INDIA: Big peasants’ protests erupt against bureaucratic capitalism

Featured image: Peasants’ march to Delhi. Source: Rajesh Sachar AP Photo.

On Tuesday 13th of February began a march of tens of thousands of peasants in India, especially from Punjab and Haryana, towards the capital of the country, New Delhi. They loaded trucks and all kinds of vehicles with food and equipment, prepared to travel for a long time and camp in the city if this would be necessary. All this comes after failed negotiations with the State authorities, which are evident who have deceived the peasants after having made numerous promises in the past. From Tuesday the police have been shooting tear gas, fortifying the capital and fiercely attacking peasants to prevent them from reaching their destination. Internet services have also been cut in many places in Haryana and meetings of a certain size in the capital have been forbidden. Although most peasants are from Punjab and Haryana, there are groups from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh that are joining the protests.

Indian peasants and the current Indian government have clashed before. Between 2020 and 2021 there were huge protests and after them Modi and the BJP had to withdraw a series of measures that liberalized the agricultural market. Additionally, they promised to the peasants to take a series of measures, the most prominent of them, ensure the price of peasants’ products to avoid losses for them. Some time ago, the Indian government had already promised to double the income of the peasants by 2022, which once again was not fulfilled. Additionally, in 2022 the Indian government promised to the peasants to stabilize a series of guaranteed prices to maintain the subsistence of the battered Indian peasants.

All this has served as a cultivating broth, so that Indian peasants rebel against the old Indian State. Finally, after years of waiting and being abandoned, Indian peasants demand that guarantees, or through prices set by law or with more state support, including that the government guarantees State reserves of food, buying products at the minimum prices stipulated with the peasants. Another requirement that they have is waiver of agricultural loans and that income exceeds more than 50 percent of production costs. The most active peasants have been those from Haryana and Punjab because the main beneficiaries of the minimum prices stipulated in recent years have been them, since they sell most of their grain under this price system.

The BJP’s government and the Indian ruling classes have repeatedly shown that they do not seek to safeguard the interests of peasants, but serve the interests of imperialism, mainly Yankee. They not only broke the promises made after the strong protests of 2020-2021, but also recently the living conditions of the peasants have worsened after the new country-selling agreements with the imperialists. One more measure that made the conditions of peasants worse, came months ago after the G20, when there was an agreement between Yankee imperialism and the Indian ruling classes: India lowered taxes on many very important agricultural products for the economy of Yankee imperialism, paving the way to its mass import to the detriment of the production of local peasants. We already reported on this agreement and the terrible consequences of the BJP’s measures for the Indian peasantry: “In general, all of these food products have the characteristic that they are widely consumed products in the Asian country, and therefore their export is very profitable for the United States. However, for this same reason, they are a necessary base for Indian producers, since some of them represent an important economic source for entire regions such as apples, walnuts and almonds in the States of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. In these States, tourism is being imposed as the main business in the economy, leaving thousands of poor peasants ruined.”

Facing these protests and the huge mobilizations of peasants who determinedly march to Delhi, the old Indian State has carried out several actions: it has fortified New Delhi and cut all the accesses for the peasants. It has shielded the borders of the city as if they were borders from one state to another which they were at war with, but against their own people. Additionally it has unleashed a brutal wave of repression, with unprecedented actions so far, such as bombing protesters with tear gas from drones. In addition, there have been strong clashes with the riot police, in which the peasants have remained firm and combative, and have even managed methods to counteract the much higher means of the repressive forces. For example, it is reported that they are throwing stones to shot down drones, they are using tractors to remove concrete barricades, and that they use defensive methods of various types to minimize the effects of tear gas. The old Indian State only knows a way to deal with peasants’ protests: brutal repression. In the protests that were from 2020 to 2021 there were more than 750 dead Indian peasants.

Concrete barricades with sharp nails surrounding New Delhi, to try to prevent the peasants to reach the city. Source: Sajjad Hussain AFP.

Once again we see how the situation in South Asia is specially turbulent, and as we have mentioned earlier, the explosiveness of the masses is growing. Bureaucratic capitalism is in a critical situation and the bureaucratic-big landlord governments, the imperialists and the local ruling classes are not able to stop or defuse the people when it rebels fairly against the misery to which imperialism and bureaucratic capitalism relegate it.

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