Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Land struggles intensify across India

Protest against Reliance in Lucknow, UP

Protest at Bhatta- Parsaul, UP
The grabbing of farm land by the Indian state for private entities has led to massive protests by farmers and other groups across the country. Various political parties have also jumped onto the bandwagon for political gains. 

The main problem at the moment is an outdated colonial act from 1894 called the Land Acquisition Act which permits the state to acquire [read grab] land from landholders by giving only a notice for 'public purpose'.

Under the current act the term 'public purpose' is so ambiguously defined that even a private company's profit purpose can fit into the definition of public purpose to the detriment of farmers and others like tribals whose livelihoods are tied to land. Recent land grabs have occurred for mines, residential townships for high income groups, commercial complexes, Special Economic Zones etc. The state has come to play the role of a land broker for private player rather than being a just arbiter of social conflicts and ensuring the well being of the poor.  

The main demand by protesters is to bring in new legislation that will prevent acquisitions of land [especially fertile lands] unless absolutely necessary, provide just compensation and rehabilitation as well as set up processes for redress. Most importantly they demand that the definition of ‘public purpose’ should be within the scope of equitable rural development and that there should be considerable national debate over this term. The Indian government has promised to address these issues in the upcoming monsoon session of the parliament. Meanwhile, people continue to struggle for their rightful control over resources like land, water, and forests. 
Here are some recent stories on land protests in North India:

2. Excellent cover story by Down to Earth on the recent violent struggles in Uttar Pradesh http://www.downtoearth.org.in/node/33563

Monday, May 16, 2011

Letter from MONLAR in Sri Lanka on ecological home gardens to the Sri Lankan President

MONLAR member at her
home garden

We the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform ( MONLAR ) and many other organizations associated with us are very happy  about the intentions of recently declared  “Divineguma” program, aiming at assisting the building of one million household economic units. The intention seems to be to assist and encourage households to grow their own home gardens. The philosophy behind  this program seems to be that the ordinary people are capable of solving their major problems of food insecurity and hunger through their own creative abilities utilizing what nature gives them free of charge.

Ornamental plants in a MONLAR
organic home garden
We, MONLAR, a movement that has worked in Sri Lanka during the last 20 years are very happy and convinced about this direction since our experiences, almost island wide have proved this possibility.

It is our intention, therefore, to extend our fullest support to this program.  We have been carrying out such programs consistently during the last 15 years or so in many different areas in the country, covering most of the agro-ecological zones and have presented to the government our experiences from time to time. We have learnt that the way to maximize benefits of such a program is to make them completely ecological, which means to make the full use of the benefits of nature in all its aspects without having any adverse impact on nature. This would be the best way of making such agriculture most viable to the poorer sections of society.  This approach is briefly discussed in annexure
Bio fertilizers at a MONLAR
members home garden

We see the possibility of changing the present approach in Divi Neguma by adopting a more comprehensive approach  of ecological farming. This can easily be done by adopting the 10 steps that were described in the annexure to this letter, on ecological agriculture. There are quite a lot of trained instructors / organizations that we work with.  We see the possibility of your transforming the Divineguma, gama neguma, api wawamu Rata Nagamu and also the Samurdhi Programmes into very beneficial program. Sri Lanka can then really become a miracle of Asia and an example to the rest of the world.

It would be disastrous to allow these program to be utilized to further promote the type of chemical farming into all home gardens by introducing the commercial seeds propagated by companies and by getting people to apply chemical fertilizers that would make it impossible and very damaging to the small farmers and all consumers. 
As said by the UN special Rapportuer on right to food in his press statement “commercial companies would only invest in activities that would give them greater profits, by introducing their hybridized seeds and other external inputs”. This trend should be looked  upon with great caution.

We would therefore like to appeal to you to give us an early opportunity to explain and illustrate this to you and to the Cabinet Ministers who are in charge of this programme and also to the department of agriculture.

Thanking you

Yours sincerey,
(and  list Of organizations that agree to this proposal )

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Death of farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait

We are deeply saddened to inform you that Ch Mahendra Singh Tikait, long term leader of the Bhartiya Kisan Union died today on Sunday, May 15th 2011 in his home town of Muzzafarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. He died after a prolonged battle with bone cancer.

His cremation rites will be performed at 4 PM at the Kisan Bhawan in village Sisauli, District Muzzafarnagar in Uttar Pradesh tomorrow on 16th May 2011.

He is survived by four sons and two daughters. His death is grieved by farmers across the country who he inspired greatly in their struggle for justice and dignity. Many have gathered at Tikait ji's residence in Sisauli to pay their tributes while the Prime Minister has also sent in his condolences.

Some news articles for your information:

news video and story: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Bharatiya-Kisan-Union-president-Mahendra-Singh-Tikait-passes-away/articleshow/8337299.cms

For more info please contact: 
Dharmendra Kumar
Bhartiya Kisan Union
cell: +91 9219691168
BKU blog [Farmers World] : http://bhartiyakisanunion.blogspot.com/