S V Singh //
So, the Indian farmers too, finally, stand ‘liberated’!! Modi government is unstoppable and in frantic hurry to ‘liberate’ one section of the society after another!! None can escape ‘liberation’, no other option is available!! This time, however, it seems, they have bitten more than they can chew. The formidable farmer community, most faithful supporter of the present fascist government so far, is, now, breathing fire and is on roads all over the country in a big way. Modi government is facing the farmer music for the first time. Market forces have been let loose by Modi Government by bringing structural changes in agriculture marketing and trading policy by bulldozing three bills; ‘Farmer’s Product Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, ‘Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill 2020 and Essential Commodities Amendment Bill 2020. This issue of overhaul of the long established agricultural marketing and trading policies set to impact entire 135 crore live population of the country as no one can live without food and will have serious direct impact on 80 crore strong farming community was considered so urgent by the government that 3 ordinances were brought on June 5, 2020 as ‘relief package’!! Unregulated and unrestricted free play of capital in agricultural sector will dispossess large masses of small and marginal peasant of their tiny pieces of land. A humongous figure will be added to the already unmanageably large army of unemployed. They will have no option but to throng cities to seek livelihood which will eventually result in crumbling of the entire system. This very fear was hitherto holding back the ‘management committees of the bourgeoisie’ from taking this step. The economy is ruined and the crisis of capitalism has reached a level when no consideration of any nature can be afforded. Production is down to about 50% in every sector, showing no signs of recovery, no green shoots are visible in foreseeable future even to the bourgeois economists, the paid servants of the bourgeoisie, even by using telescope. Patient is not only in ICU but is so overwhelmed with comorbidities that it has stopped responding to any treatment. Whatever the situation may be, government is duty bound to provide avenues of investment and extraction of profit for the giant monopoly capital. This has driven the state to pursue this course which is certain to lead to all out disaster. Before proceeding further into the details of the subject, the same pattern of working of the present fascist government is on display once again. There cannot be a better date than June 5, 2020 to bring ordinances as people of the country are scared to their bones by the deadly pandemic of Covid-19 which has reached community spread stage, death toll set to cross one lakh and infections around 65 lakh and they have locked themselves in! There cannot be a better ‘Opportunity in Calamity’! Trampling parliamentary democratic norms of respecting federal structure as a routine and why to waste time in consulting states while changing the policies which are in state or concurrent list and then, finally, even if the ruling party has no majority in Rajya Sabha who can stop it from construing the vehement shouting of opposition as ‘consent by voice vote’, the sinister pattern continues unabated!! Country has slid down to a level when all these fascistic measures do not surprise any more. It is, indeed, 1991 moment of India’s Agri-Business Sector. Even the government economic advisers are convinced now that the manufacturing sector is not going to achieve the pre Corona levels of production and the handful of monopoly sharks are sitting on the mountain of accumulated capital. Modi government has offered entire Agri-Business of about 62 lakh crore size to these corporates to loot at will l. This is neo-liberalization onslaught in the countryside. Consequences are, certainly, going to be disastrous but why to bother that as it is the question of survival of capitalism even if millions die of hunger.
Shanta Kumar Committee
Tall, wild, juicy promises delivered recklessly with high performance with typical Modi rodomontade, coupled with fanatic ultra -nationalistic jingoistic frenzy, backed by bought out media and monopoly capital together created a hysteric wave that launched Modi to power at center in May 2014. Modi government, then as they say, never looked back. No time was lost in waiting to serve their corporate masters. A high power 6 member committee was constituted in August 2014 itself which was headed by ex-CM of Himachal Pradesh and staunch RSS functionary Shanta Kumar. Other members were chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana, CMD FCI, former Chairman of Commission of Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) Ashok Gulati (brain behind present 3 bills), ‘Academician G. Raghuram from IIM Ahmedabad and G. Nancharaiah from Hyderabad University. Terms of reference of the committee were; examine administrative, functional and financial structure of FCI, examine its various operations, suggest restructuring and changes in complete management of FCI.
A roadmap for free play of capital by privatization and corporatization was, therefore, laid down by the Shanta Kumar Committee as a precursor to bringing structural changes brought now by these 3 bills. Let us, now, examine these three bills.
1) Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill 2020
This is one of the 2 bills that got ‘passed’ in Rajya Sabha on Sunday Sep 20, 2020 by first extending business hour by cheating and then by construing pandemonium of opposition as ‘voice vote’. This led to shedding of crocodile tears by the liberals and apologists of bourgeois democracy although this is a small and insignificant feat of daily routine employed by a fascist state. This bill is meant to deregulate trading of farm produce including milk, egg, fish. All restrictions imposed by way of APMC market area and inter-state as well as intra-state trade restrictions also have to go. Taxes –levies or mandatory license requirements on private trading in private grain markets outside APMC have to be removed to ensure smooth and unhindered trading of all the food grains across the country like any other commodity. Private players will have no tax to pay, no record of transactions is to be kept by the government, everything will be left to the ‘wisdom and benevolence’ of private players. This bill is also called as ‘by pass APMC bill’ as trading in farm produce including egg, milk etc. have nothing to do with APMC. Punjab government’s annual revenue from the taxes at APMC last year was about Rs.350 crore. The government which is levying 250% on petroleum products to fleece the poor people out of their bones, does not bother giving up large source of revenue when the interests of the corporate masters have to be served. This bill will facilitate inter-state/ intra-state trading of farm produce without any hindrance. Slogan is ‘One Nation One Market’ just like ‘One Nation One Tax’ of GST. Modi government’s allergy for diversity and madness for ‘One Nation One Everything’ is, certainly, going to ruin ‘One Nation’!! Corporates who have expertise in killing competition in market and turning it into monopoly of a few, are being provided a good 8% difference in cost of input by waiver of taxes in comparison to trading inside APMC!! Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) will not be closed, as Modi announced. There will not be any need to close APMCs, these will just wither away, die down their own ‘natural’ death! Capitalism does not indulge in crime of killing anything, it just facilitates death!! To the glee of market punters, this bill provides for setting up of the ‘e trading’ of commodities of farm produce like any other commodity in share market by the registered ‘players’.
2) Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill 2020
This is the 2nd bill that got ‘passed’ in Rajya Sabha on Sunday, Sep 20, 2020 by the same arm twisting method employed by government in collusion with Harivansh, Dy. Speaker. This bill provides introduction of Contract Farming by a Contract Agreement between peasant and the corporate. Contract agreement will be signed between land owner and the company representative for harvesting a particular crop or rearing cattle by the farmer and sell all the produce to the company as per agreed terms. The sheep and the wolf will sit across the table to decide terms of the ‘transaction’!! Terms of contract, pricing process and period of contract being minimum one crop cycle or live- stock cycle and maximum 5 years; each detail will be there in the contract agreement between farmer and the corporate representative hiring the land. Agreement period can be more than 5 years also in case production cycle is more than that which is quite possible as it covers live -stock also. Pricing and the process of determination of pricing will be provided in the agreement. For pricing of a commodity vulnerable to frequent variations, minimum guaranteed price is to be mentioned in the agreement. There is a provision of Dispute Settlement Board to resolve the dispute if any. In case the Board is unable to resolve the dispute, appeal can be made to District Magistrate and the dispute is to be resolved within 30 days. So the corporate companies cannot be dragged to court by the farmer in case of non –compliance of terms of contract by the company. Farmers have good reasons to be up in arms against their ‘forceful liberation’ by the Modi government. At several places in the country, beer manufacturing companies entered into an agreement with farmers to produce barley at attractive assured price. Contract runs smoothly for the first season but farmers increase the sowing of barley. Companies, then, backtrack from contract, refuse to purchase the barley on excuse of produce being of inferior quality or larger moisture content. Another bitter experience of exact similar nature is with regards to contract to sow pea between Safal and farmers in Punjab where against the assured price of @Rs. 8.5 per kg for green pea, the farmers had to anyhow dispose off their pea produce @ Rs.2.5 per kg when supply of produce exceeded demand of the corporate company. Another infamous case is that of Pepsi and farmers of Punjab to grow potato at assured price for manufacture of potato chips. Pepsi ditched farmers without blinking as they do as a matter of routine. This led to violent clashes and matter went to court. Anarchy in production is inherent to capitalist mode of production as production is not based on social needs but by sole aim, always, is maximum profit. How the disputes are resolved by these giant companies is shown by Vodafone on Sep 25, 2020. Vodafone, first, defeated Government of India in Supreme Court of India and then at International Tribunal, Hague. A whopping amount of Rs.20000 crore payable by them got waived and an amount of $5.47 million (app Rs.44 crore) penalty is to be paid by Indian government to Vodafone as legal fee!! Another recent example is fresh in mind. Facebook was found colluding with the IT Cell of ruling party in propagation of fake news and communally colored content against receipt of money. This is a serious criminal act for which FIR should have been lodged against Facebook immediately and officials responsible should have been arrested. Nothing of that sort happened. Delhi government, then, passed a resolution in Delhi Assembly, so called temple of bourgeois democracy to call Facebook head to Assembly to reprimand him. He did not come to Delhi Assembly, leaving the legislators red faced and went to the court instead and court upheld his act!! These monstrous companies keep governments of the countries in their pocket, they own more assets than entire GDP of several countries. They form and deform national governments, what justice a poor District Collector will deliver in disputes between a poor, hapless farmer and these companies, everybody knows!!
3) Essential Commodities Amendment Bill 2020
This bill is passed by Rajya Sabha on Sep 22, 2020. There was no need of any coercive method as entire opposition staged a walk out. This bill has amended The Essential Commodities Act 1955. Section 3 (1) of the Act empowers the central government to designate certain commodities (food items, fertilizers, and petroleum products) as essential commodities and to regulate/control production, supply, distribution, trade and commerce of all these essential commodities. The Essential Commodities Amendment Act 2020 has removed all these regulations. It provides that central government may regulate supply of food items including cereals, pulses, potatoes, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils, ‘only under extraordinary circumstances’ such as war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity of grave nature. There will not be any limit of stocks by companies. The amendments state that “such order for regulating stock limit shall not apply to a processor or value chain participant of any agricultural produce, if the stock limit of such person does not exceed the overall ceiling of installed capacity of processing, or the demand for export in case of an exporter…”So the limit will now be that of plant capacity of the processor company which in other words means that government cannot replace the plant processor of the company, it will be done by the company owner himself!! This bill, completely, deregulates trading of all the items essential for life. Purchasing, trading and storage all have been set free. Not stipulating any limit to keeping stock of cereal or pulses is the most draconian proposition. It can play havoc with life of common people. During this phase of merger of banking capital with industrial capital, no one should be surprised if an Adani Green or Reliance Fresh alone could purchase entire wheat and rice produced in the country!! One can imagine the consequences. Corporate lust for profit has no limit, please remember. We already witness huge fluctuation in the price of onion in the market not due to fluctuation in production but by hoarding and manipulation of prices. “Stock limits will be imposed if there is steep price rise”, explains the bill. There will, obviously, be no state intervention till ‘steep price rise’ occurs! ‘Steep price rise is explained as: (i) a 100% increase in retail price of horticultural produce; and (ii) 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural food items. The increase will be calculated over the price prevailing immediately preceding twelve months, or the average retail price of the last five years, whichever is lower. Let us reiterate that this bill lead to the most devastating consequences. Nation may witness scenes of famines of British era.
Political Significance Of Agricultural Policy Changes
We can correctly analyze the issue of these significant agricultural policy changes only after we dispassionately dissect the term ‘farmer’ first. Farmer is a vague term popularized intentionally because if described correctly, it will not invoke emotions, affection as it does now. By uttering this term, a caricature of a destitute, hungry, skeleton without a trace of fat or muscles, hopeless person emerges in psyche and one gets overwhelmed with emotions, pushing reason to the back seat. All the Akali leaders and 95% of total leaders in Punjab are ‘farmers’. Is anyone of them of that type? Are they hungry, destitute, poor needing all possible help? Do they need any protection from taxes? The answer is emphatic NO. Total assets of Sukhbir Singh Badal as declared during 2019 Lok Sabha elections are 217.99 crore. His wife too declared almost equal assets of Rs.217 crore! Another poor farmer Supriya Sule owns declared assets of Rs.165.42 crore only. According to a report published by Rediff.com, total 4,00,000 companies sought income tax exemption for having agriculture income in 2014-15. Names of these ‘poor farmers’ are; seed giant Kaveri Seeds – it claimed Rs 186.63 crore (Rs 1.87 billion) exemption and made a profit of Rs 215.36 crore (Rs 2.15 billion) before tax – and multinational Monsanto India, which claimed Rs 94.40 crore (Rs 944 million) as exemption from agricultural income and earned Rs 138.74 crore (Rs 1.39 billion) profit before tax. Agro-companies are allowed the same tax relief as individual farmers. An Economic Times report informs that Indian rich farmers are holding more cash as white money as they don’t have to pay tax than the black money stashed abroad. Owning agricultural land to become ‘farmer’ is one of the main avenues of tax evasion. On the other hand, small peasants (less than 5 acres of land) and marginal peasants (less than 2.5 acres of land) constitute 86% of the total farmers who together hold only 43.6% of the agricultural land. Marginal farmers alone constitute 67% of the total farmers!! Average land holding is going down consistently. It has come down from 1.15 hectare in 2011-12 to 1.08 hectare in the year 2015-16. These agricultural policy changes will, certainly, increase polarization process among farmers and 56 crore strong segment of marginal farmers will be converted into rural proletariat. This is bound to happen in a capitalist mode of production. Small entrepreneur is dying everywhere and the same pattern will be there in agricultural sector also. Capitalism is so deeply entrenched in crisis that it can’t afford to care to save any section from drowning. Small and marginal farmers have their fate sealed and their destination is ocean of the proletariat. On the other side, rich farmer-rural bourgeoisie will also be forced to shed the safety of secured returns from farming as this section too will face the music as they will have to compete, now, with MNC companies. Process of centralization and concentration of capital is irreversible, paramount and agriculture sector is also going to face the same music. Only few of the rich farmers will, ultimately, survive as is happening in industrial sector. Sovereign rule of capitalism is that life and death of business is decided by the market forces. Reliance Fresh, Adani Greens, Tata Sampanna, ITC, Monsanto India, Kaveri Seeds and other MNC Agro Companies will henceforth have free hand and will run havoc in Indian countryside in the days to come. The biggest political significance of these bills is that the rural bourgeoisie and rural proletariat will be more clearly identifiable exactly as in industrial sector. The ambiguity clouding class division will go once and for all.
‘Farmers’ Movements For Rise In MSP
Small and marginal farmers are the most brutally exploited section of our society and their exploiters are they, themselves. Their condition is more pitiable, worse than even agricultural worker as they have no working hours, no choice of not going to work even if they are sick as they compulsorily rear livestock also. They, along with their kids and women folk, are imprisoned by their tiny, unviable, uneconomical land holdings which can never generate sufficient surplus value. Size of their land holdings keep going down and their miseries, hopelessness and depression going up. Those who hang themselves are marginal farmers only as their lives are worse than hell. They are not only unaware of the fundamentals of political economy in vogue but are also gullible and naïve to join farmer movements for increasing Minimum Support Price (MSP) spearheaded by the rich farmers. The people who are in firing line in these farmer agitations to increase MSP and lose their lives happen to be the small and marginal farmer only. First of all, farming has now got mechanized and gone are the days of ox-driven plough or irrigation and this is not possible in a 1 or 2 acre piece of agricultural land howsoever hard one may try. Whether to cultivate or abandon, there is always a dilemma before a marginal peasant. They cannot grow enough for their survival in their tiny piece of land. Even in case of agricultural commodities, they need to purchase more than they sell. How, then, increased MSP is going to benefit them? They never calculate this and get herded by kulaks to join the farmers’ agitation to increase MSP. They are made to believe that they too are ‘farmers’ and their miseries will be over once the MSP is raised!! They end up rising their own expenses in the process and land themselves in further debt. Their calorie consumption is minimum as they remain half starved. They rear cattle but have to sell every drop of milk to survive. Their kids hardly taste milk that too only on some festival.
Gail Omvedt, an American born Indian scholar, sociologist and human rights activist has conducted very useful study on MSP driven farmer movements in India and the report ‘Capitalist Agriculture & Rural Classes in India’ is published in “Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars” in its 5th July 2019 issue. One paragraph is very relevant to our topic and deserves to be quoted in full with sincere thanks to the great scholar. “Capitalist farmers are the main force behind the ‘farmers’ agitations that are dominating rural political scene: it is no accident that these agitations are centering in the more capitalistically developed regions, that their demand for higher crop prices itself indicates the commercialization of the rural economy, and that in contrast to pre-independence peasant movements they are not directed against any rural exploiter but rather seek to unite ‘all peasants’ with an ideology that claims the ‘city’ is exploiting the ‘countryside’. Thus they show the kulaks on the offensive against the industrial bourgeoisie and seeking to bring other sections of the rural population under their hegemony –with some success in the case of the middle peasants and even among the poor peasants especially where the left parties are there to help them.”
Saving small entrepreneur, be it industry or agriculture, will require reversal of the laws of capitalism, taking it back from the present stage of monopoly capitalism where centralization and concentration of capital has reached a level that a handful of capitalist sharks, having entire banking capital at their disposal, government in their pocket, ready to gulp entire production, entire market without differentiation of sector A or Sector B, right from fruits, vegetables to oil, gas, telecommunication, arms, everything; to the age of free competition. Is it possible? Absolutely not. Fate of the small, marginal farmer is, therefore, sealed. This section has to slip to the proletariat class and their liberation is only possible by burying capitalism and not by corporatization of agriculture as claims Modi. These agricultural policy changes will hasten the annihilation of small, marginal peasants. This is the hard and bitter reality that cannot be wished away even though these bills are to be opposed tooth and nail.
Bourgeoisie is the most dishonest class. They never mean what they say. They betray agreements as a matter of routine, the moment it contradicts their interest. Present movement too is going to be turned into an agitation to raise MSP, implement Swaminathan Commission Report, double the income of farmers. All these are bourgeois demands. Several farmer organizations are openly supporting these bills. “These visionary bills will ensure a sustainable and profitable future for farmers” commented, Federation of Indian Farmers Association (FAIFA), an umbrella organization of farmers in Andhra, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujrat. Similarly, Shetkari Sanghatana, a very old and formidable organization of rich farmers in Maharashtra founded by Sharad Joshi have whole heartedly welcomed these agricultural policy changes. These organizations serving the interests of rural bourgeoisie sound less hypocritical. All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee that claims support of 250 farmers’ organization from all over the country is spearheading the farmers’ movements against these bills. Its past record, however, suggests that it has hardly ever taken any movement to any logical conclusion as all its constituents are led by rich farmers having bourgeois political ambitions. Its convener V. M. Singh admits the bitter reality, “this (selling maize at half of the MSP rates of Rs.1850 per quintal this season) is because they (small and marginal farmers) did not have the resources or means to send the produce as 86% of the Indian farmers have land holdings of less than 2-3 acres.”
Profile Of A Big Farmer– A Rural Bourgeoisie
Gail Omvedt is spot on, once again, in her above referred report while diagnosing production relations in agriculture since independence where, unfortunately, several ‘Communist’ parties have erred. We quote, “The independence that was won in 1947 was under control of the bourgeois dominated Congress Party; and it was in a bourgeois manner and directed to the needs of capitalist development rather than for the sake of a thoroughgoing agrarian revolution that those in power set out to destroy the semi-feudal system that dominated in agriculture”. The complex reality and root cause of the ills pervading our agricultural sector cannot be explained in a better way. The then Existing feudal production relations in agriculture were dismantled by the bourgeoisie after state power got transferred to them in 1947, not in a revolutionary way but in subtle, compromising manner as it suited their class interest. One can only pity those ‘communist’ ideologues who failed to understand this phenomenon and still continue to fight ghost of feudalism in agriculture and stubbornly refuse to see the truth and aggravate the confusion. Kulaks and the ‘national bourgeoisie’ are their natural allies and will remain so till eternity!!
“Farmer” word is highly confusing, let us reiterate. It camouflages a real bully, casteist, patriarchal and extremely reactionary, an oppressive agent of state in the countryside-the rural bourgeoisie as a poor, destitute, hapless, helpless marginal, half clad, half fed, human Skelton known as Indian peasant. Reality is, however, otherwise. No one oppresses and exploits a worker more severely than the rural rich. Has anyone ever seen an agitation of farmers demanding strict implementation of labor laws? Who are the perpetrators of crimes on dalits more particularly Dalit women in the countryside? Who works as an agent of state machinery, the police, revenue department in the acts of coercion and oppression of the rural poor? It is rural bourgeoisie only. Be it police inspector of the local police station or a tehasildar, whenever they happen to visit a village for official work, they are hosted by the kulak in their kothi. Whosoever raises uncomfortable questions against them, raises voice against atrocities on the women or agitates for payment of wages, physical abuse; is first brought there ‘to teach him/her a lesson’. Even a feeble voice against exploitation is taken as offence, a ‘daring’ and is crushed then and there. As because the rural proletariat too owned land at one particular time, they too rear cattle. They are subjected to ruthless exploitation and humiliation on this score. A section of the ‘left’ which vehemently refuses to accept the bourgeois production relations in agriculture wrongly attributes this abrasive, dominating, bullying conduct of the rural bourgeoisie as feudal. As if bourgeois gentlemen are alien to atrocities!! Bourgeoisie have resorted to unspeakable atrocities and have subjected the workers to brutal exploitation and physical abuse before the industrial workers formed their unions and got organized. Same is the case with agricultural workers. Marginal farmers and rural proletariat have, first, to organize themselves against these kulaks only. Ironically, the rural bourgeoisie organizes and leads the poor marginal farmers and landless workers and they are made to stand as front line in every farmer agitation!! ‘Where will you work when farming will be destroyed by the government?’ This is how the exploited section of the rural masses are pushed along in these farmer movements. The small, marginal farmers and the rural proletariat should be fighting against kulak, the bully, perpetrator of all atrocities and a ruthless exploiter in the vast agricultural sector. The real class struggle is camouflaged by the exploiter himself who wages farmer movements in its own class interest. The exploited, the oppressed, the cheated, the suffering section of the rural masses are made to fight for the cause of their exploiter. Can there be a more painful irony than this?
Organize Rural Revolutionary Segment (RRS) To Oppose Agri Neo Liberalization Onslaught
Each step that Modi government takes teaches one more lesson of Marxism-Leninism to not only the vast ocean of hungry and destitute but also to the ‘safe and secure’ middle class. Those who claim to discharge this responsibility of awakening the exploited class have failed in their mission but the starved and hammered proletariat and semi-proletariat are learning this science of their true liberation, the hard way, putting their life on line, quite literally.
GST regime and demonetization finished small business, transferred that sizable section of business pie to the coffins of the monopoly capitalist sharks and these agricultural policy changes will do the same in countryside- agriculture sector. These 3 bills which have now become laws, will dispossess small and marginal farmers being 86% of the 80 crore farming community, of their land and will convert them into bonded labor of kulaks and monopoly business owned agri-business companies like Reliance Fresh, Adani Green, ITC, Patanjali, Tata Sampanna etc. This is a natural phenomenon of capitalist ‘development’ which is to be born uppermost in mind. We can make the suffering exploited masses learn this bitter reality by becoming their fellow soldiers in their fight and not by delivering lectures by sitting aside at a safe distance. This is the reason, this neo liberalization onslaught is to be resisted with full might by all well- meaning people all over the country unitedly as these changes will not only annihilate small-marginal farmers but also snatch whatever is left in the thaali of the 90% of the population. One cannot live without food. By corporatization of agriculture, basic food items, essential for survival like wheat, rice, maize, pulses, milk etc. will be subjected to the same corporate loot as any other items. We shall witness unprecedented price rise of life saving cereals and pulses and may have to witness dreaded famines of British Raj again as in 1930. It is not out of place to peep into our history here. Most of the capitalists of today in our country amassed money initially by hoarding food grains during the colonial rule in collision with the Britishers and then selling these cereals at skyrocketing prices during famines!!
Fighting against this neo liberalization onslaught in agriculture by becoming part of farmers’ movements led by the kulaks, however, will be getting into the same trap again and getting ditched one more time. There are three sections of the rural population who can genuinely thwart this attack. They are; A- landless agricultural workers-rural proletariat, B- small farmer, petty shop keepers, artisans and C- marginal farmers. Number of landless workers engaged in agricultural production increased from 10.67 crore in 2001 census to 14.43 crore in 2011 census. If we calculate at the same rate, number of rural proletariat is 19.51 crore now. As per the Hindu Business Line report, there are total 14.5 crore families engaged in agriculture. If we take 5 as average number of family members, total persons dependent on agriculture activity come to 72.5 crore. Number of small farmers (up to 5 acre of land) are 13.77 crore (19%) and marginal farmers (up to 2.5 acre) 48.57 crore (67%). The most significant fact, however, is that marginal farmers (up to 2.5 acre) alone account to 67% of the total farmers. Further data of extremely marginal farmers up to 1 acre, 2 acre is not available. About 1.15 crore is the number of other small shopkeepers and artisans that qualify to be with marginal farmers and landless laborers. The size of the Rural Revolutionary Segment (RRS), therefore, comes to 83 crore. There would be some overlapping here as landless laborers and marginal farmers keep moving to slums in cities to earn livelihood and keep coming to villages during harvesting season. They, together, constitute about 65% of the total population. They are a huge revolutionary energy. Answer to RSS is RRS. Farmers movements have so far been led by the kulaks and their agitations have always been to increase the MSP whereas this Revolutionary Rural Segment (RRS) are net buyers of agricultural produce. They stand to lose by any increase in MSP. That is, exactly, what has happened every time whenever MSP is raised. They will lose heavily if Swaminathan Commission Report is implemented as that recommends increasing MSP by 50%. Rich farmers have different reasons to be furious against the present bills. They are thrown into the furnace of market to compete with the giant corporate agri-companies. They want status quo as that suits their interest. On the other hand the RRS do not want present bills as these will hasten the process of their pauperization but also not want the status quo. They need to be organized as a class, not under kulaks but against the kulaks, under revolutionary organizations. Even if these 3 bills are withdrawn completely, they cannot survive on their tiny piece of land and that land too is also destined to slip away. They need to oppose the status quo along with the current bills. This very system of owning means of production in private hands also has to go lock, stock and barrel, once and for all. What we, actually, need today is the massive agricultural farms having lakhs of acres of land fully mechanized and modernized and owned collectively by the whole society where everyone will work not with outdated medieval means but by latest implements, tractors, harvesters and large irrigation facilities that will increase production manifold as it happened in Soviet Union after Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The moment, the kulaks come to know this agenda, they will change colors instantly and will turn into foes from friends. Kulaks know that none of their movements can earn any fruits without participation of large army of small and marginal peasants, the RRS. It is the RRS who have to outmaneuver the kulaks and raise their collective voice against anti- people agricultural bills and do away with capitalism. RRS have to cement their unity. They are too many in number to be defeated by anyone on this earth. No one can dare come in their way. They have to know the true colors of their ‘liberators’. They are competent to liberate not only themselves but the other poor of the country also. There is no other way. This is the only way forward. Prison of capitalist production relations has to be demolished. The cancer has to be rooted out, buried deeply as this has a nasty knack of reappearance. Let us remember what Lenin, the great leader of the proletariat, taught us.
Analyzing the Agrarian Question correctly, Lenin writes (Vol-XII, page 288): “Small production in agriculture is doomed to extinction and to an incredibly crushed, oppressed position under capitalism … Being dependent on big capital, and being backward compared with large-scale production in agriculture, small production can hold on only because of the desperately reduced consumption and laborious, arduous toil. The dispersion and waste of human labour, the worst forms of dependence of the producer, exhaustion of the strength of the peasant family, of peasant cattle and peasant land – this is what capitalism brings to the peasant everywhere.”
Originally published in The Truth: Platform for Radical Voices of The Working Class (Issue 6/ October ’20)