CPI-ML New Democracy, Land Struggles

On Agrarian Question- Is there any place for Naxalbari ? by Amit Chakrabarti

‘There is no prospect for naxalite politics’,’Naxalbari shall never repeat’, ’Naxalites’ position on land question does not conform to reality’,’Big landholdings do not exist then where is the basis for naxalite politics’ – with all these interesting remarks we are going to face the 50th anniversary of Naxalbari peasant struggle.
I am delighted to listen to all these comments which denote Naxalbari struggle to be without any prospect or any basis and a struggle which does not conform to reality etc. etc. But I am still unable to solve a simple puzzle-Then why is there so much discussion about Naxalbari? Why does Indian state still consider different Naxalite groups as its main internal security threat? Contemporary to Naxalbari peasant struggle there was another big peasant movement in Sonarpur, West Bengal. CPM peasant leader, late Harekrishna Konar, considered it a very important struggle for land but astonishingly 50 years later, today nobody can recollect that struggle. On the other hand 50 years after Naxalbari, toiling people- peasants, adivasis and youth in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Vidarbha, Odisha, Telengana, Andhra, Punjab are still fighting in the name of Naxalbari. They are sacrificing their lives. Is it only sheer romanticism? Is there any socio economic relevance for Naxalbari?
In last fifty years those organizations who have turned sceptical about Naxalbari politics are gradually playing the role of junior partners of CPI-CPM led front. Another section of them are restricting themselves to few workers’ mohallas or are on the verge of extinction. This is an observation but not a conclusion.
I am not going to elaborate on the relevance of Naxalbari struggle. Naxalbari struggle defined land reform as the central task of Indian revolution. It advanced along the revolutionary path taking agrarian revolution as the axis. We want to discuss the relevance of this task in present situation. We have to analyse the claims made by some Mazdoor Kisan Krantiwallas that Indian state has in the main completed the task of land reform and what we see in rural India are some remnants of feudalism.
The impact of imperialist globalization since 2006 unleashed anti displacement militant peasant movements in Kalinganagar, Niyamgiri, Jagatsinghpur, Singur, Nandigram, Dadri, Bhatta Parsol, Karchana, against Trident, Andhra Coastal Corridor & Polavaram, at Kakrapalli, Sompeta, Jaitapur etc.
These struggles embracing India are the movement of peasants and adivasis to protect their right over land and forests. Essentially these are peasant movements centering around the land problem. These struggles combating Land and Forest mafias plus the state goons are essentially resistance movement by the peasants. Some pundits consider radical land reform policy of agrarian revolution equivalent to Zamindari abolition and the existence of landlords and large size of landholdings synonymous with feudalism, semifeudalism and precapitalism. They fail to understand the significance of these movements and lack the basic understanding of feudalism and precapitalism.
Is there any necessity for land reform in India?
Many left parties and intellectuals consider that land reform has been resolved, they think that in present Indian scenario people can not be mobilized on the demand of ‘land to the tillers’. Firstly let us discuss how the people of India are placed on land issue.
Land scenario
Presently 20% of landowners possess 75% of land. Among them 7.88% landowners possess 47.91% land. More than half of rural population does not possess any land or own a meagre amount of land. Recent data shows that 5% of landowners possess 44% land. 60% of them own only 5% of land. 2011 census found landless peasants & agricultural labourers constitute 54.9% of rural workforce.
In India only 1.1% people work in organized agricultural farms i.e. government farms, farms of agricultural universities & estates etc. 66th round of National Sample Survey (NSS) has shown that the source of livelihood of 53.2% working people is from agriculture. 24.48 crore people out of total 46 crores of working people earn their livelihood from agriculture. Only 11.03% of working population are employed in factories. On the other hand though 53.3% of national income come from service sector but only 25.28% or 11.87 crores of people work in service sector.
59th round of NSS has shown 10.04% of rural households do not possess any land not even homestead land. 41.63% families possess only homestead land. Now let us see the All India average land ownership scenario. Landowning families with 10 hectares (HA) or 75 bighas (1HA=2.5 acres=7.5bighas) are only 0.52% but they own 11.77% of agricultural land of India. On the other hand 31.12% families are landless, 29.82% of families own less than 3 bighas of land. 10.68% of families own land from 7.5-15 bighas, they possess 20.47% of total agricultural lands. 3% families own 22.5-37.5 bighas of land which is 16.51% of agricultural land. The land distribution scenario described here has proved that overwhelming population of India are agriculture dependent and there is gross discrepancy in distribution of land.
In statistics there is GINI number or GINI coefficient. If its value is 1 then there is absolute inequality in distribution, if it is zero then there is absolute equality. At all India level of land distribution its value is 0.76. This shows that on the question of land distribution there is gross inequality & discrepancy. In Tamilnadu it is 0.84, in Punjab 0.82, in Haryana 0.80, in Andhra Pradesh 0.80, in West Bengal 0.73. The involvement of large number of people in agriculture and the gross inequality in land distribution clearly proves how important is the task of radical land reform (i.e. land to the tillers). Old zaminders have largely disappeared but malnourished, landless, shelterless, jobless farmers are flooding rural India.
In the last five decades, as per Land Ceiling Acts, 74.3 lakh acres of land has been declared vest, of which 57 lakh acres have been taken over by government. Only 43.4 lakh acres of that land have been distributed among 50 lakh people. Out of total 8126.3 lakh acres of total land of India only 1% of land or less has been declared vest in last 5 decades. This is about 2% of the total cultivable land of India. We should remember that according to Mahalanabish Committee the all India amount of such vest land was calculated to be around 630 lakh acres (considering family land ceiling to be at 20 acres at that time). The numbers of big landholdings in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan are quite high. In J&K they have 22% of agricultural lands, Punjab 15.65%, Haryana 12.21%, Andhra 14.29%. On the other hand 25.96% of families in Punjab, 45.37% in Gujarat, 38.27% in Maharashtra, 31% in Karnataka, 48.75% in Andhra Pradesh are landless. We can express this simply as follows: one out of four agricultural families are landless in Punjab, 1 out of 3 are landless in Karnataka, Maharashtra & Gujarat, 1 out of 2 agricultural families are landless in Andhra Pradesh. Therefore we can easily understand the pressure on land in all big provinces of India.
Now come to the birthplace of Naxalbari- let us talk about West Bengal. In fifties the then Minister of Revenue in West Bengal said that estimated surplus land in Bengal was around 18 lakh acres. The family ceiling was revised in 1972 (12.5 acres in irrigated areas & 17.5 acres in non irrigated areas), therefore estimated surplus land should have increased. Before being sworn in as a Minister in 1977, Mr. Binoy Chowdhury of CPM had declared the amount of vest land to be around 30-35 lakh acres. Later on, while considering Second land reform bill he talked about another 10 lakh acre of excess land. As calculated by Mr Binoy Chowdhury, the vest land was expected to be about 40-45 lakh acres. But till January 2011 the amount of land distributed by Left front government was 11 lakh 32 thousand 400 acres. Before Left front government came to power the amount of land distributed was 6 lakh 17 thousand 215 acres and in the last 34 years Left front government distributed 5 lakh 20 thousand 400 acres. Now the question is how and where have the remaining 30-35 lakh acres of land out of total 40-45 lakh acres of land calculated by Mr Binoy Chowdhury vanished?
We find many discrepancies in the data given by Left front leaders. It is unfortunate that nowadays some erstwhile naxalite intellectuals prefer to tread along the path of CPM and beat the drum for Left front government’s successful land reforms. They conveniently forget that once the United Front Minister of land department had declared in ’Dainik Swadhinata’ newspaper that the number of Bargadars in West Bengal was around 30 lakhs. Again ex- CPM general secretary late Harkishen Singh Surjeet in his ‘Land Reform in India’ wrote that the number of bargadars was around 15-20 lakhs. According to the calculation made by Surjeet, till October 1979 the number of recorded bargadars were 5 lakh 72 thousand & 694, in 1981 this increased to 11 lakh 25 thousand 826 and in 1990 it increased to 14 lakh 20 thousand.
After placing this data Surjeet claimed that 100 percent of Bargadars in West Bengal had been recorded. Where do we stand now? Either peasant leader Harekrishna Konar had wrongly inflated the number of bargadars or Surjeet followed his class collaborationist line of CPM and to protect the interests of landlords he reduced the number of bargadars to half of their existence.
In 2008, CPM organ Ganashakti wrote that uptill January 2008, out of total vested lands declared by government 10.98 lakh acres had been distributed with title deeds (Patta). Before CPM came to power 6 lakh 17 thousand 215 acres were distributed. In this regard CPM leader Binoy Chowdhury said that only 5% of land has been distributed. According to a statement of CPM in 2011 the distributed land reached 11 lakh 33 thousand acres.Therefore we may come to a conclusion that in 34 years of tenure of CPM led government in West Bengal the land distributed amounts to 5 lakh 15 thousand 785 acres.This shows that even Congress govt. distributed more land than CPM govt. This is the reality!
Present CPM state Secretary & ex Land Reform Minister of LF govt. in one of his article stated that ‘eviction & threat of eviction are now matter of past. This is applicable not only for recorded bargadars but also true for non recorded bargadars.’ But unfortunately Human Development Report shows that in West Bengal 13.23% deed holders (pattadars) and 14.37% bargadars have already been evicted.
We have discussed the problem of landlessness and state of land reform all over India and West Bengal in particular. Even after 50 years of Naxalbari, in the light of facts we find how important is the question of land reform and landlessness all over India as well as in West Bengal in particular.
This is very unfortunate that those who support Naxalbari, work among people and simultaneously oppose the treachery of LF govt. have failed to produce before us any latest empirical survey report on land distribution in West Bengal. Very sparse ‘anecdotal’ surveys show that land problem in north Bengal is slightly different from south Bengal. The administrative land reform activity in north Bengal is less. There landowners have hidden many lands under the cover of tea estates and Pineapple orchards. In many areas of districts Nadia, Murshidabad & the two 24 Parganas, the pattadars don’t have any control over their lands & wet lands. Though big landholdings are broken still the absentee landlords are in significant numbers in rural areas of West Bengal. In the post second world war land reform in Japan, the land from absentee landlords was confiscated. According to political economy these absentee landlords (present in any size of landholdings) consume the ground rent and stand as obstacles to the capitalist development of agriculture. In case of radical land reforms, the land with these landowners has to be accounted for. These people may have grabbed the 30 lakh acres of land as calculated by Binoy Chowdhury. To build a revolutionary peasant struggle in West Bengal we have to conduct a land and agricultural investigation campaign and march forward. If we don’t conduct any survey and do a class analysis we should never be able to carry forward the revolutionary peasant movement. We shall never forget the teaching of Com. Mao ‘Land investigation campaign is a violent class struggle’. Land investigation is not land distribution but it is part and parcel of revolutionary peasant war.
The Naxalbari peasant struggle considered agrarian revolution as the axis, brought forward the programme of radical land reform by opposing parliamentary path and raised high the flag of armed revolution. To undermine this movement, Mr. Shyamal Chakraborty, leader of CPM in ‘Deshiteshi’ has thrown tonnes of false allegations at the leaders of that movement. Lets quote some of its gems: ’The leaders of Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district were Charu Majumdar, Souren Bose, Kanu Sanyal, Jangal Santhal etc. Kanu Sanyal & his team were working in Naxalbari area. During Congress regime they were not found to carry out any programme. But when United Front govt. was formed suddenly they became very active.’ Those who have any idea of political history of North Bengal peasant movement are aware that since days of Tebhaga movement in fifties, Com. Charu Majumdar, Com. Kanu Sanyal had built struggles, fought against oppression and were arrested several times. What was the magic weapon with which Com. Charu Majumdar and Com. Kanu Sanyal were armed that could suddenly mobilize thousands of peasants in Naxalbari. It was nothing but their painstaking work with the magic weapon of Mao Ze Dong thought. The cock & bull story of this renegade proves CPM’s political dishonesty. 34 years after Naxalbari, people of West Bengal saw the LF govt rule. CPM led Left Front came to power talking about giving relief to people. For 34 years we saw their real face and utter failure of their land reform programme. We have seen the tragic end of their political marriage with rural riches and reactionaries. In ‘80s when we were students and used to critcise Left front government, at that time student-youth supporters of CPM used to tell us that they were building Left front government and increasing consciousness of toiling people so that people will march forward to revolution! Now after 34 years of LF govt. their ‘consciousness building’ programme is lying under the feet of Trinamool Congress (TMC) govt. Post ’47 role of Indian ruling class, the role of 34 years of LF govt., the role of 5-6 years of TMC govt. have proved that radical land reform is only possible by rejecting the parliamentary path and marching along revolutionary path.
But still there are few questions as well as confusions among some progressive intellectuals and revolutionaries. Some of them think that in the last fifty years since Naxalbari a fundamental change has taken place in agrarian relations in India. They want to say that in the agrarian field semifeudal –precapitalist relationship is no longer in dominant position, the dominant relationship is capitalist with few remnants of feudalism (backward, halfbaked, distorted capitalism- they like to call them). Few organizations that support Naxalbari are also saying this and in the very beginning of this write up I have said that they ‘are gradually becoming comfortable in playing the role of junior partner of CPI-CPM led front. Another section of them is restricting itself to few workers mohallas or are on the verge of extinction’. Still we shall try to analyse their position and try to understand the socioeconomic perspective of Naxalbari movement in present context.
While criticizing Proudhon, Marx in a letter wrote that capitalism represents a specific social relationship and Com. Lenin said ‘Capitalism represents a specific relationship between two groups of people, their relationship remains same independent of the position of the classes under consideration in their higher or lower condition of development.’ Therefore one cannot construct an imaginery theory in the field of agriculture in India by forgetting this Marxist Leninist understanding.
In search of capitalist relationship in agriculture of India, distinguished economist Mr Ashok Rudra started his seminal work in 1969-70 post Naxalbari. After survey in 261 big farms he concluded- ‘The changes which have taken place are essentially quantitative changes within the previously existing production relationship & class structure.’ In 1969 another famous economist, Utsa Patnaik, surveyed 66 farms of 10 districts from 5 states of India and concluded in her book ‘Capitalist development in agriculture’- ‘A new class of capitalist farmers are flourishing; Inspite of variability in its intensity in different areas the extent to which the force of expanding market & expanding profitability are influencing to that extent it has become the general characteristics of those areas.’ In this debate on capitalist development in agriculture, Prof. Amit Bhaduri & Prof. Sau expressed different opinion in contradiction to Prof. Utsa Patnaik. By observing surplus accumulation & re-investment in the agriculture of Punjab in ’60-’70s Utsa was certain about the development of capitalism in agriculture. But in 2007 in her writing ‘New data on arrested development of capitalism in indian agriculture’, after seeing the condition of net investment she termed the condition as captivity of capitalism in Indian agriculture. Some economists think that in globalized India semifeudalism is not possible but they commented, ’It is obvious that usury like semifeudalism is obstructing the path of capitalism in agriculture’. Prof. Amit Bhaduri talked about four characteristics of ‘semifeudalism’ in eastern India particularly West Bengal- a) Widespread non recognized sharecropping b) Permanent credit system & moneylenders for small sharecroppers c) Characteristics of ruling class in countryside: on the one hand they are the landowners on the other hand they are creditor to small tenants. d) The specific feature of rural ‘market’ where entry of small tenants is restricted & in this type of ‘market’, by peculiar organization the small tenants are forced to participate in exchange. Later on we shall discuss this in globalized Indian agriculture.
Prof. Amit Bhaduri in his article ’An analysis of semifeudalism in the agriculture of eastern India’ said: Firstly the economic power of semifeudalism does not arise from the legalized right of property over land. The non recorded tenancy is one important aspect of this problem. The other aspect is the role of creditor for the livelihood of tenants (other types of fixed & variable capital). According to him the political movement of land confiscation in this system, inspite of its economic legitimacy, is unlikely to be successful- till the usury system is abolished. Because due to lack of effective capital poor peasants cannot cultivate and their land goes back into the hands of semifeudal landlords. To uproot this semifeudal system therefore land struggle has to be intimately related to struggle for change of this exploitative system. Naxalbari struggle concluded the same. Terai Report rightly said that the revolutionary struggle for land confiscation must be combined with capturing of state power.
According to Marx the characteristics of capitalist development in agriculture are 1) The dominant & determining feature of produce is commodity 2) Free wage labour is the general form of labour. Marx also said in capitalist production process ‘It produces not merely natural products but reproduces the production relation in which the former are produced’.
Historically wage labour as relation of exploitation was found in southern Gaul in first century Roman empire but that cannot be described as capitalist production relationship. Because wage labour can be involved into a capitalist production relationship under certain historical conditions. Whether the employment of wage labourer is intrinsically linked up with production of surplus value & the accumulation in a given historical stage in India is a question which has to be answered from concrete data for India. Com Lenin while reviewing his understanding on the development of capitalism in Russia said ’While we correctly defined the trend of development, we assumed that the elements of capitalist agriculture has taken full shape in Russia both in landlord farming and in peasant farming which seemed to have given rise to a strong peasant bourgeoisie and therefore incapable of bringing out a ‘peasant agrarian revolution’. He also said that the erroneous programme was not the result of fear of revolution but of an overestimation of capitalist development in agriculture.
Over last three decades the share of wage labourer among agricultural workforce has stagnated. Even in Punjab which is considered to be agriculturally advanced the proportion of agricultural labour has declined significantly from 23.82% in 1991 to 16.30% in 2001. The likely reason may be as the agricultural work is gradually becoming non profitable therefore the cultivators have attempted to reduce the cost of production by substituting family labour for hired labour.
In a field study from rural Bengal we find ”many of the labourers who had taken wage advances had to accept rates lower than market wage rate. These labours also had to work for longer hours at the market wage rate, which implies that they were working at lower than the market wage rate.” (The Indian Journal of Labour Economics-Vol. 53, No-4, 2010 p-681-82) In a field study from Orissa by Ms.Mamata Swain we find that ’The tenants, attached labourers and farm servants are exploited as interest rates charged either explicitly or implicitly are exorbitant, wages paid to the workers are low and the minimum wage declared by the government is not paid to the labourers. The labour tying arrangements are in total contrast to the free labour found in capitalist agriculture.’ (Journal of Social & Economic Development, Jan-June 2001, p-142) Therefore it is not enough to find labourers who get their wages in terms of Rupees but we have to understand under what condition these wage labourers labour. The above mentioned field surveys have challenged the overall picture of development of free labour among the agricultural workforce. More field surveys are needed to reach a conclusion. But we have to remember that the development of free wage labourer is a necessary condition for capitalist production relation but not a sufficient condition.
Recently Mr. Pratyush Chandra and many scholars have opined that ’in rural India a staggering majority is dependent on wage labour’, they have commented that ’much of the peasant community is directly linked to capital as part time or seasonal wage labour’. This wage labour income is mostly coming from non-agricultural rural work not from agricultural employment. They have also said that it does not necessarily confirm capitalist development in agriculture. Akhil Alha & Bijayata in ‘Recent developments in farm labour availability in India & reasons behind short supply’ (Agricultural Economic Research Review, 2011, Issue 2011) while discussing the broad employment status for rural India said that in 1993-94 58% were self employed, working on regular wages/salaries were 6.4%, casual labour were 35.6%. In 2009-10 it was 54.2%, 7.3% & 38.6% respectively. After seeing income of rural population from non agriculture sector some scholars are finding capitalism in agriculture of India. But what they fail to see is the increase in ‘Nil holding’ from 1992 to 2002-03. Nil holding or zero holding means that there is no production in this type of holding. If there is no cultivation of crops or a peasant leaves behind a land without cultivation then it is termed as nil holding. This happens when the production cost is high, remuneration for produce is low or holdings are left aside then there is a nil holding. The number of nil holdings in all the provinces of India have increased. There are 20-32% of nil holdings out of total land holdings. Presently in Andhra Pradesh out of all the rural families nil holdings have increased from 37% to 67%, in Kerala from 6% to 39%, in Tamilnadu from 36 to 67%, in West Bengal from 14 to 30%. If we analyse the detailed reasons behind these nil holdings then we shall understand why the share of rural workforce comes mainly from non agricultural sector. The increase in nil holding and the increase in share of non agricultural income of rural population are intimately related. The issue of nil holding reflects the crisis in agriculture of India and not necessarily capitalist production relationship.
Another condition for the development of capitalism in agriculture is that the dominant form and characteristic of the product is ‘commodity’. According to SASF report of NSS 88% of peasant families under survey are indebted or families with deficit. It has been shown that an average family can meet 35% of their consumption expenditure from their total agricultural income. If the agricultural expenditure and wastage is added to it then the income is much less. According to data by SASF, peasants don’t have the surplus for savings therefore they are unable to carry out expanded reproduction. Landowners owning more than 10 HA of land are able to do so and they are only 0.52%.
The dominant form of agricultural activity in India is small peasant type. The share of animal husbandry, poultry & agricultural machinations are less. Those who have income in excess to their consumption own land more than 4 HA. In the second edition of ‘Capitalist development in Russia’ Com. Lenin has shown from census of Russia that in 1897 the peasant bourgeoisie in that country was 20%. He assessed them and said ’as to their weight in sum total of peasant farming, in the total quantity of means of production belonging to the peasantry, in the total amount of produce raised by the peasantry, the peasant bourgeoisie are undoubtedly predominant’ ‘they are the masters of contemporary countryside’. In India, according to SAS, total farmer households possessing less than 2 hectares of land are 90.4% & their share in total aggregate income of all the farmer households was only 68.4%. This shows that peasant bourgeoisie are not fulfilling the condition of capitalist development. Vakulbaranam (2010) has noted increase in rural inequality from 1993-94 to 2004-05. He explained this to be largely due to inequality between agrarian & non agrarian classes. The non agrarian classes who have enriched themselves during the period are ’the rural professionals, moneylenders & absentee landlords’. How can capitalism develop in a country over last few decades where predominant surplus expropriating rural classes are not peasant bourgeoisie? To understand capitalism in Indian agriculture the production of surplus value and its accumulation shows that even 40 years after the study by Prof. Ashok Rudra & of Prof. Utsa Patnaik, the capitalists in Indian agriculture are still not the master of the countryside and in the context of the change in the production relation it is still quantitative in nature.
Another point to be noted in the context of commodity production is the difference between production for the market and a product turning into commodity due to distress sale where a poor farmer is compelled to sell his product in a market. In Indian market a large number of peasants are compelled to sell their product due to distress which may be described as forced marketization in a interlocking market. How can this be equated with capitalist commodity production in agriculture?
Marx while discussing usurious capital has shown, ’This usurers capital impoverishes the mode of production, paralyses the productive forces instead of developing them, and at the same time perpetuates the miserable conditions in which the social productivity of labour is not developed at the expense of labour itself, as in the capitalist mode of production’. He also said that ’The distinguishing feature of interest bearing capital, so far as it is an essential element of capitalist mode of production, from usurers capital is by no means the nature or character of capital itself. It is merely the altered condition under which it operates and the transformed character of the borrower who confronts the moneylender who is in his capacity industrialist or merchant and can appropriate unpaid labour with borrowed capital.’ Where the borrower is a small peasant, artisan or even a small capitalist farmer who is equivalent to a self employed personnel there interest bearing capital bears the feature of Usury capital as discussed by Marx. In the last 3 decades of past 50 years it is being seen that the usurious loan is gradually increasing & in most of the cases the borrowers are small peasants. The debt investment survey shows that between 1991 to 2002 the share of moneyholders in the total dues of rural households increased by 75%. Since economic reforms in 1990 Indian state is gradually restoring the non institutional moneylenders. In August 2007 RBI technical group concludes that, ’There is a case for looking at the possibility of leveraging the presence of moneylenders who continue to operate despite century long efforts by policy makers to find substitute for them.’ Mr Mihir Shah warned about these moneylenders in EPW, April 2007. He said these moneylenders are in a strong position to undervalue collaterals & that the collateral which a rural borrower can offer is future harvest, future labour service or the right to use already encumbered land. According to SASF estimate & AIDIS reports, 49% peasant households are indebted. AIDIS reports suggest that interest on rural institutional debts come to an average of 15% & 30% and above for non institutional. The calculation shows the interest payment on farmer debt would be over Rs. 2 lakh crores. Considering average rate of interest to be around 21% peasants’ interest payment comes to around 41 thousand crores. This figure of interest payment is clearly greater than gross investment in agriculture and five times its net investment.
Lenin mentioned that, ‘The independent development of merchant capital is inversely proportional to the degree of development of capitalist production’. Still some political forces conclude, as the non institutional lending is not the dominant mode of production rather the share of bank is more therefore therefore the dominant mode of interest bearing capital is capitalist in nature. These ‘scholars’ failed to see the Arhatias in Punjab & Haryana who are the commission agents in grain markets. Anita Gill characterized them by the following description: The study revealed the dominant position of moneylender in a new guise- that of a commission agent, who interlinked the credit market with the output market. Singh et al in 2005 showed the purpose of borrowing was unproductive in 59% cases and was highest (71%) among marginal farmers. If one follows the role of Arhatias in Punjab one shall find how ridiculous it is to find capitalism in agriculture by stamping the dominant interest bearing capital in rural India as capitalist in nature.
Analysing the amount and source of indebtedness by size of holdings –out of 83.9% of total households possessing upto 2 HA of land, 79.9% of them are indebted. 49.7% of their loans are from non institutional agencies (SASF, 2003). G S Bhalla in his book ‘Condition of Indian peasantry’ has stated that 42.3% of total loans are from money lenders & non institutional sources. 35.6% of loans are from banks. The cause of increase in the bank’s share is due to nationalization of bank & a rule of minimum18% of share of loan from bank among farmers. P. Satish (in Agricultural credit in the Post Reform era EPW, June 2007) has given the data of increase in share of moneylenders among rural households to the tune of 75% (from 17.5% to 29.6%) by stopping institutional credits to rural poor.
The Indian government sponsored imperialist penetration in agriculture not only created a vast potential market for industrial capital in India with fertilizer, pesticide, farm machinery & HYV seeds. It also helped to manage food crisis & low yielding agriculture & keeping the value of labour power or social wage at lower range. This created a newer class alignment of forces in rural area with landlord trader moneylender nexus as a social base for imperialist investment in agriculture without any fundamental change in existing structure of agrarian economy. They are exploiting the major surplus from agriculture.
Com. Lenin in ‘Development of Capitalism in Russia’ treated the problem of development of capitalism in Russia exclusively from the standpoint of home market leaving aside data on foreign market & foreign trade. He said ‘Consequently as applied to Russia the question to be answered is: Is merchants’ capital being linked up with the industrial capital? Are commerce & usury disintegrating the old mode of production, leading to its replacement by the capitalist mode of production or by some other systems?’ Com. Lenin mentioned that capitalism penetrates into agriculture particularly slowly and in extremely varied form but the crux of the question is ‘Are commerce & usury disintegrating the old mode of production, leading to its replacement by the capitalist mode of production or by some other systems?’ He has shown the combining of rural bourgeois or independent farmer carrying out commercial agriculture in varied forms (i.e. the combining of commercial agriculture with commercial and industrial enterprises).
In case of India this feature is not only absent but the other probability of ‘some other systems’ are developing. Semifeudal, precapitalist forces combining with merchant & usury capital in connivance with imperialism and comprador capital are heading towards that ‘other system’. This ‘some other system’ is the semifeudal agriculture of India encircled by neo colonial exploitation nexus.That is why even after 50 years of Naxalbari we find the growth of Indian agriculture in this sorry state. Indian ‘Kulaks’ are still marginal or vacillating to the tune of imperialism and feudalism & pre capitalism.
Therefore the liberation of Indian peasantry is closely linked with the liberation of working class by breaking the yoke of imperialism, feudalism & comprador capital, advancing along the path of agrarian revolution. 50 years ago Naxalbari struggle taught us this lesson soaked with the blood of glorious martyrs.