By Krishna Jha
It was four decades back when in United States, agriculture was corporatized, in the same way as in our country today. Situation has been not very different. It was a total structural change, as here the three farm laws profess. Added with it is the illusion of development. It was the same illusion that even led to recession in the world. The steps to corporatisation led to gross financial crisis. Basic essentials were absent. There were thousands dying and starvation became common in the US. The agenda was to divide the world to serve corporate led finance capital.
In United States, outcome was every two farms in three were no more there since out of six million farms, only two million remained. Farms were vanishing one by one, as corporatisation process was taking over.
Here under the threat of the farm laws, crisis is expected to deepen in this sector. The steps towards free market have dragged the rural economy into a vicious circle leading the pauperisation to a frightening level. The worst victims are the small farmers, who play a significant role in the agrarian production. At the country wide level, 70 percent (62.85) of the agricultural households belong to the marginalised sections as the NSS data revealed, yet their share in the landholding is only 28 percent.
According to reports, 15.41 million agricultural households are marginalised and they comprise 23 percent of total households in the entire sector. Small and marginalised households together form 86 per cent of the total households. These sections, though living on the edge, make major contribution towards the GDP growth. According to claims of the government, GDP has registered a growth of 0.4 percent, which is in fact no growth at all, yet, it has achieved this level only with the contribution of agrarian sector.
The most tragic fact is that the worst victim of the corporatisation, or the epochal change as it is called, based on new farm laws would be the farmers themselves. The free market system claims to bring freedom, but it is simply stepping into another and more severe form of exploitation. The demand for corporatization of agricultural market is not new, World Bank and IMF had been at it for long but the then governments could not be pressurised. Now the three farm laws would take away the farmers hold over the food production and the entire sector would be taken over by the corporates, running large scale production units with huge capital, command and control over resources and thus generating massive surplus, expanding capital further. Protection of land quality and meeting the hunger issue would be only pushed to the back seat.
The initiative to take the three farm laws to the grounds has ignited an anger among the farmers that cannot be quenched unless the laws are repealed. The kisandharna on Delhi Border has charged the entire country especially in the face of three agrarian laws. It has provided an opening to protest against every act of injustice. In fact the masses are pushed to the brink. All their achievements have been nullified and replaced by new laws, that have nothing human in them. First it was the land acquisition of the farmers to serve the corporate, and then came the labour code, throwing away all the gains, like minimum wages, eight hour work, health facilities, and then the three farm laws, that blatantly serves the corporate sector. To create a proper context, there were the other measures like new education policy, containing freedom of expression, new media rules, the number keeps growing.
The farmers have completed hundred days of protest, yet have declared that nothing was going to stop them, even the delay in harvesting, and the threat of looming hunger as well as worsening economic conditions. At the borders of the capital, it is a historic sight. Thousands of farmers have created a world of their own at the borders where they had braved the bone chilling cold and now are gearing up for the scorching heat. It is a rare example of unity where rich and poor, young and old, believing in divergent ideologies are together. They have united to fight against a common challenge to the entire socio-economic formation.
On completion of hundred days of continued struggle, beginning around November 26, 2020, the long stretched dharna at the Singhu, Tikri and Shahjehanpur borders between Haryana and Delhi remain an inspiration for the present as well as future, despite the barriers that divide.
The leaders are firm and clear, and also democratic. One of them while responding to a query about their movement and its future, said, “We have not been able to arrive at any substantive plan when it comes to taking the agitation forward. We are holding mahapanchayats, mobilising support, blocking roads, but the Centre doesnot seem to care. We are repeating what we have already done and we don’t have a plan right now. This, however, does not mean that we will not come up with a strategy soon.”
The most striking feature of the Protest is its determination that gives strength even in extremely adverse conditions. What is more that it is not only the farmers, but almost all sections are represented here. The all pervading unity of the stake holders in the country’s farm sector has got its historic significance. (IPA Service)