[WSMDiscuss] The lessons of the Indian farmers’ struggle (Sushovan Dhar)

Devendra Oza oza.devendra at gmail.com
Tue Feb 2 04:14:08 CET 2021

I will be happy to get a proper reply to this message.

Kind Regards

On Tue, 2 Feb 2021 at 08:43, Devendra Oza <oza.devendra at gmail.com> wrote:

> My comment:
> On Republic Day the 'farmers', or 'anti social elements' indulged in
> unacceptable violence. The 'farmers' keep on claiming that this is a
> peaceful agitation. The same 'farmers' claim that the Union government had
> staged the crude violence on the Republic Day in Delhi.
> As a former Civil Servant, I am trained to hear both sides before forming
> a judgment. What I mean is the 'farmers' and the union governments points
> must be clearly understood. Can I suggest that you can carefully examine
> the claims made by both sides and try to verify whether these claims are
> true?
> Regard
> D.K.oza
> On Mon, 1 Feb 2021 at 22:05, Jai Sen <jai.sen at cacim.net> wrote:
>> Monday, February 1, 2021
>> *India in movement…, Farmers in movement, Peasants in movement…, **Resistance
>> in movement…, Rights in movement…, Politics in movement… Democracy in
>> movement…, History in movement…, Herstory in movement…, Studies in
>> movement…*
>> [Here is a first set of what I think are some useful reflections on the
>> farmers’ movement in India by someone – based in India, I think - who
>> describes himself as a ‘political activist and commentator’.
>> [As I’ve tried to point out before, I personally think that this movement
>> (perhaps more than any movement in India in recent years), and the issues
>> that it is raising, are both historic and civilisational in nature; and
>> which is why I think that it’s extremely important – for all of us
>> interested in and supportive of ‘movement’, and working for social justice
>> and change – to try and comprehend this moment, to reflect on it, and to
>> write on it.  So thanks Fiona, for referring me to this article, and thanks
>> Sushovan Dhar, for writing this.  And I’d like to invite others on this
>> list both to post articles that you think are useful – and that offer us
>> something beyond the ordinary and tell us something about this moment –
>> and, indeed, for those of us in a position to do this, to try yourselves to
>> write on this :
>> *The lessons of the Indian farmers’ struggle*
>> Sushovan Dhar
>> January 28 2021
>> https://www.groundxero.in/2021/01/28/the-lessons-of-the-indian-farmers-struggle/
>> *The Farmers struggle and its partial advance has shown us the way.
>> Strong movements from below can have the potential to take on the Hinduvta
>> juggernaut much more than stitching electoral alliances. What will be the
>> fate of this movement six months down the line? We don’t know but it is
>> worth recalling the ancient Chinese proverb “a journey of a thousand miles
>> must begin with a single step”, writes Sushovan Dhar.*
>> No other Republic Day witnessed such unprecedented levels of public
>> claims over their nation. The streets of Delhi were enlivened with
>> spontaneous marches of hundreds of thousands of peasants who wanted a
>> serious say in *Res Publica* or public affairs. Within a bouquet of lame
>> excuses intended to stop the peasant march, one had been particularly
>> ironic. That this demonstration was a “conspiracy” to defame India before
>> the world by way of doing a tractor parade in the capital on Republic Day.
>> The struggling peasants proved that they held high the banner of the
>> “world’s largest democracy” when the present regime is hell bent at
>> trampling down and doing away with whatever democratic values are left in
>> the country.
>> Earlier, in an interesting twist to the tale, the Union government on
>> January 20, proposed to suspend the three contentious farm laws for one and
>> a half years and set up a joint committee to discuss the legislation at the
>> tenth round of talks with farmer unions. However, *Samjukta Kisan Morcha*
>> rejected the offer the very next day. It resolutely clarified the
>> continuation of the movement till the three anti-farmer laws were
>> completely repealed. The AIKSCC was also determined to carry out its
>> scheduled Tractor Parade on the Republic day.
>> A few days ago, the Supreme Court had expressed intentions to stay the
>> implementation of the controversial agricultural laws while proposing to
>> form an independent committee chaired by a former Chief Justice to
>> “amicably resolve” the stand-off between the farmers and the government. Of
>> course, there were serious questions about the “independence” of the
>> committee nevertheless, the first signs of backing down were obvious.
>> *Government forced to step backwards*
>> Given its belligerent and antagonistic attitude of the present current
>> government – more so after it was elected for the second time in 2019 – the
>> Union Agriculture Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar’s announcement might have
>> appeared a little unusual but not entirely surprising. The government hoped
>> that this announcement would force the unions, determined to take out a
>> tractor rally on Republic Day to rethink their months-long agitation and
>> vacate their blockade of the national capital, tamely. Various measures,
>> including threat and intimidation, to dissuade the farmers were tried and
>> tested earlier but it was all in vain. In an attempt to discredit the
>> agitation, a section of the ruling dispensation hurled accusations of
>> infiltration by *Sikh* separatist elements. This foul play resulted in a
>> backlash and the government ministers in charge of negotiations with
>> farmers’ unions had no options but to dismiss the allegations, washing
>> their hands off.
>> The continued agitation by the unions, the imminent nature of Republic
>> Day protests and the highest court’s refusal to ban it were just the
>> immediate reasons for the compromise formula. A desperate and a last ditch
>> effort to contain this growing agitation which can potentially spread to
>> other parts of the country, more vigorously. The fascist brigade’s parent
>> organisation, i.e. the RSS was also nervous about the indefinite
>> continuation of this well organised protest. Suresh “Bhaiyaji” Joshi, the
>> number two of the *Sangh Pariwar*, expressed his apprehensions about the
>> stability of the government in the face of such resolute defiance, in an
>> interview to the Indian Express.
>> Can this be termed as a partial advance? Sure. Are there reasons to
>> celebrate? Of course, yes. While it is important to abstain from being
>> overwhelmed or getting carried over, there are enough reasons to feel
>> confident about this collective action that has put the government on a
>> back-foot. Certainly, the credit goes to millions of peasants of this
>> country who relentlessly fought with their backs on the wall. The peasantry
>> is clearly fighting for a control over its own destiny (lives and
>> livelihood) against corporate control of agriculture ushered in by this
>> government. Neither the deep agricultural crisis engulfing the country
>> since the last three decades which has led to over 3 hundred thousand
>> farmers committing suicides due to severe indebtedness nor the chronic
>> rural distress which forces thousands to leave their villages to migrate
>> towards urban centres in search of an uncertain future can be undone so
>> easily. We surely need a larger political battle to overcome that but the
>> current struggle is an earnest way towards that direction. It has instilled
>> hopes in the minds of millions who want to fight this fascist regime and
>> regain the democratic soul of the nation.
>> The recent farm bills plus the new Labour Codes are attempts to carry on
>> an unprecedented degree of reforms that gives the big bourgeoisie a free
>> hand to run the economy. No doubt they are backing it very strongly. While
>> the labour codes are an attempt to flexibilise employment by giving owners
>> the right to ‘hire and fire’ employees and do away with minimum legal
>> guarantees for the workers, the former can be seen as a response to the
>> agrarian crisis from the Right. They are ably supported by the media and a
>> pet group of economists – so impressed about the new farm acts – attempting
>> to craft popular public opinion about the laws. Many have gone to the
>> extent of heralding these laws as something that will revolutionise the
>> Indian agricultural sector. Fortunately, the farmers are oblivious towards
>> such enlightened counsel.
>> The strength and the prestige of this agitation stems from the courage
>> and tactical ingenuity of a movement that has a real economic base. It is
>> an endorsement of the fact that the neo-liberal agenda, internalised by all
>> political parties in India including sections of the mainstream Left,
>> continues to be resisted from below. The resilience shown by the peasants,
>> mostly from Punjab and Haryana, and their organisations are exemplary and
>> frankly, much more radical than the politics of the existing Left parties.
>> *The crisis of the Left*
>> The crisis of the Left partially explains the relative lack of inertia on
>> the part of the trade unions and the overall workers movement to come out
>> in full support of the current protests. There have been minuscule attempts
>> by workers to join in unison with the agitating farmers and one fears that
>> they are squandering a golden chance to launch similar offensives, in their
>> own interests, just when the iron is hot.
>> Unfortunately, the major trade unions of the country are controlled by
>> one political party or the other. In the absence of genuinely independent
>> organising, these unions instead of acting as authentic expressions of the
>> working class, function as the transmission belts of their “parent
>> organisations”. Perhaps, this party-unionism explains the weak
>> working-class response to the current farmers’ movement. Can the situation
>> be reversed? Difficult but not impossible! Is it worth giving a try? Yes,
>> we have no other choice! Without the self-organisation of the class it has
>> already conceded a lot, as evident in the current scenario and historically
>> too.
>> This movement is very important for the left. While any attempt to see
>> this as a peasant uprising to capture state power would be fool-hardy it is
>> also not “a movement of only rich peasants” as per certain sections of the
>> left or more precisely, some adherents of a stage-ist Socialist Revolution.
>> The farmers are fighting for their immediate and longer term survival. It
>> would be criminal for the left either to be steeped in deep sectarianism or
>> squander this opportunity to form a redoubtable opposition to *Hindutva*
>> coming out of their time-worn ideological cocoons. We must seize the moment
>> and make all efforts to transform these protests into wider peoples’
>> struggles against the fascist regime and to give it an anti-capitalist
>> character. The current momentum can be deepened by including the demands of
>> various sections of working people. Demands for employment generation, food
>> security and food sovereignty among others would serve to reinforce the
>> appeal and strength of this movement among the masses across different
>> regions. Pursuing these demands would not only help the movement to gain
>> support among the working people, but it will also push the representatives
>> of the sections of the rich peasantry to the margins. There is an urgent
>> need to build solidarity with the working-class struggles going elsewhere.
>> *Post-script*
>> The current struggle also helps us to throw light on another important
>> question. Can the fascist forces be defeated by forming electoral
>> coalitions or are they best dealt with by powerful mass mobilisations from
>> below? While not entirely ruling out the possible electoral scopes, we need
>> to pay attention towards the evolution of Indian elections and the
>> trajectory of the Right wing. The *Sangh Parivar* and the other
>> *Hindutva* forces have maintained a consistent ultra-right direction
>> since the 1950s unhindered either by electoral defeats or any alliance with
>> “secular” forces. One vividly recalls the optimism of a section of the
>> liberals when the extreme-right entered the Janata party to form the
>> government in 1977. With Vajpayee as the foreign minister in Morarji
>> Desai’s cabinet many saw the *Hindutva* project contained, tamed and
>> civilised. History has treated such optimism with contempt. No electoral
>> misfortune is enough to uproot this agenda and any genuine battle against
>> *Hindutva* project must acknowledge this. A long-term political project
>> to deal with it must be based on class struggle and our search for a lesser
>> evil, i.e. relatively ‘harmless’ bourgeois allies, will act as serious
>> roadblocks to vibrant opportunities for class agitation and mass movements.
>> The Farmers struggle and its partial advance has shown us the way. Strong
>> movements from below can have the potential to take on the *Hinduvta*
>> juggernaut much more than stitching electoral alliances. What will be the
>> fate of this movement six months down the line? We don’t know but it is
>> worth recalling the ancient Chinese proverb “a journey of a thousand miles
>> must begin with a single step.”
>>    - *The author is a political activist and commentator. *
>> ____________________________
>> Jai Sen
>> Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of
>> International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of
>> Ottawa
>> jai.sen at cacim.net &  <jsen at uottawa.ca>jsen at uottawa.ca
>> Now based in Ottawa, Canada, on unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282
>> 2900) and in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325)
>> *Check out something new** – including for copies of the first two books
>> below, at a discount, and much more : **The Movements of Movements
>> <https://movementsofmovements.net/>*
>> Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – *The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us
>> Move ?*.  New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press.  Ebook and
>> hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>; hard copy
>> only also at The Movements of Movements
>> <https://movementsofmovements.net/>
>> Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – *The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking
>> Our Dance*.  Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press
>> <http://www.pmpress.org/>; hard copy only also at The Movements of
>> Movements <https://movementsofmovements.net/>
>> Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – *The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us
>> Move ?*  (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration
>> with OpenWord and PM Press.  Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN
>> <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>
>> , MOM1Flipkart
>> <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>,
>> and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
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> --
> *Devendra OzaNo. 1, First Cross StreetIndiranagar, AdyarChennai 600
> 020Tel: 91-44-24422269 / 94442 16627Email: oza.devendra at gmail.com
> <oza.devendra at gmail.com> *


*Devendra OzaNo. 1, First Cross StreetIndiranagar, AdyarChennai 600 020Tel:
91-44-24422269 / 94442 16627Email: oza.devendra at gmail.com
<oza.devendra at gmail.com> *
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