Friday, October 27, 2017

Women march for Land, food and water at Lahore

Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee demands Land for tenants

Lahore: Press Release 
25th October 2017

On the call of Asian Peoples Movement on Debts and Development, scores of peasant women demonstrated today at Shimla Pehari Lahore to demand land, food and water rights at all level for men and women. The demonstration was organised jointly by Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee and Tameer-e-Nou Women Workers Organisation. The demonstrators demanded land rights for tenants of Pakistan including women.  Okara peasants have been victimised and jailed just for demanding land rights at Military Farms. Over 100 women were jailed during the last two years for demanding the land they have been cultivating over 100 years. The demonstrators also demanded clean drinking water system for all villages in Pakistan and right to food sovereignty.
Women demonstrators at Shimla Pehari

Farooq Tariq, general secretary Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, said that tackling problems underlying the food crisis demands that producers and consumers, including those in the global north, recognize that the causes of opposing crises of malnutrition and obesity are one in the same: an undemocratic, corporate-controlled food system. He said that small farmers and rural social movements around the globe are still struggling to transform food and agriculture 10 years after the world food crisis sparked widespread famine, hunger, and a wave of social unrest. He said that over 80 percent of farmers and peasants in Pakistan are deprived of clean water in the villages. There is a lack of proper sanitation system and infrastructure in most villages.   Farooq Tariq also said that from the global North to South, the right to food cannot be fully realized under the current industrial model of food production and distribution rather by radical transformations of the dominant socio-political and economic systems and social movement mobilizations.

Speaking on the occasion, Riffet Maqsood said that there is an ever increasing monopolization of control over the seeds and agricultural resources into corporate hands. These big agricultural companies are gravely threatening human rights, biodiversity and food sovereignty. She said that hunger and food insecurity are the results of concerted policy decisions that continue to prioritize trade liberalization, market-oriented solutions, corporate consolidation, and large-scale land grabs at the expense of Right to Food.   Riffet Maqsood said that following a decline in undernourishment for more than a decade, world hunger has been on the rise in recent years, with the estimated numbers of undernourished people increasing from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Meanwhile, adult obesity has been rising at an accelerated rate in every region of the world, the FAO reports, bringing increased risks of health problems such as diabetes.   Demonstrators dispersed peacefully after an hour.

Press release issued by Nasir Iqbal  0300 4487344

Indian farmers denounce UN Seed Treaty’s attempts to hand over people’s seed heritage to private companies


26 Oct, New Delhi: More than 50 Indian Farmers’ groups from the Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM) [1],  have expressed concern over the proceedings of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food & Agriculture (ITPGRFA) [2] in a letter submitted to Mr. RK Singh, the treaty’s national focal point in India today [3].Farmers claim there was no national consultation process at India level and demands for an urgent meeting with the farmers community before the next round of negotiations.

The UN Treaty is up for discussion at the 7th Governing Body (GB) session scheduled between 30th October and 3rdNovember 2017 at Kigali, Rwanda.

As the Indian government prepares to present its position at this important conference, farmers’ groups are disappointed that the Government has not communicated it's statement with them or asked for any suggestions, despite the fact that the Treaty makes it mandatory for farmers to be an integral part of the decision-making process.

Under its aims to promote conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic material for food and agriculture, the Treaty established a Global Information System on Plant Genetic Resources by collecting seeds from across the world,to provide farmers, scientists and the private sector access to the same.Much of the exhaustive collection of the Treaty’s seed banks, the Multilateral System, is held by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which farmers say is a known lobby-group for the world’s largest agri-businesses and GMO companies.

"These seeds are a public heritage that farmers have developed over millennia.Apart from the bio-piracy threat posed by CGIAR, the Treaty is now considering digitalizing the genetic information of the seeds in these seed banks which will make it easier for private companies to patent native genetic information, which will mean a certain death of the Treaty" said Tanmay Joshi, of Nagpur Beejotsav Gat and Shetkari Sanghthan.

Though there is a clause that any commercial benefits arising out of the use of these materials should be shared with the countries where they have originated, there is no legally binding obligation. Indian farmers are thus made even more vulnerable in this era of rampant bio-piracy practiced by large agri-businesses.

Farmers groups are dissuading the Government from entering into any collaboration with the multilateral Global Information System or the DivSeek programme, both of which are aimed at dematerialising peasant seeds by converting it into data of their genetic information, until stronger provisions are made for safeguarding their rights over seeds and against intellectual property rights.

“We hope that our concerns are well heard and acted upon. Upholding the democratic principles that lie within our constitution, we expect and request our Government representatives to have prior discussions with us before presenting at international conferences. Our seed security is at stake”, said Yudhvir Singh, convener of the AICCFM.

India is a megadiverse nation of rich plant genetic heritage with thousands of varieties in each food crop species. Many of these native crops have proven traits against the effects of climate change like droughts, floods, submergence and salinity. Efforts should be taken to protect, preserve and promote their cultivation without any risks of private patent restrictions. The Kigali Conference will determine whether India’s food sovereignty and the natural rights of our food producers can be protected at the global level.

Contact Information for Interviews
1.      Yudhvir Singh– +91-9868146405; Email:
2.      Tanmay Joshi– +91-8087502186; Email:

[1] The Indian Coordaintion Committee of Farmers movements is a national alliance of mass based farmers movements formed in early 1990s and comprises of big farmers movements such as Bhartiya Kisan Union, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, The Tamilaga Vyavasayigal Sangam, Shetkari Sanghatna and Kerala Coconut Growers Association . Collectively they represent more than 300 million farmers nationally.
[2] The objectives of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture are the conservation and sustainable use of all plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their use, in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, for sustainable agriculture and food security. See:
[3] Mr. R.K. SINGH is the Indian focal point for the treaty -
Department of Agriculture and Cooperation
Joint Secretary (Seeds)
Krishi Bhavan
New Delhi - India
Phone Number: +91 1123389241
Fax Number: +91 1123387669
Email Address:

Link to the Original Letter -

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Indian peasants write to GOI on matters related to the International Seeds Treaty

All Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements
Road No. 2, A – 87, Mahipalpur Extension, New Delhi – 110 037, IndiaTel:+91-9899435968 ; Email: 



National Focal Point of India,
International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food & Agriculture,
Department of Agriculture and Cooperation,
Joint Secretary (Seeds),
Krishi Bhavan,
New Delhi – India.

Sub: Concerns of Indian peasants on matters related to the International Seeds Treaty & the upcoming Governing Body session of the same.

Dear Sir,

We, the undersigned, are the representatives of peasants and peasant organizations, coalitions and groups of concerned individuals. The 7th Governing Body (GB) session of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food & Agriculture (ITPGRFA) is going to commence soon in Kigali, Rwanda. We have the following concerns regarding the state of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) and farmers’ rights over the same:

1. Effective participation of farmers in the decision-making processes.
Article 9.ii.(c) of the Treaty states that farmers’ right to participate in making decisions on matters related to conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA should be protected and promoted. Since the adoption of the Treaty in 2001, not once has there been any noticeable effort from your side, to consult us with matters regarding the treaty which has a direct impact on the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA. We, therefore, are a bit concerned and completely unaware of the stand that the Indian government is going to take on some of the important matters of the Treaty that are going to be discussed and debated at the upcoming GB session of the ITPGRFA.
As there was no consultation process initiated by you to ask for our opinions, we pro-actively write this letter to you today and ask you to consider communicating with us in the future if Government of India (GoI) disagrees with any of our points in the spirit of inclusive and transparent democracy.

2. Extension of crops in the Multilateral System (MLS).
Item no 9 in the Provisional Agenda of the GB 7 is regarding the Proposal for an Amendment of the International Treaty, i.e., to extend the Annex I of the Treaty from current 64 crops to all PGRFA. The MLS of the ITPGRFA is recognized as an instrument for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol's obligations for prior consent to the access and benefit-sharing (ABS). However, on the contrary to the intentions displayed, the MLS has been technically designed to allow an unrestricted access to all PGRFA for the industry.
Therefore, we ask you not to extend the Annex I of the Treaty from current 64 crops until there are strong provisions made in the Treaty that ensure the following obligations of the Nagoya Protocol:
i) informed consent and benefit-sharing agreement with the country and/or community of origin for each access to a new PGRFA collected after 2013,
ii) the obligation of the Recipient of the Material to prove that the ABS obligations have been complied, when any new product is going to be commercialized.
Furthermore, we ask you to incorporate the just prior-consent clause to be applicable also to the contracting parties of the treaty when their government instruments collect the PGRFA from the communities and individuals within their national boundaries.

3. Collaborations with the Global Information System (GLIS) or the DivSeek programme till concrete safeguard of Farmers’ Rights.
Digital sequencing of all the accessions in the seed banks of the world without safeguarding farmers’ rights to be able to use seeds without any legal or biological restrictions sustainably without the risk of criminalization or contamination from new technologies of genetic engineering or any other that might be there or come-up in future would mean the death of treaty and peasants around the world would end up losing sovereignty over their seeds. The availability on the internet of PGRFA information in digital form, allows industries to have free access to the genetic information contained in the PGRFA. This means the danger of private players privatizing all existing seeds by patents on their native "genetic information" and thereby encroaching farmers’ rights.Indian office of The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is already collaborating officially with DivSeek which is already an issue of great concern to us in this era of blatant bio-piracy.

The Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers’ Act, 2001 (PPVFRA) cannot be considered as an instrument to safeguard the rights of Indian farmers. The act in itself is a double-edged sword, or rather, the “Farmers’ Rights” suffix of the Act is a Trojan horse strategy to push a whole civilization into the regime of considering natural and community resources as a profit-making commodity over which one can gain exclusive rights of use. Even though, the PPVFRA through its Article 39(iv) ensures the right of farmers to use their seeds without restriction, it fails to see the contradiction in allowing restrictive practice of seed ownership (by introducing the concept of seed registration) and then talking about farmers’ rights to free use of seeds in the same Act.

The safeguarding provisions under the PPVFRA will become irrelevant if there is a push for stronger IPR laws for seeds through different Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), like the current push for adoption of The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Therefore, we strongly suggest that the move to collaborate with the Global Information System (GLIS) or the DivSeek programme be opposed until stronger provisions ensuring farmers’ rights are incorporate, like exclusion of PGRFA from the purview of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) or inclusion of farmers’ rights over seeds as a fundamental right in the national constitution or similar provisions.
Also, the proposal in the DivSeek stakeholders report to the Treaty secretary that “the information gathered from access of PGRFA from the MLS not be bound by the obligations of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA)” be rejected.

4. The proposal to establish an ad hoc Working Group to guide and assist Contracting Parties in the implementation of Farmers Rights.
The Co-Chairs’ proposal from the Global Consultation on Farmers Rights held in Bali in September 2016 (Item 15 of the Provisional Agenda, doc IT/GB-7/17/Circ.1) includes the proposal to establish an ad hoc Working Group to guide and assist Contracting Parties in the implementation of Farmers Rights. We see this as a very positive proposal that will take us a step further in strengthening farmers’ rights. We welcome this proposal and ask you to support it.

5. The new draft SMTA and subscription system as the new system for ABS.
The question of SMTA and ABS arises only after the current system of working of the Treaty and the obligations it incorporate are consensually agreed upon. But that is not the case at present.
Therefore, any discussion regarding the MLS or its access or dematerializing the accessions or the sharing of benefits arising through the facilitated access should be details till stronger safeguards of farmers’ rights and afore-mentioned concerns regarding peasants’ participation in decision-making and conservation and protection of PGRFA for sustainable use are ensured.

6. Handing over plant genetic materials to CGIAR presents conflict of interest
Article 15.1states that“The Contracting Parties recognize the importance to this Treaty of the ex situ collections of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture held in trust by the International Agricultural Research Centre's (IARCs) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).”

Given the known close collaboration CGIAR has with the world's largest and most notorious agri-businesses, India should be wary of sharing any germplasm of crops, especially those traditional varieties that have traits like drought, flood, submergence and salinity tolerance. These varieties are highly sought after by these Transnational Corporations for their 'climate-smart' properties. The Treaty in its current form does not provide for any safeguards against privatization of our rich and diverse genetic heritage. We oppose any re-branding of these varieties and granting of IPRs on them which will prevent their access by farmers, especially smallholders.

We hope that our concerns mentioned above are well heard and acted upon. We demand for an urgent meeting with the farmers community before the next round of negotiations. We are open, rather insist on it, to have dialogues and discussions on the matters related to the Treaty and other matters regarding seeds from here on. In the end, for upholding the democratic principles that lie within our constitution, we expect you to stand for the opinion of the people you represent.

Thank you.


Yudhvir Singh, General Secretary, All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (AICCFM)
K T Gangadhar, State President, Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (KRRS)
Rakesh Tikait, National Spokesman, BharathKisan Union
ChamarasaMali Patil, Hon. President, Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (KRRS)
KS Puttannaiah, Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (KRRS)and Member of Legislative Assembly,Karnataka
Vijay Jawandhia,ShetkariSangathana,, Maharashtra
ChukkiNanjundaswamy, Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (KRRS)
Badagalapura Nagendra, Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (KRRS)
Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, State President, BhartiyaKissan Union (BKU),  Punjab
Jagdish Singh, State President, BhartiyaKissan Union (BKU), Madhya Pradesh
VidyadharOlkha, State President, BhartiyaKissan Union (BKU), Rajasthan
Ratan Singh Mann, State President, BhartiyaKissan Union (BKU), Haryana
Sukhdev Singh Gill, State President, BhartiyaKissan Union (BKU), Himachal Pradesh
Satnam Singh Cheema, State President, BhartiyaKissan Union (BKU), Uttrakhand
Dhan Singh Sherawat, BhartiyaKissan Union (BKU), Maharashtra
Gurman Singh, BhartiyaKissan Union, Haryana
K. Sella Mutthu, President, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association
NallagounderTamil Nadu Farmers Association
S. Kannaiyan, Secretary, South India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (SICCFM)
Rajariga, President, Women Wing, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association
DevisonA.KKerala Coconut Farmers Association
P Raveendranath, Kerala Coconut Farmers Association

Monday, September 11, 2017

She quit her corporate job to support small farmers- Maithri's TRUNA organic and natural shop in Mysore

Maithri is from near Mysore in South Karnataka. At the age of twenty one she got a job in the human resources department of a tech company during Bangalore's tech boom. 

She didn't quite feel at ease and often questioned the point of her corporate job. Eventually, she quit her job a few years later and found Amrita Bhoomi, the peasant agroecology school set up by the farmer's movement KRRS. She became a full-time volunteer there and was actively involved with the institution for two years. During this time she helped to organize various farmers training camps including an international Zero Budget Natural Farming training camp with more than 40 international farmer activists from around the world. 

Her work at Amrita Bhoomi and being in the thick of the farmer's movement was a real game changer for Maithri and where she developed her politics. “It's where I learned about farmers issues, capitalism, economic policies, social justice, and what not”. Maithri also went on a special training course for political educators carried out by the Movimiento Sem Terra (MST) in Brazil every year. That sealed the deal, and Maithri decided that she wanted to become deeply involved in a livelihood that also contributed to conserving nature, empowering people, and creating social justice. 
Thanks to a number of lucky circumstances Maithri got the opportunity to access a retail space in Mysore. She immediately took up the offer and went about finding farmers and suppliers and learning the ropes. She also got an internship in another well-established organic store. Such organic shops are important for small farmers to market their products and for consumers to access chemical free and ethically produced food. 

“It’s complicated, and there are many problems, but it's working slowly. I’m a single woman trying to make a livelihood, so I really need to think about the business aspects as well.” Maithri has tried to and succeeded in setting up connections with some ZBNF farmers, but it's not easy for small farmers or for small shops like hers to connect, the logistical challenges are big for such small players. She points out that small shops like hers also work with very small volumes of produce and storage of perishable goods is a challenge. "The only way I think this can work is for people to get into groups or cooperatives to share costs to improve services.” 

"I want to expand operations in the future and especially create more awareness among consumers.” Maithri points out that consumer commitment is quite low. “Some argue with me and say something is not completely organic or that prices are slightly higher. It's difficult to be 100% chemical free, and I can't always guarantee this for all products- mostly I try to support the small farmers and women who bring in home made food products like laddoos. I inform the consumers when something is not guaranteed chemical free. When it comes to spending on luxuries like jewellery, people don't think twice, but a one rupee price increase on vegetables seems to press their buttons. We really need to educate consumers, I believe that food is one's medicine. We should see local and natural food as our political and social commitment and an investment in our health,” says Maithri.

by Ashlesha Khadse, Amrita Bhoomi

Saturday, September 9, 2017



Those who fear the Power of the Pen took to the Gun. Again !

Right to dissent and free speech is under attack with journalists, writers and activists being killed.

Gauri Lankesh (PC-Online)

Gauri Lankesh stood up for all of us. Let’s stand up for her and stand up to the terror that took her life.

We, La Via Campesina- South Asia, condemn the murder of Gauri Lankesh, one of the fearless journalists of Karnataka. Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her home in northern Bengaluru on the night of 5th September 2017. Those bullets aimed at Gauri have brutally pierced into the hearts of millions of people who, like Gauri, are working towards justice, equity and harmony and the values she stood for.

Gauri was widely known and loved across Karnataka and the country for her relentless writings, talks and campaigns in solidarity with the oppressed. Gauri openly and publicly questioned and challenged politicians, bureaucrats, judiciary, chauvinists and stood by the downtrodden. She was a fierce journalist and a vocal critic of communal forces in Karnataka and in India. She was committed till her last breath in her struggle against communalism, the fascist ideologies of Hindutva/Sangh Parivar and supported progressive forces in maintaining communal harmony in Karnataka. Gauri Lankesh was the editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada fortnightly newspaper, and has authored several books. She was one the founding members of Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike (KKSV), an organisation dedicated to maintaining communal harmony in Karnataka. She worked relentlessly to bring people together in the fight against class, caste and religious fundamentalism.

Her last post on social media on the inhuman denial of refuge to the persecuted Rohingyas by Indian Government speaks of her concern and compassion for the subjugated humanity. We salute the conviction and courageous life of Gauri and commit to joins hands with all progressive forces across the country to bring justice to her, her values and intensify our struggle against the undemocratic silencing of dissenting voices.

In the past we have witnessed the muzzling of free speech through violence and hatred by the fundamentalists. Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Prof.M M Kalburgi and Govind Pansare were martyred by similar forces but such incidences only reaffirm our commitment against those who mistakenly think they silence us.

LVC South Asia demand the following:

1. State must declare that this is an act of terror.
2. Judicial committee to look into the activities of rightist fascist forces.
3. Special investigation team with judicially monitored probe.
4. We see a common thread in the murders of Dhabolkar, Pansare, Kalaburagi and Gauri Lankesh and assassinations carried out by a organised terror group which holds an ideology opposed to secular, Democratic and constitutional forces. We demand that the union government is responsible for taking appropriate steps to constitute a joint parliamentary committee to identify the terror group and bring them to book.

LVC South Asia also calls upon peoples’ movements, all progressive organisations and concerned citizens to stand up and fight this cowardly act and rise up to the defence of rights, freedom and the constitutional values which are under attack today from right wing fascist forces in a consistent manner. In this very crucial and important situation we urge you to hold a non-violent obituary protest, release solidarity statement and appraise media about this heinous crime and build international pressure to call upon the Government of India, Prime Minister of India, Chief Minister of Karnataka asking them to probe the cases of all the killings immediately and safeguard the lives of people who dissent with their voices and words.

What you can do?

1. Please share this Solidarity Call widely in your circles.

2. Forum Against Assassination of Gauri is holding a Solidarity public rally and resistance meeting on 12th September in Bengaluru. Pls send a copy of the solidairty letters and  photos of protest (Pls use Gauri's photo with a tag line "I am gauri") to This will be used in the media to build up pressure on the Govt.

3.Write to Indian Government-

Write to President of India
President​ ​Shri​ ​Ramnath Kovind - - +91 11 23015321 ( Off.), +91 11 2301729023017824 (Fax)
Secretary to President
Smt. Omita Paul - - +91 11 2301332423014930 ( Off.), +91 11 2301729023017824 (Fax)

Write to Prime Minister of India
click on the link and register your grievance
Tweet @narendramodi

Write to Chief Minister Siddaramaiha

**Suggested reading on the issue- 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee condemns the imprisonment and continued ill-treatment of peasant leader Mehar Abdul Sattar

A photo of Mehar Sattar after he was locked up in High Security jail.
In a statement issued on August 23, the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, a member of La Via Campesina in South Asia, has condemned the continued ill-treatment of peasant leader Mehar Abdul Sattar in prison since April 2016.
Mehar Abdul Sattar, the general secretary of Anjman Mozareen Punjab (AMP, Tenants Association Punjab) and also Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, is a peasant leader who has been at the forefront of the struggle for land rights at Okara Military Farms.
The statement alleges that since his imprisonment early last year, 36 false police cases have been registered against him. In March 2017, he was shifted to Sahiwal High Security prison and allegedly tortured. He is tied in chains, the statement alleged.
Asma Jehangir, renowned social activist, lawyer and former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, is now arguing in the court for the rights of the imprisoned peasant leader.
After Lahore High Court rejected the plea to move back Mr. Sattar to an ordinary jail from the high security prison, the team approached the Supreme Court of Pakistan. On August 23, the case came up for hearing at the Supreme Court, where Asma detailed out the inhuman treatment meted out to the peasant leader in prison.
She pointed out that the decision to move Sattar to a high security prison, originally meant for convicted terrorists and extremists, is part of a conspiracy to criminalise the peasant movement and its leaders.
While arguing the case, the lawyer pointed out that without a judicial order, an under trial prisoner could not be shifted to another jail. Yet, in this case, an order from the Home secretary was used to move him and the court permission was sought much later. An administrative order is against the prison rule, the lawyer argued.
When the prosecutors argued that he was moved as part of a security procedure and accused that his court appearances always see large number of peasants in attendance, Asma Jehangir countered, “Yes when rich leaders appear in courts, no one objects about their followers turning up in large numbers, but a leader of the poor is not treated in the same way. Why?”
In an amusing turn of events, one of the presiding judges, after looking at the list of cases, sought clarification on whether Mr. Sattar was a socialist. The defendants lawyer argued that there were several socialists in the court room, and wondered how that was even relevant to the case!
She requested the Apex Court to demand that Sattar be produced in the court room, so that it can witness first hand his situation.
The court has asked the prosecution to submit all details and orders under which Sattar was moved to a high security prison. While adjourning the case for more hearing in September, it ordered immediate removal of chains and allowed Sattar’s wife and sister to meet him every fifteen days. It also granted permission to his lawyers Asma Jehanghir and Abid Saqi to meet Mehar Sattar in jail. However they did not shift him to Central Jail Sahiwal immediately as requested by the defendant’s lawyers.
The case would now be heard in Islamabad during September.
According to an article published by Herald in 2016the land dispute in Okara initially erupted in 2000 when the management of the farms tried to change the terms and conditions of tenancy agreements. The tenants rejected the new agreements, dreading they would increase the cost of tenancy, would not offer them guaranteed tenure and would make it easier for the authorities to evict them from the lands their families have been cultivating for generations. A vast majority of them refused to sign the new lease agreements. They also fiercely resisted the military’s efforts to evict them from the lands. They then organised themselves as the AMP, under the desperate sounding slogan of maliki ya maut (give us land ownership or give us death).
Image Sourced from
Suggested Reading on the issue:
(First published on 

The upper caste story is not the only story of India- student’s training camp on caste at Amrita Bhoomi

Students dancing spontaneously 
22 Aug: The Bahujan Vidyarthi Sangh (BVS), a student group with members from the so called bahujan groups conducted a five day camp for students at Amrita Bhoomi. Bahujan means "majority of the people', which includes Dalits, Adivasis, and many other castes and religions of the subcontinent who are caste-bound and ruled by upper-caste minorities. About hundred students attended from across Karnataka. 

BVS routinely conducts such training camps across Karnataka state. The camps focus on studying Indian history and society from an alternative perspective of that of the upper caste ‘Manuvadi’ versiĆ³n.  Manuvad roughly translated to Manu-ism, is the rule of law based on the Manusmriti - the principle code of law of Hinduism which lays down the rules for the different castes.  It is the proverbial ‘Bible of the Brahmans’ and promotes a systematic exploitation and slavery of the so-called 'lower' castes and all women, keeping them in a permanently subordinate role.

Girls led most of the
sessions during the camp
These BVS camps focus on building the pride and self-confidence of youths from such castes, and creates cadre to join the larger social struggle for their rights.

“This is the first time I was able to learn the real history of India,” said Shashikala of Gundelpet district. “I always took for granted what we experienced, but now I know why it is wrong. I will bring more youth from my village to attend this camp next time,” she said.

Students came from all across Karnataka
“I have been attending these camps for the last seventeen years. We have to fight for social justice and equality in our society. We also have to fight against large scale privatization of our economy,” said Narayanswami from Gundalpet.

The entire camp was conducted through volunteer work by the students.
Song and dance encourage self-expression and are at the heart of the camp – students sang revolutionary songs, and both the women and men danced unabashedly.

Students took an oath to not buy products from multinational corporations, but to support locally produced food and other materials. 

Kannaiyan from the farmers' movement adressing the students
“Amrita Bhoomi is proud to host this camp, and we will continue to do so. The annihilation of caste is at the centre of our educational programmes here, we must build such active solidarity with different social struggles,” said Chukki Nanjundasway of the KRRS, who is also in the coordination of Amrita Bhoomi.

“We have to intensify our struggle against the growing communalism in India today. The upper caste Hindu fundamentalists are misinterpreting history today to spread hatred and violence and increase the polarization of our country. We have to bring everyone together, not divide our country,” said Kannaiyan Subramiam of South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements.

by- Ashlesha, Amrita Bhoomi