On 5/13/08, Jaideep Hardikar <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
pls see the letter
ps: you may pls alter some sentences.
Shri Lal Krishna Advani,
Senior BJP leader and Opposition Leader, Lok Sabha,
Subject: The NDA government had crushed farmers to tide over inflation.
Sixty years after India’s independence there appears no change in the policies that keep the farmers of this country always at the receiving end. The Congress party was in power in the centre and the states since 1947 for many, many years. Post emergency, you became the Minister for Broadcasting in the Janata Party-government in the Centre.
Since the Congress party was in power it was blamed for the farmers’ plight and their unabated exploitation through policies and programmes.
However, the change in governments later did not bring about any change in policies. The P V Narsimharao-government lasted five years and was the first Congress-led government free from the Nehru dynasty. It was this government that adopted the neo-liberal policies and imposed them on the nation. The global developments such as Dunkel agreement, foundation of World Trade Organization took place in the same era. One of the most important decisions of Narsimharao government was devaluation of rupee, followed by the implementation of the fifth pay commission’s recommendations.
The liberalization policies adopted by the Narsimharao government were opposed tooth and nail by not only the left but also your party. The crude oil (energy) price was rising while Indian rupee was being devalued during the same period.
The change of guards in the center followed these developments and the NDA wrested power from the Congress. Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister, and you became the deputy Prime Minister with an additional Home portfolio.
Today, there is a hue and cry over growing inflation and even the opposition parties are raising the issue with much fanfare. The prices of essential commodities such as wheat, rice, sugar, edible oil and pulses are spiraling every day. However, the prices of industrial produce, health expenditure, transportation and education costs also keep mounting with every passing year. Who will think about the income and living standard of farmers and farm-labourers against the backdrop of the fifth and now the sixth pay commission?
The economists and intellectuals deftly manipulate the statistics to portray a rosy picture of the country’s growth, and point to the 9-10% growth story; an unprecedented boom in share-markets to substantiate the logic.
Yet, when the prices of foodgrain rise, no stone is left unturned to bring down the prices in the garb of inflation. Our experience tells us that neither do farmers get adequate price to their produce, nor the consumers get foodgrain at cheaper rate. To sum up in one sentence, this has been the policy of the governments to exploit farmers for capital accumulation.
Dear Sir, the WTO came into being in 1995. The exploitation of the poor in developing countries has also grown since. You also know this that the suicides by farmers have increased dramatically since 1997.
May I ask you why did the farm suicides rise in Andhra Pradesh, where Chandrababu Naidu’s government was in power and the NDA’s in the centre after 1997? Why did the suicides by farmers rise also in Kerala during that period?
The reason for today’s inflation is rooted in the policy-change in 1991, with the onset of neo-liberalisation. And it’s a natural effect of those policy changes.
You claim that the Atal Behari Vajpayee-government had kept inflation under tabs. We feel it’s an evidence of the fact that your government crushed farmers by depriving him of the remunerative prices to keep foodgrain cheap. Your government had imported cheap pulses and edible oil to crush the local prices. Also, may I ask why did your government export wheat at US$ 90 per tone (or Rs 450 per quintal)? We feel that leaders of your stature should place the facts before the people of this country. Would you allow the free export of foodgrain, edible oil and sugar if your government was in power today? To make my submission more clear, I would like to draw your attention to the global prices of wheat, rice, edible oil or pulses then and now.
When the BJP-led coalition government was in the centre, wheat prices were $90 per ton (10 quintal); paddy was $270-300 per tone and palm oil prices hovered between $260 and $400 per tone. Similarly, the prices of pulses ranged from Rs $350 to $450 per tone. Today, the prices of wheat are $450-500; of rice are more than $500 and that of palm oil are $1200 per tone. Had your government allowed a mere ten per cent rice in the prices of agriculture produce including foodgrain, pulses and edible oil, the current prices would not have pinched the consumers as they do today.
Respected sir, the government, which is unable to tide over inflation, is able to control the prices of potatoes, onions and sugar; why? The real reason is that the farmers have always produced more in this country. Is it a crime to produce more foodgrain?
I had asked the same question to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, during his visit to our village Waifad in Wardha on June 30, 2006. There’s no doubt in my mind that the poor should get foodgrain cheap, but why do successive governments punish a farmer-producer and keep him poor?
Sir, I raise the same question to you, because you may be our next Prime Minister?
In the hope of a response from you,
Founder, Shetkari Sanghatna,