India is a strange country. There are a few people in this country who make the Government open all the doors to provide them with benefits. There are a few people for whom even the laws of the country are changed to provide them benefits. There are a few people as well for whom the entire Government system provides safety for their interests, which means they are provided with the benefits without any tom tomming, and nobody even gets the slightest whisper about in their ears. And there are people whose eyes are not even remotely fixed on obtaining benefits, but who, to make their problems reach the ears of the Government, are compelled to come out on the streets. The courage of the people coming out on the streets is also losing waning as the Government is not giving answers. When people come out on the streets and the Government still does not listen to them, they become violent. The Government has stopped listening to the poor, farmers, workers, backward classes, tribes and the minorities. Because of the insensitivity of the Government, the democracy of the country is standing in a very critical position.
When sugarcane farmers demanded more money for their yields, they were greeted with bullets. A few months earlier there was a clash between the police and angry farmers on the matter of delay of purchase and violence in Bareli of Raisen district. The angry farmers, apart from burning many police vans had also thrown stones at the police force. On its part, the police, apart from throwing tear gas shells and making a lathi charge also gave orders for firing. This clash between the police and the farmers is not a good sign for the country. In 2011 too there was violence between the police and the farmers in the Bhatta Parsaul village of Noida near Delhi. Should the police be used against innocent farmers protesting for their rights or should it be used for finishing anti-social factors? The other major question is : why is the patience of farmers wearing out with the passage of time ? Should we take it for granted that if the farmers come out on the streets then there will be violence? Has the agitation of the farmers taken a violent form in the country now? The most important question is whether the democratic system of the country has gone so far away from farmers that it cannot even communicate with farmers now.
Why is it that whenever farmers come out on the streets it gives rise to violence. The meaning of this is very clear : that the Government, political parties, farmers associations and the social organisations have failed to take care of the interests of the farmers, the demands of the farmers and failed in making their problems reach where it matters in the Government. The way in which all the agitations are becoming violent, it seems that the farmers have realised that nobody is worried about them and they will have to fight for their demands themselves. After looking at the continuous exposure of scandals, the farmers have felt that on one hand the Government is giving allowance to private companies to loot the country while on the other hand the Government is not even ready to listen to the very genuine and pressing problems of farmers. The people running the Government should understand that time is flying away from their hands. These issues should worry parties running the Governments at the Central and the State level because the village areas of India are becoming a problem for the police and the administration. If the same situation persists then it would mean that India is marching towards a situation of chaos.
Strategies are made for the upliftment of the farmers but their benefits are being taken away by somebody else. To provide benefits to private companies, the Government opens the lockers but when it comes to providing subsidy to the farmers, the Government says that there is shortage of money. In the name of development, roads, electricity, railways and dams are made on the lands taken away from the farmers. Neither do the farmers get good compensation for their lands nor do they get other packages. The reason behind this is that the schemes that are made for rural India are sacrificed at the altar of corruption.
The type of violence which has happened in Maharashtra recently has made it amply clear that the situation is no more within the control of the political parties. The farmers are not going to be lulled by false promises and neither are they going to remain silent out of fear of the police. Let us try and understand what happened in Maharashtra.
Raju Shetty started this agitation at a time when the Governmental sugar industries of the Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur districts refused to give an advance amount of buying sugarcane for 3 thousand rupees per ton for the season. The industries were ready to give only 2300 rupees. Raju was arrested. After refusing to take bail, he was sent to Pune jail. The demand of the farmers was that they should be given 3000 rupees per ton as advance payment for their yield in the current season. But the industries were only ready to pay 2300 rupees per ton as advance payment to the farmers. The angry farmers came down to agitate against this decision of the sugar mills on the call of the leader of the Swabhumi Satkar Sangathan and Member of Parliament, Raju Shetty. The farmers agitation jammed many streets in many areas of Western Maharashtra. According to the police, a group of farmers tried to capture a police team inside a hotel room in the village of Nanded after which the police started firing and made a lathi charge as a result of which two farmers died. Violence gave birth to violence and this fire reached many other areas of Western Maharashtra. Now the question arises : is the demand of famers on the issue of sugarcane valid or they are demanding something that cannot be fulfilled ?
The demand of the farmers of Maharashtra is totally valid. Only sugar is not made from sugarcane. Apart from sugar, things like wine, refined sugar cubes, paper pulp, ferro alloys and bio manure are also made from sugarcane. In normal circumstances 100 to 110 kilos of sugar is produced from one ton of sugarcane. The procedure of making sugar is also very easy and fuel from outside is also not required. The biogas obtained from this is used as fuel by the sugar mills. Some sugar mills even use the unused biogas for producing electricity which is supplied to the electric grid. In addition to one ton of sugar, 220 litres of molasses are also formed. In total from one ton of sugarcane, 100 to 110 kilos of sugar, 110 units of electricity and approximately 10 litres of alcohol is produced. The market rate of sugar is nearly 40 rupees per kilo. This means that sugar worth rupees 4000 is produced from one ton of sugarcane. Whereas the total cost in preparing one ton of sugar is approximately 2800 to 3000 rupees which means the owners of the sugar mills earn more than 2000 rupees of profit from only one ton of sugar. Apart from this the other products which are made from this amount to more profits which are even higher. If the sugarcane farmers are asking for 3000 rupees for their sugarcane then what is wrong in that?
One argument that has come to the forefront is that the sugar mills are making losses and till the time they earn profits, how can they give more cost to the farmers ? Actually, this argument is false. This is because the reason for the losses of the sugar mills is poor management and political interference.
One example is that of Gujarat. In 2010-2011, the Gandevi sugar mill in Gujarat made a payment of rupees 2507 per ton as cost for sugarcane. In 2009-2010 they made a payment of rupees 3027 per ton as cost. The funny thing is that even after making such big payments there was no loss. This was only possible because of proper utilisation and better administration. This is a good example for the other sugar mills across the country. But the story of the sugar cooperative of Maharashtra is different. The thing to understand is that this sugar lobby is not only related to sugar but also with many other important businesses. This is the reason that the relationship of the Government, political parties and leaders with this lobby is so deep. The political parties and leaders work only for the profits of this sugar lobby. The Government is theirs and so are the political parties and so there is no one to listen to the farmers. The farmers have understood now that struggle is the only way before them which will make the Government listen to them or they will again be deceived.
All the political parties of the country have given up fighting for the interest of the farmers. The leaders have taken up neo-liberalism as the solution to all the problems and so the responsibility of fighting for the benefits of the farmers has come on the shoulders of social organisations. The good thing is that Anna Hazare and General V. K. Singh are seen fighting for the farmers.
The problems of the farmers are many but instead of even trying to solve their problems, nobody is even ready to listen to them. The relief which the farmers get from the decision of the Court is their only faith. The lands of the farmers were taken away in Noida. By giving minimum cost for their fertile land, the lands were distributed among private companies. It was only when violence erupted that the Court gave relief to the farmers. When the Uttar Pradesh elections were held then nobody spoke about the lands of the farmers. This matter could become an issue. Actually, the Government and the political parties have deceived the farmers. Strategies are made for the upliftment of the farmers but their benefits are being taken away by somebody else. To provide benefits to private companies, the Government opens the lockers but when it comes to providing subsidy to the farmers the Government says that there is shortage of money. In the name of development, roads, electricity, railways and dams are made on the lands taken away from the farmers. Neither do the farmers get good compensation for their lands nor do they get other packages. The reason behind this is that the schemes that are made for rural India are sacrificed at the altar of corruption. The names of farmers are used to cover up scandals. Firstly the Government uses underhand, corrupt means to disburse loans. The people who are not farmers are given loans at a lower interest. And not just that — the loan waivers to be given in the name of the farmers are also given to the non-farmers who have fraudulently been given loans earlier.The farmer sitting in the village finds himself deceived. On the other hand rising prices have broken the backbone of the rich farmers. In such a situation what should a farmer do? When after producing grain he goes to the mandi, the Government, to provide more and more benefits to the businessmen give less cost to the farmers for their yield, where will the farmers go? Who will listen to their problems? This is the duty of the political parties. In recent history when the lands of the farmers were being taken away by using the name of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), then V. P. Singh had united the farmers and started agitations. But today how many political parties or leaders are seen fighting for the farmers ? Do we have such a leader who would agitate against the big business houses like Reliance or JP Group and create enmity for themselves for the sake of the lands of the farmers? Holding discussions about farmers has become a ‘pass time’ for politicians. During the elections, issues of farmers and their problems are added only as a formality in the speeches of the politicians.
If the farmers in Maharashtra are being forced to become violent, then the condition of other states cannot even be estimated. In Maharashtra, violence erupted in a place where the leader is none else but Sharad Pawar. Sharad Pawar is the Agriculture Minister of our country. The shameful thing is that the Agriculture Minister is from Maharashtra but still the highest number of farmer suicides is the most in this state. Sharad Pawar once wielded control over the sugarcane farmers. The recent agitation gives a clear indication that the fort, the power of Sharad Pawar is on the verge of decline. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government and the Government of Maharashtra should pay attention to the demands of the farmers. The problems of the farmers will not end only by increasing the price of sugarcane. The farmers have to be provided with the basic fundamental services. Schemes have to be made to improve the financial condition of the farmers. But the fear is that the Central Government wants to solve all the problems with liberalisation. The Government is fully ready to levy imperialistic strategies on the sugar industry. And the owners will be directly benefitted from this. When the farmers will agitate, then the Government will raise their hands and give the argument that we have liberated this sector and so we cannot do anything. The farmers will then feel deceived and unfortunately if another agitation takes a violent turn, then it would be downhill going for the country.
The approach of the Government and the neo-liberal strategies will not give deliverance to the farmers. Till the time the Government does not make welfare schemes for the farmers and implement them properly, till then the condition of farmers will remain deplorable. All the political parties of the country have given up fighting for the interest of the farmers. The leaders have taken up neo-liberalism as the solution to all the problems and so the responsibility of fighting for the benefits of the farmers has come on the shoulders of social organisations. The good thing is that Anna Hazare and General V. K. Singh are seen fighting for the farmers. In all their speeches they speak about the empowerment of farmers and panchayats. This raises the morale of the farmers and also raises the belief in the Government system — that there could be positive changes in the coming future. Arvind Kejriwal, by giving his support to the farmers of Maharashtra has fulfilled his responsibility. India is standing at a historical juncture. On one hand the patience of the farmers, workers and deprived class is wearing out and they are determined to hold agitations, while on the other hand a new leadership is being generated in the country – a new leadership that is willing to risk their lives to fight against the corrupt and for the rights of the farmers. This is a sign of transformation. The quicker this transformation takes place, the better it is for the welfare of the people of the country.