A message from Workers Peasants Unity 11.12.2021 (a rough translation of the Page 1 article of Ei Muhurte Kichhu Bhavna Dec21-Jan22)

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  • 381 days. More than 725 martyrs. So, what did we see in the year-long battle?
  1. “Modi-Shah-BJP-RSS are unbeatable. Whatever they say are final. Modi ne kiya hain toh kuch soch samajh ke hi kiya hoga (Modi has done it, so it must have a logic behind it)” The myth that was built around the present regime is suddenly seeming weak, the big Modi Bubble has found some unexpected leaks on it! And we the ordinary toilers could do it.
  2. It didn’t take any MP/MLA or leaders of big parties in parliament; although they came seeing millions gathered in the borders of Delhi. The farmer leaders did not let them speak coming up on the stage. Rather we saw, farmers leaders allowed workers from Durgapur, who earns not more than 6500 per month; or poor peasants or brick-field workers from Jhargram or South 24 Parganas who earn even less, on their stage at Pakora Chawk at Tikri border to speak their hearts out.
  3. From Rahul Gandhi to Sitaram Yechury, from Mayavati or Akhilesh to Lalu Yadav, no prominent opposition leaders were called to participate in this movement. Everything was done by the farmers’ unions themselves.
  4. And this power of the united toilers forced Modi to come on national television and plead guilty while withdrawing the three farm acts. After Tebhaga-Telengana, after the peasants’ movement of 1960s – 1970s, yet again this farmers movement in our country have reminded us of the Power of the People. Yet again they have reminded us that the power to change lies with the toiling masses of our country. This is not a mean feat by any means.
  5. This memory will live in people’s mind in social-consciousness, and in the pages of books with the help of songs, poems, videos of various kinds. 2020 November, December and this year’s January saw millions upon millions of farmers arriving in the country’s capital’s borders on tractors and trolleys while loudspeakers playing songs like, “Modiji where are your cannons; we have arrived Delhi!” This year’s December saw them returning home, brimming with joy, having won the fight. They didn’t plead. They won. And yes, it indeed was a battle, not a khela or game, it was a battle, which saw more than 700 martyrs.
  6. Arrangement of meals for more than lacs and lacs of people daily for 381 days, their drinking water, sanitation, clinical needs, all of these were arranged by the unions themselves. The toiling masses really showcased their management skills in this movement. They coordinated everything, from arranging the requirements for the people who’ll be going to Delhi, to taking care of their fields while farmers are at the borders. All this was done by the peasant and farm labourers unions in the villages. The toiling masses – who, we are sure, would one day run the country – thus practised an important skill, that of running villages and movements in a sustainable manner.

 

  • So, in short, what did we get from this movement?
  • The Three Farm Acts were withdrawn.
  • The process of stubble (harvest residue) burning incurred heavy fines from the farmers till now. That has been completely withdrawn.

 

  • On what demands discussions and negotiations are still ongoing?

 

  • How all the cases lodged against the protesting farmers will be withdrawn as soon as possible,
  • What will be the MSP of different crops, how many crops will be covered,
  • What will be the subsidy given to the farmers while using electricity for their agricultural purposes, and
  • How the families of the martyred farmers will be compensated.

 

  • So, what are the demands on which the government did not give any clear answer?

 

  • The extremely exploitative four labour codes, which will make life a living hell for all the workers of our country, are something the government kept mum about in all their approaches, meetings and letters. Although it wasn’t in the original demand list of the farmers, they later included it in their list of demands after talking to the workers and their unions.
  • Universal PDS for all essential necessities for all. And few others.

 

  • What else did Punjab get from this movement?

 

  • The wage of the labourers will be increased. Farm workers already started move for 200 days worker year with 700 Rs daily wage.
  • Some, among the thousands of contract workers working under the government, have been able to make their jobs permanent. They are still on the streets, fighting to achieve their demands.
  • The landless peasants and farm labourers, who were fighting for their land rights, have started getting land rights directly in certain districts. In the others, the struggle still carries on.

 

  • So how much did we win? What lies ahead?

 

We definitely did win the first round of this battle.

But we know that even if MSP is assured, the majority of the peasants in our country will not be able to live on it. The majority of the peasants in our country own less than a hectare of land. And ‘market’ is such a place that a normal peasant will get cheated both while selling and buying stuff. This inhumanly competitive market economy will never give a toiler what they’re worth. Very few manage to climb up the ladder, but the future of that 5-10% will never be that of the rest of the 90% toilers. If a toiling peasant gets Rs. 20 instead of 14 for paddy, Rs. 16 instead of 8 for potatoes, the price of the rest of the products in the market will increase accordingly, making it increasingly difficult for them to make their ends meet because nobody produces everything needed by a family. So, what is the way out of this vicious cycle?

 

What is the ultimate solution for the workers and peasants of our country? Some preliminary ideas may be presented regarding our future path.

 

  • Feudalism or zamindari system is one of extreme oppression. Expropriation of land rent coupled with an extremely undemocratic social system makes the ordinary peasant realize this oppression in every sphere of their life. This country still has large remnants of this system. Prevalence of an undemocratic and oppressive caste system which regularly oppresses people on the basis of their castes. Moreover, there are oppression on various nations, nationalities present in the country, forceful imposition of Hindi on other nation/nationalities, extreme neglect and disrespect towards the people of North-East, Kashmir, Assam, Bihar and other states, all this still exist in our country.

 

  • Capitalism is there too, capitalism itself breeds and nurtures inhuman competition. On the other side, we have empathy and cooperation. There is a possibility of creating a system in agriculture which would focus on the latter instead of the former, and we must strive towards achieving that.

 

  • The first thing we’ll need to do to achieve this is to take away the lands from the non-peasants. For example, all the land of the landlords and big non-peasant landowners will have to be taken up by the state. These people used to make their prajas or serfs, tenants, work on their fields before, now the do the same, or hire labourers to do similar work under similar social and cultural conditions.

 

  • ­Those who work their own land, toil on their own land are peasants. Even if that person employs others while himself working on the field, that person remains a peasant, a rich peasant. The land of the peasants will not be expropriated. Agricultural land of the other non-toilers will be expropriated without compensation.

 

  • The expropriated land will be distributed among the landless peasants and farm labourers in a just way as would the peasants decide by the peasants of villages.

 

  • NB: Tribe people for example many Naga tribes who continues common-ownership practice will of course continue to do so and spread their lesson of common property usage and management; Adivasi people will teach with their acquired wisdom of millennia how to take care of nature and live with nature.

 

  • If the peasants want, they will be encouraged to form cooperatives following this, by merging their lands. The profit from this cooperative will be divided among the peasants in two ways, one according to their labour (the amount of labour they gave in the agricultural process) and other according to the amount of land they own. Thus, they will get wages as well as profit from their own land. A peasant owning a small part of land will have the ability of increasing his gains by working more on the cooperative. A landless person can work on the cooperative land and get his wages from it. The cooperatives will be able to build rural industries and will farm animals from their profit and with adequate state support.

 

  • All the big industries will have to be taken up by the government without any compensation to their owners. These industries will give adequate wages and other securities and rights to their workers. Thus, industry and agriculture will be directly controlled by the workers and peasants themselves.

 

  • Every able-bodied person will get work, and will get a living wage to sustain themselves.

 

  • The society will take care of the elderly, the children, and those who are mentally and physically challenged.

 

  • Taking care of pregnant women and reast-feeding mothers and infants will also be borne by the society – because women are producing the society itself, and infants are the future of the society.

 

However, the owners of the big industries, the bank owners, the landlords will not let this happen in a peaceful and democratic manner. They have all the laws, and all the organs of the state on their side. The government and their forces will obviously be up in arms and will defend their interests. The workers and peasants will have to overcome such obstacles, and take control of the country with their own power. This is what we call PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION.

 

But only making this revolution won’t do. What will come after that? It is not possible to chalk out every step right now, a few conjectures are:

 

Following the revolution, struggles on different fronts will have to intensify. There will be fierce struggle to get rid of the divisions between genders, between various nationalities, to get rid of the national and linguistic oppressions, to completely destroy the caste system. A sustained cultural and ideological struggle will have to be carried out by the people to change outlook of the people.

 

The tasks on the economic front following this revolution will be many, to try to narrate a few – the banks, which has been taken under government control by now, will give tremendous help and subsidies to the peasants – because peasants are the one who gives us food to eat. The cooperatives will open animal farms, pisciculture and rural industries with the help from government. The industries and agriculture will be planned in such a way that all able hands get work, and everyone gets sufficient amount of food and other items to lead a healthy life. The profits from the industries will be used for the whole society. Education – health will be made completely free. Slowly, other responsibilities will also be taken up by the society, like that of the children and the elderlies. This society will have no wasteful spending, no urge to consume more than one needs, no reason to flaunt their riches. As machines and technology develops, the workload will be reduced from the people, so that they can spend this time to pursue their other interests, fulfilling their truly human potential in the process. The human being will not be just a cog in the machine – they will be able to enjoy and perform arts, sports, literature and other stuff, they will be able to truly enjoy their life to the fullest.

 

 

We must also see to it that the nature does not get depleted, we must make this world liveable for the coming 10-20 generations in the future. Capitalism has presently caused global warming, changed climate and is on course to destroy the environment of Earth completely as we speak. We must strive to change this course, to right the wrongs done by capitalism and the previous economic systems.

 

Agriculture must be changed completely. Human beings are part of nature, so their practises, starting from agriculture must be natural. The human being will slowly again become a part of nature, instead of ‘exploiting’ and destroying it as if standing outside it.

 

And if this goes on for a few generations, the people of this world will slowly realize that the “property” which exploits and oppresses people, which only divides people, is not really needed for the advancement of the society. Thus, slowly but surely, we will move towards a future where “private property” will be abolished. Thus, we will march towards a future whose destination will be Communism.

The author is an activist who writes on political and socioeconomic issues and also on environmental issues. Some of his articles are published in Frontier Weekly. He lives in West Bengal, India.  Presently he is a research worker. He can be reached at sandeepbanerjee00@gmail.com


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