(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 17, 2010
Calls for Nationwide Campaign in February
Ramachandran Pillai in his concluding address to the conference, which
The adverse impact of FTA with ASEAN, which has come into force from January 1, 2010, would be felt by the peasantry, fishermen, workers in textile and light manufacturing goods industries. The import of cheap agro products from the countries of ASEAN will hit our farmers adversely. At a time when even rich farmers are unable to withstand the adverse impact of neo-liberal reforms in our country, this agreement would crush the small farmers. Therefore a nationwide movement to make the UPA government roll back this measure is needed, he stressed.
underlined that the present situation offers tremendous scope for the
of movement and called for strengthening and improving all aspects of
organisation to make use of this opportunity. He thanked the AP unit of
for successfuly conducting the all
Earlier, after the inaugural session on January 7, AIKS general secretary K Varadharajan placed a 56-page general secretary's report in the conference. The report analyses the developments in agrarian sector with particular emphasis on their impact on the peasantry, and reviews the work of the organisation since the last conference held in Nashik in January 2006. It notes that the dominant imperialist powers are seeking their way out of the present global economic crisis by seeking to further penetrate and dominate the markets of developing countries through WTO, World Bank and IMF. The burden of the crisis is being shifted to the peasantry, rural labour and the working class in our country also. The peasantry is the hardest hit due to the policies of liberalisation-privatisation-globalisation being aggressively pursued by successive governments at the centre. These have resulted in a situation where the Indian peasant today faces rapidly rising input costs; declining and volatile output prices; higher cost of credit and lesser access to it; declining irrigation and infrastructure facilities; weak domestic market due to collapse of PDS and cut-backs in State expenditure etc.
Noting that the agrarian crisis has intensified in the last four years, the report blames the UPA government of going back on its promises made to the Indian peasantry. Its non-implementation of the recommendations of the M S Swaminathan-chaired National Commission on Farmers has been particularly criticised. The misery of Indian peasants has been compounded by the deficient monsoon and severe drought conditions in the past one year. There has been a shortfall in paddy cultivation by nearly 76 lakh hectares and similar decreases in case of other crops like bajra, maize, jowar, groundnut etc. The government has provided little support in terms of Plan outlays to overcome the acute agrarian crisis. The allocation for agriculture and allied activities alone declined from around 16 per cent to 10.5 per cent between 2008-09 and 2009-10 budget estimates. The skewed nature of economic growth and the magnitude of rural-urban divide is reflected from the following fact: the share of agriculture, which was 36.4 per cent of GDP in 1982-83, declined to 18.4 per cent in 2006-07, although it continues to provide employment to 52 per cent of workforce. While the population grew by 1.9 per cent during 1990-2007, foodgrains production grew only by 1.2 per cent, resulting in decline in per capita cereal production and consumption.
The magnitude of the crisis is also borne out from the fact that between the two censuses of 1991 and 2001, nearly 8 million people quit farming, most of them being small and marginal farmers who constitute a large majority of cultivating peasantry (nearly 84 per cent of all farmer households). Around 46.28 per cent of these small and marginal farmers are indebted. Thus a large section still remains untouched by the much tom-tommed loan waiver scheme of the government. This is resulting in a situation where increasing number of peasants are committing suicides. According to the National Crime Records Bureau data, farmer suicides account for 14.4 per cent of all suicides and for the six years from 2002, the annual average has risen to 17,366 from 15,747 during 1997-2001. Countless women farmers' suicides are excluded from this data because they are not considered as farmers as land is usually in the name of their husbands.
the question of land,
the report notes the distinct trend to reverse land reforms. With
become univable, many poor peasants are forced to sell their assets
land and livestock. The advent of MNCs into the countryside in the form
contract farming and corporatisation as well as the attempts in many
'land consolidation' through dilution of land ceiling laws is a serious
problem. As per the 63rd round National Sample Survey (NSS) on land and
livestock, conducted in 2006-07, the proportion of landless households
report also deals
with the issues of skyrocketing prices and food security; exorbitant
costs, price volatility and unremunerative prices; Indo-ASEAN FTA that
the death knell of Indian farmers; GM crops and perpetuation of seed
monopolies; drastic changes in the sugar policy at the behest of sugar
dismantling of extension services; the condition of dalits, tribals and
implementation of NREGA and Forest Rights Act. The experience of the
As for major activities conducted during this period, the report lists out the all India jathas taken out from the four corners of the country in 2006, which culminated in a massive rally in New Delhi on November 20, 2006 that saw participation of around 40,000 kisans from all over the country. The rally took forward the slogan 'Save Peasantry, Save Agriculture, Save the Country' and called upon peasants to give up suicides and join the struggle. The campaign undertaken by various units on the demands of tribals, particularly implementation of the Tribal Forest Rights Act; the actions and interventions in regard to implementation of NREGA and PDS; the vigorous campaign organised against price rise and anti-people policies of the central government during August 16-30, 2007; the national seminar held at Wayanad in Kerala along with the AIAWU, which helped formulating the organisations' response to the global economic crisis effectively etc were mentioned. Apart from these, many struggles and campaigns were conducted by the state units on specific issues, including land, water, power, NREGA, Forest Rights etc.
A total of 37 delegates participated in the discussion on the general secretary's report that was held on January 8. While endorsing the report, the delegates shared their experiences in the states and gave concrete suggestions for issues that needed to be taken up and for strengthening the organisation. Almost all opined that the question of land is assuming great importance in the present juncture and advocated taking it up in a big way nationwide. They explained how land is being alienated from the peasants by private corporates, SEZs etc and how some governments were acting as real estate brokers, aiding this process. Some delegates pointed out how the ruling classes are bringing forward divisive issues to the fore in order to break the unity of people at a time when the full impact of neo-liberal policies is being felt. Rajasthan comrades told of RSS effort in this regard in their state to break the unity of farmers. Similarly the developments in Andhra Pradesh and Congress party's efforts to rake up differences between tribals and non-tribals in Tripura were cited. A suggestion was made to work out a strategy to deal with identity politics across the nation in a priority manner.
The opportunities for expansion of the organisation through work on NREGA and Tribal Forest Rights Act were underlined by quite a few delegates. Tripura comrade told the delegates that the Left Front government has so far distributed 1.6 lakh hectares of land among tribal families under this Act. Among the issues facing the peasantry that were raised in the course of discussions included: declining credit facilities; the dangers of corporate farming and penetration of MNCs into Indian agriculture; sale of spurious seeds and fertilisers; increasing efforts for privatisation of water and irrigation facilities; the problems of tenant farmers; proper rehabilitation of the displaced people due to projects/SEZs etc; largescale corruption in various schemes and packages of the government etc.
matters, most delegates stressed the need for regular follow up after
struggles and campaigns in order to ensure consolidation as well as
politicisation of members. The membership of AIKS presently stands at
2,26,32,584. Despite a hefty increase of 37,79,674 from the last
Nashik, it was pointed out that the three states of
Varadharajan in his
reply to the discussion stressed on the importance of conducting
struggles on issues instead of relying mainly on national-level calls.
how such struggles are possible on the demand for providing
compensation due to
sale of spurious seeds and fertilisers, or for availability of credit
and marginal farmers. He wanted the focus to be on the poor and
peasants. He announced that a special meeting of the newly-elected AIKC
be held for identifying the issues to be taken up for struggles. A
workshop would be held this year for Hindi-speaking states. He sought
cooperation of states in strengthening of the all
The penultimate day of the conference saw the delegates breaking into commissions on four important issues. Each commission saw presentation of a draft note by the author and discussion centred around that. For example, a total of 178 delegates attended the 'Commission on Land and Related Issues' held at a venue nearby the main conference venue. The draft note was presented by AIKC permanent invitee, Venkatesh Athreya, on which a total of 19 delegates presented their views, including some specific suggestions. Similarly there was a 'Commission on Seed Monopolies, Genetically Modified Crops and Bt Brinjal', draft note of which was placed by AIKS leader, Vijoo Krishnan. Another AIKC permanent invitee, V K Ramachandran, placed the draft note for the 'Commission on Public Investment, Rural Credit and Insurance' while Prasenjit Bose placed the draft note for the 'Commission on Agricultural Prices'. In the evening, the outcome of the discussions in the commissions were placed before the conference by the respective authors. These papers would be finalised by the newly elected CKC.
resolutions on several important issues. Among them included one in
the struggle for democracy in
A total of 720 delegates attended the conference, of whom women delegates numbered 56, constituting 7.89 per cent. Majority of delegates participated in land movement. There were two delegates who joined Kisan Sabha before 1947. Another fact was that delegates aged between 41 to 60 years formed a significant chunk, prompting the credentials committee convener, K Balakrishnan, to say that by next conference efforts must be made to bring in younger delegates. Also the need to promote women into leadership positions was also stressed.
released a book in the conference, titled ‘Socio-Economic Surveys of
Villages in Andhra Pradesh – A Study of Agrarian Relations’. This has
edited by V K Ramachandran, Vikas Rawal and Madhura Swaminathan and is
outcome of collaboration between the Foundation of Agrarian Studies and
India Kisan Sabha. Three villages in the three regions of Andhra
chosen for this study and the first one was Ananthavaram village in