The morning of freedom August 1947
This daybreak, pockmarked-
This morning, night-bitten.
Surely, this is not the morning we’d longed for,
in whose eager quest, all comrades
had set out, hoping that somewhere
in the wilderness of the sky
would emerge the ultimate destination of stars;
somewhere, the wave of the slow night will meet
and somewhere will anchor the boat of
—-Faiz Ahmed Faiz
The farmers are at the precipice, facing a grave existential crisis, under predatory capitalism the farmers aredeemed to be a surplus population by the ruling classes, ready to be sacrificed at the altar of greed by the neoliberal regime.
Instead of addressing the severe economic problems faced by the workers and peasants, who are undergoing extreme hardships by skyrocketing prices and dwindling incomes. Theright wing Hindu nationalist government led by the butcher of GujratNarendraModi is diverting the attention of the entire country by playing the anti-Pakistan card and by whipping up extremely regressive nationalist hysteria. Where lakhs of farmers have committed suicide due toa severe agrarian crisis,millions of youth are unemployed and underemployed,a concerted attack is being raised on workers with drastic curtailment of trade union rights ,sexism and misogyny is on rise, Dalits and Adivasis are facing absolute misery and pauperization. On the other hand theruling party has pushed the country into regressive religious bigotry. Instead of solving the day to day problems of the working masses, the bogeyman of national security is insidiously created tocamaflouge the loot of the country by national and international big business. A false threat of Khyber Pass syndrome is created in the name of national security as the campaign for parliament election is gathering steam.
Though the reasons of agrarian distress can be traced to early Nineties of the 20th century, when the neoliberal economic reforms were launched..the misery of the farmers and the agrarian crisis has assumed unmanageable proportions under the prime ministership of NarendraModi,who came to power promising to double the farmers income and to implement the Swaminthan commission report .As I am writing this paper, the shocking news of gang rapes is pouring in from Uttar Pradesh ruled by the patriarchal bigot Yogi Adityanath, it is quite frightening, the incidents of gangrapes sends a chill down in ones spine.In Jhansi districtin U.P the hapless victim of a gangrape committed suicide because the police hadn’t registered F.I,R,in another incident in Kushinagar district of U.P the perpetrators of gangrape made a video of the victim which went viral on social media. All these shameful incidents happened during the heat of election campaign and the ruling party maintained a criminal silence on this while shamelessly playing theanti-Pakistan card.Every Indians head was hung in shame after the gruesome rape and murder of a Bakarwal teenage girl in KathuaJammu.The BJP in Jammu shamelessly defended the perpetrators of this bestiality. On one hand sexual violence and harassment of women is riding, on the other hand absolutely oppressive medievalBrahmanical patriarchal moral policing of women’s lives and bodies is done by the misogynist lumpen brigade of the Hindu fascist SanghParivar through sick campaigns like love jihad and anti-Romeo squads.What we have noticed in India during the past five years of Hindu majoritarian communal fascist rule of the BJP led NDA 2 regime is a horrifying action replay of the Nazi terror under Hitler in Germany. The country is mauled by the White and Saffron terror unleashed by the Hindu fascist Modiregime. One recoils in horror when the lumpen storm troopers of the Fascist SanghParivar indulge in moblyinching of innocent Muslims in the name of cow protection. This medieval barbarism was enacted with impunity from Dadri to Alwar under the watch of NarendraModi. All voices of dissent are ruthlessly muzzled under a fast militarizing authoritarian regime.Human rights activists are incarcerated and harassed under the convoluted garb of stupid and concocted absurd phenomena of urban Maoism.The democratic aspirations of JNU students were sadistically trampled under the jackboots of a Hindu fascist state. Vulnerable social groups like Adivasis are arrested and shot dead at will by a trigger happy paramilitary force when they protest against the rapacious usurpation of their land forest and water by the rampaging national and international corporations in collusion with a subservient client state.13 innocent activists of Maruti Suzuki workers union were unjustly and arbitrarily given life imprisonment for asserting their trade union rights.The Dalits of this country can never forgive or forget the shameful flogging of Dalit youths at Unain Gujrat the home state of this lap dog of Imperialism NarendraModi.These despicable acts of saffron terror were in full display when more than hundred small and big communal riots were enacted by the RSS outfits in the run up to U.P assembly elections to communally polarize the electorate. Throughout the country churches are vandalized. The chilling White terror in India corroborates Agambens thesis of the state of exception. Kashmir has been converted into a concentration camp with the highest internal deployment of the military in the world. Muslim youth are shot dead and imprisoned at will in the name of so called war on terror sponsored by the imperialist masters. In the Assembly elections of Rajasathan, Chhatisgarh and M.P farmers anger ousted the incumbent BJP governments. Now when the farmers are marching in the streets demanding an end to the agrarian crisis. To deflect thefarmer’s demands, the BJP is cynically playing the Pakistan card and whipping up nationalist hysteria in the parliament election campaign.
But the Indian masses have refused to be cowed down by this retrograde saffron offensive. Peasants and workers are up in arms against the anti-people policy of the Modi regime. The wide spread discontent against the farmers was clearly discerned in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, where the incumbent BJP state Government lost the assembly elections to Congress. Rahul Gandhi sensing the farmer’s anger, promised farm loan waivers in the election campaign rallies, and the farmers booted out BJP and voted for Congress. It was the Congress led NarasimhaRao Government which implemented the neoliberal policies which are responsible for the agrarian distress today. Man Mohan Singh was the prime minister in Congress led UPA1and UPA 2 Government, which saw unprecedented food crisis, and an accelerated of attack on the farm sector, which resulted in a spike in farmers suicide. The Hindu fascist Modi regime, which is equally committed to break neck market reforms is worse, in the recent budget announced a very deceptive populist measure for farmers, alarmed by the losses state assembly elections, with an eye on the coming Loksabha election, here farmers will determine the electoral outcome decisively. Sensing the danger of farmers’ anger and its likely negative impact on coming general election in the summer 2019, almost all ruling class parties are trying to outmaneuver each other or trying to appease the farmers by offering useless fancy schemes andpeanuts tothe impoverished farmers. ButModi regime played the cruelest joke on struggling farmers who are desperate to keep their head above the water in an age of dehumanizing commodification and blind market fundamentalism. In the recently concluded parliament session, presenting the last budget, technically which is a vote on account, the finance minister declared Rs.6000 tobe paid to every farming household who have two or below two hectares of land. This is the most cynicaland cruel joke ever played on farmers. The six thousand rupees per year comes down to approximately seventeen rupees per day. Given the spiraling cost of living and inflation can any family survive on just seventeen rupees per day? With seventeen rupees a family altogether can’t even have a cup of tea from a cheap road side Dhaba, Nobody in Indian history has treated farmers so badly as this Hindu nationalist dictator NarendraModi .
The farce of this scheme is totally anachronistic to the actual lives of thefarmers. While it is stipulated to pay rs.6000 annually for farmer up to 2 hectares of land holding paid in three installments of Rs, 2000.This is a total mismatch of actual number of farming household below the status of rich peasants. Roughly 45 to 50 percent of the Indian farmers are sharecroppers with different tenurial arrangements. Given the state of abysmal land records, no one is sure how many genuine farmers will be covered in this scheme. Then there are many proxy and absentee land holders, who given their clout with the officialdom, will be beneficiaries by default. And there is the phenomenon of historical gender injustice in agriculture which is about those invisible women who actually carry outconcrete farming operations.. If farmer means those who toil in the field in real time then it is women, who are never acknowledged as farmers. More than 60 percent of actual farm work is done by women, in fact in India if women don’t work in farms; the entire Indian farming operations in India will collapse. Also we should not forget the most important issue of socialreproduction in rural areas, without them there will be no farmers. Women not only work in field, they also do all the necessary domestic, care work and affective labor at home, which include cooking, cleaning, mending child care etc… apart from a hard day of labor in the fields. They bear the cruel burden of the double day. But unfortunately women are not considered as farmers and they don’t hold the title deeds to the land hence they will be deprived of whatever the benefits from this or other ostensibly pro farmer schemes and various Government loans. Let us not forget that the bulk of the landless agricultural laborers are women, they are the most dispossessed of the dispossessed in the Indian country side, they stand to gain nothing from any scheme in an extremely, exploitative agrarian economy and patriarchy.
This dubious blockbuster from Modi offering six thousand rupees is a much watered down copycat version of Rythubandhuscheme of Telengana . The Ryutubandhu scheme in Telamgana covers all farmers regardless of the landholding. Ryutubandhu scheme was a boon for the T.R.S headed by K.ChandrashekarRao which swept the Telangana state assembly elections. The B.J.D government of Odisha headed by NavinPatnaik has announced the direct cash benefit scheme KALIA which cares the sharecroppers and agricultural laborers, this in competitive populism,NavinPatnaikhas clearly outsmartedNarendraModi. The Andhra C.MChandrababu Naidu has recentlyoffered a direct cash benefit scheme for farmers which are better than the scheme offered by the Central government.
One has to understand the sudden clamorof different political parties speaking about farmer friendly policies. All these lackeys of imperialism had opened up the Indian market for the rapacious loot of land water and forests.And also the foreign capital feasted on the absolutely back breaking exploitation of the service sector and industrial labor all in the name of raising labor productivity and competition, and under the rubric of flexible accumulation and new economy. The peasants and workers should be cautious about these boot lickers of imperialism, who have suddenly put up a pro farmer mask. The progressive and democratic forces have to deconstruct this bogus narrative of farmer’s welfare by the Indian ruling classes.
The farmers and broad working masses shouldnot be hoodwinked by this new found love for the farmers by the ruling class political parties. There is an alternative tradition of glorious peasant struggles like Telengana ,Tebhaga, Indigo rebellion, and numerous peasant revolts against British imperialism and the local oppressors. One should not forget the momentous Adivasi revolt against British imperialism led by BirsaMunda, SiddhoKano and others.
In contrast to the opportunism of the ruling class political parties who are shredding crocodile tears in the election season. One has to seriouslytake note of numerous progressive, democratic and autonomous peasant movements, who have done excellent grass roots organizing and have identified the root cause of agrarian distress. Around 200 left, democratic, autonomous farmers’ organization and social movements NAPM, NarmadaBachaoAndolanetc have formed a common platform called Farmers struggle coordination committee.
Instead of indulging in electoral peasant populism the farmer’s struggle coordination committee has put forward two core demands which go into the two important aspects of the agrarian crisis. They are 1 complete loan waiver 2 implement the spirit of Swaminanthan Commission report that is paying 50 percent more than actual cost of production in deciding Minimum support price. In the following paragraph I will explain the two dimensions.
Agrarian distress, Farmers suicides and the issue of loan waiver –
If one makes a cursory survey in any of the Indian villages one can easily find at least 80% of the farmers are in debt. Debt is the prime reason why farmers commit suicide in hordes. Those who don’t commit suicide live like a living corpse,an unfortunatelife of despair,whichmakes a mockery of shining and rising India. If one looks at the frightening statistics it illuminates the flip sideof great Indian growth story of the so called emergent India being one of largest big ten economies of the word sitting at the high table in G 20 summits.
It is estimated that more than 3.5lakhs farmers have committed suicide in the past two decades of Neoliberal growth. On the other hand India has produced the record number of billionaires since the transfer of power in 1947.This is in the back drop of a highly unequal world. The Oxfam report released on the eve of the Davosworld economic summit says that 26 billionaires of the world hold more wealth than half the population of the world. The accumulation crisis of Keynesian capitalism, with conjectures like the ignominious collapse of the then socialist bloc, heralded the final triumph of capitalist liberal democracy,which was explained by the right wing thinker Fukuyama as the final destiny of human civilization and the end of History.The neoliberal consensus known as the Washington consensus sounded the death knell of the working people of the entire globe especially the toiling peasantries of the third world.
The gravity of the problem facing the entire farming community can be discerned from the fact that almost every fifteen minutes a farmer is committing suicide in the country. Should we wait for the final deluge or the day of the apocalypse to sit up and acknowledge he problem? Our modern day Nero, whose palms are drippingwith theblood of innocent Muslims murdered in the ghastly communal carnage in Gujarat is playing the sitar and changing his fancy suites while farmers are committing suicide. So much so for the suit bootkiSarkar. Even the number of farmer’s suicide is highly fudged. Stung by the negative Media reports about the high suicide rate of farmers in Chhatisgarh, thethen Chief Minister ordered the police department not to record the suicide of farmers. The beloved didi the great leader of farmers of Singur and NandigramMamtaBanerjee staunchly denies any farmers suicide in West Bengal, contrary to the ground reality. Every ruling political party has just paid lip service to the woes of farmers, while laying red carpet for National and International big business, which include the oligarchic internal agri-business.
As mentioned earlier one of the main reasons for farmers suicide is debt. The history of agriculture goes back to at least ten thousand years. Farmers have been taking small and big loan since time immemorial. It can be traced back to pre-colonial times to the Mughal period, even to way back to the MauryanEmpire or the Golden age of the Buddha. But never in the history of Indiafarmers in India have committed suicides in large numbers as they are doing today. Unlike businessmen, public and private sector workers or executives, farmers are dependent on marketing their surplus agricultural produce for their family expenditure, which includes emergency health expenses and other necessary expenses like marriage, festivals, funeral services, and children’s educationand so on since times immemorial. But the farmers of India have never faced a grave existential crisis as they are facing today. This is the pathology of our times, and it is high time we stand up and take notice; otherwise the collapse of the entire social edifice is not far away. The British colonialists, who came to exploit India, were not as blood thirsty as ruthless as modern day bankers and money lenders in contemporary India, which prides itself as the World’s largest democracy.
Knowing that the farmers take day to day small and big loans the British Imperial Government had enacted the prevention of usurious loanact in 1918. This act says that no farmer whatever loan he has taken from industrial or non-industrial sources, will pay interests on the loan, which will not be more than the principal amount for example If a farmer takes one lakh as loan, he will not pay more than two lakhincluding interest, which was prohibited by the prevention of usurious loan act 1918. This gave much needed relief to the needy farmers.
In 1947 when power was transferred from the British Imperialist to the native ruling classes, this law was not tampered by the new Indian ruling classes. In 1949 under the prime ministership of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Government of India enacted the Banking regulation act 1949. The banking regulation act 1949retained the provisions of the British era prevention of usurious loans act which provided the much needed relief for farmers in postcolonial India. But, unlike the British imperialists, the new rulers soon exposed their true colors as the agents of International and national big business and the bankers in fleecing the farmers. In the year 1984, when Indira Gandhi was the Prime minister, the Government of India amended the Banking regulations act 1949, to include Section 21A into the Act. Section 21A was a hammer blow to the tottering economy of the Farming community of India. This notorious section 21A took away all the relief provided by the prevention of usurious loan Act of 1918. This draconian section closed all the doors of judicial remedy for the Farmers. According to section 21A of the amended Banking regulation Act, no farmer can challenge the banking regulation Act, no farmer can challenge the banks on the loan advanced for farming and their other agricultural operations,it doesn’t matter even if the bank charged compound interest or any unjust interest rates, the doors of judicial remedy was closed to the farmers under Section 21 A of the Banking regulation act.
Since 1984 there has been wide spread protests and lobbying to strike down this arbitrary anti-farmer clause from the statute books. But the government of India which acts as a surrogate of the corporate sector refused to budge or pay heed to the farmers’real needs. The parliamentary committee of the 14thLokSabha headed by ShriRamgopalYadav of Samajvadi party strongly recommended striking down the anti-farmer section 21A of the banking regulation act. The ruling elites whose entire actions are to make way for the rapacious loot of the market forces have long closed their door for any sane advice or pro-people pro-farmer policies. Meanwhile the impoverishment and destitution of farmers and broad working masses kept on growing by unmanageable scales.
In the year 2012 late Dr.B.D. Sharma, Dr.Sunilam who is the leader of the farming organization KisanSangharshSamity, Madhya Pradesh JayantVerma the vice president of Agragamikisansabha and two other RajyaSabha M.P.s from forward bloc approached the Supreme Court to annul section 21 A of the Banking Regulation Act. The hearing in the Supreme Court went on for 6 years, and then in February 2018 in its judgment the Supreme Court struck down the notorious Section 21 A of the Banking Regulation Act. When the Supreme Court announced its decision in February 2018, few news channels and newspaper reported it, the general peasant masses are still unaware of this.
What is the implication of this Supreme Court judgment on Banking Regulation Act? Until now the farmers were barred to approach the courts of law if they think the interest levied on them by the bank is unjust or arbitrary, with this judgment they can approach the courts of law.
One of the main reasons of farmer’s suicides was the extremely undignified and inhuman treatment meted out to them if they default on the payment of bank loans. I will briefly explain the process- in the event of the farmer’s inability to pay back the bank loan, the bank issues a R.R.C Revenue Recovery Certificate, the R.R.C is sent to the revenue officials generally to the Tehsildar. The Tehsildar issues a loan recovery notice to the farmers. If the farmer is unable to pay back the loan during the notice period, then the Tehsildar auctions his land and house. This is the biggest fearfor which most farmers commit suicide no farmerwill like to see his land and house auctioned and his family thrown into the streets in front of his own eyes. This is one part of the debt story. While there are equal number of tenant farmers, who have no land titles and they are forced to borrow from local money lenders at an exorbitant rate of interest ranging from 36% to 80% in some cares.
The loan scenario in India and the Rationale for complete loan waiverfor the farm sector:-
The total amount of loans advanced to the farmers in the entire country is 14 lakhcrores until November 2017. Now let us contrast this amount with the loans and repayment status for Non-farm sectors especially the corporate sector in India. The main business of banks all over the world is taking savings deposits from general public pay them low interest rates and give loans in a higher interest rate. This is the main avenue for profits which keeps the banking operations of afloat. Banks not only advance loans to farmers but also to small and big business real estate developers, corporate sector, students, professionals and so on. One just has to note the discriminations and step-motherly treatment meted out to the farmers. The farmers only get a tiny fraction of loans, a lion’sshare of it is grabbed by the corporate sector.
One of the most hotly debated issues in the public domain is NPA or Non-Performing Assets. NPA are the bad loans advanced mostly to the corporate sector, which are than waived off thanks to the clout wielded by the corporate sector over different elected Governments comprising of the ruling political parties. The stock of NPA until March 2018 was 10.4 trillion which is around 10 lakhcrores mostly advanced to the corporate sector , which are mostly the loan of Rs.5 crores and above no farmer takes a loan of 5 crores and above . comparedto a handful big business families who control Industry and commerce the farmers population is huge. This shows who really cheats the banking sector.
Out of these 10.4 trillion rupees of NPA the public sector bank PSB account for 9 trillion rupees or around 85% of the NPA. It should be noted that the P.S.B money is taxpayer’s money. The PSB’s are always recapitalized by the money of the people of India most of whom are farmers and working poor. This clearly shows the nexus between P.S.Bs controlled by the finance ministry and the cooperate sector. On one hand the Government of India collects money from the people of India as taxes and gives that as loans to the corporate sector, who then willfully default. When public sector banks incur losses, they are recapitalized taking money from the people. So it is the farmers and the working poor who are the majority of the taxpayers make up for the losses of public sector bankers. This greed of oligarchy was shamelessly exposed when too big to fall entities like Lehman brothers who caused the 2008 economic meltdown, were recapitalized by the American taxpayers money. That was a shocking social bailout of the corporate sharks of the bloodthirsty Wall Street, the story of our own Dalal Street is not much different.
This has been the story of our Public sector bank (PSB’s) both under UPA and NDA regimes NonperformingAssets NPA write off to the corporate sector was Rs.550 billion in UPA region Rs. 4.2 trillion by the Modi regime currently the fresh NPA stands out around Rs. 16.7 trillion were written off by PSB’s by writing of as bad loans, these losses were absorbed into bank balance sheets through 100% NPA statuses ( Prasenjit Bose and ZicoDasgupta Hindu business line)
We are living in the age of Mega scams and Bank frauds.. The bank fraudscommitted wereRs.239 billion in the financial year 2017-2018. Over all 1.33 trillion has been ripped off from the banks by the greedy unscrupulous corporate sector.
The total net loss of 21 PSB’s from the year 2015 to 2018 is Rs.1.44 trillion and all these can be blamed on the fly by night operators of the corporate sector. According to the financial stability repot of RBI in the year 2014-15 the number of Mega bank frauds were 2251 which increased to 2526 in the financial year 2017-18. The credit GDP ratio was 51.4 by March 2018. In aggregate money terms the money lost in bank frauds in 2017-18 was Rs. 411 billion. Over Rs 1.33 trillion was ripped off from the banking system under the NDA rule. This is a stark exposure of Modi the self-declaredChowkidar and champion against corruption and black money, and his tall election promise of cleaning the country of black money. Rs.304 billion were lost by banks in the first six months of the financial year 2017-18. By theend of the financial year 2017-18. The total net loss of PSBs in last three year is staggering 1.14 trillion , and all these will be bailed out by the toiling taxpayers like the farmers and working poor ( for details see- Is the banking sector out of woods by Prasenjit Base and ZicoDasgupta, Hindu business line) The above clearly indicates how the blood thirsty wolves of the corporate sector with an unholy nexus with the banking and political executives has drained out the assets of the public sector Banks, while on the other hand a hapless farmer commits suicide for a few thousand rupees. If one looks at the scams and bank defaults by the corrupt chief executives of the corporate sector with connivance of the corrupt leaders of the ruling class political parties it is astounding. Vijay Mallya ran away after draining 9000 crore rupees, NiravModi cheated PNB of 11 thousand rupees. MehulChouksey created bank scam of 35 thousand crores. The 2G scam was a whopping 1.76 lakh crore, the kickback involved in the Rafale scam is about 20 thousand crores. While Corrupt politicians and bureaucrats make millions from mining, forest, energy and other projects. A farmer commits suicide for a mere few thousand of rupees, even the blood thirsty colonial invaders were not that greedy. Anil Ambani who owes 45,000 crore was awarded the contract to manufacture of Rafale which is huge scam by itself. The Indian state has declared a war on its own people, while tens of thousands of farmers have committed suicide, which is actually murder by the neoliberal economic policies.
In an unholy alliance with the political executive thecorporate sector has ripped off tens thousands of crores of rupees, successive Indian Governments since the advent of the neoliberal era have doled out lakhs of crores rupees to the corporate sector in the name of Industrial growth, which in really proved to be a jobless growth.
Like the common man the corporate sector also pays taxes for its manufacturing and trading activities. They pay a variety of taxes like excise duty, utility bills ,corporate tax, income tax and custom duty on imported capital goods and so on. For the special economic zones SEZS they are given different sops and tax exemption for the first 10 years.
From the financial year 2004-05 to 2014-15 the Central Government has exempted the corporate sector of 47 lakhs 10 thousand and 25 crore rupees in various taxes(Source-JayantVermaSamvad brochure on agrarian crisis Jabalpur). If the Government of India could forego a staggering 47 lakhs as tax incentive and waive more than a trillion rupees in writing off NPA, than the million dollar question is a why can’t it waive Rs.14 lakh crores given as loan to millions of farmers in the country? One has to have a dispassionate look at the quantum of loan waivers to different segments of the population in Indian. India has a population of 130 crore, out of this 70 percent are rural. And in Rural India not only the artisans, different service providers,laborers and shopkeepers are Indirectly dependent on agriculture, if there is a loss in agricultural operations it affects everyone in rural India 70% of 130 crore people in India is around 90 crores. The corporate sector bosses are at best 2 to 3 thousand families. If the Government of India could give tax exemption of 47 lakhcrore rupees to hardly 2 to 3 thousand families then why can’t it waive of mere Rs.14 lakh crores for 90 crores of people of India on whose name it gets elected? Therefore the demand of total farm sector loan waiver is justified and it should be supported by all the progressive and democratic forces.
What ails Indian agriculture, remunerative prices and Swaminathan Commission report : –
Indian farmers have been farming since Millennia. But never had they faced the crisis in farming as they are facing today. Tens of thousands of farmers have committed suicide; millions of farmers have given up agriculture and have migrated to the cities to swell the rank of the pauperized brutalized urban underclass.
The crisis of the farm sector has exacerbated in the neoliberal decades. The suicide of the farmers began in a big way since 1995 when India signed WTO agreement a few years after adopting new economic policies in 1991 under the dictates of IMF and World bank. Under the WTO regime and the Master narrative of Globalization the India farmers were thrown to the wolves, I will explain the details of the impact of WTO regime on Indian farmers later in this essay. The suicides of farmers had crossed 2 lakh mark when ManmohanSingh became the Prime minister of congress led UPA Government in the year 2004. To address the deepening crisis in Indian farm sector and alarmed by the rise of Farmers suicide, the Government of India appointed the Swaminathan Commission to recommend the steps to amelioratepathetic condition of Indian farmers. M.S. Swaminathan a noted agricultural scientist and also known as the Father of the Indian Green revolution headed the multimember commission, which submitted its multivolume report to the ministry of agriculture in the year 2006. This report runs into many thousand pages, due to the lack of space I will not get into the details of it but it made a very important recommendation regarding remunerative price for crops especially minimum support price MSP. The Crux ofSwaminathan commission recommendation for MSP is that Framers should be given 50% more than the actual cost of production, while procuring their grains. Which means if a farmer spends one thousand rupees in raising a crop, he or she should get at least one thousand fivehundred rupees,when he or she sells that crop. There are many problems in MSP and theSwaminathan Commission Recommendation doesn’taddress the structural problems of India agriculture including the land reforms and the impact of Globalization and WTO regime of Indian agriculture. However it provides substantial relief in these dark times of acute agrarian distress. The Swaminathan Commission report has been gathering dust since 2006 in the ministry of agriculture, the rulers conveniently forgot it .Man Mohan Singh thestooge of IMF and World Bank got reelected as Indians prime minister after the Congressled UPA won the 2009 LokSabha elections. The entire UPA leaders forgot the Swaminathan Commission Report in their second stint in power.The farmers suicide and the acute agrarian distress continued under the Congress led UPA 2 regime. In the run up to the 14thLokSabha election in the year 2014 NarendraModi was projected by BJP as the Prime ministerial candidate and leader of NDA , BJP in its election manifesto promised to implement Swaminathan Commission Report if elected to power. NarendraModi in every election campaign meeting promised that if elected to power, he will immediately implementSwaminathan Commission recommendations. The BJP led NDA coalition won the 2014 LokSabha elections and NarendraModi became the prime minister spouting superficial populistJumlasevery day. The newly elected NDA 2 regime under NarendraModi forgot about its electoral promise of implementation the Swaminathan Commission recommendations on remunerative prices for the farmers i.e.paying 50% more as MSP over the input cost. The five year rule of NarendraModi has been one of the darkest times in Indian history. Every day one hears Mobs lynching innocent Muslims in the name of cow. Human rights activists getting arrested on trumped up charges, reports on attack on churches, intimidation of religious minorities and so on . It is no more the fear of wolf of fascism knocking at the doors; the wolf has already entered our homes. The victims of communal pogroms in Gujarat Muzaffar Nagar and Kandhmal would be turning in their graves when they have a prime minister whose palms are dripping with the blood after killing the hapless Muslims in Gujarat . The fascist Hindu right is having a field day under the watch of Modi.
Meanwhile the agrarian distress became more acute under Modi’s stewardship of the Indian economy. Farmers suicides went on unabated, and shamelessly the central and state governments were in a denial mode while laying out red carpet for Imperialist Capital.
The people of India were able to see throughthis game,NarendraModi’spopularity was having a steep downfall, the latest assembly election is a pointer. There were protests all over the country by farmers, workers and students against the fascist anti-people policies of the NarendraModi regime, and were sick of this Macho regressive whipping up of nationalist hysteria to cover-up the abject failure indelivering of necessary goods for the broad working masses of the country including farmers.
Alarmed by its falling popularity and rising mass discontent, The Modi regime made a hasty perfunctory declaration of implementing Swaminathan Commission recommendations for the remunerative prices for farmers. This was another bolt from blue and a cruel jock on the much suffering farmers, who have to suffer another bout of wily deceptions of NarendraModi regime. In the run-up to the LokSabha election 2019, ArunJaitley the finance minister in the spring of 2018, played one more deceptive trick on Indian farmers, during his pro-corporate budget speech he declared the implementation of Swaminathan commission report that is paying farmers 50% profit over the actual cost of production. This proved to be a monumental deception on the long suffering farmers of the country. Some pro-people economists have calculated that forget about 50% above the input cost only two variety of superfine rice got only 16% above the input cost in the Kharif Seasons of 2018, afterArunJaitley declared the implementation of Swaminathan Commission report in his budget speech. In the Kharif seasons of 2018, the soya bean farmers of Madhya Pradesh almost went bank rupt Soya bean is the main cash crop of M.P and the farmers had to sell one thousand rupees less than the actual input cost. In the following paragraphs I will explain how the Modi regime cheated the farmers about Swaminathan Commission report on rumination prices for agricultural produce.
Decoding The Myth of Minimum Support price MSP:-
CACP (Commission for Agricultural Cost and Prices) under the ministry of Agriculture Government of India determines the minimum support prices MSP for major crops every year, mainly for the Rabi and Kharif crops. In doing so they use a dubious mechanism to under value the real input cost for the crops. There are two formulas for determining the MSP. One is A2+FL and other in C2. A2+FL is the total cost of seed, fertilizers pesticides, seasonal labor costs and family labor. The transport cost and other expenditures is almost overlooked FL stands for family labor. Which is highly undervalued when MSP is calculated. C2 is the input cost including hiring charges of farm machinery and rent on land . The Modi regime declared the MSP using A2+FL formula which really underestimates the input costs. So almost all the struggling farmers’organizations, Left parties, social movements and the progressive voices have rejected Modi regime MSP under the A2+FL formula. They are demanding thecalculation of MSP under C2, which is the rent of the land, cost of hired farm machinery and the actual input costs including transportation and electricity charges.
If one really looks at the concrete farming practices in India, then it is quite different from what CACP or the ministry of Agriculture thinks about the reality of farming in India. There are various types of tenurialarrangements all over India including the subsistence farming of Adivasis in forested and hilly tracts. If one makes a survey of any Indian village than one can easily find at least 45% to 50% are sharecroppers. There are mainly two types of share cropping system including the widely growing phenomena of reverse tenancy.
In one type of share cropping the share cropper and the land owner share the cost of inputs equally and share the produce equally. In the other system which is known as the cash lease system, the share cropper pays a fixed amount of cash to the land owner and keeps the entire produce. CACP cost determination doesn’t take this into account. The Modi regime has cheated the entire farming community. This is one of the Prime reasons why the farmers organizations and progressive forces are demanding to apply the C2 formula while determining MSP by the ministry of agriculture. The farmers struggle coordination committee has demanded that the MSP should be decided according to the C2 formula not by A2+FL which is quite problematic, this was offered by Modi Government announcing the implementation of Swaminathan Commission Recommendation. A2+ FL formula is calculated on the total input cost plus family labor. Even if one visits any of the farming families in India, onecan easily notice that the entire family works, which includes looking after the liveS stock get fodder etc… Women of the family work both in the field and at home, their labor is not calculated at all. If one surveys the CACP documents for the past 20 years then one find the family labor valuation under A2+FL formula is an average Rs.50per day. This is a slap on the face of hard working Indian farmer. Cananyone work for only fifty rupees a day. When CACP calculates family labor it calculates it as unskilled labor. Even that doesn’t match and is for below the minimum wages declared by various State Governments. The biggest injustice is done to farm work when farmers work is calculated as unskilled labor . Farming is a highly skilled and risky work, going by modern knowledge system the farmer has to know ecology, meteorology , botany, chemistry, the knowledge of equipment’s like pump sets, threshers , tractors and agricultural economics. How can it be an unskilled job? Can any highly educated city dweller do farming without experience? Then how is farm work treated as unskilled work?. The farmer apart from being a worker is also a manager, he has to manage his livestock, farm machinery, crop marketing etc. Just imagine the income status of a Manager of corporate sector anda farmer, and then one can imagine the injustice. The late Dr. B.D. Sharma consistently talked about this injustice done farmers who are being treated as unskilled workers. According to Dr. B.D. Sharma the Ministry of agriculture annually expropriates Rs.5lakh crores as undervaluing their work and treating them as unskilled workers. Now just calculate this annual expropriation of farmers of Rs.5 lakhs. For five years it becomes Rs.25 Lakhs crores. Contrast this amount with the outstanding debt of Rs.14 lakhs crores which the farmers owe to the bank. By this logic instead of farmers paying back their debt the Government of India should pay the rest amount 25 lakhs crore- 14 lakhs crore which is 11 lakh crore. Then going by the principles of Natural and economic justice, then the Government of Indias position on farm loans is highly unjust and exploitative. Critiquing the recent deceptive sops declared by the Modiregime in the election season. Economist JayatiGhosh writes – according agricultural census 2015-16 there are 125 lakhs operational land holding of 2 hectares or less, But most tenancies in Indian are unrecorded, and land titles are in a mess in most places, while the government wants to handover some money to farmers immediately to get some electoral benefit. So it is likely, even inevitable that the scheme will cover only those who have land title, including absentee landlords who do not cultivate themselves while actual cultivators may get nothing”. (JayatiGhosh) Further commenting on the unjust calculation of MSP by the formula She writes “CACP estimates average cost per hector Rs.30,000 for wheat Rs.40,000 for rice paid out costs plus imputed costs than C2 that also costs imputed rental cost of owned land and equipment , as farmers have demanded. Assuming double cropping we can say that cost per hectare vary from Rs.60, 000 to Rs. 80, 000 which means around Rs, 140, 000 per year for a farmer cultivating two hectors. So the promised largesse count for less than 5 percent of average costs for such a farming household”. (JayatiGhosh- the Great Budget Cash for votes scam and other cash transfer schemes Frontline March 1)
As mentioned earlier around 45 to 50 percent of the farmers are sharecroppers, who take land on cash lease or share the input cost with the land owner. Since in the contemporary era most of the tilling of the land is done by tractors, they and other middle small and marginal farmer who are an overwhelming majority of the farming community hire tractor and other farm machineries like tractor , and also pay for water. CACP does not include all these expenses of the share croppers. So after Modi regimes big bang fraudulent announcement of implementing Swaminathan Commission Recommendations, the entire farming community doesn’t stand to gain under A2+FL formula of CACP.
Some farmers networks like ASHA and RythuSwarjyaVedika have computed the difference between projected cost using C2 formula and the MSP according A2+FL. There finding are given below.
Real picture of MSP margin over:
|COST OF PRODUCTION|
|Sl. No.||Commodity||Comprehensive cost C2 projected||MSP
|% Margin over production|
Source – ASHA and RythuSwarajyaVedika .
So it is clear that the Modi regime has cheated the entire farming community in the implementation of Swaminathan Commission Report.
The Minimum Support Price (MSP) frame work as it is practiced today is extremely limited and inadequate to provide any dignified livelihood for farmers. Food corporation of India FC1 procures only 22 crops. Farmers in India grow hundreds of crops including vegetables, fruits supplemented by dairy products. In fact FCI procures around 80% of wheat and rice from only from PunjabHaryana to be distributed in the PDS system. The agricultural produce procuringsystems of State Governments are absolutely corrupt and inefficient. There is no procurement system for Adivasi farmers. In fact there are no agencies to buy the entire agricultural produce from farmers. They are subject to manipulation, speculation and volatility of market forces, which has ruined them in the neoliberal decades.
Apart from large corporate controlled coffee and tea estates. There are thousands of small holder tea and coffee farmers in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Darjeeling hills and Assam. The coffee and tea boards have been completely emasculated under the neoliberal regime. The small holder tea and coffee farmers are totally exposed to the manipulation of market sharks, who exploit them ruthlessly. The export import regime under WTO rules has exposed the Indian farmer to Global price volatility without any defense with a so called sovereign nation state as the agent of world Imperialism.
The farmers struggle coordination committee comprising of around 200 left democratic autonomous farmers organizationswhich includes different social movements has demanded the compulsory procurement of all the agricultural products of farmers at 50% more than the actual cost of input. They have demanded both the stategovernments, and State agencies like the primary agricultural marketing societies,mandisand private traders should buy the farm products with a minimum of 50% profit margin above the input cost. A private member bill is pending in the parliament to this effect.
This right wing Hindu Nationalist NarendraModi has surpassed all the audacious experiments is selling dreams, while presiding over Ghastly communal carnages. The buzz words for the BJP campaign for the 2014 LokSabha election was “Achhe din”, promising moon to the electorate. In this election campaign 2014, NarendraModi has promised doubling the farmers income by 2022, creating two crore jobs each year for the unemployed youth and cleaning the country of Black money. Before I write about doubling the farmers income, I want to remind that unemployment and underemployment is quite high, much higher than the UPA regime, this not the context to get about the reality and the statistical data about unemployment, this requires a separate essay. As far as the black money goes the Modi regime is deeply embroiled in Rafale scam. Now let us look starkly at the prospect of “Achhe din” or happy days in the country this is one of the darkest period in Indian History. Ask the JNU students, Adivasi facing imminent eviction, humanrights activists facing incarceration how they have felt AchheDin. One could see the dark spots perpetuated by cow vigilantes the Hindu Nazi storm troopers from Dadri to Alwar. . Let us dispassionately analyze NarendraModi’s promise of doubling Farmers income by 2022. In a recent oped pie ce in Indian express Economist Ashok Gulati and Ranjana Roy have exposed this claim . They write “The compound annual growth CAGR (Natural survey) The RHS comes to 3.7% at all India level, with a high 8.4 for Odisha(Thought with a low base)and minus -2.3 percent for agri-households of Jammu & Kashmir. It is interesting to see that the CAGR are impacted by the performance in agriculture in the base of the terminal year . It is interesting to see that CAGR of Agri-GDP for the year 2002-03 to / 2015-16 is 3.5%, ( Ashok Gulati and RanjanaRoy to from plate to plough no Achhe din for the farmers Indian Express 4thMarch 2019) Let us look at the official figures CSO estimates of 2018-2019 Quarterly GDP estimates for Quart 3 says the Gross value Added by Agriculture is expected to be 2.7% in 2018-2019 against 5% in 2017-2018. Gulati and Roy quote Nabards latest survey on financial inclusion saying average national agricultural house hold income FOR year 2015-16. The all India average is Rs.8931 per month it is lowest in U.P at Rs. 6668 per month. The rate of growth in agriculture under UPA 2 was 4.3% and under NDA it is 2.9%. The Ashok Dalwai committee appointed to suggest measures for doubling farmers income by 2022 says that, to double farmer income by 2022 we need a consistent annual growth of agriculture by at least 10.4% per annum from the period 2015- 16. So it is quite clear that NarendraModiS mischievous promise of doubling farmer’s income by 2022 is a pipedream.
It is awell-known fact that theagricultural economy in India is facing an unprecedented systemic crisis by the imposition of free market neoliberal economic policies on the toilingpeasantry. From 1991 when the new economic policy was launched to the present, India has seen many prime ministers from different political parties of the ruling classes. We have seen NarasimhaRao and Man Mohan Singh of Congress, Devegowda and I.K . Gujral of United front representing the so called social justice parties of the Mandal wave, A.B Vajpayee of BJP heading the NDA one Government. But when it comes to the farmers NarendraModi has proved to be biggest scoundrel. Apart from continuing the ruthless neoliberal policies of his predecessors, , NarendraModi has performed a double whammy in the form of GST and demonetization hitting the farmers badly.
GST (Goods and Services Tax) hits every segment of the Indian society through inflated costs of goods and services, but it hits farmers severely. No manufacturer, factory owner, whole sale trader or retailer pays GST from their own pockets but they pass on the cost to the consumer. Farmers are worst hit because farm machinery is charged at 18% and seeds, pesticides fertilizer at 9 percent. Any farmer who wants to lay a pipe line or buy a farm machinery for 2 lakhs, than he has to pay 36,000thousand as GST Demonitization is the biggest hoax played upon the Indian people, which brought untold misery on the entire working people, who had to spend in long line before ATM line losingtheir days wage, some suffered without any cash for medical emergencies. Much has been written about demonetization by radical economists and activists. I just was to state some simple facts, nobody keeps black money is using in buying stocks , gold, benami land transactions, it is invested in real estates including Bollywood. The money from 2g scam to Rafalebribery are not kept in cupboards but is in Swiss banks and tax havens. Panama papers have exposed the entire black money trails. House wives and Farmers keep cash at home for day to day expenses including money for marriages, funerals, and festivals medical expenses and so on. Farmers are not tech savvy computer whiz kids. They don’t operate E-wallets, credit cards or use internet banking. They use hard cash for day to day small and large expenditures . Demonetization came as a big blow to farmers; many needed at least two years to emerge safely from that blow. Reports from at least 30 Agricultural Mandis all over Indian had shown, that farmers had to throw vegetables and other perishable goods in the streets, because there was no cash in the Mandis . Many couldn’t even recover their transportation cost. So GST and Demonetization proved to be a stab on the back for the farmers by NarendraModi.
The bitter fruits of Neoliberlism : getting into the roots of present agrarian crisis:-
Farmers in India have been farming for thousands of years, but never they were in such a severe crisis as they are in today. One has to get into the historical roots to understand the agrarian crisis today. The financialized Global capital is sucking the life blood of third world peasants in its venomous octopus like grip.
Capitalism has always been global. Though it began in England in the early modern era, it has become a global monster. As exemplary revolutionary and towering Marxist teacher, Rosa Luxembourg taught us thatcapitalist accumulation at the core requires victims in the periphery like the present day third world. Colonialism was the Global blood sucking Vampire for the core capitalist countries.India was one of its hapless victims, though it was called as the jewel in the crown. British imperialism got entrenched in India through the infamous battle of Plassey and soon they acquired the Dewani of Bengal to extract land revenue. Then gradually they colonized the entire country, with hundreds of subservient princely states. Then they altered the Tenurial arrangements of land through permanent settlement.. Creating Zamindari, Ryotwari and Mahalwarisystems. That was the colonial feudal system which ruthlessly expropriated of the toiling peasantry. India not only promised a lucrative source of land revenue, but also the British imperialists intervened in the agricultural practices of India to provide raw materials for the metropolitanIndustries. They forcibly altered the cropping patterns which resulted in the Indigo rebellion, Champaran and BardoliSatyagrahas . That was the first Capitalist penetration into the agrarian relations in India under the watch of British Imperialism. However the pre-colonial period was also not the golden age for the toiling peasantry, they had to pay different types of exploitative rents to the feudal lords and kings. But, there was a difference, since the feudal system is a localized agrarian production system not directly linked to the world market. There was the existence of the so calledself-sufficient village economy through an exploitative,demeaning,degrading, hierarchical and irrational division of labor knownas the Jajmani System, with a parasitical nobility and Brahmin priesthood. This was the abominable, exploitative and despicable caste feudalism in pre-colonial India.Ambedkar called it graded inequalitythough some Nationalists in search of the past golden age romanticize it as democratic self-sufficient village republics. Seen from the eyes of Women and Dalits the so called self-sufficient village republics were live nightmares.
Then the Second World War rang the death bell for British Imperialism. In the post war period USA emerged as the leader of global capitalism a neocolonial world order was structured at the Bretton woods conference, creating new imperial institutions like World Bank, IMF and GATT. When formal political power was transferred from the British imperialists to the Indian ruling classes, the new post-colonialruling classes meekly followed the dictates of the neo colonial world order. The world was in the grip of intense cold war rivalry. Reflecting the Bandung spirit the Indian rulers followed a Dirigiste path of development. Jawaharlal Nehru clearly manipulated the cold war rivalry to build what prof Randhir Singh called India specific capitalism. The public sector provided the necessary capital goods, energy and infrastructure for the profit ofthe private sector. That was the chimera of mixed economy, which was envisioned in the Bombay Plan in 1944. All these were in the name of self-reliance, import substitution and socialism. There was a Hindu rate of growth by India supplying primary commodities tothe west. Then everything fell apart, there was the crisis of accumulation in the core capitalistcountries which led to the dismantling of the Bretton wood system.Neoliberal economic orderwas imposed all over the world through “Washington census”. Soviet Union imploded, China turned Capitalist. Welcome to the new era of Pax Americana or the new American century, the devastation of Iraq and Afghanistan, culminating in the Wall Street meltdown in 2008. This new American century was another nightmare for the toiling workers and peasants of the third world.
In India following a severe balance of payment crisis neoliberal economic policies were imposed under the instruction of imperialist institutions like IMF and World Bank.. This is the story of the new economic policies of 1991, known as fund bank dictated structural adjustment policy. Following the Dunkell draft and Uruguay round WTO was formed in 1995.WTO rules led to the removal of quantitative restrictions on imports. Imperialist Finance capital has made serious penetrations into Indian economy resulting in severeagrarian crisis and nonstopfarmer’ssuicide.
Under neoliberal globalization and consequent shift in the imperialist dictated policies from import substitution to export promotion food crops are increasingly replacedby cash crops or production for the market. Food, one of the basic human needs is reduced to a commodity .This has impacted both food security and employment in rural areas. Corporatization of agriculture has led to large land grabbing, plunder of natural resources, and a turn to neoliberal policies in the name of export promotion and economic growth, large land grabs have taken placefor Special Economic Zones and other mega projects. The bloodbathat Nandi Gram is a stark indicator of resistance against forcible land grab for Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s). Mass displacement was the new normal in the neoliberal decades which led to the biggest internal migration in Indian history perhaps world history. The entry of international finance capital into the real estate sector has created massive speculation in the real estate market, which created an artificial boom resulting in inflated GDP growth. The development projects like SEZs, tourist resorts, green field airports and industrial parks, smart cities,expansion of highways led speculation in land sales, all these led to the displacement of millions of farmers the most vulnerable being the Adivasis and Dalits. This has resulted in the pauperization and untold miseries for these victims of development. Land got concentrated in the hands of National and International elites. Many states changed ttheir land ceiling laws to satiate the land hunger of the corporate sector. Agriculture is totally controlled by the International Agri-business, led by finance capital. Contract farming is being introduced as the 21th century re-colonization of the 3rd world.
If the farmers are in a deep crisis, then who is responsible for it? There is a methodological dilemma here. Is there is a way out from this quagmire? Going by the dominant discourse of the capitalist triumphalism inadvanced capitalist countries, that history has ended decisively in the favor of capitalism legitimizingAmerican form of liberal democracy.. The most powerful mantra of liberal democracy is Individualism. Methodological Individualism then became the basic socioeconomic analytical tool. Individualism also means that Individuals are responsible for their own problems. Margaret Thatcher a devoted follower of neoliberal ideologue Hayek declared that there is no alternative to capitalism and free market capitalism is the only socioeconomic systempossible, she also famously remarked that there is nothing called society there are only families, thus strengthening the hedonist individualist ideology of family consumption as the only goal of human beings. , there is no alternative. This led to the famous TINA syndrome followed by the rulers and policy makers who decide our fate. According to Margret Thatcher there is no second way, in fact the third way by the Blairitelabour party is a meek surrender to free market neoliberal policies by the social democrats. That is the famous new labor of Tony Blair. The democrats of USA who boastof diversity and intersectionalities can be labeled as socially liberal and fiscally conservative; they are the third way in United States which includes the typical American hedonist consumeristindividualism.
So if one goes by the views of the above that each individual is responsible for his or her own existential fate, then farmers should be blamed for their own sorry state of affairs. So really is it the end of history syndrome?, really there is no Alternative? , then let us all wind up our politics and stay home and do nothing, and should not speak about workers or farmers at all. I don’t think so, we as political beings have our own politics and political theory. If one goes by this fatalistic end of history discourse and the politics of those who say that there is no Alternative to capitalism and American style liberal democracy, which is actually a kind of depoliticizingself-obsessed hedonist consumer capitalism, then we are all doomed. I think there is an alternative and an alternative socio-economic analysis . I would call it socialism and a socialist social analysis. There are many types of socialism and socialists, Anarchists, Fabians, Lohiyaites, eco socialists, socialist feminists and Marxistsand so on . And also there are manymany types of Marxists and they differsharply from each other.Commenting on the work of Adorno of the Frankfurt School eminent Marxist theorist Fredric Jameson in his book Late Marxism,has said there are many Marxisms.The famous French Trotykyist leader Daniel Bensaid hadsaid there are thousand Marxisms. I would personally go by themarxist analysis,what the late prof Randhirsinghwhom I consider my Guru in Marxist politics has said about the Marxist method, i.e. the Marxism of Karl Marx himself.Thisis not the context to getinto the detailsof those debates. But overall socialist analysis rejects methodological individualism and stresseson thestructural analysis of any socio-economic system. Therefore framers are not to be blamed for their distress. But the exploitative class policies of the ruling classes are responsible for their distress. It is not the individual but the system which is to be blamed for the current misery of the farmers.
So if the policies of International and Indian ruling classes are responsible for the woes of the farmers then let us examine those policies. A devoted disciple of Hayek one of the progenitor of Neoliberal economic theory , Margret Thatcher said that there is no society but only families, it is she who ruthlessly suppressed trade union movement, especially breaking the historic miners’ strike in Britain . She privatized the British railways and social housing schemes. Well agrarian distress is afact, and there are many interpretations of this fact, the neoliberals may say that farmers are not competitive, backward, not innovative or lazy. Facts are neutral, but truth is not neutral, there is the vantage point of class how we view the fact of agrarian distress and farmers suicides. So in contrast to Margaret Thatcher’s opinion that there is no society but only family, I want to say that families are component parts of society andthe societal structural dynamics and class relations shape the socio-economic status of the family. So individual farmers can’t be blamed for their own distress, they are impacted by broad structural forces. Marx has taught us that the man/women is a social being. In this context we have to understand what is neoliberalism and its impact on Agriculture. Neoliberalism is not just an economic theory it is politics, it is the politics of exploiting workers and peasants. In the neoliberal era the class compact of Keynesianism which was atactical compromise between labor and capital manifested by the welfare state and social security was dismantled. The golden age of capitalism when workers in the west had a steady rise of real wages collapsed like a house of cards under the Neoliberal regime. Neoliberalism is RobinHood inreverse syndrome, stealing from the poor and giving it to the rich, no wonder we have the highest inequality in income distribution. In one minute that is just 60 seconds Jeff Bezos the CEO of Amazon makes more money than an average working class family in the US makes in an entire year. So in the case in India, the top 1% of the population holds more assets than the bottom 70% of population.
Neoliberalism is a much contested term some see it as an epochal shift; theorists like David Harvey and Fredric Jameson call it the post-modernist stage of capitalism, and others challenge it calling it just an accumulation strategy of capitalism in the post Keynesian era. It’s implication for agrarian question was explained by the noted peasant studies scholar Henri Bernstein who comments on different viewpoints on Neoliberalism.
“ While controversy rages and will continue to do so, Concerning the causes, mechanisms and implications, including the contradictions of change in the world economy, politics and culture since the 1970’s, – there is a little doubt that important shifts of far reaching ramifications have occurred- A familiar list would include: the deregulation of financial markets: shifts in production, sourcing and sales strategies and technologies of transnational manufacturing and agribusiness corporations; the massive new possibilities attendant on information technologies, not least for mass communications, and how they are exploited by the corporate capital that controls them, the demise of soviet union and finally of any plausible socialist model of development and the ideological and political ascendancy of neoliberalism in a highly selective rolling back of the state, including the structural programmers, economic liberalism and state reform / good government agendas imposed on the countries of the South and more recently the former Soviet bloc . This is the contrast and some of its key markers, that spelled the end of the state led development.
(Henry Bernstein, Agrarian question from transition to globalization in H.. AkramLodhi and Christobal Kay eds: Peasants and globalization: political economy, rural transformation and the agrarian question, London Routledge, 2008).
The neoliberal decades has also seen massive demographic changes in Asia, Latin America and African country side. The agrarian distress imposed by new economic world order has seen massive distress migration of small farmers to urban areas in search of alternate livelihoods. In India it has reached unmanageable proportions. Still the rural population in India is higher than the urban population. Therefore the agrarian crisis in Indian population is impacting vast majorities of Indian population.
The peasant studies scholar Saturnino .M , BorrasJr comments on the demographic change in rural areas and agricultural livelihood .
“Although decreasing in relative terms, the absolute number of rural dwellers remains very significant. The absolute number of people living in Urban Centers had, In 2007, over taken for the first time the number of people living in urban centres had in 2007, over taken for the first time the number of people living in the countryside, by 2010 the estimate is that there will be 3.3 billion people in the rural world, with another 3.5 billion in the urban communities.. The dramatic rural urban demographic changes were quite recent. In 1970 the total world population was 3.7 billion, with 2.4billion rural and 1.3 billion urban, The change in the agricultural/ / nonagricultural population was even more dramatic during the same period. In 1970, the agricultural population stood at 2 billion people and the nonagricultural population at 1.7 billion. By 2010 this will be radically reversed at 2.6 billion agricultural populations versus 4.2 billion nonagricultural. Yet even as the number of urban dwellers over takes the number of rural areas population, the percentage of poor people in rural areas continues to be higher than that in urban areas: three fourth of the world’s poor today live and work in the country side. (Saturnino M BorrasJr, Agrarian change and peasant studies: changes, continuities and challenges an introduction, the journal of peasant studies Vol: 36 No: 1 January 2009)
Due to the class nature of neoliberal restructuring ,even though the rural population has decreased, but the world trade and agricultural production has increased by leaps and bounds. Saturnino M. BorrassJr writes further in this essay explaining the quantum growth of agricultural trade and production. “During the past four decades, amid significant rural and agricultural / nonagricultural demographic change agricultural production and trade have witnessed dramatic growth despite marginal increase in the total size of the world’s agricultural land. Some key statistics are illustrative. The world’s total production of cereals was 1.6 billion tons in 1979-81, jumping to 2.3 billion tons in 2004. The global production of meat nearly doubled during the same period, at 0.14 billion tons in 1979-81 to 0.26 billion in 2004. Production of fruits and vegetables doubled during this period at 0.63 billion tons in 1979-81 to 1.4 billion ton in 2004. In the midst of massive promotion of export oriented development strategies, agricultural trade increases were most dramatic during the past four decades the total value of all agricultural exports in 1970 was 52billion dollars, it increased by about 12 times in 2005 up to 654 billion dollars ( Saturnino M BorrasJr, Journal of peasant studies Vol:36, No: 1, January 2009) despite the increase in global production in agricultural products and agriculture trade , rural poverty and hunger is alarming. Nearly 1 billion people go hungry every day. Neoliberal policies of W.T.O has absolutely pauperized the rural population all over the World.
In a time of acute distress and growing suicide rates the farmer’s loan waiver, is going to ameliorate the conditions of farmers substantially. But it will not reverse the structural dynamics of agrarian distress. For that the neoliberal policies which has led to that distress has to be reversed. Let us look at some of those anti-farmer policies that needsto be reversed, if we want to save Indian agriculture.
To understand the pain and suffering of individual peasant households, we have to analyze the economic policy ecosystem of the so called Washington Consensus. As the famous Marxist economist Paul Baranhad said, what gets cooked in your kitchen is not decided in the kitchen. In India we cana sharp restructuring of economic policies in post and pre 1991period .All over the world in the post war period before the collapse of the Britten wood arrangementsKeynesian demand management was the dominant theme, which led to the expansion of the welfare state and rise in real income of the western working class. The Indian dirigiste regimeuntil the new economic policy in 1991 followed what is known as fiscal expansionary policies, with a higher budget deficit, and public investment in agricultural infrastructure, irrigation and overall rural development, there were state subsidies for farm machinery, and fertilizers. This kept the farmers alive while the upper 5% of thefarming household who own more than 20% or more land emerged as successful capitalist farmers investing the agricultural surplus into other lucrative areas. In spite of the prosperity of a handful of rich farmers in green revolution areas like Punjab, Haryana, & West UP, with a higher level of irrigation and other infrastructure. More than 60 percent of other areas still remained monsoon dependent dry land agriculture, with a variety of extra economic coercion in agrarian relations like exploitative tenancy relations, bondage in labor relation etc… There was an uneven developmentof capitalism in Indian agriculture with a handful of kulaks aspiring to be the new agrarian bourgeoisie; however the crisis of agriculture was not as severe as it is today, now the entire rural population is on the brink of disaster.
The new economic policy of 1991 and WTO rules restructured the course of Nehruvian development path in India. Under the pressure of IMF and World Bank the earlier fiscal expansionary stance and a healthy budget deficit was given up,curbing inflation and minimizing budget deficit became the new mantra. This led to income deflationary policies for the farmers, and global deflation and volatility in primary commodity market led the third world and Indian farmers into the brink of disaster. Inflation became a bad word for national policy makers, following the dictates of IMF and World Bank. So who is afraid of inflation? This scare of inflation, state subsidies, and budget deficit is created by international finance capital who wants a quick profit on financial speculation before inflation lowers their profit on financial investment in variety of schemes like, venture capital hedge funds and on. It is thesevultures of global speculative finance capital who have imposed morbid austerity policies on subservient third world governments in the name of curbing inflation and budget deficits.
Marx illuminated our path of understanding the structural dynamics of capitalism. He laid threadbare laws of motion and internal contradictions of capitalism. Marx taughtus that capitalism isan inhuman exploitative system, which creates accumulation of wealth at one pole and misery and destitution at the other pole. However he made a different opinion aboutindustrial capital and finance capital. While industrial capital is productive, it creates products and jobs though it is exploitative. While finance capital is sociallyuseless except creating money.Hilferdingand Lenin developed these theories further. Lenin wrote about the imperialist stage of capitalism, how industrial capital merged with banking capital to rule the world. This is the story of Imperialism and modern Colonialism’ Neoliberalism changed the ball game altogether. The glassstegal act was repealed in the United States. Which led to the deregulation of the banking sector .Now Wall Street rules the world. We are living in the age of hot money flows around the world by asimpleclick of the mouse. This is also the era of jobless growth. Now there are fancy stupid financial instruments like Derivatives, junk bonds and collateral debt obligation CDOs etc… There are a variety ofPonzischemes which fleece people of their hard earned money. Not to forget that these greedy Wall Street bankers were responsible for the great recession of 2008, which created immense suffering and pain for the peasants and workers all over the world. WTO rules paved the way for free flow of Imperialist finance to every nook and corner of the third world. This newly emerged oligopoly of finance capital aligned with the International Agri-business epitomized byblood thirsty corporations like Monsanto which has destroyed the third world peasantry including its rich biodiversity, food and seed sovereignty. Under the pressure of IMF, Indian Government gave up fiscal stimulus, which had funded rural development and rural infrastructure. All these were done in name of controllinginflation and budget deficit. If one takes a cursory look at the 70 and 80s in the last century just before the neoliberal new economic policies were announced. The fiscal deficit was around 6% now it has come down to 3% of the general budget. Compared with the Nehruvian era, Budgetary allocation for rural development and agricultural extension services have been drastically downsized. Under the pressures from IMF and WTO fertilizer, food subsidies have been drastically cut, user charges are levied for irrigation from the canal network.As a result of the LPG (liberlisation,privatization,globalizatin) package under the neoliberal regime,utilities like electricity generation and distribution has been privatized through the pro corporatepower sector reforms implemented early this century.Farmers,urban and rural poor bear the brunt of these pro corporate policies.
If one compares the present figures with the allocation of agriculture and rural infrastructure from the first plan onward, the Government spending on these areas are an all-time low. If one quotes the statistical data on the reduction of agriculture and rural development from the first five year plan until now it will consume a lot of space. So I will just give some figures for the budgetary year 2011-12 as an example.
Union budget 2011-12 –
- Reduction in agriculture and cooperative sector – Rs. 1271.48 crores
- Reduction on food and Public Distribution System (PDS)- Rs. 6415.07 crores
- Reduction on agriculture research and education- Rs. 207.40 crores
- Reduction in rural development work – Rs. 2234.43 crores
- Reduction urea subsidy – Rs. 1772.73 crores
- Reduction in Re-regulated urea – Rs.3793. 10 crores
- Reduction in manures – Rs.4878.89 crores
- Reduction in food subsidy – Rs. 26.55 crores
- Indirect tax proposals – Rs. 60,000 crores
- Agricultural growth year 2009-10 – 0.2% , Economic survey government of India
- Tax exemption to the corporate sector- Rs. 26,000 crore& 88,000 crore for the year 2009-10 & 2010-11 respectively
(Source- Impact of agrarian policy on socio economic situation. Rajesh Kumar Raju, Asian Agriculture Conference New Delhi 2012)
The above picture is just the tip of the ice berg about the impact of the so called structural adjustment policies on the peasantry. Those policies have created havoc not only for the farmers, but for the entire working population on the country, the worst effects are on the vulnerable social groups like women, Dalits,Adivasis, religious ethnic and national minorities. In the following paragraph I am going to give a brief sketch of the resultant morbidity pattern impacted by austerity policies in India. This is from a paper presented in Asian Agricultural Conference in New Delhi in the year 2012. And this was the time when Indian ruling classes were boasting about India as an economic power house and the membership in G.20 economic summits. The morbidity data shows the flip side of the Indian growth story.
Population- 1.21 million (2011 census, pre-capita income- Rs.5500/-) (only structural representation)
Global hunger index 23.7% Rank among 88 GHI caution below many much maligned Sub-Saharan African countries seriously hungry states- Punjab13.6%, Kerala 17.7%, Andhra Pradesh 19.5% Assam 19.8%.
Alarming states – West Bengal 22.2%, Odisha 23.7%, Karnataka 22.8%, Maharashtra 23.8%, Gujarat 24.7 %, Chhattisgarh 26.6%, Bihar 27.3% and Jharkhand 28.7% , Haryana 20%, Uttar Pradesh 30.9% (International Food Policy Reserves Institute 2006 Indias State of hunger index 2008)
Some Shameful indicators of shining India :-
- Farmers suicide 2.6 lakhs from the year 1995 – 2016, now it is estimated around 4 lakhs.
- Cultivators- 60% of the population 90% impoverished.
- Below poverty line 450 million ( Government of India estimation which is highly under estimated)
- According to Prof. UtsaPatnaik rural poverty is around 70%
( Source- Rajesh Kumar Raju, Impact of agrarian policy on Socio-economic situation, Asian Agricultural Conference New Delhi- 2012)
The above are only few indicators of an overall socio economic index of India. Other important indicators like Infant mortality rates, Maternal mortality rate, Body Mass Index (BMI)., are one of the highest in the world , comparable with the much stigmatized Sub-Saharan countries. This is quite shameful for a country which boasts of being an emerging economic power house of the World. The much trumpetedshining and incredible India. Not to mention shameful misogyny, racism, sexism,castism, xenophobia ,homophobiaand rampant communal violence.
India and other third world countries joining WTO sealed the fate of their toiling peasantry forever. The terms and conditions of WTO removed the barriers to market access of the third world for imperialist agri-business. Indian agriculture was linked to the world market. Export and import barriers were liberalized. As a condition of WTO regime Quantitative barriers were removed for grain imports, such that Australia, USA and EU could dump wheat, soybean, corn , lentils and oil seeds into Indian market, draining down the price for domestic producers. Cheap import of Malaysian Palm oil doomed the fate of coconut farmers in Kerala. Soon Kerala joined the rank of other states, where farmers commit suicide. Cheap import of raw rubber from South East Asian countries devastated the small holder rubber farmers in Kerala. Few districts of Telangana produce around one third of Turmeric in India,which is also exported.The volatility in national and international primary commodity markets has devastated the Turmeric farmers in Telangana. Five years ago the price for a quintal of Turmeric was fourteen thousand rupees,this year it has come down to rupees four thousand per quintal. The highest rate of suicide is reported from the cotton farming areas of country. When Indian agriculture was linked to world market, the rise of International prices brings a feel good factor for Indian farmers and the global price volatility ultimately tends to crash, devastating the farmers. Let us examine the case of cotton farmer in India, where suicide rates are very high. After India joined WTO and got interlinked with the volatile world primary commodity market, cotton prices grew steadily from 1998- 2005, it was a brief feel good period for cotton farmers. Encouraged by the rise in prices other non-cotton growing farmers of Karnataka, Punjab and Gujarat also also expanded their cotton cropacreage Then came the price crash of 2005 and all of them were devastated.
WTO rules are full of double standards, while they force the third world countries to cut down subsidies on agricultural inputs like fertilizer they turn a blind eye to heavily subsidized western agriculture. WTO rule has led to the severe reduction of agricultural subsidies in India, In the neoliberal period the cost of the inputs like seed, fertilizer, pesticide, diesel etc… kept on rising , while adjusted with inflation the market price for crops were very low. This is the main reason for severe crisis in Indian agriculture and spike in the suicide rate of farmers. One can see the sheer hypocrisy and double standards of imperialist countries in their policies towards third world agriculture. Agricultural operations in the Advanced Capitalist Countries are heavily subsidized. In countries like USA and Japan agriculture contributesaround 5% to their GDP and engages around 5% of the population in agriculture. No wonder the farmers leader from Vidarbha Vijay Jawandhia says that he dreams of being born as an European cow in his next life. In this lop sided agricultural policies by the imperialist power and facilitated by WTO rules, the Western Countries dump cheap food grains in third world countries pauperizing their farmers.
This extremely exploitative master narrative called Globalization has completely restructured global agriculture. Eminent theorist of peasants studies Henry Bernstein who is also the editor of journal of Agrarian change and Philip McMicheal have been talking about a New agrarian Questionin the neoliberal period though both of them discuss new agrarian question for different reasons.Philip McMicheal talks about the need for a new agrarian question in the context of cataclysmic changes brought about by the neoliberal reforms in the global Agri-food system. In the neoliberal era we see the rise of global Agrifood system which has a vice like grip on Agriculture, agrarian relations and consumer choice. This is the merger of both upstream and downstream operations of agriculture and agricultural markets. This is the new oligopoly, commonly known as farm to fork supply chains. Oligopolies like Monsanto and Walmart control the production of agricultural input to food consumption. In a paper some year ago I had delineated some of the prominent features of this emerging international Agri-food system controlled by a handful of MNCs.(see World food crisis,agrarian distressand the question of sustainable agriculture in the age of changing climates,Asit Das, Democracy and class stuggle)
Left and democratic peasant movements have consistently opposed this neoliberal attack on agriculture especially small holder farmers. A progressive transnational farmer’s federation “Via Campesina” writes about the structural changes in agriculture and pauperization of the third world peasants by the new rules of the game imposed by WTO
“ All over the world, low priced agricultural imports are destroying the local agricultural economy, take for instance European milk. Imported in India, American pork in the Caribbean, European union meat and cereals in Africa, animal food in Europe etc… those products are exported at low prices thanks to dumping practices. The United states and the European union had a new dumping practice ratified by WTO, which replaces export subsidies by a strong reduction of their agricultural prices combined with direct payments made by the state. To achieve food sovereignty, dumping must be stopped.
(Via Campesina Website 2003)
The new export import regime imposed by WTO, forced hitherto food self-sufficient. Third world countries to grow export oriented cash crops, and under the rules of liberalized global trade heavily subsidized western farmers and corporations dump food grains in the third world.
The peasant studies scholar Philip McMichael. Who along with Harriet Freidman developed the “the food regime analysis”, commenting on critique of dumping by Via Campesina and emphasizing the need for a New agrarian question writes:-
“The critique of dumping is not simply about unfair trade practices. It illuminatesthe politics of circulation- in effect the institutional construction of a corporate market premised on naturalizing peasant redundancy, through political means. The contemporary rural crisis supersedes the original agrarian questions concerning the political implications of agrarian class transformation for national political alliances. Home markets are no longer coherent, and political regulation of the global market essentially has been privatized, with states.Playing a ‘clean up’ role, where they are involved at all. In the classical version, food registered only through the impact of its price on class identity and/ or accumulation patterns. In the current agrarian situation a version posed by the food sovereignty movement, food embodies a broader set of relations, becoming a window on the social, demographic and ecological catastrophe of neoliberalism. “As the neoliberal project, collectively known as ‘Globalization’, has replaced the period of economic nationalism, de- peasantization in the global south has intensified under the combined pressures of evaporation of public support of peasant agriculture, the second green revolution (privatized biotechnologies and export agriculture to supply global consumer classes, market led reform and WTO trade rules that facilitate targeting southern markets With artificially cheapened food surplus exports from the north. This ‘corporate food regime’ based in subsidies which reduce farm prices by as much 57 percent below actual costs, constitutes a world price through trade liberalization with devastating effect on small farmers everywhere” (Philip McMichel – Peasants make their own history, but not just as they please, journal of Agrarian Change, Vol 8 April and July 2008).
The above analysis clearly indicates how the heavily subsidized and corporatized Agricultural surpluses in the advanced capitalist countries are dumped in the third world. This is the prime reason of agrarian crisis, which has made small holder agriculture unviable in the third world and India causing an unprecedented forced de-peasantization and distress migration. In my paper World food crisis,agrarian distress and the question of sustainable agriculture in the age of changing climates I had written:-
IN the emergent Agri food system controlled by the MNCs the consolidation, both partially and horizontally, of the Agri-food system outside of actual farming (inputs, purchasing, exporting, processing and retailing) has continued in US and Europe . For examples of how far horizontal consolidation has gone , In 2007 the four largest beef factories in the US controlled about 84 percent of the market and close to 50% of all super market food was sold by five corporations, with Walmart by for the largest. In addition, sectors of Agri-food system in the wealthy countries have, made significant in rounds into the economies of eastern Europe and South A report for the Grocery Manufactories Association of the US put it clearly “The case for global expansion is one way to maximize profits, it is hard to argue with that logic. Seed companies and Chemical Companies such as Monsanto (which comprise both) have aggressively entered the poor countries. Perhaps the fastest pace of consolidation IS in the seed sector, where three companies , Monsanto , Dupont and the Swiss Conglomerate Syngenta all heavily invested in GM technologies now control 47% of the global market in proprietary seed. This is the latest manifestation of a pattern documented in the 1990’s. when Monsanto and other GM companies began investing tens of billions of dollars in acquiring key national and international seed companies. These three companies along with Bayer, Dow and others, are also central players in the global agro-chemical market. The top six pesticide firms control three quarters of this sector and the top ten represent an overwhelming 89% share. While food and beverage manufacturing is still a more dispersed undertaking, ten companies starting with Nestle , Kraft , Coca-Cola and Pepsi, now control 26 percent of this sector and the top hundred companies control three quarters of all the worlds packaged food. In the retail sector, one hundred companies control about 35 percent of grocery sales, of which 40 percent is controlled by the top ten, including Walmart, Kroger , the French company Carrefour and the British Tesco. Corporate Consolidations and alliances with other corporation have proceeded to the point where there are discernible chains linking almost all parts of the Agri-food industry.
Corporations that pioneered factory scale animal production in the US displacing many independent hog, cattle and poultry farmers. They achieve low costs of production by –
- Having very large facilities
- Controlling and providing all the feed and veterinary medicines
- Mandating that the people raising the animals (the farmers) be essential labors under contract favorable to the corporations, following strict procedures and protocols
- Passing on responsibility for manure and other wasting
- Locating contracted factory farms near their own processing facilities. Smith field a Virginia based fortune 500 corporation, has used its power and connections to expand into East Europe. In the space of few years, about 90% of Romanians and 56% of Poland’s hog farmers were put out of business because of competition from Smith field- creating social as well as environmental havoc. In addition frozen park products are exposited to West Africa- Liberia, Equatorial Guiney, and the Ivory coast- where local producers are also put out of business. Smith field receives export incentives, funds from Poland and sells its pork at about half the price of local producers in the ivory coast. Another aspect in the penetration of agricultural products from food exporting countries of the North has been successful long term efforts to change the diets of the North has been successful long term efforts to change the diets of the people of South. The transformation of third world people diets toward nontraditional foods was encouraged by both governments for example, the countries that had never grown the crop, partially to get them used to the new food and by corporations desiring to sell more of their products abroad. A United Nations World Health Organization report has described the effects of the push of the transnational food corporations into the third world on the consumption habits and health of the people. (Asitdas world food crisis, agrarian disasters and the question of sustainable agriculture in the age of changing climate, democracy and class struggle)
Another blow for both the farmers and consumers is the entry of speculative finance into agricultural market, which is known as forward trading. This was done under the pressure if International finance capital. In commodity trading in future,in the stock exchanges by speculative trading of commodity by the stock brokers at the behest of finance capital indulging in wild speculation in the stock of agricultural commodities. This had led to serious food crisis in 2008. This wild functions damages both the farmers and customers’ especially urban and rural poor. In my earlier paper I had written about the food crisis in 2008. “Radical economist claimed that the speculation in Agro commodity futures was the key factor in the extraordinary rise of food commodities in 2007 and trading in mortgage based securitiesand other derivatives collapsing, hedge found and other speculative financial entities, moved into speculation in commendatory futures, causing a sharp increase in production of agricultural commodities. It was this move into commodity futures for quick profit followed by a move out after the commodities bubble bust that triggered the rise of FAO food price Index by 71 present during only fifteen months between the end of 2006 and March 2008 to the level of 2006 . (Asitdas, world food crisis, agrarian distress and the question of sustainable agriculture in the age of changing climates”, Democracy and class struggle. For future trading details detail see Peter Wahl” Food speculation. The main factor of the price bubble in 2008”. Berlin, WEED, 2009)
It is needless to say that the trading in commodity futures has exposed the poor farmers and consumers to the jaw of the blood thirsty sharks of Wall street and Dalal street. The value of crop production is much one fifth of the total GDP of agricultural and allied sector in the value of future traded in agricultural production. It also shows that much of it is only driven by speculative forces without benefitting the real producer monetarily, but is causing huge burden on consumers in the form of higher prices ( A Prasad Rao,”Neoliberal agenda in farm sector proactive people responses”, Asian agriculture conference New Delhi 2012 )
The following table gives a brief indication about commodity trading in futures in India after economic reformation.
Table: Future traded in agricultural commodities:-
Value in lakh Tunes % in total future
Value in lakh crore % in total future
|Agriculture and allied GDP Rs Lakh crore|
|1||2009 – 10||3991 (39.3)||12.18 (15.7)||12.37|
|2||2010 – 11||4168 (32.6)||14.56 (12.2)||14.61|
|3||2011 – 12||23878 (33.2)||16.96 (11.3)||16.50|
Source – Economic Survey 2001 – 12 Government of India
Another exploitative feature of the impact of Economic reforms on Indian agriculture is contract farming and corporate farming. The vast majority of Indian Farmers are small holders, almost 80% of operational plots are less than 2 hectares with an over whelming majority being marginal farmers and share-croppers with insecure tenancy relations. Corporate farming is pushed in the name of scientific management. There are various reforms proposed for corporate farming including joint stock companies. For this international finance capital has exerted immense pressure on various state governments to revoke land ceiling acts. State land use laws are under pressure to divert agricultural land for real estate sector . The average size of land holding was 1.55 hectares in 1990-91, which has been reduced to 1.23 hectors in 2005, where small and marginal farmer eke out subsistence. The expenditure reforms commission of India had suggested various models of corporate farming in its report in the year 2000.
The various models are enumerated below:-
- In the first model joint stock companies will be registered under company law for taking up agricultural operations. Compact block of 1000 – 5000 hectares will be identified and farmers will be motivated to become stake holders in the joint stock companies set up for managing agricultural productions. Share certificates will be issued to farmers to the extent of their land holdings. Cultivation of land will be taken up by the joint stock company, which will vertically integrate all operations relating to land. They will start land leveling, land shaping and taking up soil tasting, preposition of appropriate cropping pattern, provision of irrigation facilities, application of appropriate technology and inputs. Along with installing proper harvesting and storage facilities, the company will also introduce post-harvest management through agro-processing and marketing. The company will arrange for requisite credit support for operations from financial; institutions. The company will not only provide proper land and water management but also save losses through proper handling of agricultural produce and appropriate value addition from the agro processing and marketing. Farmers who are stakeholders will get dividend income and wage employment from time to time.
- In the second model, the joint stock company will take the land on lease from the farmers and take up agriculture on its own. The farmers will be buying shares from the company and derive income from the company and derive income from the lease amount to be paid by the company and also dividend income on the basis of shares held by them. They will also get wage employment from time to time.
- Under the third model, the joint stock company will not take up any cultivation on its own. The company will provide only services related to technology support under the third model, the joint stock company will not take up any cultivation on its own . The company will provide only services relating to technology support and set up facilities for processing and marketing value added products. The farmers themselves will do the cultivation. They will also have the freedom to lease additional land and enlarge the size of their holdings. For all the intents and purposes, the farmers will take up contract cultivation through Joint Stock Company and their income will consist of sale proceeds received from the company for their produce and the dividend income, which will accrue to them on the basis of the shares held by them in the joint stock company.
- The fourth model envisages setting up the producer companies on the basis of the recommendations of the committee headed by Dr. Y.K. Alagh . The company law is proposed to be amended to producer companies, which will incorporate cooperative principles of company law. The details of this model will have to be worked after the new chapter of Producer Company is added to company law.
- Prasad Rao , Neoliberal Agenda in farm sector, proactive people responses. Asian agricultural conference New Delhi 2012) An experiment on the joint stock farming based on the first model was carried out in Kuppam area in Andhra Pradesh. The Kuppam experiment was a disaster; the farmers are still cursing the company for the mess it left for them. Around 200 acres of hybrid Gherkin(a variety of cucumber) cultivation was taken up in Kuppam , adopting intensive technology of short duration multiple cropping. Israeli technology, heavy machinery, intensive use of chemicals and so on, this was export on anted. This experiment was carried out in the year 2000. After leasing in land from the farmers, the company obliterated the individual boundaries of land holders. It totally destabilized the economy of the farmers and the resultant chaos led to the abandonment of the experiment because it created havoc with individual household economy and led to the erasure of the boundaries of individual land holdings. The farmers have sworn never to attempt that model again. A detailed report was done by the justice P.A Choudhury on the failure of Kuppam model and for miseries it brought to farmers. ( see BrajaBandhu Swain, Contract Farming in Andhra Pradesh, A Case of rice seed and Gherkin Cultivation. EPW October 5th 2011 and Justice PA. Choudhury, Prof. K. R. Chowdry, A Prasad Rao , N VenuGopalRao and Narsimha Reddy. Report of the Farmers Commission of Experts on Agriculture in Andra Pradesh , Published by the Commission and VyavasayaParakshanAikyaPorataVedike , Hyderabad 2002) Contract farming is a trap and modern day slavery enforced by the Imperialist agencies, where farmers will converted into bondage and farm labors in their own land holders.
- The central Government in the year 2013 under the Million farmers initiative, has approved 12 lakhs hectares in 17 states involving 10 lakh farmers. Out of an estimated is 7 thousand crores for this plan the central government will contribute Rs. 29000 as grant in aid. Under this plan ITC, GodrejAgrovert, AdaniMeriko , Nestle, Tata Chemicals , Shriram , NSL, Cotton Corporation, Nuziveedu seeds, Bhushan Agro are some of the companies which will do corporate farming leasing land from the farmerss source, JayantVerma, Brochure on agrarian distress Samvaad, Jabalpur M.P)
This model of high industrial input Industrial chemical agriculture spun by the International Agri-food system, has totally damaged the local ecosystems. The heavyuse of synthetic fertilizers and deadly pesticides has rendered millions of hectares barren. Heavy fossil fuel component have not only brought the phenomenon of peak oil but also peak soil, soil nutrients are depleted irrevocably. Heavily pesticide use has poisoned land and water. Apart from pauperization of farmers, this high input chemical agriculture has had catastrophic input on human health. The farmers and their families in the Malwa region of Punjab are suffering from cancer in thousands. This was induced by the carcinogenic elements seeping into ground water by heavy use of pesticide, which is a dark legacy of Green revolution. The daily train running from Bathinda in Punjab to Bikaner in Rajasthan is called Cancer express. Bikaner has large charitable cancer hospital. Around Eighty percent of the passengers in this train are cancer patients and their immediate relatives.
This neocolonial extractive and destructive model of industrial agriculture with the backing of International finance capital is a serious threat to food sovereignty and biodiversity of the third world. The WTO regime of free flow of finance and commodities is a re-colonization process, where people will lose their traditional seed and indigenous knowledge system. Multinational Giants like Monsanto with a Monopoly of 70% of proprietary seeds is a serious threat to third world seed and biodiversity through the neoliberal patent regime. India is very rich in Biodiversity and gene pool. The national bureau of genetic resources gene bank for seeds holds 4.34 lakhs accessions ( plant samples) of different agricultural crops Indian has a whopping 1 lakh variety of rice, DrRicharia collected the seed of 10 thousand verity of rice in Chhatisgarh itself. As of October 2018 Protection of Plant Verities and Farmers Rights ( PPVRFR) Authority set up and PPUFR act 2001, issued 1587 plant verities protection to farmers 1143 to public sector research organizations and State agricultural Universities and 775 to private seed companies ( source AfsarZafri- Politics of seed common resource or private property, focus on global South). This is pointer where we are going , unless India Pulls out of WTO regime there is a danger that we will lose the patents of our seed to Giants like Monsanto. This hasalso damaged our traditional agriculture and biodiversity by imposition of hybrid seeds and monoculture through heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticide first in the first Green Revolution and now by the second green revolution.
As stated earlier a total loan waiver and remunerative price will just keep the Indian farmers afloat, just head above the water but will not solve structural basis of the crisis in Indian agriculture. The structural crisis of Indian farmers can be only over come when it extricates itself out of the imperialist grip and WTO trade regime. After the transfer of power in 1947 the first major penetration of imperialist capital was green revolution which is known as the first green revolution aided by imperialist agencies like ford foundation and Rockefeller foundation. Much has been written about the first green revolution in India in the late 60’s and early 70’s to augment the production of food crops in India. I will just give a brief sketch of it. Now there is a talk of the second green revolution in the era of Neoliberalism, this time facilitated by WTO and international finance capital. The first green revolution was based on large land holders in Punjab, Haryana and western UP. The second green revolution is for the small land holders extended to the rest of India. In Africa the main fulcrum of second green revolution is Bill and Melinda gates foundation; the plan known as AGRA. The first green revolution was pushed through the shameful PL480 arrangements which funded research in hybrid seeds and use of farm machinery in India agricultural university. HamzaAlavi gives the historical background of the first green revolution based on hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers and American farm machinery, all for the profits of American corporations who were the major suppliers of pesticides, fertilizers and farm machinery. HamzaAlavi writes “with the end of British colonial rule American influence in India grew steadily, somewhat obscured though it was in the early fifties by the alignment against the background of the McCarthyitewitch hunt of communists. With the crisis of the Indian second five year plan in 1958 and the heavy dependence of the Indian economy on US aid, American influence become pervasive and manifest – this was countered, though only partially, by links between the Indian bourgeoisie and the soviet union. Which had colored the philosophy of non-alignment. American advance began to play an increasingly important role in the shaping of Indian policy in most fields. The new turn in agricultural development policy was marked by a report by American experts, sponsored by the ford foundation which recommended a major shift in policy, away from the populist participatory concept of community development to an emphasis on technological solutions to the problem of agricultural development within the terms of the existing class structure. From that new perspective emerged the “Intensive Agricultural District Programs” IADP or, as it is more commonly referred to the ‘Package Programme’ its emphasis was on measures for immediate increase in agricultural production rather than measures for improving the general context for development or immediate welfare. The scheme also emphasized the criterion of profitability of big farm as an enterprise, rather than on attempts to sustain the economically bankrupt (even if physically more productive acre) economy of the small farmers. Finally, in concrete terms the new policy emphasized the provision of new physical inputs, and credit, to the economically viable cultivators in effect the rich farmers and landlords. They were now to have fertilizer, new seed, pump set for to be wells, and a variety of farm machinery, which the small peasant could not possibly offered for his tiny holdings. Above all, large amounts of credit were to be pumped in to the willing hands of rich farmers to enable them to buy new inputs. (HamzaAlavi, India and the colonial mode of production, socialist register 1975) As mentioned earlier the 1st green revolution was an outright imperialist project the American corporations made a lucrative profit by supplying tractor, fertilizers, seed and pesticide. The Indian auto industry was less developed then; most of the tractors in the beginning of green revolution were imported from America and other western countries. The numberof Tractors increasedfrom 31000 to 173000 in 1971. The number of tube wells went up by a far greater percentage as compared to tractors, increasing from 19,000 in 1961 to 718000 in 1971. Fertilizer consumption (for which increased and timely availability of water in a necessary condition) went up from 300000 tons in 1961 to 2.8 million tons in 1971, and the area under improved varieties of seeds rose from 2 million hectares to 23 million hectares. These figures can be seen in the context of the overall area of the order of 350 million to 400 million areas. (HamzaAlavi, India and colonial mode of production socialist register 1975). The changes brought about by the first green revolution, sparked off the mode of production debate in Indian agriculture among the Marxist economists (see-Agrarian relations and accumulation, mode of production debate in India ED UtsaPatnaikSameeksha trust).
There has been a tectonic shift in global capitalism, between 1st green revolution in the Keynesian era and the second green revolution in the neoliberal era. Today we are in the age of the information super high way, where billions of dollars of hot money flow happens across the globe by a click of the mouse. The entire global production and consumption is patterned according to the demands of international finance capital. Manufacturing has shifted to the third world in search of cheap labor in the name of flexible accumulation. China and India have emerged as the factory of the world. Today India manufactures most of its tractors and farm machinery. Substantial amount of fertilizer is also produced in India. The Indo US knowledgeinitiative, the main instrument of the second green revolution is focused on small holders. The prominent features of second green revolution are corporate farming, contract farming GM seeds, future trading in agricultural commodities and push for export oriented agriculture.
Thousands of pages have been written by left parties, revolutionary peasant organizations and social movements critiquing both first and second green revolutions. They are too elaborate and comprehensive; it will be a sheer waste of space to revisit all of them. I will just quote two brief paragraphs critiquing 1st and 2nd green revolution by AIKKS a progressive peasant organization.
“The post war neocolonial phase witnessed fundamental transformation in the agricultural sector in Afro Asian Latin American Countries. With the global expansion of finance capital led by American Imperialism, massive capital export and technology transfer to neocolonial agriculture took place under the auspices of institutions and agencies designed for the purpose. This international process coincided with Keynesianism by which finance capital penetrated in to the entire agriculture sector of neocolonial countries through the development and distribution of high yielding varieties of seeds, modernization of management techniques, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to the farmer is characterized as green revolution that spanned the globe from Mexico to Philippines. Sponsored by such neocolonial centers American states department , world bank USAID, Ford- Rockfeller foundation and so on this ‘new strategy of agriculture’ enabled imperialist finance capital, especially US finance capital to enforce its neocolonial control over the entire input output market and technology channels for agriculture. Through Green Revolution Imperialism, utilizing the comprador regimes in Afro- Asian Latin American Countries, also succeeded in nurturing and up a comparable agricultural bourgeoisie class, albeit with variations, as a social base and formal ally in its neocolonial plunder instead of the erstwhile feudal forces who were reluctant to experiment with the new agricultural technologies. As a corollary in several neocolonial countries, at the behest of neocolonial agencies, such as World Bank and servile ruling regimes, which were ruthlessly suppressing progressive democratic forces who demanded a democratization of land relations including the abolition of feudal relations through super imposed legislations. Obviously, these changes in land relations were not necessarily based on the land to the tiller principle, as the adoption of new agricultural technologies required substantial investments, which were beyond the capacity of small and marginal peasants. In brief, under Keynesianism, the neocolonial countries according to the logic of imperialist capital in general witnessed a further concentration of land with the newly emerged landlord classes as junior partners of agribusiness MNCs and integrated with global market on the one hand, and abysmal growth in the number of landless poor peasants and agricultural workers on an unprecedented scale, on the other, As a whole, agriculture remained retarded, distorted and extraverted on account of green revolution induced developments.
However, the advent of imperialist globalization since the beginning of 1990’s under unhindered global movement of finance capital has added a new dimension to the agrarian crisis confronting neocolonial countries. In continuation of the land concentration in new land lord classes and accentuation of landlessness of the peasantry, loss of peasants self-reliance on indigenous seeds, ecological problems, including soil degradation and natural resourses depletion etc… that took place under the first Green Revolution, today the so called second Green Revolution is taking the overall dependence of neocolonial peasantry on imperialist finance capital to its furthest limits. If the first Green Revolution had taken place under the aegis of Keynesian state led import substitution policies and mainly with in the domain of public sector, under Neoliberalism the whole agriculture is now opened up for the penetration of finance capital along with the shift in emphasis from food agriculture to export oriented cash crop cultivation. In continuation of World Bank dictated agricultural policies of the erst while Keynesian period, with the forcible inclusion of agriculture along with the entire intellectual property regime pertaining to plants and animals in the WTO regimes the neocolonial countries are subjected to an unprecedented corporatization agriculture led by agribusiness MNCs. The concentration of vast land areas with MNCs and speculative corporate sector companies who have completely monopolized the agricultural technologies including genetic engineering, landlessness and destitution of the peasantry in neocolonial countries have reached horrific proportions. Repealing of existing land ceiling acts for facilitating this corporatization of agriculture has already led to large scale displacement of the peasantry from land and agriculture, while corporate contract farming of export oriented cash crops and biofuels are replacing vast areas of food crop agriculture in various parts of the world. Today WTO dictated agricultural measures including anti peasants export, import, credit and price policies coupled with the curtailment of state support programs like subsidies and public procurement programs have led to mass suicides of the real peasantry at a global level
(AIKKS paper Asian Agricultural Conference New Delhi 2012)
Commenting on the devastating impact of the international Agri -food system on Indian agriculture radical analyst Colin Todhunter writes in the leftwing magazine Counter punch : —
India is currently witnessing a headlong rush to facilitate (foreign) Agricapital and the running down of the existing system of agriculture. Millions of small-scale and marginal farmers are suffering economic distress as the sector is deliberately made financially non-viable for them.At the same time, the country’s spurt of GDP growth – the holy grail of ‘development’ – has largely been fuelled on the back of cheap food and the subsequent impoverishment of farmers. The gap between their income and the rest of the population has widened enormously to the point where rural India consumes less calories per head of population than it did 40 years ago. Meanwhile, unlike farmers, corporations receive massive handouts and interest-free loans but have failed to spur job creation.
The plan is to displace the existing system of livelihood-sustaining smallholder agriculture with one dominated from seed to plate by transnational agribusiness and retail concerns. To facilitate this, independent cultivators are being bankrupted, land is to be amalgamated to facilitate large-scale industrial cultivation and remaining farmers will be absorbed into corporate supply chains and squeezed as they work on contracts, the terms of which will be dictated by large agribusiness and chain retailers.US agribusiness corporations are spearheading the process, the very companies that fuel and thrive on a five-year US taxpayer-funded farm bill subsidy of around $500 billion. Their industrial model in the US is based on the overproduction of certain commodities often sold at prices below the cost of production and dumped on the rest of the world, thereby undermining farmers’ livelihoods and agriculture in other countries.It is a model designed to facilitate the needs and profits of these corporations which belong to the Agritech, agrichemicals, commodity trading, food processing and retail sectors. A model that can only survive thanks to taxpayer handouts and by subsidising the farmer who is squeezed at one end by seed and agrochemical manufacturers and at the other, by powerful retail interests. A model that can only function by externalising its massive health, environmental and social costs. And a model that only leads to the destruction of rural communities and jobs, degraded soil, less diverse and nutrient-deficient diets, polluted water, water shortages and poor health.
If we look at the US model, it serves the needs of agribusiness corporations and large-scale retailers, not farmers, the public nor the environment. So by bowing to their needs via World Bank directives and the US-Indo Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, what is the future to be for India?A mainly urbanized country reliant on an industrial agriculture and all it entails, including denutrified food, increasingly monolithic diets, the massive use of agrochemicals and food contaminated by hormones, steroids, antibiotics and a range of chemical additives. A country with spiraling rates of ill health, degraded soil, a collapse in the insect population, contaminated and depleted water supplies and a cartel of seed, chemical and food processing companies with ever-greater control over the global food production and supply chain.
But we don’t need a crystal ball to look into the future. Much of the above is already taking place, not least the destruction of rural communities, the impoverishment of the countryside and continuing urbanization, which is itself causing problems for India’s crowded cities and eating up valuable agricultural land.So why would India want to let the foxes guard the hen house? Why mimic the model of intensive, chemical-dependent agriculture of the US and be further incorporated into a corrupt US-dominated global food regime that undermines food security and food sovereignty? After all, numerous high-level reports have concluded that policies need to support more resilient, diverse, sustainable (smallholder) agroecological methods of farming and develop decentralised, locally-based food economies. Yet the trend in India continues to move in the opposite direction towards industrial-scale agriculture and centralised chains for the benefit of Monsanto-Bayer, Cargill and other transnational players.The plan is to shift hundreds of millions from the countryside into the cities to serve as a cheap army of labour for offshored foreign companies, mirroring what China has become: a US colonial outpost for manufacturing that has boosted corporate profits at the expense of US jobs. In India, rural migrants are to become the new ‘serfs’ of the informal services and construction sectors or to be trained for low-level industrial jobs. Even here, however, India might have missed the boat as jobless ‘growth’ seems to have arrived as the effects of automation and artificial intelligence are eradicating the need for human labour across many sectors.
If we look at the various Western powers, to whom many of India’s top politicians look forward in order to ‘modernise’ the country’s food and agriculture, their paths to economic prosperity occurred on the back of colonialism and imperialism. Do India’s politicians think this mindset has disappeared?Fuelled by capitalism’s compulsion to overproduce and then seek out new markets, the same mentality now lurks behind the neoliberal globalisation agenda: terms and policies like ‘foreign direct investment’, ‘ease of doing business’, making India ‘business friendly’ or ‘enabling the business of agriculture’ embody little more than the tenets of neoliberal fundamentalism wrapped in benign-sounding words. It boils down to one thing: Monsanto-Bayer, Cargill and other transnational corporations will decide on what is to be eaten and how it is to be produced and processed (Colin Todhunter ,Counterpunch)
Neoliberalism which has led a cannibalistic path of capitalist development has devoured around 4 lakh farmers in the last two decades. This predatory capitalist growth has pauperized overwhelming numbers of farmers and workers. The high profile ArjunSengupta committee, appointed to the report on the status of unorganized sector worker, said that 77% of population earns an average twenty rupees a day. That was the year of 2005. Today Indian population is 130 billion 77% comes around 90 crores. Since around 70% of the population lives in rural areas. A vast majority of small, marginal farmers and agricultural laborers were earning an average of twenty rupees a day in the year 2005. Adjusted to the inflation let us say that twenty rupees is hundred rupees today. The fundamental question is can anyone survive for Rs 100/- a day, it can’t buy even two square meals, forget about health, housing, education and entertainment expenditure. The vast majority of farmers and workers are just surviving on starvation wages. According to ArjunSengrapta committee report an Indian farmers average income was Rs 14 per day, in Odisha it was lowest at Rs 6 per day. (Quoted in JayantVarma brochure on agrarian crisis Samvaad Jabalpur M.P). Capitalism had a conscious strategy to uproot the farmers from their lands and convert them into workers, i.e. divorcing the real producers from means of production and convert them into property less wage laborers who just have to sell their labor power to reproduce them for the next working day. Marx called this bloody process as primitive accumulation of capital. It is prophetic words were capitalism comes with blood and fire. Capitalism also had to create a strategy for feeding this newly converted workers by cheap food. For that the price of farm produce has to be kept low. The story of capital so far is cheap food and cheap oil. In India it acquired a pathetic dimension, where today farmers are pushed to the edge. Let us just compare the price of gold and farm produce. In 1960 10 grams of gold cost Rs 111.00 and a quintal of wheat cost Rs 40. Today 10 grams of gold is more than 32 thousand rupees and the M.S.P for wheat is only Rs 1700.00. in the year 1960 a first class gazzeted officer could buy 6 quintals of wheat from his one month’s salary, today he can buy 40 quintals of wheat from one month salary, ( Source JayantVerma, Brochure on Agrarian Crisis, Samvaad, Jabalpur M.P ). This is a stark indicator of phenomenal inequality in India, where farm produce is sold at dirt cheap rates compared to other industrial and luxury goods. Farming in India has become a losing proposition. The expert committee headed by R. Radhakrishnan by the finance ministry in the year 2007 reported that agriculture has become a unviable business in India. Since farming has become unviable 10 million farmers have left farming between the censuses of 2001 to2011. And these entire self-respecting farming population joins the over exploited brutalized urban underclass in the sprawling slums of shining India. 59th round of NSSO reported in the year 2007 that 40% farmers are willing to give up farming. This shows how agriculture has been made an unviable occupation by conscious class biased state policies.
How far agriculture has been pushed to the margins of economic activities, can be understood from the following facts. In the Nehruvian erainthe 50s and early 60’s, the contribution of agriculture to the G.D.P was always over 50%, and agriculture is known as the primary sector. Just before the new economic policy was launched 1991 the contribution of agriculture to G.D.P was 30% in the year 2000 it was 28%. In the financial year 2011-2012 it was abysmally, low at 14.5%. This is the regressive story of post reform Indian agriculture. The vision document for the year 2020 produced by A.B.Vajpayee led NDA 1 government had envisioned to drastically bring down the share of agriculture in the GDP to 6 percent.This is a clear indication of the elimination war waged against the toiling peasantry by the Indian ruling classes.
Adivasis and Agrarian Crisis
The population of Adivasis in India is more than 10 million. It is a staggering figure which is more than the population of Major European, North and South American Counties like Germany, Canada or Argentina. But when one discusses agrarian policies or agrarian issues, the Adivasis don’t come into picture. The normative picture of afarmer in India is a tractor driving Non Adivasi farmer from the plains. The politicians also don’t pay why need to Adivasi agriculture though 57 seats in the Loksabha are reserved for Adivasis. They are simply not counted as farmers and their farming practices are never considered as normal agriculture. Most of the Adivasis don’t get any institutional credit. They are severely exploited by dishonest traders and money lenders. Adivasi farming practices in the age of climate change can be a model of future sustainable agriculture. Their carbon foot prints are lowest in the world. They practice non chemical ecofriendly subsistence agriculture. They grow cores grains like different types Millets , Ragi etc. but their food grains and crops are never considered for M. S. P for Adivasi farm produce. TRIFED and large area Multipurpose societies (LAMP) are practically useless, which were created for Adivasi farm products and minor forest produce are totally dysfunctional and useless for Adivasi. They continue to get cheated and exploited by dishonest traders and moneylenders. On the eve of parliament election in an opportunist stance the Modi regime recently declared M.S.P for 55 items of Adivasi forest produce; there are no functional official agencies to implement this decision on ground. Thus this has proved to be another empty Jumla by the Modi regime. Adivasis have been doing sustainable ecofriendly farming for thousands of years, much before the modern forest act or revenue code came into existence. Suddenly the British colonialists declared them encroachers in their own habitat. After years of arduous straggle by Adivasi Mass Movements, the U P A Government passed the forest right act (FRA) in the year 2006. But due to a mysterious irresponsible anti Adivasi law suit by some a political stupid conservationist NGO like wild life trust, the supreme court of India passed a cruel regressive judgment ordering around 2 million Adivasis to be evicted from their forest lands, which they have been farming for generations. It is incumbent on the democratic and progressive forces who struggle for justice to firmly rally behind Adivasis in their rightful claim to forest land. This is a insidious regime through retrograde laws like conservation of forest act (CAFA) and the draft new forest policy to handover traditional Adivasi habitats to the corporate sector for commercial exploitation. It is a cruel trajectory of historical injustice, that Adivasi women of Jharkhand one of the most mineral rich states of India, are forced to work as highly exploited and abused domestic servants in Metropolitancenter’s like Delhi. While the house of TATA is making millions by evicting them from their habitats. Jharkhand, ODISHA and Chhatisgarhrepresent the dark era of loot and plunder, by rapacious Multinational and national corporate sector.
Conclusion- Parliament elections, Agrarian Crisis and the emerging farmers movement:
At a critical juncture of modern Indian history, we are hearing the loud drum beats of Parliamentary Election. This jarring noise of competing electoral interests is sick back ground music of the funeral procession, when farmers are having their fatal journey from the intensive care unit to the crematorium. Demagogues of the all kinds of ruling class parties of all colours, will, descend on a hapless citizenry with empty rhetoric’s and devious platitudes. The farmers and workers will be promised moon, as the self-appointedChowkidar of the country, ensured a smooth transit to Vijay Mallya, NiravMody .NarendraModiand co will shower all kind of Jumlas like the last election, where he had promised to double the farmer’s income by 2022, and create two crores of jobs a year. This time the farmers should not be carried away by the Shenanigans and theoutlandish farce of promises trumpeted from the pulpits of electoral deception.
The results of the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and M.P have clearly demonstrated that the farmer’sissues have emerged at the centre stage of Indian electoral politics. This is a new development because though the farmers who are majority play an instrumental role in installing Governments, but their issues were always side lined by the battle cry of Hindutva and nationalist hysteria. This times the workers and peasants have to be extra vigilant. Modi and his cohorts will try to whip up Nationalist hysteria by playing the Pakistan card. The peasants and workers should not be hoodwinked by the festival of the ruling classes called elections. This is nothing else but Nero’s feast, where the lackeys of finance capital feast on the corpses of farmers, who ended their life due to the unbearable debt burden induced by agrarian crisis. Instead of getting fooled by the electoral promises , the farmers must resolutely rally behind the struggles embarked by progressive peasant movement and firmly support the demands of the “Farmers struggle coordination committee “ comprising of around 200 progressive peasant organizations and social movements.
We should be emphatically clear that the farmers are not demanding charity from the ruling class, but the rightful share of their sweat and grit in the scorching fields. Nothing comes as a charity from the rulers, what we are demanding is a fair share of labour and shouldering the responsibility of feeding the country. Lollypops from the rulers will not satiate the hunger of the teeming millions. As the eminent Marxist thinker Ralph Miliband has taught us, that all the rights human beings enjoy today are the products of unremitting struggles of the subaltern masses since centuries; Taking cue from the legendary Telengana and Tebhaga struggle the farmers and workers should engage with ruling classes in street battles to extract their rightful share in the Nation’s wealth. The festival of masses is not elections but knockout street battles with the ruling class.
The sick sops offered by Modi like 17 rupees a day for the farmers will not solve the existential crisis faced by the Indian farmers. The only possible way out of this death trap is when the farmers extricate themselves from the death up of imperialist institutions like W.T.O other progressive farmer’s networks like Via Campesina show the way. Via campesina is categorically clear that the farmers to make their farming viable and the third world nations to maintain their economic and political and food sovereignty have to force their way out of neo-colonial instruments like W.T.O. They write in their website;-
“Neo – liberal policies prioritize international trade, and not food for the people. They haven’t contributes at all to hunger eradication in the world. On the country, they have increased the people’s dependence on agriculture imports, and have strengthened the industrialization of agriculture, thus jeopardizing the genetic, cultural and environmental heritage of our planet, as well as our health. They have forced hundreds of millions of farmers to give up their traditional agricultural practices, to rural exodus or to emigration. International institutions such as IMF (International Monetary Fund), the World Bank, WTO (World Trade Organization) have implemented those policies dictated by the interests of large transnational companies and superpowers …. WTO is a completely inadequate institution to deal with food and agricultural related issues. Therefore Via Campesina wants WTO. (Via Campesina Website)
Apart from acute agrarian distress and pauperisation of the peasantry and the working class, what we are witnessing today is an unprecedented land grab facilitated by the international finance capital. Primitive accumulation did not end in early modern England, but its venomous claws are bleeding the entire third world. This blood thirsty 21st century primitive accumulation has forcibly grabbed millions of hectares of farm land in India for SEZ s , entertainment parks , luxury housing projects for the elite mega project like Delhi, Mumbai industrial corridor, high speed rail where common man can never afford to ride, Mines clams, and also Adivasis are driven away from their habitats for sanctuaries and national parks meant for the green voyeurism of the urban elite. There is an unprecedented distress migration in India, which was never witnessed earlier. Due to the agrarian distress and cruel primitive accumulation, millions are forced to have their traditional habitats and join the over exploited urban underclass in the city slums.
After centuries of colonization, horrifying trade in Chattel slavery, racism, apartheid and Jim Crow segregation, we are witnessing a new scramble for Africa. This time the Indian and Chinese billionaires have joined hand with imperialists to grab land in Africa. The Indian Government has facilitated the Indian corporate sector to grab land in Africa. Indian companies like Kasturi agro products, Ruchi soya industry, Vedanta harvest, Chaddha agro, sterling group, olem international, Barun international, Shree Renuka sugars, McloidRussel ,Adani Group, Neha International, Jaishree tea etc have captured millions of hectares of fertile farm land in Ethiopia, Indonesia, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Uganda Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Malaysia and other afro Asian Latin American countries of the third world. These companies will grow cash rich export oriented crops like Tea, Coffee, tobacco and some food crops and oil seeds.
(Source JayantVarma, brochure on agrarian distressSamvaad, Jabalpur M.P).
Commenting on the state of the fastpaced industrialisation in post war Europe, and the accelerated migration of millions of European peasants to the cities, the Eminent Marxist historian Eric Hobbswam had coined the term “Death of peasantry. What we are witnessing today is the burial of peasantry in the exploited third world countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
This forced de-peasantization is unprecedented in world history. This process of predatory depeasantization through accumulation by violent dispossession has been excellently documented by FarshanArrighi of the rural sociology department of Cornell University. Anuradha Mittal of Oakland Institute California has been consistently running a spirited campaign against forced land grab in Africa. In India the dispossession and distress migration to cities for low paying precarious jobs has reached astounding proportions.
The chronic agrarian crisis and continuous farmers suicide is a powerful indicator of the antagonistic contradiction between world imperialism led by US and the toiling workers, and oppressed nations of the third world has reached a boiling point. The homilies of the election speeches are not going to solve this contradiction. Only by breaking out of the imperialist chain is going to emancipate the workers and peasants of the third world including India from this morass. Yes there is an alternative, which is fierce mass struggle of the farmers against the agrarian policies of the ruling classes. There have been farmer’s protests all over the country. More than one lakh farmers marched in the streets of Delhi in the last week of November to demand total loan waiver and remunerative prices. And that is the way forward for farmers, not the populist rhetoric of electionspeeches where different ruling class political parties try to outsmart each other by hollow populism and jingoistic macho slapstick nationalism. It is high time the Indian workers and peasants teach a fitting lesson to NarendraModi,the running dog of imperialism, the butcher of Gujrat and the henchman of Adani and Ambani. The toiling peasantry of India in order to save their own skin should forcibly de-fang this comprador Cobra.History has taught us that elections are not the festival of the masses, but tough knock out street battles and storming the fortresses of oppression will lead the subaltern masses into the path of liberation. As Rosa Luxemburg had said unless one moves chains don’t break. The real carnival of liberation of the masses begin when they blast the citadels of ruling class power..
Asit Das is a researcher