December 08, 2019

Grameen Bharat Bandh on January 8, 2020

Hannan Mollah

A GRAMEEN Bharat Bandh call was given by the third national convention of the AIKSCC(all India kisan sangarsh coordination committee) held on November 29-30 in Mavalankar Auditorium, New Delhi. About 600 delegates from 25 states representing 250 organisations attended the convention. Many smaller organisation’s of local or district levels could not attend the conference, but expressed their support to the convention as associated members of AIKSCC.  They would implement the programmes as decided by the convention.  The Working Group members presented a brief report of the activities of the AIKSCC during last two years and its achievements and impact on national sphere.  They also placed the concept of different issues of the peasantry for discussion.  New issues were also identified, which should be taken up in future for struggles.

The convenor,  B M Singh gave an outline of the activities and situation in the country under  Modi -2 and nature of the agrarian policies of the new government, need for continuing struggle on two main demands of MSP and loan waiver.  Hannan Mollah, member of the working group explained the need of land struggle and different aspects of attacks on land rights; farmers fight for the defence of Land Acquisition Act 2013, etc. Rajaram Singh explained the attacks on farmers’ rights for getting minimum price and growing indebtedness. Medha Patkar described the problem of eviction of farmers and problem of rehabilitation.  Ashish Mittal gave the nature of FTA and dangers of RCEP agreement.  Atul Anjan explained the points for Charter of Demands.  Pratibha Sindhe explained the attack on tribal and Forest Rights Act. Kiran Vissa explained the problem of agricultural workers and tenant peasants and need for expansion of MNREGA. Yogender Yadav stressed on certain points of charter of demands and on insurance issue.  Raju Setti spoke on sugarcane issue and cooperative movement. Dr Darshan Pal Singh explained the problem of burning stubble and environment.  Satyavan talked of Rs 10,000 pension for peasants and agricultural workers.  Sunilam explained the discrimination and attacks on kisan movement.  Avik Saha spoke against corporate loot and compensation to farmers.  Gulam Nabi Malik explained the problems faced by Jammu and Kashmir farmers, the massive damage of apple and government’s inaction in assessment and compensation. More than 100 speakers from different organisations spoke and made many suggestions. 

After two days discussion, the charter of demands was endorsed. The charter enumerates the farmers as producers of primary agricultural commodities, including women, dalit, nomadic and  adivasi farmers, land owners, tenants, share croppers, agricultural labours and plantation workers, fish workers, milk producers, poultry farmers, livestock  rearers,  pastoralists and collectors of minor forest product and everyone engaged in crop cultivation, shifting cultivation, agriculture, sericulture, viniculture and agro forestry. It stressed on the need to fight against economic, ecological, social and existential crisis of Indian agriculture and deepening penetration of large, predatory and profiteering corporates that are already in control of significant sectors of Indian agriculture.

The charter includes the following demands of peasantry for wide campaign and long struggle:

  1.  The Farmers’ Freedom from Indebtedness Bill, 2018.
  2. The Farmers’ Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Commodities Bill, 2018.
  3.  The Parliament should hold a special discussion on the grave and unprecedented agrarian crisis in our country and its related aspects.
  1. Increase the number of guaranteed employment days under MGNREGS to 200 days per family, ensure wage payment at par with legal minimum wages for unskilled farm labour and extend this scheme to urban areas.
  2. Reduce the cost of inputs including seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, water, diesel and electricity for farmers.
  3. Provide comprehensive social security for all farm households including pension of Rs 10,000 per month per farmer above the age of 60 and health coverage.
  4. Universalise the PDS with cereals, pulses, oils and sugar and stop its linkage with Aadhaar and the biometric system.
  5. Address the menace of stray animals by removing all level and vigilante-imposed restrictions on cattle trade, compensating farmers of destruction of crops by wild and stray animals and supporting animal shelters.
  6. Stop land acquisition without informed consent, acquisition of agricultural land for commercial land development and the bypassing or dilution of ‘The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013’ at all levels.
  7. Make payment of cane dues mandatory within 15 days of opening of the mill, maintain recovery rate at 9.5 per cent; and introduce SAP for cane throughout the country.
  8. Withdraw pesticides that have been banned elsewhere and not approve GM seeds without a comprehensive need, alternatives and impact assessment.
  9.  Disallow FDI in agriculture and food processing, and remove agriculture from Free Trade Agreements, including the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
  10. Require identification and registration of all real cultivators including tenant farmers, sharecroppers, women farmers, lessee cultivators etc., for purposes of accessing benefits of all government schemes.
  11. Stop uprooting adivasi farmers in the name of afforestation, ensure strict implementation of Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act and prevent dilution of Forest Rights Act, 2006, while at the same time ensuring its stringent implementation all over the country.
  12. Provide land and livelihood rights to the landless, including on agricultural land, water for fishing, mining of minor minerals etc.
  13. Implement a comprehensive crop insurance scheme to cover all types of risks for all crops and for all farmers, with farm as the unit of damage assessment; such a scheme should benefit the farmers and not the corporate insurance companies.
  14. Build assured protective irrigation through sustainable means for farmers, especially in the rain fed areas.
  15. Ensure remunerative guaranteed prices for milk and its procurement for dairies and to supplement nutritional security through ‘mid day meal scheme’ and ‘integrated child development scheme’ etc.
  16. Waive of all outstanding agricultural loans of farmers from suicide affected families and provide special opportunities to children of such families.
  17. Protect the farmers from corporate plunder in the name of contract farming.
  18. Invest on farmers’ collectives to create farmer producer organisations and peasant cooperatives instead of corporatisation of agriculture and takeover by MNCs.
  19. Promote an agro-ecology paradigm that is based on suitable cropping patterns and local seed diversity revival, so as to build economic viability, ecologically sustainable, autonomous and climate resilient agriculture.

The AIKSCC noted the attacks against working class, on labour laws, privatisation of PSUs, trade union rights and central trade unions called for general strike on January 8, 2020 against the anti-worker, anti-people policies of Modi government.  The AIKSCC express full support and solidarity to the struggle.

The convention also decided action plan for future struggle.  The AIKSCC national convention declares Grameen Bharat Bandh on January 8, 2020.  The AIKSCC called to all its constituents to organise massive and intensive campaign all over the country on the basis of charter of demands and expose the anti-farmer policies of NDA government. For that, all state chapters of AIKSCC shall organise meetings, rallies, padayatra at district or local levels from December 15 to 31.

On the basis of the demands then a memorandum by respective committees will be sent to the President of India. On the day of bandh, states will plan the mode of their protest through bazar bandh, rasta roko, rail roko, demonstration etc., in a peaceful manner. The kisans’ anger should be expressed widely in all nook and corners of rural India against the attack on the life and livelihood of the peasantry by the government.