Modi government, in continuation to its neoliberal offensive for all round corporatization of all fields, privatization of all sectors and selling of national assets/ public sector enterprises to foreign and native corporate forces, has promulgated three Ordinances to give effect to the amendments proposed to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and to introduce two Central laws on inter-state trading and contact farming . The amendment to the ECA will deregulate the production, storage, movement and distribution of these food commodities.In the name of removing the private sector’s fears of “excessive regulatory interference,” the Centre has issued the ordinances to increase private and foreign investment, especially in cold storage facilities and the modernization and corporatization of the food supply chain Using the cover of Covid19 pandemic, bypassing the parliament and state assemblies (agriculture is a State subject), without eliciting opinion of the peasantry and holding discussion with the peasant and agricultural workers’ organizations and all other stake holders, Modi government is moving fast through ordinance raj, violating all principles of federalism.
The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 aims to open up agricultural marketing outside notified mandis for farmers, and also remove barriers to inter-State trade. While both agriculture and markets are State subjects, the Centre is by-passing it with the claim that trade and commerce in foodstuffs is part of the concurrent list, as if it has unilateral monopoly on concurrent list!
In her press conferences explaining Modi’s 20 lakh crors Economic Package, the finance minister Nirmala Sitaraman, in the name of combating and helping the distressed peasantry, had announced these amendments to the existing Essential Commodities Act 1955, Changes in the existing Agricultural Products Marketing Committee Act, and enactment of a Central law for barriers- free intra and inter-state trade of farm commodities and creation of a " facilitative legal framework”for Contract Farming. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 is aimed at facilitating contract farming, where a private buyer contracts to purchase a crop at a certain price at the beginning of a season
All these announcements were made under the signboard of Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, while in reality, these are essential part of Neoliberal/globalization drive. These changes are solely in the interest of corporate- both foreign and domestic, and rich peasants, black marketers and hoarders. All these steps are for further integration of the agriculture sector also to global imperialist system.
Another important decision of Modi government is on the Minimum Support Prices ( MSP) of 14 Kharif crops including paddy, the most significant Kharif crop. According to it, the paddy price is increased by Rs 53 per quintal, from Rs 1815 per quintal Rs 1868. The Commission for Agricultural Cost and Prices has calculated the cost of production of paddy at Rs 1722 last year. Even if we calculate the MSP of paddy based on this, the MSP of paddy should be Rs 2583 by applying Swaminathan Commission recommendation.
These decisions of Modi government have angered the peasantry and other struggling forces. Though our Party an other struggling forces have called for free monthly ration of 45 kgms for all families, Rs 8,000 allowance to all jobless contract/casual workers, unemployed youth and all other needy people for six months, and unlimited MNREGA work for minimum 200 days a year at Rs 300 per day, the central and state governments have not taken any step in this direction. We have to continue the campaign for these important demands in this critical period consistently.
That, using Covid19 as a cover, Modi govt is going ahead with policies which shall make only corporates happy is very clear. In this situation AIKKS has called for a country wide campaign and observing 15th June as All India Protest Day. The Central Committee calls upon all Party Committees to discuss with comrades working in all class/mass organizations and people’s movements, mobilize an active campaign through social media and what is possible otherwise, and to Observe 15th June as All India Protest Day with the demands: Withdraw all the three ordinances; Increase MSP for all Khariff crops; Mobilize the peasantry with the working class to throw out the neoliberal/corporate policies!
CPI(ML) Red Star
6th June 2020