Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kerala's New Feudal Lords

It is fifty years since Kerala Elected Worlds First Communist Government. They came to power promising to end feudalism and kingship and lead the state to Prosperity. Fifty years later, now we have a new generation of Feudal Lords, The Communist party Themselves!

Their Power range from Capturing (Reclaiming as CPM calls it) farmers land to setting up the calendar for farmers specifying when they should plant and harvest! They even decide on what means should be used to harvest the Paddy!

Unlike elsewhere in the country, no farmer in Kerala can use "bourgeois" things like harvesting machines, unless they have the comrades sanction. Each farmer must apply to the local office of the CPM’s Travancore Karshaka Thozhilali Union (TKTU), part of Kerala State Karshaka Thozhilali Union (KSKTU), the party’s farm worker union. The union will then consider the applications on a case-to-case basis, send its own inspection teams to the farms. The comrade-inspectors will determine if enough of their union members are really not available to manually do what farm machines could do a lot cheaper and much more efficiently — at wages fixed by the union. Any farmer who dares to use a farm machine without union sanction has to be ready for the consequences.

C K Bodhanandan, TKTU general secretary Thunders

“Farm machines are good only for farmers, helping them make big profits. But they don’t benefit workers. We won’t allow machines to harm workers’ interests,”

Ironically, in this state with a mounting unemployment rate(A recent NSSO survey has found that Kerala has the highest unemployment rate) farmers seldom get enough workers to reap their crop in time each harvest season, and can’t use machines without the comrades’ nod, either.

TKTU chief Bodhanandan says the union has decided on a solution: Make all the farmers sow and reap, taking staggered turns and not at the same time as they have been doing. This is to fit their farming with the availability of union hands to do the farm work.

“We are finalising a calendar for farmers here. From next year, they should plant and harvest at the times specified in it for each, so that enough workers are available, so that they need not come to us asking to be allowed to hire machines,”

Who will educate this union leader "who has never stepped" into a Paddy field that rain and other events of nature necessary for farming Donot follow "Party Calendar".

Due to all the problems, farmers were forced to level paddy fields and cultivate less labour-intensive crops there. But there also, The "Feudal" Comrades had plans for the farmers!

The KSKTU launched the anti-reclamation stir. The anti-reclamation stir earned the sobriquet "vettinirathal samaram'' following the violent methods resorted to by the KSKTU cadre. It was CM Mr. Achuthanandan himself who had inaugurated the agitation in 1996-97. As part of the agitation, the KSKTU workers destroyed the crops completely and then they will plant the red party flag in the "reclaimed" land thus forceful occupying it!

Ironically, the Kuttanad Chethu Tozhilali Union office, where the anti-reclamation stir was inaugurated, was constructed in a filled up paddy field. Guess, the feudal Lords have their own rules!

The result: Harvesting was delayed due to stiff resistance of Left farmer Unions like KSKTU, to bringing in harvestor-machines and non availability of Farm hands compounded by the problem. The entire ‘puncha’ crop in Kerala’s once-acclaimed rice bowl, Kuttanad has been damaged due to untimely summer rains. Thousands of acres of paddy fields is submerged by summer rain over the last few days. Initial estimates by the district administration pegged the loss at around Rs.5 crore, unofficial estimates point towards a loss of at least Rs.10 crore.

Technorati Tags: ,,,

No comments: