ALL-INDIA KISAN SABHA Organisational Reportage No. 1 of 1944-45: 7th April 1944
The eighth annual session of the All India Kisan Sabha was held, at Bezwada, in Andhra, on March 14 and 15, 1944, under the president-ship of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati. The session was unique in many respects in the history of the Sabha. Apart from the routine work of the session —the longest so far—which began with the old C.K.C meeting on 9th March and continued till the new C.K.C. meeting was over on 17th March, there were several striking features. These were:
- Preparation for the session with 450 propaganda squads of workers who covered 2ooo villages.
- The total gathering at the open session numbered about a lakh including over 10,000 women—as big as at Gaya in 1939.
- The presidential procession on 14th morning was a disciplined mass of nearly 10,000 people formed into a one-mile-long mobile column which marched for three hours through Bezwada town and its outskirts while about as many thousands were witnessing the rousing demonstration in amazement.
- About 30,000 people including at least 5,000 women assembled to salute the Red Flag of the Kisan Sabha which was hoisted by Com. Bankim Mukherjee, the out-going President, under the scorching mid-day sun.
- About 1,500 bullock carts carried whole kisan families to the session from distant villages and camped there for two days of the session.
- About 8,000 people were fed twice a day for two days at a general kitchen where kisan men and women served and where there was no caste or other restriction.
- Twenty doctor comrades were engaged to look to the sanitary and medical needs of the session and they served as many as 5,000 patients, and allowed no fault to be found with the sanitary arrangements.
LARGEST DELEGATION PRESENT
- A cattle show organized near the pandal at which over 80 head of magnificent cattle were collected and in which kisans evinced boundless interest.
- The cultural show which represented through folk art the conditions of the country and which kept about 60,000 people spell-bound for hours till as late as 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning for two successive days.
- The session was attended by as many as 296 delegates, including 65 A.I.K.C. members, representing all Kisan Sabha provinces of India—the highest figure ever recorded. Over and above there were nearly a hundred fraternal delegates from 11 provinces and states.
And all this was made possible despite the Madras Government’s order restricting railway travel within 30 miles from Bezwada. The restriction was in force even in the case of boats and buses while sometimes cycle travelling was also disallowed! The bureaucracy only failed to bring under control bullock carts and the sturdy legs of the kisan whose eager enthusiasm would make him walk many miles more than 30. Thus nearly a lakh collected at the session which they considered their very own.
The delegates present were from Andhra 140, Assam (including Surma Valley) 7, Bengal 50, Bihar 5, C.P. Marathi 11, Gujarat 2, Gwaliar State 1, Kerala 14, Maharashtra 5, Punjab 22, Sind 1, Tamilnadu 8, U.P. 14, Utakal 4, and Vidarbh (Berar)13.
There were 22 resolutions in all including the condolence resolution, which was in four parts. The deaths of Kasturba and R.S. Pandit were of course mourned while from among its important workers the Sabha had to lose as many as 27 out of whom 22 died in the famine-stricken Bengal alone! This heavy loss makes our work all the heavier.
The resolutions greeting the Red Army, the Soviet peoples and the Chinese people are only a warm and grateful recognition of the services and benefits rendered to us by them as well as of the inspiration which we derive from their action. These are more than mere formal resolutions.
The main political resolution is on the release of national leaders to end the deadlock. It is of paramount importance to our national life to-day because its main drive goes towards the achievement of Hindu Muslim and Congress-League unity leading to the release of the leaders, ending the deadlock, and winning a National Government of National defence. For this purpose the resolution, instead of being a mere appeal, intends to smash demoralization and defeatism through a sweeping patriotic agitation all over the country.
In view of the growing misunderstanding of the policy of the Kisan Sabha in the country it was found necessary to restate its stand in the form of a resolution. It opens its door to all, specially the followers of the Congress and the League, who wish to join the Sabha and serve the kisan in the interest of the nation.
While famine is again a growing menace to the security of the country , growing more food crops and distributing them to all at reasonable prices becomes the most important task before the sabha in the coming months. Hence the resolutions on Grow More Food and the Food Procurement Policy of the Central Government. The resolutions stress the importance of anti-hoarding drive, of equitable distribution, of bringing all patriols together to slove the food crisis and of a planned self self-help movement all over the country.
The resolutions on the three sub-committees show that the Sabha’s attention has been drawn to its growing organizational need for a more helpful constitution and for the study of some of the basic problems of the kisan.
Many of these and other resolutions had to be explained in three languages—English, Hindustani and Telugu. In the matter of translation Com. Rahul Sankrityayan was of immense help which Com. Ramalingayya showed no ordinary skill and energy in translating both English and Hindustani versions into Telugu at the Subjects Committee meeting as well as at the open session.
LESSONS OF BEZWADA
The Bezwada session was a remarkable demonstration of unity within the Kisan Sabha—unity of all Kisan Sabha- unity of all Kisan Sabha workers and delegates who hailed from various parts of the country, as well as of kisans who were there. The bond of unity was their common interest and patriotic urge to serve their country.
It has invited into the Sabha Congressmen and Leaguers who want to serve the kisan so as to strengthen his organisation in its tasks of winning kisan demands and saving food for the people from the hands of the hoarders.
The Sabha, with its internal unity and with its banner raised higher at Bezwada, now shows the way for a determined campaign for Hindu-Muslim and Congress-League unity, thus pointing to all patriotic people the way they can break demoralization which still persists in the country.
These are the lessons which Bezwada has taught us.
THE TASK BEFORE US
The Bezwada session has found that the recent achievements of the Kisan Sabha have largely enhanced its responsibilities. These achievements are mainly its success in the grow-more-food campaign, in developing unity of the kisan and the people for anti-hoarding, food supply and relief work, and in fighting demoralization which is still so widespread. This success has been drawing the attention of more and more non-kisan patriots to the activities of the Sabha.
The Sabha’s responsibility therefore, is now to broaden its base so as to accommodate more non-kisan patriots who are eager to work for the benefit of the kisan and the nation, and to achieve greater unity of all the people, of all communities and sections and parties, for and through its work of growing more food and ensuring food to all at reasonable prices.
That is the only way to rouse the millions of patriotic kisans and non-kisans and bring them together for the common patriotic purpose of releasing the leaders, ending the deadlock and winning a National Government of national defence. That is the only way to smash the fifth column at a time when India is already invaded by the Jap aggressor. And that is the only way to build the Kisan Sabha as the real organisation of the kisan masses leading them to freedom both as a producing class and as patriotic people.
BANKIM MUKHERJI, General Secretary.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE SESSION CENTRAL KISAN COUNCIL BEZWADA: March 9—15, 1944.
Members present: 1. Bankim Mukherji (President), 2. Swami Sahajanand Saraswati (General Secretary), 3—6. Muzaffar Ahmad, M. A. Rasul, Gopal Haidar, Mansur Habib (Bengal), 7—8. Jagjit Singh, Ataullah Jahania (Punjab), 9—10. N. Prasada Rao, K. Gopala Rao (Andhra), 11—12. E. M. S. Namboodiripad, Keraleeyan (Kerala), 13. Harshdeo Malaviya (U.P.), 14. Sadhucharan Mahanty (Orissa), 15. S. V. Parulekar (Maharashtra), 16. J. Bukhari (Sind), 17. M. D. Deshpande (Berar), 18. Bhairaw Bharatia (Gwaliar State) and 19. Karyanand Sharma (Bihar).
All these members generally attended all the sittings of the C.K.C. While 20. A. S. Chhina (Punjab), 21. Karuna Sindhu Roy (Surma Valley) and 22. Yadunandan Sharma (Bihar) joined in the course of the session. The session of the C.K.C. lasted up to 15th March and there were altogether six sittings. The President was in the chair.
Md. Khushhal Khan of the N. W. Frontier Province, who was once a member of the C.K.C. and who had been lately released from jail, attended the C.K.C. meeting by special invitation of the General Secretary.
When the Council first met the minutes of the C.K.C meetings at Bombay (August 1943) and Patna (January 1944) were passed.
The General Secretary then said that he had not prepared an annual report to the session because he had not got report from all Provincial Kisan Sabhas and most of the reports he had received had come too late for him to prepare his annual report.
He then pointed out that delegation fee had not been received from many provinces. The defaulters were asked to pay immediately. The time available between the last date for enrolment and the annual session was very short and should be longer so that difficulties might be avoided, Swamiji remarked. Swamiji presented an abstract of accounts of the Central Office from 1st April, 1943 to 5th March, 1944 which was accepted.
IMPROVEMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION
He raised the question of the Kisan Sabha Constitution in which, he said, there were some flaws. For instance, he pointed out, nowhere it says that none who is not a primary member can be elected as a delegate. The C.K.C alone is competent to interpret the Constitution.
The C.K.C decided that nobody who is not a primary member of the Sabha can be elected to any elective post in the Kisan Sabha.
Regarding Article 6, clause (iii), Swamiji explained that as it comes after (i) and (ii), “every 2000 primary members’ means ”2000 primary members or a fraction thereof“.
Com. Muzaffar Ahmad said that the Constitution is only in a skelcton from and many changes are necessary in it.
Com. Malaviya suggested that a committee should be appointed for amending the Constitution and that the session of the Sabha should delegates its power to the A.I.K.C. to make necessary changes as soon as possible.
Com. Bankim said that Congressmen and Leaguers in Bengal were coming into the Sabha but the Constitution did not provide enough accommodation to the different political views. The gap should be filled up by effecting proper changes in the Constitution.
Members agreed on the need for amending the Constitution and Com. Muzaffar Ahmad was asked to draft a resolution on the point and place it before the C.K.C.
DRAFTING OF RESOLUTIONS
The next thing discussed was the drafting of resolutions for the annual session. Com. Bukhari suggested the following subjects: Condolence, greetings to the Red Army and China, release of Congress leaders, and further taxation proposal such as on tobacco, coffee, tea and betelnut, to which Com. Rasul added increase in railway fare.
Com. Rasul gave a further list which included appointment of committees to enquire into the cost of production of commercial crops such as cotton, jute, tobacco, sugarcane, coconut etc; food crisis and famine, procurement policy, control and rationing; famine in Bengal and what was done by K.S; grow more food; defence bond and saving certificate; essential commodities and how to get their supply; transference of land and eviction; and Sind teanancy and Frontier reassessment.
Com. Bharatia pointed out the necessity for a resolution on the States and specially Gwaliar State where enhancement of rent and eviction are going on.
Swamiji advised that the resolutions should be brief.
A drafting committee was then formed with Comrades Rasul, Haldar, Parulekar and Namboodiripad to draft resolutions the President and Secretary being ex-officio members.
A CASE FROM INDORE
At the second sitting (March 10) Com. Bankim read a letter from Indore informing the formation of committee for Kisan Sabha work there and applying for affiliation. The letter further stated that there was another committee which was bogus and manned by Government agents. There was another letter which made the same charges against the former committee.
It was decided that Comrades Parulekar and Bharatia should visit Indore, find facts about the matter and report to the Central Office, after which the President or the General Secretary would visit Indore and give the final decision for which they were empowered.
As the resolutions had not been drafted yet the meeting was adjourned till the next day.
SOME RESOLUTIONS MOVED
At the third sittting (March 11th) Comrade Rasul moved resolutions on condolences at the death of Kasturba and R. S. Pandit, and a number of Kisan Sabha workers, greetings to the Soviet peoples and the Red Army, greetings to the Chinese people, and the release of leaders to end the deadlock. The first two resolutions were passed with slight amendments while those on greetings to China and release had to await amendments.
In the course of the discussion which followed Swamiji said he had no fundamental differences with the draft resolution on release. Changes were suggested in the last para of the resolution and the drafting committee was asked to redraft it.
The C.K.C. fixed 3 p.m. on March 12 for the Subjects Committee to meet.
Asked by Comrade Bukhari Swamiji said that delegates would be allowed to it with the A.I.K.C. members at the Subjects Committee meetings as on the previous occasion.
MORE RESOLUTIONS MOVED & PASSED
At the fourth sitting Com. Rasul moved the amended resolutions on China and release. Swamiji wanted time before giving his opinion. Resolutions on the Frontier reassessment and Sind tenancy were accepted with certain changes made in them. The one on new taxation proposal was passed and that on the constitution sub committee was passed with some amendment. It was decided that the A.I.K.C. which would discuss the draft Constitution should meet in U.P.
It was decided that to help the Agricultural Labour Sub-committee, the resolution on which was passed, a questionnaire should be drafted.
Resolutions on Commercial Crop Enquiry Committee, restriction on travelling to Bezwada and essential commodities were passed.
Com. Rasul moved the resolution on the Food Procurement Policy but the discussion was postponed in order to give time to comrades for thinking over the resolution.
The C.K.C. then arranged for moving the resolutions in the Subjects Committee meeting.
RESOLUTIONS PASSED UNANIMOUSLY
At the fifth sitting the C.K.C. passed the resolution on release as amended as well as on Rayalaseema famine, murder of a Punjab comrade, Land Transference and Evictions, Appeal to Aid Bengal and Fight the Famine, and Grow More Food, some with minor amendments.
It was found that there were many who did not know the policy of the Kisan Sabha and often misunderstood it. Hence a resolution on the Kisan Sabha policy was drafted and discussed. After Swamiji had added some passages it was passed by the C.K.C.
There was prolonged discussion on the resolution on the Food Procurement Policy. A number of amendments were proposed and some of them accepted. The resolution was passed as amended finally.
At the sixth sitting resolutions on China, Sugarcane and Gur Problems, Defence Bonds and States were passed. After this the old Central Kisan Council was dissolved.
All resolutions were passed unanimously.
SUBJECTS COMMITTEE MEETING
The Subjects Committee had three sittings in all—on 12th, 13th and 15th March. There were 65 members out of 140 present. Swamiji, the new President, was in the chair.
Opening the meeting Com. Bankim Mukherji, the out-going President, said in the course of a short speech.
I believe I am echoing the feeling of joy of all comrades in calling upon our veteran Kisan leader, Swamiji, to once again take the chair. After the outbreak of war in 1939 some of the important Kisan Sabha builders left the Sabha. Then when the great change came following the German invasion of Russia, some trends could not march with the progress of the Sabha and dropped out. I recall these happenings with a sense of borrow.
The Kisan Sabha however has gone from strength to strength. To day we are an organization of more than half a million Kisans. We have emerged stronger even through the most critical year of Indian history. And when momentous changer are taking place all the world over, the kisans of India will not call to have their share in the glory and success of those changes too.
The depression and demoralization which pervades the country has been reflected in Swamiji also. Still under his able leadership. under the guidance of this militant Kisan leader we will go forward this year to break the deadlock and fight for our freedom as well as the freedom of the peoples of China, Burma etc. We have to do this. We must do it or we perish. Now, its appeal to Swamiji to take the chair and guide us through the next year.
Swamiji took the chair and said:
I have not much to sav here. Comrade Bankim has remembered me with affection. I have no doubt about the glorious future of our kisans. With this idea I joined the political movement in 1920 and started Kisan organisation in 1927. After having moved in jungles and valleys for years I found the reality here and I am determined not to leave this path.
I have my own ideas, my own conceptions and methods and these may have differences with those of others. But so far as service to humanity is concerned, service to kisans and the downtrodden is concerned, that remains my job.
Com. Bankim has rightly said that the depths to which our country has gone has made me despondent now and then. But we shall be free. After the end of this war we shall become strengthened. We shall be victorious. Our rulers may think that they are becoming stronger, but there are other force which are invincible. Russia, China and India are physically linked together and we shall win with our worthy colleagues We shall march on to victory.
Resolutions as adopted by the C.K.C. were duly moved and seconded by delegates from various provinces, and passed by the Subjects Committee. There was not much discussion on the resolutions and there were few amendments. On some of them short speeches were made. The resolutions were translated into Hindustani and Telugu. Some of the speeches were also translated into Telugu.
At the third sitting Swamiji expressed gratitude to the Andhra and Madras Press for their reporting of the session which he thought was different from the reporting of any previous session. He expressed the hope that this co-operation would be maintained in future also.
The last resolution before the Subjects Committee related to the next session of the All India Kisan Sabha. There was an invitation from Kerala as well as from Bengal. After some discussion Kerala’s invitation was accepted.
All resolutions were passed unanimously.
THE OPEN SESSION March 14 & 15, 1944.
At the open session, after songs and shouting of slogans as well as garlanding and introduction of the new President, the outgoing President and the C.K.C. members, the Chairman of the Reception Committee, Comrade Vasudev Rao read out his address in Telugu. Then Swamiji delivered his presidential address in English which translated into Telugu.
Then followed the condolence resolutions and the resolutions of the restriction of travelling to Bezwada, all moved from the chair, and passed. After this the first day’s sitting was over. In the second day Mr. B. Sambamurthi, ex-Speaker of the Madras Legislative Assembly, greeted the session. Com. G. Budhikari offered stirring fraternal greetings to the session on behalf of the Communist Party of India. Greetings from many of other sources were also read including one from the comrades.
Tanjore Detention Camp.
ALL INDIA KISAN COMMITTEE FIRST MEETING: 16th March
When the new A.I.K.C. met for the first time under the chairmanship of Swamiji, Com. Muzaffar Ahmad proposed names for the election of eight out of nine office-bearers of the All India Kisan Committee, the President having been already elected. His proposal was accepted unanimously.
So also were the names of 16 members of the C.K.C. other then the office-bearers which were proposed by Comrade Parulekar.
When Comrade Parulekar made his proposal Swamiji suggested that some provision might be made for including a frontier comrade in the Council. When it was pointed out that the suggestion could not be accepted on constitutional founds as there was no functioning Kisan Sabha in the frontier Province, it was decided that the N.W.F. Kisan Committee should be recognised and authorised to send one representative to participate in the deliberations of the Central Kisan Council whenever it met.
Comrade Parulekar’s resolution was adopted unanimously.
The following Comrades constitute the new C.K.C.:
- Swami Sahajanand Saraswati
- Karyanand Sharma
- Achchhar Singh Chhina
- General Secretary:
- Bankim Mukherji
- Joint Secretaries:
- E. M. S. Namboodiripad
- M. A. Rasul
- Yadunandan Sharma
- Jagjit Singh
- Treasurer :
- S. V. Parulekar
- Muzaffar Ahmad
- Mansur Habib
- Krishnabinode Roy
- N. Prasada Rao
- P. Sundarayya
- J. Bukhari
- Harshdeo Malaviya
- Ramesh Chahar
- Ataullah Jahania
- M. D. Deshpande
- Sadhucharan Mahanti
- Karuna Sindhu Roy
- Jamuna Karjee
- Bhairaw Bhartia.
Quotas were then fixed for the next year-quotas of primary membership to be enrolled by each P.K.S. in 1944 and of the amount to be donated to the A.I.K.C. by each P.K.S. by the end of 1944. The meeting was then dissolved.
A list of the quotes fixed is to be found elsewhere.
NEW C.K.C. MEETS
The newly elected Council met immediately after its elected but the meeting was adjourned till the next day (17th March). In all 21 members were present.
After some preliminary talks the question of the Sub-committees was taken up. It was taken up. It was decided that questionnaires should be prepared and sent to the provinces after their approval by the President and the Secretary. The questionnaire on sugarcane to be prepared by Com. Malaviya, on jute by Com. Krishnabinode Roy, on cotton by Com. Deshpande, on tobacco by Com. Prasada Rao and on coconut by Com. Namboodiripad. These are to be issued within 15 days from date and the provinces are to answer them by the end of May 1944.
Comrade Namboodiripad is to prepare and circulate a questionnaire on agricultural labour within 15 days from date and the provinces are to answer it by the end of May 1944.
Swamiji wanted to know the location of the Central Office after he made over charges of it to the new Secretary. Comrade Bankim said it would be in Bombay and gave his arguments in favour of shifting the office to Bombay. Swamiji said he did not like it. He however thought no discussion was necessary.
The Swamiji asked as to whether any assistant would be provided to the President must be made for expenses of the President’s office. Further, the P.K.S.’s should send one copy of each report to the President.
The meeting was then over.
|Provinces||Membership in 1943||Membership in 1944||Membership quota for 1945||Money Quota for 1944|
|1. Andhra||55,560||101,502||175,000||Rs. 500|
|2. Assam Valley||1,008||1,536||5,000||25|
|5. C.P. (Marathi)||1,200||7,000||25|
|7. Gwaliar State||960||2,367||5,000||25|
|12. Surma Valley||11,540||8,184||15,000||100|
|17. N.W.F. Province||3,000|
The All India Kisan Sabha mourns with the whole nation to death of Kasturba in jail. Kasturba embodied in herself to best traditions of Indian womanhood, but the bureaucracy hold have no regard for tha nor for the deep anguish that her path has caused to all sections of the people. The Kisan Sabha offers its respectful condolences to Gandhiji and the family at the loss which is as much theirs as of the entire people of India.
B. R.S. PANDIT
The untimely death of Mr. R.S. Pandit has removed from the field of activity a sound scholar and a devoted servant in the cause of Indian freedom. The All India Kisan Sabha offers to Mrs. Vijaylakshmi Pandit and the family their sincere condolences, and recognises that the patriotic tradition of the family of a source of inspiration to the workers in the cause of Indian liberation.
C. KISAN SABHA WORKERS
The kisans of Indian as well as the All India Kisan Sabha have in 1943 passed through the blackest year of their recent history. Famine and epidemics have taken a toll of scores of devoted organisers of the Sabha and killed millions of kisan men, women and children. With deep anguish of heart the All India Kisan Sabha particularly recalls the death of Comrades:-
BENGAL: 1. Bankim Maiti, 2. Prabhas Latua, 3. Dharaniehar Das, 4. Lalmohan Jana, 5. Ibrahim, 6. Bijay Pramanik, 7. Santi Chakravarty, 8. Rebati Das, 9. Abdul Aziz, 10. Krishna pada Roy, 11. Bhupesh Banerji, 12. Badhal Singh, 13. Jatin Sarkar, 14. Talebar Sarkar, 15. Moni Chakravarty, 16. Prabhananda Burman, 17. Jetha Mondal, 18. Nishikanta Misra, 19. Noor Momammad, 20. Dayaram, 21. Janen Sen and 22. Dhiren Biswas.
ANDHRA: 23. Penmetsa Suryanarayana Raju.
ORISSA: 24, Bhagabati Charan Panigrahi and 25. Pranbandhu Agasti.
SURMA VALLEY: 26. Deben Datta and 27. Adam Ali.
The All India Kisan Sabha offers to the families of these valued workers their heartfelt sympathy, and expresses its firm determination to carry to a quick and successful end the cause of the kisans for which these valued comrades worked and died.
D. A MURDERED COMRADE
The All India Kisan Sabha sondemns the action of the fifth column gang who murdered Ram Singh Kala Sangha of Kapurthala State (Punjab) in order to terrorise the Kisan Sabha workers, and thus prevent them from organising the kisans for the defence of the country, for growing more food and for solving the food crisis. The Sabha mourns the death of Com. Ram Singh Kala Sangha and offers comradely condolences to his family.
II. RESTRICTION ON TRAVELLING TO BEZWADA SESSION
The All India Kisan Sabha protests against the restrictions put by the Government of Madras and the Resident in Hyderabad State on travelling to Bezwada by the delegates and kisans for this session. The Sabha declares that such obstructions placed before this session are not only an infringement of the freedom of association of the kisans of India but most seriously hamper the work of mobilising the people against Fascism, against food crisis and epidemics.
The Sabha is gratified to note that, as soon as this order of the Madras Government was brought to their notice, members of the Central Legislative Assembly belonging to all parties put on a spirited fight against it. The Sabha hopes that patriots inside and outside legislative will follow this example and fight for such restrictions put by the bureaucracy on rallying the people for food and for ending the deadlock.
III. GREETINGS TO THE SOVIET PEOPLES AND THE RED ARMY
The All India Kisan Sabha representing over half a million organised peasants of India send to you, peoples of the Soviet union, and to you men and women of the Red Army as well as in your incomparable leader and supreme Commander-in-Chief Harshal Stalin, grateful congratulations and revolutionary greetings.
The immortal battle of Stalingrad,, where you turned the things against Hitler’s barbarous hordes and thereby saved our country and the Middle east from Fascist invasion has become household word with us and the object of folk songs and balances.
The relentless blows, which you are dealing the Fascist foe in the course of the final offensive which you began with the Kurask-Orel battle in JUly last, are facing Hitler with disaster in every turn.
The day is not far off when with the opening of the Second Front in the West, Hitler’s bloody regime and army will colopse. The black misdeeds of the Hitlerite murderers on the Soviet soil would be avenged and the Red Army will directly help the peoples of Europe to liberate themselves.
Your stupendous victories are not only liberating the peoples of Europe but creating conditions favourable for the speedy defeat of Japanese aggression and for the liberation of India, China and of the peoples of the East. The Sabha Pays homage to the deathless valour of your heroes, to the master-strategy of your commanders. Your deeds inspire us to unite our people so that they may play their part in the world people’s struggle against Fascism.
IV. GREETINGS TO THE CHINESE PEOPLE
The All India Kisan Sabha extends its heart-felt greetings to the great Chinese people in their heroic and unyielding fight against Japanese imperialism.
The Chinese people forged their national unity in the face of Fascist aggression and, in fighting their battle for Chinese liberty, have created for the oppressed peoples of the world and new legacy of national resistance and shown us the way to fight the enemies of our national freedom. In fighting now on the Assam front of Burma the Chinese people are directly contributing to the defence of India.
The Kisan Sabha gratefully congratulates the great and valiant people of China, and is confident that the two peoples of China and India will soon be completely liberated to take up an honourable part in the rebuilding of the world and the regeneration of Asia.
V. RELEASE OF THE LEADERS TO END THE DEADLOCK
Though the tide of war is turned in Europe decisively against the Axis forces, thanks to the victorious offensive of the Red Army, and though Japan in the East too is forced on the defensive under the growing pressure of the Anglo-American Chinese forces, the danger of Japanese aggression to our country is by no means passed. This danger was sharply underlined by the recent setback in the Arakan front as well as by the recent air raids of Calcutta, Chittagong, Assam etc. Bengal has gone last year through one of the most devastating famines in history, and it is faced now with a round of epidemics and the menace of a new famine. This makes that frontier province all the more vulnerable. The transport and industrial system of media is giving way under the mounting load of counter-offensive preparations in men and material; and the deepening coal crisis further aggravates the situation. The country is faced with a worsening food and economic situation at a time when it has to be transformed into a strong base for extensive all-out counter-offensive against the forces of Japanese aggression enhenched in Burma and Malaya and for the deliverance of China.
But Lord Wavell and the British bureaucracy seem to think that these difficult problems can be solved without the co-operation of the people and by keeping the anti-Fascist and patriotic leaders of the Nation in jail. They continue in their conusal to release the accredited leaders of the Nation and even tiny them any opportunity of consultation among themselves and also with the other political leaders outside. The Government have, moreover, gone to thelength of issuing a gag order to Smt. Sarojini Naidu, the oly member of the Working Committee outside jail, who recently reiterated the anti-Fascist and of the Congress and made a gesture for “honourable Peace” and called upon Congressmen to work for National Unity and food.
The All India Kisan Sabha warns the Government that its policy of refusal to release the leaders and enable them to solve the deadlock, will only result in further worsening the situation, thus delaying and weakening the counter-offensive against the Japanese aggression, and harming the common cause of the Chinese, American, British and the Indian people. The Sabha, therefore, demands the immediate and unconditional release of Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the other members of the Working Committee.
FOR WORLD PEACE AND FREEDOM
The Sabha is convinced that the release of leaders would create an atmosphere favourable to the achievement of National Unity and for the setting up of a National Composite Government enjoying the confidence of the people. This is the only way to effectively fight the famine and epidemic and to ensure the success of the Central Food Plan so that everybody gets his food through effective control of prices and rationing.
This alone will guarantee economic stability and peace, the preconditions for the successful counter-offensive against the Japanese aggression, which will not only finally smash the threat of invasion to our country but enable her to win freedom and independence and to play her part in shaping a world of peace and security based on equality, sovereignty and freedom of all peoples and nations.
The Sabha expresses its fraternal solidarity with the Trade Union and Labour movements, and with the other Progressive Forces in Britain, America, New Zealand and Australia, who have during the course of the past year accorded increasing support to the just demand of the Indian people and have demanded the setting up of a National Government in India in the common interest of the anti-Fascist struggle.
The Sabha calls upon all its provincial units and all kisans to redouble their efforts to unite all sections of the people and all parties in the common effort to fight famine and epidemic, to campaign for winning the release of National leaders, and to achieve, for ending the deadlock, all-round National Unity based on an understanding—as a result of mass urge—between the major parties and communities.
VI. ON KISAN SABHA POLICY
Certain anti-national and disruptive groups jealous of the growing strength of the Kisan Sabha are circulating the slander that the Sabha is dominated by the Communists who force their own policy upon the Sabha. The purpose of this propaganda is to scare away anti-Fascist and patriotic people who desire to serve the kisans and ti work in association with the Sabha for the solution of various problems including food that face the kisans and the country. There are also others who, not knowing the correct policy of the Sabha, misunderstand it. This session of the All India Kisan Sabha, therefore, finds it necessary to restarte the basic policy of the Sabha in the present situation as laid down in its resolutions unanimously passed during the last two years.
With the emergence of the threat of Japanese Fascist invasion to our country the Kisan Sabha while unequivocally “exhorting the kisans of India to align themselves on the side of Russia and China and the allied progressive forces in waging relentless war for the final extermination of Fascism”, urged them to “render all possible aid to Russia and China and help to organise the Friends of the Soviet Union”, and declared that “armed resistance could, however, be effectibely organised nly on the basis of National Government.”
The Sabha was convinced that for the Defence of the country, in alliance with the progressive forces, a National Coalition Government “responsible to the legislature and to the people of India,” based on the unequivocal declaration of “India’s right to freedom and to frame its own constitution after the war,” and functioning both at the centre and in the provinces, was essential.
While maintaining that “considerations of military strategy and imperial security have combined with the pressure of their freedom loving people to allign Britain and America with Russia and China in their fight against the Axis Powers,” the Sabha declared its considered view that “this war can effectively be converted into an Indian People’s War only when it is fought under the leadership of a National Government and with the willing and hearty co-operation of the people of India.”
SABHA FIGHTS SABOTAGE
To enable the masses of India, with a view to translate their undoubted will to freedom into concrete action and to fight the Fascist menace, the Sabha called upon all National organisation including the Congress and the Muslim League to bring about the broadest possible unity for the achievement of Nationl Government.
After the provocative arrest of the National leaders in August 1942 and due to the indiscriminate bureaucratic repression that followed, the angered people were misled to acts of sabotage of the means of National defence etc. This situation was being taken advantage of by the treacherous fifth column for its nefarious end. At that time the Sabha, true to its anti-Fascist stand and patriotic traditions, went out among the Kisan masses fighting sabotage and saving the kisans from being provoked into anarchic actions against repression.
The Kisan Sabha took up the stand that the bureaucracy can be effectively fought only by the unity of the Hindu and Muslim masses through which alone Congress-League unity can be achieved and a National Government of national defence and salvation won.
It called upon the kisans to unite in a campaign for the release of national leaders, to join hands to stop sabotage, to unite with all sections in the common effort to solve the food crisis, and to organise a unity campaign to promote unity between the Hindu and the Muslim masses and between all sections of the people and to create mass urge for Congress-League unity with a view to forging all-in National unity.
POLICY NOT DICTATED FROM OUTSIDE
The Kisan Sabha fully recognising the key role of the kisan in the solution of the food crisis which became acute because of the strain of war and the failure of the bureaucracy to concede a National Government, called upon its provincial and district units to take initiative in forming food committees to win fair price for the cultivators and food for all at reasonable control prices. The Sabha also called upon them to organisea grow more food campaign so as to inspire the local kisans and to impress upon the non-kisan elements the importance of its bearing on the question of National defence.
The anti-Fascist and patriotic stand of the Kisan Sabha, its campaign for unity and the release of national leaders, and the successful practical work it has been doing in organising and uniting the kisans for their day-to-day demands as well as for the purpose of solving the food crisis and of growing more food has strengthened the KIsan Sabha as a mass organisation. It is attracting a growing number of patriots, Congressmen and Leagures and others, who want to serve the kisan and to do positive work for the solution of the National crisis. We assure them that though some of the most valued workers and leaders of the Sabha are Communists, the policy of the Sabha is not dictated by any group or party but it is evolved through the collective thought and work of its members.
The sabha appeals to all patriotics to note that the policy and practice o the Kisan Sabha is broad-based enough to enable every anti-Fascist, every lover of freedom, to whatever party he may belong, to come into the Sabha and serve the kisans and to organise them for the solution of the most difficult problems which face our country to-day.
VII. GROW MORE FOOD
The All India Kisan Sabha is gratified with the notable success which the kisan units have achieved in the past year in discharging their task which was assigned to them in the Bhakna session of the All India Kisan Sabha of growing more food in a period when the whole country was passing through acute food scarcity and famine. The Bengal Kisan Sabha succeeded in increasing food crop on as much as 70,000 acres of land. In Andhra it was 12,000 acres of land. The Andhra Kisan Sabha, moreover, secured from Government irrigation facilities, remission of land taxes, supply of manure etc.
The Sabha is glad to note that wherever the Kisan Sabha units have succeeded in discharging this task, they have enthused the kisans, strengthened the Kisan movement and brought within the fold of the Sabha vast numbers of kisans.
These achievements, although in themselves remarkable, as not certainly such as to enable the country to tide over the food crisis which is deepening. The provinces of Bengal, Kerala and Orissa are facing a second round of famine while the prospect of food crops for the next season is less bright there than last year. Bombay is also faced with the prospect of famine To save the nation from starvation it is, therefore, necessary to intensify our efforts to produce more food crops. For without growing more food it is impossible to ensure food to all at reasonable prices.
The experience of the Sabha gained in the course of discharging this task shows that the difficulties which seriously hinder its fulfilment are many. The provincial Governments have not yet made available to kisans for cultivation the millions of acres of land lying waste. There is great scarcity of cattle as well as labour owing to excessive mortality and other causes. The supply of seeds, manure, implements, irrigation facilities, crude oil, engines etc. is totally inadequate and the Governments take little care to make adequate supplies available to kisans.
In order to facilitate the Grow More Food campaign the All India Kisan Sabha demands that Governments concerned should adopt forthwith the following measures for removing the obstacles in the way of the kisans:
a. to make all cultivable waste land, both state-owned and private, available for cultivation;
b. to supply tested seeds and cheap manure in time and in adequate quantities;
c. to give greater irrigation facilities by undertaking irrigation projects, big and small.
d. to declare moratorium on all agricultural debt and loans advanced to kisans by Government during the pendency of war;
e. to pass legislation for reducing the burden of rent and taxes on the cultivator; and
f. to restore to kisans their land which was transferred or from which they were evicted in 1943 owing to famine conditions.
The task of the kisans however is not simply to put forward demands to the Government for improving the food situation. The Sabha considers that the prospect of food which is ahead of the country is so grim and that so much of its future depends on the improvement of the prospect that the entire strength of the kisan population should be planfully employed for that improvement.
Therefore, the task of the Kisan Sabha, on the organisation and mobilising capacity of which the solution of the food problem largely depends, is to immediately launch a campaign for explaining to the kisans the great responsibility of their class for producing more food crops for feeding themselves and the people and averting another round of famine.
This can be done only through building an extensive self-help movement all over the country. The basic idea behind the movement is to increase the production of food crops through a spirit of mutual aid and co-operation of kisans and other villagers in every or locality. The specific tasks of the movement shall be
a. to unite and organise the kisans and villagers; and
b. to take stock of the means of production such as land, human labour, cattle, implements, seeds, manure etc., and employ them in such a way as to increase the production to a maximum level.
The Grow More Food work of the Kisan Sabha thus becomes one of its tasks for the safety of the kisans as well as of the entire people and must therefore be undertaken by all Kisan Sabha units in all its seriousness and implications. In this way the united and organised drive of kisans and villagers for Grow More Food will also compel Government to accept their demands.
VII. PREVENTION OF FAMINE IN RAYALASEEMA
With inadequate irrigation facilities and failure of seasonal rain-fall, Rayalaseema or the four Ceded Districts of Andhra, is affected by famine. Unless permanent relief works like irrigation projects are taken up on an extensive scale in that area, the problem of recurring famine cannot be effectively tackled. Usually the Provincial Government, under the famine code provides relief to the people by engaging them in the road work that does not in any way prevent famine from recurring. Last year famine accompanied with food scarcity was widespread in Anantapur, Kurnool and Bellary districts. The Provincial Government started more than 60 famine relief works in all engaging 4 lacs of workers.
Two and a half crores of rupees were spent in Anantapur and about three crores of rupees in Bellary, in all nearly 6 crores of rupees in the Ceded Districts. If this money were spent in constructing minor and major irrigation projects it would not only have been protective but also preventive.
Due to inadequate and indifferent rains this year too there is a general failure of the crops in Anantapur and Bellary heralding worse famine and necessitating a renewal of all the famin camps.
The All India Kisan Sabha, therefore, urges upon the Government to take up all minor and major projects under famine relief work. It will not only help the peasant in tiding over the famine but aid him in future to grow more food crops. The Sabha, therefore, demands that the following irrigation project be taken up without delay:
- In Anantapur District: 1. Upper Pennar, 2. Pennar-Kumudwati, 3. Perur, 4. Byaravani Thippa, and 5. Ethode;
- In Bellary District: Tungabhadra.
- In Kurnool District: Sangameswaram; and
- In Cuddapah District: Gandikota.
The Sabha appeals to the peasants of Rayalaseema to carry on continuous agitation and build a strong Kisan movement which alone will secure the above demands.
IX. DEFENCE BOND AND SAVINGS CERTIFICATE
The kisans all over the country and the poorer people in general have been passing through extreme distress. They are incapable today of shouldering any more burden whatsoever. The Government of India’s Savings Certificate and Defence Bond drive undr these circumstances should have left such Classes and sections of the people untouched, and should have been undertaken among the sections of the people who are rich and grow richer. Though the Government declare that the contribution to the funds should be voluntary, in practice officials have in their zeal to collect funds brought considerable pressure on even the kisans and the poorer people to contribute to the Defence Bond and Savings Certificate Fund.
The All India Kisan Sabha strongly protests against such indiscriminate application of the Defence Bond and Savings Certificate drive; and warns the Government that such steps, which are proving coercive in practice, are bound in the end to defeat the very object of this drive for the funds. The Sabha directs its organisers and lower units to keep vigilance over the official method of raising the funds, and see that all coercion of the people for the purpose is exposed, brought to the notice of the All India Kisan Committee and the authorities, and the poor peasants and peole are saved from petty official zulum.
X. ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES
The All India Kisan Sabha had foreseen and warned the Government against the scarcity of most of the essential commodities that was being caused by bureaucratic policy and planlessness in the matter of their supply and distribution. The position has today worsened beyond measure. Cloth, kerosene, salt, gur and sugar, matches, oil cakes, oil for cooking, crude oil and oil engines for irrigational requirements, quinine and other medicines, agricultural implements etc., are selling at prices that are beyond the capacity of the kisans and the common people to pay. Almost all articles as a result are going into black market. The position is reacting on the prices of foodstuffs too.
The Sabha, therefore, demands:
a. that Government must guarantee immediate supply of the essential commodities mentioned above to the rural people particularly to the kisans,
b. that such supplies must be regular, adequate and on ration basis, and
c. that the supplies must be ensured with the opening of Government Control Shops for essential commodities under the supervision of People’s Food Committees and Kisan Sabha everywhere in the rural areas.
The Sabha at the same time calls upon the kisans:
a. to organise themselves and take lead in organising also all sections of the rural people into united committees for securing supplies of the essential commodities, and
b. to organise distribution among the people of such essential commodities, secured by them, on the principle of co-operation, and mutual help and common interest.
XI. FOOD PROCUREMENT POLICY
Last year, at Bhakna, the All India Kisan Sabha noted the daily worsening food situation and warned that the anarchic and ineffective measures of the Government to control prices without controlling stocks was heading the country towards a serious situation. It called upon the kisans as well as the people to unite in food commitees to demand the scaling down of prices, to demand effective control of stocks and elimination of the monopolists hoarder so that food and other necessaries may be available to all in towns as well as in the countryside at controlled prices. The warning of the Kisan Sabha came true and Bengal as well as Orissa, Kerala and parts of Andhra and Surma Valley were visited by the most devastating of famines history has known.- a famine which took a toll of 50 lakhs of lives in Bengal alone.
The All India Kisan Sabha is convinced and it has now become apparent to all, despite Mr. Amery’s assertions to the contrary, that the famine of the last year was not due to natural calamities but that it was a man-made famine, created by hoarding and black marketing indulged in by those who had grip over stocks of food grains and encouraged by the bankrupt policy of the bureaucracy of relying upon the hoarder.
HOARDER GETS CONTROL
In Novemver 1943 the Government of India adopted a basic food plan which aims at uniform control of the prices of food grains, promises fair return to the cultivator and aims at introducing rationing of food-grains in all towns of a population of over a lakh at reasonable prices. To achieve this, the Government of India has fixed quotas to be delivered by surplus provinces to the deficit ones and instructed those provincial Governments to procure directly from the cultivator a portion of the marketable surplus of food grains and thus to secure control over stocks. It required the tragedy of the magnitude of Bengal to wake the Government up to adopt this basic food plan which has to be made successful if India has to be saved from another round of famine.
This plan though it is sound on paper is however being torpedoed in practice because of the bankrupt policy which the Central as well as the Provincial Governments are pursuing in regard to procurement of food stocks, which is the key link in that plan. In some provinces there is no procurement of stocks at all, while in those where there is, procurement is either inadequate or a total failure.
The Sabha is definitely of the opinion that this is due to the policy of the Government of relying upon the monopolists hoarder for the purchase of food stocks, to their refusal to fix minimum prices which the cultivator must get and to their general failure to stabilise the prices. The result is that the market is left free to the hoarder and black-marketeer and the grain is again passing into their hands. This is happening in different ways in different provinces.
FAILURE IN PROVINCES
In Bengal, for instance, the ‘aman’ procurement plan has failed because the provincial Government refused to seek the co-operation of the people and Food Committees and appointed monopolist hoarders as purchasing agents, thus entrusting people’s food in 1944 to the thieves of food of 1943. As a result, the prices of rice in deficit districts are rising and Bengal as again in the midst of a second famine.
Similarly, in Bombay the procurement plan, which was only based on the incentive of good prices but ignored the co-operation of the people, has failed; food grains have gone to hoarders who are mainly landlords and moneylenders. Various districts are faced with scarcity and Government has now issued a requisitioning order which, in the hands of local bureaucrats and the police, without the active intervention of the people, could create a serious situation.
In Madras, due to a similar failure of procurement the deficiet districts in Andhra, Tamilnad and specially in Malabar Travancore and Cochin are faced with scarcity. The situation in Bihar as well as U. P. is similar.
In surplus provinces like the Punjab there is yet neither price-control nor rationing and no procurement of stocks, which means that the poor population in such provinces has to face high prices.
In Orissa, due to inadequate arrangements, the procurement and distribution plan of the Provincial Government is on the verge of failure and the province is sure to face a more serious food crisis by the end of April and the Provincial Government will be forced to requisition.
In C.P. a surplus province, the Government’s efforts to procure without fixing a fair minimum price for the cultivators is hitting the cultivators hard and driving food-grain to the granary of the Malguzar etc. who are hoarders.
In view of this situation and with a view to arrest a second round of famine and scarcity the Sabha calls upon the Provincial Sabhas and the Kisans to join with the rest of the people not only to demand price-control and rationing but also to see that procurement and requisitioning measures of the Government turn out to be successful in ensuring fair price to the kisans and food at reasonable prices to all.
The Sabha calls upon the Government to take the following steps with that object in view:
a. To fix a minimum price which is fair return to the kisan under the present conditions and which he must get when he sells his grain.
b. To fix a maximum price which should be a reasonable price at which food grains should be available to consumers in both rural and urban areas.
NO HOARDER TO BE AGENT
c. To ensure that grain is actually available at the buying and selling prices, the Government must effect its procurement and requisitioning with the co-operation of the people, of the Food Committees and Kisan Sabhas, thus preventing the game of the hoarder and zamindar to grip the stocks; and for this purpose, the Government must appoint urchasing sub-agents and agents whose names should be publicly announced and who should buy at the minimum price fixed in co-operation with Food Committees, and should on no account appoint hoarders as agents, while agents should be made to keep proper accounts, carry on all transactions through proper receipt and declare their stocks from time to time.
d. To introduce rationing in all towns and townships and to open controlled price shops and introduce rationing in the deficit rural areas.
e. To supply other necessaries including colth, kerosene, salt and matches at controlled prices to the rural population through Government shops.
The Sabha calls upon the kisans and its units:
- To organise all-in food committees in the villages which must call upon the kisans not to sell to the hoarder.
- The Food Committees and Kisan Sabhas must see that the peasants sell to the Government agents wherever they are appointed and ensure that they get fair price through collective bargaining. They must see that a requisitioning measure, wherever adopted, succeeds and at the same time does not lead to coercion of the poor peasant but becomes an anti-hoarding campaign which brings out the surplus stocks of the rich peasants and the zamindars.
ALL-IN UNITY WANTED
- In places where there is no procurement yet, the kisans must be induced to sell their surplus to Food Committees and Kisan Sabhas at minimum control prices, while these Committees and Sabhas must open co-operative shops in the rural areas to supply grain at control selling prices to the deficit rural population.
- The Food Committees and Kisan Sabhas must organise self-help on the basis of village unity and build food-grain pool for the purpose of feeding the destitute and poor population of the village throughout the year.
- In famine and scarcity areas the Kisan Sabha must organise relief and succour to the famine-stricken, rousing the entire village for this purpose.
The Sabha appeals to all sections of the people and especially to Congressmen as well as Leaguers to co-operate with the Kisan Sabha in its fight against the hoarder and against the bureaucratic bunglings, to secure fair price to kisans and food to all at reasonable prices, to organise self-help in the villages and relief to the famine-stricken. All-in unity and collective effort of all together with that of the Kisan Sabha alone can save the country from a second round of famine.
XII. LAND TRANSFERENCE AND EVICTION
The famine and food crisis of 1943 which mostly affected the poor kisans and agricultural labourers has led in many parts of the country to extensive transference of land, through sale, from the hands of poor and starving kisans, and to the eviction from their land of tenants and share-croppers as well as to their pauperization. The transference of land in Bengal in 1943 is estimated at about three times that in the previous year. There are numerous cases where land with standing crop was sold away while there are cases in which the actual price paid for the land sold was far lower than its real price and was even a nominal price. In some other provinces like C.P., U.P., and Malabar, the rates of rent have been and are being enhanced and kisans evicted from their lands. Cases of eviction, in 1943, under Section 171 of the U.P. Tenancy Act, have gone beyond 20,000.
Land transference and eviction on such a vast scale are leading to destitution od kisans and a serious crack-up of rural life, economy and society and at the same time threatening production of crop in the coming year. The season for next cultivation is in some provinces near at hand. Unless these transferred lands are immediately restored to those evicted kisans the food situation in the entire country will be far more serious and critical than in the last year.
In these circumstances the All India Kisan Sabha considers that relief should be given to the kisan to enable and encourage him to produce more food crop for the benefit of the entire nation and demands that measures be taken forthwith by the Governments concerned.
NEED FOR SETTLEMENT BOARDS
a. For the immediate restoration to the kisan of land transferred by him or the land from which he was evicted in 1943 in order that the ensuing season for cultivation be availed of pending settlement of terms of retransfer which must be such as are acceptable to him in his present distressed condition.
b. For payment by Government of 50 per cent of the amount required in each of such cases of transference for the return in the kisan of the land from the buyer, the rest being settled for payment by the vendor by long term instalment.
c. For investigation as to whether the amount actually paid to the vendor was the same as written in the sale deed, if the vendor so desires, and for the return of the money on the basis of its findings.
d. For the immediate stopping of the enhancement of rent and eviction of all cultivating teanants and share-croppers in any form whatever.
The Sabha urges that the ordinance promulgated in Benga in connection with the transference of land which does not in any way improve the present position should be at once modified by an enactment incorporating the above suggestions and that measures be immediately taken in all provinces to stop enhancement of rent and eviction of kisans from land.
The Sabha further urges the kisans to set up settlement boards of villagers for settling all such cases of transference of land and eviction through mutual understanding of the parties concerned.
XIII. SUGARCANE AND GUR PROBLEM
The All India Kisan Sabha expresses its resentment at the Sugarcane and Gur policy of the Government. As early as August 1943 the Central Kisan Council warned the Government against its planless policy which might create a sugar famine in 1945, and demanded the withdrawal of the Gur Control Order and the lifting of all bans on Gur export. It further demanded a fair minimum price for sugarcane taking into consideration to increased prices of foodstuffs and consumer goods which the Kisans have to buy from the market. Despite the unanimous demand of the cane-growers as well as the millowners the Government made only a nominal increase in the price of sugarcane from annas to annas 12, out of which again two annas are deducted for War Loan in the major canegrowing producers of U.P. and Bihar. Bound hand and foot by the Gur control order, the kisans had no alternative but to supply cane the mills in spite of the fact that the price they got was not though to meet even the cost of production which had gone up in about three times as a result of an all round increase in prices. The Kisans this year have, therefore, had to sow other crops on their cane fields, even to their great inconvenience, of the blind policy of the Government has already caused consumereble reduction in the acreage of sugarcane which would salt in sugar scarcity in 1945.
Further, banning the exxport of Gur from surplus to deficit provinces and from one region to another even within U.P. and Bihar and at the same time failing to make any arrangements for the purpose of disposing of the huge stocks of Gur which were lying and are still lying, the Government has very seriously harmed the Gur industry affecting millions of kisans dificit provinces. This policy has at the same time proved detrimental to the consumers of Gur in deficit provinces where it was sold at as much as Rs. 30 per maund. And this happened at a time when, despite the ceiling price of Rs. 8 per maund fixed by the Government in U. P. and Bihar, kisans were actually paid by the traders a price as low as Rs. 5 per maund. Another feature of this cane policy has been that the Governments the Punjab, Andhra and Bengal and the Gwalior State have banned the manufacturing of Gur in the sugar-mill areas, thus ruining Gur industry there.
PLAN TO CHECK PROFITEERING
The Sabha reiterates its declared policy of welcoming and co-operating in every measure that seeks to supply the sugar needs of the country. But the Government’s blind policy, while seeking to achieve the aforesaid object, really blows it up. The Sabha condemns this policy of robbing the poor cane-grower of their due.
Further, with a view to save the already worsened situation the Sabha demands that the planless policy of imposing banned through the Gur Control Order be replaced by a planned policy of Gur purchase through licensed Government agents ensuring a minimum fair price to the kisans. To achieve this object the Government should seek the fullest cooperation of the Kisan Sabhas, village committees and cane co-operatives and thus defeat the game of the profiteers and black-marketeers. Unite that is done, the Government should move very fast in the matter of exporting Gur from the surplus provinces like Bihar and U. P. to the consuming areas and thus save both the producers and consumers of Gur as also the Gur industry from the ruin that stares it in the face.
In order further to ensure against the muddle of sugarcane prices that has been arising every year just on the eve of the crushing season, and with a view to adopt a clear policy in the next season, the Sabha demends that a Committee be set up be the Governments of U.P. and Bihar with representatives of the canegrowers, the Kisan Sabha and the millowners to go into the problem of sugarcane cultivation in detail.
The Sabha calls upon all kisans and Kisan Sabhas to agitate or the above demands through meetings, processions, deputations and mass petitions and move the patriotic parties and the nationalist Press in support of the same.
XIV. FRONTIER LAND ASSESSMENT
The North-West Frontier Government are undertaking a reassessment of revenue on land. The last Frontier Land Settlement was made in 1904. Since then the smaller peasants and actual tillers of the soil in the Frontier Province have been made to bear heavy and increasing burdens of taxation and impositions which have worsened their economic conditions.
The All India Kisan Sabha points out also that as during the year time economic position is unsettled and prices of all agricultural produces are unstable, the proposed reassessment of revenue should be suspended till the war ends and stability of prices is reached. The Sabha further points out that the Frontier tenants suffer from numerous hardships as they have no tenancy act to protect their rights.
The All India Kisan Sabha, therefore, demands that a Frontier Tenancy Act must immediately be passed to give the necessary right to the Frontier kisans to their lands and to the produce of the lands.
XV. SIND TENANCY
The All India Kisan Sabha condemens the most reactionary move of the Jagirdars and Mirs in the province of Sind to get the Jagiri Act either repealed or amended in such a way as to deprive Haris (Kisans) and Mukhadims of their right of paying tenant in cash- a right which they enjoy under the provisions of the Act.
The Sabha, therefore appeals to the members of the Muslim League and all other progressive sections in the Sind Legislature to fight for the just cause of the Haris and Mukhadims and defeat the nefarious move of the Jagirdars and the Mirs, thus object of which is to secure unlimited power in their hands for exploiting the Haris and Mukhadims ruthlessly. The Sabha also calls upon the Haris to strengthen their unity, solidarity and organisation for defeating the move of the Jagirdars.
The Sabba demands that the Government of Sind should pass immediately a tenancy legislation giving occupancy rights to all the Haris who were cultivating land at the time of appointment of the tenancy committee.
XVI. GRIEVANCES OF STATES PEOPLES
The All India Kisan Sabha notes that the States of India have not so far responded to any of the demands of their peoples, on the Kisan Sabha and such other associations and removed that oppressive impositions on their subjects and kisans in particular. The States have not extended to them civil liberty and other necessary rights. The Sabha finds that in Nilgiri State (Orissa), the Kisan Sabha workers working to mitigate the food crisis were thrown wholesale into prison. In Gwalior State the Gwalior State Kisan Sabha is sought to be suppressed on the plea that the Kisan Sabha is not a registered association, and tenants are evicted from land. In Patiala State, the report of the tenancy commission, known as the Rao Commission, appointed by tire State to inquire into the claims of the tenants to proprietory right in land against Biswars (landlods) is not being published.
In reiterating their demand for extension of civil liberty to the people of all the States, in urging the peoples of such States and their Praja Mandals where they exist, to secure the same through organised strength as well as for the removal of their other grievances, the All India Kisan Sabha demands:—
- That all Kisan Sabha workers and organisers in the cause of food should be released.
- That Gwaliar State Kisan Sabha should be allowed to function without bindrance.
- That the Tenancy Enquiry Commission Report of Patiala should be published and that a Tenancy Legislation be passed to secure reasonable and legitimate rights for kisans in all States like Gwalier and other Central India States.
- That legislation for the settlement of agricultural indebtedness be passed to save kisans from ruin and destitution.
The State of Manipur, which is on the eastern frontier of India and occupies a strategic position of high importance, is passing through food shortage, cattle shortage etc. and is threatened with a famine in the coming months. The All India Kisan Sabha tolds that Manipur as the immediate rear of the Army should be strengthened with:
- Full extension of civil liberty to the people.
- Import of food and distribution of the same under the people’s supervison.
- Purchase and import by the State of cattle, agricultural implements etc., for agricultural purposes and sale of the same to the Kisans on credit.
- Opening of control shops under popular supervision for regular and adequate supply of essential commodities like cloth, kerosene, salt, oil, medicine, etc., for the people.
XVII. APPEAL TO AID BENGAL AND FIGHT THE FAMINE
The Central Kisan Council of the All India Kisan Sabha, appealed from Bombay in August 1943 to the kisans of India for shifting and giving aid in the famine that had already hit the people, particularly the kisans and agricultural labourers of Bengal, Kerala, Orissa, Rayalaseema (Andhra) and Baniachong (Surma Valley).
The Sabha notes that in Bengal and Surma Valley which were hit hardest by the famine, the Kisan Sabha and the kisans have been fighting against the famine and its aftermath with heroic endurance, and that kisans all over the country, particularly the kisans of Andhra and the Punjab, responded to the appeal for help by the Kisan Sabha quickly and generously. Though the Andhra Kisan Sabha’s offer of 20,000 maund of rice for Bengal relief was turned down by the Madras Government, kisan contributions from Andhra Talukas were, received by the Bengal Provincial Kisan Sabha. The Punjab kisans contributed about Rs. 125,000 m cash and kind for relief, work in Bengal through the Kisan Sabha or the People’s Relief Committee of Bengal.
The Sabha greets the kisans for their generous response to the call of woe and misery of their fellow kisans and congratulation them on this concrete and positive achievement of kisan solidarity as well as for going a great way towards building us national solidarity.
In this connection, the Kisan Sabha also congratulates the other parties and organisations that have worked for the cause of saving the kisans in areas affected with famine.
The Sabha notes with alarm that in spite of all that has been done, rural life in all these famine striken areas has been distastrously ruined and all distress areas have now become epidemic areas, so much so that epidemic is taking a larger toll of human lives than the famine did in its worst days.
The All India Kisan Sabha, therefore, appeals to the people and to the kisans of India in particular to ceaselessly, carry on the battle against epidemic and for rural rehabilitation and to rust help to the affected areas from all parts of India.
The Sabha also points out that another round of famine has already appeared in Bengal and that a more extensive and devastating onslaught of the famine might be expected to engulf the whole of India if not forestalled and arrested now. The Sabha therefore, calls upon the kisans of India to bestir themselves without delay and to continue and further strengthen their fight against famine with more seriousness and greater sacrifice than before and with even greater skill and more effetiveness than before, so that the people may be saved.
XVIII. CONSTITUTION SUB-COMMITTEE
The All India Kisan Sabha has been gaining immense strength and has begun to draw from different political platforms persons to serve the cause of the kisans. But the present constitution of the Sabha has been found incomplete for meeting the needs of the Sabha in the new situation. It, therefore, calls for thorough overhauling, for which purpose a sub-committee consisting of the following members is hereby formed: Comrades Muzaffar Ahmad, Bankim Mukherji, E.M.S. Namboodiripad and Gopal Halder, the President and the General Secretary serving as ex-officio members. Three members shall form a quorum and Com. Halder shall be the convenor of the Sub-Committee.
This Constitution Sub-Committee shall redraft the Constitution and circulate the same by the end of April 1944, among the members of the Central Kisan Council for their opinion to be sent to the Sub-Committee by the middle of June 1944.
It is further resolved to adopt the draft constitution so that the new draft, when passed by the A.I.K.C., may be as authoritative as passed by the annual session of the A.I.K.S. The new draft shall be completed by the Sub-Committee by the middle of July 1944 after which the A.I.K.C. shall meet as soon as possible to discuss and pass it.
XIX. AGRICULTURAL LABOUR
The All India Kisan Sabha appoints the following sub committee to go into the problems of agricultural labour and report to the C.K.C.: 1. Com. N. Prasada Rao, 2. Com. E.M.S. Namboodiripad, 3. Com. Jagjit Singh, 4. Com. S.V. Parulekar (Convenor) and 5. Com. Yadunandan Sharma, the President and the General Secretary being ex-officio members.
The Sub-Committee shall enquire into:
a. The wages which the labourers are getting and their relation to the cost of living.
b. Other questions of living conditions like housing etc.
c. Social oppression, and in the light of this enquiry, formulation of the general demands of agricultural labourers.
They shall also recommend to the C. K. C. as to the best way in which the Kisan Sabha will organise the Agricultural Labourers to secure their legitimate demands.
XX. COMMERCIAL CROPS
The prices of commercial crops like cotton, jute sugarcane, tobacco, coconut etc., have slumped or gone up due to the manipulation of speculators, profiteers and such others, to the disadvantage most often of the cultivators of the crops as also of the consuming public. With a view to fix the maximun and minimum prices of the crops it is necessary to know the exact cost of production of such crops in various areas.
The All India Kisan Sabha, therefore, appoints a Commercial Crop Inquiry Committee with: 1. Com. M. D. Deshapande, 2. Com. H. D. Malaviya (Convenor), 3. Com. K. B. Roy, 4. Com. Jamuna Karjee and 5. Com. Teja Singh Swatantar, the President and the General Secretary being ex-officio members to undertake a regular investigation into the question of the cost of production of such crops as cotton, jute, sugarcane, tobacco, coconut, etc., and enable thereby the Sabha and the kisans to ascertain what is the fair and minimum price of the crops which is to be demanded and secured for these cultivators.
The Sub-Committee is to submit their report to the C. K. C. as early as possible.
XXI. NEW TAXATION PROPOSAL
The All India Kisan Sabha protests against the proposal of the Government of India to impose tax on betelnut, tea and coffee and to increase the tax on tobacoo and the rates of third phase railway fare for increasing their revenue. The burden of adds taxation will mainly fall on the kisans ad the poorer sections of the population in the country.
Since the articles on which Government propose to levy and increase the tax are daily necessaries of life of the vast masses of the people, Governments proposal of levying indirect taxation of the necessaries of life of the poorest strata of the population and opposed to the recognised canons of just taxation. The All India Kisan Sabha severely condemns Government’s attitude of resisting in imposing these additional burdens on the people, who are in no position to bear them, in definance of the unanimously opinion of public bodies as well as the elected representatives of the people to the Central Legislature.
XXII. NEXT SESSION OF THE SABHA
Resolved that the invitation of the All Kerala Kisan Sangathan to hold the next session of the All India Kisan Sabbha in Kerala be accepted.
ALL-INDIA KISAN SABHA Organisational Reportage No. 2, 1944-45 Bombay, 31st July, 1944.
TASKS BEFORE US
The Bezwada Session of the All-India Kisan Sabha passed some very important resolutions which embodied in them instructions for immediate action by the Provincial and State Kisan Sabhas.
As however over four months have gone by and we have not so far received sufficient report of their activities on the basis of those instructions, we are issuing questions on some of them for immediate answer. The answer thus received will give us an idea as to how the situation is developing in the various provinces in regard to Kisan Sabha work.
These instructions of the Bezwada session mainly relate to: 1. fighting famine and epidemics, 2. food procurement and distribution, 3. supply of essential commodities, 4. grow more food, 5. eviction of kisans and enhancement of rent, 6. collection of war funds, and 7. national unity and getting more patriots into the Kisan Sabha.
Our tasks based on the above must not be considered as an many detached and independent jobs. They are all connected with each other and have the same ultimate aim. The aim is to save the Kisans from a threatened and widespread disaster and thereby to save the entire people of the country so that they can be united for the defence and liberation of their motherland. The means are to give the Kisans food, relief from all kinds of distress and oppression, maximum facilities for growing more food, and a strong and united Kisan Sabha organisation.
What the Tasks Aim at
There are some even amongst the workers of the Sabha who think that to provide economic relief to the kisans is its sole aim. This is an utterly wrong conception of the Sabha opposed to its decisions. Economic relief for them is certainly most essential but whatever economic relief is sought for the kisans is also meant to help the political and organisational development of the Sabha and thereby to increase its contribution to the cause of national unity, national defence and national freedom.
This basic idea must be impressed on the minds of the kisans and the Kisan Sabha workers so that the campaigns of the Sabha such as grow more food and supply of essential commodities are conducted by them with a conscious aim. For without a clear understanding of this aim they will not realise the importance and urgency of the tasks set them at the Bezwada session, and therefore they will not devote to then their maximum energy.
The common aim of all these tasks depends for its achievement on simultaneous and co-ordinated action in the form of a province-wide campaign in each province. Scattered local struggles have their value in their respective spheres but these alone will not bring us very near the Bezwadi objective. When the provinces carry into action each and all of these tasks severally but simultaneously, then alone can these be co-ordinated into a successful all-India movement.
The situation in the country at present is this: famine is again raising its ugly head boding ruin to the kisans and the people in Bengal, Kerala and other areas while epidemics continue to take their toll. Food shortage is growing acuter and the various provincial governments have neither adequate stocks to introduce rationing on a wide scale, even in all towns, nor can they adopt effective measures for transport arrangements which are vital to meet the shortage at various places Essential commodities are extremely scarce, salt selling at Rs. 8 per seer in some parts of Assam. All this is due mainly to hoarding and profiteering which find support in official corruption.
What Kisans Must Have
In order to improve this situation and guarantee next year’s food supply for all, kisans should produce more food crops, for which they must not only be given relief from oppression due to the collection of war funds but get back their lands which they lost in their distress, get more land but of the cultivable waste as well as other facilities including permission of rent and taxes, not to speak of stopping their enhancement. In the process of the chain of struggles thus involved we shall be able to impress and bring into the Sabha more and mor patriots and build wider and wider unity of the people.
That unity will help us to drag the kisans and the people but of the morass in which they are rotting today and to proceed towards the establishment of a national goverment of national defence and salvation.
The questions are as follows. The answers wanted will acculate to the period since 1st January 1944 but especially since Bezwada.
- Fighting Famine
What have you done since Bezwada for
- Popularising the issue?
- Collecting informations about famine and epidemics?
- Collecting cash and medicines etc.?
- Giving actual relief to the affected areas?
- Bringing non-kisan patriots into K.S.?
- Food Procurement and Distribution
a. Is your province a deficit or surplus one? Its
- Total amount of deficit or surplus?
- Total population?
- Total production of each food grain separately?
- Total requirements of each grain separately?
- Total import and export?
- Sources of import or destination of export in 1943-44?
b. How much food grain Government have so far procured in 1943-44?
- What are their policy and method of procurement at present and what have you done to get them improved?
- How have kisans and Kisan Sabha co-operated with Government in this matter?
- What can be done to make Government’s procurement policy successful?
c. What is Government’s stock position at present?
- Who are present hoarders- traders, or rich peasants and landlords, or all?
- What measures have been taken by Government, the K.S. and people for bringing out hoarded stocks? Results?
- Did kisans voluntarily offer their surplus stocks for purchase by Government? In What manner and with what results?
d. How many People’s Food Committees are organised in your province in all?
- How many in each category- district, village, etc.?
- How many on K.S. initiative?
- How many are regularly functioning?
- How far have you succeeded in bringing all sections of the people into them?
- what is the effect of these P.F.C.s on the people and the K.S.?
e. How is the famine situation developing in your province? Present incidence of famine and epidemics?
- How is relief organised- official, non-official and K.S. effort?
- How are people mobilised to check famine?
- What is K.S. doing for rehabilitation?
- Essential Commodities
- How far have you negotiated with Government and campaigned for their adequate supply from Government and equitable distribution among the people, and with what success?
- Have you organised any co-operatives for the purpose? How are they functioning? Their popularity and how it increase the popularity of K.S.?
- How and with what degree of success have you pressed Government to conduct anti-hoarding drive to bring out hoarded commodities?
- Grow More Food
a. What have you done to popularise this slogan among the kisans and the people in 1944 and with what degree of success?
b. What are the actual tasks which K.S. has undertaken in your province for
- Reclaiming waste land?
- Improving irrigation facilities by means of bunds, canals?
- Securing manure and seeds from Government?
- Getting implements and cattle?
- Securing loan from Government and distributing it among kisans?
- Organising collective labour of kisans and co-operative use of implements etc.?
c. How far have you attempted to give your campaign a really provincial character by pooling your resources from different parts of the province for particular undertakings and in specific areas? How have you succeeded?
- Eviction and Enhancement of Rent
- What measures have Government taken for the restoration of land to kisans who were either forcibly evicted from their land or transferred their land in their distress?
- How far and in what manner has K.S. helped them?
- What are you doing to stop enhancement of rent when landlords try to enforce it?
- How many settlement boards have you set up for settling cases of eviction and enhancement through people’s unity, and with what success so far?
- National Savings Certificate
- How are National Savings Certificates issued, to whom and with what results?
- Do officials force kisans and poor people to contribute to war fund? Cite some cases.
- What has K.S. done to bring relief to them through negotiation and understanding with officials and how it succeeded?
- National Unity
a. What have you done to promote unity between the different communities, sections and parties?
b. What have been your means of approach for this purpose, such as
- food and relief work and supply of essential commodities,
- grow more food,
- settlement of disputes about rent, eviction, debt, etc.,
- national defence.
c. When asked to join K. S., what has been the response from the general patriotic people?
d. What are the main obstructions to their joining the Sabha?
ACTIVITIES IN THE PROVINCES
We have not before us detailed reports of the activities of the Sabha in all the provinces. Some report has been received from a few provinces on which the following account are based. It is hoped that the Provincial and State Kisan Committees will soon realise the importance of sending regular report to the Central Office.
Since Bezwada the Andhra Provincial Ryots’ Association has been carrying on a systematic grow more food campaign and its activities have achieved some brilliant results.
In this rather dry country, the Andhra Association has rightly taken up the irrigation question in right earnest and specially interested itself in those schemes and projects which Government failed to execute or complete. It stirred up the countryside—the ryots and agricultural labourers—to whom was explained the importance of its campaign and whose patriotic sentiments were roused in favour of the undertakings.
Here are some of the more important undertakings and achievements of the A.P.R.A.:
- Kistna district: silt removal from Bandar and East Bank Canals over 7 miles, postponed by Government for want of labour. A.P.R.A. appealed to the peasants and agricultural labourers as well as to all patriotic organisations to undertake the work. The Communist Party immediately responded. At first 1000 Kisan Sabha and Communist workers from various districts and 700 agricultural labourers and then another 1,000 labourers began work on 7th May. The wages of labourers were raised from 5 to 7 annas per cubic yard, cheap grain depots opened, a field hospital for medical relief established, and two kitchens started to feed K. S. and Communist workers.
Later joined the principal of Udaya Bharati Gurukulam, of national school, with all his students, a school teacher of Patamata village with his 20 students, and three school teachers from Gunter; members of Shop Employees’ Union, Tannery Workers’ Union etc. on their leave days; over 100 workers on behalf of the Bezwada Trade Union Council working for the day; members of the students’ Federation and the Youth League: and even workers of the Mahila Sangham including its president who all lent a hand to actually clearing the slit digging and carrying the accumulated silt-while laughing and singing, full of enthusiasm, patriotism and comradely weelings. A cultural squad entertained them.
Leaders of the Provincial Ryots’ Association like Comrades Gopala Rao and P. Sundarayya, Mem of th Central Kisan Council, who actually participated in the work, led and inspired on other workers. The work was started on May 7th, 3,000 people working every day, and took full 35 days to be completed.
The result of this successful undertaking is that 12,000 acres of dry land has been brought under immediate wet cultivation, water scarcity in the delta has been removed, there is an additional supply of 10% water (on the usual supply) in the delta, paddy transplantation completed a week earlier than usual, a number of channels have been repaired and some new ones constructed by the ryots on their own initiatative, and an yield of 6,08,000 maunds of paddy is expected this year.
- In Divi Taluq (Kistna district) a seven-mile stretch of canal has been repaired on the initiative of the Taluq Ryots’ Association.
- In West Godavari district Koderu Bank Canal which irrigates 37,600 acres had silt accumulated in it so that one-third of the acreage was affected every year. Last year Government failed to repair owing to their inability to secure labour. This year the Ryots’ Association campaigned for the repair and got Congress, Justice Party etc. to work in an Half-Party Committee.
Tender was placed for removing the silt throughout the whole length of 12.50 miles but the authorities who did not realise the strength of the Committee or the Ryots’ Association granted only half the work—6.25 miles, the rest being given to two private contractors at higher rates. The work began on 10th May with hired labour as well as voluntary labour.
- In East Godavari the District Ryots’ Association got two schemes sanctioned by Government requiring Rs. 23,000 and Rs. 5,67,000. The former is to irrigate 500 and the latter 10,000 acres. Work has already started for the latter scheme.
- In East Godavari, West Godavari, Kistna and Guntur districts a number of irrigation and drainage channels have been repaired on the initiative of the ryots themselves.
The result of all these undertakings has been:
a. Kisans’ consciousness of their organised strength,
b. development of their initiative,
c. improved organisational sense of kisans,
d. their patriotic fervour growing.
e. increasing unity between the parties and the various sections of the people,
f. greater popularity of K. S. or Ryots’ Association,
g. greater respect for K. S. in official circles, and
h. opposition to K. S. being disarmed,
apart from the economic benefit accruing from the increased acreage under wet cultivation and increased yield of crops.
Tank repair work has also been taken up by the Ryots Association. Already 8 tanks have been repaired in Vizag district and 4 in Kistna district which latter work brings 675 acres of new land under wet cultivation.
Due to the agitation of the A.P.R.A. the Madras Government have this year increased the amount of agricultural loan to one crore rupees and in some places has been forced to seek help of the R.A. in the matter of distribution of the loan. So far a total of Rs. 3,28,900 has been distributed through the Association in all districts. Also, 3,000 bags of oil cakes and 70 bags of ammonium sulphate have been secured and distributed among the ryots of Guntur district.
A shortage of iron implements was greatly hampering agricultural work. A.P.R.A. took up this matter also and agitated for the supply and equitable distribution of iron in greater quantities. The agitation resulted in Government promising a larger supply. But whatever supply is given by Government is not all sold to ryots at control rates, and a large part of it goes to the black market, there being no co-ordination between the District Agricultural Officer and the Iron and Steel Controller, who gives authority as well as supply to stockists and retail dealers for distribution. In Nellore district the R.A. compelled the iron dealers to sell Iron implements at control rates, in some cases the distribution made according to the list prepared by the R.A. In this way the Association distributed 7 tons of iron implements, as pairs of iron tyres and 120 spades.
In order to check black-marketing the R.A. is negotiating with oficials concerned for making the control really effective.
Tobacoo Marketing Committee
The Guntur District Ryots’ Association has secured an overwhelming majority in the last elections, held in March 1914, to the Guntur Tobacco Marketing Committee. The president of the D.R.A has been elected Chairman of the Committee. An information bureau has been set up to educate ryots as to how to grow best tobacoo. Attempts are being made to from tobacco growers’ co-operative societies. The Committee has asked Government for a loan of Rs. 5 lakhs. through these efforts the R.A. is gaining more and more popularity among the kisans.
Compensation for Wasted Sugarcane
The A.P.R.A. is now trying to secure compensation for 8,000 tons of sugar cane which the growers of the Thummapala area were bound by the Government Gur Control Order to deliver to the local sugar mill and which the mill was not in a position to take delivery of or use, while it could not be crushed for gur and was therefore wasted.
THE BENGAL Provincial Sabha has been active in the past few weeks in building up a self-help movement of kisans in the province through its campaign for getting food for the people, fighting epidemics which are still raging though their virulence has somewhat abated, growing more food, unearthing hoards of essential commodities, and getting transferred lands restored to kisans. The campaign, though progressing, has not yet achieved any notable success except in respect of grow more food.
Bunds and Khals
In 22 out of 26 districts of Bengal the grow more food campaign is going on with varying degrees of success. Its main tasks are to construct bunds to save crops from flood, to excavate khals (canals) for draining out superfluous water, to check water hyacinth from getting into crop fields like a floating avalance choking and destroying the crops, etc. Through this campaign the B.P.K.S. has so far undertaken or completed work for reclamation or protection of about 75,000 acres this year.
Some of the more important undertakings are: Joka and Suti bunds in Nadia district, total length 7.50 miles, to reclaim 5,000 acres; Sonapatal bund in Murshidabad district, saving crops of over 13,300 acres belonging to 80 villages; Bajitpur khal in Mymensingh district, saving crops of nearly 3,400 acres; Aruar bund in Jessore district, saving crops of nearly 6,700 acres; Dubi bund in Hooghly district, reclaiming 2,000 acres; one bund in Khulna district, saving over 3,300 acres; and Satla-Baghda bund in Barisal district, to reclaim 3,000 acres. In Chittagong district 400 acres of railwayside land have been secured.
In these undertakings the initiative has always come from the Kisan Sabha which roused kisans to take up the work as their patriotic duty to save the people as well as themselves. Labour was mostly voluntary and funds were often raised from local people. Non-kisan patriots including Congressite zamindars have also come forward to help the work with money and otherwise. The People’s Relief Committee, Bengal, has given susbstantial financial assistance in many cases.
Local officials have often expressed appreciation of the work and some even sincerely tried to help it with monetary aid from Government but the bureaucratic machine always moves too slow if it moves at all. Hardly any concrete help has been received from it for any of the above undertakings. For one or two other undertakings some small donation has been given by Government to K.S.
The work has, however, always depended on local mobilisation, not one item being made a matter of provincial Interest. And whatever grants Government have declared for such purposes the Kisan Sabha has not made adequate efforts to fully utilise.
Loans from Government
Nevertheless, Barisal K. S. secured from Government Rs. 60,000 as agricultural loan and distributed the amount among Kisans. Similarly in 24-Parganas district 1,120 maunds of seed and Rs. 31,000 for cattle loan were received from Government and distributed among kisans by the Kisan Sabha. The successful grow more food undertakings have in many areas roused self-confidence among kisans and are forging unity between kisans and other villagers.
Of essential commodities there is great dearth in Bengal villages. Hoarders have been keeping their stocks while the people are sucering. Some such hidden stocks have been recently traced out by K. S. workers and seized such as 221 maunds of salt in Kaligram, Malda district; 200 maunds of salt in Keshabpur, Jessore district; and 1,000 tins of kerosene in Burdwan district.
The prospect of the paddy crop is not very bright. The aush (autumn) paddy is likely to fall short by 40 per cent. The shortage is mainly due to inadequate seed supply, cattle shortage and part of the total aush acreage lying fallow owing to labour shortage etc.
LAKHISARAI in Monghyr district, which was one of the hotbeds of the August disturbances and a main centre of bureaucratic repression, was the encouraging scene of a huge kisan gathering of 25,000 on the occasion of the Bihar Provincial Kisan Conference held there on 17th and 18th June last under the presidentship of Pandit Yadunandan Sharma. This in spite of there being a general ban on public meetings in the area and an inclement weather.
Swami Sahajanand and Pandit Karyanand Sharma, the main organiser of the Conference, were present in it.
Over a dozen resolutions were passed clarifying the stand of the Kisan Sabha, reiterating the demands of the kisans regarding the sugar cane and gur policy of Government which was condemned, emphasizing the need for growing more food crops, opposing the proposed enhancement of cess by the local Government and asking kisans and Kisan Sabha units to observe 2nd July last as the “Anti-cess enhancement day,” welcoming the release of Gandhiji and demanding the release of other Congress leaders to end the deadlock, appealing for all possible help to Bengal, etc.
A ten-day Kisan Training Camp was opened on June 24th at Ner, in Gaya district, for training of K.S. workers mainly of Jahanabad sub-division of that district. There were 25 workers trained there by Swamiji who taught them the theory and practice of the Kisan Sabha work and up-to-date politics. Three Kisan meetings were also held in this connection in the surrounding areas which were attended by thousands of kisans in spite of police propaganda by the beat of drum to scare them away.
Cholera has been raging in Muzaffarpur, Champaran and; Darbhanga districts in the form of an epidemic, claiming over 34,000 victims in three months. Cholera follows malaria epidemic which killed tens of thousands. There is yet no general abatement in the virulence of cholera. This is mainly due to food shortage and malnutrition for which Government’s food policy is responsible. Immediate medical relief work should be undertaken there.
The U.P. Provincial Kisan Conference of which the sixth session was held at Hathras, in Aligarh district, on 12th and 13th June last, under the presidency of Swami Sahajanand, was an improvement on its fifth session held last year at Bachchgaon, In Agra district. But it met in a difficult situation, for while Aligarh is very politically conscious district, Hathras as a big market abounding in hoarders and in that particular area very little K.S. work had been done before the Conference. The total attendance was about 7,000 of which only 3,000 were kisans.
In all 122 delegates and 69 fraternal delegates representing 22 out of 48 districts of the province participated in the deliberations, while last year there were only 50 delegates from 12 districts. Of the 122 delegates at Hathras about 30 Per Cent were recently released Congressmen who had joined K.S. through their own experience and attracted by its activity.
Swamiji in his presidential speech stressed the need of rationing, price control and procurement of food grains.
A cultural programme was arranged including a grow more food dance and the staging of a drama on Bengal famine, a village poets’ conference organised, and a “Bhooka Bengal exhibition held on the occasion.
Altogether 14 resolutions were passed some of which demended rent remission for the damage done to crops by rain and hailstorm just before harvesting In March last, urged kisans to build up “dharmagolas,” demanded the appointment by Government of a representative committee to enquire into the entire sugar cane problem, condemned the fresh imposition of a collective fine of nearly Rs. 7 lakhs on the kisans of Ballia district, and demanded the stoppage of ejectment of “Sir” tenants for the duration of the war.
The most important resolution was on grow more food and procurement which demanded among other things the withdrawal of Sections 171 and 44 of the U.P. Tenancy Act for the period of the war, that no canal dues should be charged for breaking fallow land for first three crops, that new irrigation projects should be completed, that essential commodifies should be supplied to kisans at cheap rates, and that the minimum prices of pulses, cotton and mustard seed should be fixed, and calling upon Kisan Sabhas to build up an extensive self-help movement.
It is true there were defects in the preparation for the Conference but the delgates larnt a great deal from, the deliberations of problems about which they had no clear idea before. In this sense the conference was particularly helpful to the K.S. movement in U.P.
The Kisan Sabha has been undergoing great repression in Kerala. The bureaucrats of British Malabar and specially the bureaucrats of Cochin State have been harassing K.S. workers in their activity which aims at saving the kisans and the people of famine-stricken Kerala.
The All-Kerala Kisan Conference which was to have been held at Talikulam, in Ponnani taluk, on May 6 and 7 last, could not be held there. On 5th May when arrangements of a special pandal had been completed for accommodating 1,000 delegates and 20,000 non-delegates kisans and visitors, an order was unexpectedly issued banning the conference on Ponnani and Palghat taluks.
It was immediately decided that the entire arrangement should be made anew at Shoranur, in Walluvanad Taluk, 34 miles from Talikulam, where the Conference would be held. When, however, on 6th morning the delegates and a large number of other people had reached this new place, they found a second order banning the conference there too was waiting for them.
So for the second time the venue was changed and Calicut was selected for the conference being held on 7th May. It was attended by 1,000 delegates and 5,000 to 6,000 others. A gathering of 20,000 was not of course possible under such circumstances. But the undaunted kisans made the best of this trouble some situation by carrying on Kisan Sabha propaganda throughout their way while thus moving from one place to another.
Comrade Prasada Rao, Secretary of the Andhra Provincial Ryots’ Association, hoisted the K.S. flag, Com. S. V. Parulekar, Treasurer of the A.I.K.S., opened the Conference, and Com. K.A. Keraleeyan, member of the Central Kisan Council, presided. There were fraternal delegates from the South Indian Railway Labour Union, Kerala Trade Union Congress, Tapper Union, Communist Parties of Ceylon and Kerala, Kerala Teachers’ Union, etc. A cultural programme of folk songs and folk dances was a special feature of the conference.
The ban was the result of panic in official circles at the expectation of a huge kisan gathering. Hence counteraction was at first attempted by some interested people who announced a “Kisan Congress” at the original venue of the Conference and on the same date. When it was found the trick would not serve the purpose of the bureaucrats the ban was issued. The order was supposed to “save” the Cochin State kisans from being infected by Kisan Sabha poison from across the border of the State. But it has not been very helpful to the authorities of the State, for the State has banned the Kisan Sabha in Anthikad P.S. area within its jurisdiction, issuing an order on June 30 last under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, “as dangerous to the public peace.”
It was no doubt an achievement on the part of our Kerala comrades to hold their conference on the fixed date despite such orders. They were greatly helped by the S.I.R. Labour Union and the labour volunteers of Calicut who made quick arrangements for the shifted conference first at Shoranur and then at Calicut.
Food naturally was the main question discussed at this conference.
Tamilnadu is one of the latest Kisan Sabha provinces where an organising committee was formed only in June 1943. The Committee enrolled 10,272 primary members in that year. The first session of the Tamilnad Provincial Kisan Conference was held at Mannargudi town in Tanjore district on 2nd and 3rd May last, Com. S. V. Parulekar presiding. In all 85 delegates attended the Conference where a regular Provincial Kisan Committee was formed.
When the preparatory work for the conference was going on the mirasdars (big landholders) tried their best to sabotage it by spreading rumours such as that the K.S. had been banned and all its leaders arrested, instigating the authorities to ban it on the false plea that K.S. had advocated a strike of agricultural workers, frightening the volunteers that they would be taken to war, etc.
In spite of this hostility 5,000 kisans joined the presidential procession and over 12,000 peasants, the majority of whom were poor peasants and landless labourer, gathered at the Conference. This indeed is creditable on the part of an organisation which was hardly a year old.
OUt of the 23 resolutions adopted at the conference some had great local importance to the kisans. Out of the 10 districts in Tamilnadu seven have their District Kisan Committees. The main campaign of the P.K.S. is based on the repair of irrigation works, grow more food and enrolment.
The Gwaliar State Kisan Conference was held at Mandsor on 2nd and 3rd JUne last under the presidentship of Swami Sahajanand. The preparatory propaganda covered about 150 villages. A number of resolutions were passed one of the most important of which protested against the eviction of kisans in certain parts of the State whose land is being taken over by industrial interests from outside for which only nominal compensation is given:
|PKCs TO NOTE|
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|WANTED LIST OF DKCs|
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ALL-INDIA KISAN SABHA Organisational Reportage No. 3 of 1944-45 (For Members Only) BOMBAY, 31st AUGUST, 1944
FOR MORE EFFECTIVE JOINT ACTION
The Bezwada resolutions on procurement of food, Grow more food etc., laid stress on joint action on the part of all sections of the people and villagers, whether they are inside the Kisan Sabha or outside it. Their unity and joint action are most essential for the success of these measures which aim at eliminating all kinds of hoarding and black-marketing and ensuring food to all. The more they are united in their action, the easier becomes the attainment of this aim and with that confidence deepens in the strength of their unity.
All Kisan Sabha units must therefore make every possible effort to see that its appeal for unity and joint action bears the desired fruit.
One such effort will be to invite, wherever possible, patriotic and representative persons, who are not members of the Sabha, to participate in its Provincial and other Committee meetings which discuss such questions. This will enable them to play their part in the joint action with greater ease and confidence and with an added sense of responsibility.
Their participation in evolving decisions on such matters of common interest will not only be helpful in making the decisions for action more valuable and widely acceptable to the general body of patriotic people, but in further ensuring their active co-operation in carrying those decisions through. This will moreover facilitate and increase the scope of joint action, while many patriots who are now outside the Sabha, will gradually find their way into it, thus increasing the strength of the Kisan Sabha.
When inviting outsiders for such discussions, comrades concerned must prepare themselves as thoroughly as possible for the subjects they are going to discuss—equip themselves with all necessary facts and figures, study the implications and possible results of the steps they propose to take or reject and the available resources they can mobilise for action. They should also keep the Kisan Sabha policy in view so as to avoid taking any decision contrary to it.
Whenever such a step is taken by any KS unit, we must be kept informed of it—the response of the invitees, the interest taken and contribution made by them in making a decision, and the help and co-operation received from them in giving effect to that decision.
SMALL PEASANT AND LAND LABOURER
In our agrarian economy a question is now becoming more serious than before—the question of the small peasant versus agricultural labourers. It may be put thus: what is to be done when a small farmer or tenant who, if he employs labour and pays wages at a reasonable rate, does not derive adequate profit from farming for his living?
For a full answer the matter requires to be investigated in all its aspects. Before that is done, it can be discussed in the light of available facts, however inadequate.
In order to save the small peasant by making his farm yield the minimum profit it has been often suggested by way of an answer that steps should be taken to raise the level of prices. Prices, so far as food crops are concerned, are already too high for most consumers—agricultural labourers, small peasants many of whom themselves have to buy food grains as they do not get enough from their own land for the whole year’s need, factory workers and a host of other poor non-cultivating consumers.
Thus in the interest of all poor consumers including the small peasants the prices cannot be raised. On the contrary they should be brought down to a level which must not be below the level of a reasonable fixed minimum price.
The prices of commercial crops are not however discussed here. For these there is scope and necessity for going up.
As for the wages paid to agricultural labourers, it can be said without going into details that they are too low for a living standard in view of the existing cost of living, and are in need of being raised. The suggestion to reduce them is as untenable, sectarian and unpatriotic as the one to raise the prices of food crops.
In this way you can reject the suggestion to raise prices and reduce wages but the problem still remains—the problem of small farmers who want to reduce the cost of production by cutting down wages of their employees.
Defects in Agrarian Economy
The problem is the creation, of several factors which are inherent in our existing administrative and agrarian systems aggravated in the war conditions. Of these the main factors are:
- There is a very vast number of small peasants or tenants in this country whose holdings are uneconomic, that is to say, who do not get a living out of their farms after all necessary expenses are duly paid for the cultivation.
- The cost of agricultural production is very high because of the high prices of cattle, implements, seeds, manure etc.
- The productivity of our land is very low though it can be increased without much difficulty or cost.
- Land rent and tax, irrigation tax, other taxes and interest charges are often excessive.
- Illegal exactions are still rampant and a burden on peasants.
- The cost of living has been raised by the excessive prices of essential commodities which sell mostly at black market rates and are hardly available at control prices.
- Minimum prices of all food crops not being fixed by Government, poor peasants are often cheated by profiteering traders who give them low rates.
- The number of middle men between the producer and the consumer and the total amount of profit they make are so large that the producer does not get his due while the consumer is forced to pay more than his due.
- There is a large section of small farmers who do not cultivate their lands with their own hands because of their traditional social position.
These factors are generally forgotten by the small farmers who in their difficulty and eagerness to get out of it by reducing part of the cost of production find wages of their employees most handy for an attack. Another convenient ground for suggesting reduction in wage-rates is that the small farmers can on their individual initiative and without serious opposition reduce the wages because the agricultural labourers are mostly not organised, whereas the reduction of cost in other respects cannot be effected by them because they themselves are not an organised force.
The political implication of this discontent of the small farmers, who, distressed by their inability to manage their affairs with their inadequate farm income, propose a wage-cut, is taken advantage of by rich farmers, zamindars, and other profiteering interests in spreading disunity between poor peasants and agricultural labourers and disrupting or obstructing their organisation which is consistently fighting against hoarding and profiteering.
Thus what must be done to solve the problem is to check all attempts to reduce wages and increase prices of food crops, to work for increasing wages and the prices of money crops by fixing a reasonable minimum level and for reducing prices of food crops to reasonable levels, to find ways and means for reducing the cost of agricultural production and increasing the income of small peasants without hitting the interests of agricultural labourers and other poor consumers, and to promote the cause of unity and organisation of the small peasants and agricultural labourers by counteracting the disruptive stactics of big employers, landlords and profiteers.
The only sensible method of achieving this object is to, convince all small peasants and tenants with an uneconomic holding:
- That they can raise the productivity of their land by paying proper wages to their employees which will be an incentive to them to work harder for increasing production.
- That they can reduce the other items of their costs by fighting against the high prices of cattle, implements, manure, seeds etc. and the low prices of commercial crops with the help and collaboration of agricultural labourers which the payment of proper wages will secure from them.
- That they can get reasonable prices of their produce if in co-operation with all sections of consumers they fight and eliminate the rapacious and profiteering host of middlemen and deal directly with the consumer, the people’s co-operative, stores, the Government as the procurement authority or its authorised and declared agents, or licensed traders etc. at controlled prices so that nothing goes from them to the black market.
- That they can get the minimum prices for their produce fixed by Government at a reasonable level.
- That they can and should increase their production to the maximum level by securing greater facilities for irrigation, supply of chemical fertilisers hardly available at present, supply of better and cheaper seeds and cattle, reduction in rates of rent and taxes and interest as well as by getting waste land for cultivation to add to their holdings.
While increasing their income by the above means they should also reduce their cost of living by securing regular supply of essential commodities at controlled prices.
Patriotic Interest Of All
All this will be possible if they have the backing of a strong organisation of the Kisan Sabha under whose banner will rally poor peasants, agricultural labourers and other villagers to fight for their common patriotic interest of a reasonable standard of living and guaranteed supply of food at reasonable and controlled prices.
In this way the interests of the small peasants and agricultural labourers as well as of producers and consumers will be fused together, their co-operation and struggle for mutual benefit will be able to crush all hoarding and profiteering interests and they will build up a powerful organisation based on the unity of all kisans and villagers and promoting lead to soild national unity.
Provincial and District Kisan Sabha are requested to communicatee to us cases of small farmers speaking of or contemplating a reduction in wages, grumbling against “high” wage rates or actually reducing them in all details whenever they come across such cases. The details will include the condition of the farmers, whether they are themselves cultivators or only employ labour, existing prices of principal crops and rate of wages in the locality, rates of wages and prices before war (in 1939), the price and wage rates as demanded by peasants and agricultural labourers, and the condition of labourers earning wages at the existing rate, and whether their efforts are organised or sporadic. Also what the middle and rich peasants say about th price and wage rates.
WHAT PKC’S MUST DO
Since Reportage No. 2 came out at the end of July we have practically had no report from the Provincial Kisan Sabhas except Andhra. This is a most unhelpful way of working. Not that the Provincial Sabhas are not functioning; some of them are doing good work. But it seems they have not yet realised the impotrance of coordinated work of the Kisan Sabha on an all-India plane.
The food problem is still acute not only in Bengal, Orissa and Kerala; these three provinces are partly under famine conditions. But the problem is causing anxiety in parts of Tamilnad, Andhra, Bihar, Assam, and even the U.P.; surplus Assam and U.P. have had to be supplied grain stocks from outside. Some districts of Maharashtra are threatened with famine. The main reason behind this situation is the failure of the Government procurement policy due to the abominable influence of the hoarding and profiteering interests on the corrupt officialdom and the lack of Government’s co-operation with the people and their organisations in this matter.
The two most important tasks which face the Kisan Sabha in helping to solve the food problem are food procurement and grow more food. And the food problem does not promise to end very soon, not even when the war ends. It will continue till some time after the war. Hence it is necessary for us to study the procurement problem in the provinces and find out ways and means to make it successful so that the people do not starve and rationing is introduced where necessary.
When we study in details the working of the Government’s procurement machinery, the prices and their justification, the working of the black market, the defects of the Government scheme and machinery in the actual conditions prevailing in a given province, co-operation of the kisans and the people with Government for successful procurement, method of distribution and rationing, hardship of the kisans and the people etc., then alone shall we be able to make concrete contribution to the solution of the problem.
Our study will naturally be part of our compaign for procurement which must be made successful. When we go to the people and explain to them the need for procurement we at the same time learn from them where and how it has succeeded or failed as well as their feelings and grievances which must be redressed.
And grow more food is an equally vital task in that without this there may not be sufficient stocks of food at all for procurement.
Every Provincial Kisan Committee must immediately study in detail the procurement problem in its area and report it to us. This is an essential job for the PKCs.
PRICES AND PROCUREMENT IN ANDHRA
Reports from Andhra since Reportage No. 2 which spoke of the brilliant success of their irrigational undertakings show that the Andhra Provincial Ryots’ Association has now turned its main attention towards the questions of grain prices and procurement. Although the province as a whole is a surplus one some of its districts and parts of some others are deficit whose food supply must be guaranteed. North Vizag is already in the grip of serious shortage and its condition is deteriorating. Destitution is growing there. The Kisan Sabha is doing its best to improve the situation so that famine may not be spread further or aggravated.
The experience of last year’s Bengal and Rayalaseema famine taught them that unless all-round rationing is introduced at least in the towns, the whole country will be in terrible straits. This led them to agitate for rationing in all urban areas. Government ultimately bowed to the popular demand and introduced rationing in almost all towns except Bezwada. But the success of rationing depends on a successful procurement system.
The Government fixed the prices varying from Rs. 5-2-0 to Rs. 5-4-0 per md. for paddy and Rs. 8-1-3 to Rs. 8-3-3 per md. for rice in different districts. The prices of paddy were detrimental to the interest of the kisans and yielded great profit to millowners and traders.
The APRA studied the prices and found there was disparity between the prices of paddy and rice as fixed by Government, and that without changing the price of rice the price of paddy could be easily raised to Rs. 5-8-0 leaving a reasonable profit margin for the traders and millowners. They also contended that efficient milling would yield 73% rice from paddy and not 67 to 69% as shown by millowners through fraudulently manipulating the milling operation with the help of their trusted operators.
Here, too, the Government upheld the demands of the kisans and revised the price of paddy raising it to Rs. 11-9-7’ per bag of two maunds including gunny etc. But selling with gunny not being the practice in villages, the Government agents and millowners began to fleece the people of their due prices by deducting 8 annas towards the price of a gunny bag and thus leaving only Rs. 5-5-6 per maund net to the seller. A mass agitation, coupled with negotiations between the Kisan Sabha and the officials concerned again secured to the kisans their due share through the Government now passing orders that only 4 annas could be deducted towards the price of a gunny bag.
At the instance of the APRA Government had given the ryots the option of supplying rice direct to them, which amounted to part of their surplus paddy not going to millowners who would supply rice to Government, and the ryots were also given milling facilities. This yielded not as much profit as desired for them by the millowners so that they clamoured against giving milling facilities to kisans and threatened Government with closing down their mills unless the latter withdrew the option of ryots supplying rice. Their plea was that ryots were not selling paddy to them at the controlled rate. The millowners sold rice to co-operative stores etc. at black market rates instead of to Government at controlled rates.
The result was that supply to Government fell down and they yielded to the millowners’ demand by issuing a communique on 14th July cancelling the ryots’ option to offer rice to Government.
The APRA now discovered its mistake. So long it had concentrated its attention on securing fair price for kisans for their grains and overlooked the necessity of making the procurement measures of Government successful. Its one-sided activities resulted in sufficient stocks not coming into Government hands. So the APRA comrades realised their mistake and corrected their slogan. Their new slogan is: Secure reasonable price for paddy by making the procurement plan a success.
The APRA is also co-operating with the Government in the matter of procurement of millets, at the same time agitating and working for removing the defects in the Government system of procuring them.
Rationing has been introduced, as has been said before, in almost all towns except Bezwada. Merchants and mill-owners did their best to sabotage rationing but failed owing to the combined support to it from the Kisan Sabha, Congress and Communist workers.
It has been their common experience in the rationed towns that people have a tendency to give false figures about their requirements. This tendency, born of a lack of confidence in rationing, is dangerous which may also sabotage the rationing scheme and should therefore be fought. Comrades should explain to the people the rationing system, its necessity in the present war conditions, how to make it successful and the harm caused by giving incorrect returns when their own requirements are ensured. This will allay the apprehensions of the people about rationing and procurement, create confidence in them and help to eliminate their anti-social tendencies. Their sense of patriotism and spirit of mutual assistance will develop and they will learn to take an interest in their people who must all be guaranteed their due share of food supply.
Unity In Food Committees
In order to safeguard the interests of the people the comrades have also succeeded in setting up District Food Committees in the districts of Guntur and Kurnool and the Town Food Committee at Nellore. Prominent Congressmen and Leaguers and also members of other parties have joined them.
In a recent meeting of the Working Committee of the APRA at Anantapur they invited the leaders of other parties including the Congress and the League. Two District Secretaries of the Congress and the Secretary of the Anantapur District Muslim League attended the session and heartily endorsed the different resolutions adopted at the meeting.
These constructive activities of the Kisan Sabha in Andhra have made even the Congressmen who supported “Satyagraha” and sympathised with the disruptive Rangites now think seriously about the food question and Gandhiji’s constructive proposals. They are not keeping away from us as before.
Inam Ryots’ Rights Recognised
A decision of the Madras High Court debarred certain Inam Ryots from acquiring occupancy rights in their holdings.
A memorandum from the APRA followed by a reminder and a deputation consisting of the General Secretary of the Association, Mr. K. V. Narayanarao, M.L.A. (Congress) and Mr. B. V. Narayanaswami, M.L.C. (Justice Party) has resulted in the Government sponsoring a Bill to remedy the defects.
All these activities of the APRA and the success attained have enhanced in the kisan workers of Andhra their confidence to face and tackle all the problems of the kisans and the people and act as their leaders.
The Andhra comrades however at first committed a mistake, which they have since rectified, by not stressing the need for enrolment while they were engaged in doing these useful jobs. Hence in this respect their achievement is poor, the reported enrolment being only 8,332 membership. One good feature of this new enrolment is that more and more elderly kisans are now joining the Kisan Sabha. The APRA has so far formed District Associations in 9 out of 11 districts, and 48 Taluka Associations.
The enrolment of primary members as reported to us so far does not appear to be encouraging. The figures of enrolment are: Bengal 27,672; Kerala 2, 192; Gujarat 400; C.P. 200; Assam 150; Andhra 8,332; and U.P. 5,850; the total being 44,796. Of these money quota has been realised by Bengal PKC for 11,455 and by Kerala KC for 2,192; as for the rest, nothing is known. Bihar PKC has received Rs. 62 on account of the quota money—not known for how many members; at the rate of one pice per member the figure comes to 3,968. The respective quotas for enrolment to be fulfilled by these provinces in this year are: Bengal 3,00,000; Kerala 50,000; Gujarat 7,000; Assam 5,000; C. P. Marathi 7,000; Andhra 1,75,000; and U.P. 1,00,000.
It is necessary for all the Provincial Sabhas to realise their weakness and put some more speed in their enrolment work to make good the deficiency. They must not forget that between them they have taken the responsibility of enrolling at least one million members by the end of this year.
EPIDEMICS IN BIHAR
The epidemic situation in North Bihar has become extremely grave. Malaria havoc was followed by cholera which has caused over 44,000 deaths. If Cholera has been partially checked malaria is again on the up-grade. Besides, the cholera epidemic has been spreading into other parts of Bihar. The Bihar PKC was advised to take up relief work sometime ago. A united relief committee has since been formed at Patna in Which Congress, Muslim League, Communist Party and Hindu Mahasabha have joined. The Kisan Sabha should also come forward and join the Committee and help it in all possible ways.
The epidemics are a direct off-shoot of ill-nourishment which is widespread in Bihar and which can be eliminated through the efficient working of the United People’s Food Committee organised in that province. Here also the Kisan Sabha’s task is clear. The Sabha should moreover campaign for the release of Babu Rajendra Prasad which all parties considered as most urgent for the relief organisation when they elected him president of the Bihar Co-ordinating Relief Committee formed on 13th August.
ALL-INDIA KISAN SABHA Organisational Reportage No. 4 of 1944-45 (For Members Only) Bombay, 5th November 1944
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA’S GROW MORE FOOD POLICY AND OUR TASKS
There was no active campaign of Grow More Food during the first 2.5 years of the War. Only “when the course of the war against Japan made it clear in the spring of 1942 that India would be temporarily cut off from Burma, her main source of supply” was India “confronted with a problem which is indeed unparalleled in her recent history.” (Gregory Report, page 20.)
The effect of this negligence on the part of the Government will be seen from the fact that the figures of aggregate yield of seven foodgrains for 1940-41 and of 1941-42 were less than that of 1936-37, 1937-38 and 1939-40; the figure for 1939-40, though more than those of 1940-41 and 1941-42 was less than that of 1936-37 and 1937-38. This shows that the last years of war were, so far as food production is concerned, either slightly less or slightly more than the average production. (For figures, see Gregory Report, p.8.)
This is why the Gregory Report takes “the average of the three years 1938-39 to 1940-41” as “Normal Production.” (Page 13.)
Why the Food Production Drive
It was in April 1942 that the Government of India convened a Food Production Conference at New Delhi. Representatives of all the provinces and a number of important food producing States were present.
The nature of the problem that the Conference had to face was this:
“In normal times India produces practically all the staple foodgrains she needs except for about 14 lakh tons of rice imported from Burma.
“In 1941-42 several important factors arose. Imports of rice from Burma ceased and there were poor harvests in certain areas as a result of which the supply, particularly of rice, was reduced, whereas the demand, both for rice and wheat, was substantially increased as more of these were needed for the expanding Defence Services and for Ceylon which, in the absence of imports from Burma, became wholly dependent on India to meet her deficit of food requirements.
“It was estimated that, for 1941-42, taking into account the increased demand referred to above, there would be a net deficit of about 20 lakh tons of rice and 4 lakh tons of wheat which would affect the food position in India throughout 1942 and the early part of 1943.” (Indian Information, No. III, 260.)
The main recommendations of the Conference were:
- Provincial and State Governments should organise a planned and effective drive for the increased production of food and fodder crops; a similar drive to increase the output of vegetables and quick growing fruits.
- The Government of India should undertake to prevent any serious deterioration in the price levels that might follow! a large increase in output by buying foodstuffs in the open market.
- A Central Food Advisory Council should be set up whose function should be to pool, study and disseminate all available information; to plan the food and fodder production programme for the different regions and to tender advice in regard to its execution ; and to advise the authorities on the equitable distribution of the available food stocks. (See Indian Information, No. III, p. 260.)
How They Were Implemented
The Government of India accepted the recommendation of the Conference that a Central Food Council should be formed and the first meeting of the Council was held at New Delhi on August 24, 1942. Opening this meeting, Sir Jogendra Singh I explained how far the recommendations of the Conference were implemented. He said:
- The Provinces and States “have launched the food drive with great energy and carried our message to the villages and towns. They have offered inducements by making important concessions such a reduction in irrigation rates, reservation—as far as possible—of canal water exclusively for food crops, allotment of rent and revenue-free fallow and waste lands and by distribution of manures, such as bonemeal and oil cake and improved seed, and above all provision of taccavi loans of more than a crore of rupees.
- “The Government of India have not been slow in taking their share and shouldering responsibility. They had foreseen the loss of Japanese market for short-staple cotton and they took steps to create a Fund by the levy of an additional duty on imports of raw cotton to finance measures for the benefit of cotton growers, particularly by offering them to help them to effect the change-over from a cash to a food crop. We are now making grants from this Fund to Provinces in respect of lands diverted from cotton to food or fodder crops, provided that the subsidy reaches the cultivator. Grants have already been made to four Provinces and three States and all applications for grants on these conditions will receive favourable consideration.
- “The Government of India have announced its acceptance in principle of the recommendation of the Food Production Conference that they would buy sufficient quantities of foodstuffs both in Provinces and States, to prevent a serious Call in prices, to assure the cultivators that it is our best endeavour to promote and protect their interests.” (Indian Information No. 103, p. 298.)
Reviewing the campaign organised so far, the Council made the following recommendations:
- Great emphasis should be laid on the provision of manure to cultivators which is by far the most promising method of increasing food production.
- Government of India should announce that they would purchase stipulated quantities of food grains at declared prices in the event of the prices tending to fall below the predetermined level.
- Provincial and State Governments should examine the extent of the old fallow lands lying idle, investigate the causes of their being abandoned by the cultivators and take necessary remedial measures and steps for bringing them under cultivation.
- With a view to securing the co-operation of the cultivators to the fullest extent possible, Village, Tehsil, District and Provincial Committees of village elders may be set up on the lines of Country War Agricultural Committees in the United Kingdom. (Indian Information, No. 103, p. 302.)
From Co-Ordination to Active Guidance
The role which the Government of India was playing so far was one of co-ordinating the activities of Provinces and States; the main responsibility of carrying out the G.M.F, was that of Provinces and States. The Government of India confined itself to guaranteeing that the cultivators would not suffer from a fall in the price of their products and to assist cotton growers to switch over from cotton to food.
But the end of 1942 and the beginning of 1943 necessitated a more active policy on the part of the Government of India. “December 1942,” says the Gregory Committee in its report, “forms a natural dividing line. Food was becoming or had become ‘news,’ and has remained so ever since” (p. 2). It was in that month that a separate Food Department was created.
The statistical position of food grains was thus stated by Mr. N. R. Sarkar, the then Food Member, on February 8, 1943:—
“The 1942 Kharif rice crop is estimated to be 255 lakh tons as against the average of three pre-war years’ production of 265 lakh tons. As regards bajra and jowar, the production is estimated to be 92.64 lakh tons as against the pre-war average of 91.87 lakh tons. No estimate of rabi crops like wheat and gram are available…. There may be a deficit of nearly 28 lakh tons in respect of the kharif crops….” (Indian Information, No. 110, p. 187).
This made the Government of India, through its Department of Education, Health and Land, take the following steps which were later endorsed by the Central Food Council (in February 143):
- Provincial and State Governments were urged to draw “Production goals.”
- Government of India offered to render assistance to Provincial or State Governments wherever necessary for enabling them to execute approved measures designed to bring about an increase in food production.
- It proposed that a Director of Production be appointed in the Centre to guide Provinces and States. He will consider and decide on the suitability of schemes submitted by Provincial and State Governments.
- It appointed two statisticians, as an experimental measure, to investigate, in the first instannce in the Central Provinces and Punjab, how far the clasisification of a large area of land as“ cultivable but not cultivated” was accurate with a view to find out the extent of such land which could be brought under cultivation.
All these were endorsed by the Central Food Council. (Indian Information, No. .110, p. 188-89).
Extent of Assistance Rendered
In pursuance of this policy, the following steps have been taken by the Government of India:
- Rs. 164.5 lakhs were distributed in 1943-44 to Provinces and States as loans. In the same period were grants made to Provinces and States to the extent of Rs. 69.5 lakhs. Grants were also made from the Cotton Fund up to Rs. 15 lakhs.
- For 1944-45, provision has been made for Rs. 1 crore by way of grants to Provinces and States. Of this, Rs. 87,35,000 had already been allotted to Provinces and States for schemes approved by July 1, 1944. Loans upto Rs. 1,16,59,600 were also sanctioned by the same date. Grants from Cotton Fund sanctioned up to July 1, 1944 amount to Rs. 21,32,500.
- To give the technical assistance necessary to the Provinces and States, an Agricultural Production Adviser and an Irrigation Adviser were appointed in 1943. Hand operated pumping sets are being released to India from His Majesty’s Government.
- Assistance is given for increasing the availability of fertilisers by training biochemists at the Bangalore Institute, for the manufacture of compost from night soil, by encouraging cultivators to make compost in the villages, by imports of chemical fertilisers, particularly ammonium sulphate, and by steps to increase production of ammonium sulphate in India. (Indian Information, No. 144, pp. 200-201.)
Two Years of Campaign: A Review
Reviewing the first year (1942-43) of G.M.F. campaign, Indian Information in October 1943 (No. 124, p. 195) said:
“With regard to rice, the target figures—an additional 25.12 lakh acres which should have added 8.27 lakh tons of rice to the year’s crop—have not been achieved. 13.4 lakh acres have been added to the area under rice but production has fallen by 8.18 lakh tons.
“This was due to bad weather conditions in the Eastern and Southern Zones and to cyclone damage in parts of Bengal and Orissa. It must, however, be realised that had there not been the additional acreage stated above the shortage in production would have been much greater and the rice position very much worse.
“While only an additional 1.43 lakh acres of land have come under wheat, instead of the 17.4 lakh acres aimed at, the harvest has been 9.48 lakh tons more than that of 1941-42, or double the planned increase of 4.77 lakh tons. The Punjab, Sind, Rajputana and Central India have contributed to the big increase while the U.P., despite a smaller acreage than the previous year, has a greater output to its credit.
“The campaign aimed at an extra 50.93 lakh acres under maize and millets to yield an additional 8.28 lakh tons. These figures were greatly exceeded by an additional acreage of 69.17 lakh acres with an extra yield of 37.26 lakh tons.
“Final figures for some crops, including gram and barley, are not available, but it is expected that they will represent a big increase on the previous year. As many as 53.39 lakh acres of land were diverted from short staple cotton to food crops and contributed materially to the increased acreage under millets.
“Summing up, the country’s output both of millets and wheat has been substantially stepped up, while in the case of rice it can be said that the position, bad as it is today and aggravated as it has been by bad climatic conditions, would have been much worse without the 13% lakh acres that have been turned over to this crop.”
No such review of the campaign in the second year (1943- 44) is available. But Sir Jogendra Singh’s speech on July 21, 1944, to the Central Food Council, gives an indication that the campaign has not been as successful as it was expected.
He says :
“As you know, we have brought about a substantial reduction in the acreage under cotton. But the point I wish to emphasise is that, unlike certain other countries more fortunately situated, we are not in a position to produce the extra food that we need by the mere conversion of acreage under non-food crops to food crops. There remains the prospect of bringing additional land under cultivation. If under the tremendous pressure of our population, there is any cultivable land not under cultivation, it is safe to assume that there is some serious obstacle in the way. Even so, significant increases in the net area sown have been effected and it is our policy—a policy which I will intensify in the near future— to give assistance to cultivators to extend cultivation.
“My point is that when the war broke out we found ourselves in a situation in which it was not possible for us to meet the full demands of the situation because the fundamental basis on which our main industry was carired on was such as rendered it incapable of making any rapid advance to meet the extraordinary situation.
“You may think I am perhaps drawing a very gloomy picture. This is not in order to provide an apology for Government or the cultivators of the future. But it is necessary to understand the basic factors of the situation and the limitations under which any scheme for increased production or future agricultural development must operate.”
As for actual performance for the two years, he says: “The cordial co-operation of the Provincial Governments and States secured the diversion, from cotton to food corps, of 5 million acres of land and an additional 3 million acres of new land were brought under cultivation.” (Indian Information, No. 143, p. 136).
This means that, as a result of the two-year campaign, only 80 lakh (8 million) acres have been added to the area under food crops. When it is remembered that, on September 25, 1942, Sir Jogendra Singh declared in a broadcast (Indian Information, No. 105, p. 368) that “nearly 96 lakh additional acres would come under food crops,” it will be clear that the campaign has not been so successful as was expected.
Government Policy Today: Three Year Plan
When the Government of India initiated the G.M.F. campaign in 1942, it was intended as a temporary campaign to meet an extraordinary situation—the shortage of foodgrains due to the closure of the main source of supply. It was therefore conceived of as a campaign organised and reviewed from year to year; no long-term planning of food production was thought of.
Today, however, this is not the case. At the last meeting of the Central Food Council, Sir Jogendra Singh said:
“As you know, our Grow More Food campaign has hitherto been organised on a year-to-year basis and agriculture does not lend itself to such short-term planning. I am glad to say we have now decided to plan our campaign on a three-year basis and we have invited the co-operation of Provincial Government and States and suggested to them certain definite lines of approach such as
“Firstly, to associate the growers with the planning as well as with the implementing of the campaign by organising an agricultural association for each district, tehsil and circle.
“Secondly, in the light of the provisional target set for the provinces, the provincial staff should fix provisional production targets for each district. The district agricultural officer should then break this down for each tehsil and again for each circle and then for each village.
“Thirdly, the target for each village should be considered and, if necessary, revised in the light of local conditions. A statement should be prepared showing for each village what the areas of cultivable waste and fallow land are, why it is not cultivated and what steps are needed to bring it under cultivation. It should be indicated what lands in the village are not cultivated to the proper intensity and what the reason for the same is and how it is to be put right. The extent of the double crop area should be examined and the possibility of increasing it should be indicated.
“Fourthly, it will be necessary to ascertain for each village or group of villages what facilities are wanted and to what extent production could be increased if such facilities are provided. It should be indicated what is needed in respect of wells, tanks and other sources of irrigation and by way of bunding and drainage, to what extent there is a shortage of manure and the arrangements for the supply of improved seeds etc.
“Fifthly, on the basis of this information, a plan for the provision of the necessary facilities should be drawn up for circle or firka as the case may be. These should then be consolidated into the district plan and those facilities which are likely to give the maximum increase in production in the minimum time should receive priority. It is thus that a Provincial and finally a Central plan can be built up.
“As I see it, the main difficulty in carrying out such a survey and then preparation of a co-ordinated plan is the inadequacy of the trained agricultural staff of all grades in Provinces and States. We have suggested to Provincial Governments the lines on which the work of training personnel should be organised.” (Indian Information, No. 143, p. 138.)
Post War Agricultural Policy
Meanwhile, we began to hear more of post-war reconstruction all over the world. India too began to have her own plan of post-war reconstruction. The Tata-Birla Plan came out. Government of India under Lord Wavell began to evolve a plan.
A Special Committee of the Advisory Board of the Imperial Council of Agricultural Research prepared a Memorandum on agricultural development outlining a 15-year plan. The object of the plan was to increase production by 50% in the first 10 years and by 100% in the next 5 years at a cost of Rs. 1,000 crores. For attaining this objective, various improvements should be made in cultivation. The memorandum suggests that these should be undertaken as per the following order of priority.
- Irrigation, by the construction of tanks, wells and canals.
- Manure, where water is available. The manufacture of ammonium sulphate in adequate quantities in India, is a crying need.
- Land improvement especially by the construction of contourbunds, afforestation and the digging of drainage at cuts.
- Tillage, for which experimental farms in typical areas are needed to ascertain the best cultural practices.
- Seed, including the establishment of seed farms and stores.
- The grading up of the cattle and the provision of cattle and sheep farms for each recognised breed.
To consider this Memorandum and other allied subjects, the Government of India set up a Post-war Policy Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries which met at Simla on June 26, 1944 and succeeding 3 days. The main recommendations of the Committee were:
- A Federal Department of Agricology (agriculture and animal husbandry) should be established as a separate and self-contained Department of the Central Government.
- The Imperial Council of Agricultural Research should become a Federal Agricological Council dealing with both research and development.
- Agricological Council should ascertain the requirments of different types of agricological produce for the country as a whole and draw up provisional production targets to meet, in the shortest possible time and in any case within years the needs of the people, industry and export.
- The All-India target should then be broken into separate targets for each province and the provinces should further lay down targets of production for each district tehsil and village in consultation with agricological interests To help in this work a Provincial Development Committee should be set up and similar organisations constituted in districts and villages.
- Revised targets should then be fixed for every village in consultation with Panchayats, co-operative societies and other organisations on the basis of what is possible and this process may be worked up to determine Provincial and Central targets When the targets have been finally fixed, the Provincial, District and Village organisations should supervise and control the execution of the plan with the help of trained staff.
- 3 Sub-Committees should be appointed to report on i. how to fix remunerative prices and have an assured market, ii. how agricultural indebtedness can be reduced and short-term and long-term finance provided for agricological operations under efficient control, and iii. what alterations are needed in land tenure to ensure maximum utilisation of land resources and adequate protection for agricological labour.
- The items of work which should be taken up first are training of staff, essential surveys, manufacture or import of machinery for cultivation, irrigation, hydro-electric power and fertilisers. Other items of improvement which provinces may take up include irrigation, manure, land improvement seed, cultural practices, grading of cattle for milk and draugh and the provision of better marketing facilities.
Defects of the Policy
This brief review of the Government of India’s Grow More Food Policy makes it clear that increased production has become a vital part of the economic plans of the Government. Not only is it a temporary measure designed to meet the wartime shortage of food as it was when started; it is now a vital link in the chain of those plans of Post-war Reconstruction that are being prepared by New Delhi.
It, however, has two vital defects which lie at the root of its failure:
- Its conception of the cultivator through whom it wants to carry out its policy is not the poor peasant steeped in debt, rack-rented by landlords and harassed by officials. It is the rich and middle peasants who employ agricultural labourers, invest capital on cultivation, reap good harvests on it and have a balance of crop to sell in the market that are sought to be enthused to take the increased production of food. That is why every pronouncement of Government spokesmen on G.M.F. guarantees the maintenance of a reasonable price for foodgrains whereas no assurance has so far been made with regard to protection from the landlord and usurer. The Government does not realise that it is protection from landlord and Sahukar exploitation that will rouse lakhs and lakhs of kisans for increasing production while guaranteeing reasonable price for the produce will rouse only a few thousands who have any balance left to sell in the market and thus make a profit.
- Government’s policy of increasing production is, again, a part of its general policy of trying to solve the economic question and by-passing the political question. Just as G.M.F. policy was originally initiated as a part of the Linlithgow plan of tackling Defence and Food problems while creating a political deadlock, the 1,000-crore plan of agricultural development is a part of the Wavell plan of maintaining deadlock and planning Post-war Reconstruction.
This policy, therefore, is one which neither financially benefits the overwhelming majority of poor kisans nor politically enthuses them. Hence the failure of the plan so far, hence the inevitability of its failure in future.
How to Utilise the Policy
There are, however, certain aspects of this policy which can be useful to a vigilant Kisan Movement such as:
a. Technical improvement is, to a certain extent, being planned and executed. Preparation of scientific manures, execution of minor irrigation plans, multiplication and distribution of improved varieties of seeds etc. are part of the schemes for which Government of India has given loans and grants to provinces and States. It is true that these are now being taken advantage of by rich and middle peasants. But a vigilant Kisan Sabha with strong roots in the mass of kisans and with friendly non-kisan patriots can see that poor kisnas are enabled to profit from them. It is to the credit of the Andhra comrades that they have taken advantage of all the concessions made by the Government and secured their benefits for the poor kisans. This shows that, if Kisan Sabhas are vigilant as they are in Andhra, they can profit from the Government policy.
b. It is laid down at least formally that District, Tehsil and Circle associations of agriculturists composed of village elders should be formed and that they should be consulted in formulating and carrying out specific plans. These Associations are, of course, either non-existent or composed of toadies drawn from the rich peasant and landlord classes. But Kisan Sabhas with real mass membership can, if they take an interest in the matter, get themselves heard through these associations. No official would dare refuse to give representation to Kisan Sabha members if they do positive G.M.F work.
c. The Policy Committee on Agriculture has (as mentioned above) constituted two sub-committees: one, to go into the question of reducing agricultural indebtedness and to provide credit to cultivators: the other to examine land tenure system and suggest such changes in it as will ensure maximum utilisation of land resources. Here, therefore, is an opportunity to make constructive proposals with regard to changes Tenancy Law and reduction of agrarian debt.
We should therefore (i) put pressure on the Government to undertake immediately such tenancy and debt legislation as will rouse the poor kisan and make him take his full share in G.M.F. ; (ii) approach local officials to see that, in giving concessions to kisans in pursuance of G.M.F. policy, reference is given to poor kisans; (iii) inform poor kisans as to what concrete steps are taken by the Government and how they can be used; (iv) carry on ceaseless propaganda among kisans as to the need for increasing food production and among non-kisan masses on the need for tenancy and debt legislation as part of G.M.F. campaign; and (v) carry on a raging campaign for ending the deadlock (release of Congress leaders, Hindu-Muslim unity, National Government) since the continuation of deadlock is a serious barrier to the increase in production of food. It is to carry out these jobs that we have to strengthen our Kisan Sabhas more and more. For, it is by doing these that we secure the immediate demands of kisans, take our due share in solving the food crisis and rally ourselves in the struggle against deadlock.
Tasks of PKSs
If these tasks of the Kisan Movement are to be successfully carried out, every Provincial Kisan Committee should undertake the following jobs:
- Study the concrete G.M.F. plans evolved or carried out by the Provincial or State Governments in the Provinces or States. For the policy outlined in this document is only a general framework made by the Central Government; it is the Provincial or State Government which carries it out in accordance with conditions in its Province or State. Only when we study this shall we be able both to make constructive proposals to the Government as well as to advise kisans as to what they should do. Study all Press Communiques, Orders, Rules etc. issued by the Government with regard to G.M.F., interview officials concerned and get a clear picture of Government policy and measures in the province or State. ON the basis of such a study prepare a Memorandum to the Government as to how the G.M.F. plan can be improved upon, what the Kisan Sabha can do in respect of implementing it, what difficulties there are in the way of Kisan Sabha carrying it out etc.
- Make a similar study of Government’s Procurement and Rationing Policy, how it affects the various classes of kisans how it can be improved upon, what Kisan Sabha can do in making it successful etc. Prepare a Memorandum on this too. This is very important not only because Kisans have various grievances with regard to procurement and rationing but also because the very purpose of G.M.F. is defeated unless it is accompanied by a successful Procurement Policy. Kisan Sabha is intensely interested not only in increasing production but also in seeing that all available stocks go into the hands of Government agents, so that black-marketeers and profiteers are defeated in their anti-national game.
- Prepare a third Memorandum on Essential Agrarian Legislation, that is urgently needed in your province or State. Explain how such Tenancy and Debt Legislation will help in the aim set forth by the Post-war Policy Committee on Agriculture of “maximum utilisation of land resources.” If possible, prepare draft bills themselves.
- Approach the Provincial or State Government with these three Memoranda and draft bills and explain to them how these will help in increasing food production. Send copies of these memoranda and draft bills to the Central Government as well as to the A.I.K.C. office.
- Approach leading citizens like M.L.A.s and M.L.C.s, and leaders of political parties and other patriotic organisations, explain to them why you make these proposals and secure their support and co-operation.
- To popularise these proposals of yours, prepare a simple and popular pamphlet explaining the food position of the province, the need for increasing production and increasing stocks and getting agrarian legislation. Carry on a raging campaign on the basis of such a pamphlet. Enrol Kisan Sabha Members, recruit Kisan Volunteers, make Kisan Sabha a real mass organisation of kisans.
It is only in this way that we can build the Kisan Sabha in this new period.
A live contact with the kisans and the people has given the Andhra Provincial Ryots’ Association a good grasp of their problems. This has enabled it to move on correct lines which has secured for it increasing popularity and solidarity with the patriotic people beyond its own ranks-from the Congress, the League, the Justicites.
Here are a few of the problems it is grappling with at the present moment.
In the present situation it has rightly laid the greatest emphasis on the solution of the food problem. It is working tirelessly for the success of rationing and Government procurement scheme as well as for Grow-More-Food and irrigation. We have already noted some of its achievements in the field. While exerting itself to secure Government’s co-operation with the kisans, it is also working for such co-operation to be really beneficial to the people by removing the many defects in the Government schemes and their application, the erratic moves of the bureaucracy, corruption in the agencies authorised to handle people’s food and the proverbial red-tapism of the Government machinery.
Drought in the red-soil districts of Bellary and Anantpur reducing the prospect of Kharif (autumn) crop to about half to three-fourths of the normal and the damage to the Gonnavaran aqueduct due to the East Godavari flood affecting the first crop of about 37,500 acres and almost destroying the prospect of a second crop on 13,000 acres, intensify the food crisis to a considerable extent. These questions are also taken up by the Association.
Grow More Food
The Madras Government has sanctioned an interest-free loan of Rs. 1 crore for manures and Rs. 40 lacs for agricultural implements. The Association has taken the initiative for the proper distribution of these loans in all the districts.
In the districts like Kistna and West Godavari the whole of the first instalment of the grant for distribution has been secured by the Association. It has up till now procured manures worth Rs. 9,76,218-10-0 of which Government loan amounts to Rs. 4,33,570-10-0 and kisans themselves contributed Rs. 5,42,648-0-0.
The use of adequate fertilisers and seeds of a good quality is expected to give an increased yield of 10%. The Association is therefore agitating for the Government to supply improved seeds and more manures.
Some zemindars are in the habit of leasing out tanks for growing tobacco in their beds. The draining off of water from these tanks for this purpose affects paddy fields near about. The Association is moving the Government to ban such leases.
Attempts are also being made to secure agricultural implements to the kisans at low rates. Its efforts have hitherto checked black-marketing to a considerable extent in Kistna, Ongole, Tanali, Rapalli, Tadikonda and other places and secured quite a good quantity of agricultural implements from the Government in Guntur and Nellore districts. It is trying to secure the entire quota of iron for Nellore, namely, 10 tons, and thus save it from black market.
More than 20,000 people, according to the Government report, have died of Cholera and Malaria in 4 talukas of North Vizag as a result of malnutrition. Twelve kisan volunteers are now working in four centres to bring relief to the epidemic stricken people.
The first week of August was declared by the Provincial Asociation as the Kisan Unity Week to rally the kisans behind the Gandhi-Jinnah negotiations for a settlement between the Congress and the League. Kisan squads on this occasion visited 830 villages explaining the significance of the League-Congress settlement for kisans and for national movement in general. More than 1,22,000 people were approached in this connection.
Enrolment And Organisation
The enrolment of Kisan Sabha members, hitherto almost neglected, is now going on briskly, the present number being 30,350 as against 8,332 reported in Reportage No. 3. There are 49 Taluka Associations in the province of which 30 are active and regularly report to the District units.
Besides the 35 lacs in dead last year’s famine left Bengal a legacy of epidemics and destitution which have been devastating the country-side till this day. As gruel kitchens have been closed down since 10th May, about 60,000 destitutes roam about in the streets. Twenty to 30 lacs of agricultural workers are sick everyday. Cattle mortality is rampant in many districts. Lack of rural credit deprives the peasants of the benefit of the Land-Alienation Registration Ordinance and the zamindars in many places are after their usual game of evicting the tenants. Pangs of hunger have driven thousands of their womenfolk to the lowest depths of degradation and dishonour. Black market, profiteering and bureaucratic bungling still reign supreme. The war against Fascist Japan is still on not far from its borders. This situation was brought out in the Secretary’s report to the Bengal Provincial Kisan Committee which met some weeks ago in Mahirampur village in 24 Parganas district. Further facts of the report give us the following picture.
When we see against this background the task of the Bengal kisan, not only to keep up the normal production but also to augment it considerably to make up for the province’s deficit in food grains, then only we can realise what vast efforts are demanded of him and of the whole society in backing him up. This also gives us a correct standard for measuring the efforts hitherto put forth or the successes achieved in the enterprise.
The Provincial Kisan Sobha has led a campaign for Grow More Food in 22 out of the 26 districts of Bengal since May 1944. By this it has saved the crops of one lac acres of land by undertaking irrigation projects, building bunds, etc. and secured for cultivation 430 acres of waste land in the possession of the Government or Railway authorities in the district of Chittagong. This year the Bengal Government took up a scheme of distributing 30 thousands maunds of Aush (autumn paddy) seed of which 7 to 8 thousand maunds has been distributed through the Kisan Sabha units. Cattle loan amounting to Rs. 20,000 was also secured from the Government. In Tippera district (East Bengal) lands worth Rs. 9 to 10 thousand were made to be returned to their poor peasant sellers under the Land-Alienation Restriction Ordinance.
Its agitation for full rationing in towns and deficit areas and controlled shops in surplus ones and for a sound procurement and distribution scheme has borne fruit to a considerable extent. The price of rice has come down in many places, for example, in Chittagong from Rs. 40 a maund to about Rs. 16.
40 Workers Dead And 1,000 Ill
From February to June the Kisan Sabha held 24 district and sub-divisional conferences, carrying on a new method of propaganda through the mass performance of songs, dances and dramas etc. relating the stories and conditions of kisan life. In this connection it has approached 30 lacs of people, 3 lacs of whom actually took part in meetings, processions and demonstrations.
The BPKS has built up Kisan Sabha units in 720 unions (small groups of village constituting administrative units and its agitation reaches 100 more out of a total of about 6,000 unions in the province. It has built up its influence in 130 Union Food Committees and up till now enrolled 50,000 Kisan Sabha members.
In the matter of epidemic relief it is fully co-operating with the Bengal Medical Relief Co-ordination Committee which has now 80 units working under it all over the province.
But diseases and epidemics are playing havoc among the Kisan Sabha workers as well. No less than 40 comrades have died since the Fulbari Session of the Provincial Kisan Conference held in February last and more than 1,000 workers are lying ill. To combat this havoc the districts of Chittagong, Rangpur and Mymensingh are organising special funds.
The district Kisan Sabhas have no substantial funds behind them. Most of them are in debt. This means, among other things, progressive devitalisation of its most active workers. So the Provincial Sabha has given a call to raise Rs. 15,000 to stabilise the Kisan Sabha fund in the districts.
Memorandum to Famine Commission
The Bengal Provincial Kisan Sabha submitted a memorandum to the Famine Enquiry Commission when it visited the province a few weeks ago. The Memorandum consisted of these three main questions: 1. Famine and its aftermath, 2. the causes of the famine, and 3. the way out.
In the famine of 1943, barring the rich few, the entire population of Bengal was hit some way or other. Fifty per cent of the people were brought to the verge of destitution. About a crore people left home in search of food. Of these about 35 lakhs died and the rest (65 lakhs) became homeless and landless destitutes. At present about 3 crores are suffering from various epidemics, specially Malaria.
According to the BPKS the causes of the famine are:
The fundamental policy of the Government to carry on the war without the patriotic incentive and voluntary co-operation of the people which is the root cause of the disaster. This policy manifested itself in the absence of a central food policy till after the famine, and in effect meant not only lack of control of food prices but also a theory on “excessive purchasing power” propounded by Sir Jogendra Singh, a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, which was an open advocacy of black marketing when looting of foodgrains was being reported from big industrial cities. The Government policy in 1942 and earlier part of 1943 was one of encouraging hoarders and black- marketeers rather than checking them.
While the food situation was fast deteriorating in the country false assurance was given by Government spokesmen that the situation was improving and that food transport and supply were being organised for the benefit of the people.
When the monopolist rice traders demanded free trade on 10-3-43 Government acceeded to their demand and the control order was withdrawn on 28-3-43. The price went up very high till in September 1943 when rice sold at Rs. 40, 50, 60 and even 105 per maund. The Director General of Food (Government of India) in October 1943 remarked that the Bengal Government’s food procurement scheme failed very quickly. The failure was due to the fact that attempts at procurement were made by Government without seeking people’s co-operation.
Wrong Policy Breeds Hoarding
The conclusion of the Memorandum with regard to prices are:
- Prices would not have gone up so high if in 1942 and the beginning of 1943 Government had taken up the scheme of effective price control along with the provision of stocks and arrangement for supply.
- If the Governments of Bengal and India had taken up a vigorous procurement policy from November 1942 when Aman (winter rice) was harvested, they would have been able to fight black market and prevent the famine of 1943.
- Up to the middle of 1943 Government directly or indirectly encouraged hoarding and black-marketing.
- Whatever food grains Government had in their hands was not used against hoarding as transport was not well organised. Government moreover failed in their grow-more-food policy which was not even seriously undertaken.
The famine was a political famine. Whatever timely warnings were given from time to time to the Government by the Kisan Sabha were not needed with the result that the famine could not be averted.
Bureaucratic bungling and inefficiency were very glaring, specially in the lack of co-ordination between the different departments of the Government. There was criminal negligence in the matter of using food stocks procured but allowed to rot on railway station platforms, or dumps unprotected against rain etc. for months. Lakhs of maunds of paddy, rice etc. were wasted while lakhs of hungry people were dying for a morsel.
The basic war policy of the Government—that of conducting the war without the cooperation of the people—led to reckless inflation of currency, transport difficulty, deadlock in the development of industries, and a sharp rise in prices. The result of all this was hoarding which was at first proposed to be fought by resort to free trade. But free trade presupposes free competition, free transport and free production which were absent in war conditions and in the absence of which free trade only guaranteed freedom for hoarders to thrive and death to honest traders.
Government remedy was free trade and not procurement and rationing, which alone would have saved the situation. But for procurement and rationing cooperation with the people was most essential while a bureaucratic system would not countenance such cooperation.
Against Recurrence of Famine
In order to prevent a recurrence of famine and to fight its after-effect Government have, as the way out of the situation, adopted the policy of 1. procurement and rationing, 2. relief and rehabilitation, 3. irrigation and help for growing more food, 4. price control, 5. better transport, and 6. improvement in administration.
The policy is correct but its success depends on seeking voluntary cooperation of the people and popular organisations, changing the attitude of officials who must co-operate with the people in a spirit of national service and not of lording it over them, giving up the policy of reliance on or alliance with hoarders and profiteers, and allocation of adequate funds to cope with the vast problem.
This is essential for working out the Government plan. Whenever anything stands in the way it must be cleared out. Aleady there are forces at work to sabotage the policy such an seasoned bureaucrats endeavouring to frustrate the irrigation plan etc., and hoarders attempting to discredit the Food Committees.
The Memorandum concludes by warning the Government against nursing a sense of complacency that the situation is automatically improving. They will have to pay due attention to the following questions:
a. The rationing of Calcutta should continue to be in the hands of the Government of India as its own responsibility till the end of the war.
b. Reserve stocks should be built in all deficit areas of Bengal, stocks with rice mills guarded and their distribution at reasonable price ensured and adequate arrangements for transport from surplus to deficit areas made.
c. No more power should be conceded to the bureaucratic officialdom in Bengal which must be prepared for the criticism of its actions by the people.
The food problem faces the Kisan Sabha in Tamilnad almost in the same way as in any other province. The Government of Madras put into operation about the end of 1942 a plan to purchase food grains from surplus districts and to supply them to the deficit districts. Government purchasing officers were appointed to purchase from millowners who hold license to buy from cultivators. Thus the buying of food grains ultimately rested in the hands of these monopolist traders. In deficit districts also it was big wholesalers who were entrusted with distribution.
Inter-district movement of grains was banned by Government but no attempt was made to take possession of the entire surplus.
The result was that from Tanjore district which has the biggest exportable surplus of rice—four lac tons—Government exported not more than 250,000 tons a year in the past years, while the rest has gone into the black market.
Mirasdars (land-holders) in the districts are asked to declare their stocks but there is no arrangement to check whether their declaration is correct. Their undeclared stocks of paddy were sold at a higher price (Rs. 6 per maund) for the black market whereas the ceiling price fixed by Government is much lower, being, for Instance, Rs. 4-8-0 to 5-11-0 in Tanjore district.
The license-holders do not generally buy just after harvest, when the middle and small kisans need cash, except at a price lower than the ceiling price. Hence such kisans often hide their stocks and sell to the black market, while hating the Government’s procurement policy.
Rationing has been introduced in all municipal towns. But supply of stocks to the rationed towns except Madras has been left to the wholesale dealers. In some of the small towns, specially in deficit areas where rationing is welcomed by the people, it depends on co-operative stores which receive their supply from wholesalers who do not supply regularly, while Government has no reserve stocks of its own for use in case of emergency. The population of these towns is also swelling because of the rationing. Hence the rationing scheme in these towns is in danger of being blown up.
Failure Faces Rationing
Another defect is that rice alone is rationed but not other grains which can be freely purchased by the people from the open market. Hence some people sell away their rice ration to nearby villages at black market rates for a profit. Whereas in a town like Tanjore which is in a surplus district even half the total supply of rationed rice is not sold at the ration shops. The reasons are that it is invariably of a bad quality and that better rice is available at a cheaper rate in nearby villages.
Thus the rationing scheme always faces the prospect of failure.
The Kisan Sabha has not yet played its part well enough to make the procurement policy successful. It has been explaining to the kisans that they should sell to the Government in order to make rationing successful and hoarding impossible but has not yet succeeded in making the surplus-holders understand clearly why they should do so and what danger is there before them if they do not sell to Government. This deficiency of the Kisan Sabha is due to the fact that previously it had not realised the need for approaching the mirasdars who have most of the surplus stocks and whom it had so long been only opposing so that there were several clashes between the mirasdars on the one side and the tenants and agricultural labourers on the other.
The Kisan Sabha has since changed the policy of indiscriminate attack on the mirasdars and approached the small and middle sections among them. Some of them have been won over. There was a new turn in the Kisan Sabha activities. The rank and file of Congressmen in some areas joined the Kisan Sabha and even became its workers, and local Congress leaders addressed Kisan Sabha meetings.
The new policy of the Kisan Sabha has been of much benefit to the agricultural labourers. They are virtual slaves of the mirasdars who paid them two measures of paddy per day. But now that the middle and small mirasdars are coming to the Sabha, it has been possible for the Kisan Sabha to successfully induce them to raise the wage rate to three measures of paddy and an addition of one anna in cash per day. Even rich mirasdars who have been hostile to the Sabha are now forced to pay the same rate.
If the agricultural labourers have been benefited in this way, the small and middle mirasdars expect to get for themselves something in return for their approach to the Sabha. They wanted to sell their paddy at the control price soon after harvest, and to buy agricultural implements and other esential commodities at controlled prices. Their case has of course been taken up by the Kisan Sabha which is now attracting more and more of them towards itself, even some big mirasdars in Tanjore. This glowing influence will help the Sabha to fight the hoarder and remove the defects of the procurement policy.
In some deficit areas the condition of the poor kisans is not at all good. In Ramnad, Coimbatore and Madura there is scarcity of food grains in certain areas. Cheap grain shops were opened in some places but they did not get regular supply. Permits were required to buy foodgrains from these shops and village officers who issued these permits took advantage of the helplessness of kisans and took 8 annas to one rupee for each permit. The Kisan Sabha agitation stopped this corrupt practice wherever it is strong.
The Kisan Sabha organised Food Committees in a few places which unearthed hoards and agitated for rationing. In one or two places it also organised cooperative stores for distribution of food grains and secured permit to buy and distribute food grains. In one place it got from Government interest-free loan of Rs. 3,000 for distribution among kisans and this increased its prestige.
About 30 thousand kisans including 5,000 women participated in the huge gathering at Jandiala village in Jullundur district where the Punjab Provincial Kisan Conference was in session on 24th and 25th September. Comrade Achchhar Singh Chhina, Vice-President of the All-India Kisan Sabha presided.
The Provincial Kisan Committee covers 17 out of the 29 districts of the Punjab. There were altogether 433 delegates elected in these 17 districts of whom 308 attended the conference. Besides, there were 108 fraternal delegates present. Out of the 29 members of its Working Committee 27 attended. There were over 1,000 volunteers engaged for the various tasks at the conference.
Kisans in large jathas or groups marched from distant places to the conference, some of them covering 50, 80 or even 100 miles. One jatha from Ludhiana was prevented by police at a ferry-crossing of the Sutlej river and therefore failed to reach the conference. Volunteers’ parade or procession was banned by the police.
Over 23,000 meals in all were served to kisans who had come from distant places and had no relatives nearby. Meals were free and consisted of chapati, dal, onion and achar. Free tea was served to delegates and volunteers only in the morning.
Before the conference a presidential procession was organised in which about 3,000 people including 800 women, headed by the President-elect, the Chairman of the Reception Committee, Baba Bhag Singh Canadian, and the Captain of the volunteers, Com. Balip Singh Tapiala, all on horseback. The long procession, three deep, presented a charming and spectacular view. Thousands of spectators gazed from the roadside or housetops at the moving column of the procession with delighted and admiring eyes.
On both the nights of the conference days there were arrangements for cultural performances which included songs and dramas depicting the life and conditions of kisans and other patriots in the village. These were composed mostly by kisan poets and writers. From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and after about 20 thousand spectators were there each day and saw and listened with rapt attention.
Kisan Problems Explained
The addresses of the Chairman and the President and the report of the General Secretary of the Provincial Kisan Committee, Com. Wasdeo Singh, explained the situation and the problems which faced the kisans. They dealt at length with problems like the canal irrigation, grow more food, essential commodities, irrigation tax and the minimum price of wheat.
The kisans present evinced great interest in questions such as the Pakistan demand of the Muslim League and national unity, specially because the conference was held at a time when the Gandhi-Jinnah talks were still going on in Bombay, in addition to their own specific demands. The Unionist Party, the Zamindara League, the Jat Sabha and the Akali Party aroused no less interest in them inasmuch as these organisations are directly or indirectly responsible for their present sufferings and misery. Their patriotic sense was only too eager to hear of and condemn the reactionary moves and mischievous activities of these organisations.
Altogether 23 resolutions were passed by the Conference. These included resolutions which demanded better canal facilities, release of political prisoners and the withdrawal of repressive measures, proper supply and distribution of essential commodities, and adequate compensation for evacuated land, and emphasised certain specific demands of the Status and Doaba kisans. The resolutions were descussed at the Subjects Committee meeting in which many kisan delegates participated, and explained at the kisan rally by various speakers.
The following is taken from the final forecast of the Jute crop for 1944 in Bengal. Cooch Behar and Tripura States, Bihar, Orissa and Assam issued by the Director of Agriculture, Bengal:
The total area is 2,059,555 acres, a decrease of 579,720 acres as compared with the final review figure for 1943. It is estimated that the crop will yeild 5,493,205 bales (400 lbs. each) of jute, a decrease of 1,511,235 bales as compared with the last year’s outturn.
|Province & State||Area in acres||Yield in bales||Yield in bales per acre|
Note: * Including Nepal
The All India Kisan Day was duly observed by the Kisan Sabha in the provinces but report has not been received from all Provincial Kisan Committees.
In Tamilnad hundreds of meetings were held throughout the province—in all places where there is a strong Kisan Sabha unit. Altogether about 50,000 people were approached through these meetings.
In Andhra the Day was observed as a national festival in 143 villages. Processions paraded through villages and people came with offerings of fruits and flowers to greet them as they do to the deities. More than 1,22,000 people were in all approached by Kisan Sabha workers through meetings etc.
In Orissa a number of meetings were held, specially in Puri and Cuttack districts, the biggest of which was the one at Cuttack town attended by 10,000 people.
In Bihar hundreds of meetings and demonstrations were held throughout the province despite ban and restrictions in some of the districts. There was great enthusiasm among the kisans and the people—greatest since the August (1942) days.
In Sind the Day was observed at Tandojam in Nawabshah district.
DRIVE FOR ENROLMENT
There is not much time left before the period for enrolment of primary Kisan Sabha members for the current year expires. But so far the Provincial Kisan Sabhas have not made sufficient efforts in this direction. It is necessary that a vigorous drive is made for enrolment immediately and that it is carried on along with all other campaigns of the Sabha. The PKCs should note that their task is not only to fulfil their respective quotas of membership fixed for them at Bezwada but that each of them should go as far ahead as possible beyond, the fixed quota. Then alone our one million mark will be surpassed.
To build kisan unity through the kisan’s own organisation is the basic task which faces us today when National unity is the key to our National freedom. For broad-based kisan unity kisans must be brought into the Sabha in their millions.
ALL-INDIA KISAN SABHA ORGANISATIONAL REPORTAGE No. 5 (For Members Only) Bombay, 25th January 1945.
C.K.C. MEETING AT CALCUTTA
The Central Kisan Council met at Calcutta on 30th November, 1944. It was preceded by a meeting of the Constitution Sub-Committee of the All-India Kisan Sabha, appointed at the Annual Session at Bezwada, which met at Calcutta on 29th and 30th November, 1944, with Swamiji as president. Among the members of the Sub-Committee Comrades Muzaffar Ahmad, Gopal Haidar (Convenor) and Bankim Mukherji were present. Comrade E. M. S. Namboodiripad, another member, could not attend the meeting owing to his illness at Calicut.
The following comrades also were present at the meeting: Comrades Karyanand Sharma, Rasul, Jagjit Singh, G. Adhikari, K. B. Roy, Keraleeyan, Prasada Rao, Srinivas Rao, Harshdeo Malaviya, Karuna Sindhu Roy, S. V. Parulekar and Mansur Habib.
At the meeting Comrade Gopal Haidar presented to the Sub-Committee an amended draft of the AIKS Constitution which was prepared by him and Com. Muzaffar Ahmad.
A point of order was raised before the discussion started: Whether, in view of the fact that the time fixed for the preparation of the draft in the Bezwada resolution has not been duly observed, the authority of the Sub-Committee has not lapsed and therefore formally and constitutionally this draft cannot be now presented or accepted.
The ruling given by the Chair was that the draft could not be presented by the Sub-Committee to the AIKC but to the CKC which can accept it for submission to the next Annual Session.
Before proceeding further Swamiji wanted to draw the attention of the comrades to the Bezwada resolution which says that “the Kisan Sahha has begun to draw from different political platforms persons to serve the cause of the kisans.” He proceeded: “But now we find that some Congress workers are holding their conferences and a new situation has arisen. It seems the situation has worsened. So while amending the Constitution we should take into consideration this new situation.”
He specially mentioned two points:
- That the AIKS Constitution should be of a federal character.
- That the political resolution should be binding on all members of the Kisan Sahha. The Kisan Sabha will nullify itself unless it takes note of the political situation in the country and resolve on it. Its political resolutions must, however, be binding for all its members.
He suggested that to pass the political resolution the majority required should be not a bare majority but a special majority as is provided in the Trade Union Congress Constitution. He further remarked: “We should try to frame our Constitution on the line of the Soviet Constitution which is flexible.”
The draft was discussed on 29th and 30th November when it was accepted by the Sub-Committee and presented to the Central Kisan Council which met the same day.
CENTRAL KISAN COUNCIL
The Central Kisan Council met on 30th November with Swamiji in the chair. The following members were present: Comrades 1, Bankim Mukherji, 2. Muzaffar Ahmad. 3. S. V. Parulekar, 4. M. A. Rasul, 5. Jagjit Singh, 6. Karyanand Sharma, 7. Harshdeo Malaviya, 8. Keraleeyan, 9. Mansur Habib, 10. N. Prasada Rao, 11. Jamuna Karjee, 12. Krishna Binode Ray and 13. Karuna Sindhu Roy.
Comrades G. Adhikari and B. Srinivas Rao also attended the meeting on invitation.
The meeting of the Council concluded on 3rd December, 1944.
The Council first discussed the question of the next Annual Session. Com. Keraleeyan, President of the All-Kerala Kisan Sangham, informed in a letter that he had a talk with an Adviser to the Governor of Madras who refused permission to hold the Session in Kerala.
So it was decided that the General Secretary should write a letter to the Madras Government and the Government of India protesting against the refusal and asking for the revision of that decision. It was further decided that failing Kerala the Session should be held in Bengal of which the PKC representative invited it at the meeting.
A resolution was also adopted protesting against the Madras Government’s attitude.
The time-table for enrolment and elections for the next Session was then fixed up.
Another resolution was passed formally authorising Com. Parulekar, Treasurer, and Com. Rasul, Joint Secretary, to open an account in the Central Bank of India on behalf of the All-India Kisan Sabha.
It was decided that the Draft Constitution sould be rearranged and some notes appended to the draft explaining the changes introduced in it in order to facilitate the discussion of the draft by the PKCs and AIKC members to whom it should be circulated. Swamiji suggested that in preparing it for circulation help should be sought from Com. Adhikari.
He further pointed out that on the Kisan Flag question the Sabha had adopted a statement in 1937 which said that while the Red Flag is the flag of the Kisan Sabha, the Sabha also honours the National Flag. In some such way the idea should be restated in the Constitution too.
Comrade Rasul then read out the report of the General Secretary which gave an account of the Sabha’s activities in the provinces since Bezwada. The report was adopted with some modifications in it.
Apart from the resolutions mentioned above the following; resolutions were also unanimously accepted by the Council:
- One protesting against the continued ban on Congress and demanding the release of Congress leaders.
- One congratulating Congressmen on their decision to organise kisans and repudiating charges against the Kisan Sabha and restating the Kisan Sabha policy.
- One demanding the release of Com. Iravat Singh, the Manipur leader.
- One protesting against the Government of India refusing permission to import machinery for the manufacture of Atebrin in India and demanding the same.
- One on Sugarcane.
The Agricultural Labour Sub-Committee and the Commercial Crops Sub-Committee did not meet formally but the CKC took note that the questionnaires circulated on agricultural labour and commercial crops had not been answered by the PKCs, and considered it necessary that the PKCs should immediately collect information on the questions as far as possible and report to the CKC whatever they have been able to gather. The Sugarcane questionnaire is to be modified and recirculated.
It was reported to the Central Kisan Council that the Travancore, Cochin and Malabar Kisan Sabhas had decided between themselves to work separately in their respective areas, each with direct affiliation to the AIKS, for otherwise they had to face difficulties in their work arising out of the administrative differences of those areas. The Council postponed the decision till the next Annual Session.
I. REFUSAL OF PERMISSION FOR NEXT SESSION IN KERALA
The All-India Kisan Sabha in its last Session at Bezwada had decided to hold its next Annual Session in Kerala. But the Government of Madras has refused permission for holding the Session there on grounds which in the opinion of the Central Kisan Council are flimsy. The Council strongly resents this provocative attitude of the Madras Government and its uncalled for attempt at encroachment upon the civil liberties of the people.
The Council, however, authorises the General Secretary to write to the Government of India and the Madras Government protesting against the refusal and asking for their revision of that decision.
Pending that, the Council accepts the invitation of the Bengal Provincial Kisan Sabha to hold the Session in Bengal in case the Madras Government finally refuses the permission.
II. ELECTION TIME-TABLE
The Central Kisan Council fixes the following dates for the enrolment of primary Kisan Sabha members and for the various elections etc. for the next Annual Session of the All-India Kisan Sabha:
- Last date for enrolment.. 15.1.1945
- Total membership figure of each PKS and money quota due to the AIKC on membership account to reach the Central Office by 5.2.1945
- Number of delegates alloted to each PKS for election to be communicated to it by the Central Office by… 12.2.1945
- Election of delegates to be completed by.. 28.2.1945
- List of delegates along with disputes on their election, if any, as well as the presidential nomination to reach the Central office by.. 7.3.1945
- List of candidates for presidential election to be published by.. 10.3.1945
- Delegates’ fee to reach the Central Office by.. 14.3.1945
- Election of AIKC members and the president on.. 15.3.1945
- Result of presidential election to reach the Central Office (if necessary, by wire) by.. 20.3.1945
- Presidential election to be announced on.. 22.3.1945
- List of AIKC members to reach the Central Office by.. 22.3.1945
III RELEASE AND NATIONAL UNITY
The Central Kisan Council protests against the continued ban on the organisation and the activities of the Indian National Congress and regards it as an unwarranted attack against democratic rights and liberties. The Council demands the cancellation of this ban, for which there was never any justification. It also demands the immediate release of all the Working Committee members and all Congress workers who have been detained and imprisoned since August, 1942. The Council is of the opinion that the continuance of the ban and the incarceration of the Congress leaders and workers simply aggravates the economic and political crisis obtaining in the country.
The Council appeals to all people and parties to join together in these demands for the removal of the ban and for the release of Congress leaders and workers as the same will immediately create a favourable atmosphere for resumption of efforts for securing National Unity to end the deadlock and to establish a National Government enjoying the confidence of the entire people.
IV. KISAN SABHA AND CONGRESSMEN
The Central Kisan Council notes with satisfaction that the conferences of released Congressmen in different provinces have decided to take up the task of organising kisans and landless labourers for their urgent and basic demands as a part of the programme of reorganising and strengthening the Congress.
It is natural therefore that Congressmen desirous of serving and organising the kisans should turn to the All-India Kisan Sabha, the only countrywide organisation of the kisans, and seek to work through it. But certain interested groups and persons are attempting to start a rival organisation and are seeking to persuade Congressmen to join the same by misrepresenting, to them the policy, propaganda and practice of the All-India Kisan Sabha.
The Council draws the attention of all Congressmen to the resolution on the “Kisan Sabha Policy” passed by the last Annual Session of the Sabha which repudiated similar misrepresentations and allegations against the Sabha. Any attempt to form a rival Kisan Sabha will be a signal disservice to the country and to the kisans who will resent it as an attempt to disrupt their unity and organisation which they have built with so much sacrifice and toil.
The policy, programme and the practice of the All-India Kisan Sabha are broad-based. Its doors are open to every lover of freedom, to whatever party or political trend he may belong, to come into the Sabha and serve the kisans by organising them for the achievement of their demands, viz., the abolition of landlordism, feudal oppression, serfdom etc., without which no plan of National Reconstruction, of raising the standard of living of our entire people will ever succeed.
In the present situation when dire food crisis, famine and epidemic continue to dominate the countryside, and place untold suffering on the shoulders of our already poverty-stricken kisans and landless labourers, the Kisan Sabha comes forward to organise and unite them to put forth positive effort to secure relief for themselves and ensure food for the entire people.
The Kisan Sabha rouses the kisans to fight against high prices of industrial goods and against profiteers, hoarding and black-marketeering in food-grains etc. which are aggravating their miseries and depriving them even of their land. The passing of land out of the hands of the kisans due to this and various other factors is assuming alarming proportions in certain provinces. The Kisan Sabha is fighting to put a stop to the process which threatens to knock out the very base of our agrarian economy, and appeals to all lovers of freedom and well-wishers of kisans to join in this work.
The Kisan Sabha units help in the work of famine and epidemic relief, of rehabilitation in devastated areas, together with other popular relief organisations, and organise a self-help movement of the kisans towards the same end.
The Kisan Sabha, while exposing the malpractices and inefficiencies of the present procurement schemes, unites the kisans to grow more food. It fights against nepotism in the Government “Grow More Food” measures so as to ensure to all kisans, whether rich or poor, all the facilities afforded by the same to secure maximum production of food for the benefit of the kisan and the people.
The Kisan Sabha organises committees to ensure that industrial necessaries like salt, cloth, oil, sugar etc. are made available to the rural population at reasonable and controlled prices.
The Kisan Sabha unites the kisans to fight against every form of oppression by landlords, their agents and by the officials, and inspires confidence in them so that they can by their own united effort not only save themselves from the present crisis but play a great role in rousing the rest of the people to similar effort.
The Council, therefore, appeals to all patriots and political workers of all parties to join the Kisan Sabha or otherwise help in this practical work which the Kisan Sabha is doing in these days of stress and to help in the building of the powerful mass movement which cannot but play a great role in the fight for the freedom of the country.
V. FOR RELEASE OF COMRADE IRAVAT SINGH
The Central Kisan Council demands the release of Com. Iravat Singh, the veteran kisan leader and the leader of the Manipur State people, who has been detained without trial since May last.
Com. Iravat Singh was working in the kisan cause in the Surma Valley on his release from jail followed by externment from Manipur. True to his own people and to his sense of patriotism he threw himself into the work of rousing men and women against the Jap aggressors when his own homeland, Manipur, was menaced last summer. The bureaucracy, as is not unusual with it, threw him back into prison instead of welcoming his activities, and have kept him in detention without trial. Curiously, again, Com. Iravat Singh’s appeal to his own people of Manipur, urging them to fight the Japanese aggressors by all means, was being distributed by the same authorities in thousands of copies to the Manipur people.
The Kisan Sabha, in protesting against this perverse and unjust bureaucratic measure, demands of the Government of India the immediate release of Com. Iravat Singh, an honest fighter in the cause of his country and the kisans.
VI. IMPORT OF MACHINERY FOR MANUFACTURE OF ATEBRIN
The Central Kisan Council strongly protests against the Government of India’s refusal to grant the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, permission for importing machinery for manufacturing Atebrin, a valuable and cheap drug for the cure of Malaria. At a time when in the provinces of Bengal and Behar lakhs of kisans and land-labourers and others are affected by malaria and when sufficient quantities of quinine are not available, this refusal to allow this import on the plea of lack of shipping space, especially when the weight of the entire machinery is only 27 tons, is nothing short of callous.
The Council demands that permission be at once given to the Institute and the necessary shipping priorities be issued to it to facilitate the speedy import of the said machinery.
VII. OPENING A BANK ACCOUNT
The Central Kisan Council hereby authorises Comrade S. V. Parulekar, Treasurer of the All-India Kisan Sabha, to open a Current Account with the Central Bank of India on behalf of the Sabha. The Treasurer will receive, issue and sign cheques and drafts on behalf of the Sabha and withdraw money from the Bank, whenever that is necessary for the Sabha’s work, under the joint signatures of himself and Comrade M. A. Rasul, Joint Secretary of the Sabha.
The Kisan Sabha has persistently demanded the fixation of sugar cane price which not only satisfied the agreed cost of cane cultivation but insures to the growers a reasonable margin together with interest on the capital invested in cane cultivation and lands. It has also opposed the Gur Control Order because it has resulted in not only adversely affecting the Gur industry and ruining the Gur manufacturers but has forced the consumers of importing areas to pay an abnormally high price for Gur. This Gur control order has practically placed the growers of non-mill areas at the sweet will and mercy of the open-pare factories and Khandsaries.
But the Government has turned a deaf ear to all these and has arbitrarily fixed a miserably low price which is far below even the bare cost of cane production. It has enforced also the Gur control order mercilessly with the result that the cane cultivation has gone down considerably betraying all signs of further deterioration. All these are bound to lead ultimately to the ruination of the sugar industry. To add insult to injury, the Government have, in Behar and U.P., enforced a deduction of 2 to 3 annas per maund of cane in the name of the so-called national savings certificates which is being resented by all concerned. The CKC condemns the entire policy of the Government with regard to sugar industry and demands its immediate reversal.
The CKC painfully learnt that in the Punjab certain sugar mills are not prepared to pay even the low price of about 14 annas per maund of cane and unless the same is appreciably lowered, they have threatened to close their mills. Such mills deserve nothing but condemnation from the Council.
The Council also condemns the action of the Gwalior State in not only fixing a very low and unremunerative price of cane but also in banning its export outside the State and the manufacture of Gur as well as starting of any new mill within the State during the coming 30 years and thereby creating a monopoly for the sugar mill recently started with Government patronage at Mandasaur. The Council demands the withdrawal of these bans.
The Council further expresses its deep concern over the sad plight of the growers of the Thummapola (Andhra) sugar factory areas who were, during the last year’s crushing season, forced to let their 6,000 tons of cane dry in the fields owing to Government ban on Gur manufacture and the refusal of the mill to crush it. The Council demands that adequate compensation for the same be paid forthwith.
GENERAL SECRETARY’S REPORT
Since the Bezawada Session the situation in the country has been marked by certain important events. The Japanese thrust into Manipur took place in March. The people of Assam and Bengal were particularly stirred by it and widespread anti-Jap feeling had to be roused among them, for otherwise there was a chance of the famine-stricken people falling into the trap of pro-Jap propaganda that the Japanese were coming with Burma rice, etc. The invaders, however, have since been driven away.
The food situation has improved in all provinces to some extent. Rationing has been introduced more widely. But the situation is not at all stable yet and requires a great deal to be achieved before it is stabilised. Hoarders and profiteers have not been suppressed. Black market is still rampant.
The epidemic situation has not improved, it has rather worsened. Nearly half the entire population of Bengal is suffering from malaria and medical relief is very scanty as compared to the need. In Bihar last year’s situation of Bengal is repeated; food shortage and malnutrition lead to wide-spread outbreak of malaria and cholera to which lacs of people, specially kisans of North Bihar, fall victim. Kerala is getting more rice than before but not yet enough for all the people.
While there is no guaranteed stability of whatever improvement has been recorded, the procurement, distribution, rationing, production and price control of food as well as the supply of food and other commodities and rehabilitation of the millions of destitutes in Bengal are still left mainly in the hands of the bureaucracy. The bungling continues as the great patriotic organisations, specially Congress, have not taken the questions seriously enough.
Gandhiji was released in May and his release inspired great Ropes all over the country, and even abroad, for unity between the Congress and the Muslim League. The leaders of these two organisations met and discussed but ultimately failed to agree. The frustration and demoralisation which prevailed in the country but considerably subsided for a while during the Gandhi-Jinnah talks revived and intensified following the failure.
The international situation has, however, greatly changed with the clearance of the Soviet soil of Nazi invaders and the liberation of France and other countries of Europe. This alone perhaps lends a bright spot to the gloomy picture of our national life.
The Kisan Sabha has been during this period carrying on Its work in the different provinces on the basis of the Bezwada decisions such as procurement, rationing, reasonable prices, grow more food, essential commodities, anti-hoarding, relief and rehabilitation. The Central Office studied the situation in the provinces with the help of whatever little report it got from the provinces while trying to get more detailed informations from them. It helped them to see where any one of them failed or was in error and how to improve its work. It also set and explained tasks for them.
Important reports from the provinces were abridged and circulated through the organisational Reportage to all provincial and district units and to members of the CKC and the AIKC. This was intended to keep them informed of what was happening to the kisans in the various provinces and what experience our comrades were gathering from their campaigns and activities. In the Reportage some general issues before the Kisan Sabha were also discussed and explained.
WEAKNESS OF PKSS
As part of their job questionnaires were prepared by comrades commissioned for it on behalf of the Agricultural Labour Sub-Committee and the Money Crops Sub-Committee which were circulated for answer from the PKCs early in June. These questionnaires dealt with agricultural labour, sugar-cane, tobacco, jute and cotton. So far no answer has been received from any PKC to any one of them.
Through Reportage No. 2 further questionnaires were issued on 1. Fighting Famine, 2. Food Procurement and Distribution, 3. Essential Commodities, 4. Grow More Food, 5. Eviction and Enhancement of Rent, 6. National Savings Certificate and 7. National Unity. These also have been hardly answered.
This shows the organisational weakness of the PKCs. It means there are either too few competent hands or none to be spared for studying the questions and answering them properly.
Following the decision at Bezwada that the AIKS Constitution should be amended and that the amended draft of it should be passed by the AIKC, a draft amendment was prepared by Comrades Muzaffar Ahmad and Gopal Haidar. The draft was duly circulated to the members of the Sub-Committee and had to be discussed by it and after it by the CKC and the AIKC. Hence in July (22nd) it was proposed that the three bodies should meet in the U.P., for on the invitation by the U.P. comrades there was an understanding at Bezwada that the AIKC should meet in their province.
It had almost been settled that the meetings would soon take place at Lucknow when on 10th August Swamiji wrote that they need not be held unless “the prominent comrades of the C.P. belonging to the Kisan Sabha” previously agreed that a federal constitution was acceptable to them. The proposal for the meetings was therefore dropped for the time being and revived simultaneously by the Central Office and Swamiji in mid-October. But this time only the Constitution Sub-Committee and the CKC were to meet and not the AIKC. The other Sub-Committees have also been called since except one all their members are CKC members as well.
Our Andhra comrades wrote to the Central Office on 28-8-44 and to Swamiji also that a Press statement had been issued in three Madras dailies including one Telugu paper to the effect that the “All-India Kisan Congress” “inaugurated at Faizpur in December 1936” had begun to function again with its headquarters at Nidubrolu (Prof. Ranga’s home). For this purpose the nucleus of an Organising Committee had been formed with members from Andhra, Tamilnad and Karnataka. These people belonged to Prof. Ranga’s group. This was evidently an attempt to disrupt the Kisan Sabha on an all-India scale.
The statement sought to misrepresent the Kisan Sabha and to create confusion about it. A letter was at once written to those three dailies in which the KS position was explained and clarified. Of these three the Telugu paper alone—The “Andhra Prabha” — published it in full on 31-8-44.
We have since received report that a paper organisation has been formed by the Kisan Congresswallas in Kerala as their Kerala branch. Recently it was found in a Press report that its provincial branch had been started in C.P. also.
The Bihar PKC recently reported that the Forward Blocists and the CSPers were whispering about starting a rival to the AIKS. It appears that the frustration and demoralisation which have pervaded the national life since the failure of the 9th August struggle goad them to play havoc with the life of the people and to create disruption in every sphere of the national life.
The greatest possibility of disruptive efforts however comes from a least suspected source. The Bombay Congressmen’s Conference held at the end of October decided to work among the kisans. They do not clearly say whether they would join the KS and work through it as they specially mention the Trade Union Congress while expressing their intention to work among the factory workers. This discrimination naturally does not rule out grounds for suspicion of disruptive intentions.
These facts, ominous enough in themeslves, do not however lead us far towards a definite conclusion. All we can do now is to keep our door open as usual to all who join the Sabha honestly to serve the interests of the kisans; may, we are ready to welcome such people. We should, however, sound a note of warning that any rivalry to the AIKS and attempt at disrupting kisan unity will not only not be tolerated but strongly resented from whatever source they emanate.
The Bezwada decision on kisan and national unity has been seriously implemented by PKCs some of which specially campaigned for promoting unity between the Hindu and the Muslim masses as well as between the Congress and the Muslim League- In many places their campaign bore fruit.
In some of the provinces the PKS executive and conferences as well as the district and other units passed resolutions advocating communal and national unity and welcoming Gandhi-Jinnah talks for a settlement. These PKSs include Bihar, Bengal Andhra, and Punjab.
SELF-DETERMINATION OF MUSLIMS
The latest Bengal report says that the Muslim kisans who are in the Sabha wish that the AIKS should accept the right to self-determination of the Muslims and that accordingly some DKCs have made recommendation to the CKC to that effect.
THREE PROVINCIAL CASES
Before giving an account of the Provincial Sabhas three special cases may be briefly related here:
- The All-Kerala Kisan Sangham reports that owing to practical difficulties in its functioning together as one unit of the Kisan Sabha, it decided to work separately in Malabar (British) and Travancore and Cochin States which are three different administrative areas. The representatives of the three areas discussed in May last how they could function better without the present difficulties. They arrived at the decision that they should be affiliated to the AIKS separately and independently and operate as such. The case is now before the CKC for approval.
- The North-West Frontier Province had an Organising Committee of the KS. But at the end of June the Committee met and decided that on account of the internal trouble which existed there it should be dissolved. Along with a brief report to that effect it was suggested that a fresh Organising Committee might be set up by the Centre.
On the matter being then reported to Swamiji he wrote to the Central Office on 28-7-44 that he might deal with the province himself and was already in communication with one of the comrades there. Since then nothing had been heard of it till Swamiji in his letter dated 19-10-44 asked the Central Office to specially invite one of two comrades named by him from the Frontier Province to participate in the CKC meeting.
- As there was some rivalry between two Kisan Sabha organisations in Indore State, one of which was affiliated to the AIKS, it was decided at Bezwada that Coms. Parulekar and Bhartiya should take up the case and bring about a settlement between them. Before they could visit the place Swamiji availed himself of the opportunity of his visit to Gwalior early in June and brought the two organisations together. An Organising Committee was formed in his presence with members from both the groups which agreed to dissolve their respective organisations then existing.
The Organising Committee has however been hardly functioning, at least no report of its activities has so far been received.
Then there was a third Kisan Sabha, conducted by the local Prajamandal which was illegal. That Kisan Sabha is still functioning.
(After this comes the report on the activities of the various Provincial Kisan Sabhas—Andhra, Bengal, Tamilnad, Kerala, Bihar, Maharashtra, Punjab, U.P. and Surma Valley—their successes and failures, their strength and weakness etc. In the case of most of the provinces this report is somewhat like an abridged form of what has already appeared about them in the Reportage. Hence it is omitted here. Some of the reports of the provinces which have not come out in the Reportage already will be published in the next issue of the Reportage along with, other provincial reports.)
It is a problem with the Centre how to develop these (undeveloped) provinces. Left to themselves as they are at present, they will have no chance to grow in the immediate future. They need help from the Centre. And the kind of help they need is regular guidance from efficient organizers who should be provided by the Centre and posted to work in these provinces. But no such organisers can be found who will be spared by any major province at the present moment.
The alternative to such an arrangement is to leave them as they are, to help them as far as possible through correspondence and to arrange for an occasional visit by some leading comrade when that is possible. Even then such a visit if utilised only for addressing a mass meeting or two of kisans will not take them far ahead. It is necessary for such a comrade to devote some time to study and explain to the workers on the spot what are the real problems of the kisans and the people and how those problems should be dealt with. Then alone they will understand their job as Kisan Sabha workers, and when it is understood they will be able to do it effectively.
This is the main organisational problem which faces the Central Office at the present moment.
The reports from the provinces, though very meagre and incomplete, make it quite clear that the greatest hardship and oppression to which the kisans are subjected today are the result of the bureaucratic handling of the questions of the procurement of food grains, the supply of essential commodities and the facilities for increasing food production.
The kisans are most vitally interested in the successful procurement and distribution of food, fair price for their produce, reasonable prices and adequate supply of essential commodities, the stopping of hoarding and profiteering, and the necessary facilities for grow more food in the absence of which they are bound to go down further in their wretched condition. They are in the most urgent need of help in all these matters, to overcome the difficulties of which will also enable them to save themselves from the tyranny of landlords and money-lenders.
But to render this help requires the Kisan Sabha workers to study these new problems in detail in the light of the new situation. Otherwise the problems cannot be tackled successfully and they can bring little relief to the kisans. This is the most pressing task before us for building the Kisan Sabha organisation in the present situation as well as for saving them from starvation and epidemics. And it is through this study and its activities based on the study that the Kisan Sabha can make its greatest contribution to the well-being and happiness of the kisans in a future India.
THE CONGRESS AND THE KISAN SABHA
It is gratifying to note that Mahatma Gandhi has admitted that the Congress stands for the Kisan-Mazdoor-Praja Raj in India. He has further admitted that land should not belong to the absentee landlord and that Zemindari system has to be abolished. He has also recognised the right of the class organisations like the Kisan Sabha to have their class emblem or flag side by side with the National emblem. All this on the one hand. On the other he has advised Congressmen to organise the Kisans including landless labourers on the basis of the ways and means adopted to solve their day-to-day problems and grievances. And Congressmen too have held and are holding conferences throughout the country to come to a definite decision regarding the line to be adopted in this connection.
In the circumstances it is but natural that they should turn to the All-India Kisan Sabha, the only existing organisation of the Kisans in the country, before taking up a definite stand in the matter. It is at this stage that various voices and opinions for and against the Kisan Sabha are heard and Congressmen are accordingly advised to join the same or organise a brand- new Kisan Sabha or re-organise it under a different name. While so doing the advocates of the rival Kisan Sabha which is practically the same thing as its re-organisation under a new title, level charges against the All-India Kisan Sabha that it has become anti-national and anti-Congress and a mere prop of imperialist leadership, especially during the post-August days, and so on and so forth. Thus it is sought ot persuade Congressmen to join forces in organising a rival Kisan Sabha as a wing of the Congress or otherwise. Hence some clarification on our part is urgently needed.
The policy, programme and practice of the All-India Kisan Sabha are broadbased and its doors are ever not only open to all anti-imperialists and lovers of India’s freedom, but they are always welcome. The very creed of the Sabha emphasises this point by laying down that “The object of the Sabha is to establish, in conjunction particularly with the movement for national freedom, a democratic state in India.” But because much capital has been made out of the supposed war policy of the Sabha, it is but meet and proper to narrate the barest facts in brief.
As far back as February 1942 the Sabha thus declared its considered view with regard to the much-debated ‘imperialist war versus people’s war’ slogan: “Considerations of military strategy and imperialist security have combined with the pressure of their freedom-loving people to align Britain and America with Russia and China in their fight against the Axis-powers.” “A war of this unparalleled magnitude against totalitarian Fascist states can only be successfully prosecuted with the willing and whole-hearted co-operation of all sections of the people in the true interest of their freedom and wll-being. It is such a people’s war that is being successfully waged by Russia….Similarly this war can effectively be converted into an Indian people’s war only when it is fought under the leadership of a national government and with the willing and hearty co-operation of the people of India.”
And as regards our attitude towards war-efforts, while the Kisans have been asked only to “render all possible aid to Russia and China and help to organise the Friends of the Soviet Union,” it has been laid down expressly that “Armed resistance can, however, be organised only on the basis of National Government.” And if we have not supported or opposed war efforts as such it is simply because we prefer no slavery, either existing one or fresh.
And even during the post-August days a good number of our best workers in Shahabad, Gaya and other districts of Bihar could not escape the anger of the mighty bureaucracy and were tried, persecuted and imprisoned. This was the case more or less in some other provinces too. Is this the proof of the Kisan Sabha having become a mere prop of imperialist leadership or having gone anti-national and anti-Congress? The history itself of the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha since its very inception in 1929 and later on that of the All-India Kisan Sabha is the positive proof, if any proof is needed, of how the Sabha has, from time to time, applied to itself a self-denying ordinance and helped every national movement initiated by the Congress including the Assembly elections. Congressmen themselves can bear witness to it. Therefore there is no reason, I venture to say, on the part of Congressmen to decry and outlaw the All-India Kisan Sabha and form a new one.
But as regards its being made organically a wing of the Congress, I make bold to say that it will not pay in the long run. Rather the move will naturally encourage other parties and groups, which do not see unfortunately eye to eye with the Congress in matters political, to organise similar Kisan Sabhas as their own wings, with the inevitable result that instead of there being a solid mass organisation of the Kisans only confusion and disruption will rule supreme and our entire energy is bound to be wasted in vilifying one another even from, and in the name of, the mass and class platforms. This will be a distinct disservice to the noble ideal of freedom we all love and aspire after. In this connection I am happy to state that some of the tallest Congressmen in Bihar and U.P. have expressed to me their considered personal opinion against the formation of the rival Kisan Sabha, and at least one of them has emphatically expressed himself against the Kisan Sabha being organically connected with the Congress. But if Congressmen everywhere join the Sabha in a body and organise it in right earnest, their purpose will be served even without turning it into a regular wing of the Congress, I am confident.
Then, again, with a view to allay their fear that the existing majority of a particular political party in the Kisan Sabha may try to impose in the beginning its political line and policy on the Congressmen joining the Kisan Sabha, a three-fourths or some such majority is proposed to be incorporated in the Sabha’s Constitution for any political resolution to get passed. Similarly, other basic changes too in it are going to be shortly introduced which will enable fully the Primary Kisan Sabhas formed independently in a group of villages to get themselves directly affiliated to and represented in the All-India Kisan Sabha and Provincial Kisan Sabhas, and not through the Thana and District Kisan Sabha as at present. This process will result in fully reflecting the actual strength of each party and group, on the basis of its work, in the highest organs of the Sabha, and thus the group that is most active is bound to dominate it very soon.
Therefore I venture to make an earnest appeal to all patriots and political workers of various parties and groups in general and Congressmen in particular to join the Kisan Sabha or otherwise help it in its practical work of serving the Kisans during these days of stress and strain, and thus to contribute their full force in the building of a solid and well-knit mass movement which cannot but play a historic role in the impending light for freedom of the country.
Bihta, Patna SWAMI SAHAJANAND SARASWATI, (Bihar) President, 17-12-44 ALL-INDIA KISAN SABHA
MAHARASHTRA KISAN CONFERENCE
The first session of the Maharashtra Provincial Kisan Conference was held at Titwala, in Thana district, on 6th and 7th January last, under the presidentship of Com. Teja Singh Swatantra (Punjab). About 8,000 kisans rallied at the open sesssion on the 7th of whom at least 80% were actual cultivators. Quite a number of these kisans came on foot from distant places, some walking about 100 miles, such as those from Ahmednagar district. For such comrades over 4,500 meals had to be served in all.
Of the 175 delegates elected for the conference as many as 127 attended the conference representing all the 10 districts of the province except Kolaba. Between 50 and 60 per cent of these delegates were actual cultivators and of them at least 25 actively participated in the discussion of resolutions at the Subjects Committee meeting which was all along marked by dignity and lively interest. There were 15 fraternal delegates present at the Conference including Comrades N. M. Joshi of the All- India Trade Union Congress and B. T. Ranadive of the Communist Party. Com. M. A. Rasul of the All-India Kisan Sabha hoisted the Red Flag.
The Kisan Sabha work is just beginning in Maharashtra and so far it had hardly any tradition of the movement. Hence for the preparation of the Conference tremendous campaigning had to be done. Every village within a radius of ten miles from Titwala was covered by the Kisan Sabha workers who carried on the propaganda in about 500 villages altogether. In spite of an unusual cold wave which visited the place at the time of the conference there was great enthusiasm among the kisans.
The resolution passed at the conference mostly dealt with kisan interests of the province—against forced labour of agricultural labourers and Adivasis (tribal people of a particular area), for the enforcement of the Debt Relief Act, for the reduction of heavy rent, on the procurement of foodgrains etc.
Among the messages of good will received for the conference were those from the President of the Maharashtra Provincial Congress Committee, the Muslim League, and Mr. S. A. Brelvi, the editor the Bombay Chronicle. Besides, Comrades N. M. Joshi and Ranadive greeted the conference in person on behalf of the Trade Union Congress and the Communist Party respectively.
An Executive Committee was elected for the next year. Comrades Boa Naule, S. V. Parulekar and Godavari Parulekar were elected President, General Secretary and Joint Secretary respectively.
A pictorial exhibition was organised by the Friends of the Soviet Union which was seen by 850 people. They highly appreciated the life of the people of the Soviet Union which was represented in the exhibition in its various aspects.
On the night of 7th January, after the open session was over, cultural performances were given by some kisan and other comrades—music, dance, and a musical dialogue which represented an old and popular Marathi cultural form. Some of these were specially composed for the conference. The performances were excellent. Some songs, freshly composed by Comrade Shaikh, became extremely popular.
NOTICE TO PKCs
The PKCs will please send their reports for the next issue of the Reportage as soon as possible after the receipt of the present issue.
The PKCs will further note that their annual report must reach this office by the end of February without fail. Otherwise they will not help us in preparing the annual report to the next Annual Session which comes off early in April next.
The annual contribution to the All-India Kisan Committee fixed at Bezwada has not yet been received at the Central Office from any of the PKCs except the Punjab PKC. It is already overdue and must be remitted without delay.
Money quota dues on the primary membership account along with the membership figures of the Provincial Sabhas must reach the Central Office by 5th February next without fail. Afterwards they will not be accepted.
ALL-INDIA KISAN SABHA The Draft Questionnaires
A. The wages which the agricultural labourers are getting and their relation to the cost of living.
B. Housing of labourers and allied questions on their living conditions.
C. Social oppression of labourers.
D. A charter of general demands of labourers.
- What is the total number of agricultural labourers in your province whose principal means of livelihood is agricultural labour?
- What is their total number with dependents?
- What is the proportion of agricultural labourers including dependents to total population?
- What is their percentage of total agricultural population?
- Is their number increasing? Since when? Why increasing? What class of people is swelling their number?
- Do they belong to any particular community or communities in your province? If so, what are the conditions of those communities in regard to social status, education, employment in Government services etc.?
- What is the social and economic status of the employers of these labourers generally?
- What are the social relations between the agricultural labourers and their usual employers?
Wages and Employment
- What are the rates of wages of agricultural labourers given in 1943 a. in the sowing season, b. in the harvesting season, and c. off season?
- What are the rates of wages paid in (a), (b) and (c) above in 1939 (before war) and 1942 (before food crisis)?
- How are wages paid generally—in cash or kind or both? Which is preferred by labourers and why?
- What is the prevailing system of employment: a. by the job or by the time? b. for a whole year, for a season or as day labourer? c. which is preferred by labourers? d. How do rates of wages of these categories vary?
- How many days in a year are the average duration of employment of an agricultural day labourer?
- Do women of agricultural labourer families work as wage-earners along with their male folk? For what kind of work are they usually employed?
- Is there any difference in the rate of wages paid to male and female labourers doing same amount of work or working same number of hours?
Cost of Living
- What is the cost of living of an agricultural labourer a. at present, b. in pre-war days of 1939 and c. in pre-food crisis days of 1942?
- Give family budget of five typical agricultural labourer families living in different areas.
(NOTE: Actual change in the cost of living is to be calculated on the basis of an average family budget in pre-war days of 1939 and the change in prices since then in pre-food crisis days of 1942, during food crisis of 1943, and the present. If such calculation is not possible, give local retail prices of 10 or 12 essential commodities of these various period and the corresponding rates of wages.)
- Do labourers live in a. their own houses, b. rented houses belonging to landlords, or c. houses belonging to their employers? If in all kinds of houses, give approximate proportion of each.
- What is the rate of rent they have to pay?
(NOTE: To describe condition of dwelling huts please give floor-area of the rooms, height, number of rooms in a house, number of occupants—adults and minors, outer space, arrangement for drinking and bathing water and sanitary condition. If possible, send some photos of typical dwelling houses along with their occupants.)
- What facilities are given to them for education?
- What changes have war and the food crisis brought to their living conditions?
- What are the methods and types of social oppression which the labourers have to face? —untouchability, drawing water from well, free social intercourse with other people in educational institutions or temples etc., living in the village with other people, shopping and marketing with other people, for purchasing daily necessaries, etc.
- Which class is their main oppressor? Social treatment of agricultural labourers by their usual employers?
- How far are labourers conscious of the oppression? Has there been any organised or spontaneous rising against it?
Charter of Demands
- Draw up a charter of demands of agricultural labourers on whose basis you think you can mobilise them in your province?
a. Agricultural labourers joining Kisan Sabha and no separate Agricultural Labourers’ Association.
b. Organising them in separate Agricultural Labourers’ Association which should be affiliated to Kisan Sabha.
c. Organisng them in associations but affiliating these associations to Trade Union Congress.
If you prefer (a), how will you guarantee that the specific demands of agricultural labourers shall not be neglected by the Kisan Sabha? If (c), how will you co-ordinate the work of Kisan Sabha and Agricultural Labourers’ Association?
I. ON COMMERCIAL CROPS
The following questionnaires have been drafted to implement the Bezwada Resolution (No. XX) on commercial crops. The purpose of the questionnaires and the investigation which is to be undertaken on their basis is to ascertain the actual cost of production of sugarcane and gur, of cotton, of jute, and of tobacco, as well as the prices they fetch, and whether in the changed conditions since 1939 the producers of these crops are losing or gaining and to what extent they are doing so.
The investigation will be incomplete and the purpose of the resolution will not be served unless we collect corresponding figures for the changing cost of living since 1939.
All the costs and wage rates involved in the production of the crops as well as the prices of the essential commodities used by the growers are to be calculated from year to year since 1939 with special reference to the changes that came with the war and the food crisis. Then alone the actual cost of production can be ascertained in relation to the changed cost of living.
While calculating wages it is necessary to state how much of the total labour used for each item is put in by the cultivator and his family and how much is hired and paid for by him.
Apart from the questionnaires, any other relevant information that is sent will be welcome.
- What is the total acreage under cultivation and the total acreage under sugarcane in your province?
- How are landlords, rich farmers and cultivating tenants interested in sugarcane cultivation?
- Average, maximum and minimum yield of cane per acre? Whether it can be increased? How? To what extent?
- What is the proportion of total cane crop supplied to sugar mills and used for making gur?
- Which is preferred by growers—supplying to mills or making gur? Why?
- How many sugar mills are there in your province and what is their total sugar producing capacity?
- What is the average quantity of cane required for one maund of sugar and for one maund of gur?
- How is the demand for gur in your province and where is the source of its supply? What percentage is supplied from within the province?
- What is the capital expenditure for growing cane on one acre? What percentage of the total cane land is mortgaged land and what is the average rate of interest which such land bears?
- What is the average rent or tax on land per acre suitable for cane-growing in your province?
Cost of Production and Marketing
- What is the percentage of cane land irrigated by canal and from other irrigation sources?
- Cost of a. irrigation per acre; b. amount and price of seed cuttings per acre including transport cost; c. manure used—its varieties and quantity and price; d. number of ploughings, hoeings and weedings etc. per acre, number of labourers and ploughs, etc., engaged for each, and cost for each item of operation separately; e. fencing cost per acre, if any; f. cost of carting and spreading of manure; g. cost of preparing and sowing seed: h. rent and cost of seed-bed for sowing one acre; i. miscellaneous expenses per acre before harvesting such as keeping watch on field.
- Total cost of harvesting per acre—how many workers to be engaged and their rate of wages?
- Delivery to mills: e. cartage; b. wages; c. average duration of time necessary for delivery to mill or receiving station; d. average distance between field and place of delivery; and e. miscellaneous expenses.
- Gur-making: a. hire-charges for one pan-and-crusher daily; b. amount of cane crushed and gur produced in twenty-four hours; c. daily bullock hire for crushing; d. how many workers are engaged for crushing and gur making per day and their rate of wages; e. how many days are necessary to crush cane yield of one acre on an average; f. miscellaneous charges for kerosene, and castor oil, baskets, earthen pots etc.
- Cost of marketing gur produced from one acre— weighment, writing, wages, cartage, illegal exactions, if any, etc.
- Prevailing prices of sugar and gur in your province, both control and black market.
- Minimum prices of cane and gur demanded by producers and fixed by local Governments.
- How will the price of gur, as demanded by the producers, affect its consumers? How does the control price of sugar affect the cane price?
- How do transport difficulties affect the growers in the matter of delivery to mills or marketing gur? What facilities do they want?
- Does any other crop simultaneously grow on cane land? What is the average income from it per acre?
- What is the cost of cane production in relation to the cost of a food crop such as wheat or rice? Which does the cultivator prefer to grow?
- Give an account of the functioning of Cane Co-operative Societies if they exist in your province. Send copies of Government Acts, etc. relating to these.
- State in brief the policy of the Provincial Government in regard to import and export of sugarcane products and how the policy worked in 1943.
- What is the total acreage under cultivation and total acreage under cotton in your province?
- How are landlords, rich farmers and cultivating tenants severally interested in cotton cultivation?
- Average, maximum and minimum yields (in maunds) of cotton per acre? Whether the yield can be increased? How? To what extent?
- Total land under cotton in your province from year to year since 1939? If increasing or decreasing, why?
- What varieties of cotton are grown in your province? Give percentage of land under each variety to the total under cotton cultivation. Why is the variety, mostly cultivated, preferred to others?
- What is the average rent or tax per acre under cotton?
- What proportion of cotton land is irrigated by canal and what proportion from other sources?
- What proportion of cotton land is under mortgage bearing interest? What is the average rate of interest payable per acre?
- Has Government introduced any scheme for restricting acreage under cotton? To what extent? With what effect on kisans?
- Are cultivators in favour of any statutory restriction on acreage under cotton? How are they benefited?
Cost of Production and Marketing
- Give cost per acre of
b. manure—(state quantity and varieties used),
c. seed (state quantity used and source of supply),
d. labour (state number of workers and rate of wages for each) for clearing stalks, harrowing, sowing, manuring, weeding, watching and picking, and also cartage etc., when necessary.
- What is the cost per acre of preventing or curing diseases if any?
- Marketing expenses:
a. carting to local market per maund,
b. brokerage per maund,
c. insurance cost for or rent of store house,
d. weighment etc.,
e. any other expenses, and
f. any illegal exactions.
- Average prices received per maund by cultivator year by year since 1939?
- What is the percentage of rise in the cost of living of cotton growers in your province?
- What is the effect of Grow More Food campaign on cotton cultivation?
- Which is preferred by cultivators—cultivation of cotton or food crops like wheat and rice?
- What are the demands of tenants who themselves cultivate cotton regarding facilities for cultivation, marketing and transport?
- Have maximum and minimum prices of cotton been fixed by Government? At what levels? How are growers benefited thereby?
- What are their specific demands about fixing cotton prices, specially in consideration of prices of essential commodities?
- What is the total area under cultivation in your province and total area under jute? Percentage under jute of total area under cultivation from year to year since 1939?
- What is the statutory restriction, if any, on cultivation of jute? When was restriction first imposed? How did restriction affect the interest of growers and how have they reacted to it since the restriction was introduced?
- When does the usual season of jute sowing begin and of harvesting end?
- What is the total quantity of jute produced In your province, year by year, since 1939?
- Average, maximum and minimum prices of jute per maund (82 lbs.) as sold by producer and at the Calcutta market, year by year since 1939?
- Percentage of rise in cost of living of jute cultivator from year to year since 1939?
- When does the selling season begin? When is jute market lowest and when highest? When do most jute cultivators usually sell their produce?
- How has the war affected jute cultivators in regard to a. price of jute, b. export of jute, c. transport, d. jute manufacturing interests?
- How has Grow More Food campaign affected jute cultivation and helped or harmed jute grower?
- What action has local Government taken to safeguard the interest of the jute grower and the jute manufacturer?
- Average rent or tax of jute land per acre?
- What percentage of jute land is under mortgage? Average rate of interest on it?
Cost of Production and Marketing
- What is the average cost of production of jute per maund or per acre on account of
a. ploughing: how many ploughings in all? —how many ploughs and workers engaged for each ploughing? —rate of wages and plough hire per day?
b. Weeding: how many weedings in all? —how many workers for each weeding per acre? —rate of wages per day?
c. Seed: quantity required per acre and its price? -sowing cost per acre?
d. Manure: quantity and varieties of manures used per acre? —price of it? —carting and spreading cost?
e. any other charges —how much per acre?
- Whether yield per acre can be increased? How? To what extent? At what cost?
- Harvesting cost per acre:
a. cutting—how many workers? at what rate of wages?
b. steeping etc. —how many workers? at what rate of wages?
c. washing, drying, bundling and carrying home—how many workers? at what rate of wages?
- Marketing cost of jute per maund:
a. Cartage or boat hire etc.,
b. Weighment and brokerage,
c. Illegal charges, if any,
- Can you give a comparative chart showing year by year exact or approximate figures since 1939 up to date of
a. total cost of production of jute per maund,
b. average price of jute per maund, and
c. average cost of living of a jute grower?
- Is there any forward purchase of jute? What is the proportion of forward purchase to total production? Is such purchase legal? What is the loss the grower sustains by such purchase as compared to normal purchase in open market?
- Is any other crop grown simultaneously or by rotation on jute land in the same cultivation year? What is it? What is the net income or profit from that crop? What is the income from the jute sticks per acre after the fibre is peeled off?
- What are the maximum and minimum prices which the average cultivator demands? What other demands do they put forward for marketing, production, etc.? Give reasons in support of the demands.
- Do kisans want a regulated jute market? Why?
- What are the different varieties of tobacco grown in your province (Virginia, Turkey, White Burley and different varieties of country tobacco)?
- Is the crop grown in rotation with any other food or commercial crop?
- Is tobacco grown as a second crop in paddy fields or as a double crop with any other crop? If so, what are the other crops? What is the average net income from each such crop?
- What is the average annual rent of tobacco land per acre?
- What is the average yield of each variety of tobacco per acre, i.e. of lands in which tobacco is grown a. continuously, b. in rotation and c. as a double crop? Give figures for the last 5 years.
- What is the average effect of tocera and other pests and diseases? What is the average reduction in yield per acre due to such pests etc.?
- What is the total acreage under tobacco in your province and total acreage under cultivation? Give figures and, if figures are not available, give approximate proportion.
- a. Is the ground rented after preparation or without preparation? b. Rates of rent for each—average, maximum and minimum?
Cost of Production
- How many times is the land ploughed? Cost of each ploughing per acre?
- What is the amount of manures used per acre? What varieties? What is the cost, black-market and control? Are those manures locally produced or imported?
- What is the cost of carting the manures and the cost of labour for applying the manures to the land?
- a. Are the seedlings grown locally or bought? Are they grown in the fields or in sandy soil, near the sea-shore?
b. What is the number of seedlings required for an acre?
c. Cost of the seeds to grow those seedlings?
d. Rent of seed-beds for producing seedlings for use in one acre?
e. Cost of labour for watering and watching?
f. Cost of preparing the ground for the seed-beds?
g. Cost of manures for seed-beds?
h. What is the number of seedlings you raise in one acre of seed-bed?
i. Average effect of pests and diseases and the loss incurred thereby in terms of money?
j. What is the labour cost for picking the seedlings?
k. If seedlings are bought, what is the average price of seedlings required for one acre? Give the figures for the costs of last 5 years.
a. Charges for-carting seedlings required for one acre to the field from the seed-beds?
b. Cost of labour for transplantation and watering?
c. Cost of replacing the damaged or dead seedlings? (Give cost of additional seedlings and labour required for replacing.)
d. What is the average number of damaged seedlings after transplantation?
- What is the cost of cutting the overgrowth, i.e. branches, heads, etc.?
- What is the cost of labour for removing and destroying tocera parasite? How much is it prevalent and of what varieties? Is the parasite being used for any useful purposes?
a. How many times interploughing is done?
b. Cost of each such ploughing?
c. Cost of labour for removing earth from the plants and setting them aright after interploughing?
a. How many times are the leaves picked?
b. How many labourers are required for each picking per acre?
c. What is the rate of wages paid to the pickers?
d. If the labour is contract labour, what is the amount paid for each picking per acre and total amount paid for all picking’s in one acre?
a. Is the leaf flue-cured or rack-cured or ground-cured?
b. What are the charges for tying the leaf and price of twine threads or strings used for tying?
c. What are the carting charges to the curing centres?
- Charges for flue-cured:
a. Cost of construction of a barn? (Work out the total cost of construction of a barn and estimate the total number of years that it serves. Also include charges for repairing from time to time. Then calculate on that basis the cost of construction for one year.)
b. How many strings will be used at a time in i. single-furnaced barn and ii. double-furnaced barn?
c. How much fuel (coal, fire and electricity) is used to cure the tobacco for each curing by i. a single- furnaced barn and ii. a double-furnaced barn? (On that basis calculate how much fuel is required to cure tobacco grown in one acre.)
d. How many strings of tobacco will be grown in one acre?
e. How many curings will be done in a month?
f. What is the cost of sundry charges like kerosene, flash light, etc.?
g. What are the wages paid to the drivers? Calculate for one acre.
a. How many strings can be cured in a rack?
b. Cost of i. material and ii. labour required for constructing the rack? Calculate for one acre.
c. Depreciation for wear and tear of the rack.
d. What are the picking charges?
a. Labour charges for changing the sides of the leaf while curing it in the sun?
b. What are the labour charges for piling and repiling the strings?
- Grading etc:
a. Wages for grading per acre (for flue-cured only)?
b. Wages for baling different grades of tobacco grown in one acre?
c. What is the cost of gunny cloth and strings required?
d. What are the carting charges for taking the bales to the market?
- What is the curing licence charge? What are the percentages of growers growing less than 16 candies, i.e. 8,000 lbs. of tobacco (who need not pay this curer’s licence fee) and growers producing more than that?
- What are the warehouse charges? How much room space is required for tobacco grown in one acre? (You can calculate the ware-house charges from Tobacco Excise Duty Act, 1943).
- Are the growers employing accountants to keep proper accounts as required by the Tobacco Excise Duty Act? If so, what is the average remuneration paid per acre?
- Are the seeds used for producing oil? If so, what is the income from seeds grown in one acre?
- Are the stalks used as fuel? If so, income from these and such other sundry items?
- Do the commission agents take brokerage and how much? Who pays it the grower or the curer or the dealer merchant?
- a. What Is the total capital investment required for each variety? (Calculate for one acre, and also calculate for single-furnaced and double- furnaced barns).
b. What is the average rate of interest paid on the investment?
c. When do you expect return from the investment? (Give the seasons in which seeds are sown, transplantation and picking are done and sales are finished.)
Date: 14-15 March 1944
Author: ORGANISATIONAL REPORTAGE