Sunday, October 27, 2019

Peasants and Small scale food producers in India intensify their protest against RCEP free trade agreement
















Peasant movements carry out coordinated demonstrations outside several district headquarters across India.

On 24th October and thereafter, thousands of farmers organized under the Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movement (ICCFM) and ally groups carried out coordinated actions and demonstrations outside several district administrative headquarters in Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Kerala. Farmers union staged coordinated protests across more than 50 places in the country demanding the Central government to keep agriculture produce and dairy sector out of the purview of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact.

Through these joint actions, they were registering their protest against the Union Government’s decision to sign onto RCEP – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement – a trade deal involving India and 15 other nations in the Asia Pacific. 

RCEP is touted as the world’s biggest trade deal and farmers in India point out that its an agreement shrouded in secrecy, despite threatening to impact the country’s dairy sector and the autonomy that the farmers have over seeds. They allege that while the Indian government, held consultations with several Corporate bodies to allay their concerns, it has held no negotiations with any of the farmer’s representatives so far. 



















Over the last week, several state governments and opposition parties in India have also held press conferences and public meetings rejecting RCEP and urging the Union Government to safeguard the interests of India’s farmers and rural workers before opening up the country to further competition from ASEAN countries as well as big economies like China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. 

“As the date for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to Bangkok draws near – he is expected to be in the Thailand capital on November 4 –  the objective of his planned trip to the Asian country has left the agrarian community, the dairy farmers in particular, a worried lot,” Times of India reported from Mysuru. 

“In a bid to urge PM Modi to back out of RCEP, hundreds of farmers, activists and many prominent personalities took out a rally from Ramaswamy Cricle to the deputy commissioner’s office in the city on Thursday. On reaching the destination of their rally – the DC’s office – the protesters sat in front of the heritage structure and raised slogans condemning the central government and PM Modi. The protesters then proceeded to submit a memorandum to the DC, wherein they have asked the Centre not to go ahead with the RCEP agreement.”, the report added. 

Several actions took place across Karnataka, organised by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) in Mandya, Shimoga, Hassan, Kolar, Chikkaballapura, Chamarajanagar, Ramanagar, Belagavi, Chitradurga, Madikeri, Haveri, Tumkur, Raichur, Bellary, Gulbarga, Bijapura, Gadag, Yadagiri and Yelanduru and many other taluk headquarters. Here below, is a glimpse of the actions from around the state. 







Expressing apprehension that the RCEP pact would result in import of agriculture produces at cheap prices, leaders of KRRS said that this would pave way for decline in the demand for locally grown agriculture produces and a slump in their prices. When the country has attained self-sufficiency in production of foodgrains, opening the Indian market for import of agriculture produces is an absurd and illogical move, the protesters said according to this report in The Hindu.  In the past, the price of arecanut and other plantation crops had declined owing to cheap imports under various free trade pacts. The arecanut growers are staring at a similar slump in the price owing to the RCEP pact, said KT Gangadhar, senior president of KRRS. 



Addressing the public gathering in Hassan, KM Rajegowda, senior leader of KRRS noted that, when  country has attained self-sufficiency in the production of foodgrains, opening the Indian market for import of agriculture produces under RCEP will be suicidal for Indian farmers.




“It’s okay if the Prime Minister doesn’t listen to us. But he should at least listen to what the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, an affiliate of the RSS, is saying about the Free Trade Agreement. It [the manch] has termed the government’s step suicidal and that no government has taken such a step post-Independence,” said the noted writer Devanur Mahadeva, while addressing farmers, who held a protest rally against the RCEP agreement in Mysuru. Mr. Mahadeva said eradication of poverty does not mean the elimination of the poor. “If the agreement is signed, it will be like pushing the poor to death", reported The Hindu


























In Andhra Pradesh, the Prakasam district units of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, Andhra Pradesh Raitu Sangham and Development Organization for Socio-Economic Change in Prakasam district organized a conference to discuss the effects of India joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), in Ongole on Thursday, reported The Hans India.

Farmers owing allegiance to various constituent organisations of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) staged a dharna in Khammam demanding that the State government immediately convey its opposition to any move by the Centre to join the RCEP in writing to avert a major threat to the farming community and safeguard the interests of farmers in Telangana and elsewhere in the country, reported The Hindu.

 Protests took place at Jayashankar, Narayanpet, Rangareddy, Warangal Rural, Wanaparthi,  Mulugu, Nizamabad, Adilabad, Yadadri Bhuvanagiri, Nirmal, Sangareddy, Vijayawada and Hyderabad - organized by AIKSCC groups of Telangana/AP.



The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Lakhowal on Thursday staged a protest outside the District Administrative Complex in Bathinda, Punjab. Later, a memorandum of their demands was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, reported Tribune


They held the protest in response to a call given by the BKU national high command to give memorandums across the country in protest against the Narendra Modi-led Central Government, the report added.


Across Uttar Pradesh, in Muzzafarnagar, Rampur, Amroha, Shamli, Kanauj, Fatehpur, Unnao, Faizabad, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Noida, Bijnor, and Lucknow, the Bhartiya Kisan Union organized several demonstrations against RCEP. 










Across Madhya Pradesh, Bharatiya Kisan Union organized demonstrations at Ratlam, Khatarpur, Hoshangabhad, Satna, Sagar, Indore, Rajghad, Agar Malwa, Damoh, Seoni, Annupur and other places.



In Tamil Nadu, farmers who are organsied under the Tamil Vivasaigal Sangam (TVS), held a large demonstration opposing RCEP. 











Events were held in Haryana too right after the election results were out, in Jind, Karnal etc.































List of places where action against RCEP was carried out on 24/25:
Karnataka : Mysore, Mandya, Shimoga, Hassan, Kolar, Chikkaballapura, Chamarajanagar, Ramanagar, Belagavi, Chitradurga, Madikeri, Haveri, Tumkur, Raichur, Bellary, Gulbarga, Bijapura, Gadag, Yadagiri and Yelanduru and many other taluk headquarters

Tamil Nadu : Coimbatore(public demonstration and press meet), Chennai (a delegation submitted memorandum to agriculture minister), Nagapattinam, Madurai

Uttar Pradesh:  Rampur, Amroha, Muzzafarnagar, Shamli, Kanauj, Fatehpur, Unnao, Faizabad, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Noida, Bijnor, Lucknow and many other places

Madhya Pradesh : Ratlam, Khatarpur, Hoshangabhad, Satna, Sagar, Indore, Rajghad, Agar Malwa, Damoh, Seoni, Annupur and other places

Punjab & Haryana : Bathinda, Amritsar, Karnal, Jind and information on more places awaited

Telangana/Andhra Pradesh : Jayashankar, Narayanpet, Rangareddy, Warangal Rural, Wanaparthi Ongole, Mulugu, Nizamabad, Adilabad, Yadadri Bhuvanagiri, Nirmal, Sangareddy, Vijayawada, Guntur and Hyderabad - organized by AIKSCC, MAKAAM and other farmers' groups of Telangana/AP.

Odisha : Bargarh

Maharashtra : Mumbai