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Posted at: Feb 6, 2018, 2:24 AM; last updated: Feb 6, 2018, 3:36 PM (IST)

Agrarian crisis solution lies in ‘battles of justice’: Sainath

Agrarian crisis solution lies  in ‘battles of justice’: Sainath
P Sainath, rural affairs expert

Vishav Bharti

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5

Amid the incredible growth of inequality in India; amid the scenario when dissent has been criminalised; when policies of the state and corporates are designed to fail the poor; and moral universe of the state has shifted, then the solution lies in “going back to battles of justice”, feels famous journalist and rural affairs expert P Sainath. 

He said only struggles like those fought in the country in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s could be a hope against the prevailing agrarian crisis. He was in Chandigarh to deliver a public lecture at Institute for Development and Communication.

Sharing his journey, Sainath said the next year would mark the 20th year of him covering the rural distress during which he visited more than 900 households — where farmers committed suicides — across the 11 regions of the country. 

He called for not reducing the crisis just to numbers, stressing the agrarian crisis was something more than the MSP issue. He said procurement centres were on a decline and the government was getting out of the procurement process totally.  

“The crisis is no more of measurement of input cost. It is not just a measurement of loss of life; it is not just a measure of loss of production; it is not just a measure of loss of water for irrigation. I think it has become a measure of our loss of humanity, the shrinking boundaries of humanity,” he said. “Because,” Sainath said, “for 20 years what we did was just stood by and watched 3.10 lakh farmers commit suicide.”

He said there had been an incredible growth of inequality in India. “The growth of inequality is so rapid that there is no example in the world,” he said, adding that the top 10 per cent owned 58 per cent of the country’s total household wealth. “Amid this scenario, today government doesn’t even pretend giving something to poor.  It is a corporate state… the role of the state has dramatically changed and its moral universe has shifted,” he said.

Sainath said the credit meant for agriculture was going to agri-business. He said the corporate had hijacked agriculture and “it is not contract farming but the farming of contracts.” “What goes to the rich is called incentive and what goes to the poor is called subsidy,” he said.

Sharing an example of a woman farmer from Andhra Pradesh, who was booked under various draconian sections for demanding her right, he said we were living in times when dissent had been criminalised in the country. Sainath said the solution to the present crisis was in “going back to battles of justice”. 

“These are issues of justice not just the price rate. We have to go back to fight against indebtedness... the battles of justice in 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s occurred and we were often led by people who hadn’t seen sufferings at all,” he said.

‘Special House session’

Parliament should call a special 20-day session only to discuss the agrarian crisis. I was able to convince four political parties for it. In the session, families that are victims of the agrarian crisis should be called to narrate their testimonies. This is a serious demand. — P Sainath, rural affairs expert

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