Our peasantry is fighting a grim battle for its very survival. The news of peasants committing suicide, unable to bear the burden of mounting indebtedness, comes from different regions of our country. Being forced to sell off their lands to repay debts, being forced to abandon their farms and migrate to distant towns in search of livelihood as daily laborers — this is part of the grim reality facing the vast majority of peasants.
Every natural calamity — drought, floods, unseasonal rain, hailstorms — results in death and devastation being wreaked on peasants. A bumper cropresults in the same. The trading monopolies controlling the market for agricultural produce manipulate purchase prices to ensure that the poor and middle peasants invariably get short changed in trade.
The recent unseasonal rains in the end of February and early March have once again highlighted the extreme insecurity of the lives of our peasantry. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, 10.6 million hectares of crops, amounting to 16% of the total sown rabi crops, were destroyed. While Rajasthan, UP and Haryana were the worst affected, (Rajasthan having 4.5 million hectares of crops destroyed), the unseasonal rains in winter have affected many more states, including Andhra, Telengana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, West Bengal, Himachal, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Uttarakhand. Furthermore, the hailstorms and rains in the beginning of April are expected to cause more devastation, including in the states of Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and the North Eastern states.
After every crop failure, poor and middle peasants are forced to sell their produce at the lowest possible rates. This is what has happened with the current onion crop in Maharashtra. The peasants are not even able to recoup the cost of sowing! The big wholesale traders make a killing, using the desperation of the peasantry to depress the purchase prices. The government looks the other way, even while it sheds crocodile tears about the fate of the peasantry.
Vidharbha used to be the in the news for leading in farmer suicides till last year. Now, even while there has been no improvement in the situation facing farmers in this region, the Marathwada region of Maharashtra has overtaken it in terms of suicides.
Peasants are caught in a vicious cycle of mounting debts. Some studies have noted that the suicide rate amongst farmers actually peaks in March, the month where in farmers are expected to repay the moneylenders their loans!
At the present time, both the ruling NDA and the opposition Congress Party are carrying out a massive propaganda campaign to convince the people that their hearts beat with the oppressed peasantry. In fact, there can be no bigger lie than this. The BJP, Congress, and various other parties of the ruling class are representatives of the Indian bourgeoisie. They represent the interests of that class which is daily enriching itself through the intensified exploitation, plunder and ruin of the workers, peasants and tribal people. When Congress leader Sonia Gandhi or Prime Minister Narender Modi go to the affected peasantry, and make noises abouttheir concern for the wellbeing of the peasantry, their aim is to fool our hardworking and brave peasantry with this show of sympathy and their empty promises, and ensure that the peasantry does not seek a lasting solution to the agrarian crisis.
7 years ago, the then UPA government of Manmohan Singh announced a loan waiver for the peasantry. This was hailed by the bourgeois media as a move to save the peasantry from the debt crisis. Seven years down the line, the conditions of the peasantry has gone from bad to worse. What does this imply? It implies that the root of the agrarian crisis has not been addressed.
On April 2, 2015, addressing a meeting on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Reserve Bank of India, Prime Minister Modi called upon the banking system to pay attention to lending to the peasantry and thus to prevent suicides. He asked the banks, whether “when a farmer dies, does it not shake the heart of the banking sector?” In other words, he is repeating the line of the previous Congress regime that a “policy change” by finance capital towards the peasantry can resolve the crisis.
The collective experience of the peasantry from different regions of our country is clearly showing that it is not merely a matter of either granting loans or waiving debts. Relief, in the face of calamities, is necessary and a right of the peasant; but the root cause of the ruination of the existing system of agriculture and the families engaged in agriculture has to be understood in order to come up with a lasting solution to the agrarian crisis.
Today, different parties of the ruling class are shedding copious tears about their concern for the peasantry, even as they are planning to pass a new land acquisition law. Both the government, which is pushing for the passage of this law, and the bourgeois opposition, led by the Congress, which is opposing the law, say they are working for interests of peasantry. What is the reality?
The root cause for the ruination of agriculture
The big bourgeoisie is trying to establish its control over the land and other natural resources of the country, in order to maximize its profits. The Indian state, is a state of the bourgeoisie and despite all claims to the contrary, every government acts in the interest of this class. The bourgeoisie has its plans of “modernizing” the economy to accelerate capitalist economic growth. More and more land is required for construction of roads, massive industrial parks, and manufacturing centres that will enable the bourgeoisie to expand its investment and appropriate more profits. The government is removing all restrictions to the entry of foreign capital.It is clearly making available natural resources and cheap labour to create potentialfor the maximum return on capital, both Indian and foreign.
At the same time, with the development of capitalism in agriculture, agriculture is increasingly subordinated to the market, which means volatilityof prices and the domination by traders. Inputs for agriculture have become increasingly expensive. Water, electric powers are available only to a minority. The vast majority of peasantry who are engaged in small scale agriculture face extreme insecurity of livelihood.
Capitalism has clearly created a situation wherein the majority of small peasants canbarely survive, they are under pressure to discontinue with agriculture and sell off their land cheap to the capitalists, either directly or through the government as an intermediary. Prime Minister Modi is luring peasant youth with promises of jobs in modern industry. People know from their own experience that job creation is not the motive of the capitalists to acquire the land of the peasantry.Crores of educated unemployed youth, sons and daughter of the workers and peasants, who join the ranks of the unemployed each year, is a glaring indictment of the capitalist system. Things will only worsen in the coming period, if capitalism is allowed to flourish destroying all that is healthy in society. The deepening crisis of agriculture can be halted and reversed only with the elimination of capitalism.
While, on theone hand, capitalist agriculture is expanding, it is not eliminating the feudal vestiges in agriculture. The backward relations of production that characterize agriculture in the main in our country are at the heart of the agrarian crisis. Small production is widespread. There is anarchy of production in terms of what crop is sown, how much acreage it is sown in, and how much is produced. Increasing share of agricultural production is for the market, and this market is being increasingly controlled by giant trading monopolies. These monopolies dictate what is produced and set the prices.
More is taken out of the economy than is put back. This is so, both in terms of depleting the water table, in terms of polluting the soil with chemicals, and other ways. It is also by the state not providing irrigation, seeds, fertilizers, electricity, tractorstations, and other inputs necessary for agriculture. In effect, the bourgeoisie and its state have demanded that the peasantry fend for itself. In rural areas, the infrastructure for healthcare, education, is poor. Overall, the capitalist system in our country has proved incapable of providing worthwhile employment to the crores of our rural youth, who graduate each year from the schools.
Left to the bourgeoisie, the future of the peasantry is one in which the vast majority will be ruined, and forced to join the ranks of the working class, while, a small minority will join the ranks of the bourgeoisie.
The working class vision for agriculture
The working class has a definite vision of how to resolve the agrarian crisis in favour of the peasantry. The peasantry has a right to security of livelihood, and to constantly rising standard of living. This right can be guaranteed by workers and peasants overthrowing the rule of the bourgeoisie and establishing their own rule in its place. Then we can ensure that the orientation of the economy is changed from maximizing the profits of the Indian and foreign bourgeoisie to ensuring security and prosperity for all. The new state of the workers and peasants would put more into the agricultural economy then is taken out, reversing the present course. It will encourage the collectivization of land by peasants, so as to take advantage of benefits of large scale production. It will provide all necessary inputs for agriculture, and ensure that all the crops that are produced are bought by the state agricultural trading enterprises on terms which ensure security of livelihood for the peasantry. The nationalization of wholesale internal trade and foreign trade will create conditions to ensure that the surplus from trade is available to the state to invest in the wellbeing of peasants and workers.
Land will no more be considered a private property, to be bought and sold. No one can be forcibly deprived of their land, if she or he is utilizing the land to fulfil a social purpose. A new land use law will be put into place, which will harmonise the different conflicting interests, while safeguarding the interests of the peasantry.
The Communist Ghadar Party of India calls upon the enlightened peasantry to refuse to get divided and line up behind the parties of the bourgeoisie. They have stabbed you in the back in the past, and they will do so again and again. Your future lies with the working class, with Communists.
The Communist Ghadar Party of India is with you in opposing laws that justify forcible acquisition of your lands. The CGPI demands that the state guarantee the peasantry all inputs necessary for agriculture, and purchase the produce at such as price as to ensure secure livelihood for the peasant family. The CGPI is fighting for the nationalization of wholesale internal trade and foreign trade, so that the peasant is not at the mercy of private trading monopolies. The CGPI is demanding that the state take all possible measures to ensure that the peasant is not forced into indebtedness, that he is secure against the risk of crop failure.
The times demand that the hardworking peasantry of our country join hands with the working class in a united front to overthrow the exploitative and oppressive rule of capital!