Category Archives: Capitalism

Mass Psychology of Neofascism – The rationale underlying political ‘irrationality’ : Dr Abhay Shukla

Dr Abhay Shukla, public health physician and health activist will be delivering  the 8 th lecture in the ‘Democracy Dialogues Lecture Series’  on ‘Mass Psychology of Neofascism : The rationale underlying political ‘irrationality’  organised by New Socialist Initiative on Sunday, 21 st February, 2021 at 6 PM (IST)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Mass Psychology of Neofascism – The rationale underlying political ‘irrationality’ : Dr Abhay Shukla

Toolkits of democracy and a paranoid Hindu Rashtra

Widows and relatives of farmers who were believed to have killed themselves over debt, at Tikri border. Image courtesy Indian Express

Let me tell you what the Delhi Police knows. And I do not mean the abstract entity called Delhi Police. I mean every single IPS officer and every constable involved in carrying out the “toolkit investigation.”

They know that 22 year old Disha Ravi is not the Prime Mover along with the relatively recently formed Canada-based Poetic Justice Foundation  (set up in March 2020) , in a plot to overthrow the Indian government.  They know this because the IPS officers at least, can read English and a simple search would show them that the term “toolkit” in this context is basically used by organizers of street protests against autocracies the world over, for peacefully expressing mass dissent.

Here is one such article from 2013 called The Dissident’s Toolkit, in the context of the Arab Spring. The author Erica Chenoweth (soon to be honoured with an arrest warrant) explains:

Research shows, in fact, that demonstrations are just one of many tools that civil resistance movements can use to effect change. Successful movements are those that use a wide array of methods to pressure their state opponents while keeping their activists safe. The demonstration tactic we’re used to seeing is just one of many hundreds of tactics available to civilians seeking change — and successful campaigns for change must use more than just a single tactic.

Continue reading Toolkits of democracy and a paranoid Hindu Rashtra

Exclusion Arithmetics in Higher Education -JNU as the NEP 2020 Pilot: Ayesha Kidwai

This guest post is by AYESHA KIDWAI

When on January 26, 2016, Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar, a professor of electrical engineering from IIT Delhi, assumed office as the new Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, no one really  knew who he was. Although subsequent news coverage have unearthed a short-lived and rather unsavoury notoriety in the early 2000s, his administrative experience appeared to be scant, never even having served as a head of a department in any of the institutions he has served in), so news coverage of his appointment could make mention of only his prowess in the martial arts and his aspirations to nation-building in the university (which, as was eventually revealed, boiled down largely to a somewhat macabre fascination with large military hardware).

The five years of Kumar as Vice-Chancellor of JNU have done much to lift him from the obscurity he once enjoyed, but most of his new-found fame has been singularly unflattering. Met with a sustained opposition from the JNU Students Union and the JNU Teachers Association, Kumar has far from established himself as a capable, transparent, and non-partisan administrator committed to the highest standards of academic excellence. However, the poor press that has consistently dogged him throughout his tenure appears to have done nothing to weaken the extraordinary governmental support that he enjoys. So resolute is this backing, that it not only has it been able to claim the scalp of a senior bureaucrat in the MHRD back in 2019, it has now secured Jagadesh Kumar an unusual continuation in office until “his successor is appointed”, following the indefinite postponement of a meeting for the selection of his successor on January 7, 2020. Continue reading Exclusion Arithmetics in Higher Education -JNU as the NEP 2020 Pilot: Ayesha Kidwai

Release 24-year-old Dalit Worker Nodeep Kaur – Condemn Arrest and Custodial Sexual Violence by Haryana Police: WSS

STATEMENT BY WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION 

Demand the immediate release of Nodeep Kaur and Shiv Kumar and cessation of targeting of workers and peasants by the Haryana Police!

On January 12th 2021, the Haryana Police began firing at a workers’ rally in the Kundli Industrial Area. Firing at workers demanding unpaid wages, the police claimed that their demand amounted to extortion. Following the gunfire, when the congregated workers dispersed in all directions, a 24-year-old dalit worker, Nodeep Kaur, was caught by the police and brutally beaten. She was beaten by male police officers who targeted her genitals and then dragged her to the Kundli Police Station. She was then arrested and had two FIRs filed against her, FIR 25/2021 and 26/2021; one under sections 148, 149, 186, 332, 352, 384, 379B and 307 of the Indian Penal Code and the other under sections 148, 149, 323, 452, 384 and 506 with a wide range of charges including inciting a riot, causing hurt to a public servant, assault and criminal force, extortion, trespass, criminal intimidation and attempt to murder. Most shockingly, even after being taken into custody, Nodeep Kaur was mercilessly beaten by the police. She has sustained severe injuries on her body including her genitals amounting to sexual violence and torture in custody. She has been lodged in Karnal Jail, without adequate medical care or support, barely able to speak to her sister, one of the only persons she is allowed to meet. She has spent over two weeks in judicial custody. On January 25th, she was produced in court via video conference. The court ordered a medical examination over two weeks after she was beaten in custody. The family has not been provided the medical examination report. Meanwhile, another worker and Majdoor Adhikar Sanghatan (MAS) activist Shiv Kumar has also been arrested by the Haryana Police. This comes alongside the arrest of Mandeep Punia, a freelance journalist who had been extensively covering the Kisan Andolan for over two months, who covered issues of worker-peasant unity in the Kundli area and, most recently, had exposed the BJP-police nexus during the attack against the peasants at the border on January 29th 2021.

Continue reading Release 24-year-old Dalit Worker Nodeep Kaur – Condemn Arrest and Custodial Sexual Violence by Haryana Police: WSS

किसान आंदोलन और नए कंपनी राज के खतरे – अब बाक़ी देश को आगे आना होगा : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

दिल्ली पहुँचने के बाद और 26 जनवरी से पहले, ऊपरी तौर पर सरकार ने किसान आन्दोलन की राह में कोई रोड़े नहीं अटकाए और किसान आन्दोलन को दबाने की रणनीति दबी-ढकी थी। परन्तु अब सरकार खुल कर किसान आन्दोलन को दबाने का प्रयास कर रही है। न केवल आन्दोलनकारियों का बिजली पानी बंद किया जा रहा है और उन पर पथराव प्रायोजित किया जा रहा है बल्कि आन्दोलन स्थल तक पहुंचने के रास्ते भी बंद किये जा रहे हैं।  इन्टरनेट जो आज झूठी ख़बरों के साथ साथ जानकारी का भी मुख्य स्रोत बन चुका है, बल्कि आज जीवन की बुनियादी ज़रूरत बन चुका है उस पर भी आन्दोलन स्थलों के आसपास के इलाकों में रोक लगा दी गई है। यहाँ तक की आन्दोलनकारियों द्वारा कोई रूकावट न डाले जाने के बावजूद, रेलगाड़ियों के मार्ग परिवर्तन किये जा रहे हैं या रेल सेवा बंद की जा रही है जिस से न केवल आन्दोलनकारी किसानों या उन के समर्थकों को परेशानी हो रही है अपितु आमजन भी परेशान हो रहा है। ऐसा प्रतीत होता है कि सरकार किसान आन्दोलन से बिलकुल बेपरवाह है।

Continue reading किसान आंदोलन और नए कंपनी राज के खतरे – अब बाक़ी देश को आगे आना होगा : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Trump Has Gone, But Neofascism Is Alive In Mainstream American Society: Vishwas Satgar

Guest post by VISHWAS SATGAR

Capitol Attack, image courtesy Conversation.in

At last, the Trump Presidency has crash landed and he is out of the White House. Now, we can all start dealing with ‘Trump trauma’ and shock. What did we  live through over the past four years ? This is a planetary question. It is a question we are all grappling with because the world is now capitalist on a global scale and America is the leading power making that world. Post the Cold War we were all conscripted to  be Americans and the ‘American Dream’  was declared the global dream. Even China bought into it in its own self interested and authoritarian way. They became so good at it that even Trump baulked. He wanted it back and declared : “Make America Great Again”. While we do not physically live in America, through the global media we are front-row spectators gazing into it, watching the theatrics of its leaders while grappling with its presence in our everyday lives. It has set the standards of ‘civilization’ by asserting a set of universals – democracy, progress,  competition, individualism and free enterprise. These universals are the props of a mythic America, standing tall at the vanguard of the ‘free world’, and  which reveals itself through the iconic hamburger, unthinking patriotism, voting in elections, the veneration of  a masculine gun culture, Hollywood movies and mass consumption.

Continue reading Trump Has Gone, But Neofascism Is Alive In Mainstream American Society: Vishwas Satgar

After the Farmers’ Republic Day Tractor Parade – Jab Raat hai Aisee Matwali Phir Subah ka Alam Kya Hoga

 

 

As media cacophony reached a delirous state, peddling the government narrative of violence and anarchy, an embedded journalist of Kargil fame even declared (on her public Faccebook page) that she was “furious and annoyed” – though she had till a few minutes ago “stood with the rights of the farmers to be heard”. She claimed that she had even “admired their protest for its generosity and dignity”. She recounted that she had spent the morning amidst a “Sea of Tirangas at #Singhu” where she had “met farmers who wore the Tricolor like a badge of joy.”

And then? “What has happened today [at Red Fort] is absolutely unacceptable”.  What she saw in the morning has been seen by thousands, if not millions across the world, through the two months that the farmers have been camping at the borders of Delhi, stoically bearing the freezing cold weather and losing over 150 of their fellow farmers. So did it occur to the morally revolted journalist to ask, “what actually happened?” “How did this happen?” This incident that went contrary to how the movement had been until then – did not the journalist (any journalist) need to probe it? She did not even ask the simplest questions. So eager was she to put her support to the farmers’ agitation in the past, and jump back to her comfort zone that there was no question of doing any further investigation. It was as if the entire history of the past two months and the legitmacy of the farmers’ demands were demolished at one stroke!

So let us hear the farmers’ leaders themselves and what they have to say about how things developed, and how on that very day by 6.30 pm, the SKM had started appealing to the participants to halt the tractor march. But the real story that should have been the concern of any serious, conscientious journalist, lies behind how the same Delhi Police that was not willing to allow a tractor march on Outer Ring Road, gave virtually free passage to some selected sections. How, with Republic Day’s high security, did masses of people reach Red Fort and ITO? Let us listen to the farmers’ leaders themselves in the second video below.

But before that, let us hear Balbir Singh Rajewal here, where he explains the whole way in which things started developing, since 13 December, when a group by the name of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KSMC) was brought in, with what looks,  in retrospect, like a definite plan.

My independent conversations with people also confirm that the main group involved in this jugalbandi with the regime, the KMSC, had been allowed to put up its camps on the Delhi side of the border about two weeks ago, when all the others were simply not allowed to enter. This means that effectively, for that group, there were no barricades as Balbir Singh Rajewal underlines.

Continue reading After the Farmers’ Republic Day Tractor Parade – Jab Raat hai Aisee Matwali Phir Subah ka Alam Kya Hoga

Reclaiming the Republic – January 26, 2021

Farmers break barricades to enter Delhi, peacefully, disciplined.  Police have blocked off roads, but people gather along the roads, on rooftops, to greet our heroes.

 

At NH 24, Patparganj around 12.30 pm

For live, and unbiased coverage, stay tuned to this link.

Kisan Ekta Morcha

And a short video here

Bharti Kisan Union Ekta Ugrahan

By “unbiased” I mean coverage that does not allege chaos, Pakistani tweets, a few tukdas misleading innocent farmers, “Khalistani” infiltration etc.

These are farmers, they are here in their thousands, they know exactly what they are doing, and they may be our last line of defence against the devastation being wreaked by Hindutva politics and  corporate capitalism on an India that we stood by and were also deeply critical of, too.

If we want to continue being critical, it’s the farmers who will ensure us our freedom  to do so.

From Neo-liberalism to Neo-fascism : Prof Prabhat Patnaik

Eminent political economist and public intellectual, Prof Prabhat Patnaik, delivered the 7th Democracy Dialogues Series lecture on ‘From Neo-Liberalism to Neo-Fascism’ organised by the New Socialist Initiative on January 24, 2021, 6 PM IST

Facebook : facebook.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi

Abstract:

FROM NEO-LIBERALISM TO NEO-FASCISM

There has of late been a sudden and rapid growth of neo-fascism all over the world. The neo-fascists are not yet in a position to capture power in many countries; and even where they do, they are not yet in a position to make the transition to a fascist State. But they contribute everywhere towards a fascification of the society and the polity. This emergence of neo-fascism is the culmination of the global pursuit of the neo-liberal trajectory, which greatly widened income and wealth inequalities in every country and led even to an absolute immiserization of vast masses of the working people in third world countries like India. For a while the hope was entertained that the people would become better off in due course as rapid growth continued. But with the onset of the global economic crisis, itself a result of the widened economic inequalities, such hopes have been belied. The corporate-financial oligarchy therefore has to find a new prop for itself and forms an alliance with neo-fascist elements to shift the discourse away from conditions of material life towards vilifying the “other”, typically a hapless religious and ethnic minority.

दाव पर केवल कुछ किसान या किसानी ही नहीं, पूरी अर्थव्यवस्था और लोकतंत्र हैं : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

कई लोगों को यह गलतफहमी है कि नए कृषि कानूनों से केवल किसान और वो भी केवल पंजाब के किसान परेशान हैं. दिल्ली की सिंघु सीमा से आन्दोलन स्थल के फोटो जिनमें सिक्ख किसानों की भरमार होती है, को देख कर यह गलतफहमी किसी भी अनजान व्यक्ति को हो सकती. यह भी सही है कि सड़कों पर जिस तादाद में पंजाब/हरियाणा/उत्तर प्रदेश के किसान आये हैं उस पैमाने पर शेष भारत से किसान इन कानूनों के खिलाफ होने के बावजूद सड़कों पर नहीं आये हैं. ऐसा दो कारणों से हुआ है. एक तो ये कानून केवल अंग्रेजी में उपलब्ध हैं. इस लिए देश के ज़्यादातर किसान स्वयं तो इन को पढ़ ही नहीं पाए. दूसरा मीडिया में केवल एमएसपी या न्यूनतम समर्थन पर खतरे का मुद्दा ही छाया रहा, जिस के चलते ऐसा प्रतीत हुआ कि केवल यही खतरा मुख्य है. अब जिन किसानों को वैसे भी आमतौर पर न्यूनतम समर्थन मूल्य से कम पर फसल बेचनी ही पड़ती है, उन को यह लगना स्वाभाविक ही है कि इन कानूनों से उन्हें कोई विशेष नुकसान नहीं होने वाला.

परन्तु इन कानूनों को पढ़ सकने वाला कोई भी व्यक्ति जान सकता है कि दाव पर केवल एमएसपी नहीं है. और खतरा न केवल करार कानून के तहत हुए समझौतों से कम्पनियों के मुकर जाने का है. करार खेती कानून धारा 2 (डी), धारा 2 (जी) (ii), धारा 8 (ख) और सरकार द्वारा सदन में रखे गए बिल के पृष्ट 11 पर दिए गई कृषि मंत्री के ‘कानून के उदेश्यों एवं कारणों’ पर प्रकाश डालते हुए वक्तव्य से यह शीशे की तरह स्पष्ट है, भले ही मीडिया में यह मुद्दा पूरे जोरशोर से नहीं आया, कि अब कम्पनियां न केवल खेती को अप्रत्यक्ष रूप से नियंत्रित करेंगी अपितु सीधे सीधे स्वयं खेती भी कर सकेंगी. एमएसपी पर संकट से भी बड़ा संकट यह है कि इस कानून के लागू होने के बाद ज़मीन भले ही किसान की रहेगी पर खेती कम्पनियां करने लगेंगी.

Continue reading दाव पर केवल कुछ किसान या किसानी ही नहीं, पूरी अर्थव्यवस्था और लोकतंत्र हैं : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Condemn the arrest warrant against Paranjoy Guha Thakurta: Media Foundation

Statement by MEDIA FOUNDATION

The Media Foundation notes with deep dismay that a lower court in Gujarat’s Kutch region has issued an arrest warrant against senior journalist Mr Paranjoy Guha Thakurta in a defamation case filed by the Adani group.

In June 2017, Mr Thakurta co-authored an expose in the Economic & Political Weekly outlining how the Adani group was able to evade paying the required amount of duty for an export venture with some help from the government. This series of articles was later reproduced in a news website, The Wire. Subsequently, the Adani group dropped the defamation charges against the publishers, the website and the co-authors of the investigation, barring Mr Thakurta.

While we hope that the higher judicial forums will provide immediate relief to Mr Thakurta, it does need to be emphasized that this defamation case is a vindictive act and intended to intimidate journalists and discourage professional journalism. This is part of a larger emerging trend of powerful vested interests misusing the processes of law to harass and hound independent and intrepid reporters and commentators.

The Media Foundation expresses its solidarity with Mr Thakurta and stands by him.

Harish Khare, President

Mannika Chopra, Honorary Secretary

The Farmers’ Struggle – The Govt is Making a Big Mistake

 

 

Farmers’ protest, image courtesy Outlook India

The Central government is playing with fire – and along with it the Supreme Court of India. They had banked upon the ‘Modi magic’ or ‘Modi charisma’ to see them through this time as well, just as it had on earlier gambles like demonetization. The overconfidence that they can push through anything- even the most unpopular measure – by using a combination of the media-administered ‘nationalist potion’ and Modi’s ‘magic’, has led it to the corner it has painted itself into.

The situation is serious, as over 60 people have died and innumerable old people are still out there in the freezing cold. They have put their lives in danger, expecting the government to come out with the only solution that can save them, their livelihoods and their autonomy, namely the repeal of the laws. They aren’t prepared to go back home for the way they see it, it is better to die fighting than simply die the way the government wants them to.

However, the worst is yet to come – for the confrontation is bound to reach a flashpoint as 26 January draws closer and the farmers are forced into the desperate action of holding their proposed tractor rally by entering Delhi. If the government continues to fiddle, simply hoping that the storm will blow over, it is sadly mistaken.

Let’s face it: for the farmers there the new farm laws constitute a death warrant – as some of their leaders have put it – and therefore a matter of life and death. For the government, on the other hand, it is a question of further expanding the obscene super-profits of crony corporate capitalists, who have already made a killing even as lakhs and lakhs of ordinary people were pushed to destitution during the lockdown. Continue reading The Farmers’ Struggle – The Govt is Making a Big Mistake

Farmers’ discontent – a report from Karnataka: Ganesh Devy

Guest post by GANESH DEVY

9 January 2021

 As a spontaneous reaction to the failure of the government to bring the discussions with the farmers to a conclusion even after eight rounds of discussion, many farmer-organizations in North Karnataka took out a tractors protest rally today. A broad-spectrum of farmer organizations, civil society organizations and members of political parties participated in it.

One saw active presence of the former BJP Union Minister in Atal Bhari Government  Baba Gowda Patil, now in JDS , Gururaj Hansimarad, JDS, farmer activist Gangadhar Patil-Kulkarni, CPM-Union activist Abdul Khan, Gandhian social worker Adv. Nerlikar, Congress member Basavaraja Malkari, Secular Unity activist Ashraf Ali and many other prominent figures form North Karnataka standing on tractors and shouting slogans.

Continue reading Farmers’ discontent – a report from Karnataka: Ganesh Devy

A confession of its own loss of legitimacy – the Modi government must resign

Farmers across the country have geared up to escalate their protests against the farm laws, as the government remains adamant in its commitment to its crony capitalists. The talks yesterday failed as three Union ministers part of the negotiations said it was not possible to commit to a rollback of the legislation without “consultations with higher authorities”.  

Who are these mysterious higher authorities whom they dare not name? Do they mean the Pradhan Sevak Himself, who is after all, within tweeting distance at all times, and could have deigned to talk to the farmers’ representatives; or do they mean his paymasters? 

Meanwhile 60 farmers have died at the Singhu Border protest site alone, according to doctors, to deafening silence from this utterly shameless government, that has tear-gassed and lathi charged its people, and forced them to brave the bitter cold and torrential rain in protest at these laws, which will wreak devastation on agriculture and on food security for all.

But the most revealing statement of all comes from the Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, an explicit admission of the total loss of legitimacy of his government. Continue reading A confession of its own loss of legitimacy – the Modi government must resign

मौजूदा किसान आन्दोलन पर वक्तव्य : रवि सिन्हा

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

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किसानों के इस आन्दोलन को उसके तात्कालिक उद्देश्यों और सम्भावनाओं मात्र के सन्दर्भ में देखें तो भी यह ऐतिहासिक है. अपनी अंतिम और सम्भावित सफलता से स्वतन्त्र इसकी उपलब्धियाँ अभी ही ऐतिहासिक महत्त्व की साबित हो चुकी हैं. लेकिन इस आन्दोलन के अर्थ और इसकी सम्भावनायें और भी बड़ी हैं. भारत की दुर्दशा के इस घोर अँधेरे में, जहाँ अधिनायकवादी फ़ासिस्ट शक्तियों के ख़िलाफ़ प्रतिरोध की सम्भावनााओं को एक के बाद एक कुचल दिया जाता रहा है, यह आन्दोलन एक मशाल बनकर सामने आया है. किसानों से शुरू होकर यह आन्दोलन सिर्फ़ किसानों का नहीं रह गया  है. पंजाब और हरियाणा के किसानों के द्वारा दिल्ली को घेरने से शुरू हुई यह मुहिम अब दिल्ली की सत्ता को घेरने वाली चौतरफ़ा मुहिम का रूप लेती जा रही है. हम किसानों के इस आन्दोलन को सर्वप्रथम इसलिए समर्थन देते हैं और उसमें इस लिये शामिल हैं कि उनकी माँगें जायज़ हैं और इस सरकार द्वारा ज़बरदस्ती लाये गये तीनों क़ानूनों को लेकर उनकी आशंकायें वास्तविक हैं. और हम इस आन्दोलन को इसलिये सलाम करते हैं और इससे प्रेरणा लेते हैं कि यह अँधेरे में रौशनी की मशाल बनकर सामने आया है.

 अगर हम आंदोलन की तात्कालिक माँगों और उद्देश्यों की विस्तृत चर्चा यहाँ नहीं करते हैं तो इसका अर्थ यह नहीं कि इनके जायज़ और ऐतिहासिक महत्त्व के होने में हमें कोई संदेह है. अब यह जगज़ाहिर है कि ये तीनों क़ानून उस शैतानी योजना का हिस्सा हैं जिसके तहत कृषि क्षेत्र को कारपोरेट पूँजी के प्रत्यक्ष आधिपत्य में ले जाने की तैयारी है. यह न केवल किसानों की रही-सही आर्थिक सुरक्षा को समाप्त करेगा, सरकार को उसकी जिम्मेदारी से मुक्त करेगा और न्यूनतम समर्थन मूल्य तथा राज्य-संचालित मंडियों की व्यवस्था को तोड़ देगा, बल्कि यह पूरे देश की आम जनता की खाद्य-सुरक्षा – जितनी भी है और जैसी भी है – को ख़तरे में डाल देगा. साथ ही ये क़ानून भारत के संघीय ढाँचे के विरुद्ध भी हैं, और केन्द्र द्वारा राज्यों के अधिकारों का अतिक्रमण हैं. यह सब आप सभी को मालूम है और इन कारणों से ही इस आंदोलन का सूत्रपात हुआ है.

Continue reading मौजूदा किसान आन्दोलन पर वक्तव्य : रवि सिन्हा

Farming the Future, Farming As Future

Today is the last day of the dreadful year that 2020 was – not only because of the pandemic but it has been a year full of the most vicious attacks on dissent and protests. It has also seen wanton arrests of those who raised their voices against the myriad injustices of this regime. The year that began with the epic struggle against the CAA-NRC ends while another epic struggle – that of the farmers – is going on. This post is dedicated to them and to the future of the farmers in struggle.

In the video above, Narayana Reddy, a farmer talks about farming. Having run away from home at a young age and worked as a cleaner earning Rs 40 a month, Reddy gradually got better jobs and saved some money with which he bought land for farming. Listen to his brief account here and you will realize that this charismatic and much celebrated farmer started off farming exactly the way it was understood in those days – that is to say, with standard ‘Green Revolution’ techniques.  In five to six years, Narayana Reddy tells us, he became a spectacularly successful model farmer but something was amiss. Despite high yields, I was continuously losing money, he says. The story, with minor variations, was the same as that of Green Revolution farmers in Punjab: a few years of prosperity, accompanied by huge losses due to rising input costs (tractors, fuel, fertilizers, high-yielding variety seeds, pesticides, electricity run pumps), and rapidly deteriorating soil quality, depleting water table, disappearing of locally suitable crops.

There was no historical destiny or necessity in all this. Major US foundations like Ford and Rockefeller Foundations were involved in pushing this new way of doing ‘industrial’ agriculture developed by Norman Borlaug. I am not suggesting that this was a conspiracy but it was certainly something that took away control from the hands of the peasants and in the name of modernizing agriculture, made them dependent on big corporations (backed by the state) who were lurking behind this innocent-sounding rhetoric of increased productivity and prosperity. With the new farm laws, we are currently facing a fresh round of attacks on the autonomy and livelihooods of the farmers – and this time the government can’t pretend to any innocence in this regard.

So let us ask an elementary question: Why do people work and produce? The answer obviously is because they want to live well and live better in this world, here and now.

Continue reading Farming the Future, Farming As Future

Pandemic Lowers India’s Level of Democracy

THIS GOVERNMENT HAS STIGMATISED THE VERY IDEA OF PROTEST, YET IT IS STRUGGLING TO MANAGE THE MASS UPSURGE AGAINST THE FARM LAWS.

Parliament Closed

For nearly a month, lakhs of farmers have staged sit-ins on various points along the border shared by the national capital and neighbouring states. Their peaceful movement, which is drawing support from farmers across the country, is meant to persuade the government to repeal the farm-related laws that it pushed through Parliament in September.

The farmers have refused to accept the government’s claim that the new laws would benefit them. They insist that these laws would dismantle state procurement and open up agriculture to contract farming, which would only help big corporations. They have also been insisting that corporations will amass essential food commodities and manipulate stocks and prices, for the government has also revoked stocking limits.

The three laws were initially introduced as ordinances this summer while the Covid-19 pandemic was raging and the country was still segregated into red, green and amber zones. Thereafter, they were passed in Parliament without discussion or debate. The manner of their introduction—rather, imposition—threw all democratic norms to the winds and so farmers see no reason to trust the intention behind them either.

Farmers do not look forward to a time when large retail chains would dictate terms and impose conditions on them. They rightly say that these laws would usher in an attack on the right to food security of working people and escalate food prices, which would hurt all consumers.

The immediate response of the government to the concerns of farmers was to repress and distort their movement. Not a day has passed without fresh abuse hurled at them. Starting from “Khalistani” to “Urban Naxal” to “anti-national” to “fake farmers”, every trick in the book has been tried to stigmatise them. Nor have the authorities made serious efforts to stop those who are maligning this historic peaceful protest.

( Read the full article here)

Farm Laws, Farmer Protests and Agrarian Crisis : Dr Jaya mehta

 

Dr Jaya Mehta, economist and activist, has been associated with the Joshi-Adhikari Institute of Social Studies, author of many books who coordinated an all India study of the Agrarian Crisis delivered a special lecture on ‘Farm Laws, Farmer Protests and Agrarian Crisis’ on 27 th December 2020.
Abstract of talk :
The reforms in agricultural marketing contained in the three farm laws were first announced by the finance minister on 15th May 2020 as Prime Minister’s relief package for the people. When Covid and lock-down had created crisis in the entire economy, migrant workers were walking hundreds of kilometers to reach home and the majority of households desperately needed state support and protection, the Modi government chose to withdraw state intervention and deregulate market forces in agriculture to leave people in complete disarray. After the controversial monsoon session of parliament, the reforms to deregulate market became laws.

Continue reading Farm Laws, Farmer Protests and Agrarian Crisis : Dr Jaya mehta

कृषि क़ानूनों पर नयी सरकारी किताब में बड़े बड़े दावों के अलावा सफ़ेद झूठ भी : राजिंदर चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

हाल ही में मोदी सरकार ने हिंदी, अंग्रेजी एवं पंजाबी में 106 पन्नों की एक किताब कृषि क़ानूनों के पक्ष में निकाली है.  मोदी ने यह भी कहा है कि किसान आन्दोलन जारी रखने से पहले इस को ज़रूर पढ़ें. मोदी की बात मान कर हम ने इस को पढ़ा. सब से पहले तो यह देख कर धक्का लगा कि 106 पन्नों की किताब में नए कृषि क़ानूनों वाले अध्याय में मात्र 28 पृष्ठ हैं और इन 28 पन्नों में भी मोदी के भाषणों, मोदी सरकार के कृषि कार्यों और मोदी द्वारा गुजरात में किये कामों का विवरण शामिल है. इस लिए इन 28 पन्नों में भी सीधे सीधे नए कृषि क़ानूनों पर तो मात्र 13 पेज हैं. इस में भी बहुत दोहराव है, एक ही बात को बार बार कहा गया है.  शेष पुस्तिका तो मोदी सरकार द्वारा किसानों के हित में किये गए कामों के दावों पर ही केन्द्रित है. यहाँ हम मोदी द्वारा गुजरात और केंद्र में कृषि और किसानों के लिए किये गए सारे दावों की पड़ताल करने की बजाय नए क़ानूनों के पक्ष में किये गए दावों की ही पड़ताल करेंगे. (यहाँ पर कई स्थानों पर दो तरह के पृष्ठ नंबर दिए गए हैं. पहले पीडीएफ फ़ाइल के और फिर छपी हुई पुस्तिका के; अगर एक पृष्ठ नंबर है तो वो पीडीएफ का है). इन का संक्षिप्त विवरण इस प्रकार है.  Continue reading कृषि क़ानूनों पर नयी सरकारी किताब में बड़े बड़े दावों के अलावा सफ़ेद झूठ भी : राजिंदर चौधरी

Mass Politics and ‘Populism’ in the World of Indian Languages

Image courtesy Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy

The label ‘populism’ has acquired unprecedented currency lately and is used to indiscriminately describe such a wide range of poliical figures and political tendencies that it seems to have lost all conceptual meaning. In the best of times, it was always a slippery concept that has been linked to democracy at one end and fascism at the other. On the one hand, it is seen as the democratic ‘excess’ that escapes the attempt of liberal-representative institutions to rein it in; on the other, it is seen as being of a piece with the fascist resort to antipolitical demagoguery and the rhetoric of the (national) ‘underdog’ oppressed by an elite (usually with international links).
The way the term is used these days to describe everyone from a Donald Trump, a Recep Erdogan or a Narendra Modi on the one hand, to the late Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa or even Bernie Sanders or Podemos and Syriza, on the other, defies all logic. What possible common denominator can one find between such diverse figures and political formations? That common denominator is simply ‘the people’ or the ‘underdog’ that they invoke – even if in completely different ways.

Continue reading Mass Politics and ‘Populism’ in the World of Indian Languages

Stand by farmers – boycott Adani and Reliance

The farmers unions have called for a boycott of all products of Adani and Reliance, the two corporates closest to the Modi-Shah regime and which stand to benefit the most from the opening up of the farm sector to agribusiness, which will not only destroy farmers’ livelihoods but affect food security for everyone.  The new laws have been drafted to facilitate ease of doing business for these corporations, eliminating safeguards for both farmers and consumers.

This post is simply a quick, not comprehensive, list of products we could all boycott (compiled with help from Anindita Bose and Rohit).

And just a reminder – the rapacious Adani corporation is wreaking havoc on Australia’s ecology too, and there is a huge people’s campaign there against Adani – #StopAdani . Continue reading Stand by farmers – boycott Adani and Reliance