Category Archives: Countryside

An Unprecedented Struggle, A Glorious Victory – Looking Ahead


The victorious farmers at Delhi borders, image courtesy NDTV

It is a time for rejoicing and celebration. It is a time for thanksgiving. For the victory of the farmers is not just theirs. Theirs was not just a struggle to protect their own livelihoods but also a valiant battle fought for all of us, so that we continue to get our food at affordable prices. It is a time for thanksgiving also because the movement has broken the hubris of an arrogant government that has absolutely no accountability whatsoever. It has given us some breathing space.

Even as this piece is being written, the victorious farmers camping at the Delhi borders for the last one year are preparing to leave for their homes. It has been a long haul for them in the course of which over 700 have died. It has been especially trying for the Punjab farmers who had started the stir months before they decided on their march to Delhi on 26 November 2020. Nobody had expected that the shifting of the venue to Delhi would end up being one long ordeal, continuing months on end, through the freezing winter, scorching Delhi heat and torrential rains. Not to mention an intransigent government that had already started the ground work for corporatization of agriculture and handing over parts of it to Adani and Ambani, even before the laws were formally promulgated.

Continue reading An Unprecedented Struggle, A Glorious Victory – Looking Ahead

Historic Triumph of the Farmers’ Movement — A celebration tinged with grave apprehensions: C.P. Geevan

Guest post by C.P. GEEVAN

What the farmers’ movement has achieved is nothing short of historic, even if the authoritarian government had not gone back on its intent for uncompromising implementation of the laws meant to reinforce major structural changes for facilitating corporate dominance of the farm sector. The inflexible approach of the government and the massive repression has claimed almost 700 lives since agitation began nearly one and half years back. Be it celebration or analysis, we must pay sincere homage and tributes to all those dead.

Continue reading Historic Triumph of the Farmers’ Movement — A celebration tinged with grave apprehensions: C.P. Geevan

Conceptualizing the Counter-Revolution in the Seventy-Fifth Year of Independence

[‘Parapolitics’ began on 16 January 2020 as a weekly column at the height of the anti-CAA movement. After eight weeks, it was made into a fortnightly column and now, eighteen months and 44 posts later,  as I get involved with a study of Marxisms in the ‘Global South’, beginning with this post, this column will now appear once a month, on the second Saturday of every month.]

The courageous National Dastak reporter Anmol Pritam was being forced by the demonstrators to chant their slogans. 
Image courtesy The News Minute

 

What happened at Jantar Mantar on 9 August – the anniversary of the Quit India movement – was not just violently anti-Muslim in the slogans raised; it was also symptomatic of the larger counter-revolutionary shift that has taken place in our politics. That Quit India or the ‘August revolution’ day was sought to be taken over as a final gesture of that grand victory that the Sangh Combine believes it has already won, is telling. It is telling also because it is a formation that studiously stayed away from the mainstream of the anticolonial struggle but now wants to take over that legacy and saffronize it. How the rally was organized and continued to be held despite the police claiming it had no permission to do so, does not remain so much of a mystery once you realize that the key organizers are Sangh/BJP leaders or parts of the larger network of terror associated with them. But that is another matter. It is important to recognize that incidents like these are but signs of a new stage in the ongoing counter-revolution where the Hindu Right is no longer content with claiming its own distinctiveness in opposing mainstream (Congress-led) nationalism but is out to make a determined bid to appropriate the entire legacy of that nationalism. The insistence, in recent times, on the national tricolour as a sign of its aggressive nationalism, is entirely of a piece with this attempt to occupy the mainstream.

Continue reading Conceptualizing the Counter-Revolution in the Seventy-Fifth Year of Independence

The Subjugated Subjects of a Free Country and The Creation of the New Colony: Dipankar Bhattacharya

Guest post by DIPANKAR BHATTACHARYA

This piece was originally published in Bangla in the Ananda Bazar Patrika and has been translated into English by Arundhati Ghosh

The 1857 Revolt, representational image courtesy TheHansIndia

“Freedom – you are a room in the garden, the song of the koel, the sun drenched leaves of the old banyan tree, the page of my book of poetry where I can write as I wish.” Poet Shamsur Rahman wrote this immortal poem Freedom You during the war of the independence of Bangladesh. It could be said that this poem that arose from deep within Bangladesh’s struggle for liberation is a universal manifesto of freedom. Bangladesh has crossed its 50th year of independence. And in India we are standing at the threshold of our 75th. But where is that song of the koel, that book of poetry where one can write anything one wants? The rally of death that we are witnessing during this Covid-19 era has left the koel woeful, the leaves of the banyan devoid of its sparkle and the pages of our book of poems imprisoned under the UAPA or sedition laws or subjected to the surveillance of the snooping Pegasus vision of conspirators passing for ministers.

Continue reading The Subjugated Subjects of a Free Country and The Creation of the New Colony: Dipankar Bhattacharya

Field report from protest against granite mining at Bodikonda: Chandra Sekhar

Guest post by Chandra Sekhar

All images courtesy the author

Background

Bodikonda is a monolithic stone hill in Lakshminarayanapuram village in Parvathipuram mandal in Vizianagaram district. This has been in the news on and off over the last two years or so, because local people have been protesting the lease given to private companies for mining colour granite, without their being consulted nor any sort of public hearing.

Three leases for quarrying coloured granite were granted and executed in favour of MSSS Srinivas for an extent of nine hectares, M Madhupriya for an extent of six hectares and Kishore Granites Pvt. Ltd. for another nine hectares ( total of 24.29 hectares) for a period of 20 years. This comprises almost 50% of the area of the total hill. These companies applied for a lease in 2010 to the Assistant Director of Mines and Geology, Vizianagaram, and new licences were given in December 2019.

Procedural Discrepancies Continue reading Field report from protest against granite mining at Bodikonda: Chandra Sekhar

Stan Swamy’s Custodial Murder – Joining the Dots From Santhal Hul To the Pathalgadi Movement

Fr. Stanislaus Lourduswamy aka Stan Swamy, image by Sarah Modak, courtesy Article 14

There are just no words left to express the anger and helplessness that overcame hundreds and thousands of people like me when they heard of the custodial murder of an ailing, frail, octogenarian, Fr Stanislaus Lourduswamy, known to the world as Stan Swamy. The various issues that arise from the virtual judicial abdication of responsibility has been powerfully articulated by former Delhi High Court Chief Justice, AP Shah and one can hardly add to that. What is perhaps the most shocking is not that the judiciary abdicated in observing its duty of upholding the Constitutional rights of a citizen but that it seems to have lost even the minimum grace and human concern.

“Medical reports taken on record clearly showed that Fr Swamy had the degenerative Parkinson’s disease, and could not even do basic tasks, such as holding a spoon, writing, walking or bathing. Indeed, the court noted that he had a severe hearing problem, and was physically very weak. But even that did not move them. Every regular bail application that was filed by his lawyers was unequivocally rejected.” 

This is shocking beyond words – or used to be once upon a time. But as each day of this regime passes, our threshold of taking shock increases by leaps and bounds. Are we really surprized now, that while this was how they treated Stan Swamy, a goon who had just the other day openly called for mob violence and “shooting down anti-nationals” has now been promoted to the Central ministry?

Continue reading Stan Swamy’s Custodial Murder – Joining the Dots From Santhal Hul To the Pathalgadi Movement

Hul Dibosh Convention by Ekusher Dak (Call of 21) Marks Anniversary of Santhal Rebellion

Poster in Santhali language for the Convention

We had reported earlier on the call for a convention to commemorate the anniversary of the historic Santhal Rebellion associated the immortal names of Sidhu and Kanu. The convention was organized by the recently constituted forum in West Bengal, Ekusher DakCall of 21 – which was formed in the run up to the recently held elections in the state. ’21’ of course, refers to the year 2021 when the elections were held and the initiative for a new/ different Left platform in the state was launched. But ’21’ also recalls the date 21 February 1952, the historic day of the Bhasha Andolan (the Language Movement) in what is now Bangladesh. It recalls the assertion of Bengali identity that overrides the religious divide that the BJP made every effort to exacerbate. The convention was held yesterday and really came like a whiff of fresh air. The film we embed below is a very short but powerful telling of the story of the revolt with graphics. Ekusher Daak Film Team – Arjun, Debalina, Maroona, Boro, Laboni, Malay, Mitali, Arundhati, Saikat, Baijayanta, and Swarnava -have produced the film. For those who would like to watch the proceedings of the Convention, the YouTube streaming link is here.

The film on Hul Dibosh

‘No More Poor People In a Rich Country’ – What Will Peru’s Left Victory Mean?

Supporters of Left Presidential candidate Pedro Castillo on the streets, image courtesy Reuters

Supporters of Left Presidential candidate Pedro Castillo take to the streets, image courtesy BBC and Reuters

It seems quite clear from the latest reports coming in from Peru that the Left-wing candidate Pedro Castillo is all set to win in what has been described as the most polarized election till date. With over 99 percent of the ballots counted, Castillo had taken a lead of approximately 80, 000 votes (50. 2 of the total) over his Right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori. The counting process, reports say, has already been considerably slowed down as ballots seem to be still arriving from abroad as well as from the remote rural areas. Votes of expatriates arriving from abroad are mostly right wing votes for Fujimori whereas the ones from the rural areas are likely to be overwhelmingly for Castillo. There also seem to be a huge number of contested votes that might need to be recounted, further slowing down the process.

Continue reading ‘No More Poor People In a Rich Country’ – What Will Peru’s Left Victory Mean?

CPI (M)’s History of Moving Away from Committed Leftism from its Birth: Sankar Ray

Guest post by SANKAR RAY

History apparently allows freaks, whims and hypocrisy, but only temporarily. After all, Hegel as very succinctly stated, ‘History is a slaughter house’. It spares none, not excluding India’s once most powerful Leftist party in the parliamentary arena, Communist Party of India (Marxist) that once had 44 MPs in the lower house of Indian parliament, Lok Sabha. It now faces  a crisis of identity and existence. Hypocrisy and falsehood in politics and ideological positions have been two main reasons for the vertical decline of party’s influence and image.
Ten years ago,  Indranil Chakraborty in his Master’s thesis –“The Market Odyssey: Why and How Was ‘The Market’ Discourse Incorporated in the Party Program of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) During the Days of the Communist Party of China’s ‘Market Socialism’?” referred to CPI(M)’s open criticism of ‘the development of the personality cult of Mao( Tse Tung) , and the problem of left adventurism during the Cultural Revolution. He pointed out that the criticism evaded ‘the question of the relationship between socialism and democracy, and the role of the Chinese people in deciding policy matters of the state’.  He quoted Harkishan Singh Surjeet’s article in the party’s theoretical monthly, The Marxist in 1993 commemorating Mao’s birth centenary – ‘We cannot make a subjective analysis of a personality in cases where errors have been committed in the application of the theory to practice.’

Continue reading CPI (M)’s History of Moving Away from Committed Leftism from its Birth: Sankar Ray

Sitalkuchi And After – A Flashback to CPI-M Rule in West Bengal

Graves of the four young men killed in Sitalkuchi, courtesy Newslaundry

As the news of the killings of four youth in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) came in on 10 April, reactions of horror and anger became evident all around. This reaction among politically informed sections was only natural, for anybody with a little bit of common intelligence will tell you that the BJP is making an all out bid to capture power in the state. And anyone who has watched the Modi-Shah duo in action over the past few years, does not need to be told what this means. It is always ‘Heads I win; Tails you lose’ with them. It doesn’t matter what dirty trick you have to play, all is fair in this game of capturing power with them. They will form the government, no matter who wins but first, every effort has to be made to ‘win’ by any means. And that means by ANY means, ranging from killing people by engineering violent communal incidents to buying off opposition parties’ winning legislators. Despite the full battery of BJP’s star campaigners ranging from Narendra Modi and Shah to Yogi Adityanath making repeated visits to the state, their rallies have seen very low turnout and in some instances meetings had to be cancelled. So the desperation is growing. The first four of the unprecedented eight rounds in the state’s elections were to be in the areas where TMC is relatively weak. But even in these areas the reports were not very encouraging for the BJP. Thus, every child in Bengal could see what these killings meant. Except the CPI-M that is.

Soon the story of the killings was being given a typically BJP IT Cell spin: a mob of Muslim TMC people surrounded the CISF and tried to snatch their rifles. This was followed by identical tweets by a range of people describing how they could not sleep all night because of the sounds of the explosion of bombs, suggesting that things had been going on all night – and the CISF action in the morning was therefore, only justified.

Seasoned CPI-M stalwarts on Twitter apparently neither saw those tweets or more likely, jumped at them to immediately amplify the BJP narrative of provocation by TMC (Muslim mob is often implied). It is certainly not possible that anybody with a little bit of common sense would not have immediately seen this copy paste job for what it was – a BJP IT Cell operation. The CPI-M leaders and their social media warriors went on, willfully, to reinforce the ‘provocation’ narrative that was being circulated by the BJP.

Meanwhile, many people including poll analysts and former bureaucrats started asking that if there really was an irate mob attacking the CISF party, where was the footage? Was there any video evidence? No such question crossed the CPI-M leaders’ minds and from all appearances, from Biman Bose to Mohd Salim (and the pathetic Sujan Chakrabarty) pushed ahead with not-so-subtle ways of relaying the BJP narrative and indeed, it was not difficult to discern that they were in fact, gloating.

Continue reading Sitalkuchi And After – A Flashback to CPI-M Rule in West Bengal

Nandigram – An Introduction to Political Analysis

Nandigram 2007, Image courtesy Kolkata24x7

Mamata Banerjee recently stirred up a fresh new controversy by accusing her former party colleague Suvendu Adhikari, now adversary in the Nandigram Assembly seat as BJP candidate, of being complicit in the 14 March 2007 violence. Had it not been for the complicity of the ‘father-son duo’ (Suvendu and his father Sisir Adhikari, both in the BJP now), she claimed in the heat of the electoral campaign, the police could not have entered Nandigram. She also asked rhetorically how it came to be that these two were spared by the police? To my mind, the claims seem difficult to sustain, if only because, the CPI(M) was at the height of its power and would have had little to do with these Trinamool Congress leaders. Listening to her speak, it did seem that she was quite rattled. Who would not be – with Amit Shah and central government on one side, the aggressive BJP goons in the state, her erstwhile collaborators now on the BJP side and, to cap it all, the aggressive, misogynist, patriarchal campaign against her from the CPI(M)? One meme by people obviously linked to the CPM, for instance, portrayed her witch-like, with a haggard and wicked expression, which was counter-posed to the young beauteous CPI(M) candidate Meenakshi Mukherjee. The meme describes Meenakshi as the ‘beloved daughter of Bengal’, while Mamata is described as the ‘old hag spinster sister-in-law’. (After a lot of hue and cry, this meme was taken off though the page continues to be on Facebook).

Continue reading Nandigram – An Introduction to Political Analysis

When tractors marched in Washington DC: Nadia Singh

This post is the English translation of an article in Punjabi by NADIA SINGH, published first in Punjabi Tribune.

In a February long ago, in 1978 to be precise, thousands of American farmers  rode into Washington D.C. on their tractors, from all across America. Some travelled  for days together, covering journeys of hundreds of miles. What was the mission behind their long and arduous expedition? They were demanding fair prices and an equitable model of agricultural development.

Image courtesy modernfarmer.com

In the 1970s US had initiated drastic changes in its agrarian policies under the “Get Big or Get Out” paradigm. This policy sought to replace small family run farms and consolidate them into large-scale factory farms. Policy makers in the US believed that industrial farming represented a more efficient and profitable economic model, compared to small and medium farms run independently by farmers. Continue reading When tractors marched in Washington DC: Nadia Singh

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

A people’s planning adequate to twenty-first century kerala

It is now about twenty-five years since the CPM in Kerala took the calculated risk of meeting neoliberalism half-way through an experiment in localising development. The People’s Planning Campaign drew eclectically on a range of ideologies, from Gandhian self-reliance to neoliberal self-help, not always in ways that were sufficiently self-conscious, but there can be little doubt that there was a conscious effort to build in some mechanisms, however minimal, to counter the possible ill-being that neoliberal responsibilized welfare could inflict.

Continue reading A people’s planning adequate to twenty-first century kerala

How not to read Rakesh Tikait: Nakul Singh Sawhney

This article by NAKUL SINGH SAWHNEY was first published in Raiot.in

Rakesh Tikait (Image courtesy Twitter/ @iHShaheen at National Herald)

I have read several posts on social media the last few days where people are expressing apprehensions and even anger over all the excitement around Rakesh Tikait. Most of that anger stems from Bhartiya Kisan Union’s (BKU) irresponsible role in the 2013 sectarian violence in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts.

It’s been over seven and a half years since that madness engulfed West UP. We saw BKU split and many new factions emerged. The noticeable split was the breaking away of Gulam Mohammad Jaula, the biggest Muslim leader of BKU and often considered the late, Baba Tikait’s right hand man.

Interestingly, once Ajit Singh and Jayant Chaudhry lost their elections in 2014, many older Jats in the region were crestfallen. Many of them sobbed ‘Humne Chaudhry sahab ko kaise hara diya’. Many Jats (particularly of the older generation) were always upset with their younger generation for indulging in the violence of 2013. Secretly, between sobs they’d often say, ‘I hope it’s not too late before our youngsters realize where they’ve gone wrong’.

Continue reading How not to read Rakesh Tikait: Nakul Singh Sawhney

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

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

A lesson in political theory from farmers’ unions

A little bemused, I heard a writer addressing the farmers’ protests recently say in all solidarity and sincerity – “What we have been writing about for long, you have demonstrated at ground level.”

On the contrary, I believe that this massive and electrifying protest against the farm laws is at the cutting edge of political theory and political practice, from which writers and academics must listen and learn.

Please listen to the statement by Kanwaljeet Singh on the Supreme Court judgement staying the farm laws, and setting up an “expert” committee to “negotiate” between the farmers and the government.

Speaking on behalf of the joint forum of farmers’ unions, Kisan Ekta Morcha, Kanwaljeet (of Punjab Kisan Union) makes what I think are two critical points regarding the law and how movements can relate to it. These thought provoking points have larger resonance and require wide ranging debate and consideration. Continue reading A lesson in political theory from farmers’ unions

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