Conversion of Parliamentarism to

Social Fascism:

An Indian Experience


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The Growing Agrarian Crisis And New Agricultural Policy Of the ‘Left’

The ‘Left’ Front journey to the nadir of betrayal and degeneration with the CPI(M) at the helm is a history worth going through as a precaution against parliamentary politics. The quarter century rule in West Bengal has pushed the CPM to the bosom of imperialism. Most of the so-called development projects undertaken by this government are funded by World Bank, I.D.A, Asian Development Bank, Ford foundation, etc.

The CPM party bosses frequent the western countries for wooing the MNCs to set foot on the soil of West Bengal and the consequence of this kowtowing is bitterly borne by the masses of West Bengal, the poor in particular. In order to tighten the noose of imperialism around the necks of the peasants, the so-called Left Front, or in other Words, the shameless CPM leaders, have even imposed the new agrarian policy in April 2003. There is still the web of argument to justify the new policy. This is CPM type of revisionism, never forgetting to refurbish its ‘left’ image while at every step betraying the masses and surrendering to imperialism and all reactionaries.

The CPI can be identified for its brazen advocacy of pro-bourgeois position, overt parliamentarism and clamouring for Congress – Communist unity for achieving socialism in India. There is no left verbiage like that of the CPM.

From the mid sixties the ruling classes in India under pressure from the World Bank and other international agencies like Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation opted for seed fertilizer technology the agricultural development in the well endowed regions having a higher percentage of irrigated areas and other infrastructure facilities like Punjab and Haryana. The motive behind this shift was firstly to impose ‘Green Revolution’ as an alternative to ‘Red Revolution’. Secondly, to create a big market for multinationals and agri-business and also to facilitate their steady entrance into the country’s economy. Thirdly, this way of developing capitalism in agriculture was motivated by integrating it with the world capitalist system.

With the same aim as stated above it has reorganized the credit structure and nationalized scheduled commercial banks and expanded credit cooperatives, marketing federations, etc. This imperialist dictated and presided agrarian policy in the name of modernization through using machines, HYV seeds, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc, keeping the unequal land relations, have, after some years of production growth, developed not only extreme inequality, and regressive features prominently come up like huge burdens of foreign ‘loan’ diminishing productivity of land, destruction of nature and most of all increased dependence on imperialist countries and institutions.

The CPM for an improved ‘Left’ Front in the world of economic restructuring now proves itself an equivalent of the Congress Party whose government had struck an agreement with the U.S government in 1965 for launching the ‘Green Revolution’ programme in India. The CPM even while maintained a pretense of criticism of globalisation, arrogated to itself the incontestable power to seek ‘advice’ from McKinsey Global Institute, a U.S based top global consultancy organization. Its advice is now as to how to get along the stream in the world of so-called globalization.

In 2001 McKinsey placed a survey report with recommendations on the fields ranging from milk production and processing to software and telecommunication. It certainly does compel one to wonder as to why the so-called Marxists had to call at the doors of McKinsey.

The McKinsey Report, submitted to the West Bengal Government, has basically discussed three topics: viz, the non-government initative in agriculture, contract based cultivation between peasants and MNCs and creation of variety in agrarian produce. In this report West Bengal has been divided into four regions for great change in the agrarian sector. It has been advised that production of paddy should be increased in the districts of Burdhaman, Birbhum, Medinipur and Bankura from the aggregate total from 2.65 ton to 3.61 ton per hectare resulting in an expected increase of 33.50 percent. Most important is that the states 55 percent paddy should be grown in those four districts.

Secondly, McKinsey has heaped its advice on the ‘Left’ Front government to convert the districts like 24-Parganas (North), Hoogly, Nadia, Murshidabad and Malda into a different agrarian region. Here, it has advised, 25 percent agricultural land has to be earmarked for commercial crops from the existing paddy cultivation. In North Bengal in 15 percent land of the district of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Dinajpur at least 15 percent paddy land should be changed for the cultivation of pineapple, spices, vegetables and oil seeds. Mckinsey, however, advised continuation of cultivation as before in 24 Parganas(South), Purulia, Coochbehar and some other districts. Doling out such pieces of advice for the ever willing ‘Left’ poised to go the capitalist way retaining semi-feudal features Mckinsey ultimately preferred contract- cultivation. The contract shall be struck between the peasant and multi-national organizations.

The global consultant Mckinsey is the policy maker for the CPI(M)-led government in West Bengal. It observed in its report that fragmentation of land was a major impediment to foreign investment in agriculture. Obviously contract with so many peasants was found to be a problem. The CPI(M) state secretariat in a meeting in July 2003 decided to introduce a Bill immediately to allow overturning the Front’s earlier land reform policy. The Bill will allow merging of separate pieces of land into a single plot. "It will also allow several plot holders to form a company and enter into agreements with potential investors in food processing and agribusiness – the latest thrust area of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government. Interestingly, if the Bill is enacted, widows of present patta holders will not be allowed to sell the land to their relatives. Instead, such land will be taken over by the government for consolidation."(The Times of India, June 28, 2003) Any serious observer can find the pace of degradation of the CPI(M) which even outpaces the earlier Congress governments by its anti-people policies. The CPI State Secretary Mr. Manju Majumdar was rather candid in his criticism of such pro-rich policies. He said "In all… crops, including wheat, cereals, potato and oil seeds, a serious deficit in production is in the offing. What is the hurry in consolidation of land in order to promote fruit and flower production now?"(Ibid) Readers will find many more changes in the interest of the MNCs and the rich people in India. And they will be thrust on the people on the pretext of saving and carrying on this so-called Marxist government in the period of globalisation.

McKinsey considers, as is expected from such multinational concerns, that a new system will emerge through the integration of land and labour of the peasants and multi-national capital and technical knowledge. The Mckinesy ‘advice’, however, emphasises, lest one should think otherwise, that there shall be no land transfer, nor shall peasants lose their rights. In addition to all these, McKinsey’s sermon states that a super-modern trading system will emerge in ‘cooperation with 11 multi-national companies".

Many trading centers will come up in the state. Rice will be exported to Africa and Bangaladesh; jam jelly and fruit juice to Europe and America. Thus, through McKinsey’s advice from production to distribution, the MNCs will spread their tentacles throughout the state, by carrying to the state the structural adjustment policy of the central government under the liberalization process.

The McKinsey Report has been in the midst of a controversy and criticism, even by some parties in the "Left" front. Credit here too goes to the CPM, to unflinchingly advocate the McKinsey proposed vast changes through compelling the West Bengal peasants to be direct subjects of the MNCs.

Mr.Nirupam Sen, the CPM ideologue in recent decades, barks like a disturbed animal: "Complaints are raised against us that we are moving through double-dealing. It is voiced that we are opposing globalization, while certain decisions that we have taken in the realm of running the state go to strengthen the basis of globalization…".135

Mr. Sen bemoaned such charges and after rambling from one subject to another to somehow exonerate the ‘Left’ Front from such charges, pityingly concludes in respect of agriculture: "… various states are considering corporate farming … we have said ‘no’. This cannot be in our state. Then we have to provide the marginal peasants, poor peasants, middle peasants with technology. With the ensuring of improved technology, high quality seeds, etc. we have to find a way out for more income and arrange employment."(Ibid. p. 29) Mr. Sen. prescribed those remedies in September 2001 and in it they contained certain basics of the Mckinsey Report.

We have already referred to the implications of harmful recourse to World Bank, Ford and Rockefeller induced prescription of Green Revolution through HYV seeds, technology, and other measures in India. In West Bengal itself the rate of increase in production in agriculture has significantly come down in the 1990s compared to that of the 1980s. In the 1980s foodgrain production increased at the rate of 6.9% in West Bengal. In the 1990s its yearly increase was recorded at 2.5%. In the later half of the 1990s the situation further worsened. Between 1995-96 and 1999-2000 the annual rate of increase in food crops in West Bengal had come down to 2.3%. The annual rate of increase in the production of paddy in this period was a yearly 2.4%.136 What led to such fall in agricultural production that registered some increase in the 1980s? In this period, there was a steady rise in the consumption of pesticides, in the use of shallow tube wells, chemical fertilizers, etc. The answer lies, among some other factors, in the very agricultural operation in the line of so-called Green Revolution, destroying the fertility of land, developing resistance in insects, killing of beneficial insects, etc. Secondly, the continuous price rise of those essentials for cultivation in that way of "Green-Revolution" with no corresponding rise in agricultural produce forced the peasants to continue with old pesticides requiring change after some reasonable period. The water level increasingly lowered and agricultural implements became costlier making it impossible for peasants to increase production.

According to one study published in 1995, the significant growth in the production of paddy in the 1980s is accountable to Boro cultivation (40% of the cause) and high degree of the use of High-yielding variety seeds (35% of the cause for increase). In both cases it was required to provide huge quantity of water and this problem was resolved by way of thousands of shallows run by 5 horse-power motor and deep tube wells, and submersible pump. This has led to continuous lowering of the water level and in its wake the high incidence of arsenic related disease in many parts of rural West Bengal.

Once the U.S president and the Indian compradore bourgeois class and new kulaks were so much moved by the growth in production under the ‘Green Revolution’ that they glorified it as a blessing for the Indian peasants. It is noteworthy that before the assumption of power by the ‘Left’ Front in West Bengal in 1977 the use of fertilizer per acre was below the all-India level. But by 1980-81 under the parliamentary Marxists’ rule this rate outstripped the all-India level by using 10% more fertilizer per acre land. In that year the Indian average was 14.23 kg per acre while in West Bengal it was 15.65 kg per acre. And by 1995-96 while the all India average in this regard was 33.86kg per acre, in the ‘Marxist" ruled West Bengal it was as much as 45.95 kg i.e. 35% more than the all-India level. By 2000-2001, the over-all use of the fertilizer got reduced in India but still West Bengal recorded 31% more than all-India level. In India it was 42.67 kg but in West Bengal 55.87 kg. (Ajit Narayan Bosu, Paschimbanger Arthaniti Rajniti, Ibid. p. 129)

In the same way, the use of HYV seeds provides a similar picture. In 1980-81 in 30.2% of the cultivable land in India the HYV seeds was used but in West Bengal its ratio was 33.6%. In 1995-96 such seed were put under 54.1% land area in India but in "Marxist" West Bengal it soared to 74.6% of the cultivable area. But in 2000-01 the area under HYV seeds use was reduced in West Bengal.137

Ajit Narayan Bose shows from various govt. published sources that between 1980-81 and 2000-01 the area for the cultivation of pulse and other cereals (the poor people eat them for the low price) has reduced by 48% and 52%. On the other hand excessive increase (more than 4 times) has been recorded by the cultivation of boro paddy in West Bengal. [Ibid. p. 130] West Bengal’s pride in the increased production in paddy is actually based on the increased production of boro. This apparent increase in production through cultivation of boro is disastrous for the future for its excessive consumption of water (48 inch per acre for boro cultivation, 12 inch per acre for wheat and 10 inch per acre for oil seeds). This clearly proves the disastrous path taken up by the "Left" Front government in the interest of profits of the MNCs and the native rich.

To understand the Left Front agricultural policy one should go back to the liberalization policy of the Central government. By the end of the last millennium when the then agricultural minister Nitish Kumar stressed that the new agrarian policy was to fulfill the "accountability" to the World Trade Organization. In 1997 Mr. Jyoti Basu, the then C.M in West Bengal, declared that the possibility opened by the free economy should be thoroughly taken advantage of.138 As part and parcel of the new economic policy and so-called globalization process the "Marxists" in West Bengal jumped into the bandwagon of the liberalisation policy and more or less accepted the recommendations of Mckinsey. Bengal had experienced the ravages caused by contract-based cultivation of indigo and the massive protest movements under British rule.

According to the CPI(M) led provincial peasant committee in West Bengal smallholdings predominate, constituting 71% of the land.139 This journal of the West Bengal Krisak Sabha categorically dismissed the possibility of co-operative based cultivation.(p.8) The Mckinsey report too stated that as a result of increased wages the owners, multi-nationals tend to shift from the policy of large-sized farming to contract based cultivation.

In the words of Mckinsey "With the increase of Labour costs, these companies are moving away from managing captive forms to models like contract forming, where they work closely with contract formers." In this system the multinationals need not pump in money for the wages as the small peasants will themselves do the cultivation. The MNCs will thus be assured of their marketable commodities. Secondly, under this system the MNCs will reserve the right to revoke the contracts. It is clear that extracting the super profits within the shortest period, with the diminishing productivity of the land, the MNCs will terminate the contracts leaving the land in a barren state.

Mckinsey even recommended the names of eleven MNCs to develop the ultra modern agri-business centers with their branches throughout the state. The West Bengal parliamentary Marxist government is not unaware of the state of affairs after 25 years of rule. The CPI(M) state conference in February 2002 prescribed in clichéd capitalist productive force theory to tackle emerging problems. It stated bluntly that, "…. It is also essential to adopt modern technology for bringing about change in the crop pattern towards production of cash crops and increase in agricultural production . It is not also possible to tackle the situation unless the poor and marginal farmers have their access over irrigation, fertilizers, improved seeds, agricultural implements etc…"140 We have already referred to the soaring prices of seeds, water and other implements of production.

When Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya insists that the Mckinsey report must be accepted and when the CPI(M) documents push forth the Mckinsey recommended proposals one can imagine how the tentacles of the MNCs will spread far and wide at the grass roots. One can also imagine the imminent loss of fertility of the land following the Mckinsey recommended and Left Front accepted new agricultural policy. The so-called Marxists are determined to toe the liberalization policy, even though various states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, M.P. Rajastan etc. have been experiencing the devastating impact of this policy, compelling many peasants to commit suicide. Only in Karnataka, between 1996 and 2000, 10,959 peasants have ended their lives. According to one study the cause of such deaths is that "The village as an institution has crumbled under the pressure of commercialization." (Economic and Political Weekly, 29.6.2002, cited in Shankar Ghosh, Rajya Sarkarer Naya Krishiniti: Sarbanasher Nil Naksha, in Paschimnbangar Krishiniti, Ibid. p. 90) Already a number of potato cultivators in West Bengal have been pushed to the brink of committing suicide and some have even committed suicide.

The Mckinsey Report is actually the policy framework in tune with the liberalization policy of the central government dictated by the WTO, W.B. and the MNCs. The Report of the working council of the CPI(M) projects the new agricultural policy as an alternative policy. It claims that the main slogan of this alternative policy is "development of agriculture and the processing and commercialization of agricultural commodities."141

This commercialization process has now been accepted as a part of the international market. In the last budget the ‘Marxist’ Finance minister of West Bengal proudly stated (para 4.7) the need for increased irrigation facility, improved seeds and fertilizer. The irrigation is actually based on ground-water extraction i.e. extracting water from the earth. This rampant extracting of water resources and use of HYV seeds, fertilser, insecticides, etc. for commercialization of agriculture in a state of diminishing productivity, will have a fatal impact on agriculture in West Bengal. Already land alienation and the rise of a neo-rich class poses a real threat to the poor peasants.

The continuous increase in the number of landless wage labourers forces them to work below the wage fixed by the government, keeping those peasants under the vice like grip of the usurers and other rich sections. The aforesaid Working Council Report of the West Bengal peasant front of the CPI(M) itself admitted "…. The net of loan giving usurers is spreading. A new well off section has come into being in the rural areas. As a supplier of capital and other necessary implements, they are imposing new burdens on the already burdened peasantry…"142

Now the CPM, in its worst capitulation to the MNCs, WB and other international organizations ensures the ravage of the West Bengal peasants for the insatiable greed for staying in the reactionary path of parliamentarism. The West Bengal Chief Minister and his associates to this master plan are engaged in selling the dangerous policy that commercialization of agricultural will ensure a fair price for agricultural produce in the international market and that West Bengal agriculture will progress by leaps and bounds. The world has witnessed enough of the devastating policy of the commercialization of agriculture, introducing the process of the MNCs looting the peasants. The experiences of Mexico, Honduras, Argentina and many third World countries provide glaring examples of such a destructive role of the MNCs in the agrarian field and the consequent ruination of the peasantry.

The euphoria of ‘Green Revolution’ in Punjab, Haryana and other areas has already run out of steam, but the ‘Marxist’ ‘Left’ Front has faithfully practisced the policy of ‘Green Revolution’ and now wants to mortgage the lives of the West Bengal peasants to the MNCs.

There are several implications of the new agricultural policy.

Firstly, in West Bengal the land used for producing rice, wheat, etc. is declining. This has serious consequences as regards the supply of the main food crops. The increasing polarisation between the increasing number of wage labours and the landless on the one hand and the landowning sections on the other makes it burdensome for the poorer section to provide for HYV, ferlilisers, etc. The commercialization of agriculture under ‘Left’ Front rule will further the alienation of land from the hands of the poor and marginal peasants. The contract-based cultivation spells doom for the peasantry in West Bengal. Under the new system peasants will have to switch over to export–oriented crops instead of fundamentally producing paddy, wheat, pulse, etc. indispensable for the consumption of the native people. And, in case of crops’ failure, the peasants have to bear the expenses and it will be near impossible for them to revert to the cultivation of earlier food crops so easily. As export takes precedence in the new agricultural policy of the hypocrat ‘Marxist’ government one can expect deficit in staples like paddy in the near future with the increasing infertility of land, further lowening of the water table pushing the landless, poor and marginal peasants to the brink of disaster.143

The euphoria over the ‘Green Revolution’ in Punjab, Haryana and other areas has already run out of steam, but the ‘Marxist’ ‘Left’ Front has faithfully practiced the policy of ‘Green Revolution’ and now wants to mortgage the lives of the West Bengal peasants to the MNCs. To conclude this section, we cite what the Green Revolution Father, M.S. Swaminathan, sermonized to the C.M. Buddhadeb, who listened to with rapt attention.

The Telegraph correspondent writes, "M.S.Swaminathan, whose expertise was generally tapped by Buddhadeb Bhattacharja’s government in framing the new agricultural policy, said the rural infrastructure of Bengal needed an urgent revamp. …. He had a long meeting with Bhattacharja yesterday on the imperatives of agriculture in Bengal …. Swaminathan, who has gone through the state’s new farm policy and thinks that the government has provided enough safeguards to farmers, explained Bhattacharja the importance of precision farming, the need to prevent glut in potato production … and strengthen the agro industry. The agricultural policy, formulated with recommendations of global consultant Mckinsey in mind, aims at a shift of focus from agriculture to agri-business…. Swaminathan said the potential has to be translated into production to suit the market. He added that the chief minister was enthusiastic about the six agro-export zones coming up in the state."

Further that Swaminathan sang the tune of Mackinsey stating, "What Bengal lacks is investment, but, the role of private investors is to help the farmers and any kind of contract cultivation should be mutually beneficial and not exploitative. There is no question of a farmer losing his land to private companies. So, we should look for partnerships that will help farmers."144 We can only add that all this trash is also propagated by the ‘Left’ Front to swindle the peasants of West Bengal.


135. Nirupam Sen, Biswayan o Panshimbanga, In Ajker Biswayan Bharat o Paschimbanga, National Book Agency, Kolkata, April 2002, p. 22

136. Ratan Khasnabish, Pashimbanger Krishi Ar- thanit, In Paschimbanger Krishini, Krishaker Bhabisy at, Mrittika, Ibid, p. 31

137. Ibid. p. 129

138. Anandbazar Patrika 11.5.1997

139. Editorial, Krisak Sangram, July, August September 2002, p. 4

140. Left Front Government our Tasks, Resolution adopted by the West Bengal state conference of the CPI(M) February 2002, point 11, p. 80, In the Marxist, April-June 2002

141. Report of Working Council, January 23-26, 2003, In Paschimbanga Pradeshik Krishak Sabha, p. 22

142. Ibid. p. 23

143. Subhendu Dasgupta, Sarkari Krisiniti: Amader Bhabna, In Paschimbanger Krishiniti, Mrittika, pp. 50-56

144. The Telegraph 7 May, 2003

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