Monday, July 29, 2013

All India Kisan Sabha 33rd National Conference

The 33rd national conference of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) was held in Cuddalore, Tamilnadu, from 24th to 27th July. with a stirring call to the peasantry of the country to unitedly fight back the process of corporatisation of agriculture deliberately unleashed by the UPA government. It also pledged to strive to build a powerful united kisan movement against the anti-farmer neo-liberal policies of the government.

The 33rd conference proceedings began at Comrade Harksihan Singh Surjeet Nagar with the ceremony of handing over of Red flag and memorial torches brought from different parts of Tamilnadu. The AIKS Red flag, brought from Thenpari in Thanjavur district where the first unit of Kisan Sabha was formed in the state, was handed over to AIKS general secretary K Varadharajan by AIKS state leader G Veeraiayan. The Venmani martyrs memorial torch commemorating the martyrdom of 44 dalit agricultural labourers torched to death by landlords in Kilvenmani village in 1968, was handed over to leader of opposition in Bengal assembly Dr Surjya Kanta Mishra by Kisan leader and CPI(M) MLA R Ramamurthy. Similarly, other torches were handed over to AIKS leaders Bajuban Reyang, E P Jayarajan and Noorul Huda.

Later, veteran Marxist leader and freedom fighter N Sankaraiah, who worked as president and general secretary of the AIKS in the past, hoisted the AIKS flag amidst shouts of 'Veera Vanakkam! Veera Vanakkam!' (Red Salute, Red Salute!) by delegates and volunteers. With Safdar Hashmi troupe rendering revolutionary songs, the delegates marched past the martyrs column paying homage to the countless martyr comrades from the past and the present. The backdrop of the stage in the conference hall – rechristened  as Venmani Martyrs Hall – was a tribute to the glorious struggles of peasants and agricultural workers in 1940 in East Thanjavur. The hut in which the martyrs were burnt by the landlords was recreated with paintings depicting the flames.

Delivering his presidential address, AIKS president S Ramachandran Pillai said the free market policies being implemented for nearly three decades have increased the pace of disappearance of the peasant agriculture while establishing the domination of large-scale agri-business corporations. Landlessness is growing at a faster pace as can be seen from the following figure. The percentage of landless households in the rural areas in 1992 was 22 per cent while today it has reached 41 per cent. He charged that the central government policies are deliberately aimed at making agriculture unviable so that the small peasants sell their lands and thus facilitate corporatisation of agriculture.

In this context he cited how the costs of all agricultural inputs have spiralled out of control, especially seeds which are now under the total control of profit-hungry private companies. The government's bad intention is made further clear by its  stout refusal to increase the minimum support price as suggested by Dr M S Swaminathan Commission. Coupled with this is the free entry of highly subsidised agri imports due to various free trade agreements the Indian government is entering into.

Due to such policies, the peasants, agricultural workers and the commonpeople of the country are experiencing the adverse impacts. Over 3 lakh farmes have committed suicide and they are still continuing with two peasants resorting to this step in every one hour. There is growing unemployment and MNREGA has failed to address this problem. The number of hungry is increasing and as per Global Hunger Index prepared by the World Bank, India stands at a dismal 67th rank out of 79 countries. Our position in terms of underweight children is much worse – 128th rank out of 129 with Timor Leste alone behind us! Pillai traced such a dire situation to the deliberate choice of policies by the UPA-II government.

Allowing FDI into retail sector would adversely affect the interests of small and medium producers, consumers and traders. It will, he said, also affect our food security due to changes in cropping pattern, which will be dictated by the MNCs. Manmohan Singh government's talk of second green revolution is nothing but unbridled promotion of corporatisation of agriculture by such measures. In such a scenario, the AIKS calls for greater unity among the Left peasant and agricultural workers organisations to fight for alternative policies for agricultural development. Such policies would be centred around the interests of agricultural workers and poor and middle peasants who constitute the overwhelming majority among the peasantry. Pillai said AIKS will also rally other democratic peasant organisations in this struggle even as it continues to build united struggles with the working class and other toiling masses.

AIKS general secretary Atul Kumar Anjan in his fraternal speech said that unless agriculture sector is put in order the entire economy of the country will not recover from the crisis it is experiencing. Despite such a cruciality of the sector, the UPA-II government is bent on pushing it into greater crisis. He condemned the government's refusal to discuss the recommendations of Dr M S Swaminathan Commission although they were submitted in 2006. He reciprocated the need for joint, united struggles of kisans like the ones being waged by the working class. Only through such united movements can the scenario in rual India be changed, he felt.

N Sankaraiah in his brief speech gave a call to reject both Congress and BJP which pursue similar policies and project an alternative based on struggles around people's issues. Praising the comrades of Bengal for the heroic battle they are waging against the monstruous attacks by Trinamool Congress goons, Sankaraiah said one way of supporting Bengal comrades is by expanding the Party in other parts of the country.

AIKS joint secretary N K Shukla placed the condolence resolution in which tributes were paid to Jyoti Basu, Samar Mukherjee, M K Pandhe, Ramnarayan Goswami, N Varadarajan as also to scores of comrades martyred in Bengal.

Reception Committee president K Balakrishna delivered welcome address. A Resolution moved by AIKS joint secretary Vijoo Krishnan opposing government's decision to allow FDI into agriculture was unanimously adopted by the conference.

  Com. Amra Ram          Com. Hannan Molla      Com. Krishna Prasad
Kisan Sabha through resolutiondemanded at least 200 days of work per year to rural people under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) and a wage of Rs 300 per day.

".. AIKS demands the provision of at least 200 days of work per adult worker for every rural household at a wage of not less than Rs 300 per day through the MNREGS," one of the six resolutions passed at its four-day all India conference .

It also demanded that the scheme be extended to urban areas suitably. "This conference also calls upon all its units to take up problems related to MNREGA implementation and organise workers against efforts to dilute its provisions."

The conference also pressed for a "meaningful debate" in the Parliament on the proposed Food Security Bill and necessary amendments to address various concerns.

It urged that the system of universal PDS be put in place and entitlements restored to seven kg per capita per month, with a minimum of 35 kg per household per month.

Another resolution expressed concerns at the non implementation of the Forest Rights Act in most states in the country and sought remedial action.

"All the land that is in the possession of and being actually cultivated by Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers be vested in their names."

Other resolutions resisted corporatisation of agriculture and to protect peasantry, demanded substantial increase in public investment in agriculture, expansion and strengthening of extension and research services and prompt procurement at remunerative prices. 

The 33rd all India conference of AIKS came to a successful conclusion with the unanimous election of new leadership. Kisan leader from Rajasthan and veteran of many successful farmer struggles, Amra Ram, has been elected as the new President of All India Kisan Sabha by the 33rd conference. Senior leader Hannan Mollah has been elected as new General Secretary by the newly elected 146 members of All India Kisan Coucil (AIKC) at their first meeting.  The conference elected the following new vice-presidents – S.Ramachandran Pillai, K.Varadha Rajan, Madan Ghosh, Malla Reddy, Abdul Rezzack Mollah and K. Balakrishnan; seven joint secretaries and one finance secretary Com. P Krishna Prasad. The meeting also elected 62 Central Kisan Committee (CKC) members and 14 office bearers.

As part of concluding ceremony, a huge farmers rally of around 2 lakh people as carried out. The public meeting was held at Manjakuppam grounds and was inaugurated by Com. Manik Sarkar, Tripura CM.  

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