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South India (2017), Uncategorized

Kisan Mukti Yata in South India – Day 2

“The nation is indebted to farmers by at least 1.5 lakh crores annually:

When farmers ask for freedom from debt, they are asking for a legitimate right and not charity”

Vijayawada, September 17th 2017Leaders of the Kisan Mukti Yatra which entered Andhra Pradesh today on the second day of its South India tour asserted that it is the nation and government which owe the farmers, and not the other way round. “When we ask for freedom from debt, it is a completely justified and legitimate demand from farmers, and this is not just about loan waivers. We understand the limitations as well as meaningless loan waiver schemes that are being implemented right now and what we are asking for is a policy-based and statutory institutional mechanism for debt relief”, said the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) in a statement today.

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The Yatra was welcomed into Andhra Pradesh from Telangana this morning in various places, on its way to Vijayawada, where a large gathering of farmers awaited the Yatra. Veteran farmer leader, Kolli Nageswara Rao was felicitated by national and local farmer leaders for his enormous contributions to protecting farmers’ rights in the country. A citation presented to him presented his numerous fights and achievements over the many decades. Two telugu books authored by Shri Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao were also released on the occasion (“Amaravati: Navyandhra Praja Rajadhani Ayyedela” and “Raithanga Samasyala Parishkaram Kosam – Raithanga Samarabheri Aavasyakata”).

Presiding over the function which saw more than a thousand farmers participating, Shri Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao of Raithu Rakshana Vedika flagged three main issues as pressing matters for farmers in the country – rights over resources like land; remunerative prices which also address the fact that farmers get priced out due to free trade agreements being signed by governments; and comprehensive debt relief.

“Initial calculations show that just as a consequence of the Farmers’ Commission recommendation for remunerative prices (cost of cultivation + 50%) not being implemented over the past ten years, farmers were denied at least 15 lakh crore rupees that is legitimately due to them”, said Yogendra Yadav, Member, National Working Group of AIKSCC. He congratulated farmers of Sikar for the tough fight that they put up in the recent past, by drawing in the support of all stakeholders in the society, to secure a loan waiver for themselves in addition to an assurance on various other demands. He also recalled the inspiring spontaneous struggles by farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and exhorted farmers in all other states to take up such struggles as well as join hands for securing justice.

Speakers like V M Singh (Convenor, AIKSCC) and Malla Reddy (Vice President, All India Kisan Sabha) said that BJP should realise that farmers are going to vote the government out of power in the next elections for the cheating that they are being subjected to by the government, when it reneges on promises made. V M Singh emphasised that the Kisan Mukti Yatra demand is not just about bank loan waivers. In a state like Andhra Pradesh, a vast majority of farmers are tenant farmers who do not access formal credit and would not benefit from such loan waiver schemes with limited objective, he pointed out.

Raju Shetty, Member of Parliament and a former constituent of the NDA said that while the government is busy hyping its promises of doubling farmers’ income, official data clearly shows that it is the loans of farmers that are more than doubling and not their incomes. He also cautioned that while he recently walked out of the NDA alliance arrangement because Modi’s government is claiming that it cannot implement the Farmers’ Commission formula for price-fixing, if the government does not accede to the two demands of the Kisan Mukti Yatra, he will put in efforts to pro-actively campaign against BJP and Narendra Modi from being re-elected.

Justice Gopal Gowda, retired Supreme Court Judge, spoke at length about the constitutional and legal rights of citizens/farmers against forcible land acquisition and narrated several progressive judgements from the Court. He was speaking in the context of land acquisition for the new capital city for Andhra Pradesh, Amravati.

Retired Cabinet Secretary, E A S Sarma demanded that there should be a separate Parliament session for at least seven days to debate issues of farmers and the agrarian crisis in the country. He also urged farmers to prepare a clear and strong manifesto for themselves and push for implementation of the same.

The South India leg of the Kisan Mukti Yatra started yesterday on September 16th 2017 in Hyderabad and after covering several parts of Telangana, entered Andhra Pradesh today. The yatra will hold meetings in Anantapur and Madanapalle tomorrow, and will enter Tamil Nadu on the 19th of September. It is scheduled to end in Bangalore on September 23rd. The yatra is being held under the aegis of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, which consists of more than 160 farmer organisations all over India.

For more information, contact: Kiran Vissa at 9701705743

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South India (2017), Uncategorized

Kisan Mukti Yatra gets off to a strong start in south India

Telangana resonates with demands of freedom from debt and remunerative prices
Hyderabad/Suryapet/Nakrekal/Khammam, Sept 16th,  2017:
The nationwide Kisan Mukti Yatra saw the participation of thousands of farmers in Telangana on the first day of its South India leg. More than 25 organisations joined hands to highlight farmers’ legitimate demands around debt relief and profitable prices. The Yatra is being organised by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) which consists of more than 150 farmer organisations. Prominent leaders and activists who joined the yatra include V.M Singh (Convenor, AIKSCC), Raju Shetty (Member of Parliament), Prof. Kodandram (Telangana JAC), Yogendra Yadav (President, Swaraj India), Dr. Sunilam (Kisan Sangharsh Samiti), Malla Reddy (AIKS), Vemulapalli Venkataramaiah (AIKMS) and others.
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Addressing a large gathering of farmers in Suryapet, V.M Singh recalled how the Modi government has brazenly reneged on its poll promise of implementing assured price with 50% margin over cost of cultivation.
Raju Shetty urged farmers to join in large numbers the Kisan Mukti Sansad on November 20th 2017 in Delhi to make the Centre accountable towards farmers’ well-being.
Women farmers from Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch lamented the lack of remunerative prices at the end of a season full of hardships and risks.
Exhorting Telangana farmers not to be left behind in a series of victorious farmers’ struggles in different states of India in the recent past, Yogendra Yadav reminded them of Telangana’s rich history of peasant uprisings.
Pointing out that the Telangana government is on the one hand urging farmers to collectivise themselves better, Prof. Kodandaram highlighted the duplicity of the government in repressing farmers’ movements in reality.
Malla Reddy explained that the loan waiver scheme of Telangana government with its many shortcomings ended up burdening farmers more than relieving from debt. As the loan waiver debate hots up in the country there is much to learn from Telangana on how not to design loan waivers, he said.
Dr. Sunilam cautioned governments to take note of the unprecedented confluence of all farm organisations in the country which will only gather more strength in the days to come.
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Uncategorized

Press Release: Hyderabad, 14/09/2017

Press Note: September 14, 2017

Telugu Press Note – Kisan Mukti Yatra Curtain Raiser

Nationwide Kisan Mukti Yatra coming to South India from Sept. 16th 2017:

25 Farmer Unions and Organizations join hands in Telangana

Curtain-raiser Press Meet at Somajiguda Press Club at 11 am today, addressed by Prof. Kodandaram (Telangana JAC), Sarampally Malla Reddy (All India Kisan Sabha), Vemulapalli Venkatramayya (All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha), Kirankumar Vissa (Rythu Swarajya Vedika), Ravi Kanneganti (Telangan Rythu JAC), Ashalatha (Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch), T. Sagar (Telangana Rythu Sangham), Achutha Ramayya (All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha), Gurijala Ravinder (Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika), Veeranna (Telangana Rythu Coolie Sangham), P. Shankar (Dalit Bahujan Front), Sajaya (Caring Citizens Collective)

All across the country, we are seeing intense agitations by farmers. Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and now in Rajasthan – farmers are coming on to the roads everywhere because they realize that the government policies and failures are behind the crisis in agriculture. On the one hand, the governments have tried to suppress the movements; in Madhya Pradesh, the police firing killed 6 farmers. On the other hand, governments and political parties are also recognizing that their future is at stake unless they are seen supporting the farmers. This is a critical time when farmers across the country should come together and build unprecedented pressure on the Central and state governments.

Kisan Mukti Yatra: In this context, the nation-wide Kisan Mukti Yatra is being organized. The first phase began in Mandsaur district, Madhya Pradesh at the village where farmers were killed by the police and covered the Western states. It received tremendous response and ended with a large rally in Delhi on July 18th. The second phase of the Yatra will cover South India from September 16th to 23rd – beginning at Hyderabad, going through Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. The Yatra is being organized by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).

All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) consists of more than 160 farmers’ organizations from across the country. After a long time, so many farmers’ organizations have come onto a common platform and taken up a common public mobilization campaign. The 18-member national working committee includes Sardar V.M. Singh of Rashtriya Mazdoor Kisan Sanghatan, Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan, Hannan Mollah of All India Kisan Sabha, Raju Shetty of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatan, Medha Patkar of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Ashish Mittal of All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, Kavitha Kuruganti of ASHA-Kisan Swaraj, Dr.Sunilam of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, and Avik Saha of Jai Kisan Andolan. Many other organizations are joining the platform.

The two core demands of the Yatra are “Freedom from Debt for farmers” and “Remunerative Prices for all farmers, with 50% margin above the Cost of cultivation.”

Kisan Mukti Yatra – South India: The Phase-2 of the Yatra in South India will take place from September 16th to 23rd, beginning at Hyderabad. The Yatra will go through Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, ending at Bengaluru on Sept. 23rd. The Telangana program on Sept. 16th is as follows:

8.00am:                             Press Meet by national leaders at Sundarayya Vigyana Kendram

9.30am-10.30am:            Flagging off of Bus Yatra at Gun Park, opposite Assembly

12.30am:                           Public Meeting at Suryapet

4.30pm:                             Rally at Khammam

5.30pm:                             Public Meeting at Khammam

The leaders participating from the national committee include V.M.Singh, Yogendra Yadav, Raju Shetty, Dr.Sunilam, Kavitha Kuruganti and Avik Saha. The key leaders participating in Telangana include Prof.Kodandaram of Telangana JAC, S.Malla Reddy of All India Kisan Sabha, V.Venkatramayya of All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, Justice Chandrakumar, Ravi Kanneganti of Telangana Rythu JAC, Kirankumar Vissa of Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Dr.Rukmini Rao of Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch, and Achutha Ramarao of All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha.

As the Yatra enters South India, it is important to remember that 3 South Indian states are among the top 5 states in the country in farmer suicides – Telangana, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Most of South India is reeling from a second successive year of drought. In Tamil Nadu, this is considered as the worst drought situation in more than 100 years. Despite the Supreme Court orders on drought relief, there is a clear failure of the governments to provide substantive relief to the farmers, and most importantly, to protect them from falling into deep debt.

South Indian states also have the highest share of indebted households – 91% in Andhra Pradesh, 89% in Telangana and 82.5% in Tamil Nadu. A large portion of the debt is from informal sources. “Freedom from debt” is definitely a big rallying cry for farmers in all these states. But the farmers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have an important learning to share with the rest of the country –about how not to implement a loan waiver! In both the states, the governments came to power in 2014 with a big promise to waive agricultural loans. However, it turned into a farce because the loan waiver was implemented in 4 installments rather than in one go. Not only is the loan waiver still incomplete, but the farmers had to pay interest on outstanding loans, and most importantly, banks refused to provide fresh loans as per scale of finance to farmers in the past 4 years! So, the farmers had to borrow heavily from private moneylenders.

Hence, when Kisan Mukti Yatra is demanding “Freedom from Debt”, it is not limited to a one-time waiver of bank loans. It is only when private indebtedness is also addressed, and when it is ensured that the farmer doesn’t fall back into debt the next year, does ‘Freedom from Debt’ have a true meaning. For this, a comprehensive “Agricultural Debt Relief Act” should be brought in on the lines of the Act in Kerala, which is being implemented since 2007. Telangana passed a similar law but has not yet implemented it or even framed the rules.

To prevent indebtedness, it is also crucial to provide remunerative prices. Both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have recently seen large agitations by chilli farmers whose prices dropped to less than Rs.4000 per quintal. Tur dal farmer suffered last year due to a steep fall in prices from Rs.9000 to Rs.4000 per quintal – triggered by huge imports of dal by the Central government! Kisan Mukti Yatra demands that remunerative prices – as defined by Swaminathan Commission at 50% margin above cost of cultivation – are guaranteed by the government. It is not sufficient to fix Minimum Support Prices. Whenever the price falls below the remunerative price, the government takes the responsibility for either timely market intervention to increase the price, or paying the difference to the farmer as cash payment.

The nation-wide Kisan Mukti Yatra will culminate in a mega-rally in Delhi on November 20th when the winter session of Parliament begins.

For more details, Contact:
Kirankumar Vissa: 9701705743; T.Sagar: 9490098055; V.Venkatramayya: 8639873720; Ravi Kanneganti: 9912928422;

 

Curtain-raiser Press Meet photo