Category Archives: Movements

The Trafficking Bill 2021 – Assault on Labour and Industry Rights: Rakesh Shukla and Aarthi Pai

Guest post by RAKESH SHUKLA AND AARTHI PAI

The Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care, and Rehabilitation) Bill 2021 scheduled to be tabled in the current session of Parliament has grave implications for workers and marginalised populations. Trafficking is a criminal offense and indisputably requires strict measures to combat unscrupulous persons who exploit the vulnerability of workers. Instead, the current draft ends up criminalising  vulnerable individuals in the absence of comprehensive policies, programmes and measures that address the factors that make persons vulnerable to trafficking. The aspiration to move and access better living conditions, poverty, lack of equal opportunity and skewed development policies force persons to move in an unsafe manner and accept work in a criminalised environment for instance in sex work, undocumented workers abroad or for organ trade. Continue reading The Trafficking Bill 2021 – Assault on Labour and Industry Rights: Rakesh Shukla and Aarthi Pai

Some Remarks about Movements

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

Accountability is foundational to democracy and, ultimately, people are supposed to take those in power to account through democratic processes and mechanisms. But, then, we also know what often happens in democracy. Electoral competition gives rise to ‘technologies’ (often religious, cultural and identity-based) which turn citizens into “Bhakts” (devotees) and storm-troopers (remember Hitler’s “Brownshirts”). The dark side of democracy comes on top more often than the other side. India is witnessing that disaster. Trump was a testimony to the same phenomenon in the United States.

But what about movements? Are they also supposed to be accountable to someone or something? One would presume that movements are accountable to their own missions, values, objectives, arguments and strategies. Is anyone taking the movements to account on that score?

One would imagine that the left movement has been taken sufficiently to account all over the world. So much so that, for most people, there is no longer any need to take it to account. In many eyes, it is finished. Why waste time on something that is finished? And yet, the most curious thing is that the left remains the favourite whipping boy of most other movements and their intellectual luminaries. Here in India a favourite pre-occupation of Dalit intellectuals is to expose the Savarna (upper caste) hegemony over the left movement and many feminists focus on the misogyny of leftists. As if in a survey of the Indian society, leftists have come on top as the most likely and most numerous perpetrators of oppression and violence against Dalits and women! There is no denying that left must be taken to task for all its ills and all its failings. But, should a movement that is often pronounced dead be the prime example when it comes to evaluating movements?

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh has declared that it would be the party that would actually build the Ram temple. This party is openly and loudly appealing to Brahmins as a caste to come into its fold. Babasaheb Ambedkar famously talked about annihilation of caste and declared that there is no scope of Dalit liberation under Hinduism. This irony is not confined to BSP. A Dalit is submissively the President under the current dispensation and an ex-Dalit Panther is a minister. All this can be explained away as pragmatic responses to the demands and rigours of democracy. But what about the movement itself? What about Ambedkar’s mission?

The question goes far deeper. Why is it the case that Hindutva has been able to make such inroads into Dalit communities? In what ways and to what degrees the ‘Hindu civilizational mind’ sits within the ‘Dalit cultural mind’? Why is it the case that in Gujarat carnage and elsewhere Dalits have been as much and as willing a part of the Hindutva “Brownshirts” as any other community? Why is it the case that an occasional Dalit leader who emerges as a fiery meteorite in the aftermath of a gruesome atrocity disappears as fast from the social and political horizon and the masters of the electoral machinations remain as much in control of the actual political arena?

One hopes that the theorists of social movements – from Columbia and Harvard Universities to JNU and Osmania – are earnestly grappling with this puzzle. We all know the simple and common-sense answers, but they do not suffice. The puzzle needs a deeper explanation. How long the intellectual prophets of the social movements remain content with celebrating the history and the survival of these movements? How long will Dalit writers remain content with asking the caste lineage of other (Savarna) writers and denouncing them for the surnames they use? How long will they be content with demanding monopoly over literary depiction and theoretical explanation of Dalit life and experience? Real questions and real challenges remain unattended.

(https://www.facebook.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi/posts/2635781250063345)

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

A Poem For Umar, Khalid Saifi and Other Political Prisoners: Nabiya Khan

Guest Post by NABIYA KHAN

Our valiant young activists, defenders of democracy, continue to be in prison for almost a year – some a bit more and some a bit less. All under entirely framed charges, while the actual perpetrators of violence continue to roam free, spreading hate. Celebrating the commitment and courage of these activists, here is an offering by Nabiya Khan, courtesy Karwan-e-Mohabbat. The Devanagari and Urdu texts follow after the video

Continue reading A Poem For Umar, Khalid Saifi and Other Political Prisoners: Nabiya Khan

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

Six Months of the Farmers’ Struggle – Looking Ahead

Farmers observe ‘Black Day’ as struggle completes six months on 26 May, image courtesy Economic Times

The farmers’ struggle at the Delhi borders completed six months yesterday, the 26th of May. The day was observed as a Black Day all over the country, at the call of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM).

Braving unprecedented cold, followed by rains and storm, the struggle has now moved into the cruelest part of Delhi’s summer. In the process, it has lost 470 of its people, thanks to the obstinacy of the government. If one dates the beginning of the struggle from June, when it began in Punjab, soon after the farm laws were stealthily, under cover of the pandemic, promulgated as ordinances by the Central government, the struggle has been on for ten months now. In other words, it is incorrect to go on referring to it as a protest – which we routinely do for many lost causes – for it is now a ‘do or die’ struggle. It became so from the time it shifted its venue to lay siege to Delhi.

Periodically, the government, its police and its minions in the media try and zero in on this epic struggle of the farmers for its ignoring, if not violating of Covid19 protocols. All this even as they look the other way while lakhs of people are thrown into the jaws of death, brought about by the mass murderers who have pushed populations in four states into prolonged election campaigns, played cynical games with precious oxygen and vaccine supplies and allowed all kinds of mass religious gatherings of the Hindus to take place in complete disregard of any protocol whatsoever.

Continue reading Six Months of the Farmers’ Struggle – Looking Ahead

Why Federalism Must Become the Fulcrum Of Politics In Coming Days

MPs demonstrtate in parliament for states' GST dues
MPs demonstrtate in parliament for states’ GST dues, 17 September 2020, Photo: Twitter/@priyankac19, courtesy The Statesman

A shorter version of this article appeared in Bangla earlier in Sahomon.

The question of federalism and Centre-State relations has been on many people’s minds lately, given that the Centre in the Modi dispensation has been hell bent on usurping the powers of the states while slyly thrusting all responsibility on to their shoulders. As a matter of fact, it was precisely during the outbreak of Covid19, when there should have been maximum cooperation between the Centre and the States, that the strains started showing in a glaring manner. Very early on, it became clear that the Centre was intent upon using the pandemic to usurp more and more powers, while riding roughshod not only on the rights of ordinary citizens but also of the States. In dealing with the pandemic, not only were the mandatory  consultations with the States not held, they were in fact simply handed over decisions. The most dramatic of all these, of course, was the completely bizarre manner in which the Lockdown was declared last year, at just four hours notice. The huge tragedy that followed was totally avoidable had there been prior consultations and had the Prime Minister, just for one moment, behaved like one. As a matter of fact, the record of this government over the past seven years has been pretty consistent in this regard at least. Continue reading Why Federalism Must Become the Fulcrum Of Politics In Coming Days

पितृसत्तात्मक हिंसा के प्रति शून्य सहिष्णुता की नीति अपना कर अपने संघर्षों को मज़बूत करें! – नारीवादी व महिला संगठनों के बयान

टिकरी बॉर्डर पर युवा महिला कार्यकर्त्ता के साथ यौन हिंसा और अपहरण पर सार्वजनिक बयान, 9 मई, 2021

बंगाल से आयी असोसियेशन फॉर प्रोटेक्शन ऑफ़ डेमोक्रेटिक राइट्स (एपीडीआर), श्रीरामपुर की 26 वर्षीय कार्यकर्त्ता के 30 अप्रैल 2021 को बहादुरगढ़, हरियाणा में हुए निधन पर हमें गहरा अफ़सोस है। यह युवती किसान आंदोलन से बेहद प्रेरित हुई और 2 से 11 अप्रैल को बंगाल में आन्दोलन का प्रचार कर रहे किसान सोशल आर्मी के साथ टिकरी बॉर्डर पर आंदोलन के प्रति अपना समर्थन दर्ज कराने आयी थी। उसे खोने का शोक मनाते हुए, हम टिकरी बॉर्डर पर उसके द्वारा बिताये चंद दिनों के दौरान उसके साथ हुए घटनाक्रम के बारे में सुन कर भी बेहद चिंतित और परेशान हैं।

Continue reading पितृसत्तात्मक हिंसा के प्रति शून्य सहिष्णुता की नीति अपना कर अपने संघर्षों को मज़बूत करें! – नारीवादी व महिला संगठनों के बयान

Strengthening our Struggles through Zero Tolerance to Patriarchal Violence: Statement by Women’s organizations

Public Statement on the Sexual Assault and Abduction of a Young Woman Activist at Tikri Border issued on 9 May 2021

We deeply mourn the death of a 26-year old activist from APDR (Sreerampur) in West Bengal, who passed away on 30th April, 2021 at Bahadurgarh in Haryana. She was deeply inspired by the farmers’ movement and had gone to express her solidarity at the Tikri border with the Kisan Social Army who had been campaigning around Bengal from 2nd April to 11th April, 2021. As we mourn her loss, we are also deeply troubled and concerned on hearing the events that had unfolded during her short stay at the Tikri border.

Continue reading Strengthening our Struggles through Zero Tolerance to Patriarchal Violence: Statement by Women’s organizations

In Search of the Tukde-Tukde Gang!

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE BOMB-MAKING FACTORIES IN WEST BENGAL?

amit shah

Image Courtesy: PTI

Are the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and its in-charge, Home Minister Amit Shah, at variance with each other? This question has acquired a new meaning as, within a year, there have been at least two occasions when the MHA has not supported Shah’s public claims on matters with a direct bearing on the internal security of the country.

Take the interview of Shah done by a news channel last October. He claimed in it that the law and order situation had “gone for a toss” in West Bengal. The state, he went to the extent of claiming, had “bomb-making factories” in “every district”. This explosive claim of the number two in the Union Cabinet was lapped by mainstream media and soon there were calls to impose President’s Rule in the state.

Four months later, it has become clear that the ministry Shah heads has not a clue about his claim. Continue reading In Search of the Tukde-Tukde Gang!

Marxism’s Long March in the Global South

Arab Spring composite image, courtesy Middle East Eye ( and AFP, Reuters, Creative Commons)

It is interesting that though Marxism was born in Europe, it has found its most enduring habitat in the Global South, but this has meant very little in terms of its overall theoretical formation and structure. Thinking about this encounter of ‘Marxism’ and the ‘Global South’ – the continents of Africa, Asia and Latin America – is a daunting task for the sheer range of experiences and questions it has thrown up. It has thrown up fundamentally new concerns as well as produced, in practice, some of the most grotesque outcomes.  But the task is also daunting because despite the range of experiences that Marxism has gone through and has put us through, it has not so far given us any serious body of theoretical knowledge that reflects this experience. It has not given us anything like the way, say,  Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese and Sinhala Buddhism have produced their own versions of Buddhist philosophy. One could also perhaps say the same thing about Christianity in Europe, where – at least up to a point – its philosophy was elaborated and innovated or transformed by the best minds of their time.

Continue reading Marxism’s Long March in the Global South

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

हमको डिक्टेटर मांगता!

(अक्सर लोग बातचीत में यह कहते पाये जाते हैं कि इस देश में सैनिक शासन लागू कर देना चाहिए. ऐसा कहते समय वे यह भूल जाते हैं कि उनके पड़ोसी देशों में यह सब होता रहा है और इसने उन देशों का जहाँ पीछे किया है वहीं लोगों के जीवन को भी संकट में जब-तब डाल दिया है. जिस देश ने अपने इतिहास का सबसे महान और बड़ा संघर्ष अहिंसा, लोकतंत्र और धर्मनिरपेक्षता जैसे विराट मानवीय मूल्यों से जीता हो. वहां हिटलर की बढ़ती लोकप्रियता चिंतित करती है.

क्यों हम हिटलर को पसंद करने लग गयें हैं, क्यों हम किसी तानाशाह की प्रतीक्षा कर रहें हैं ? जबकि यह भारत और मानवजाति के लिए किसी विभीषिका से कम नहीं होगा.

प्रस्तुत आलेख इसी परिघटना की पड़ताल करता है .)

( मुंबई के एक रेस्तरां का दृश्य, फोटो आभार REUTERS)

 

“History teaches, but it has no pupils.”

Antonio Gramsci, (१)

क भारतीय प्रकाशक को इस मसले पर वर्ष 2018 में आलोचना का शिकार होना पड़ा जब बच्चों के लिए तैयार की गयी एक किताब जिसका फोकस विश्व के नेताओं पर था ‘जिन्होंने अपने मुल्क और अपनी जनता की बेहतरी के लिए जिंदगी दी’ उसमें हिटलर को भी उसने शामिल किया.

जानकार लोग बता सकते हैं कि ऐसी घटनाएँ- कम-से-कम यहां अपवाद नहीं हैं. अपनी मौत के लगभग 75 साल बाद हिटलर भारत में बार-बार ‘नमूदार’ होता रहता है.

एक स्पैनिश फिल्म निर्माता अल्फ्रेडो डे ब्रागान्जा- जो एक स्वतंत्र फिल्म निर्माता रहे हैं- और जिन्होंने कुछ साल पहले भारत में रह कर काम किया था, उन्होंने भारत में हिटलर की अलग किस्म की ‘मौजूदगी’ को लेकर एक फोटो निबंध तैयार किया था जिसमें बहुत कम लिखित सामग्री थी. वह हिटलर की उपस्थिति को लेकर इस कदर विचलित थे कि अपने इस निबंध की शुरूआत में उन्होंने पूछ ही डाला:

‘भारत हिटलर-प्रेम के गिरफ्त में है. हालांकि आबादी का बड़ा हिस्सा यह नहीं जानता कि आखिर ऐसा क्यों हैं, वे अपने निजी एवं पेशागत चिन्ताओं से परे सोचना भी नहीं चाहते कि क्यों भारत हिटलर से प्रेम करता है? क्या किसी लॉबी का हित इसके पीछे है.’ (2)

आज भारत में आलम यह है कि  यहूदी विरोधी हिटलर की चर्चित रचना ‘माईन काम्फ’ (मेरा संघर्ष) को आप किसी किताब की दुकान में ‘डायरी ऑफ़ एन फ्रांक- जो उस यहूदी लड़की की आत्मकथा है जो खुद हिटलर की यहूदी विरोध की नीतियों का शिकार हुई थी, के बगल में देख सकते हैं.

हिटलर ने भारतीयों के बारे में काफी अपमानजनक टिप्पणियां की थीं और उसने भारत की आज़ादी के संग्राम का कतई समर्थन नहीं किया था. ‘डिअर हिटलर’ इस फिल्म पर- जिसमें यह दावा किया गया था कि ‘हिटलर भारत का दोस्त रहा है’ अपनी प्रतिक्रिया देते हुए एक लेखक ने हिटलर के चित्रांकन पर आश्चर्य प्रकट करते हुए तथा निराशा जताते हुए लिखा था :

“हिटलर ने कभी भी भारतीय स्वशासन की हिमायत नहीं की. उसने ब्रिटिश राजनेताओं को सलाह दी कि गांधी और आज़ादी के आन्दोलन के सैकड़ों नेताओं को वह गोली से उड़ा दे. बार-बार उसने ब्रिटिश साम्राज्यवाद के प्रति अपना समर्थन दोहराया. वह यही सोचता था कि वह (ब्रिटिश शासन) उतना सख्त नहीं रहा है. ‘अगर हम भारत पर कब्जा जमा लेते हैं’ उसने कभी धमकाया था, तब भारतीय लोग ‘अंग्रेजी शासन के अच्छे दिनों को याद करते फिरेंगे.’ (3)

( Read the full article here : https://samalochan.blogspot.com/2021/02/blog-post_3.html)

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

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.

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

मौजूदा किसान आन्दोलन पर वक्तव्य : रवि सिन्हा

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

Image may contain: 1 person, beard

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