You are on page 1of 16

VOL.

1 ISSUE 1 JUNE- JULY 2008 RS 10

TOWARDS
A NEW D AWN THE OTHER
VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

BILLIONS MADE CRZ TO CMZ-THE CAPITALIST GRASP


MAKE BILLIONS ON THE COASTAL REGIONS | P4
HUNGRY | P3
PANCHAYET SYSTEM: OPPRESSION AND SUPPRESSION
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS IN IN THE NAME OF POLITICAL DECENTRALIZATION | P 10
WEST BENGAL &
LITTLE MAGAZINES | P6 A Greeting for Nepal | P 2
TOWARDS VOL. 1 ISSUE 1 JUNE- JULY 2008 abrogate all unequal treaties signed with India by the former ruling classes of
A NEW D AWN Nepal, and ensure democracy and equality for the oppressed sections of
society such as Dalits, adivasis, national minorities and women, the masses

E DITORIALThe era of nefarious Narendra Modi had continued to reign even


enthusiastically veered towards Maoists. We hail the Nepali masses for
routing the feudal, pro-imperialist, pro-Indian comprador parties and voting
for a genuine change in the rotten feudal system in Nepal. It sends the fraternal
revolutionary greetings for their victory in the electoral struggle against the
after the genocide in Gujarat. But after the Nandigram genocide, the picture is reactionary forces. The election results have not only sounded the death-knell
opposite in West Bengal, as we follow the people’s verdict in recent Panchayat for the 239-year-old absolutist monarchy but also to the continuous
election . The flight named 'Industrialization' crashed down in this State. The domination, interference, and bullying by the Indian reactionary expansionist
pseudo lefts are now found saying to give importance to the public opinion, ruling classes. Moreover, they have also sealed the fate of all the comprador-
instead of boasting for their electoral majority and intimidating the dissidents feudal electoral Parties which had proved themselves to be the most corrupt,
country-selling, anti-people, loyal stooges of imperialists, feudal forces and
to make their 'life a hell'. Like the Nandigram incident, protests stormed down
Indian expansionists. In the eyes of the broad masses, these parties are narrow
throughout the country for the Gujarat genocide, too. Artistes, intellectuals, self-seeking robber gangsters who are out to fatten themselves at the expense
human rights activists came down to streets to raise voice against the new of the vast masses of poor and the destitute. The results are a telling indictment
violent face of fascism in this 21st century. But somehow these protests failed to against forces which had proved themselves to be a party to the oppression,
build up resistance against the fascist repression in grassroots level, where as suppression and exploitation of women, dalits, national minorities and
the people of Nandigram succeeded to defy the incessant steamroller of adivasis.
Investment Capital. Not only the SEZ projects were cancelled in the post The real test, however, begins now after the CPN(M) taking over the
Nandigram period, the intrepid struggle had also changed the old thoughts, reins of power. It is a fundamental tenet of Marxism that no radical
inspired the toiling and struggling people to opt more radical resistance, all restructuring of the system is possible without the militant mobilization of the
over India. vast masses. It is impossible to make genuine changes in the system through
measures initiated “from above”, i.e through state decrees and laws.
The strategy of the Government depends upon the characteristics of Whichever Party may be in power, not excluding the most radical Maoists, one
the resistance of the mass and rulers want to build up its social legitimacy based cal only make laws at best, but to implement these it is imperative to mobilize
on its ideology. So, it has to take the shelter of fake promises—sometimes in the the masses and advance class struggle against exploiters and oppressors and
name of religion, sometimes in the name of employment. Much before the for radical changes for the liberation of the vast majority of poor. No ruling
class will give up power without putting up a bitter struggle and carrying out
building of concentration camps, State power used to seclude the Jewish from
sabotage and subterfuge against the oppressed class. Hence the real, bitter and
the society in Germany. And Hitler used the chemistry of 'Aryan' blood to most cruel struggle for power will now unfold soon after the elections. In fact,
socially legitimise this law. By seeing the successful implementation of this drafting Nepal's Constitution in favor of the poor and oppressed masses is
chemistry, Bertrand Russell said that when fascism knocks the door of itself a very arduous and bitter struggle. The reactionaries will oppose every
th
democracy, it can't be combated with only democratic means. After 14 March change tooth and nail. Lacking a majority in the Constituent Assembly, the
2007, all mass movements, whether be the Rizwanur case or the ration scam, Maoists will be powerless to affect radical changes in the Constitution. Either
were influenced by the Nandigram movement. Movements against land they have to compromise and adjust with a section of the reactionary forces
thereby sacrificing the class interests of the oppressed in whose interests they
acquisition gained remarkable pace everywhere. The voice of dissent heard
ha come to power, or, they have to mobilize the people and intensify the
loud. To cope up with the burgeoning resistance, Globalisation is changing her struggle through all means, including armed insurrection, in order to
demonical face, negotiating for compensations, asking for consent. implement genuine democracy and establish people's power. There is no other
Globalisation only wants to secure industrialization and profit. And if alternative.
necessary, they will unmask their human face, opt for fascism, the most
dependable weapon of investment capital both politically and culturally. We warn the CPN(M) to beware of the conspiracies of he imperialists
led by the US imperialists, the Indian reactionary ruling classes, and the feudal
In this era of new colonialism, that is Globalisation we can clearly comprador forces of Nepal to engineer coups, political assassinations,
creation of artificial scarcity through economic blockades and sabotage, and
distinct ‘two’ India –one is of hunger, malnutrition and unemployment of
subversion of democratic process, and calls upon it to be fully prepared to
millions, where per capita income of 77% people is less than Rs.20 and in a confront these reactionaries by armed means. The one and only guarantee for
stark contrast, the ‘Shining India’, bragging on Shopping Malls, Flyovers, carrying through the radical revolutionary programme is to raise the political
enticing on national and multinational companies for investment, whose class consciousness of the vast masses, mobilize them into class struggle, arm
whole economy is depending on the share market and profit centric investment and train them to fight the exploiters and all reactionary forces and defend the
capital. If the fate of the Government lies in the hand of fascism or direct gains they had derives through long period of class and mass struggle. Nothing
imperialism, then the question of organising broad-based anti-imperialist could be more dangerous at the present juncture than to become dizzy with
success and underestimate the prospects of a reactionary backlash. One must
struggle will be the most important task in near future. Our country is the
keep in mind that the gains that can be achieved through a government that has
land of hundreds of 'East India Companies' today. And to save the land, water, come to power by means of elections are very much limited. Survival of such a
forest, minerals and all natural and human resources, the resistance like the regime depends on taking a conciliatory stand on several crucial matters.
Nandigram may be the only mission and vision to challenge this imperialism Hence to overestimate the prospects of radical restructuring of the society or
aggression in future. economy by a Maoist government would be illusory and will dilute the
possibility as well as the ability of the Party to continue the class struggle.
We see immense possibilities in present-day Nepal to carry forward
the revolutionary programme by firmly relying on the masses and carrying out
class struggle while utilizing the state to further this process. This is possible if
A Greeting for Nepal the main leadership of the Maoist party does not become part of the
government but concentrates on the principal task of continuing the class
struggle by mobilizing the masses. Otherwise there is every danger of
The election results in Nepal have proved once again the unprincipled compromises with the reactionary parties and imperialists,
overwhelming anger of the masses against the outdated feudal monarchic rule degeneration of the party leadership and cadres, and emergence of strong
in Nepal, against the Indian expansionist's bullying and domination of Nepal, bureaucratic class. In such a scenario, all the gains made would go down the
against US domination and oppression, and are a reflection of the growing drain and the reactionary parties would once again come to power by crashing
aspirations of the Nepali masses for democracy, land, livelihood and genuine in on the frustration of the masses.
freedom from imperialist and feudal exploitation. It is these aspirations of the
overwhelming majority of the masses that had completely trounced the parties “Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was
that had either supported the King and/or the Indian ruling classes or hesitated
in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners.”
to come out strongly against feudal, imperialist oppression and Indian
intervention in Nepal. Hence, when an alternative like the CPN(M) came to the -Vladimir Lenin
fore, with its open commitment to abolish the feudal monarchy once for all,
2
TOWARDS
VOL. 1 ISSUE 1 JUNE- JULY 2008 A NEW D AWN
BILLIONS MADE MAKE and food-stocks stashed away in cold storages till the wheel turned distinctly in
BILLIONS HUNGRY favour. The demands of agribusiness would lend itself to all-out gambling and
unscrupulous traders would rule the roost.
Prices of speculative trading
- Sumit Chowdhury The severe food crisis that has at present hit the world can be traced to a similar
casino culture that permeates agriculture in these globalising times. Agribusiness
is big business and today's casino kings are the giant multinationals like Cargill,
An acute food crisis, the severity of which has hitherto been unseen in these Monsanto, Mosaic, Archer Daniels Midlands and so on who exercise iron control
prosperously prevailing times of triumphant capitalism, has seized the world. in both supply and demand in agricultural trading and stocks through opaque
Billions, mostly those wretched of the earth living in the poorest enclaves of pricing and other financial instruments.
the global economy, are having to bear the brunt. As food prices skyrocket Many of these corporations – having dubious track records – have started
putting bare survival at stake, hungry multitudes across the accursed investing in a big way in futures trading in agro-products and food commodities.
continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America are riotously taking to the streets. They are not buying or selling but betting on price movements in the stock
The flare-ups, it is feared, are likely to turn into bigger blowups, if something exchanges. The funds have grown exponentially in the aftermath of the collapse
drastic is not done at once to stem the tide. An unprecedented upheaval may of the mortgage market – termed the 'sub-prime crisis' – in the USA since end-
sweep through the world prising open the very entrails of the existing 2007. Desperate for swift returns, investors are withdrawing trillions of dollars
exploitative and profit-raking world-system. Great hunger, if history is to be from the equity and mortgage bonds to invest in futures trading on food products.
believed, always fuels great anger. It happened in France in the hungry autumn According to a Citibank report, funds invested in commodity futures in wheat
of 1789 and it happened in Russia in the hungry winter of 1917. alone increased from $5 billion in 2000 to $175bn in 2007 and investment in
Sure enough, the current worldwide food crisis is not, as we are usually made commodity indices increased by $40bn to $180bn in the first quarter of 2007.
to believe, the upshot of any major shortage in supply or a dreadful decline in Global speculation on foodstuff can be seen best in the Chicago Stock Exchange
agricultural output. In fact, if official statistics is to be trusted, farmers the (CHX) where a number of hedge funds, investment banks and pension funds are
investing enormous amounts in agro-inputs. In the first quarter of 2008, the
world over have been producing more food in their farmlands than ever
investment on agriculture at CHX increased by more than 25 percent while
before. According to a World Bank study in April 2008, global cereal
according to the Chicago firm, Coal Partners, the participation of hedge funds in
production has gone up to an all-time record of 2,164mt (wheat 679mt, rice raw materials increased threefold to $55bn in the past couple of years.
423mt, both all-time records), an increase of more than three percent over the The trading frenzy has sent food prices soaring across the world. True, prices of
previous year, and is expected to rise by 2.6 percent in the current year. A primary commodities like cereals, edible oils and milk have been rising since the
report of the Agricultural Department of the USA says that global wheat turn of the millennium but since the onset of the credit crisis in the USA prices of
production had increased from 564mt (21.54bn bushels) in 1997 to 627mt food in the global market have been climbing at an astounding pace.
(22.29bn bushels) in 2007. And yet, grain supplies reached the lowest since In a series of caveats in January this year, New York Times reported that prices of
1985 and the world food inventory touched rock bottom (143mt) in 25 years, 60 agricultural commodities traded on the world market increased by 37 percent
resulting in the eruption of food riots in as many as 33 countries in just the first in 2007 and 14 percent the year before. Corn prices began their ascent in the early
quarter of this year. fall of 2006 and within months climbed by some 70 percent. According to a Food
and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report, global food prices have increased by
Hunger amidst plenty 83 percent in the last two years of which the price of rice itself has gone up by 141
percent. And according to another study by the Agricultural Department of the
Such paradox may baffle but hunger amidst plenty had been the defining
USA, the global market price of rice has gone up by 217 percent since 2006, that
feature of all the famines in the past, particularly in the colonial times and the of wheat by 136 percent and soybean by 107 percent. CHX predicts that future
areas under colonial domination. People went hungry not because of prices of wheat are likely to go up by 73 percent, soybean by 52 percent and
inadequate yield or supply of food but the inability of the poorest of the poor to soybean oil by 44 percent.
gain access to or avail of it. Food there was aplenty but remained out of reach It is difficult to estimate how many people across the world will be affected by this
for those who didn't have the means to purchase it at the soaring, sky-kissing phenomenal rise in food prices. It, however, goes without saying that it would
price at which it was sold. The causes of famines were structural, rooted as badly affect the poorer and marginalised sections of the underdeveloped world.
they were in the unequal and the unfair nature of the social arrangements. More than 900 million poor in Asia earn less than $2 a day – they would certainly
No other place illustrates better this fundamental fact than Kalahandi, the most be the worst-hit. And among them, it is the women and children who will be
vivid symbol of famine in India. Paddy production in this wildly beautiful land distressed the most. .
across the Indravati river basin in west Orissa has always been higher than the The World Food Programme (WFP) announced on April 22 that it had begun
national average for districts and yet it has forever remained the heart of cutting provisions for school meals to the world's poorest children, that the price
darkness. Because ruthless rice merchants-cum-mahajans have wrecked the of basic food was rising so rapidly that shortfall for its financing for food relief
self-sustaining agricultural practice of the indigenous Kondhs and replaced it programmes had grown from $500m to $755m in less than two months. A
with commercial farming (including all the Green Revolution ingredients programme providing 450,000 Cambodian children has been suspended and a
such as tractors and power-tillers, HYV seeds and chemical fertilisers), similar programme in Kenya serving 1.2 million children is facing cuts of nearly
thereby alienating the local communities from their land and driving them into 50 percent.
desperate indebtedness from which there was never any escape.
Prices of capitalist consumption
Agriculture on the roulette wheel Spiralling prices, which is endemic to capitalism, is also intrinsically triggered by
In fact, it is this kind of commercial farming and the consequent demise of the prohibitive energy needs of a growth-driven, growth-obsessed, growth-is-
traditional agriculture that is overtly responsible for the chronic food the-be-all-and-end-all system and the unrestrained, never-flagging consumerism
it breeds. Both of these, typically, have had a major role in the unfolding drama
insecurity most parts of the underdeveloped world perpetually suffer from.
about the global food catastrophe.
The advent of unbridled capitalism in agriculture dramatically transformed The capitalist world, it may be emphasised, has a gargantuan appetite for fossil
the rural scenarios in these areas, altering not only farming methods and fuels and today its main source of energy is petroleum. With oil stocks constantly
techniques, but also changing forever the way land and production relations depleting and crude oil prices going up by more than 500 percent in the last
were constituted. Both land and the produce of the land became commodities, decade or so, the capitalist countries of Europe and the USA, with mighty
something that could be bought and sold in the marketplace; peasants who lost automobile industries, opted for bio-fuels like corn oil, also known as ethanol.
their lands to farming ventures, sold their labour to work the lands that once Attracted by ethanol's potential as an alternative to petroleum and to meet the
belonged to them and were subjected to the vagaries of a market mechanism ever-growing demands of an automobile-crazy society, the government of USA
about which they knew next to nothing; hundreds of thousands, displaced handed massive subsidies to corn-growers; and, in a span of less than five years,
from their land, would migrate to other areas in search of alternative huge tracts of prime agricultural lands cultivating wheat or soybean were taken
livelihoods, filling up the already choking slums in the cities and over to grow corn – that, too, is being used for conversion to ethanol and not for
strengthening the army of the unemployed; in the meanwhile, omnipresent satisfying basic human needs; it may be worthwhile to note that 240kg corn,
markets controlled by mafia-like cartels came to dominate every aspect of life enough to feed a family for a year, produces a mere 100 litres of ethanol, just
in the countryside. enough to fill an SUV car. A survey of the Agricultural Department of the USA
More often than not, in keeping with the logic of capitalism, markets would points out that the use of food crops required for producing bio-fuels in that
fluctuate, rising to great heights if the going was good and collapsing if things country have gone up from 11mt in 1995 to 50mt in 2007. Primary agriculture is
took a different turn. A glut here and a slump there would bring forth a crisis; evidently being sacrificed at the altar of the energy needs of the capitalist world.
prices of food products would then be raised or lowered, as the requirement might The price of ethanol, however, is tied to that of crude oil which, in turn, is tied to
be, to cope with the situation. Speculative trading would, thus, gain ground, the US dollar: the higher the fall of the dollar's value in the international currency
becoming the norm over time. Agriculture would be placed on the roulette wheel market, the more the price of crude oil, and that of ethanol. With dollar value
Contd. to page 16 3
TOWARDS tide reaches during the spring time. Low tide line is the level to which the
A NEW D AWN VOL. 1 ISSUE 1 JUNE- JULY 2008 w a t e r r e a c h e s d u r i n g t h e l o w t i d e .
The area in between is called the Inter Tidal Zone.
CRZ TO CMZ-THE CAPITALIST Now, let's take a look at the CRZ notification. CRZ - I - These
GRASP ON THE COASTAL REGIONS regions are classified as “High Risk” and are to be protected by all means.
Classified as Ecologically Sensitive Area, all coral reefs, mangrove
The picture that generally comes to mind when we talk about forests, natural habitats of crabs and turtles, reserve forests on coastal
coastal lands is that of the numerous tourist destinations along the coast line. regions as well as estuaries and deltas and associated lakes come under its
Every day or the other, a new coastal tourist destination is cropping up in purview. These are strictly “no development zone” i.e. no commercial
India, for example, a lot of people from Bengal, enchanted by the picturesque constructions like hotels, factories or beach mining are permitted here.
photographs, visit Mandarmoni , regardless of the fact that the Court has All delta islands in southern Bengal are classified as CRZ-I. So how come
ordered the demolition of these coast line constructions. a chemical hub is being set up at Nayachar, that comes under CRZ-I ? We
It is also evident from the sight of hoards of fishermen at tourist will come to that later.
destinations like Digha, Puri, Shankarpur, Bak Khali, that a lot of people CRZ - II - These are regions that have seen some development and
actually depend on the sea for their livelihood. All of them are either which have constructions within 5 meters of the High tide line. No
fishermen or are engaged in some other peripheral activities related to constructions are permitted within the area between the road and the high
fishing. These people not only catch fish for their living, but also preserve the tide line. These regions come under various Municipal Corporations , for
natural resources of these coastal regions. Coastal Regulation Zone act or example, Puri, Digha.
CRZ was established in 1986 to protect India's coastal regions. And the court
has ordered the demolition of all coastline constructions at Mandanrmoni CRZ – III - These regions have seen no development, but development is
because these constructions do not conform to the CRZ. permitted here. 200 meters from the high tide line is declared as “no
development zone”, however, constructions are permitted after 200
Till date, the CRZ has been amended 19 times, but still aims to meters.
preserve the natural resources at the coastal regions and to restrict the
Capitalist commercialization of these areas. And that's the actual reason for CRZ – IV - Andaman, Nicobar, Lakshwadeep etc. come under this.
the establishment of the Coastal Management Zone or CMZ in 2007. The CRZ act has been amended quite a few times, on the basis of
Although CMZ has not been implemented till date, but once we delve deep recommendation of certain committees, to facilitate commercialization
into its intricacies, the conspiracies to rob us of our natural resources like of the coastline, funded by capitalists. Of all the 19 times CRZ has been
forest, land and water becomes apparent. amended, the decisive committee has cared to consult the local people for
There were 18 large fishing grounds in the world. At present, only 6 only 3 times, and in no cases, has that opinion been included in their
are left, amongst which, the Indian Ocean is an eminent figure. During 2nd recommendation. Construction of Amusement Parks, factories along the
World War, many mines were planted at the sea bed, aimed to destroy enemy coastline and dumping of poisonous chemicals into the sea is causing
Battleships and Submarines. Mine Sweepers were engaged to search and adverse effects. As a result, the mangrove forests have been obliterated
destroy the unused mines. The Mine Sweepers not only destroyed the mines, from Mumbai and fishes have moved 20 km inside the sea. Numerous
but also destroyed precious Coral, Sea Weed and species of Fish.The Fishing lobster farms have cropped up ignoring the CRZ. Hindustan Lever,
Trawler is loosely based on the idea of the Mine Sweeper. Before the tourist Larsen & Toubro, ITC, IFB, AKG are some large companies that have
destinations cropped up, the coastal areas were solely belonged to the fully operational Lobster farms in restricted areas, defying the laws that
fishermen and other inhabitants of the coastal regions. But as is the way with were meant to protect the ecosystem. Chandan Basu, son of former chief
the World nowadays, the sons of soil are being evicted from their homeland minister of Bengal, Jyoti Basu owns a huge lobster farm in Shankarpur.
to make way for the Capitalists. Bijan Nag, another relative of Jyoti Basu, owns a similar farm in
Bakkhali. Chandrababu Naidu and P. Chidambaram, two of the most
The coastline studded with fishing trawlers and fishnets apparently loyal supporters of the american capitalists, own two illegal lobster farms
look dirty and obnoxious to the 'civilized' citizen and so have to make way for of size 80000 acres and 18000 acres. In 1996, an appeal was made to
construction of bridges and hotels. Mangrove forests, which are natural Supreme Court to stop these illegal farms.
breeding grounds for fishes, are being destroyed to facilitate the construction
of Chemical and Petro chemical factories , leaving thousands of fishermen Following are the extracts from the decision of Supreme Court :
jobless and homeless and also causing severe damage to the coastal 1. All lobster farms within 500 meters from the high tide line are to
ecosystem. In Mumbai alone, the count of evicted fishermen has crossed be demolished. It is pretty evident that these illegal farms are in
50,000. CRZ – I.
The Indian coastline spreads for about 8200 km. By official records 2. The damage to the ecosystem caused by the operation of such
of 2005, India has about 3200 villages predominantly resided by fishermen. lobster farms are to be quantified.
Every day, about 30 lakh fishermen go about their job and other 30 lakh 3. All workers who work in those farms are to be paid a salary of
people are engaged in related activities. The figure crosses 2 crores 72 months, after the closure of the farm.
considering the coast as well as the rivers. By the record of Asian
None of the state governments has implemented these decisions
Development Bank, the total number of fishermen in India are 1 crore 46
except the Orissa State Govt. The central as well as the state
lakh 60 thousand and the number of boats is 2 lakh 20 thousand. The total
governments are reluctant to implement the CRZ act. Each and every
count of fish caught was about 65 lakh tonnes in 2006 and the total income
amendment to the CRZ has consistently decreased its effectiveness.
from export was about 8000 crores , which was 3% of the total foreign
Just like all other laws are being 'doctored' to satisfy the sadistic
exchange and the revenue generated was 2nd highest, after Information
needs of World's Capitalist powers, the CRZ was also destined to the
Technology. The fishermen are not just catching fish, they are providing us
same fate. And the fishermen had to pay the price.
with the protein rich food and are also protecting the eco system of the
coastal regions. In spite of the amendments, the CRZ didn't pose any threat to
fishermen. So it made way for a new act, and to gain the credibility
The Indian coastline has no end to its varieties, the main features
for the establishment of the new act, a committee was set up to
being the coast, sea shore, deltas, lagoons, estuaries, coral reefs, salt water
discuss the effectiveness of the CRZ. In July, 2004, under scientist
lakes ,backwaters , coastal grasslands and mangrove forests. But unrestricted
M.S. Swaminathan ( the planner of “Green Revolution” under
tourism, overuse, polluting factories, sand mining etc. are joining hands to
Indira Gandhi ) a committee was set up to review the CRZ, and it was
destroy the eco system, for purely commercial purposes. The CRZ - 91 was
on the basis of their recommendation, that Coastal Zone
established in 1986 as a result of unmitigated protests by the fishermen
Management or CMZ came into play. The notification was published
unions and other organizations, to restrict the consistent erosion of coastal
in 2007, and the part of recommendation that dealt with protecting
regions and resources, funded by the capitalists. According to CRZ-91, the
the ecosystem and the fishermen, was very carefully left out.
coastal regions are marked as Ecologically Sensitive areas. Development in
these areas should not adversely affect the ecosystem at any cost. Like CRZ, CMZ has also been divided into 4 parts, namely CMZ
–I, CMZ-II, CMZ-III and CMZ –IV. Like CRZ -I, CMZ –I has been
According to CRZ, the entire coastal region is divided into 4 types,
classified as Ecologically Sensitive Area in the 2007 notification.
namely CRZ –I, CRZ-II, CRZ-III and CRZ-IV. A few points to be noted in
this respect:- CMZ – I : The “no Development Zone” extending till 500 meters
from the high tide line was henceforth abolished. But development is
The sea region, extending from the coast line and up to 12 nautical
to be carried out according to the Integrated Coastal Zone
miles into the sea is called the local water level
Mangement Plan or ICZMP, which enables the commercialization of
High tide line is the level up to which the high
the restricted areas which previously belonged solely to the
Contd. to page 5
4
Contd. from page 4 TOWARDS
fishermen according to CRZ-I. As a result, the fishermen from these areas A NEW D AWN
are bound to be evicted. This is because under ICZMP, these areas come back line under CMZ would be established, CRZ would cease to
under the direct control of the State/ Central government authorized exist. Not a single established political party has raised voice
Coastal Activity Regulatory body, to make way for the capitalist powers to against CMZ – 2007. The CPI (M), self proclaimed “protector of the
set up their hotels and factories. interests of the hard-working class” has, instead, asked for the
CMZ – II : Densely populated areas that include coastal municipalities, implementation of CMZ. But, after Singur and Nandigram, this was
panchayats having population density of and above 400/sq. km, ports, expected of them.
notified tourist destinations, notified mines and industrial regions, SEZ or The states under CPI(M) control, Bengal and Kerala have
Special Economic Zone, Heritage Zones, notified archeological areas, extensive coastal regions. Unrestricted tourism and
military areas and coastal power plants, all come under this. In CRZ –II , no commercialization has gravely affected the Kerala coast and
constructions were permitted within the area between the road and the adjacent mangrove forests. The 700 sq. km of mangrove forests
coastline. CMZ –II saw the establishment of a new idea called the “set back present in Kerala about 40 years ago has now been reduced to 17 sq.
line”. This set back line is to be decided keeping in mind the natural as well km, slowly destroying the coastal ecosystems. Little imagination is
as artificial or manmade disasters. The development of the coastal regions, needed to visualize the plight of fishermen once CMZ-2007 comes
natural features gathered from satellite images, weather changes and into play.
consequent change of sea level, erosion of coastline etc. all go hand in hand In West Bengal, a total of 4571.49 sq. km comes under CRZ,
to decide the set back line. But all this rubbish is nothing but a veil that 392.4 sq.km under CRZ – III and 14.25 sq. km under CRZ – II.
hides the true intentions, because the CMZ –II is virtually free from all However, hotels in Mandarmoni, illegal lobster farms in Bakkhali,
regulations of weather and pollution control. Fraserganj and Shankarpur have cropped up, completely ignoring
the CRZ regulation, and not without help from the state
Fishermen are strictly prohibited from residing in the area between government.
the set back line and the sea, but no restrictions are imposed on
development of tourism infrastructure, mining or oil drilling, setting up of Now, let's talk about Nayachar. Nayachar is one of the most
ports and fuelling platform for ships, construction of lighthouse and light prominent islands in the delta of Ganga – Brahmaputra, the largest
towers, construction of public toilets, construction of private fisheries, of its kind in the world. According to CRZ, this is an Ecologically
shipyards and coastal defense infrastructure, setting up of railway lines, Sensitive Area, and hence a “no development zone”. And,
roads, electrical towers etc. Not only the coast line, but also underwater Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the “hon'able” chief minister of Bengal,
resources are being offered for extraction to national and foreign had once proposed a golf course and other eco-friendly industrial
capitalists. The most astounding fact is that the permission for such zone in Nayachar. But this is only one instance, among a series of
constructions need to be issued only through the local authorities, namely, proposals, which aim to hand over the Sunderbans and the entire
the gram panchatyats or the municipal corporations. This fact alone clearly Bengal coastline to national/foreign capitalists, under the thin veil
shows the policy of the state/central governments. In a country, where the of “Eco - Tourism”. Sunderban was once almost handed over to the
highest authorities are loyal servants of the capitalist powers, the futile Sahara Group. The people from MarichJhapi was evicted by Jyoti
resistance, if any, of the panchayats or municipal corporations, would Basu's goons, who somehow happen to be CPI(M) cadres, in order
s i n k w i t h o u t a t r a c e to facilitate the establishment of factories by Hindustan Lever and
ITC. Over the years, the CPI(M) has simply handed over huge plots
In fact, CMZ –II has no resemblance with CRZ-II, and the CRZ-III of land to national/foreign capitalists and evicted thousands of
regions are now being reclassified as CMZ-II. The provision of “no people, by falsely claiming that these factories, once set up will
development zone” within 200 meters from the high tide line in CRZ –II is provide livelihood to them, and where these false promises have not
being abolished and not only the coastline, but areas up to 12 nautical mile worked, by sheer brute force. And in order to facilitate the Chemical
into the sea as well as the seabed are slated for the construction of Special Hub at Nayachar, they have recommended the State Coastal
Economic Zone, to satisfy foreign/ national capitalists, leaving thousands Regulation Zone Authority to reclassify Nayachar as CRZ- III from
of fisherman not only homeless, but also without a job. CRZ – I. Although, a few members present at the meeting opposed
CMZ – III : All coastal areas except CMZ - I, II and IV come under CMZ the idea of reclassification on the basis of several reasons , they were
– III. Tourism Infrastructure development as well as mining, SEZ and never taken seriously.
other activities listed in CMZ – II is permitted on both sides of the set back The CPI(M) is preaching that Nayachar is
line. And above all the area up to 12 nautical miles into the sea as well as the completely uninhabited. That is not actually true. It is home to 2500
sea bed is slated to be handed over to capitalist funds, depriving the fishermen, who quite naturally, do not have any legal documents
fishermen who had been fishing here for ages. supporting their claim of Nayachar as their home. And hence they
CMZ –IV : This consists of Andaman, Nicobar, Lakhswadeep and all are destined to be evicted. And after their eviction, Nayachar would
islands of Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. The coastal backwaters that has boast a Chemical Hub, which, in the developed countries like
not been classified as CMZ – I or II can come under CMZ – IV. Else it will U.S.A. and Europe, is widely known as “dirty industry” because of
come under CMZ – III. the severe damage to the ecosystem caused by toxic chemical
wastes.
By comparing CRZ and CMZ, it is quite clear, that in spite of the
amendments, the CRZ act was able to put a leash on the unrestricted
development in coastal regions that destroys the ecosystem along with the This chemical Hub, by Salem would be under the supervision of
lives of thousands of fishermen. This fact is again established in the report notorious American MNC Dow Chemicals. All major American
of the Swaminathan committee which states that the majority of fishermen rivers are polluted due to the release of toxic chemicals into their
organizations were satisfied with the CRZ act, because the CRZ was meant waters , and now this dirty industry is being encouraged in
to protect the ecosystem by prohibiting major constructions or Ecologically Sensitive Areas in India. The strict laws regulating
development along the coast. Inevitably, the CRZ went into the bad books pollution levels in developed countries considerably reduce the
of the capitalists and made way for CMZ. profit earned from this chemical business, and hence Dow
Chemicals is forced to set foot in India, where the laws, although
Under the CMZ, the fishermen are not only rendered homeless, but at present, can always be overlooked in lieu of some cash. Dow
the same time are prohibited to carry on fishing within 12 nautical miles Chemical also owns the Union Carbide.
from the coast. And since, most of them lack the advanced equipment and
facilities to support fishing deep into the sea, they would be without a A chemical hub in Nayachar would destroy numerous species of
living. In fact, deep sea fishing would inevitably come under capitalist fishes, crabs and turtles. It would also destroy the Sunderbans. No
grasp in future. And since CMZ is virtually free of all restrictions, mindless matter what the CPI(M) say, the rate of employment in chemical
rape of the natural resources would continue. factory is very less, as can be seen from the Haldia Petrochemicals.
The stunning bridge on sea in Mumbai is slowly poisoning the
There is a special type of seaweed that is required for manufacture of adjacent sea and rendering it unfit for fishing purposes, the effort to
Nail polish, lipsticks and other cosmetic products. L'oreal, the Cosmetic construct a bridge over Amazon is destroying the world's largest
giant, has already applied for a SEZ for setting up a cosmetic factory. rain forest in Brazil. The setting up of the chemical hub will
Unrestricted sand mining would eventually obliterate natural breeding similarly affect the Sunderbans. Our duty, at this moment, is to stop
grounds for turtles and fishes , already evident from the decreasing this at any cost, by any means necessary.
number of mangrove forests .
Till date, CRZ -91 is in place. But the moment the ICZMP and the set Booklet by Forum against SEZ
5
TOWARDS
A NEW D AWN population, and trumpeted their victory as the victory of their industrial
policies. The policies were to donate land to the big industries at the cost
of exchequer, the public money, to evict people from their farm land and
Social movements in West Bengal & livelihood, allowing the industries to use the nature to their own will and
whim, not to take consent of the people who would suffer most from these
Little Magazines actions, leave alone to discuss with them, to use colonial rules to
implement the land grabbing program, to allow to set up Special
-Premanshu Dasgupta Economic Zone, a colonial design, inside West Bengal and lastly to
‘It is the best of times. It is the worst of times'. I beg apology for follow a diehard capitalist path and that too in the name of communistic
taking the liberty of changing the verbs of the two famous lines of ideology and theory. The CPI (M) has its own interpretation of the role of
Dickens from past to present. In the present context of West Bengal the communist party in an underdeveloped country. According to them it
quoting these sentences is too great a temptation to ignore. Strange! The is theoretically correct for a communist party to throw their full weight in
lines though written centuries ago have not yet lost their poignant support of the development of capitalism in a capitalist way.
st
relevance. In west Bengal the first decade of 21 century possibly could
well be either the best of times or the worst of times. History repeats, So it was inevitable that all kind of hells would break loose in West
they say. But repetition happens not in the events but in the autocratic Bengal after the election. Singur, considered to be one of the most fertile
behavior of the rulers and the consequent resistance of the people who lands of the country, was handed over to Tata without taking consent of
are ruled. Did not Karl Marx tell us that history was all about class the people, not even the consent of the local Panchayet. People of Singur
struggle alone? rose in protest. The unique feature of the protest was that it was not
sponsored or led by any political party. Genuinely people, particularly,
2006 election to the Assembly of West Bengal has become a turning women's voice was first heard in the state. Possibly the seeds of true
point to the history of the state and possibly of India as a whole. We see in democracy was thus sowed in the context of Singur movement.
this a possibility of emergence of a state either with a pro people Nandigram followed. Again the people from grass root rose in
ideology and idealism in a new form or with a diehard reactionary rules protest`with arms in arms. No political party can claim that Nandigram
and rulers. Why do we mark 2006 so special of all the 31 years for which movement is the result of their sustained work or propaganda or
the left front or CPI (M), in particular, has been ruling the state? Because campaign. People took the initiative; they decided the nature of
the reactionary traits of the party or the front never lay so strongly and resistance; they decided the course that the movement would follow.
violently open as they did after the 2006 election. This has exposed CPI Political parties joined the fray but not before the movement gained
(M)'s true face and politics to such an extent that it is becoming momentum. With the conviction of a fascist that they understood what
extremely difficult for the party to hold on its leftist mask. This was of was right and needed for the people and that the majority of the people
utmost importance for the people of the state to look for an alternative. were with them, the CPI (M) party brought out all their fangs and let the
2006 has set the ball rolling for search of an alternative. If this search steam roller of oppression loose on the protesting masses. The result was
becomes successful the future may be better if not the best or in other well known because it happened elsewhere so many times before. It
words if this search is not successful the future may be worse if not the culminated into death, murder, arson, looting, massacre, injuries and
worst. The formation of 'Little Magazine Samonnoy Mnacha' in West rape. History repeated itself.
Bengal has taken place in this critical juncture of the state's history. This
can be explained as a part of the search which we are discussing about. West Bengal government in its 31years rule has tried to spread its wings
of influence to almost all parts of human lives. They organize many
It is not only the little magazines those have come together to form an cultural festivals where the control of the government is very strong. No
organisation to voice their protest against what is being forced on the such festivals or functions can be successfully held without the
people of the state in the name of development and industrialisation. The government's interference. All such functions are bureaucratically
situation in the state is so highly charged with emotions and debates on organized by few henchmen of the party. People's initiative here is totally
many political and economic issues that many such organisations from absent. The reason is simple. In this way they can project themselves as
various cross sections of the mass have formed since 2006 May. All the champions of cultural activities and at the same time by sponsoring
these organisations have one common objective. That is, to send the these events and introducing award giving system in almost all sphere of
message to the rulers, 'In the name of development and industrialisation culture they can keep the criticizing mouth shut. This was the reason why
stop violation of democracy' West Bengal in spite of seeing so many cruel incidents where the party or
the Government had hands either in killing people or in perpetrating
Yes, the democracy has become the focal point of all the issues those are atrocities has not heard the protesting voices of the otherwise political
creating waves of movement in the state. After the election of 2006 the urban middleclass. There was protest but it was never loud enough to be
ruling front secured 235 seats in assembly. In terms of seats it is an heard because the number of protesting people was not very significant.
overwhelming majority. But if we go deeper into the analysis of polled Little Magazines were a part of this small group. We can't say that all the
vote we shall see that the left front enjoys support of only 35% of the Little Magazines had an anti establishment stand but there were a good
population of the state and to be more precise, only 25 to 27% of number of magazines that continuously tried to write against the ill sides
population has lent their 'support' to CPI (M). Also there are questions of the CPI (M) regime. They paid the price. They were threatened,
about the capturing of votes by a dubious manner which is defined as intimidated, harassed, and vilified.
'scientific rigging' by the opposition. But the parliamentary democracy
in India has its own flaw. Even after enjoying the support of a very The government organizes a Little Magazine fair every year inside
minority section of the population a party can claim, they are the true Nandan and Rabindra Sadan premise. The land of Singur was forcefully
representative of the entire population of state or county. They would acquired on 2nd December of 2006 and the fare was scheduled to
never lend their ears to what the rest of the population has to say. West commence on 11th January, 2007. There was thought among the activists
Bengal and CPI (M) was no exception. of few little magazine of boycotting the fair. The editors of the magazines
considered that non cooperation with the Government would be the best
The West Bengal Government started loosing its direction from way to register their protest against the Singur incident. Meanwhile the
around late eighties in the last century. Suddenly they realized that the number of people participating in protest was swelling. Initiatives from
development and industrialization are synonymous. The governance of different corners were being taken to organize united protest against what
th
the state has been too poor to build its own fund to finance industries. was happening in Singur. The day was 18 December, 2006. Editors and
Therefore in search of fund and industries they opened the doors to the workers of 18 little Magazines assembled that day in the evening to
industrial houses and laid red carpets for them. Immediately before the discuss the stand to be taken regarding the ensuing Little Magazine fair.
2006 election the slogan of development and industrialization reached The discussion was inconclusive but it was decided that they would sit
its peak. And when after the election the front found that their share of again soon with more number of workers of Little magazines.
seats in assembly was more than 75% they denied all other aspects of the Incidentally 18th December, 2006 struck with a tumultuous tragedy. In
results of the election, like they enjoy support of only 35% of the Singur the charred body of Tapasi Malik, a 17 year old girl from a land
Contd. to page 13
6
TOWARDS
A NEW D AWN
FACE TO FACE
Q 3.What are the activities you are going to organize to focus on
state terror?
An interview with Pranab Nayak, the Secretary of 'Forum
Ans. Organization have drawn up a programme to visit the
Against State Terrorism'. affected places , investigate all forms of abuse and violation of human
rights in West Bengal, offer material and legal help to the victims and
apprise the human rights commission. We have also decided to
Q 1. Why have you formed an organization by the name of Forum organize seminars, workshops and public meetings within and
Against State Terrorism even there are organizations like APDR and outside West Bengal from time to time to raise the level of public
Bandi Mukti Committee (organization for the release of political consciousness regarding the growing danger of police excesses and
prisoners) to fight for the protection of human rights? atrocities we are also trying to build up a network with other national
Ans. We are well aware that there are such mass organizations like and international bodies interested on protecting human rights.
Bandi Mukti Committee and Association for the Protection of Human Q 4. How do you look upon the Salwa Judum? Manipur
Rights to defend the constitutional rights of the citizens of India and resist Government is also trying to organize a similar private army there.
the violation of human rights by the Central and State governments. Have you taken up any programme to resist all these fascist
Many of us are associated with these organizations. These two organizations?
organizations have rendered immense service in defending the
fundamental rights of the people. But we have felt that the task of the first Ans. Salwa Judum is formed in Chhattisgarh on the pattern of
organization is limited to the release of political prisoners and the Ranabir Sena in Bihar. Recently, another such organization called
exposure of the government's cruel treatment with the political prisoners Nagarik Suraksha Samiti has been formed in Jharakhand. A so called
and harassment of political activists, and some such activities. The Ganatantrik Suraksha Samity has lately surfaced in West Medinipur
second organization has a wider range of activities and, as its name district. All these are organized by the governments and ruling parties
indicates, it tries hard to fight against any violation of democratic rights with the declared objective to tackle headlong on Maoist rebels. It is
of the people –rights which are guaranteed in the constitution of India, also heard that a terroristic private army is going to be formed in
and to establish democratic values in the country. But very recently Manipur. Such fascist organizations are bound to crop up as the
people of India are witnessing with grave concern the most gruesome people increasingly come forward to resist the attack of the ruling
manifestation of the terror which are perpetrated by the State on the class on their life and property. Our Forum is thinking of forming
innocent people and the workers and leaders of mass movement and similar organizations in other states on a war-footing to fight against
opposition parties and even on its own employees. Not only that, State is state repression. You have to give us some time to develop a strong
also organizing or helping the formation of private armies to repress the organization on an all-India basis.
growing mass movements and mass protests against the anti-people
policies of Central and State governments. Both the Central government Contd. from page 13
and the State governments of various hues are equally to blame. These Little Magazines
terrorist activities of the governments and their sponsored hoodlums are
producing fear psychosis in the country. The problem is of such a vast stabilizing our organization. We convened one meeting of the members in
dimension and the challenge is so great that response on the part of the September, 2007 to discuss the direction the Mancha to follow. The
organizations like APDR and BMC seem to be inadequate. It is in such a discussion, though inconclusive, was very lively with the participation of
circumstance that many well-intentioned people of West Bengal and great number of representatives of various Magazines. There we took one
very important decision that we would hold our own Little Magazine fair.
other states have come forward to condemn deter repression on the part
of the state machinery and to help their hapless victims, with that end in When CPI (M) in early November, 2007 launched vicious armed
view, we have formed Forum Against State Terrorism (FAST) with the campaign to gain control over Nandigram there was a permanent Mancha
active participation of some eminent citizens. at Metro Channel, Kolkata what was named NANDIGRAM MANCHA
Q 2. Will you give us a recent picture of State terrorism in West Bengal ? by Mahasweta Devi. Relayed hunger strike by different organizations
followed for about 30 days. Our Mancha members participated in the
Ans. West Bengal as one of the states of India implementing the movement and 4 members observed fast on 4th December, 2007. We also
policies of Central Government at the behest of foreign imperialist had organized cultural program on the day which was attended by a large
powers and native big capitalists and big landlords is not lagging behind number of people.
in resorting to repressive measures to suppress the people's movement.
The practice of arbitrary arrest, detention and torture including extra Then came the red letter day for our Mancha. Between 4th and 6th January,
judicial killings was rampant during the Naxalite unrest in the 1960s and 2008 we had our own Little Magazine fair in Presidency college maidan.
1070s have been repeated during the three decades of uninterrupted Left We all waited for this. We said earlier that all the fairs in West Bengal are
Front rule. Here unrestrained politicization of the police and bureaucratically managed under the guidance of few persons who are in
administration and criminalization of policies have replaced the rule of the good book of the party. These affairs never become the product of joint
law which is the basis of democracy, by the rule of one Party. Acting in initiatives of all quarters. The editors of Little Magazines also felt the
the party, police is perpetrating high crimes with impunity in the name of pinch of the autocratic management of the annual Little Magazine fair.
maintaining law and order, unlawful arrest, detention and torture of Now Mancha has become the centre of initiatives of the magazine
individuals in false cases have surpassed all previous records. The police workers. We tried our best to listen to all suggestions so that democratic
values get honour. About 135 Little Magazines participated in the fair.
CPM brutalities perpetrated on unarmed men and women and children in
th With discussions, cultural functions and good presence of crowd every
Nandigram on 14 March and 6-12 November under the instigation of day the fair assumed the highest order of spontaneity. We have reasons to
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and other CPM top hats have feel the satisfaction of traveling a considerable distance in the context of
surpassed all previous records. Quite recently during and after the the people movement which is seeking for alternatives.
Panchayet elections CPM cadres with the backing of police and State
administration have created bloodbath by killing and wounding We are aware that many more miles we shall have to travel to make a
hundreds of workers and supporters of the opposite party. As in other meaningful contribution to the people's upsurge that is sweeping the state.
states, West Bengal government is raising the bogey of Maoist Our Mancha has come to existence in a particular objective condition. As
insurgency in Nandigram, Singur and other places to suppress people's long as we shall be able to satisfy the conditions, our presence would be
movement there against the eviction of peasants from land in the name of strong and relevant. We are conscious about the demand of the time and
industrialization. The picture will be all the more horrible in near future if people. We shall not shrug off our responsibility. We were iconoclast, we
well-meaning people face to resist the onslaught of the fascist shall remain iconoclast. Probably that is the primary condition of our
government. In West Bengal, SP of Birbhum has circulated leaflets existence.
announcing award of Rs.5000 for information leading to arrest of a -Writer is the conveynor of Little Magazine Samannoy (Prastuti) Mancha.
Maoist rebel.

7
TOWARDS
A NEW D AWN because more working people are turning to them when their paycheck
Can the whole world be fed? doesn't make it. Demand is up 15 to 20 percent over last year, and the pantries
are serving "folks who get up and go to work every day," Bill Bolling,
By Elizabeth Schulte founder of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, told USA Today. "That's
Source: Socialist Worker remarkably different than the profile of who we've served through the years."
This flies in the face of the commonly held idea that average Americans and a
We live in a world that has the capacity to feed everyone in it. And culture of overconsumption and waste are eating up the world's resources.
yet, each day, hundreds of millions of people around the globe go to bed Of course, examples abound of people who get much more than their fill, in
without enough to eat. elite hotels and restaurants around the globe--but they are a small fraction of
THE DEPTH of the global food crisis is best expressed by what poor the population. And when these parasites gorge themselves, they steal from
people are eating to survive. In Burundi, it is farine noir, a mixture of black the mouths of poor people everywhere--in less developed countries, but also
flour and moldy cassava. In Somalia, a thin gruel made from mashed thorn- in wealthy nations like the U.S.
tree branches called jerrin. In Haiti, it is a biscuit made of yellow dirt. Food THE POTENTIAL exists to eliminate hunger and malnutrition
inflation has sparked protests in Egypt, Haiti, Mexico and elsewhere. Tens of anywhere in the world. What stands in the way of our ability to feed each and
thousands protested earlier this month [MAY2008]in Mogadishu, as the every person is really the system we live under--capitalism. The drive for
price of a corn meal rose twofold in four months. And while the crisis seemed profit at the heart of the system--where things like food, which should be
to come out of nowhere, the reality of hunger is a regular feature of life for viewed as a fundamental right, are seen as commodities to be bought and
millions of people. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization sold--is really the source of the problem. No amount of technology can
(FAO) estimates that 854 million people worldwide are undernourished. overcome this fundamental fact.
Hunger isn't simply the result of unpredictable incidents like the cyclone that Thus, during the Great Depression, while millions of poor and
struck Myanmar. In most cases, millions teeter on the edge of survival long unemployed Americans went hungry, U.S. farmers were facing the exact
before the natural disasters hit. According to UN Millennium Project Web opposite problem: They were producing too much food to keep prices from
site, of the 300 million children who go to bed hungry every day, only "8 falling. So at the same time that millions of poor and unemployed people
percent are victims of famine or other emergency situations. More than 90 stood in breadlines for food assistance, food crops were being destroyed,
percent are suffering long-term malnourishment and micronutrient because no profit could be made from giving it away.
deficiency." As the author John Steinbeck wrote in the Grapes of Wrath: The
The technology and know-how exist to make our capacity to works of the roots of the vines, of the trees, must be destroyed to keep up the
produce food even greater--if this were made a priority. As part of a recent price, and this is the saddest, bitterest thing of all. Carloads of oranges
series on the global food crisis, the Washington Post described the damage dumped on the ground. The people came for miles to take the fruit, but this
being done by gnat-sized insects called "brown plant hoppers." Billions of could not be. How would they buy oranges at 20 cents a dozen if they could
them are destroying rice crops in East Asia and putting millions of poor drive out and pick them up? …… million people hungry, needing the fruit-
people at risk of going hungry. and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains...
The threat could easily be eliminated with the creation of rice strains There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a
resistant to this pest, but that hasn't happened--because funding for research sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that
projects has been cut. The International Rice Research Institute used to have topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy
five entomologists, or insect experts, overseeing a staff of 200 in the 1980s. trunks and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a
Now it has one entomologist, with a staff of eight. profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the
The world's wealthiest countries and their international loan certificate--died of malnutrition--because the food must rot, must be forced
organizations, like the World Bank, have cut money for agricultural research to rot.
programs. According to the Post, "Adjusting for inflation and exchange rates, Capitalism is a chaotic system, where starvation can exist amid
the wealthy countries, as a group, cut such donations roughly in half from plenty, and where a disaster seems to loom around every corner. In Mexico,
1980 to 2006, to $2.8 billion a year from $6 billion. The United States cut its for example, the price of tortillas went up 60 percent last year. Increased
support for agriculture in poor countries to $624 million from $2.3 billion in demand for American farmers to divert corn for use in ethanol as opposed to
that period." corn for food was largely to blame for the skyrocketing prices of this
Mexican staple. But Walden Bello of Focus on the Global South asked an
SEARCHING FOR answers to the crisis, some people argue that important question in a recent article: "How on earth did Mexicans, who live
"there simply isn't enough to go around," or that there are "too many" people in the land where corn was domesticated, become dependent on U.S. imports
to feed in a world of limited resources. This argument has been around for in the first place?"
many decades. In effect, it tries to blame starvation on the starving During the 1980s, in return for bailouts from the IMF and World
themselves. And it simply isn't true. Bank, Mexico was forced "liberalize" its trade policies, and this accelerated
"The food crisis appeared to explode overnight, reinforcing fears under the North American Free Trade Agreement. U.S. farm products
that there are just too many people in the world," wrote Eric Holt-Giménez flooded the Mexican market, and agribusiness giants like Cargill reaped
and Loren Peabody of Food First. "But according to the FAO, with record huge profits. Mexican farmers couldn't possibly compete. International "aid"
grain harvests in 2007, there is more than enough food in the world to feed is organized around the principle not of solving poverty but of making
everyone--at least 1.5 times current demand. In fact, over the last 20 years, profits--and in the process, it usually leads to more suffering. In Ethiopia, the
food production has risen steadily at over 2.0 percent a year, while the rate of poverty "experts" at the World Bank forced the country to devote good land
population growth has dropped to 1.14 percent a year. Population is not not to food crops, but to export crops to sell on the world market. As a result,
outstripping food supply." the famine of the 1980s were made even worse.
The problem isn't that there isn't enough food. The problem is that These crises aren't aberrations, but are built into the system. A recent
the people who need it are too poor to buy it. This is the case around the globe, Time magazine article grudgingly commented, "The social theories of Karl
including some of the wealthiest countries in the world. Marx were long ago discarded as of little value, even to revolutionaries. But
In the U.S., food pantries report being stretched to the breaking point he did warn that capitalism had a tendency to generate its own crises." The
Contd. to page 9
8
TOWARDS
Contd. from page 8 A NEW D AWN
World be fed? Using this logic, the big political parties like Congress, BJP, CPM as well
Time article was titled "How Hunger Could Topple Regimes." as, the regional ruling parties are welcoming the domestic and foreign
The current system and its warped priorities can't possibly accomplish investors in retail business. Some of them are campaigning for domestic
something as important as feeding the world's people. It will take a capital only. Some are protesting just to secure their vote bank.
society organized on a completely different basis to achieve this. If we Why are we opposing?
could harness the resources wasted on the pursuit of profit--including the At present only 4% of retail business is dominated by organized
wars that our government funds around the globe--we could feed the sector and the aim is to control 20% of retail business, in next 4-5 years.
world many times over. One survey says, if Walmart has only one outlet, in each of 35 Indian
cities, with more than 1 million populations, then the turn over will be of
PRESENT SCENARIO OF RETAIL 8033 crore rupees and 10,195 people will be employed. At the same time,
432,000 persons, related to Indian retail market will be jobless. That
BUSINESS IN INDIA: means, every Walmart employee will be responsible for unemployment
- Ashrujit Nandy of 42 person related to Indian retail market. It negates the view of
employment generation.

·There are around 15 million retail center in India. So the middlemen, who play an important role between
·According to 2001 census, near about 30 million people were in producers and consumers, will be thrown out from the scenario. It is
retail business; among them, 19million in rural area, and already noticed from the western capitalist countries, that, initially the
11million in cities. 17million of them were non-matric. At farmers and small scale producers get more profit due to removal of
present, the number of people involved in retail business has middlemen. But, later, as they completely depend on the big investors,
been increased to almost 40 million, which is approximately 7- they have no choice other than selling their product to investors, and
8% of total number of employed Indians. Only agricultural area finally the farmers are forced to sell in the price set by the investors,
involves more man power than retail business. compromise with the conditions, and the labors related to small scale
·Total transaction in retail business is 90 billion Rs/year. production are forced to work more and get less paid. On the other hand,
·Only 4% of this sector is organized initially the big investors sell the product in lesser price, only to capture
·Number of retail center per 1000 people is highest in India, 11 the market. But when the market is completely monopolized, they force
retail centers / 1000 people. the customers to pay high price for their product. Just to increase the
profit, they compel the farmers to sign contracts and grow only the
·14% of GDP comes from retail business.
profitable crops. Use of high-tech seeds, excessive amount of pesticides
·Total 160million of Indians, directly or indirectly depends on and fertilizers, preservatives to store the huge production finally affects
retail business. the farmers and farm lands. In the vicinity of the large outlets, the small
scale retail business is decreased by 40-50%, resulting in
unemployment, poverty, social problems like drug addiction, domestic
violence, criminal and suicidal tendencies. In last 15 years, though the
Why the domestic and multinational investors are interested in GDP has increased, there is no significant employment generation.
Indian retail market? Today for many Indian, small scale retailing is the only way to earn
bread. Hawker eviction, implementation of VAT, all is to help the big
The aim of the capitalists is to search and gain more profit. investors. Just within 10 years of business, Walmart has captured 20% of
Because of unimaginable economic stagnancy in the western capitalist the Mexican retail market. Now Mexican government is looking for
countries, they are forced to adapt globalization, privatization and open ways to protect their small scale business sector. Even in USA, many
market policy, in order to sustain there capital. Now it is not possible for business houses had to close their business because of Walmart.
them to invest in their own product based sectors. They are looking for Germany and South Korea has banned walmart for selling products in
new areas of investment and their new target is the large retail market of less than the production cost. In Thailand, due to big investors, 60,000
India. At present big capital controls only 4% of Indian retail market. shops are closed. A survey, done by prof. Anuradha Kalhan of Mumbai,
They want to reach 20% in next 4 -5 years, i.e. near about 200,000 crore Joy Hindu College, says that there is a 71% decrease in small scale
rupees. Walmart, Costco of USA, Metro, Aldi, Rewi of Germany, business due to two shopping malls in Mulund. Around 87% grocery
Carifore of France, Ahold of Netherlands, Tesco of Britain, Reliance, shops admit loss in their business. 63% of the small scale retailer has fear
RPG, Spinach, Subhiksha, Tata, Pantaloons, Birla, Bharati and others of losing their business. In 92% families next generation is not interested
are trying to capture the retail market. in this business anymore. 72 % hawkers are humiliated by the shopping
mall agents. 17% businessmen are reported pay more bribes and illegal
Walmart : World's largest retail organization. Annual turn over is about weekly fees to these agents. In another survey it is observed that in delhi
350 billion USD, which is more than that of entire retail market of India. , within one km radius of reliance fresh, there is 88% decrease of
Presently they are interested in joint venture with Bharti group. business of shop owners and hawkers. 45% have reported that their
business has gone down by 50%. 59% are thinking of leaving the
Pantaloons: Largest group in essential commodities sector of India. They business because of excessive losses. Already many vegetable vendors
are planning to build 2500 outlets, investing 30,000 crore rupees, by have left the business in Lakshminagar and Paharganj area.
2010.
So our appeal is to unite against these big investors and the
Reliance: Planned to have few thousands of outlets in 784 cities of India. political parties who are just resourses to provide food, health and
By 2010, aimed annual turn over is 90,000 crore rupees with present education to all the Indians, it's the time to raise the question why 80%
investment of 30,000 crore. people are deprived from the basic needs. So mass movement is the only
solution to protect ourselves from the brutal aggression of the state and
Big investors want to have 25-30 thousands outlets in next 4-5 years. big capital.
They are trying to capture the retail market by investing crores of money.
. Already people are retaliating.
According to the supporters of large investors in retail market:
In Chennai, Ranchi, Bhubaneshwar, Indore and Patna,
Generate employment. organized movement has forced Reliance Fresh and Spencer's to close
Due to complete abolition of middleman system, price will be low. their outlets.
Growers and producers will gain more.

9
TOWARDS
A NEW D AWN distributed and that fewer bargadars are left to be enlisted.”
Thus the campaign that is continuously being carried out by CPM about
PANCHAYET SYSTEM: OPPRESSION their successful implementation of land reform has been exposed by a
committee appointed by them. The committee further stated that the
AND SUPPRESSION IN THE NAME OF villages have more than 555 of the population living below poverty line
however seldom their representation has been found in any post of
POLITICAL DECENTRALIZATION panchayet in any level.
- Abhijnan Sarkar In few words the initiative to do away with the distance between the MP,
MLAs and the village commoners failed miserably and the entire panchayet
system became a centre for political individuals, feudal lords, party
Alongside the economic policy of centralization by the British Government in appointed school teachers, lumpens and so on.
India, the parallel policy of de-centralization of political power was rather The CPM has repeatedly mentioned their pioneering effort in implementing
remarkable, with the proposals made in 1882 by Lord Rippon which projected panchayet system by which democratic practice was supposedly percolated
the local self-governance as the school of political awareness. And likewise in to the grass root. However nothing can be further from the truth! If only
1885 The Bengal Regional self-governance Act was passed and was later participation in elections by the masses is considered to be a measure of the
transformed to The Bengal Village self-governance Act passed in 1909. Later in democratization of the system then we cannot deny that America is
1957, according to West Bengal panchayet act, the terms 'union board', 'district democratic just because a high percentage of its population comes out to
board' were changed to 'gram panchayet', 'panchayet region' etc. More reforms vote. Without initiating any alteration of the class structure of the villages,
like West Bengal District Act was introduced in 1963 and in 1973 during the simply talking of democracy is not just a lie but is a design of the state
fascist rule of Siddhartha Sankar Ray was introduced the West Bengal Panchayet machinery to spread out. Even Gandhi's consideration of decentralized
Act. It was in this act that the three stage panchayet system was introduced and is power of panchayet, implementation of Ram's kingdom was utopian as it
today the base of the 'Left' Front Government panchayet system with minor bypassed the fundamental question of feudalistic oppression. Not just the
changes. parliamentary 'Left' but even the ex-Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi painted a
The Indian government had set up several committees to review the efficiency of glorious picture of future after implementation of panchayet. He remarked
this system, so that the state control over the masses can penetrate to the most “owing to the failure to make the people at the grass root level to participate
marginal and grass root level and at the same time becomes acceptable to the in democracy, some politicians are able to misuse power. When 100-500
masses as 'self-governance'. Most debated in this respect is the 1957 Mohit people stat to elect their representatives, then the representative will be
Committee (the committee famous for advocating 'panchayet raj' in the whole under the surveillance of the village and his power and practice will be
country) Report which pointed out that “the current system works in favor of a limited to the boundary of the village, and not the state capital or national
minor section of the society i.e. the ruling class and fails to address the needs of capital.” Even the 73 and 77th amendment also speaks similarly in favor of
the weaker class. Even the 1977 Ashok Meheta report mentioned that the system ensuring and establishing the presence of the eyes and ears of state at the
was failing and “the dissent of the masses against the neglect is increasing” and grass root level. And by involving the farmers to participate in this form of
the recommendation was direct and deeper relation between the villages and the democracy, it is attempted to distract them from the any course of rural
parliament. The present advocacy of decentralized self governance is nothing revolution.
more than the design to bring everyone under the state control and amongst the In the much propagated panchayet election in West Bengal, where
several ruling class parties; the CPI (M) has grasped it most profoundly as is the 'Left' Front claims to have established model panchayet system, it is
evident from the rigidly successful implementation of the system in West usual to find that opposition are forced not to take part. In 1978 'Left' Front
Bengal. Within this system are the inseparable presence of corruption, regional won 338 seats uncontested. Similarly in 1983, the number was 332,
rise of bureaucracy and the generous patronage of the new class – comprising of however in 1988 it became 4,200, in 1993 1,916, it decreased somewhat in
non-peasant landowners, traders of seeds, fertilizers etc. who have in terms 1998 to 600 but then in the bloody election of 2003 it leaped to 6,800. In
preserved the semi-feudal framework of the system – that has emerged holding 2003, not just the opposition but the Front partners complained of their
the hand of the 'Left'. The central congress government along with the World candidates being forced to withdraw. The 2008 elections were bloodiest by
Bank and the DFDI has praised the 'Left' front in no uncertain terms for this far with opposition as well as partner candidates being killed and villagers
successful implementation of the system, a system which helps preserve the threatened, killed, houses burnt and looted. Even after this when the results
interests of the semi-feudal structure, the imperialist capital and the national were devastating for the CPM, it is worth noticing how the party won
corporate. With the implementation of neo-liberal policies, the congress uncontested seats in Keshpur, Garbeta and many other places.
implemented the 73rd constitutional amendment where it was mentioned in the
243B that “it is the responsibility of the State government to implement the
panchayet system in the village level, the intermediate level and the district The myth of Land reform by the CPM government:
level.”
In the 1950s, the feudal lords and the remaining kings had their
traditional power somewhat cut to size, further in and around 1955 the
In the 1978 elections, the CPM's party strength was 30,000 most of whom were massive national and international socialist movements and peasant
city based, they hardly had much organizational strength in villages. However in uprisings to an extent forced the national government to bring about the land
the panchayet elections they managed to nominate almost 70,000 candidates. reform acts. Then in 1960s faced with the Naxalbari uprising and its
This was made possible by the overnight decision by the ruling class of the national spread out, the CPM was forced to act by organizing protests and
villages to join CPM. This was important for the CPM to develop presence in demanding the program of grabbing lands from the landlords above a
villages and the ruling class took this opportunity to maintain their dominance. specific ceiling and redistributing them. The Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
This class had clearly understood in 1977 that the CPM will not grab and and American experts all agreed to the proposal of the CPM peasant leader
distribute land from them and remarkably in the panchayet elections only 7% and Minister Harakrishna Konar. They all agreed to the fact that this might
were landless peasants or bargadar, whereas 93% were the village upper class. succeed in containing the red revolution. Many peasants across the country
succeeded in keeping the lands forcefully grabbed from their feudal
In 1992 the panchayet minister of state Suryakanta Mishra asked the landlords since the 1967 movements.
g o v e r n o r o f P u n j a b a n d I C S N i r m a l
Mukherjee to review the work of the panchayet. Later Mukherjee and the Mr. Debabrata Bandopahayay (whose contribution was
director of Asian Development Bank Debabrata Mukherjee jointly reviewed the recognized then by Harakrishna Konar as well as today by Binoy Konar)
system and published 'The New Horizon of west Bengal Panchayet' in 1993. was closely related to the land reform in Bengal during the time of United
Some sections are remarkable: “the initial interest of the panchayet system was Front and 'Left” Front. He wrote in Economic and Political Weekly (15th
declining from 1983 onwards. Finally after the third panchayet in 1988 no more November 2003 issue) that the major amount of land above ceiling had
interest was there. The dependence on the Johar income plan was so high that if already been grabbed by peasants or distributed during the United Front
the system is abolished, the panchayet will have no more work at hand, to the Government (1969-1970). Moreover the 'operation barga' was completed
extent that the only way will be to abolish the panchayet system as a whole. The from 1972-82. The 2004 human Resource development report of the West
removal of land distribution system from under the panchayet supervision has Bengal government states that the number of enlisted bargadar as on 2000
also led to feeling that there is nothing left to achieve in that respect….the land was 16.8 lakhs i.e. 20.2% of the families living of agriculture. The net land
reform was this much important an issue at the grass root level, however it is recovered during 'operation barga' was 11 lakhs acre i.e. a mere 8.2% of
wrongly been stated as exhausted. Without bringing into consideration the arable land, however almost 20% barga were entitled to be enlisted. This
several cases pending with court, it is being stated that very little land is left to be even if some hope was seen by the peasants at the beginning of the
Contd. to page 11
10
Contd. from page 10 TOWARDS
panchayet system, much of it was lost after less than half of the A NEW D AWN
sharecroppers were enlisted. The same report mentions that the 11 lakhs acre While the land is getting accumulated in the hands of few and the upper
land was distributed amongst 27.5 lakhs landless peasants. However it is class is flourishing, the 20th Party Congress of CPM (2002) attacked those
well recognized that more than half of that land was already in the hands of who held the view that “to strengthen the peasant movement, land ceiling
the peasants as a result of the peasant movements of 1960s-70s. Further must be lowered further.” Economist Sachidananda Dutta Ray had written
some 3 lakhs of the land was never distributed by the government at all, in 2005, backed by statistics, that according to the recommendation of
strangely some 13.23% patta owners lost their lands and 14.37 percent of planning commission, if 2400 calories is taken to be the minimum
bargadars were evicted during this 'Left' rule when the panchayets were requirement of an individual then 77% of rural population is below that
involved in this redistribution. In this situation, when these peasants had to (Anandabazar Patrika, 22-12-2005). As the economic condition of the
depend on the money lenders, and forced to buy seeds and fertilizers from rural population further declines, the inseparable ruling class and the CPM
MNCs, resulting in fall in productivity some people were reaping the fruits together are protecting and promoting the semi-feudalistic social structure
of profits. Whether this was made possible by the village upper class, who based on the market, capital and other exploiting agents.
had their interest in the semi-feudal and crony-capitalist social structure, by
changing of parties from Congress to CPM, or otherwise is being felt by the
poor and landless peasants of the villages. They are getting the answers CPM Government, peasant eviction and food crisis:
every day.

Just before the panchayet elections 2008, Ashim Dasgupta


Deciding Land Ceiling & Distributing Fragments of Land or Enlisting pretended to be granting all wishes of the poor. In the previous budgets as
Bargadars cannot be the Only Face of Land Reform: well there was no dearth of promises, just last year he had declared to buy
30,000 acres of land and re-distribute among the peasants. Previously
CPM shouted of distributing land above ceiling among peasants, but today
By distributing small segments of land and imposing seeds, it has resorted to land grabbing from poor peasants and passing it on to the
chemical fertilizers and pesticides manufactured by MNCs, the production hands of a newly rich landlord class. After this it had kept quiet about the
initially improved, then they stagnated, more importantly these crops land above ceiling for quite long until it declared the social democratic line
drained so much out of the lands that the traditional seeds could not be used of buying land for distribution, but even this won't be easy or even possible.
any more. The fertilizers and pesticides became mandatory. With the The party that is ever active for grabbing lands for big projects by Tata,
increasing cost of production the farmers resorted to moneylenders who in Salem, Jindal, Dow Chemicals and other international big capitals can only
terms gradually entered into unholy nexus with the MNC distributors and shed false tears for the poor peasants that too only looking at the votes.
started lending out production equipments rather than money. Gradually the Looking into the promise of buying land for the poor brings forth an even
distributed lands slipped away from the peasants and passed on to medium darker picture. During the budget session Ashim Dasgupta mentioned that
and large landowners. The gainers have been the same upper class of till date only 198 acres of land have been bought. While the troubles
villages who overnight turned towards CPM from Congress in 1977. Other escalated in Nandigram and Singur, Ganashakti started propaganda about
gainers were MNCs and their distributors, most of who had links to local the plans of land distribution, and then came the drama of giving away
party leaders. These new landlords do not have the same character as the patta-s just before the panchayet. Those who could not distribute 1% of the
feudal landlords of the 1950s; they are modern and keep contact with the land promised in an entire year are hyper active when it comes to grabbing
cities, deals with instruments of agriculture, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides. thousands of acres of land for the Tata and Salem by evicting poor
These people who have high influences in the local CPM party are the unwilling peasants. The government has further plans of acquiring 1 lakh
deciders of who gets '100 days of jobs', they contract out the building of 40 thousand acres of land, Mr. Debabrata Bandopadhyay, former
village roads, they are directly involved in the misappropriation of the ration commissioner for land reforms have clearly stated that this will mean 1
goods. These people control virtually all the panchayet projects and have lakh 50 thousand tones of less food grain directly impacting 25 lakhs of
amassed huge wealth. These people who never till lands are the biggest people.
gainers of the agricultural economy and the protector of this semi-feudal Today we are witnessing a two step policy been implemented by
structure. However they never prevent the intrusion of national or foreign this pseudo-Left government. On one hand it is carrying out efforts to
capital into the economy. This entire system is well implemented and centralizing lands into the hand of few in the villages, on the other, it is
controlled by the CPM by means of the panchayet. The people who are the acquiring large tracts of land for assembling industries, housing
biggest losers are the marginal peasants and land laborers. The water levels complexes, shopping malls, SEZ to be built on the money of big capital and
have gone down by excessive usage of underground water, as the new crops speculators. A new class of land owners is emerging, who are not the
demand massive watering and irrigation expansion has remained just a conventional feudal class, and they have their interests embedded in the
theory. The entire environment is been adversely affected. The CPM has international capital. Even the national bourgeois have adapted too well to
made no effort to prevent the entry of capital in the agrarian economy; rather this new flight of idle western capital, and are sharing a small but sizeable
it has supported it as the distorted system is in term helping their local part of the pie. The capitalist control over the village economy has
leaders. After Punjab's failure in green revolution, west Bengal is also surpassed the conventional means like seeds, fertilizers etc. it is now
treading the same path. controlling the village 'development', industrialization, contract farming
and other aspects and is growing aggressive and intolerant. Nandigram is
just another expression of this new development.
Accumulation of Land:

Panchayet governance:
The 2003 convention of the Agriculture wing of CPM has accepted
that within the land ceiling system a minor section has emerged who owns
lands, as well as agricultural equipments, access to irrigation water, business In the words of state general secretary of UTUC, leader of 'Left'
of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and yet they do not till the land but carry out Front partner RSP, Ashok Ghosh “In accordance to Indian constitution, the
business by employing people. By 1982 the government grabbed 29 head of panchayet is probably the only person endowed wit the right to use
thousand acres of land and again during the third 'Left' front government and distribute money according to necessity. Whatever is necessary of
further11 thousand acres were acquired. After that the land reform basic survival i.e. direct financial support, distribution of seeds and
department took no more initiatives. But the department in its latest report saplings, 100 days of work per year, BPL certificate, temporary shelter in
has clearly mentioned that 2.5 lakhs acres of agricultural land have remained case of damaged houses, family disputes(even if uninvited), land issues,
undistributed and some few thousands more were not acquired due to legal operation 'Barga' etc. panchayet has the right to give the final word. It is
deadlocks. Another anomaly in the report with previous documents points to almost compulsory to obey the decision of the panchayet and even if there
the obvious conclusion that some 80 thousand acres have disappeared. This remains logical oppositions, on one can express that.” (Statesman 4-3-08)
extraordinarily large share of arable land has remained under the ownership this system rather than decentralizing power gives rise to a fascist tendency
of CPM leaders of the villages. And in spite of this huge amount of even in grassroots level. The entire panchayet system has in terms
undistributed land the CPM claims “land reform work is practically consolidated the hegemony of Writers controlled from Alimuddin. This
finished.” (21st party congress of CPM, February 2005) This naked misuse of system has also helped strongly establish a new class that is a by-product of
power has blunted the weapon of peasant movement in many aspects. Today the neo-feudalism and imperialist capitalism in the villages. The power has
any such initiatives of peasant movement have to go headlong into conflict
with the party machinery of CPM, their police, virtually the state power. Contd. to page 12
11
TOWARDS
A NEW D AWN root level.
Contd. from page 11 The glaring effects of poverty have been maximized many times further by
greatly been centralized in the hands of this new class which has helped the intrusion of global imperialist capital which has only aggravated the
propagate the control of state machinery to every corner of the villages. Thus problems of the agrarian economy. The poor peasants, marginal peasants and
the minor capitalist development that occurs inside this is crony capitalism. In share croppers have been most adversely affected; they are running to the
the same context Ashok Ghosh wrote “Today a different situation has arisen local lenders for money and paying hefty interests as long as they can and
where people have started denying the Party, Panchayet head.” ultimately choosing death over this life. Like Karnataka, Maharashtra,
Andhra, Chattisgarh here also the cases of farmer suicide are on the rise. To
Self-Help Groups: cover this up the Buddhadeb led government has on one had carried on
In the relentless attack of imperialist capital where a high percentage of propaganda of 'Agricultural development', 'Success of Panchayet System',
people are jobless or are loosing job, this concept of 'self-help' was introduced 'Success of Land Reform' on one hand and on the other it says 'Agriculture is
to get into people's head the politics of 'securing myself'. This on one hand can no more profitable', 'it is no longer possible to carry on land reform further',
rid the government of its responsibilities and on the other will make village 'people are loosing interest in the Panchayet', 'the keens of Panchayet
people more dependant on the party CPM. By 2007-08 there were some 7.34 members have benefited', 'minimum number of people required are not
lakhs of self-help groups with members amounting to 70 lakhs. Here also the participating in most panchayet meetings' etc. are being uttered (Marxist
self-help projects are implemented by the village panchayets and the rural Path, 2003). But just before the elections the CPM party organ Ganashakti is
development department. Here also the money-management takes central role. busy propagating the stories of the Panchayet success.
It was during the 7th 'Left' Front government that initiative was taken to develop The picture of the tribal dominated regions of West Midnapore, Bankura and
a corporation for the same purpose, the 2008-09 budget has allocated 100 crores Purulia is grimmer. In the Belpahari block of West Midnapore, Amlashole
for the purpose. Moreover the self-help group department's budget has been village witnessed the starvation death of five tribal people in 2004. Then
increased from 30 crores to 160 crores. Here also the CPM party has taken lead again another case came up on 29-12-2007 that of Kuna Sabar (Belpahari,
role in distribution of the money at the village level. The self-help groups have Binpur-2), several others are awaiting the same fate. To cover up these
so far failed to solve any problem, the only thing it does is give corrupt and false incidents the CPM appointed BDO Sukumar Baidya carried out a survey and
hopes of a bright future. It will only implement the design of decentralized state reported that “Belpahari does not have any crisis of food; every person living
power. below poverty line is able to have at least three sufficient meals a day.”
Immersed neck deep in corruption, this is the true character of the
bureaucrats appointed by CPM.
New-Agriculture policy:

Corruption in several projects:


As an effect of imperial global capital every single component necessary for
agriculture is priced sky high. The high yielding seeds, fertilizers, pesticides
and instruments have come completely under the domain of big capital and are The projects that are implemented via Panchayet are victims of massive
beyond the reach of poor peasants. This has resulted in forced flight of peasants corruption; the project fails to benefit any ordinary poor peasant. The money
from their land. This phenomenon is twisted and presented as agriculture is mostly usurped by the CPM leaders. They also throw some of it to a few in
becoming less profitable and the best resort being selling off the land. To the villages and have managed to prepare a class which entirely depends on
counter this problem the CPM is following a new agro policy similar to what is the CPM leaders. These people in greed of this money bully the villagers on
being dictated by international big Capital and this is nothing less than behalf of the party. Especially where the CPI (Maoist) is active, these people
dangerously fatal. This is appreciated by M.S. Swaminathan who was largely act as police and CPM informers.
responsible for the green revolution policy of Punjab, which initially generated
much hope by increasing yield but gradually destroyed the fertility of the top- In the 2003 issue of the CPM published “Marxist Path” the party has proudly
soil. The new policy which the 'Left' Front is trying to forcefully implement via declared “due to the recommendation of the State Finance Commission,
the panchayet is being already adopted by the Indian government. It involves some 1000 million rupees are being given to the panchayets.” It further
large scale use of high yielding seeds (often genetically modified) and inorganic mentions that “the State government wishes to carry out its decentralization
fertilizers and pesticides; it further advocates the implementation of contract policy in villages with more vigour. And the International Development
farming and corporate farming. Thus in fewer words the policy is to bring Department of the British Government has shown interest in helping us.” To
farming more and more under the domain of global big Capital, which has promote the corruption in the grass root level millions of rupees are being
caused the suicide of millions of farmers. And this is being projected by the spent; now let us look at some results of this initiative.
CPM as ever green revolution as a propaganda before panchayet elections. In the Belpahari block alone, the 100 days of assured work has turned into a
complete farce. The official record in spite of severe cover up notes that the
10 panchayet blocks of the area has given away some 33,470 job cards of
The Panchayet is hiding incidents of starvation and Suicide: which only 15,920 families have got on an average 7 days of job in the past 21
days. Moreover the total number of families in the block is 40,500 of which
16,551 are below poverty line. The BPL list has also been in the centre of
Many economists have tried to prove how the people below poverty line has corruption. Many families under the BPL category have not received any job
gradually advanced economically during the term of NDA or UPA government cards and many outside BPL have received many. Those who did not get a job
in the centre or Left Front government in the state. However even if we consider were not given any unemployment grant. In 2006-07 10 panchayets have
the figure of 24000 calorie intake per head as minimum as stated by the even failed to spend the allocated amount. In the current financial year 1
Planning Commission, we find that by the 1983 national sample survey, almost crore 47 lakhs were allocated. People have not been given jobs and yet the
77% of population of Bengal fall below this. expenditure has been shown as 1 crore 38 lakhs. Other projects as financial
The 21st State convention of the CPM in 2005 acknowledged in spite of gross help for building house, child education have suffered the same fate. The
under estimation that “4612 villages are in the category of the most backward in block has failed to utilize even 1% of the development fund of 5 crores
the State” and “considering employment and women education as indicators, allocated. These examples are widespread in the Panchayets of Bengal;
46 lakhs people are forced to live under conditions of extreme poverty. The state every single village has a list of such corruptions. The incidents mentioned
of unemployment is deep rooted and massive. The number of landless peasants are not even the tip of the iceberg. In fewer words the Panchayet system is the
is on the rise in villages. Compared to the 80s the rate of increase of agriculture distribution of corruption to the grass root level.
has fallen in the 90s. The real wage and employment in agriculture has almost
stagnated. Malnutrition is still a major problem in the villages, especially
among women and children the issue of malnutrition, anemia is widespread. The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.
Amongst the poor, major section is Scheduled cast and tribe and their villages Vladimir Lenin
are amongst the most backward.”
The national sample survey (Reserved Bank of India CENSUS 2004-05) TOWARDS
indicates that West Bengal has maximum number of families starving (or under
feeding) for almost for half the year.10.6% of population of Bengal partially or A NEW D AWN
fully starves for quite a few months every year. This is the result of three Write to us at - towardsdawn@gmail.com
decades of left rule and the result of de centralizing the State power to the grass
12
Contd. from page 6 TOWARDS
VOL. 1 ISSUE 1 JUNE- JULY 2008 A NEW D AWN
Little Magazine
less peasant family was discovered inside the car manufacturing project The time for the little Magazines was critical but their effort matched with
site which was forcefully occupied by the state few days before. Tapasi the demand of the time. Many little Magazines bring issues on poetry and
was an activist and was leading the Singur movement from the front. It stories. They also did not lag behind. Poetry of protest was in abundance.
was clear from the beginning that Tapasi was a victim of the terror that The effort of the Little Magazines was commendable in this respect.
CPI (M) wanted to unleash to demoralize the movement. Later the CBI Stories and plays which portrayed the time were published with equal
enquiry into her death is also hinting at the same theory. She was raped enthusiasm. Even the well known writers like Amit Bhaduri, Asoke Mitra
and burnt alive. Kolkata was fuming with anger and protest. In the and many others contributed to the Little Magazines during this period.
evening of 18th December the students brought out a procession in Possibly this was the most exiting time in the history of Little Magazine.
College Street area to condemn the heinous crime. The Little Magazine The sales and circulation of the Little Magazines reached an encouraging
workers and editors after the meeting joined the procession to express figure. They felt rewarded.
their anguish over the murder of Tapasi Malik. Little Magazines in an
organized way came out in the street to become a part of the ongoing 14th April was the first day of Bengali New Year. We called a meeting of
agitation against the autocratic rulers. the editors and workers of all the Little Magazines who supported our
signature campaign. The meeting was a great success with nearly 100
Later more and more Little Magazine workers and editors joined the participants. The number of conveners was increased to make room for
discussion to decide the stand with respect to the fair. Finally there was a more representation. We wanted ourselves to exercise democracy for
convention of the Little Magazine on17th January, 2007 at Tripura which we have joined the movement.
Hitosadhoni Sabha Ghar.
th
The 9 May of 2007 was important to the people of Bengal for two
In the first week of January of 2007 few workers of Little Magazine were
reasons. It was the birth day of Tagore and 9th May is observed
arrested from inside Nandan area when they were sticking posters on the
internationally as an antifascism day every year. Little magazine decided
walls. The posters were about the call of a meeting of protest against the
to see this day to discover Tagore as a poet of protest. Tagore was equally
Singur incident. If anyone has seen the walls we are talking about one
relevant to the antifascist movement. At the present fascist backdrop of
would know that all kinds of posters in the world are glowing there. But
the state Tagore bears a different meaning for the Little Magazines. There
no! Posters of protest won't be allowed. Democracy is at the mercy of the
was, like us, one recently formed forum popularly known as Forum for
rulers of West Bengal. The same test of treatment we received again in
Artists Cultural Activists and Intellectuals. We joined hands with them to
January when we were demonstrating during the fair in Nandan area. The th
th observe 9 May to put emphasis on 'Other Tagore'. Tagore is generally
convention of the Little Magazines decided on 17 January that it would
worshipped by the Indians for his songs and poetries without keeping in
be better for the same minded Magazines to participate in the fair and
mind about the other sides of his activities which encompass protest,
campaign and collect signatures in favour of the Mancha. In the evening
iconoclasm. We wanted to perform those plays of Tagore which
of 29th January few young workers of various Magazines were wearing underline his other self. We decided to recite those poetries and to sing
posters which condemned the undemocratic policies of the Government. those songs those speaks about his other sides. A fair of Little Magazines
Police interfered and tried to chase the demonstrators away from the area. was also organized on this occasion and the entire program was a grand
The young boys would not budge. The police now threatened to arrest success.
them. Immediately a great numbers of Little Magazine workers came to
the aid of the demonstrators. All of them strongly protested against the The death of Rizwanur Rahman highlighted another case of gross
police behavior. We were able to wrest the initiative out of the police hand violation of democratic rights in West Bengal. The police, at the behest of
and within few minutes we organized a procession inside the area with a rich man interfered in the marriage of a Muslim boy to a girl of a rich
the same posters hanging in our chest. Our decision of participating in the Marwari family. Mystery shrouded the conditions in which Rizwanur
fair proved to be right. We got tremendous support from the participants Rahman was found dead. There are reasons to believe that it was a case of
of the fair. The number of signatories rose from 30 to 150. murder. Again the police, the CPI (M) party and the rich man, the father of
th the girl spoke in the same voice. The nexus was obvious. The CPI (M)
14 March., 2007. One of the bloodiest days in the history of India. A party was further exposed. Almost entire West Bengal was moved and
blatant GENOCIDE made the atmosphere too heavy to bear. Entire West again there was barrage of protest and agitation. It was imminent that
Bengal burst out into protest. Procession, demonstration, hartal became under the popular pressure the administration was trying to divert the
the order of the day in the state. The Little Magazine Mancha and its attention of the people.
supporters took active parts in all these agitations. Our Mancha met and
submitted a memorandum to the Governor of the state. Our demand was Immediately a press conference was arranged jointly by our Mancha and
to restore piece in Nandigram and elsewhere and punish the culprits who Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, a human right
were responsible for the killing. Our organization gradually got the organization. Later few other organizations joined us. All of us strongly
recognition of an active agitator. demanded an impartial enquiry into the death. We stressed that the police,
party and rich man nexus should be broken. The conference received
Flood gate of publication opened for the Little Magazines. Little wide publicity and it was telecast live by almost all the local TV channels.
Magazines, may not be all, have always played the role of iconoclasts. Gradually our Mancha became an integral part of the social movement
Now the time was ripe for them to bring out issues which questioned the that was sweeping the state.
policies of the Government. Many articles and issues of innumerable
Little Magazines brought the land acquisition program and the The annual Book fair of West Bengal is a very major event in the life of
consequent eviction of peasantry from their land and livelihood before middleclass educated community of the state. Again debates among the
clinical incision. The decision of the Government of setting up Special Little Magazine workers and editors regarding the participation in the fair
Economic Zones which allows an independent state within the state was came to the fore. There was decision on the part of Mancha participation
vehemently opposed in many writings and publications. In the little of Magazines in the fair is optional. There is no directive either for
Magazines information flowed, statistics flourished, arguments became participation or for non participation. It would be the Magazines own
sharp, left trait of CPI (M) was seriously challenged. discretion. Democratically looking, this could be the best decision under
the circumstances. But we grabbed the opportunity to campaign for the
Writing of Marx, Lenin, Gramsci were being discussed to the depth in the Mancha and another good number of magazines joined us during the fair.
context of the present scenario. The idea of development and We organized procession in support of the social movements in the fair
industrialization that CPI (M) was projecting was put to surgery. A new ground on two consecutive days. For those who are interested in
paradigm of idea on development and industrialization was being sought. chronology we inform that it happened in February, 2008.
The role of civil society was being examined. In all, a tremendous surge
of original essays enriched the issues of little Magazines. The Little Like elsewhere the movements in West Bengal are also having low and
Magazine became one of the tools in the hands of the agitators. high tides. When we found time for little respite we concentrated on
Contd. to page 7
13
TOWARDS
A NEW D AWN VOL. 1 ISSUE 1 JUNE- JULY 2008
Democracy “Reserved” for
Inaugural Conference upper castes in Tamilnadu
Committee for the Release of Dalits in 20 districts of the state were facing serious caste-related
Political Prisoners Held in disparities, including non-entry into temples, inaccessibility to drinking water
and other facilities, a recent survey [February 2008] by Tamil Nadu
Delhi Untouchability Eradication Front has found.The survey initiated in the
villages of these districts last month has been completed and the findings
would be submitted to respective District Collectors soon, the front's State
Convenor B Sampath told reporters here today.Dalits were denied entry into
The Inaugural Conference of the Committee for the Release of Political hair-cutting saloons in many villages. They could not use community halls for
Prisoners started with the moving statements from the families of the functions and not even decorate their homes during domestic
political prisoners. Arputham Kuyildasan, the mother of Perarivalan, who ceremonies.They were prohibited from fetching drinking water from street
has been on death row for the last seventeen years, caught the attention of the taps and were not allowed to enter local temples, the survey said.In Uthapuram
delegates when she narrated how her son who was only in his teens was village of Madurai district, the dalit residential colony was segregated by a
implicated in the Rajiv Gandhi murder case. This was followed by the son of half-km-long wall. Similar disparities and untouchability existed in all the 47
Maulana Nasiruddin who shook the audience as he expressed his restraint villages in the district, the survey said.In a school at Kottampatti in Madurai
anger on his father being framed by the Gujarat police for allegedly district, Plus-one and Plus-two students were not even admitted to Dalit
conspiring to murder Narendra Modi. The house was aghast to know the hostels.Almost 80 lakh Dalit households in these districts lacked proper toilets
shocking fact that the aged Maulana was rejected bail even on health and the human faeces was removed and carried as headload by manual
grounds for his consistent anti-American speeches. The house was almost scavengers, the survey said.
on tears when Prof. Devinder Singh Bhullar's mother rose to share her grief
of having lost the entire family to the politics of state violence and vendetta,
how her only son who was an engineer is now facing the gallows. This was
followed by the family of the 5 peasants facing death row in Bihar as well as
those incarcerated in the prisons in Orissa. Many members of the victims'
families simply broke down while relating their own experiences. After the
Fishermen against
kith and kin of the prisoners declared the conference open, commenced the
inaugural session. European Union
The presidium comprised of Surendra Mohan, Amit Bhattacharyya, Sujato 4 June 2008: Police have clashed with hundreds of fishermen
Bhadro, and SAR Geelani. protesting against the high cost of fuel outside the headquarters of the
European Union in Brussels. Several windows in EU buildings were
broken and at least one car was overturned during the demonstration.
Riot police responded by firing water cannon and launching baton
charges. The fishermen have said they will go out of business unless the
VILLA VILLAGERS TURN EU allows national governments to give them more financial aid and
subsidies their fuel.
BACK ON POSCO French fishermen have been on strike for several weeks over the price
of diesel, which has risen by 240% in the past five years.
In recent days they have been joined by members of fleets from the UK,
Spain, Portugal and Italy, who have blockaded ports across Europe, and
JAGATSINGHPUR: In a direct bearing on the government, a large section of truck drivers.
Posco project supporters of Gobindpur village now a day vowed to oppose the
project and demanded immediate withdrawal of police force from the area.
The symbolic oath taking function was held in front of the Goraknath peeth
today where scores of villagers including women of Gobindpur, hitherto
considered as a pro-Posco area where the socio-economic survey had been
conducted smoothly without any resistance last month, and vowed to oppose
the project. The disturbing change over is attributed to the utter failure of the
Workers take over Sugar Mill
government to safeguard their interest and its inability to thwart the anti-
Posco rally on 1st April said locals.
in Sind, Pakistan
In the absence of clear cut directions from the top, the local administration Over 1600 workers from Alnoor Sugar Mill Moro, Sind took over
failed to avert the Vikalp Vikash Samabesh organized on 1 April by the anti- the factory on 12 March 2008. They occupied all the administration
Posco groups. They violated Section 144, broke police barricades and departments of the Mill and asked the General Manager (GM) of the Mill to
displayed their strength as a result of which villagers who were in favour of sit on the floor. The GM was a retired army brigadier. The GM was then
the project have now joined the anti-Posco movement, observed locals who forced to tour around the factory under workers control.The occupation
were still sympathetic towards the project. ended at 5pm when the local Member of Parliament from Pakistan Peoples
Party assured the workers that their demands would be met. Their union
It may be noted here that the district administration had successfully called Mahnatkash Labour Union Alnoor Sugar Mill led the workers. The
conducted socio-economic survey of all 480 households and the 2100 betel union was recently registered after an interval of 8 years of non-
vines in Gobindpur last month. Today however the same set of villagers unionization of the factory. There was a terror of this GM at the factory.
turned around to allege that the su7rvey work was done in the presence of Most of the concessions of the workers were taken back under the military
goons and armed police. We were intimidated, they alleged Mr. Dula rule of general Musharaf.
Mandal, Mr. Harikrushna Pasyat and others complained that they were
threatened and hence they had not protested the survey work. Now that all of This is the first incident of such kind. There is no civil government yet
us have united we will ensure that the police vacate the village, one platoon is but the workers have come forward to have a go on those who had exploited
there and it has to go soon, they said. Others present at the temple said by 20 them all the eight years under military rule.
April they will demolish all signs of the company in their village.
A district officer however tried to underplay the entire situation saying
there were a few anti-Posco activists even in Gobindpur village. The officer
was confident that once the detailed rehabilitation package is announced TOWARDS
people will veer around to support the project.
A NEW D AWN
Write to us at - towardsdawn@gmail.com

14
TOWARDS
VOL. 1 ISSUE 1 JUNE- JULY 2008 A NEW D AWN
SHUT THE EYES OF THE day," Charlene said. Her baby, named Woodson, lay still across her lap,
DEAD NOT TO looking even thinner than the slim 6 pounds 3 ounces he weighed at birth.
Though she likes their buttery, salty taste, Charlene said the cookies give her
EMBARRASS ANY stomach pains. "When I nurse, the baby sometimes seems colicky too," she
said.
Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher prices for oil,
ONE……. needed for fertilizer, irrigation and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients
such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand
for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well.The problem is particularly dire
This has been one of the most in the Caribbean, where island nations depend on imports, and food prices are
violent elections in India. The up 40 percent in places.
death toll in clashes during village The global price increases, together with floods and crop damage from the
council election (Panchayat) in 2007 hurricane season, prompted the U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency to
the Indian state of West Bengal declare states of emergency in Haiti and several other Caribbean countries.
has risen to 37, officials say. Caribbean leaders held an
Eight people including an infant emergency summit in
died on May 14 at the second December to discuss cutting
phase of panchyat election when food taxes and creating large
party affiliated goons went regional farms to reduce
berserk, killing, capturing booths, dependence on imports.
intimidating voters and casting At the market in the La Saline
fake votes in the name of rural slum, two cups of rice now
power. sell for 60 cents, up 10 cents
Ironically in the worst incident of from December and 50
the day four persons were brutally percent from a year ago.
murdered in clashes between Beans, condensed milk and
activists of left allies the RSP and fruit have gone up at a similar
the CPI (M) in Basanti in south rate, and even the price of the
24- Parganas. Total lawlessness edible clay has risen over the
prevailed in parts of south 24- past year by almost $1.50.
Parganas, which are RSP strong Dirt to make 100 cookies now
holds with the Marxists desperate costs $5, the cookie makers
for a toe hold. There were sporadic clashes between Marxists cadres and the say.Still, at about 5 cents
Congress and Trinamul Congress else where in the five districts, South 24 apiece, the cookies are a
Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Howrah and Hooghly, that went to the bargain compared with food
polls. A six month old child died in his mother's arm in the voting queue from staples. About 80 percent of
the deafening sound of bombs exploding in Panchla in Howrah district. people in Haiti live on less
RSP leader and PWD Minister Kshiti Goswami reacted sharply to the than $2 a day and a tiny elite
Basanti violence. "Democracy is being throttled. If they can do this to their controls the economy.
allies what will happen to the rest of the people?" he asked. The Merchants truck the dirt from
administration should have been impartial. Anti socials were being the central town of Hinche to
encouraged and three of our innocent people died, he said. "Is this a poll or a the La Saline market, a maze of tables of vegetables and meat swarming with
farce?" flies. Women buy the dirt, then process it into mud cookies in places such as
In third phase of panchayat polls in Bengal The district of Murshidabad, on Fort Dimanche, a nearby shantytown.
the border with Bangladesh, was worst affected with 19 deaths. The deaths Carrying buckets of dirt and water up ladders to the roof of the former prison
were caused by attacks on polling booths or on houses of supporters of rival for which the slum is named, they strain out rocks and clumps on a sheet, and
political parties. Armed supporters of the ruling Marxists and the opposition stir in shortening and salt. Then they pat the mixture into mud cookies and
have fought pitched battles with bombs and firearms. The elections have leave them to dry under the scorching sun.The finished cookies are carried in
been held in three phases ending on 19th June, but repolling was held for 77 buckets to markets or sold on the streets.
councils, mostly in Murshidabad and Maldah. A reporter sampling a cookie found that it had a smooth consistency and
During the one-day 2003 polls, 19 people were killed in clashes. sucked all the moisture out of the mouth as soon as it touched the tongue. For
hours, an unpleasant taste of dirt lingered.
Haitian doctors say depending on the cookies for sustenance risks
malnutrition.

Haiti's poor feed on


cookies baked with dirt
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst
slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's
poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate
measures to fill their bellies.
Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian
remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's
central plateau.
The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an
antacid and source of calcium. But in places like Cité Soleil, the oceanside
slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and
two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening
have become a regular meal.
"When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a

15
TOWARDS
A NEW D AWN Contd. from page 3 February this year has more than doubled to $1.12bn from $543m over the same
steadily declining on account of the ongoing recession in the USA and crude oil period last year, and its profits went up from $1.44bn to $2.22bn.
prices rising inexorably in leaps and bounds, dragging ethanol in its wake, prices Cargill's net earnings soared by 86 percent from $553m to $1.03bn over the same
of foodstuff are automatically soaring. three months' period.
Similar impact on the nature of agricultural production has arisen from the And, Archer Daniels Midland, one of world's largest processor of soya, corn and
burgeoning consumerism of the prospering middle classes in the fast-growing wheat, increased its earnings by 42 percent, from $363m to $517m, in the first
economies of the underdeveloped territories, particularly China and India, the quarter of 2008. The operating profits of its grains merchandising and handling
two most populous countries of the world. With the cash-rich middle classes jumped 16-fold from $21m to $341m.
wanting more protein food, the demand for meat has risen dramatically in these Similarly, Mosaic Company, one of the world's largest fertiliser companies, saw
areas and the use of maize and soy to feed cattle, pigs and poultry has gone up its income in three months up to the end of February this year rise more than 12-
sharply to satisfy this demand. One of the caveats in the New York Times fold, from $42m to $520.8m, on the back of a major shortage in fertiliser.
mentioned earlier, reports that the world's meat supply, which was 71mt in 1961, As billions go hungry, the agribusiness tycoons, cashboxes ringing loudly on
rose to 284mt in 2007. Per capita consumption, too, has doubled in this period. their backs, are laughing their way to the bank.
Consumerism born of capitalist development inevitably rings the death knell for
agriculture. The last laugh

A death warrant for agriculture Soon the tears of the hungry billions will dry up. The angry billions will then ....
Writer’s e-mail address: sumit_chowdhury@yahoo.com

TUSHAR GUHA
(Retired Bank Officer) GANESH SAHA
(Rickshaw-puller)
Bush is accusing India for
this price hike. He is Our income is not sufficient to
saying that India support our family. Previously,
consumes a lot. we had fish four days a week,
I, personally think that if but now it has come down to
agricultural programmes one day. From edible oils to
are taken beforehand, say, mutton, everything has
some 8 months beforehand, then these crises would lessen. become costly, how can we
Agriculture should be self-sufficient. Population is another cope with this? We are poor.
factor for this crisis. The Government is only saying that the black marketing will stop.
I don't think that the Black market can be controlled like this, But it is not taking place actually.
except for the market of daily needs like spices, edible oils etc.
This is the age of marketing. If the big markets communicate ANIL SARKAR
directly with manufacturers and sell at minimal cost, then surely (Vegetable-seller)
the open markets are bound to suffer.
We are habituated with price rise. From March to October- we Yes, I am facing problems. I
know that there will be a price rise on something – either on am having less profit now. My
conveyance, food or edible oils etc. business is affected for this
price-rise. I am also facing
Experience of the past two decades show that the so-called neoliberal therapy – difficulties in running my
prescribed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the household.
wake of the Washington Consensus in 1990 and zealously implemented by most
of the crony aspiring-to-be-developed countries – and the so-called free trade
regimen, advocated and imposed on the lesser economies by the World Trade
Organisation (WTO), have together destroyed or debilitated the once-thriving
agriculture in the vast hinterlands of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
RADHESHYAM SHAW
Neoliberalism has, in particular, ruined the small farmers and paved the way for (Jhalmuri vendor)
agribusiness multinationals to come in and make hay. With subsidies taken off
and almost all expenditure on agricultural infrastructures virtually stopped, the Yes, a lot of problems has
subsistence farmers have en masse been pushed to the margins even as the arised for the price-rise.
multinational marauders laid siege to the rural economies with their seeds,
fertilisers, pesticides and genetic engineering knowhow. Egged on by these
Things have become so costly
multinationals, farmers switched from self-consuming or rotational cropping to that I am unable to think or
cultivating cash crops; and when invariably crops failed, repeatedly in many decide anything! We are poor
cases, the multinationals, now acting as their saviours, did brisker business. The people, I have four kids and
horrible experience of the cotton growers in Andhra Pradesh, many of whom my wife—its becoming really
through the 90s and till recent years committed suicide, is a case in point.
Free trade lured many of these small and now-capitalist farmers from the
difficult to support my family.
peripheries into the hub of the world market. They perish soon enough, unable, as Profit has lessened a lot. Its not that only I am suffering, a lot of
they were to cope with the intricacies of the market operations and stand up to the people are suffering for this hike in price.
might of the oligopolistic agro-cartels who have complete control over pricing.
Till the 70s, the sub-Saharan economies were frugal on providing food to the
people. They didn't have oranges but bread and milk to sustain themselves. When
the World Bank prescribed these economies to orient towards the market, they TOWARDS
started producing oranges for export in lieu of wheat imports. After a time, the
price of wheat shot up and that of oranges went down, plunging these African
countries into a quagmire.
A NEW D AWN
Editor : Abhijnan Sarkar
Profit out of crisis Room No. 20, B-Block, Jadavpur University Main Hostel
The food crisis is not just a tale of misery and despair. These may be the worst of Kolkata-700 032, Ph.: 98362 62819
times for the world's hungry billions, but these are the best of times for the giant Printed & Published by Abhijnan Sarkar
agribusinesses whose earnings and profits have already begun to reach
astronomical figures.
Printed at Printing Art, 32A, Patuatola Lane, Kolkata- 700 009
Monsanto reported last month that its net income for three months up to the end of
Write to us at - towardsdawn@gmail.com
16