Swadeshi Jagaran Manch held its three-day sixth national conference at Jodhpur in Rajasthan from November 10th to 12th. Thousands of farmers and a large number of SJM workers reached from all over India to participate in the conference. SJM national convenor, Shri Muralidhar Rao expressed the apprehensions that the durability of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its primary purpose is the exploitation of the developing countries by the developed countries has become true. This situation has prompted the world to look at other forms of international trade like Bi-lateral, Multilateral, Regional Trade Agreements, and Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements, etc. There are about 300 plus agreements in various stages of negotiations at present. He said.
SJM calls upon the nation to make use of this interruption in trade talks to conduct a through audit of the 11 years of the existence of the WTO, with particular reference to cost/benefit to the country and to the international trade system as a whole and expose the destructive and high handed role played by the developed countries as and when the talk resume.
The SJM suggests that the country should keep the limitations of the export lead model of growth. Studies reveal that domestic consumption lead model with domestic capital and indigenous technology is more durable and enduring.
Shri Rao has also demanded that the government should withdraw all the concessions extended in agricultural trade in the light of the behaviour of the US and EU.
SJM expressed its strong displeasure on the national commission on farmers. It said, the commission speaks of the same chemical agriculture which has destroyed Indian agriculture in the last 30 years. With different words, it has spiced the report with introducing modern technology computer kiosks at village level, precision farming and so on. It has failed to address the real basic issues that agriculture has been facing.
SJM has criticised the recent Indo-US knowledge initiative in agriculture technology and education. Under this agreement the US Pvt. Sector will teach and train the Indian agriculture scientists about new farm technologies which the US thinks is good for India. The seven-member committee of the US consists of Monsanto, the world'slargest MNC in the field of agricultural technology and Walmart, word'slargest retailer in food products. In the very first meeting the US, MNCS have made it clear that they are interested in providing technologies related to GM Seeds, GM Fishes and GM Animals. This is really dangerous for Indian agriculture, our biodiversity, our food security and health of the people.
SJM strongly blamed SEZ policies of UPA, even a cursory glance at SEZ Act and Rules will show that it is a land grab project, for the benefit of land developers and industrial and ITBT tycoons, at the cost of thousands of small and marginal farmers.
A large number of farmers questioned the Seed Bill that is already before the Parliament, seeks to take away the traditional right of the Indian farmers and handover the control of the Indian seed market to the multinational seed companies with disastrous consequence on Indian agriculture.
It said, inspite of the warning from the scientists of Wheat Research Institute at Karnal, the wheat imported by the food ministry from Australia contained two Fungal Pathogens-Ergot and Dwarf bunt, which are not found in India at all. The government imported nearly four million tones of wheat from Australia at a price of Rs. 900 per quintal whereas the MSP for wheat given to our farmers was Rs.650 per quintal. Thus the government has imported diseases paying 50 per cent higher price.
SJM confronted with the UPA government on blackmailing state governments to amend APMC Acts on the model supplied. The amendments are diluting the APMC by allowing bypassing of APMCs by private agencies. Contract farming is also being sanctioned under the arrangement. In fact the main objective of the government in introducing trading in agriculture products seems to benefit the agriculture business of the MNCs and the Indian cooperates rather than the Indian farmers.
SJM convenor told that the recent sealing drive is a pointer to the forthcoming trend. The retail sector is the largest employment provider next only to agriculture. It is providing livelihood to about four crore families. The share of retail trade in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 13 per cent. The government has decided to open this sector to FDI. To start with it has permitted FDI in single brand stores and in due course the sector is likely to be thrown open completely. Ultimately the entire retail trade is likely to be passed on to the hands the MNCs and big Indian corporate, he said.
SJM cautioned the approach paper of the 11th Plan. The influence of the international institutions is visible in the approach paper. The approach paper has completely ignored the SSIs and the self-employment generating sectors. The Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission seems to be implementing his own agenda of employment generation, which SJM has already rejected.
The three-day conclave of SJM was also more concerned about the individual and economic disparities that are widening day by day. Even in the recent Chief Ministers conclave the government admitted that more than 29 crore people are living below the poverty line. Immediate efforts need to be made to raise the income, demand and standard of living of the poorest section so that the nation can move toward more inclusive development including agriculture and industry. If the poverty line concept is redefined taking into consideration the new items in the consumer basket, the Below Poverty Line (BPL) population is likely to shoot up to 60 to 80 crore. While this being the situation the government'sslogan of garibi hatao seems hollow.