Historic Victory
The Working Peoples’ Charter (WPC) wholeheartedly congratulates the thousands of farmers who have been struggling against the draconian pro-corporate and anti-people farm laws of the Central Government for the past one year. The government has finally been forced to bow down to the farmers’ demands.

The farmers have sacrificed their lives and livelihoods in this nation-wide struggle. Their historic efforts have finally brought relief after battles against extreme police brutality and the dreadful corona wave that continues to ravage the country. Nearly 700 farmers lost their lives, and it is the Central Government that shall bear the sole responsibility for these deaths.

The leaders of this struggle have reiterated that they will not rest until the farm laws are fully repealed through the due parliamentary process. They have also reminded the people that the repeal of the laws in itself would not resolve the farm crisis. The farmers’ movement would continue for legal guarantees of MSP and procurement of their produce. Moreover the related issues of the Electricity Amendment Bill would also have to be addressed to assure the security of farmers’ livelihoods.

Millions of farmers and workers on the streets of India since the winter of 2017 have shown the government that this daylight robbery of farmers’ lands and rights will be resisted at all costs! All the government’s attacks on the farmers and workers’ organisations in this time has failed to break the h farmer-worker unity, profit and public loot!
WPC Secretariat, Meena Menon (Working President),
Raju Bhise (General Secretary),
Chandan Kumar (Organising Secretary), Mumbai

Nation for Farmers
Kisan Commission
Nation for Farmers (NFF) and other collaborating platforms and organisations announce the process of formation of a ‘Kisan Commission’ to assess and report on the state of agriculture. Why a Kisan Commission? Because Commissions set up by officialdom have been buried whenever their recommendations ran counter to government and corporate interests. The National Commission for Farmers, more popularly known as the ‘Swaminathan Commission’ chaired by eminent agro-scientist Dr MS Swaminathan, suffered this fate. The commission’s important recommendations remain immensely popular with farmers everywhere in the country. Some of those—especially those relating to formulation of a Minimum Support Price for crops—remain to be addressed immediately to get the farmers to return to the states.

It is 16 years since the Swaminathan Commission submitted the first of its five reports to the government. Though there were repeated calls for a special discussion in Parliament, both the UPA and NDA refused to dedicate even minimal time for debating the report’s recommendations in Parliament. The first report of the Swaminathan Commission was submitted in December 2004 and the last in October 2006. Also note the futility of other ‘official’ commissions. The Supreme Court of India ordered the formation of a committee to study the problems of the farmers and offer solutions. It was packed with self-declared supporters of the farm laws. Now, with the government saying it will repeal those laws in parliament, members of the committee themselves acknowledge its irrelevance. Meanwhile, the media continue to assert that only pro-corporate measures can be called ‘reforms.’

Kisan organisations have the challenge of consolidating the people-centric platform around the labour organisations, women organisations environmental groups, social movements and a variety of rights based platforms and networks of citizen groups involved with the struggles taking place around access to food and nutrition, holistic health, transformative education and safe environment, forest rights and revitalisation of rural industries and value added agricultural activities taking place at the local level.

Checking Climate Change
Climate change is one of the most debated issues of recent times, perhaps the most debated issue. Here one may ask what will be the impact of some highly desirable social objectives on checking climate change. Since there can be almost a consensus on the social desirability of these objectives even without bringing in the issue of climate change, gains related to checking climate change will be additional and it will be interesting to see the results if attempts to quantify these additional gains can be made.

Firstly, to start with, let us take two consumption commodities tobacco and alcoholic beverages in all forms about whose harmful health and social impacts there is near consensus at scientific level. Can people achieve worldwide about 67 per cent ( two-third) reduction in production and consumption of these two commodities within about 5 years? If it can be achieved, there will be significant reduction of GHG emissions, as these are known to be highly polluting commodities at various levels.

Secondly, can one have a five-year programme worldwide to shift almost entirely to organic farming? Both in terms of improving organic content of soil and avoiding chemical fertilisers and thereby getting rid of vast nitrous oxide emissions as well, this will lead to checking climate change in a big way.

Thirdly can the governments establish an international mechanism to entirely avoid war including civil war and thereby create conditions in which one can achieve about 90 per cent reduction in production of new weapons and elimination of all weapons of mass destruction? After all if such efforts are not made now when life-nurturing conditions of planet are badly threatened then when will these ever be made? If this can work out, then the world can have great reduction of GHG emissions relating to massive reduction of weapons production and all preparations of war and from avoiding actual war. Meanwhile jobs of all military personnel can be protected but shifted to tasks like disaster prevention and rescue efforts.

It will be certainly useful to know expert opinion regarding the GHG implications of 67% reduction in consumption of alcohol and tobacco, 90 per cent reduction of weapons production, huge reduction of other preparations of war as well as avoiding wars altogether, plus massive shift to organic/natural farming for production of about 90% food and other crops. This writer’s estimate is that a substantial achievement in terms of checking climate change can be made by pursuing just these three socially desirable goals in a very determined but democratic way.
Bharat Dogra, Delhi

Black Day
Every year we observe 24 November as a Black Day. On 24 November 1996 the then CPM-led 'Left front' government evicted hawkers from the streets of Kolkata and other places in West Bengal.

During the pandemic and lockdown the hawkers lost their livelihood. Their business declined to nearly 40%-50% while the big business grew in leaps and bounds in the same period. The online companies are now trying to nullify the Street Vendors Act, 2014. It means street vendors will be street beggars in due season.
Saktiman Ghosh
General Secretary, Hawker Sangram Committee

Shari’a Politics
Contentiously debated shari’a (Islamic law) across the world has acquired specific political connotations. In India, this is so not only because the overbearing presence of fixity of maslaki-taqlidi shari’a produce inverted truth that petrifies the true meaning, but also due to the deep entanglement of the legal with extra-legal phenomenon such as communalism, producing palpable theoretical–practical tensions. Muslim Personal Law aims at producing a conforming Muslim legal subject. On the other hand, this shari’a is rendered a contested terrain critically contesting the authority of the legal monotheism of codified taqlidi shari’a by everyday laity ijtihad that constitutes the field of conviviality. Such conviviality is characterised by the laity’s everyday idea of justice and democracy marked by a deep sense of defiance propelled by adverse and undesirable conditions of existence in everyday locations, viz., the Social. Thus, the field of conviviality is marked by a movement from normative subject to ontological self, enabling women/subjects to exercise their subjectivity to decode the occultated and petrified meanings of taqlidi shari’a convivially. This signifies a movement towards making the canonised shari’a/law as an everyday social practice.
Neshat Quaiser

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Vol. 54, No. 20, Nov 14 - 20, 2021