People's Democracy

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

Vol. XXX

No. 11

March 12, 2006

AIAWU On Union Budget 2006-07


DESPITE the welcome increase in plan funds by 20.4 per cent, the All India Agricultural Workers Union is of the opinion that the proposed outlays for agriculture, health education and employment generation fail to impress. They were woefully inadequate in the last budget as the spate of suicides of rural weavers, agricultural labourers and farmers in states as far apart as Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, UP, Karnataka and Kerala indicates. Now they fail to address the depth of the agrarian crisis.


Instead of a thoroughgoing process of land reform in tandem with a properly financed National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the budget falls short of the minimum required for it, Rs 15000 crores, by over Rs 3000 crore. So clearly even the minimum cannot be achieved unless it is backed up by shifting assets like government land, land fraudulently declared as forest and ceiling surplus land to the landless, ensuring sufficient electricity and water supply, cheaper fertiliser and properly functioning Public Distribution system, not to speak of ensuring proper insurance for crops, minimum support prices for agricultural produce and a measures to protect agricultural labour from the uncontrolled use of machinery and pesticides(many of them banned in the countries producing them). Also, the government reveals its anti-labour character by speaking of labour law reform when both unorganised labour and agricultural labour already function under a market they cannot defend themselves in.


Already the price of pulses in up by 19 per cent, of wheat by 10.7 per cent, of potatoes by 58.3 per cent, vegetables by 39 per cent and gram by 25 per cent, while the days of work available in rural areas continue to decline. Between 1993-94 and 2004-05 unemployment rose from 5.6 per cent to 9 per cent for rural males and from 5.6 per cent to 9.3 per cent for rural females. So the crisis has deepened, but the government shows only a cosmetic approach to tackling it.


The power situation is worse. Private enterprise, in which the government still places its faith, has defrauded it as in the Enron deal in Maharashtra or failed to keep up with its time schedule as in the case of the Anpara plant in UP. The result of this act of faith is that the growth of power generation fell to 4.7 per cent below that of last year in April this year. Also, the government has not reopened the closed fertiliser plants of the Public Sector as it should have and the allocation for the PDS is inadequate to save it from collapse. The government’s policy of buying Australian wheat at over twice the price they pay in India to meet this shortfall shows the unwillingness of the government to digress from the WTO line. The budget makes it evident that to follow up on the victories of last year, like the NREG Act, the Indian people will have to launch new struggle in Parliament and in the streets to ensure a change of heart more in keeping with their needs.