REPORT OF THE GENERAL SECRETARY TO THE GOLDEN JUBILEE SESSION OF THE ALL INDIA KISAN SABBA
Dear Comrade President and Comrade Delegates,
‘We are meeting here after about three and a half years, since the Twenty-fourth Session of the All India Kisan Sabha was held at Midnapere (W. Bengal), in November 1982. Significant changes have taken place in the national and international situation. Before I deal with these changes, we must remember the leaders and well-wishers of the Kisan Sabha, who passed away in this period. We pay homage to the memory of Com. P. Sundarayya, one of the founders of the organized peasant movement in the country, one of the topmost leaders of the heroic armed struggle of the Telengana peasantry. Inspired by the freedom struggle as a young student, he soon dedicated his life to the cause of the working class, peasantry and other toiling sections of the Indian people in the struggle for independence and for social transformation. His devotion to the cause of the downtrodden and his spirit of self-sacrifice inspired thousands of workers in the country. His passing away is a big less to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) as well as to the workers’ and peasants’ movement in the country.
We pay our homage to Com. Promode Das Gupta, an outstanding leader of the C.P.I. (M), who took keen interest in the building and developing the peasant movement in the West Bengal. He lived the life of a revolutionary, facing all sufferings and sacrifices and has a proud record of devoting his whole life to the cause of working class, peasantry and other toiling millions. We pay our homage to the memory of Com. M.R. Venkataraman, who as a Secretary of the Tamilnadu State Committee to the Communist Party since 1942 and later as Secretary of C.P.I, (M) since 1964, took keen interest in developing the movement of the agricultural workers in Tamilnadu. We will be failing in our duty if we do not mention the passing away of Com. Desraj, who began his revolutionary carrier as a Kisan Sabha worker. We remember Com. Ramdas, who worked at the All India Kisan Sabha Center at a very crucial period, when the Government had launched a severe repression on our organization. We pay our homage to these comrades.
We pay our homage to the memory of Ch. Ghasi Ram, an outstanding leader of the state people’s movement and peasant movement of Rajasthan, who laid down his whole life for the cause of peasantry.
Let us remember on this occasion those comrades who died in the intervening period 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 hirelings of the landlords, and those who fell victims to natural calamities. We are proud of our comrades at the grass root levels of our organization. It is primarily their dedication, willingness to sacrifice everything, including their lives, for serving the interests of the people, and their revolutionary fervor which have made our organization what it is today and which will make us the leading force in the countryside in the not too distant future.
This year we are celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the All India Kisan Sabha. Starting with a few thousand membership in 1936 it has grown into a powerful organization with 7.5 million members today. If we include the agricultural workers’ membership it surpasses 8 millions. The fifty years’ record of AIKS is a record of glorious history. It played an important role in arousing the peasantry in the moment for national freedom. The All India Kisan Sabha was able to unite various sections of the toiling peasantry in the struggle against feudalism, big traders and monopolists. It has the proud record of leading the peasant masses in the struggles against exploitation and feudal bondage in which thousands laid down their lives. No student of history of the peasant movement can forget the heroic struggle of the Warli peasants in Maharashtra; Teabag struggle in W. Bengal; heroic resistance of Surma Valley peasants struggles of tribal peasants in Tripura in defense of their rights; the glorious Telengana struggle which shook the foundations of feudal structure and by tremendous sacrifices was able to inspire the whole country in the struggle for land; the struggle for Bakasht land in Bihar; struggle against evictions in U.P., Punjab and other states; the struggles of peasants of Rajasthan, P.E.P.S.U, and Punjab; struggle of Punnapra- Vayalar; heroic fight of Kayur martyrs; struggles of the agricultural workers of Tanjore; and the anti betterment levy struggle of Punjab, All these have written a glorious chapter in the history of the peasant movement in the country. It was the All India Kisan Sabha which was able to focus attention on the completion of the agrarian revolution as a necessity for the completion of the democratic revolution and for an overall advance of the economy.
In its long history of fifty years, the All India Kisan Sabha had to face severe repression at the hands of British rulers, princes and feudal landlords. It was made difficult at times even to make its offices function. After independence also the bourgeois-landlord government launched a severe repression against the peasant movement. But the movement not only survived but grew in influence and strength. It has emerged as a premier organization of the peasantry.
When the AIKC decided to celebrate the year 1986 as the Golden Jubilee Year and fixed up many targets it was confident that its dedicated cadres will accept the challenge and take the message of the AIKS to different corners of the country. It has been decided to approach 50000 new villages in the country for organizing and developing the Kisan Sabha and to enroll 8 million members. We are sure that these modest tasks will be over-fulfilled. We have also issued many pamphlets about the important struggles conducted under the leadership of the Kisan Sabha. We have to make this Jubilee Year a year of lengthening the Kisan Sabha by widening and deepening its bases. We have to highlight the achievements of fifty years and draw lessons from our shortcomings to overcome them and make the AIKS a mighty organization of the Indian peasantry, capable of completing the agrarian revolution, in unity with the agricultural workers. It has to constantly forge alliance with the working class, the revolutionary class in present society. Let this session become another turning point in the history of the kisan movement of the country.
Let us now briefly deal with the international and national situation.
The General Secretary’s Report to the 24th Session had pointed out that “faced with the serious economic crisis, the U.S. imperialism is preparing for a nuclear war, a war which would be more destructive than any waged so far in human history. U.S. imperialism is determined to make Western Europe, the theater of a nuclear war in which most destructive weapons are intended to be used against the Soviet Union. With this purpose in view, the U.S. in forcing its NATO allies to install cruise missiles in their countries. Although the western powers are alarmed at the consequences of stationing of the missiles on their territories and the preparation for nuclear war, they are lining up behind the Reagan administration and allowing their countries to become theaters of nuclear war.”
The Report further stated that “war maneuvers of U.S. imperialism are not confined to mere installation of nuclear weapons in Western Europe, it is creating hotbeds of tension and war in many places all over the world with a view to suppress the forces of national liberation and recapture the lost position in the economic and political field in various former colonial countries.” Based on this understanding the conference gave a call to the peasantry to unite with the working class and other democratic and peace loving forces, to combat the war danger, expose and unmask the aggressive plans of the imperialists before the world to save it from nuclear devastation. The conference expressed its solidarity with the people fighting for national liberation and for defense of their independence.
International situation has further deteriorated since then. Defying the powerful protests made by the people of Western countries, U.S. imperialists installed the Cruise missiles in Europe directed against the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. It intensified the arms race and refused to accept any proposal for moratorium on nuclear tests. On the other hand, under cover of strategic defense initiative, it took the arms race to space and began working on the “Star Wars” Project, the world has never faced such a danger of nuclear war as it is facing today. Such a war, if allowed to be unleashed, is going to be a devastating war where not only the achievements of humanity are at stake but the human race itself, where nobody can be a winner.
U.S. imperialism is trying to secure military superiority over Soviet Union to unless war against it. The war which U.S. imperialism is preparing for, is a war of imperialism against socialism. It is also a war for re-establishing its global domination over the newly liberated countries. Therefore it poses a big challenge to the socialist system, the world working class, the non-aligned movement and people desiring peace throughout the world.
The aggressive nature of U.S. imperialism is further reflected in the recent unashamed attack on Libya; in the aid given to country-revolutionaries fighting against Nicaragua, in the support given to the racist regimes of Israel and South Africa, and in its desperate attempts to subvert national liberation movements. It is helping the counter-revolutionary forces against Kampuchea and Afghanistan. It is backing the Moroccan regime of King Hussein in its war against S.A.D.R.
U.S. imperialists are very unhappy over India’s foreign policy of peace and non-alignment. They have encircled India with hostile regimes. They are arming Pakistan with sophisticated weapons and have strengthened the Diego Garcia base to destabilize the situation in our region.
As against U.S. drive for nuclear war, the Soviet Union and other socialist countries are making all efforts and are rallying all forces for peace. Beginning with this year the Soviet Union has taken initiative after initiative to counter the war drive of imperialism. Its three-stage proposal of January 18, 1986, for reduction and elimination of nuclear and chemical weapons, its unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests for more than 9 months, its appeal to reduce weapons in Europe and their destruction, its support to the 6-nation proposals, have shown that the Soviet Union and other socialist countries stand for peace whereas imperialism headed by U.S. imperialism is out to drive the world towards nuclear holocaust. In this struggle for peace, the Soviet Union has been able not only to win the support of the non-aligned movement but also Social Democrats in West European countries and all the peace loving forces the world over. The forces of peace are much stronger today and this, combined with the defense preparedness of the Soviet Union, can thwart the designs of imperialism.
Moreover, the imperialist countries are today faced with deep economic crisis. There are more than thirty million unemployed in the developed capitalist countries. Inflation is further squeezing the meagres incomes of the toiling masses. This has exposed various theories advanced by bourgeois economists in defense of the decaying world capitalist system.
As against this, the advance made by the socialist countries in the sphere of economy and well being of the people, provides a sharp contract to the crisis-ridden capitalist system. Most of the socialist countries have entered the stage of developed socialism where there is an all round advance in the political, economic and social sphere. That is why they desire peace, and defend national independence and self-reliance of developing countries.
In this situation India is assigned a very important role. Its policies of peace and non-alignment are a big contributing factor in the struggle against war mongers. It has very rich anti-imperialist traditions. But unfortunately there is not sufficient awareness among the people about the dangers of nuclear war. India has not seen the devastating effects of war. The Government of India also does not take the issues of war and peace to the people. The All India Kisan Sabha has to overcome this weakness in unity with the working class and other democratic and peace loving forces. A beginning in this respect was made in October 1981 by organizing a huge rally in Delhi in which AIKS took active part and subsequently by a Peace Convention in 1984. But this is not sufficient and this initiative has to be carried forward.
The condemnation of U.S. attack against Libya by all political forces in the country has shown the deep anti-imperialist feeling among the people of our country. This potential has to be used in rallying the people in support of national liberation movements and against imperialist intervention. The AIKS has to play an important role in this struggle.
The broad features of the national situation highlighted in the the report to the Midnapore Conference remain true even today. With the deepening crisis of the Indian economy, the agrarian crisis has been very much aggravated. The number of unemployed in the rural area stand at more than 40 millions, rural indebtedness has risen to the astounding figure of Rs. 13000 crores, loss of recovery of loans has risen to 40 per cent in many states. The peasantry is groaning under increased tax burdens; they have been denied remunerative prices for their produce. In fact there has been a crash in the prices of commercial crops like Jute, Cotton, Coconut, etc. Land reforms have been given a go-by. On the other hand, eviction offensive has been intensified by the landlords in the absence of land records. Agricultural laborers are denied minimum wages and hardly a day passes when the incidence of atrocities is not reported in the press.
Because of all this, great unrest prevails among the peasantry. In the absence of a powerful peasant movement, taking the country as a whole, on the one hand, the ruling classes are trying to throw the burden of the crisis on to the shoulders of the peasants and use the brute force of repression to suppress their struggles and,on the other hand, communal, divisive and separatist forces backed by imperialism are trying to divert discontentment into divisive channels and destablise the country. The assassination of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was part of this conspiracy. The post-assassination riots showed how weak the secular foundations of our democratic fabric have become.
There is a rapid deterioration in the political situation today and the divisive forces are on the offensive. The ruling Cong. (I) Government is either a helpless spectator or compromises with them. The mass of the people show apathy and do not intervene. In Punjab the extremist and secessionist elements are not only on the offensive but have been able to capture entrenched positions in the religions institutions like Harminder Sahib* deposing the S.G.P.C. from all its authority over this temporal scat. This has never happened before since the liberation of Gurudwaras from the control of the pro-British Mahants in the early 1920s. They hoisted the flag of Khalistan there and openly advocated separation, making use of the gurudwaras. The Akali Party, in-spite of the massive majority it got in the elections, has not been able to fight and contain the forces. They cannot confront them as long as they base themselves on religious appeal. In Assam the new Ministry encourages its followers to run a campaign of intimidation and murders of opponents. They are also planning certain steps which may lead to the expulsion of thousands of citizens in the name of foreign nationals. The action of the Central Government in toppling the Farooq Government in Jammu and Kashmir encouraged Jamaat-e-Islami and other separatist forces in Jammu and Kashmir, leading to a situation of communal polarization which Jammu and Kashmir never witnessed since independence. Emergence of many organizations of Hindu communalism like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Shiv Sena, RSS, and activities of Muslim fundamentalists under cover of various organizations, poses ‘ serious threat to communal harmony. There is another force D.S.-4 working in the name of Dalits, making a caste organization to keep them away from democratic movements. All these pose a serious threat to the class unity of the peasantry and working class and endangers national unity. The Congress Party and its Government instead of fighting these forces, take a compromising attitude from narrow partisan interest till they become a serious threat. It is the job of AIKS, in unity with working class, other peasant and democratic forces, to fight against these forces and defeat the game of imperialism.
The discontent is sought to be utilized by the landlords also who try to champion the cause of peasantry and keep them away from the democratic movement. This period has also focused the issue of center-state relations. Whereas the ruling party wants to concentrate more and more powers in the Center and strengthen authoritarian rule, the experience shows that the unity of the country can be maintained only by restructuring center-state relations when all the constituents of federal India can have full play in developing political, economic, social and cultural life.
The period also has shown the big potential in defense of democracy. It was for the first time in the history of independent India that a Government dismissed by the Center had to be restored under pressure of the people, as happened in Andhra Pradesh.
The Left Front Governments of West Bengal and Tripura have played an important role in arousing the consciousness of the peasantry. No state in the country can compare with the relief which the peasantry in these states got through the policies of these governments backed by the peasant movement. These policies are having their impact on the rest of the country. Unfortunately they are not being sufficiently popularized and made the basis of our campaigns and struggles.
Let us discuss the policies and measures of the Government with particular reference to the peasantry, and how far we have been able to implement the decisions of the last conference. Let us take stock of the situation we are facing concretely on the peasant front.
MIDNAPORE CONFERENCE AND AFTER
The twenty fourth conference of the All India Kisan Sabha was held nearly three years after Congress-I had returned back to power, in the 1980 elections, with the promise to form a Government “that works”, to check price rise and to solve the problem of poverty and growing inequality. Thinking that people had forgotten about the gross failure of the Emergency-time 20-Point Programme, it resorted to fresh maneuvers of announcing a new 20-Point Programme on the completion of one year of its rule in 1981 and drafted a new Sixth Five Year Plan, to make “a direct assault” on poverty. But as the General Secretary’s report pointed out, “nearly three years’ rule of the Indira Gandhi regime has proved that whatever may be the slogan and claims made by it, the Congress-I Government is not able either to solve any problem of the toiling people or to take the country out of the morass of the crisis. They are more and more resorting to attacks on democratic rights and are threatening to change the constitution and make it more authoritarian”.
The Report pointed out that in both the new 20 Point Programme and Sixth Plan the land reforms have been given up without which it is the impossible to tackle crisis of the economy.
After analyzing the main features of prevailing agrarian structure the report laid down the tasks of mobilizing the peasantry against war drive of U. S. imperialism, in defense of democratic rights, to popularize the central slogan of land to tiller, for protection of the interest of the tenants and sharecroppers, for remunerative prices for peasants’ produce, for debt- relief, against tax burdens, for the protection of the rights of the tribal, in support of the implementation of minimum wages for agricultural workers, granting house-sites and against caste and social oppression and against the communal and divisive forces. It called upon its units to organize united struggles on these issues and develop unity of the peasantry including the agricultural workers as well as worker-peasant alliance.
CKC meeting in April 1983 called upon all state units to held land reform conventions, jointly with other peasant organizations to highlight the urgent necessity of undertaking land reform legislations on the lines of West Bengal Land Reform (Second Amendment) Bill and suggest amendments in the existing legislations in each state and build campaigns for their enactment.
SULTANPUR A.I.K.C. MEETING
When nearly eighteen months after the Midnapore conference, we met again on 3-4 April, 1984, at Sultanpur in AIKC meeting, we came to the conclusion after a thorough review of the developments, in the intervening period that, “Congress-I Government is determined to pass on the burden of the crisis on to the shoulders of the peasantry, thus aggravating the deep agrarian crisis”.
The Sultanpur AIKC resolution “On Mass Campaigns”, pointed out that “instead of giving relief to the peasantry” more and more burdens on them in the form of hikes in bus and railway fairs, electricity and irrigation rates and excise duties are being imposed by the government. Prices of consumer goods and agricultural inputs were rising but peasants were not getting remunerative prices for their produce. The miseries of the peasantry were further compounded by natural calamities like Hoods, droughts and cyclones, which were becoming more and more devastating as the years rolled by due to faulty policies of the planning. Indebtedness was growing and so was poverty and unemployment. Denied even the legally fixed minimum wages, the agricultural workers were increasingly becoming victims of atrocities by the muscle-men of landlords, particularly in the Congress-I ruled states of U. P., Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The Sultanpur resolution further pointed out that “discontent amongst the peasantry is growing and the communal and divisive forces are trying to divert the discontent into disruptive channels”, while the Government “instead of solving these problems, is resorting to suppression of democratic rights”. The growing discontent was leading to further isolation of Central ruling party from the masses and its defeat in elections. Andhra Pradesh and Karnatak— hitherto considered to be considered to be impregnable fortress of Congress-I—had fallen. In its effort to keep its monopoly of power, it resorts to a toppling game which had brought to the fore the problem of center-state relations. The AIKC directed its units to mobilize the peasants and other political parties and peasant organizations to reverse the anti-people policies of the Congress-I Government. A 12-point charter of immediate demands of the peasantry was drawn up by the AIKC at Sultanpur, around which these struggles were to develop.
THE ECONOMIC POLICIES OF RAJIV GANDHI GOVERNMENT
The ruling party refused to draw any lesson from its ignominious defeats in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka elections and in several other bye-elections held in 1983. It failed to even learn from the roll back in its toppling game that people of country forced on it, in Andhra Pradesh. The ruling party took full advantage of the sympathy wave created after the dastardly assassination of Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi, to win the lok Sabha elections in the end of 1984 with four-fifth majority, and the new Rajiv Gandhi Government, began to translate more nakedly the World Bank directives in its budgetary policies.
These directives, which were called, “conditionalities” attached to the IMF loan of Rs. 5000 crores, include withdrawals of subsidies on food and such essential inputs as fertilizers, enhancement of electricity rates, hikes in postal or railway fare and freight charges as well as in bus-fares, more and more indirect taxes, etc. Under these directives, food-grain allocation to different states under the food-for-work programme were curtailed and the programme was allowed to be scuttled (to be renamed later on as NREP in 1980. Allocations have again been increased since last year.)
THE TWO BUDGETS
The two budgets presented by the Rajiv Gandhi Government till now, faithfully continued to follow these directives.
The 1985-86 Railway Budget enhanced railway fares and freight charges to bring in Rs. 500 crores of additional revenue, while the General Budget imposed a burden of more than Rs. 1100 crores through additional excise duties imposed on items like petroleum products (including kerosene oil), printing and writing paper, cement, vegetable products, bidis, soaps, etc. These heavy imposts were accompanied by concession to the tune of about Rs. 1000 crores in income and corporate taxes to industrialists and richer sections of population. A heavy deficit of Rs. 3349 crores, which became Rs. 4490 crores by the time of presentation of revised budget, led to an alround increase in market prices, which in turn led to further impoverishment of the masses. The few sops thrown here and there for poorer and middle sections in the budget to create an illusion that ‘benefits’ have been evenly distributed amongst the people as a whole, were more than offset by these rising prices and heavy additional tax burdens that were imposed. The schemes, announced with so much fanfare to benefit the masses, are as yet a non-starter, while allocations for poverty alleviation schemes were actually cut down by Rs. 9 crores.
The 1986-87 budget imposed additional indirect taxes amounting to Rs. 467.22 crores while the hike in direct taxes was only by a paltry Rs. 21 crores. The Railway Budget which had thrown an additional burden of Rs. 500 crores in the 1985-86, added Rs. 76 crores more to this burden in the current year. As has become the practice in recent years, these budget imposts were preceded by per-budget hikes in administered prices of coal and fertilizers and issue prices of wheat and rice from Public Distribution System, to yield an additional revenue of Rs. 700 crores along with a massive hike in prices of petroleum products (including kerosene oil) throwing another big burden of Rs. 800 crores on the people. Thus the per-budget and budget imposts together add upto a colossal additional burden of about Rs. 2000 crores, out of which the direct taxes of Rs. 21 crores constitute a burden of less than 10 per cent of total. This burden is once again accompanied by a massive deficit of Rs. 4490 crores, which only promises that the trend of rising prices will continue. The hikes in petroleum product (including fertilizer) prices and issue prices of foodgrains, is in line with the World Bank directives to reduce subsidies on food and fertilizer and is being most shamefacedly justified on the same ground by the Government spokesmen. The fresh hike actually withdraws certain concessions on fertilizers, given two years back when fertilizer consumptions failed to rise to the desired extent, putting all the calculations about expected rise in food- grain production under the Sixth Plan in jeopardy, and now fertilizer prices are once again about 64 per cent above the 1980-81 prices.
Total additional burdens including the budget deficit, in the 1986-87 budget amount to massive Rs. 5650 crores which is nearly three times the increase in budget allocations for plan expenditure. Thus the additional heavy burdens are being imposed on the poor, not merely for financing the plans but more so for providing more and more concession to exporters, monopolists, rural landlords, etc. as part of the efforts to sustain a crisis ridden bankrupt path of capitalist development.
These additional burdens imposed by Central budget are accompanied by thousands of crores of other back-breaking burdens imposed by state governments in the form of hikes of bus fares, electricity rates, irrigation rates and other hikes which have taken place several times in each state during the last three years.
The Seventh Plan prepared and being implemented by the Rajiv Gandhi Government, carries forward the same policies of trying; to develop agriculture through use of modern technology and inputs, and claiming to solve the problems of poverty and unemployment without ending outmoded relations in land and without unleashing the creative energies of landless peasantry.
Like its predecessor, VII Plan too pays lip service to the need of implementing land reforms in the following words :—
“Land reforms have been recognized to constitute a vital element both in terms of the anti-poverty strategy and for the modernization and increased productivity in agriculture. Redistribution of land could provide a permanent asset for a large number of rural land-based and other supplementary activities”.
But unlike VI Plan, it is not frank enough to admit that ceiling laws have failed and had only a “minimal” effect on monopoly of landownership, and does not even say that the deliberately left “loopholes” have to be plugged and land reform measures have to be pursued further if “we are to tackle effectively the problems of poverty and inequality”. It has not. the honesty to tell us that only the W. Bengal Left Front Government made a serious effort to plug the loopholes in the existing law, and it is the Central Government which prevented the Amending Bill to become law for more than four years. It repeats the proposals of Sixth Plan “for securing the rights of tenants to land and regulation of rent” where this has not been done and where tenancy, although abolished, “may have re-emerged informally for a variety of reasons”. It, however, does not tell us that none of the states which had been named had taken any measure to enact tenancy laws for this purpose. Similarly, while the VII Plan recommends surveys for recording and registration of tenants with maximum involvement of the local community and people’s institutions”, it does not tells us that the VI Plan recommendations of compiling/updating of land record by 1985, was simply ignored by all states, except Left Front ruled W. Bengal and Tripura, which carried out Barga Operations, to record sharecroppers.
The VII Plan tells us that under all existing laws beginning wit It fifties, only 7.2 million acres have been declared surplus and out of it 5.6 million acres have been taken over and only 1.4 million acres actually distributed. This, as we know, is about 7 per cent of the surplus estimated—63 million acres—by the Mahalanobis Committee in 1976 after the first round of ceiling laws were enacted and about one-fifth of surplus estimate on the basis of data made available by NSS 26th Round. But VII Plan is not worried about this howling failure of our Government to undertake radical land reforms. They only tell us that out of 2.0 million acres declared surplus but not distributed, 1.06 million acres are involved in litigation, 0.89 million acres is reserved for specific public purpose and only 0.3 million acres is left for distribution. Our planners know that the Government and the ruling party, for political reasons, does not want to disgorge from landlords even that land which they have fraudulently “saved” through benarni transaction and by utilizing the various loopholes deliberately left by the ruling party, in the ceiling legislation. So where to get land from? The VII Plan points out that 4.2 million acres of land was donated to Bhoodan Yagna Committee, out of which only 1.3 million acre has so far been distributed and 2.9 million acres have no taker because “the state governments have not taken any initiative for the development of these lands even where they are in compact blocks”. Then there are 16.7 million hectares or about 42.4 million acres of culture-able waste land, “the development and utilization of which is not being mentioned. Some states have been distributing waste lands but the total picture is not clear”. The Seventh Plan suggests that “there is thus an urgent need to bring both these categories into a comprehensive re-distributive land reform policy with appropriate measures for enforcement and monitoring”.
But redistribution to whom? This land, a total of more than 45 million acres, in its present state, is unfit for cultivation and requires heavy investment, over a number of years, to be made available for profitable cultivation. That is exactly why it has not attracted our “land grabbers” belonging to powerful landlord elements in the countryside, who exist in all states. Would the Government develop it and distribute it among the landless and poor peasants? One would search in vain the Seventh Plan document for a clear cut declaration or even a hint about any commitment by the Government to do so. On the other hand there are proposals before the Government to hand over large chunks of these lands, where they exist in compact blocks, to big business houses, who are ready to make investments for growing forests, to provide raw materials for forest based industries or for diversifying into other plantation industries, using modem technology to grow oilseeds, rubber or other commercial crops.
Hence “appropriate measures” under “a comprehensive re-distributive land reforms policy” under their latest VII Plan Connotation, means only bringing cultivable waste land under the plough to increase nation’s land stock and add to the nation’s kitty of fond-grains and cash crops, after completely abandoning any talk of land reforms, that may touch the present holdings of landlords. Agricultural workers and poor peasants cannot invest in developing this land and VII Plan has made no allocations for developing these lands, the only alternative left, if the VII Plan target of speeding up growth of agricultural production is to be achieved, would be to accept the offer of big industrial houses, of course in “national interest”.
let us now see what is the “strategy” proposed by VII Plan for increasing food-production, without implementing land reforms.
The food grain production is to be raised from 150 million tonnes in 1984-85 to 178-183 million tonnes in 1989-90, the end year of the Seventh Plan.
The plan documents points out that as against the VI Plan target of 44 million tonnes, 45 million tonnes of wheat was produced in 1984-86. But the target of producing 68.4 million tonnes of rice could not be achieved and only 60 million tonnes could be produced. Similarly, target of producing 14.50 million tonnes of pulses could not be achieved and in 1984-85 only 13 million tonnes of pulses were produced.
The VII Plan document also tells us that “less than 15 per cent of the area under food grains in the country contributed as much as 56 per cent of the increase in food grains production in the post-green revolution period”. Eastern region which accounts for 67 per cent of the total rice area, contributed only 50 per cent of the country’s’ rice production. Nearly 70 per cent of the country’s’ net sown area is rain-fed and it produces only 4.1 per cent of the food grains while the remaining 57 per cent is produced in 30 per cent of the area with assured means of irrigation.
Taking Into consideration this inter-crop and inter-regional disparity, the VII Plan sums up its strategy as follows :—
“Broadening the base of agricultural growth and modernization through infrastructure development, e.g. irrigation drainage, roads, markets and credit institutions in the less development regions, extension of new technology, particularly breakthrough in dry-land farming, afforestation and appropriate prices and procurement policies for crop as essential for accelerating the growth of agricultural output and for correcting inter-regional, inter-crop and inter-class disparities.”
Apart from bringing about 37 million hectares of hitherto uncultivated land (17 million culture able waste land and 20 million current and old fallows) under the plough, the Seventh Plan relies on creating irrigation potential on an additional 11 million hectares for achieving the target of food grain production. The “green revolution” hitherto confined to Punjab, Haryana and Western U.P. will be imported to paddy growing areas of Eastern region comprising of Eastern U.P., Bihar, Orissa, W. Bengal and North Eastern States. With intensified research efforts it is hoped to achieve a breakthrough in developing viable dry land farming techniques and and oilseed production. Special efforts will be made to help development of small and marginal farmers. None of these pro-grammes and schemes are new and have been in operation under different names for quite a number of years, without having any appreciable impact on either developing the economy of small and marginal farmers, or farming in dry land areas or in oilseeds production. It is difficult to understand how the poor peasant in Eastern region, where at least half of the cultivated land is devastated by floods every year, with nearly 60 per cent of holdings below 1 acre each, oppressed by landlords, moneylenders and corrupt bureaucrats, would be able to use adequate quantities of costly inputs and green revolution techniques in a sufficiently big way, unless radical land reform measures free them from the shackles of outmoded land relations, domination of landed interests on the rural life, monopoly of landownership is broken and through redistribution land is place in their hands as a durable asset to overcome their poverty. With the threat of devastation by flood and drought always hanging over their heads and no hope of obtaining any relief worth its name, even those who can afford to make some investments, will not be willing to take risk in the form of adopting costly new technology. It is obvious that only a small section of well-to-do farmers in these areas, will be able to improve their agricultural production, thus intensifying disparity in the region between the richer and poorer sections amongst the peasantry.
In the strategy to increase food grain production, “appropriate prices and procurement policies for crops” have been given an important place “as essential for accelerating the growth of agricultural output and for correcting inter-regional, inter-crop and inter-class disparities”, as already mentioned. But it should be noted that aim of prices and procurement policies is not to ensure a remunerative price to the producer. These policies are aimed at correcting “imbalances” in production. Take cotton as an example. At one time India was importing long staple cotton, and farmers were encouraged to grow these varieties—Suvin, Sankar-4, Varlakshmi, etc. Heavy investments were made by them to produce these varieties, particularly in areas freshly brought under cultivation like Nagarjun Sagar Project in Andhra and Malprabha Project in Karnataka. India became an exporter of these varieties earning up to Rs. 250 crores in foreign exchange. But now mill-owners do not want it and want the farmers to produce medium varieties, although it is less profitable. At their command Government has not increased the support prices of long staple varieties for last 3 years although prices of other varieties have been increased. The surplus Ion g staple variety is not being allowed to be exported under pressure from mill-owners so that its price may go further down in internal markets. Wheat growers of Punjab are being asked to grow medium staple cotton as Government has ample stocks of wheat. Tobacco growers are being asked in Andhra and Karnataka to reduce areas under tobacco and so on. The result is that, besides farmers suffering big losses in income, the planning in production of cash crops has become a big hoax. In Sixth Plan period, due to this pricing policy production of cash crops like sugarcane, cotton, jute, etc. fluctuated widely from year to year, with one bumper crop year being followed by low production years, not because of any natural calamity but because growers did not get a proper price. The VII Plan admits that “production of sugarcane to a large extent was influenced by the sugar policy and the price paid for sugarcane by sugar factories”.
So the Seventh Plan may lead to some increase in production, but it cannot end these wide fluctuations in production and uncertainty resulting from that, in the matter of supply of essential raw materials for industry. Instead of removing inter-crop, inter-regional and inter-class disparity, it will further intensify it, with poverty of millions of poor peasants remaining untouched and benefits going to a small section of upper fringes of producers of agricultural commodities.
DROUGHT AND FLOODS
In 1985, according to a statement made by Mr. Yogendra Makwana Minister State of For Agriculture, in Rajya Sabha in December 1985, due to natural calamities like droughts, floods hailstorm, heavy rains in 19 states and Union Territories, about 57.2 million population was affected, 1422 men lost their lives, about 2 million houses were damaged and crops over 4.28 million hectares were lost.
In another note to Consultative Committee of Parliament Members attached to Ministry of Agriculture, prepared for its meeting on 25.10.85, the Ministry informed the Committee members that up to the end of September 1985 as many as 12 states were victims of severe drought while 17 were affected by floods, heavy rains, cyclones, hailstorm, etc. Drought affected 18.8 million hectares of cropped area and a population of 8.82 millions, killing about 61 million cattle, while floods affected a population of 35 million, destroyed crops over 2.26 million hectares in 22,771 villages. Heavy rains and floods damaged 11,66,081 houses, killed 839 persons and 23104 heads of cattle. The total loss to public property was estimated to be of Rs. 460 t fores, while damage to crop was estimated to be of the order of Rs. 215 crores.
The newspaper reports tell us about severe drought conditions in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and parts of Maharashtra. In Rajasthan 27000 villages out of 34000, in Karnataka 17 out of 19 districts and 17685 villages, in Maharashtra 7855 villages out of 39000 villages in 14 districts, in Madhya Pradesh 27 out of 45 districts and in Gujarat 3300 out of 4000 villages in 3 districts were worst affected. While severe drought conditions were prevailing tn the rest of the state, in Thalawar district of Rajasthan, in 743 villages heavy rains and hailstorm killed 1320 cattle and destroyed crops over 24320 hectares.
In Bihar, in 1984, heavy floods affected 10.5 crores of people residing in 8097 villages in 23 districts. The damage to crops over 11.56 lakh hectares was estimated to be of Rs. 89.3 crores. More than one lakh houses were damaged, 110 men and 37 cattle perished, and damage to public property was estimated to be of the order of Rs. 88.2 crores.
Floods, droughts, hailstorm and in some states cyclones have become more and more devastating as the years pass. The Rashtriya Barh Ayog (National Flood Commission), in its report submitted in March 1980, gave figures to show that in every succeeding decade average yearly loss to crops and private and public property is rising rapidly and has now reached nearly Rs. 2000 crores per year.
Worst sufferers of both floods and droughts are always agricultural laborers and poor peasants who generally cultivate marginal and rain fed lands m low lying areas. The Government relief does not reach them and, after flood waters recede, epidemics claim widespread mortality amongst men and cattle in the affected areas.
It is beyond the capacity of states to cope with the problem of relief in a situation of such colossal losses and they have to approach the center for aid to provide relief. But the experience is that center takes too long a time to assess the damages and fix the quantum of assistance which is always a small fraction of the amount sought by state governments. For 1982-83 and 1983-84 the Tamil Nadu Government requested for an assistance of Rs. 219.45 crores and the center gave only Rs. 68.36 crores.
The Primes of India editorial dated 27th May, 1985, tells us that nine severely drought affected states (Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, U.P., Orissa and Himachal) asked for an assistance amounting to a total of Rs. 1500 crores but were given only Rs. 200 crores. Bulk of even this meagres amount is wasted or swallowed by inefficient and corrupt bureaucrats and whatever little remains is distributed in a very discriminatory manner, with the result that the most needy never get anything.
No effort has so far been made to tame the rivers despite the suggestions made by the Rashtriya Barh Ayog and several plans have been prepared by various Boards constituted for different rivers—Brahmaputra, Ganga, Jamuna, etc. Heavy deforestation in the hills from where the rivers originate, causes lot of silt to flow down and get deposited in plains when the ground through which rivers flow, becomes plane. The river beds rise and, in periods of heavy precipitation, water overflows the banks and inundates vast areas, destroying crops and huts, washing away everything that the victim population has. This deforestation, as we know, is the work of contractors, in league with forest officials, who fell more trees than they contract for. In the name of conservation of forests, forest dwellers are being driven out and deprived of their living, while the denudation of forests by contractors continues.
In the name of flood control, some embankments are constructed to save the cropped areas and villages, but due to bad maintenance they prove to be totally fragile and are washed away in the first round of heavy rains and overflow of water, even the construction of these flood control projects is so tardy that the Sixth Plan target of protecting 4 million hectares of flood prone land, was fulfilled only by half.
After spending about Rs. 20 thousand crores up to the end of the Sixth Plan, only 67.9 million hectares of irrigation potential has been created out of a net sown area of 143 million hectares. Actual utilization is, however, only over 60.41 million hectares. About 65 percent of our cropped area is as yet rain fed.
Out of the 65 major irrigation projects started before 1976 mil under construction at the beginning of the Sixth Plan, only 25 were actually completed and rest have been spilled over to VII and subsequent Plans. The time over-runs of 10 to 25 years escalates the costs five to six times, and cost of providing irrigation potential to each hectare of land is rising steeply, with is result that interest charges on capital investments in irrigation projects have become a heavy burden on the peasantry, which are constantly rising. The lack of allocation of sufficient funds, inefficiency and corruption prevailing in the irrigation projects is the main reason for failure to meet the drought situation, while the rising irrigation rates and levies are responsible for increasing costs of production in agriculture to a considerable extent.
POVERTY ALLEVIATION SCHEMES
Due to the anti-kisan, pro-landlord and pro-monopoly policies of the Congress Government poverty of the people went on increasing, and in 1980 the Central Government came out with a slogan to make a “direct assault” on poverty and include special poverty alleviation schemes like IRDP, NREP, etc. in the VI Plan. This Plan aimed at reducing the proportion of people living below the poverty line from 51 to 30 percent, but the actual achievement now claimed is that by the end of VI’ Plan the proportion came down to 37 percent.
Surveys conducted by RBI, IFMR, NABARDD and PEG (of Planning Commission) express doubt on this claim. Now Department of Rural Development is carrying on its evaluation, and latest evaluation pertaining to figures supplied by different states for December 1985 are very revealing (See Indian Express, 22.3.85). According to this evaluation hardly 10 percent of those covered belonged to the category of poor and only five percent of those assisted could cross the poverty line. Out of about 300 million poor located in 1980 only 15 million household or 75 million persons were assisted. Even if 10 percent of these crossed the poverty line, which means that 7.5 million were no longer poor, the percentage of poor to the entire population could have gone down from 51 percent to only 49-50 percent. As has been brought out by PEO study at least 50 percent of those who are reported to have been uplifted out of poverty, will require a second dose.
These studies have revealed many weaknesses in the implementation of IRDP, viz. heavy incidence of wrong identification, outright leakages of funds through corruption, a uniform basis for financial allocation per block without regard for its size of population or proportion of poor in it, absence of backward and forward linkages, apathetic attitude of banks to poor loan applicants, overwhelming bias towards milch cattle without regard to availability of fodder, veterinary services or market for milk and milk products, non-involvement of people and peoples’ institutions in various stages of implementation, and so on.
The Seventh Plan aims at assisting 20 million households and, if the proportion of those getting lifted out of poverty remains the same 5-10 percent, the impact on poverty will continue to be marginal, even if we assume that other factors which create and magnify poverty will not operate, which is certainly not the reality.
Under NREP an average of 355 million Man-days of employment was generated during the Vi Plan. If 273 days of employment is taken to be a standard year of employment this causes to giving employment to about 17 lakh persons out of about four crores rural unemployed. Hence this programme though giving some relief to unemployed and underemployed during the lean period, does not even touch the fringe of the problem. The target of providing at least 400 million man-days of employment per year, could not be achieved despite spending larger and larger sums per year, because average expenditure in creating one man-day of employment increased from Rs. 5.25 in 1980-81 to Rs. 14.74 in 1984-85, i.e. almost trebled. Hence, when the Finance Minister says that budget allocation for 1986-87 is increased by 93 percent as compared to 1985-86, it should be taken with a pinch of salt because to create the same number of man days of employment in 1986-87 as were created in 1980-81, three times (and not 93 percent) more the money as compared to 1980-81 is required. Hence, despite increased allocations, lesser number of man days are likely to be actually created in VII Plan. We, of course, know that the Government figures are not very reliable and even the Public Account Committee of Lok Sabha has pointed out cases when money allocated for NREP was spent in purchasing crockery, providing air-conditioners in Dak Bungalows for officers, for constructing and repairing Government buildings, etc. There is a widespread complaint that muster rolls are inflated and wages in the form of grain are not paid often for months. Despite strictly laid down guidelines, NREP projects are even now being entrusted to contractors who pay less wages than recorded in books.
Despite all these criticisms, the AIKC meeting at Sultanpur (U.P.) in the beginning of March 1984, demanded that allocations for NREP be increased, persons engaged under NREP should in no case be paid less than the statutory fixed minimum, and all these weaknesses be removed to make the scheme more effective in giving some relief.
It is also to be noted that despite the fact that’ Government go-downs are bursting with an all-time high stocks of about 30 million tonnes of food grains, the allocated grain is not being fully utilized for paying wages. Even if 1/3 of this huge stock is utilized to pay even 2 kg. of grain in wages per day. 5000 million man days of employment can be generated which will be at least 12 times more than the present amount. This amount of labor can be easily utilized to build roads, school buildings, command areas development, planting trees, soil conservation projects, etc. But the amount of food grains utilized to pay part of the wages in kind went down from 13.34 lakh tonns during 1980-81 to 1.5 lakh tonnes in 1983-84 and 1.4 lakh tonnes in 1984-85 (up to the end of February 1985). And now the Government proposes to raise the amount to be utilized to 2 million tonnes only.
DEEPENING AGRARIAN CRISIS
The pro-landlord and anti-kisan policies of the Government are resulting in the further deepening of the agrarian crisis which is manifested in growing landlessness, increase in disparities, both inter-regional and inter-sectional in the same region, extremely low level of per capita consumption of food grains despite increasing production and burgeoning stocks held by the Government, growing poverty and unemployment despite all the poverty alleviation schemes, and growing indebtedness which finds reflection partly in growth of overdue in institutional credit supplied to agricultural sector and so on.
The VII Five Year Plan tells us that :
“The bulk of increase in output, particularly food grains has, been concentrated in a few regions which are well endowed with infrastructure like surface irrigation, rural electrification, roads, and markets and where farmers are resourceful in terms of their capacity to invest and bear risk”.
So only more developed areas developed still further and only more “resourceful” farmers with capacity to invest alone were able to increase their production.
In these developed regions :
“the marketed surpluses have been rising at a high rate, resulting in the accumulation of large stocks with the Government, especially when there is succession of good monsoons, while per capita consumption of food grains in the country has not been rising appreciably”.
LAND MONOPOLY CONTINUES
The Agricultural Census of 1980-81 revealed that between 1976-77 and 1980-81, number of operational holdings of sizes up to 1 hectare increased by about 6 million (from 44.52 million to 50.52 million) and their proportion to total number of operational holdings was 56.5 percent of land holders in 1980-81 as compared to 54.6 percent in 1976-77. These holdings together held 10.7 percent land in 1976-77 and 12.2 percent in 1980-81. Out of them holdings up to 0.5 hectares (or 1.25 acres) were 36.8 percent in number occupying only 4.3 per cent of land in 1976-77. The all-India figures for 1980-81 are not available but their proportion can be assumed to be about 40 percent and number to be about 36 million. The proportion in number and area for some states in 1980-81 was as below :
PERCENTAGE PROPORTION IN NO. AND AREA IN 1980-81 OF POOR PEASANT HOLDINGS (0-0.5 HECTARE)
So, we can say that in these six states between 1/5 to more than 3/4 of landholders are holding less than 1.25 acres, while in the country as a whole this proportion is about 2/5. These are poor and landless. If the line is drawn at 1 hectare, holders up to which are called Marginal official literature, the all in India proportion is 56.5 per cent holding about 1/8 of the cultivated land.
Let us take Census figures. The number of agricultural workers (i.e. those who get employment in agriculture for at least 6 months in an year) was found to be 55.4 millions in 1981. But if we add to them marginal workers—a new category created in 1981 census which means those who worked for less than 163 days in an year and who number 23.6 million in rural areas—the number rises to about 7-9 millions as compared to 47.5 millions in 1971. This is more than 30 percent of the rural work force. The number of cultivators in 1981 were reported to be 91.4 million and if poor cultivators holding up to 0.5 hectares, who are included in the total number of cultivators are added to the number of agricultural workers (main and marginal) the total number adds to 115 million or more than half the work force.
On the other hand in 1976-77 about 3 percent landholders holding 10 hectares and above, operated a total of more than 26 percent of land. Their proportion in number has now gone down to 2.4 percent and of land held to 22.8 percent. This indicates that concentration of land in a few monopoly holders has hardly changed, while number of poor and landless peasants is growing at a very fast rate.
How disparity is growing in a green revolution area is best illustrated from figures of Agricultural Census related to Punjab.
In (lie country as a whole the total number of operational holdings has increased by 9.5 percent, but in Punjab it has decreased by 31.6 per cent between 1976-77 and 1980-81. The number of holders of land up to one hectare has declined in this period by 62.8 percent and the total land held by them by 54.7 percent, while in the country as a whole the proportion of holders up to 1 hectare has increased. Again it is only Punjab where number of land holders above 10 hectares has increased by 13.8 percent and are now 7.3 percent of the total number of land- holders, the total land held by them has also gone up by 4.9 percent. Thus in this state a large number of poor peasants have lost their lands—they have either sold or leased it out to bigger landholders and have taken to some other job, inside or outside the state, because they did not have either enough capital or enough land to make heavy investments, in order to derive the lull benefit of “green revolution”.
Certain studies about Punjab have indicated that while productivity of land has increased 2 to 3 times, the real wages of agricultural workers in the state have not increased.
In 1983 it was claimed that institutional credit of about Rs. 5500 crores in round figures, supplied about 40 per cent of the rural credit needs. From this we can infer that rural indebted- was somewhat about Rs. 13000 crores. In 1951-52 the first Rural Credit Survey reported an indebtedness of about Rs. 750 crores which means that indebtedness has gone up by about 17 times in a little over three decades.
According to the Report of Reserve Bank of India “Report “on Trend and Progress of Banking in India (1984-85)” about 56 percent of the branches of Scheduled Banks were in the rural areas but the total advances to agriculture, which is considered lo be a priority sector, were only 16 per cent of the total. This means that even the bulk of credits mobilized in rural areas is handed over to industrialists and wholesale traders. Hardly 1 percent of these credits goes to weaker sections.
The Seventh Plan bemoans that overdue position of financial Institutions, catering to the credit needs of the rural areas is very unsatisfactory—for Primary credit societies it is 40 to 42 per cent, for commercial Banks 47 per cent and for Regional Rural Banks 49.6 percent. The Plan ascribes it to “willful default” by the cultivators and accuses “some cooperatively progressive states like Maharashtra and Gujarat” for setting up a “bad example” by writing off agricultural loans and by providing subsidies. They do not understand that over dues have something to do with the worsening conditions of peasantry and even the rich and middle peasants find it hard to clear their dues in time, as they are not getting remunerative prices for their produce as well as because they are suffering tremendous losses due to natural calamities like droughts, floods and cyclones, etc.
The AIKS has been demanding a comprehensive Crop Insurance Scheme to cover unforeseen losses by cultivators. In 1979 a pilot scheme was introduced in W. Bengal, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. By the end of VI Plan it was extended to 12 states. Up to the end of March 1984 about 6,23,000 cultivators over 6,92.000 hectares were benefited by this scheme. Only 1 hectare out of 200 hectares of cultivated land was thus covered which hardly had any impact on the situation.
Finance Minister announced in the 1985-86 budget that the scheme will be taken up in a phased manner soon and, to start with paddy, wheat, millets, pulses and oilseeds will be covered. But so far it is a non-starter and with the paltry amounts allocated for it, is hardly likely that the scheme will be able to have an effective impact on agriculture.
On the other hand Government is bent upon throwing more burdens of the crisis on the peasantry. One form of this attempt, is heaping burdens of indirect taxes on the people which we have already mentioned. The second big prong of this attack is the price-mechanism which is being mentioned below.
PROBLEM OF REMUNERATIVE PRICES
The Government has launched a new intensified offensive to deny the growers of agricultural produce, both of food grains like wheat and paddy and commercial crops like jute, cotton, sugarcane, coconut, rubber, oilseeds, etc.
WHEAT AND PADDY
The support price of wheat was Rs. 117 per quintal in 1980-81, Its 157 per quintal in 1985-86 and has been raised Rs. 162 per quintal for 1986-87. This signifies a rise of less than 30 percent In these five years during which period, wholesale price indices’s have gone up from 255.5 to 342.5 or by 45.7 percent and consumer price indices’s from 375 to 586 or by 56 percent. In this period support price for paddy (common variety) has been Rs. 105 per quintal for 1980-81, Rs. 137 per quintal for 1984-85 and Rs. 142 per quintal for 1985-86 which also means a rise of about 35.2 percent in those five years.
The cane growers, after a wave of struggles, won a price ranging between Rs. 23 and 26 per quintal, in different states in 1980- 81. With a bumper crop in the next two years, the prices began to slide down and according to Times of India (18.2.85) in Maharashtra, the decline was from Rs. 25 per quintal in 1980- SI to Rs. 15 per quintal in 1982-83. In this very period the mill-owners withheld between Rs. 250 crores to Rs. 430 crores of cane arrears, from being paid even for cane supplied at such low prices.
The mill owners were encouraged by the fact that the statutory minimum prices fixed by the Government were as low as Rs. 13 per quintal in 1980-81, and Rs. 14 per quintal in 1984- 85 It may be seen that in this period, while the Government raised the sugarcane minimum prices by less than 8 percent, the same Government raised the levy prices of sugar from Rs. 2.85 per kg. in November 1980 to Rs. 4.40 per kg. from 1st April 1985 i.e. by 54.3 percent. It may also be seen that in this live year period, the gap between the open market price and the ex-factory price of sugar (which includes all costs and margin of Rs. 30 to Rs 35 per quintal as profit) has brought every year to mill owners and trade an extra-profit ranging between Rs. 350 crores to Rs. 600 crores. Despite these huge extra- profits and various concessions amounting to hundreds of crores per year, the mill owners continued to cry about a “crisis” in industry, refused to pay a remunerative price, withheld hundreds of crores of cane dues, and the result was that the country which produced 84.38 lakh tonnes of sugar in 1981-82 to become the top-most sugar producer in the world, had to import 15 lakh tonnes of sugar in 1984-85 costing about Rs. 250 crores in terms of scarce foreign exchange. Their cry of shortage of cane is a big fraud, because even in the year of maximum sugar production, the mills did not consume even half the sugarcane produced and it is only when the mill owners refused to pay a proper price and withheld the arrears of cane supplied for years, the cane growers were forced to produce gur or seek an alternative source of supply in khandsari.
But the Government succumbed to these fraudulent arguments and conceded almost every one of the demands of the anti-national sugar mill-magnates. By raising levy price by another 40 paise per kg. and increasing the ratio of free sale sugar from 35 to 45 percent, they have placed at least an extra Rs. 70 crores per year in their pockets in the current year. While being so generous to mill owners, they have enhanced the minimum sugarcane price to Rs. 16 per quintal—a price that was recommended by even APC two years back. This Rs. 2 per quintal increase this years, keeps the cane price almost at the same level as it was in 1980-81.
The bumper production of Jute in 1985-86 crop season, proved to be a harbinger of disaster for more than 40 lakh Jute growers of the country. The prices of Jute crashed down from Rs. 1000 per quintal in the previous season to less than the minimum support price of Rs. 235 per quintal, while the price demanded by Jute growers in West Bengal was Rs. 600 per quintal for Jute and Rs. 400 per quintal for Mesta. In many places in Bihar, Orissa and Assam the prices went even lower than Rs. 200 per quintal. The JGI entered, the market only 6 to 8 weeks after the crop began to arrive, to make massive purchases. The promise to purchase at least of the crop made by Central Textile Minister was not kept and the result was that these purchases could not have an effective impact on market prices and the bulk of the Jute was cornered by mill agents and unscrupulous middle men, at prices around Rs. 200 per quintal, causing tremendous losses to Jute growers.
The cotton growers also are paying heavy penalties for producing a bumper crop in 1984-85. The prices in mid-June 1985 were lower by 17 to 30 per cent as compared to mid-June 1984. The Economic Times wholesale price index for cotton which was 291.9 on 1st August. 1984, fell by 12 per cent to 255.9 on 1st August, 1985 and further by 6 percent to 240.9 on 10th January, 1986. The Economic Times Retail Price Index for mill cloth in Bombay on the other hand rose from 684.5 in July 1984 to 861.4 in July 1985 i.e. by 25.8 percent. Even the official wholesale price index shows a rise in mill cloth prices from 265 in April 1985 to 269 in December 1985 while the Index for raw cotton fell from 249 to 191 in the same period. Worst sufferer have been producers of long and extra-long staple cotton whose produce, the Indian mills do not like to purchase and whose export in adequate quantities, is not permitted by the Government, due to pressure from the mill owners. The Government has been consistently refusing to implement the recommendation of the Committee on Public Undertaking of the Parliament (62nd Report 1982-83) that CCI should purchase every year at least 25 to 33 percent of the cotton produced, to define the floor and ceiling prices of cotton, to ensure remunerative prices to cotton growers, and to link the cotton prices to the prices of cloth so that “when prices of cloth go up the cotton growers may got a share of the benefit”. The recommendations to spread the state support price purchase to even remote interior areas and to completely eliminate the institution of middlemen was also not accepted.
The Government has not enhanced the minimum support price of long staple variety cotton which has been maintained at the 1984-85 level of Rs. 535 per quintal in 1985-86 season too while the support price for medium staple F-414/H-777 varieties were enhanced from Rs. 410 to Rs. 425 per quintal.
The new textile policy announced in June and the heavy concessions granted to man-made fibers in duties and levies show “a distinct bias towards polyester fiber at the expense of’ other types of fibers” (Economic Times, 7. 9. 85). It has been estimated by Economic Times that the New Textile Policy by permitting a “free mix” of man made fibers to produce blended fabrics to, textile mill magnates, will bring about a decline in the ratio of cotton to all types of fibers used by the Industries 83 to 90 percent at present to about 75 percent, reducing cotton consumption by mills by 8 to 10 lakh bales per year. For every one bale less consumed by the industry, about 30 persons would be rendered jobless, while only 8 out of them would be obsessed by man-made fiber industry.
The new textile policy will bring further ruin to cotton growers. It has already led to the closure of about half the power-looms in Bbiwandi and Surat, throwing thousands of power-loom workers to the streets, besides ruining the industry.
Coconut crop suffered heavily in 1984, due to root will disease, the loss estimated being as high as 900 million units valued at Rs. 309 crores. However in 1985 there was a normal crop and the price of coconut fell from Rs. 400-500 per 100 units to about Rs. 100 per 100 units. The situation was further aggravated due to imports of about 9500 tonnes of coconut oil by the Government.
The belated measures by the present Kerala Government to ask Kerala State Cooperative Marketing Federation (KSCMF) to purchase 100 units for Rs. 120 hardly has any impact on prices as they were provided with very little finance to carry on the operation. The coconut growers are demanding that coconut be brought under central support price operation, with price fixed at a minimum of Rs. 2 per unit, stoppage of import and help to growers to compensate for the loss due to root-wilt disease. Although no import has taken place in 1985 the Central Government has yet to take effective steps to bring succor to the coconut growers.
Problem of rubber growers is also related to the import of rubber, to bring down its prices, below the remunerative level for the indigenous grower, under pressure from monopoly rubber Industrialists like Firestone, Goodyear, Modi etc.
The UDF Government in Kerala reversed the policy of the Nayanar Ministry of LDF by refusing to make monopoly purchases of cashew nut at remunerative prices and process it in state owned factories. The UDF Government reduced the purchase price from Rs. 12/50 per kg. to Rs. 4/50 per kg. and gave up the policy of maintaining a buffer stock which was beneficial to growers.
Tobacco is an important foreign exchange earning crop. Bulk of its VFC variety is exported. Andhra and Karnataka are its main producers. Seven international giants control its world market while MNCs and their collaborators dominate over the internal market. Tobacco Board, set up in 1975, registers tobacco growers, dealers, exporters, and packs, and without its permission nobody can grow, flue-cure or pack VFC varieties. Since 1979 State Trading Corporation purchases for export-partly through Cooperatives and partly direct from growers in various ways. As STC had no drying barns and even adequate go down space, it has to purchase cured tobacco from growers and then flue cure it. This enables the agents to cheat the growers in the matter of grading and there has always been, a big gap between export prices and what the purchasers get from these- middlemen.
Due to a good export market the production of VFC in Andhra Pradesh rose from 1,05,000 tonnes in 1981 to 1,40,000 tonnes in 1983 after which, on the advice of Tobacco Board, production had to be curtailed, as the exports were dwindling down. In 1984 it was only 60,000 tonnes, half of it being exported to USSR which is now our only major buyer.
With a bumper 1983 crops, the Indian purchasers also stopped purchasing. The traders wanted to purchase at prices as, low Rs.300 per quintal for I- V variety against a Tobacco Board Indicated Price of Rs. 1435 per quintal and, even refused to honor an agreement entered in the presence of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, between ITI (Traders Organization) and Tobacco Growers Association. When growers observed a Mandi boycott, there were clashes and on 14.3.83 there was firing in Ongol in which 3 persons lost their lives. STC agreed to make purchases, but stopped purchases several times under pressure from trade to restart it again when popular movement grew in strength, the plea being lack of go downs. A large number of growers had to suffer big losses due to distress sales. On 15th January, 1985 a convention of tobacco growers in Andhra Pradesh demanded credit facilities from Banks and Cooperatives, state purchase and supply of fertilizers and pesticides by Department of Agriculture.
The prices continued to slide down and fluctuated between Rs. 700-1000 per quintal as against the Indicative Price of Rs. 1425 per quintal, and only after the Andhra Pradesh Government formed a State Cooperative Union to purchase tobacco through auction, prices stabilized to some extent.
It must be noted that due to inability of the government to protect the growers from monopoly tobacco product manufacturers and unscrupulous traders, the tobacco production has been reduced by almost half in these three/four years. While tobacco growers did not get remunerative prices, the exporters earned huge profits by cheating both the growers and foreign customers with the result that our share of world export of tobacco has gone down from 17 to 9.2 percent. The forced shrinkage of VFC tobacco growing area, has caused tremendous losses to growers, who had invested huge amounts, hoping to get good profits.
GOVERNMENT PRICE POLICY
It is clear from the above that the Government has failed to defend the growers of agricultural commodities and its policies have only helped the industrialists and traders to grow fat at their cost.
Agricultural Price Commission (now renamed Agricultural Prices and Costs Commission) recommends what are known as “support prices” for many commodities and government fixes the prices with whatever modifications it considers necessary. Explaining what these support prices are, a note of the Ministry of Agriculture to the Consultative Committee of MPs., prepared For its meeting on 17.6.80, says, “the support prices are of the nature of a long-term guarantee, intended to enable the producer to pursue their productive efforts with the assurance that in the event of a glut in the market, the market prices of the produce will not be allowed to fall below the guaranteed minimum level”.
The “minimum level” is thus not a remunerative price, which may cover all the rising production expenses and ensure a fair return to the grower. It is a price level below which it is intended to prevent market prices to fall, so that the grower may not shift to other crops, and the “over all interest” of the economy, which is an euphemism for the maintenance of industrial profits at a level agreeable to the industrial monopolists, may not suffer due to lack of an adequate supply of the raw material produced by agriculture.
We have to note that even this “minimum level” could not be maintained for jute growers, tobacco growers and cotton growers and when prices were rising all round, the prices of commodities like jute and cotton were falling. Every bumper crop has been utilized to push down prices and the Government with all its support price machinery, has not been able to force the mill owners to even clear the arrears of prices of raw material like sugarcane even at these low prices.
The 1980-81 wave of struggles forced the Government to make some concessions, but the Central Government has continued to pursue its pro-monopolist and pro-big trader policies, resulting in tremendous losses to the agricultural producers, Due to this drain of wealth produced in the field by the labor of peasant toilers, the pauperisation of the peasantry continues relentlessly and the atmosphere of uncertainty, so harmful to the development of agriculture, pervades our countryside.
CONDITIONS OF AGRICULTURAL WORKERS
Whereas under the impact of the agrarian crisis the pauperized peasantry is forced to join the ranks of agricultural workers increasing their number every year, they remain worst exploited and socially oppressed lot of the rural population. There is no legislation to protect their rights; they remain unemployed in a major part of the year : when employed, are paid very meager wages. Groaning under very heavy indebtedness they are living a miserable life. Hardly a day passes when atrocities are not committed against them and states of Bihar, U.P., Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have become notorious for this purpose due to the aggressiveness of the landlords. In the state of Bihar the landlords maintain regular armies to “teach lessons” to the agricultural workers. Several cases of burning of huts, molestation of womenfolk, massacre of innocent persons has became a regular feature. Recent killing of more than 60 agricultural workers in Arawal has shocked the whole country.
The 20-point programme or the new 20-point programme has failed improve the lot of agricultural workers. They are even now demanding shelter and drinking water. Under pressure of the landlords the Central Government has refused to enact a Central legislation for agricultural workers, guaranteeing wages and human conditions of work in-spite of the unanimous recommendations of the Rural Labor Standing Committee.
As a result, discontentment among agricultural workers is rapidly growing and, in the absence of strong Agricultural Workers Union, casteist organizations like D.S.-4 are trying to direct their discontentment into divisive channels to keep them away from the peasant movement and the democratic movement in general.
ROLE OF THE LEFT FRONT GOVERNMENTS
As against the anti-people policies of the Central Government the Left Front Governments of West Bengal and Tripura, with limited powers of their disposal, did every thing to provide relief to peasants and agricultural workers, which not only enabled the Kisan Sabha to widen its base in these states, but has exercised tremendous influence over the growth of the peasant movement in the country. And consequently it is the firm base and the organized strength of the peasantry in the Left Front ruled W. Bengal and Tripura, which has enabled the Governments of these states to withstand all attempts of the Central Government and the Central ruling party and other reactionary divisive forces to create disorder and topple them. The people of these states have also to bear the brunt of the anti-people policies of the Central Government—the heavy burdens, of taxes, the rising prices of essential commodities and crash in prices of crop like jute. But due to the intervention of the organized strength of the Kisan Sabha and the measures undertaken by their left front Governments, they are able to obtain substantial relief.
W. Bengal has only 4% of the cultivated land in the country but under the provisions of ceiling and other land reform laws in this state, 40% of the total land distributed in the country as a whole was distributed in this state alone. Between 1982-83 and 30.6.85 in West Bengal, 68,631 acres of land was distributed as, compared to only 18, 113 acres in U.P. with double the population of W. Bengal. It is expected that with the W. Bengal land Reform (Second Amendment) Bill becoming law, more land will be available for distribution amongst landless and poor peasants. W. Bengal is the only state which made an attempt lo plug loopholes in ceiling law as suggested by VI Plan. About 2 lakh persons have received homestead rights and more than I3 lakh bargains have been recorded and have not only been able to secure their share of crop but have become entitled to receive grants, loans, etc. from banks under IRDP and other schemes. The old land revenue system has been replaced by a guided land tax under which land with asset value up to Rs. 50000 (or roughly 4 acres irrigated and 6 acres unirrigated) is exempt.
Tripura too has carried on a Barga Operation for recording sharecroppers and has introduced the graded land tax system in place of old lard revenue system.
In West Bengal and Tripura the strength of the movement has gone a long way in securing the minimum state fixed wages in agricultural workers and, even in lean seasons, in most places these wages are enforced.
The three-tier Panchayat system, with enhanced powers to elected members, in the sphere of developmental activities, has created a new confidence and sense of authority amongst the rural poor, who now control most of the Panchayats. Panchayats played a significant role in distributing relief, curbing black marketing and price rise, during the days of drought and floods, and they created more than 250 crores man-days of employment in their eight years of existence. They constructed 63000 houses and were associated with the recording of bargadars, identifying poor for assistance under IRDP and the landless and land poor in the villages for distribution of land.
West Bengal spends 23% of its budget on education which is free up to 12th class.
In Tripura for the first time an Autonomous Tribal Council has been set up under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, enabling elected representatives of people in tribal dominated areas to share wide powers in the affairs of their own development; their language Kok Barak has been given the status of a semi-official language.
It is the dedicated work of thousands of Kisan Sabha activists and the policies of Left-Front Governments, which have kept the divisive forces at bay in West Bengal and Tripura. While Assam was burning, Tripura continued to remain a shinning example of tribal-non-tribal unity. In West Bengal the Kisan Sabha, could successfully wean away tribal masses in North Bengal from separatists and foil the games of Muslim fundamentalists of Jamat-i-Islami and Hindu Vishwa Parishad engineering communal riots from which the state is virtually free.
ACTIVITIES IN VARIOUS STATES
Comrades, let us now have a brief review of the activities of state units of the A.I.K.S., the struggles and campaigns launched in different states on a wide range of issues. It is not possible to give the details of all the struggles, demonstrations, bandhs, campaigns, conventions, and activities conducted during the last three and a half years. But a brief summary will give the idea that how far we have implemented the decisions of the Midnapore Conference and made an effort to strengthen the Kisan Sabha. This is being done under a limitation that we were not able to receive the reports from most of the states in time to make a proper evaluation of the work done, but even then it will be useful to appreciate the work done as well as the shortcomings which have to be overcome to make further advance.
The 26th Conference of State Kisan Sabha was held at Pandua (Dist. Hoogli) in October 1982. The state was then passing through a devastating drought. It engulfed 25,000 villages in 281 Blocks.
This time again the Central Government, instead of supplying additional quota of food grains to meet this grave situation, decreased the supply. Moreover the Center, far from coming to the aid of drought victims, took an unusually delaying attitude in the matter of granting aid in money and in kind.
The Kisan Sabha carried on a tearing campaign throughout the length and breadth of the state, organized numerous mass meetings, demonstration, etc., demanding more money and food from the Central Government and exposing the callousness on their part in this respect. As a result of this campaign the Kisan masses fought back the serious drought situation and attained great success.
The Kisan Sabha organized campaigns on remunerative prices:-
Whenever the price of potato went down, the Kisan Sabha organized campaigns through mass meetings,conventions,jointly with other Kisan organizations, and on the other hand the Left Front Government came forward to purchase potato in the market at remunerative prices.
In the year 1983 the Left-led Kisan organizations and jute workers organized conventions at Serampore (Hooghly).
In the year, inspite of closure of 19 jute mills, the jute was sold at a price of Rs. 300/- a quintal or even more.
Next year the production of raw jute went down and the prices rose up to Rs. 1200 per quintal.
Last year again, the prices went down to a very low level.
This time a call was given for state wide Bandh on 29th August, 1985, jointly by all Left Kisan organizations and the Bandh was very successful.
Recently on the 5th of March, 1986, a mass deputation was organized jointly with other Left Kisan organizations. Thin mass deputation consisting of nearly 2500 people went to Delhi, held a mass meeting at Boat Club there and a representative deputation met the authorities—Agricultural Minister and Commerce Minister—to whom demands of Jute Growers were submitted. We are demanding Rs. 600/- per quintal for Jute and Rs. 400/- per quintal for Mesta, besides nationalization of Jute Industry, including wholesale trade in Jute & Jute goods.
A conference of Betel Leaf Producers was held at Tamluk (Midnapur) on the 14th of March, 1983 and a Samity was elected. This Samity is functioning regularly. It organized another conference this year, went in deputation to the State Government and Central Government and submitted memorandum, etc.
There is some tobacco growing areas in Coochbehar and West Dinajpur districts. Efforts are being made to organize them.
A conference of silk growers was organized at Purulia where a State Committee has been elected.
Fishermen of the state, in general, having lost control or hold or right over the tanks, fisheries and rivers, were coming over to join the ranks of agricultural laborers. They are now being organized in a statewide samity. The Kisan Sabha has taken steps to build up movements on their demands.
Special features of Darjeeling dist. :
Efforts are also being made to organize and develop movement on the demands of orange, ginger, cardamom growers, etc.
Govt. Agricultural Farm Workers :
A Union has been organized, they have enrolled their membership and are carrying on their activities and movement regularly.
Agricultural Workers :
Special feature of the state Kisan Sabha is that movement on the demands of agricultural workers, specially the demand for wages is being carried on regularly. It can be said that the campaign for the wages was organized throughout the length and breadth of the state. It is a feature in the state that the wages per day do not go down below Rs. 9 to Rs. 10 per day even in lean periods, and in agricultural busy seasons it goes far above the Government declared minimum wages of Rs. 14.90 per day.
Further it is accepted by all concerned that a minimum of 75 per cent of our total membership comes from the agricultural workers and poor peasants.
Other Campaigns :
- For immediate assent of the President to the 2nd Amendment to LR. Act.
- Demanding bigger Central allocations for NREP.
- Against Congress (I)’s repeated attempt to disturb law and order in the rural area and organizing killing of our comrades.
- Campaign against divisive and communal forces; Kisan Sabha along with other democratic organizations played a heroic role in this respect. In North Bengal huge mass mobilization was organized against divisive forces and in other parts of Bengal mobilizations were repeatedly done and, whenever necessary, interventions were made in communal troubles.
- Whenever movement and mobilization had been organized against war damage and for peace the Kisan Sabha played its due part. But Kisan Sabha had not on its own organized any campaign.
- For restructuring of Centre-State relations. The Kisan Sabha brought out a folder.
- On the problems of forest area and its inhabitants, specially the Adi-basis.
Panchayat Elections :
The Kisan Sabha played the most important role in the 2nd Panchayat Election. In reviewing the Panchayat elections the Sabha came to the following conclusions :—
- Success depended mainly on the political consciousness of the peasant masses including the agricultural laborers.
- In order to defeat the vested interests the unity of all Left Kisan organizations is of utmost importance.
- It is necessary to carry on Panchayat activities in such a manner that all sections of the people can participate in them.
Lok Sabha Elections :
It has been revealed in Lok Sabha elections also that wherever the agricultural workers and other peasant base is strong and politically conscious the victory of the Left candidates was assured and the tidal wave could be defeated.
No. of martyrs in this period (1982-86) is 120.
Village committees are being organized. The District and Block committees regularly meet; PKC also mosts regularly. Joint activities with other Left Kisan organizations are organized regularly in the state on all major issues.
A series of classes had been organized in the state to educate the middle rank cadres of the Sabha. A plan has been drawn to educate on a mass scale cadre coming from agricultural workers, sharecroppers and poor peasants.
On 18th January, Kerala Bandh sponsored by LDF, squad campaigns, demonstrations, public meetings, etc. were organized by Karshak Sangham all over the state.
Signature campaign, Jathas and picketing were organized on cashew-nut problem. A largely attended convention was held on the demands of the peasantry as well as of the agricultural workers, e.g. (I) Scrap import policy of the Central Govt. in relation to coconut oil, rubber, cocoa, pepper, cardamom, etc., (ii) Resume agriculture labourers’ pension scheme (iii) issue pattas to all those who are settled on Govt. lands, etc. The convention was addressed by Com. Benoy Choudhury. The convention appointed a committee for organizing agitation. Picket ting was conducted in district centers and later on in taluk centres. In Quillan dist. where prohibitory orders were promulgated, 1,41,345 persons participated from 17th to 31st May, the agricultural being the main participants.
Campaigns including public meetings, demonstrations, picket ting and dharnas were conducted in Quillan, Idukky, Pathanamthitta and Trichur against evictions, for cancellation of 50% of debts from loaners having loans about Rs 3 thousand up to Rs. 10 thousand and interest subsidy above that, and for other demands.
Campaigns in different froms were conducted on the following and other local demands:
For 50% cancellation of agricultural debts up to 3000 rupees, interest free loans for each hectare of land to drought affected farmers, to stop realisation of Bundh construction and soil erosion loans, for cancellation of water Ievy arrears and Jenmi compensations, for reorganisation of Coconut Board and farmers’ representative in that, demanding scrapping of the import policy of coconut oil, rubber, copra, pepper etc., for 50% subsidy in fertilizers and pesticides for paddy cultivation, for Rs. 500/- per acre as incentive for paddy cultivators for financial help for different types of paddy cultivators for completion of irrigaton projects already taken up, etc.
In response to the appeal of CKC “Campaigns Weeks” from 24th September to 30th September were observed throughout the state.
Campaigns including picketting and dharnas were organized. March to Assembly was oganized protesting against fall in prices of coconut and dharnas in quilon, Calicut, Trichur, the main coconut producing districts, for a floor price of Rs. 15/- Kg. for cashew-nuts. All Kerala Convention of Tapioca growers and a joint convention of paddy cultivators were convened. Picketting in front of Coconut Board and in Idukki on Pepper issue were organized. There was a joint dharna with CPI for granting pattas and against evictions in plaghat, against increased registration fee, for a procurement price of Rs. 250 per quintal of paddy, on the demand to complete already started irrigation projects, for electricity connections to all installed pumps, to scrap all rent arrears to farmers, etc.
Apart from organizing campaigns as mentioned above in different forms, Jathas were organized in Idukki district to demands “pattas”, against evictions at Koothadinoor in Pathanamthitta by forest authorities, etc. Campaigns and dharnas against fall in prices of coconut were conducted in different stages. This has become the main issue in kerala today affecting a large no. of peasants. Prices of cardamon too have fallen steeply from Rs. 314-324 to Rs. 110 per kg.
The fall in prices of coconut has already hit the economy of Kerala very severly. Due to systematic and persistent campaign carried on by Kisan sabha there, the public opinion has turned against the Govt.–both State and Central.
Copra is being decided to organise the fourth stage of the campaign against fall in prices of coconut. Jeep jathas, meetings and demonstrations are going on.
Conferences are being held at all levels-local to state level. Efforts are being made so that all living old leaders of kisan movement participate in these conferences. Jubilee seminars are to be organized during district conferences. A target to enrol 8 lakhs members is being implemented. Pamphlets are to be published on glorious peasant movements of Kerala and also on the present problems. A souvenir has been brought out at the time of state Conference.
The Kisan sabha units have been active in this Left Front ruled state to secure speedy and effective implementation of various land reforms and other relief giving measures of the government like recording of sharecroppers, updating of land records, etc., and to overcome the pathy of the bureaucracy.
In Tripura bulk of the holdings are very small and only a few belonging to the narrow richer section of peasantry have access to institutional credit, which is a big problem for the state. Even the implementation of schemes like IRDP suffers from the negative attitude of the management of the nationalised banks. Kisan Sabha has taken uo this problem repeatedly in its agitations and in April 1984 a week was observed demanding liberal bank credits, by organizing dharnas before the banks in which more than 15 thousand people participated. Again, a similar programme was taken up in February 1985, in which about 25000 people participated.
Remunerative Prices for Jute:
Kisan Sabha had to run a campaign on the issue of a crash down in prices of jute in 1985, failure of the Central Government to fix a remunerative price and JCI to start purcheses in time even at the low price fixed. A number of meetings were held to expose the anti-peasant policies of the Central Government. A big demonstration was taken to the Assembly on 3rd, October, 1985 and a memorandum was presented to the Chief Minister. The State Assembly passed a resolution supporting the demands of the jute growers.
Irrigation and Power:
Only 11 per cent of agricultural land in Tripura is irrigated. In dry season most villages suffer from acute shortage of drinking water. There is acute shortage of power too. During last several years. Kisan Sabha has been agititing for the demand that Centre should allocate more funds for expansion of irrigation and power in the state.
Floods and Drought:
During last 4 years Tripura had 3 devastating floods which caused heavy damages to the standing crops, houses and other public and private properties. Droughts also caused heavy damages Situation demands, besides extension of irrigation, expansion of flood control measures, requiring heavy investments. Kisan Sabha is mobilising the people and the peasantry to demand effective flood control measures.
Left Front Government tried to organize relief with all the resources at its disposal and with the cooperation of the people. But the experience is that the Central Government not only delays giving aid but make available funds which are grossly insufficient in view of the grave situation. Kisan Sabha has to build up agitations against such anti-people policies of the Central Government, in cooperation with other democratic organizations.
Panchayats and Cooperatives:
The advent of Left Front rule has seen reorganisation of Panchayats and cooperatives, with Left Front nominees replacing the nominees of vested interests who had been dominating these two till then. The Kisan Sabha is now engaged in solving the problems of building up proper coordination between the peasant movement and our activities in the Panchayats and cooperatives.
Autonomous District Council:
For the first time an autonomous district council has been set up under the Sixth Schedule. Kisan Sabha and GMP are running a mass campaign to demand that Central Government should provide adequate funds to ADC so that it can carry on its work and discharge the responsibilities of developing the tribal dominated areas, through the agency of their own elected representatives.
Fight Against Divisive Forces:
Kisan Sabha and GMP activists are fighting valiantly against the terroristic attacks of divisive forces- mainly TNV- which have already cut short a number of valuable lives of our activists and sympathisers. The terrorists are more isolated today than at any time before. A conference of tribals was organized to further isolate them. Kisan Sabha is Running a campaign to demand sealing of borders with Bangladesh to prevent free movement of terrorists from their sanctuaries across the border.
Primary village conference have been held in 300 out of 704 villages, Kisan Sabha has enrolled 38100 ang GMF 3500 members this year. Articles on Heroic struggles in early days have been written.
Activities during the period widened. Campaigns were carried on statewide as well as on local issues.
Among the statewide issues, campaigns were carried on endowment land issue and land reforms. In Andhra 3 lakh tenants of Temple and Endowment Trust Lands are exempted from the benefits of tenancy laws. A joint convention with CPI led Kisan Sabha was held in 1984 which passed a detailed resolution suggesting amendments to existing ceiling laws. Promises to amend laws, relating to temple land, are not fulfilledby NTR Govt. so far. The movement was organized unitedly with Agricultural Labour Union. In 50 centres 17 thousand people participated. Attempts by landlords to bypass ceiling laws and save land are being resisted. In Munagala about 1500 acres of land was saved for peasants by united resistance, together with CPI and TDP workers.
To implement record of rights act and issue of pass books to farmers, in Nalgonda district; movement was organized by issuing 12 thousand pamphlets and squads toured a number of villages which was able to force the authorities to register the facts in the records.
There is an acute problem of marketing and prices. Movements and struggles were carried on in the following manner:
- Representing to the Chief Minister.
- Organizing Bandh in Ongole district- during the agitation 3 peasants were killed by police firing.
- Organizing conventions and leading representations.
- In 1985,auction system for Virginia tobacco was introduced despite Tobacco merchants’ opposition. Tobacco merchants boycotted the auction, peasants took to struggles, and then the Tobacco Board intervened and solved the problem.
In 1983 peasants were organized to demand that prices be fixed before sales. In 1984 a convention was organized in Nuzvid and another local convention in Gannavoram-both demanding credit facilities from banks. Another convention was held in Koyyalagudam. The demand was conceded.
Convention was organized, dharna was conducted. In Guntur a convention was organized where all the kisan organizations participated. 600 delegates attended. Representations were made to the State and Central Governments, demanding export order and remunerative prices.
Again in 1985 a convention was organized and representation was made to the State Government.
Very recently a convention was organized in Ongole and a delegtion composed of the Agricultural Minister and representatives of other political parties represented to the Central Government.
Movement was organized and conducted through organizing conventions, collecting signatures, holding statewide joint conventions demanding a price of Rs.350 per tonnes for 8.5% recovery. A booklet was also published.
Movements were organized on the prices of Molagolukulu paddy, for abolition of water cess in second crop paddy, for remunerative prices for crops like chillies, vegetables, etc.
Campaigns were carried on local issues like forcible holding of land by landlords, for immediate payment of compensation, etc.
Campaign was also organised on tail end issue, in canal irrigated areas.
Campaign was organized in Suryapeta, Warrangal and Khammam on second stage of Sriramsagar projects, in Podili for Nagarjunsagar right canal and such other issues.
Movements including demonstration before the Electricity Board at Hyderabad were organized on different demands. A mass deputation of 500-600 kisans went to SEB chairman complaining about low voltage supply causing damages to motors and pump sets.
Drought and Flood-Cyclone Problems:
There was a serious drought in 1983, 1984 and 1985. Mass rallies were organized, dharnas were conducted, marches were organized, demanding adequate relief and for re-scheduling of cooperative loans etc. A big rally was held on 9th Feb. 1986 after a campaign in 400 villages. State Government had demanded Rs. 630 crores from Centre for drought relief. But Centre gave only Rs. 32 crores. There was a campaign against this discriminatory attitude too.
Kisan Cadre School:
In 1985 a six day school was organised for state Kisan leaders in which 99 comrades from 16 districts attended.
During 1984-85 a number of booklets were published and 60 to 70 thousand copies were sold. In 1984 on the occasion of 1st September, Kisan Day, a booklet was published and 34,000 copies were sold. On the question of remunerative prices for sugarcane and cotton, booklets were published 8,000 copies of which were sold. On irrigation problems for drought-prone areas of Rayalaseema, a booklet was published, 20 thousand copies were sold.
Since the 1984 state conference, the state centre is functioning regularly, helping the districts on all issues. On all major issues there have been interventions from the centre.
State Committee is meeting every 3 months, attendance on an average is 30 out of 44 members. During last 22 months, 3 meetings were held. Reviews are also made sometimes.
It has been planned to enrol 3 lakhs members during the year 1986. In 1983 the membership of the state went down to 1,07,690 from 1,71,000 in 1982. Again it went up to 1,48,000 in 1984 and 1,61,801 in 1985.
Under the name of Rayalseema Liberation Movement, demanding a few irrigation projects, divisive forces are active, with encouragement from some Congress (I) leaders. Similar attempt in the name of separate Telengana is made there. Christian missionaries are active in tribal areas. BJP has set up a Bhartiya Kisan Sabha which had its first conference in Hyderabad. Kisan Sabha is warning the peasantry about their activities.
In 1982-83, there was a serious drought, acute shortage of drinking water and shortage of cattle fodder. Crops were largely affected. Kisan Sabha demanded that state be declared a drought zone.
Kisan Sabha organized drought conferences in six districts. On 24.3.83 nearly 300 leaders and workers of all Kisan organizations conducted a one-day protest hunger strike in the state capital, Madras.
Following drought, campaigns were conducted for flood relief. In December 1983 and after that up to March 1984 there were several rounds of heavy rains. In 1985 there was again heavy rain and flood in Tanjore.
In 1984-85 about 5 lakhs acres in the state were affected by ‘Thongro’ virus. Campaigns for relief were conducted. Special joint convention was also organized.
Land Reforms Convention:
Special conference was held on 22-23 October, 1985 for land reform. CPI led Kisan Sabha also attended. A detailed resolution suggesting amendments to existing ceiling law was passed which became the basis for a joint campaign.
Campaign was conducted for cancellation of arrears of rent, when the Govt, was asking to pay it in installments.
Temple Lands :
State Govt., in the guise of protecting the temples, was threatening to exempt temples and Public Trust lands (about 8 lakhs acres) from the scope of Tenants Protection Act. A tenant convention was organized against this Govt, threat.
Land Tax Arrears :
The Govt, resorted to crop confiscation, especially in Tanjore district for realization of land tax arrears, when peasants were unable to pay them due to flood and drought. The Kisan Sabha mobilized the Kisans as a result of which confiscation was withdrawn and interest on arrears was also canceled.
Campaign was conducted against hike in electricity tariff. From 15.9.84 Tamilnadu Govt. made electricity free for small farmers and fixed Rs. 75/- per H.P. We demanded removal of conditions attached for deciding who is eligible for exemption and reduction of electricity rates from Rs. 72 per H.P. to Rs. 50 per H.P.
Price of Agricultural Produce:
Kisan Sabha conducted campaigns for remunerative prices of paddy, sugarcane and cotton, stoppage of supply of cane forced millowners to pay Rs. 195 per ton instead of Rs. 185 fixed by Government.
Picketting against penal interest, etc. was conducted in numerous centres of state and as a result confiscation proceeding was partially stopped.
Preparatory meeting held. Conferences held in Hills with a charter of demand.
River Water Issue:
Cauvery river water issue was taken up. Conducted demonstrations demanding negotiated settlement with Karnataka.
Mass Raily at Trichy:
A statewide mass rally was held at Trichy preceded by a big procession which was attended by the General Secretary Shantimoy Ghose. On 27.9.85, there was a joint hunger strike in which 25000 peasants participated.
CITU Help :
The State CITU contributed to the State Kisan Sabha Rs. 80,000 in 2 installments in 1985 and 1986 to build up and strengthen the Kisan Sabha organization in the state.
State Kisan Sabha is running a monthly journal named “Right of the Peasant”. Circulation is 2300. State Kisan Sabha centre functions and there is functioning in 17 districts. State Centre is regularly functioning. Attempt is being made to have one whole timer functionary in each district.
Inspite of persisting communal tension, activities of extremists and restrictions imposed by the Government, Punjab Kisan Sabha has been continuously agitating for the demands of the Kisan, independently as well as through united movements.
For Remunerative Prices:
A joint struggle was carried on for higher prices of sugarcane in 1982-83. A joint Action Committee was formed consisting of Kisan Sabha, Akalis and one Group of Naxalites, and a joint campaign was launched. Peasants responded in a big way, demonstrations were organized. Managers of all sugar mills I were gheraoed when lathi charge was made by police an peaceful demonstrating peasants. One Congress MLA came forward to join the movement, and ultimately there was an increase of one rupee per quintal in prices of sugarcane.
Remunerative Prices for Wheat:
A protest was organized in 1984 against Government declared price of wheat. Flag marches and gheraoes of Market Committees were organized. This year different peasant organizations gave a call separately, not to take the produce to any market.
It was successful. Central Government was forced to allow Rs. 5 as bonus per quintal for wheat.
Struggle of Abadkar peasants on Government waste and evacuee lands is being carried on against evictions and for getting the ownership rights. The public auctioning of such lands is being resisted. It appears that Akali Governments wants to settle Sikh soldiers discharged from Army in 1984 on such lands.
State Convention of Peasants:
In 1983 a state convention was organized against imposition of I per cent market cess, enhancing flat rates for tube wells and against channelisation of tube well in one direction where leaders of both Kisan Sabhas spoke. After that, movements were conducted by gheraoeing 125 electricity offices and organizing dharna on the 17th March, gheraoes of Dy. Commissioners’ offices, etc. We are asking peasants not to pay enhanced rates. We are also demanding supply for 12 hrs. in 24 hrs., and withdrawal of enhancement (from Rs. 13 to Rs. 19 per H.P.) for holders up to 5 acres.
Again in 1984, State Conference of Punjab Kisan Sabha gave a call to intensify the agitation to achieve the demands. The peasants were also called upon not to pay the enhanced amount of power rates, etc.
Loans to Kisans:
As regards as supply of credit is concerned, our demand is that interest rates should be brought down from 13 per cent to 6 per cent, 2/3 of loan be given in cash, and Section 66 authorising arrests of defaulters, particularly poor peasants, be removed.
Brick Lining Charges:
As a result of our agitation the government has been forced to reduce canal brick lining charges by 50 per cent for holders up to 5 acres, and for others by 25 per cent.
Peasants Demand Week:
At the call of AIKS a ” Demand Week” from 24th to 30th September, 1984 was observed for the demands for the kisans on the basis of Sultanpur AIKC Resolution.
At the joint call of both Kisan Sabha on 8th January, 1985, a convention of 10,000 peasants was held in Jalandhar for peasants demands and for communal harmony. A peace march was also taken out.
Campaign for National Integrity, etc. :
Punjab Kisan Sabha and Dehati Majdoor Sabha had been continuously working in defense of national unity and integrity as well as to isolate and defeat the separatists and extremists from the people. The Kisan Sabha has also been trying to strengthen communal harmony and build unity of all Kisans. Inspite of the very difficult situation prevailing in the state, the Kisan Sabha continued its activities in one form or other.
In January 1984, a massive communal harmony rally was held at Ludhiana at the joint call of CP1(M), CPI, Janta, Congress (S) where thousands of Kisans rallied.
On January 8, 1985 at the joint call of both the Kisan Sabha, a state level Communal Harmony and Peace March was held at Jalandhar where more than ten thousand peasants participated.
Similarly, on January 22, 1985 a joint rally of 8 thousand, agricultural workers was held at Ludhiana.
Jatha March :
60 Jathas of peasants and agricultural workers, composed each of 50 to 150 persons, in strong districts and 15 to 25 in weak districts, marched through 2500 villages of the state from February 25 to March 4,1986, telling the people about the increasing danger to national unity, integrity and national independence of the country from American imperialism and from the advocates of Khalistan.
12th March Demonstration :
Massive demonstrations and peace marches were organized in all the district headquarters on the 12th March last for communal harmony.
Celebration of Kisan Sabha Golden Jubilee :
Conference and rallies are being held in all districts.
Regarding movements conducted by Punjab Kisan Sabha and Dehati Mazdoor Sabha, 2 dozen articles have already been published in Lok Lahar.
State Committee meets regularly.
Assam Kisan Sabha has been working in an abnormal situation. In many places of the state free movement of Kisan Sabha workers is not possible as yet. Threats, assaults, and fines up to Rs. 5 thousand are still continuing. Workers of the Kisan Sabha alone killed by the hoodlums of anti-foreigners movement are —Comrades Dina Kalta, Dhireswar Nala, Ranjan Gohain, Kailash Kalta, Sailen Rajbansi, Susen Das, Bhupen Roy, Rustom Ali, Anil Pathak, Ananta Kalita, Habij Ali, Kamal Kalita and Bolo Borua. Houses of many Kisan Sabha workers were burnt down and destroyed. Many Kisan Sabha members along with their families had to leave their homes and took shelter in other places. The Assam accord of 15th August, 1985 has created more distrust and discord among the people.
In this abnormal situation the following movements were organized and carried on :—
- Anti-eviction movement-against Forest Department as well as against the landlords. Meetings and demonstrations were conducted in some areas and as a result eviction was stopped.
After the formation of AGP Government, large scale eviction has started, throughout the state. It is now the major problem before the peasantry there. Kisan Sabha has already organized movements in some areas.
- Movement for flood relief is being organized every year as Assam is virtually a land of floods.
- For irrigation facilities—only 14 percent of agricultural lands in Assam is so far irrigated. Movement was also organized for compensation of land acquired by Irrigation Department.
- On the demands of fishermen.
- On the demands of sugarcane growers—demand for remunerative prices ; conventions were organized in Jorhat and Karimganj.
- On unprecedented fall of raw jute prices, demonstrations were organized in many places demanding fair prices and monopoly purchase by J.C.I.
- For supply of essential commodities like rice, atta, kerosene, sugar, paper, common cloth, etc. at fair prices, demonstrations were organized in many places.
- For the demands of agricultural workers, where their number is increasing very rapidly in the state, campaigns are being run.
- The most important event of our movement in Assam in recent days, during unprecedented terror and mass killing—was the state wide rally held on the 23rd of March, 1984 at Gauhati at the call of Kisan Sabha where thousand of Kisans marched from the districts, defying terror, etc.
- After Sultanpur A1KC meeting, Kisan Sabha in the state organized state wide campaign on the Charter of Demands adopted there.
In Assam, Tenancy Act has not been amended since 1973 and the present AGP government does not talk about it. While 3 lakh acres of ceiling surplus land has been distributed, 8 lakh acres of land are still available with the government but are not being distributed. Tea gardens have 40 lakh acres of land out of which only 26 per cent is being utilized for tea plantations. Hut the government, instead of taking this land for distribution, is returning back to tea garden owners even the ceiling surplus land. We arc taking up all these questions to demand distribution of available surplus land, but the government instead of distributing land is helping landlords to launch an eviction offensive in the name of driving out foreign nationals. We are also demanding recording of nearly 8 lakhs of sharecroppers who areas yet not recorded and are facing threats of ejectment.
It is the championing the cause of landless and poor peasants and agricultural workers that has enabled us to grow in spite of most difficult conditions. We have work in 700 villages. PKC centre is weak and unable to give day to day guidance. There in some functioning up to district level but not below it.
Land Question :
A joint convention on land reforms in 1984 decided to launch joint struggles for rights on land and proper share of sharecroppers. But in the name of election work, CPI workers were not ready for any joint work.
We decided to concentrate on 5 or 6 big landlords like Parvatta Sahu, holding illegally thousands of acres of land.
In the district of Nawada, Monghyr, Hazaribagh, Ranchi, Bhagalpur and Santhal Parganas, our struggles for sharecroppers’ land is going on, and over 2000 acres they were able to harvest their crops. In these districts the Kisan Sabha also helped the agricultural workers to secure the statutorily fixed minimum wages.
In the month of October 1985 the Adivasis in Purulia district under the banner of Kisan Sabha occupied 200 acres of benami land and not only successfully harvested their crops, facing severe repression, but also forced the district administration to give pattas to 1500 Adivasis, Harijans and other landless belonging to weaker castes. In the clashes one Harijan was shot dead by goondas of landlords. A big protest rally was held against this.
Atrocities on SC and ST :
In Bihar killing of Harijans and tribals is a common occurrence. In one such incident a priest Father Murmu was killed along- with about 10 other tribals. A mass killing of agricultural workers occurred in Towfir Diara, and the most recent incident is massacre of Harijans by police in Arwal. In Monghyr, Sahebganj, Patna, Gaya and some other towns, joint rallies with other Kisan organizations were held to protest against these killings.
While struggles against evictions were going on in one part of the state, Kisan Sabha had to take up the question of remunerative prices in other part—N. Bihar—where at about a dozen places massive rallies were organized to demand payment of arrears of sugarcane prices by mills, mostly owned or managed by state. About Rs 60 lakhs was paid while nearly Rs 30 crores still remains unpaid.
In Purnea, Madhepura, Katihar and Saharsa, demands for a. remunerative price for jute was raised through big rallies.
Demonstrations at Dist. H. Q.s:
On 20th January, 1986 big demonstrations of Kisans and agricultural workers were held at district headquarters to demand implementation of land reforms, distribution of surplus and benami lands to the landless, irrigation and other facilities, stoppage of forcible law and tax collection from Kisans, stern punishment to those responsible for atrocities on Harijans, scheduled tribes, women and other weaker sections, etc. In these demonstrations at 25 out of 38 district centres, nearly 50 thousands peasants and agricultural workers, including women, took part. In other districts, due to the participation by only 2 to 3 hundred persons, only dharnas could be staged.
Kisan Sabha units held meetings and circulated handbills to protest against pre-budget hikes in petroleum products and issue prices of wheat and rice. The Kisan Sabha participated in the Bharat Bandh on 26th Feb. by taking out big processions in all blocks. The bandh was an unprecedented success in Bihar.
Kisan Sabha has been participating in campaigns against war danger and against the activities of divisive forces.
Golden Jubilee Year :
Being the host for Golden Jubilee Session, Bihar Kisan Sabha. issued a call for collecting Rs 10 lakhs as fund, enrolling 3 lakh members and approaching 50 thousand villages. Kisan Sabha. workers formed 500 squads for fulfilling all these targets.
There was a wave of struggles during last 4 years.
In some districts campaign for drought relief and in some other
districts for flood relief were taken up. Kisan Sabha organized a rally in 1982 for food and relief which 12000 peasants attended. In police firing at two places one person died and several were injured. In 1983 a state-wide padayatra was organized—500 volunteers covered 1000 villages in 50 blocks and 20000 persons attended the public meetings. We also participated in the state-wide bandh in protest against firing on students at Burla, call for which was given by Opposition parties.
Kisan Sabha also launched a satyagraha on the demand for work for unemployed, development of irrigation, supply of essential commodities at controlled rates, etc. in which 14000 persons participated.
We participated in Panchayat elections and were able to get majority in 115 GPs.
After Sultanpur AIKC meeting, campaign on 12-point charter of demands was carried on.
In 1984 on some immediate issues, local demonstrations were organized and 20 thousands leaflets were distributed.
Kisan Sabha organized a jute growers’ conference against crash in prices of raw jute.
A statewide “Rasta Roko” was organized against bus fare like.
In 1985 during the months of June and July the problems of agricultural laborers were taken up and signature campaign, dharna and, in some pockets, token strike were organized.
In 1986 Kisan Sabha organized satyagraha movement against petroleum product price hike, where in 7000 peasants courted arrest.
Still very weak. In the state centre only the State Secretary functions. In last 4 years 11 PKC meeting was held, 6 executive meetings, and office-bearers met 7 times. There is no whole time functionary in any district.
Golden Jubilee :
A target of enrolling 60000 members, holding 1000 meetings, and a padayatra of ten days has been fixed for the Golden, Jubilee Year.
Large number of landless agricultural workers and poor peasants cultivating land, which is now transferred to forest department from Revenue (C&D) land, are facing evictions. Clashes have started with forest officials. Kisan Sabha is running a campaign to demand regularization of their possession, through demonstrations and dharnas, etc.
Picketing on this question was organized with CITU support on 11.7.84 in which 30,000 were arrested.
Eighteen out of nineteen districts in Karnataka are in the grip of a severe drought affecting 19700 villages in 110 talukas.
A convention on problem of drought affected peasantry was held in Raichur in 1984 to identify permanent projects which, if undertaken, will alleviate to a great extent sufferings of people of drought prone areas.
With the help of CITU Kisan Sabha workers are collecting fodder, foodgrains, money for drought affected districts.
Kisan Sabha helped AWU workers in organizing dharnas at district centres in June and July 1985. Revision of minimum wages for agricultural workers has not been done for last six years. There is no implementation machinery or body for agitating for upward revision of wages of all unorganized workers.
A state convention was convened in June 1984 at Bangalore and on 9th August. 1985 statewide picketing was organized at all Government offices. On 3rd March, 1986 there was a demonstration of unorganized workers at Bangalore, including agricultural workers, Labor Minister, addressing the rally, promised upward revision up to Rs. 8.80 per day (from Rs. 5.60 to Rs. 7.60 per day at present).
Dharnas and gheraoes for 15-20 days were organized on the demands for more water at the tail end of canals. Some crops could be saved due to our agitation.
For accumulated arrears of cooperative and government loans it was demanded that supply of increased amount as credit and conversion of short term to medium term loans be arranged. The agitation has resulted in writing off of such loans -Rs. 50 crores in 1983 and Rs. 20 crores in 1986.
In 1984 a cotton growers’ convention was organized in Raichur attended by Comrade Santimoy Ghosh.
Government is launching a drive to evict or fix heavy charges on persons occupying land for living in huts erected on them. A joint convention, several demonstrations and dharnas were held to demand regularization of these possessions.
Janta Party Government, as a result of these agitations, has exempted landholding up to 5 acre as from paying compensation to landlords and made a provision of appeal for decisions of land tribunals through an amendment to existing land laws.
An agitation is going on demanding reduction of high electricity rates and regular supply of electricity.
There are 6 Kisan organizations. Apart from two AIKS units, there are two Ryotu Sangams led respectively by Rudrappa and R. Siddappa which are landlord-led organizations. BJP led Bhartiya Kisan Sabha and a Malaprabha Ryota Sangharsha Samitti are other organizations. Apart from AIKS, the CPI led and Rudrappa led organizations are the most active ones.
The statewide bandh of 22nd November, 1985 was joined only by CPI led Kisan Sabha, while in the bundh on 26th February most kisan organizations joined Rudrappa led organization and invited AIKS to join them in the struggle against the Cooperative Amendment Act empowering government to auction cultivated land in payment of arrears of cooperative dues. We joined them. But since Rudrappa converted his Ryotu Sangha into a political party contesting elections his influence is declining.
In 1985 Karnataka had 83960 members. Regular meetings of State Committee and office-bearers are held. Out of 35 members of the State Committee 20 are active. In 10 districts, District Committees are also functioning and in 5 out of these 10 the Taluka Committees also function. Special attention is being given to function village units and local schools are being held at Bangalore, Mangalore and Bijapur. A state level class was addressed by Com. Santimoy Ghosh.
In preparation for Golden Jubilee, meetings are planned to be held in 3000 villages. Pamphlet on history of Karnataka Kisan Sabha is being written along with articles on various struggles.
After the Midnapore conference the issues that were taken up were—relief for drought and flood victims, remunerative prices for sugarcane, wheat, paddy and potato, police atrocities, hikes in electricity tariff, bus fares and irrigation rates, atrocities on Harijans and inadequate and irregular supply of electricity and essential commodities like diesel, kerosine oil, etc., malpractices during consolidation of holding operations, and activities of communal forces, etc. Kisan Sabha workers contested Panchayat elections and won either Pradhanship or Panchayat membership in 750 villages. But our organization could not guide and intervene in their day to day functioning .
A Jail Bharo movement was launched in September 1983.in which about 59000 peasants offered themselves for arrest and about 15000 belonging to about 2000 villages were arrested.
For last few years state Kisan Sabha leadership is insisting that conferences must be held from village upwards according to constitution, and delegates for the next higher level conference must be properly elected in the immediate lower level conference. This has been enforced in 2/3 of district units. But in most places village level committees are not functioning regularly and meet only when some leading comrade visits them.
Membership was 78136 in 1982-83, 87416 in 1983-84 and 76,000 in 1984-85. The decline in 1984-85 was due to elections for Lok Sabha and Assembly. The membership this year is 1 lakhs 23000 and in the 1986-87 it is planned to enrol 3 lakhs members.
In the Golden Jubilee Year, it is planned to hold meetings in 10,000 villages and publish four pamphlets, including translations, about famous struggles like Telangana, Tebhaga, Warli, etc.
In Rajasthan the conditions of drought and famine are problems appearing every year. Condition this year is worse and about 27 thousand villages in 27 districts, with a population of nearly 2.75 crores are facing drought and famine. About 50 thousand cows have perished as a result of lack of fodder.
While due to power cuts factories are closed, the electricity rates have been doubled. A very big section of the peasantry is burdened by debts and usurious moneylenders’ exploitation continues unabated. Instead of attempting relief the government has stepped up exploitation through the medium of its own institutional credit, and amounts up to 10 times the original amount are being collected, and in this realization even the articles of daily use by Kisans are being attached and auctioned.
Kisan Sabha took up all these problems and a demonstration jointly with CPI (M) was held on 14th November, 1983 to highlight the failures of Shiv Charan Mathur Government.
In 1983 there was a struggle in Ganganagar, led by a Kisan Sangharsha Samiti on the question of title deeds, penalties on debts and scarcity of water, in which Kisan Sabha played the main role. Mathur Govt, promised a relief to the tune of Rs 25 crores, but when the matter reached the implementation stage, Kisans were deprived of securing the fulfillment of these demands due to the treachery of Lok Dal and Kisan Union.
On 13th February, 1984 demonstrations were held at all district centres on the problem of Kisans and in the Delhi Peace Rally in March 1984 thousands of Kisans took part.
In 1984 movements were launched in Udaipur, Doonganpur against drought and attachment proceedings by banks in loan realizations. Demonstrations and dharnas were organized and some relief was won in the matter of credit and rent dues.
In Bharatpur six Kisans achieved martyrdom in clashes between peasants and forest employees on the question of grazing of cattle. Representatives of Kisan Sabha visited the area and pressurized the government to hold an inquiry.
In 1985 after the assembly elections the Central Government imposed additional tax burdens of Rs. 1600 crores (Rs. 500 crores in Railway and Rs. 1100 crores in General Budget).
The State Government also did not lag behind. Rs. 100 crores burden was imposed by enhancing electricity tariff, and water and bus rates were enhanced by 50%.
The Opposition parties in Rajasthan decided to oppose these taxation measures inside the Assembly. The government was warned that if these enhancement are not withdrawn a statewide struggle will be launched.
After the session of the Assembly, Opposition parties invited Kisan Sabha to join the movement and fight unitedly. In the meeting we stressed upon the Janata Party, BJP and Lok Dal the seriousness of the issues involved and suggested that a Sangharsha Samiti be formed under the leadership of Janata Party or Lok Dal to maintain the unity of all parties and organizations. But due to the vacillations of Lok Dal and JP, a broad based unity for the struggle of the peasantry could not be built up. Instead of joining the movement under the BJP leadership, we decided to fight separately on the call of Kisan Sangharsha Samiti.
Main issue of this movement was electricity tax. In regions, particularly Sikar, Jhunjhunu, Nagpur and Jaipur, where tube wells are the only source of irrigation, the pressure of the movement was at its peak and the discontent of the peasantry was maximum on this issue.
At the call of our Kisan Sabha itself the Kisans of Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Churu decided not to pay the electricity bills and the district of Sikar took the initiative in conducting the struggle by giving a call for a Rasta Roko in the District on 19th November 1985 which was completely successful. After this the Kisan Sangharsha Samiti gave the call for a statewide Rasta Roko on 20th Jan., 1986 which was partially or completely successful in Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Churu, Alwar, Udaipur, Doongarpur, Jaipur and Kishangarh. In Jhunjhunu and Sikar it was complete. During the bandh at several places workers, peasants, women were dragged on the roads by the police and several false cases were also registered.
The comrades of Ganganagar showed some weakness and confined the movement to a demonstration at the district centre.
Some Opposition parties gave a call for a Jail Bharo movement in the name of an All Party Opbhokta (Consumer) Sangharsha Samiti from 11 to 20 Feb., 1985. Considering the need for maintaining broad based Kisan unity our Kisan Sangharsha Samiti too gave the call for filling jails from 11 th Feb.
The role of Sikar district Kisan Sabha in this movement was most commendable. Whereas in other parts of the state and in other districts people were being released only after token arrests, in Sikar thousands of Kisan Sabha workers which included, along with Com. Trilok Singh all the leading workers of Kisan Sabha, went to jail along with others. Never before such a type of bad treatment was meted out to Kisan agitators, as this time in jails in Sheo Singh Pura, Ajmer, Deoli, Tonk Jodhpur, Jaipur, etc. For 4 to 5 days no food was provided to satyagrahis in jails and at the time of release they were not given the return railway fares. Other criminals in jails were even made to beat the satyagraha prisoners. Due to bad food in Sikar jail one satyagrahi Ramoo Ram died in the hospital.
Jhunjhunu was another centre of the movement where despite a weak Kisan Sabha unit, it played a glorious role during the arrests and movement. On the very first day 5800 volunteers who belonged to both the Kisan Sangharsha Samiti and the All Party Sangarsha Samiti, offered arrest. After the arrest they were kept under an open sky without proper clothings in winter in a Sati temple, without food, without water and proper arrangement. This was bound to make the satyagrahis angry towards the government. When on 12th the demonstration went to the residence of the District Magistrate, he preferred to drive them away by opening fire and lobbing tear gas shells on them, instead of talking with agitated Kisans. Due to the mad order of firing given by DM and the police, one Baloo Ram, a Kisan demonstrator was killed on the spot and two other protectionist were injured. The Jhunjhunu Kisans kept the dead body of martyr Baloo Ram, in front of the residence of D.M. Thousands of Kisans collected there and began to demand that unless the D.M. and S.P. of Jhunjhunu are removed from there, the dead body of Baloo Ram will continue to remain there. The dead body of Baloo Ram could not be removed due to the presence of thousands of Kisans, despite heavy reinforcements of RSC, Haryana Police and Rajasthan Police reaching there. Ultimately on 15th February, 1986 on the assurance of Harideo Joshi, Sri Nathoo Ram Mirdha, leader of Lok Dal which was a constituent of the All Party Upbhokta Sangharsha Samiti, could come to Jhunjhunu and pacify the people and arrange for the cremation of Baloo Ram. The presence of about a lakh of people, including about ten thousands women, is itself an indicator of the wide sweep of the movement. Con. Sheopat Singh, MLA, remained in Jhunjbunu from 13th February night up to the cremation of Baloo Ram.
In the Sadulpur Tahsil of Churu the movement was conducted in one or two villages on the question of electricity supply and Kisan Sabha conducted the movement in Churu, Sardarshahar and Rajgarh. In other districts only token arrests were offered.
This statewide movement has made it clear that there is tremendous discontent amongst the peasantry against the government. Lakhs and lakhs of people offered themselves for arrest. Perturbed by this the government negotiated the decision of a treacherous withdrawal with the All Party Upbhokta Sangharsha Samiti so that the leaders of the Kisan Sangharsha Samiti may also be brought in line.
Misled by these leaders our Sikar and Jhunjhunu satyagrahis too were released, when actually the Kisan Sangharsha Samiti had not withdrawn the movement. On the one hand this treacherous role of the leaders of All Party Upbhokta Sangharsha Samiti has disheartened the Kisans, on the other hand a sentiment of struggle has been created amongst them. Due to the treachery of these leaders the Kisans could get only very insignificant concessions.
In the same period the Opposition parties gave a call for demonstrations at district centres on 20th Feb., 1986 and a Bharat Bandh on 26th Feb against the heavy taxation measures by the Central Government. Kisan Sabha took a leading part in these two programmes. Police implicated Kisans, youth and other workers in a number of false cases.
A demonstration was organized in front of the State Assembly on 28th March, 1986 which was quite impressive and successful despite the heavy engagement of Kisans.
Kisan Sabha has no separate office even at the state centre, and since the last State Conference in 1982 PKC could meet only thrice.
The last conference of State Kisan Sabha was held in June 1983 at Sanoli. Out of 12 districts of the state, 2 were adequately represented, four partially and remaining six were not represented at all.
During this period campaigns and movements were organized in the districts of Kangra, Una, Hamirpur, Solan, Kulu, Mandi on the following and other demands—relief to drought and flood affected peasants, irrigation facilities, against eviction, for remunerative prices of agricultural produce, for adequate mini” mum wages.
In one such campaign in 1983, in 40 days, 237 villages were covered, 126 meetings were organized and 15250 signatures were collected to be submitted to district authorities.
In the districts, campaigns were also organized on local demands, e.g. for railway level crossing gate, malfunctioning of local river lift pump, against inadequate timber distribution to nearly peasants.
In the pre-budget price hike by Govt, of India, a state-wide protest week was observed from 20th to 26th Feb., 1986.
The State Kisan Council and the State Kisan Committee each held its meetings four times during this period of 30 months. Out of 7 members of Committee, four functioned regularly, the two secretaries were completely inactive. Among the Council members ten functioned regularly.
Among the districts Mandi Committee has become defunct.
The last conference of the State Kisan Sabha was held at Shahdol in Feb. 1983. The membership increased to 25000 in 1684. But in 1985 the membership was nil.
There are a few pockets of Kisan Sabha.
(1) Morena : One thousand peasants participated in a satyagraha on 21st March, 1984 at Bhopal.
(2) Gwalior: 500 peasants participated in the state level satyagraha in Bhopal in 1984.
(3) Indore : The Kisan Sabha has some base among kotwars and landless peasants who conducted some demonstrations for enhancement of monthly payments.
(4) Shahdol: Movement and demonstrations were organized where 3 to 4 thousand peasants participated on the demands of pension to disabled persons, pattas to Adibasis and forest dwellers, stern measures against atrocities on Harijans, Adibasis and other weaker sections, and for minimum wages to landless labourers.
It is regrettable that most of the reports did not reach the AIKS centre in time and till the time of going to press no reports were available from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, and Manipur.
As has been said earlier, with the stepped up activities of communal fundamentalists, after the toppling of the Farooq Abdullah Government, the situation deteriorated very much in Jammu and Kashmir and a virtual communal polarization occurred between the two major communities. But despite the very difficult situation created by this, Kisan Sabha workers continued their activities and have expanded their base, particularly in Jummu region.
A new AIKS unit has come into existence in Manipur state. With a membership of one thousand they have also held a state conference recently and are working actively to carry the message of AIKS to the peasantry of this remote far-eastern state.
WHAT DO THESE REPORTS SHOW
What emerges from the above narration of activities of the Kisan Sabha in various states ?
Because of the anti-people policies of the Central and various state governments, the discontentment arising in the peasantry is very rapidly growing and the discontented peasantry is on the move. They have fought innumerable struggles in the period, on various issues like increased tax burdens, against price rise, for remunerative prices of their produce, against evictions, for indebtedness relief, for wages of agricultural workers and for democratic reforms, etc. In many places our Kisan Sabha units have either taken the lead in organizing the struggles or joined with other peasant organizations, and provided leadership. At other places landlords provided the leadership to the struggles, especially on the issue of remunerative prices and against increased tax burdens such as water rates, electricity duty, bus fares, etc. In certain places there have been spontaneous activities. But a feature to be noted is that in all these struggles, the peasantry has expressed a growing sense of unity and determination to fight in defense of their interests.
The reports also show that the Kisan Sabha units have made efforts to arouse the peasantry against the war danger and against creating tensions in different areas of the world, including our sub-continent, where U.S. imperialism is arming Pakistan with sophisticated weapons and strengthening its base in Diego Garcia.
The Kisan Sabha units carried out a consistent fight against the communal, casteist and separatist forces in different states and defended the unity of the peasantry against their game of destruction. Punjab, Assam and Tripura units have done commendable work in this respect.
The peasantry also was mobilized in large number, on the issue of defense of democracy. The massive protest against the dismissal of duly elected Government of Jammu and Kashmir and N.T.R. Government of Telugu Desam Party, forced the Central Government to retrace its steps in Andhra Pradesh.
Kisan Sabha units have actually worked for relief in different states, during the natural calamities like floods, droughts and cyclones. This has helped in reaching relief to needy sections in certain areas and in forging links with the peasants in backward regions.
All this shows that there is a big scope for developing powerful and united struggles everywhere and if we can effectively intervene and bring together all groups and sections, big movements can develop and a strong and powerful organization of the peasantry can be built even in places where we are at present an insignificant force. All that is required is initiative, timely intervention and militant leadership. We can grow even under most difficult conditions, like those prevailing in Assam, provided we come forward as champions of the urgent demands and real interests of the peasantry and stand by them, bravely facing all attacks by the class enemy.
STATE OF ORGANIZATION
The Midnapore Conference had once again pointed out our weaknesses in the sphere of functioning of our organization, that have been persisting since long. We do not give sufficient attention to spontaneous struggles, “our activities are not so organized as to enable democratic participation of the common peasants in decision making, in formulating demands and conducting struggles”. We have an “inadequate understanding of the need and scope for united actions” and, finally, that enough attention is not paid to the needs of functioning of the basic units—the village level organization of the Sabha. These shortcomings are still to be overcome.
There is no significant improvement even in the functioning of centre. Within the last 3-i years, apart from meeting at Midnapore after the 24th Conference and on the eve of the present conference, the AIKC could meet only once, and the CKC only six times, which is much less than what is required under the constitution. The AIKS centre regularly functions and some circulars are issued but they mainly relate to organizational matters like reminding about last date of membership, notices of meetings and decisions of CKC and publications of AIKS, and soon. Recently notes have been prepared on certain topics of interests for our workers and circulated. But with all this it cannot be said that the AIKS centre is functioning or is even a coordinating centre of struggles and activities in different states. Apart from attending some PKC meetings and state conferences or addressing one or two schools of Kisan cadres in some states (Karnataka and Orissa) by the General Secretary, the AIKS centre has been unable to do much more than printing the Midnapore Conference reports and resolutions and Sultanpur AIKC resolutions. Only recently a series of pamphlets on the past struggles as a part of Golden Jubilee Series of Publications have been brought out.
In most of the states, state centres are functioning but generally with one whole time functionary. Only in West Bengal, Kerala, Andhra, Punjab and Tamil Nadu are there more than one leading comrade giving their full time to the state centre. In no state except W. Bengal, Tripura and Kerala there is even one whole time functionary at district level in each district, and in most states even district units do not exist in all districts, many of the district units are only nominal.
Taluka, Block, Sub-division, Thana or Village units hardly function anywhere outside W. Bengal, Tripura or Kerala. Even in Tripura we have village units in only 400 Panchyats and out of them hardly 100 are independently functioning units. However, there is an attempt in several states to build and function village units but not with much success and unless the consciousness of the peasant masses, are taken to a much higher level and a large number of village level activists are given political education these units will not function. Only in West Bengal a plan has been drawn to train a large number of activists from sharecroppers, tribals and agricultural workers, while in some others the feeble efforts that are being made are confined to district level and regional level functionaries.
Membership of AIKS has grown by about 10 lakhs in this period, but this growth is mainly confined to W. Bengal and to some extent Kerala. Whereas in 1978 about 55% of our membership was in West Bengal and, together with Kerala, West Bengal accounted for about 75% of our membership, in 1984-85. West Bengal alone accounted for about 75% of membership and together with Kerala the share went up to 83%. In other states too the task of building Kisan organization is being taken up and there is an increase of membership this year in most of the states. But it will be wrong to say that we have been able to overcome the lag in the peasantry.
These organizational weaknesses and this extreme unevenness in our growth are serious impediments in the growth of the Kisan movement and should be overcome as speedily as possible if the strength of the movement has to make any impact on the democratic movement and the balance of class forces in our country. Without an organized and conscious peasantry, closely allied with the working class, one cannot think of leading the agrarian revolution to success.
PRESENT SITUATION AND TASKS
We have today completed fifty years of the existence of our organisation. In these five decades Kisan Sabha has become a powerful force to be reckoned with. It has the vast experience of leading the numerous struggles, big and small. The post- second world war period saw some of the glorious struggles of the peasants—the Tebhaga struggle in Bengal, the struggle for tenancy rights in Surma valley, the glorious actions in Punnapra-Vayalar in Travancore State, the struggle of Warli peasants in Maharashtra, the glorious struggles of occupancy tenants in PEPSU and Punjab, the Bakasht struggle in Bihar, brave resistance of the tribals in Tripura and, to crown all, the heroic armed struggle of Telangana, where in three thousand villages the Deshmukhs were forced to flee and their land was distributed amongst the landless and land poor. The heroism of the peasantry in the face of heavy repression and the martyrdom of countless peasant warriors forced the post-freedom rulers to resort to various manoeuvres like Bhoodan movement of Vinobha Bhave and limited measures of land reforms to abolish certain categories of intermediaries and impose ceiling limits on landholdings.
These measures did not give land to the tiller nor, could they break the monopoly of landownership in the hands of landlords. They only produced a new type of landlord combining in himself traits of a feudal landowner as well as a modern farmer, and created a stratum of rich peasantry. The eviction of tenants-at-will not only continued unabated but was stepped up which was reflected in a rapid growth of the army of rural landless in the fifties.
Over and above the landlord exploitation was superimposed the exploitation by a capitalist market—where the peasant was cheated both as a seller of his produce and as a purchaser of essential commodities and inputs for his agriculture. Denied a, remunerative price for his produce, burdened with growing taxes and rising cost of living and cultivation, the peasant is getting more and more indebted. The anti-betterment levy struggle in Punjab in the late fifties and the recent big countrywide upsurge on the question of remunerative prices in 1980 and 1981 are the manifestations of this growing discontent. In West Bengal, Tripura and Delhi Bandhs on 10th and 11th Feb., 1986, and Bharat Bandh on 26th Feb., 1986, one could see millions of peasants and agricultural workers, shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the toiling millions in protest against the heavy imposts in the form of enhanced levies on petroleum products, including diesel, kerosene oil and fertilizers, and enhanced issue prices of wheat and rice from fair price shops.
The peasantry is restive. More and more, bigger and bigger struggles are in the offing and Kisan Sabha units and workers in this year of Golden Jubilee will have to spread out in areas where our organization is either non-existent or weak and insignificant, to give leadership to the masses and coordinate these numerous struggles into a powerful torrent which alone will sweep away the outmoded land relations and advance towards the agrarian revolution. It is the Kisan Sabha which was born with the aim of fighting for independence and putting an end to the system of exploitation, and it is the responsibility of all those who are today carrying the red banner of the AIKS in their hands to spread the message of agrarian revolution to every village and every peasant.
We have no time to lose. Class enemies are not sitting idle. The divisive and communal forces egged on by imperialists are busy diverting the peasant unrest into disruptive channels, to smash the unity of the peasantry, to dismember and destabilize our country, perpetuate the domination and exploitation of the toiling millions including the peasantry. The struggle to isolate and defeat these forces is a part of the struggle for defending the interests of the peasantry and their unity and their struggle.
The landlords, finding the ground slipping from under their feet and seeing the end of their domination over the countryside approaching fast, are launching a desperate and ferocious offensive of terror, arson and blood spilling against the agricultural workers and poor peasants who today are moving forward as never before to assert their rights and dignity.
The imperialists are planning to plunge the world in a nuclear holocaust directed against Soviet Union and other Socialist countries and to crush the spirit of independence in the Third World countries. The Indian peasantry, with its glorious anti- imperialist traditions, has to be rallied behind Socialist countries, the Non-Aligned Movement and the growing peace forces the world over, who are determined to foil the nefarious designs of the Reagan administration and its imperialist allies.
We have earlier mentioned the decisions of the CKC in connection with the observance of the Golden Jubilee Year. We hope these aims will be achieved and AIKS will emerge much stronger in this year, take the peasantry forward in still more rapid strides towards its goal of successfully completing agrarian revolution.
To make such an advance we will have Jo overcome our weaknesses. A deeper understanding of the agrarian structure today and dedication in building the organization is the need of hour. The Report of the General Secretary at the Varanasi Conference had analyzed the main weaknesses. It was stated there that while abolition of landlordism and land to the tiller remains the central slogan today, many changes have taken place in agrarian structure, and in order to build the unity of the peasantry many currents of the peasant unrest have to be channelized into the main stream of agrarian revolution. And depending on the level of development and consciousness of the movement in different areas, different issues agitating the minds of the peasantry have to be taken up. Due to the pro-monopolist, pro-big trader price policy and taxation policy of the Central Government, even the rich peasant is getting disillusioned from the ruling party. With the recent crash in the prices of commercial crops like jute, cotton, coconut, all peasants are feeling agitated. Same is the case of the impact of taxes, high prices for inputs and consumer goods and growing indebtedness. In certain areas like Bihar, the problem of eviction has become very acute ; there are questions of distribution of surplus land, waste land, Bhoodan land, etc., and plugging the loopholes in ceiling laws.
Kisan Sabha units have also to intervene in connection with various poverty alleviation schemes where due to rampant corruption a meager part of the allocations reaches the needy. They have to intervene in the cooperative movement to sub-serve the interests of the poorer sections of the peasantry who are the most needy. They have to intervene in the Panchayats and fight for more democratization of the organs of local self- government. The experience of Left Front Governments can be used in this respect in building the movement. The Kisan Sabha units have to actually intervene in the relief activity at the time of natural calamities. This helps in establishing contacts even in the most backward sections. In fact Kisan Sabha workers have to be whenever there is class struggle, wherever the peasantry are on the move and wherever they require help. They have to be wherever landlords and police commit atrocities against the most oppressed sections of our population. They have to come in support of the demands of agricultural workers. Let the red flag of Kisan Sabha be recognized as a symbol of protection and defended of the rights of the peasants and agricultural workers. Only then we can be proud of being the inheritors of those who made immense sacrifices in building this premier organization. It must also be realized that, taking the country as a whole, our organization is not strong enough. In order to meet the offensive of landlords and monopolists, we have to build unity with other organizations of the Left, especially with the CPI-led AIKS. This would help in mobilizing wider sections of the peasantry in defense of their interests but in today’s conditions even this is not enough; in organizing united actions we have to mobilize all elements who are desirous in coming in support of the peasant demands. The 12-Point Charter of Demands worked out by the Kisan Sabha, has a wider support from all secular Opposition parties in the country and the experience of Kisan Morcha of March 1981 shows what potential exists in building the broadest unity of the peasantry against the attacks of the ruling party, in its efforts to throw the burden of the crisis on to the shoulders of the peasants.
I will be failing in my duty if I do not mention the fact that there are more possibilities of developing the alliance of the peasantry with the working class—the most revolutionary class of our society—than they were at any time before. The All India Kisan Sabha units have the traditions of supporting the class battles of the working class. A large number of them are pauperized peasantry. Now the National Campaign Committee and other trade union centres have included the demands of the peasants in their charter. This has to be popularized among the peasantry and will help in the strengthening the worker-peasant alliance. Kisan Sabha units have also to come forward in support of working class struggles.
Time is running fast. Vast sections of the peasantry are still under the influence of bourgeois-landlord parties. They are discontented now. Either we are able to lead them through united struggles and build their class unity like that was. built during the Tebhaga struggle, Telangana Struggle and other numerous struggles, or the arch reactionary forces backed by the imperialists would be able to divert this discontentment into divisive channels and disrupt the peasant movement. The divisive forces are very active in different garbs, under different slogans, whether they are raised in the garb of religion, caste and community. Their main aim is to disrupt the unity of the peasants and working class and in this manner weaken the democratic movement in the country. We pledge on this occasion of the Golden Jubilee not to allow the initiative to be passed into their hands.
Main tasks are worked out in the 12-Point Charter of Demands formulated by the A1KC at Sultanpur. This conference will have the opportunity of discussing and endorsing them. They cover all the major demands and we do not want to repeat them here. In addition to these demands and struggles which I have mentioned above, here I would mention only two tasks which are referred to in the body of the report but do not form part of the 12-Point Charter of Demands. They are about struggle for peace and to build the Kisan Sabha.
THE STRUGGLE FOR PEACE
The importance of the struggle for peace has already been mentioned. The All India Kisan Sabha has glorious traditions of solidarity with anti-imperialist movements the world over. It was able to see the danger of fascism, its repercussion for the colonial people and joined the forces fighting against fascism. The victory over, fascism was hailed as a victory of the freedom loving people of the world. But unfortunately the Indian people who have not gone into the devastating effects of war, do not realize the gravity of the situation arising out of Reagan administration’s efforts to throw the world into a holocaust of nuclear war, where there can be no victor. Our peasantry is naturally more concerned with their immediate demands. The Congress (I) Government and the party which generally takes a stand in support of peace, does not take the issue to the people. While leading the peasant movement in defense of the interest of the peasantry, we have to take up the issue of struggle for peace as well as support to the people fighting against imperialist intervention to the mass of the peasantry.
BUILD THE ORGANIZATION
Another important task which needs mention here is to build the Kisan Sabha organization. Apart from strengthening the Central Office and improving the functioning of AIKC, CKC and State Kisan Sabhas, we have to spread the message of Kisan Sabha to every nook and corner of the country. Its organization has to be built. For this, large number of dedicated workers are to be trained. In this respect we have to learn from the experience of our advanced units, especially West Bengal, where the Kisan Sabha has been able to expand in the whole state and have been able to enroll the record membership of 63 lakhs this year. Let us take an oath at this Golden Jubilee Session to make the All India Kisan Sabha a symbol of unity of the Indian peasantry whose influence may spread from Jammu and Kashmir to Kanya Kumari.
Seventy percent of our population live in the rural areas and are engaged in agriculture, handicrafts and other rural trades. Without organizing the bulk of them, neither their genuine interests can be defended nor can they be led to the success of agrarian revolution. The guarantee of success is a powerful Kisan Sabha, the mass organization of the peasantry, championing also the cause of agricultural workers and forging unity with them, and building the unity of the peasantry with the working class.
Paying our respectful homage to the memory of the great pioneers—Swami Sahajanand, Indulal Yagnik, Bankim Mukher- jee, Muzaffar Ahmed, A.K. Gopalan. Hare Krishna Konar, P. Sundarayya, Rahul Sankrityayana, Karyanand Sharma, S.V. Paruleker, Baba Sohan Siugh Bhakna—and countless other martyrs, let us solemnly pledge to rededicate ourselves to this- great task for which these valiant fighters fought, and let the Golden Jubilee Year be the beginning of new and vigorous efforts to complete their unfinished task.
From this Golden Jubilee Session a call must ring out to all our workers and units and all those who want the agrarian revolution to succeed—to bend all their energies to expand and strengthen the Kisan Sabha, to carry out the message of agrarian revolution to the peasantry, to organize struggles against the burdens that are being thrown on the peasants by the Governments’ pro-landlord, pro-monopoly and pro-multinational economic policy, and join hands with all peace loving forces to save the world from a nuclear holocaust.
Long Live Golden Jubilee of AIKS !
Long Live World Peace !
Death to Warmongers !
Long Live the Unity of the Peasantry !
Long Live the Worker-Peasant Unity !
Sahajanand Saraswati Nagar, Santimoy Ghosh
Patna General Secretary
Date: May 17–19, 1986
Author: All India Kisan Sabha, 4 Ashoka Road, New Delhi-1