Skip to main content

Modi govt 'places' 86% of India’s cultivated farmland at the mercy of big corporates

Counterview Desk

Extending support to the Bharat bandh call for December 8, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), India’s top civil society network, has asked the Government of India to immediately withdraw what it has termed as “three pro-corporate, anti-farmer laws”, even as upholding “farmers’ sovereignty over agriculture.”
Calling the farmers’ resistance “historic”, aimed at “reclaiming democracy from fascists”, an NAPM statement says, the ruling politicians and their allies in the mainstream media “have cast aspersions on the intentions behind the protests, labeling the farmers from Punjab as ‘proponents of Khalistan and secessionists’, much like the way dissenters of all hues have been termed ‘Urban Naxals’ in an attempt to delegitimize them in the eyes of the wider public.”

Text:

The National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM) expresses its complete solidarity with ongoing farmers’ nation-wide protests and endorses the Bharat Bandh on December 8. The call has come after several rounds of failed negotiation between the protesting farmers in Delhi and the Govt. of India, over the three farm Acts and the Electricity Bill which together are bound to corporatize farming and makes lives of millions of farmers, especially small and marginal farmers, increasingly precarious.
Far from paying heed to the farmers’ concerns, the government has met the protestors with lathi charge, water cannons despite the cold, and trenches to stop their march. With the help of their allies in the mainstream media, politicians of the ruling party have cast aspersions on the intentions behind the protests, labelling the farmers from Punjab as ‘proponents of Khalistan and secessionists’, much like the way dissenters of all hues have been termed ‘Urban Naxals’ in an attempt to delegitimize them in the eyes of the wider public. 
That the vibrant protests have been thriving and surviving despite the multiple attacks of the State and fake narratives is testimony to the spirit of the farming community across India and especially the farmers from Punjab and the neighbouring states who have set-up indefinite camp in Delhi.
The agriculture sector contributes nearly 15% to India’s economic growth but employs about half of the country’s population. Over the last decade, the sector has witnessed a crisis of productivity, indebtedness and farmers’ suicide (501 in Punjab last year). Narendra Modi won the last elections on the promise of doubling farm income but has now promulgated a set of laws that look to strengthen corporate profits rather than farmers’ income and have in the process compromised farmers’ dignity and their rights over land and livelihood. 
The three contentious Acts, passed by India’s Parliament (despite questionable parliamentary processes), appear to ‘enable farmers’ to sell their produce directly to private buyers and enter into contracts with private companies. The government claims that the private sector investments will stimulate growth.
The corporate-led growth has, however, led to massive corporate profits and precarity for the workers in every sector, and the farming sector is unlikely to be an exception. Pointing out this likelihood, the farmers have suggested that they were free to sell their produce to private buyers even earlier. Far from enabling them to earn profits sans meditation by middlemen, the Acts put the small farmers, who till over 86% of India’s cultivated farmland, at the mercy of big corporates. 
These take away the minimum support prices and fertilizer subsidies, and even the legal channels of dispute settlement through regular courts. The farmers predict an increased input burden, debts, losses and increase farm suicides and displacement from land.
NAPM poster
Though centered in Punjab and Haryana, the ongoing protests have an all-India resonance and have received widespread participation and support from farmers groups across India as well as transport employees and other workers’ unions, civil society organisations, academics, students and ordinary citizens, who would also eventually be impacted by these laws. Solidarities have been extended out of shared concerns for farmers’ rights, India’s food sovereignty and federalism as well, since the Acts look to cut out state revenues from the mandis.
Led by farmers’ unions such as Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) (Ekta Ugrahan), BKU (Dakounda), Kirti Kisan Union, and Punjab Kisan Union, and displaying cross sectional solidarity, between farmers big and small, Jat and Dalit, as well as between different sections of Punjabi society, women and students in particular, the farmers’ movement has emerged as an important struggle within the spectrum of movements that are seeking a way out of the Hindutva/corporate matrix of power. 
The All-India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha and the dozens of unions in Punjab and Haryana have together ensured that these Acts receive the toughest possible challenge from farmers across India.
Precisely around this time, last year, India rose up in rage against the regressive Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, with Muslim women, youth and students at hundreds of protest sites across the country leading an inspiring resistance to defend the constitution, which guarantees all citizens equal rights and dignity. 
The farmers' movement, this season, dovetails with the widespread people’s opposition to the pro-corporate, majoritarian and authoritarian rule of the current government. Each of these movements feed into the larger struggle against the fascist regime which is breaking up our democracy brick-by-brick!
The way these Farm Acts and the Electricity Amendment Bill have been introduced and imposed without consultation with State Governments, in spite of the subjects being in the concurrent lists is another example, like the New Education Policy 2020, by which the Centre is striking a blow to the Federal structure of the Constitution. It is in this context: 
  • NAPM calls upon all sections of our society to stand with the historic struggle of farmers and participate actively in the Bharat Bandh on December 8.
  • NAPM commits to intensify the struggle, along with other organizations until the core demands of repeal of the three farm Acts, withdrawal of Electricity Amendment Bill and legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price to all crops are met.
---
Click here for signatories

Comments

TRENDING

'Halt Covid-19 vaccination drive': Indian doctors join campaign across 36 nations

By Rosamma Thomas*  A group of Spanish doctors first got together to call for a halt to the Covid-19 vaccinations, and doctors from other countries too later joined them – there are now over 12,000 doctors from India, Portugal, Canada, Hungary, South Africa, Israel and a host of other nations who have issued a call to halt vaccinations. On September 10, a group of Indian doctors came together to address the press over a webinar to explain why they thought the vaccination drive should end forthwith. Dr Amitav Banerjee, who after a career as an epidemiologist in the Indian Army now teaches at a private medical college in Pune, said there was no longer a medical emergency. Children are at low risk of infection, and there is good reason to halt vaccination and conduct proper research, given the high number of adverse events. There is a sudden and poorly explained spike in the number of young and healthy people dying. While it may be impossible to attribute deaths entirely to the vaccinatio

Did Mother Teresa trivialise poverty? 'You are suffering, that means Jesus is kissing you'

By Harsh Thakor*  The world commemorated the 25th death anniversary of Mother Teresa on September 5. Whatever her flaws, she rendered service to humanity in regions almost untranscended, resembling the relentless spirit of the waves of an ocean. Irrespective of community or religion, she offered her service. Even those not drawn by sainthood revere the role of Mother Teresa. For 68 years, she had worked selflessly and tirelessly in India and elsewhere in the world, taught the destitute, healed the sick, fed and clothed the poor, cared for abandoned children, housed lepers and those afflicted with HIV/AIDS and offered dignity in death to desolate persons abandoned by family and society. Mother Teresa was born in Skopje in 1910 to an Albanian family as Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. She became wedded to religious vows at an early age and moved to India to join the missionary work of the Catholic Church. Heartshaken by the misery faced by the Indian masses, in 1950 she set up her own

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey*  The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022. Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times. However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively partici

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Excess to cheetah in Kuno to increase 'woes' of local people, 'disturb' wildlife balance

Bharat Dogra*  The release of eight cheetahs into the Kuno National Park ( Madhya Pradesh) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, although accompanied by a media blitz, has raised several questions. The animals were flown from Namibia to Gwalior and from there they were taken to the release site in a helicopter. Official sources have stated that this is the first time a large carnivorous species has been moved across continents for establishing a new population. This first release will be followed by others under this project. However, precisely for this reason, it is important to be cautious because if such translocations have been generally avoided in the past, there may have been reasons for this and at the same time we do not have much learning experiences from the past. The Cheetah became extinct in India in 1952, although this very fast moving animal is still remembered in the folklore of many areas. Hence the first impulse is to say that trying to introduce and revive

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer