CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

ARTICLE


Kisan Protests Are More About Survival of the Peasantry


The kisans gathered around the Delhi border have unerringly put their fingers on the real issue confronting them, namely their very survival as peasants. Till now there was an arrangement in the country which, though crumbling under the impact of neo-liberalism, still kept the peasantry alive. The three agri laws brought in by the Narendra Modi government are meant to remove this lifeline altogether. These three laws thus carry the neo-liberal agenda in this sphere to its limit. This is also why there can be no meeting ground between the protesting kisans and the government, within the ambit of these laws; these simply have to be repealed.

These laws, for the first time since Independence, would allow encroachment into agriculture by unbridled capitalism, of which, naturally, the big players, i.e. corporates like Ambani and Adani, and multinational agribusiness firms, will be the main beneficiaries. To see this point, a distinction needs to be drawn first.

There was much talk in the seventies about the development of capitalism in Indian agriculture; and one may wonder why so much fuss should be made of encroachment by capitalism now if a tendency towards capitalist development had already manifested itself nearly half a century ago. If the peasantry has not disappeared despite the appearance of capitalism so long ago, then why should one worry about its disappearance now?  

That capitalist development, however, had been internal to the agricultural economy. It consisted of an admixture of peasant and landlord capitalism that was developing within a regime that actively discouraged the encroachment of capitalism into agriculture from outside. This regime included the MSP (minimum support price), procurement operations, public distribution at subsidised prices, and so on.  

The government, in short, interposed itself within that regime between the peasant producers on the one hand, and the outside capitalist sector and the world capitalist market on the other. The development of capitalism in agriculture occurred then within a universe where there was such an interposition by the government, where agriculture was insulated from the outside capitalist sector.  

The chief mechanism of such encroachment from outside is by drawing peasant agriculture into the ambit of commodity production. Rosa Luxemburg, who had theorised about capitalism destroying the peasant economy, had emphasised the introduction of commodity production as a means towards this destruction.  

But it is important to be clear about what commodity production means. It does not mean any production for the market, not even production that is exchanged for money under the C-M-C circuit (commodities transformed into money which is transformed back into commodities). Commodity production in the full sense occurs when the product which is both a use value and an exchange value for the buyer, is only an exchange value, just so much money, for the seller; and this amount is determined by the spontaneous operation of the market.  

An important feature of commodity production, namely, that it leads to a swallowing by big producers of small ones, which in the present context means a swallowing of peasants by the corporates, manifests itself fully only when commodity production in this true sense binds both the peasant and the capitalist economies. Within the regime of MSP and procurement there were restrictions on the spontaneity of the operation of the market. In fact, the MSP itself was a restriction of this kind which prevented such swallowing.  

The introduction of a neo-liberal regime was aimed at re-establishing such spontaneity of the operation of the market. This demanded the dismantling of the arrangement that had prevented the swallowing of peasant agriculture by corporate capital.  But, but while several parts of the earlier regime were dismantled, making peasant agriculture increasingly unviable and giving rise to a spate of peasant suicides, a central feature of it, namely the system of MSP, procurement operations and public distribution system, remained intact.  

The MSP was kept for long below what it should have been, but was not given up. No government had till now been so brazen in its insensitivity towards the peasantry that it could dismantle the whole system. The Modi government, however, has beaten all previous governments in its insensitivity. It has decided to dismantle the regime that stood as a bulwark against the corporate takeover of peasant agriculture where the peasantry would be reduces to the status of labourers or de facto tenants-at-will.  

In fact, exposing agriculture to the full blast of commodity production, with the State not interfering in the functioning of the agricultural markets, will bring about at least three fundamental changes.  

First, it would open up the country’s land resource to the dictates of the world market, which means, in effect, the dictates of imperialism, since the superior purchasing power of the advanced countries would then determine the pattern of land use.  

Second, since in the present context the demand of the advanced countries is for tropical crops other than foodgrains, full-fledged commodity production would mean a diversion of land away from foodgrain production, i.e. a substitution of other crops and other ways of using land for foodgrain production, which would mean India’s becoming food import-dependent in the event of domestic food demand exceeding domestic production.  

Third, as already mentioned, it would mean leaving the peasantry to the mercy of the corporates, and a loss in the economic status of the peasantry. There are many ways in which this would happen. By way of illustration, we can think of one possible way as follows: peasants producing cash crops at the behest of the corporates to meet world demand, would get indebted to the latter in a poor crop year or in the event of a crash in the price (whose effect is invariably passed on to the peasants irrespective of what the original contract price was). Once they are trapped in debt, they would lose their lands and become labourers.  

All this should be familiar from the experience of the colonial days when the peasantry was thrown to the mercy of the market with no government intervention in the form of MSP and procurement prices. The distress to which it was reduced has found heart-rending expression in virtually every vernacular literature of the country during the thirties and the forties.  

And yet so many intellectuals appear unaware of the implications of leaving peasant agriculture to the untrammelled operations of the market. It is as if they do not know the history of their own country. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s  being innocent of any knowledge of history is understandable; but several non-BJP intellectuals being starry-eyed about commodity production without government intervention is surprising.  

These implications of full commodity production will necessarily mean an increase in the pauperisation of the peasantry; and since any worsening of the peasants’ material condition brings about a synchronous movement in that of the entire working people, there will necessarily be an increase in absolute impoverishment of the working people as a whole.  

  To see this, let us assume deliberately that employment per acre remains unchanged because of the shift from food to cash crops. (If it does not remain unchanged but declines instead, then the increase in impoverishment is obvious). Let us even assume that the per capita income of the peasantry and of agricultural labourers remains unchanged by the shift from food to cash crops. Even so however, if there is a single year of price fall for the cash crop, the incomes of the working people, i.e. peasants and labourers, would drop, necessitating borrowing on their part.  

And once they have got into debt, there would be no stopping their downward slide toward destitution because of a very simple fact associated with commodity production, namely, that while the effects of price falls are fully passed on to peasant producers by corporates mediating between peasants and the market, the effects of price increases are not. So the chances of debt incurred, when world market prices fall, being paid back when world market prices increase, are non-existent. The debt, therefore, would remain like a millstone around the peasantry’s neck, resulting in its pauperisation; and since many peasants would migrate to cities in search of jobs, swelling the reserve army there, such pauperisation will impoverish the working people as a whole, including even the organised workers.  

The issues involved in the peasant protests, therefore, go far beyond this or that clause of the three laws. They concern the very survival of the peasantry.

ARTICLE

  • The Taj That is India
  • The BJP and Triple Talaq
  • Rohingya: A People Condemned!
  • GLOBALISATION IS THE NEW COLONISATION
  • 9 Key Qs Raised on First Day of Aadhaar Hearing in the Supreme Court
  • A Critical Analysis of Delhi's Human Development Index
  • 3 Army Divisions For 300 Terrorists In JK But No End to Violence: Certainly the Answer Does Not Lie in Force
  • TWO CENTURIES OF BHIMA KOREGAON
  • 'It is Not the Left But the Congress That's the B-Team of the BJP'
  • Kasganj: A Story of People's Unity Fractured by Engineered Hate and Violence
  • Invisible Children Of Delhi
  • India 81 in Corruption Index, Amongst the "Worst Offenders"
  • Economists Hit Out Against Move to Privatise Public Sectors Banks
  • Tripura Trades Decency For False Eldorado
  • Syria's Bloody War
  • Pakistan And China Fill Space In Maldives Willfully Vacated By India
  • The Big Private Crop Insurance Scam: Farmers Par Premium of Rs 482, Receive Rs 5 as Insurance!
  • US Attack on Syria Violates International Law, Total Hypocrisy
  • Death Penalty Is Not The Answer To Sexual Violence: Implement Justice Verma Committee Report
  • Walls on Every Side: Trying to Get Data in India
  • The Ascent of Multi-Politics In Malaysia
  • Why the Objections to Marxism are Mistaken
  • The Rise and Fall of the Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim
  • BDS Has Placed Israel on Notice
  • CURTAIN RAISER: ELECTIONS IN PAKISTAN
  • Can We Promote Peace in India, Today?
  • Burying The Two-State Solution
  • Corruption And Class Rule
  • Is Ethnic Cleansing Coming to India
  • Our Real Heroes
  • Confronting Journalism's Misogynistic Trolls
  • ASSESSING THE RETURN OF AN UNLIMITED PRESIDENCY
  • After 17 Years of War, A Peace Movement Grows in Afghanistan
  • Taking Play Seriously: Time to Make Sports A Fundamental Right!
  • Law Commission Publishes Consultation Paper on Sedition
  • Foreign Policy: Between Folly and Foibles
  • Suu Kyi's Continued Denial And Bangladesh's
  • Economy Crumbles as Fuel Prices Skyrocket, Household Budgets Hit
  • Rupee's New Low: A Dangerous Drift
  • Are We Still Ruled by The British?
  • From Anti-National to Urban Naxal: The Trajectory of Dissent in India
  • Learning the Power of Lies: Facts vs. Falsehoods in the Age of Trump
  • The Indian Economy is in a Tailspin
  • China Walks a Tightrope on The Uighur Muslim Issue
  • Is Ram Mandir a Mere Election Strategy of the BJP?
  • The Harsher Counters of India's Drug Legislations
  • BJP's Election Strategy: Data is the New Opium
  • Geographical Indication - India's Untapped Resource
  • Climate Change to Make Prediction of Furious Storms More Difficult
  • Mountain echoes for India
  • Maldives: Has the Wheel Turned Full Circle?
  • President Sirisena Needs to be Reached Sooner Rather Than Later
  • Plastic Pollution in India
  • Prejudice by Any Name
  • 29 Years After Fall of Berlin Wall, Europe Has 1,000 Km of Walls to Stop Migrants
  • The Leftover Women of Afghanistan
  • Harmony of Music and Politics of Silencing
  • The Economics of Policy: Prohibition and Free Water Supply
  • Threat to Democracy in the Age of Social or Anti-Social Media
  • Intellectual Property- A Vital Discipline
  • What Happened in Britain, and What's Next
  • Assembly Debacle: BJP Got Taken in by Its Own Fake News
  • India: Secular Democracy or Hindu Rashtra
  • Adani is Byword for Government's Climate Inaction as Australia Gears for Elections
  • How The Modi Government is Killing Off MGNREGS
  • The Year of the Gazan
  • Assembly Polls: Ten Crucial Takeaways Ahead of 2019
  • The Real Effects of Fake Propaganda on Migrants
  • Why NGOs in Pakistan Are at The Brink of Extinction
  • Dogged by Brexit
  • In My Own Voice: Citizenship Amendment Bill And You
  • Oil Giant Shell Finally Faces Its Day In Court For Complicity In Rapes And Murders in Nigeria
  • The Geopolitics of Pulwama
  • Shah Faesal Cuts Through Calls for Blood and Lays Out a Roadmap for Kashmir
  • Modi's ABC: Avoiding, Burying, Confusing
  • The Kashmir Question: A 'Made in India' Problem
  • Opposition Must Take a Stand Against the War Politics of Hindutva
  • 'Patriotism' Made Easy in Times of 'WhatsApp Elections'
  • Urban Poor Have Set Agenda for 2019 Elections
  • Will the US End Up Putting Sanctions on Every Country That Doesn't Bend to its Will?
  • Minority and Indigenous Women Human Rights Activists More Prone to Harassment UN Report
  • Tribute to Speaker Rabi Ray (1926-2017)
  • International Participation is Necessary Where State is Part of The Problem
  • Italy Takes Belt and Road to The Heart of Europe
  • The Legacy of Shaheed-e-Azam
  • In My Own Voice: Heroes or Hiroshima
  • The Modi Years
  • Election in Israel: A Race to the Bottom
  • Why Bangladesh Overtook Pakistan
  • Digital Monopoly Platforms, Modi Regime and Threat to Our Democracy
  • Elitism and Development
  • Jawaharlal Nehru and Organised Religion
  • A Brief History of the IUML and Kerla's Muslims
  • The Immunisation of Human Rights
  • How Can India Win The Struggle on Poverty?
  • The RSS's Chanakya Neeti
  • Diversity, Belonging and Multiculturalism
  • The Chinese Ambition
  • The Role City Govts Can Play in the Health of Citizens
  • Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew: Forgotten Warrior of Our Freedom Movement
  • Fighting Climate Change, Building Resilience
  • Mridula Sarabhai(the orignal anti-national)
  • Right to Education: A Dream Half Forgotten
  • Decoding One Nation One Poll
  • Tunisia Heads for Polls Amidst Economic Slowdown, Squsbbling and Crack Down on Islamic Extremist
  • Lynchings, Litchis and No Water: What the International Media is Saying Abount India
  • Blood in the Nile
  • Will the BNP Ever Again be a Major Political Force in Bangladesh?
  • 'Real Estate Brokers' Cannot Dampen The Palestinian Spirit
  • The Indian Liberal's Conundrum
  • Hope For Democracy in Sudan
  • In Depth: Water Crisis Looming Across Tamil Nadu
  • Missing Secularism in New Education Policy
  • Religion, Nationalism And Insurgency in Balochistan
  • Dim Lights, Closed Blinds: History Lessons From a Party in Power
  • Loan Waivers Need Better Designing to Prevent Farmer Suicides
  • Makimg Best Use of Sri Lanka's Strategic Location
  • FDI in Coal: Look Who's Coming to the Party
  • Weapons and the Never Ending Space Race
  • Thirty Years the Berlin Wall Brought Down
  • Reclaiming the Opposition and Political Space in India
  • An Interreligious Conference to Build Bridges in Sri Lanka
  • On 'Correcting' History and Akbar's Invasion of Kashmir
  • The Evolution of the 'Nobel Prize' in Economics
  • Close Coordination Between Turkey and Russia in Syria
  • Sri Lanka's Election Time Promises Costly to Keep
  • The India Economy and The Cobra Effect
  • Fascism: Is Liberal Use "Trivialising" This "Destructive Phenomenon?"
  • Treating the Poor as Development Guinea Pigs
  • A Not sp 'National Education Policy: Analysis Reveals Exclusion in Education Sector
  • University Fee Hikes Pave the Way for Selling Public Assets
  • The Truth About Middle Class 'Revolutions?
  • 50 Years of US Arms Trade: The Lasting Impact on West Asia
  • India Abjures Secularism in Bangladesh's View, Will Regional Cooperation Take a Hit?
  • Amidist Resistance to "De-Tribalisation", A Look at Why Jharkhand Polls are More Critical Than They Appear
  • The Dangerous Game of Citizenship: BJP Creates Divisive Agenda Through NRC
  • Revealed: US Losing Aghan War Due to "Fatally Flawed" War Strategies and Lack of Clear Objetives
  • 'Politics and Prejudice': Can Dalit-Bahujans and left Progressives Join Hands?
  • State Power's Attempts at Rewriting History
  • Afghanista's Tumultous Fourty-Year Journey
  • Nepal: Citizen's Needs Remain Sidelined as Turbulent Game of Politics Continues
  • "Enough is Enough": Secular India Revolts Against a " Majoritarian State"
  • Looking at Cuba's Revolution 61 Years On
  • Soleimani Murder Set to Spiral Out of Control, US Expected to Pressure India Under LEMOA
  • The Rise of Digital Media and The Viral Phenomenon of "Nowledge"
  • Thus Spake JP: Beware the Writing on the Wall
  • Sri Lankan Government Must Pay Attention to Problem-Solving in the North
  • Drowning Nation Clutches at Military Might?
  • India's Neighbourhood First Policy Crumbles
  • A Gobal Assault by the Far-Right
  • Delhi Riots: Historical Patterns, Complicity of Forces Point to Planned Violence
  • Behind The Protests Defending Public Education
  • Putting The Judiciary on Trial
  • "Sanctions Are a Crime": During Coronavirus Pandemic, Sanctions Against Iran, Venezuela Causing Medical Shortages
  • Social Messiahs or Smart Entrepreneurs?
  • Justice Gogoi Joining Rajya Sabha Points to a Constitutional Crisis
  • A Russian "Plays Long Game" Firewall for Venezuela Against US Sanctions
  • RSS and the Question of Morality
  • Establishing COVID-19 Hospitals in Record Time
  • A New "Medical Internationalism" Needed: Cuba At the Pandemic Frontlines Even As Wealthy States Neglect Healthcare
  • Why They Suffer: The Human/Animal Conflict
  • More Books and Snowy Mornings
  • Statesmanship Required to Avert Constitutinal Crisis in Sri Lanka
  • Combating 'Hate Virus': Communal Forces Divide in times of Global Pandemin
  • How Biometric Authentication Has Excluded MAny From The Public Distribution System
  • Lessons From Iraq: Before Trump Sues China, US Must pay for Unjust War on Iraq
  • The American War System And The Global 'War of Error'
  • Demilitarising Patriotism in The Covid Fight
  • Muslims Need a Fair Media
  • Sri-Lanka: Shock of Covid-19 Wanes, Nationalist Sentiments Rise as Elections Approach
  • Covid-19 in Brazil: A 21st Century 'Reenactment' of the 19th Century Yellow Fever?
  • Iran's Fuel Tankers for Venezuela Sail to Safety Under 'Chinese Shield'
  • US Protests Bear Lessons For Sri Lanka
  • India and Nepal in For A Prolonged Standoff?
  • The Fifth Schedule: Tribal Advisory Councils and International Perspectives
  • The Asian American Response to Pandemic-Era Racism Must Be Cross-Racial Solidarity
  • Is Police Brutality Exclusive to the USA?
  • Libya's Future Seema to Rest on Arrangements Between Russia And Turkey
  • China's strategic Mind And Method: "Long-Term Planning" Behind Country's Geo-Political Moves
  • Returning Migrants: A Boon For Rural Industrialisation?
  • Why Refugees in Greece Are Afraid of the Word 'Camp'''
  • Black Lives Matter Movement And Its Lessons For India
  • US Provocations Trigger Tension in Sino-American Relations
  • Inclusive Representation Required In Sri Lanka's Decision-Making Bodies
  • Humanists At Risk: Demonising Dissent, Infantilising Society
  • Putin Anticipates 'Cascading Tension', Hints At Need To Rest World Order
  • Why the Neoliberal Agenda Is a Failure at Failure at Fighting Coronavirus
  • Covid-19 Underscores Importance of Local Planning
  • BRI Drive Post-Covid-19 Global Economic Recovery', Claims China
  • Are We Mainstreaming or Simply Trivialising Biodiversity?
  • Is Iran's Influence in Iraq Waning?
  • Green Economic Recovery: A Firm Commitment Required
  • Ease Of Doing Business VS Human Development
  • Provincial Councils The Best Option For A Peaceful Sri Lanka?
  • Revisiting the GDP Paradox
  • Coverange of Ayodhya Sparked "Convenient Collective Amnesia"
  • Prashant Bhushan And The Case of Contempt: "An Example of How Not to Write A Judgment"
  • Strengthening the Capacity of Gram Sabhas
  • Far Right Authoritarian Leaders Have Intensified The Pandemic in Their Countries
  • Congress And The Hindutva Campaign: "The Middle Path is Fast-Disappearing"
  • Trump Faces Backlash at Attempts to Suppress Mail-In Voting
  • Meeting the Covid Challenge to Define Our Nationhood
  • Capitalism's Political Problem: In Constant Conflict With Democracy
  • Anti-CAA Movement: How The 'OutSider' Discourse Dismisses Dissent
  • Centre Shirks Responsibility, "Abandons States" For Political Gain
  • Healing the Health System
  • Emerging Challenges for the International Labour Organisation
  • After Ayodhya, Kashi-Mathura On Temple Politics Agenda?
  • Unlike Today's Farm Bills, Even Britishers' Champaran Agrarian Bill Underwent Legislative Scrutiny
  • Science in Industry and the Academy
  • The US Supreme Court Has Never Been Liberal
  • Coronavirus Pandemic and Recessions: Disastrous for 'White Collar' Jobs
  • What Does Justice Mean Today?
  • Bihar's Political Ennui Can Only be Overcome by the Left
  • Gender Budget: Kerala Leads the Way, The Centre Should Follow
  • The Fight for Right to Information
  • Will Swing Voters Make Bihar Elections a Closer Contest Than Anticipated?
  • AMY Coney Barrett Sworn in as us Supreme Court Judge: Major Victory For the Right Wing
  • Thailand Protests - Youth Demand Greater Democratic Freedom
  • Unemployment a Key Issue in Bihar Elections
  • Capitalists Hungry For Land in Developing Countries Are a Threat to Indigenous Communities
  • Signals From Bihar: BJP and Left 'Sure Winners', Congress 'Neither Here Nor There'
  • Trump Lost But May Continue to Wield His Weapons of Destructions
  • Healing Divisions Post Election is The Challenge
  • 8 'Fruitless' Talks Later: XI Refuses to Budge, Modi in 'No Mood to Ruffle Feathers'
  • A Biden Presidency Hails The Return of The 'Ancien Regime'
  • Locating Nehru's Place In History
  • Why The BJP Has Shifted Focus From 'Congress Mukt Bharat' To Regional Parties
  • As People's Distress Grows, BJP Government is Busy Else where
  • The West Asia Trump Leaves Behind
  • Ambedkar's Vision Stands In Agonising Contrast to the Babri Masjid Demolition
  • Diversity in Nation Building: Recognising the Role of The Minority
  • Farmers Turn the Spotlights on Big Business
  • America's Vaccine Paranoia
  • Afghanistan: Despite US-Taliban Agreements, Peace Remains Elusive
  • ‘MOVE UP OR MOVE OUT’: THE ENTRY OF CORPORATES WILL RENDER THE SMALL FARMERS DEFENSELESS
  • DESPITE DIFFERENCES, AGRICULTURAL WORKERS RESIST NEW LAWS WITH FARMERS
  • JUDGES’ LAPSES
  • ONLINE VIOLENCE GROWS AGAINST WOMEN JOURNALISTS
  • THE YEAR THAT WAS: PEOPLE’S RESISTANCE BUILDS AGAINST HOSTILE GOVERNMENT
  • Kisan Protests Are More About Survival of the Peasantry
  • CENTRAL VISTA PROJECT: “CIRCUS AND THEATRE” IN LIEU OF “BREAD AND JOBS”?
  • FARM LAWS WILL LEAD TO RISE OF NEW ‘MIDDLEMAN’ - THE CEOS OF THE OLIGARCHY
  • REPUBLICANS MUST GET IN LINE, THEY CREATED THIS MONSTER
  • Kamalji - Goodbye My Friend!
  • Condolence Message for Mr Kamal Morarka
  • Global dynamics in 2021
  • Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan: Muslims for Composite Indian Nationalism
  • Rajapaksas Regime Under Multiple Pressures
  • Coup Attempt in Jordan Leaves a Trail
  • What Kind of Political Candidates Did Gandhi Hope Voters Would Support?
  • Are Indian Students Losing Out on Past History as Textbooks are Being Changed?
  • FINANCING THE FIGHT AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING
  • Hamas Emerges as the Charioteer of the Palestinian Resistance Against Israel
  • CHILE’S CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY CAN REMOVE CAPITALIST EQUATIONS
  • TURKEY DELIBERATELY DOWNED A RUSSIAN JET IN 2015, COURT TESTIMONY REVEALS
  • THE BATTERING OF RELIGION-BASED POLITICS IN WEST BENGAL
  • GOVERNMENTS MUST UNDO BIG PHARMA GRIP OVER VACCINES
  • BRAHMANIC NATIONALISM AND THE CASTE HIERARCHY
  • OVERCONSUMPTION IS THE PROBLEM ‘NET ZERO’ CANNOT SOLVE
  • WILL TRUMP'S WARS BECOME BIDEN'S WARS?
  • Each City Has its Unique Fingerprint of Microorganisms: Global Study
  • POSSIBILITY OF POST-NEOLIBERALISM IN PERU
  • Pandemic, Joblessness, Falling Incomes and Now a Crushing Price Rise
  • Voting for Restoration of Democracy: Electoral Choices
  •