INTELLECTUAL ON REVOLUTION PATH
P Sainath calls for gherao of Parliament by a million farmers

 KANWAR MANJIT SINGH

P Sainath calls for gherao of Parliament by a million farmers
Top Indian journalist says farmers and agri-labourers must force a 20-day long Parliament session exclusively devoted to agrarian crisis
In what could be nothing less than a call for a peaceful democratic revolution, India’s foremost journalist chronicler of rural economy, P Sainath, gave a clarion call to the country’s farmers to demand and force a 20-day long special session of Parliament to discuss the agrarian crisis and to march towards Delhi and lay siege to the Parliament as such a debate happens inside.
“I am putting forth a demand before Punjab’s farmers and academics and all those who care about the state of the farmers. The Parliament, which has been making news for disruptions lately, should convene for 20 days and stay focussed only on farmers’ issues. Such a session should be divided into 5-6 narrow areas of three days each. And, meanwhile, farmers from various states should move towards Delhi and encircle the Parliament,” Sainath, who has been touring Punjab since April 27, said publicly at various places in Patiala, Barnala, Mansa, Ludhiana and others.
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Sainath, who is known for his field work and reporting on farm suicides, rural wages, condition of farmers and labourers and economic skew in development pattern, said he is in talks with various political parties to force the issue.
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The Ramon Magsaysay Award winner and widely respected journalist is expected to reiterate his call for such a siege to Indian Parliament at the Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Haal in Jalandhar on May 5 at an event that coincides with the 200th birth anniversary of Karl Marx.
Sainath, who is known for his field work and reporting on farm suicides, rural wages, condition of farmers and labourers and economic skew in development pattern, said he is in talks with various political parties to force the issue.
“It has been twelve years that Swaminathan Report is gathering dust. It is time Parliament finds the time,” he thundered at a public lecture at Tarksheel Bhawan, Patiala.
“For three days, Parliament should only discuss Swaminathan Commission report and decide the MSP issue. For another three days, it should discuss loan, loan waiver, access to bank credit. The next three days should be devoted to discussing the issue of water and making drinking water a fundamental human right. Also, it should discuss privatisation of water.”
Sainath said the next three days of such a 20-day Parliament session should be spent thrashing out whether India should proceed with community-led farming or corporate farming.
“And the last three days, the survivors of the agrarian distress should stand in the Central Hall of India’s Parliament and tell the nation what happened to them. Let them tell their own story. No lobbyist, no journalist, no mantri-santri, but farmers and labourers themselves. It is time the country hears their voices,” said Sainath, often seen as a conscience keeper of the India of our times.
He said encircling the Parliament was necessary as only a strong show of power will bring the government to the negotiating table.
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On the last 3 days of such a Parliament session, the survivors of the agrarian distress should stand in the Central Hall of India’s Parliament and tell the nation what happened to them…It is time the country hears their voices,” Sainath said.
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“When farmers and labourers will show their power, the government will come around to negotiate…In Mumbai, more than 45,000 tribals and farmers had converged from just two districts. Imagine the multitudes we can bring flooding to Delhi!” Sainath said.
He said farmer organisations should join heads and plan for a year for such a revolution.
Referring to massive scams and juxtaposing the amounts involved with the much hyped loan waivers in states, including in Punjab, Sainath said, “Of the Rs 7.5 lakh crore NPA of public sector banks, more than 70% involves loans given to the corporate sector…The farmers are not seeking alms. They are not beggars. Chotta kisan barre bank ko nahi loot raha. They are not Vijay Mallya or Nirav Modi. Credit is the right of the farmers.”
The Agriculture distress is not only the crisis of farmers. The fact is that farmers and labourers are being looted in the domain of education and health, he said.
Who are the ruling classes in India? Socio-religious fundamentalists and economic market fundamentalists have joined hands.
“All economists who were with the UPA are today with the BJP. Look at the likes of Surjit Bhalla and Bibek Debroy, came from Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. They are market extremists, market jihadis. We need to understand all this. These are the guys who are India’s rulers,” he said.
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Encircling of the Parliament by a million farmers was necessary as only a strong show of power will bring the government to the negotiating table. Farmer organisations should join heads and plan for a year for such a revolution, he said.
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He slammed those claiming that farmers’ suicides were not too extraordinarily high, and said people like Arvind Panagariya and journalists like Swaminathan S Ankleswaria Aiyer were wrong in projecting the numbers of farmers as 69 % of the population.
“Not everyone is a hero or an actor in Bollywood. Not everyone in the education sector is a teacher. Similarly, not everyone in rural India is a farmer. Farmers comprise a mere 8% of our population,” Sainath said.
Sainath also strongly condemned the proposition that public sector banks should be privatised. “Earlier, when these banks were not nationalised, the failure rate of the banks was astronomical,” Sainath said.
Former NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya had recently advocated privatisation of public sector banks (with the exception of SBI) and even urged the political parties to include the proposal in their manifesto for 2019 general elections.
Sainath’s interactions with small groups of farmer leaders, academics, intellectuals and activists at various places in Punjab often saw him seething with anger and slamming various governments when it came to their attitude towards farm crisis
http://punjabtoday.in/punjabtodayin/economy.p

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