How Indias Modi Is Changing Laws to Help Imperialists Dominate the Countrys Agriculture

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How India’s Modi Is Changing Laws to Help Imperialists Dominate the Country’s Agriculture

Prabhat Patnaik

The two bills rushed through India’s parliament on September 20 were objectionable in every conceivable sense. The very fact that they were being rammed through the Rajya Sabha, without being put to vote despite demands for a division, was grossly anti-democratic. The fact that the Center made unilateral and fundamental changes in agricultural marketing arrangements that fall within the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution was a blow against federalism. To resurrect the pre-independence arrangement under which the peasantry was exposed to the capitalist market without any support of the state, and which crushed it during the Great Depression of the 1930s, was a betrayal of the promise of independence. To pit millions of small... peasants against the might of a handful of private buyers, as the bills propose to do, is to open them up to monopsonistic exploitation, meaning exploitation by a single or a few buyers.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of course, has been claiming that the state is not leaving peasants at the mercy of the monopsonists and that the government-guaranteed minimum support price (MSP) regime will continue. But the bills contain nothing on this; and the government refuses to incorporate into law, which testifies to its bad faith, the right of the peasantry to get a minimum support price in accordance with the Swaminathan Commission recommendation that puts the MSP at Cost C2 plus 50 per cent. The peasants in short are being thrown, as under colonialism, to the mercies of a market where price fluctuations have a notoriously high amplitude; and they are rightly putting up a fight against their descent into debt and destitution.

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