People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 03, 2007
AIAWU To Hold 6th All India Conference In Punjab
THE Sixth All India conference of the All India Agricultural Workers Union is going to be held at Nawashahr, Punjab on June 3-5, 2007. About 700 delegates from 14 states representing 40 lakhs members of the union will participate in the conference. The conference will begin with a massive rally of agricultural workers at Nawashahr, the birth place of Bhagat Singh on June 3, 2007. The conference will discuss the problems of the agricultural workers in different parts of the country and decide the future course of action.
Agricultural workers are the most exploited and downtrodden working population of our country in the rural areas. They constitute 40.7 percent of the total agricultural work force. The population of agricultural workers is growing continuously due to the increasing pauperisation of the rural poor, marginal farmers and poor and landless peasants. Even a section of unemployed people due to closure of industries are going back to the villages to add to the population of agricultural workers.
The working days for the agricultural workers are continuously decreasing, coming down from 122 days two decades back to 57 days today. The worst sufferers of the growing agrarian crisis due to globalisation are the agricultural workers. Fierce competition from the world agriculture markets led by developed countries has ruined the farm sector. Declining subsidies and growing costs of agricultural inputs is increasing the farmers’ indebtedness and is forcing them to commit suicide. Besides, the changes in cropping pattern from food crops to cash crops are also reducing the employment opportunities for agricultural workers.
Poverty, joblessness and starvation are haunting the agricultural workers and on top of that, they face severe social oppression as most of them belong to SCs, STs, Minorities and other weaker sections. They are the worst victims of communalism and increasing caste violence.
It is unfortunate that even after 60 years of independence, there is no legal protection for agricultural workers. A comprehensive central legislation is still not in sight. The earlier BJP led NDA government denied to pass such an act. The UPA government included this demand in the National Common Minimum Program (CMP), but even after completion of three years of rule, it still remains a distant dream. The systematic demolition of public distribution system (PDS) has also hit the agricultural workers hard due to inadequate supply or non-availability of essential commodities from the ration shop. The prices of food and other goods have gone up well beyond the capacity of the purchasing power of the agricultural workers and starvation is becoming the order of the day for them. Due to the diminishing days of work, they are forced to migrate from state to state, district to district, and their hopes for a decent livelihood are yet to be realised. There is no proper planning for their accommodation, health care and education for their children.
The welfare act passed by the Kerala state government has improved the conditions of the agricultural workers in the state. In Left led states of Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura, the agricultural workers are in a little better position in comparison to other states. But still their overall situation cannot improve without a central legislation. The National Rural Employment Guarantee act has provided the opportunity for 100 days work for an agricultural workers’ family, but the implementation of the act by various state governments is very bad and insufficient.
The conference will discuss these issues in detail and take the experiences of various states in planning the future course of action. This year being the 25th year of the inception of All India Agricultural Workers Union, the conference will chalk out the details of the program of the silver jubilee celebrations. The conference will be a milestone in the history of agricultural workers movement in the country. The conference being held in the 150th anniversary year of the first war of independence and the centenary year of saheed – e – azam Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary will be inspired to intensify the anti imperialist struggle.