India News South Asia

India: Maharashtra Kisan Long March-A Turning Point!

By Akhar Bandyopadhy, India

The Kisan (peasants) Long March begun from Nashik on Wednesday 07th March 2018, and has continued up to Mumbai till 11th March 2018, covering a total distance of 180 km on their feet, despite the scorching heat all around. The march has been organized by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS)/ Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha (ABKS), the farmers’ wing of the CPI(M). The procession, consisting of more than 50,000 farmers, reached Mumbai and also surrounded the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on 12th March 2018, for getting the approval of the government with regard to the fulfilment of their demands.

Some of their demands to the Maharashtrian government are as follows:

  • A complete waiver of loans
  • Fixed and remunerative price for the Agricultural produce of the farmers
  • Transfer of forest lands to the tillers
  • The state government should refrain from the forceful acquisition of farmlands in the name of its development projects
  • Implementation of the Swaminathan Commission (2004-2006)’s report recommendations
  • Compensation of a sum total of Indian Rupees 40,000 per acre to be paid to the farmers affected by poor rainfall, hailstorms and pink bollworm infection

A large number of women and elderly people have actively participated in this movement. Every mainstream political party including the CPI, Congress, AAP and even Shiv Sena have extended their support to the farmers.

The farmers have been compelled to start this march as a result of the callous attitude of the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra BJP government towards the farmers’ distressful condition.

Farmers’ suicides in India, as per as official records, have increased in the last few years to an unimaginable height.

Since 2013-14, over 12,000 cases of farmer suicides per year have been observed in the country, with the BJP-led governments, including Maharashtra topping the list. By 2016, farmers suicides have risen by 40% under the Modi-regime.

The root cause of these suicides is the indebtedness with which the farmers are suffering all over India. The indebtedness is due to the huge amount of loans taken by the farmers to maintain their livelihood in the era of the triumph of the multinational companies. Through the Green Revolution of India in the 1960s-1970s, Indian agriculture has been pulled down into a catastrophic condition. The farmers have been provided with very expensive chemical fertilizers, pesticides and (High-yielding variety) seeds by the multinational companies with the promise of “better productivity”, but at the expense of their lands’ infertility. For buying these means of production for agriculture, the farmers have been compelled to accept subservience to the capitalist form of agriculture. This has led to the farmers’ distress and finally suicides.

The continuous neglect of the Central and State Governments regarding the issue of the farmers is reflected clearly in its policies and the budget. In the 2018 budget, any step or provision with regard to the debt relief of the farmers is missing. Though the budget has promised to give Minimum Support Price (MSP) to the farmers, is yet to be implemented! Pensions for the farmers is another case where the BJP-led governments all-over India are showing little concern. Repeated promises of debt-relief have not been fulfilled by the BJP ruling class, while the capitalist big bosses are being relieved of paying back their large amount of loans by the BJP ruling class itself! In the name of its’ oppressive policies and developmental projects like Bullet Train and Rive Linking Scheme, it has procured means for destroying the agricultural economy.

The Maharashtrian farmers have been given the promise in writing that “most” of their demands will be fulfilled by the Maharashtrian Government on 12th March 2018, after a meeting between a delegation of farmers and the state’s officials took place in the afternoon. The agitation has now been called-off and this is being considered as a victory. True indeed, such sense of unity in struggle shown by the farmers has literally shaken the fascist ruling class of the country and left them in a state of fear. Yet, until this ‘promise’ of the BJP-government gets implemented in the Maharashtrian state, the farmers must continue their fight. They must also be aware of the Swaminathan Commission’s reports, forming a part of their demands. Paradoxically enough, M. S. Swaminathan is responsible for introducing capitalist agriculture in India through the Green Revolution, which is the root cause of farmers’ distress today! The effects of climate change on agriculture must be addressed.

The ultimate solution to the deprivation of farmers lies in Socialism!
It is the capitalist mode of agriculture, which is the root problem…!
No compensations or empty promises of the government should fool the farmers…!
This is a fight to change the system…!
The fight shall continue…!

Leave a Comment