The liberal economy and its effects upon Indian agriculture

– [ The article is written by Comrade Ephraim Rahabi based in Durgapur West Bengal. Though the article deals primarily with the effects of India’s economic transition upon the agrarian sector various other issues are dealt in this article as well dealing with the class forces at play ]


The real face of the bourgeois government in India has been unmasked in its attitude towards the masses. Recently the government once again decided to raise the price of petrol by Rs 2.50 and the common people who are being continually crushed under the iron heels of inflation are being forced to bear the brunt of this intolerable situation. The crisis of capitalism has shown everywhere the typical nature of the bourgeoisie which transfers the burden of the crisis on the shoulders of the working class and its allies. Naturally, the bourgeois class is benefited by this pitiless exploitation of the people. This is why the Indian bourgeois through its chief political apparatus, the Indian National Congress is so interested to keep on increasing the burden of the proletarians to ‘bail out’ the capitalist class.


The government says that in order to ameliorate the harshness of the inflation it is necessary to remove the subsidies from petroleum products because if it is provided at a subsidized rate then it would also be necessary to increase the money supply into the economy by other means (like, printing new currency) which would inevitably lead to an inflationary situation. The reality is that India today has an enormous internal debt burden which constitutes over half of the Indian GDP! Till date the government kept on piling this debt situation till breaking point by way of public borrowings. This was done to keep the rate of inflation down, however that is set to change now that the bourgeois is trying to find new ways of curbing debt. So the logic appears to be towards preferring a rise in inflation and burden the poor so as to curb the debt of the state! This debt situation is of course blamed quite conveniently on the vast public sector edifice the Indian bourgeois still maintains whereas in reality we find that the government has always adopted a policy of subsidizing the rich at the expense of the poor. Using these phony arguments the mendacious bourgeoisie intend to befool the people and hide the real situation. The state gave a tax subsidy and other economic privileges of Rs 500000 crores to the various MNCs and big corporate houses. Where was their serious headache about inflation while they were burdening the pockets of the crony capitalists? More than 75% of the Indian people earn less than Rs 20 a day and these fake messiahs of the poor are always on the prowl of depriving the toiling masses even of their last penny.


The bourgeoisies are however quite satisfied with this “developmental strategy” the government. As the subsidies for various objects are lowered or removed completely, these items enter the open market and the so called “open market forces” start the misuse of essential commodities for profit making(for example: buying cheap food grains from the market at “reasonable prices” and using them to make produce bio-fuels. This has become one of the factors for nearing conditions similar to famine as it is depriving the poor people of their staple food).Whenever the prices of raw materials increases the bourgeoisie take it as an opportunity to further increase their profits, whereas, the proletarians are forced to face all the difficulties as their incomes are not indexed to the rise in prices; when an inflation occurs the bourgeoisie get a chance to hike the prices of commodities produced by their firms(and thereby, maximize their profits) but the wages of the workers doesn’t increase in tandem with the rise in prices of commodities. So, when the bourgeois leaders boldly declare that inflation has lowered that is due to the fact that the proletarians have got sufficiently squeezed by it,otherwise, it would have continued ad infinitum. For example, if we have a look at the fishermen, we will see that the price at which they used to sell a particular item(for example, giant crabs) remains the same(Rs 4 to 5 per giant crab is the usual rate), but, in the present situation they will have to pay much more for the diesel to run the engines of their fishing boats. Whereas, the owners of 3 or 5 star hotels will now get a chance to make even greater profits by increasing the price of various dishes of Giant crab(which used to be approximately Rs 800 per plate). Recently, the price of sugar(an essential commodity) soared up to Rs 65 per kilogram, but what were the farmers benefiting from that? NOTHING!!! Rather some sugarmill owners who are well known for being “close” to some bourgeois leaders were benefiting from it. Not surprisingly, one of the major “Sugar barons” of India is a member of Parliament and part of the ruling coalition!


The bourgeois government in place is weakening the PDS system on one hand by reducing subsidies on various essential commodities and on the other hand they are making plans for extending green revolution to eastern India; the green revolution, till now, has only benefited “rich and prosperous” farmers(who are actually nothing else than Kulaks).Merely increasing expenditure on pulses and oilseeds is nothing but an eyewash, the govt also intends to remove fertilizer subsidy, which will  further raise the prices of fertilizers and add to the woes of the marginal peasants. The UPA govt also plans to open up the entire agricultural sector to the MNCs and their so called “retail trade”, their nonsensical talks about “bringing down the differences between farm gate, wholesale and retail prices” is only aimed at veiling the truth, and the truth is: they are welcoming the corporate powers to intrude into the agricultural sector of Indian economy. The proposed policy of “contract farming” would surely lead to proletarianizing the weakest section of the peasantry and aid the capitalists by providing a fresh flow of cheap exploitable labor. The Government has also declared that it would “encourage” the capitalists to set up cold storage facilities and “trading” of agricultural commodities at farmgate prices, thus, ensuring huge profits for the blackmarketeers who would buy those commodities at farmgate prices, create an artificial scarcity by hoarding and then sell them at skyrocketing prices. The most notorious blackmarketeers created an artificial famine-like situation in West Bengal in the 1960s and 1970s and relentlessly received backing from the bourgeois leaders of that period. Not too different from the situation in Bengal during the great famine of 1946 which killed around 5 million in Bengal and surrounding provinces.


As we are increasingly faced with an agrarian crisis of the most acute nature, the workers in the cities and their peasant allies in the countryside are faced with the most aggressive face of their mutual class enemy. As Bolshevik Leninists and revolutionary Marxists it would be our foremost duty to organize the agricultural laborers and marginal peasants who have been bearing the brunt of this inhuman neoliberalism of the bourgeois government. Our aim, now more than ever, would be to strike an urban-rural alliance against the Indian bourgeoisie and its devious designs. In this the role of rural proletarians are significant being the working class equivalent in the countryside. The agricultural labourers are the only true proletarians in the agricultural sector and in this hour of crisis the duty of the Trotskyists would be to unite the agricultural labourers and marginal peasants in a relentless political struggle against the bourgeois forces so as to safeguard the democratic rights of the downtrodden masses.