August 27, 2023

Modi-Adani-Niti Aayog Project to Corporatise Agriculture Exposed: AIKS Demands Joint Parliamentary Committee Probe

THE All India Kisan Sabha issued a statement on August 18, shedding light on a recent investigation conducted by the Reporters’ Collective. This investigation has exposed a sinister nexus and broader agenda involving the Modi-led central government, the Niti Aayog, and prominent corporations led by Adani, to loot Indian farmers and consumers through the corporatisation of Indian agriculture. The investigative series, divided into two parts as "Ahead of Farm Laws, an NRI Seeded Idea to Corporatise Agriculture" and "Adani Group Complained against Farm Law. Govt Diluted it to Allow Hoarding by Corporates," presented concrete evidence of the collaboration between corporate entities and the Modi government to corporatise Indian agriculture. The series underscores the undeniable fact that the historic united farmers' movement, spearheaded by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), was a patriotic struggle against the alliance of international finance capital and monopoly capital (IFC-MC) with their prominent representative, the BJP-led central government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The initial segment of the investigation exposes how Sharad Marathe, described as a " BJP friendly NRI businessman" engaged in a software business despite having no expertise in agriculture or related fields, acted as the linchpin in promoting the idea of corporatising Indian agriculture. This vision involved a scenario where farmers lease their farmland to corporate-style agribusiness companies and essentially operate as components within these corporations. Marathe presented a concept note titled "Doubling of Farmers' Incomes Through Market Driven, Agri Linked Made in India" to the then Niti Aayog vice chairman, Rajiv Kumar, in October 2017, and also to the Prime Minister's Office.

Based on this concept note, the Niti Aayog formed a Special Task Force (STF) by January 2018, appointing Ashok Dalwai as its head. Sharad Marathe and other so-called "experts," handpicked by Dalwai, predominantly constituted this task force. It is noteworthy that the same Ashok Dalwai served as the chairman of Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Doubling of Farmers’ Income, established by the prime minister on April 13, 2016. The inception of this IMC can be traced back to Narendra Modi's promise of doubling farmers' incomes by 2022, a goal set for the 75th year of India's independence, announced on February 28, 2016, during a farmers' rally in Uttar Pradesh.

While the recommendations of the IMC on doubling farmers' income were inherently pro- big business in nature, it sought a veneer of legitimacy by engaging with a ‘diverse set of activists, economists, and industry leaders.’ But the STF led by Dalwai was straightforward in its agenda: it selectively ‘consulted handpicked major corporate such as the Adani Group, Patanjali Ayurved, Mahindra Group, and BigBasket." The STF essentially served as a spokesperson for big business houses, worked with a conviction that “the time is right to move from agriculture to agribusiness”. The expose suggests that the pro-corporate recommendations by the STF – which are not yet made public – played a major role in shaping the three draconian Farm Laws by the Modi regime.

The second part of  the investigation unveils how monopoly corporations, notably the ‘Adani Group discreetly lobbied with the government in April 2018 for the removal of restrictions on hoarding of agricultural commodities” through the Niti Aayog Special Task Force on Doubling Farmers' Income. As per the Reporters Collective, a good two and a half years prior to the implementation of the farm ordinances, a representative of the Adani Group, participating in a meeting of the task force convened by Niti Aayog with the objective of doubling farmers' income by 2022, asserted: "The Essential Commodities Act is acting as a deterrent for industries/entrepreneurs." This marked the “first recorded instance of the Adani Group’s official advocacy for the repeal of the Essential Commodities Act." This recommendation was conscientiously and faithfully integrated by the Modi government when formulating the stringent farm laws.

The AIKS calls for the establishment of a joint parliamentary committee to probe the collusion between prominent corporate entities and their NRI collaborators in subverting established government procedures and promoting the enactment of the anti-farmer draconian farm laws. The historic 380-day-long struggle against these detrimental laws witnessed the sacrifice of 735 farmers who became martyrs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cronies cannot wash their hands off this engineered killing of brave Indian farmers.

The All India Kisan Sabha commends the Reporters’ Collective for this significant journalistic intervention. The AIKS warns the Modi regime to desist from all direct and indirect attempts to corporatise Indian agriculture or face united resistance by the peasantry.