India – smugly described to be the largest democracy on earth is witnessing increasing demise of villages and the hapless people who happen to be farmers. With villages getting desolate and farmers compelled to opt for noose to terminate life that has become an everyday disgrace, contemporary India presents a picture of orchestrated silences on the part of government and corporate governors. Today the only largesse farmers get are a death trap, debt, and utter callousness at the hands of our much-hyped democratic establishment. One must be alert to the fact that the destruction of farmer is an organized act. All through the six decades of independence our democratic dispensation has persistently kept silent on the fundamental questions determining the fate of the huge populace dependent on agriculture and allied activities. In its quest to oust agriculture from national economy, the establishment has
continuously resorted to manufacture false definitions. Thus the category of ‘common man’ has been emptied of a farmer eventually leading to the exit of farming as a source and mode of livelihood.
One would do well to look at how farming has fared in the over all national economy. In 1947,according to official statistics, agriculture and allied activities accounted for 67 percent in the gross domestic product, however down the years it has plummeted to as low as 17 percent in 2008. The phenomenon is that agricultural production during this period has become fourfold. Thus valuation of this fourfold produce has nose-dived to one-fourth in relative terms
or one-sixteenth in absolute terms. How could one explain the anomaly that while the actual agricultural production has witnessed a four-fold increase, the price, to the contrary, has registered as much fall?
The fall in prices of agricultural produces has to do with the definition that governments have thrust upon it. It could not have been otherwise unless the governments struck at the very root of it by fixing up Agriculture as an unskilled vocation. It is precisely this enlightened conspiracy that has forced agriculture into a strait jacket. Thus it is not surprising to see that a farmer can earn only 30-35 rupees a day while as per the sixth pay commission fourth class government employee gets away with as much as 400 rupees for a day’s remuneration. And instead of any concern about this gross injustice, the vision document of UPA and NDA, projects with pride the share of agriculture and allied sectors at 6% in 2020. The share of `Top 10′ in the country that stands at 60 % in 2008 and may easily move up to 70% in 2020.
But now the farmers cannot take the drubbing anymore. No matter if political parties refuse to take cognizance of the plight of them. Farmers have woken up to the challenge: now they will interrogate leaders and send directives to political parties from Village Assemblies. This is the sentiment that has emerged from a two-day meeting of National Campaign for Eradication of Inequality.
Deliberating various issues that might be included in a common programme of action, the participants focused on issues like
1. Why work in agriculture has been classified as unskilled? This is a direct attack on farmers’ honour!
2. Why two principles for wage determination are in vogue simultaneously, one for the organized sector, that is one person should be able to earn for the family, the other for the unorganised where no such stipulation is honoured? This duality is a fraud on the people of India.
3. Why compound interest is levied on agricultural credit in total contravention of the spirit of the law in that regard? How were the doors of law courts slammed against farmers in 1984?
4. How is force and even provisions of civil jail used in recovery of credit that abrogates fundamental right of the victim?
The meeting ended on a consensus on a three-point action plan that would comprise the following, to begin with, that may grow with experience of struggle in the field and people’s response there to. Firstly, Village Assemblies in the country would issue directions to the Parliament and State Assemblies to amend the relevant laws. This
may be the beginning of people-centric structural change that has been ignored and now totally dropped by the rulers.
Secondly, the realization of dues based on levy of compound interest would be directly resisted. The banks shall be told that this blasphemy is not acceptable to the people. The 1984 amendment in Companies Act may be challenged in the Court of Law. Lastly, all political parties may be called upon to place before the people their formal stand on these four vital issues. The Campaign is of the view that the entry of members of those political parties who may fail to place their position, positive or negative, on these issues before the people may be politely requested not to enter the
village as members of political parties. They are welcome as ordinary citizens minus their politics. This will be a modest beginning towards fulfilling the constitutional commitment and national resolve to establish an egalitarian social order.
National Campaign for Eradication of Inequality has been initiated by a number of people’s movement groups. The launch meeting organized at Sahyog Pustak Kutir, New Delhi was attended by some of the groups including Bharat Jan Andolan, Kisani Pratishtha Manch, Jan Adhikar Sanghtan, Jan Mukti Sangthan, Bagar Kisan Majdoor Sangthan, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Construction Workers Panchayat Sangam, Jagaran Jan Viaks Samiti, Parivartan etc. Meeting was
presided by former Commissioner of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Dr. B D Sharma of Bharat Jan Anlodan.
Dr. B D Sharma Gian Singh Pankaj Pushkar (011-24353997) (09416358044) (09868984442)