People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXX

No. 10

March 05, 2006

AIKS 31ST ALL INDIA CONFERENCE

 

Need For United Resistance Underlined

 Rajendra Sharma

 

THE discussion on general secretary K Varadrajanís report continued into the next one and a half days: thirty three participants presented the experiences from their states. From these narrations it emerged that on the one hand the conditions of agriculture are very diverse in different parts of the country, but on the other hand the policies of neo liberalism and the opening up of agriculture for exploitation of the agricultural sector by the imperialist countries has created an almost identical crisis. Whether it is the areas of green revolution, rich in grain crops or those geared to cash crops, the crisis is as acute as in the backward regions of the country. Only in West Bengal the situation has been somewhat easier for the peasantry.

 

The story from every state corroborated the description and analysis of the agrarian crisis put forward in the report: the falling prices of agricultural produce and at the same time a tremendous increase in the inputs required by the farmers. This not only entailed a crisis for the entire agricultural sector, but also pushed the poor into conditions that have led to thousands of suicides across the country.

 

It is not surprising therefore that the main demands from all corners, as expressed in the plenary session, were for an increase in institutional loans and availability of comprehensive insurance schemes, a check on imports and for tariffs that would protect the Indian farmer from unregulated imports, a minimum support price and availability of water and electricity, and quality seeds, fertilisers and pesticides and other such inputs at reasonable prices, and better infrastructure in agriculture.

 

PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES

 

Another problem that was highlighted was that of making over of agricultural land adjoining towns and main highway to purposes other than agriculture. This is particularly so in Haryana, western UP and Punjab. The crisis in agriculture was leading to sale of lands on the part of peasants, and further decreasing the land available for agriculture. In many states due to changes in land laws, land is getting transferred from dalits, adivasis and poor peasants into the ownership of big companies, often multinationals, as in Orissa. There were discussions on the cultural rights of tribals as well as the lacunas in the tribal bill. It was also felt by many that there is a need to take up the rights of all peasants to forest use, as restricting our demand to tribals would lead to creation of fissures between tribals and other peasants.

 

The question of ponds and river side cultivation, problems in sale of vegetable and other perishable items, the destruction of small tea gardens and jute cultivation, destruction of the PDS, the perfidy of the government in bringing down the criteria for determining the poverty line and other such issues also came in for detailed discussion. The problems of communalisation in BJP-ruled states was another important issue that was discussed.

 

NEED FOR INTERVENTION

 

In his reply to the reports from the states, Varadrajan underlined the need for united resistance against the anti-people policies of the government in agriculture and also of the need to link this resistance with the struggles of agricultural labourers, dalits, tribals, women and all other sections of society. He also said that the Kisan Sabha stood for the rights of all sections of peasantry and many of the issues were also of interest to those who were well off. He talked of the need to base struggles on the basis of concrete conditions prevailing in every state, to take up the entire range of issues pertaining to the agricultural sector, and to create a widespread movement that may involve the change in balance of forces in the rural areas.

 

After the reply by Varadrajan, the participants discussed separately on four issues ó organisation and movement; the prices of agricultural produce and the opening up of agriculture; agricultural loans and insurance; report of the Farmersí Commission. The recommendations and limitations of this report came in for detailed discussion.

 

V K Ramachandran spoke on behalf of the Foundation of Agrarian Studies and informed participants of the survey and study of the agrarian conditions being carried out by the Foundation in collaboration with the Kisan Sabha. Andhra Pradesh has been chosen for the survey during this year. The conference was greeted by leaders of other mass fronts, after which the resolution demands relating to the entire range of issues were discussed during the conference and passed, including the decision to protest the visit of Bush and the policies of the US government.

 

The conference saw the participation of 720 delegates, of whom just 27 were women. In terms of age group, most were between 46-65 years of age. Majority of the delegates were poor or middle peasants, most studied upto intermediate level or graduation.

 

Ramachandran Pillai was again elected president, as was a new 137 member Council, which in turn elected a 53 member central committee of the Kisan Sabha. K Varadarajan was again unanimously chosen as general secretary of the organisation.