People's Democracy

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


No. 45

November 06, 2011

AIAWU Flays Govt on Prices Issue


THE All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) has condemned the UPA-II government’s failure to control food prices that have been consistently rising close to the 10 per cent mark for months now. This rise, the AIAWU statement issued on October 22 said, has nothing whatever to do with the minimum support price (MSP) being paid to farmers. It is well-known that the commodity whose price has risen least is wheat, in whose price the MSP plays the largest role. The highest rise in price has been of vegetables (no less than 17.59 per cent), followed by eggs, meat and fish at 14.10 per cent, fruit by 12.39 per cent, milk by 10.8 per cent and pulses at 7.42 per cent above the last year.


The conclusion the AIAWU has drawn is that clearly the price rise has not benefited the farmers who have received only a third to a fifth of the price. Then who has benefited? It is the hoarders and middlemen who have made hay while the central government’s sun shines on them by permitting trading in commodity futures, by raising fuel costs so that farmers cannot sell directly to consumers, leaving the monopoly of food sales in the hands of big wholesalers and now, corporates, who can raise prices artificially by refusing to sell hoarded stocks at lower prices. By raising interest rates on loans, the government has only succeeded in cutting down conspicuous spending. But in case of food, that is not a factor that counts. Expenditure on food is a necessity and less consumption is deprivation.


In such a situation, the AIAWU has put forward the demand that strict action must be taken against hoarders of perishable goods whose profit margin allows them to waste food rather than let it be consumed, and that there must be a ban on speculation in futures of the necessaries of life. Moreover, the AIAWU has also demanded complete revamping of the public distribution system (PDS) with the objective of universalising it and providing at least 14 necessaries of life including kerosene, sugar and cloth through PDS outlets. Further, a reduction in the price of petrol and diesel, so necessary not only to transport food but also to produce it with diesel driven water pumps, is called for in order to lower the inflation rates. At the same time, fertilisers and seeds should be provided to farmers at controlled rates and a regular supply of electricity and water be maintained by the state as an incentive to increase food production.


The AIAWU statement also expresses the apprehension that the government would not ensure this as its dream of corporate landownership has not only led to unprecedented changes in land from agriculture to non-agricultural uses but also large-scale distress sales by farmers who are now getting reduced to the landless poor looking for any work at any price in the villages. The union has therefore demanded restrictions on both distress sales of land and easy changes in landuse in order to protect the large majority of India’s people from degenerating into penury.


The organization is of the opinion that we have now no other recourse but to launch broadbased movements for measures to stop the price rise by the central and state governments. It has urged upon all like minded organisations to join in making November a month of ongoing protest against the class policies being favoured by these governments and against the misery they are heaping on the masses. They must be told to stop pursuing these policies or face the opposition of the people of India in the village and towns, on roads and in front of government offices, until they are forced to change at their pro-corporate policies that have brought untold misery to the people over the last twenty years.