(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 23, 2011
Govt Engineering Price Rises: AIAWU
THE All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) has severely criticised the shameless attempts of the government of India to spread rumours about food shortages, its inaction against the hoarders and its policy of allowing grain to rot rather than be distributed through the public distribution system while consistently raising the prices of petrol and diesel, that has fuelled a rise in the prices of foodstuffs to nearly 20 per cent. The AIAWU has urged the agricultural labourers of the country to make common cause with all other sections of the Indian people to resist the price rise.
In a statement issued from New Delhi on January 18, the AIAWU has demanded immediate scrapping of the futures trade in agriculture. It has also demanded supply of adequate stocks of grain to the states for the PDS, firm and decisive action against the hoarders. Or else, the organisation has warned, the people would be forced to act as they have done in other parts of the world.
Firmly opposing the opening of retail trade to foreign players, the AIAWU has said the present bout of price rise has been engineered by the central government to make their entry more profitable. This will further raise the prices of food, ruin our small traders and peasants, and make periodic famines commonplace, thus hitting the poorest in our villages and small towns. This move cannot be tolerated and must be fought and defeated, the union’s statement added.
The agricultural workers of the country have gained more and better employment only through their struggles. So said A Vijaya Raghavan, general secretary of the All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU), at a state level seminar organised by the Andhra Pradesh state committee of the organisation on “Implementation of the Rural Employment Act: Various Aspects.” The seminar was held at Badam Sarojini Devi Auditorium in Mehboobnagar town on January 6. Delivering the keynote address at the seminar, Vijaya Raghavan condemned the anti-people policies of the central and Andhra Pradesh governments that are causing the skyrocketing of prices of the essential commodities. The prime minister is acting against the interests of the poor, he accused, expressing anger over the central government’s declaration of subsidies worth thousands of crores of rupees to big industrial houses while ignoring the welfare of the poor people.
Expressing anguish at the suicides by over 2,56,000 farmers so far, the speaker said it reveals the depth of crisis in our agriculture. Both the erstwhile BJP-led NDA government and the present Congress-led UPA government are following the same policies in relation to the poor people.
On the state of implementation of the rural employment guarantee scheme in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the AUAWU leader said there are many lacunae in it and that the scheme has become a mere a ritual in the state. He compared it with the better implementation of the same scheme in the state of Kerala where 41 lakh poor people are receiving the old age pension. The state government of Kerala is also constructing pucca houses for the agricultural labourers along with providing them all the other welfare facilities.
In contrast, the central government and various state governments across the country have failed to provide the statutory 100 days of employment per annum in most of the cases. The speaker noted that on an average only 40 days of employment is being provided to the rural poor. On the other hand, about a quarter of the funds allocated for the scheme is going unutilised, he lamented. At the same time, these governments are ignoring the plea that the labourers be given a wage of at least Rs 150 a day. The central government is evading responsibility in this regard by passing the buck to the state governments.
The speakers also pointed out that some district collectors have made hay out of this scheme and are buying luxury cars or installing air conditioners in their offices. Also, people’s representatives belonging to certain political parties are hatching a conspiracy in order to weaken the employment guarantee scheme.
Stating that workers throughout the country want that the minimum number of days of employment under this scheme must be raised to 200 per annum he reiterated, Vijaya Raghavan said only through the struggles can this demand be realised.
Speaking at the seminar, AIAW state secretary B Venkat demanded for a minimum of 255 working days per annum under the scheme for the poor of Mehboobnagar district and a wage of at least Rs 150 per day under the scheme. In this context, he demanded an allocation of Rs 500 crore for implementation of the NREGA in the district and of Rs 10,000 crore for the state of AP. Venkat pointed out that Mehboobnagar MP, KCR, has never spoke even on a single occasion about the state of implementation of this scheme that is very much needed by the people of the district. Expressing anger over the large scale malpractices that are sabotaging the scheme, he demanded jail for those who are indulging in corrupt practices.
AIAWU president Paturi Ramayya, its state president P Murali Krishna and Mallikharjuna Swamy also spoke on the occasion while state AIAWU vice president A Ramulu presided.