Part I: On Agrarian Scenario
The 33rd Conference of the All India Kisan Sabha is being held in Cuddalore after a period of nearly three and a half years since the 32nd Conference was held at Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, in January 2010.
The Guntur Conference had rightly pointed out that the second edition of the Congress-led UPA Government was pursuing policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation with far greater vigour. The UPA-II had belied all hopes that the first UPA Government had managed to generate through the Common Minimum Programme and the National Commission on Farmers. Rather, the Report of the National Commission on Farmers which had many progressive recommendations and the assurances to the peasantry contained in the Common Minimum Programme of UPA-I were all disregarded and is unfortunately gathering dust. Rather, the Government has intensified attacks on the peasantry and rural poor.
As a result of the neoliberal policies and corporatization of agriculture in India, more than three lakh peasants have committed suicide in the last decade and a half. Put in simple terms it means one suicide every half an hour. The unprecedented nature of human tragedy is a phenomenon unseen and unheard of in the entire human history. The apathy to the problems of the peasantry and agriculture has only worsened the agrarian crisis. Reversal of land reforms, indiscriminate land acquisition and land concentration in few hands are all threatening peasants and agriculture. This Conference will have to deliberate on these issues and chalk out a coherent programme for building consistent organized united struggles and resist the intensifying attacks on the peasantry.
Reversal of the extreme agrarian distress and an effective bail out from crises-ridden agriculture can only be envisaged with an alternative paradigm that entails a total repudiation of the neo-liberal economic policies and reversal of corporatisation of agriculture. We need to intensify our struggles and interventions in that direction too.
Crisis of Global Capitalism and Global Resistance
The last few years have been witness to one of the biggest crises of capitalism which experts say rival even the Great Depression. As it unfolds the global economic situation is alarming and the crisis is expected to further intensify and is showing no signs of ending in the near future. Poverty and unemployment have been on the rise. According to ILO Global Unemployment Trends Report (2007-2013) global unemployment has risen to 197.3 million in 2012. The youth are facing a grave situation with an estimated 73.4 million of them remaining without work in 2013. The unemployment rate of youth which was 12.6 percent in 2012 is only showing a rising trend. The unemployment rate is set to increase again and the number of unemployed worldwide is projected to rise by 5.1 million in 2013, to reach more than 202 million in 2013 and by another 3 million in 2014.
Significantly the advanced capitalist countries have accounted for a quarter of the increase of 4 million in global unemployment in 2012. Even conservative estimates suggest that the unemployment rate in the USA was as high as 7.90 percent in January 2013 and the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) data indicates that 8.5 million Americans left the labour force during Obama’s first term bringing the number of Americans not in the labour force from 80.5 million to 89 million. Unemployment continues to mount in Eurozone countries and hit a record high in November 2012 with 18.8 million unemployed. The rate of unemployment was 11.8 per cent while youth unemployment was 24.4 per cent. Over all the 27 non-European nations’ unemployment crossed the 26 million mark for the first time. The Eurozone economy continues to be in recession. According to the European Central Bank, the Eurozone economy will shrink by 0.3 per cent in 2013. Germany which is the biggest economic power in the European Union which had so far been unaffected has now shown signs of slipping into recession. Spain reported unemployment at a record level of 27.2 per cent. The Eurozone saw major crisis in Greece and the eruption of a financial crisis in Cyprus which are clear indicators of its perilous state. The right wing forces are also taking advantage of the scenario and increasing xenophobic attacks, anti-immigrant rhetoric as well as attacks on immigrant workers in Greece, Italy, Britain, Netherlands and other countries.
According to the ILO Report even regions that have managed to prevent a further increase in increase in unemployment often have experienced a worsening in job quality, as vulnerable employment and the number of workers living below or very near the poverty line increased. The IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Tokyo in October 2012 made an assessment that the global economic situation is very grim. The IMF stated that “The world economic recovery continues but it has weakened further. … The advanced countries growth is now too low to make a substantial dent in unemployment, and in major emerging markets, growth which had been strong earlier, has also decreased.” The IMF lowered its forecast for global economic growth in 2013 to 3.6 per cent from the earlier 3.9 per cent. This scenario has continued and contrary to claims that it would be overcome the forecasts are for a bleak future.
The capitalist world sought to address the crisis by giving huge bail-outs to the very corporates which in the first place were responsible for the crisis. More burden was thrust on the common people and many countries went in for austerity measures that has led to cut in public sector salaries, reduced minimum wages, social security benefits, investment for education and health care. Labour laws are being diluted to weaken job security and allow hire and fire policy. Working hours have been increased and the common masses have also been burdened by higher taxation. The troika consisting of the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank has been imposing bail out plans which involves stringent conditionalities and austerity measures in the Eurozone countries gripped by the crisis. The disastrous effects of austerity measures and the recession are manifesting itself in rising unemployment figures. While the common masses were subjected to such an attack on their livelihoods the corporate sector which was recipient of huge bail-outs also benefited in the form of huge tax concessions. The number of dollar billionaires world over kept increasing and the gap between the rich and the poor only widened.
The people of the Latin American Countries had launched massive protest movements against the neoliberal policies and intervention of US imperialism and achieved significant victories. Broad united fronts were formed to resist water privatisation and loot of natural resources by corporate companies. The successes of these struggles also led to the political consolidation of left oriented parties in many of these countries and a political transformation was effected wherein left parties were democratically elected to the Government. The alternative path of development that these left Governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries pursued have given the peasantry and agricultural workers as well as the poor greater access to land, education, health and social security. In the times of crisis of the capitalist world these experiences remain shining examples and inspired the struggles that followed in other parts of the globe.
Drawing inspiration from successful struggles against neoliberal policies the common masses in different countries reacted against the unjust scenario created by the capitalist crisis in a way unheard of in the last few years and rose up in protest in the most inspiring manner. The youth in Spain came out in large numbers against austerity and were popularly known as the Indignados. They pitched tents and occupied Madrid for days together with thousands of people joining the protests spontaneously. The Arab world also saw massive protests which primarily arose out of simmering discontent against the economic inequalities, poverty and unemployment. It led to historic protests termed popularly as Arab Spring and many Governments either fell or made drastic changes to overcome a scenario of extreme unrest. These movements inspired protest movements in other parts of the globe too. The most notable of the protests were the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests in New York wherein thousands of people pitched tents in Zuccoto Park in Wall Street one of the most important centres of capitalism. The OWS slogan of ‘We are the 99 percent’ resonated in over 1500 cities in 85 countries.
These protests were significant spaces of resistance to neoliberalism and global capitalism and points out the possibility and necessity of a more organised ideological-political resistance with global solidarity in the near future.
National Scenario and Common Masses
Condition of Indian Economy
In India the impact of the global crisis is reflected in the continued slowdown of the economy for the last few years. Globalisation has also made India more vulnerable to external shocks and the global crisis is having its adverse impact on India too. The growth rate for the fiscal year ending 31st March 2013 was 5 percent down from 6.2 percent the previous year and 9.3 per cent in 2010-11. This was the worst in over a decade and far below the projections by the Government.
The current account deficit caused by a scenario of the value of imports exceeding that of exports has been central to this economic slump. The current account deficit touched a record high of 6.7 percent of GDP in the last quarter and the rupee has been weakening further. This has led to intense pressure on India’s foreign exchange reserves and the Government is admitting that the scenario is worse than in 1991 when India embarked on the path of Neoliberal policies. The industrial production growth fell to 0.1 per cent in November 2012. Industrial output has grown in just three of the eight months – April to November
- The increased imports have been contributing to industrial
stagnation and industrial growth during April 2012 to February 2013 rose by only 0.9 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.
Sufficient evidence is piling up about the lack of employment growth even as India is set to account for one fifth of the World’s working age population. According to a study conducted by the Institute of Applied Human Power Resource, a think-tank of the Planning Commission, “employment in total and in non-agricultural sectors has not been growing”. The jobless growth is “accompanied by growth in casualisation and informalisation”. The research paper states that in the period 2005-10, “the manufacturing sector showed a loss of five million jobs. The services sector which saw a massive growth of jobs during 2000-05 of 18 million jobs, witnessed only 4 million additional jobs in 2005-10”. According to NSS data the rate of growth in employment declined to just 0.8 percent in the period 2005-10 when compared to 2.7 percent in 2000-2005. The youth unemployment rate is abnormally high with 10.9 percent among young rural men and 12 percent among the young rural women and 10.5 percent for young urban men and 18.9 percent among young urban women.
All this has not however affected the profitability of the big business houses. India’s top 50 firms are likely to report a 12.2 per cent rise in net profits in the quarter October – December 2012 compared to the same period a year ago. Inequalities have been increasing and the gap between the rich and the poor is further widening. The Government and the Planning Commission however has been making a mockery of the plight of the common masses by claiming that there has been a sharp decline in poverty level. They have resorted to clever manipulation and has sought to define the official poverty line at an absurdly low level of income/consumption per day. According to the ruling classes anyone who spends above Rs.22.4/- per day in rural areas and Rs.28.6 per day in urban areas for all purposes are above the poverty line. Such fraudulent ways are being used to make India’s poor unaccounted for. According to NSS data the poorest 10 percent of the rural population survive on less than Rs.15/- per day and the poorest 10 percent of the urban poor survive on Rs.20/- per day. At the same time the number of dollar billionaires in India has increased to 55 in 2013. Poverty is getting more entrenched and dispossession and destitution has increased manifold.
Uncontrolled Price Rise
While the corporate sector has been receiving huge concessions and along with the ruling classes are also looting our resources the poor are reeling under uncontrolled price rise. Rather than controlling price rise the insensitive Congress-led UPA Government has burdened the common masses by increasing prices of diesel and LPG cylinders. Diesel price and petrol price is being increased at regular intervals and subsidised LPG cylinders have been restricted to six only per year for a family. Additional cylinders will cost around Rs.1000/- each. Inflation has been in the range of 7-8 per cent in the last twelve months. In December 2012, food inflation was 10.39 per cent as compared to 2.70 per cent during December 2011.The Consumer Price inflation for major indices generally followed a similar trend. The CPI-IW inflation in 2012-13 (April-December) averaged 10.0 per cent as compared to 8.82 per cent in the same period last year. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) launched a new series of Consumer Price indices from January 2011. All India general inflation for CPI-NS averaged 10.04 per cent in 2012-13 (April-December) and was placed at 10.56 per cent in December 2012. Inflation based on other group specific CPIs (CPI for Agricultural Labourers and CPI for Rural Labourers) also remained in double digit in December 2012.
Even as food prices are increasing the Government has recently decided to release an additional 70 lakh tonnes of foodgrains into the open market rather than distribute it through the PDS. This will only benefit the traders and will in no way reduce prices for the people. People’s anger against these policies was manifested in an unprecedented response to the Bandh call by the Left and other opposition parties on 20th September.
The Congress-led UPA Government has recently decided to indiscriminately double the natural gas prices from $4.2 mbtu to $8.4 mbtu with effect from 1st April, 2014. This move will lead to all round price rise and especially to a hike in fertiliser prices, power tariffs and also transportation costs. The Congress-led UPA as well as most State Governments are shamelessly carrying forward with anti-people, anti-peasant policies despite widespread protests against them. We need to intensify struggles against corruption and price rise and for universalisation of PDS.
India ranked 94 on Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index. Rampant corruption has been sapping the country of scarce resources as well as finances that could be utilised for socio-economic development. The country has been rocked by a series of corruption charges and scams like the 2G and 3G scam, coal scam, commonwealth games scam, the irrigation scam, the Mining scam in Karnataka etc. The coal scam has cost the exchequer Rs.1.86 lakh crores, the 2 G scam Rs.1.76 lakh crores, the Delhi International Airport scam Rs.1.64 lakh crores, the CWG scam Rs.70,000 crores according the CAG Report. Similarly the irrigation scam is expected to be much above Rs.70,000 crores. The overall tax revenue of the country is only 7.71 lakh crores. However, the amount looted in these few scams alone is over Rs.6.66 lakh crores. If this amount could be retrieved it could be used for ensuring food security for all, remunerative prices for agricultural crops, making more investment in agriculture, quality schools, health centres and social security measures.
The shameful and insensitive nature of corruption was exposed in the case of the irrigation scam in Maharashtra precisely in the areas of Vidarbha which is the hotbed of farmers’ suicides. In this Ajit Pawar Minister in the Congress-NCP Government is an accused and complicity of BJP President Nitin Gadkari is also exposed. It shows the utter callousness of the ruling classes to the plight of the farmers. A public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Bombay High Court has alleged that an unholy nexus of contractors, officers and politicians has siphoned off Rs 26,000 crore meant for irrigation projects in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. The irrigation scam involves a whopping Rs.70,000 crores according to Reports. A Survey found that many of the dams and other irrigation projects were in danger of collapsing as the contractors involved had used substandard material. The extent of the scam can be understood when we look into some instances where the estimated cost of the Project was Rs.20 crore which has finally cost over Rs.2500 crores. Delaying projects and escalating costs as well as rampant corruption is a feature in other States like Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka etc. We need to identify the extent of scams in irrigation projects and mobilise the peasantry against them.
Corporate sector has been cornering huge concessions and the country’s resources and land is being siphoned away at a pittance. Since 2004, if you add the ’revenue foregone’ the total tax relief, including income tax for CEOs and senior executives, exceeds Rs 26 lakh crore!!
The move to double the natural gas prices also reeks of corrupt intention as the Government has merely acceded to the demands of the Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Limited and other big players. This Government is doling out free gifts to the companies like Reliance and promoting unbridled profiteering while simultaneously putting the lives of the farmers in peril.
Widespread Violence against women
The last few years have witnessed increasing attacks on women. The Delhi gang rape and innumerable cases of rape including against children shocked the conscience of the country. In West Bengal there has been shocking incidents of sexual assault followed by callous and insensitive reactions by the Trinamul Congress Government. Rape has also been used to intimidate and settle scores against activists Left and democratic movement.
In every three cases out of four cases of rape registered, forget the unregistered, even in the capital city of Delhi, the culprits went unpunished between 2002 and 2011. The official statistics by the National Crime Records Bureau reveal that between 2007 and 2011, the incidents of rape increased by 9.7 per cent. There are two sets of problems involved. One relates to the structural problems of a functioning democracy that is, our law enforcement and justice delivery systems continue to remain pathetic.
Neo-liberal policies have further marginalized women’s economic rights while market cultures promote women as sex objects. Sexual assaults and rape is the fastest growing crime in India, but the conviction rates are extremely low at just 25.9 per cent in 2011. Even where there are convictions, the main problem is the propensity of the courts to give only the minimum sentence and sometimes in the name of extenuating circumstances even less then the minimum.
AIKS along with other mass organizations should take the lead to fight patriarchal notions and male chauvinism in all spheres of society. This is part of the struggle to ensure that women are treated as equal and independent citizens.
The growth in agriculture and allied sectors has fallen short of the Eleventh Plan target. The average annual growth in agriculture and allied sector is placed at 3.6 per cent as against a target of 4.0 per cent in the Eleventh Plan. The agricultural production is down from 3.6 per cent of 2011-12 to a miserable level of just half at 1.8 per cent in the financial year 2012-13. The latest figures of the NSSO shows a meager increase to 1.9 percent which indicates that there has been no substantial increase after the drastic fall. The Economic Survey has confirmed the poor forecast on long-term agricultural growth. The contribution of Agriculture and Allied Sector in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country has been steadily declining over the years and has reached about 14 percent in 2011-12. There are two aspects to be noted here. The growth performance of agriculture is lower than other sectors. During the 10th Plan the total economy grew at 7.77 percent while agriculture and allied sectors grew only at 2.47 percent and during the 11th Plan the same was 8 percent and 3.6 percent respectively. However, agriculture still remains principal source of livelihood for more than 50 percent of the nation’s population.
Possessing only 11 percent of the World’s cultivable land India has to meet the food requirements of 18 percent of the World population. There has not been any serious effort to improve the soil conditions and make more land fit for cultivation. With over half of our population dependent on agriculture and allied activities for their livelihood the low level of farm sector growth will only bring further hardship to the Indian peasantry, a large number of whom are poor, small and marginal and in a precarious situation. Based on global development experience especially from BRIC countries it is estimated that one percentage point growth in agriculture is at least two to three times more effective in reducing poverty than the same magnitude of growth emanating from non-agriculture sector.
Per capita availability of grain has been showing a declining trend. The incomes of the peasantry are falling and low yields, low productivity, soil degradation, lack of irrigation facilities, costly inputs, unremunerative prices and lack of assured procurement have all affected farmers’ incomes. India’s current average income of a farmer according to an estimate is 30 to 40 percent of its per capita income with an ever widening gap with the urban counterparts.
There are wide yield gaps among various crops across the country. Area available for cultivation is also more or less stagnant and threatened with drastic reduction due to indiscriminate land acquisition. If at all the country has to achieve the target of 4 percent growth in the Twelfth Plan, there will have to be heavy public investment in farm research, rural infrastructure, credit facilities, improving market access and storage facilities as well as addressing soil degradation and water management issues. However, the Central Government as well as the different State Governments are not taking any steps in this regard.
Operational Holdings and Distribution
As per the latest Agriculture Census on operational holdings, the total number of operational holdings in the country in 2010-11 is 138 million and the operated area is 159.18 million ha. The average size of operational holdings has been steadily declining in the country in successive censuses. The Average operated size of holding which was 1.23 ha in 2005-06, has declined to 1.16 ha in 2010-11 at All India level. If one were to note the distribution of number of holdings and area operated and Size Group wise distribution of average holdings in the country it points to the fact that concentration of land has remained almost unaltered for the last 50 years and social exclusion of SCs and Sts from access to land also continues.
|Sl.No||Size Groups||Number of Holdings (In Million)||Area Operated (In Million ha)||Average Operated Area Per Holding (ha)||Percentage of Holdings to Total Holdings||Percentage of Area Operated to Total Area|
|3||Semi-Medium (2-4 ha)||13.8||37.5||2.71||10.05||23.59|
|4||Medium (4-10 ha)||5.9||33.7||5.76||4.25||21.18|
|5||Large (Above 10 ha)||1.0||17.4||17.38||0.73||10.92|
Source: Agriculture Census 2010-11
|Sl. No||Size Groups||1970-71||1976-77||1980-81||1985-86||1990-91||1995-96||2000-01||2005-06||2010-11 P|
|1||Marginal (Below 1ha)||0.40||0.39||0.39||0.39||0.39||0.40||0.40||0.38||0.38|
|2||Small (1-2 ha)||1.44||1.42||1.44||1.43||1.43||1.42||1.42||1.38||1.42|
|3||Semi-Medium (2-4 ha)||2.81||2.78||2.78||2.77||2.76||2.73||2.72||2.68||2.71|
|4||Medium (4-10 ha)||6.08||6.04||6.02||5.96||5.90||5.84||5.81||5.74||5.76|
|5||Large (Above 10 ha)||18.1||17.57||17.41||17.21||17.33||17.21||17.12||17.08||17.38|
|All Size Classes||2.28||2.00||1.84||1.69||1.55||1.41||1.33||1.23||1.16|
While the small and marginal farmers account for 84.97 percent of the total land holdings they operate only 44.32 percent of the total. Here it is to be noted that these classifications are as in the Agriculture Census and the section classified as medium holdings actually are also holdings above 10 acres up to 25 acres. The large farmers section (above 10 acres) that account for just 4.98 percent operate over 32.1 percent of all operated land.
If one were to consider the Dalit and Adivasi operation holdings they account only for 12.40 and 8.71 percent respectively and in terms of the area operated it will account to 8.60 and 11.49 percent respectively. Another significant factor is that the percentage share of female operational holders has increased from 11.70 in 2005-06 to 12.79 in 2010-11 with the corresponding operated area of 9.33 and 10.36 percent.
Agrarian Crisis and New Attacks on Peasantry
Agrarian scenario in India is extremely bleak as far as the small and marginal farmers are concerned. Agriculture is increasingly unviable; farmers are in acute distress & facing unprecedented agrarian crisis. More than 40 percent of the farmers expressed that they would quit agriculture if a better option was open to them. The latest National Census points to a disturbing trend of dispossession and destitution wherein pauperised peasantry are forced to become agricultural workers or migrant workers as they cannot overcome the crisis of subsistence. This phenomenon needs to be studied in depth and correct conclusions drawn. Over 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last 2 decades according to the National Crime Records Bureau implying 2 farmers every hour giving up their lives. The agrarian crisis has continued unabated.
Nature of Agrarian Crisis
Two decades of implementation of Neoliberal economic policies has had a drastic impact on peasant livelihoods. From a scenario of State directed public sector engagement with research, extension, provision of inputs, cheap credit, support price, procurement, processing and marketing aimed at self-reliance the ruling classes have allowed a total take-over of every sector by predatory agribusinesses with a systematic withdrawal of the State from agriculture. The Government’s expenditure deflating fiscal policies and obsession with trade liberalisation resulted in the acute crisis and intense depression faced by the agrarian sector in India.
The removal of quantitative restrictions on agricultural imports under the WTO regime and the absurdly low levels to which import duties have been reduced exposed the Indian farmer to volatile world market prices. Simultaneously, withdrawal of subsidies to agricultural inputs has led to exorbitant input prices, which can only be met by resorting to huge borrowings. Increasingly Government policies are catering to the needs of the huge Agri-Businesses engaged in the Seed, Fertiliser and Chemical industry and promoting corporatisation of agriculture as well as allowing them to dictate the direction of agricultural research and extension. Financial liberalisation reversed the policy of social and development banking thereby contributing to the deprivation and distress of the rural poor. It has reduced access of the peasantry to institutional credit and put farmers at the mercy of moneylenders. The rural countryside is witnessing heightened indebtedness and resultant loss of land.
Public investment in agriculture in real terms has witnessed steady decline and the share of Agriculture and Allied Sectors in total Plan expenditure is also negligible. Employment generation has stagnated and rural infrastructure development especially irrigational infrastructure has also declined. Rural development expenditure by the Government- implying the expenditure incurred on agriculture, rural development, special programmes, irrigation and flood control, village industry, energy and transport have all declined drastically too. Public investment in agriculture declined continuously from 1991 when the Neoliberal policies were implemented upto 2004-05. The moderate increase in public investment after 2004-05 was short-lived and the falling trend continued after 2006-07.
Speculative trading or futures’ trading in agricultural commodities with rampant market speculation has also created increase in prices of food grains and volatility of food commodities. Farmers being net buyers of food grains as well as the rural poor have been drastically hit by this move.
These policies have been pursued with much greater vigour by the present Central Government and the ruling classes are seeking to hand-over peasant agriculture to predatory agribusinesses and serving imperialist interests at the expense of millions of our peasantry.
The period of economic reforms has seen a sharp slowdown in the rate of growth of agricultural output. Neoliberal reforms have been associated with a drastic fall in the rate of agricultural growth. Since 2004-05, there has been a bit of a recovery in the rate of growth of agriculture, but this recovery is both halting and far from sustainable.
An examination of the rates of growth of output and yield per acre for major agricultural crops over different time periods brings out sharply the negative impact of neoliberal reforms on agriculture. Table 1 shows the annual rate of growth of output for the periods 1967-81, 1981-91 and 1991-2010. Table 2 shows the annual rate of growth of yield (output per acre) for the same crops over the same periods.
Source: V.K.Ramachandran (2012)
Except in the case of cotton, the rates of growth of output fell sharply for all other crops between 1991 and 2010, the period of reforms, as compared to the decade 1981-1991. In the case of cereals and of food grain, the rates of growth between 1991 and 2010 were even lower than in the period 1967-81 when the green revolution had just begun to spread.
Likewise, except in the case of cotton, the rates of growth of yields have declined significantly for all crops between 1991 and 2010, the period of neoliberal reforms, as compared to the period of 1981-91. As far as cereals are concerned, the rate of growth of yield is the lowest in the reform period, lower than in 1967-81 when the green revolution had been initiated and had begun to spread.
Source: V.K.Ramachandran (2012)
The story in the case of food grain is shown in Table 3.
|Year||Area, Million Hectares||Output, Million Tonnes||Yield, Kg Per Hectare|
Source: Economic Survey, Various Issues, Compiled by Venkatesh Athreya
As with all the major crops, we can see that there was little growth in output or yield of food grain for nearly a decade from the late 1990s. It is interesting to note that area under food grain has also been stagnant, except for a dip in the drought year of 2002-03. Within the area under food grain, it appears that there has been a shift from nutritious millets to paddy and wheat, but pictures of large extents of arable lands in India having been diverted from food grain to other crops or to non-agricultural uses are not validated by the official data on area under food grain. The yield also has been stagnating in the Green Revolution area of Punjab, Haryana etc and whatever growth is there is form the Eastern Indian States and elsewhere.
The agrarian crisis is of a differentiated nature. It varies from crop to crop, region to region and across different time periods. However, the policies that lead to distress for the peasantry are common across the country and this provides scope for greater united efforts against neoliberal policies.
Reversal of Land Reforms and Corporate Land Grab
The rural countryside has witnessed the continued domination of landlord sections in most parts of India and land is increasingly being concentrated in a few hands with monopoly control in the absence of meaningful Land Reforms and effective implementation of ceiling laws. This has ensured the continuation of the socio-economic hierarchies and entrenching of feudal vestiges even in regions where the production relations may be capitalist.
The intervening period has also witnessed a calculated reversal of Land Reforms and dilution of land-ceiling laws beyond recognition in many States. The agrarian distress is forcing the peasantry, particularly the poorer sections to sell their assets including land and livestock. The advent of MNCs into the countryside in the form of contract farming and corporatisation as well as indiscriminate land grab in the name of SEZs is further dispossessing the poor and marginal peasantry of their main source of economic security and dignity. The alarming proportion of land loss can be understood if one compares percentage of landless households during the 40th Round Survey of NSSO in 1992 to the 63rd Round NSSO estimates. The landless peasant families in the countryside were 22 per cent in the beginning of the 1990s and have now increased to 41 per cent, with six per cent of the households owning 46 per cent of the land and 63 per cent owning one hectare or less. Pauperisation of the peasantry is a clear result of the two decades of implementation of neoliberal policies.
Large scale acquisitions and conversion of agricultural land as well as forest land for SEZs, mining, industries and urbanisation is taking place. Land acquired in the name of SEZs and industrialisation is also often at unfair terms and misused for real estate purposes. People are being dispossessed of their land without proper resettlement or rehabilitation. According to an estimate in the past 3 years protests by the peasantry against land acquisition has led to a situation of turmoil in 17 States and over 40 Districts. It is expected that more than 10 crore people will be affected by these acquisitions. Several States have already drawn up plans for acquisitions of a gigantic nature. Andhra Pradesh is planning to acquire over 12 lakh acres and Karnataka about 2 lakh acres respectively. Lakhs of acres of land is being taken over in Gujarat, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Tamilnadu and other States. About 580 SEZs have been approved with more than 110 in the State of Andhra Pradesh alone. The magnitude of acquisition and displacement are brought out starkly when we look at some cases. The proposed Coastal Corridor SEZ spread across 1.5 lakh acres in 9 Coastal Districts of Andhra Pradesh is expected to displace 2.3 crore people. In Uttar Pradesh alone it is estimated that more than 23,000 villages would be affected by ongoing acquisitions.
In the name of infrastructure projects, golf courses, Formula One racing tracks and residential complexes are coming up. Indian as well as foreign companies are purchasing land in cities and rural areas for real estate purpose and indulging in speculative activity. The acquisitions in many States are having no transparency at all and the actual area of land acquired is manifold higher than what is being reported in the media. This is bound to have serious implications on food security and livelihood security of millions. The Report of Committee on State Of Agrarian Relations And Unfinished Task Of Land Reforms mentioned above also corroborates this position. This is despite the fact that the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA-I Government, declared on 24 May 2004, that “landless families will be endowed with land through implementation of land ceiling and land redistribution legislation. No reversal of ceiling will be permitted”. The Working Group on Agricultural Production has recommended facilitating corporate take-over of agricultural land and suggests that the ceiling should be fixed at 25 times the ceiling for individual farmers. FDI in real estate has been allowed and recently the Government has decided to give a free hand to real estate speculators and corporates to set up banks.
Tenancy and Related Problems
A large part of the cultivable area in India is being cultivated by tenants. In recent days there has been increasing attacks on the hard won rights of the bargadars/sharecroppers in West Bengal after the Trinamul Government has taken over and there are efforts to reverse the gains of the Operation Barga and other measures by the erstwhile Left front Government. The landlord classes have attacked share-croppers in many places and sought to take-over full control of land.
The D.Bandhopadhyay Commission Report highlighted the actual problems of the bataidars in Bihar. However, the recommendations of the Commission were not implemented by the Bihar Government. In Andhra Pradesh the State Government was forced to pass an Ordinance to recognise the tenant farmers with identity cards due to struggles by Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham and Agricultural Workers’ Union. However, the landlord sections immediately declared a “Crop Holiday” and prevented registration in many places using threats and intimidation. In certain States land is being left fallow by owners who are non-cultivators. Whether there can be a mechanism whereby the cultivating peasantry and agricultural workers can be given rights of tenancy in such regions should be explored. Tenant farmers continue to be deprived of cheap credit, subsidies and crop insurance and are often facing threat of evictions in many regions. Their rights in the case of land acquisition are also not protected.
Availability and Affordability of Credit
Financial liberalisation reversed the policy of social and development banking thereby contributing to the deprivation and distress of the rural poor. It has reduced access of the peasantry to institutional credit and put farmers at the mercy of moneylenders. The Government has not taken any steps to implement the recommendation of the Swaminathan Commission to provide loans to the peasantry at not more than 4 percent interest rate. Large sections of peasants and agricultural workers are being fleeced by usurious private money lenders, traders who are lending inputs at high interest rates and also private financial institutions. The mushrooming of innumerable fraudulent Micro Financing Institutions high interest rates and rural poor has been forced to commit suicide in some States due to indebtedness and their high-handed recovery tactics. Recently there have been increased attacks on the NABARD. The NABARD Amendment Bill, 2013 proposes to bring dangerous amendments that will leave NABARD at the mercy of private equity and profit-oriented market forces and undermine development banking. There is a need for expansion of institutional credit facilities and regulation of private money lenders as well as private financial institutions. Notably, increasing evidence points to the fact that the rich farmers and even agribusinesses are the major beneficiaries of agricultural loans. The Government is also moving against the cooperative banking sector which will hit the farmers in a big way in coming days.
Legislating for Neoliberalism; Subverting People’s Livelihoods
The neoliberal policies were pushed forward through the operation of a series of legislations drafted to cater the needs of big monopolies. Often these legislations are camouflaged with deceptive taxonomy that at first sight will give an onlooker the impression of a ruling class with a benign intent. The Food Security Ordinance, the Seed Bill, Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill, the Pesticide Management Bill and the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill all have provisions contrary to the stated intent of the legislations.
The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill claims to address the “concerns of farmers whose livelihoods are dependent on land being acquired” and to “prevent the human and social suffering by minimizing displacement”. In actuality is exempting 16 areas where separate Acts are in operation including the SEZ Act, 2005, National Highways Act (1956) Mines Act (1885) and others which are areas causing for maximum displacement; it also is aimed at legalising corporate land grab. While Kisan Sabha has asked for repeal of the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 which was made for facilitating cheap and smooth takeover of land during colonial rule, the proposed Act and Amendments are more draconian in nature. We demanded for a legislation for just compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement with safeguards to food security and for democratic process. The proposed Bill would allow unbridled take-over of over 90 percent of land as many of the Acts are exempt from it. It also does not make farmers the partners of development and dispossesses farmers, share-croppers, agricultural workers and rural poor.
The National Food Security Bill which has now been brought as an Ordinance had the stated objective of ensuring food security to all the hungry in the country. However it reduces the entitlements from 35 Kg to 25 Kg per month and the number of the people eligible is also being based on fraudulent poverty estimates. In India, home to the world’s largest population of hungry, the food subsidy bill is proposed to be reduced from Rs 56,000-crore for 2010-11 to Rs 28,000-crore ironically, under the name of food security. The Government has subverted the Parliament and passed an Ordinance on food security that actually works against the interests of the hungry millions.
The Seed Bill seriously compromises the right of the peasantry to grow, sow, re-sow, save, use, exchange, share or sell their farm seeds and planting material. The Bill, in its present form, will lead to unrestricted commercialization of varieties in the public domain. In the Seeds Bill, the Centre has proposed neither a regulatory body to fix and control seed prices nor is there any strong deterrent action to prevent spurious seeds. The Bill, on the other hand, promotes exclusive and monopolistic rights of seed companies to fix prices and allows them unrestricted right to collect royalties. The provision in the Bill to exonerate anyone from punishment if an act is done in “good faith” is vague and could be interpreted to the detriment of farmers.
The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill which has a stated objective of safe and responsible use of biotechnology and to regulate manage and control risks associated with use and release of genetically modified organisms proposed a penalty provision of imprisonment up to one year besides penalty extending up to 2 lakh for anyone speaking against GMO products without any evidence or scientific record. Compare this with penalty of fine up to Rs. 5000 or imprisonment up to three years for bad auditing of recognized laboratories where imprisonment is not compulsory. There is no provision in the Bill for any punishment for Biotechnology firms making false claims.
The Pesticide Management Bill is intended to regulate the quality and use of pesticides, allow use only after assessing its efficacy and safety, minimize contamination of agricultural commodities by pesticide residues and create awareness among users regarding safe and judicious use of pesticides. The Bill however also envisages Data Exclusivity for Agro-Chemical Industry; the reasoning of the Government being that in order to ensure that innovator companies would actually invest in trials that establish the safety and efficacy of agro-chemicals being used by Indian farmers, they should receive a limited term of data exclusivity for test data generated by them as an incentive. It is a clear sign of guaranteeing the monopoly interests of the big companies.
Rising Input Costs
The Government has been repeatedly claiming that “handsome prices” given to the farmers was the reason for spiralling prices of essential commodities. Nothing can be more insensitive and farther from the truth. The Government’s claim that the ‘remunerative’ prices it offered has provided the incentive to farmers to produce more is untenable when one compares the cost of production with the Minimum Support Prices (MSP). The Government resorts to clever manipulation to show that the MSP is far higher than the cost of production. It is to be noted that the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) has no authority to collect details of costs incurred independently and have to depend on data provided by the Department of Economics and Statistics. It then mechanically computes MSP by adding a certain percentage to the cost of production data so provided. The Swaminathan Commission’s far-reaching recommendation of C2+50% to compute the MSP is rendered meaningless by such an exercise as the ‘official’ cost of production is far below the real costs incurred.
The costs of agricultural inputs have incessantly been rising as the corporate sector has been given a free hand to fix prices of seeds, fertilisers and chemicals. The seed sector and pesticide sector have been taken over by big monopolies. Deregulation has led to uncontrolled rise in prices of seeds and pesticides. Every year in the peak seasons there are reports of fertiliser shortages, at times artificially created by traders and black-marketeers. Inputs like seeds and pesticides are exorbitantly priced and predatory agribusinesses like Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont, Cargill and others are raking in super profits. Such a scenario of rising input costs and prices which are neither “Fair” nor “Remunerative” is making agriculture unviable leading to a flight from agriculture and a good 40 per cent of the farmers feeling constrained to quit agriculture.
The increase in fertiliser prices over the last two years, ever since the Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) came into being has been phenomenal. In June 2012, fertiliser companies drastically raised farmgate prices of all non-urea fertilisers citing depreciation of the rupee and cut in subsidies on different nutrients by the Government under the NBS scheme. The MRP of Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) which is the most widely used fertiliser after urea has gone up from Rs 9,350/tonne in 2010 April to Rs 24,000/tonne. Prices of Muriate of Potash has risen from Rs.4,455/tonne to Rs.17,000/tonne during the same period. These are net figures and do not include the State taxes. Experience from across the country has been that the farmers are forced to pay much higher due to black marketing and artificial scarcity created by unscrupulous traders. Farmers have been paying as high as Rs.30,000/tonne for DAP.
Given below is a table comparing non-urea fertiliser prices at present with the prices during the last Rabi.
|Non Urea Fertiliser||Price in Rabi||Price in Kharif||Percentage|
|Season (2012)||Season (2012)||Increase|
|Di Ammonium Phosphate (DAP)||18,200||24,000||31.87|
|Muriate of Potash (MOP)||12,000||17,000||41.66|
|Single Super Phosphate (SSP)||4,800||7,800||62.50|
|NPK Complex (10:26:26)||16,000||22,000||37.5|
The Department of Fertilisers has also further proposed a hike of another 10 percent in urea prices. Moves are afoot to cut the subsidies to chemical fertilisers even further on the pretext of subsidising bio-fertilisers. The Nutrient Based Subsidy regime in fertilisers has led to huge increase in fertiliser prices in the last one year. The Nutrient Based Subsidy has to be scrapped and prices should be frozen at pre-NBS rates.
The recent decision of the Government to double the price of natural gas will under a decontrolled regime be used as a pretext by the fertiliser companies to further hike the already exorbitantly priced fertiliser prices. Further, it will result in increases in transportation costs and power tariffs which will thereby add further to the input costs.
The cumulative effect of the rising trend in input costs has been that agriculture is increasingly being rendered unviable. Coupled with this the collapse of the support mechanism both in terms of extension and procurement at assured prices as well as unremunerative prices being fixed as the Minimum Support Price for crops have led to a scenario of heightened indebtedness. Even according to the conservative estimates of the Government for the ensuing season 2011-12, the likely increase in per quintal cost of production over the preceding year would be 20 per cent for paddy, 18.78 percent cotton, 9 to 12 percent for pulses, 20 to 30 percent for oilseeds. Although this is a gross underestimation it is an indicator of the increasing input costs and unviability of agriculture. Unless urgent steps are taken to remedy this scenario, it will adversely affect productivity, food security and livelihoods of millions of people dependent on agriculture irreparably.
Falling Prices and Unremunerative MSP
Even as the input costs are rising unceasingly the Minimum Support Prices fixed by the Government are neither fair nor remunerative. In many of the crops the MSP announced does not even meet the costs of production. The Swaminathan Commission recommendation for computing MSP as C2+50% is nowhere taken into account. Moreover there are no effective procurement facilities and in most regions it is at best skeletal forcing farmers to sell to unscrupulous traders at distress prices. The announcement of a Fair and Remunerative Price for Sugarcane brought out most starkly the disconnect between the nomenclature and the reality. While States were giving a price of up to Rs.200/Qtl of Sugarcane, the UPA Government announced a price of Rs.127/Qtl and declared it was “Fair” and “Remunerative” while in reality the cost of cultivation was also not being met. The Government announced the MSP for Kharif crops in June 2012 far below the expectations of the peasantry. A comparison of the MSP announced with the Costs of Production arrived at by the Government agencies for 2011-12 brings out the truth about the Government’s claim of providing “Fair” and “Remunerative” prices.
Comparison of 2011-12 Costs of Production
With 2012-13 MSP and C2+50% Figures
|Kharif||Projected Cost||Modified Cost||Projected||MSP|
|(C2) in 2011-||Insurance||(Rs/Qtl)||for Kharif|
|12 (Rs/Qtl)||Premium+Marketing)||in 2011-12||2012-13 (Rs/ Qtl)|
Even for the Rabi Crops the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) has betrayed the interests of the peasantry and has reportedly recommended a freeze on MSP of wheat in the 2013-14 marketing season at last year’s level of Rs.1285/Qtl. This is despite the Kisan Sabha and different State Governments demanding not less than Rs.1700/Qtl so that farmers may break even and have incentive to cultivate in the next season. The Government’s announcement of MSP of Gram, Lentil, Rapeseed, Mustard and Safflower is also far below the expectations of the peasantry. The increasing input costs and cost of cultivation has not been taken into account by the CACP.
It is notable here that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has also decided to make a meagre hike of only Rs.60/Qtl in MSP of paddy recently. It has retained the MSP of jowar and urad without any increase at last year’s level and made very meagre increases in MSP of bajra, moong and arhar. None of the MSP announced reflects the increased costs of production or the expectations of the farmers. The MSP announced are unfair and unremunerative and will act as a disincentive to farmers.
The last few months have also witnessed increasing volatility in world market prices of agricultural produce, particularly commercial crops. The removal of quantitative restrictions has also led to cheap imports flooding the market and also cheaper substitutes like palm oil which is leading to price crash in coconut, groundnut and other oilseeds. Turmeric prices which were as high as Rs.16000/Qtl last year have come down to as low as Rs.2000/Qtl. Coconut prices have fallen below Rs.1500/ Qtl and copra prices are below Rs.3500/Qtl. (It was above Rs.7500/Qtl in May 2011.). This is even below the MSP fixed by the Government which is Rs.5100/Qtl. Cardamom prices have come down from over Rs.2500/Kg to as low as Rs.650/ Kg. Rubber prices are also showing a downward trend. While farmers are facing a situation of increasing input costs and overall costs of production, the Government is not taking any steps to address the issue of price crashes and volatility. The encouragement to future trading has encouraged wild speculation and whatever increases in MSP are also being cornered only by the Traders and corporate players at the expense of farmers. The Price Stabilisation Fund has not been accepted by the Government despite continuous demand.
Red Carpet For Predatory Agribusinesses
The State’s withdrawal from agriculture has been accompanied by a takeover of the rural countryside by predatory agribusinesses. Under the UPA regime in the name of a strategic cooperation in agriculture with USA the India-US Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture (KIA) was initiated. The American monopolies in seed, food and retail-trade namely Monsanto, Archer-Daniels-Midland and Wal-Mart were given representation on the KIA Board in addition to the present day incarnation of the erstwhile Imperial Tobacco Company and others like FICCI and CII representing the interests of Agribusinesses. The Board meant to deal with agriculture ironically does not have a single representative of the peasantry. This Board has dictated the direction of agricultural policy and research in the country ever since. Peasant agriculture is being sidelined by promoting technologies tailor-made to benefit corporate agriculture.
The American agribusinesses have used the KIA and managed to infiltrate all Indian centres for agricultural research, extension and policy making structures. The KIA also successfully promoted unwanted US technologies on several farm universities, research centres and also got the farm gates opened to American Agribusinesses. Now The UPA Government has been harping on an “Ever-Green Revolution”. It is not surprising that the US-India Business Council (USIBC) also talks of a “growing agriculture” and the “noble objective” of an “Ever-Green Revolution”. The USIBC is also unequivocal in stating that the efforts to vitalize India’s agriculture sector “should be driven by business”.
States ruled by the Congress as well as the BJP and their allies are going full steam ahead by superimposing over the public extension services they so meticulously dismantled over the last two decades a network of extension services to be provided by predatory Agribusinesses. The farm gates in Rajasthan have already been opened up to Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer, PEPSICO, Cargill, SAB Miller, Lupin and some Indian companies. In Rajasthan and Gujarat Monsanto has two major maize projects called Project Golden Rays and Project Sunshine respectively where the States buy the hybrids from the Company and distributes them to farmers, the expenditure incurred being financed by the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. The Congress as well as the BJP and their allies converge on this policy of rolling the red-carpet to these Agribusinesses.
Unequal FTAs Further Imperialist Interests
In the context of the failure of the Doha Round of WTO the UPA Government has resorted to a myriad of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) within the paradigm of trade liberalisation and removal of quantitative restrictions. The UPA Government has gone ahead with secret negotiations with the European Union and is all set to conclude the India-EU Free Trade Agreement. There are 56 other FTAs with various countries and regional groups in the pipeline including with USA, Japan and Israel. The Government has gone ahead with the negotiations unmindful of the widespread objections and protests across the country against the recently concluded India-ASEAN FTA. The Government is going ahead with Free Trade Agreements bound to have far-reaching consequences for agriculture and other sectors without following federal principles and the time-tested norms of Parliamentary democracy.
The India-EU FTA envisages a lowering of Indian tariffs to zero or near zero levels for 90 per cent of the agricultural products, while the huge agricultural subsidies enjoyed by the farmers in EU countries remains unaltered. EU farmers receive dual subsidies one from the individual States and the other through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a centralized EU programme that in 2006 formed 48 percent of the total EU Budget at a whopping Euro 49.8 Billion. Indian farmers who are not having any such support cannot compete with the EU farmers and our markets will be swamped by cheap agricultural products dumped from EU.
The USIBC document also specifically suggests the lowering of tariff and non-tariff barriers which are ’’affecting trade in fresh fruits and vegetables, poultry, pistachios, dairy products, and horticultural products. We also seek reduced customs duties on items such as processing equipment, restaurant equipment, and related goods’’. The US MNCs and the US Grain Council has been insisting on lifting trade barriers. The India-EU FTA as well as a similar FTA planned with the USA is further expected to lead to the flooding of Indian markets with cheap dairy products. It is estimated that over 90 million farmers dependent on this sector for complementing their meager incomes from farming will be badly hit by such a move. In the context of huge subsidies to agriculture in EU and USA such moves will lead to their products swamping the Indian markets. This will mean a surge in profits for the predatory agribusinesses and increased trade surplus for the agriculture sector in EU and USA and peril for the Indian peasantry. The imperialist countries want to revitalise their wilting economies on the strength of the Indian market at the expense of Indian farmers and consumers. Our ruling classes are following their diktats loyally.
Free Hand For FDI in Agriculture and Retail Trade
In the name of reducing post harvest losses and improvement of India’s ‘farm-to-market global supply chain’ USIBC called for business sector intervention in food processing and storage other than retailing per se. This is another sector which the big American Companies are eyeing. What cannot be missed in this context is the fact that Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer had spent huge amount for drumming up support among Indian policy makers for the opening up of the multi-brand retail sector for FDI. Wal-Mart has been pressing for removing restrictions to foreign companies investing in multi-brand retailing.
The organised retail accounts for merely 6 percent of the $450 billion retail sector in India and presently the access to foreign firms in the sector is restricted. Most top retailers of the world see a lucrative market in India and have been seeking that it ease restrictions on foreign ownership to begin retail operation so that they can sell their agricultural and dairy products among others. The USIBC document mentioned above also called for opening up of multi-brand retail sector to ’organised players’. It claims “study after study has shown, doing so would bring efficiency, infrastructure, technology, and know-how to Indian farmers, food processors, food service providers, and other suppliers,’’. The USIBC also notes the “massive market opportunity” in Indian cities for the retail sector. The Congress-led UPA Government has betrayed its assurance to go ahead with the move only after building consensus and gone ahead unilaterally on the decision to allow FDI in retail trade catering to the demands of the organised retail giants. The organised retail sector can now make direct purchases from the farmers. This will also open up the domestic farm sector to organised retail giants. Millions of Indians depend on the retail trade sector as their small shops provide the main source of livelihood for them, catering to the demands of more than 1 billion people; their livelihoods will be put into jeopardy by this move.
In the name of boosting FDI inflows the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Government of India has prior to its decision on FDI in multi-brand retail decided to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into agriculture and allied sectors including in the seed sector under the FDI Policy effective from April 1, 2011. Conditions for allowing foreign investment for production and development of seeds and planting material have been liberalised. Unjustifiable concessions have been granted to MNCs. Hundred percent FDI in development of seeds, horticulture, planting materials and services related to agro and allied sectors has been allowed. There will be no control over seed prices or royalty and seed monopolies will be further strengthened. In the plantation sector also in tea plantations 100% FDI has been allowed. This could spark a wave of takeovers of small plantations and the possibility of future land use change to indulge in real estate speculative activities is also open. The lives of millions of small peasants and plantation workers (a large number of them Tribals) will also be put into peril.
The UPA Government has taken a decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail trade. The Congress-led UPA and the Prime Minister have been carrying out an aggressive campaign that the move would benefit the country and the farmers in particular. Even as the PM was making an all out effort to drum up support for FDI in multibrand retail, Obama the President of USA, home to Wal-Mart called for support to small businesses within the community by shopping at the local stores. He was making an impassioned plea to help the small retailers in his land even as he and his officials were making a heightened campaign demanding that India allow FDI in retail. Big retail chains had undoubtedly led a scenario where small businesses were running on loss or forced to shut shop. Being fully aware of the drastic consequences of multi-billion dollar retail chains for employment and livelihoods in his country, he has set out on a campaign to outsource the problem to countries like ours.
On the contrary our PM is welcoming FDI in retail despite the danger to the lives of millions of small retailers and peasants. The Government which had assured that there would be no decision on the matter unless consensus was built across political spectrum went ahead and announced the notification on FDI in retail trade without any discussion. FDI in retail will ensure corporate control over producers’ market as well as the consumers’ market and push the small retailers out. The control over the producers’ market will also allow them flexibility to determine what crop will be produced and this will seriously compromise the food security of the nation. This move has to be resisted by building the broadest possible unity against it.
Public Private Partnership in Agriculture
The latest attack on Indian agriculture has come in the form of a seemingly lucrative proposal of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for Integrated Agriculture Development (PPP-IAD) Project under the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) “New Agriculture Initiative”. Put together by the World Economic Forum and McKinsey and Company the New Vision for Agriculture initiative is led by 26 global Partner companies that span the full food value chain and beyond, including: AgCo, Archer Daniels Midland, BASF, Bayer CropScience, Bunge, The Coca-Cola Company, Diageo, DuPont, General Mills, Heineken, Kraft Foods, Metro, Monsanto Company, Maersk, Mosaic, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Rabobank International, SABMiller, Swiss Re, Syngenta, Teck Resources, Unilever, Vodafone, Wal-Mart Stores and Yara International.
According to the PPP for Integrated Agricultural Development corporates will propose projects across the spectrum of agriculture and allied sectors, taking responsibility for delivering all the interventions through a single window. Each project will target at least 5000 farmers, spread over the project life of 3-5 years wherein the agribusinesses will have complete flexibility in design covering all aspects from production to marketing. Government will use the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana funds to support 50% of the overall per farmer investment proposed, with a ceiling of Rs. 50,000 per farmer through the project cycle. The remaining investment will be arranged by the corporate through institutional financing and its own and farmer contributions.
Packaged attractively as the ‘Million Farmer Initiative’ it seeks to lure farmers into a vortex of chemical intensive, export oriented mechanised agriculture based on exorbitant inputs and costly machinery with the promise of an investment of up to $2000 per farmer between the Company and the Government. In reality the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana funds are being used to cross-subsidise the corporate sector. The latest move is an act of deception aimed at granting vast areas of fertile land on a platter to the agribusinesses that have stakes in all stages from inputs to processing to retailing. The unbridled flexibility they have can threaten biodiversity, promote monoculture and shift away from food crops. Farmers would eventually be dispossessed of their land, tenants won’t have any rights and millions will be pushed into unemployment. It is a reversal of whatever limited land reforms have taken place and subversion of ceiling laws. Instead of promoting farmers’ cooperatives and subsidising farmers the Government is diverting RKVY funds to aid corporate profiteering.
Decontrol of Fertiliser Sector
The policy of trying to attain self-reliance in fertilisers was altogether given up and the Government has decontrolled the fertiliser sector. India shifted to the Nutrient Based Subsidy in 2010. Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) Regime in fertilisers is another deceptive terminology. The Government claims that the NBS regime will promote balanced fertilisation and consequently increase agriculture productivity in the country through higher usage of secondary and micro nutrients. It is also claimed by its proponents that new innovative fertiliser products would be developed subsequently to meet the different requirements of Indian agriculture. The Government further extends its imagination to try and create an illusion that the NBS regime will depict the actual demand of fertilisers in the country and promote “realistic pricing” of fertiliser products in the international market. “Realistic pricing” of fertiliser products in the international market in the context of falling indigenous production and almost complete dependence on the international fertiliser cartels is meaningless. In reality, the unshackling of fertiliser industry is only going to strengthen monopolies and rather than attracting fresh investments in this sector it will only further the dependence on external agribusinesses.
NBS regime meant a shift from a fixed Maximum Retail Price (MRP)-variable subsidy regime to a fixed subsidy-variable MRP regime. Hence, any increase in gas/naphtha prices and other costs will be directly passed on to farmers in the form of higher prices. Since the subsidy is fixed for the year, when the international prices rise, the farm gate prices will also rise.
According to an estimate there is a 40% shortage in urea, 60% shortage in DAP & we are dependent almost 100% on imports to meet the MoP needs. There is also talk of Direct Subsidy and Cash Transfers. The Government had on July 8th, 2011 by a notification withdrawn any restraint on increasing prices of non-urea fertilisers by the companies and stated that the market price of non-urea fertilisers “will be open”. The decontrol of fertiliser industry has led to exorbitant increase in prices for the farmers. Subsidies are being cut in huge amounts At the same time there are no serious efforts to promote alternative sources, bio-fertilisers, organic fertilisers and alternative nitrogen and phosphate fixing mechanism.
The Expenditure Reforms Commission estimated that phasing out of fertiliser subsidy on foodgrains production, if other things remaining unchanged, would lead to the fall in foodgrain production of about 13.5 million tonnes. A recent CAG Report- ‘Performance Audit of Fertiliser Subsidy’ found that 45 percent of the farmers pay more than the MRP and nearly 60 percent face problems in getting their season’s full requirement in time. The Report also pointed to the problem of artificial shortages created by dealers during peak seasons to hike prices much above the MRP. The CAG has also indicted the Government’s fertiliser policy for deliberately pushing costly imports and turning away the focus from indigenous production of urea which is a key farm input. The NBS regime has failed to balance fertilisation & has only increased prices for the peasantry. The Government moves are aimed at increasing the profitability of a handful of agribusinesses. It is estimated that with the decontrol of urea the incremental profit for large companies may be as high as 147 percent. The Government must reverse this trend and increase fertiliser subsidies to the peasantry. This has to be extended to organic fertilisers too. There is also the problem of spurious fertilisers. There are no efforts to control and deter the agencies responsible for such practices. In such a context there is need for thinking beyond the box and coming up with alternative strategies. The Nutrient Based Subsidy regime has failed to balance fertilisation and has only increased prices for the peasantry. It has to be scrapped forthwith. The Government has to formulate a long term and conducive policy covering all nutrients consistent with the objective of balanced fertiliser use. Price Control has to be brought back and as far as the farmers are concerned the fertiliser prices must be frozen at the pre-NBS level. Any additional costs must be borne by the Government. Any steps towards direct subsidy and cash transfers will only adversely affect the small and marginal farmers and the tenant farmers. So this move should be scrapped.
Decontrol Of Sugar Industry
The Rangarajan Committee has recommended total decontrol of sugar industry. This move will only promote the interests of the profit seeking corporate sugar mills at the expense of the farmers, consumers and the cooperative sector. The sugar lobby and big corporates also are defaulters in terms of huge arrears to the tune of Rs.10,500 crores that needs to be paid to Cane Growers. Its suggestion to scrap the State Administered Price (SAP) and shift to the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) set by the Centre as the minimum is against the principles of federalism. It says that the Levy Sugar Obligation as well as administrative control on NonLevy Sugar should be immediately ended. The Committee also suggests that the States that wanted to provide sugar under the TPDS might procure from the open market through competitive bidding, and then fix an issue price. It also has asked the Government to “rationalize” the current issue price for TPDS sugar. The Food Ministry is reported to have already proposed to double the issue price to around Rs. 23/Kg. Price of sugar for the TPDS beneficiaries will increase drastically and States will end up coughing out huge resources for buying sugar from the open market for TPDS supply. The price of sugar in the open market will also sky rocket.
The Committee has suggested the removal of the Cane Reservation Area of a minimum distance of 15 km between any two sugar mills which makes it obligatory that a mill buys cane from growers within the reservation area. It suggests that the mills must enter into contracts with farmers and the Cane Reservation Area and bonding must be phased out. This move will only promote monopolies of big corporate sugar mills and destroy the cooperative sector and Cane Growers will be at the mercy of Private players.
The Committee has reduced the Tagging Order from 80% to 70%. The Mills have also defaulted on paying this amount. Cane Growers never really have benefited from value of by-products and there is no mechanism in place to ensure that they get their share. In such a context to give a free unregulated role to the Sugar Millers will only lead to their strangle-hold over the market.
The Committee calls for outright ban or doing away with quantitative restrictions once and for all. It calls for liberalisation of sugar trade and says export and import policy should not be guided by domestic availability. It also keeps the doors open for imports from outside as well as the possibility of dumping of sugar. We have seen the adverse impact of withdrawal of quantitative restrictions and import duties as well as linking of prices to the volatile world market prices in the case of other commercial crops. While farmers bear the brunt of falling global prices, the corporate mills earn huge profits when global prices rise without transferring any benefit to farmers.
A Comprehensive Sugarcane Policy needs to be evolved through consultation with the Cane Growers and Peasant Organisations.
Cash Transfer Scheme
The government has announced the direct cash transfer scheme for 23 government schemes and programmes from January 1, 2013. Most of these schemes are scholarships and pension related. However, the Rural Employment Guarantee scheme is also included. The government has also declared that this policy will be extended to food, kerosene and fertilizer.
In a period of high inflation, cash transfers to replace subsidised goods is meant to actually cut subsidies since the cash to be transferred will not cover the increased costs of the same amount of subsidised foodgrains and fertilisers. Having cash transfers in place of foodgrains would end up dismantling the public distribution system and procurement from farmers. It will lead to increasing malnutrition and hunger in the country. The implementation of the cash transfer scheme in States like Rajasthan as a pilot project has exposed the problems of such a scheme. In the case of agricultural subsidies the tenant farmers will be deprived of any benefits if at all of such schemes.
Move Towards Water Privatisation
The National Water Policy proposals will lead to privatisation of water delivery services and abolish subsidies to agricultural as well as the domestic sector. It will allow the profit-seeking corporate sector to rake in huge profits while millions of Indians will be forced to pay hefty amount for getting water for cultivation as well as daily domestic use. The peasants who were getting water from rivers and canals will now have to be dependent on the corporates who are only interested in profiteering. Agricultural productivity will be hit badly as irrigation costs will increase exponentially. The claim that it is a move towards sustainable water management to address climate change concerns is baseless, given the fact that the Government has not done enough to replenish groundwater aquifers through water harvesting and other methods and there are no controls over corporate exploitation of ground water resources. On the one hand it calls for the abolition of all forms of water subsidies to the agricultural and domestic sectors and on the other argues for “subsidies and incentives” for the private industry in the name of recycling and reusing treated effluents. It also calls for curtailing subsidy for electricity used for agricultural purposes on the pretext of cutting down wasteful use of both electricity and water. Instead of curtailing misuse of scarce water resources, it will only leave the entire sector open for corporate plunder and monopoly.
Madhav Gadgil and Kasturi Rangan Committee Report
The report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel led by Prof. Madhav Gadgil has become a subject for serious discussion in Kerala. The Expert Committee was appointed by the Central Government to study and suggest proposals for the protection of Bio-diversity and environment in the Western Ghats which is spread over 6 States namely Kerala, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The entire Western Ghats has been categorised in to 3 zones; ie 3 types of Ecologically Sensitive Zones.
Many Taluks in these States are included in the list of highly sensitive zone (Zone 1). Some other Taluks are included in other zones. If the proposals put forth by the Gadgil Committee is Implemented, It would be detrimental to the farming community. Another Expert Committee led by Dr. Kasthuri Rangan has also submitted their study report to the Central Government. The proposals of the said committee are also not acceptable to the farmers. Both these Committee Reports were a bureaucratic exercise which did not involve the affected people and is one-sided and undemocratic.
Lakhs of people in these States residing in the proposed Western Ghats Sensitive Zones are very much anxious about proposal made by the said committees. We should plan a joint programme of action of the State Kisan Sabhas of the six affected States against the two Reports.
Deliberate Attacks on Jute and Silk Farmers
The Ministry of Textiles has diluted the obligation for 100 percent packaging of foodgrains and sugar in jute bags. The order issued on 31st October, 2012 arbitrarily diluted the obligation by stating that 90 percent of foodgrains and 40 percent of sugar shall “mandatorily” packed in jute bags this year. In effect this allows for using non-jute bags for packaging foodgrains and sugar which was earlier barred.
By this order the Congress-led UPA Government is dishonouring a longstanding and time-honoured decision of 100 percent packing of foodgrains and sugar in jute or allied natural fibres on the grounds of hygiene. This decision will increase the distress of the crisis-stricken jute farmers, jute workers and people-friendly scientific community while the synthetic bag industry in the hands of big corporate will alone be benefited. Even now there is a lot of violation of the obligatory 100 percent requirement to use jute bags. This order has evidently been issued at the behest of the synthetic bag industry and will only facilitate spurious business and trade in bags made of non-natural fibres.
The prices fixed for Jute are also not remunerative and there is no efficient procurement either. The distressed farmers in Assam who were demanding better prices and procurement were fired at killing some of them.
The Government also arbitrarily decided to allow 2500 metric tonnes of raw silk duty free and later reduced the duty for the remaining over 10,000 metric tonnes that are being imported from over 33 percent to below 5 percent to aid the profiteering by the textile lobby at the expense of the silk growers, reelers and weavers. The dumping of cheap raw silk has affected silk growers in India adversely and their incomes have fallen drastically. It created a situation where there was drastic fall in prices of silk cocoon and also led to farmers’ suicides in Karnataka.
Women in Agriculture
With the agrarian crisis and the migration of men to non-agricultural work for a livelihood, women continue to form the face of Indian agriculture. Despite the declining employment in agriculture, two thirds of the women still depend on cultivation and agricultural labour for their livellihoods. The number of female headed households in agriculture has gone up by almost 20 percent especially after the suicide of male farmers and agricultural labourers in regions like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Punjab. Much of this women’s work in agriculture is unaccounted for as it is considered unpaid family labour. In addition to on-farm work women also play a major role in the allied sectors like livestock management, collection of fuelwood, fodder and forest produce which form the basic resources for the survival of a peasant and rural worker household. But despite this pivotal role in the agrarian economy women workers in the agrarian sector continue to suffer from discrimination by both the agricultural communities and the state. The main issues affecting their status in the rural economy are the lack of access to productive resources and assets especially to land ownership; the lack of access to agriculture, the non-existent support to female headed agricultural households, the lack of fair wages, prices and access to markets, and the lack of recognition of women’s rights, work and knowledge in the agricultural sector. Some of these issues have been addressed in the Draft National Policy for Women Farmers which was formulated by an expert committee of the National Commission for Women in 2008 and whose recommendations were submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture in 2009. But the recommendations of this policy are yet to be accepted by the Ministry. The Kisan Sabha needs to evaluate the policy and press for its speedy implementation
Oppressed Sections of the Peasantry
The twelfth five year plan document calls for inclusive development where benefits would flow to all marginalised social groups. As far as the Dalits and Adivasi peasantry are concerned the document holds that despite three decades of its implementation, the Sub-Plans have not achieved the desired results. It therefore seeks to implement the guidelines of the 2010 task force which identified 25 ministries for the implementation of the SC Sub-Plan and 28 ministries for the implementation the ST Sub-Plan. It thus accepts the limited basis on which the Sub-Plans are to be implemented and accepts the mandate of targeted development of these social groups. This has resulted in continuous reduction in allocations for the most oppressed sections of the peasantry and in increasing inequities and poverty amongst these social groups. Between 2004-05 and 2009-10, both the groups saw a decline in both agriculture based self-employment as well as agricultural labour in the rural areas. It is also significant that this decline was much higher for the SCs (3.6 per cent in agricultural labour and 1.6 per cent in self-employment) than the STs (1.7 per cent in self-employment and 1.6 per cent in agricultural labour).In the same period, there has been a significant increase in dependence on other forms of labour in the rural areas, i.e., about 2 per cent for the STs and 6.3 per cent for the SCs.
The marginalisation of rural employment also had an impact on the status of land holdings of the Dalit and Adivasi peasantry. In the period between 2004-05 and 2009-10, the SCs and STs experienced a significant decline in terms of access to land. The percentage of the STs who possessed no land increased by 6.5 per cent where as in case of the SCs it increased by 5.9 per cent. About 74.1 per cent of the SCs and 46.6 per cent of the STs occupied lands that were less than one acre of land. This number has increased from 2004-05 by 1.5 to 2 per cent for both the SCs and STs, signifying an increased marginalisation of holdings. The situation is similar in case of “owned and cultivated” lands where about 37.2 per cent of the STs and 58.9 per cent of the SCs had no access to such land in 2009-10. This is an increase of 3.6 per cent for the STs and 2.5 per cent for the SCs over 2004-05. Hence the Kisan Sabha should renew its efforts to press for land reforms and intensify its land struggles in favour of these groups.
Forest Rights and Corporate Loot of Resources
Despite the passing of the Forest Rights Act the Adivasis and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers are yet to receive land and forest rights. Large scale loot of resources by corporates is also taking place in Tribal areas. As of 31 May 2013, 32.48 lakh claims had been filed and 28.22 lakh claims had been processed. Of this a majority, i.e., 15.20 lakh claims were rejected. The highest rejection rates have been in states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. It is also significant that the Left ruled State of Tripura is the best implementer of the Act where as States like Kerala with strong democratic mass movements have much lower rejection rates. This shows that the implementation of the Forest Rights Act has been more effective in regions where the Left and AIKS is active. These democratic mass organisations have been instrumental in forcing the implementation of the Forest Rights Act. In contrast, the neo-liberal State is committed to a half hearted implementation of the Act and has intensified its efforts to facilitate the corporate loot of resources. Since 2004 more than 70,000 hectares of forest land has been diverted for corporate profits. This has been done through the manipulation and liberalisation of environmental laws and their selective implementation to suit big corporate houses. Illegal mining scams expose the nexus between government and corporate houses. Such crony capitalism has led to widespread displacement and penury amongst the peasantry who have been fighting unjust processes of land acquisition in almost all states.
Rural Employment and New Attacks on MNREGS
The last two decades have seen great agrarian distress. It has also seen a collapse of rural employment, both between 1993-94 and 1999-2000 and between 2004-05 and 2009-10. The apparently rapid growth of rural employment between 1999-2000 and 2004-05 was also largely a distress phenomenon, with practically the entire growth taking place in informal employment, and with much of it in very low productivity self-employment. Annual earnings of workers – both self-employed and wage-employed – as well as wage rates either stayed stagnant or declined in real terms in this period. The modest rise in real wage rates (as distinct from annual earnings, which would depend also on the days of employment) between 2004-05 and 2009-10 would since have been eroded by the high rates of inflation that have prevailed in the economy over the period 2009-2013, especially in respect of food articles.
The two ministries responsible for generating rural employment are the Ministry of Rural Development and the Ministry of Agriculture. Both these ministries have been suffering budgetary cuts in the last five years. This is evident from the fact that spending on Agriculture continues to remain at 4.8 percent of the entire planned expenditure and 1.6 per cent of the total expenditure. For the Ministry of Rural Development the scenario is even more abysmal where the proportion of allocation has declined from 14.6 to 14.4 percent in case of total planned expenditure and 5.1 to 4.8 percent as a proportion of the total budget expenditure. This is further evident from the fact that the allocation for MGNRES remains the same at RS. 33000 Cr and the allocation for the National Rural Livelihood Mission has increased by a mere 96 Cr or by 2.6 percent over the last year. This in itself shows that the government is not serious about solving the problem of employment creation and is more keen to open up the rural economy to the private sector. At the same time the employment under MNREGS is as low as 43 person days per person on an average. The vulnerable sections of the society like Dalits and Adivasis continue to suffer under the scheme. The NSSO report of 2009-10 confirms this abysmal picture. It estimates that the STs were getting an average of 42 person days and SCs an average of 35 person days of work under the scheme. This tardy and flawed implementation has ensured that the ruling classes and the bureaucracy have been making efforts to dilute the MNREGS. AIKS won a legal battle on the question of linking MNREGS wage to minimum wage but the Centre has challenged it in Supreme Court. Innovative ways in which MNREGS can be strengthened is also to be looked into.
Pauperisation and Migration
Rural countryside has witnessed large scale migration. Migration often induced by falling real incomes, pauperisation and indebtedness leads to ever growing unemployed population. According to the Census of 2011 the rate of urbanisation has increased in the last decades. Many of these urban poor are seasonal migrants with strong rural roots. This trend has particularly increased with falling productivity in agriculture and the sharp decline in agricultural employment between 2004-2011. Hence there has been a significant change in the character of the rural and urban working class and the line differentiating a peasant from an agricultural worker, scheme workers and workers in the urban unorganised sector is very thin. This also provides scope for new forms of united struggles between rural and urban workers.
Soil Degradation and Nutrient Imbalances
It is estimated that even by keeping conservative population estimate of 1.4 billion and minimum foodgrain need of 301 million tonnes by the year
- Much of this has to come from growing more own depleting acreage
under food crops. It will be necessary to use 30-35 million tonnes of NPK from fertiliser carriers and an additional 10 million tonnes from organic and bio-fertiliser sources according to experts. According to a study by Bhopal-based Indian Institute of Soil Sciences collated results from soil testing laboratories across the country, they found that nutrient-deficiencies were rife across India’s farmlands. Large parts of the country are deficient in three or more critical nutrients. Areas like the Indo-Gangetic plains – Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – which produce nearly 50 per cent of the nation’s grains and feed about 40 per cent of the population – were seeing multiple deficiencies. This is over and above other worrying changes in agricultural soils, such as falling levels of soil organic carbon, rising salinisation, erosion of farmlands and falling numbers of soil fauna like earthworms and insects. All of which again suggests that our agricultural soils are changing in fundamental ways.
A recent report by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research and the National Academy for Agricultural Sciences says that of the 141 million hectares under cultivation in India, about 100 million hectares is heading in a direction where it will be incapable of supporting agriculture. Not only is their chemical composition changing, soils are also contending with massive depletion in organic carbon. They are seeing erosion and salinity. This severe condition points to the need for a more judicious use of fertilisers with a comprehensive National Soil Amelioration and Replenishment Programme with an exploration of agro-ecological approaches rooted in scientific principles. There is an urgent need to lay emphasis on improving fertiliser-use-efficiency as well as on its affordability, sustainability and ecologically suitable practices. Subsidy to support promotion of bulky organic manures with the public investment progressively increasing must be ensured. Creation of grassroots institutions for holistic soil health restoration with a farmer-scientist interface, regeneration of the commons and monitoring soil health in a holistic way is required.
Climatic Conditions and Natural Calamities
Vast parts of the country faced droughts or floods. States are facing serious cyclone and crop damage. The loss of lives and destruction in different parts of South India due to the Nilam Cyclone was unprecedented. It is estimated that more than hundred people have lost their lives in the cyclone and nearly a lakh people have been forced to shift to relief camps as their homes have been destroyed. A large number of livestock also have been killed. The peasantry has been the worst-hit as their ready-to-harvest standing crops on more than 15 lakh acres of land have been totally destroyed in large parts of Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Kerala and Odisha. Repeated failures of monsoons and drought situation in many parts affect timely sowing of rain-fed crops and cause severe moisture stress leading to drastic reduction in production. The recent flash floods in Uttarakhand due to cloud burst have once again exposed the unpreparedness of the different Governments to handle natural calamities. North Indian States also had witnessed crop losses due to frost and cold wave. At the same time one region may be having floods and excess rainfall while another region may be having severe drought-like situation. There has been no comprehensive plan to address these problems.
Both the Central Government and the State Governments often have failed miserably on two counts when it comes to natural calamities. Firstly, the Central as well as the State Government is in a state of total unpreparedness and there are no contingency plans in place to meet the situation of crisis arising from climatic conditions. Secondly, the Governments are culpable of an abject failure in handling the situation in the wake of the event and the unfolding human tragedy. The drought-hit regions witness massive migration and starvation, malnutrition as well as undernourishment. The cattle suffer from lack of fodder and fodder prices are skyrocketing. Electricity for irrigation purposes is also severely affected and increasing diesel and petrol prices hamper irrigation activities. Expansion of employment opportunities under MNREGS, opening up of gruel centres and provision of free rations, free drinking water supply, supply of uninterrupted power at cheap rates, subsidised inputs and stringent deterrent action against hoarders and black-marketeers as well as retailers of fertiliser and seeds must be ensured. These are not taken care by the different Governments and also there are no adequate compensation disbursed for crop losses.
The production of 2012-13 kharif crops is likely to be adversely affected by deficiency in the south-west monsoon and the resultant acreage losses. According to the Economic Survey the overall area coverage at 665.0 lakh ha under foodgrains during kharif 2012-13 shows a decline of 55.8 lakh ha compared to 720.86 lakh ha during kharif 2011-12 (fourth AE). Output is expected to decline in all major crops. This is bound to have adverse consequences for the livelihood of millions of peasants.
The impact of global warming on agriculture has also not been studied systematically by the Government or research institutions.
Human-Animal Conflict and Crop Losses
Increasingly there are reports of human-animal conflict from across the country and it has been resulting in severe crop losses and loss of income to farmers. The magnitude of losses is huge and in some States it is also leading to farmers leaving their lands uncultivated and also suicides by the affected farmers. Wild animal menace and problem of stray animals is however not being addressed by any Government. At the same time efforts to find scientific solutions for mitigating the problem are opposed by misguided environmentalists. According to an estimate from Himachal Pradesh every year directly or indirectly this leads to losses of over Rs.2300 crores. Often in the name of wildlife conservation Tribal and other traditional forest dwellers are being evicte in the name of Tiger reserves, elephant corridors and ecologically sensitive regions without any concern or effort for their rehabilitation.
In conclusion, the overall impact of the neoliberal policies has been to render agriculture unviable for millions of farmers, increased landlessness and indebtedness as well as dispossession. Agricultural production and productivity have been stagnating and incomes are falling. The miseries and difficulties of farmers are increasing and there is a crisis of subsistence. Anger against these policies is also growing which is reflected in many spontaneous protests and struggles. We need to channelize this anger and build consistent organised struggles to emerge as the true representatives of the peasantry.
Part II: Work Report: Evaluating our Experience of Struggles
Decisions of the 32nd All India Conference
The 32nd Conference held at Guntur in 2010 noted that we have to work out plans for independent and joint actions on issues affecting the peasantry. It also noted that the AIKS Centre must plan for a Workshop for the Hindi speaking States to concretely study the situation and work out an action plan. Specifically it was stated that this had been earlier decided upon but follow-up action could not be taken. The Guntur Conference had set out some important tasks.
- Fight against imperialist globalisation and Central Government’s
surrender to the imperialist dictates at the cost of the peasantry and other toiling masses should be taken up independently and jointly with other mass organisations.
- Strengthening of State Centres by ensuring a minimum of 3 full time
cadres to work on a regular basis from the State Centre.
- Land remains a central question in all States and mobilisation
against reversal of Land Reforms as well as for distribution of surplus land must be taken up on a priority basis.
- Raising social issues along with the economic demands and also
address the specific problems of women.
- Regularise political-ideological education camps on a yearly basis in
all States. A consistent ideological offensive against imperialist globalisation, communalism and casteism has to be built on the basis of such camps.
- Publication of the Kisan Sabha Bulletin in vernacular languages.
Efforts should be made to make it a monthly publication.
After the last Conference the attacks against the peasantry have intensified and the agrarian crisis also has worsened. Nevertheless, there have been certain significant struggles and victories in different States even amidst extreme repression and attacks. There have been efforts to fulfill the tasks set out by the 32nd Conference by the States as well as the All India Centre.
All India Initiatives and Protest Actions:
- March to ParliamentA March to Parliament was held against the anti-peasant policies of the Congress-led UPA Government. Thousands of peasants from across the country marched to the Parliament on 11th March, 2011 to highlight the agrarian crisis and the pressing problems faced by the peasantry. The central slogan of the March – “Protect Our Land, Seeds and Peasant Agriculture” –attracted a large number of poor peasants from the States of Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka. About 8000 peasants from different parts of India participated in this March. We had also exempted the major States from mobilisation due to Assembly elections. Participation from Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh was encouraging. Karnataka also managed to mobilise new sections representing the silk farmers. Low mobilisation from Bihar from where a huge contingent was expected was due to involvement with the Panchayat election process. The issues identified were appropriate and campaign was also launched where All India Office Bearers attended in all the States but the turnout was below expectations.
- National Round Table on Free Trade AgreementsA National Round Table on FTAs with European Union and Israel was held on July 29, 2010 along with other Left Kisan organisations. The Round Table underlined the adverse implications of the FTAs to agriculture, particularly dairying, fisheries, issue of public procurement etc. The Round Table decided to intensify the struggle against the arbitrary and unilateral signing of FTAs disregarding the Parliament and the States. This has been a significant step in building the united approach of the peasantry to anti-farmer policies being pursued by the Congress-led UPA Government. Few broad-based protests against the unequal FTAs along with like-minded organisations and civil society groups took place.
- Protest Action on Attacks on Democratic Rights in West BengalThe 32nd All India Conference of AIKS had given the important call for launching protest actions against the attack on democratic forces in West Bengal by Maoists-Trinamool nexus. In all the States there were protests and demonstrations as well as solidarity meetings both independently as well as jointly with other mass organisations and democratic movement.
- Protest Actions Against Price RiseThe Kisan Sabha units in all States implemented the call of the 32nd All India Conference to launch protests against and have a campaign on the issue of price rise. Protests were held either independently or jointly with the Left and Democratic mass organisations in most States.
- Organisational Workshop For Hindi Speaking StatesAn organisational Workshop for the Hindi speaking States was held in New Delhi on 10th and 11th July, 2010. The Workshop is the first of its kind to have been held in recent years specifically to address the organisational matters and to identify the issues confronting the peasantry in this region in particular. The Workshop is a significant step in understanding better the problems of the region and charting out the direction for broadening the peasant movement in this region. The main thrust of the discussion by the delegates also highlighted the major issues and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and the threats before the organisation in the region. Altogether 83 delegates attended the Workshop.
Similar Workshops at the State level have been held in most of the States in the Hindi Speaking region to give proper direction to the movements in the States. Representatives from the All India Centre attended these Workshops. The frank sharing of issues and the strengths and weaknesses as well as the challenges faced, identification of certain common issues that affect all these States has created a positive atmosphere.
- Seventy Fifth Anniversary Celebrations:Most of the States widely observed the 75th anniversary of the All India Kisan Sabha. 75th Anniversary Celebrations were held in Tripura by conducting Workshop on History of Kisan Movement, Panchayat and Block level rallies, exhibitions, cultural functions, rural sports and blood donation camps. The Central rally on 24 April 2011 held at Agartala was addressed by the AIKS President where thousands of peasants and Tribal people attended. In Kerala every District had various programmes and there was a Central rally where thousands of peasants attended which was addressed by the All India leaders as well as State leaders. Tamilnadu also had a series of programmes to commemorate the 75th Anniversary. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh Andhra Pradesh and few other States have also had some meetings and Seminars to commemorate the occasion. Central leaders attended these programmes. In West Bengal also there were different programmes held in most Districts to commemorate the 75th anniversary.
- Fact Finding Visit To Bhatta ParsaulA delegation of AIKS and AIAWU visited the Bhatta Parsaul villages in Greater NOIDA under the leadership of the AIKS President to study the repression of the Uttar Pradesh Police against the peasants who were protesting against unjust land acquisition in the region. The team met hundreds of victims of police atrocities and made an assessment of the situation as well as consoled the families of the victims.
- Delegation from Trade Union International-AgricultureCom.Freddy Huck, President of TUI-Agriculture and Com.Christian Alliaume visited the AIKS Centre and had a detailed interaction with the AIKS Centre and representatives of AIAWU and CITU. They invited a delegation for an International Conference of TUI to be held in France in June 2011. It was also suggested that discussions on the impact of globalisation in India and Europe also be held. The TUI leadership explained about their activities in Latin America, Africa and Europe and requested that the AIKS take an active role in organising the TUI in the Asia-Pacific region. They also showed a keen interest in knowing about our activities and the kind of challenges faced here. The newly elected General Secretary of TUI-Agriculture Com.Julian Huck also visited the AIKS Centre and had discussions.
- Third Conference of TUI-AgricultureAIKS President SRP and Suneet Chopra represented AIKS and AIAWU at the 3rd Conference of the Trade Union International-Agriculture and Allied Sectors which was held at Paris from 20th-26th June, 2011. Delegates from more than 88 countries participated in the Conference. A total of 300 delegates representing 150 organisations of the peasantry, agricultural workers, indigenous peoples and fishing communities attended the Conference. SRP was elected to the Executive Committee comprising of 27 members and also has been elected as the Vice-President of TUI-Agriculture.
- Global Conferences on Sustainable Phosphorus ManagementVijoo Krishnan, Joint Secretary of AIKS has attended the Global Transdisciplinary Process For Sustainable Phosphorus Management (2010-2015) World Conferences at El Jadida in Morocco and Beijing in China representing the All India Kisan Sabha and presenting the views of the Indian peasantry on issue of fertiliser subsidies, affordability, accessibility and sustainability.
Significant Struggles in States
In West Bengal our strongest unit the Paschim Banga Krishak Sabha is in the forefront of organising a serious resistance movement against the Maoist-Trinamool attacks and to protect the hard won rights of the peasantry and the share-croppers. After the State Assembly Elections in 2011 the TMC goons and State Government have intensified attacks on the peasant movement as well as the Left Parties and other mass organisations. Offices of Krishak Sabha and other mass organisations as well as Left Parties are either captured or destroyed by reactionary forces led by the TMC and aided by the right wing as well as ultra-left Maoists. Houses of Left activists have been destroyed and set on fire, many cadres have been tortured and forced to commit suicide, thousands have been injured in physical assaults, women of Left families and supporters have been raped, tens of thousands have been driven out from their houses, lands belonging to poor, marginal and middle peasants snatched, false and fabricated cases foisted against hundreds of activists and hundreds of crores of rupees have been extorted from common people in the villages. Many comrades have been martyred in this struggle.
Abdul Rezzack Mollah senior leader of Kisan Sabha and CKC member was brutally attacked by TMC goons and suffered serious injuries. The entire State rose up in protest against this murderous attack with the Krishak Sabha playing a leading role in organising protests. The leaders and activists of Kisan Sabha have been braving the situation and continuing their activities during the last two years. This heroic resistance is an inspiration to the entire organisation as it is in the face of an unprecedented terror regime and violent attacks unleashed by the TMC goons and the State Government. In such circumstances the Krishak Sabha has been able launch numerous struggles and also increase its membership over the last year significantly indicating the continued support for it among the peasantry and rural poor.
The problems of the jute farmers and issue of unremunerative pricing as well as the decision to dilute the obligation for 100 percent packaging of foodgrains and sugar in jute bags and allowing the use of non-jute bags for packaging foodgrains and sugar was taken up effectively. In spite of the regime of terror, intimidation and anarchy, four Left-led peasant organisations organised a Joint Convention in Kolkata and Siliguri on the 13th and 14th September, 2011 calling for intensive campaign and movements on 12 issues in the following months, covering demands of agricultural labourers, poor marginal and middle peasants and the landless and demanding stoppage of the regime of terror and attacks on Left-led parties and mass organisations. Thousands participated in these protest actions generating confidence in the people and the distressed peasantry.
In Kerala a historic land struggle was conducted from 1st January 2013. Identifying 14 land sites, one each in every District which was either surplus land or Government land illegally occupied by lessees an agitation was launched for their allotment to landless which lasted for ten days. During these ten days more than one lakh 12 thousand participated. In the next stage from 11th January, 2013 huts were constructed by landless people. Landless and homeless lists were prepared at the village level. Thousands entered the land sites. Agitation continued for six days and 5653 huts were constructed. The Government was forced to accept most of the demands and the land struggle was successfully culminated. All the landless and homeless were allowed to submit applications before the Government for allotment of land. Hundreds of social activists, cultural leaders, activists as well as political leaders visited the centres and greeted the participants. The historic land struggle gave fillip to the toiling millions of Kerala State.
On the issue of the Madhav Gadgil and the Kasturirangan Commission Reports which affects about 6 States the Kerala Karshaka Sangham took a lead and came up with their critique. The All India Centre will involve the other affected States and come up with a comprehensive action plan on the two Reports to ensure that the livelihoods of the peasantry and the Tribal people are not adversely affected while at the same time the protection of fragile ecosystems is also given emphasis.
In Tamilnadu there were historic struggles demanding land for landless and house-sites for the homeless. On 26th September, 75000 members belonging to Kisan Sabha and Agricultural Workers Union demonstrated in 192 centres in front of Rural Development offices demanding housing and land patta. In some cases pattas were issued and in some other agreements were signed to issue pattas. This issue has to be brought back into the agenda and consistent struggles must be launched till our demands are fully met. The experience of crop based as well as section-based organisations in Tamilnadu is a model worth emulating in other parts of the country. On social issues the historic Vachathi judgement is a commendable achievement of the Tamilnadu Vyavasayigal Sangham and the Tamilnadu Hill Tribal Association affiliated to it. After nineteen long years of struggle and legal battle the guilty forest, revenue and police officials who had burnt down the houses of tribal people and raped 18 Tribal women were found guilty and punished. It was a historic judgement in the history of Indian judiciary because the Court punished 215 of the surviving accused out of 269 to rigorous imprisonment for a period ranging from 1 to 10 years. The victims were also given an interim compensation of Rs.1 crore. This struggle enhanced the organisation’s image in the State and across the country.
The issue of tenants and the issue of tenurial security was taken up in a consistent manner in Andhra Pradesh with great success. A historic joint struggle by Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham (AIKS) and the A.P. Vyavasaya Karmika Sangham (AIAWU) in Andhra Pradesh has ensured that an Ordinance is passed to register the tenant farmers. This will benefit over 40 lakh tenant farmers and the organisation could spread amidst tenant farmers. Approximately 5.75 lakhs of tenant cultivators have been issued licenses and identity cards. This is a great achievement and this experience shows that in other States too this issue has to be addressed and struggles launched for regularisation of tenants.
In Rajasthan the consistent struggles of the Kisan Sabha on the issue of crop insurance in Churu District came up with great success. The struggle was spread across 3 months. The mode of protest included a month long dharna, militant demonstrations, gheraos, rasta-roko and bandh. The different political parties were also forced to express solidarity with the struggle and the Government had to bow down to the demands of the peasantry. Approximately 50 thousand Kisans participated in these struggles. A big State level rally in Jaipur demanding compensation for damaged crops due to frost and cold wave and bonus for wheat crops was held. In this historic struggle the Kisan Sabha could successfully ensure that a sum of around Rs.218 crores was disbursed to the farmers for the crop losses suffered.
Maharashtra was another State where continued organised struggles led to expansion of the movement. A historic Jail bharo stir raised the issue of scandals implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) and outright rejection of thousand of FRA applications of Adivasi peasants. Out of 335701 individual FRA claims only 115914 claims were cleared. As for Adivasi and traditional forest dwellers, a 75 year proof of residence was demanded which was impossible to comply. Largest mass struggle took place in Nashik District, where 60 thousand peasants including large number of Adivasis courted arrest. Thousand of peasants blocked highways at Chandwad for 50 hours. In Thane District, 25000 courted arrest. Similar demonstrations and courting of arrests took place in Ahmednagar and Nandurbar Districts. These struggles forced State Home Minister to hold talks with AIKS delegation and concede many of the demands of the peasantry. It was followed by 50 thousand strong District rally at Kalyan. Mobilisation of over a lakh peasants in the two-week long struggle from Republic Day 2011 in Statewide Jail Bharo and Rasta Roko stir on burning agrarian issues was unprecedented. Earlier there was a 7000 strong State level rally at Nagpur on 15th December 2010. The issues were peasant suicides, remunerative price for crops, compensation for loss of crops, cheap credit, against lowering of import duties, load shedding and excessive power bills, proper BPL lists, PDS, vesting of temple and pasture lands in the names of cultivating peasants, opposition to Jaitapur Nuclear Plant and SEZ bill, crop insurance and completion of longstanding irrigation projects with provision for proper rehabilitation.
In Bihar new land struggles have been organised in the Districts of Darbhanga, Madhepura, Saran, Saharsa, Gaya etc. Thousands of Kisans led by State Kisan Sabha President Lalan Chowdhury were arrested when they entered into barren land in the vicinity of Ashok Paper Mill with the demand of distribution of such lands among the poor and the landless. Kisan Sabha led Kisans captured Government land and erected huts in the Districts of Madhepura, Saran and Saharsa. NHAI District officials were forced to pay higher compensation to the land losers in the Highway Project in the District of Muzaffarpur due to Kisan Sabha intervention. On the issue of Sharecroppers the Kisan Sabha was in the forefront of the movement demanding implementation of the Bataidari Act. The ability of the organisation to prevent illegal evictions and hold on to occupied land even amidst intense attacks and martyrdom of comrades is significant.
In Jharkhand too there was occupying of land in many Districts under the Kisan Sabha banner and land so occupied could be retained in possession. Big struggles against Hindalco, Jindal and other Companies usurping Tribal land also have increased our reach.
In Karnataka the Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha and Agricultural Workers Union jointly organised a Convention at Bangalore on 7th July 2012 against the retrogressive amendments to Land Reforms Act brought by the BJP Government. The Convention was inaugurated by Surya Kanta Mishra, AIKS Vice President and attended by 500 Kisan Sabha delegates from all over the State. A call was given to hold protests at Taluk centres on 14th July 2012. Protests were organised in 50 Taluk centres where copies of the proposed Amendment Bill were publicly burnt. Initiative taken by the Kisan Sabha led to protests and opposition by other political parties which forced the BJP Government to withdraw the Bill. The KPRS also organised thousands of peasantry against the Global Investors Meet in Agriculture and against land acquisition. The achievement of enhanced compensation and share of 40 percent of developed land with the peasantry after our struggle is significant. The initiative of the KPRS on the issue of Duty Free Import of Raw Silk wherein a National level struggle was attempted is also commendable. In Uttarakhand at Shakti Farm Block the people settled from East Bengal are continuing to hold on to land under Kisan Sabha banner and stall eviction despite intimidation and police action.
In Haryana and Uttar Pradesh the Kisan Sabha was in the forefront of building broad unity against unjust land acquisition. There were struggles consistently against the proposed nuclear plant in Fatehabad, Haryana, Railway Freight Corridor and the Yamuna as well as Ganga expressways in U.P. Both the Haryana and the U.P Governments were forced to come up with enhanced compensation and provisions like annuity based on these struggles. Although we cannot claim credit solely for the achievements as there were other organisations and spontaneous struggles too, the Kisan Sabha gained wide recognition for the intervention.
In Odisha mobilisation was conducted on the issue of homestead land for the homeless and the State Government has issued a circular to distribute some land for housing purposes. The Odisha Krushak Sabha filled in applications and submitted them in procession to District Collectors. The Government also was forced to issue pattas. Succesful united struggle of the peasantry and Tribal people consistently against the unjust land acquisition for Kuldiha Wild Life Sanctuary in Balasore District and the BGR thermal power plant at Khandapada in Nayagarh District saved thousands of families from land loss and unjust acquisition.
In Himachal Pradesh and Kerala the issue of wild animal menace and problem of stray animals was taken up effectively forcing the State Governments to allow killing of certain wild animals that are causing huge damages. In Himachal broad united front was formed on this issue and intense campaign launched. However, the significant gains were stalled due to a Court stay after intervention of some environmental NGOs.
Even in Jammu and Kashmir, braving threats from the separatists as well as the repression of the Kisan Tehreek mobilised the peasantry against, price rise FDI in retail etc
These achievements and interventions point to the fact that consistent organised struggles by identifying the burning issues of the peasantry will lead to expansion and wider reach of the movement. The efforts should continue.
Initiatives on Crop Specific and Sectional Issues
As per the decisions of the 32nd All India Conference held at Guntur, the AIKS has taken initiative to take up crop specific issues and also sectional issues. An All India Struggle Committee Against duty Free Import of Silk was formed after a Convention in Bangalore. Under its aegis struggles have been launched in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and some efforts have taken place in Tamilnadu too. Gheraos of the Union Ministers in Karnataka and a day’s Bandh in silk growing districts was also held successfully. A protest at Central Silk Board, Bangalore by thousands of Silk farmers, reelers, weavers and others from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu was also held. Conventions have been held in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh on this issue and further struggles are planned. New areas could be reached and lots of silk farmers have been brought into our fold. There has to be efforts to consolidate and build organisation amidst them.
An All India Salt Farmers’ Convention was held at Ongole in Andhra Pradesh on 31st August, 2011 in which delegates primarily from Andhra Pradesh as well as few from Odisha and Tamilnadu attended. This is a new area which is untouched and has lot of scope for organisation. A large number of salt-farmers and workers are SC/STs and their livelihoods are being threatened by acquisitions and also rampant exploitation. Their issues have to be taken up seriously in coming days.
In Himachal Pradesh the decision to form Apple Growers’ Association has been received well and the Association has made 5000 members. Under its aegis protests have been held successfully against the exploitation of farmers by the traders and middlemen. In Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh struggles on issues of onion farmers as well as potato growers were held and organisation has been taken up. Betel Leaf Growers’ Association and Silk and Tassar Growers’ Association in West Bengal, Dairy Farmers in Tamilnadu and Kerala are some other interventions. States like Kerala, Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu have been successful in organising the peasantry on sectional issues and the experience shows that such intervention helps in expanding the organisation in new areas. Cane growers’ problems and specific problems after decontrol have been taken up in U.P, A.P, Karnataka and Tamilnadu.
State-specific struggles which helped rallying peasantry under our banner like the flood relief and land and Bataidar(sharecroppers) issue in Bihar, issue of the menace of wild animals in Himachal Pradesh, projects-led displacement in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, the Abaadkar issue in Punjab, intervention in Haryana in the Mandis, against corruption in procurement, on Forest Rights in Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and parts of Gujarat as well as corruption in NREGS implementation in all the States and successful interventions seeking compensation for crop losses due to spurious seeds, floods and drought have taken place. In addition the issue of prices, markets, spurious seeds, subsidies, irrigation, power, input costs, PDS etc were also taken up effectively. Some States also had positive experience of taking up local issues like condition of roads, schools and health centres. Taking up problems of dairy farmers also has benefited the organisation in some States.
Struggles on Class, Social and Local Issues
Land and land related issues’ including land rights, homestead land, acquisition, displacement, rehabilitation and resettlement as well as forest rights were raised in many States. Land acquisition has emerged as a burning issue in the countryside. The country witnessed widespread protests against land acquisition and corporate land grab. Although Kisan Sabha was involved in such mobilisations in some States, in most cases the protests were spontaneous and the organisational intervention was not adequate in many places. The Kisan Sabha should emerge as the champion of the rights of peasants and rural poor in the context of land acquisition. Kisan Sabha intervened effectively in the formulation of a comprehensive position on the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill after wide discussions and made detailed amendments.
The Kerala unit has organised militant struggles on the issue of Adivasi land rights and similarly the Tripura Krishak Sabha and Tripura Gana Mukti Parishad has raised the issue of Tribal land rights effectively.
The weakness in taking up social issues continues despite some improvement. States like West Bengal, Kerala, Tripura and Tamilnadu, as well as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have tried to address social issues.
In the North Indian States there is still a hesitation to take up issues of caste oppression, untouchability and gender oppression in a consistent manner as part of the daily activity of the Kisan Sabha. There have been some Conventions and Seminars but that should be followed up with ground level interventions. Otherwise it will not make any perceptible impact. All States with Adivasi population have taken up the issue of Forest Rights and pattas for the Adivasis. A lot more needs to be done on this front.
Efforts to Strengthen Worker Peasant Unity
There has been no dearth of mutual solidarity and cooperation during struggles. However, it has not transcended to the level of prolonged engagement in the form of joint struggles. The Kisan Sabha has wholeheartedly extended support to the All India Protest by all Trade Unions on 23rd February 2011 and also to the General Strike call on 28th February, 2012. Similarly the Trade Union Front has cooperated in ensuring the success of the March to Parliament call by the Kisan Sabha on 11th March, 2011. However, there are a lot of issues like price rise, farmers’ suicides, unequal FTAs, social security measures, minimum wages, closure of public sector fertiliser plants, sugar mills and decontrol of fertiliser prices, water privatisation, corruption and other issues on which joint struggles can be built up. There have not been enough efforts to ensure a joint coordination and working mechanism in this direction. This has to be rectified on a priority basis.
During the General Strike called by Trade Unions on February 20th and 21st The Kisan Sabha gave an independent call for enforcing two-day strike in the rural countryside coinciding with it on the issues of the peasantry. In Kerala, West Bengal, Tripura and Tamilnadu there was effective intervention to make the Strike a success. However, in many other States there has not been effective implementation of this decision.
The Kisan Sabha and the Centre of Indian Trade Union jointly have taken up the task of organising the fish workers under the banner of All India Fish and Fisheries Workers’ Federation. While this is a positive trend a lot more needs to be done to make it an effective working arrangement.
Detailed Report On Struggles and Activities in States
Land Struggles and Related Issues
During the first quarter of 2010 Tribal people in Wayanad District demanded distribution of land illegally occupied by plantation owners. Tribals entered the land under the leadership of the Karshaka Sangham and Adivasi Kshema Samithi and constructed huts. Protest marches and demonstrations were held throughout the District supporting their demands. Karshaka Sangham demanded issue of pattas to the farmers. On 22nd June Karshaka Sangham activists started indefinite fast before Wayanad District Collectorate. Village Struggle Committees were formed and revenue offices were picketed. The Chief Minister convened a meeting on 19th July which was attended by Karshaka Sangham and other fraternal organisations. It was agreed to set up a Special Land Tribunal which would address the problems of the agitating 28500 farmers. It was also agreed that a special team under Deputy Collector’s leadership will conduct a joint verification before the end of the year. In the case of 1200 farmers in possession of lease land from the Government inside the forest, State Government would apply for permission from the Central Government to issue pattas. The agitation ended successfully.
The Central Government declared Rs.1840 crore Kuttanad package for three major paddy cultivating Districts of Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta and the then Left Democratic Front Government started implementing the Project in September 2010. The Congress-led UDF after coming to power took recourse to corrupt practices in implementing the Project against which Karshaka Sangham organised a Convention in November 2011. Following it a three day long Jatha programme was conducted in the three Districts and a 32 KM long human chain programme was held in which over 25000 people participated.
A five-day long Satyagraha was organised in all District Centres from April 23rd to 27th 2012 against anti-farmer policies of both Central and State Governments. Hundred selected volunteers participated in each centre every day. Fifty thousand people joined the programme which was addressed by Karshaka Sangham leaders and leaders of the democratic movement.
The UDF Government passed an amendment to the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 in order to make changes in land ceiling. The Act is firmly against conversion of Plantation land for any other purpose but the State Government wants to convert five percent of plantation land for real estate purposes. This will ensure one lakh acres of land will go to the hands of real estate mafia. Kerala Karshaka Sangham, Agricultural Workers’ Union and Adivasi Kshema Samithi organised a joint State Level Convention on 6th October, 2012 at Palakkad which was inaugurated by AIKS President S.Ramachandran Pillai. The Convention decided to organise a joint and militant struggle for land conservation from January 2013 onwards. The State level Convention attended by five thousand people.
Two State level jathas were organised to conduct campaign for the following demands. Land to all landless people, priority to SC and ST landless, disposal of all pending cases in Courts regarding surplus land under Kerala Land Reforms Act by setting up Special Tribunals, pattas to all Government lands held by lessees on long term lease agreement and expired and enjoyment of forest land before 1st January 1977, withdrawal of steps taken by the State Government to amend the Conservation of Paddy Land and Wet Land Act 2005, cancellation of State Government proposed amendment to the Kerala Land Reforms Act 1963 and demanding stringent action against land mafia interfering in land matters all over the State. EP Jayarajan led southern jatha inaugurated by Prakash Karat on 10th December 2012 went through six Districts and A. Vijayaraghavan led northern jatha inaugurated by S.Ramachandran Pillai on the same date went through seven Districts. Both jathas were received by thousands of people. Both jathas ended at Ernakulam district. Huge mass rally converged at Kochi on 23rd December 2012 and was addressed by K. Varadharajan. A militant land struggle was launched in January, details of which have been included above.
Tamilnadu Vyavasayikal Sangham and Agricultural Workers’ Union organised picketing programme all over the State demanding distribution of 2 acres of land and housing site pattas for farmers in Puramboke land (public land under possession of peasantry), implementation of Land Reforms and issue of pattas to farmers cultivating temple/mutt land on lease. Fifty thousand Kisans took part in the movement out of whom thirty one thousand courted arrest in 182 centres.
In Thiruvallur District a 48 hour fast was organised to retrieve land at Kaverirajapuram. On 11th June 2010, over a thousand Vyavasayikal Sangham, agricultural workers’ union and other activists organised a demonstration at Pallawada village demanding issue pattas for 750 acres. Vyavasayikal Sangham held huge demonstration against acquisition of 4500 acres of cultivable land for expansion of airport facilities which would entail eviction of forty thousand families. When Vyavasayikal Sangham led a procession to submit memorandum to the District Collector they were brutally lathicharged by the police. Similarly Vyavasayikal Sangham protested against acquisition of 1069 acres of fertile land for airport expansion near Sriperumbudur.
In Periammapatti, farmers demanded house-site pattas for 150 families. In Perumbudur 30 families received pattas due to Vyavasayikal Sangham intervention. In Tanjore Vyavasayikal Sangham office bearers held talks on 15th June with the District Collector demanding handing over lands for 48 families which was granted. In Villupuram District, Vyavasayikal Sangham and Agricultural Workers’ Union launched movement against land grabbing of over 360 acres by the Mylam Mutt and demanded distribution of the land to the landless. Vyavasayikal Sangham persuaded the Regional Development Officer to retrieve the land to be handed over to the peasantry. In Vellore District Vyavasayikal Sangham discussed with the District authorities who agreed to provide alternative sites to the peasants.
Tamilnadu Vyavasayigal Sangham consistently fought against installation of pipelines for transmission of natural gas through fertile land. A massive gherao programme in 7 Districts in the west belt of Tamilnadu where farmers are affected by this installation demanded stoppage of the installation. The Madras High Court ordered the suspension of the installation. The State Government sought the opinion of the farmers, and a 6th March the State Secretary and MLA met the Chief Secretary and submitted memorandum on 25th March. The CM assured the Assembly that State Government would not do anything affecting the livelihood of farmers. Over 1500 people had participated in the gherao of whom 900 members were arrested and released later. A rail roko agitation was conducted demanding central legislation for agricultural labour, land for the landless and condemning the anti-farmer policies of the Central Government. Over 3500 participated in Thiruvallur District.
On 26th September, 75000 members belonging to Kisan Sabha and Agricultural Workers Union demonstrated in 192 centres in front of Rural Development offices demanding housing and land patta. In some cases pattas were issued and in some other agreements were signed to issue pattas. On 12 July 2012, farmers from Nagai District protested against acquisition of 12000 acres of land to construct a Power plant. Totally 4800 people were arrested. At Kanyakumari a 24 hour fast was observed demanding reversal of Preservation of Private Forest Protection Act.
At Erode, 300 Kisan Sabha members demonstrated on 3rd July demanding issue of patta. On 19th July, 400 Kisans at Coimbatore demonstrated demanding Bharathiar University to return the land to the farmers as per Court judgement. Officials promised to solve the issue in 3 months. At Chennai, on 3rd July a demonstration was held demanding issue of house patta and closure of the banned quarries in Thiruneermalai. Officials promised to issue pattas.
On 21st October, 2010 Untouchability Eradication Front, Vyavasayikal Sangham and Agricultural Workers’ Union jointly organised a One-day Special Convention to highlight Panchami land issue which was attended by AIKS General Secretary K.Varadha Rajan and Vyavasayikal Sangham leaders. The Convention decided to launch struggle on issues such as cancellation of fake land registration, issue of house-site pattas, preventing auction of forest land, proper construction of roads, compensation for donated land etc. Meetings and demonstrations took place in Tuticorin, Theni, Thiruvallur, Dindigul, Thiruppur, Kanchipuram and Coimbatore.
A protest against the Cochin-Mangalore gas pipeline passing through 7 Districts and affecting 136 villages was organised on 10th June at Tiruppur jointly with different farmers’ organisations. More than a 1000 Kisans took part. Extensive campaign in Salem and Erode Districts and Village level meetings were held in Tiruppur and Dharmapuri Districts.
Against illegal occupation of land belonging to backward castes and Dalits in Vaguveedu Village of Chittoor District by a legislator of Panjam, Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham represented to the District Collector, organised Round Table Conference and observed hunger strike for seven days. The RDO cancelled the pattadar passbook issued in favour of the illegal occupant.
Over two thousand farmers participated in resisting takeover of 268 acres of land for lift irrigation project at Kanaparthy area in Prakasam District. Auctioning of endowment lands of Bellamkonda temple was prevented and eviction of 270 tenant farmers was stalled.
Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham carried out concerted efforts for protection of forty lakhs of informal tenants in the State. The State Government agreed to issue identity cards but failed to implement it. Instead of the promised Act they issued an Ordinance after which Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham activists arranged submission of application for Identity cards in 21 Districts. Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham leaders met the Chief Minister and the Revenue Minister who agreed to issue Identity cards for all genuine informal tenants. Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham and Agricultural Workers’ Union are jointly trying to make the programme successful. 5.75 lakh of tenant farmers were issued licensed Identity cards due to our efforts. Nearly 1.75 lakh were denied due to the pressure from local land owners in collusion with Revenue officials. Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham organised movements before 500 Bank branches as a result of which 1.13 lakh licensed cultivators got loans to the tune of Rs.250 crores.
State Tenancy Act enacted several decades ago excluded tens of thousands of acres of Devasthan lands (Temple lands) which have been cultivated by poor and middle peasants for generations. These lands are still vested in the names of temples. The cultivating peasants continue to be denied all kinds of rights over the land. Kisan Sabha in Kolhapur District took up the issue consistently for the last 3 years and launched struggles through meetings and demonstrations. The agitation spread to adjoining Sangli and Satara Districts. A Convention of Western Maharashtra was held at Sangli attended by 600 delegates from the three Districts demanding rights over the land. A 7000 strong State-wide rally at Nagpur demanded vesting of temple and pastoral lands in the name of cultivating tenants.
In 2011-12 many struggles took place on the question of vesting of temple lands in the name of cultivating tenants and other burning problems. A big struggle took place in Nashik District where 60000 peasants including large number of Tribals courted arrest. Similar demonstrations and courting of arrest took place in other Districts. The struggles forced the State Home Minister to hold talks with State Kisan Sabha delegation and the Government conceded many of the demands of the peasantry.
Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha conducted continuous struggles on the issue of regularisation of unauthorised cultivation of Government lands, for house-sites, against forcible land acquisition and reversal of Land Reforms. Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha got application forms filled up by the genuine landless people, organised them in struggle committees and mobilised them for two to three rounds of Dharnas at Taluka and District level offices. More than 1.5 lakh applications were submitted. Some of the issues were resolved through meetings with District authorities.
On 21st May 2012 more than 15000 peasants and agricultural workers under the banner of Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha and agricultural workers’ union marched to Bangalore demanding land rights to the tillers, regularisation of land being cultivated for decades on encroached land, forest rights and house-sites for the homeless. It protested against the Government moves to evict cultivators and settlers on Bagair Hukum, Poromboke and Forest land numbering more than 25 lakh and cultivating more than 70 lakh acres. It demanded that the rejected claims of cultivators numbering over 12,35,380 and an additional 4,26,411 applications of the poor be disposed off in their favour.
Opposing State Government conspiracy to take-over land from farmers who owned lands beyond the boundaries of Bangalore city and slapping false cases against poor farmers, a Convention of cultivating farmers was organised on 25th May 2011. It decided to stage a protest march to Vidhana Soudha in July 2011.
Massive demonstrations were held in 17 District Headquarters from 25th- 27th August 2011 on the issue of regularisation of Bagair Hukum land, house-sites for homeless and forest land for Tribals. The participation ranged from 500 to 5000 in different Districts. Protest against unjust land acquisition for POSCO in Gadag District and a Bike Rally against illegal land acquisition in Bellary District was also held.
Resistance was organised at Virania Village in Darbhanga District against illegal evictions of tenant farmers. In Begusarai District peasants under the Kisan Sabha banner occupied ceiling surplus land in Bajitpur Village and got pattas due to the land struggle after successfully resisting attempts of eviction by landlords. In Madhopur Block of Madhubani District 45 Dalit families captured land for house-sites despite intimidation by landlords.
Rallies were organised by Kisan Sabha on Land Reforms Day, 9th of May in majority of the District Headquarters. Feudal landlords organised Mahapanchayat in Patna and several other Districts to oppose Land Reforms. Eviction of share-croppers started in rural areas. A State-level Land Reforms Convention was held at Patna on 12th May 2010 attended by 300 cadres of Kisan Sabha and Agricultural Workers’ Union. This was followed by State wide Jathas on 14th March one from Darbhanga and the other from Begusarai.
On 14th June 2010 the martyrdom day of Com.Ajit Sarkar a militant demonstration of 8000 poor, landless Tribals and Dalits was organised at Patna demanding implementation of Land Reforms as per recommendations of the D.Bandhopadhyay Committee which was addressed by S.Ramachandran Pillai, Brinda Karat, Hannan Mollah and N.K.Shukla. In Sitamarhi 750 landless people captured 85 acres of ceiling surplus land and erected huts. In Bajitpur Village of Begusarai District 70 huts were erected on 10 acres, in Sasaram (Rohtas) 4 acres of Government land was captured. In Khagaria and Sitamarhi Districts attempts of Government authorities to evict 700 families from Government and ceiling surplus land was thwarted.
4 persons belonging to the minority Muslim community including a pregnant woman were killed in police firing at Forbesganj. They were protesting against blockade of main road of the Village and forcible acquisition of land by private owners. There was a protest March in Patna on 5th June 2011 against the brutal killings.
Approximately 5 acres of Government land was liberated from mafias in Bodh Gaya Block of Gaya District. 150 huts were erected on 15th July 2011. In Ganeshpur Panchayat of Purnea District poor Tribals erected huts after recapturing 50 acres of land.
Thousands of Kisans led by Kisan Sabha President Lallan Choudhary were arrested when they entered into barren land in the vicinity of Ashok Paper Mill with the demand of distribution of such land among the poor and the landless. Kisan Sabha led peasants captured Government land and erected huts in the Districts of Madhepura, Saran and Saharsa.
Approximately 2500 Kisans staged a 10 Km march and demonstrated before the Kanke Block office on 17th July 2012 to foil their attempted eviction from 256 acres of land by Jharkhand Housing Board. Struggles against the conspiracy to evict 15000 Kisans from 1100 acres of land by Jindal Steels and Hindalco are also going on. In Kundahit Block of Jamtara District 1400 sharecroppers established their rights over 3000 acres of land where Com.Surendra Murmu was killed by landlords in 2009. In Fatehpur, Narayanpur and Kundahit Blocks of Jamtara District 423 acres of land was returned to the Adivasis after 2 years of struggle under the Kisan Sabha banner. Struggle for Forest land rights is continuing in Chatra, Bokaro, Lohardagga and Ranchi districts.
A Convention was organised at Rampur on 18th January 2010 on the issue of regularisation of land in possession of peasants in which more than 250 delegates attended. From 5 Block Conventions Bhoomi Bachao Committees were formed and on 16th March 2010 Block level rallies were held in 25 Blocks on this issue.
Under the Odisha Krushak Sabha banner struggles were launched in Ganjam and Nayagarh Districts where 2600 families in Ganjam and 630 families in Nayagarh were rehabilitated in the Cashew Plantation developed by the Forest Development Corporation.
In Gajapati District 1300 acres of paddy land vested with the State were illegally occupied by feudal landlords. Kisans led by Odisha Krushak Sabha and Adivasi Mahasabha Adivasi farmers occupied the land and harvested it. Despite BJD and the ultra-left unleashing terror Odisha Krushak Sabha could retain possession. At Kendrapara District 50000 Bengali refugees settled for over 4 to 5 decades were asked to prove Indian citizenship. They were not issued pattas. Odisha Krushak Sabha took up the issue and it got raised in the State Assembly as well as a petition was submitted to the Prime Minister.
The Odisha Krushak Sabha along with Adivasi Mahasabha demonstrated before the Balasore District Collectorate and State Assembly on 17th September 2011 against land acquisition for Kuldiha Forest Reserve including 273 Sq.Km of forest area where Tribal people of 50 Villages were given eviction notice. Land acquisition in Nayagarh for Thermal Power Project and POSCO at Paradip and Khandadhar Mines in Sundergarh were opposed by the Odisha Krushak Sabha.
Odisha Krushak Sabha organised over 3000 farmers in Bhubaneswar at the State Assembly demanding land to the landless. Due to the struggle a circular was issued by the Government to all Collectorates to conduct survey and enumerate families without homestead land in rural areas and provide upto 10 cents of land to every family.
In Aligarh District police fired on farmers of Tappal area when they were holding peaceful Dharna at Jikarpur against forcible acquisition of land. Under the banner of Kisan Sabha Dharnas and Demonstrations were organised in 23 District Headquarters demanding compensation at a rate similar to NOIDA, Rs.10 lakh for each of the families of the farmers killed in police firing and replacement of the 1894 Land Acquisition Act with a pro-farmer legislation. On 22nd August 2010 a delegation of Central and State Kisan Sabha leaders led by the AIKS President visited the venue of police firing at Tappal and houses of some of the killed and injured. On 24th November 2010 over a thousand farmers demonstrated before the Etawah Disstrict Magistrate against forcible acquisition of land for Railway Freight Corridor. On 8th December 2010 500 delegates from Western UP attended a Convention at Mathura against forcible acquisition of land. The agitation forced the Government to increase compensation amount to some extent. On 22nd and 23rd December protests were held against forcible acquisition of land for Railways and the Yamuna and Ganga Expressways.
On 1st February 2011 nearly 400 Kisan Sabha activists were arrested at Dankaur for demanding adequate compensation for agricultural land acquired by the State Government in Bulandshahar and three adjoining Districts. In Sonbhadra District week-long Relay Hunger Strike was conducted to protest against illegal acquisition of land. On 17th and 18th June 2011 a two-day long Padaav was organised in the Districts of Gautam Buddh Nagar, Aligarh, Mathura and Agra. S.Ramachandran Pillai and N.K.Shukla attended.
On 17th July 2012 a Kisan Panchayat was organised in the Court compound of Etawah District on the demand of adequate compensation and mandatory employment of one family member of land losers under the Railway Freight Corridor which was addressed by Basudeb Acharia, M.P. It was followed by mass hunger strike on October 2nd and 3rd 2012.
In Jhunjhunu and Sikar Districts agitation was conducted by Kisan Sabha activists against forcible acquisition of land. Dharna was continued for 270 days in Nawalgarh Tehsil of Jhunjhunu District. Approximately 3000 Tribals protested in Udaipur and Dungarpur Districts against eviction and demanding pattas for the forest land.
Movement in the forms of dharnas, demonstrations, hunger strikes and rallies were organised along with the Agricultural Workers’ Union, other Left mass organisations against forcible acquisition of land at Faridabad, Palwal, Fatehabad, Sirsa and Ambala. A protest demonstration was organised before the Parliament on 11th November 2010 on this issue. State Government was forced to amend land acquisition policy to include job for land losers and for proper rehabilitation.
The Kisan Sabha has been organising consistent struggles against indiscriminate tunneling for hydro-electric projects and unsustainable disposal of rubble in the fragile ecosystem of the State as well as displacement. State level protests at Dehradun and Parliament March was attended by the All India Office Bearers. The leaders of the movement have faced arrests an extreme repression. Unfortunately the concerns expressed by the Kisan Sabha came true when the cloud burst led to an unprecedented human tragedy.
Tribal Land and Forest Rights
On 22nd February 2010 Kisan Sabha and Agricultural Workers’ Union met the Secretary of Tribal Development Department at Mumbai against tardy implementation of Forest Rights Act and obsctructionist role of bureaucracy and Forest department officials in the Districts of Thane, Nandurbar, Ahmadnagar, Yavatmal. The Secretary instructed the authorities to remove bottlenecks in implementation of FRA which had a good impact. On 25th August 2010 Kisan Sabha, Agricultural Workers’ Union and Adivasi Adhikar Manch organised two large rallies in Thane and Nashik Districts on implementation of FRA which was attended by 20000 and 15000 people respectively. On 10th October 2010 Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar addressed a massive Tribal Rally of 35000 people at Dapahari in Thane District where he explained the commendable implementation of FRA in Tripura by the Left Front Government. State-wide Kisan Sabha rally at Nagpur in December 2010 called for Jail Bharo stir on the matter of scandalous implementation of FRA and outright rejection of thousands of FRA applications of Adivasi peasants. According to Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs out of 3,35,701 individual FRA claims the SDO level Committees cleared only 1,15,914 cases. In Nashik District 60000 peasants including a large number of Adivasis courted arrest. Similar struggles took place in several other Districts forcing the State Government to hold discussion with State Kisan Sabha leaders. Many of the demands were conceded.
In Anugul District Odisha Krushak Sabha and Adivasi Mahasabha applied for pattas for 776 people and due to the consistent struggles 534 acres of land was allotted to the applicants. Adivasis occupied 70 acres of forest land and despite clashes with Forest officials, police and political goons they retained the land. Another 200 families applied for forest land of whom 21 got pattas so far due to our intervention. At Pallahada Tehsil of Anugul District Adivasi peasants applied for issue of 600 pattas for house-sites and cultivable land of whom 360 families got pattas for house-sites. In Balasore District 5500 and 1000 applications for forest land in Nilgiri and Raibannia under Jalasore Tehsil were submitted of which 250 were given pattas. 3000 people protested against delay and inaction of the authorities. In Nilgiri 1000 people got pattas for forest land and 150 received pattas for house-sites in Jalasore.
A dharna was held at Bhogroi Block office where 150 participated demanding house-sites and recognition of share-croppers. Totally 35000 forms were submitted for forest land in the State of whom 500 received pattas in Ganjam, 1000 received forest land in Keonjhar and 500 received pattas in Deogarh. Odisha also organised a Convention of Sharecroppers demanding resolution of their problems and recognizing them with identity cards.
Protest actions were organised in 11 Districts on implementation of FRA. Wide campaigns were conducted in Rewa, Satna, Sidhi, Shahdol, Singrauli, Anuppur and Umania Districts. Three-day gherao programme was held in front of the Divisional Commissioner’s office at Shahdol and Rewa where over a thousand peasants including Tribals participated. Demanding implementation of FRA 1730 applications were submitted to Ratlam District Magistrate in a procession of around 2000 for pattas for the land they were cultivating.
State-level Convention on Tribal rights was held on 10th and 11th June 2010 at Udaipur. Nearly 3000 Tribal people protested in Udaipur and Dungarpur demanding pattas for their lands in forest areas. More than 3000 Adivasis demonstrated in Udaipur on 30th August 2012 against eviction from forest land and for issue of pattas. In Gogunda Tehsil of Udaipur District over 4000 Adivasis held protest on the same demands.
Demand of implementation of Forest Right Acts was also raised organising conventions at Vijayanagar, Dahod , Fatehapura and Upleta.
On Farmers’ Suicides
Within a year of the UDF Government coming to power, 55 farmers committed suicide because of severe financial constraints on the peasants’ incomes and their inability to return the loan money whereas during the 5 year term of the LDF, not a single farmer committed suicide because of various relief measures undertaken by the State Government in favour of the peasant.
The State Kisan Sabha conducted Satyagraha before the State Secretariat demanding immediate relief to the affected families and demanding adoption of measures to arrest suicides among the peasantry- More than 1000 farmers participated in the programme.
Because of anti-farmer and pro-neo-liberal policies adopted by the TMC Government, agrarian crisis has deepened in Bengal and sizeable section of poor peasants and agricultural labourers are passing through distress as a result of which more than 50 farmers have committed suicides during the first year of the TMC Government. In 34 years of Left Front Government, not a single farmer had committed suicide. The sharp contrast between the policies followed by the Left Front Government and the TMC Government has been clearly exposed before the people.
State Kisan Sabha has protested against the present State Government’s policies and have started organising the farmers throughout the State against the wrong, anti-farmer, pro-landlord policies of the State Government with a view to reversing the latter policies so that the interests of the poor and middle peasants and agricultural labour are well protected.
On Power Supply And Related Problems
On August 1st, 2012, protest marches were organised against electricity tariff hike before Electrical Section Offices.
In the Districts of Nalgonda, Warangal, Khammam, Krishna, West Godavari and Nellore, thousands of people staged Dharnas, Rasta Roko and demonstrations in more than 100 Mandals in the months of June, July, July and August 2012 demanding more than 7 hour power supply and against cut in power supply to agriculture.
Sadassu was organised involving beneficiaries from Khammam, Nalgonda and Warangal Districts demanding early completion of Kanthanapally project. Dharna was organised before RDO office in Vijayanagram District demanding release of water from Vengalaraya Project. Over 250 farmers participated in a dharna at Kothagudem to drop proposed construction of Dummugudem tail pond. Relay hunger strike and Rasta Roko were carried on in Nalgonda District. Dharna was organised before the collectorate demanding taking up MMRP Lift Project and release of water from the Projects. Bike propaganda was conducted in 29 villages in West Godavari district on the problems of Nakkala, Drain water submergence and demanding rectification. Representation was made to RDO successfully to get tanks filled under Musi project in Nalgonda district.
Continuous Dharna and demonstrations were organised by Kisan Sabha in Bulandshahar from June to August 2012 for regular supply of power and for replacing old and dilapidated electric transformers as result of which there was some improvement in power supply. Similar demonstrations were staged in Chandauli, Sultanpur,Deoria and Muzaffarnagar Districts.
Dharna and demonstrations were organised for regular supply of power for agricultural operations in Sirsa, Fatehabad, Hissar, Bhiwani, Kaithal, Jind and Rohtak.
Campaign was organized throughout the state on the issues of power shortage, irrigation, fertilizers, for P.D.S. and for proper implementation of Forest Rights Act and MNREGA. It culminated in state level protest rally at Bhopal on 27 Sept.2012, in which comrades N.K. Shukla and Krishna Prasad participated from AIKS Centre.
Due to the consistent struggles of the Tamilnadu Vyavasayigal Sangham demanding electricity connection to operate the pump-sets the Chief Minister was forced to announce that those who had applied for connection would be given connection in a phased manner.
In Akola Tehsil of Ahmednagar District, Kisan Sabha organised demonstrations, sit-ins and hunger strikes demanding proper irrigation from Nilwande dam which succeeded in mobilising hundreds of peasants. In Solapur District, Kisan Sabha led a struggle for irrigation water from Ujni dam. In many other Districts the Kisan Sabha led local struggles on the question of load shedding, unjust electricity bills, severing of power connection to the peasantry.
Crop-wise Issues, Crop Damage and Crop Insurance
In Churu District gram is one of the main crops. The insurance companies collected Rs. 200 per hectare from farmers, Rs. 300 from State Government and an additional amount equal to state governments’ share (Rs.300) from the Central Government. Thus they collected Rs.800 as the total premium for Rs.10,000 insured per hectare.
Despite widespread damage to crops the insurance companies and the Government officials tried to cheat the farmers and refused the insurance claims. The insurance companies asked the central government to reduce the claims below Rs.l67 crores entitled for cultivators in Churu District on the pretext of survey being improper and inflated. The insurance companies had decided the claim for 113 villages under Rajgarh weather centre and 90 villages in Sardarshehar Tehsil to be zero. This was totally unacceptable.
The peasants of Churu district decided to launch movement in April 2012. AIKS organised a massive one month long dharna from 1st to 31st May, 2012. The Tehsil committees organised dharnas from 8th to 18th May, 2012 and 22nd to 24th May 2012. Protest demonstrations and Rasta Roko were organised. Thousands of farmers protested before the District Collectorate on 4th June. The one month struggle forced authorities to disburse Rs.100 crores as crop insurance.
When the insurance companies decided the rate of Rs. 4380 per hectare against Kisan Sabha’s claim of Rs.6,000 Kisan Sabha decided to block all roads on 11th June, 2012. Delegation led by President AIKS state and MLA Amra Ram met the CM and pressed for disbursing proper claims of crop insurance. On 11th July SDM was gheraoed by Kisan Sabha demonstrators. The SDM announced that of Rs. 38 crores due to the peasants Rs. 34 crores would be deposited immediately.
In Churu, Kisan Sabha organised indefinite dharna from 18th July, 2012 demanding Rs.6000 per hectare. District Magistrate’s office gate was blocked on 26th July, 2012. In Taranagar after dharna by peasants for 14 days Rs.67 crores was paid to peasants as insurance claim. Still 3100 peasants were denied payment of Rs.12 crores. Kisan Sabha was forced to restart dharna on 25th June. On 10th July massive demonstration blocked the gate of tehsil office on 13th a bandh was observed. Owing to the consistent organised struggles, the Government announced payment of 12 crores toTaranagar farmers, Rs.2.37 crores to Churu farmers and Rs.4.55 crores to Sardar Shahar, Rs. 1crore to Ratangarh. For gram the farmers of Churu got 204 crores.
It was a historic victory for farmers after 3 months of long and protracted struggle under the banner of AIKS backed by CITU, AIAWU, SFI, DYFI, AIDWA and employees union.
The State Kisan Sabha, during the last three and a half years, besides holding a Convention of small tea growers and rubber cultivators, protested against Indo ASEAN Free Trade Agreement.
A deputation on behalf of the Left Kisan Organisations met the State Agriculture Minister seeking immediate drought relief and adequate compensation for crop losses.
Kisan Sabha mobilised nearly thirty thousand peasants in large demonstrations outside District and Tehsil offices in 15 Districts demanding drought relief measures and compensation for crop losses. Some of the demands were met.
A Convention held at Hisua (Nawada District) on 22nd July demanded that Bihar be declared as a drought affected State. On 11th August, mass hunger strike and Dharnas were organised in dozen Districts demanding adequate relief to the drought affected people. Earlier in May a State Level Convention on flood, erosion and displacement was organised at Kusheswarasthan, Darbhanga. It was attended by 300 delegates from different Districts. The Convention was inaugurated by Noorul Huda, Finance Secretary, AIKS. It demanded immediate preventive measure to contain flood adequate relief measures and proper rehabilitation of displaced persons. It was followed by demonstrations and Dharna at District level. Movement and campaign against damages of wheat and maize crop forced the State Government to pay some compensation.
A paddy farmer’s Convention was held on 4th August at Thrissur, where 350 farmers attended and strongly criticised the Central and State Governments’ anti-farmer policies. A Convention of coconut farmers was held on 5th August at Kozhikode in which 432 coconut farmers attended. There was also a Rubber cultivators’ Convention on 17th August at Kottayam attended by 380 farmers. In all these Conventions Resolutions were adopted urging all sections of farmers to launch strong and powerful movement against the Governments’ neo-liberal policies which benefited the corporates and caused acute deprivation and distress for farmers.
Protesting against the falling price of coconut, Coconut Farmers’ Association organised a big demonstration on 26th June 2012 demanding minimum price of Rs.70/- per kilo of copra, procurement of coconut at Rs.15/- by the Government and setting up copra procurement centres. As a result of the protests the State Government has ordered to set up 13 copra drying centres on a cooperative basis using solar energy.
Many programmes were carried out by the Sugarcane Farmers’ Association in Villupuram and Sivagangai Districts demanding payment of arrears of cane growers and an indefinite fast was organised on 4th September and arrears were given on 6th September. On 26th July a Convention was held to protect sugar mills in Public Sector and Cooperative sugar mills.
More than 5 lakh acres of land under paddy were submerged because of heavy rains in the Districts particularly in the delta region. Onion, tapioca, turmeric crops were also destroyed. Thousands were rendered, homeless. State Kisan Sabha demanded waiver of crop loans, adequate compensation to all farmers, who lost their crops and that the Government should take up relief activities on war footing.
Agitation by farmers of Thiruvallur District demanded compensation for crop lost due to drought. In Salem, Tuticorin, Dindigul, Cuddalore, Tanjore, Pudukottai Districts hundreds of farmers participated, the District authority increased area for compensation from 73000 acres to 1111100 acres.
Memoranda were submitted to the District Collectors demanding payment of cane dues under Thunnapala and Yetikoppala Sugar factories. Payment was made subsequently. In Vijayanagar District, Dharnas were organised before the sugar factories on the August 11th and 27th. Dues are being paid to farmers in installments. In Nellore District too, Dharnas were organised before sugar factories at Kovvur and Thadipathri on same problems.
Due to drought-like situation in June & July 2012 Dharnas were organised by the Kisan Sabha in Nalgonda, Warangal and Khammam Districts demanding relief measures and payment of input subsidy due in Rabi season of 2011-12 as cultivation of groundnut and rice transplantation was badly affected.
A.P.Rythu Sangham demonstrated and petitioned the Government to pay compensation for crops lost due to floods and demanding credit at 3 percent interest rate. The A.P.Rythu Sangham alongwith other organisations obstructed the Rythu Chaitanya Yatra of the Government at Venur in Guntur District demanding issue of compensation cheques for the damaged crops. Dharnas were separately organised at Mahabubnagar, Khammam & Prakasam Districts with participation of 300-400 farmers at each place demanding compensation for crops lost due to high wind and floods. State leadership toured the flood affected areas of Godavari covering 8 Mandals and demanded compensation for properties lost. Because of extensive crop losses due to floods, A.P.Rythu Sangham demanded compensation at the rate of Rs.10,000 per acre but the Government paid only Rs.2400. Dharnas and Rasta Rokos were held in 6 Districts demanding adequate compensation.
The Assam State Kisan Sabha raised the issue of problem of small tea growers. There are 76 thousand registered small tea growers in Assam. If unregistered small tea growers are included the number will be around one lakh. They are mainly facing the problems of land patta, remunerative price of tea leaves, and demanding permission from the State Government for opening factory. A Convention was organised in Titabar in Jorhat district on 25th March 2012, where 300 small tea growers from six Districts in Upper Assam took part. Pabitra Kar Chairman, Tripura Industrial Development Corporation was present. A 5 member committee of small tea growers was formed with local Kisan Sabha leader as convenor.
Approximately 5 lakh people were affected by river erosion in the State. A sit-in strike was organised by Krishak Sabha and other mass organisations at Mondiya in Barpeta District, which continued for 26 days demanding rehabilitation of 600 families. Hundreds of men and women took part in the protest action. The local administration agreed to distribute land to families affected by erosion.
Jammu & Kashmir
In the State the horticulture sector was severely damaged due to drought situation. It was followed by continuous heavy rains in the valley which damaged oil seed crop and resulted in fodder crisis. Kisan Sabha organised dharna before Commissioners’ Office demanding agricultural loan at not more than 4 percent interest and supply of fodder. A Press Conference was held at Anantnag highlighting the need for Crop Insurance scheme for all agricultural products.
Procession and Dharnas were organised on 30th October 2012 in the District headquarters against the crops damaged by wild animals and demanding adequate compensation from the State Government.
Andaman & Nicobar
Campaign has been organised for adequate compensation for the Tsunami Affected people and for demanding the review of the Buffer Zone decision of local administration, as to protect the East Bengali refugees from eviction, who were settled there during 1949-66.
On Price Rise, Remunerative Prices and Food Security
18000 farmers participated in protest Marches and Dharnas on 14th July 2012 organised by Left democratic farmers’ organisations before the 13 Collectorates and before Legislative Assembly in protest against rise in price of fertilisers. Kerala Karshaka Sangham staged massive rally and Dharna in front of MILMA headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram and before all MILMA societies demanding withdrawal of price hike of cattle feed, demanding Rs.5/- per litre as incentive to dairy farmers and seeking 50% subsidy for cattle feed.
Dairy farmers in the Malabar region had conducted strong struggles before the Milma offices. Milk producers in Kasargod, Kozikkode, Mallappuram, Palakkad and Kannur Districts organised march and dharna to highlight the problems faced by the milk producers. In middle Kerala, farmers conducted satyagraha before the the Kochi Milma office.
At the initiative of LDF state committee, approximately 5 thousand rubber cultivators marched to the Rubber Board office at Kottayam on 16th August 2011, protesting against steep fall in price of rubber and the State Government’s apathy and inaction to move the Central Government to give relief to those seriously affected. The march was attended by fraternal mass organisations.
Because of price collapse of cardamom and tea leaves in Kerala, a joint march of farmers and agricultural workers under the banner of CITU, KSKTU and Kisan Sabha was organised on 1st September 2011 to the Board office Ernakulam.
In spite of severe repression and physical attacks Paschim Banga Krishak Sabha organised demonstrations in 14 Districts before the offices of BDOs, SDOs and DMs against the spiralling prices of all essential commodities including agricultural inputs, fall in prices of paddy, jute, potatoes, high prices and black-marketing of fertilisers and relief for flood affected people. Thousands of people attended these demonstrations. Campaign demanding 35 Kgs of food grains at the rate Rs.2/kg to all poor families through PDS was conducted in the month of July and August 2012 by the Kisan Sabha.
On the problem of jute farmers and for remunerative prices for jute with assured procurement demonstrations were held in few Districts at JCI offices and deputation to SDO or District Magistrate in some Districts.
Kisan Sabha and other sister mass organizations staged “abasthan” i.e., sit-in-strikes for six hours and submitted deputation against the anti-farmer, anti-people policies pursued by the central Government in collusion with predatory mob of the corporate houses. On 26th April 2010, such programmes were organised in five places in and around Kolkata for five hours. Both programmes strengthened the campaign for 27th April hartal.
The Krishak Sabha and the Gana Mukti Parishad conducted regular and continuous campaign against price rise, reduction in subsidies, issue of food security, increase in wage for agricultural workers, remunerative prices for agricultural products, regular supply of fertilisers at subsidised prices, and against unprecedented corruption of Central UPA Government.
In March and April 2010 thousands of peasants under the banner of State Kisan Sabha took part in the demonstrations against price rise and issue of food security organised by the Left parties. A 2000 strong State Convention was held in Sholapur on this issue. Over 25000 peasants participated in the Halla Bol struggle of March 8th 2010. Over 5000 farmers attended the rally before State Assembly. On 8th April 20000 farmers courted arrest and thousands participated in the nation-wide hartal on 27th April, 2010. Over 13000 farmers joined the independent mass rally at Akola on 13th October 2010 against price-rise and for inclusion of poor farmers and agricultural workers in the BPL list. Maharashtra State Kisan Sabha staged campaign to mobilise genuine BPL beneficiaries for inclusion in the BPL category. Over 1 lakh poor peasants and agricultural workers took part in 35 Tehsil level demonstrations in 14 Districts.
On October 20th 2010 over a thousand cotton farmers attended a Convention at Parbhani demanding remunerative prices for cotton. On 25th September 2010 about 500 farmers attended Convention at Parali Vaijnath in Beed District demanding remunerative prices for sugarcane and fair wage for sugarcane cutters. Dharnas and demonstrations were held in several Districts under the Kisan Sabha banner after the Convention.
On October 21st 2012 a 500 strong Convention was organised jointly by Kisan Sabha, CITU and AIAWU at Ambajogai in Beed District demanding remunerative prices for sugarcane farmers and on issues of wage for sugarcane cutters as well as sugar factory workers.
On 31st October 2012 over a thousand peasants from 6 Districts attended a Convention of cotton growers at Amaravathi on the question of remunerative prices for cotton which was inaugurated by N.K.Shukla.
Demonstrations were organised demanding higher procurement prices for paddy, sugarcane and milk. The State Government conceded some price rise for milk. Demanding Rs.3000/tonne for sugarcane farmers picketed in front of sugar factories Thiruvannamalai, Villupuram and Madurai Districts. They blocked roads against fraudulent weighing of sugarcane pursued by some Mills.
The State Assembly Committee decided that the cost of cutting sugarcane would be borne by the factory management and Rs.3000 should be fixed per tonne of sugarcane. Dharna was held on 31st January 2012 at Chennai attended by 2000 farmers, Left and DMDK MLAs. On 14th February 2012 demonstrations were organised in fifteen Districts on the same demands.
Protesting against falling prices of coconuts farmers’ associations organised a big demonstration on 26th June 2012 demanding minimum price of Rs.70/Kg of copra, procurement of coconut at Rs.15/- by the Government, and setting up of copra procurement centres. As a result the State Government ordered setting up of 13 copra drying centres on a cooperative basis using solar energy.
In the Districts of Villupuram and Sivagangai sugarcane farmers association demanded payment of arrears of cane growers and an indefinite fast was organised on 4th September 2012 as a result of which arrears were paid on 6th September 2012.
Dharnas were launched in four Districts for enhancement of sugarcane price to Rs.25000/tonne. AP Rythu Sangham organised protests demanding payment of MSP of Rs.1030/Qtl of paddy in 2010. In Chittoor and Ananthapur Districts 10000 dairy farmers agitated for enhancement of milk price. As a result the authorities increased the price by Rs.2/Ltr.
In Khammam, Adilabad, Nalgonda, Nellore and Warangal Districts Round Table Conferences were organised and memoranda submitted against enhancement of Bt Cotton seed prices.
Memoranda were submitted to the District Collector demanding payment of sugarcane arrears under Thunnapala and Yetikoppala sugar factories. Payment was made subsequently. In Vijayanagar District Dharnas were organised before the sugar factories on August 11th and 27th. Arrears were paid to farmers in instalments.
Odisha organised a Padayatra to campaign on the different problems of the peasantry and food crisis. The effort reached the Kisan sabha message to the masses in different Districts and also enthused the cadre.
Because of continuous agitation organised by Kisan Sabha, the State Government was forced to announce distribution of food grains Rs.1/Kg to all BPL farmers.
Anti price-rise campaign was organised by Kisan Sabha both independently and jointly with Left parties in about 18 Districts. In Sultanpur 250 cadres attended the seminar at Kunwar against price rise.
Jammu and Kashmir:
Over 150 Kisans joined the Left Parties rally on 12th March 2010 at New Delhi against price rise. On 8th April 500 Kisans protested against rising prices of essential commodities at Press Colony, Srinagar.
Demanding strengthening of PDS and BPL Cards etc. demonstration and Gherao was organised at Modassa, Bhildola and Himmat Nagar.
On Input Costs, Supply and Quality
A.P. Rythu Sangham joined an All Party delegation that met the Union Agriculture Minister seeking pro-farmer amendments to the Seed Bill. Dharnas against sub-standard seeds were organised at Narayanpuram in Nalgonda District and at Nagarkurnool in Mehboobnagar District. In West Godavari District efforts were made to arrange payment of compensation for defective black gram seed supply. Dharnas were organised for two days against supply of defective cotton seed by the farmers of Parakala area in Warangal District. Here seed was replaced.
Because of shortage of fertiliser especially urea in the State, dharnas, rastarokos and other forms of agitation were conducted in the Districts of Anantapur, Srikakulam , Krishna, Khammam, Nalgonda, and Warangal, forcing authorities to distribute fertilisers. Against illegal shifting of fertilisers from Anantapur District, an enquiry committee was appointed. A bandh was organised at Uravakonda town against short supply and high prices. In Khammam District dharnas were organised at 14 centres demanding adequate supply of fertilisers. In Nalgonda rastaroko was organised at 4 important locations in which 270 farmers participated. Two lorries illegally transporting fertilisers were confiscated at Devarkonda in Nalgonda district. In Warangal district rastaroko was organised at 53 centres in September. There was improvement in the situation after all these agitations.
As part of the Anti-Endosulphan Campaign the Karshaka Sangham organised a Seminar at Kasargode District on 9th December 2010, attended by 1000 farmers. Prominent activists and other experts took part. There was Statewide protest programme demanding a ban on endo-sulphan and compensation for victims numbering 400.
Kisan Sabha submitted a memorandum regarding shortage of fertilisers to the Chairman FACT. The officials offered to supply 26000 MT of Factomphos Farmers in Kerala organised a March on 25th Oct.2011 in Ernakulam demanding supply of fertilisers at subsidised prices.
In eight Districts, the Kisan Sabha launched big struggles in the form of gheraoes against short supply and rampant black-marketing of fertilisers as a result of which the administration took action against many big traders.
Rasta-roko was organised against shortage and high prices of fertilisers in Deoria and other Districts and gherao was conducted at three co-operative societies and protest demonstrations were organised at District headquarters for proper supply of fertilisers at subsidised prices.
Two thousand kisans joined massive protests in Mandi and Jogindernagar against acute shortage and black-marketing of fertilisers in the State.
Dharnas and demonstrations were held by state Kisan Sabha along with other Kisan organisations at 20 places on 17th October 2011 against unprecedented increase in fertilizer prices and black-marketing of fertilisers.
On 1st October 2011, road blocks were organised at 81 places in 15 Districts demanding supply of fertilizers at prescribed rates and deterrent action against black marketing. Many cadres were arrested in Darbhanga and Kaimur Districts. Demonstrations and dharnas were organised in 26 Districts on 16th September on the same issue along with other issues.
On MNREGS and Wage Issues
On 17th June 2010 Tehsil and District level rallies were organised in 18 Districts demanding increase in wages and strict implementation of MNREGA norms.
Struggles continued on the issues of higher wages for agricultural workers in the Districts of Jamtara, Lohardagga, East Singhbhum and Chatra. Kisan Sabha organised movements in 40 Blocks which achieved success in some areas. Movement was organised in Barharwa and Namkam Blocks for ensuring timely and proper payment of MNREGS wages. Successful interventions to stop corruption and ensure payment of wage arrears in many Districts were also made.
Nearly 500 NREGA groups consisting of 50 to 100 families were formed in most of the villages to stop misuse of NREGA funds and guarantee 100 days of work in Karnataka. Nearly 1000 poor peasants and agricultural workers joined State level protest rally at Bangalore on 31st January 2011 demanding rise in wages, regular work and timely payment of wages.
Kisan Sabha organised District and Panchayat level movements in Barpeta, Bongaigaon and Sonitpur on NREGA issues. Around 4000 NREGA workers were mobilised in two Panchayats in Barpeta District.
Tamilnadu Vyavasayigal Sangham along with Agricultural Workers’ Union conducted demonstration throughout the State on 8th August 2011 demanding proper implementation of NREGA, payment of Rs.119 per day and provision of 100 days of work. Approximately twenty thousand members including fifteen thousand women participated in 105 centres and was able to increase wages by Rs.10 to 20 per day and also assurance was given for strict enforcement of Rs.100 as wages.
On 15th July 2010 demonstrations and dharnas were organised in Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Dehradun, Udhamsingh Nagar and Almora Districts for proper implementation of MNREGA norms. Because of agitation, the District administration intervened and job cards were issued.
Credit, Indebtedness, and Related Issues
In the District of Amritsar and Tarantaran the State Kisan Sabha organised jatha marches continuously for 20 days and formed village level Kisan Struggle Committees for debt relief in more than 160 villages. Over 8000 kisans took part in the campaign. District level Convention was organised at Amritsar for debt relief which elected Debt Relief Struggle Committees. A State level rally was held at Jalandhar in which among other issues, demands related to indebtedness were raised.
Land confiscation orders were issued by banks and private money lenders against loan defaulter farmers. The Kisan Sabha organised the farmers to resist such confiscation of land. In February 2011 Kisan Sabha staged demonstrations at District headquarters on the issue of loan waiver and other issues. 2500 cadres participated in these demonstrations.
Banks were not implementing RBI guidelines regarding sanction of credit to tenant farmers. Banks were reluctant to sanction credit to the farmers as agreed during State level bankers’ meeting. Representations were submitted from the State centre to the Government demanding fulfillment of debt reschedule targets, attaining loan targets and sanction loans to tenant farmers.
In this connection, dharnas were organised in Anantapur, Nalgonda, Khammam, Srikakulam Districts, where thousands of farmers took part. The Chief Minister was also approached. Sadassu was organised in East Godavari and Prakasam Districts. At the initiative of A.P.Rythu Sangham 459 joint liability groups were formed and succeeded in getting loans to 40 groups. Because of persistent efforts on the part of A.P.Rythu Sangham, in some Districts, bankers agreed to open account for a number of groups.
Commemoration of 75th Anniversary of Kisan Sabha
Inauguration of celebration of 75th anniversary of AIKS foundation was done at Kannur on 13th July 2011. A special supplement of Deshabhimani was published on 12th July. A portrait exhibition on past historic events of AIKS was held. A seminar and music workshop was inaugurated by AIKS President S.R.Pillai.
The foundation day was celebrated in all Districts by holding of numerous seminars, honouring past legendary Kisan Sabha fighters and glorious events like Punnapra Vayalar struggle, 50th anniversary of Amaravati hunger strike by AK Gopalan, Attingal riot, Kallara-Pangode Struggle, Kanippat Struggle and Micha Bhoomi Struggle for surplus land in Thiruvananthapuram were recalled.
A National Seminar inaugurated by AIKS General Secretary on 19th August 2011, commemorating the day of demise of veteran Comrade Krishna Pillai, where Prof. Utsa Patnaik, K.V.Ramkrishnan and E.P. Jayarajan addressed the Seminar. Fifteen thousand people including large number of women attended.
On 12 August 2010, the 75th anniversary programme was inaugurated by K.Varadha Rajan at Virudhunagar. In Tuticorin memorials were erected in 8 villages with hoisting of AIKS flags.
On 13th September, 2010 translation of HKS Surjeet’s History of Kisan Sabha in Tamil language was released by Com. Nanmaran MLA in a public meeting at Madurai. In Tiruvallur, Dindigul and Tanjore districts, the foundation day was suitably observed. A huge rally to celebrate the occasion was addressed by Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and AIKS General Secretary K.Varadha Rajan.
Seminars were held and impressive processions were taken out in many parts of State relating to celebration of 75th anniversary of the foundation of AIKS. AIKS President SRP, General Secretary KV and Joint Secretary, Vijoo Krishnan attended seminars in Vijayawada, Warangal and Anantapur. District level seminars were conducted in the Districts of Khammam, Nalgonda, Krishna, Anantapur, Vijayanagaram, Vishakhapatnam, Karimnagar and Prakasam in 28 centres. More than 5000 activists participated in the seminars and AIKS flags hoisted in 340 villages.
On 11th April 2011, AIKS flag was hoisted at the Central Office (4, Ashoka Road). Office Staff and members of fraternal organisations attended the meeting. In this connection past glorious struggles and sacrifices of innumerable leaders and cadres were recalled.
The 75th Anniversary of foundation of AIKS was celebrated in the State conducting workshop on History of Kisan Movement, Panchayat and Block level rallies, exhibitions, cultural functions, rural sports, and blood donation camps. It culminated in a big Kisan rally at Agartala on 24th April 2011, which was addressed by AIKS President S.R.Pillai.
On the occasion of observing 75th year of foundation of AIKS, State level seminar was organised at Jaipur on the subject of Agrarian Crisis and challenges before the Kisan Movement on 21St. April 2010. AIKS Joint Secretary, Vijoo Krishnan and Surjeet Singh addressed the Convention. District level programme were conducted in different districts 2010 and 2011.
On this occasion AIKS flags were hoisted along with meetings in 150 villages, covering 10 Districts.
75th AIKS foundation day was observed on 17th April 2011 at Sarurpur and Sabarkantha Districts.
The 75th anniversary of AIKS was celebrated in 50 places by hoisting AIKS red flags.
AIKS foundation day was observed in 6 Districts on 11th April 2011.
On April 11, 2011, 17th anniversary of Kisan Sabha was observed in Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Tehri, Dehradun and Udhamsingh Nagar Districts.
On Social Issues
On initiative of State Kisan Sabha, broad based Social Reform Conference was organised at Mundal in Bhiwani District in which over 1000 participated and resolved to campaign for social reform and against honour killings and Khap Panchayats.
Kisan Sabha cadres actively participated in a massive rally at Shimla for highlighting demands of Dalits, particularly against social atrocities, caste discrimination and untouchability.
Along with the Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front the Tamilnadu Vyavasayigal Sangham conducted agitation and campaigns against caste oppression. Authorities were forced to demolish the untouchability wall at Trichy based on these struggles.
Kisan Sabha cadres strongly protested against gang rape of a Dalit girl in Delna village.
On Madhav Gadgil and Kasturi Rangan Committee Reports
Kerala Karshaka Sangham decided to organise strong protests and agitation against implementation of the two reports. Seminars, protest rallies and Dharnas were organised in Idukki, Wayanad and other Districts in the State. The State Conference of Kerala Karshaka Sangham has passed a resolution demanding the total rejection of the two expert panel reports on the grounds that it is impracticable, unscientific and anti -people.
State Kisan Sabha Publications and Bulletins
The monthly organ of Kerala Karshaka Sangham named ‘Karshaka Nadam’ is being published from Thiruvananthapuram regularly. The magazine is having a circulation of about 20,000 copies all over the State. It is decided to increase the number of copies up to 50,000 this year. In West Bengal the bi-monthly ‘Krishak Sangram’ is being brought out regularly. Over 40000 copies are being printed. Tripura brings out a quarterly called ‘Krishak Sangram’ and prints around 5000 copies. In Tamilnadu ‘Uzhuvan Urimai’ is being published regularly and over 8000 copies are printed. Andhra Pradesh publishes ‘Rytu Vani’ regularly and 8000 copies are being printed. In Maharashtra there are efforts to bring the ‘Shetkari Sangharsh’ which had been discontinued in 2006 regularly as a bi-monthly. The just concluded Conference has fixed a quota for 10000 subscriptions and one issue has been brought out. In addition a blog with up to date information on struggles and issues is being maintained. Different States brought out Souvenirs and small pamphlets on different issues. Uttar Pradesh published booklets on Water Policy, FDI in retail and other issues which were widely circulated in the Hindi Speaking States.
Intervention in Assembly and Local Body Elections
Between March and mid-May 2011 all Kisan Sabha units in West Bengal plunged into electoral battle in their respective constituencies in Districts and participated in large numbers in rallies, demonstrations and mass meetings in favour of Left Front comrades in order to defeat the combined extreme right and left extremist forces in the State Assembly elections held in April – May 2011. However, the Left Front was defeated after 34 years of continuous rule. It was a great setback for Left, democratic and progressive forces in the State and the Country. The resistance to reactionary forces is building up and Krishak Sabha cadres are now in the forefront of the Panchayat election campaign and contest,
In Tripura the Kisan Sabha and Gana Mukti Parishad cadre actively involved in the campaign for the State Assembly. The pro-people, pro-peasant Government in Tripura was reelected with a historic mandate based on its alternative policies. In other States which went to polls like Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Karnataka etc., the Kisan Sabha cadre have actively involved in election campaign as well as contested elections.
Part III: On Organisation
Expansion of the Movement
The organisational strength in terms of membership has been consistently around 2 crores. In West Bengal our strongest centre due to violent attacks by the reactionary forces led by the TMC and the Maoists there was some decline in membership but now there is a steady recovery. In 2011-12 and 2012-13 there has been increase in membership in almost all Districts and there has been an increase of over 6 lakhs membership when compared to last year. This is an indication that the Organisation is even amidst severe attacks and repression reaching out to the masses and gaining the confidence of the oppressed peasantry.
Kerala, Tamilnadu, Tripura, Karnataka, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have seen a consistent growth in membership over the last 5 years. In Kerala and Tamilnadu there has been considerable expansion. In other States, either there is stagnation or irregular growth. Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Jharkhand have shown inconsistent trends in membership with few years showing growth and inability to sustain it in following years. This problem has to be addressed. Nevertheless there has been an expansion in membership and reach in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Bihar and Karnataka in the last year.
In many weak states and regions the kisan movement faces severe challenge of stagnation and deterioration. We should sincerely address this situation with determination and rectify prevailing erroneous attitudes and understanding.
There have been some requests for affiliation from the Nagaland Farming Association and All Mizoram Farmers’ Union. This is the first time there has been such a request from the North-Eastern States other than the States like Tripura, Assam and Manipur where already organisational presence is there. A decision will be taken on this matter.
Mass membership is the cornerstone for building and consolidating our organisation. Immediately after every struggle or campaign new contacts that we establish should be enrolled as members in the Kisan Sabha. It is only through mass membership that an organic relationship can be retained with the peasantry and the Kisan Sabha be a living organisation.
There is need to undertake the responsibility of membership enrollment with due seriousness and responsibility. Proper registration and monitoring of detailed information such as membership enrolled year wise in particular primary Unit-Village-Tehsil/Area level and how many Unit, Village, Tehsil/Area level organisation committees do exist actively in each District etc. are in many places neglected. There is also weaknesses in systematic and time bound scheduling and planning of membership campaign in some States although there are guidelines for the same. Rather yearlong enrollment is the practice and that affects the enrollment, review and systemic growth of membership. This problem has to be rectified.
All India Centre Functioning
There has been an effort to streamline and strengthen the functioning of the All India Centre as suggested by the 32nd AIKS Conference. As of now 7 functionaries are working from Centre. The President and General Secretary due to other responsibilities are not able to give more time in the day to day work of the Kisan Sabha. The General Secretary attends the office everyday when in Delhi and guides the Centre. There has also been improvement in the efforts of the Centre to reach different States and help them in policy and organisational matters.
Vijoo Krishnan was added as an office bearer in the last Conference and is working in the Centre. Hannan Mollah was included into the Centre after the last Conference and in 2012 Krishna Prasad has also been included in the Centre. The AIKS Centre meetings have been taking place on a regular basis. On every important matter the available Office-Bearers have met and collectively arrived at decisions. The Office-Bearers have been allotted specific responsibilities in different States. The Central office has one Office Secretary. There is need to strengthen the Centre and also include additional staff for secretarial assistance.
The interaction of the Centre with the States has improved and the Central functionaries visit the States regularly for the Committee meetings, campaigns, workshops, classes and struggles. The AIKS Centre has intervened on all major issues and in giving direction to All India Actions and Workshops. On the important policy matters like the Seed Bill, the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill and other issues also it has intervened in a timely manner to evolve a position. Office-Bearers have actively been involved in conducting training camps and classes for cadre and giving direction to State organisations. Most members have specific responsibility in States which they are fulfilling.
Responses to Government policies, Acts, Budgets and reactions on issues affecting the peasantry and rural poor have been prompt and sharp. The Centre’s intervention on the issue of Seed Bill, Pesticide Management Bill, Minimum Support Prices, Sugarcane Pricing, Fertiliser Prices, Bt Brinjal, etc have been widely appreciated and also been covered by the national as well as the regional media. The AIKS representatives placed the views of Kisan Sabha on Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development as well as on GM Crops and on Input Costs before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture. Kisan Sabha plays Centre plays an active role in the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices meetings on fixing Minimum Support Prices of crops and is successfully giving leadership to the different farmers and farmer groups which attend the meetings. Based on the effective intervention the the Government has decided to set up 3 Committees to look into calculation of costs of cultivation, impact of FTAs on Livelihoods and on FDI in retail. Kisan Sabha position on Seed Bill was also adopted by some States like Bihar.
The Kisan Sabha Bulletin is more informative and efforts have been made to bring it out both in English and Hindi. However, the decision to make it a bi-monthly publication has not been successful. After the last Conference 5 issues in English and 2 issues in Hindi could only be brought out. Unfortunately this year no issue could be brought out. A blog has also been created by the name Peasants’ Struggle with the address peasantsstruggle.blogspot.com where all the important documents and articles are being uploaded. It however needs to be streamlined and made popular. These efforts need to be strengthened and made regular and up to date.
All Conference documents and Reports of Commissions were brought in both Hindi and English. All matter and Press Statements have been mailed immediately to States. There is a scope for further improvement in the Centre functioning and greater efforts are required to ensure accountability in implementing the decisions collectively arrived at.
Kisan Sabha has taken initiative along with Vigyan Prasar to hold National Workshops on Agrarian Crisis and Alternatives at Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, Challenges before North East Agriculture at Agartala, Tripura and another in Mizoram on Agricultural Growth with AIKS Joint Secretary Vijoo Krishnan coordinating them.
AIKC and CKC
After the last Conference there have been 5 CKC meetings and 3 AIKC meetings. Full Office Bearers’ Meetings were held 7 times and the AIKS Centre met around 50 times.
State and District Committees
There is a marked improvement in most States in terms of the District Committee and State Committee functioning. The AIKS Office-Bearers have been attending the State Committees regularly and identifying issues at the State level.
Tehsil/Area and Village Level Organisation
Village and Tehsil/Area organisation committees are of great importance since they are directly involved on various activities among the rural kisan masses. But organisation structure at Village and Tehsil /Area level is very weak in majority of the Districts all over the country. Village and Tehsil/Area committees do not exist or working independently especially in weak States. Also various organisational activities are often depending not on collective functioning but upon individual level functioning of few politically committed cadres. Such committees do not meet regularly or monitor and assist the lower level organisational functioning and ensure collective functioning of kisan activists. If we continue to neglect such lapses it is difficult to emerge as a countrywide –independent- massive kisan movement.
In many States Unit Conferences were held. There is some advance on this front but much greater efforts have to be made.
Primary units are fundamental for effective functioning and organic relation with the masses for a progressive class organisation like ours. The primary units working actively and independently are sign of a living organisation. No practices of unit scrutiny and unit registration exist at the different levels of organisation in many States. At many places primary units are formed during the conference period and unit committees do not meet after their formation and efforts will be there again to activate the unit level committees only during the next conference time. Unit meetings must be held after the membership campaign and unit functioning has to be regularized. The weakness of unit organisation is a major impediment for the expansion of kisan movement and for membership enrolment, politicisation of kisan masses, mobilisation of masses for campaigns and struggles, fund collection etc.
Cadre Development and Whole Timers
The consistent criticism that even the main functionaries working in the Kisan Sabha in many States are not giving enough time to the Kisan Sabha activities as they are having multiple responsibilities has been addressed to a certain extent. The numer of cadres concentrating only on Kisan Sabha activities as whole-timers is still not to the desired level. There is however a dearth of whole timers. West Bengal, Kerala, Tripura, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand have cadres at the State Centre primarily having Kisan Sabha responsibilities. There are also weaknesses in educating the cadre and issues like irregular payment of wages especially in the States where the organisational presence is limited. These are hampering the expansion of the organisation to newer areas and newer sections.
Democratic Functioning and Conferences
The 33rd All India Conference of the All India Kisan Sabha was preceded by State Conferences and District Conferences in all the States. Tripura State Conference will be held after the All India Conference because of the Legislative Assembly Elections. In many States Unit and Area Committee functioning improved and there were successful Conferences. Democratic functioning has been stressed upon and Committee formation at the District and lower levels has been taken up as a priority. District level Conferences and Committee functioning has improved. However, in some of the States where the movement is weak there are difficulties in having Conferences and meetings of the District Committees and lower level Committees regularly.
On Fund Collection
The organisation building requires both active cadre and material resources. It is only then that wide sections of the society can be rallied around against the exploiting classes and anti-peasant Neoliberal policies. Hence collecting fund for various requirements of organisation building from the masses is an important political activity. This perspective should be consciously cultivated as a organisational culture among the peasant masses and the other social sections who are subjected to class exploitation. Accordingly regular and systematic practice of fund collection should be ensured at all levels of organisation.
But there is no practice of collecting yearly working fund in many of the state. Such State organisations do not provide allowance consistently to its whole time activists and no perspective exists regarding that. The dearth of fund critically affects the campaigns and struggles and makes the kisan movement weak. In such a situation, the kisan movement fails to take advantage of the changing socio-political conditions to expand.
Fund is necessary for our work, for expansion and for being able to function independently by financing a greater number of whole-timers. Some States made efforts in this direction. In Odisha the distribution of 25000 packets for collection of rice from the peasantry was a successful effort in which over Rs.2 lakh worth of rice could be collected and at the same time mass involvement could be ensured.
Office Buildings and Central Office Building Fund
The CKC and AIKC gave a call for a Building Fund for ensuring a Central Office Building for the AIKS. As on 15th July 2013 a total of Rs.77,70,118 has been received in the Centre. It has to be completed in a time-bound manner so as to have a Central Office building earliest. Other than stronger States Bihar and Odisha have their own State Offices.
Part IV: Future Tasks
Tasks on Organisation Front
The AIKS Centre needs to develop certain corrective measures to overcome organisational weaknesses. The existing practice of recording the State level figure of membership by accepting affiliation fee should be substituted by a better system to ensure yearly scrutiny and monitoring of the membership enrollment process at all levels of the organisation.
- A membership chart should be prepared and approved by the respective
State Committees and submitted for the approval of CKC every year by a fixed date. It shall cover the membership at primary Unit, Village/Panchayat, Tehsil/Area, District and State level of organisation. All the State units should plan and schedule the period of membership campaign considering the State and regional level specific aspects and accordingly membership campaign must be properly monitored by the respective committees.
- A yearly scrutiny of primary Unit and Village/Tehsil level
organisations by the respective committees within one month of membership finalisation at respective level and the unit scrutiny chart should be prepared by the State units and submitted for the approval of the CKC. The CKC should prepare a Proforma to collect all required particular data along with unit scrutiny form from State units.
- Yearly fund collection should be made mandatory and integral part of
the organisation activities and resources to provide allowance to whole time activists at all level shall be collected through that. A working fund can be collected from each member or each peasant family every year. Like membership subscription this fund should be shared by organisation committees at different levels.
- Collective functioning at all levels should be ensured by fixing
periodical meetings of organisational committees at all levels. The CKC and AIKC should increase frequency of meetings. All lower Committees should also meet more frequently. The decisions of the meeting shall be forwarded to respective higher committees. The annual conference at primary Unit-Village should be held immediately after the membership campaign.
Future Tasks Before Kisan Sabha
Comrades, the overall agrarian scenario in the country clearly provides the opportunity for expansion of the Kisan Sabha and reaching out to newer sections. The Kisan Sabha should make efforts to take our message to the millions of peasantry and mobilise them. Our experience has shown that consistent organised efforts lead to successful struggles and help getting a greater acceptance for the Kisan Sabha. In the next few years we need to gear up the organisation to meet the new challenges. In this regard we can broadly outline the immediate tasks at hand.
- An action plan for expansion of the Kisan Sabha on the whole with
special emphasis on weaker States and Districts. States and Districts may be prioritised based on the opportunities and special attention paid.
- Broadest possible Unity of the peasantry must be built by reaching
out to the different organisations of the peasantry and agricultural workers and struggles launched against anti-peasant neoliberal policies. United struggles involving all Left Peasant Organisations and other organisations of the peasantry and agricultural workers have to be built with Kisan Sabha taking initiative.
- Consistent organised campaigns and struggles on local issues as well
as the issues affecting common masses by building broad platform involving other mass organisations like the agricultural workers’ union, trade union, anganwadi workers and scheme workers.
- All India campaigns should be organised on important policy issues.
- All India Centre should be strengthened and efforts should be made to
bring in more cadre. Functioning has to be streamlined and the frequency of the CKC and AIKC meetings should be increased. It will be helpful if the venue of such meetings is rotated from State to State.
- Make efforts to activise the functioning of Unit, Panchayat, Block
and District level Committees. The functioning of the State Committees should be streamlined. Adequate number of cadres should be identified and deployed. Funds should be collected regularly.
- Classes should be organised at the State and District level to
educate the cadres. General Body Meetings of the members should be called regularly at the appropriate level.