NEW AGRICULTURAL LAWS, WTO AND ALLIANCE OF INDIAN-FOREIGN CORPS
A UNIQUE PEASANT MOVEMENT THAT HAS BECOME JANANDLOAN
An enormous peasant movement has sprung up across India against the new agricultural laws, which were recently enacted by the Modi government. The peasant movement that started from Punjab has reached the door steps of New Delhi the main power centre of Indian state and encircled it from all the borders. Hence this peasant movement can rightly be termed as ‘Delhi Kisan Andolan’. The present peasant movement is the largest and most widespread agitation in the history of India.
There have been well-known peasant movements like Telangana, “Pagari Sambhal Jatta” and Pepsu Peasant Movements in India but the present ‘Delhi Peasant Movement’ is unique from the previous movements and has become a ‘janandolàn’ (mass movement) instead of a peasant movement. This movement has embraced villages, cities, castes, religions, communities, working classes, students, youth, artists, intellectuals, and people from all walks of life. The significance of this movement lies in the fact that people have started taking the ‘Delhi Kisan Andolan’ as a belief (aastha). As the Modi government is deliberately ignoring the genuine demands of the farmers, it is spreading across the country.
NOT A MOVEMENT OF PUNJAB ALONE
First, the Modi government called it the Movement of Punjab farmers. When farmers from Haryana extended their support and whole-heartedly joined hands with their brethren from Punjab, he mutely conceded it as concerning Haryana also. He also tried to limit it to the green revolution areas of Punjab, Haryana, western uttar Pradesh, and Uttrakhand. But as the movements spread to other areas of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Karnataka, then he tried to play it down as handiwork of opposition parties.
Usually people get tired of long drawn movements, but the Delhi Kisan Adolan is unique in itself. This peasant movement has shaken the BJP government and its allies. As time goes on, support for the peasant movement is growing across the country. A majority of the Delhi population is coming out in support of this peasant movement, instead of feeling harassed.
TIMING OF NEW LAWS RAISE CONCERNS
In fact, in which manner these three new farm laws have been brought by the Modi government all of sudden during a pandemic, it has raised serious concerns in the minds of people. It is seen as a big blow to destroy the rural economy and the masses dependent on it. These new agricultural laws are seen as a death warrant for the rural sector, especially.
These laws are aimed at dismantling Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) and policy of ensuring minimum support prices for crops. The peasant movement against the new farm laws has garnered huge support at the national and international level. This peasant movement has become the largest movement in Indian history which has pushed the BJP government in a defensive mode.
In this way, the BJP has been politically exposed in India and international levels and its rank and file in Punjab and Haryana are completely in disarray. The BJP has lost its ground and the farmers’ organizations will not allow the BJP to gain a foothold amongst the masses of Punjab and its adjoining states. The BJP is finding it in a difficult situation to justify the three agriculture laws.
FARMERS MOVEMENT RECEIVES SUPPORT FROM ALL QUARTERS
The farmer movement has won a great moral victory due to support and sympathy it received from all the quarters. That is why the BJP government is forced to make proposals for amendments. But the farmers’ organizations are opposing these laws tooth and nail and never accept any modifications until these are repealed. Instead of getting intimidated, they are gearing up the agitation with enthusiasm, vigour and courage.
They do not want this historical unity of the peasants from all states to go in vain. The present stage of the peasant movement has reached a critical juncture. The peasant leaders are creatively adapting to the ever-changing circumstances and are fighting as strong and united as a rock. And they will not compromise beyond repealing the three agricultural laws. The Modi government seems unyielding to repeal these acts because it is backed by Indian big business, foreign corporations and the World Trade Organization. The 13th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which was held in Bali, Indonesia in 2017, had directed the Government of India to bring new agricultural laws.
Ironically, It was chaired by Shri Kamal Nath, the then commerce minister in the UPA government headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh. Its main agendas were discontinuation of government procurement of agricultural crops for food security, dismantling policy of minimum support prices and subsidies to crops. The main agenda of the Bali meeting was: the Trade Facilitation Treaty, which meant the abolition of tariffs and non-tariff regimes, development of infrastructure for import and export of goods and services and allow free competition in the world. The agenda was accepted by the then UPA government, led by the Indian National Congress.
Therefore, both the BJP and INC are sailing the same boat of Liberalization, privatization and globalization. But the Manmohan Singh government was under immense pressure from its allies at that time. Therefore it had to demand a permanent solution to the Food Security Act to ensure safe storage of food grains, provide minimum support prices for farmers and subsidies as well as continuation of the public distribution system. In the Bali meeting, the United States and other European imperialist powers succeeded to insert a “peace clause” in the resolutions regarding Indian market, but allowed India to provide MSP, continue subsidies and subsidized food grains to the poor population up to December 2017.
10 PC SUBSIDY CAN BE GIVEN ON VALUE OF AGRICULTURAL GDP, WTO
According to the World Trade Organization, a maximum of 10 per cent subsidy can be given on the value of agricultural GDP. It is also stipulated that subsidies should not exceed 10 per cent of the average prices of agricultural products in the three years of 1986-1988. The World Trade Organization mandated that the difference between the MSP of a country’s crops should not exceed 10 percent over the prevailing prices in the world market. India is providing subsidies around ten per cent of the world market prices. Developed countries had already increased their subsidies in their countries before 1986-1988 as they knew before the formation of the WTO.
When subsequent WTO rules were enacted, the percentage of subsidies could not exceed the subsidies given between 1986 and 1988. But the developed countries give huge subsidies to their agricultural sector as compared to third world countries. Two-thirds of India’s population is still dependent on agriculture. The government aims to bring 67 per cent of the population under the Food Security Act. Therefore, the Government of India has to ensure food stocks to feed its staved population.
As a result of WTO policies, the farmers’ crisis is deepening in India and millions of farmers are forced to commit suicides, failing to repay debt to moneylenders in India. This is a very grave situation and if minimum food security is to be ensured for the vast population of India, then the Indian government has no option other than to provide MSPs and subsidies and maintain a public distribution system. Failure to do so could lead to the greater unrest among the farmers and toiling but half starved people.
With the commencement of the Doha Round of World Trade Dialogue, the imperialist countries are turning a blind eye to the crisis in the Third World agricultural sector and shifting their own burden onto the shoulders of Third World countries. . The imperialist countries are aware of the compulsions of the Indian state that it has to buy the farm commodities, pay the MSP and subsidize foodstuffs to alleviate the current crisis. Therefore, after the start of the Doha Round, the imperialist countries resorted to impose the ‘Trade Facilitation Agreement’ on India and dictating it to stop public procurement of crops. They are pushing for the dismantling of government agencies like FCI. They want privatization of trade of food grains, contract farming for private players, and control on agricultural universities, privatization of research and promotion of agribusiness.
EXPERTS’ PROPOSALS INCLUDED IN NEW FARM LAWS
The Government of India has already included proposals made by various committees, under the guidance of Shanta Kumar, Ramesh Chand, SS Johal, SC Gupta etc. But these commissions and committees, keeping in view the real economic crisis of Indian farmers, could not make recommendations as per the wishes of the regime and the corporate houses of India. After December 31, 2017, India has been under constant pressure from imperialist countries to implement WTO conditions. India needs to make stocks of 55 million tons of food grains for food security, but according to WTO norms, she can store only 10 percent of its total agricultural output. In this way, the agricultural products entering the Indian market will be handed over to local and foreign corporations.
With the exception of Punjab and Haryana paddy and wheat crops, 94 per cent of the country’s crops are already in the hands of private traders. In this way, the farmers of India are suffering the impact of the plunder. The three existing agricultural laws have been brought by the Modi government to serve domestic and foreign corporations as per the instructions of the Imperial countries and World Trade Organization.
Ever since the Indian ruling classes adopted neoliberalism in 1991, the Congress’s UPA and the BJP’s NDA governments have repeatedly tried to pass land acquisition laws to acquire farmers land for contract farming. The imperialist capitalist countries are constantly changing their policies to intensify their plunder. In the past, the imperialist countries plundered the agricultural sector by monopolizing the cost of farming and making super profits. The policy of monopolizing and amending essential commodity laws is being adopted to push the agricultural economy into economic slavery and increase its looting. For this purpose three agriculture laws have been introduced by the Modi government. These three agriculture laws are so injurious for the farmers that they have deprived the farmers of sleep and put them in real danger of losing their land.
States like Punjab and Haryana which have a large network of government markets will be more affected by these laws and they need to struggle to maintain government markets and minimum support prices. In those states where this system of APMC does not exist, they will have to fight for its realisation. In India, a huge platform of coordination committees has been set up to take the struggle against the three farm laws to new heights and this platform needs to be maintained and strengthened.