People's Democracy

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


No. 28

July 14, 2013


Onto the All India Conference of the AIKS


K Varadarajan


THE 33rd All India Conference of the All India Kisan Sabha will be held in Cuddalore, Tamilnadu, from July 24-27, 2013.


As a result of the neo-liberal policies pursued by the Congress-led UPA government, more than three lakh peasants have committed suicide in the last fifteen years. Put in simple terms, it means one suicide every half an hour. Reversal of land reforms, indiscriminate land acquisition and land concentration in few hands are all threatening peasants and agriculture.


Agriculture has increasingly become unviable. Farmers are in acute distress and are facing unprecedented agrarian crisis. More than 40 percent of the farmers are forced to quit agriculture. 


Public investment in agriculture has witnessed steady decline and the share of agriculture and allied sectors in total plan expenditure is negligible.  Rural development expenditure by the government – implying the expenditure incurred on agriculture, rural development, special programmes, irrigation and flood control, village industry, energy and transport have all declined drastically too. Public investment in agriculture declined continuously from 1991.


The period of economic reforms has seen a sharp slowdown in the rate of growth of agricultural output. Neo-liberal reforms have been associated with a drastic fall in the rate of agricultural growth.




The rural countryside has witnessed the continued domination of landlord sections in most parts of India and land is increasingly being concentrated in a few hands with monopoly control in the absence of meaningful land reforms and effective implementation of ceiling laws. This has ensured the continuation of the socio-economic hierarchies and entrenching of feudal vestiges even in regions where the production relations may be capitalist.


The intervening period has also witnessed a calculated reversal of land reforms and dilution of land-ceiling laws beyond recognition in many states. The agrarian distress is forcing the peasantry, particularly the poorer sections to sell their assets including land and livestock. The advent of MNCs into the countryside in the form of contract farming and corporatisation as well as indiscriminate land grab in the name of SEZs is further dispossessing the poor and marginal peasantry of their main source of economic security and dignity.


The landless peasant families in the countryside were 22 percent in the beginning of the 1990s and have now increased to 41 percent.

Thus pauperisation of the peasantry is a clear result of the two decades of implementation of the neo-liberal policies.


These policies have led mainly to five types of attacks on the farmers - (i) land grabbing by corporates, (ii) rising of input costs, (iii) no proper assurance on the costs of output, (iv) Government’s refusal to procure the agricultural produce and (v) refusing to give loans to the farmers, mainly to the small and marginal farmers who constitute 70 percent of them.


The neo-liberal policies pursued by the Congress led UPA government are the root cause for the deepening agriculture crisis.


In the last ten years, on an average, each year, 33 lakhs of farmers have been forced to sell their land and enter the growing mass of the rural landless. According to a latest survey, more than 50 percent of the small and marginal farmers are not interested in continuing agriculture.


Rural poverty is growing rapidly in recent years. Today, hunger and deprivation affects 260 million (26 crore) people in the country. India is home to 40 percent of the world’s underweight children. Iron deficiency (anemia) is estimated to affect 75 percent of children under the age of five. Under-nutrition in women of reproductive age contributes significantly to malnourished children. Consequently, 30 percent of babies weigh less than 2.5 kg at birth leading to multiple handicaps in later life including cognitive ability. India ranks 126 out of 177 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index.




There has been a considerable increase in the price of important farm inputs during the last five years. During 1990-91 to 1995-96, while the average wholesale price index increased by 58 percent, that of fertilisers increased by 113 percent, of pesticides by 90 percent, of irrigation by 62 percent and the price of diesel by 75 percent. In contrast to this, the price of agricultural outputs have been either stagnant or have seen a very small increase which has led to this precarious situation.


This is the grim situation in rural India, which led to lakhs of suicides and hunger deaths. The reasons for this worst situation are lack of remunerative prices for the crops, rising costs of inputs and because there is no proper institutional credit for farmers, especially the small and marginal ones who are left at the mercy of the private moneylenders. This situation has arisen because of the policies of different central and state governments.


Instead of addressing these problems of the rural poor, the prime minister has made a statement recently that the main problem in India is that the majority of the people in India are living in villages. He further said that we have to see that a good section of them should move to cities. What will they do in the cities? Without the required knowledge and skills and proper education, their condition will only worsen.


Even though the tenants, agricultural workers  and tribals are affected due to the policies of the government, the worst affected are women. Despite the declining employment in agriculture, two-thirds of the women still depend on cultivation and agricultural labour for their livelihoods. The number of female headed households in agriculture have gone up by almost 20 percent especially after the suicide of male farmers.  


In such a situation, the 33rd conference of the AIKS which is the largest organisation of Indian farmers with 2.25 crores of membership will plan the united struggles with all the other kisan organisations to compel the central government to change the neoliberal policies followed by them which has led to this drastic situation in rural India.