Farmers’ Struggles and Fascism 

Why have the Indian farmers left their farmlands to protest on the streets? And why should it be of concern to workers around the world, including Ireland? 

India is a developing country, the majority of the population of which still depends on agriculture. Modi, who promised that advanced technology will be used to improve agriculture, is using advanced drones to drop tear gas shells on protesting farmers. New Delhi has been fortified with barricades to prevent the peasants from entering the city. Modi failed on his promise of minimum support pricing (MSP) and doubling the farmers income. 

         The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which directs Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), drew inspiration from Mussolini in the 1930’s. The Hindutva ideology was encouraged by British imperialism to polarize Hindus and Muslims and favor the imperial policy of “divide and rule”. The RSS, which was behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, has always been an ally of the oppressors. The predecessors of Modi supported the British when India was struggling for her freedom; they supported Hitler during the Holocaust; they support apartheid Israel during the genocide of Palestinians.   

      After the introduction of neoliberal policies in the 1990’s, the cost of agricultural inputs has increased exponentially. The debt into which the farmers were trapped has led to increases in suicide amongst farmers. Modi’s intention is to introduce corporate farming through the proposed Farm Bills. If corporations are allowed to take over farming that will create a loss of livelihood for millions of people who depend on agriculture. These people will be forced to migrate to Indian cities taking up precarious work or join the reserve army of labour willing to work for any wage, subjecting themselves to super-exploitation. The tendency of Capital is to flow towards low-wage destinations to extract maximum surplus value. India is already a low-wage country, and the corporatisation of agriculture will exert a further suppression of wages by swelling the reserve army of labour. Labour-intensive jobs will be shifted from developed countries to countries like India. This is a concern for workers in developed countries because trade unions will lose bargaining capacity during negotiations due to the threat of capital flight to low wage countries, hence the workers lose their confidence in trade unions, resulting in reduced membership. 

      Imperialism needs to keep the wages in the third world below subsistence so that commodities can be produced in countries like India to provide to the people of the imperial core countries at a lower cost without having to raise wages. This is the reason that real wages of developed nations have remained stagnant for decades. In the postcolonial world, imperialism operates by super-exploitation of third world countries, thereby exerting a downward pressure on wages in developed countries. Imperialism uses the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to cause agrarian crises in the third world and trade union crises in developed countries. After decolonisation, third world countries succumbed to these agreements because they were dependent on developed countries for advanced technologies. The WTO agreements prohibit government subsidies and make them compete with farmers of the imperial nations who enjoy subsidies from their respective governments. For example, an American farmer may get subsidies worth $61,286 where an Indian farmer gets only $2821.This unfair competition has pushed Indian farmers to suicide: so far 300,000 farmers have died by suicide since 1990.    

    Before Modi came to power, India was ranked 43rd on the global hunger index and now has descended to 111th place among 125 countries. If corporations take over agriculture they will produce only what is profitable for them resulting in artificial famines, malnutrition and hunger death. 

      In a democratic country, freedom means the freedom to show dissent. Modi’s India is slowly declining into an electoral autocracy. The farmers who show dissent are branded as terrorists and subjected to brutal assault by the police. The largest “democracy“ is ranked 161 in the Press Freedom Index. The centralization of powers is threatening the federal structure and sinking the nation into fascism. The Hindutva ideology which drives the BJP is inherently anti-democratic and hates terms like justice, socialism, secularism and democracy. The working class must defeat polarization on the basis of religion and caste, with unity and class consciousness. The exploitation of workers anywhere should be a concern for the working class everywhere.