At 10 A.M. Comrade Godavari Parulekar, Vice-President of the All-India Kisan Sabha, hoisted the Sabha Red Flag at A.K. Gopalan Nagar amidst slogans of “All-India, Kisan Sabha Zindabad” “23rd Session Zindabad”. Comrade Godavari then placed flowers at the Martyrs’ Column to pay homage to all those who made the supreme sacrifice in the cause of Kisan struggles and the Kisan and democratic movement.
Comrade Godavari, saluting the flag, recalled the great kisan struggles— Kayyur, Tebhaga, Thane, and above all, Telangana. In all these movements the basic question was land. Cherishing the memory of these struggles and the martyrs of these movement, we have to advance the movement for the success of our basic slogans, concluded Comrade Godavari.
The Twentythird Session was meeting five years after the Twenty-second in Sikar, Rajasthan, in April 1974. These five years have been momentous both for the country and the rest of the world. This was the period which saw the dark days of the Emergency and also the crushing defeat inflicted on the forces of authoritarianism by the people. All this was placed before the delegates in the General Secretary’s Report.
The delegates’ session began with Comrade Abdulla Rasool, founder-member of the Kisan Sabha and one of its Vice-Presidents now, in the chair. It was a poignant moment, the familiar figure who used to occupy the chair during the last so many sessions was not there. As Comrade Rasool himself said, I am here, in the Presidential chair, because our President, Comrade A.K. Gopalan, is no longer with us.
Above the huge banner of the 23rd Session on the backdrop of the dais were portraits of three unforgettable leaders of the Kisan movement- Comrades Muzaffar Ahmad, A.K. Gopalan and Hare Krishna Konar.
The biggest delegation, numbering 591, was from West Bengal, the State which accounts for 55 per cent of the 23 lakh membership of the All-India Kisan Sabha, followed by Kerala with 185 delegates, and Andhra Pradesh 98. Other delegations were: Tamil Nadu- 43, Punjab- 35, 22 each from Tripura and Bihar, Uttar Pradesh (East)- 18, Assam- 14, Uttar Pradesh (West)- 12, ten each from Maharashtra and Rajasthan, Orissa- Six, five each from Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh- three and Haryana- two.
Apart from observers from some of these States, there were five observers from Karnataka and four each from Gujarat and Sikkim. The total number of observers was 25. With 27 members of the Central Kisan Council, the delegates and observers numbered 1133, of whom 25 were women.
Homage to A.K.G. and H.K. Konar
Comrade Rasool, from the chair, moved the resolutions paying homage to Comrades A.K. Gopalan and Hare Krishna Konar, condoling the deaths of Kisan Sabha leaders and workers who had passed away since the last conference, and saluting the memory of martyrs who had laid down their lives in the course of struggles.
Reception Committee Chairman Rajkishore, who is also the President of the U.P. Kisan Sabha, welcoming the delegates, said, “By allowing us to hold this conference of the kisan organisation of the country in Uttar Pradesh where the kisan movement has been unable to march in step with the movement in the advanced States, you have specially honoured us, for which we all express our profound gratitude to all of you.”
The weakness of the organised kisan movement in Uttar Pradesh, we believe, is a temporary phenomenon, he continued, “This State had the honour of associating itself with other States in laying the foundation of the All-India Kisan Sabha in 1936”. Even before that, Comrade Rajkishore said, the peasantry of U.P. had been playing a glorious role in the national freedom struggle. He recalled the revolt of 1857 and the peasant participation in the non-cooperation movements of 1921 and 1930-31 and the Quit India movement of 1942.
Comrade Rajkishore continued: “When for the first time in 1937, the Congress Ministry assumed office in U.P., the Kisan Sabha in cooperation with left-minded Congresmen ran a campaign to obtain for the peasantry permanent hereditary rights on their holdings. As a result of these campaigns, the Congress Government enacted the 1939 U.P. Tenancy Act” Later, in 1946, the Kisan Sabha led big struggles on the question of land in Basti, Unnao, Ballia, Azamgarh, Gorakpur, Gazipur and other districts. These struggles in which the peasantry and landless agricultural workers facing heavy repression from the Congress Government occupied lands, provided the background to the Zamindari Abolition Act.
Referring to the steep fall in prices of agricultural produce specially of sugarcane, Comrade Rajkishore said the UP Kisan Sabha has been engaged in trying to forge broadbased unity of the peasantry in the struggle for common demands. As a result of these efforts, there was a huge demonstration of peasants in Lucknow on December 1, led by the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti consisting of kisan organisations owing allegiance to different ideologies.
He then pointed out to the economic and cultural backwardness of U.P. because of which communal and casteist ideas still hold away, and the exploiting classes naturally try to further encourage these trends. He regretted that the kisan sabha had not been able to successfully fight these erroneous trends.
In conclusion, Comrade Rajkishore said, “We can only promise that we shall leave no stone unturned to build a strong Kisan Sabha in the state under the wise guidance of the All-India Kisan Sabha and thus will earn the right to welcome you once again in future”.
AIKS General Secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet than read out the messages of greeting to the conference received from organisations abroad and inside the country.
General Secretary of the CPI-led All-India Kisan Sabha Indradeep Sinha personally conveyed the greetings of his organisation to the conference and stressed three issues on which united actions were urgently necessary—land reforms, remunerative prices for agricultural produce and Central legislation to protect agricultural workers.
General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) E.M.S. Namboodiripad then greeted the conference on behalf of the Central Committee of the Party and hoped that the decisions of the conference would help to develop united actions and strengthen the peasant movement as well as the general democratic movement.
Great Scope for Expansion
Comrade Rasool, speaking next, said that the Kisan Sabha had transversed a long way since April 1936 when it was founded in Lucknow. There have been many ups and down, but in the course of these fortythree years, the Kisan Sabha has achieved many victories.
The Kisan Sabha has now extended its activities to all the States. Large numbers of cadres have come up to lead the struggles. The poorer sections of the peasants had for a long time been out of picture in the Kisan movement. Agricultural workers, sharecroppers, poor peasants were being neglected in that period. That picture has changed now. The Kisan Sabha has reoriented its work and is now organising these sections of the rural poor.
Comrade Rasool then listed certain points to be noted in the process of development and expansion. One is the uneven development of the movement. The Kisan Sabha has become a very big organisation in some States while it is too small in some others. This is a weakness which has to be speedily corrected.
The Kisan Sabha has fought on many issues. In the begining it fought for the abolition of landlordism. It has fought and is fighting for remunerative prices for agricultural produce, against evictions, etc. It has fought for democratic rights. With all this, for the Kisan Sabha to become a revolutionary organisation, the political consciousness of the peasantry has to be raised. Then alone the peasantry can play its rightful role, Comrade Rasool said.
Reverting to uneven development, Comrade Rasool said membership develops unevently. West Bengal, for instance, has 55 per cent of the total membership. Comrades from that state should give help to the weaker States for the growth of the movement. This responsibility lies on the comrades of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh also.
If the Kisan Sabha is to be developed further, made a powerful organisation, cadres have to be educated and trained. A great responsibility in this regard devolves on the leadership.
There is immense scope for the rapid expansion of the Kisan Sabha, Comrade Rasool said. It has to develop a real democratic consciousness. It has the spread literacy among illiterate masses. It has to organise political education. All these are important tasks to make the peasants soldiers of the agrarian revolution.
The worker—peasant alliance has to be forged for the success of the agrarian revolution. The Kisan movement in every State, weak or strong, has to ally with the working class for democratic struggles, win working class support for the struggles on its own demands.
Particular attention, said Comrade Rasool, has to be given to implementation of the resolutions of the Conference. Some campaigns and some action programmes should be chalked out which will be observed on an all-India basis. Local issues have also to be taken up for building up a united movement, Comrade Rasool concluded.
The conference then elected a Steering Committee consisting of Comrades Rasool, Chathunni Master, N. Sankaraiah, P.K. Kunjachan, L.B. Gangadhara Rao and Harikishan Singh Surjeet; and a Credentials Committee consisting of Gurcharan Singh Randhawa, Bagula Guha, P.V. Kunhikannan, Nandeswar Talukdar and Sivaji Patnaik.
Comrade Surjeet then proposed to the conference that for the proper functioning of the Kisan Sabha, some amendments to the Constitution had become necessary. According to the Constitution, amendments to it required three months’ notice before the conference or the conference should itself waive this provision and allow the CKC to move amendments, Comrade Surjeet sought this permission to which the Conference agreed.
New President Elected
When the delegates met in the afternoon session, the first item on the agenda was the election of the new President of AIKS. The earlier practice was to elect the President before the conference met, but at the Sikar session, this provision had been amended and the conference itself, immediately after it met, was to elect the President.
Comrade Surjeet proposed the name of Comrade Benoy Krishna Chaudhari, President of the West Bengal Krishak Sabha and Land Revenue Minister in the Left Front Government of that State, for the Presidentship. Comrade M. Basavapunnaiah seconded the proposal. After his unanimous election Comrade Benoy was given a standing ovation by the delegates. He then addressed the delegates. (The text of the speech is printed in this booklet).
General Secretary’s Report
Comrade Surjeet then presented the General Secretary’s report to the conference. He said that he would not go into the details of the international and national situation but only state that the Janata Party and its Government were of the same classes as the defeated Congress and the basic policies pursued were essentially the same.
Comrade Surjeet then gave facts and figures from official reports and statements to show how poverty had gone on increasing in the rural areas as a result of the Government’s policy of throwing the burdens of the economic crisis on to the shoulders of the people. The number of landless is increasing, their wages in real terms and the number of working days have come down, the prices of agricultural produce, especially of commercial crops, have fallen, while the prices of inputs for agriculture and of consumption articles have been steadily rising, tax burdens are becoming heavier and heavier and rural indebtedness has assumed menacing proportions.
Land reform measures, even according to official admissions, have been a miserable failure and land concentration has remained more or less as it was before.
The net result of Government policies have thus been the further enrichment and strengthening of the monopolists, big traders, landlords and other vested interests, while impoverishing the general mass of the people, especially in the rural areas.
United Actions Developing
Faced with intolerable burdens, the peasants and agricultural workers are going into action, many of them spontaneous. A number of forums of growers of commercial crops have come into existence and have launched agitations. Even Charan Singh’s Kisan Sammelan has to raise some of the demands of the peasantry like remunerative prices, cheaper inputs, etc. The Kisan Sabha has to take the initiative so as to ensure that these struggles are directed to the right channels and are not diverted by the vested interests for their own ends.
What is encouraging is that these struggles are often becoming joint actions in which various organisations working among the peasantry are coming together. Comrade Surjeet cited such united actions that have taken place in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Assam etc. The further developing of such united actions is essential for forging peasant unity, raising the political consciousness of the rural masses and making them aware of the need for building the alliance of the peasantry with the working class for the victory of the agrarian revoluton.
Comrade Surjeet listed the measures taken by the Left Front Governments of West Bengal and Tripura to protect and advance the Interests of the agricultural workers, tribal people, share-croppers and other sections of the toiling peasantry, and called on AIKS units to popularise these achievements not only to point out to the people the real alternative for which they have to fight, but also to build the kisan movement in other States.
He then referred to the changes in the agrarian sector, pointed out that the central slogan of land could be a propaganda slogan at present, and posed the immediate issues on which struggles have to be organised and united actions to be striven for.
On the question of organisation, Comrade Surjeet emphasised the need for regular and proper functioning of the units at the basic level.
After the conference decided that the report would be taken up for discussion on the 31st, Comrade Surjeet moved all the resolutions which had been circulated to the delegates earlier. They were on the China-Viet Nam conflict, West Asia, Yemen, victory of the Iranian people, Southern Africa, reunification of Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, land reforms, rural indebtedness, prices of agricultural produce, tax burdens, agricultural workers, atrocities on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, united actions, support to the working class, democratic rights, greeting the Left Front Government of West Bengal and Tripura and for awarding a Red Flag of the AIKS to West Bengal Kisan Sabha for enrolling such a large number of members (27,62,000).
China-Viet Nam Conflict
Speaking on the resolution on China-Viet Nam conflict, Comrade M. Basavapunnaiah said that no Socialist country could invade another Socialist country even if there were genuine disputes between them. In this particular case, the Pol Pot regime in Kampuchea which was throughly repressive inside the country, had been incited by China to engineer border conflicts with Viet Nam and this had gone on for over a year. The Vietnamese support to the people of Kampuchea against this regime, repressive inside the country and aggressive against neighbours, cannot be equated with the Chinese aggression on Viet Nam.
Comrade Basavapunnaiah traced the origin of these conflicts to the differences between the Communist Parties and Governments of the Soviet Union and China and said that the ruling Communist Parties of big Socialist States had departed from many correct positions and were trying to impose their views on others. This is impermissible, he said.
The AIKS which has glorious traditions of anti-imperialism has to judge the issues which come up on this basis of struggle against imperialism. The imperialists had been thrown out of Indo-China by the people of Viet Nam, Laos and Kampuchea, but the Chinese-inspired Kampuchean attacks on Viet Nam, and later taking the issue to the United Nations were giving an opportunity to the imperialists to set their foot again in Indo-China. The ATKS could not but demand the withdrawal of all Chinese forces from Viet Nam to prepare the ground for a peaceful settlement of outstanding disputes between the two.
Comrade Basavapunnaiah also referred to the advance being made by the national liberation movements and the counter-manoeuvres of imperialism as in West Asia, the Gulf area, Southern Africa, etc.
March 31, 1979: Discussion on Report
The morning and afternoon sessions on March 31 were devoted to the discussion of the Report, the summing up of the discussions and its adoption. The morning session started with Comrade Surjeet reading out the message from Comrade B.T. Ranadive, President of the CITU, and the greetings from the old freedom-fighter Chandar Singh Garhwali. At the beginning of the afternoon session, Comrade M.A. Baby, President of the Students’ Federation of India, greeted the conference on behalf of his organisation.
Twentyfour delegates from the States participated in the discussion. They were: Comrades Radhakrishnan, C.K. Balakrishnan and C. Krishnan Nair from Kerala, T.V.R. Chandram and U. Ramam from Andhra Pradesh, Shantimoy Ghosh (West Bengal), Nripen Chakravariy and Samar Chaudhury from Tripura, Varadarajan (Tamil Nadu), Gurcharan Singh Randhawa (Punjab), Ganghare and Arjun Mahdu from Maharashtra, Rampal Singh (West U.P.). Thakorebhai Shah (Gujarat), Ramanand Singh (Bihar), P. Ramachandra Rao (Karnataka), Jagannath (Madhya Pradesh), Kshitish Biswal (Orissa), Nurul Huda (Assam), Girdhari Lal (Jammu and Kashmir), Tara Chand (Himachal Pradesh), Trilok Singh (Rajasthan), Mohan Guru (Sikkim) and Harnam Singh (Haryana).
The delegates narrated their experiences, especially regarding initiation of struggles, united actions, etc. They welcomed the report and said that it explained the present situation, particularly in the agrarian sector, and gave a correct orientation for the advance of the movement, for organising united actions, for building peasant unity and for forging the worker-peasant alliance for the success of the agrarian revolution. Many delegates laid special stress on the problems and struggles of agricultural workers Adivasis and sharecroppers.
Comrade Radhakrishnan pointed out that the report had not noted the attitude of the Kerala coalition Government to the agricultural labour movement. Surplus land is held illegally by landlords. Instead of taking it over and distributing it, the Government is attempting to legalise many of these transfers in the name of gifts.
Comrade T.V.R. Chandram, President of Andhra Pradesh Agricultural Labour Union, told the delegates of the experience of struggles for increasing wages in thousands of villages and also of the recent united struggle for surplus land, banjar and tank-bed lands.
Comrade Shantimoy Ghosh, General Secretary of the West Bengal Krishak Sabha, made a detailed report of the Sabha’s activities. On every issue that affects the peasantry, he said, the Kisan Sabha should stand at its head. He dealt with the food movements which used to be organised every year, the struggle against eviction, for fair share of the sharecropper and the occupation of vested benami land during the United Front Governments of 1967 and 1969 and the resistance of the semi-fascist terror and later to the Emergency. Today because of the measures taken by the Left Front Government, to protect and advance the interests of the sharecroppers, to give relief to the rural poor and the smaller peasants, almost the entire rural poor has rallied to the support of the Government. The base of the Kisan Sabha has already shifted from the middle-peasants to rural poor. But every care has been taken to see that when struggles are fought as on wages, the middle sections do not become hostile. At the same time the demand for minimum wage was not sacrificed in the course of forging peasant unity. As the single biggest force in the rural areas, the Krishak Sabha has become the spearhead of the struggle against landlords. Referring to the Panchayat elections, he said that it showed that the people were more or less satisfied with the performance of the Left Front Government and the Krishak Sabha, especially in regard to flood relief and rehabilitation work. He said that one weakness to be overcome in West Bengal was the failure so far to organise united actions. He stressed the need for democratic functioning of the Kisan Sabha and for training of Village level cadre to function the Sabha at the grass-root level.
Comrade Nripen Chakravarty, Chief Minister of the Left Front Government of Tripura, in his speech recalled the struggles conducted in his State for many years, mainly on the issues of food and khas land. The Kisan Sabha’s main task in those days was among the tribal people and the zumias (shifting cultivators).
Under the present Government, he said, the peasants have a feeling of security. The onus of proving that a person is not the sharecropper on his land has been placed on the landlord. In case of any litigation, the Government will bear the cost on behalf of the sharecropper.
The Government has begun acquiring the land beyond the ceiling limit. A re-survey has been undertaken to disclose lands in illegal possession. Land has already been distributed to 50,000 landless families. Rights on forest land have been given to the tribals. A land tax has been introduced replacing the revenue system with the lower strata exempted from the tax. A food-for-work programme has been introduced to help the agricultural workers and strengthen their position. Power is being decentralised to some extent and cooperatives are being run as far as possible eliminating the rural oppressors. After the steep fall in the price of potatoes, Government is buying them at Rs. 85 a quintal. Grain banks have been started in inaccessible areas and they are lending to the poor who have no land or assets. A District Council Act is being enacted to give autonomy to the compact tribal region. The Bill adopted by the State Assembly is now under the President’s consideration.
Comrade Nripen Chakravarty in conclusion dealt with the conspiracies being hatched against the Left Front Government. Though the Bengalees are in a majority now in this once-tribal-majority State, an organisation calling itself “Amra Bengalee” (We are Bengalees) has come into existence to disrupt the unity between the tribals and non-tnbals. Political parties like the Indira Congress, CFD, Janata as also the Anand Marg and the Christian Church are all very much involved in this conspiracy.
Comrade Varadarajan (Tamil Nadu) spoke on the atrocities on Harijans and on remunerative price for paddy.
Gurcharan Singh Randhawa (Punjab) narrated the struggles conducted by the Kisan Sabha and Dehati Mazdoor Sabha which have led to some success like the allotment of evacuee land Government subsidy for sugarcane, reduction in electricity rates and Rs. two increase in wages of agricultural workers. Stressing the need for analysing the concrete situation for raising proper slogans, he cited the case of Punjab where capitalism in agriculture has grown much faster than in other States. Punjab has half the tractors in the whole country, about 30,000; even harvester combines are being used; 80 per cent of the land is irrigated through tube-wells, canals, etc. All this raises new problems before the peasant movement.
Comrade Ganghare (Maharashtra) said the report was helpful. He spoke of the land movement of the tribal people and the success it has achieved. The monopoly cotton procurement scheme of the Maharashtra Government, he said, had benefited the middle and small growers.
Rampal Singh (U.P. West) spoke of the struggle of the sugarcane growers for better price.
Thakorebhai Shah (Gujarat) said that the Congress(I) and the Janata were trying to win over the tribals. The Kisan Sabha had been dormant for a number of years and has only recently begun reciving its activities. Preparations are going on now for a movement for forest land.
Ramanand Singh (Bihar) spoke of the increasing atrocities on Harijans in his State. The Janata State Government is not serious about land distribution. The Kisan Sabha is carrying on a movement which the Government seeks to suppress. There is a strong impact of West Bengal in the adjoining areas of Bihar. Comrade Ramanand said there was great scope for expanding the, Kisan Sabha organisation.
Comrade Ramachandra Rao (Karnataka) said that the agricultural workers were not organised in the State. In some places, the local cadre was doing something about their demands.
Comrade Jagannath (Madhya Pradesh) said that the Kisan Sabha was very weak in that State. The Janata Government of Madhya Pradesh was one of the most reactionary Governments. There is a large number of Adivasis in the State and atrocities on them, very often by the police are on the increase. Forty lakh hectares of land (forest and land) exists which can be distributed but the Government is not doing anything about it. The peasant has to be started in real earnest to set things right.
C.K. Balakrishnan (Kerala) said there were big achievements in regard to wages of agricultural workers. Hours of work are also being reduced. The agricultural labour movement is gaining strength every day. He said the State Government was reluctant to implemennt land reforms and the Kisan Sabha should take it up.
Comrade Nurul Huda (Assam) said the Kisan Sabha had been organising demonstrations, gheraos, etc., for fair prices. So far only three lakh acres of surplus land has been distributed. There was success on a limited scale in panchayat elections.
The U.S. Intelligence Agency CIA and other Intelligence agencies are very active on the Assam-Nagaland border, he said.
In conclusion be stressed the need to raise the political consciousness of the agricultural workers, Harijans and Adivasis.
Comrade U. Ramam(Andhra Pradesh) said that the Kisan Sabha was advancing in the State. Peasants following the other Kisan Sabha were coming over to us. There is benami land in plenty. The Kisan Sabha will have to force the Government to take over the benami land and distribute it. In this connection, he referred to the recent joint struggle on the question of land.
Comrade Samar Chaudhury of Tripura spoke on what the Left Front Government was doing to protect the interests of the peasantry.
Comrade C. Krishnan Nair (Kerala) spoke on the question of remunerative prices for agricultural produce.
Comrade Tara Chand (Himachal Pradesh) said there was plenty of surplus land in the State but neither the Congress nor the Janata Government had taken any steps to take over this land and distribute it. The Kisan Sabha has been organising a campaign on this issue.
Comrade Trilok Singh (Rajasthan) said that the Janata Government was protecting the interests of big landlords. There was not even drinking water for the poor in the State. He stressed the need to develop the Kisan Sabha Organisation.
Comrade Mohan Gurung (Sikkim) requested for help from the AIKS to build up a strong peasants movement in that State.
Comrade Arjun Mohdu (Maharashtra), himself a tribal delegate from Dahanu in Thane district, said that the conditions of the Adivasis had not improved. He suggested the calling of an all-India Adivasi conference.
Summing up of Discussion
Summing up the discussion on the report, Comrade Surjeet said that while the speeches of the delegates substantiated the main formulations of the report, they also helped to deepen the understanding on the basis of live experience.
He said that the Kisan Sabha had no illusions about the Janata Government, especially in regard to land reforms, since its policies were essentially the same as those pursued by its predecessor. He also referred, in this connection, to the proposal of the Janata Government of Orissa to amend the Land Reforms Act in a retrograde direction for the benefit of the landlords.
He said that the discussion had showed that the peasantry was in ferment today and movements of agricultural workers and peasants were developing everywhere, whether organised by the AIKS or by other peasant organisations or spontaneously. They are breaking out on the issues of wages, housesites against evictions, for distribution of surplus land, Government waste land and cultivable forest land for the tribal people, for locating benami land and getting it distributed, against tax burdens and indebtedness, for remunerative prices for agricultural produce, against social oppression and so on. There is a new awakening in the agricultural workers and Adivasis.
Urge for United Action
The report from the States showed that there was a great urge for united actions since that alone would enable them to defend their interests. But the success of such united actions will depend on how far we are able to intervene and take the initiative. We certainly do not want the landlords to take the lead, for instance, in the matter of prices, said Comrade Surjeet, and added but we cannot ignore that on such demands as prices, taxex etc., they are able to carry sections of the peasantry with them.
By taking the initiative ourselves and uniting with other organisations of the toiling peasantry, and joining hands with every organisation or platform on the basis of correct demands, the landlords have to be isolated. This initiative has to be taken on all issues affecting all sections of the peasantry. Also, at the same time, we carry on the struggle against the landlords on the questions of surplus land, benami land, wages, etc.
Comrade Surjeet emphasised that the complete abolition of lanlordism without compensation and distribution of land free to the landless and land-poor remained the central slogan of the agrarian revolution and the AIKS would continue to propagate it. The immediate struggles for distribution of surplus, waste, forest and benami land will mobilise the peasantry and prepare them for the final struggle for the total liquidation of landlordism. We are thus stressing how to develop the movement, where to begin, how to isolate the landlords, how to go forward, etc.
Situation not same Everywhere
The situation varies from State to State and even from area to area inside a State. In Punjab, for instance, capitalism in agriculture is highly developed. But except to a certain extent in Haryana and some pockets in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, etc., the situation is not the same elsewhere. In Maharashtra, 70 per cent of the cotton cultivators own below four acres of unirrigated land. In Bihar, the problems of the sharecroppers are acute. Problems of the tribals are coming up in various places—in Madhya Predesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra. In Rajasthan, even drinking water is not available in many places. All this has to be taken into account when we formulate demands and decide on the forms of struggle in various places.
Comrade Surjeet again stressed that the Kisan Sabha had to champion the demands of agricultural workers and Adivasis and wage struggles against atrocities on Harijans.
Strengthen the Organisation
In conclusion, Surjeet said that the direction given in the report, the tasks that have been laid down can all be translated into action only by strengthening the Kisan Sabha. Here, he specifically mentioned the importance of drawing in more and more women into the movement.
He also mentioned in this connection, the multifarious activities the Kisan Sabha units have to undertake—in the panchayats, cooperatives, etc., where they have to fight for the interests of the rural poor. The States where the Kisan Sabha is strong should help the States where the movement is weak to overcome weakness as quickly as possible.
The report was then adopted unanimously amidst acclamation.
April I, 1979
The morning session on April 1 began with Comrade Surjeet reading the message from the All-India Bank Employees’ Association.
The conference then adopted all the resolutions which had been moved earlier.
Amendments to Constitution
Comrade Surjeet next moved the amendments to the AIKS Constitution and said that these amendment’s had become necessary to further activise the organisation and make the functioning of the AIKS more effective.
The amendments provide for a maximum of 1000 delegates for the All-India Kisan Conference with representation for every State or Regional Kisan Sabha. The number of delegates from each State will be fixed by the CKC taking into consideration the membership, strength of the movement and proper representation from all States, subject to a minimum of five delegates for each unit of the Sabha.
They provide for an All-India Kisan Council of not more than 125 members with representation to all State and Regional units. The number of members from each State will be fixed by the CKC which will notify all the State units at least one month before the All-India conference. The AIKC will meet immediately after the conference to elect its office bearers and also meet at least once in a year.
The Central Kisan Committee (so far Council) will be vested with power to carry out the policy and the programme of the Sabha in between the meetings of the AIKC.
Another amendment reads: The newly elected President shall immediately after election by the conference take the chair and conduct its proceedings. He will continue to hold, his office until a new President is elected.
The amendments seconded by Comrade Rasool, were unanimously adopted.
The conference then adopted the statement of accounts of the AIKS presented by Comrade Surjeet.
Comrade Bagula Guha on behalf of the Credentials Committee, presented the report of the committee.
Election of New Leadership
Comrade Surjeet presented the panel for election of members to the All-India Kisan Council with some seats left vacant for cooption later. The panel was adopted unanimously.
The AIKC met immediately afterwards and elected Comrade K. Chathunni Master as the General Secretary of the AIKS and other office-bearers and members of the Central Kisan Committee.
The work of the conference had come to its end. Comrade Benoy Chaudhuri thanked the U.P. State Committee of the Kisan Sabha and the volunteers, mostly agricultural worker and poor peasant comrades, who had tirelessly worked round the clock for successfully organising the conference.
Amidst slogans of “Long Live the Kisan Sabha”, the delegates dispersed to join the demonstration and rally.
Demonstration and Rally
The twentythird Session ended with a colourful demonstration and rally. The area around Benia Park, the venue of the rally, was decorated with inumerable banners, festoons and flags.
It was mainly the rural poor that marched in the demonstration with red banners of their district Kisan Sabha and waving Red Flags. They had come from the adjoining areas of Varanasi- Basti, Phillaur, Ghazipur, Ballia, Sultanpur, Lucknow, Kanpur and other districts. There was a large contingent from Bihar, from place like Monghyr, Rohtas, Patna, Samastipur, Muzaffarpur.
Reception Committee Chairman Rajkishore welcomed the audience at the rally and in his speech said that Chahudury Charan Singh had not done anything for the rural poor, his was the voice of the rural vested interests. He cited many instances of evictions etc., in U.P, under the Government. As he was speaking, Comrade Jyoti Basu arrived at the rally and was given a rousing reception.
Comrade Surjeet speaking next reported on the decisions of the Twentythird Session. He said, our conference is different from conferences like Charan Singh’s. We do not meet to bargain for Ministerships or to collect crores of rupees. We met here discuss the burning problems facing the peasantry and to take decisions on how to protect and advance their interests.
Let alone distribution of land, vast numbers of agricultural workers do not own even homestead land. There are tens of thousands of bonded labour in the country. The prices of peasants’ produce have fallen. There are growing burdens on the peasantry. It is these things that our conference discussed, said Comrade Surjeet.
Rapid Growth of AIKS
The Kisan Sabha has glorious traditions of struggle and is today growing rapidly. Five years ago, at the Sakar Conference, the membership was a little less than 12 lakhs, this Conference in Varanasi was based on a membership of 23 lakhs, and the membership will reach 40 lakhs by the time enrolment is closed on May 1, with West Bengal having already increased its membership from last year’s about 13 lakhs to 27 lakhs so far this year.
And for this splendid record, on behalf of the AIKS, Comrade Surjeet presented the Sabha’s Red Flag to the West Bengal Krishak Sabha.
Speaking next, Comrade Jyoti Basu conveyed to the conference and the rally greetings on behalf of the Left Front Government of West Bengal.
He said the workers, youth, women were all organising themselves, but unless the peasant movement became strong, no radical change would be possible.
Organisation and More Organisation
He said that the policies of the bourgeois-landlord Governments had created “karorpatis” while the lot of the crores of common people had become worse and worse. The Left Front Governments of West Bengal and Tripura were different, and citing the various measures these Governments had taken, he declared, they are Governments which serve interests of the working people. These measures which have been taken will not change the world, but the people understand from that is their own Government. The West Bengal Government, he said, does not discriminate between Bengalees and non-Bengalees, but serves all the toiling people alike.
Laws alone cannot do anything very much, it depends on the people. What is required is organisation and more organisation, Jyoti Basu concluded.
Comrade Nripen Chakravarty, Chief Minister of Tripur spoke about the measures taken by the Tripura Left Front Government to restore to the tribal people the land alienated from them, resettling those displaced in the process in other areas with financial and other help; to form cooperatives to run the gardens, to ensure security of service and democratic rights to Government employees, to enable policemen to have their organisation, etc.
He informed the audience of the reactionary conspiracy against the Left front Government in which the Indira Congress, the CFD, the Church, the Anand Marg, etc., along with the Chauvinist organisation, “Amra Bengalee”, were involved. But with the support of the people, these conspiracies are being fought back. Not only in Tripura, but in the adjoining regions also, the reactionaries are tasting defeat as was seen recently in the Gauhati Municipal Corporation elections where the CPI(M) won a magnificent victory emerging as the single largest party leaving parties like the Janata and the Indira Congress way behind.
The last speaker at the rally was Comrade E.M.S. Namboodiripad. He reffered to the critical political juncture in which the AIKS session had been held.
New Forces has to Emerge
The bourgeois landlord parties, both the Congress and the Janata, had failed the people and they were looking to the emergence of a new force. This new force cannot be a new party but will have to be a combination- Agricultural workers, peasants, industrial workers, middle classes—will provide this new force.
The Kisan Sabha had the tradition of participating in such a movement when the struggle was directed against inperialism. Today, workers, peasants and other sections, with their organisations and forming a broad front have to conduct the struggle against landlordism and monopoly capital.
There are Left Front Governments now in West Bengal and Tripura. Such Ministers may come and go. But if using the powers even within the existing set-up, the Ministers strengthen the people and people’s organisations, the results will harasting.
Comrade EMS hoped that the kisan movement in U.P. would be able to rapidly overcome its weaknesses and advance and regain its rightful place in the all-India movement. Then U.P. will be able to change the course of history. He was also confident that the conference would help not only the kisan movement in U.P., but its deliberations and decisions would help the movement in all other States to advance quickly as in West Bengal.
Benoy Choudhri’s Speech after Election as AIKS President
Text of speech made by Comrade Benoy Chaudhuri at the delegates’ session immediately after his election as President of the AIKS.
Comrade delegates, I am fully conscious about my limitations and shortcomings and I also do realise what a great responsbility it is to hold the post of Presidentship of the All India Kisan Sabha which was ably being held by the great AKG for over two decades, and that, too, at such a critical juncture, when so much is expected from the Kisan Sabha. But, then, when you have so decided, I cannot but submit to your decision and try to carry out this responsibility with the best of my ability, with your help and cooperation. I thank you all for the confidence you have shown in me, and I assure you that I shall try to be worthy of your confidence. I hope we all will endeavour to build up an effective collective leadership which alone can do justice to this onerous task.
All of you know that the kisan movement in West Bengal had to pass through great trials and tribulations. It was able to stand up to all types of repression and contributed a lot to the victory of the Left Front in the 1977 election. I do not want to take your time to explain the international and national developments or to give a comprehensive picture of the agrarian situation in the country as a whole, as that has been dealt with in the General Secretary’s report.
Left Front Govt’s Record
Since there is a Left Front Government in West Bengal, many comrades would naturally like to know what we are doing there. I will take some time to deal with that. At the outset I want to make it clear that knowing as we all do the limited powers of the State Government and various other inbuilt constraints, we should not expect anything spectacular in this matter. The Left Front Government is taking some concrete steps to develop the kisan movement in the State. Many comrades asked me to give a short account about that and I will try to do that here.
Soon after the formation of the Left Front Government, a Bill was brought in the Assembly, in September 1977, to stop evictions of sharecroppers and to protect their rights. The main features of that Bill are the following: the definition of “personal cultivation” has been changed in such a manner that the owner of the land cannot resume land for personal cultivation from the sharecroppers unless he can satisfy the following three conditions: 1. That he resides for the greater part of the year within eight kilometres of where the land is situated, 2. that his main source of livelihood is that land and he has no other source of sufficient income and 3. that after resumption he will thenceforward cultivate the land himself with the help of his family members.
By inserting a presumption clause in the Act, it has been laid down that if a person cultivates the land of some other person not being a member of the family of the landowner, he will be presumed to be a share-cropper and the onus of proving that he is not a share-copper will lie on the owner of the land.
The owner of the land will have to give receipt for his share of the produce which he takes from the sharecropper. If he does not give the receipt it will be treated as a cognisable offence and he will be punished with fine of Rs. 1000 or by imprisonment for one year or by both. This amendment, after being passed in the Assembly, took over six months to get the assent of the President.
The recording of sharecroppers is going on in full swing through a quick procedure under what has come to be known as ’Operation Barga’. Areas where there are concentrations of sharecroppers are identified, then a team of officers is sent to each such area to record the bargadars (sharecroppers) with the help of the Kisan Sabha and the Panchayats. According to the latest available figure, about 275,000 new bargadars have been recorded after the formation of the Left Front Government. Before the Left Front took over, only 325,000 bargadars had been recorded in all the years the Congress was in office. The Left Front Government is trying to complete the recording of bargadars by the end of this year.
As you all know, bargadars are very much dependent on the owners of land for consumption loans and input loans. The Government is trying to provide such loans from the nationalised and commercial banks, so that they can be provided wiih an alternate source of credit to a certain extent and relieved from the bondage of loans. The banks have agreed to give loans to the recorded bargadars, but as yet only a very small fraction of them could be provided with loans. The Left Front Government is trying to extend the same. As for the rate of interest for bargadar, the Government is trying to bring it down to four per cent and that intrest, to, will be paid by the Government if the loan is paid back by March 31 next year.
As regards agricultural labourers we are trying to implement the Minimum Wages Act which fixes the minimum wage of Rs. 8.10. But owing to High Court injunctions there are difficulties in the matter. Agricultural workers are also connecting struggles including strike struggles for the implementation of the Minimum Wage Act. As a result of this, most in every place, wages have increased by Rs. two to three. But it could be taken up to Rs. eight only in some cases in the busy season. In the majority of areas wages very maximum Rs. six to seven inclusive of food. Only in a few outstanding backward areas, the wage is below that.
The food-for-work programme has been of much help to agricultural workers in the lean months, it is giving indirect report to their struggle as the land-owners cannot starve them to submission because of the massive execution of the food-for-work programme in the rural areas through the Panchayats.
Graded Land Revenue
As you all know, holdings up to four acres in irrigated areas have been exempted from revenue. In the case of others who have to pay revenue, it has been reduced to half, as the previous Congress regime had enhanced it three times in irrigated areas and two times in non-irrigated areas. The Government has brought a Bill which is now before the Select Committee which proposes that holdings up to a valuation of Rs. 50,000 will be exempted and there will be a graduated scale of levy above that.
Many comrades are interested to know what is the position in respect to the land question. As you all know during the period of the two United Front Governments in 1967 and 1969, the peasants could take possesion of about six lakh acres of vested and benami land. After the subversion of the sceond United Front Government in March 1970, and specially after the rigged election in 1972, in face of the semi-fascist terror, the peasants could not retain hold over about 30 to 40 per cent of the land that they had earlier taken.
But after 1973, as the kisan movement again began to gain strength, the peasants could take back about ten to 15 per cent of this land. That process is still going on. In this matter the Left Front Government had issued an order for review and annulment, with the help of the Panchayats, of the pattas given to non-eligible persons during the Congress regime.
Similarly, steps are being taken to reinstate the bargadars who have been evicted, especially after 1972. The present position is: 1,122,576.68 acres of agricultural land has been vested in the Government up to December 31, 1978, out of which 968,675.30 acres have been taken possession of 164,733. 16 acres are involved in court injunctions, and land distributee up till now is 612,505.38 acres amongst 962,900 beneficiaries. As the Government and the people were all too much involved in flood relief and rehabilitation work, the Government could not take up the work of distribution of surplus land as it should have.
Now the Government has chalked out a programme to distribute near about three lakh acres through the Panchayats. The Panchayats have been duly empowered for this purpose. Orders have been issued to give the list of vested lands to the Panchayat Samitis. The Government has also taken up a programme to record housesites in the name of landless agricultural labourers, fishermen and rural artisans who were in possession of these plots on June 26, 1975.
Plugging the Loopholes
Two bills have been drafted, one for illegalising benami trasfers of land to evcide the ceiling law and the other to plug all loopholes in the exiting Land Reforms Act and doing away with the various exemptions. The Government expects to bring the Bills in the next session of the Assembly. Previously the Darjeeling Hill area was outside the purview of the ceiling law. But from April 1, 1978, it has been brought within the ceiling law.
The Left Front Government is giving very much importance to associating all sections of the peasantry and the democratic masses with everyone of its steps. The administrative machiaery, as it is composed and nurtured, is more of a hindrance than help. So unless a strong and powerful kisan movement, as part and parcel of the general democratic movement, is built up to exert pressure on the administration nothing much can be achieved. Hence due attention and stress are being given to this matter.
I shall be failing in my duty, if I do not mention the herculean task which the Left Front Government in West Bengal had to shoulder in carrying out relief and rehabilitation work on a massive scale to counteract the unprecedented and devastating floods in West Bengal, with the active participation of the peasants and other people. The Kisan Sabha, at different levels, took active part in the relief and rehabilitation work. Half a dozen peasant comrades sacrificed their lives in this work.
Still much to be done
I do not want to convey the impression that all that is necessary has been done. We know that we in West Bengal are still lagging far behind what the situation demands today. In West Bengal we can utilise two powerful levers—a big kisan movement and the Left Front Govenment to galvanise the kisan movement and, for that matter, the Left and democratic movement through out the country—at a time the country needs it so much. I can assure you that we shall exert our utmost to fulfil our responsibility in this matter.
Comrades, at this juncture the peasantry in alliance with the working class has a great role to play in extending and strengthening the Left and democratic movement and to change the correlation of forces throughout the country. I appeal to all the delegates coming from the various States to carry this message to the kisans of their respective States and devote themselves to building up a united and powerful kisan movement.
Comrades, I greet you all once again.
GENERAL SECRETARY’S REPORT
Dear Comrade President and Comrade delegates,
It was about five years ago, that th Twentysecond Conference of the All India Kisan Sabha took place in Sikar in Rajasthan. Since then many changes have taken place, outside the frontiers of the country, within India and more specifically within our own organisation. We have lost two outstanding leaders of our organisations, both the President and the General Secretary, Comrades A.K. Gopalan and Hare Krishna Konar. Comrade Gopalan, a great leader of the Indian people, was associated with every phase, twist and turn of our movement from the very early years. His ceaseless work and dedication to the cause of the Indian people despite old age and ill-health were a continuing source of inspiration to his younger colleagues. Comrade Konar’s dynamism, his able, astute and militant leadership of the land campaign during the 1967-70 period in West Bengal as Minister in charge of land reform in that state, and stewardship of our organisation during some of the most difficult and turbulent years of its history-all these will always remain in our memory. The loss of these two beloved leaders can not be easily made up. Let us pay our homage to them and pledge to fulfil their life-long dream of building a powerful kisan movement which will lead the country towards carrying out the agrarian revolution in alliance with the working class, and in unity with all other democratic classes and forces.
Let us remember on this occasion those comrades who died in the intervening years between the two conferences, the martyrs who laid down their lives in the struggle to defend democracy. The peasant cadre who died at the hands of the hired thugs of the landlords, and those who lost their lives in rescue operations during the floods, cyclone and other natural calamities. We are proud of our comrades at the grassroot level of our organisation, and it is primarily their dedication, willingness to sacrifice everything including their lives for serving the interests of the people, and their revolutionary fervour which have made our organisation what it is today, and which will make us the leading force in the countryside in the not too distant future.
Comrades, over the last five years the world political scene has undergone a significant transformation. In Sikar, while congratulating the heroic people of Viet Nam “for the great victory achieved by them in their struggle against the U.S. imprialists and their puppet South Vietnamese forces”, we noted that “this is a great victory not only for the people of Indo-China but also for the forces of national liberation, democracy and socialism”. The conference also hailed the victories of the people of Laos and Cambodia over U.S. imperialism and condemned the continued presence of the Lon Nol clique in some parts of Cambodia with U.S. support. A year after the Sikar conference the victory of Viet Nam was complete with the liberation of Saigon, and the reunification of the country after another year, thus fulfilling the dreams of President Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese people, dreams for which they fought with courage for decades. The liberation of South Viet Nam was also accompanied by the liberation of Laos and Cambodia, the two other Indo-Chinese States which shared, the common experience of fighting against U.S. imperialism. These developments made a great impact on the world scene, and a series of significant events followed. In Europe a popular uprising brought down the hated Salazar dictatorship of Portugal; and in Spain, too, the pressure of democratic mass consciousnes succeeded in overthrowing the fascist regime and in bringing about a new popular Government. Since then national liberation movements in three African colonies under Portuguese imperialism—Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau—have gained victory and formed independent states; the struggle of the oppressed black people has been intensified in Namibia Zimbabwe and South Africa; and the autocratic feudal- monas chic regime of Ethiopia has been uprooted and replaced by one is a progressive and democratic orientation. In Asia itself we have witnessed two major charges over the last one year, the overthrown of the authoritarian repressive Daud regime of Afgahnistan and its replacement by the Peoples’ Democratic led Government which is committed to radical land firm and democratic transformation of the society; and then recently, a few weeks ago, the end to the U.S. backed terror regime of the Shah in Iran as a climax to a glorious death-defying struggle of the Iranian people. All these give hope to and strengthen the morale of those fighting against oppression and finial rule elsewhere.
However, despite it defeat and humaliation at the hands of the national liberation forces in several countries, United States imperialism is continuing to conspire against and subvert popular struggles for democracy and national liberation. In East Asia and Southest Asia it is still supporting and arming the puppet Government of South Korea which obstructs the unification of Korea. In South Asia it is patronising the military regime came in Pakistan and Bangladesh which are ruthlessly suppressing the democratic rights of their people. Their biggest effort has been in West Asia where, through the discredited pro-West Sadat Government of Egypt, they are attempting to split the unity of the Arab people against Zionism and against the forecible occupation of their land by Israeli aggressors so that the struggle for the just demands of the Palestinian people for their homeland is undermined.
Against this background of international events, it is reprehensible that China, a Socialist country has launched an aggressive against Viet Nam, another Socialist country, which during sxities, drew admiration from democratic people all over the world as the symbol of resistance against the biggest imperialism power of the world. Not only has this action tarnished the image of Socialist China itself, but most dangerous of all, it has opened the way for fresh U.S. interference in an area from which it was driven out only a few years ago. It is not enough for China simply to withdraw its so-called “punitive” expedition from Viet Nam and contend that the matter is closed. What is needed is a self-critical reappraisal of its foreign policy-not only towards Viet Nam, but also regarding Chile, Angola and even Iran, wherever it sided with Pro-Western forces against fighters for national liberation and a thorough examination of how their blind hostility to what they term as ’social imperialism’ is playing into the hands of the imperialists. Let me also add that despite these disturbing events, there should be no cause for disappointment, since in the present stage of the world developments, these deviations and distortions will not prevent the march of history and the worldwide victory of those forces committed to peace, democracy and Socialism.
Domestic Scene: Struggles in 1974-75
Coming to the domestic scene, so many developments hava taken place since the last conference that it is not possible to describe and analyse all of them in detail in this report. What is being attempted is a broad survey of the main issues which have been posed by the experience of these five intervening years.
First, the period following the Sikar Conference until the imposition of the emergency rule on June 26, 1975. In Sikar we noted the main features of the period-the rising prices increasing unemployment, stagnation in food production, industrial recession, and a rising nationwide mass discontent all over which further intensified the agrarian crisis. We stated, “The Government’s refusal to implement land reforms and give land to the tiller, combined with its policy of capitalist development in agriculture with the help of landlords has, during this period further deepened the crisis of the agrarian economy. As the consequence, the concentration of land in the hands of a fever wealthy elements has remained, eviction of tenants in the named ‘self-cultivation’ became widespread, and landlessness was of the increase at an alarming rate. And “as the economic crises was deepening and people were getting disillusioned and were being drawn into mass struggles, the Congress rulers were resorting to more and more brutal repression. All the instruments of suppression are being strengthened”. The report the General Secretary drew attention to the semi-fascist terror which had been let loose by Congress thugs in collaboration with the police and CRP in West Bengal from 1971 and the murder of 400 Kisan Sabha workers of that state. The resolution on ”Repression and Democratic Rights warned that the trend is dangerous. The Congress rulers are driving towards a one-party dictatorial rule.“ The resolution said in conclusion, of the struggle for democracy has acquired urgent importance. The fight for peoples livelihood cannot be separated from a broadbased struggle against terror and repression and for democracy”.
As we know by now each of these words has been vindicated by the course of Indian history over the next three years. The Sikar Conference was followed by a call for nationwide action on May 3, 1974, given by the Left parties which received a big response throughout the country; the historic railway strike, defying all types of repression, wrote a glorious chapter in the history of the working class movement in India. There was a steep erosion of popular support for the Congress Government that in practically all the states. The J.P.- led movement symbolised popular resistance to the authoritarian regime, against corruption and declining standards of living of the people. The scale of discontent was so massive and wide-based that ordinary repressive laws and the “external” emergency then in operation were not able to cope with it, and the very survival of the Governemnt had come under question. In this situation, in order to keep itself in power, in definance of the popular opposition, the Indira Gandhi Government resorted to intensified repression through the declaration of internal emergency, suspension of constitutional safeguards for individual liberty, abrogation of all democratic rights and civil liberties, imposition of rigorous Press censorship, terror by way of MISA and other legal and illegal methods, and the curtailment of the authority and power of the judiciary and legislature.
Emergency rule: 20 Point Programme
The second period, under the emergency rule, was not simply one characterised by tortune and repression. No less important a feature of this period was the spreading of false propaganda and populist rhetoric in order to create a favourable image of the Government both inside and outside the country. The core of this propaganda was the so-called ’20-point programme’ which talked of land reform, abolition of bonded labour, liquidation of debts, and improvement in the conditions of agricultural labourers and small farmers, and so on. The massive propaganda through the Government-controlled Press and Radio certainly helped to confuse many well-meaning people in the beginning, but in the end the ugly truth about the emergency rule could no longer be concealed.
Abolition of Bonded Labour
What had been the record of the emergency rule on the much-trumpeted question of bonded labourers? According to the recent study by the National Labour Institute, there are in all 23 lakhs of bonded labourers spread over nine states in the country so far surveyed, but of these only 101,972 could be ’identified’ by March 31, 1978, and only 31,842 could be ’rehabilitated“, whatever that means according to Government statistics. In other words, the vast majority of bonded labourer have not been affected by this legislative abolition. Further more, there was also a question of definition. Bonded labourer are described differently in different parts of country-as ‘hailed in Gujarat, ‘kamia’ in Bihar, ‘harwaha’ in Madhya Pradesh ‘gothi’ in Andhra Pradesh, ‘jeetha’ in Karnataka and so on and the definition left to the discretion of the administrativeauthorities. Not all of these varieties were given protection by law.
The 27th round of the National Sample Survey revealed that there were more than seven million agricultural wage-earners the country who toil 12-16 hours a day for a pittance on the land of the moneylenders and landlords in order to repay the debt incurred many years ago, some incurred by their for fathers. This kind of labour, which is really bonded labour would not get the protection of the law.
A large section of the agricultural labourers are described ’attached labourers’ or ’farm servants,’ but given their dependence on the landlord-money-lender for work, food a occassional help during marriage and other social occassion these labourers cannot leave their landlord at will and get away from their clutches. The criterion should be whether a worker has freedom to change his employer. If he does not have that freedom, he should be considered as bonded labour. In these cases it is not enough to pass a law prohibitng reactionary social institution, as this by itself would make no difference to the life and livelihood of the bonded labourers, unless a favourable political and social climate is created in the village and unless it is possible for these most exploited sections of the rural population to assert their rights without fear of economic, social and physical attacks,
Let us make it very clear, that as long as life in the villages continues to be dominated by a minority of landlords, the employers of bonded labour who control the life and work of the poorer sections through intimidation, as well as economic and social sanctions, and on whom the ruling party continues to depend for the mobilisation of political support in the countryside, it would not be possible to implement such laws. Just as the law against untouchability has remained a scrap of paper, this legislation carries no significance without a prior restructuring of the village political-social-economic system in favour of the rural poor.
Non-implemented of Land Reform
This bring us to the pledge given by the Government under the emergency rule regarding land reform. It is true during this period in the several states, land ceilings were lowered, ’family’ based ceilings were imposed and the share of the sharcropper in the total produce was raised. But it is equally true that all these legislative actions remained as ’show-pieces’ in statute books. These laws were enacted to soothe the radical middle class opinion in the towns, and were never meant to be implemented at the cost of the landlords who formed the backbone of the ruling party in the countryside. According to a survey conducted by Samachar in August 1977, out of an estimated surplus of 5,301,118 acres, only 3,930,058 were declared, 2,082,968 acres were taken possession of, and only 1,272,797 acres were distributed. That is, less than a quarter of the estimated surplus actually came into the hands of beneficiaries whose number was 868,372 in a country of 600 million people. In other words, only one person in a thousand was blessed enough to reap is benefits. This was the extent of ‘radical’ land reform the Government under Mrs. Gandhi was prepared to accept, something which would not even scratch the bare surface of the vast agrarian problem in the country.
And what about the rights and security of tenure of share croppers, their increased share, and the ownership of housesite for landless labourers? Here again, how could this Government be expected to implement these rights when they could have had the effect of weakening the rural vested interests? So not only were there provisions not implemented, but on the contrary, evictions increased, more and more of the poor tenant were forced to join the rales of the landless, and those who resisted and insisted on their legal rights were arrested unde MISA, mercilessly tortured and sometimes maimed in police custody or handed over to the musclemen of the landlords for further torture.
As we have insisted many a time in the past, land reform cannot be merely a piece of legislative action, it is a political process which touches upon the entire social administrative structure of village life. Without the necessary political will which would require a clear alienation of the law makers a administrators from the rural vested interests, land reform legislations remain an eye-wash. Experience with land reform legislations under Mrs. Gandhi and then afterwards under the Janata rule, provides us with ample confirmation of the formulations.
Increased Misery under ‘garibi hatao’ rule
Coming to “garibi hatao”, the trade mark of the Indra Gandhi regime, the fact remains that during more than a decade of her rule, the number of those below the poverty line registered an alarming increase. According to one study, number of poor increased from 220 million in 1960 to 250 million in 1970 and then jumped to 335 million in 1976. Taking the fifteen years between 1961-62 and 1976-77 into account, while the money-wage of agricultural labourers registered an almost three-fold increase, the real wage of agricultural labourers actually showed a decline from Rs. 1.76 to Rs. 1.64 at 1961-62 prices. In terms of the number of days worked by the agricultural labourers, for the period 1964-65 to 1974-75, it full form 208 days to 185 days in case of men, from 138 to 129 days in case of women, and 167 days to 145 days in case of children. The richest ten percent in the villages continued to own more than half the real assets, while the poorest ten percent accounted for a meagre 0.1 per cent. As in the precious Indira days, here again we see the inevitable trend under class rule towards concentration of land, pauperisation of the poor peasantry eviction or tenants and the swelling of the ranks of the landless, but with a difference. The vigorous emphasis on ’green revolution’ technology based on modern, expensive, import based inputs, and a deliberate ‘selective’ strategy of agricultural development in favour of so-called ‘progressive farmers’ and more richly endowed areas now accelerated these trends, and as a consequence disparity between the poor and the rich, and between the rich and the poor areas, grew by leaps and bounds.
While foodgrains production registered a substantial increase during this period, thanks mainly to good weather, which helped to accumulate food reserves and avoid imports, let us not forget that even the record production figure of 120.8 million tonnes in 1975-76 was far short of the Fifth Plan target of achieving 140 million tonnes production by 1978. Let us also not forget that this production was just enough to maintain the per capita food availability of the early sixties. And all the calculations showed that despite the ‘green revolution’, the rate of growth in food production between 1965 and 1977 was lower than that achieved during the previous years since Independence, further more, although a so called ‘surplus’ was achieved during the emergency years by importing food-grains, this was more apparent than real since it took no account of the lack purchasing power of millions of the poor who could not buy an adequate amount of food. Even after achieving this ’surplus’ and ‘self sufficiency’ in food needs, more than two-thirds of the Indian population continued to suffer from under nutrition or malnutrition. How can one talk of self-sufficiency when a large majority of the people with low purchasing power cannot afford two square meals a day, and the rate of growth in food production was declining?
Unable to meet the basic needs of the population for food, clothing, shelter, education, health and work, and unable to rule the vast country by authoritarian decrees alone, the Government was looking for a short-cut solution to the problems of the people which would leave the existing land relations unaffected. In the compulsory sterilisation programme they thought they had found a basic solution to the major problems of development, a solution which would also be to the liking of the World Bank and the Government of the United States. We all know how brutally this policy was implemented in the countryside without regard to the feelings and sentiments of the people, and how people were rounded up, brought to the family planning clinics and forcibly sterilised against their wishes, and how it was mainly the poorer section which was intimidated, harassed and coerced to go through such experience like helpless cattle trapped and shackled. But we also know how people resisted these cruel methods, either by hiding behind the bushes or by organising themselves and fighting, and how many gave their lives in Muzaffarnagar, Pipli and Turkman gate in defiance of Government orders.
Victory of the Democratic Forces
The parliamentary and assembly elections of 1977 helped to polarise the political forces in the country into those in favour or against the authoritarian rule, and through a clear and unambiguous verdict the architect of the emergency rule was trounced by the electrorate. A new Government came to power with a large fund of goodwill behind it, and a public commitment to restore democratic rights of the people, provide employment to everyone within a decade and meet the basic needs of the people. At the state level also, the extent of change was enormous: gone were the days of monopoly of political power by one party, power at the state level was now shared by the Janata, the Congress, Congress(I), AIADMK, Akali Dal, one or two other regional parties and most significantly, the Communist party of India (Marxist)-led united Left Fronts which formed the Governments in West Bengal and Tripura by inflicting massive defeats on both the Congress and the Janata. While we will have more to say about the role of these two the Left-Front Governments later, confining ourselves at this stage to the Central Government, let us point out that while the assumption of power by the Janata Government and produced a big change in the political scene by breaking the monopoly of power so far enjoyed by the Congress Party by restoring democratic rights of the people and thus creating a favourable condition per the development of the democratic movements in the country, for the country as a whole it has that brought about any basic change in the correlation of class acres. As has been the case since Independence, even today the country is under bourgeois-landlord rule, the only difference being that one party representing those classes has been decided by another which differs from the first only on the areas of democratic set-up but on the nature of the class intrests it serves.
Janata rule: the same Class Rule
The class bais of the new Government was revealed in its proposed Industrial Relations Bill, which has been described the entire working class movement as the most reactionary, anti worker, and anti-trade union Bill ever presented to Parliament. In its eagerness to join hands with the Congress party in order to keep the emergency provisions and the provisions for preventive detention in the Constitution and in the budget proposals presented to Parliament only a month ago.
The organised attacks on harijan colonies by the goondas of vested interest in many states of the country of which the Belchi and Villupuram incidents are not two isolated examples, of raping and killing of women, the burning of their huts the general atmosphere of terror which is prevailing in many part of the country, are being encouraged, if not always by the active participation of a section of the ruiling party in those atrocities, but at least by the the indifference and tolerance show towards these by the Government. While the fear of the return authoritarianism is still real, and there can be no denying of the valuable contribution made by sections of the Janata Party in the fight against authoritarian trends, the workers of the Kisan Sabha can ill-afford to forget the class character of the present regime and neglect the task of sustaining and stepping up of the struggle in defence of the rural poor, against the present Janata regime.
Sixth Five-Year Plan
The Sixth Plan document issued by the Government last year for the period 1978 to 1983 frankly admits of many of the mistakes and ‘fundamental failures’ of the past, and then good on to draw a rosy, attractive picture of what life is to become in the future, but when it comes to actual policies and programmes, we are disappointed to find that these indicate no radical departure from the traditional practices and outlook which have been responsible for the continued poverty stagnation and inequalities in the country so far. The document analyses over a quarter of a century of planning and state that it “has indicated some fundamental failure and it is on account of these that the need has arisen for a reappraisal of the development strategy.”
We must face the fact that the most important objectives planning have not been achieved, the most cherished goal seem to be almost as distant today as when we set out on the road to planned development. These aims implicit in all over plans, but more explicitly stated in the latter formulations our development strategy—are universally accepted by the Indian people, they are, “the achievement of full employment the eradication of poverty, and the creation of a more equal society”. The Plan document then goes on to under-score the crucial role of agriculture in the country’s economy, the need for area planning for integrated rural development, and the provision of minimum needs; but when we come to actual figures and detailed accounts these do not give us the hope that the ‘most cherished goals’ mentioned in the document can be attained under this Plan framework.
Both the Plan document and various official pronouncements speak of the need to tilt the balance between the rural and urban areas in favour of the rural areas, but all that we find in the plan for effecting this change is an increase in the Plan allocation favour of the rural sector from 37.5 per cent in the previous Plan to 43.1 per cent in the Sixth Plan and this figure includes a wide range of activities from agriculture, irrigation, power, roads, inputs, health and water to roads, housing, nutrition, welfare and what not. That is, even after taking all kinds of allocation in favour of the rural sector into account, the bulk of the Plan expenditure seems to be spent outside this sector.
On the other hand, if care takes the movement of prices of agricultural and manufactured goods over the past year into account, it is confirmed that the terms of trade between these two sectors is actually moving against the rural sector under the Janata rule. Besides, after all the tall talk about the rural sector and all the fanfare and publicity which has gone with it, let us recognise that the benefits from the spending would not secure to the rural population as a whole but would benefit mainly a small minority while very little of the benefit trickles down to the rural poor, who would continue to be ignored and remain under the traditional exploitative relationships.
In another part the Plan document confesses that “the land reform measures had no visible impact on the distribution of rural property“. And after noting that the land distributed so far is ‘less than one-fourth of the estimated surplus”, the document goes on to state, “the disconcerting fact is that the officially estimated surplus is a fraction of the area held in large ownership as estimated from survey data. The discrepency between the ‘estimated surplus’ area and the area roughly indicated as potential surplus by survey data may be due to varying definitions of surplus land in different states, the transfers made to evade ceilings, the failure to record or verify true surpluses or both”. We have no quarrel with this assessment of the past performance of the Government in this important field, but the question remains, will the Government under the Janata Party do any better? On the contrary, the impression is strengthening as though the issue has been virtually shelved as being a matter of no more than rhetorical or public relations significance. Even today, the emphasis is by and large on the distribution of land declared surplus under the ceiling laws, and not on tightening the legislative and administrative machinery to distribute the ‘actual surplus’ which is held by the wealthy land owners under various guises.
In 1969, the Mahalanobis Committee estimated that if the ceiling limit was fixed at 20 acres, 63 million acres of land would be available for distribution. Compare with this figure the 4.6 million acres which had been declared surplus according to the latest economic survey, which is about one per cent of the total cultivated land area of the country! So much about the commitment of the present Government to land reform. So, whereas even today the Ministers go on talking by about land reform and social justice, their verbal effort is not matched by a sincere desire to actually translate those into concrete legislative and administrative actions against large holdings. In cases of some states, for example Orissa and Gujrat, the Janata Governments have even moved backwards and have attempted to revise some of the relatively progressive provisions of the existing Acts.
While the Congress Government under Mrs. Gandhi was talking about the 20-point programme, the Janata Government has moved a bit further—it is talking about a 22-point programme. While the Congress Government talked about solving the problem of unemployment, the Janata Government is pro-claiming that it would solve the problem of unemployment and also make a significant impact on underemployment within ten years. While the Congress Government was pledging to bring about ‘social justice’, the new Government is holding high the banner of ‘distributive justice’ and the meeting of basic miuimum needs. But after all such jugglery what is the real picture of today?
At the end of the first year of its work, the Janata Government boasted of a 13.9 per cent increase in agricultural output, and a 14.8 per cent increase in foodgrains production over the previous year, but within a year from that these growth figures have come crashing down to a humble two per cent for both agricultural output and food production according to the latest Economic Survey of the Government. And the projected growth rate of 4.7 per cent per annum, after making allowance for population growth, is one of the lowest among the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, many of which with a much narrower resource base than ours have managed about double this figure.
It is true that it has been possible to increase food production to a new record level- a figure of 125.6 million tonnes in 1977-78, and there is an expectation of an even higher figure for 1978-79, and we are glad that the food imports have become unnecessary and a big reserve stock of about 19 million tonnes is now in hand. But let me repeat again the point I made with reference to the claims of success made by the previous regime in this field, that even with these ‘record’ figures, the per capita net availability of cereals and pulses in 1978 was 472.6 grams per day, that is less than 480.2 grams recorded for 1965 and barely equal to 468.7 grams recorded for 1961. In other words, today an average Indian is eating as much as he did 17 years ago and less than what he did 13 years ago. So, while to dispense with food imports has been an important gain, the scale of undernourishment and malnutrition which prevailed in the earlier years remained unchanged. Furthermore, given the critical dependence of the country’s agriculture on the vagaries of weather, it remains to be seen whether the new levels of food production can be sustained in the further years. It is not enough to achieve ’record levels’ in physical production, the world is never at a standstill. What is much more important is to keep on increasing food production both to meet the needs of the growing population and to achieve a higher level of food consumption. What the figures show is that while our rate of growth of food production is roughly in balance with the rate of population growth, it has not been possible to curtail undernourishment, starvation and lack of nutritional balance in food consumption. So much for the progress achieved in term of food production under this new technology. Besides the rate of growth in foodgrains is declining: whereas between 1951 and 1965 the average annual growth rate was around 3.5 per cent, the rate of growth since then, including the current peak year production, is less than 2.5 per cent and while the figure of 125.6 million tonnes in 1977-78 was an all time record, let us not forget this is a few million tonnes less than the target of 129 million tonnes set by the Fourth Plan for 1973-74 for smaller population.
We find that instead of carrying out a radical land reform programme and bringing about structural and institutional changes in the social and economic life of village India, the emphasis is being placed today on technical solutions—on minor irrigation, fertiliser, pesticides new and high-yielding varieties, and associated infra structure. This is very much a continuation of the so-called ’green revolution’ strategy which helps to reinforce the dominant position of the landlords in the rural areas, the very same classes which should have been replaced from power in the countryside through land reform. While the Plan document admits of the need to increase the purchasing power of the village poor, even for the sake of industrial development whose scope is ’limited by the narrowness of the Market’, the policies being persued by the Government would go very little towards expanding such purchasing power, and in fact it would accentuate inequality, the monopoly over land in the countryside and the disparity between more richly endowed areas and the rest of the country.
Coming now to the Economic Survey for 1978-79 which has just been published, we find the same kind of lopsided emphasis on modern agricultural inputs: 2.6 million hectares have been brought under minor irrigation programmes in 1977-78 and two million hectares more would be brought in 1978-79, the fertiliser consumption has reached a figure of 4.29 million tonnes and there would be another 18 per cent increase in 1978-79 and so on and so forth. But what is not being emphasised is that even with all these ’success’, so far only 29 per cent of the cultivated land has been brought under irrigation and the cropping intensity will only increase from 122 to 126 during 1978-83. The per hectare fertiliser consumption figure of 24.6 kg. in 1977-78 still compared very unfavourably with those for countries like Japan or the Netherlands with respective figures of 151 and 373 kilograms. The land productivity in India is about one-fourth or one-fifth of the figures for some of the leading countries in the world, and with a much smaller cultivated land area despite it size, China’s food production is incomparably bigger than India’s, despite many environmental similarities between the two countries.
This year’s budget has been billed as one which favours the ’rural sector’ but the figures clearly demonstrate that it would directly hit the majority of the people living in that sector, the rural poor. Out of Rs. 665 crores of additional taxation more than 90 per cent would be collected by way of inequitable indirect taxes, which implies that it would put even more relative burden on the poorer section than the previous one. The incidence of indirect taxes on a wide range of articles of consumption, and the equally inequitable Rs. 1300 crores of deficit financing would increase prices and further cripple the low purchasing power of the rural majority. Perhaps the most serious item of taxation has been the one on kerosene, which is widely used as illuminant in the countryside, a large part of which is yet to receive the benefit of electricity. In this way a greater part of the burden of the economic crisis created by the ruling classes will be passed on to the inpoverished and weak shoulders of the poor, the vast majority of whom live in the countryside.
Deepening Agrarian Crisis
Comrades, the budget for the coming financial year, the Economic Survey of the ciurrent financial year, or even the Sixth Plan are not isolated documents, all these reflect the nature of the political system and its class outlook. These also reflect the methods by which the ruling class is attempting to handle the economic and agrarian crisis which has been deepening over time. The crisis is manifested in the growing concentration land, increasing poverty and unemployment, mounting burden of debts, shrinking real prices of agricultural produce, and in several other ways. In what follows I will attempt to present a brief outline of the significant features of this agrarian crisis.
Comrades, all the available data, whether from Government sources or from researchers working in the field, show that the distribution of land ownership is still extremely uneven and the grip of the land monopoly over the rural economy is as strong as ever. Whereas 20 years ago, five per cent of the top landowners owned 35 per cent of the cultivated land, today, according to the Agricultural Census four per cent of big land owners still own 31 per cent of the cultivated land while 70 per cent of the farmers own less than one acre of land. Perhaps more significant than the figures on land distribution, which are often misleading because of large-scale evasion of land ceiling laws by the landlords, are the figures on asset distribution; more so because large asset holding increases credit worthiness, and ability to take risk with few cropping practice. The recently published figures from a study on asset distribution in 1971-72, conducted under the auspices of the Reserve Bank of India, shows that whereas the top four per cent of rural households with more than Rs 50,000 of asset holdings, and the top ten per cent own more than half of the total, the bottom 20 per cent of the rural households with less than Rs. 1000 of asset holdings own only one per cent of the total rural assets. It has also been confirmed by several other studies that beginning with strong asset-ownership position, and having already satisfied the basic minimum needs of their families, this rich minority is able to invest more of the additional income on productive asset like agricultural machineries which further increase their earning power, to mobilise credit and take risk, and dominate the village economy.
Alongside this concentration of economic power, poverty and unemployment are mounting. According to one estimate the number of those below poverty line increased from million in 1960, and 250 million in 1970, to 375 million in 1976 and even the Sixth Plan document admits that 290 million people of India are living below the ‘poverty line’, of which 160 million are actually earning less than 75 per cent of the national ’poverty line’ figure, that is they are even failing to meet their hare physical survival needs. While we can keep on debating about the exact position of the poverty line, and of all the statistical sophistications necessary to derive the precise number of those below or above that line, the fact remains, and which has been confirmed by visitors who have travelled all over the world, that India is today one of the poorest countries of the world, despite three decades of ‘planned development’. As for employment, the Sixth Plan document reveals that every year only 10-11 per cent of the new entrants to the job market are being absorbed by the organised industry, while the rest are being forced either to eke out a living some-how from the ever-expanding ‘informal sector’ of unproductive and unremunerative employment in the towns, or add to the pressure on land by staying on in agriculture, or become openly unemployed. The pressure of people in the rural market for hired labour is reflected both in the falling level of real wages and the declining number of days per year for which work is available to them. According to one estimate, between 1964-65 and 1974-75, the number of days worked by men hired agricultural workers has declined from 208 to 187 while the corresponding figures for women and children are 138, 129, and 167 and 146 respectively. And between 1961-62 and 1976-77 the real wage has declined from Rs. 1.76 to Rs. 1.64 at 1961-62 prices.
The growing poverty and competition are forcing more and more peasants and artisans to join the ranks of the agricultural labourers, and as a consequence the number of such labourers is swelling at an alarming rate. One estimate shows that whereas in 1964-65, the number of agricultural labourers was 37-39 million, by 1974-75 the figure became 47-49 million, a significant increase of 20 million in only ten years. All these are indications of the way the agrarian crisis is developing in the country.
Some Major Issues: Fair price for Crops
Let us now examine some of the major issues facing the peasant movement of India today.
One major issue which concerns the peasantry as a whole is the question of prices of agricultural produce. While the prices of agricultural inputs have sharply increased, particularly since the 1973 oil crisis, the prices of outputs have remained stagnant or registered marginal increases, or have actually declined, there by making cultivation highly unremunerative. This is as true of traditional subsistence crops like rice, wheat or maize as for the commercial crops like potato, sugarcane, cotton, jute, tobacco, vegetables, and oilseeds. Price of rice declined by 4.3 per cent last year and those for jowar, bajra, cereals in general, fruit and vegetables, raw cotton, oil seeds, edible oil and sugar by 3.6 per cent, 12 per cent, 3.9 per cent, 6.8 per cent, 11.6 per cent, 12.1 per cent, 10.5 per cent, and 23.6 per cent respectively. In Uttar Pradesh sugarcane is selling at Rs. four per quintal compared to Rs. 20 per quintal for firewood. Jaggery is fetching less than Rs. 100 a quintal. The price of cotton has declined from Rs. 400 per quintal to Rs. 250 within one year; and the price of potato at Rs. 20-30 per quintal is so low compared to production costs, many farmer; are wondering whether it is worth bringing the potatoes out of the field. And while over the last few years agricultural, price have been declining, the manufactured products are becoming, dearer, thereby moving the terms of trade against the agricultural producers making cultivation even more unprofitable, and eroding the standard of living of a vast proportion the rural masses who are already poor. Very often a bumper crop brings down prices so sharply that a cultivator is left in no better position than he would have been in a bad year. The low and unstable prices not only adversely affect the life of the producer, but it also discourages him from more risk but more remunerative investments in commercial crops in advanced methods of farming.
While the Agricultural Prices Commission regularly declares protected prices for various crops, these often fail to make full allowance for increased costs of inputs particularly for the poor farmers. While during recent years the prices of fertiliser, pesticides and diesel have increased by 80 per cent, 40 per cent and 90 per cent respectively, and its increase has been noted by the reports of the commission, these do not seem to have influenced the determination of protected prices. The Commission also fails to take into account increases in irrigation cost in recent years because of higher electricity charges. And although there exist agencies like the Food Corporation of India for purchasing crops at the protected prices, these do not have either the organisation or finance for purchasing directly from the producers. As a consequence, these protected prices result in giving protection to those whose need for this is the least, that is the millowners, traders and intermediaries. The latter not only do not pass on the benefits of protected prices to the producers but very often cheat them by offering them even lower than prevailing prices by classifying their produce at a lower grade.
The question of a fair price, stable and guaranteed, has therefore become a major issue for the peasantry, but more so for the poor section of it which has to pay a relatively higher price for the inputs and which having the least access to the market, storage or credit facilities, is forced to make a ‘distress sales’ at whatever price it can get at the time of harvesting. Already several campaigns have been launched by different units of the Kisan Sabha on this issue with the broadest possible support from all sections of the peasantry. It is necessary to intensify this campaign with a demand that such a fair, guaranteed price should be remunerative and take full account of the cost of production while the issue price of foodgrains should not be allowed to be increased even if the Government has to subsidise it. The campaign should focus on the exploitative mpnopolistic control of a few traders over the market for agricultural crops, inputs as also for almost all the village industries, and should demand their liquidation and replacement by new marketing arrangements run by the state or cooperatives.
Another major issue facing the peasantry as a whole is the growing burden of indebtedness. The 1951-52 Rural Credit Survey conducted by the Reserve Bank of India estimated a total debt burden of Rs. 750 crores, ten years latter in 1961-62, during the second survey, the figure was found to be Rs. 2400 crores. In 1971-72, the sample estimates indicated an aggregate debt burden of Rs. 3000 crores; and according to some experts, the debt burden has by now reached an astronomical figure of Rs. 6000 crores. Even after more than three decades of Independence the lion’s share of rural debt is continued to be supplied by the village moneylender at an exorbitant interest rate while institutional finance—whether commercial banks, land development banks, regional rural banks or cooperatives-plays a minor, secondary role in the over-all structure, accounting for 32 per cent of the outstanding cash dues in 1971-72, according to one estimate. It has also been estimated that of the increase in total bank advance in 1976-77 only 12 per cent went to the rural sector, and a great majority of the beneficiaries (about two-thirds) belonged to the wealthy section, a point we have already noted. In other words, not only is institutional credit dismally inadequate, it is also discriminatory, and the benefit of its cheaper credit is mainly conferred on those who can afford to do without it, while a great majority of the poor is forced to pay dearly for loans obtained from the village-sharks.
If the banking institutions were to be of much use to the rural poor and to replace the village mahajans eventually the cannot avoid the task of critically examining their own method of operation—the cumbersome formalities which firighten of the less educated, the insistence on securities and a too caution approach towards loan to poorer sections, the refusal to advance loans for personal consumption which account for 90-95 per cent of rural debt according to the Planning Commission, and the prejudiced class outlook of their functionaries. And it not enough to make token advance to the poorer sections under pet schemes, whether for poultry farming or rural industries unless at the same time necessary help and guidance is given for its proper use, their performance is monitored and all the efforts are made to make their enterprise viable, including help with marketing. And the network of branches should expand much more rapidly than has been the case hitherto, they should be prepared to move deep into the countryside and not confine themselves to areas which are near big towns or national highways. On the question of repayment of loans they should show more understanding of the problems of rural poor; there should be more readiness to convert short-term loans into medium-term loans in years of drought, flood, and other natural calamities, interest should not be allowed to accumulate at a compound rate, poor peasants should not be harassed when non-payment is not due to any fault on their part, and the huge burden of outstanding loan for faulty schemes or during years of bad harvest which with compound interest several years have now reached an alarming size in many places should be liquidated and the defaulters should be provided with a fresh opportunity to obtain loans.
Coming now to the sharecroppers, the most important issue conforming them is security of tenure. We have already noted how in the name of ‘self-cultivation’ many tenants have been evicted over the past two decades, and how this had been instrumental in raising the percentage of agricultural labourers from 16 per cent in 1961 t0 25 per cent in 1971. Evictions are still going on. Unless these evictions are halted, and the right to tenancy is made hereditary, they will continue to swell the ranks of landless labourers. Our movement should not only demand full legislative and administrative protection from eviction, it is our experience all over the country that neither this nor the registration of sharecroppers would be accomplished with the blessing and pious wishes of the administration alone where our own movement is powerful, it has been possible to provide protection to tenants and to give them courage to stand upon their feet and fight for their rights, and where it is weak, irrespective of whether the legislative or administrative support is forthcoming or not, the work of registration of sharecroppers has dismally failed and the sharecroppers themselves have become too scared to come forward.
A second stage in the campaign for the rights of the share croppers is the demand for an increase in the share of produce. Although several states have passed laws allocating between two-thirds and three-fourths of the crop in favour of the sharecropper when in addition to labour he also contributes inputs and implements, only rarely does he get his legally and morally due share of the produce. Practically every where today, the convention is to pay the sharecropper only a half of the produce; he gets even less in cases of concealed tenancies or where he has borrowed money from the landowner. In the “green revolution” areas the landlords often attempt and succeed to reduce the share of the sharecropper on the ground that with incresed productivity he would now get more in absolute amount despite reduced share.
The Indian peasant movement has a long history of struggles in defence of the rights of the sharecroppers including the famous ‘tebhaga’ movement of the forties. Building on that glorious past it should be possible to sharpen the struggle today for securing the rightful share of the produce for the sharecropper. No less important is the demand for institutional support and credit facilities in favour of the share croppers. Even now the banks and cooperatives treat them as ‘untouchables’ since they do not own land, deny them facilities which are available to other sections of the peasantry, and thereby force them to remain backward and dependent on the whims and beneyolence of exploiting landlord-money lenders. Let me also point out that it is very often this dependence of the sharecropper on his employer which discourages him from registering himself with the land records officials and thereby taking the risk of annoying his patron.
Coming to the agricultural labourers, the most exploited and the most militant section of the peasantry, so far over campaign among them has been confined to six main issues- ensuring a minimum wage, finding employment, establishing his rights to homestead and provision of house-sites, eradiction of indebtedness and provision of credit and demanding the distribution of excess land and waste land in their favour and these have achieved varying degrees of success according to the general political situation and the strength of our organisation among the landless labourers in individual states. We have been most successful in Kerala, where the movement of agricultural labourers has a long history particularly on issues like wages and homestead land and in West Bengal where though the movement of landless labourers is still in its infancy unlike in Kerala, a special effort has been made to strengthen the campaign on wages over the last few years. In Andhra Pradesh which was the forerunner of the agricultural labour movement in the country, the movement has again started picking up. In Tamil Nadu our movement is strong mainly among agricultural labourers in East Tanjavur. In Punjab also same efforts are being made to develop the movement and recently they have achieved some success on the question of distributing evacuee land, house-sites and wages.
But taking the country as a whole, our movement among the agricultural workers is weak and unevenly spread, and as a consequence most of the demands have not been realised even when these have received legislative support. With so much of unemployment around, the employed labourers are too scared to ask for a wage which is anywhere near the minimum wage or for the ownership of house-sites when that alone would not fill his stomach, and not only is the amount of land so far disiributed pitifuily small, even the tiny amount allotted to a landless person has often been parcelled into many pieces scattered all over the place. Unable to cultivate this land properly, very often the beneficiaries have been forced to sell or lease out those to richer farmers of neighbouring plots, thereby forfeiting the advantage gained by him through land reform.
The campaign for the demands of agricultural labourers cannot be fought only on the basis of a sectional platform independently of the other sections of the peasantry. The economic conditions of the other sections of the toiling peasantry is deteriorating and for lower sections cultivation is proving uneconomical, the artisans find no demand for their wares, the conditions of life in rural areas remain gloomy with uncertain prospects for development, and when there are no alternative employment opportunities outside the village, in the urban areas, it is inevitable that the ranks of the landless labourers would swell, thereby making life even more difficult for all the agricultural labourers. There campaign for survival, for this reason, cannot be won on purely economic demands alone, it requires to be linked with the overall struggle for radical restrueturing of the agrarian society, and the economic struggles have to go hand in hand with political education.
There is yet another reason why the sectional struggle of the agricultural labourers should be closely linked with that for a fundamental overhauling of the agrarian structure. It is the experience of India, and also of most countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, that urbanisation is no longer synonymous with industrialisation and the growing demand for labour. Unemployment is widely spread in the cities and towns, partly open and partly disguised, in the form of work in ‘informal sector’ of pavement traders, hawkers, coolies and so on. Under this condition it is no longer possible to solve the problems of joblessness and underemployment in the countryside through continued migration to the urban areas; these problems would require to be solved within the framework of the rural economy. And how can this be accomplished without a solution of the land problem through breaking the land monopoly of the landlord, whether capitalist or feudal, and distribution of the same to the agricultural labourers and pool peasants?
Keeping that broad perspective in view, and with a proper understanding of the sectional movement of the agricultural workers, knowing that there are conflicts of interest between them and the well-to-do peasants on the question of wages, we should not sacrifice the genuine demand of the agricultural labourers in the name of unity with the middle and rich peasantry. But at the same time the sectional movements of various sections of the rural populations, peasants, artisans, sharecroppers, and landless labourers, should be complementary to one another, and should succeed in unifying the broadest possible section of the peasantry against the exploiting landlords, traders, moneylenders and monopolists. It is unavoidable when so many sections merge into one movement that from time to time contradictions would appear between their individual constituents, but there is no reason why with a proper understanding of each other’s interests and viewpoints and with the common goal of defeating and weakening the hold of landlords, big traders, moneylenders and monopolists in the countryside, and with the skill and experience acquired through common experience in struggle, it should not be possible to reconcile those amicably and in a non-antagonistic manner. No political movement is worth its name without proper education of its cadres and of the masses following it. It is through education partly acquired by way of formal training of cadres and partly through ‘on-the-job’ rich experience in mass struggle, struggle coupled with determination and an unshakable faith in our goal that deviation of one section or another can be corrected.
Wherever it is possible and necessary, separate organisations of agricultural workers should be formed. But keeping in mind what has been stated above, there should be the fullest coordination between the activities of the agricultural labour organisations and the Kisan Sabhas.
Comrades, let me now come to the various struggles and impaigns which have been launched and led by the different mills of the Kisan Sabha on a wide range of issues. By its very nature it cannot but be a very inadequate outline of those struggles; so many strikes, demonstrations, bandhs, campaigns, conventions, confrontations and activities have taken place over the length and breadth of our vast country during the five eventful years since Sikar, that even a brief summary of those would cover many pages. Besides, even that would not claim that our choice is indicative of the importance or the size of popular participation in these struggles, but these are mere illustrations of the kind of issues we faced or the kind of campaigns we conducted during these intervening years.
We beign with our activities under the emergency rule. Since open activities were not possible during that period, the pettern of functioning changed: the emphasis was more on common group meetings and campaign against the repressive measures of the Government. This was the period when faced with a savage attack on our organisation, our main priority was survival. Thousands of our members were imprisoned, warranty for arrest were issued against many more on cooked-up charges tortures were common both in police custody and outside, and even the families of our Kisan Sabha workers were not spared by the repression. But this was also the period when a big attack was simultaneously launched on poorer sections of the rural population, particularly the sharecroppers and landless labourers, and the Kisan Sabha, while fighting off the attack on its own organisation, had also to fight in defence of their rights. In fact these two fights merged into one, became inseparable as it should be, and in the process helped identification of our organisation with the rural poor. The fight was not only against the arms of the state, but also against the private army of the landlords who, emboldened by the support they received from the police state, unleashed their terror campaign against the weaker sections in the village. In many places Kisan Sabha workers struggling against unlawful eviction of sharecroppers or resisting the take-over of vested land which came into the possession of the landless families through previous struggles were often arrested under MISA and kept imprisoned for years; and in many others the police, after a brief arrest, would actually hand over Kisan Sabha workers to the thugs of the landlord for torture. But despite these tortures and repressions we are proud to say that in places where our organisation is powerful we succeeded in defending the legal and democratic rights of the people through struggles.
In the Ranchi district of Bihar, a powerful movement of adivasis under our leadership successfully resisted attacks of the hirelings of the mahajans during harvesting, and strikes of agricultural labourers were organised in Champaran, Khagaria, Muzaffarpur, Monghyr, Nalanda and Santal Pargana. Over a time it was possible to highlight the hypocrisies of the 20-point programme and to step up the campaign for civil liberties and the release of political prisoners. In case of West Bengal, a semi-fascist authoritarian regime had been functioning since 1971, and repression on that scale was not a new experience for them. But the emergency rule put new restrictions on the rope of functioning. Despite this the state unit brought out and publicised three pamphlets on the settlement operations which were then going on, the attempt made by the Government to legalise illegal transfers, and the tasks of the Kisan Sabha under these conditions. During the later stage of the emergency rule it was possible to hold village meetings, street corner meetings and local processions, and organise movements on local demands like wages of agricultural labourers, eviction of sharecroppers and the distribution of excess land.
In Kerala, the emergency rule could not silence the democratic movement of the peasants. There were satyagrahas demanding the restoration of civil liberties, and many battles were fought despite repression, for the defence of the rights of the agricultural labourers and other sections of the peasantry. The magnitude of repression the people of Kerala had to suffer under a CPI-Congress regime has been highlighted by the Rajan case and other instances of political opponents being killed in police custody.
During the emergency our Punjab unit continued to struggle against eviction from evacuee land, against auctioning these lands and demanding their distribution to the landless occupants. They defied police repression and stuck to the lands which they had brought under cultivation.
In Andhra Pradesh, campaigns were conducted for the provision of housesites and for increase in wages as well as for fair price for agricultural produce.
The end of the dictatorial rule in 1977 opened up new opportunities for the expasion of our movement and for largescale campaign on the issues facing the—peasantry such as wages, land, credit, fair price for agricultural produce, against heavy taxation, etc. In West Bengal the kisan movement’s scope for work has both widened and changed as a result of the accession to office of the Left Front Government and the victory of the Left front in panchayat elections. The Kisan Sabha has to develop powerful movements to help the Government in formulating programmes for improving the lot of the toiling peasantry and to mobilise them for the implementation of these programmes. No legislation or executive order however progressive it may be can bring the desired result unless the organisations of the agricultural workers and peasants take effective steps for their implementation.
In Kerala, several campaigns and movements have been organised in defence of the interests of agricultural workers and peasants. Innumerable struggles have been fought there on land reforms and other issues involving lakhs of agricultural labourers and peasants. An agitation was launched last year in August with a detailed charter of demands which included demands for proper representation of peasants in the State Land Board, and for speeding up the take-over and distribution of surplus land. The agitation ended when the Chief Minister conceded the demands. But his failure to implement the agreement led to another 24-day agitation in January-February this year. About 12,000 people courted arrest in this campaign, which was withdrawn after the Chief Minister agreed to the demands again. For the first time the Government had to sign a written agreement with the Agricultural Labour Union.
In Tamil Nadu, the Kisan Sabha conducted movements for wages, fair price for agricultural produce, against indebtedness and increased taxation. It had also to counter the propaganda by the landlords, who claimed that the question of land had been finally settled by the Land Reforms Act and that the more important issue was the conflict between the village and the town. Several struggles have been conducted in Madurai and Tanjavur which have led to recovery of land and their vesting in favour of the poorer sections.
In Bihar, as in the rest of the country, the work of the Kisan Sabha has been greatly encouraged by the political developments in West Bengal and Tripura. Here the Sabha has succeeded in widening its base among the sharecroppers and in leading their struggles against eviction, particularly in East Champaran, Saharsa, Purnea, Katihar, Bhagalpur, Darbhanga and Madhubani.
In Orissa, a stronghold of the feudal rulers who have traditional mass followings, the campaign for basic land reforms, carries a special meaning, but here our movement is weak and largely based on four coastal districts. However, over the last year it has been possible for the state unit to launch a campaign, with the support of other Left and democratic forces, against the eviction of tenants from trust lands, against withdrawal of pro-tenant executive orders and against a conspiracy to amend some of the provisions of the existing Land Reforms Act in a retrograde direction.
In Assam, the main issues are distribution of 3.3 lakh acres of surplus land, registration of 13 lakh sharecroppers, fixing of minimum wage of agricultural labourer at Rs. eight, introduction of food-for-work programme, and ending of evictions. In June 1978 a demonstration of 15,000, led by us and the CPI-led Kisan Sabha, marched to the Assembly as a part of the statewide mass agitation on these demands, and met the Chief Minister.
The period since the Sikar Conference has witnessed a vigorous effort launched by practically all our state units to intensify the campaign for protecting the interests of the agricultural workers. Many struggles have been launched on wages, employment, house-sites and other demands of this section, and many of these have been won after sustained struggle.
In West Bengal, the campaign mainly focussed on minimum wages, and although the law on this is presently subject to judicial review, the struggles conducted by our organisation have already resulted in a significant increase in the wages. In Kerala, a major demand of the campaigns referred to above was for the cancellation of arrears due from the tenants and A kudikidappukars, and for the security of their tenures; and the Government eventually agreed to both. In Tamil Nadu, the main thrust of the campaign was against the low wage—scale for the agricultural labourers declared by the DMK Government. The two main bases of the campaign were Tanjavur, a district with a long tradition of struggle by agricultural labourers, and South Arcot; and a joint committee was set up for leading the campaign with the peasant organisations of the DK, DMK and the CPI. As a result of our agitation, the workers in Tanjavur now get six litres of paddy plus Rs. 2.75 for men and Rs. 1.50 for women, while in the Chidambaram taluk of South Arcot the agreement is now for the payment of wage fully in kind—nine litres of paddy for men and six litres of paddy for women. Wages have also been enhanced in some parts of Coimbatore and Madurai because of our campaign. Another campaign was launched, jointly with the CIP-led organisation, in East Tanjavur in July last year, and after a one-day strike in August covering the whole district, the demand for a wage of Rs. 6.50 for men and Rs. 4.50 for women was conceded.
In Andhra Pradesh, several campaigns were launched demanding implementation of the minimum wage rate and the law regarding house-sites, both in 1977 and 1978, which attracted more than 50,000 participants. A major success was with the agitation of bidi leaves workers whose wage could be raised from 4—7 paise per 100 leaves to 7-10 paise.
In Bihar, more than 38 per cent of the rural population are agricultural labourers, and in some districts like Purnea, Katihar, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur and West Champaran the percentage is as large as 51-54 per cent. But despite the size, the movement is weak and the wage is very low. However, last year it was possible to observe a demand week in June, and to organise a convention, and a general strike in 100 panchyats, which helped to raise the wage levels there; and a big march was organised which submitted a 12-point charter of demands to the Chief Minister.
In Uttar Pradesh, where a large section of the agricultural labourers are under the influence of the Indira Congress, we are focussing on the issues of wages, distribution of surplus land and the atrocities committed against landless harijans. In September last year, demonstrations were organised in the districts in support of the demands of the agricultural labourers where between one and four thousand people took part from every district.
In Punjab, many struggles of agricultural workers have been conducted on wages. Kisan Sabha units also came in support of agricultural workers when landlords threatened social boycott. The Dehati Mazdoor Sabha jointly with the Kisan Sabha conducted a movement for the distribution of evacuee land to the landless occupants and ultimately forced the Government to distribute all evacuee lands at the rate of five acre per family. The total land involved in this distribution will be about one lakh acres. This victory is the result of a struggle carried out by our organisation during the last 15 years.
Our movement is still weak among the adivasis, but over the last five years, several campaigns have been launched in support of their demands for rights of cultivation in forest land, protection from moneylenders, and against the benami transfer of tribal land to non-tribals. These campaigns have helped to win them away from reactionary and chauvinistic influences in several places. In the Chhotanagpur area of Bihar a number of struggles have been conducted by the Kisan Sabha against usury and bhubandhak land system. In Ranchi adivasis are fighting over 1600 acres of land which had been taken over by mahajans under the bhubandhak system but have been retaken by their organised action; and one crop has already been harvested. Another campaign has been against wrong entries in land records, in the course of which several meetings, demonstrations and gheraos have been organised by the tribal peasants before the central survey office. The movement is now spreading to other districts, particularly to Palamau, Hazaribagh and Santal Parganas. In Tamil Nadu, several campaigns have been conducted in Coimbatore, Nilgiri, Salem, Tiruchi and South Arcot against exploiting traders, mahajans and forest officials. In West Bengal, our movement among the adivasis is expanding, particularly in the Jhargram area of Midnapore district, as well as in Bankura and Birbhum.
In Maharashtra, a largely attended adivasis conference was held in January last year, under the leadership of our state unit but with the active participation of the Janata and Peasants’ and Workers’ parties, where 1500 delegates took part and in the concluding rally more than 40,000 participated. Two major outcomes of the conference were the extension of the tribal sub-plan to 42 taluks, and the agreement of the Government to allow the tribals to continue with their traditional cultivation of forest land, pending further investigation. Another issue, highlighted by our work in that state among the adivasis, is one of illegal transfer of land to non-tribals, sometimes to rich businessmen of Bombay who bypass the law by purchasing the land under the guise of a ‘tribal welfare trust’, but then grow orchards with hired non-tribal labour on that land. In one case, in Thana district, the struggle of the adivasis to get back such ‘trust’ land led to firing and the death of one adivasi, but this failed to dislodge them from the retaken land.
During this period, fair price for crops became a major demand of the peasant movement in practically every state. In West Bengal, the price of jute, the main commercial crop, became a major concern, and the campaign involved pressurising the Jute Corporation of India to open many more purchasing centres to enable direct purchase from the growers, and to recast the gradation system in order to make it understandable to the peasants. The present rules do not allow the. JCI to make purchases unless the price of jute goes below the Poor or the support price declared by the Government of India. This means that the corporation cannot purchase enough to influence the market price. A joint convention of jute growers and jute workers was held last year under the auspices of the AIKS and CITU, which demanded the nationalisation of the wholesale trade in jute.
In Kerala, where in Kuttanad the cost of cultivation of paddy is very high, the Kisan Sabha is demanding a price of Rs. 150 per quintal. Kerala produces more than 90 percent of the country’s rubber and more than 70 per cent of coconuts. The Kisan Sabha has been demanding 24 per cent increase in the price of rubber and coconut and stopping of their imports, lakhs of signatures on this demand has been collected and submitted to the Central Agriculture Minister. The State Kisan Sabha unit also organised joint conventions on the questions of prices of various crops.
In Andhra Pradesh, the price of paddy has slumped to Rs 65-70 per quintal, while the prices of inputs have increased. The Kisan Sabha is demanding a revision in the support price from Rs. 85 to Rs. 100 per quintal. An all-party committee was formed with the CPI(M), CPI, Janata and the Congress as constituents, which organised a convention and action committees as district, taluk, and village levels. The main demands of the convention were that either the state should arrange for the purchase of paddy at the support price through the FCI or Civil Supplies Corporation, or else it should accept payment of loan and taxes in paddy, and if the Government was not prepared to accept paddy, it should postpone collections of loans and taxes until the farmers are able to dispose of their paddy. The Kisan Sabha is advising the farmers to resist forcible collection of taxes and confiscation of property because of non-payment of tax or loan, and a big statewide movement is building up on this issue despite coercive measures by the state.
In Andhra Pradesh, from February 27 to March 5, our Agricultural Labour Union along with the CPI-led Agricultural Labour Union conducted a united struggle to locate surplus land and occupy it and demand its distribution. Almost 75,000 agricultural labourers and landless poor participated in this struggle, of whom more than 3500 were arrested. One person was killed in police firing and two persons lost their hands, and several were seriously wounded in lathi-charges and firings. The form of the struggle was to locate and occupy the land in surplus of the land ceiling but kept benami fraudulently by the landlords in their possession as well as occupation of cultivable Government waste land and forest, banjar and abandoned tanks. A noteworthy feature of this struggle was the participation of women whose number went up to one-third of the total participants in some areas.
As a result of this struggle, the Revenue Minister had to give the assurance that all declarations of the landlords settled by the Government would be reopened and that the ceiling law would be amended. He assured that all cases of illegal possession of land brought to the notice of the District Collectors would be examined.
In Punjab, the Kisan Sabha carried on a big campaign for fair price for cotton and sugarcane. All-party conventions of cotton-growers and sugarcane-growers were held separately. Demonstrations were also held at district headquarters. The result was that the Cotton Corporation of India was forced to purchase more cotton and the Punjab Government announced that it would subsidise the price of sugarcane.
In Tamil Nadu, apart from two separate conventions of sugarcane and groundnut-growers early this year, a hunger-strike was organised in front of 250 cooperative centres demanding distribution of fertilisers at reduced prices.
In Western Uttar Pradesh, our traditional base of among the sugarcane growers and fair price for this crop has always been a major issue in that region. This time not only were there plenty of arrears of sugarcane with the traders but the price also was reduced to Rs. ten per quintal. The price paid by the Khandsari indurtry came down to Rs. three to Rs. five and that of jaggery to less than Rs. 100 a quintal. The Kisan Sabha launched a struggle in January this year for the payment of arrears, increase in the price of sugarcane by factories as well as the Khandsari units. More than 800 went to prison but forced them to pay the arrears. A main focus in our campaign is now on the demand for priority and extra facilities for the poor and middle peasants at sugar mills and fair price at cane-crushers.
In Eastern U.P., the Kisan Sabha carried on a campaign on a charter of demands and a statewide demonstration was held in Lucknow in the beginning of this year jointly of our Kisan Sabha, the CPI-led Kisan Sabha and Janata and Sarvodaya workers in which more than 20,000 participated and demanded apart from other things fair price for agricultural produce.
This year there is a precipitate fall in the price of potatoes. The price has gone down to Rs. 20 a quintal ruining the potato-growers. The Government has neither made any arrangements for purchase nor has it provided proper facilities for transporation, nor for storage. The Kisan Sabha units in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have carried on agitation for ensuring a fair price for potatoes, availability of railway wagons and control over the rates of cold storages. As a result the Government has taken some steps to purchase potatoes.
The last two years have been marked by several natural calamities two of which deserve special mention: the cyclone in Andhra Pradesh and also in Tamil Nadu in 1977 and the floods in West Bengal and other northern states in 1978. In all these states our comrades took a leading role in the distribution of relief and the rescue of victims, and some of them lost their lives while performing these noble duties. The demand for the rehabilitation of people affected by cyclone, tidal waves and floods became a major issue in these states. In West Bengal the flood which came in three stages, damaged a third of the crop, washed away many villages and 12 lakhs of mud huts, killed two lakh head of cattle, and took more than a thousand human lives. While the attitude of the Central Government towards this state at its hour of distress was partisan, a heartening feature of this sad episode was the magnificent way the people of West Bengal responded to the appeal of the Left Front Government. Not only that more than two crores of rupees was contributed in small amounts by the people to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, itself a record figure, and thousands took active part in rescue and relief operation (during which nine volunteers including six members of the Kisan Sabha died), but their constant vigilance helped to maintain the price level and to decisively defeat the conspiracies of the Congress and Janata parties to make capital out of the sufferings of the people. A clear evidence of the success with the relief operation was the fact that this time there was no visible movement of the people towards the cities, despite the magnitude of the disaster. The effort made by the Government and mass organisations like the Kisan Sabha in regard to the reconstruction programme has been widely appreciated by the people at large. It must be mentioned here that our units in other parts of the country expressed their solidarity by collecting relief and sending it to the affected states.
In Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh the main demands of the Kisan Sabha were for help for the construction of new homes, provision of clothing, postponements of debts, cancellation of tax and cess, and arrangements for credit. A proper river management programme with an efficient flood protection system is another demand which has been voiced by our state units in the flood-ravaged states.
We have mentioned here some of the activities of our units. They are neither exhaustive nor is the narrative satisfactory, but they indicate the growing unrest among the peasantry and the great possibility to build their organisation.
Peasant actions today are not confined to the role of one or two or some more organisations in the country. There are many platforms in various states working among the peasantry under different names, such as the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Farmers’ forum, Ketihari Union, organisations of the growers of commercial crops. They are mobilising vast sections of the peasantry on various slogans. At many places where there is no organisation, spontaneous struggles of agricultural workers and peasants are bursting out. We cannot ignore these struggles in the name of leadership, we have to judge them from the slogans raised. If the slogans are for securing the interests of the peasantry there should be no question of our remaining aloof. The organised strength in the peasantry is very weak, but there is a great urge among the peasantry for unity. We have to utilise this urge to develop and strengthen the peasant movement.
The reports from various states show that almost in every state, united actions have taken place on various issues especially on the question of land, wages, social oppression, indebtedness and prices. The peasants irrespective of their political affiliations participate in these actions. This is more so on the question of the prices of commercial products. These united actions create a new confidence in the mind of the peasantry to defend its interests. Our organisation at different levels has to play an important role in organising such actions so that a powerful movement of agricultural workers and peasants is developed, without which unity of the Left and democratic forces will remain a mere slogan. In this connection it is worth mentioning that because of the steep fall in the prices of commercial crops, growers’ organisations at various levels are coming up. Kisan Sabhas units have to take a keen interest in them.
Left Front Governments of West Bengal and Tripura
Comrades, this report cannot be complete without at least a brief reference to the performances of the two Left Front Governments of West Bengal and Tripura on the agrarian front. Both these Governments are functioning under severe constitutional limitations and in both these States the Governments have faced organised conspiracies under the banner of the Congress and Janata and miscellaneous other parties which are sabotaging its normal working, and in particular are obstructing the implementation of the land reform programme. In West Bengal every step in support of the legal rights of the sharecroppers and landless labourers is being described as an instance of the deterioration of the ‘law and order’ situation in the state, and in Marichjhanpi in the Sunderbans area, the very same parties are supporting the illegal occupation of reserve forests by a section of Dandakaranya refugees. In Tripura, continuous attempts are being made to incite the two major communities =the Tripuri tribals and the Bengalis—to engage in sanguinary conflicts through the campaigns by two chauvinist bodies aided by both the Congress and the Janata as well as foreign agents. But despite these despicable conspiracies and despite the constitutional constraints, I am proud to say that both these Governments are working with determination in the interests of the common people and over time the enemies of the people are becoming isolated and exposed. In fact the two Left Front Governments have already achieved a great deal within a short time towards helping the toiling masses.
A major achievement has been the creation of a favourable atmosphere for the growth of democratic movement including the movement of the peasants through the release of political prisoners, the withdrawal of cooked-up charges against the workers of the Kisan Sabha, the establishment of democratic rights of the people, and a decisive reversal of the traditional policy of police of interference in favour the vested interests in land disputes. Now in these two states, police is deployed for upholding the law of the state, and not for executing the law of the landlords and moneylenders as is the practice in the rest of the country. Let me also underline, in view of all the allegations about the law and order situation in West Bengal, that in two crop seasons since the coming to office of the Left Front Government, not only the right of the cultivator to harvest has been protected, this has been achieved with the minimum of disorder or conflict. The number of such conflicts since June, 1977, is less than the corresponding figure under the emergency rule.
In West Bengal those holding less than four acres of irrigated land or six acres of non-irrigated land have been exempted from payment of land revenue; and a new piece of legislation will be shortly presented to the State Assembly to make landowners pay tax on agricultural income. As for outstanding taccavi loans, those who repay their loan by March this year would be exempted from the payment of interest, and as for loans from commercial banks, the small and marginal farmers and landless labourers are being given full subsidy on interest if the repayment is made within a stipulated period. The food-for-work programme of the Government has created an alternative source of employment for the landless labourers and has helped in the process to free them from the clutches of the landed interests. The payment of Rs. 8.10 minimum wage by various Goverment departments engaged in construction work in rural areas has vastly improved the bargaining position of the agricultural labourers vis-a-vis their employers, they cannot be treated as cattle to be purchased or laid off at will any more. The Government has also implemented a law which confers ownership of house-sites to agricultural labourers, sharecroppers and artisans who are in possession and has provided for the reversion of ownership of land to poor farmers who were forced to make ‘distress sales’. Land forcibly laken over by the landlords during the six dark years of the authoritarian rule of the Indira Congress are now being returned to their rightful owners who first got possession of those during the 1969-70 land struggle led by the Kisan Sabha.
As for sharecroppers, apart from putting the onus of proving that a person cultivating land is not a sharecropper on the landowner; and making the failure of the landowner to issue a receipt to the sharecropper against his share of the crop a criminal offence with the prescribed fines and imprisonments, a campaign—Operation Barga has been launched for the registration of sharecroppers in the state. Sharecropping has now been made hereditary and lawful, and eviction practically impossible, while the share of the sharecropper has been increased to 75 per cent when in addition to his labour he also contributes inputs and implements.
Coming to the Left Front Government of Tripura, like the West Bengal Government, it has assigned a high priority to the speedy implemention of land reform measures, to take over surplus land and distribute it to the landless. During 1978, 4196 landless persons have been made owners of 10,315 acres of land. The main land issue facing the Government there concerns the protection of the rights of the tribals and the restoration of land alienated from the tribals in the past. During 1978, land has been restored to 328 tribal families, while those displaced by such restoration— the poor refugees from East Bengal—have been resettled in new areas with generous financial and other kinds of support. The Government is proposing to amend the existing laws in order to strengthen the legal position of the sharecroppers and tenants, and meanwhile, pending the finalisation of such amendments, provisions are being made for legal assistance to them against litigations instituted by the landowning interests. A programme for financially assisting the sharecroppers for securing agricultural inputs is to be launched from this year, while extensive administrative support is being extended to the task of updating, land records. And as in the case of West Bengal, a new land tax has been introduced which imposes a graduated rate and is linked to profitability and the market value of the land.
In both these states, led by Left Fronts, impressive successes have been achieved in panchayat elections by the candidates of the Left Front. In many panchayats, representatives of the poor and toiling peasants have been elected defeating the landlords. The reconstituted panchayats with new and bigger responsibilities have now emerged as the spearhead of rural development geared to satisfying the basic needs of the poorer sections and bringing popular participation in decision-making and planning.
Let me end this discussion on the Left Front Governments in the two states by pointing out that even with the new Governments as an extra arm of struggle and with responsible panchayats in operation at the grass root level, the task of vigorous work under the banner of the Kisan Sabha and of conducting ceaseless struggles in defence of the rights of the poorer sections of the rural population has not ended. On the contary, our experience shows that even in these two states success with land reform measures in general and sharecropper registration in particular directly varies with the strength of the peasant movement in an area, and with their willingness to fight and put pressure on the bureaucrats, police and the vested interests. It is the duty of the kisan movement to monitor the functioning of the Government and panchayats at all levels, to fight bureaucratic tendencies, to mobilise popular support for their work and to maintain eternal vigilance against subvertors and conspirators and the agents of the vested interests who are fighting for every inch to preserve their privileged positions. The bright performance of these two Governments, particularly on the agrarian front, is a model for the rest of the country to follow, and is an indication of what future holds for the Indian masses when the leadership of the Left Front is established over the whole country.
The experience of the two Left Front Governments is not only important for the people of these two States, it is equally important for the people and Left and democratic forces everywhere in the country. These would provide valuable guidance to the movement elsewhere and would inspire them to break new ground and move beyond the horizon.
In contrast to this glorious record of the two Left Front Governments, the Kerala Government which claims to be “progressive” and “a model for the whole country” has not, in all the ten years of its existence, been able to implement land reforms properly. During the course of a number of struggles, the Agricultural Labour Union in the State has located tens of thousands of acres of surplus land kept illegally by the landlords but that land has still not been taken over or distributed. What is worse, that Government is planning to amend the Land Reforms Act to validate all the illegal transfers made between 1970 and 1974 in the name of gifts. This would mean the virtual disappearance of all surplus land. Also not one provision of the much-trumpeted Agricultural Workers Act which the Government was forced to enact by the heroic struggles of the agricultural workers, has been implemented by the “Model” Government; in fact the provident fund clause of the Act has already been suspended.
Changes in the Agrarian Structure
Comrades, as you have seen from the reports from various State Kisan Sabha on struggles, campaigns and organisation, over the past five years, we have been able to break new ground and make quite some advance in states like West Bengal, Kerala, Tripura and in some pockets in other states. But the fact remains that taking the country as a whole, the organised peasant movment is small and weak, having in its fold only a microscopic section of the vast peasant masses. This situation prevails at the time when the peasantry is greatly discontented and this discontent is leading to spontaneous outbursts on some or other immediate issue in various parts of the land.
What is it that prevents this discontent being mobilised and directed into organised channels? This question can be answered only by making an assessment of the changes that have taken place in the agrarian structure in the last three decades or so and examining whether our sologans and activities have been attuned to these changes brought about by the ruling classes in the rural sector. Only then will we be able to nail down our own shortcomings—whether we have been adopting a sectarain attitude of repeating basic slogans which not only cannot be translated into action immediately but are not even fully understood and accepted by vast sections of the peasantry, whether we are making concrete studies of the situation in a particular area before formulating immediate slogans in keeping with our basic aims to advance the movement in a specific situation, whether the slogans we have been working out are such as to rally the vast mass of the peasantry and isolate the small landlord section, etc.
Comrades, land to the tiller and total abolition of landlordism have been basic slogans of the Kisan Sabha since its inception. What bearing do the changes in the agrarian sector have on these basic slogans? Before examining these changes, let me state here, at the outset, that the seizure and distribution of the land of the landlords still remains the central slogan for the Kisan Sabha to propagate among the peasantry and other democratic classes. Without a victory of this slogan, there cannot be any solution to rural poverty, unemployment, fast development of a balanced economy in the country and so on.
But the correlation of class forces which existed at the time when the Kisan Sabha inscribed these basic aims in its programme are not the same that exist today. It is necessary for us to understand this change since it has great relevance to the chalking out of our immediate slogans and actions.
The land reforms which the Congress Government set about to introduce after Independence were not directed to end landlordism and give land to the tiller though this was the pledge the Congress had made to the pesantry during the freedom struggle. These land reforms had only very limited objectives, the main one of which was to reform-not abolish—the old-type feudal landlordism by converting the absentee feudal landlords into capitalist landlords personally supervising cultivation in large farms with farm servants and hired agricultural workers. This is the new-type landlord, who combines in himself elements of both feudalism and capitalism. Another objective was to create a stratum of rich peasants. These two sections were to constitute the political base of the ruling party in the rural areas. They were also to produce the surplus foodgrains necessary for the Government to feed the urban people as well as to produce raw materials for industries. With thousands of crores of rupees from the public exchequer pumped into agriculture these sections have been helped to adopt modern methods of farming.
Here I should warn against one tendency. Earlier there was a tendency to altogther ignore the penetration of capitalism into agriculture. Now a reserve tendency is raising its head which considers that feudal landlordism and other semi-feudal relations have almost totally been abolished. This is wrong, Comrades. The extent of capitalism in agriculture varies from state to state and even from region to region inside a state. Here a concrete study of the situation in each area is necessary.
We have also to note the phenomenon of the monetisation of the entire agrarian economy. Today, it is not only those who have a surplus who are taking their produce to the market; even the poor peasant, immediately after the harvest, for various reasons sells his produce in the market and later buys even his foodgrains requirment from the market. It is only if this phenomenon is properly understood that we can mount a struggle against the big traders and monopolists.
Even after the abolition of statutory landlordism like zamindari, jagirdari, etc., concentration of land in the hands of big lanlords has not been appreciably reduced. Even today four per cent of top landlords posses 31 per cent of the land.
Congress land reforms have also resulted in the evictions of millions of tenants who have either joined the ranks of landless agricultural labourers or become tenants-at-will without any rights or protection. Only a section of the earlier tenants could buy a portion of the land on which they were working either by paying compensation in instalments or outright purchase at lower than market rates.
So, after the Congress land reforms the situation we find in the rural area is that four per cent of big owners have in their possession about one-third of the cultivated land.
Another ten per cent consists of rich peasants owning roughly five to ten acres of wet or ten to twenty acres of dry land, who contribute manual labour and employ a considerable number of farm servants and agricultural workers.
Another 15 per cent consists of middle peasants owning two to five acres of wet or ten to twelve acres of dry land. They and their families work on the land but also hire labour in busy seasons.
Twenty per cent of the rural households are poor peasants possessing one or two acres of wet or two to five acres of dry land. Apart from working on their own land, they have to frequently hire themselves out to earn a living.
The last 50 per cent are those who own no land at all, they earn their livelihood mainly by hiring themselves out as wage-workers oe are engaged in handicrafts, village services, etc.
Of course, it has to be borne in mind that this categoriesation will vary from state to state and region to region.
What has to be noted is that unlike in the pre-Independence days, 25 per cent of peasants-rich and middle peasants-are not moved any longer by the slogan of seizure of landlords’ land and its distribution. At the other end the 70 per cent of landless and poor peasants are not conscious and organised enough to go into action for the seizure of landlords’ lands; even when they are moved into action, it is only for Government waste land, cultivable forest land, etc. Regarding even surplus land above the ceiling which the landlords are keeping illegally, the struggles as in Kerala or recently in Andhra Pradesh could not go beyond the stage of locating such surplus land and exposing the Government’s claims. Only under the United Front Government in West Bengal in 1969 could some of the surplus land be occupied. This we will have to take into consideration when we work out our immediate tasks.
But what we have to note is that the Congress Party which ruled the country for thirty years, while failing to end landlordism, land concentration and growing landlesness, had successfully disrupted the pre-Independence peasant unity. It is true that unity centered around the rich and middle peasants while today we are striving to build peasant unity centering around the agricultural workers and poor peasants. The ruling class parties, whether Congress or Janata, also used their control over Panchayats, Panchayats Samities and Zilla Parishads, and also cooperatives, rural banks, etc., to perpetuate the division in the peasantry and the disruption of their unity. The two years of Janata Party Government have shown that its policies in regard to land reforms are no different from those of the Congress. In fact, some of the Janata State Government are proposing to reserve even the Congress legislations to favour the landlords.
Taking note of these structural changes and their multifarious consequences, we have to come to the conclusion that the slogan of complete abolition of landlordism and distribution of land to the landless and land-poor continues to be the central slogan of the agrarian revolution, a slogan which we have to continue to propagate. But it is a slogan on which we cannot go into action today in most parts of the country.
While continuing to propagate this as the central slogan, while continuing struggle for surplus land, benami lands, waste land, etc., the Kisan Sabha will have to take up for immediate action such issues as the question of wages of agricultural workers, house-sites, rent-reduction, 75 per cent of the produce to the share-croppers, evictions abolition or scaling down of rural indebtedness, remunerative price for agricultural produce, cheap credit, reduction of tax burdens and heavy levies like water charges, electricity rates. etc., landlord goonda attacks with the connivance or direct help of the police, the social oppression of harijans, corruption in administration, etc. These are issues which affect all sections of the peasantry-poor, middle, rich- and they can all be drawn into the movement on them. All these currents have to be brought together to build the maximum unity of the peasantry centering around the agricultural workers and poor peasants to isolate the small stratum of landlords. All this will, of course, depend on how successfully we organise the agricultural workers and poor peasants and bring them into action not only on their own specific demands but also on the general demands of the peasantry as a whole and how far we are able to draw other section of the peasantry into movements on issues affecting them and on the general demands of the peasantry. There is no doubt that the middle and rich peasants can be drawn into movements on such issues. It is our tarsk to see that while other sections of the peasantry support the agricultural workers in their struggles the latter in turn extends support to movements on the demands of the peasantry, thus paving the way for building peasant unity.
Comrades, the account given of the present agrarian situation presents in a nutshell some of the major issues confronting the peasant movement today, and also some of the lessons we have learnt over the past few years during various phases of our struggle during the early seventies, during the dark days of the emergency rule, and over the last two years of Janata rule, and also through the working of the Left Front Governments in West Bengal and Tripura. These show how the crisis is affecting the agrarian sector and how it is spreading over the whole country, covering all the main crops, ecological zones, occupations and activities in the rural sector. These also show that not only the poor and marginal farmers and the landless labourers are at the receiving and of the attacks on the livelihood of the people which has been launched by the Government, but even the middle farmers and a good section of the rich peasants have not been spared. Issues of low agricultural prices, rural indebtedness, high interest rates, inadequacy of institutional finance, heavy taxation, shortage of inputs and storage facilities, and the dependence on moneylenders and big traders and monopolists for marketing and market manipulations-all these concern practically all sections of the peasantry. This development has now created a real possibility of building up a broad-based movement of the peasantry against landlords, moneylenders, big traders and monopolists and against and extortionist Government which serves their interests.
To what extent it would be possible for us to take advantage of this situation would largely depend upon our success in building a strong, impregnable organisation. It is a matter of regret, therefore, that so far our organisation has failed to live up to its tasks and to make the most use of the opportunities which have been laid open in front of our movement. Keeping the task we have set before ourselves in view, it is necessary to identify and analyse the main weaknesses of our organisation and then to work out the methods by which such mistakes can be eliminated. One obvious weakness is the lopsided development of our organisation, which is revealed by the membership figures from various states. OUt of the 23 lakh members of the All India Kisan Sabha more than 55 per cent come from one state alone, West Bengal, and while we are rightly proud of our Comrades from that state, it does not reflect well on the organisation in the rest of the country. Worse still, West Bengal with Kerala accounts for more than 75 per cent of the membership, while the addition of three other states- Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Punjab-practically accounts for all but a few percentage points of the aggregate membership. While not belittling the sacrifices and contributions made by the Comrades from other states, the picture which emerges from these figures of our organisation is not a flattering one, and cannot be of much comfort to us. Again, while this is the picture of our organisation, are the other kisan organisations doing any better? In fact even if we take all the kisan organisations into account, including those affiliated to the CPI, Janata, Congress andd other parties, the aggregate membership is not likely to exceed 50 lakhs in a country of 66 crores of people of whom more than 80 per cent live in the villages and more than 70 per cent depend on agriculture for their livelihood. In other words the stark reality is that only a very insignificant propotion of the total peasant population of the country has so far been organised by anybody, whether ourselves or any other organisation, irrespective of their political colour or creed. Some of the survey reports show that only one per cent of agricultural labourers are organised into trade unions and two per cent of the peasants are organised in peasant unions.
Here we have also to take note of the disruption caused by the activities of the Naxalities in various parts of the country. The most pernicious part of their activities is their attempt to pit agricultural workers and landless tribals against the rest of the peasantry. The ruling classes are doing all they can to keep the peasantry divided, even the agricultural workers from the poor peasants. The Naxalities, from their end, are doing the same-disrupting the unity of the peasantry and sabotaging the struggles of both the agricultural workers and tribals and the rest of the peasantry. The organised kisan movement has to expose and isolate these Naxalite elements and relentlessly pursue the path of building peasant unity.
What could be the explanations for the existing state of the organised kisan movement in the majority of Indian states? One fundamental reason is of course the low level of development of the Left and democratic forces in general in these states. The kisan movement is naver and can naver be an isolated phenomenon, it is always closely linked with the general level of polictical awareness in the areas, including the activities of their mass organisation. But no less important are some of the basic weaknesses of our own organisation and its method of functioning. In this report we can do no more than present some of the major weaknesses in our work, which are as follows:-
First, we do not always give sufficient attention to the spontaneous struggles which are initiated by the common people themselves against social oppression, eviction, injustice and so on. Almost every day we come to hear or read about these, many of which take place in states where our organisation is weak, which reflect the widespread discontent of the peasantry under the existing social system, and where the participants often show a great deal of courage and militancy in face of state repression. If we are sufficiently alert and prompt it should be possible to give these spontaneous actions proper organisational shape, to articulate the popular feelings in terms of clear class-based slogans, and to sustain those struggles through our leadership rather than letting those die away after a sudden outburst.
Second, our activities are not so organised as to enable a democratic participation of the common peasants in decision-making, in formulating demands and conducting struggles. Although through our activities we often succeed in drawing a large number of people towards us, our nature of functioning often puts a barrier between ourselves, the leaders of the organisations, and the masses, who are prevented from taking a more active interest in the running of the organisation. Unless such barriers are pulled down, and the common peasants come to think of our organisation as their own, and not as something which is there to get things done for them but which does not belong to them, a rapid expansion in our membership would not be possible.
Third, the slogans we formulate, though correct in terms of our own subjective awareness of the situation, often fail to rally the peasants because these are not in tune with their own understanding of the situation. Unless this mistake is rectified, and the slogans are worked out by taking into account the concrete reality including the subjective understanding of the general mass of peasants, there is a risk that not only they would not listen to us, but instead they would rally behind the vested interests and their reactionary, and often communal or chauvinistic slogans which are well understood by them.
Fourth, our functioning suffers because we seldom take the trouble of analysing in depth concrete issues facing our movement or undertaken specific studies with detailed collection of data. As we have already mentioned, our country is too vast and diverse to allow broad generalisations which, if they are uniformly and mechanically applied to a particular situation, is fraught with serious risks. It is for this reason, an important task of all the units to undertake such concrete studies for a proper understanding of the agrarian structure, the correlation of class forces within it, the nature and extent of capitalist penetration in the agrarian economy and its interactions with the feudal or semi-feudal social relations, the environmental characteristics of the region and its implications for cropping pattern, labour demand, political struggles, and other matters of direct organisational and political importance for our functioning.
Fifth, our neglect of the training and development of the cadre. Many of these cadres come in contact with our movement through democratic mass struggles on one issue or another, but apart from what he learns through his participation in the struggle and the day-to-day functioning of the organisation, very few of our units at any level undertake the task of imparting political education to him and raising his level of consciousness to a point which is commensurate with the needs of the agrarian revolution. Henceforth we should accord this task the priority it deserves and recognise that without enhancing the quality of our hardcore workers even a massive quantitative expansion in membership might come to nothing in face of severe repression or a sudden adverse change in events.
Sixth, it is deeply distressing to note that barring a few exceptions, practically, none of our organisational centres-whether at the district, state or all-India level-properly functions or maintains communication with the other units whether below them or above. In many cases, Kisan Sabhas do not have their own separate offices and there is no regular routine functioning; records are not maintained, correspondence is not filed, and information is not made available to meet a variety of needs of the peasants-for example, about the procedures for getting bank loans, about various schemes for the benefit of the poor farmers, labourers and sharecroppers, which are offered by a number of Governments, about cooperatives, small industries, panchayats and so on. Many of these activities are undoubtedly dull and lack glamour, and might appear to be insignificant and of lesser importance than many of the other tasks but we should realise that all these help to build the movement to organise our actions, and in their own inconspicuous way, even help to strengthen our militant struggles and confrontations with the repressive forces of state power.
Seventh and last, but certainly one of the most important weaknesses of our organisation is less than adequate understanding of the need and scope for united action. Let us admit that there is a great deal of sectarianism amongst us —sectarianism towards the spontaneous struggle, as well as towards other mass organisations of the peasantry. Let us also confess that given the smallness of our organisation in relation to the vast size of the peasantry in the country, we on our own are incapable of bringing about a qualitative transformation in the agrarian situation in the country as a whole. We need allies and partners with whom we can join hands on the basis of a common programme, and with whom, together, we can emerge as a viable political force at the national level. We need allies and partners who would help us in uniting the peasantry against its common enemies. And let us be realist enough to recognise that united action with other political and peasant bodies would not by itself eliminate differences between us in terms of programmes and policies, although the common experience of participation in a united struggle might reduce the gap between cadres of various organisations. When we join hands with other organisations it is with a clear understanding that such differences exist, and these might be reflected in the implementation of decisions and might even occasioally give rise to some tension and conflict in the relationship between us. But these should not deter us from joining hands with them, and fighting together from a common platform against the main enemies.
There is another important point that needs to be stressed and that is regarding the functioning of the basic unit of the Kisan Sabha. While some meetings are held at the central level, state and district levels, and even taluk levels in some places, in most parts of the country, functioning of the basic unit is virtually non-existent. One of the prime requirements to tone up the organisation, to expand it and streng then it, is that the basic units of the Kisan Sabha function regularly and properly, taking its policies and slogans to the mass of the peasantry and mobilising them behind these policies and slogans. Without such effective functioning at the level of the basic units, the present ferment in the peasantry cannot be channelised into organised movements. To ensure this, it is necessary that effective cadre are required and trained for work in the Kisan Sabha at various levels. This of course, entails collection of adequate funds for the organisational work of the Kisan Sabha, to maintain proper offices and the necessary cadre, specially cadre from among the agricultural workers, whom we should more and more recruit and train up.
Let me end this discussion on organisation by adding that while we should always remain alert against sectarianism creeping into our attitude towards the other peasant organisations it gives us hope to see that most of our units are aleready consciously fighting against such an attitude, as it has been revealed in the account of a series of joint struggles which have been launched by them in alliance with other organisations over the past year or so.
Comrades, I am now coming to the end of my report. Let me recapitulate in brief the tasks facing our organisation in the coming period.
The All India Kisan Sabha, as I stated earlier, will continue to propagate the demand for the total abolition of landlordism, take-over of landlords’ land and its distribution free to the landless and the land-poor.
In the coming days, we have to organise movements and actions for exposing fake transfers of land, for the distribution of surplus land, Government waste land and cultivable forest land specially to the tribal people. We have also to mobilise all peasants to locate benami land illegally held by landlords and demand its distribution.
We have to organise struggle against eviction of tenants, for correction of records about which the Government only talks but does nothing, for fixing fair rent.
We have to take up the struggle of the sharecroppers for their legitimate share of the produce which they are denied now We should demand the recording of sharecroppers on the lines undertaken by the Left Front Government of West Bengal. We should also demand protection to the sharecroppers as has been done by the West Bengal Government through its amendment to the Land Reforms Act, one of whose main provisions is to place the onus on the landholder to prove that a person is not the sharecropper on his land, while earlier the sharecropper had to prove this, which in most of the cases he was not able to do, thus becoming a victim of eviction.
Along with the demand for the distribution of surplus, waste, benami and forest lands, we have to organise struggles of the agricultural workers for proper wages; for homestead land and assistance to build houses, for employment and cheap credit.
We have to take up the struggle for liquidation or scaling down of rural debts. Rural indebtedness has reached enormous proportions, the latest estimate being around Rs. 6700 crores. Most of it is from moneylenders who extort usurious rates of interest. Thirtyseven per cent of bank credit is allocated to the rural sector, but that mainly goes to the richer sections. We should demand more allocations of cheap credit to the poor peasants and agricultural worker. Any scheme for the abolition of bonded labour will remain only on paper if after writing off their debts, they are not provided with cheap institutional credit.
We have to take up the battle of the peasantry against heavy tax burdens. State Governments have been putting up water-rates, power-rates, etc., land rates are being enhanced without giving adequate exemption to the poorer sections. Other levies imposed by the Central and State Governments are raising the prices of articles of consumption, transport charges etc. All sections of the peasantry are affected adversely by these heavy tax burdens and the widest mobilisation is possible in the struggle to get them reduced.
Comrades, the biggest single problem in the rural areas at present is the crash in the prices of agricultural produce, specially of commercial crops, but also of foodgrains. Be it cotton or jute, sugarcane or potatoes, tobacco or rubber, the prices which the actual producers are getting do not even meet the cost of production. If we are not able to win remunerative Prices for the agricultural producers, the entire rural economy my will be seized by a crisis the magnitude of which affects all sections of the peasantry and the widest mobilisation is possible in the struggle for remunerative prices.
The attack on harijans and adivasis are rising and have become a matter of grave concern. Apart from the monstrous economic exploitation, these sections are subjected to cruel social oppression. While fighting for bettering the lot of the rural poor in general, it is the special task of the organised kiasn movement, along with all democratic sections to give physical protection to the harijans and adivasis from the attacks of landlords and their hired hoodlums, and organise them in the struggle against social oppression.
Corruption is rampant in the administration, all the more so at the level of rural administration with its bias for the landlords and richer sections. THe fight against corruption is yet another issue on which wide mobilisation is possible.
The peasantry is as much concered with the struggle for democracy as any other section of the people. Like them, without democratic rights, the peasantry also cannot agitate for its own demands, organise itself and conduct struggles. It is the task of the Kisan Sabha to rally the peasantry in the struggle for democracy along with the rest of the people.
Our Kisan Sabha has glorious anti-imperialist traditions. Though thrown on the defensive by the growing forces of freedom, peace, democracy and socialism, imperialism is still strong enough to bare its fangs in one or another part of the world every now and then. It is practising neo-colonialism to bring under its control the newly independent countries. It is making desperate attempts to disrupt and subvert national liberation movements everywhere. It is the task of our Kisan Sabha to mobilise the Indian peasantry in the worldwide battle against imperialism and neo-colonialism; and for all support to national liberation movements.
Comrades, a task of immense importance that confronts us is the building of peasant unity. The first step that we have to take to forge this unity is to conduct united actons of the peasantry. In our country, taking into account all organisations of the peasants and agricultural labourers, only one per cent of the agricultural labour and two pet cent of the peasants are in the fold of these organisations. The rest remain unorganised in a country where 70 percent of the population depends on agriculture for its living. In such a situation I do not have to emphasise the importance of united actions to bring the mass of the peasantry into the organised movement.
It is necessary for us to completely eschew sectarianism towards other peasant organisations and even platforms if we are to be successful in organising united actions. It will be wrong to think that only agricultural workers can be draw into struggle for land, wages, house-sites, etc. On issues affecting the peasantry like remunerative price for their produce, marketing facilities, reduced prices for inputs, tax burdens, etc., even the upper sections of the peasantry can be drawn into the movement. Correct slogans have to be evolved on specific issues, all organisations have to be united and then the maximum possible strength has to be mobilised. It is such united actions on a growing scale that will contribute to the forging of peasant unity. We should not hesitate to join even the platforms of rich farmers, etc., to promote such united actions if the demands are correct.
Such united actions are necessary also because the Kisan Sabha which has been fighting for democracy, has the task of strengthening the Left and democratic forces which alone can guarantee the preservation of democratic rights and help the peasantry in its struggle for its demands.
Comrades, there is another important task to which our Kisan Sabha has to give serious attention, and that is the raising of the political consciousness of the peasantry. We are interested not only in building peasant unity but also in forging the alliance of the peasantry with the working class, since such an alliance alone can ensure the victory of the agrarian revolution. Glorious examples are there as during the railway strike of 1974 when the peasantry gave all support and protection to striking railway workers. There is also the example of the growing alliance between the jute cultivators and workers in the jute industry. But taking the country as a whole, we can see that this consciousness is more or less absent or at a very low level. It is our task to inculcate this consciousness in the peasantry, starting with the peasantry already under our influence.
Comrades, I must point to a dangerous phenomenon growing in the rural areas. The ruling classes are making all-out efforts to divide the peasantry on caste and religious lines, specially to divide the agricultural workers from the poor peasants. This has to be fought back immediately. It has to be fought back by bringing together the agricultural workers and peasants, with the peasants supporting the demands and participating in the struggles of the agricultural workers and the agricultural workers supporting the demands and participating in the struggles of the peasants. We have seen the success of such actions in mutual support in Kerala.
But that alone is not enough, we have to conduct a continuous struggle against obscurantism and superstitions which are widely prevalent, especially in the rural areas. The Kisan Sabha right from its inception has stood not only for the freedom of the country but had also inscribed socialism on its banner, and it is its task to conduct this relentless ideological struggle.
Finally, it is necessary for the Kisan Sabha to engage itself in multifarious activities. The ruling classes are putting forward various programmes to create illusions in the peasantry in their attempt to keep the peasantry under then influence. It is not enough that we just make basic exposures of these programmes. Through their own concrete experience, the peasant masses have to shed their illusions and understand the real face of these programmes and of the ruling classes. If we are to effectively counter the attempts of the ruling classes, the Kisan Sabha has to take up multifarious activities—work in Panchayats, cooperatives and other rural institutions, literacy and other such campaigns, in addition to organising agitations and movements for specific demands.
Before I conclude, I should refer to the uneven development of our organisation. We are very weak in the vast Hindi-speaking area where the reactionaries are concentrating, where taking advantage of the general backwardness, the ruling classes are resorting to casteism, communalism, etc. The enormous weakness of our movement in this area is a big impediment to advancing the cause of the agrarian revolution. I do not have to stress the urgent need to overcome this weakness quickly. The All-India Kisan Sabha centre and the State Kisan Sabhas in this region should take immediate practical steps in this direction.
Comrades, we have entered a period where there is a big ferment in the peasantry. The ruling classes are trying to pass the burdens of the crisis of their own making on to the shoulders of the people. The peasants are hit hard by the crash in the price of their produce, the rising prices of inputs and articles of consumption, heavy tax burdens, etc. The peasantry will certainly not reconcile itself to the growingly intolerable conditions of life. It will fight back and our task is to build a powerful united peasant movement in this situation. Our Kisan Sabha has been taking the initiative for united actions and it has to play a vital role in uniting the peasantry, in forging the worker-peasant alliance, in marching forward to the victorious agrarian revolution.
Long Live Peasant Unity!
Long Live Worker-Peasant Alliance!
Long Live the All India Kisan Sabha!
- H.S. Surjeet
E.M.S. Greets the AIKS Session
General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), E.M.S. Namboodiripad, greeting the Twentythird Session of the AIKS on March 29 on behalf of the Central Committee of the Party, hoped that the conference would help to unify the peasant movement and strengthen the general deocratic movement.
Comrade Namboodiripad said that he was not going into the details of the draft report and resolutions which the delegates would be discussing, but would place before them the political background to the conference.
In 1936, when the All India Kisan Sabha was formed, it was part and parcel of the anti-imperialist movement, fighting against imperialism on the one hand and feudalism on the other. The two were inseparable. That was the time when calls were being made for a joint front of all anti-imperialist forces, the Indian National Congress itself making such a call. Such a front had to be based on the working class and the peasantry.
Something similar is emerging today against imperialism, revivalism and communalism, for secularism and radical socioeconomic reforms. Every radical is talking today of a broad front of struggle and the Kisan Sabha is a part of the front of democrats and will become an inseparable part of the front that is emerging.
There are, of course, differences between various political parties and organisations, some of them about the present, others projected from the past to the present. Political parties and mass organisations are trying to find solutions to these differences. Developments in the last two months are an indication of that.
Comrade Namboodiripad said that although a political united front had not yet come into existence, united actions were already taking place in the trade union field, in the peasant movement, etc. He referred to CPI-led Kisan Sabha General Secretary Indradeep Sinha’s emphasis on unity in his message of greetings and hoped that something positive would emerge not united actions of the two Kisan Sabhas alone, but united actions of all peasant organisations.
He said that the extent of unity of action was not being confined to economic issues, but was getting extended to political issues.
For instance, the Special Courts Bill in the Rajya Sabha The Indira Congress wanted to defeat the Bill and sought the support of all other Opposition parties. The Indira Congress failed to get this support and was never so isolated as on this issue in the Rajya Sabha.
Yet another instance is what has happened to the efforts for unity of the two Congresses. The Indira Congress wanted to bag the Congress. Many had thought that the Congress would disintegrate and a unified strengthened Congress could provide the alternative to the Janata Party. But the unity talks did not succeed and the two Congresses are today as far apart as ever. The Congress now appears to be moving towards other parties including the Janata Party.
The Janata Party itself is being more and more divided into two. A struggle has been going on inside that party for some time. That struggle has now reached a new stage. A new alignment is taking place in the Janata Party, with one section taking up a stand against revivalism, etc.
All this, of course, would not amout to unity of Left and democratic forces, pointed out Comrade Namboodiripad. That is still far off and has to be fought for very hard. But gradually and steadily developments are moving towards it.
The Kisan Sabha is not at present an organisation like the trade unions which are organised and countrywide. Even if the two Kisan Sabhas come together, it is a very small force in the vast peasant masses. It is necessary that not only all organisations, but even unorganised groups of peasants are brought into action. This is what unity of action should mean.
There are innumerable issues facing the rural people. Action may break out on one issue in one State, on another in another part of the country and on a third in yet another place. The unleashing of such multifarious actions would strengthen the unity of action and lead towards a broad front.
The old leaders and cadre of the Kisan Sabha, Comrade Namboodiripad said, had been developed in a particular mould. But with the abolition of statutory landlordism, the central slogan of those days, the question of land, does not move the peasantry as it did in the old days. While seeing the continuing importance of the land slogan, issues affecting the peasantry like prices (of inputs and consumption goods, the prices of crops which they have to sell), taxes and innumerable such questions including caste, etc., have to be taken up Enemies of the peasant movement are trying to take up these issues to divert the movement. We have to take the initiative in regard to all these issues to foil their game.
The Kisan Sabha is working for the agrarian revolution in this country and taking up all these issues and organising struggles on them will help the mobilisation of the peasantry for the agrarian revolution.
The land question itself is of immediate concern in various ways. Even after the implementation of ceilings, not much surplus land has been found for distribution because a few big holders are keeping the land illegally. Also, even the surplus declared has not been taken over by the Government and even what has been taken over has all not been distributed. The distribution of the surplus land is of immediate concern for the movement. So also distribution of Government waste land, cultivable forest land, benami land, etc.
Concluding his speech Comrade Namboodiripad pointed out the intimate connection of the peasant movement with the democratic movement. Even for fighting for its own demands, the Kisan Sabha has to be a part of the broad front of all democratic forces. I hope this conference will help to unify the peasant movement and strengthen the general democratic movement, he said.
ALL India Kisan Sabha
|Andhra Agricultural Labour Union||1,45,400|
|Andhra Pradesh Kisan Sabha||65,550|
|Assam State Kisan Sabha||27,000|
|Bihar State Kisan Sabha||47,000|
|Haryana State Kisan Sabha||4,000|
|Himachal Pradesh Kisan Sabha||1,600|
|Jammu and Kashmir Kisan Sabha||2,000|
|Kerala Karshaka Sangham||2,54,210|
|Kerala Karshaka Thozhilali Union||1,64,820|
|Madhya Pradesh Kisan Sabha||1,000|
|Maharashtra Kisan Sabha||26,500|
|Orissa State Kisan Sabha||14,000|
|Punjab Dehati Mazdoor Union||21,940|
|Punjab Kisan Sabha||57,272|
|Rajasthan Kisan Sabha||20,000|
|Tamilnadu Kisan Sabha||81,500|
|Tripura State Kisan Sabha||10,000|
|Uttar Pradesh (East) Kisan Sabha||39,196|
|Uttar Pradesh (West) Kisan Sabha||24,000|
|West Bengal Kisan Sabha||12,84,992|
Resolutions Adopted by the 23rd Session of the AIKS
HOMAGE TO COMRADE A.K. GOPALAN
This Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha mourns the death of Comrade A.K. Gopalan, President of the AIKS, who was 75 at the time of his passing away on March 22,1977.
A prominent fighter for India’s freedom and a respected and beloved leader of the working people, Comrade A.K. Gopalan had been the President of the All-India Kisan Sabha for about two decades. In this whole period he actively led the struggles of the peasantry and agricultural workers in all parts of the country.
Comrade A.K. Gopalan who began organising the peasantry of North Malabar against feudal tyranny in the late thirties, extended his activities to the whole of the country and played an important role in the expansion of the Kisan Sabha and popularising its aim of abolition of landlordism.
In the bitterly fought anti-betterment levy struggle of the Punjab peasantry facing the fiercest police repression, Comrade A.K. Gopalan went from village to village instilling courage into the fighting peasants and strengthening their determination to continue the struggle.
In Kerala, he led innumerable struggles of the peasants for land reforms, taking over of surplus land and their distribution to the landless, against evictions, especially in the high ranges of the State, and of agricultural workers for minimum wage, protection of jobs and human working conditions.
Comrade A.K.G. personally led many struggles of the peasantry in almost every part of the country —struggles against unconscionable levies and taxes, against evictions, for land, for remunerative prices for agricultural produce and other peasant demands.
Comrade AKG will for ever be remembered for the single- handed campaign against inhuman Government repression on the people during the 1948-50 days. It was this campaign which he undertook immediately after his release by the Supreme Court in 1950 that helped to lift the pall of terror, especially in the Andhra, Tamilnadu and Malabar areas of the then Madras Presidency.
Comrade AKG played a big role in the struggle for the linguistic reorganisation of states not only in Kerala but also in Maharashtra and Gujarat; himself participating in all these struggles.
Despite his old age and ill-health Comrade AKG once again rose up from his sick bed to defend the people against the Emergency regime. His denunciation of the Emergency inside the Lok Sabha was accompanied by his personal campaign against the repression on the people. His breaking the gate of an estate in Kalady broke the terror on the workers there and gave them new confidence to continue their struggle. In Cannanore district in Kerala where the repression was the worst, his presence and personal leadership of the campaign infused new courage into the people. He literally died at his post, it was this last campaign in defence of democracy that hastened his death.
The C.K C. is proud that in Comrade A.K.G., it had a President and leader who was also one of the foremost leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and of the Left and democratic movement in the country and a staunch champion of the cause of all working people during his twenty- five years in the Lok Sabha.
In Comrade A.K.G.’s death, the All-India Kisan Sabha has suffered an irreparable loss. The C.K.C. pays its homage to its leader and pledges to determinedly carry on the struggle for the cause which Comrade A.K.G. cherished and fought for throughout his life.
The C K.C. extends its heartfelt condolences to the family and relatives of Comrade A.K.G.
HOMAGE TO COMRADE HARE KRISHNA KONAR
This Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha mourns the death of Comrade Hare Krishna Konar. An out standing leader of the Kisan movement, Comrade Konar was President or General Secretary of the West Bengal Krishak Sabha for two decades and the General Secretary of the AIKS for a number of years at the time of his passing away.
A powerful speaker and agitator, a capable organiser and later as the Revenue Minister during the two United Front Governments of West Bengal in 1967 and 1969, Comrade Konar made an immense contribution to the building of the West Bengal Krishak Sabha and the All-India Kisan Sabha.
Joining the revolutionary movement for freedom at a very young age, Comrade Konar was incarcerated in the Port Blair Jail in the Andamans by the British rulers. During all his life he stood steadfastly by his revolutionary commitments and in the service of the people, especially the peasantry.
This session pays its homage to the departed leader and sends its heartfelt condolences to Comrade Konar’s family.
This Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha mourns the deaths of its Comrades.
They have all made immense sacrifices to build the Kisan Sabha and the revolutionary movement in the country facing heavy repression and against heavy odds.
The AIKS will ever cherish the great contribution they have made to the cause of the peasant movement.
This Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha says its homage to the numberless martyrs who have laid down their lives upholding the banner of the Kisan Sabha and fighting the battles of peasantry and the people.
A large number of them in West Bengal and Kerala and in many other states were killed by goondas hired by the rural wested interests.
Many were tortured in police camps and in jails, many were killed by police bullets while leading struggles.
The Kisan Sabha, from this Twentythird session, pledges to carry on the struggle for the cause for which these comrades made the supreme sacrifice.
LIST OF MARTYRS ,
- G. Bapanaiah
(President—Andhra Pradesh Agricultural Workers Union)
- Robin Kalita
- Sanatan Nath
- Palliyam Gopalan
- Com. N. Venkatachalam
President, Tanjore District Kisan Sabha and member of Executive of the Tamil Nadu Kisan Sabha, murdered by landlords.
- Ram Kishan Bharolian
- Harman Singh Chanak
- Gajjan Singh Tandian
ON WEST ASIA
With the acceptance of the U.S. imperialist-imposed agreement by both Israel and Egypt, developments in West Asia have taken a turn which is of grave concern to anti-imperialist forces all over the world.
The U.S. Administration’s step-by-step diplomacy in West Asia has been advanced by the step-by-step betrayal of the Arab cause by President Sadat of Egypt.
Sadat has not been able to recover Egyptian sovereignty over Sinai—Israeli troop withdrawal from the Sinai area is supposed to take place in the course of the next three years. Sadat’s negotiations, prefaced by his anti-Soviet actions and starting with his surrenderist visit to Jerusalem, through the negotiations in Camp David and the acceptance of the present ignoble agreement, have meant a total sell-out to Zionism under U.S. imperialist tutelage.
It is not only that the Zionists will keep their troops in Sinai for three years, it is not only that Egypt has to provide the oil from the Sinai fields to Israel, blockaded by the other Arab oil-producing countries, it is not only that Israel can go on setting up Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to deny the Palestinian Arabs their right to have a homeland of their own, Egypt has accepted to become the policeman of U.S. imperialism in West Asia, to provide naval bases for the U.S. imperialists and an airbase in the Sinai area. The vacation of Israeli aggression from the illegally occupied Arab territories, the right of the Palestinian Arabs to have a state of their own have all been sacrificed by Sadat in his efforts to become a surrogate of U.S. imperialism in West Asia in collaboration with Israel. And this despite the fact that Israel with U.S. backing is refusing to vacate its aggression and withdraw its forces from even occupied Egyptian territory. The betrayal is total.
In the background of the developments in Iran, where another surrogate of the U.S., the Shah, has been thrown out, these developments are of special importance. In addition to all this is the pumping in of hundreds of millions of dollars of military equipment and armaments into North Yemen where the National Democratic Front is fighting for democracy.
To reinforce its policy in West Asia, the U.S. imperialists are setting up a permanent fleet in the Indian Ocean which with their Mediterranean and Atlantic fleets, all nuclear-powered, and permanent aerial presence in the area, pose a grave threat to the peace and stability of the entire region.
The All-India Kisan Sabha reiterates its solidarity with and support to the Arab people and the Governments of West Asian countries which are fighting against this sell-out.
The All-India Kisan Sabha gives all its support to the just cause of the Arab people in their struggle for total vacation by the U.S. backed Zionists from the Arab territories they have occupied by force and the right of the Palestinian Arabs to have their own state. The All India Kisan Sabha pledges to mobilise the Indian people behind this just cause of the Arab people. The A.I.K.S. demands that the Government of India take a forthright position against betrayal of the cause of Arab people and the Palestinians.
ON CHINA-VIETNAM CONFLICT
This Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha expresses grave concern at the invasion of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam by the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China.
The AIKS is shocked that a big populous Socialist country like the PRC has attacked the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, a country whose people have borne the brunt of the imperialist offensive against the national liberation movements during the last three decades. It is abhorrent to hear one of the topmost leaders of a Socialist country talking about “teaching a lesson” and “giving a little punishment” to another Socialist country.
The AIKS has always held that the Socialist countries are in the front of the anti-imperialist and national liberation movements. The armed clash between two Socialist countries undermines the struggle against imperialism and gives it a handle to further its intervention against the forces of peace, freedom, democracy and socialism. The imperialists, specially U.S. imperialists are glad that their game of making Asians fight Asians has succeeded so well and are lending their support to the Chinese attack on Viet Nam.
The AIKS calls on the leaders of the People’s Republic of China to realise that their action in Viet Nam has isolated them from the forces of freedom and anti-imperialism, and to retrace their steps, withdraw all their forces from Vietnamese territory, stop all provocations against Laos, and pave the way for negotiations and peaceful settlement of all outstanding issues.
The AIKS is glad that the Government and all the political parties in the country; despite all their political differences have called for the withdrawal of the Chinese armed forces from Viet Nam.
The new Government of Kampuchea and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam are setting all their problems peacefully. In such a situation there is no reason for the Government of India to postpone recognition of the new Government of Kampuchea. The AIKS demands that the Government accord this recognition immediately.
This Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha extends its greetings to the National Democratic Front of North Yemen under whose leadership the People’s Liberation Army is making rapid advances against the reactionary regime.
The regime in the North had launched brutal repression against the people, wiping out whole villages, killing women and children. It is to end this suppressive regime that the National Democratic Front was formed and the people have taken up arms. Having failed to suppress this people’s uprising, the North Yemenis regime resorted other diversionary measure of committing aggression against the Democratic People’s Republic of Yemen in the South, falsely alleging that the South was attacking the North.
This bluff was called by the DPRY, when at the talks for a ceasefire organised by the Arab League, it readily accepted the cease-fire and invited Arab League observers who would clearly be able to see that there was no intervention by the DPRY in the North and what was going on in the North was a purely internal affair with the people under the leadership of the National Democratic Front fighting to replace a reactionary Government.
The cease-fire that has been brought about remains very fragile because of the activities of the U.S. imperialists and reactionary Arab circles led by Saudi Arabia. The U.S. imperialists have already pumped into North Yemen an estimated 400 million dollars worth of military equipment including F-5E fighter aircraft, armoured personnel carriers, M. 60 A-1 tanks, rapid-fire Vulcan anti-aircraft machine-guns, antitank weapons and 105-mm artillery pieces as also so-called “mobile training teams” of U.S. “advisers”. After the victory of the democratic forces in Afghanistan, the upheaval in Iran and the fiasco of U.S. policies there, the U.S. imperialists are intensifying there interference in the Gulf area, with the setting up of a permanent fleet in the Indian Ocean and constant aerial presence.
This session condemns the U.S. imperialists and the Saudi Arabian regime for its dastardly activities against the freedom and security of the countries of the Gulf region; specially against the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen.
This session notes that North and South Yemen have decided to make efforts to unify their country. This session hopes that these efforts will succeed and thus foil the game of the U.S. imperialists and reactionary Arab circles like Saudi Arabia to intervene in Yemen. The vigilance of the people and Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen and of the people and the National Democratic Front in the North alone can guarantee the success of these efforts.
It calls on the Government of India that while it expresses concern at the increasing military presence in the Indian Ocean it should unequivocally condemn the entire gamut of aggressive U.S. activities in the whole area.
ON THE VICTORY OF THE IRANIAN PEOPLE
The Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sahba hails the great victory won by the people in the throwing out the fascist pro-U.S. regime of Shah Reza Pahlavi. While the religious leaders directed the movement against the Shah’s Monarchy, the Left and democratic forces, students and workers, especially workers in the oil industry as well as the peasantry, played a very significant role in ensuring the victory of the people. The people had to make immense sacrifices, thousands were killed by the regime of the Shah before he was forced to flee the country.
The new regime is taking severe but justified measures against the criminals who were willing tools of the Shah in his terror regime against the people. It has taken certain positions against U.S. imperialism and the Israeli aggressions, This session hopes that all this will lead to better and friendly relations between Iran and the neighbouring Soviet Union and other Socialist countries. This session also hopes that the new regime will not divide the people through rigid application of Islamic laws. Women have already come out on the streets against the outmoded purdah and there are other sections who will not allow themselves to be dictated to extreme religious fanatics.
This session of the A.I.K.S. considers that it is very unfortunate that instead of uniting the people who fought against the tyrannical regime a progressive and democratic platform on confrontations are taking place between sections of the people led by various groups. This session hopes that wiser counsels will prevail among the new leaders and the people will be enabled to consolidate the fruits of the over throwing of the Shah regime and enjoy democracy and progress.
ON SOUTHERN AFRICA
This Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha denounces the racist regimes of Rhodesia and South Africa and extends its solidarity to the Black people of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia who are fighting with arms in their struggle for liberation.
In Zimbabwe, the illegal Ian Smith regime is making a show of concessions to Black majority rule with the help of some compromising African leaders. The regime has unilaterally decided to hold elections. Black majority rule under these conditions will be only in name, the real substance of power will remain in the hands of the white minority. The leaders of the liberation struggle have decided to intensify it and are determined to fight till victory.
In South Africa, the Voster-Botha fascist regime has set up Bantuatans which are only meant to keep most of the land and resources in the hands of the white and make the black people totally dependent on them even for their wretched existence.
Defying world opinion and even U.N. resolutions, the South African regime is continuing the illigal occupation of Namibia and is refusing to grant its independence. The All India Kisan Sabha gives its full support to the demand for Namibia’s independence and its territorial integrity including Walvis Bay.
This session denounces the Anglo-U.S. imperialists for their hypocritical game of talking about Black majority rule and holding negotiations on the one hand and shoring up the racist regimes on the other. The imperialists and multinationals have vast stakes- economic, political and military-in the region and are very much concerned with the perpetuation of the white minority regimes. Behind the sokescreen of these negotiations, the racist regimes have been committing aggression against the front line states, especially ozambique and Angola.
This session while extending its full support to the fighting African people of Southern African, calls on the Governent of India to extend all support-moral, material and political- to the liberation forces and their genuine organisations- the Patriotic Front of Zimbabwe, the South West African People’s Organisation and the African National Congress, in line with the decisions of the non-aligned movement. The All-India Kisan Sabha also expects the Government to expose and denounce the double-faced game the Imperialist Powers an playing in Southern Africa.
ON UNIFICATION OF KOREA
The Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha notes with concern the continuing U.S. imperialist provocations, against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Even while initial steps are being taken for resumption of talks between the North and South for the peaceful reunification of the country, the biggest ever military exercise was held in the South jointly by U.S. imperialists and the puppet forces.
The U.S. imperialists are intensifying their activities in South Korea particularly after their ignominious defeat in Viet Nam. They are bent upon shoring up the puppet Seoul regime, not only to keep Korea divided but to keep the southern part of the country as their base to threaten the independence and security of other countries in the region. The Seoul regime, with U.S. imperialist help, has intensified the suppression of the people in the South. Even talk of reunification of the country is considered to be treason.
This session condemns the aggressive and provocative acts of the U.S. imperialists and the brutal suppression of the people of South Korea.
It gives full support to the serious and earnest efforts that are being made by the leaders of the Democratic People’s. Republic of Korea for the peaceful reunification of the country without any outside interference. For the realisation of this, cherished desire of the Korean people, this session demands the withdrawal of all U.S. forces, arms and bases from the Southern part of the country.
This session calls upon the Government of India to respond positively to the appeal of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and strongly condemn the U.S. imperialist provocations in Korea.
ON LAND REFORMS
This Twentythird Session of the All-India Kisan Sabha notes with serious concern that the advent to power of the Government of the Janata Party has not meant any change in the policies earlier pursued by the Congress regime in regard to land reforms. If at all there has been a change, it is in a retrograde direction as seen from the proposal of the Janata State Government of Orissa and Gujarat to amend existing legislations to favour the landlords.
The AIKS has all along pointed out that the land reform legislations of the Government were not directed at abolishing landlordism and giving land to the tiller. The Draft Sixth Five- Year Plan document itself confirms this when it confesses that “the land reform measures had no visible impact on the distribution of rural property”, that the disconcerting fact is that the officially estimated surplus is only a fraction of the area held in large ownership and that the land distributed so far is “less than one-fourth of the estimated surplus”.
Despite all the claims made for the land reform legislations, the fact remains that concentration of land ownership remains more or less the same with four per cent of big landlords having in their possession 31 per cent of the cultivated land. And according to the latest available survey figures, 15 per cent of the rural vested interests hold 60 per cent of the assets in the rural areas.
The taking over and distribution of surplus land above the ceiling presents an equally dismal picture. The Mahalanobis Committee had estimated that if the ceiling was fixed at twenty acres, there would be a surplus of 63 million acres of land for distribution. The total failure of land reform measures can be seen if this figure is compared with the actual state of affairs 46 lakh acres declared surplus, 23 lakh acres of which have been taken over and only 16 lakh acres distributed. This is nothing surprising considering the many loopholes in land reform legislations which have enabled the big landlords to escape the land ceiling provisions and keep in their possession illegally benami transfers, etc., hundreds and thousands of acres of land. Using their power and influence, these richer sections have also been able to grab Government waste land and cultivable forest land depriving landless, especially the tribal people, of the benefit of making a living from these lands.
The basic problems facing our country-unemployment, a shrinking internal market, development of industry, generation of a surplus in the agrarian sector for national development, etc.- cannot be solved unless radical land reforms are implemented and landlordism is completely abolished, and land distributed to the landless agricultural labourers and poor peasants. In regard to land reforms, the policies pursued by the Janata Government are in no way different from its predecessor Congress regime. It is clear that the bourgeois-landlord ruling classes are incapable of ushering in genuine land reforms.
This session of the All India Kisan Sabha, while calling on all its units to take the message of total abolition of landlordism and land to the tiller to the peasantry, calls on them to organise immediate struggles, in cooperation with all other organisations working among the peasantry, for the taking over of surplus land and its distribution within this year; for the distribution of Government waste land and cultivable forest land; for locating, with the mobilisation of all peasants, benami land held illegally by landlords and demand its distribution; for restoration to the tribals of the land alienated from them; for amendments to the ceiling laws doing away with all exemptions including those in the name of temples, trusts and maths and illegalising all benami holdings.
This session congratulates the peasants and AIKS units and workers of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and other State who, in the recent period, have conducted struggles on the above demands. The AIKS units should mobilise the peasantry in a big way since a much ore united and powerful movement is required. Even if such a movement is not able to win the complete abolition of landlordism immediately, concessions can be won even under the present conditions.
This session also calls upon all the Kisan Sabha units to fight back against the efforts of various State Governments to reverse even the existing land reform legislations as in Orissa and Gujarat and also the attempt of the Kerala Coalition Government to legalise illegal transfers of land between 1970 and 1974 in the name of gifts. All these proposals will seriously affect the extent of even the meagre surplus land available for distribution.
This session of the AIKS also notes that despite all the tall talk of protection of tenants both by the earlier Congress Governments and the present Janata Government, not even the correction of records is being carried out. On the other hand, mass evictions of tenants are taking place from the land they are cultivating. Although fair rents have been fixed, the provision remains on paper without being implemented. None of the laws in favour of the tenants can be implemented unless there are proper records.
This session congratulates the Left Front Government of Tripura for the steps it has been taking in the interests of the peasantry, especially the steps taken to restore land to the tribal people from whom it had been alienated, and at the same time rehabilitating those displaced in the process in other areas with financial and other help.
In this context, this session of A.I.K.S. congratulates the West Bengal Left Front Government for taking up “Operation Barga” to record sharecroppers and amending the land reforms legislation to ensure the sharecroppers their rightful share of the produce and protect them from evictions.
This session of the All-India Kisan Sabha demands of all the other State Governments that they amend the existing land reform legislations in the same direction, ban all evictions, fix fair rent at three-fourth of the produce for the tenant and cancel all arrears of rent.
In all this, the All-India Kisan Sabha will strive its utmost to forge unity with all organisations working among the peasantry so as to make these demands irresistible.
ON RURAL INDEBTEDNESS
This Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha notes with concern that rural indebtedness has assumed enormous proportion. According to present estimates it may be anywhere around Rs. 6000 crores.
Governent has been talking about priority for the rural sector in regard to credit and guidelines have also been laid down but even the nationalised banks are not distributing loans to the poorer sections in the rural areas. Thirtyseven per cent of bank credit has been allocated to the rural sector, but of this more than eighty per cent has gone to the upper strata of landlords and rich peasants. The others, deprived of institutional credit, have had to depend on moneylenders and landlords who extort usurious rates of interest. The interest charged at compound rate by the banks and other financial institutions is also very high. Very often the poorer sections who succeed in borrowing for their day-to-day living when there is no eployment, are not able to pay the interest, let alone repay the principal amount. They are thus, reduced to the status of bonded labour and remain so far two or three generations. It is not enough that the debts of bonded labourers are written off, because in the absence of cheap institutional credit, they are again forced to go back into the clutches of the usurers and are thus caught up in a vicious circle.
This session calls on all AIKS units to take up the problem of indebtedness which has become an urgent problem facing the peasants and agricultural labourers and build up a movement demanding liquidation of debts of peasants owning less than two and a half acres of land and adequate institutional credit at 6 per cent simple rate of interest with priority to the toiling sections of the rural people.
This session demands that the Government should revise the credit policy in this direction and give the necessary directives to the banks and other financial institutions. It also demands special allocation of credit for gricultural workers and the landless without security.
ON PRICES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE
This Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha notes that with the precipitous fall in the prices of agricultural produce, the peasantry is facing total ruination. Prices of not only commercial crops like cotton, jute, surgarcane, tobacoo, potatoes, etc., but also of foodgrains have fallen affecting adversely the peasantry. The producers of most of these crops are not able to realise even the cost of production with the price of cotton falling from Rs. 400 a quintal last year to Rs. 250, potatoes prices crashing to Rs. 20 and Rs. 25, sugarcane, being sold at Rs. four and five when firewood costs Rs. 20 and so on. Even in relation to foodgrains in the absence of monopoly purchase peasants are forced to sell foodgrains at a lower price than the minimum support price fixed by the Government which already is low.
The Government’s policy of importing rubber and copra has resulted in bringing down the prices of rubber and copra affecting producers of these crops very adversely.
This crash in the prices of their produce has taken place at a time when they have to pay higher prices for manufactured goods for consumption and increased costs for inputs.
The Agricultural Prices Commission, appointed by the Government of India, even while admitting the rise in the cost of production; refuses to fix remunerative prices for the crops. The Food Corporation of India, Jute Corporation of India and the Cotton Corporation of India buy only a very insignificant portion of the crops because they have not been provided with either the necessary organisation or adequate finance.
The result is that the small and medium producers who form the vast bulk, are denied even the inadequate prices fixed by the Government. Only the bigger producers have the holding capacity; the small produces are forced into distress sales immediately after harvest.
The margin of difference between the price that the peasant gets for his produce and what the consumer pays for the manufactured article is very big. This big margin obviously goes to swell the profits of the monopolists and big traders.
This session notes that a very critical situation has arisen in the rural areas and if the producers of agricultural crops are not ensured remunerative prices, the whole rural economy will be envolved in the worst crisis with all the dire consequences for the entire economy of the country.
This session, hence, demands:
- That minimum price of cotton be fixed at Rs. 500/- per quintal.
- That the price of sugarcane be fixed at Rs. 15/- a quintal
- That the price of jute be fixed at Rs. 250/- a quintal
- That the price of rubber be fixed at Rs. 1000/- per quintal
- That the coconut at Rs. 1000/- per 1000 coconuts and their import be stopped.
This session demands that the Governent of India should ensure that sufficient are made by the Cotton COrporation of India and Jute Corporation of India and provide sufficient finances to the state governments for initiating schemes like monopoly cotton procurement scheme in Maharashtra in regard to commercial crops. In view of the steep fall in the prices of commercial crops this session demands that cess on all commercial crops be withdrawn.
At least 50 per cent of the produce should be purchased and Government should build up the necessary storage facilities.
THis session further demands a price of Rs. 100 for a quintal of paddy that the government take over the wholesale trade in foodgrains and other essential articles and buy all the narketed surplus. This session also demands the introduction of crop insurance for all the peasants.
The issue of remunerative prices for their produce is one which affects vast sections of the peasantry. Various platforms and organisations of growers are coming up demanding justice. The All-India Kisan Sabha should have no hesitation to join hands with these forums to draw the entire peasantry into the movement for remunerative prices for their produce.
This session calls on all units of the Kisan Sabha to mobilise the peasantry to organise demonstrations, dharnas, gheraos, supervision of mundis and use all forms of struggle so as to save the peasants from making distress sales.
ON TAX BURDENS
This Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha strongly registers its opposition to the Government policy of imposing more and more levies on the people when the tax burdens on them are already very heavy.
The Central Government’s budget for the current year has imposed a record new additional taxation of over Rs. 600 crores. It has also left a record deficit of over Rs. 1300 crores. Many of the essential articles of consumption like kerosene, high-speed diesel oil, matches, soaps, cooking gas, etc., have been taxed, though some concessions have been subsequently announced. The further taxation on petrol and petroleum products will increase road transport charges—both passanger and freight. Coming on top of the Railway Budget enhancing the fares of season tickets, and railway freight rates, the new levies and the record deficit gap will result in inflation and push up prices of all articles of consumption.
While the Central Budget has offered some concessions to the agrarian sector especially removing the excise on raw tobacco and in regard to fertilisers and power tillers, it has to be stated that the greater part of the benefits of these will reach only the upper strata. Whatever benefits are likely to accrue to other sections in the rural areas will be more than offset by rise in prices of consumption articles and the increase in transport charges and indirect taxes.
In addition have come new taxation measures in some of the States.
Water-rates, power-rates, land taxes uniformly applied at all sections, etc., are already high, and the mass of the peasantry will be heavily burdened by the new taxation measures.
This session of the All India Kisan Sabha demands the withdrawal of cesses on all commercial crops and reduction of registration fees for transaction in land, etc. It further demands that the whole tax-structure and a single-point graded agricultural income tax be introduced with exemption for those whose annual income is below Rs. 5000.
This session calls on the units of the Kisan Sabha to join hands with all other peasant and democratic organisations to build up a powerful united movement, demanding the withdrawal of the new taxes on articles of essential consumption, specially those on kerosene, matches, soaps, etc., and those which will result in the hiking of passenger fares and freight charges.
ON AGRICULTURAL WORKERS
This Twentythird Session of the All-India Kisan Sabha notes that after thirty years of Congress rule and two years of Janata Government, the agricultural workers remain the worst exploited section of our people. The majority of them come from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes and apart from being economically exploited are subjected to cruel social oppression.
All the solemn promises made to them by the previous Congress rulers and their Janata successors have been observed more in their breach. They continue to work under conditions of semi-slavery, they are subjected to bonded slavery by usurious moneylenders and landlords, they are the victims of all sorts of indignities, they are beaten, maimed and murdered and their womenfolk are frequently molested and dishonoured. Despite the much talked of land reforms, the vast bulk of them have not received any land. On the other hand, mass evictions of tenants and sharecroppers have swelled the ranks of landless agricultural workers. Whereas in 1964-65, according to one estimate, the number of agricultural workers was 27-29 million, their number has risen to 47-49 million in 1974-75, i.e., an increase of 20 million in 10 years.
Other available facts also go to show the worsening conditions of the agricultural workers. Between 1964-65 and 1974-75, the number of working days by men agricultural workers declined from 201 to 185, and the corresponding figures for women and children were 138 and 129 and 167 and 145 respectively. Between 1961-62 and 1976-77, their real wage declined from Rs. 1.76 to 1.64 at 1961-62 prices. Though notifications have been issued to revise the minimum wage for agricultural workers, but except for one or two States like West Bengal and Kerala, no machinery has been set up for the implementation of these wages. They still earn a pittance of one or two rupees over vast areas of the country, except where there are powerful movements of the agricultural workers.
The conditions of farm servants, through they have year round employments, are no better. They have to work longer hours, and they do not have the benefits of weekly holidays, annual leave, etc.
With the price of essential commodities soaring high and in the face of growing unemployment and underemployment, the indebtedness among agricultural workers is increasing fast. Though much is being said about institutional credit to rural areas, this benefit goes mainly to the upper strata and agricultural workers and other sections of the rural poor remain at the mercy of usurious moneylenders and landlords and are often reduced to the status of bonded labour.
This session of the All-India Kisan Sabha demands that the different states legislate:
- Rs. ten as minimum wage to agricultural workers;
- Distribution of house-sites with ownership rights and assistance for construction of hutments; and interest free loans to the poorer sections;
- Cancellation of all debts and provision of cheap institutional credit as priority to the rural poor;
- Food for work programme which provides certain relief during the period when they have no work;
- Abolition of landlordism and taking over Of all surplus land, and distribution of the surplus land, Government waste land and benami land and cultivable forest land to the landless agricultural workers and land-poor peasants.
Agricultural workers and the oppressed peasantry in many parts of the country have been fighting for these demands. This session of the All-India Kisan Sabha calls on all its units and the agricultural labour organisations wherever they exist to give organised shape to these struggles and strengthen them and mobilise the support of the other sections of the peasantry for the demands of the agricultural workers.
This session also calls on all the Kisan Sabha units and all other democratic forces to give physical protection to the rural poor against attacks from the landlords and their goondas in league with the police and the administration, and organise the in a powerful struggle for ending all vestiges o social oppression.
ON ATROCITIES ON SCHEDULED CASTES AND SCHEDULED TRIBES
This Twentythird session of the All India Kisan Sabha is alarmed at the growing attacks and atrocities on Harijans in several States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, etc. Belchhi and Kaila in Bihar, Pant Nagar and Agra in Uttar Pradesh, Villupuram in Tamil Nadu, Marathwada in Maharashtra are all still fresh in the minds of the people. In the Congress(I) ruled state of Andhra a Scheduled Caste Congress MLA was disallowed to enter into a temple, and it become a scandal on an all-India scale. Not a day passes without the newspapers reporting some such atrocity from one part or another of the country.
Strong protests were voiced inside the Andhra Pradesh, Legislature and outside in the State against the incident in which a Harijan MLA, Masela Eranna, was prevented from entering a temple right in the presence of a Minister of Congress(I) State Government.
Beating and torture, burning alive of Harijans, molestation and rape of Harijan women, destruction of their homes and the little personal belongings they possess, have reached alarming proportions. They are attacked whenever they fight for higher wages or try to take possession of land legally allotted to them. The atrocities had been going on under the Congress regimes, they are continuing under the Janata Government.
The words of sympathy pouring out of the mouths of Governmental leaders do not afford any solace to these cruelly oppressed sections of the rural poor. These inhuman atrocities continue, and the landlords are able to perpetuate them with impunity, because of the pro-landlord bias of the administration in the rural areas, and because many in the administration themselves are closely linked by family and other ties to the rural vested interests.
While demanding that the Government at the Centre and in the States take stringent measures against the authors of these crimes, all units of the Kisan Sabha should realise that commissions and enquiries, laws and directives alone cannot stop this centuries-old oppression, that only the organised resistance of the oppressed sections with other democratic masses alone can put an end to the barbaric practices of the landlords.
This session calls on the entire organised kisan movement, and all other democratic forces in the country to urgently act to give physical protection to the Harijans wherever they are under attack.
While fighting against economic exploitation of all the rural poor, Kisan Sabha units should give special attention to the struggle against social oppression, foil the game of the big landed interests to create divisions in the rural areas, and build the unity of agricultural workers, Harijan and non-Harijan, and of agricultural workers with the toiling peasantry.
ON UNITED ACTIONS
This Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha notes the seething discontent in the rural areas as a result of the fall in the prices of agricultural produce, the rising prices of articles of consumption and inputs, the denial of minimum wages to agricultural workers, evictions of tenants and sharecroppers, growing attacks and atrocities on Harijans and Adivasis again police repression and so on.
Various sections of the peasantry are moving into actions spontaneously to resist the Government’s efforts to throw the burdens of the deepening economic crisis on to their shoulders Various forums and platforms are coming up championing their demands. Recent reports also show that in many places where the organised kisan movement exists, united actions are taking place to win the demands of the peasants and agricutural workers.
This session welcomes these united actions and calls on all units of the Kisan Sabha to intensify such actions. We have to eschew all types of sectarianism so as to join hands with all types of organisations, platforms and forums as long as the interests of the peasants like, for instance, remunerative prices, reduction of tax burdens, etc. The Kisan Sabha cannot and should not insist that all its demands should be accepted by all other organisations. On specific issues we have to work out the correct slogans, unite all the organisations and bring the peasant masses into action. And where other organisations put forward correct demands, we should have no hesitation in joining hands with them. The All-India Kisan Sabha has always worked to forge peasant unity and today’s situation provides immense opportunities to strive for it. Such united actions also help to raise the level of political conscious ness of the peasantry and make it easier to fight casteism, communalism, obscurantism etc., the traditional weapons used to keep the peasantry divided.
This session once more calls on all Kisan Sabha units, and appeals to all organisations working among the peasantry, to strive towards united actions which will enhance the strength of the organised kisan movement and make it a force to be reckoned with.
ON SUPPORT TO THE WORKING CLASS
The Janata Government, following in the footsteps of its predecessor Government of the Indira Congress, is trying to create a wedge between the working class and urban working people and the rural poor. The incessant talk about high wage islands in the urban areas and abysmal poverty in the rural areas is directed to pit the rural poor against urban wage- earners and prevent the unity of the peasantry with the working class.
The reality is that both the Congress and the Janata Governments have been pursuing policies which are against both the working class and the peasantry. The Bhoothalingam Panel’s recommendations on wage, the Industrial Relations Bill, the sabotaging of wage negotiations in the public sector are all anti-working class measures.
The working class is fighting not only against these policies, not only in its own interests, it is spearheading the battle of other sections of the people, it is in the forefront of the struggle for a radical change in Government policies to put the country on the right path of development.
This session of the All-India Kisan Sabha notes that the peasants are becoming aware of this leading role of the working class and are going to its support as at the time, of the glorious Railway Strike of 1974. The growing unity of the peasants and working class is also seen in the mutual support given by Jute producers and workers in the Jute Industry.
But the Kisan Sabha should be conscious that taking the country as a whole, this awareness of mutual support is not sufficient in both the working class and the peasantry.
The Kisan Sabha is sure that the trade unions will give support to the demands of the agricultural workers and poor peasants and mobilise the working class in support of these demands.
This sesion calls on all Kisan Sabha units to be aware of the task of forging the worker-peasant alliance for the success of the agrarian revolution and give all support to the struggles and movements of the working class against the anti-labour policies of the Government, for need-based minimum wage, against repression by the police and employers, etc. It is only by such support of the peasantry to the working class and of the working class to the struggles of the peasantry that the worker peasant alliance can be realised and the agrarian volution carried forward.
ON DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS
The Twentythird session of the All-India Kisan Sabha hails the people of INdia for inflicting a crushing defeat on the forces of authoritarianism and emergency rule led by Indira Gandhi and for winning back their democratic rights and civil liberties.
This session cannot but note that after taking some initial steps like restoring civil liberties, abolition of Press Censorship, restoration of the powers of the Legislature and Judiciary, etc., the Janata Governent has been backsliding from its pledges to the people.
Though forced to repeal the MISA, powers for preventive detention have been retained in the Constitution and Preventive Detention Acts are already on the Statute Book in some States. Instead of redeeming the pledge to scarp the entire Constitutional Amendment enacted during the emergency, the Janata Party has retained some of the obnoxious authoritarian provisions like the powers to declare Internal Emergency, Central intervention in States, etc. This is the deplorable consequence of the Janata Party Leadership seeking the support of the Indira Congress which had enacted the draconian 42nd Constitution Amendement.
This session notes that the uninterrupted growth of monopolists and big landlords, the growing penetration of multinationals, the deepening economic crisis and the crisis of the bourgeois parliamentary system are all factors which lead to the emergence of authoritarianism. While the struggle against the forces of authoritarianism led by Indira Gandhi has to be continued relentlessly, the All-India Kisan Sabha wants to emphasise that democracy can be preserved and strengthened only by weakening the vested interests.
Consodering that 80 per cent of our population lives in the rural areas and that the struggle for democracy cannot be broadened and strengthened without their participation, considering also that without democratic rights, the peasantry itself cannot organise and fight for its demands and conduct its movements, this session calls on all units of the All-India Kisan Sabha to draw the widest sections of the peasantry into this struggle, and with all those with whom they can unite demand deletion of the Constitutional provisions for preventive detention, for declaring Internal Emergency, Central intervention in States, disbandment of the Research and Analysis Wing, the main weapon of the dictatorship, electoral reforms, etc.
This Twentythird Session of the All-India Kisan Sabha extends its greetings to the people of Afghanistan who, under the leadership of the People’s Democratic Party, have brought about radical changes in their country.
After overthrowing the dictatorial Daud regime, the new regime has begun with steps to ensure democracy to the people, modernise the society in Afghanistan and improve the lot of the people through land reform, etc. The new Government has declared its firm adherence to non-alignment and for close and friendly relations with the Soviet Union and other Socialist countries.
All this has naturally roused the ire of internal reactionaries and the imperialist forces outside.
Internal reaction represented by religious extremists and some tribal chieftains are indulging in assassinations, attacks on army units, etc. Their aim is to destabilise the new people’s regime, overthrow it and bring back the reactionary dictatorial forces to power.
In this they are getting all support from the imperialists Certain tribes in areas adjoining Afghanistan in Pakistan are being incited and used to mount attacks in the border regions of Afghanistan.
Facing all these hostile activities, the People’s Government is consolidating itself among the people and going ahead with reform measures in their interests.
This session of the AIKS extends its support to the People’s Democratic Party and the Democratic Government of Afghanistan and is confident that with the support of the People of Afghanistan and anti-imperialist forces elsewhere they will be able to defeat all the conspiracies of the reactionaries, both internal and foreign.
ON COMMUNAL RIOTS
This Twentythird Session of the All-India Kisan Sabha expresses its grave concern of the growing number of incidents of communal riots in the country.
The organised attack on the minority community in Aligarh shocked the democratic conscience of the whole country. Every impartial visitor who made enquiries in Aligarh had found that the majority communalists organised in the RSS were responsible for the holocaust there. The district administration into which the RSS had effectively infiltrated and the Provincal Armed Constabulary gave direct help to the RSS hoodlus to systematically organise the massacre, loot and arson. This session of the AIKS notes with satisfaction that the staudents, teachers and staff of the Aligarh University not only refused to be provoked but actively worked to restore normalcy and give relief to the victims of the riots.
While the Aligarh incidents were the most serious, such communal incidents have also taken place in other states like Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, etc.
Whatever the immediate provocation which leads to these incidents, they invariably become a one-sided affair with the communalists going on the rampage and the minority community becoming their victims. It is members of the minority community who are mostly killed, it is their homes and property that are invariably destroyed or damaged. The communalists among the minority community also try to exploit these incidents to keep their grip on the community and rouse minority communalism.
This session of the AIKS calls on all democratic forces to defend the minority community from such murderous attacks by the Hindu communalists. This session calls on the Central and State Governments to realise that there is an intense feeling of insecurity among the Muslims and the authorities should reassure them by taking protective and preventive measures in time, instead of waiting for the riots to take place and then appoint enquiries whose reports are almost invariably put in cold storage. This session notes that these communal riots are engineered also to dispute the movement of the peasantry.
This session also appeals, to the Muslim masses not to be misled by their own communalists but to strengthen the democratic forces, trade unions, peasant organisations and other mass organisations which alone can become a guarantee against attacks on them recurring.
GREETINGS TO WEST BENGAL AND TRIPURA LEFT FRONT GOVERNMENTS
This Twentythird session of All-India Kisan Sabha greets the Left Front Governments of West Bengal and Tripura for the services they are rendering to the mass of people, specially the peasantry. After coming to office with massive mandates from it, the people, the two Governments, facing the limitations imposed on them by the Constitution, besides the conspiracies hatched by reactionary forces, are steadily working out policies and programmes to protect the interests of the peasantry. These measures have brought even more support to the two Governments as was seen in the panchayat elections.
A favourable atmosphere has been created in the two States for the growth of the democratic movements through the release of political prisoners, withdrawal of cooked-up charges against thousands of activists of the Kisan Sabha, and total reversal of the policy of police intervention in favour of the landlords ond other vested interests. The cultivators have been enabled to harvest their crops and that, too, with much less clashes, than previously.
In West Bengal, those holding less than four acres of irrigated land or six acres of non-irrigated land have been exempted from land revenue, and a new enactment is in the offing to make landowners pay graded tax on agricultural income. Major concessions have been given in the matter of repayment of taccavi loans, and repayment of loans of small and marginal armer and landless labourers to commercial banks. The foods-for-work programme has not only given employment in the non-agricultural session, but consequently helped to free landless labourers from the clutches of moneylenders and landlord. GOvernment departments paying the minimum wage of Rs. 8.10 to agricultural workers for construction work in rural areas has vastly improved their bargaining position with their employees. The Government has also implemented the law which confers ownership of house-sites on agricultural workers, sharecroppers and artisans who are in possession, and has also provided for the reversion of ownership of land to poor farmers. Land forcibly taken over by the landlords are being returned to those rightful owners who had got possession in 1969-70.
As regards sharecroppers, apart from putting the onus of proving that a person cultivating a plot is not the sharecropper on the landlowner; and making the non-issue of receipt by landowners for their share of the produce a punishable offence; a massive “Operation Barga” has been launched for registration of sharecroppers. Sharecropping has now been made hereditary and lawful evictions made impossible. Also, the share of the sharecropper has been increased to 75 per cent when he contributes inputs and implements.
The Government has further provided for free education up to class X which will further facilitate the education of the children of peasants as well as other poorer sections of the society.
The unprecedented floods last year which devastated large parts of a number of districts in West Bengal, and seriously affected millions of people, mostly peasants, were faced by the Government with the greatest courage and efficiency. Although only very mearge financial assistance was received from the Centre even after its own admission that it was a national calamity, the State Government tackled the flood and post-flood the people, that no rural people had to leave the village and trek to the cities for relief, and no epidemic broke out anywhere in the devastated areas. What is more, the Government was able to keep control on prices and prevent them from rising. Rehabilitation work was also undertaken successfully and on a very extensive scale, with the newly elected panchayats playing an important role in this work.
The Left Front Government of Tripura has assigned high priority to the speedy implementation of land reform measures, to take over surplus land and distribute it. The Government is restoring to the tribal people the land alienated from them and the poor refugees from the erstwhile East Bengal who might get displaced in this process are being resettled in new areas with generous financial and other support. The legislation for the establishment of a District Council in predominantly tribal areas is a very important measure aimed at meeting some long standing grievances of the tribal people. The Government is proposing amendments to existing laws in order to strengthen the legal position of sharecroppers and tenants, and is, meanwhile, providing for legal aid to them against litigations by the landed interests. A programme for financially assisting the sharecroppers for securing agricultural inputs is being launched from this year. Extensive administrative support is being extended to the task of updating land records. A new land tax has been introduced with a graduated rate and linked to profitability and the market value of the land.
Even in this brief period, the two Left Front Governments have created a record to be proud of and this session of the AIKS is confident that they will carry forward this record in the coming period.
While the two Governments do constitute an extra arm of struggle, the Kisan Sabha has to carry on vigorous work under its own banner and conduct ceaseless struggles in defence of the rights of the poorer sections of the rural population. It is the independent strength of the Kisan Sabha that will give added strength to the Left Front Governments to go forward with confidence to implement policies and programmes in favour of the peasantry.
This session calls on all Kisan Sabha units to popularise these achievements in the two States and utilise them to develop the movement in the other States.
SYMPATHY TO VICTIMS OF AVALANCHES
This Twentythird Session of the All-India Kisan Sabha mourns the deaths of hundreds of people in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir who were buried under unprecedented avalanches. The magnitude of the disaster can be seen from the fact that the district of Lahul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh has lost about one per cent of its populations.
THe relief given by the Central and State Government is totally inadequate.
This session sends its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and demands that the Central and State Governments extend timely and adequate financial and other assistance to the families affected by this natural calamity.
This Twentythird Session of the All-India Kisan Sabin, strongly protests against the death sentence imposed on former Pakistan Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
It was after a farcical trial that Bhutto was convicted and even then the Judges were divided four to three. World public opinion and leaders of almost all the Government have appealed to Pakistan’s President Ziaul Haq to commute the death sentence. This Session adds its voice to the demand for the commutation of the death sentence and calls on the Government of India to intercede on behalf of Bhutto.
But the military dictator who has no legitimacy seems be bent upon executing Bhutto which will be nothing but a heinous political crime.
This session extends its heartfelt sympathy to Bhutto’s family who have stood courageously during all this period and refused to bow before the military dictator.
Messages of Greetings
On behalf of the CITU I warmly greet your Conference and wish it sucess. The years between your last and present Conference have witnessed many changes affecting the peasant mass and the people of India. The Kisan Sabha will no doubt take note of these changes and mobilise the rural masses for combating the challenge of the authoritarian forces.
No other section of the Indian people has suffered so much under the economic crisis as the mass of agricultural workers and peasants. Every crooked device has been used by the bourgeois-landlord government to reduce the rural mass to destitution. This inhuman onslaught can be successfully fought if the organised forces of Workers and Kisans stand together for resistance. The ruling classes are now busy putting the peasant against the worker, our reply should be growing co-operation and alliance of the two forces to combat the burdens of the crisis and defeat the exploiters. Our joint actions will release big democratic forces to stand against the tide of authoritiarianism. I assure you that the CITU will be working for these common aims.
Fraternally yours, Sd/- (B.T.RANANDIVE)
CPI-Led Kisan Sabha’s Greetings
On behalf of the Central Kisan Committee (CKC) of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) I bring to your conference warm fraternal greetings and ardent wishes for success in its deliberations and sincere offer for joint struggle for the realisation of the common goal of radical land reforms and democratic. re-organisation of the entire socio-economic set up of the country in close cooperation with the working class and other democratic classes and strata.
Our two Kisan Sabhas are not only the joint inheritors of the glorious traditions of the heroic struggles waged under the red banner of the AIKS during the last four decades but are still inspired by common goals, are facing common tasks and are engaged in common struggles against common class enemies—landlords, monopolists and imperialists.
The unfortunate division in our ranks weakened the organised peasant movement and weakened its weight and role in the democratic movements precisely at a time when the bankruptcy of the capitalist path persued by the ruling classes is becoming more and more apparent and the need for an alternative path of development based on worker-peasant alliance and unity of all left and democratic forces is becoming more and more pressing.
Our two Kisan Sabhas still remain the premier national organisations of the working peasantry and unity of action between them will definitely play a crucial role in galvanising the mass movement for defending the interests of the peasantry and forging the left-democratic alternative to the bankrupt bourgeois rule.
Our Kisan Sabha stands for sincere cooperation between our two organisations and has submitted several proposals for the same including a Ten-Point Charter of Demands which could serve as a basis for evolving an agreed platform for unity of action between the two Kisan Sabhas as well as with other organisations and parties, groups and individuals interested in the well-being of the peasantry.
We have felt greatly enthused by the growth of joint work between our two Kisan Sabhas at the local level in certain States during the recent past. But we hope, you will agree, that this cooperation is yet too small in the context of the needs and possibilities of the situation.
We ardently hope that your conference, meeting at this crucial hour in the history of our country, will chart out an appropriate programme of unity of action between our two Kisan Sabhas as well as with other parties, organisations and groups standing for the defence of the interests of the peasantry.
Allow me, Comrades to greet you once again and to wish full success to your deliberations.
With fraternal greetings, (Indradeep Sinha)
ALL INDIA PLANTATION WORKERS’ FEDERATION
We have received your invitation for attending your 23rd Conference at Varanasi and thank you for the same.
The Plantation Workers have a very close link with agricultural workers and peasants and they have unitedly fought many a struggle in various parts of the country. This has greatly helped our efforts in carrying the message of working class-peasant alliance to the plantation workers and the plantation workers, therefore, look to your organisation as a great friend and ally.
Your organisation has played a glorious role in the anti-imperialist struggles and in the struggles against feudalism and oppressive role of the Congress regime. Even now, under the Janata Government, when the same old policies of the Congress regime are being followed imposing more and more economic burden on the common people, your organisation is magnificiently leading the peasants and the agricultural labour in fighting against these attacks and we assure you the Indian Plantation Workers will whole heartedlv join this struggle and further strengthen the working class-peasant alliance.
The Plantation Workers will also join you in fighting against the authoritarian forces and safeguarding democracy in our country.
On behalf of All India Plantation Workers Federation we greet your Conference and wish your conference a great sucess.
With warm revolutionary greetings,
Yours fraternally, Sd/- VIMAL RANADIVE SECRETARY
CEYLON WORKERS CONGRESS
I learn with pleasure that the All India Kisan Sabbha is holding its 23rd session on 30th 31st March, and 1st April 1979.
It is heartening to note that the Kisan Sabha has organised under its umberlla the peasants and agricultural labour long before the demand for organising the rural poor was felt by the labour movement in the countries, of our region. And the fact that the Sabha has played a dominant and dynamic role to end the exploitation of peasantry by the landlords adds greater emphasis to its achievements over the years.
National Conventions of any organisation are milestone in their long and arduous quest for justice and fair play to their members, as such the 23rd session of the Sabha is another landmark in its history.
Having taken roots before independence the Sabha must have faced the vagaries and vicissitudes of not only political but Socio-Economic changes as well. The fact that it has weathered many stroms is evident from its large membership which shows that the people whom it represents are fully behind it.
There is no doubt that the session will be a fruitful one, paving the way for a better life for the millions of peasants in India.
May I wish the session all success and also take this opportunity to convey to the peasants and workers of India the brotherly greetings of their counterparts here.
Thanking you. Regards,
Yours Sincerely Sd/- S.THONDAMAN President
National Federation of Agricultural Workers Republic of Congo.
Thanks for the invitation, unable to send delegation. Wish your conference all success.
RESY TRAF Secretary
ZAMBIA CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS
I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 15th February, 1979, with thanks.
We are unable to participate in this important Conference due to the fact that, your letter reached us late.
I hope and trust that, the contacts which we have just established between your organisation and my organisation will be strengthened to the benefit of the people.
On behalf of the Executive Committee and indeed the entire workers of Zambia I wish you every success in this very important Conference.
Yours fraternally Sd/- (HUDSON KABANGA) for/SECRETARY GENERAL
General Confederation of Workers (C.G.T. Independent) Nicaragua affiliated to WFTU
We are greatly honoured by your invitation to attend the Conference of your organisation, with which we share the same goals of land to the tiller and equal rights to agricultural workers. With regret we inform you that our organisation of peasants and agricultural workers (CCTAN) has been decimated by the National Guard under pretext of combating the guerillas fighting against the dictatorship of General Anastasio Somoza.
However, this is not to say that our peasant and agricultural workers’ movement is totally liquidated, for we have linked the movement to the urban working class movement and the Executive Secretariat has nominated me to write this to you.
We should like to be present at the Congress-an event of great significance—but we must confess that our organisation is going through a grave financial crisis due to the political situation. Hence can not send delegation, we wish all success in the work of the conference.
We will be sending you documents of our activities and certainly for your Congress a message of solidarity.
Greetings to all your comrades in struggle.
Yours Domingo A Sanchez Salgodo Secretary, International Relations, CGT (Independent)
Message from the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union to the Twenty third Session of the All India Kisan Sabha
Thanks very much for your letter of February 15, inviting us to send a fraternal delegation to attend the Twentythird Session of your Sabha.
We regret that due to financial constraints, it will not be possible for us to attend.
Attached is a message from us.
With kind regards.
Yours fraternally, Sd/- General Secretary.
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union extends revolutionary and fraternal greetings to the All India Kisan Sabha on the occasion of the 23rd Session.
The All India Kisan Sabha can be proud of its past since it is an integral body which has waged and continues to wage consistent struggles in various parts of India for genuine agrarian reform and for the emancipation and political awakening of the Indian peasantry.
Your Organisation came into existence at a time when the zamindars in collaboration with the state were the lords who ruled with unquestionable power and controlled every aspect of the working lives of the peasants and their families. Any form of resistance to obtain improvement in the archaic, system was meted out with harsh penalties resulting in loss of personal belongings, limbs and lives.
We note with much pride your steadfastness in the struggle against feudalism and imperialism for the abolition of landlordism and distribution of land to the tillers and the fight for better prices for the produce of peasants.
We are proud to note that your Organisation remains one of the foremost in India despite the trials and tribulations at the hands of the local reaction. It has stood the test of time and we are confident that the All India Kisan Sabha will continue to blaze the trail for greater successes towards Unity, Equality and Socialism.
We wish to inform you that your struggles are somewhat similar to ours. Although we are thousands of miles apart we share the same aspirations. Here in Guyana, we too are waging consistent battles against the government of the minority People’s National Congress which despite mouthings of socialism is adopting repressive measures against the working class and peasantry to suit its caprice.
The 23rd Conference of the All India Kisan Sabha is held at a very important and trying period of the struggle of the people of India. We see it as the manifestation of your determination to give continued and dedicated leadership and to mobilise even greater sections of the peasantry in the struggle. We are confident that the Conference will elaborate new historical tasks which will lead to new and greater victories and pave the path for the construction of a Socialist India.
As you meet at this important Conference to deliberate the vital issues facing the peasantry and to chart a new phase of your struggle, we wish you every success and assure you of our continued militancy and support.
Long Live the solidarity between the Guyana Agricultural & General Workers’ Union and the All India Kisan Sabha!
Long Live the All India Kisan Sabha!
Long Live Proletarian Internationalism!
UNION PALESTINE PEASANTS
Dear friends accept fraternal greetings from Palestine Peasants. Wishes success Twentythird Session All India Kisan Sabha. We side with You in Your Noble Struggle.
NUH ABU EL HIIJA Secretary General
GENERAL FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS, IRAQ
It gives me pleasure to extend to you, in the name of all masses of workers of Iraq, their trade union movement and their executive bureau and in my own name, warmest heartfelt greetings on holding your 23rd session, along with deep felicitations to the militant Indian workers for the accomplishments they have realised under their militant organisation (All-India Kisan Sabha) which culminates a courageous struggle anil consistent successful efforts reflected by the practical activities of this experienced Federation, a fact which consolidates the place and strength of the progressive Indian Trade Union movement among the militant trade union movements of the world, developing the horizons of their joint struggle against the forces of exploitation, imperialists domination and reaction and for building a pleasant and prosperous life for the workers and people of friendly India.
The General Federation of Trade Union of Iraq views with utmost appreciation and confidence the development of fraternal relations already existing between our both organisations and the masses of our workers in both friendly countries. Simultaneously, we would like to assure you of our constant efforts to develop and enrich these relations in favour of bolstering the unity of our joint struggle against imperialism, Zionism and reaction.
In conclusion, we reiterate our best wishes for your success and progress and that your conference may realise its full objectives in serving the Indian working class and the friendly Indian people in general.
Yours fraternally, MOYAD ABDULLAH GFTU PRESIDENT
The General Union of the Peasants, Damascus
Allow us please to thank you heartily for your invitation to our General Union of the Peasants to attend the Twentythird Session of All India Kisan Sabha. We know a lot about All India Kisan Sabha as the leading Organisation of the Peasantry in India.
We are very sorry that we are not able to send a delegation from our organisation to your Twentythird Session, because we received your invitation late some how, and because of the serious events in our Arab homeland because of Sadat’s signing of the treaty by yielding to the Zionists.
We take this chance to express our full solidarity with your heroic struggle for the interests of all India, hoping you every success in all aspects of your activities.
We look forward waiting for better chances to develop the friendship and solidarity between our Peasant Organisations. With our best regards…….
Shibli Nasir Deputy for Public Relations
Mostafa Al-Ayed President
INDIAN WORKERS ASSOCIATION, GREAT BRITAIN (HINDUSTAN MAZDOOR SABHA)
On behalf of the Indian Workers Association, Great Britain, the Central Committee and the people of Indian origin we have the pleasure and honour to convey our warm, fraternal and revolutionary greetings to the 23rd Conference of All India Kisan Sabha, scheduled to take place in Varanasi on March 30, 31st and 1st April.
The All India Kisan Sabha has always been in the forefont of the democratic movement in India. It has played a formidable role in defeating the authoritarian forces led by Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
As you are aware of the active solidarity of the Indian Workers Association, Great Britan, with the democratic struggles of peasants and workers led by All India Kisan Sabha and other organisations of India, we assure you that we will continue to do so with more vigour and determination.
We wish the Conference a grand success. With revolutionary greetings,
Yours Comradely. Sd /- Prem Singh
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS UNION OF USSR
Dear Comrades, Central Committee Agricultural Workers Union of Soviet Union Sends All Delegates and Guests Cordial Friendly Greetings and wishes of success in work of Session. We Express Confidence That Resolutions Adopted will Definitely Contribute to Struggle for Bettering Living Conditions of Run santry. Consolidation of Unity in Peasant Movement, Social Progress of Indian Rural Sector May strengthen and develop Traditional Friendly Bonds Between our two Organisations and Agricultural Labourers of Soviet Union and India, Presidium of Central Committee, USSR Agricultural Workers Union.
AGRICULTURAL, FOOD INDUSTRY AND WATER WORKERS UNION OF ROMANIA
Agricultural Food Industry Water Workers Union of Romania Convey 23rd Conference All India Kisan Sabha Warm Comradely Greetings, Wish You Dear Comrades Full Success in Implementation Decisions to be adopted For Just Land Reform for decent life for right Trade Union Freedom for United Action, Indian Trade Union Movement For Peace Social progress
AGRICULTURAL FOOD ECONOMY AND FORESTRY WORKERS UNION, GDR
On behalf of its 592000 Members National Executive Agricultural Food Economy and Forestry Workers Union German Democratic Republic Conveys Heartfelt Militant Greetings to Delegates to 23rd Conference All India Kisan Sabha and Wishes Successful Proceedings in Fraternal Solidarity with Struggle of Indian Agricultural Workers and Farmers for Better Living and Working Conditions for Peace Democracy and Social Progress.
Federation of Agricultural Workers, Warsaw
Federation of Agricultural Workers of Poland arranged for sending a delegation of three members to attend the 23rd Session. As the visa was refused the delegation could not come. The Greetings sent by the President of Federation of Agricultural Workers are given below:
On behalf of the Leadership and all the Membership of our Trade Union We Heartfully Congratulate your Conference and all the Delegates. We wish you fruitful debates and many a Success in your work for the Benefit of all the Farmers of your Country.
TADEUSZ RYBICKI President
We Brotherly Salute Delegates 23rd Session All India Kisan Sabha. We express Solidarity in Struggles for Economic Social Progress Country.
BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY
Dear Friends Permit me on behalf Ruling Councill Bulgarian Agrarian Party All Party Members Convey Most Heartfelt Wishes Success All Participant Twenty Third Session All India Kisan Sabha Stop We Know Steady Struggle Waged By You Against Feudalism Capitalism for Uniting Peasantry Against Big Owners and Monopoly Exploitation Stop Wish You Dear Friends Further Success Your Noble Work to Rally and Unite All Progressive Forces in Indian Countryside Stop We Firmly Believe That Relations All India Kisan Sabha and Bulgarian Agrarian Party Shall Strengthen Develop Interest Bulgarian Indian People Interest World Peace
Peter Tanchev, Secretary, Bulgarian Agrarian Party.
Union of Agricultural Food and Tobacco Industries Workers of Yugoslavia.
Many Thanks for Invitation to attned Your Session Stop Owing to Previously Undertaken obligations Regret Unable to Attend Stop Wishing full Success in Work of Session Confident that it will give Powerful Impetus to Continuous Efforts and Actions of Your Organisation aimed at further Enhancement of position of Agricultural Workers and Peasants Stop Also Express our Wish for Developing Friendly Cooperation Between our Two Organisations to Mutual Benefit Stop Regards.
CC Union Agricultural Working People, DPRK, Pyongyang,
Send Warm Greeting to 23rd Congress AIKS and all Delegates Stop Express Solidarity Your Struggle for Emancipation Peasants and for their Social and Living rights and Wish you Success in your Congress work.
MONGOLIAN PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC
The Trade Union of the Agrarian Workers of the MPR send International Greetings to the Delegates of the present Session and Wish all Success to its Works.
Credential Committee’s Report 23rd Session of the AIKS, 1979
Total Number of Delegates – 1096+1 = 1097
Female = 25
Male = 1072
Working in Kisan Sabha = 980+1 = 981
Working in Agri. Labour = 116
Working for more than Fourty years = 37
Working for more than Thirty years = 73+1 = 74
Working for more than Twenty years = 225
Working for more than Ten years = 413
Working for more than Five years = 176
Working for less than five years = 110
CKC Members = 26
PKS = 205
DKS = 393
TKS + Block = 494
Class Origin = Agri. Labour/146 Poor Peasant/236 Middle Peasant/236
Rich Peasant/46 Land Lord/24 Middle Class Intelligentsia/409
Whole timer = 713 Part timer = 384
Married = 869 Unmarried = 228
AGE GROUP: Below 30 yrs/118 Above 30 yrs/401 Above 40 yrs Above 50 yrs/188 Above 60 yrs/56 Above 70 yrs./12
OLDEST : Com. Pratap Singh Dhannalu from Punjab, Aged 80 years.
YOUNGEST : Com. Sufal Pal 23 years.
Ministers = 15
Chief Minister = 1 (Tripura)
M.P.s = 8
M.L.A.s = 79
Zila Parished = 93
Panchayat Samity = 99
Gram Panchayat = 143
West Bengal Panchayat =
Z.P./91 Panchayat Samity/99 Gram Panchayat/72 Total = 270
Total Jail Life: 1170 Years 9 days 4 hours.
Total U.G. Life: 1066 Years 7 months 20 days.
Higest Jail Life: 27 Years. Com. A. Kunahambri from Kerala.
Higest U.G. Life: 19 Years. Com. Charan Singh from Punjab
Extra: Exiled for 25 Years: Com. Sahib Singh from Punjab.
Bagala Guha, Sivaji Patnaik, G.S. Randhawa.
Statement of Accounts
ALL INDIA KISAN SABHA 23rd Conference, Varanasi, 30th March to 1st April 1979.
Accounts of All India Kisan Sabha 1-4-74 to 28-2-79
|Balance on 31-3-74||22,590.54||Wages||1,425.00|
|Affiliation fee 1974||20,400.10||Salary||100.00|
|Delegation Fee at 22nd Session||1,084.00||Office expenditure||472.47|
|Viet Nam Badges||848.00||Newspapers||247.00|
|Sale of literature||725.10||For Viet Nam Fund||13,830.00|
|Bank interest||927.19||Delhi Office||7,172.75|
|22nd Session Expenditure||1,361.75|
|Sent to Delhi office||15,710.90|
|By A/c transferred from Calcutta||15,710.90||Wages||6,541.00|
|Sale of literature||1,092.13||Stationary||920.80|
|Sale of newspapers||674.00||Newspapers||2,302.52|
|Total||1,32,085.18||CKC Meetinge expenditure||2,331.57|
|38,127.84||Advance for Publication of Konar’s Works||5,000.00|
|Donation to Andhra Cyclone Fund||2,000.00|
|Donation to West Bengal Floods||5,000.00|
List of A.I.K.C Members
- Com. Benoy Krishan Chaudhuri
- Com. K. Chathunni Master
- Com. M. A. Rasul
- Com. Godavari Parulekar
- Com. Harkishan Singh Surjeet
- Com. P. K. Tandon
- Com. N. Sankaraiah
- Com. Santimoy Ghosh
- Suhrid Mullick Choudhuri
- Bejoy Modak
- Provash Roy
- Paritosh Chatterji
- Benoy Konar
- Khudiram Bhattacharjee
- Bagala Guha
- Gour Saha
- Chandi Pal
- Sadhan Raha
- Anil Saha
- Ahindra Sarkar
- Ananda Banerji
- Madhu Bag
- Haranath Chandra
- Madhabendu Mohonto
- Manindra Gope
- Gunddhar Choudhuri
- Ramnarain Goswami
- Mahboob Zahidi
- Santosh Banerji
- Joykesh Mukherji
- Sasanka Kar
- Benode Das
- Sunil Majumdar
- Satya Chandra
- Soroshi Choudhuri
- P. V. Kunhikannan, M.L.A.
- R. K. Rama Krishnan, M.L.A.
- V. S. Achuthanandan
- P. K. Kunjachan, M.P.
- M. P. Narayanan Nambiar
- U. Kunhiraman
- R. Krishnan
- K. P. Aravindkshan
- P. P. Esthos, M.L.A.
- N. Krishnan Nair
- A. Kanaran
- K. P. Joseph
- C. K. Balakrishnan
- T. Chattmi
- L. B Gangadhara Rao
- U. Ramam
- B. N. Reddy
- T. U. R. Chandran
- R. Omkar, M.L.A.
- Koratala Satyanarayana, M.L.A.
- P. V. Subba Rao
- A. Sreemammarayana
- J. Venkatesh
- V. Narashimha Reddy
- R. Rama Raj
- G. Veeraiyan
- N. Varada Rajan
- N. R. Ramaswamy
- P. S. Dhanuskhodi
- P. Kumaravelu
- T. P. Muthusamy
- Dalip Singh Tapiala
- G. S. Randhawa
- D. S. Johal
- Swaran Singh Cheema
- Kulwant Singh
- Ramphal Singh
- Chand Singh (President Dehati Mazdoor Sabha)
- Dhanpat Rai Nahar
- Dashrath Deb.
- Samar Choudhuri
- Dinesh Deb Berma
- Narayan Kar
- Abhiram Deb Barman.
- Purnendujit Raj Karma
- Jagannath Bharthi
- Dinesh Singh
- Raj Kishore
- Sharafat Hussain Rizvi
- Rampal Singh
- Shankar Dayal Tewari
- Ram Suman Yadav
- Nandeshwar Talukdar
- Gopes Roy
- H. Das
- Noorul Huda
- Tarun Khaklri
- Krishan Kant Singh
- Ramanand Singh
- Subodh Roy
- Ramashray Singh
- Rajendra Singh Munda
- Tarini Yadav
- Siwaji Patnaik
- Khitish Viswal
- Jivan Lal Jariram Das
- Thalkubhai Shah
- L. B. Dharwar
- Ramachandra Ghangare
- Gangatharappa Burande
- Lahanu Kome
- Kuldip Singh
Jammu & Kashmir
- Bishan Dass
- Trilok Singh
- Hari Ram
- Com. M. Basavapunnaiah.
Total- 112 Members
New CKC Members and Office Bearers
PRESIDENT: Com. Benoy Krishan Choudhuri.
GENERAL SECRETARY: Com. K. Chathunni Master.
VICE-PRESIDENTS: Com. M.A. Rasul. Com. Godavari Parulekar. Com. Harkishan Singh Surjeet.
JOINT SECRETARIES: Com. P.K. Tandon. Com. Sankaraiah. Com. Santimoy Ghosh.
- Com. Benoy Krishna Choudhuri (West Bengal)
- Com. K. Chathunni Master (Kerala)
- Com. M.A. Rasul (West Bengal)
- Com. Godavari Parulekar (Maharastra)
- Com. Harkishan Singh Surjeet (Centre)
- Com. P.K. Tandon (U.P.)
- Com. N. Sankaraiah (Tamil Nadu)
- Com. Santimoy Ghosh (West Bengal)
- Com. Surhid Mullick Choudhuri (West Bengal)
- Com. Bagala Guha (West Bengal)
- Com. Benoy Konar (West Bengal)
- Com. Paritosh Chatterjee (West Bengal)
- Com. Khudiram Bhattacharjee (West Bengal)
- Com. P.V. Kunhikannan (Kerala)
- Com. T.K. Ramakrishnan (Kerala)
- Com. P.K. Kunjachan (Kerala)
- Com. V.S. Achuthanandan (Kerala)
- Com. Dalip Singh Tapiala (Punjab)
- Com. Dalip Singh Johal (Punjab)
- Com. Gurcharan Singh Randhawa (Punjab)
- Com. K. Ramraj (Tamil Nadu)
- Com. G.V. Rajan (Tamil Nadu)
- Com. L.B. Gangadhara Rao (Andhra Pradesh)
- Com. U. Ramam (Andhra Pradesh)
- Com. T.V.R. Chandram (Andhra Pradesh)
- Com. Rajkishore Singh (Uttar Pradesh)
- Com. Ramanand Singh (Bihar)
- Com. Krishan Kant Singh (Bihar)
- Com. Dasrath Deb (Tripura)
- Com. Nandeswar Talukdar (Assam)
- Com. L.B. Ganghare (Maharashtra)
- Com. Hari Ram Chauhan (Rajasthan)
- Com. Sivaji Patnaik (Orissa)
- Com. M. Basavapunnaiah (Centre)
Amendments in the Constitution of A.I.K.S.
- Article VII- In Article VII Clause I replace the first sentence by the followng:
All India Kisan Conference shall be composed of not more than 1000 delegates. Every State or Regional Kisan Sabha shall have representation in the All India Kisan Sabha. Quota of delegates from each State shall be fixed by CKC taking into consideration the membership, the strength of the movement and poorer representation from all States, subject to a minimum of 5 delegates for each unit of the sabha.
- Article VIII- After 7(a) and 7(b) add sub clause(c)
“The newly elected President shall immediately after the election take the chair and conduct its proceedings. He will continue to hold his office until a new President is elected.”
- Article IX- Replace by the following:
(1) Replace the word “Central Kisan Council” by “All India Kisan Committee”.
Clause (2) “The AIKC will consist of members not exceeding 125, on which all States and Regional units of the Sabha shall be represented. The number of members from each State shall be fixed by CKC, which will notify all the State units at least one month before the All India Conference.
(2) The AIKC should meet immediately after the Conference in order to elect its office-bearers and also the CKC.
(3) The AIKC shall meet at least once a year.
- Article X- The Central Kisan Council Add Article X after Article IX and renumber.
“The Central Kisan Council shall be vested with powers to carry out the policy and the programme of the Sabha in between the meetings of the AIKC.”
- All the consequential changes to be adopted.
Date: 30th MARCH TO 1st APRIL 1979
Author: A.K. GOPALAN NAGAR VARANASI