12
Dec

Farmers Protest: Flank Attack

   Posted by: aman   in Other

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Toll 720

Flank Attack

Yesterday we saw the farmers return home triumphant after quelling the front attack on them through the three Farm Laws. The farmers return to the comfort and familiarity of their home and hearth, their families, their familiar beds and bathrooms. Another winter has set in, it is high time the Bebe and Bapus, the grandparents, feel secure and safe.

Yet, what do the farmers return to?

The Farm Laws were a spin on the already depressed conditions of agriculture in the country. Especially ?in the erstwhile food bowl of India – the north India states: Panjab, Haryana, West Uttar Pradesh, to some extent Uttrakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The depression in this region is a result of government ignoring the agrarian sector for the last 50 years in its policies. The depression in rest of the country if from governments never really focussing on the agrarian systems, in spite of the demands rising, votes being manipulated.

Urban middle-class consumers are so cut off from the modes of production of all that is essential that they keep paying through their nose yet do not raise their head in dissent. The farmers protest pushed the government to withdraw laws but did not pull the urban middle-class to the protest sites.

When the laws were repealed, I wondered about the heavy investments the Adani and Ambani groups had already made in storage and retail. Farmers knew the fancy term ‘free market’ basically means a duopoly. I wondered what did the government do to appease these corporates?
As with everything, one needs to pull back and see the pattern. It is clear:

- Ambani is now attacking the local kirana – grocery – stores and salesmen, ejecting them out of the $700 billion retail sector business. In the June quarter of this year, JioMart signed up 56,000 kirana stores across 30 cities to pilot this direct-sale system. I hope this move galvanises the middle-class to oppose it. At least 4 lakh salesmen are already up in arms.

- We know how the government has been centralising the State Bank of India over the last few years. While banks routinely enter agreements with Non Banking Finance Companies, now SBI has entered an agreement with the Adani Group to issue farm-related loans. The Adani Group will be the disburser of the loans and a brutal recovery agent.

The reason the agrarian sector needs loans is because there isn’t enough money to go around in it. But what will the Adani group do? Fix the terms and conditions of the loans, push the farmers and labour to default. Adani recovery agents will auction off the lands of the defaulters to Adani and other corporate owners. The point is: corporates continue to eye that famers saved from them in this protest. The battle has now moved from the front to the flanks and the rear.

The message is clear: unless we infuse funds in rural economy, the majority of this country will keep plunging into poverty. Food, as a commodity, is vital to the nation, but corporates have ways of importing what is needed, giving kickbacks to the government, while farmers languish. Farmers and labour commit suicide – 4 lakh in the last two decades.

That is why, even more so now, though farmers are taking a much deserved hiatus, it is their compulsion to push for Minimum Support Price on 23 crops across the nation as a mechanism to bring money into the agrarian sector.

Let us see what the committee on MSP decides and how Samyukt Kisan Morcha responds on January 15th. Be ready, as long as there is corporate greed and a pliant government, the battles do not cease.

Signing off /-

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