Biting the hands that feed all?

CNS Image Library/2015
Amidst deafening echoes of promised good times by Narendra Modi led government, one of the seldom heard voices is of those who feed all of us: farmers. In times when urban citizens want a guarantee of salaries, and post-retirement benefits and security, India is failing to provide even the minimum support price to farmers for their crop yield. Magsaysay Awardee and national vice-president of Socialist Party (India) Dr Sandeep Pandey said to Citizen News Service (CNS): "Not even guaranteeing minimum support price to farmers is a matter of grave shame, especially for a country in which over 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in last 20 years, and plight of farmers is appalling."

Dr Pandey added: "Farmers in Uttar Pradesh (UP) are not getting their due minimum support price of Rs 1360 per quintal for 'B' grade crops and Rs 1400 for 'A' grade crops. Most of the centres where farmers can sell their crop yield are lying closed. Anil Mishra, Unnao district president of Socialist Party (India) had staged a demonstration in Unnao district headquarters on 24 November 2014 and 15 December 2014 to press on the demand to give minimum support price to farmers, as a result of which 10 centres were opened in Unnao, but none of them were buying crop yield from farmers. That is why Anil Mishra is leading an indefinite fast in UP state capital from 8 January 2015 onwards. When he announced his indefinite fast, District Magistrate Unnao had ordered to start purchasing crops from farmers, but not at a price lower than minimum support price: Rs 1332 per quintal."

Despite promises of Rs 1360 and Rs 1400 of minimum support price, government is only providing Rs 1332 per quintal.

Dr Sandeep Pandey said: "If farmers will not get their due price they will further slide in poverty and debt. This seems like an ill-will to wrap up public distribution system. How will government provide food grains as part of public distribution system if it will stop purchasing food grains from farmers? We strongly condemn anti-farmer policies of state and central governments. We will like to ask authorities that if they will receive lesser amount as wages than promised, will they accept it? If wages of authorities are deducted due to poor performance will it be acceptable to them? But farmers are being told that they are denied due minimum support price due to quality concerns. Also it should be noted that purchases of crops are taking place in private mills and not at government centres."

Socialist Party (India) has singularly managed to achieve implementation of minimum support price for paddy in UP at centres which were non-functional earlier through Anil Mishra, its Unnao dist. president, who decided to sit on an indefinite fast from 8 January, 2015.

To top it all, central government has brought in an ordinance to amend the Land Acquisition Act, which has watered it down. Now 70% consent of land owners is not required to acquire farmers' lands. Also there is no need to organize public hearing before land acquisition. Similarly the need to conduct a social impact assessment has also been done away with. On 9th January 2015, Socialist Party also burnt copies of Amendment Ordinance to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act brought in by the Narendra Modi government.

Girish Kumar Pande, UP State Patron of Socialist Party (India) said: "All these steps are against the interests of farmers. Such anti-farmer policies of state and central governments will further aggravate the plight of farmers. Socialist Party (India) strongly condemns anti-farmer policies of state and central governments and call upon them to abandon anti-farmer policies. How will society be prosperous if the people who feed all of us remain in miserable situation?"

Bobby Ramakant, Citizen News Service - CNS
9 January 2015