Tasks Among the Peasant Masses – II
Excerpts from the resolution Tasks Among the Peasant Masses’, adopted by the Central Committee of the Communist Party in its meeting in April 1954
“ONE of the important tasks of the Kisan movement is to demand the government to take measures to free the peasants from the machinations of the foreign and Indian monopolists and give protection to the peasant producers by guaranteeing economic prices for his product.
“We must demand of the government guaranteed economic prices for the peasants’ produce and if the market prices fall below the minimum, the government must step in and purchase the produce from the peasants at the minimum prices.
“We demand that in the famine and scarcity areas, the government should arrange:
a) Immediate establishment of cheap grain depots, relief works and free kitchens;
b) Liberalisation of the famine code in respect of test works, tasks and wages;
c) Productive works instead of stone breaking and mere road-building and protective works irrespective of returns be taken up in famine areas as relief works;
d) Moratorium on all debts and remission of arrears of rents and land revenue;
e) Supply of fodder and
f) Grants of taccavi loans to be liberalised.
“At the same time we must organise famine relief committees in cooperation with others and organise relief. Kisan Sabha and units of agricultural labourers organisations should work in the relief centres, test works, cheap grain shops, to prevent corruption and make them work properly.
“Vigorous campaign for immediate moratorium and for legislation for scaling down and abolition of old debts should be carried on.
“The cooperative societies are generally in the hands of landlords and rich peasants….This has been so especially where the Kisan movement is weak. This state of affairs however, must not blind us to some of the facilities which the government gives to cooperatives. The government continues these facilities and wants to develop the cooperatives more extensively to create the illusion that a really Cooperative Commonwealth can be built in this fashion. But, without ourselves falling under these illusions, it is necessary that we actively participate in the cooperatives and try to utilise them, to cater to the needs of the agricultural labour, poor and middle-peasants. We must fight corruption in the cooperatives and demand more democratic rights.
“We have to formulate demands for the reduction of various tax burdens and demand institution of graded agricultural tax. The agitation against imposition of new tax burdens on the peasants is to be intensified and all such efforts resisted.
“In tribal areas, reserve line to be kept one mile distant from the villages. Areas marked as reserves, but without forests, to be given for cultivation. Liberalisation of rules relating to shifting cultivation. Forest panchayats to be formed. Forest produce to be utilised freely by the tribals for their use as well as for sale. Cooperatives for tribals, wherein they can fell trees for sale.
“All types of landlordism in tribal areas to be abolished and old debts liquidated.
“All exploitation by the contractors to be checked and fair prices for the forest collections of the tribals and proper wages for their work.
“Medical aid through dispensaries, touring health officers, special measures for special maladies prevalent in tribal areas, disinfection of drinking water wells, ponds, and special measures to counteract malaria.
Veterinary dispensaries and touring veterinary officers to prevent cattle epidemics.
“Special educational facilities in tribal areas, education through their own language; free supply of school material; night schools for adults; free scholarships in secondary and university courses; training of teachers form the tribals.
“Betterment levies on all the peasantry, in many cases even before the completion of the irrigation scheme, that the Congress government contemplates to impose on the basis of acreage, must be opposed, as this would make the poor and middle-peasant more indebted and ruined.
“It is time that the Party and the Kisan movement come forward not only as a critic of the government policies and actions, but even as builder of projects, organiser of famine relief and flood relief; as a force capable of looking at every institution as cooperatives, rural banks, marketing boards, panchayats and schools; cultural activities, agricultural research centres, etc.
“The habit of looking down upon ‘constructive’ programmes, without carefully studying them from the point of view of the peasantry and the people, of sneering at working for ‘reforms’ should be given up. The fear that such work will lead us into ‘reformism’ and that we will be creating ‘illusions’ among the peasantry must be given up. It is by successfully leading the peasant masses to achieve these against the landlords and their government, that we can inspire and lead the peasant masses into action for realisation of their demands.
“The ideological struggle and united front actions will have to be strengthened through systematic organisational work with a view to the drawing in of the millions of peasants and agricultural labourers, into the movement for agrarian revolution.
“The Kisan Sabha’s appeal to all its lower units to make a concerted drive to form joint committees of all the existing Kisan organisations to fight Kisan struggles on specific issues, has to be carried out. It is then only that the whole mass of kisans can be rallied behind a united organisation.
“Building the unity of the entire peasantry against the landlord-imperialist exploitation becomes the most important task in order to develop a broad united Kisan movement.
“The problem of unity of the peasantry is mainly a problem of uniting the agricultural labourers and the peasants, including the rich peasants, against the exploitation of the imperialists, feudal landlords and Indian monopolists. An attitude of drift and spontaneity in this respect or failure to study the problem in all its relations leads to either the neglect of agricultural labourers, their demands and struggles, or the emphasising of their conflict with the peasantry divorced from the common conflict of both against feudal exploitation. It is mainly from the former neglect that the Kisan movement has suffered till now.
To develop a strong Kisan movement, it is necessary that Kisan Sabhas and agricultural labourers’ organisations should take up all those tasks which will raise the social, economic and cultural level of peasants and agricultural labourers such as organisation of literacy classes, sports and cultural activities, relief and self-help movement, struggle against social disabilities, organisation of medical, public health and other forms of moral uplift.
“Offices of the Kisan Sabhas and agricultural labourers organisations must function, daily attending to the various difficulties the Kisan masses face, in their relations with the landlords, government officers and other public institutions; provide them with legal assistance, help them to improve their agriculture by bringing to their notice the latest methods of improving agriculture, help them to fight pests that affect their crops and cattle; help them to get good seeds, implements, manures, water to their fields in time and similar other multifarious activities connected with the whole life of the peasant and his daily occupation.
“In one word, the Kisan Sabha and Agricultural Labourers’ Organisation must become an integral part of the peasants’ life, from where he gets constant advice and help.
“To achieve success in our Kisan struggles, the active support of the working class is to be achieved. But it is here that the Party has been failing. We have not been able to popularise the demands of Kisan masses among the working class. We have not been able to bring the working class to hold meetings, demonstrations, leave along coming out in general strike in support of the Kisans demands.
“The Party also must popularise working class demands and struggles among the Kisans and bring them in support of the working class struggles and demands. It is only thus that we can forge unity between the working class and the peasantry which is the guarantee of our ultimate victory.
The Party must make determined efforts to send working class Party cadre from industrial centres to neighbouring peasant areas to develop the Kisan movement.
“The Party and the Kisan movement must rouse the Kisan masses against the manoeuvres of warmongers, led by the US imperialists and their junior partner, the British imperialists, to unleash a third world war.
“It is also necessary to popularise the Programme and Policy of the Communist Party and its unflinching stand in the service of the people and especially the Kisan masses. A systematic campaign of recruitment into the Party of Kisan and agricultural labour militants and their education on the one hand and a systematic sending of Party cadre coming from the middle class and intelligentsia to work among the peasant masses on the other, have to be undertaken. It is only thus that we can strengthen the ideological, political and organisational ties of the Party with the millions of peasants and agricultural labourers, which is one of our immediate and urgent tasks.
“The Party and the Kisan movement must make special efforts to rouse the Kisan women to join the Kisan Sabha and participate in its multifarious activities. Special efforts are to be taken to formulate women’s demands, especially those that effect the Kisan women and necessary steps to fight for them should be taken. Special efforts should be made to educate the Kisan women cadre.
“On many issues, we are lagging behind the movement. One of the reasons is the lack of clarity and confusion on concepts. The Party must make an analysis of the classification of the peasantry, the colonial structure of Indian agrarian economy, the recent trends in the development of agriculture, the directions of the Congress Agrarian Legislation, etc, the Central Committee, in consultation with the leading comrades of the AIKS, has to do the job.
“The village of union or thana Kisan Sabhas should be live and real functioning bodies, which conduct day-to-day work and struggles. So far these units remain only nominal on paper. To build and activise them is one of the key tasks”.