With Farm Bills rammed through Parliament, the ethnic majoritarian ‘sarkar’, the deep state and elites have initiated another covert attack to dismantle the subsistence economy of rural India. Instead of focusing on poverty reduction measures these enactments facilitate the accumulation of profits by the agro industry monopolies. Without Government intervention and support direct income of the peasant farmer is reduced, justifying commercialisation of Indian agriculture with the promise of better prices in the global market. The demands of the imperial market for export crops will compel the farmers to shift acreage from food crops to non-food crops resulting in an enduring famine. Half the landmass of India, 52.62% of it being arable land will be transformed into Enclosures for exploitation by Adani, Ambani like monopolies and the much touted contract farming. Control over farm land, and the right to sell agro products for value gained through the peasant farmer Champaran Andolan of 1917 has now been usurped by the Farm Bills.
The monopolies of the imperial North will now be able to import Indian farmers produce at low price – below the real value of the agriculture produce – reflecting cheap labour. Due to the low prices the rural cultivator, 85% of them holding less than 2 acres of land will be forced into chronic debt, loss of small holdings to absentee landlords, amidst increasing uncertainty of subsistence. The Farm Bills are structured to legalise hoarding and speculation ensuring farm produce ends up controlled by the non-agriculturalist moneylenders, and urban merchants. This new breed of intermediaries between the village, the monopolies and the global market empowered by Farm Laws will continue to accumulate wealth. Correspondingly increasing rural farmers’ poverty which is created by individuals – new intermediaries, monopolies – competitively pursuing their own good. Resulting in an impoverished population of landless labourers and their families forced to till the soil for ever decreasing wages. Without Minimum Support Price guarantees, crop insurance, and the perishable nature of farm produce the farmers bargaining power is diminished. Naturally small holdings become uneconomical for the farmer, who unable to invest further, allows the land to waste and is forced to seek employment in the non – agricultural sector. The increasing numbers of rural unemployed becomes a mass colony of exploitable proletariat – referred to by Marx as ‘non-owners of the means of production’ – the distressed segment in the vice like grip of decreasing wages, and reduced social spending policies of the Government of India.
GoI’s reluctance to intervene in the plight of the peasants, farmers ought to be read in conjunction with the World Development Reports. Since 1999 the World Bank Group has been propagating non-intervention by third world countries and ‘part of the strategy in which its central logic is betrayed, is to deny the poor any alternative, and to create a reserve army of labour…’ (Paul Cammack) The World Bank diktat ‘to intervene less in industrial and agricultural pricing; deregulate restrictions to entry and exit’ has been complied both in letter and spirit by the pliant Modi regime. The Farm Laws are a testimony to Modi brand desi servitude to the imperial nations of the North – the ‘lakshman rekha’ he dare not cross – replicating the colonial agricultural policies of the British East India Company that will transform India into a food import dependent nation. Such is the objective of the strategic dispossession of land from the kissan ‘crafted’ by the ethnic despot for finance capital.
While the war rhetoric is ramped up, defence spending increased, army pensions reduced the land – controlled by citizen peasant farmers in the Hindi heartland – is offered on a platter to the agro industry monopolies. With the majority of defence personnel hailing from the North Indian rural sector, their salaries support their families’ engagement in traditional rural farming. These ‘workers’ in uniform and their joint family holdings are the targets of dispossession by the indigenous brahmins and Marwari moneylenders for the forces of finance capital. Kissan and jawan betrayed, the land has been alienated by acts of legislative treason. Increasing poverty, malnutrition will be the lasting legacy of this perpetual lease ‘crafted’ with bad laws for the imperial monopolies. Statutes are approved in ‘masked Cov-Indian silence’; without debate but resounding shouts, and claps of the ethnic majority in Parliament.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, and the other two enactments evidence the shameless surrender of sovereign policy space by GoI. These enactments reaffirm a covenant promise to the imperial powers that there will not be any policy shift towards redistribution of wealth – the abiding disaster of poverty and destitution will pan over India . A poverty landscape is ensured by exempting food items like pulses, cereals, rice and onions from the ambit of the Act. GoI has declared their non-intervention policy by abstaining from procurement, and dismantling of the public distribution system. Passing of the Farm Bills grants unfettered freedom for private industry to step into the void and engage in hoarding, and profiteering. The three Farm Bills are a carte blanche for the agro-business monopolies to accumulate profits at the cost of the Indian peasant farmer. The uneven field leaves ‘peasantry at the mercy of powerful private monopsonists, and that too in commodities subject to wild price fluctuations’ (Prof. Patnaik). Freedom of commerce for hoarders, racketeers and market manipulators – impoverishment, misery and lathis’ for the poor.
The Indian farmer who puts rice, and bread on the table of the elites, would not be able to guarantee their own families’ subsistence. Indicative of a community level food crisis, leaving children to bear the brunt of lopsided policy prioritisation. Acreage for food and non-food crops will be linked to the fluctuating demand in the global marketplace, as a result land for subsistence farming is reduced. This village level food scarcity takes India to ‘the top spot in child wasting rate in the world’. The Global Hunger Index further states ‘around 90 per cent of children in India aged between 6 and 23 months don’t even get minimum required food’ ensuring a generation of stunted children.
If undernourishment is a central manifestation of poverty then there is already a famine oozing and destitution spreading over India. Gandhiji led the Champaran Andolan in 1917 forcing colonial Britain to abolish indigo plantations. The demand of the peasant farmer to retain control over the land, and value for produce was first raised at Champaran and colonial Britain had to abolish anti-farmer laws. These are Famine Bills enacted to facilitate another imperialist conquest to take control of North India, creating an exclusive Enclosure for exploitation of lives, land and generations. While the promise maker Modi feeds peacocks the mass of children born in India united by poverty are forced to wander as orphans. Famine Bills evidence parliamentary dishonesty and treason that demands a verdict in the people’s court.
1917 Champaran Andolan, Bihar – movement established farmers right to control farming in the land, and sale of farm products for value.
1948 Nathuram Godse emerged from the admiring crowd, bowed and shot Gandhiji three times at point-blank range.
2020 Three Famine Bills ceding control of farmers land and rights to the imperial monopolies. The gains of Champaran reversed. Gandhiji killed again in Parliament by the ethnic majority Namaste Baapu !
Vinod Kumar Edachery, currently works with a strategic advisory firm in the Middle East. He believes that neoliberalism creates inequality and transfer of wealth to the hegemony. email@example.com