15 districts in Went Bengal, 18 out of 33 districts in Bihar, 4 out of 13 districts in Orissa, 25 out of 57 districts in U.P., 13 out of 31 districts in Maharasthra, 14 out of 33 districts in Andhra Pradesh and 11 out of 15 districts in Tamil Nadu. For Rajasthan it was the 4th consecutive year of drought affecting 2 crore population in 23000 villages, and in Tamil Nadu situation is so serious that if it does not rain for a month more, there should be no water even to drink.
Worst affected people in all states are agricultural labourers and poor peasants who generally cultivate marginal and rainfed sads lying in low level areas. Government relief never reaches them; starvation, famines and epidemics take a heavry toll of their lives. This is one of the most burning problems facing our movement at present.
The country has spent about Rs. 10,000 crores till the end of Fifth Plan on irrigation development and the result is that only 26.6% of our cropped area has any stable means of irrigation while only 11 lakh hectares out of 40 lakh hectares of food-prone area is provided with flood control projects. Irrigation projects are never completed in time-out of 65 ongoing major and medium projects 48 are behind time by 5 to 15 years resulting in an escalation of cost by Rs. 4150 crores. Even the meagre targets under the plans so far have never been fulfilled.
The same is true of development of electrical power which is used to run electric pumps and tubewells. Only 2/3 of the target of the additional capacity which was to be installed in first two years of the present plan has been achieved. The target of energisation of pumps for these two years had a short fall of 16% for the country as a whole and 40% for 6 states— Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In the worst days of drought in Bihar 584 tubewells were not working-some had burnt transformers, some had other mechanical defects and the usual power crisis has become a perpetual phenomenon. To get a transformer replaced or mechanical defect removed in Haryana, U.P. & Rajasthan heavy bribes have to be given.
The capacity that is installed has a less than 50% utilisation while one fifth to one fourth of electrical energy produced is lost in transmission.
It is this gross inefficiency and rampant corruption in the running of projects and plants as well as the avoidable delay in construction of new projects that is responsible for such collosal damage, a part of which could certainly have been prevented. Due to faulty planning 700 of our dams are getting silted up and both their storing capacity and life space is getting reduced.
Besides demanding adequate relief for the sufferers, we have to expose this criminal in efficiency and corruption, so rampant in our irrigation and power departments, to ensure that projects are completed in time, wastage of public funds are avoided and more and more drought-prone area is covered by stable irrigation facilities and flood-prone areas are provide with protective bunds.
SOME MAJOR ISSUES
Referring to “Some Major Issues” facing the peasant movement in India today, the General Secretary’s report explained that, the question of prices of agricultural produce is “one major issue which concerns the peasantry as a whole Why? Because “while the prices of agricultural inputs have sharply increased, particularly since the 1973 oil crisis, the prices of outputs have remained stagnant or registered marginal increases, or have actually declined thereby making cultivation highly unremunerative…And while over the last few years agricultural prices have been declining, the manufactured products are becoming dearer, thereby moving the terms of trade against the agricultural producers, making cultivation even more unprofitable and eroding the standard of living of a vast proportion of the rural masses who are already poor.“
The General Secretary’s Report further stated “another major issue facing the peasantry as a whole is the growing burden of indebtedness.”
Problems of share-croppers come next, the main amongst them being the demand for security of tennure, a fair share is the produce and institutional credit coverage for their As regards the problems of agricultural labourers are concerned the report of the General Secretary presented to Varanasi conference identified six main issues. These are “ensuring minimum wage, finding employment, establishng his right: to homestead and provision of house-sites, eradication of indebtedness and provision of credit and demanding the distributes of excess land and waste land in their favour.”
On the problem of land the Varanasi Conference Report made it clear that “slogan of complete abolition of landlordism and distribution of land to landless and poor continues to be the central slogan of the agrarian revolution, a slogan which we have to continue to propagate. But it is a slogan on which we cannot go into action today in most parts of the country.” The main resolution of the conference, “while calling on all its units to take the message of total abolition of landlordism and land to the tiller to the peasantry, calls on them to organaise immediate struggles, in cooperation with all other organisations working among the peasantry for the taking over of surplus land and its distribution within a year; for the distribution of Government waste land and cultivable forest land; for locating with the mobilisation of all peasants, benami land held illegally by landlords and demand its distribution; for retoration to the tribals of the land alienated from them; for amendments to the ceiling laws doing away with all exemptions including those in the name of temples, trusts and maths end illegalising all benami holdings.”
All unprecedented upsurge amongst all sections of the peasantry, seen for the first time in post freedom years burst out in the shape of big movements on the question of prices all over the country. Starting with “Rasta Roko” in Nasik and a bundh in Karnataka, the movements took the form of huge marches defying sec. 144 and police repression, gheraoes of assembly and courting arrest in thousands. While the demand for remunerative prices was the common countrywide demand, other demands like agricultural inputs at subsidized prices, reduction in taxes and levies like betterment levy, relief them indebtedness including cooperative and Taccavi Loans and above all the demands for fair wages to agricultural labour, increased budget allocations for agriculture and cancellation of arrears of revenue and irrigation rates in drought side areas etc. followed soon. United actions on all these demands, with working class supporting the peasantry by raising in a big way, the peasant demonstrations and actions, were most welcome features of this countrywide upsurge in 1980. The Six Party convention held in Delhi in September 1980, raising a united demand for remunerative prices for agricultural produce as one of the three major issues for which the convention gave a call for coordinated actions, gave a great fillip to this trend, towards united actions. The All meeting held in Trichur in November 1980 called upon all units of the AIKS to participate in the movements and to organise united actions with other Kisan Movements in organisations.
Landlord and rich peasant oriented Kisan Leaders, who initially led these spontaneous movements wanted to assume leadership over this upsurge and to set up their own all India platform. But the participation of left parties and mass organisations like AIKS gave it such a sweep, that the movement went much beyound the narrow aims of these landlord element. We participated in the meeting held in New Delhi called by Shri Bhannu Pratap Singh, Agricultural Minister in the Janata Party Government, which set up the Central Kisan Coordination committee and passed a resolution in support of the struggles going on in many States and also gave the call for observing 17th January 1981 as the “Kisan Solidarity day” in support of these struggles.
The Congress (I) rulers, whose policies were driving the- peasantry to this countrywide upsurge, got panicky and in order to demonstrate that they still command a considerable following amongst the peasants, decided to forestal the March, 81 rally led by ihe opposition parties and Kisan Organisations by deciding to have a rally of their own in February. Spending about a hundred crore of rupees and requisitioning thousands of State Transport Busses of different States, they did manage to collect lakhs of peasants for this rally in Delhi. But when the opposition Kisan Rally of 26th March 1981 took place there was none who could fail to observe the difference. While the rally organised by the opposition was a spontaneous demonstration, for which lakhs of poor peasants and agricultural workers had come braving police repression and all sort of obstructions placed in their way to give vent to their anger against the anti-people, promonopolist policies of the Government, Congress-I rally in contrast was patently a State managed show.
Coming of poor kisans and agricultural workers in such numbers to the March 81 Rally mainly from the weak Hindi speaking belt, clearly pointed towards the big possibilities for our movement and organisation to grow in this area too.
IMPORTANT LAND MARKS OF THE STRUGGLE
In this period under review, the united Peasant movement in Maharashtra which lead to the march to Nagpur Assembly session; the united Peasant movement in Karnataka in which many peasants were killed in police firing; the united all party joint action of peasants for their immediate demands culminating in State-wide bandh in Andhra Pradesh: the joint action of peasant organisations and many parties in Punjab for immediate demands culminating in the gherao of the Punjab Assembly: the immense work of West Bengal Kisan Sabha to protect the interests of tenants through “operation Barga” and other struggles; the tenacious fight in Bihar through joint actions to fight against landlord violence and against eviction of tenants; the joint continuous campaign and struggle of Kisan organisations in Tamilnadu for getting a sizeable relief to poor and middle farmers from the burden of arrears of co-operatlve-loans; the persistent fight of united Kisan movement in Kerala, to protect the interests of growers of commercial crops; the glorious struggle of Tripura Kisan Sabha and Assam Kisan Sabha in fighting against the disruptive activities of extremists and chauvinists in a very difficult situation and to preserve the peasant unity; the statewide and regional strikes and campaigns of agricultural workers in West Bengal, Andhra, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Bihar—these are some of the important landmarks in the joint struggle of peasants and agricultural workers.
The participation of Kisans and agricultural workers in the national strike on 19.1.82 in support of the working class, in many states, is an inspiring example of worker-peasant unity and class solidarity. The support by Kisans of Maharashrta to the striking textile workers of Bombay is yet another heartening symbol of class solidarity.
The mass participation of peasants and agricultural labourers in the anti-war demonstrations in State capitals and in Delhi on 4th October, 1982 gives expression to the growing anti-war consciousness of the organised peasantry in the country and is a very welcome development.
These aspects of the powerful movement of the peasantry in this period under review are detailed below State by State.
For the existance of a Left Front Government enacting progressive Land reform measures in the interest of the people, in the face of a concerted move of all reactionary, communal and casteist forces, egged on by the Central Ruling Party as well as by pro-imperialist circles like missionary churches, our comrades had to rally the people in support of the Government and its pro-people policies to get the progressive measures implemented against the apathy of the bureaucracy and foil the conspiracy of the reactionary forces.
During campaigns to secure implementation of enahnced minimun wages for agricultural workers it was kept in mind that unity between poor peasants and agricultural workers has to be preserved, firm alliance has to be built with middle peasant and the rich peasant has to be treated as a political ally and not an enemy.
Thousands of Kisan Sabha workers elected to Panchayats were asked to function democratically, keep on reporting about their activities to the people and maintain an healthy atmosphere by inviting opposition to discussions on all issues.
Kisan Sabha continued to campaign for a remunerative price for jute in unity with other kisan organisations as well as with Trade Union Centres. Separate conventions were held in some areas. Bunds were organised on Jute and potato prices.
Against the hostile attitude of the Central Gevernment expressed in witholding of stocks of foodgrains for running Food for Work programme as well as the assent to various progressive legislations passed by the Assembly, unity between kisan organisations led by left parties was built and played an important role, in powerful campaigns unleashed unitedly. This united committee also organised a successful one day strike of agricultural workers all over the State to demand payment of wages to agricultural labourers at least at the rate fixed by the Government.
The Kisan Sabha was also called upon to undertake relief activity during droughts and floods, ran gruel centres and sent medical squads.
An effective fight against eviction of share croppers and landless agricultural workers was also undertaken. To record the names of sharecroppers, kisan sabha took all possible measures for the success of “Operation Barga.”
In the distribution of ceiling surplus and vested lands the kisan sabha acitively intervened through mass mobilisation against the opposition put up by landlords and also provided legal help to contest writ cases in High Court.
Kisan Sabha supported the working class in its fight against ESMA and took part in rallies on 17th August 1981, 23rd November 1981 and the one day strike on 19th January 1982, which became Bengal Bundh with agricultural workers stopping work in every village.
As a result of these activities the strength of the West Bengal Kisan Sabha has been rapidly growing from 12,94, 992 in 1977-78 to 28,45, 709 in 1978-79; 31,82,965 in 1979-80; 38,60,544 in 1980-81, and 46,16,971 in 1981-82 nearly a four fold increase in 4 years. 26th State Conference took place on 1st. to 4th. October 1982 in Hooghly District. Kisan Sabha has decided to organise village committees in all the 38 thousand and odd villages of the State.
Tripura comrades also had before them the twin task of fighting the separatist, extreme-chauvinist and communalist forces to save the glorious tribal-non-tribal unity and to defend the Left Front Government against conspiracies by the reactionary forces led by the Central ruling party. They had also to mobilise people to get progressive measures of the government implemented and to voice protest against the difficulties created by the Central Government.
In 1979 and upto June 1980 there were “save Tripura” campaigns by Amra Bengali and TUJS demanding President’s rule in Tripura. The Kisan Sabha launched a parallel campaign for popular demands against rising prices, for holding of early elections to autonomous Tribal District Council, more allocation by Central Government for Tripura development and more foodgrains for running Food for Work through out the year, against applying Forest Bill to Tripura.
Mass demonstrations took place in Tripura. Mass deputations sent to BDOs demanding speedy implementation of minimum wages, debt relief measures and recording bargadars Rs 250 per quintal price for jute, rehabilitation of Zoomias Food for Work Programmes etc.
Struggles against evictions were led successfully.
But reactionaries managed to engineer the holocaust in June 1980. The Kisan Sabha was the first organisation to come out boldly for the formation of a peace committee and did commendable work to restore the traditional unity between Tribal and Non-tribals.
In October 1980 beginning a demands week for agricultural workers was observed.
Movement for remunerative prices was again taken up.
Newly elected Panchayat Members were urged to take initiative, function the panchayats democratically and use them to rouse and mobilise the masses.
Kisan Sabha also carried on drought relief activity in affected areas.
Movements against Forest Conservation Act and proposed Forest Bill are going on.
Organisationally Tripura Kisan Sabha has not only more members but an attempt is going on to strengthen the organisation from the grass root village level. The regional and are committees are more active than before, Membership of Kisan Sabna and Ganmukthi Parishad together is 82,613 as compare to 67,083 in 1978-79.
An agricultural labour organisation has started-functioning and had its first conference. The membership of this organisation is 12, 901.
The State Kisan Sabha Conference was held on 24th to 26th April 1982.
Working in a very difficult situation, created by the agitation of separatist and chauvinist forces and facing physical attacks and social boycott, our Kisan Sabha comrades not only maintained their base, but have strengthened it.
In this situation they have led Kisans in united actions with the parallel Kisan Sabha against attempts to evict them, to fight against atrocities and exploitation of forest dwellers, against price rise, for remunerative prices for Jute and other agricultural produce, for enhancement of wages of agricultural labourers and for recording of sharecroppers. Although suffering some initial losses they have increased their membership to 83500. They have 14 functioning District units and have held their 13th. State conference from 12 to 14 March 1982.
Orissa comrades had to face lot of goonda attacks by landlords while defending sharecroppers. Many leading comrades got implicated in false cases. Despite this they led campaigns against Janata Government’s policies to put land reforms in reverse gear jointly with other Kisan organisations.
A joint Campaign was also run against rising prices of all essential commodities.
They had to abandon a jail going compaign to undertake flood relief work.
In 1981 they held a joint rally with CPI led Kisan Sabha on 27th March as well as worked for the Orissa Bandh on 5th February. They also participated in the joint movement against busfare hike, jointly with other parties and organisations, rallies and dharnas were organised at 42 blocks in the State, for common demands.
Kisan Sabha led agricultural workers in many places to join 19th January 1982 strike of working class.
They have held their State Conference at Ganjam from 3 to 5 April 1982. Membership stands at 18200.
Kisan Sabha got engaged in flood relief activity during recent floods and did good work.
U.P. was one of the worst affected state of 1979-80 drought and then heavy rains and floods in middle of 1980. Due to these scarcity conditions prevailed in many parts of the State particularly about Diesel, Kerosine oil etc. In 1979 and up to middle 1980 U.P. Kisan Sabha held a large number of meetings demanding proper distribution of these commodities, check in rise of prices of essential commodities drought relief, housebuilding relief to those who had got their house damaged etc. After Moradabad incidents Kisan sabha Comrades with other social and political workers held a number of conferences againt communalism.
In 1980-81 a series of agitations were organised on the issue of sugarcane prices. In response to a call by six party sangharsha samiti, Kisan Solidarity Day was observed on 17th January followed by a dharna at Tahsil Headquarters in February and a jail going movement in March 1981, to demand besides Rs. 30 per quintal for sugarcane, writing off of suspended land reveune, no rise in Bus fare and for withdrawal of NSA.
In Novemner 1980 a demonstration was organised in Lucknow on a charter of peoples demands which was about 15 thousand strong.
U.P. Kisan Sabha sent about 20000 kisans and agricultural workers to Delhi rally.
U.P. Kisan Sabha joined the six parties in organising strikes of cane growers in 1980 and 1981.
Meeting and demonstrations have been continuing on demands for drought relief, against rising prices, against killing by police in the name of “encounters”, against atrocities like “Siswa” incident.
Kisan Sabha workers contested Panchayat elections and incomplete reports show that in about 400 Panchayats we have our Pradhans. Attempt is being made to guide them.
Membership of U.P. State Kisan Sabha is 1,00,000 and a seperate Khet Mazdoor sabha has been formed with 15000 membership.
In the period immediately following the Varanasi conference the Kerala comrades had to fight panchayat elections, 8 number of bye-elections and preparing for two elections to Lok Sabha and immediately following it, the Assembly election in 1980. They organised mass picketings at collectorates and before the Legislative Assembly in the 3rd week of October in protest against the amendment Sec. 6-C of the Agrarian Relations Act. This amendment reduced the size of surplus land by validating gifts. Panchayats sent telegrams to President and Prime Minister.
The LDF Government repealed this amendment during the rule of this government, Kisan Sabha undertook the responsibility of running campaigns in its support as well as against the hostile attitude of Central government and particularly its import policy which was ruining the rubber, coffee and coconut growers Dharnas were organised before Central Government offices against the import policy. A special convention held on 6th July 1980 formulated a 21 demand charter, Special conventions held on 7th July 1980 formulated a 21 demand charter. Special conventions were again held in February 1981 at three places—Trivandrum, Ernakulam and Calicut for this purpose followed by district and Panchayat level conventions and demonstrations A united Kisan convention was held on 15th November 1981.
When casting vote ministry came to power about 10,000 Kisan marched to Raj Bhawan and staged a massive Dharna on 6th January 1982 Another round of Dharna took place in the eve of 19th May 1982 elections.
After elections the first issue taken up was the demand that 25% subsidy for fertilizers be extended to entire Kerala and increased to 50%, A week long propaganda by Jeep Jatha, holding hundreds of meetings and picketing at Collectorate on 9-8-1982, When the new Congress-I led Ministry was presenting its budget on 9-8-82, marches to District Centres were organised in Cannanore, Calicut and Palghat against reduction Cashew nut prices.
Membership of Kisan Sabha has risen rapidly from 2,81,476 in 1978 to 5,65,490 in 1982.
There is a separate Kisan Sabha office at state level and in the districts, There are committees working down to the village level.
Our Kisan Sabha and CPI led Kisan Sabha held a joint convention on 21.8.1980 and signed a 8 point memorandum. State wide dharnas in front of Collectorates to explain this memorandum took place. About 2 lakh Kisans and Agricultural workers participated. Andhra Bundh took place on 24th September.
A joint struggle by opposition parties started with state wide dharnas at Collectorates on 20th October, 1980. About 5 lakh persons participated. A charter was presented to government and get agreement signed on 17th February 1981. But struggle to it implemented could not take Place due to Panchayat elections and some bye-elections.
600 Panchayat and 6 samitis were won by us.
Tobacco growers’ convention was held at Ongole on 10th February 1981. There were bundhs at many centres. ILTD workers joined this movement.
110 persons participated in Delhi rally on 26th march 1981 from Andhra Pradesh.
23,000 applications were filed by peasants to get the tax concession announced by the Government. On may 31 demonstrations were organised in 50 Taluk headquarters demanding implementation of the concessions. Due to this campaign government machinery moved and the concessions were implemented to some extent.
A meeting of tobacco peasantry was organised on 22nd Feburary 1982 at Ongole. All parties participated in this. To get good price, a “no sale” campaign was conducted for a month. Due to this a settlement with traders was arrived at ensuring a price of Rs. 1350 per quintal of tobacco. The tobacco growers of Nellore district alone got Rupees four crores additional amount as return for their produce The arrears from the companies to the peasantry were also got paid during this campaign.
An all party convention demanding remunerative price for cotton was held at Inkollu in Prakasam district. As per decisions of this convention, dharnas were conducted on 22nd March 1982 at the purchasing centres. But since we took up the campaign late, it was only partially eflective.
A convention of agricultural consumers of electricity was held at Nalgonda, in which 500 peasants participated.
On price of sugarcane, an all party convention was held on 2nd November, 1981 at Nidadavole in west Godavari district.
A convention with 500 peasants was held at Vuyyuru demanding payment as per Bhargava Formula which was in arrears. Peasants conducted dharnas and a part of arrears was cleared.
In Nellore district a compign to stop doubling of taxation on tanks, due to misclasssification, was conducted and the collection was stopped. In Warangal district also, a similar campaign was conducted and the collection stopped by legal steps.
A campaign, to get correct compensation to peasants whose lands were acquired for Nagarjuna Canal, was conducted.
Campaign on irrigation and drainage schemes were conducted in Guntur, Nellore, Nalgonda, Krishna and West Godavari districts.
On the co-operative front, we got the penal interest on loan cancelled by government.
We contested in the elections held for co-operatives. We won 50 societies in Narasampeta division and about 60 societies in Nalgonda district.
The land development bank at Miryalguda and at Charla in Khammam district and sugar co-oprative society at Khammam were won by us with some other development banks.
188 Taluks in 14 districts out of 23 are affected by serious drought in the state this year.
Membership of Kisan Sabha was 150000 last year. This year it has reached 174000. It has been decided to organise 1000 village committees at the earliest.
A sustained campaign was conducted by state Kisan Sabha on the issue of cacellation of old co-operative dues from small farmers and the cancellation of interest accrued for the old co-operative dues of other sections of farmers. These dues had accumulated due to the previous years of drought and flood ravages.
The Kisan Sabha on its own efforts and in united joint action with Kisan Sabha of the CPI and with other organizations of farmers, conducted various rallies, dharnas and picketing to force the State government to give up forcible collection and distraint proceedings for the recovery of co-operative loans.
This joint movement with 6 Kisan organisations had dharnas in 100 places. Picketing of state government offices and the Reserve Bank took place. In this picketing 13000 peasants who participated, were arrested and released later on.
Due to this continuous movement, state, government was forced to cancel Rs. 93 crores of co-operative dues. This includes Rs. 73 crores of loans due from small farmers and Rs. 20 crores of interest due from other farmers.
The government was also forced to cancel Taccavi loans of Rs. 27 crores.
Struggle for higher wages in Tanjore district and in other places resulted in increase by rupees two to three per day.
A campaign to implement the law providing for 75% of the produce to the tenant (sharecropper) is being conducted.
As a result of Kisan Sabha efforts, the celling limit of income for persons to be eligible for cancellation of their private debts, was raised from 2400 rupees per annum to 4800 rupees per annum.
Kisan Sabha succeeded in forcing the government to declare 11 districts as drought affected, instead of 3 as proposed by government earlier.
When the government tried to disconnect agricultural pumpsets and to levy penal charges for arrears of electricity, the Kisan Sabha opposed it and made the government to retreat.
Nearly six lakhs of agricultural workers joined the 19th January 1982, all-India strike, mainly in Tanjore district and expressed solidarity with the working class.
The police resorted to firing on that day and comrades Nagooran and Anjan, two agricultural workers were killed in the firing and a number of comrades received bullet wounds.
One CPI worker was also killed in police firing on that day.
100 agricultural workers are implicated in police cases in connection with incidents on 19th January, 1882.
Separate States Kisan Sabha and State Agricultural Labour Organisation are now functioning.
A monthly journal in Tamil is coming out on behalf of the two organisations.
Membership of Kisan Sabha is 77,778 and that of agricultural Labour Union is 92,836.
The main issues on which campaigns have been led in these years are remunerative prices for paddy, sugarcane and cotton, against the rise in busfares, for grant of permanent titles to agricultural workers and abadkars on waste and evacuee lands, for increase in wages of agricultural workers, against recovery from Kisans for brick lined irrigation channels, against killing of persons by police in fake encounters and campaigns against the divisive and communal forces.
To focus and realise these demands, numerous conventions, rallies, demonstrations, dharnas and gheraos were jointly organised with CPI and Akali-led kisan organisations. Market committee officers and Ministers attending various committee meetings were gheraoed. Despite brutal police repressions, firing and killings, buses were effectively stopped all over the State on the basis of a Joint Charter of demands. The Sangharsha Samiti of these parties also gheraoed the Punjab Assembly on 21st, January 1981, for seventy minutes, braving repression and lathi charges and smashing police barricades. The government was forced to open negotiations and announce some concessions.
A militant Bus stoppage was also organised for 4 hours against Busfare hike.
Kisan Sangarsh Samiti called upon the peasants not to supply sugarcane to the mills until the price was raised to Rs. 25 per quintal. United peasantry forced the government and mill owners to pay Rs. 22 to 28 per quintal. The same rate was maintained under the pressure of kisan movement last year.
Campaign has been going on for the last two months for the payment of sugarcane arrears. Over one crore rupees as been paid so far under the pressure of the movement.
At the call of the Kisan Sabha dharnas were staged at most of the sub-division head quarters from September 25th to 1st October, demanding early announcement of Paddy, Sugarcane and Cotton Prices.
The Punjab Government’s decision to recover Rs. 114 crores as construction cost of brick lined irrigation channels, infuriated the Peasants. Active resistance to this unjust recovery is being organised.
As a result of our campaign, wages of agricultural workers have been raised to Rs. 11 per day with food and Rs. 14 per day without food.
A very unjust Ravi-Beas Water distribution accord was awarded by the Prime Minister. Kisan Sabha challenged it in the High Court. While the writ petition was pending in the High Court, the Prime Minister inaugurated the digging up of the canal. Kisan Sabha opposed the digging and Jathas were sent. The digging was stopped. Punjab Kisan Sabha has decided to launch propaganda campaign to enlighten peasants on this issue.
With the extremist organisation Dal Khalsa stepping up its activity leading to tension between Sikhs and Hindus, our comrades have taken up the challenge all over the State, to fight these divisive forces. A week of intence campaigning and circulation of comrade Surjit’s letter to Akali leaders has been quite effective.
Punjab Kisan Sabha sent 25000 Kisans and agricultural workers to Delhi March of 81.
State Kisan Sabha Conference held in January 1982 at , Jhabal noted that the membership of 1.07,870 this year does not fully reflect the Increase in-influence and that steps must be taken to remove organisational weaknesses. The Dehati Mazdoor Sabha membership is 62,292.
Bihar State Kisan Sabha suffered an irreparable loss in the murder of Comrade Ramanand Singh, Secretary, on 19th October 1979.
Bihar Kisan Sabha extended its activities to new areas through anti-eviction struggles and struggles on demands of sharecroppers to get their legitimate share of produce. In these struggles large number of Kisan Sabba workers including leading comrades were implicated in false cases. Our comrades had to face constant goonda attacks which took place with the connivance of the police.
The Kisan movement is facing severe attacks from big landlords, their goondas and Police as the movement is surging forward.
In 1979 beginning, there were Joint demonstrations with CPI led Kisan Sabha in 200 blocks. And then a large joint rally took place in the State capital on common demands led by CPI (M), CPI, Lok Dal, Forward Block and Congress(U.)
Bihar Kisan Sabha sent the biggest contingent of thirty Thousand Kisans and agricultural workers to the Kisan Rally. From amongst the Hindi-speaking States.
A State wide Convention of agricultural workers was held in July, 1979. In the tribal areas of Chotanagpur division, Kisan Sabha had launched a big campaign for the rehabilitation of displaced Adivasi Kisans, whose lands had been acquired for industrial purposes. Neither adequate compensation nor alternative place for rehabilitation was provided to the Adivasis, when their lands were taken over. Ranchi, Dhanbad and Hazari Bagh are the district in which this took place.
In Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Santhal Pargana, Singhbhum districts, Kisan Sabha is organising the Kisans to fight against cruel exploitation of money lenders, contractors and forest department officials.
Kisan Sabha is also engaged in fighting against the conspiracies of disruptive forces like Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Christian Missionaries, who are active in these area.
During the struggles of contract labourers of Jamshedpur for regularisation and end of contract system, kisan sabha units in this tribal area helped the contract labourers and expressed their solidarity.
Bihar State Kisan Sabha has a memership of 1,50,000.
The movement for remunerative prices led to the famous Dindi March to Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in December 1980. This was a big event.
The Left Parties and Kisan Organisations joined this movement. About 125 Kisans and 50 workers led by Com. Kurne started from Jalgaon. Adivasi Peasants joined the march. Despite repression and arrests thousands reached Nagpur but were stopped near Assembly Hall. A huge meeting took place after which all leaders and about twenty thousand peasants were arrested to be released in the night.
A joint conference was organised by some opposition Parties and organisations namely CPI (M), CPI, Congress(S), Peasants and Workers’ Party and Janata, in the beginning of March. This Conference passed resolutions against rising prices and unemployment, for enhancement of wages of Agricultural workers, proper implementation of Employment Guarantee Scheme and for remunerative prices for agricultural produce. After this Conference a ten thousand strong procession marched to Maharashtra Assembly in Bombay on 3rd March 1981. Near the Assembly a big meeting took place.
Kisan Sabha has a sizeable base amongst the tribals and has been regularly taking up their problems. A State Adivasi Conference was organised on 24th and 25th. December 1981 at Nasik attended by about 4000 delegates. Groups of Adivasis had come from Gujarat also. After the Conference, there was a big procession and rally.
A Cotton Growers’ Conference was also organised by Kisan Sabha in November 1979.
Kisan Sabha has supported working class in its struggle against ESMA and has joined rallies on 17th August, 23rd November, 1981, The Kisan Sabha supported and took part in the strike on 19th January 1982. The Kisan Sabha supported and took part in the Maharashtra Bandh on 19th April to express solidarity with the striking Textile Workers.
The 14th State Kisan Sabha Conference was held from 24th to 26th March 1982 in Raigarh district. Membership this year is 52,350.
A united call by our Maharashtra State Agricultural Labourers’ Union and similar organisations of other left parties was given to observe 23rd April 1982 as demand day. On that clay more than one lakh agricultural worker went on strike and took out morchas and demonstrated before Tahsildars, demanding Rs. 10, 12 and 15 per day as minimum wages. Our participation was more than 40000 in these demonstrations.
From 13th to 17th of September, 1982, more than 1200 agricultural workers from different districts observed dharna before Bombay Assembly to demand above mentioned minimum wages. These dharnas were joint actions. Our participation was 300.
Our Kisan Sabha representative in the Assembly raised this issue and govt. agreed to consult agricultural labour organisations before fixing minimum wages.
Many striking textile workers with their families went to their villages and they were welcomed and maintained by Kisans. In addition peasants from Satara, Sangli, Sholapur, Ratnagiri and other districts sent hundreds of bags of grain to the textile workers belonging to these districts-who were on strike at Bombay, as an expression of their solidarity.
Activity of Kisan Sabha in Karnataka centered round evictions and corruptions in Land Tribunals, demand for higher wages of agricultural labourers, demands of drought affected peasantry, rehabilitation of peasants uprooted from dam construction area, betterment levy, water cess and other taxes, agricultural credit, remunerative prices for agricultural produce etc.
Eviction was prevented in several places and in Haliyal the struggle for land took the from of squatting on forest land facing repressions.
A struggle by Thathaguni estate farm workers for higher wages lasted 10-11 months. Agriculture University Farm workers forced authorities to pay the fixed minimum wages.
In Kolar, Dharwar and S. Kanara agricultural workers successfully fought for house sites and construction assistance.
Widespread drought in 1981, specially in Bijapur and Kolar districts necessitated a movement for relief and for permanent measures to prevent drought conditions.
A “Malprabha Command Area Farmers’ coordination Committee” of all parties was formed to fight against oppressive recovery of betterment levy, water cess and other dues, when prices of Varalakshmi Cotton had fallen very steeply and Kisans were facing ruination. Struggle on the basis of a 23 point charter started and a total bandh occured in Taluqs of command area, Police firing killed a Kisan and in the clash two police officials were also killed. In the statewide struggle that followed 25 lives were lost and hundreds of Kisans were facing court cases. The issue of remunerative prices, betterment levy and water cess got integrated together and a big rally was held in Bangalore on 12th December 1980 by Kisan Sabha with the cooperation of CITU.
Goverment was forced to give concession amounting to Rs. 58 crores.
Membership has risen from 18211 in 1978-79 to 51,000 in 1981-82. State conference took place in Kolar District from 11th to 14th March 1982. It had a separate session on Agricultural Workers’ problem.
Rajasthan Kisan Sabha has campaigned for relief to drought affected people, suffering from scarcity of food, K. oil and diesel in 1979. On the basis of an 8 point charter of demands, in association with CITU and SFI a Jail going movement was organised from 8 to 15 October 1979 during which 25000 persons were arrested.
The four party convention taking place in December 1980 decided to start struggles for remunerative prices of agricultural produce, solution to power crisis, no hike in busfare. They decided to obstruct all government work on 3rd February 1981 which affected work In 20 districts despite. Against Police repression in Raigarh there was a big demonstration on 4th February.
The movement for cane prices started by Kisan Sabha in Chittorgarh became a 4 party struggle. “Rasta Roko” struggle demanding more supply of electricity for agriculture was conducted in Chittor District. 200 comrades were arrested.
On 2nd March there was a 60,000 strong joint demonstration and a Jaipur Bandh,
About 15 thousand Kisans and Agricultural workers from Rajasthan participated in Delhi Rally.
There were struggles in Udaipur and Doongarpur against police repression on tribals and for their demands.
State Kisan Sabha Conference was held on 12-13 June 1982 at Sikar. Membership is 20,000.
Kisan activity was revived in 1978 and a new State Committee was elected.
Main campaign in the period under review was about debt relief, particularly for those who had suffered damages to crops due to drought. The movement started in Bharuch, became an all Gujarat movement led by an all-party “Agriculturists Debt Abolition Struggle Committee” in which our Kisan Sabha comrades were active participants.
Satyagraha and mass arrest took place and a concession of Rs. 58 crores ultimately won.
Kisan Sabha actitvity is taking place in five districts. Kisan Sabha led. some local struggles for implementation of minimum wage for agricultural workers.
Kisan Sabha membership is 17920.
Attempts are being made to exend Kisan Sabha work from four districts at the time of Varanasi conference to 13 districts through local struggles on Sugar cane prices in Morena, on problems of tribals connected with forests in Shahdol, on demands of Kotwars in Indore, wages of agricultural workers in some places, against malpractices by Mandi committees etc in others. About 1500 Kisans and agricultural workers participated in 26 March 1981 rally in Delhi.
State conference is proposed in December and District and Tahsil conferences are going on. In some districts village level Organisation is being stressed upon.
HARYANA AND HIMACHAL PRADESH
With only 10 thousand and 4 thousand members in these two States respectively, the Kisan Sabha organisation is extremely weak with no State Centre functioning. In the March and April of 1980 Haryana comrades took up some urgent demands of the peasantry organised padyatras and local conventions, besides a dharna at grain mandi. A joint state level rally was held at Jind on 15-8-80., Under the leadership of a joint Sangharsha Samiti campaigns for remunerative prices for, Sugarcane and Paddy were conducted, a women’s procession against police repression was taken out in Karnal.
The fact that Haryana Kisan Sabha could send 10.000 persons to Delhi rally and had a very impressive participation in joint rallies and demonstrations, following the installation of Bhajan Lal Ministry by Governor Tapase, points towards the possiblities in this State once an effective Centre starts functioning.
From Himachal Pradesh we have reports of observance of a demands week in September 1979. some dharnas and local demonstrations following it in Rampur, There was a March to Simla on 8th March 1981 under the auspices of a Six Party Committee due to which Himachal Comrades could only have a token participation on 26th March Delhi rally.
JAMMU AND KASHMIR.
The newly activised Jammu and Kashmir unit, with very courageous young comrades in the lead, is advancing in the face of grave difficulties, created by aggressive communal and separatist forces including Jamate Islami and its student wing Jamate Tulba. They held a number of conventions and picked up a number of issues for agitation including higher rates of electricity, remunerative prices of agricultural produce including Silk and Fruit, several problems faced by fruit growers, lack of P.H. Cs and Fair Price Shops, rise in prices, unemployment and have also demanded Panchayat elections with wider powers.
The membership has increased from just 2000 in 1978-79 to 12480 in 1981-82.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF WEST BENGAL, TRIPURA LEFT FRONT AND KERALA LDF GOVERNMENTS.
In the background of these powerful struggles let us have a look at the policies and achievments of the Left Front Governments of West Bengal and Tripura and the 20 month old LDF Government in Kerala which have pursued alternative policies as compared to anti-people policies of the Congress-I Government at Centre and most of the States.
This on the basis of its glorious record of work in the interests of the people, that the West Bengal Left Front Government could rally more and more people in its support, stay in office for a full term despite all the machinations of the Central ruling party and hostile non-cooperative attitude of the Central Government and finally win a convincing victory in elections to continue in its second term in office. Under similar circumstances and for the same reasons the Tripura Left Front Government is confidently preparing to face the coming elections on the eve of completion of its full term of five years in office. The Kerala LDF Government was not allowed to stay in power for more than 20 months before it was pulled down as a result of betrayal and defection by two of the erstwhile partners of the LDF. But even in this short period it can boast of a glorious record of achievments.
Working under severe constitutional constraints and limitations, incessantly facing sabotage and hostile opposition put up by Central Government and the Central Ruling Party headed by Smt. Indira Gandhi, these Government have clearly shown what can be done by a Government in the interests of the people even under these serious limitations and severley restricted powers given the ‘political will’ to do so and a clear orientation towards the masses.
West Bengal is that State where atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes as well as incidents of communal riots are very rare, people under the leadership of Left parties have fought and successfully isolated the communal and casteist forces while separatist forces in the neighbouring state of Assam have held the people’s life to ransom for the last three years and the solution of the socalled problem of “foreign nationals” is nowhere in sight.
Wages of Agricultural worker in West Bengal have been raised to Rs. 9.58 per day and the strong movement of Agricultural Workers led by West Bengal State Kisan Sabha, ensures full implementation of rates through mass mobilisation and struggles. The serious manner in which the Food for Work Programme and now renamnd NREP has been implemented in the State, providing employment to lakhs of Agricultural Workers and poor peasants in lean season, also enables the agricultural workers to bargain better for wages and to escape from the clutches of the money lenders. As a result of all them factors wages of agricultural workers in the State have risen everywhere by Rs. 2/- to Rs. 3/- per day and in some places they are even higher than the statutorily fixed minimum wages After Punjab, some parts of Haryana and Western U.P., West Bengal has the highest daily wages for the agricultural laboures.
The right of resumption, in the name of “Self-Cultivation“ has been misused over decades in all parts of the country to evict the tenants and share croppers. To stop this misuse of a provision in the law, the Land Reform Act has been amended in West Bengal to lay down the following three conditions, in the definition of “Self Cultivation”.
- The Main source of livelihood must be cultivation of Land.
- One must reside within 8 kilometers of the land for greater part of the year and;
- After resumption the cultivation must be done by the person himself or by the labour of his own family.
To enable the sharcroppers to enjoy the rights-particularly security of tenure and right of inheritance-conferred by the new enactment, a drive to record their names known as “Operation Barga” was launched and is till continuing. Meetings of share croppers, known as Bargadars in West Bengal, are held to explain to them the necessity and usefulness of getting their names recorded. Names are recorded within three or four days with the help of local panchayats. Anyone found in cultivating possession of land is recorded and the onus of proving that one is not a bargadar lies on the man who raises objection and not on the bargadar himself. Nearly eleven and a half lakh bargadars have already been recorded.
West Bengal Left front govt. is the only one which is seriously attempting to plug the loopholes in the existing ceiling law by suitably amending it. An amendment act was passed by the West Bengal Assembly on 9th April 1981. The Central Government after keeping this amending Act waiting for more than an year for Presidential assent have now returned it back with a number of objections. This shows how serious is the Central Government in the matter of plugging of loopholes in the Ceiling Law and making them more effective.
To save the Sharecroppers, from the exploitation of Jotdars and money lenders the West Bengal Government is arranging Institutional credit for them for their consumption and production needs at a concessional rate of interest of 4%. If the bargadars pay back their loans upto 31st March in the next, year the interest will be paid by the Government, thus making the loan totally interest free.
In West Bengal the newly elected Panchayats which assumed office in 1978 were given wide powers and responsibilities in relation to rural development which is a unique experiment in decentralisation of power under the Indian constitution.
These Panchayats won people’s praise by successfully carrying out relief activities during the unprecedented floods of 1978, in implementing Food-For-Work schemes and local and small irrigational projects like dugwells, bamboo tubewells, bunds etc. and in acting as purchasing agents for FCI & JCI for paddy and jute respectively. Their assistance and association in the work of distribution of ceiling and vested land and recording of names of sharecroppers has proved to be of immense value, They gave financial assistance to 64,480 families of agricultural labour and fishermen in 1980 to build and renovate their houses.
The Tripura Government also launched an ‘Operation Barga” on the lines of the West Bengal Government and has also amended their land Revenue and Land Reforms Acts on the same lines. They enacted the Tripura Agricultural Indebetedness Relief Act of 1979 to give relief in the matter of indebtedness to poor peasants and Rural Artisans with annual incomes upto Rs. 2400/- About 1623 acres of land has been distributed, besides allotment of vested land to 28,932 person. About 7627 families of agricultural workers have been given house sites.
Tripura Government is encouraging tea and rubber plantations by cooperatives, and such occupations as horticulture, pisiculture and sericulture as poverty alleviation steps.
To fulfil the long standing demands of the tribals, the Tripura Government has made the tribal local language KOK BARAK as the second official language of Tripura. An Autonomous Tribal Council has been formed in the tribal dominated area. The disruptive forces of Amra Bangali and TUJs, succeeded temporarily in breaking the glorious unity between the tribals and non-tribals and engineer a holocaust in June 1980. But the democratic forces and the State Kisan Sabha aided by the Left Front Govt. did commendable work in restoring this traditional amity between tribals and non tribals in the shortest, possible time and in rehabilitating the 3 lakh refugees in a State with a total population of only 19 lakhs.
The West Bengal, and Tripura Left Front Governments and the Kerala LDF Government, introduced in their respective States, the old age pension scheme for poor Kisans and agricultural workers. While in the former two States this scheme continues in the latter it has been sabotaged after the LDF Government was toppled and Congress-I led government is instaelled Instead of implementing the scheme through popularly elected committees, the job has been now entrusted to bureaucrats who are known for their bias agaies agricultural workers.
The Kerala LDF Government earned universal praise for maintaining the best public distribution system in the country and keeping the prices stable during the two Onam Festivals during its rule and keeping the people supplied with all essential commodities including cloth and vegetables.
The Left and Democratic Front Government of Kerala had taken the following measures for protecting the interests of peasants:—
- Invalidated section 6-C which provided for exemption of lands given as gift from the preview of land ceiling act. This amendnent was passed and was sent to Central Government for approval.
- Peasants holding upto 4 hectares of land were exempted from plantation tax. Previously this exemption was only for two hectares.
- Agricultural produce used as food was exempted from Agricultural income tax. The lower limit for agricultural income tax was raised from Rs. 8000 to Rs. 15000,
- Sales Tax on Chemical Manure was abolished.
- Rent arears for peasants holding upto one hectare were cancelled.
- The remaining amount of compensation which hutment dwellers had yet to pay for ownership of hutment land was cancelled.
- For all agricultural loans from cooperative societies, 50% subsidy was sanctioned by the Govt. And interest in all loans taken by peasants before 1976 was cancelled. This has benefited 135000 peasants with an amount of Rs. 5 crores and 50 lakhs.
75% of interest, was reimbursed as subsidy to the loans taken in 1978 if remitted before September 1981 by the peasants.
- Pumping subsidy in Kuttanadu and other water-logged lands was increased to 100%. That means whole pumping expenses were met by Government, previously the subsidy was only upto 50%.
- Subsidy for the purchase of pumpsets was increased and also an insurance scheme for cattle was introduced.
- A scheme for cutting down the diseased coconut trees and planting of good categories was implemented; compensation for the destroyed trees was also given.
These and other achievment of the Left Front Governments must be brought home to every person in the countryside so that the largest number of rural people may be rallied in defence of these Government, to topple whom conspiracies are always being hatched by reactionary vested interests and the Central Ruling Party. This will help Kisan workers in other States to demand similar policies and measures for the people in their respective States.
CONGRESS(I) GOVERNMENT’S PRICE POLICY IN ACTION
The Government of India announces support prices of most of agricultural commodities, on the recomendations of the Agricultural prices Commission which never takes into consideration the rise in cost of production, general rise in prices, prevailing prices of finished products and the need to provide the peasant producers with a reasonable return.
The purchase at this prices generally begins late, the number of centres is too few and they are situated too far for most villages. Enough capital is not placed at their disposal to purchase a sizeable portion of the salable surplus of the produce. Due to these factors and the prevelence of corruption in these centres, most of the growers have to sell their produce at rates lower than the support prices to private agents. When the poor and middle sections of the growers have sold their produce in this manner the prices rise and the public distribution system is unable to stabilise the prices at a reasonable level. Thus the Government sale and purchase machinery works in such a manner that neither it protects the interests of growers nor that of consumers while assisting the middle men and profiteers to a mass wealth.
WHEAT AND PADDY
In the three years between 1977-78 to 1980-81 the general price rise Was between 20 to 30 per cent per year. But the support price for wheat which was Rs. 110 in 1977-78 was raised to Rs. 117 in 1980-81 i.e. by 6.3- in 3 years! In 1981-82 when all States demanded a support price between Rs. 140 to Rs. 160 per quintal Government raised it to Rs. 130/- per quintal only. The hike in prices from Rs. 130 to Rs. 142/- per quintal from 15th April and from Rs. 142 to Rs. 160/-per quintal from to August 1982 were both off-season hikes and most of the poor and middle peasants who had already sold their produce could not derive any benefit from them. This only gave a spurt to prices the open market and enabled the Government to reduce in subsidies and earn profit by seiling wheat purchased cheap earlier, as the latter hike was accompanied by a heavy hike of Rs. 35/- per quintal in issue prices.
The paddy support prices have been raised this year from Rs. 115 per quintal to Rs. 122 per quintal a six per cent rise, when all state governments had recommended prices ranging between Rs. 140 to Rs. 160 per quintal.
Between 1977-78 and 1979-80 the production of sugar fell from 64.57 lakh tonnes to 38.58 lakh tonnes and in the same period acreage and production of sugarcane fell by 17 and 27% respectively. This was “attributable to adverse price factors relating to gur and sugar in the preceeding year.” (Report of Ministry of Agriculture 1979-80).
In 1978-79 price of sugar in open market was less than Rs. 3 per Kgm. everywhere & cane growers received a price between Rs. 16-19 per quintal. The whole sale price Index of sugar was 160.2 in 1979 & went up by 45.9% to 233.7 in 1980. Retail prices in 1979 were Rs. 250 to 350 per quintal and went up to Rs. 450 to Rs. 500 per quintal in December 1979 and Rs. 700 to Rs. 800 in August 1980. With this 2 to 3 times increase in sugar prices cane growers demanded a price increase from Rs. 16-19 in 1978-79 to Rs. 30 per quintal in 1979-80 and again the same in 1980-81. But the Central Government increased the minimum price from Rs. 10 in 1978-79 to Rs. 12.50 to Rs. 13/- per quintal in 1980-81. The Cane growers had to launch big countrywide struggles to get a price ranging between Rs. 23 to Rs. 28 per quintal.
In 1981-82, which was again a bumper year of sugarcane production of about 18 crore tonnes, the cane price actually received by growers was about Rs. 3 less per quintal despite the continuing rise in prices of all essential commodities including inputs like fertilizers, pesticides, electric power, diesal etc. In this season the price of sugar continued to range between Rs. 550 to Rs. 650 per quintal and the Government gave a rebate in excise duties of Rs. 25 per quintal in levy sugar and Rs. 40 per quintal in open market sugar to compensate the mill owners for loss due to late season crushing from 1st April 1982 onwards. By controlling releases of sugar the government prevented prices to fall despite an all time record production of about 90 lakh tonnes. In the month of July the prices in Bombay actually rose from Rs. 508/518 to Rs. 558/560 per quintal (Economic Times 15.9.82)
Taking the actual cost of production into consideration the Varanasi Conference demanded a minimum support price of cotton of Rs. 500 per quintal. But the Government fixed the support price at Rs. 275 per quintal in 1979-80, Rs. 304 in 1980-81 and did not fix any price in 1981-82.
Prices of Varalakshmi cotton fell steeply in 1980 and in Karnataka they fell from Rs. 1200 per quintal to Rs. 300.
The government a few years ago encouraged the growers to produce fine medium and long stapple cotton, which we had to import earlier. As a result the production of Medium HV-4 (mainly in Maharashtra) Gujarat, M.P., Andhra Pradesh & Karnataka and Varalakshmi (mainly in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Karnataka) became respectively 32 & 24% of the total cotton production in the country. But now the Indian Textile Industry, unable to compete with artificial fabric in fine and superfine cloth does not want these long staple and fine medium varieties. Hence the Government is discouraging their production by allowing the prices deliberately to fall.
There is a monopoly procurement scheme for cotton in Maharashtra and Gujarat for which the Reserve Bank provides finances to the tune of Rs. 200 to Rs. 260 crores per year. But the advantage is confined to a very small section of producers. The cotton market is totally in control of Mill agents and Cotton Corporation of India connives with them. They enter the market late when the poor & middle peasants have already sold off their stock.
In 1981 and 1982 the prices of cotton have been steadily falling. The Economic Times Index for Cotton which stood at 268.0 in July 1981 went down to 213.0 on 22nd September 1982.
Varanasi Canference demanded a minimum price of Jute of Rs. 300/- per quintal while the India fixed the support price at Rs. 155 per quintal in 1979-80, Rs. 160 in 1980-81 and Rs. 175 in 1981-82.
A memorandum submitted to the Government of India in August 1980 by 4 left-led Kisan Organisations (including West Bengal Kisan Sabha) also demanded Rs. 300/- per quintal price In the words of this memorandum the Jute Corporation of India formed to help the growers get a remunerative price “has become a machinery in the hands of the Jute barons to loot the peasantry further and also a weapon to make more and more profits” It enters late in the market, is generaly provided with Rs. 11 Crores of Capital which is too small and makes purchases only at support prices.
Economic Times Index of wholesale prices moved up by 3% between 10-9-81 and 10-9-82 to 103.9 for Jute while it moved up by 28% for Jute manufactures from 199.4 to 227.9 in the same period.
West Bengal Kisan Sabha, in order to protect the interest of growers & workers of Jute Mills, is demanding nationalisation of Jute Industry including wholesale trade in Jute.
The production of rubber rapidly increased in the country from 92,171 tonnes in 1970-71 to 1,49,632 tonnes in 1976-77 and since then it is almost stagnant. Explaining the reason for this a memorandum jointly presented to the Prime Minister by all the political parties of Kerala stated :—
“Due to abnormal increase in the cost of inputs and production costs the notified price fixed by the Government of India for rubber i.e. Rs. 825 per quintal has lost its relevance. The Cost of production of one Kgm. rubber now works out to Rs. 14.86 or Rs. 15/- per kgm. As against this the price of rubber had never gone beyound Rs. 16 per Kgm. except for a short period in the month of May 1981.”
As the demand for rubber for industry increased it was met by larger and larger imports, to the detriment of the interests of the growers. It reached 42,750 tonnes in the 1981-82. Malayasian rubber costs are roughly 2/3 of indigeneous rubber and hence the rubber monopolists—both multinationals like Firestone & Goodyear and Indian like J.K. and Modis, want the Government to import more and more rubber while to protect the interests of growers it is necessary to ban imports altogether.
Kerala produces 55% of country’s coconuts, but 40% of total coconut area in the State is affected by rootwilt disease for which no cure has been found. There is also the widely prevalent leafrot disease.
Coconut Oil prices are declining. They stood at Rs. 1840/ per quintal in November 1980 and went down to Rs. 1250 in July 1981. This decline continued in 1982 when prices of other commodities were generally rising.
Under the new import policy of 1981-82 the Government ol India permitted imports Copra/Coconut Oil for registered exporters under REP license issued on the export of fatty acids/ fatty amines. Taking advantage of the loopholes in the new import policy, traders imported about 40000 tonnes, thus stimulating the fall in prices. The growers are demanding a total ban of these imports.
India was once not only the largest producer of raw cashew nuts but also held almost the monopoly of processing industry. Raw Cashew nuts produced elsewhere were imported and processed to be exported as processed cashew. Now the domestic annual output is almost stagnating round 1.8 to 2 lakh tonnes against the installed capacity of about 4.5 lakh tonnes. As a result processing factories are closed and thousand of workers are facing starvation. The Karunakaran Government in Kerala, which is the main cashew producer state is neither helping the growers to fight pests, or to introduce new high yielding seeds nor it is ready to take over sick cashew units to be run by Cashew Development Corporation which already runs 39 factories under its management. It has also reduced raw cashew prices, purchased by cooperatives. Even the licences for import of unprocessed cashew are being given to individuals instead of giving them politic sector undertakings. The private factory owners fail to lift even the quota of raw cashew alloted to them for processing and keep the factories closed in order to raise the prices of processed cashew nuts by creating an artificial scarcity.
RISE IN PRICES OF ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES
With some ups and downs, the rise in prices in general has continued all through and is still continuing.
The official wholesale price index was 257.1 in December 1980, and went upto 277.3 on 24th April 1982 and since then it rose continuously for 15 weeks to attain the peak level of 293.8 on 22nd August 1982.
The true picture is, however, never presented by wholesale price indices, because although the rise in wholesale prices immediately sends the prices in retail market shooting upwards the decline takes time to percolate down to the retail market, and the decline that eventually comes in retail price, if it at all takes place, is never of the same order as in wholsale prices and the moment, decline in wholesale prices stops, the downward trend in retail prices is immediately arrested.
The value of rupee (with 100 in 1960) went down to 21.79 paise in April 1982 and 20.9 paise in July 1982.
The index no. of consumer prices for agricultural labourers (1960-61 = 100) was 359 in 1979, 418 in 1980 and 479 in 1981 and stood at 494 in January 1982. The same for industrial workers stood at 390 in 1980, 406 in 1981 and moved up to 478 in July 1982. It moved up by 8.8% in 1979-80, by 11.4% in 1980-81 and by 9.5% between April and December 1981. these rates are at least 5 times faster than the rate of increase in wholesale prices.
A Times of India Investigator calculated (12th August 1982 issue) that for a family of 4 in Delhi weekly requirement of food, vegetables, milk, soaps, transport, lighting and fuel costs was Rs. 135 in 1980, Rs. 153 in 1981 and Rs. 167 in August 1982. Rise in prices in pulses and spices has been most spectacular. When in the end of July 1982 the Government announced increase in issue prices of wheat, the open market prices shot up to Rs. 2/50 to Rs. 3/- per kgm. and a 4 kgm. Tin of cooking oil became costlier by about Rs. 7/- per Tin. Between April and August 1982 Soap, toothpaste, tea etc. became 20 to 40% costlier.
The Economic Times Average Retail Price Index for greater Bombay (Base 1969-70=100) was 209.3 in 1978-79, 249.9 in 1979-80. 294.5 in 1980-81 and 345.4 in 1981-82, standing at 361.5 in July 1982. This means an average price increase in retail prices over those in previous year by 3.6% in 1978-79, 19.4% in 1979-80, 17.60% in 1980-81 and 77.3% in 1981-82.
The official retail price index coverage for months in 1982-83 (April to July 1982) was higher by 7.4% as compared to the average for same period in 1981-82 and 18.4% over that in July 1982.
This is certainly not a picture of “negative inflation” or any respite from rising prices of essential commodities for the average citizen, which Smt. Indira Gandhi promised to him during her election campaign in 1980.
GROWING BURDEN OF TAXES.
Between 1976-77 and 1981-82 the indirect taxes have gone up from Rs. 9747 crores to Rs. 18403 crores a nearly 100% increase in five years. The proportion of indirect taxes him gone up in the same period from 79.4% to 83%.
In the three years 1979-80 to 1981-82 the additional burden in the form of enhanced postal rates was Rs. 48.30 crores, Rs. 13.00 crores and Rs. 25.00 crores while the railway freight and passenger fare burdens went up by Rs. 160.80 crores, Rs. 204 crores and Rs. 432.86 crores. In the 1982-83 budget the additional tax burden was of the order of about Rs. 1300 crores indirect taxes Rs. 590 crores, enhanced postal rates in the budget Rs. 35 crores and on the eve of budget Rs. 100 crores, hike in Railway Freight in December 1981 bringing Rs. 320 crores and due to budget proposal another Rs. 262 crore in the budget year.
A review of the implementation of the in its Sixth Five Year Plan carried out by the Planning Commission meeting held on 19th August 1982, pointed out that if the physical targets of Sixth Plan have to be achieved, an additional outlay of Rs. 10,000 crores over and above the stipulated Rs. 97,500 crores would be necessary failing which “some scaling down of the plan is inevitable. Become “hard decisions are called for according to this review, as apart of the “resource mobilisation efforts” to save the Plan Targets which may include:-
- “A further selective adjustment in the prices of petro leum Products.”
- Further reduction in food subsidies,
- Further adjustment in Railway fares and
- Use of mechanisms of Central Excise and duties on generation of electricity.
The National Sample Survey for the year 1971-72 placed the rural indebtedness in that year at about Rs. 3000 cores. According to an estimate based on case studies by Rohit Shukla (Economic Times 10.10.1980) indebtedness is growing at the rate of 22% per year. Basing ourselves on NSS survey and this estimate by Rohit Shukla, we arrive at a figure of Rs. 6000 to Rs. 7000 crores as the present level of rural indebtednes.
The Report of the Ministry of Agriculture for the year 1981-82 admits that institutional credit at present meets only 40% of the present credit needs and only 40% credit supply goes to the weaker sections. This report also lists “lack of awareness of the relief measures and inadequate implementing machinery” amongst the major shortcomings of the debt relief measures. The weaker sections are not able to make use of even the meagre facilities that are provided as they do not know about them and also because the cumbersome procedure of obtaining loans.
The Draft Sixth Plan (1978-83) prepared by the Janata Goverment estimated the requirements respectively of short term loans at Rs. 3890 crores and of Medium and long term loans at Rs. 6290 crores, This plan proposed to provide Rs. 2500 crores of short term and Rs.3690 crores of Medium and Longterm loans (a total of Rs. 6190 crores). The Congress(I) version of the Sixth plan (1980-85) proposes to place the target at Rs. 4000 crores for short term loans and at Rs. 1415 crores for Medium and long term loans (a total of Rs. 5415 crores. Thus despite all the tall talks about reducing indebtedness only the total amount fixed as the target is less than the target fixed by the Janata Government.
As a result of the deepening of economic crisis and the policies of the Government of throwing more and more burdens on the people, the problem of “overdues” has assumed serious proportions. According to the Sixth Five Year Plan (1980-85). “The overdues in the cooperatives have reached about 42% of the demand. The recovery performance of commercial banks have been worse and was only 50.2% in the case of Public Sector Banks at June end 1978”.
According to Economic Survey 1981-82 the amount outstanding out of direct finance was Rs. 1234.63 croree or 9.2% of the total advance at the end of June 1978 and has more than doubled by the end of June 1981 to Rs. 2695.75 crores or 12.1% of the total advanced. In the same period the amount outstanding out of indirect finance has grown from Rs. 424.51 crores to Rs. 704.25 crores.
There was a widespread demand to write off these overdues which the growing number of agriculturists could not pay back as a result of deepening agrarian crises. Forced by the situation created by the deepening crisis and growing mass movements the Government of Maharashtra wrote off Rs. 49 crores of the overdues in 1980 and the Government of Tamilnadu followed suit by writing off Rs. 42 crores of crop loans and Rs. 16 crores of Taccavi arrears. Even these partial relief measures were not to the liking of the Central Government and the Reserve Bank of India and they have threatened the State Government that if the overdues amount to 60% or more of the demand the Central Goverment would not provide finance to the State level apex lending institutions.
The RBI has also enhanced the rate of interest for short term loans charged from small farmers from 11.85% to 12.50% and others from 14 to 15% from 2nd March 1981. One such hike had already taken place on 1st July 1980.
The number of the unemployed persons who have registered themselves with employment exchanges was 1,09,24,043 on 31st December 1977 and has risen to 1,80,28,868 on 31st March 1982 according to official figures—an increase of more than 10% per year. According to a survey by the National Sample Survey there were 1.42 million people above the age of 15 who were totally unemployed on March 1980.
While the numbers on live register are increasing the capacity to provide jobs is falling. While in 1978-79 about 4.76 crore persons were absorbed in Government, Semi-government and local bodies Services in 1980-81 these services provided employment to only 4.02 crore persons.
Apart from the nearly 12 million unemployed persons in the beginning of the plan, according to Mr. Dharam Vir, Minister of labour (reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 21.7.82) about 34 million new job seekers will enter the labour force during 1980-85.
While latest figures of 1981 census are not available there is no reason to believe that the trend revealed during earlier surveys has been reversed. According to NSS (Survey of average value of assets per household) the share in assests of the poorest 10% in the total value of assests declined by 19.23% in the decade between 1961-62 to 1971-72 while that of uppermost 10% increased by 5.25%. In fact the assets of all the 10% groups except the top most group became poorer in this period, the rate of pauperisation increasing as we go down to the poorest group.
GO-BY TO LAND REFORMS
The 23rd conference of the AIKS in its main resolution, “On Land Reforms” said:—
“The basic problems facing our country-unemployment, generation of a surplus in the agrarian sector for national development etc. cannot be solved unless radical land reforms are implemented and landlordism is completely abolished, and land distributed to the landless agricultural laboures and poor peasants.”
The intensifictaion of agrarian crisis is due to the fact that Congress Government was never prepared to undertake real land reforms, abolition of landlordism, distribution of land to landless and poor peasants. What type of land reforms Congress Governments have undertaken so far? The General Secretary’s Report to the Varanasi Conference pointed out:-
“These land reforms had only limited objectives—the main one of which was to reform—not abolish—the old type feudal landlords into capitalist landlords personally supervisig cultivation in large farms with farm servants and hired agricultural labourers …. Another objective was to create a stratum of rich peasants.
“The concentration of land in the hands of big landlords has not been appreciably reduced. Even today 4 per cent of top landlords possess 31% of the land. Congress Land Reforms have also resulted in the eviction of Millons of tenants who have either joined the ranks of landless agricultural labourers or became tenants-at-will without any rights or protection.”
The crucial importance of land reforms and particularly of land distribution is admitted by the Sixth Plan, which considers “assault on poverty” to be its “foremost objective.“ Talking about rural poor the Sixth Plan Document says:-
“Small and maiginal farmers who constitute over 76% of the land holders operate 24% of the land. The very substantial improvement in agricultural productivity brought about by irrigation and the new seed fertilizer technology improve directly the earning power of agricultural land and only indirectly that of agricultural labour. Hence Agricultural growth itself may not solve the problem of poverty.“ (emphasis added)
The Plan document, therefore, suggests, “a mix of employment generation, diversification of occupation, land reforms reorientation of credit system and massive public investment in rural infrastructure.”
Again while talking about alleviation of poverty through employment generation (NREP) the plan document reiterates the importance of land distribution in the following words:-
“Nearly 75% of the farming population operates between them only a quarter of the cultivated area. Since wage employment from all sources may not make up the deficiency of their consumption, it would be essential as a poverty programme to implement a measure of land redistribute.“ (emphasis added)
But the Plan document complains;—
“The pace of implementation of these measures, particulary of ceiling legislations, has been slow and full of loopholes, so that their impact on the structure of landholdings has been minimal. Thousand reform programme is by no means complete and has to be pursued further, if we are to tackle effectively the problems of poverty and inequality.“ (Emphasis added)
After admitting, thus, the essential role of land distribution in “poverty alleviation” and the need to “pursue” the land reform programme further, what concrete measures the plan document suggests?
Any proposal to amend the present laws to plug the loopholes in Ceiling legislations? No!
Then what concrete measures the plan document suggests?
- Appropriate legislative measures within 1981-82 in states “which do not have legislative provisions for conferment of ownership rights on all tenants except for specified, exempted categories.” States named in this connection are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Tamilnadu, Haryana and Punjab.
- The programme of taking possession and distribution of ceiling surplus land would be completed by 1982-83.
- A systematic programme for compilation/updating of land records by 1985.
- Programme of consolidation of holding to be completed by 1990.
- Programme for provision of house-sites to the landless be completed.
No tenancy legislation confering any new right has been enacted in any of the named States, all of which except Tamil-nadu are Congress-I ruled States.
No serious effort to update records has started anywhere. Only West Bengal and Tripura have undertaken in a big way the recording of rights of Sharecroppers although legal provisions for this exist in many other states.
Regarding ceiling surplus the 1978-83 Janata Government’s Sixth Plan Draft had estimated the surplus on 31.7.1977 to be 53.20 lakh acres out of which only 40 lakh acres had been declared surplus. According to the Report of the Commision for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (April 1979-March 1980)— “The 1978-83 Plan has also brought out a very disconcerting fact that the official estimated surplus is only a fraction of the area held in large ownership holdings as estimated from survey data” (NSS 26th Round 1971-72)
“This data indicates that the potential surplus area may actually be about 215.10 lakh acres as against only 50 lakh acres declared as surplus on the basis of size of holding being 10-18 acres of land with assured irrigation for land crops and 27 acres of land with irrigation for one crop and 54 acres for dryland.”
“……..the Government of India may set up a high power committee which may go into this matter in detail and reconcile the vast difference between the potential surplus as projected by the NSS and as declared by the States/Union Territories so far.”
No such committee was appointed and the Congress-I Government that succeeded the Janata Government in 1980 accepted the estimates of the Janata regime’s Sixth Plan (1978-83) and in the very Sixth Plan the target for distribution is the same 40 lakh acres.
Out of these 40 lakh acres only 26.96 lakh acres have been taken possession of by the State Governments and only 18.79 lakh acres have been actually distributed. Nearly 8 lakh acres of Land remains with the Government out of which about 5 lakh acres are supposed to be ‘unfit for cultivation.’ Central Government has asked the States to plant forests over it. Out of the remaining 13 lakh acres still to be acquired, nearly 12 lakh acres are involved in court cases and nobody knows when and how much of it will be available for distribution. Thus only 3-4 lakh acres more can be distributed which means total distribution will be about half of the target and less than 1/10 of the surplus estimated on the basis of NSS report. It nmy be added that 1969 Mahalanobis Committee had estimated the surplus to be 6.3 crore acres on the basis of a 20 acre ceiling.
Since there is not going to be any new law to plug the loopholes or to locate the land saved by benami or other fraudulent means, the matter ends. The West Bengal legislative Assembly passed an amending Act to plug the loopholes and locate and invalidate benami transactions. After keeping it waiting in the files for more than an year for Presidential Assent it has been returned in the Assembly. Another Bill passed by Tamilnadu Assembly is also waiting for Presidential Assent. This is the attitude of Smt. Indira Gandhi’s Government and this is also the contrast with the Left Front Governments.
The Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has been insistently demanding that the records should be made uptodate and at least the sharecroppers’ possession be recorded. The West Bengal Government launched a “Barga Operation” under which 11 lakh sharecroppers have already been recorded. Tripura Government has also followed suit. But other States are dragging their feet and none has undertaken anything of this type’ The West Bengal Government has gone a step further and is trying to provide the recorded sharecroppers with institutional credit coverage and if sharecroppers return the short term loan within the stipulated time the State will disburse the interest. This clearly shows what can be done even under the present constitutional constraints, and limitations imposed by a hostile Central Government, provided there is a sufficient political will and orientation towards the landless agricultural workers and poor peasants.
After coming into power in 1980 Smt. Indira Gandhi scrapped the Janata Government’s Sixth Plan(1978-83) and got another plan drafted— The Sixth Plan (1980-85) which is in its third year.
The Plan envisages “a significant augmentation in the rate of growth of economy with an annual growth of 5%.” In her introduction to the Plan Prime Minister has said, “In this Five Year period we expect to see progressive reduction in the incidence of poverty and unemployment and also in regional inequalities.”
What do these “augmentation in the rate of growth of economy” and “progressive reduction of poverty and unemployment and also in regional inequalities” mean in concrete?
The total production of foodgrains is to be increased from 128 million tonnes in 1979-80 to 154 million tonnes in 1984-85 Oil seed production to increases from 9.32 million tonnes to 11.10 million tonnes, Cotton production from 7.3 million bales of (170 Kgms. each) to 9.20 million and Sugarcane production from 176 million tonnes to 215 million tonnes and Jute and Mesta from 7.54 million bales (of 180 kgm. each) to 9.08 million bales and so on.
“Poverty” for the purpose of the Sixth Plan means less than 2400 calories per day of food intake or an income of less than Rs. 76 per month in rural areas and less than 2100 celories per day intake or an income of less than Rs. 88 per month in urban areas. In rural areas 50.82% or about 25 crore people are considered to be living below poverty line while in urban areas 38.19% or about 5 crore people are similarly placed, the average for both rural and urban areas coming to 48.13% of the population. It is proposed to lift above the poverty line by the end of the Plan 1.5 crore families or 7.5 crore people in order to reduce the proportion of people living below poverty line to 30% of the entire population.
How are these twin obejectives to be achieved?
For increasing agricultural production the present proportion of irrigated area to cropped area which is 26.7% is to be raised to 50% by raising irrigation potential from over 52.60 million hectares to 66.20 million hectares, the cropped area under HYV seeds from 171 Million Hectares to 181 Million Hectares, increasing fertilizer consumption from 60 thousand tonnes to 89 thousand tonnes, use of improved seed from 15 lakh quintals to 57 lakh quintals and finally by installing an additional power capacity of about 20 thousand Megawatts.
For eradicating poverty poor people or poor areas will bo identified. Under IRDP, NREP or TRYSEM Schemes these poor people will be provided with some assets or trainning or both-as subsidy or loans, so that additional incomes may be generated. Under CADP, or DADP or similar other schemes sub-plans or plans, some infrastructural facilities or extension services will be provided which will help increasing production in agriculture or small scale industry that is already being carried on and the additional income is to come out of it.
This will be done in such a manner that Regional inequalities are reduced.
It is assumed that both “Augmentation in the rate of Growth of economy” or “reduction in the incidence of poverty“ has nothing to do with basic relations or production in land or social conditions in the countryside-other some inputs or assets or training is to be provided to the poor or some infrastructural facilities have to be provided to the locality and the results will follow.
It is this “technological approach” that runs like a red thread through all the plans that have been implemented in the past thirty years and neither these declared objectives nor the methods to achieve them are an innovation.
The Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes says in his 27th Report (1979-81)-
“The problem of poverty eradication has been an object of experimentation, each such exercise unable to penetrate beyond the outer fringes of the problem. The elusive povertv line continued to be elusive during successive plan periods, despite efforts to grasp it and to dust it off, in short to grapple with it”.
The efforts to whip up the rates of growth by more and more investments and more and more inputs or advanced techniques have also never yielded the desired result.
If the targets for first two Five Year plans were overfulfilled it was mainly because of a merciful weather. Even in these Plans there were wide fluctuations in production from year to year due to fluctuating weather conditions. The Third Plan Target was 100 million tonnes of foodgrain in 1965-66 but the actual production at the end of Plan was 72 million tonnes. In the Annual Plan of 1968-69 the target was 102 million tonnes but ahievement was only 94 million tonnes. The fourth plan target was 129 million tonnes for a much smaller population but only 125.6 Million Tonnes production was achieved. It is this Fourth Plan target that was crossed in 1978-79 when production was 130 Million tonnes and it is at this level the foodgrain production has become almost stagnant.
The growth rate of agricultural production between 1950-51 and 1978-79 has been just 2.7% a little above the rate of growth of population. The agriculture still continues to be precariously dependent on weather conditions with huge damages caused to it every year by drought and flood. Despite increased allocation in every consecutive plan the rate of growth of production is falling.
Even the targets of use of inputs are nothing attained and recently the rate of increase of consumption of fertilizers has slowed down, which is the direct result of deepening of agrarian crisis. This rate was 25.7% in 1977-78, 19.4% in 1978-79 then dropped down to 2.7% in 1979-80, 5.0% in 1980-81 and is expected to be 9.4% in 1981-82. The fertilized consumption has become almost stagnant at round about 30 kgm. per Hectare Which is even less than 41 kgms, per Hectare in Bangla Desh- and 94 Kgm. per Hectare in China.
This “technological approach” cannot solve the problem of poverty because the poorest sections cannot afford to have all the necessary inputs while those with means can do so This is bound to result in a growing concentration of output and economic surplus in the regions where large farm economy predominates. A report of the planning Commission giving a review of the Fifth Plan(1974-79) tells us:-
“In the early seventies, the gross value of cropped output per Hectare was about Rs. 1500/-per annum only in 15% of the cropped area. This relatively developed part of the rural economy accounted for 27.84% of the aggregate output and approximately 40% of most of the major inputs such as fertilizer and pump sets. On the other hand, the gross value of cropped output per Hectare, was less than Rs. 1000/- in 60% of the total cropped area, and accounted for roughly one-third of the total inputs used in the rural sector.”
The proportion of irrigated area to cropped area is 81.3% in Punjab, 51.1% in Haryana, 47.9% in Tamil Nadu, 42.9% in U.P., 34% in Andhra Pradesh, and 32.7% in Bihar. All other States have less than the average 27% irrigation.
|States||Use of Fertilizers 81-82|
|1. Pondicherry||-255.8 Kg.|
|2. Punjab||-123.7 Kg.|
|3. Delhi||-74.9 Kg.|
|4. Tamil Nadu||-66.7 Kg.|
|5. Andhra Pradesh||-50.0 Kg.|
|6. U.P.||-52.2 Kg.|
|7. Haryana||-45.5 Kg.|
|8. Gujarat||-38.6 Kg.|
|9. Karnataka||-34.4 Kg.|
|10. Kerala||-32.9 Kg.|
|11. West Bengal||-32.8 Kg.|
|12. Goa||-30.9 Kg.|
In all other States the consumption is less than the national average of 30 Kgm. per Hectare.
Let us take the extent of mechanisation roughly by taking into consideration the number of Tractors, Pumps, and Private Tube Wells per thousand Hectares of cropped land in 1977-78 (complete figures of latter years are not available).
|State||Tractors||Pump sets||Private tubewells|
|6. Tamil Nadu||1.0||0.3|
|7. Andhra Pradesh||0.9||6.0||49.3|
|11. Madhya Pradesh||0.7||0.3||20.1|
It has been calculated that 32.6% of the total number of districts in the country use 74.1% of the Tractors in use in Agriculture, in the country as a whole producing 63.2% of the total national foodgrain crop.
The disparities in incomes as a result of this lopsided development are obvious. Punjab had twice as much per capita income as compared to Orissa in 1974-75 which became thrice as much in 1979-80. The disparity is growing.
20 POINT PROGRAMME
Alongwith emergency a 20 point programme had been announced in 1975. The aim of this programme, in the words of general secretary’s report placed before the Varanasi Conference was, “spreading false propagnda and populist rhetoric to create a favourable image of the government both inside and outside the country. The core of the propaganda was the so called 20 Point programme which talked of land reforms, abolition of bonded labour, liquidation of debts, and so on. The massive propaganda through the government controlled Press and Radio certainly helped to confuse many well meaning people in the beginning, but in the end ugly truth about the emergency rule could no longer be concealed”.
Once again to cover up the “ugly truth” of worsening agrarian crisis, a new 20 Point Programme accompanied with “populist rhetoric” about eradication of poverty is being widely advertised through intense propaganda from the government controlled mass media. Perhaps the ruling classes think that the people have short memories and they have forgotten about the previous 20 Point Programme which was a nonstarter from beginning to end. They think that even now they can confuse sections of the common people.
Some important changes in the two versions of the 20 Point Programme must, however, be noted. Gone is the talk of land reforms, reduction of ceiling, enhancement of minimum wages of agricultural labour, liquidation of debts etc. It is only promised that the available surplus land will be speedily distributed, land records will be compiled and updated,consolidation of hodings will be completed etc. Existing minimum wages have to be “enforced.”
No improvement in the living conditions of agricultural labourers-unless one stretches strengthening and expansion of coverage of IRD and NREP (Point No. 3) to mean that Bonded Labourers have to be “rehabilitated”—no question of “freeing” them, as that has already been done. This has come at a time when prevalence of bonded labour in many new areas e.g. amongst brick kiln, quarry and mining workers is brought to limelight.
The “ugly truth” is coming out rather a bit too quickly this time. The Government is hiding an assessement report prepared for the Prime Minister in August 1982 but some portions of it have leaked out to press. In an editorial entitled “Dismal Report”, the Economic Times of 18th August 1982 writes:—
“A scrutiny has now shown that not even 50% of the target has been achieved in all but three of the 17 points in the country as a whole, the exception being the supply of drinking water, house building assistance and revival of pumpsets. Bihar is a case by itself. In 16 of the 17 sectors scrutinised the State has lagged behind. In power generation which is crucial in developinig the secondary and the tertiary sectors, most of the States have fared badly. Equally limited has been the progress in irrigation, augmenting the production of pulses and oil seeds, afforestation, and developing alternative sources of energy like biogas.
“The Government’s failure has been colossal in two points namely the implementation of minimum wages for agricultural workers and rehabilitation of bonded labour.“
How is eradication of poverty through strengthening and exapansion of IRD and NREP taking place?
Started on 2nd October 1980 the IRDP is just a continuation of small farmers, and agricultural labourers’ agencies which began in 1970-71, which were, during the Fifth Plan merged into composite “small farmers“ Development Agencies. Renamed as IRDP in 1978-79 these agencies were extended to all the 5004 blocks in the country on 2nd. October, 1980. During the Sixth Plan it is proposed to lift 3000 families per block (which means about 1.5 crores families all over the country) of agricultural workers, small and marginal farmers, out of poverty. According to the Commissioner of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes each family will require at least an assistance of Rs. 7000 to Rs. 8000 to create assets which will generate sufficient incomes for this purpose. This means that a sum of Rs. 13500 crores would be needed, during the sixth plan period for assisting 1.5 crores families. This would require Rs. 4000 crores as subsidy to be shared half and half between Central and State Governments and Rs. 9500 crores of institutional finances. But the Sixth Plan allocates only Rs. 1500 crores as subsidy (Rs. 150 crores per year as Central and another Rs. 150 crores per year as State share) and Rs. 3000 crores as institutional, finance (or Rs. 600 crores per year). This means that only 56 lakh families out of a declared target of 1.5 crore families can be asisted.
Even this grossly insufficient amount of Rs. 1500 crores is not being actually provided. Out of Rs. 300 crores subsidy per year, in 1980-81 only Rs. 150.45 crore was actually utilised while the institutional finance made available was only Rs. 199 crores out of a target amout of Rs. 600 crores. In 1981-82 and 1982-83 the Centre as its share of subsidy allocated Rs. 145 crores and Rs. 190 crores respectively. But according to a report appearing on 11.8.1982 in Economic Times, Sri Baleswar Ram, Minister of State for Agriculture, said that only Rs. 40 crores will be actually spent out of Rs. 190 crores allocated in 1982-83 as “there was a heavy backlog of unspent money, on this account, from the previous year.”
The corruption prevailing in all echelons of the administration nibbles away another big slice of the meagre amount actually spent, while the class bias of the personnel manning the administration, obstructs the actual utilisation by the intended beneficiaries to a large extent.
In their evidence before the Public Accounts Committee (Report No. 112, dated 30.4.1982) senior officials of the Ministry of Rural Reconstruction have admitted that banks have generally violated the R. B. I. instruction not to insist on security for loans upto Rs. 5000 for viable Schemes, ineligible persons have been provided with benefits and sometimes even in excess of amounts provided for etc. In the identification of agricultural workers “very little attention was paid” and they “got a very raw deal”.
A Differential Rate of Interest Scheme meant to enable the poorest among the poor to engage themselves in productive endeavours with the help of their own labour, by granting them loans at concessional rate of 4%, was quietly shelved on a the ground of “low recovery”. The P. A. C. found that the Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs (Banking Division) had not even introduced a recovery reporting system by March 1980 and the reasons for putting the scheme in cold storage was based on pure imagination.
The Sixth Plan document tells us that out of 145 lakh rural families which were considered needy for house-site allotment 77 lakh were allotted land before the Plan period and out of the remaining 68 lakh families, 37 lakh families would have got house site land by the end of 1982-83, leaving only 31 lakh families to be provided with house-sites in the remaining two years of the plan.
But the National Building Organisation attached to the Ministry of Works and Housing on the basis of a study in 1981 tells us that in rural areas there is a shortage of 165 lakh dwelling units. So we are back to square one.
No amount of raging false propaganda can cover the “ugly truth” and the capacity to confuse “well meaning” individuals also diminishing.
The bonded labour problem has been inherited by the new 20 Point Programme as item No. 6 from the earlier emergency brand 20 Point Programme with the difference that while the earlier programme talked of freeing them, the new version only talks of their rehabilitation. The Government insists on its earlier finding that in the country there are only 1,01,972 bonded labourers and they have to be rehabilitated by the end of 1981-1982. The progress of rehabilitation so far is 5947 in 1978-79, 6858 in 1979-80, 19300 in 1980-81 and 17,658 in 1981-82. This means a total of 49,763 (or less than half of Those idenitfied) have been “rehabiliated“ in the target period and out of the rest 32,574 are to be rahabiliated in 1982-83.
The National Labour Institute and several others challenged the Government figure and say after a preliminary survey in only eight States, that in these States alone there were no less than 23 lakh bonded labourers.
The controversy is there regarding the defintion. Under the Bonded Labour Act, anybody who works for “nominal wages” or wages less than the statutory fixed minimum wages, for an employer in consideration for any debt incurred by him or his ascendants or descendants or because of caste reasons or any customary or social obligations, is a bonded labour. It is well known that in vast areas of almost all States, less than the minimum wages are paid and there is no enforcing machinery worth its name, to get even this Minimum Wages Act enforced. The Government Departments like P.W.D., Soil Conservation Irrigation etc. pay less. Contract labour, though banned, still exists and they extract work at less pay under most inhuman, semi-slave conditions. Recently incontrovertible facts have been placed before the Supreme Court regarding conditions of work in certain mining and quarrying areas of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh as well as in Brick Kilns. A complaint regarding violation of laws about working conditions has been lodged about the contract labour working for Asiad Game constructions in Delhi. Concerned State Governments have simply washed off their hands, regarding any responsibility in the matter. Recently the Police of Tamil Nadu raided places in Madhya Pradesh to free 250 Tamil bonded labourer and Madhya Pradesh Police is reported to have refused to even register a case.
This attitude of Congress(I) ruled State Governments is in sharp contrast to the prompt and effective manner in which Left Front Government of Tripura dealt with a complaint made by Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in March 1980 about Tribal Labour being employed in Brick Kilns under bondage and won the admiration of the Commissioner in his 27th Report who asked the Government of Bihar to emulate this example.
How have bonded labour emerged? The gap between the incomes of the poorest sections of the population and then most minimum consumption needs goes on widening and this forces these weaker sections, mostly belonging to Scheduled Castes ond Scheduled Tribes or so called backward communities, to seek loans on onerous terms from rural vested interests landlords and money lenders. Unable to repay even a portion of the exhorbitant interest, the debtors have no option except to offer themselves as bonded labourers performing most humiliating and back-breaking labour and services in view of these payments. The debts, however, go on mounting and the slavery is passed down from generation to generation. The social conditions and the grip of the vested interests on the social life in the villages makes it impossible for these oppressed people to get away from the clutches of the landlords or to raise even a mild voice of protest.
Unless these social conditions change, the system of bonded labour cannot be abolished by simply enacting a law. While a few will be ‘freed’ and even ‘rehabilitated’ their ranks will be more than reinforced by the same continuing conditions, which forced the ‘freed’ to accept slavery earlier and even many of the freed ones will have to revert back to their former status.
The General Secretary’s report presented to Varanasi Conference gave this warning in most clear terms:—
‘Let us make is clear, that as long as life in the villages continues to be dominated by a minority of landlords, the employers of bonded labour, who control the life and work of the poorer sections through intimidation, as well as economic and social sanctions, and on whom the ruling party continues to depend for the mobilisation of political support in the countryside, it would not be possible to implement such laws. Just as the law against untouchability has remained a scrap of paper, this legislation carries no significance without a proper restructuring of the village political-social-economic system in favour of the rural poor”.
Recently bonded labourers have been located in brick kiln mining and quarrying industry and the matter has come before the Supreme Court and has received wide publicity. Kisan Sabha units and workers must join other social organisations and workers in locating bonded labour, in demanding their adequate rehabilitation, along with campaigning for a change in social conditions in which the practice of bonded labour prevails.
The deepening economic crisis of our economy has made our Govt, more dependent on foreign imperialist aid.
The Rs. 5000/- crore I.M.F. Loan, claimed by the Government to be necessary for “tidying over a temporary problem,” far from making our economy self-reliant, is landing us further into deteriorating balance of trade and payment difficulties. The “conditionalities” attached to the loan, which Smt. Indira Gandhi’s Government is faithfully observing are leading to imposing fresh burdens on our people, who are getting more and more impoverished every day.
These “conditionalities” include withdrawal of subsidies on food and such essential inputs as fertilizers, enhancements electricity rates, hikes in postal, railway and bus fare rates, more and more indirect taxes and sabotaging of such useful employment giving schemes as “Food for Work” by drastically cutting down foodgrain allocations to the States.
It is in line with these “conditionalities” that the issue price for wheat which remained unchanged for 4 years at Rs, 130 per quintal since the 1st December 1978 was raised to Rs. 160 per quintal in August 1982. Four hikes in fertilizer prices since March 1979 brought Rs 5212 crores to the exchequer in 3 years, making it costlier to the agricultural growers by 62 to 64%. In this manner food and fertilizer subsidies were virtvally withdrawn reducing them from Rs. 776 crores to Rs. 70 crores in 1981-82.
Electricity rates were enhanced by most of the States by about 40% while busfare enhancements were of the order of 35 to 45%.
We have already given details of postal rate and railway tarriff hikes which have been unusually heavy in these three years as well as the heavy doses of indirect taxes that have been imposed.
ATTACK ON DEMOCRACY
As in the emergency days, the ruling classes, in the face of growing discontentment of the people, want to muzzle every voice of protest and are taking one step after another in their drive to estabilish authoritarian one party and one person rule in the country.
The proposals for replacing the present Cabinet form of Government by a Presidential form, cutting down zero-hour and number of working days of the Parliament and proposals to “modify” functioning of the Parliament, packing the judiciary with “committed” judges, the new postal censorship act and measures like the Bihar Press Bill to muzzle the press in the name of preventing “scurrilous writings” or “yellow journalism”, are all steps taken in the same direction National Security Act, Essential Services Maintenance Act, Bihar Press Bill, coming one after another confirm the suspicion that Emergency is being imposed piecemeal. The rights won by the working class, through years of struggles and immense sacrifices are being snatched away. The institution of governors is being abused to instal minority governments in power, to enable the ruling party to convert its minority position to a ramshackle majority through defection and horsetrading.
The crime position has worsened in all States and even in Delhi, under the nose of the Central Government, and it has become one of the most crime infested capitals of the world. Numerous dacoit gangs, enjoying protection from the ruling party and high ups in the administration have sprung up. In the name of anti-dacoity oprations innocent citizens have been murdered in thousands in fake encounters, since Smt. Indira Gandhi assumed power. A new gang up between leaders of Youth Congress(I), criminal gangs and the police officials is emerging particularly in a number of Congress(I) ruled States. Crimes against women, atrocities on weaker sections and activities of communal incendiaries are on the ascendance. The danger of authoritarianism once again looms large on the horizon with Smt. Indira Gandhi back in power to pursue her relentless drive to perpetuate her one party, authoritarian rule. Our conference will have to take serious note of the situation and while working out plans to bring the peasantry into action on their own immediate demands, we will have to make sustained efforts to move the peasantry in unity with other anti-authoritarian forces against this drive and in defence of democracy.
DIVISIVE FORCES AT WORK.
Another very serious danger that the democratic movement including Kisan Movement, faces, is the increased activity of divisive forces of all hues and colours like RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, foreign Christian Missionaries, Virat Hindu Sammelan, Jamate-Islami, Dal Khalsa, Amra Bengali, Tribal Extremists (like TUJS in Tripura) etc. with their revivalist and obscurantist ideologies like Hindu Rashtra, Islamic Fundamentalism, Khalistan, Bangalistan and an independent State in N.E. India. We know that imperialists through different agencies are not only encouraging and inspiring these reactionary forces but are actively aiding them with pelro-dollars and other types of financial resources.
What should be of concern to us and other democratic mass organisations and political forces, is the fact that these forces have been able to win considerable support amongst the people, including peasant masses, specially where left parties and kisan movement are weak and there is widespread discontent against the anti-people policies of the ruling party which have caused lot of frustration amongst the people. The social tensions generated in this situation provided most fertile ground for separatist and divisive forces to carry on their nefarious activities.
Separatist forces have been at work in Assam for almost the last three years, engineering communal violence against religious and linguistic minorities on the so-called issue of “foreign Nationals”. At great personal risk, facing murderous assaults and social boycott, our kisan and agricultural labour comrades stood against the frenzy unleashed by these separatist forces to defend the minorities and tried to rally the other democratic forces and sections.
In Tripura, the State Kisan Sabha Unit was the main force which did commendable work in restoring tribal-non-tribal amity which was disrupted in June 1980 when a racial holocaust was enginereed by extremists of TUJS and Amra Bengali. With the approaching Assembly elections these forces have once again stepped up their activities, murdering our workers, attacking police stations and terrorising the people.
In Jammu & Kashmir our young comrades leading the newly formed unit of Kisan Sabha are bravely facing attacks after attacks of hoodlums of the separatist forces like Jamate-Islami or their front organisation Jamate-Tulba. While these Islamic Fundamentalists have joined their Hindu counterparts.
RSS and Virat Hindu Sammelan in working up communal passion, neither the National Conference nor the Congress(I) is doing anything to fight these communal separatists who want not only the break-up of the State, but also to separate it from the Indian Union.
In Punjab Sikh extremists on the one hand and Hindu Communalists on the other are vying with each other to create Sikh-Hindu communal tension, similar to Sikh-Muslim riots in the pre-partition days. The situation has become worse due to the ruling Congress(I) party’s inept handling of the situation and a section of Akali Leadership adopting a dubious stand towards Sikh extremists. Once again our Kisan workers along with workers of other mass organisations are carrying on a powerful campaign to preserve unity and isolate forces of division and separatism. An open letter written to leaders of Akali Party(L) by Com.H.S. Surjeet, our Vice- President has proved to be of immense help in this campaign.
In Karnataka also linguistic minorities are being made targets of attacks by chauvinists egged on by the leaders of ruling party and our comrades are fighting in defence of linguistic minorities while supportiag the demand for replacing English with their national language.
Divisive forces are active in many other states, utilising feelings associated with caste, religion, language and region to cause disruption in the growing unity of the working people, who are coming out in bigger and bigger struggles in defence of their common interests. While fighting for urgent demands of and for immediate relief to the peasantry, we have to take serious note of the activity of these forces and carry on campaigns to isolate them from peasant masses as forces that only injure the common cause and aid the vested interests.
ATROCITIES ON SCHEDULED CASTES AND TRIBES.
The bulk of nearly 6 crore landless agricultural worker families in our country, belongs to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. About 3/4 of these agricultural labourers live below poverty line. They are totally landless, marginal and small farmers (operating less than a hectare of land). Heavily indebted and plagued with growing unemployment, they are the biggest sufferers of natural calamities like droughts, floods and cyclones, which make them a prey to utter destitution, starvation and deadly epidemics.
Apart from economic misery and destitution, they suffer from social disabilities and oppressions. In the words of the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes(27th report) they are victims of “some of the serious crimes“ which revealed that various socio-economics maladies have been causing distress amongst scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.”
Defining these “crimes” and “maladies” the report goes on:—
“Foremost among them happen to be denial of equal treatment, their normal rights and privileges, lack of adequate protection for their lands and other possessions and exploitative practices by vested interests in the matter of rural indebtedness and also the practice of bonded labour. At times, mere expression of their determination to resist an anticipated injustice invites Unprovoked heavy handed treatment resulting in atrocities of varying magnitude, with law and order machinery pitifully lacking in effectiveness. Inadequate legal protection, therefore, only helps to aggravate these problems. It is really unfortunate that the affluent sections committing atrocities are helped in their nefarious activities by lower level revenue and police officials and even politicians.”
So most of the incidents of crimes against Scheduled Castes and Tribes originate from “lack of adequate protection for their lands,” and “exploitative practices by vested interests in the matter of rural indebtedness and also the practice of bonded labour.”
The moment there is even a mild protest “unprovoked heavy handed treatment” follows.
The landlord oppressors neutralise the Law and Order Machinery which “remains pitifully lacking in effectiveness“ because this machinery is headed by officials coming from in their own class. The landlords, who generally belong to upper class or castes who consider themselves superior to the Scheduled Castes, rouse upper caste chauvinism amongst the government officials, who are also, non scheduled cash in general, for the same end.
As a result of the changes in the agrarian scene resulting from land reform of the type introduced in post freedom years, the all round peasant unity against landlords had been disrupted. Varanasi Conference report by the General Sectretary said:—
“But what we have to note is that the Congress party which ruled the country for thirty years, while failing to end landlordism, land concentration and growing indebtedness, had succesfully disrupted the pre-independence peasant unity.”
This “pre-independence peasant unity” between rich and middle peasants on the one hand and poor peasant and agricultural labourers on the other against the landlords, being disrupted, the landlords took advantage of the situation to project every incident of atrocity as just a war between upper castes and harijans to rally behind them the poorer sections of their own castes.
Some of the land holders belonging to what are called backward Communities, who were formerly tenants, have acquired proprietorship rights and have become bourgeois-landlords, When conflicts occur between the landlords and agricultural workers over issues like wages, distribution of land, sharing of crops, recording of rights on land etc, they often take violent forms and these landlord sections are as aggressive as their upper caste brethren. They also try to show that these are just “caste conflicts” in order to rally behind them poor peasants, agricultural workers and other rural poor of their own castes, who by class status should have been allies of the oppressed agricultural workers. Such type of “caste conflicts” have recently appeared in large numbers in Bihar and U.P.
Bihar, till 1973, was not one of the eleven states which showed the largest number of atrocities on scheduled castes. In 1974 it suddenly appeared 6th on the list, to become third by 1976, and since then it has continued to rank third with U.P. and Madhya Pradesh occupying the top two positions all through. Similarly Madhya Pradesh which ranked Fifth in number of cases of atrocities on Scheduled Tribes in 1967 with Rajasthan and Bihar in Second and Third positions has now shot up to 1st place with Rajasthan and Bihar following in the 2nd and Third places.
West Bengal under left-front govt. had all along been free of such atrocities both on seheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
Total humber of reported cases of crimes against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes(according to the answer in reply to a question asked in Lok Sabha on 26.11.81) were 16,014 in 1978, 16009 in 1980 and 11228 in 1981(upto June only). Giving seprate figures for crimes on scheduled castes only in a reply to a question asked in Lok Sabha on 21st. July, 1982 the State Minister for Home Affairs told the house that they were 13,075 in 1979, 13866 in 1980 and 14308 in 1981. These figures clearly show that number of such crimes is on the increase and not on the decline and if we take note of the mass murders of Harijans that have taken place in Deoli and Sarhupur in U.P. and Bhagwanpur and Gaini in Bihar in the current year, the total picture revealed is quite horrible. It indicates not only the magnitude of the problem but also the efforts the democratic movement will have to put up to restore unity of the peasants and agricultural workers against the aggressive landlords.
With 832 persons reported to have been killed and 7831 injured according to official reports, in 1050 incidents of communal riots in three years 1979 to 1981, they have certainly assumed alarming proportions. According to a question answered by the home minister in Lok Sabha on 14th July 1982 another 61 persons have died in 1982 up to May end in incidents of communal riots.
Out of the 419 incidents of communal riots that occured between April 1981 and May 1982, (the largest number so far in any year) the States of Bihar, U.P., Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka reported respectively 58, 36, 65, 47 and 34 incidents. Amongst the places that have achieved notoriety in this period are Hyderabad and Medak(Prime Minister’s own constituency) in Andhra; Bihar sharif in Bihar; Ahmedabad, Baroda, Bharuch and Virangam in Gujarat; Bijapur, Chitradurga and Tiptur in Karnataka; Jodhpur and Siswali in Rajasthan; Aligarh and Meerut in U.P.
Jamshedpur in Bihar is another place which shot into notoriety with serious rioting in April 1979 in which 121 persons were killed and 357 were killed and 357 were injured. In June 1979 and August 79 fesh riots occured in this city killing 2 and 11 injuring 11 and 22 persons respectively.
After some co-versions of Harijans to Islam Communal forces utilised them to engineer riots between Harijans on one side and upper caste Hindus on the other in Tamilnadu. In one such round of nots in Puliangudi in Tirunelveli in May 1982, 12 persons were killed.
A communal type incident occured in Delhi in July 1982 in which two muslim boys lost their lives. Punjab is today in the grip of serious Hindu Sikh tension.
In Moradabad incidents in August 1982, lagest numbsa of casualities in recent years—officialy admitted to be 240 dead-occured. Muslims returning after offering Id prayers were lite-raly massacred by the Pradeshik Armed Constabulary and after that the whole incident was given a communal twist. Next in this category come the Biharsherif riots in Bihar, the Hyderabad city riots in Andhra and Gujarat riots in 1981.
Some features of these riots are extremely disturbing. Firstly these riots were no longer confined to urban centres. There are forces at work to take the communal tension to rural areas and involve the vast peasant masses in to a type of conflagaration that was seen in the pre-partition days. This is happening in Punjab and to some extent in Tamilnadu and this was what happend in Assam when villages after villages were scenes of massacre of the minority community calling them enemy aliens and foreign nationals.
Secondly extremist sections have appeared on the scene, vying with each other in rabid communal propaganda, which complements each other. These have appeared in sections of press controlled by each of these extremist groups who are obviously heavily financed by petro-dollars or CBI controlled funds or funds at the disposal of missionary organisations. These extremists are well organised in organisations like Jamate Islami, Dal Khalsa, RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad and of course several organisations backed be various denominations of foreign cotrolled churches. They have their youth front oganisations too. Ideologies like Islamic Fundamentalism, Hindu Rashtra, Khalistan and Christain Socialism are used to work frenzy amongst the youth and other followers of these organisations. All these ideologies are anti-communist and anti-soviet in their content.
A third disturbing feature is the peneration of these casteist and communal ideologies amongst the police forces as well as in the administration. The Anti-muslim feeling amongst the men of the PAC is, to a large extent, responsible for Moradabad massacares and the months of atrocities on minorities in curfew bound areas of the city following the August 1980 incidents. The entire administration virtually led the agitation in Assam; and the Bihar police administration and even the bourgeois landlord political parties of the State are Known to be divided on caste lines. In U.P. the well known dacoit Chabiram has his supporters in many political leaders, high police and administrative officers belonging to his caste. The U.P. Legislative Council chairman and his son are reported to be friendly to Santhosha the man responsible for Deoli massacre of harijans. In Punjab this virus had enterd the police forces as the reports appearing in a section of the press go to show.
The last disturbing fact is the sudden appearance on the scene of riots of well armed gang of anti-socials who indulge in massacres, burning and looting of property and these gangs are not only well armed but also well connected. Local political groups generally belonging to the ruling party, emerge which give them not only protection but also try to cash in on the communal passions to augment the support that they always seek to win elections. It is these gangs which are used on a large scale in Panchayat Elections in U.P., Bihar and many other States, as well as in activities of reprisals following them, against members of opposite communities. In most places these gangs are in league with the local police officials.
These developments as well as the dimensions that this problems has acquired recently, requires serious attention from Kisan Sabha and other democratic forces who want to preserve and strengthen the fighting unity of the masses. It is this unity that the reactionary vested interests dominating village life to day fear most and that explains why they are so ready to support and protect the commnnal forces which aim at disrupting this very unity. Hence our struggle against these vested interests coincides with our struggle against these divisive communal forces.
MAIN FEATURES OF THE PRESENT AGRARIAN SITUATION
To sum up: main features of the present agrarion situation are as follows:—
- Serious drought conditions are there in many States and regions; The great damage done due to floods in many States is not yet overcome. This is the most immediate and most serious problem in a large part of the country.
- The attempts made by ruling classes to augment agricultural production through modern methods of agriculture are yielding only very partial results. The relations of production in agriculture seriously limit the possibilities of such development of modern methods of agriculture.
- The ruling classes have almost stopped even talking of any further land reforms. In the matter of implementation of existing land ceiling laws, they are for freezing the situation as it is. So the concentration of land in the hands of a small section of the feudal and capitalist land lords continues. The ruling classes are talking now more of consolidation of holdings than that of ceiling laws and land reforms.
- The pauperisation of the peasantry is increasing. The number of landless peasants and that of agricultural labourers is constantly growing.
- Share croppers and tenants continue to be evicted in all States except in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala. In all the other states there is no real security of tenure for the share croppers. They also do not get 3/4th of the produce as stipnlated in law. They are mostly tenants- at-will without security.
- The peasantry, as a whole, is cheated again and again by low prices-for agricultural produce-far below the actual cost of cultivation. Growers of Paddy, Wheat, Commercial Crops like Sugarcane, Jute, Cotton, Coffee, Rubber etc. are leading an uncertain existance. Depression of prices of agricultural produce during times of harvest and steady increase in prices after they are cornered by big traders and monopolists is the general rule. In vast parts of the rural areas there is hardly any public distribution system in existance to supply the rural population with the needed essential commodities and they generally suffer from acute scarcity and high prices of goods that they have to purchase, while denied a remunerative price for their own produce.
- Cost of cultivation is increasing. Small and marginal and middle farmers are finding it very difficult to meet the rising cost of cultivation. Availability of institutional credit from all sources to these sections of farmers meets only a fraction of their needs. So they have to resort to the private money lenders for loans both for production and for consumption purposes. Money lenders charge exhorbitant interests. The oppression based on indebtedness on farmers continues to be colossal and very severe.
- Increase in taxes and levies and surcharges on items like supply of electricity to agriculture, irrigation facilities and various local cesses and increase in indirect taxes on peasantry imposed by both Central and State Governments, seek to pass the burdens on to the shoulders of the peasantry. The operation of the conditionalities of the I.M.F loan is abundantly evident in these imposts on the peasantry and in the withdrawal of subsidies by the Central Government in the price of furtilizers etc. The prices of manufactured and industrial goods needed by the peasantry are increasing steadily.
There is wide spoead unemployment and under employment among agricultural workers. They are leading a precarious existance.
OUR MAIN TASKS
Following the Anti-War rally at Delhi on 4th October, 1982 the Kisan Sabha has to further mobilise peasants for world peace and against the conspiracy of US imperialsts to unleash thermonuclear world war. We must devote more attention than either to, this very important and urgent task and take all steps possible on our own and in concert with other organisations to strengthen the anti-war movement among the peasantry.
- We have to keep in constant view the continuous attempts of authoritation forces to stiffle democracy and to deprive the people of their democratic rights. Hence we have to play our role in forging a broad platform and movement to defend democratic rights by rousing the peasantry on this burning question.
- We have to conduct wide propaganda on basic land reforms with the Central slogan of seizure of land and distribution of land gratis to the tiller. This is our fundamental alternative agrarian policy to that of the present bourgeois-landlord ruling classes. We have to the develop the consciousness of the peasantry for this path of abolitian of landlordism and land to the landless and the poor.
In the current situation we have to make serious efforts to carry an agitation and struggle for removing all the loopholes in the present land ceiling legislations and for neeessary amendments and implementation with the participation of peasants.
The West Bengal Land Amendment Act must be popularised, Central Government’s assent for the same must be demanded and in various States the respective governments must be asked, to bring amending bills on the lines of the West Bengal Amendment Bill with necessary modifications suitable to each State.
- Similarly campaigns for protection of interests of tenants and share-croppers have great significance and relevance today.
A vigorous movement to force State Governments to confer rights of security of tenure and to prepare a record of rights of tenants including share-croppers, is needed in most of the States. The Land Reform and Land Revenue Acts in various States must be suitably amended to provide for granting occupancy rights to share-croppers, where necessary.
The experienc and achievement of the West Bengal Kisan movement and Left Front Government in “Operation Barga” must be shown as a shining example for all tenants to follow. Provisions similar to those enacted in the West Bengal Land Reform Act must be demanded in the tenancy Acts of other States.
- Remunerative price for the peasntry is one of the important problems facing the Indian peasantry. Our kisan sabha’s main attention and struggle along with several other kisan organisations had been on this burning issue, in recent years, We have got to concentrate much more on this question during the coming period. It is with this aim in view that our C.K.C. has, in unity with CPI led Kisan Sabha and with other organisations decided to sponsor four All India conventions on this question of remunerative prices for Jute, Sugarcane, Cotton, and Tobacco in various centres of the Country. We must do all we can for the success of these conventions. We must unite with all available organisations, in all States, to build up the most effective common movement to secure remunerative prices for agricultural produce. This must be a continuous movement, along with other pressing demands of the entire peasantry.
- United movement for getting maximum debt relief for peasants is a vital necessity. Debts to money lenders and usurers most be cancelled; supply of institutional and bank credit to poor and middle farmers on low-interest rates must be ensured and increased several fold; we must, taking into consideration the situation in each State, concretise our slogans in this regard and build up the campaign.
- We must, also, defend peasantry against the various direct and indirect impositions of Central and State Governments in the form of Tax increase, surcharges, levy of cess etc. in various forms. We must resist the steps the ruling classes resort to, for the purpose of shifting the burden of the economic crisis on to the shoulders of the peasantry.
- While we take a correct attitude regarding preservation of forest-wealth in the interests of agriculture itself, we have to fight strongly against the recent moves of the Central Govt. and that of several State Govts. to deprive the tribals & other forest dwellers and poor peasants of their very livelihood. The campaign for the tribals rights and interests of poor peasants who depend on forests for their livelihood must be taken up on a national and States level and in united actions of all those affected, in order to make the Govt. retreat from their present policy.
- As mentioned in this report already, the ever growing number of agricultural workers in the country, sharply focusses the problem of implementation of minimum wages for them, grant of house-sites for their bare existance, food for work for them during lean seasons.
The Kisan Sabha aud the agricultural workers union have to cooperate, co-ordinate and fight together for the above mentioned demends.
We must also be very vigilant and prompt to unite all forces for the purpose of fighting against caste and social oppression perpetuated upon vast masses of agricultural workers who belong to scheduled castes and tribes and protect their social and civil rights.
- The general strike on 19-1-82 has witnessed the solidarity action of agricultural workers and peasants in many States regions of our country. There had been strikes by agricultural workers on that day in many states and regions of our country. There had been strikes by agricultural workers on that day in many states And demonstrations took place in all rural centres where the Kisan Sabha had some influence.
This is encouraging and Kisan Sabha must take all measures for propagation and building up worker-peasant unity, which is a very difficult task demanding protracted struggle.
- The tasks of fighting against all divisive, disruptive, chauvinist and communal forces has become very urgent and crucial for the very existapce of the Indian union and the united peasant movement, Kisan Sabha units have acquired some experience in this difficult task, and we have to study and assimilate the great experience of Tripura, Assam and West Bengal in this regard and go forward.
The Varanasi Conference report pointed out that “one obvious weakness is the lopsided development of our organisation which is revealed by the membership figures from various States.”
This position continues even to-day West Bengal accounts for 3/4 of the total membership of the Sabha, West Bengal and Kerala together accounts for 51, 82, 451 out of 61, 93, 468, the total membership of the Sabha. This works out to 5/6th of the total membership.
This position must be changed and we should work for a sizeable increase in membership in all the other states in the coming period.
Formulating our organisational weaknesses, the General Secretary’s report for the Varanasi Conference pointed out the following:-
“First we do not always give sufficient attention to the spontaneous struggles which are initiated by the common people…”
“Second, our activities are not so organised as to enable a democratic participation of the common peasants in decision making…”
“Third, the slogans we formulate, though correct in term of our own subjective awareness of the situation, often fail to rally the peasants because these are not in tune with their own understanding…”
“Fourth, our functioning suffers because we seldom take the trouble of analysing in depth concrete issues facing our movement or undertake specific studies with detailed collection of data…”
“Fifth our neglect of the training and development of the cadre…”
“Sixth, it is deeply distressing to note that barring a few exceptions, practically, none of our organisational centres whether her at the district, State or All-India level-properly function…“
“Seventh and last, but certainly one of the most important weaknesses of our organisation is less then adequate understanding of the need and scope for united actions…”
Though there is some improvement in the functioning at the all-India Centre and in some of the State Centres and though greater attention than before has been paid for bringing about united actions of various kisan and other organisations on common issues facing the peasantry in this period under review, all the major organisational weaknesses highlighted in the Varanasi Conference report are still continuing and are hampering our advance.
So we must undertake a much more determined effort than before to overcome these weaknesses and short comings at all levels, Central, State and District.
Moreover, great importance was given in the Varanasi Conference report to the functioning of “the basic unit” of the Kisan Sabha.
Reports from West Bengal, Tripura Kerala and Andhra Pradesh and a few other states alone speak of their serious efforts to organise village committees of the Kisan Sabha. This task of organising the Village Committees of the Sabha in all villages where the Sabha exists and continous efforts to function then in a democratic way will be the most decisive step for our further advance in the coming period.
The General Secretary’s report to the Varanasi Conference, in its concluding part pointed out “we are every week in the vast Hindi speaking area where the reactionaries are concentrating… The enormous weakness of our movement in this area is a big impediment to advancing the cause of the agrarian revolution…”
During this period under review, All-India Kisan Sabha Centre has taken some steps to help the State Kisan Sabha Centres in the Hindi speaking states. But much remains to be done for this purpose both from the All India Centre and from the various State Centres themselves.
Comrades, we are in a period when the economic crisis is further deepening and when the ruling classes are determined to throw the burdens of the crisis on to the shoulders of the vast mass of the peasantry and other sections of the people.
The drought and flood ravages, the fall in the prices of agricultural produce of the peasants, heavy indebtedness and scarcity of institutional credit, landlord oppression and eviction of tenants, pauperisation and swelling of the agricultural workers, vast rural unemployment and underemployment, fresh taxation and new imposts-all are ruining the hundereds of millions of people of rural India, making their lives miserable.
All sections of the peasantry are becoming aware of this situation, and they will have to fight for their cause with determination. It is our historic duty to be in the forefront of this gigantic movement and to shape, guide and lead it forward in forging peasant unity, in forging worker-peasant alliance to successfully conduct the Indian Agrarian revolution.
Always keeping in our mind the great traditions of the Indian Kisan movement, the sacred memory of our innumerable martyrs and the inspriring life message of our respectes great leaders such as Comrades A.K. Gopalan and Hare Krishana Konar, let us rise to the occasion and fulfil our mission.
LONG LIVE DEMOCRAY AND NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE! LONG LIVE WORKERS PEASANT UNITY! LONG LIVE WORLD PEACE AND DOWN WITH WAR! LONG LIVE THE ALL INDIA KISAN SABHA!
K. CHATUNNI MASTER GENERAL SECRETARY
STATE-WISE BREAK-UP OF THE ALL INDIA KISAN MEMBERSHIP FOR THE YEAR 1981-82
- Andhra Pradesh State Kisan Sabha – 1,73,040
- Assam State Kisan Sabha – 1,12,701
- Bihar State Kisan Sabha – 1,50,000
- Gujarat State Kisan Sabha – 17,920
- Haryana State Kisan Sabha – 10,000
- Himachal Pradesh State Kisan Sabha – 4,000
- Jammu & Kashmir State Kisan Sabha – 12,400
- Karnataka State Kisan Sabha – 51,000
- Kerala State Kisan Sabha – 5,65,490
- Madhya Pradesh State Kisan Sabha – 14,000
- Maharashtra State kisan Sabha – 52,350
- Orissa State Kisan Sabha – 18,200
- Punjab State Kisan Sabha – 1,07,870
- Rajasthan State Kisan Sabha – 27,880
- Tamil Nadu State Kisan Sabha – 77,778
- Tripura State Kisan Sabha – 47,308
Tripura Gana Mukti Parishad – 35,310
- Uttar Pradesh State Kisan Sabha – 1,00,000
- West Bengal State Kisan Sabha – 46,16,961
TOTAL – 61,94,208
Date: 8th.-11th. November, 1982