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(en) France, UCL AL #316 = International, India: the peasantry besieges power (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Mon, 7 Jun 2021 08:59:59 +0300

A mobilization, little relayed in the West, against the liberalization of agriculture broke historical records of participation, with a seat in the capital Delhi, and raised new political consciousness among the Indian peasantry. ---- One might have thought that the 200 million strikers of February 2019 were historically incomparable[1]. Then in February 2020, 250 million people took to the streets to protest against the racist "Hinduism" laws of the BJP (ruling party, populist right)[2]. ---- But since September 2020, with the "threeagricultural decrees", 450 million peasants, trade unionists, political activists are marching towards the capital New Delhi! A massively agricultural country, India has already been dramatically disrupted by two "green revolutions": that of Nehru in 1964, and that, chaotic and ultraliberal of Modi since 2014. All the land reforms since the 1980s have only delivered the peasantry with appetites for phytosanitary chemistry (Bayer, DuPont, Novartis ...) and other planetary seed companies (Monsanto, Syngenta ...) which influence national policies, put farmers in debt, making peasant suicide a national marker, which reaches 15,000 deaths per year.

After a first attempt to liberalize agriculture in 2017, largely not applied by local states, Modi had three bills drawn up in 2020 aimed at subjecting the entire sector to the market and speculators. The law on the marketing of agricultural products deregulates marketplaces, introduces electronic management and dispossesses farmers of all control over their trade. The law on the guarantee of agricultural prices and services, hypocritically subtitled appropriation and protection, allows the pre-sale of the product to be contracted out to a buyer, without the interests of the producer being taken into account.

Liberalization and anti-farmer laws
Finally, the bill on essential products allows the State to declare as essential any product that a crisis situation - war, famine - can make critical. The list of essential products includes both seeds and phytosanitary products, the fixed quantities of which are indexed to price increases ... everything that allows a farmer to do his job is controlled by a market based on inflation .

" Anti-farmer laws !», Are indignant unions and activists. The government responds by accelerating the process, largely illegal: in six days the bills are enacted over the power of the states, however sovereign on these issues. For a year, the mobilization against these acts has not stopped growing. Led mainly by SKM and AIKSCC[3] , the movement also integrates the transport sector, already at the origin in 2020 of a massive general strike. It demands the outright repeal of these infamous laws. But also the abolition of a set of villainous provisions which strangle the very possibility of production: energy price, ban on burning - a vital practice in India - abandonment of all prosecutions against convicted activists since a year. And the movement will provide the means. Dhili Chao! All in Delhi!

Last November, 200,000 tractors and 300,000 peasants converged on Delhi, blocking supplies, besieging the government, fighting against the police who set up roadblocks and smash roads to stop the advance of tractors. The Red Fort, a symbol of power, was even taken by storm: 250 million workers went on general strike on November 26. Nine inter-state borders are blocked. In February 2021, the movement climbs walls of metal and cement to harden the siege of Delhi, and to this day its three main gateways are still controlled by some 40,000 protesters.

Modi had made the bet of a low-intensity ethnic cleansing by relying on his Hindu base. By orchestrating anti-Muslim pogroms backed by far-right militias and the BJP, he thought he controlled the country with ease. Only, Hindu or Muslim, the entire sector is in danger of destruction, and the current movement not only rejects the racist logic of the BJP, but also wants to break with the logic of caste. On April 14, national commemoration of Ambedkar, the activist Dalit (untouchable) at the origin of the Indian constitution, the Peasant United Front called Dalits, Adivasis (first inhabitants) and Bahujan (lower classes and ... women) to demonstrate all over the country, so as not to let the BJP appropriate this day of tribute and challenge its legitimacy and credibility.

Towards a new class consciousness ?
The peasant movement is anchoring the Indian protest outside its usual patterns stemming from Maoism by proposing to fill the interreligious breach, but more importantly, the divide of the castes, it takes power against the grain and organizes a movement of mass ... and what masses !

Cuervo (UCL Aix-Marseille)


[1] "The biggest walkout in History", Alternative libertaire , February 2019.

[2] "An ethnic cleansing that does not say its name", Alternative libertaire , February 2020.

[3] Samyut Kisan Morcha (federation of 40 trade unions) and All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, a collective of 250 peasant unions.

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