Category Archives: Countryside

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

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

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

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

किसान आंदोलन की माँगों और 8 तारीख के भारत बंद के समर्थन में जारी बयान

( न्यू सोशलिस्ट इनीशिएटिवदलित लेखक संघअखिल भारतीय दलित लेखिका मंचप्रगतिशील लेखक संघजन संस्कृति मंचइप्टासंगवारीप्रतिरोध का सिनेमा और जनवादी लेखक संघ द्वारा किसान आंदोलन की माँगों और  तारीख के भारत बंद के समर्थन में जारी बयान  )

Image : Courtesy Reuters

तीन जनद्रोही कृषि-क़ानूनों के खिलाफ़ किसानों के ऐतिहासिक आन्दोलन का साथ दें!

केन्द्र सरकार के कार्पोरेटपरस्त एजेण्डा के विरोध में अपनी आवाज़ बुलन्द करें!

दिसम्बर के भारत बंद को सफल बनाएं!

 भारत का किसान – जिसके संघर्षों और कुर्बानियों का एक लम्बा इतिहास रहा है – आज एक ऐतिहासिक मुक़ाम पर खड़ा है।

हज़ारों-लाखों की तादाद में उसके नुमाइन्दे राजधानी दिल्ली की विभिन्न सरहदों पर धरना दिए हुए हैं और उन तीन जनद्रोही क़ानूनों की वापसी की मांग कर रहे हैं जिनके ज़रिए इस हुकूमत ने एक तरह से उनकी तबाही और बरबादी के वॉरंट पर दस्तख़त किए हैं। अपनी आवाज़ को और बुलंद करने के लिए किसान संगठनों की तरफ़ से 8 दिसम्बर को भारत बंद का ऐलान किया गया है।

सरकार भले ही यह दावा करे कि ये तीनों क़ानून – जिन्हें महामारी के दिनों में पहले अध्यादेश के ज़रिए लागू किया गया था और फिर तमाम जनतांत्रिक परंपराओं को ताक़ पर रखते हुए संसद में पास किया गया – किसानों की भलाई के लिए हैं, लेकिन यह बात बहुत साफ़ हो चुकी है कि इनके ज़रिए राज्य द्वारा अनाज की खरीद की प्रणाली को समाप्त करने और इस तरह बड़े कॉर्पोरेट घरानों के लिए ठेका आधारित खेती करने तथा आवश्यक खाद्य सामग्री की बड़ी मात्रा में जमाखोरी करने की राह हमवार की जा रही है।

लोगों के सामने यह भी साफ़ है कि यह महज़ किसानों का सवाल नहीं बल्कि मेहनतकश अवाम के लिए अनाज की असुरक्षा का सवाल भी है। अकारण नहीं कि किसानों के इस अभूतपूर्व आन्दोलन के साथ खेतमज़दूरों, औद्योगिक मज़दूरों के संगठनों तथा नागरिक समाज के तमाम लोगों, संगठनों ने अपनी एकजुटता प्रदर्शित की है।

 जनतंत्र और संवाद हमेशा साथ चलते हैं। लेकिन आज यह दिख रहा है कि मौजूदा निज़ाम की ओर से जिस ‘न्यू इंडिया’ के आगमन की बात की जा रही है, उसके तहत जनतंत्र के नाम पर अधिनायकवाद की स्थापना का खुला खेल चल रहा है।

आज की तारीख में सरकार किसान संगठनों के साथ वार्ता करने के लिए मजबूर हुई है, मगर इसे असंभव करने की हर मुमकिन कोशिश सरकार की तरफ़ से अब तक की जाती रही है। उन पर लाठियां बरसायी गयीं, उनके रास्ते में तमाम बाधाएं खड़ी की गयी, यहां तक कि सड़कें भी काटी गयीं। यह किसानों का अपना साहस और अपनी जीजीविषा ही थी कि उन्होंने इन कोशिशों को नाकाम किया और अपने शांतिपूर्ण संघर्ष के काफ़िलों को लेकर राजधानी की सरहदों तक पहुंच गए।

किसानों के इस आन्दोलन के प्रति मुख्यधारा के मीडिया का रवैया कम विवादास्पद नहीं रहा। न केवल उसने आन्दोलन के वाजिब मुद्दों को लेकर चुप्पी साधे रखी बल्कि सरकार तथा उसकी सहमना दक्षिणपंथी ताक़तों द्वारा आन्दोलन को बदनाम करने की तमाम कोशिशों का भी जम कर साथ दिया। आंदोलन को विरोधी राजनीतिक पार्टी द्वारा प्रायोजित बताया गया, किसानों को खालिस्तान समर्थक तक बताया गया।

दरअसल, विगत कुछ सालों यही सिलसिला आम हो चला है। हर वह आवाज़ जो सरकारी नीतियों का विरोध करती हो – भले ही वह नागरिकता क़ानून हो, सांप्रदायिक दंगे हों, नोटबंदी हो – उसे बदनाम करने और उसका विकृतिकरण करने की साज़िशें रची गयीं। किसानों का आंदोलन भी इससे अछूता नहीं है।

यह सकारात्मक है कि इन तमाम बाधाओं के बावजूद किसान शांतिपूर्ण संघर्ष की अपनी राह पर डटे हैं।

हम सामाजिक-सांस्कृतिक संगठन किसानों के इस अभूतपूर्व आन्दोलन के प्रति अपनी एकजुटता प्रगट करते हैं। हम जनता तथा जनता के संगठनों, पार्टियों से अपील करते हैं कि वे इस आन्दोलन के साथ जुड़ें और 8 दिसम्बर के भारत बंद को सफल बनाकर केंद्र सरकार को एक स्पष्ट संदेश दें।

हम सरकार से यह मांग करते हैं कि वह अपना अड़ियल रवैया छोड़े और तीन जनद्रोही कृषि-क़ानूनों को रद्द करने का ऐलान करे।

 हम आंदोलनरत किसानों से भी अपील करते हैं कि वे शांति के अपने रास्ते पर अडिग रहें।

जीत न्याय की होगी ! जीत सत्य की होगी !! जीत हमारी होगी !!

न्यू सोशलिस्ट इनीशिएटिव   दलित लेखक संघ   अखिल भारतीय दलित लेखिका मंच   प्रगतिशील लेखक संघ   जन संस्कृति मंच   इप्टा   संगवारी   प्रतिरोध का सिनेमा   जनवादी लेखक संघ

The Farmers’ Struggle and the Agrarian Crisis

 

 

Famers’ struggle, image courtesy Scroll.in

Not only did the Modi government not pay any heed to the demands raised by the massive Kisan Mukti March of November 2018, it in fact, went on to surreptitiously promulgate three ordinances, in June this year, that go directly against everything that the farmers want. Indeed, they seek to hand over agriculture to the corporate sector – which will effectively mean destruction for a large mass of farmers. Naturally they are up in arms in what is perhaps the most determined struggle of the last four decades. The protests have been going on in many states since September 2020 and have reached the capital only now.

The three ordinances – now laws – that are currently pushing farmers into a ‘do or die’ struggle in different parts of the country, have been widely written about and their different dimensions explained (for instance, here, here and here). We will therefore not go into their analysis in this article. The ordinances are: (i) Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, (ii) The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020, and (iii) The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. Farmers’ organizations opposing the ordinances claim that they have been very misleadingly named so as to give the impression that they empower the farmers;  they suggest the ordinances might be more accurately renamed the “APMC Bypass Bill”, “Contract Farming Promotion Bill” and the “Food Hoarding by Corporates Bill” respectively.

The long and short of these ordinances is quite nicely summed up in these suggested names – for what the three together aim to achieve is the dismantling of state procurement (though on paper it may continue to remain), and thereby open agriculture to contract farming for big corporations, allowing them to corner essential food commodities in as large quantities as they want. The entire attempt, it is not hard to see, is to open out the agriculture sector to giant retail chains like Reliance – which is why it is necessary to remove the limits on purchase and storage of essential commodities. 

Contract farming, already happening informally at individual levels, once it is made the norm, is certainly going to seriously compromise food security for all. For if an agribusiness firm eyeing quick and massive profits wants farmers to change from essential food production to some other crop, it will decide what will be produced. And of course, what gets you quick profits is not what is sold as essential food item in the domestic or local market but it could be anything from potatoes for chips to maize to manufacture  ‘alternative fuel’ for US consumers. So entire cropping patterns can change, endangering our food sovereignty as a people.

The farmers, in a word, are not just fighting a battle for their own survival but one where the survival of all of us is at stake. If the design visualized in the three ordinances comes to pass, it will also lead to the complete destruction of lakhs of people who earn their livelihoods by selling fruit and vegetables – for those too will be produced by farmers under contract farming with corporations which will sell them at their retail stores. Prices for millions of consumers too will then be determined by these giant retail chains.

But these issues have only come up now. Why have the farmers/ peasants been agitating for the last couple of years?

Rewind to November 2018 Continue reading The Farmers’ Struggle and the Agrarian Crisis

‘Marxisms in the 21st Century’ – What do Bihar Elections Have to do With It?

 

 

In the  course of the Bihar election campaign of behalf of his party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Mahagathbandhan (the  grand alliance), the chief  ministerial face of the alliance Tejashwi Yadav has been indicating a significant shift of focus. ‘That was the era [his father Laloo Yadav’s] of social justice; this is the time of economic justice and the youth today want jobs’. Clearly this shift comes against the backdrop of the massive loss of jobs and livelihoods over the past six years since this government came to power. The lockdown was only the most inhuman culmination the the process of destruction of livelihoods that began with demonetization, followed by the ill-thought out Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Continue reading ‘Marxisms in the 21st Century’ – What do Bihar Elections Have to do With It?

Post Covid world and Bahujan: Pramod Ranjan

Guest Post by PRAMOD RANJAN

Translated from the original Hindi by Ekta News and Features

It is said that had the spread of the Novel Coronavirus not been contained by imposing lockdowns, by now, it would have consumed a substantial chunk of the human residents of the earth. But this claim requires closer examination.

Lockdown killed lakhs of persons the world over and its after-effects have ruined the economies of scores of low- and middle-income countries like India. Crores of persons have been condemned to a life of poverty and misery.

What is going to change
Offices and educational institutions were a gift of modern age. By bringing human minds together, the places of work and the centres of education not only scripted a new chapter in the development of the human race but also brought diverse communities on common platforms. It is almost certain that in the post-Covid world, schools and offices would not exist as we know them today.[1] A new law for bringing about changes in educational institutions has come into force in India.[2] Labour laws have been almost abolished and companies have been given the licence to exploit the workers.[3] Not only manual labourers but white-collar workers, too, would be caught in this web of exploitation and mental turmoil[4]. The rights of journalists and media employees, related to their service conditions and salary and allowances, have been withdrawn through changes in the law.[5]

There is also a real danger that globalization (the spurt in commercial and business activities at the global level around the 1990s) would be reversed. This will spell disaster for the economies of the developing countries. In India and many other countries, the poor could join the middle-income group only due to globalization[6]Continue reading Post Covid world and Bahujan: Pramod Ranjan

We Urgently Need a Rainbow Left – One Hundred Years of Indian Communism

 

 

Bolivia’s Movement for Socialism, image courtesy The Nation

The world today desperately awaits the emergence of a new, rainbow Left that is liberated from the disastrous hold of the twentieth century. Indeed, attempts to find or forge such platforms are visible in different parts of the world. Falteringly and with setbacks to be sure, but there is no doubt that serious attempts are underway. And many of these attempts are powered by a different kind of imagination that is unencumbered, to a large extent, by the suffocatiing grip of the last century.

One hundred years ago, on 17 October 1920, the emigre Communist Party of India was formed in Tashkent with MN Roy as its chief initiator. This date of the party’s formation is, of course, contested by the current CPI, which dates its formation from 26 December 1925, when the first ‘Indian Communist Conference’ was held in Kanpur. The date became a matter of contention, especially after the split  in the CPI and the formation of the CPI(M) in 1964 – and at the core of that contention were two related issues. One opinion at the time of the Kanpur Conference had argued for a home-bred and ‘nationalist’ ‘Indian Communism’, in opposition to which the other section saw itself as a contingent or  a chapter of an international movement. The second question became more of an issue in the later years, after Stalin’s death and the revaluation of his role and the manner in which the Comintern came to play a subordinate role to Soviet foreign policy. In between these two lies the phase of the ‘Bolshevization’ of all socialist and communist parties across the world, which ensured that the CPI too, no longer remain an independent party in the sense in which some were arguing at the time of its formation.

Continue reading We Urgently Need a Rainbow Left – One Hundred Years of Indian Communism