peoples march

from the people against injustice in the society

Archive for January 27th, 2010

Farm suicides: a 12-year saga

Posted by ajadhind on January 27, 2010

The loan waiver year of 2008 saw 16,196 farm suicides in the country, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. Compared to 2007, that’s a fall of just 436. As economist Professor K. Nagaraj who has worked in-depth on farm suicide data says, “the numbers leave little room for comfort and none at all for self-congratulation.” There were no major changes in the trend that set in from the late 1990s and worsened after 2002. The dismal truth is that very high numbers of farm suicides still occur within a fast decreasing farm population.

Between just the Census of 1991 and that of 2001, nearly 8 million cultivators quit farming. A year from now, the 2011 Census will tell us how many more quit in this decade. It is not likely to be less. It could even dwarf that 8 million figure as the exodus from farming probably intensified after 2001. The State-wise farm suicide ratios — number of farmers committing suicide per 100,000 farmers — are still pegged on the outdated 2001 figures. So the 2011 Census, with more authentic counts of how many farmers there really are, might provide an unhappy update on what is going on.

Focussing on farm suicides as a share of total suicides in India misleads. That way, it’s “aha! the percentage is coming down.” That’s silly. For one thing, the total number of suicides (all groups, not just farmers) is increasing — in a growing population. Farm suicides are rising within a declining farm population. Two, an all-India picture disguises the intensity. The devastation lies in the Big 5 States (Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh). These account for two-thirds of all farm suicides during 2003-08. Take just the Big 5 — their percentage of all farm suicides has gone up. Worse, even their percentage of total all-India suicides (all categories) has risen. Poor States like Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are doing very badly for some years now.

In the period 1997-2002, farm suicides in the Big 5 States accounted for roughly one out of every 12 of all suicides in the country. In 2003-08, they accounted for nearly one out of every 10.

The NCRB now has farm suicide data for 12 years. Actually, farm data appear in its records from 1995 onwards, but some States failed to report for the first two years. Hence 1997, from when all States are reporting their farm suicide data, is a more reliable base year. The NCRB has also made access much easier by placing all past years of “Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India” reports on its website.

The 12-year period allows us to compare farm suicide numbers for 1997-2002, with how they turned out in the next 6-year period of 2003-2008. All 12 years were pretty bad, but the latter six were decidedly worse.

Reading a ‘trend’ into a single year’s dip or rise is misleading. Better to look at 3-year or 6-year periods within 1997-2008. For instance, Maharashtra saw a decline in farm suicide numbers in 2005, but the very next year proved to be its worst ever. Since 2006, the State has been the focus of many initiatives. Manmohan Singh’s visit to Vidharbha that year brought the “Prime Minister’s Relief Package” of Rs.3,750 crore for six crisis-ridden districts of the region. This came atop Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s Rs.1,075 crore “CM’s relief package.” Then followed the nearly Rs.9,000 crore that was Maharashtra’s share of the Rs.70,000-crore Central loan waiver for farmers. To which the State government added Rs.6,200 crore for those farmers not covered by the waiver. The State added Rs.500 crore for a one-time settlement (OTS) for poor farmers who had been excluded from the waiver altogether because they owned over five acres of land.

In all, the amounts committed to fighting the agrarian crisis in Maharashtra exceeded Rs. 20,000 crore across 2006, 2007 and 2008. (And that’s not counting huge handouts to the sugar barons.) Yet, that proved to be the worst three-year period ever for any State at any time since the recording of farm data began. In 2006-08, Maharashtra saw 12, 493 farm suicides. That is nearly 600 more than the previous worst of 2002-2005 and 85 per cent higher than the 6,745 suicides recorded in the three-year period of 1997-1999. The same government was in power, incidentally, in the worst six years. Besides, these higher numbers are emerging within a shrinking farm population. By 2001, 42 per cent of Maharashtra’s population was already urban. Its farmer base has certainly not grown.

So was the loan waiver useless? The idea of a waiver was not a bad thing. And it was right to intervene. More that the specific actions were misguided and bungled. Yet it could also be argued that but for the relief the waiver brought to some farmers at least, the suicide numbers of 2008 could have been a lot worse. The waiver was a welcome step for farmers, but its architecture was flawed. A point strongly made in this journal (Oh! What a lovely waiver, March 10, 2008). It dealt only with bank credit and ignored moneylender debt. So only those farmers with access to institutional credit would benefit. Tenant farmers in Andhra Pradesh and poor farmers in Vidharbha and elsewhere get their loans mainly from moneylenders. So, in fact, farmers in Kerala, where everyone has a bank account, were more likely to gain. (Kerala was also the one State to address the issue of moneylender debt.)

The 2008 waiver also excluded those holding over five acres, making no distinction between irrigated and unirrigated land. This devastated many struggling farmers with eight or 10 acres of poor, dry land. On the other hand, West Bengal’s farmers, giant numbers of small holders below the 5-acre limit, stood to gain far more.

Every suicide has a multiplicity of causes. But when you have nearly 200,000 of them, it makes sense to seek broad common factors within that group. Within those reasons. As Dr. Nagaraj has repeatedly pointed out, the suicides appear concentrated in regions of high commercialisation of agriculture and very high peasant debt. Cash crop farmers seemed far more vulnerable to suicide than those growing food crops. Yet the basic underlying causes of the crisis remained untouched. The predatory commercialisation of the countryside; a massive decline in investment in agriculture; the withdrawal of bank credit at a time of soaring input prices; the crash in farm incomes combined with an explosion of cultivation costs; the shifting of millions from food crop to cash crop cultivation with all its risks; the corporate hijack of every major sector of agriculture including, and especially, seed; growing water stress and moves towards privatisation of that resource. The government was trying to beat the crisis — leaving in place all its causes — with a one-off waiver.

In late 2007, The Hindu carried (Nov. 12-15) the sorry result emerging from Dr. Nagaraj’s study of NCRB data: that nearly 1.5 lakh peasants had ended their lives in despair between 1997 and 2005. Just days later, Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar confirmed those figures in Parliament (Rajya Sabha Starred Question No. 238, Nov. 30, 2007) citing the same NCRB data. It’s tragic that 27 months later, the paper had to run a headline saying that the number had climbed to nearly 2 lakh. The crisis is very much with us. Mocking its victims, heckling its critics. And cosmetic changes won’t make it go away.

Posted in IN NEWS | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Campaign Wake Europe up to crimes of Indian State

Posted by ajadhind on January 27, 2010

Party of the Committees to Support Resistance – for Communism (CARC) – Italy

Via Tanaro, 7 – 20128 Milano – Tel/Fax 02.26306454

e-mail: resistenza@carc.it – website: www.carc.it

National Direction – International Relations Department

Tel. +39 0226306454 – e-mail: carc.ri@libero.it

25/01/2010

To Democracy and Class Struggle

And, for their information, to the other organizations and parties signatories of the campaign Wake Europe up to crimes of Indian State with Spring Thunder Europe 2010:

Maoist Communist Party of France,

(new)Italian Communist Party,

CARC Party (Italy),

Serve The People (Norway),

Co-ordination Committee of Revolutionary Communists of Britain,

Revolutionary Praxis – Britain.

WPRM Britain

And to all concerned parties and organizations

Dear comrades,

we congratulate you on launching the campaign Wake Europe up to crimes of Indian State with Spring Thunder Europe 2010. We invite other parties and organizations to join this campaign.

We propose the signatories constitute an International Coordination for promoting and spreading the campaign. We are thinking of something like the coordination promoting the campaign BDS (Boycotting-Disinvestment-Sanctions) against Israel (http://www.bds-info.ch), or the one here in Italy promoting the campaign for mobilize immigrants and autochthonous on 1st March “A day without immigrants: 24 hours without us” (http://primomarzo2010.blogspot.cm.

We propose the International Coordination drafts a Call that every signatory will wide spread on international level and that everyone will translate and wide spread distribute in its own country. This Call should be addressed to Communists, vanguard workers, progressive and democratic people. It should shortly but effectively indicate 1. the objectives of the campaign, 2. the reasons why democratic and progressive people and Communists all over the world must demonstrate against the crimes of Indian Union government and against the war (the operation Green Hunt) it launched. We have to proclaim international solidarity with the targets of the criminal war launched by Indian Union government: the tribals (the Adivasis) and the Maoists. We have to indicate some main instruments of the campaign (conferences, local committees, articles and reports on newspapers, television, radio, Internet, initiatives as films, exhibitions, demonstrations, sit-in, etc.).

According to us, in this call we must describe the conditions of misery to which Indian Union government and British imperialism before it reduced Adivasis and backwardness and oppression they suffer more than 60 years after Indian Union independence on 1947, the expulsion of Adivasis from their territories the Indian Union and the federate State gave to the multinationals (nature, size and duration of ongoing operation, that is the source of Adivasis’ resistance, supported and promoted by Maoists), the destruction of (how many?) square kilometers of forest and following deterioration of the planet, the other wars Indian Union government is already waging for years in North Western and North Eastern India, US imperialists and Israeli Zionists’ role in Indian Union government’s criminal deeds, the merits of Maoists, already active in whole territory of Indian Union, who gave a progressive and effective direction to Adivasis’ resistance, etc. All these issues must be dealt synthetically but effectively in the Call.

We propose every one of the signatories indicate to the others 1. the instruments he has for the campaign (interviews, films, exhibitions, websites, blogs, etc.) and maybe the others can use, 2. the international contacts by which he thinks to extend the campaign, 3. the national initiatives (whom to contact for each organism, whom to mobilize, some public initiative we already are planning, etc.) he is going to promote (someway a first draft of campaign planning).

The CARC Party will publish an article on the issue on its monthly paper Resistenza. It is getting in touch with leaders of the movement defending human, civil and political rights in India and journalists in Italy for publishing interviews on Italian national newspapers.

It invites parties and organizations of the International Communist Movement to join the campaign. Particularly we invite to join it MLPD and KOE, which representatives participated in the meeting we held on the end of November 2007 in London, where many exponents of the international communist movement defined the lines of development of the campaign that there your organization Democracy and Class Struggle launched.

It proposes the coordination with the many initiatives already developing about the matter on European level. Firstly, we propose to contact ILPS that already launched an initiative of protest at La Hague, and plan to organize another one on March.

It proposes to invite an exponent of the movement of defense of human, political and civil rights of Indian people for a tour in many European nations.

It plans to deal with the matter in the international aggregations it participates in.

It plans to organize initiatives in coordination with other forces concerned or already operating here in Italy. First of all, the Proletarian Solidarity Association participates in the initiatives planned or to be planned, as it is particularly interested in the matter of repression and of political prisoners, as the repressive action of the Indian State is one of the cruelest and most barbaric of the whole world.

We also inform that the Anti-Imperialist Camp, whose Italian section we are in touch with, will send a delegation in India in the first days of February, as in next summer it plans to organize an intervention that gathers many people from our countries and sends them to India for some weeks in the areas the Indian Union government wants to attack.

This is a first draft of work plan s regards our Party on national and international level. We shall be glad to know as soon as possible what you think about our proposals.

With comradely greetings,

Paolo Babini

CARC Party – International Relations Department

Posted in FRANCE, ITALY, solidarity | Leave a Comment »

Maoist information Bulletins.

Posted by ajadhind on January 27, 2010

MIB-10

MIB-11

MIB-12

MIB-13

Posted in MIB, NAXALISM | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

 
%d bloggers like this: