It had been clear from the speeches of the Finance Minister that the government was not sitting silent during time of lockdown. It was making a roadmap for welcoming multinational companies to new sectors at a time when people of India were in panic due to Coronavirus.  The Finance Minister’s announcement of COVID package largely comprises of loans about which we have already said in our last update titled ‘government’s contribution to countrymen is negligible’. Besides, the rest of the announcement are simply of economic reform programmes.

Privatisation of coal mining, distribution of coal block to private companies, increase of FDI share from 49% to 74% in defence sector, increase role of private companies in aviation, nuclear and electric power sector  etc. were in the agenda of the government which are routed during time of COVID pandemic. On one hand the package would force more people to enter into the urban labor market in the long run and on the other the government will be emerged as only ‘saviour’ of people by announcing few kilograms of rice and by transferring few hundreds of rupees to their account. The rights and equality will not get any space anywhere.

Lockdown forced Adivasis of distress sale of their collected forest produces. They survive for 3 to 6 months each on such collection. But this time the pruduces either were left to rot or non-collected in in various states. Earlier the TRIFED and LAMPS were purchasing forest produces in government declared prices from the tribals and that was giving decent income. Those societies were declared defunct conspiratorially for paving way of private businessmen. The government is entirely silent on it. What the government sees behind privatisation of coal and other minerals, would ‘boost the sector, for growth and jobs’ is rather displace tribals from their home and hearth.

In this phase of lockdown, the farmers are forced to sell vegetables and other perishable goods in negligible prices. At some places, they are throwing it up on the roads. Now they have to pay their loans also. It was expected that the government would declare an assistance and would revive reliable marketing networks.  Instead, the finance minister has gone for giving loan for building Agriculture Infrastructure Projects for agriculture entrepreneurs and start-ups and also for contract farming for inviting ‘large investment of big corporates in agriculture’.

It has been a practice for the government that when people crawl the government kick them behind to roll. This COVID period is an example of it also. The government instead of strengthening their backbone is planning to take away their resources and displace them from their home and hearth. And the government is not leaving the people in empty hands. It will announce more kilograms of rice/wheat and a small amount of money to keep its image of ‘saviour’. The rights of producers and equality in our economy are not getting any space anywhere. Here, the GASS appeals to all people’s organisations and individuals to come to oppose the further plan of economic reform and to stop destitution.

Write to : The President, GASS, Odisha, Email: gassbhubaneswara@gmail.com


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