People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIII

No. 34

August 23, 2009

 

INDO-ASEAN AGREEMENT

 

Kerala to Protest through Human Chain, Oct 2

 

THROUGH a statement issued on August 18, the Kerala state committee of the CPI(M) has decided to organise a Human Chain from Trivandrum in the southern part of the state to Kasargode in the north, in protest against the free trade agreement signed by the government of India with the ASEAN. The CPI(M)ís charge is that the agreement will destroy the agrarian and allied sectors of Kerala. The proposed Human Chain will also be in protest against the wrong policies of the government of India.

The action will take place on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The statement said the ASEAN agreement is shaped in such a way that it would completely destroy the agrarian sector of Kerala which is based mainly on cash crops. As soon as this agreement is implemented, products from the ASEAN countries will flood our internal market. Though the products from ASEAN countries are similar to those from Kerala, production and productivity in these countries are higher than in Kerala. Thus the fear is that the Kerala producersí market will be completely captured by these countries. Not only that, even products of developed countries will enter Kerala market through the ASEAN countries.

The CPI(M) statement pointed out that if the ASEAN agreement comes into effect, the future of Keralaís important cash crops like rubber, coconut, pepper, coffee and tea will be in a deep crisis. The same can be said about the fish production. The fishes obtained from the ASEAN countriesí coasts are similar to those obtained from the Kerala coast. As part of the agreement, therefore, the fish industry in Kerala will also be in a crisis. There is no doubt that a crisis will also engulf the traditional industries including handloom.

In the recent past, Kerala had expressed its anxiety over the probable far-reaching consequences of the ASEAN agreement for its economy. The prime ministerís promise that the agreement will be signed only after discussions with the Kerala government has been ignored, and the ASEAN agreement was signed in a frightening hurry. The government has not even let out the details of the agreement before signing it. This is a glaring example of the fact that the government of India is going ahead in an undemocratic way. Agriculture is in the state list of the constitution, but the government of India has adopted this approach without caring for that provision. Now the UPA government has in fact completed the process of signing the agreement which the NDA government had commenced in October 2003.

The statement pointed out that the Kerala economy is alive on the strength of the funds which its people bring from the Gulf area through their hard work, and because of the export of cash crops and related sectors. But the global economic crisis has badly shattered Keralaís exports and the expatriatesí remittances. It is in these conditions that the ASEAN agreement threatens to further worsen the situation.

It is in the view of this situation that the Kerala state committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has urged the patriotic people of Kerala to rise in heroic protest against this policy of the government of India which will destroy three crore Kerala people. The partyís earnest hope is that the people who love Kerala will come out to participate in this human chain in large numbers and make it a grand success.