All India Bandh to Support Farmers’ Struggle
An unprecedented ‘OCCUPY’ moment has developed in New Delhi. The authoritarian regime of Modi for the first time is caught on back-foot. Some estimates are putting the number at hundreds of thousands if not millions of farmers and the peasantry have occupied Delhi with a resolute demand to defeat the blatantly pro-corporate new Farm Laws that were surreptitiously pushed through the parliament in the most undemocratic manner.
The farmers Act 2020 will force the farmers in India to be subjugated and suppressed by the corporate houses and capitalists through their control on pricing of the agricultural and farm produce. It is rightly feared that it will have a far reaching and disastrous effect directly on India’s peasantry as a whole.
Though involved in the farming activity round the year, majority of the farmers in India do not own land or they are marginal farmers with very small land holdings. Majority also do not benefit from existing price guarantee. It is the big land lord lobbies with political patronage play the role in fixing prices and they benefit the most.
The existing subsidies are not adequate enough. Though only small percentage of landowning farmers are benefited from inadequate minimum support price (MSP), it is likely that it will also be abandoned by the government eventually. Majority of small and marginal farmers could not pay back the interest to the small loans they managed to obtain mainly from the loan sharks who happen to be big landlords. Last year alone we saw a record number of farmers – more than 100 000 – killing themselves, as they were not able to pay back their debt and provide for their families too.
Modi is out to ruin the peasantry
Corona crisis added to the worsening condition of these farmers and peasants. Modi’s new Farm laws add to this and further increase the insecurity of the small farmers and marginal farmers who get the land for lease . Modi and his supporters and some capitalist media in India claim that these laws will be a solution, as farmers will be able to sell to the buyers directly – “cutting the middle man”/ broker. This is a gross misinterpretation of what is to come – which small farmers instinctively understand due to their own experience. Involvement of big corporations in fixing the prices means it will eventually eliminate the small and marginal farmers. It will only help to strengthen the large landowners and help to cut the subsidies and rights of small farmers further. This will result in a further increase in poverty and hardship for the small farmers who may be forced to abandon farming.
Defeat the nefarious design
As a domino effect, it will also indirectly affect all those who consume food. The new law will also destroy the much tom-tom’ed “sovereign” tradition of governance in India, where the revenue from various states via indirect taxes will be diverted to the centre. This would result in weakening the states economically, and they will be forced to be sub-subservient to the centralised power. This stinks of a nefarious design of authoritarianism, which is amply manifested already during the Modi regime since 2014.
Further, the new Acts were not publicly discussed & debated before it became laws and the farmers’ unions and the peasantry was not consulted in any democratic manner. This undemocratic act of surpassing and bulldozing peoples opinions is very evident even in relation to Workers of India who over decades through valiant struggles had achieved a certain modicum of protection from the capitalist plunder through some labour friendly legislations. By completely negating the concept of ‘Welfare State’ Modi regime has embarked upon reducing the 44 labour legislations to four dictatorial labour codes, which in reality is a step towards enslaving the working class to the whims & fancies of the capitalist bosses to increase their profits.
Most of the agricultural activity being at the mercy of the vagaries of weather, where substantial parts of India, either receive very sparse rains or the rest have to struggle with incessant rains and disastrous flooding. These so-called “reforms” to better their lives has come as a bolt from the blue.
Indian farmers are on the verge of losing their livelihood since the new Agricultural Acts ensure a clean passage for rich Corporate houses and have no remedy for the poor and marginal farmers.
Modi’s Development ruins Have-nots and enriches the Haves
Agriculture is the backbone of the majority of our population and the farmers of India have lived the lives of unending ordeals with very low returns for their toil. The establishment of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) mandis were the only safeguard against exploitation by private traders. But these new Bills have ensured that the APMC mandis (Rural Markets) be rendered useless and the whole pie is given to big corporate houses, which are investing heavily in setting up their own go-downs and silos to hoard stocks for future.
The new laws brought in by Modi administration, which the fighting farmers have rightly captioned it as “Black Laws” is draconian as the aggrieved peasantry cannot go to Court for any legal redress. In case any dispute arises and would be at the complete mercy of these corporate houses. But the BJP regime has chosen to demonise the farmers’ protests, by branding them as anti-national, and against development. Now for raising their voice and peaceful agitations they are being harassed at every step. Barricades were put before the caravans, ditches were dug on roads to prevent them from joining the protest and they were hit by water cannons and tear gas shells by the police to repel them from protesting peacefully, which is a Right given by Constitution of India. Not even-aged farmers have been spared from the police brutality.
Significant sections of India are entering into a new stage of struggle, it is imperative that we need maximum unity and a programme to not only challenge the regime of Modi & Co. but to go beyond it. Be it BJP or any other dispensation it is the corporate capitalism that is calling the shots. All opposition forces that are emerging should seek to form an alliance. There should be an appeal to workers to support the farmers’ struggle. A powerful platform can be formed if this alliance can be forged. This in turn will end the Modi regime and take the society forward towards better planning of resources by establishing a democratic socialist government.
Unity in Struggle is a Must
Working Class must unequivocally support and join the Struggle of the farmers who are demanding the repeal of detrimental Farm Laws introduced by the Modi regime. 250 Million Workers who struck work on 26th November are provided with yet another opportunity to defeat the Modi government and win the demand of repealing draconian Labour Codes. The working class must stand shoulder to shoulder in a united front to achieve success in defeating both the farm laws and labour codes.
• Detrimental new agriculture laws should be repealed immediately.
The programme of privatization of agriculture and the public sector must be stopped immediately. We demand re-nationalisation of all Industries, Utilities and services
• No to direct or indirect capitalist influence in Agriculture. Genuine Co-operatives of all farmers with strict democratic procedures should be established to decide on prices, support prices and subsidies
• Stop criminalising farmers,workers and youth protests.
• Restore all Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism immediately.
Make sure that all small farmers benefit from the MSP by working with elected committees of small farmers.
• MSP should be fixed in consultation with the farmers unions and peasant organisations.
• Increase the farm subsidies now.
Stop dismantling of Public Distribution System (PDS)
• Implement APMC Mandi system throughout the country.
• Cancel all debts of a small, marginal farmers and of the landless peasants.
• Vast swathes of land under government control must be made available to landless peasants.
• Benami (in-absentia) land-owning must be stopped forthwith. Pattas (registration documents) should be transferred to the actual tillers of the land.