People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 16, 2006
Bengal CPI(M) Nails Misinformation
A SECTION of the corporate media and the Bengal opposition has been engaged in a calumnious campaign on the ‘adverse impact of industrialisation on agriculture.’ The crux of the ‘argument’ seems that in the days to come, ‘agricultural production will fall off’ because of the ‘conversion of multi-crop land into industrial plots,’ thereby affecting the state’s food security.
This outlandish cacophony has been marked by a desperate attempt by the dwindling ranks of the Trinamul Congress and the ‘Maoists,’ acting sometimes in unison, to retrieve as much as possible of their political credibility that has lately touched rock bottom.
The big media magnates smarting yet under the terrible blow dealt by the Bengal electorate to their dream of seeing the Left Front thrown out of office, have joined the cause hastily enough in order to snag another chance at upping the ante against the Left Front in general and the CPI(M) in particular.
The media in particular have also tried to float the idea that there was ‘split’ in the CPI(M) over the question of industrialisation versus food security.
State secretary of the CPI(M) Biman Basu and Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee have already made the issue quite clear and have pointed out that food security would not be affected through the process of industrialisation.
Recently, central committee member of the CPI(M) and senior kisan leader Benoy Konar nailed the lies that were floating around over the issue. Konar made it clear that for the sake of increasing the scope for employment, the process of industrialisation would go on. At the same time, Benoy Konar said, production of food crops must be kept on increasing in order to ensure that food security was not hampered in any manner.
Critical of the corporate media for having represented the entire issue in the wrong perspective and not hesitating to sprout distortion and lies, Benoy Konar said that several newspapers and TV channels had misquoted the land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah on this issue as well.
Over the past decade, said Benoy Konar, no less than four lakh acres of agricultural land parcels were converted into non-agricultural land. This was brought about by various factors and circumstances. When a plot is built upon, it loses its characteristics.
Rezzak Mollah had said that since just over three lakh acres land was converted to agricultural land in this period, more land parcels must be brought under the plough to ward off the possibility of food security.
PRODUCTIVITY IS THE KEY
Benoy Konar noted that food crisis was not dependent on how much land is brought under agriculture. The crucial factor here is productivity of land. This was being done all the while in Bengal under Left Front governance.
Quoting from Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s classical novel, Ananda math, Benoy Konar posited that despite abundance of agricultural land and a low population density of 32 crore, undivided India did experience famines. On the other hand, despite the present population of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh touching 140 crore, famines are conspicuous by their absence. Another cause of food crisis was the lack of purchasing power of the people and increase of poverty.
Benoy Konar said that there was no alternative to industrialisation if one aimed at increasing employment. ‘We are not here to preside over reversal of the wheels of history through dragging the state back to the days of feudalism.’
An index of development of a country is seen through the index of how many of the populace depend on agriculture for a living. India, the percentage is 60, whilst in the USA, it is 2, and in Japan and England, it is 5.
Since agriculture is not fully mechanised in India, said Benoy Konar, the sector produced less of man days than it otherwise would. Agriculture and industry were not antithetical to each other. Food production must be increased while the wheel of industry will roll onward. Pressure on land must be reduced for the interest of the kisan himself, said Benoy Konar.
On the issue of productivity, Benoy Konar said that in India the average productivity per acre stood at 2400 kilos of food crops. In China, the figure was 5600 kilos. Thus, there is scope for increase by two-and-a-half times of the country’s productivity in the day ahead. Efforts must be made to convert single-crop land to three-crop land.
Bio-fertilisers must be used in a wider way than at present, and chemical fertilisers utilised in a scientific manner. At the same time, urbanisation must be done in a planned manner, added Benoy Konar.