Articles posted by Radical Socialist on various issues.

Support the Independent Struggles in Rajarhat

An Appeal by Radical Socialist to all Readers of our Website

Comrades and friends,
Radical Socialist members and supporters have been active in the struggles in Rajarhat. We publish below an online petition, and urge all of you to endorse it. We also urge you to support and collaborate with the campaign in whatever way you think possible. This is an effort to make it an independent struggle, as it had been, before it became an electoral football. 
In solidarity
Rasdical Socialist


To:  The Governor of West Bengal

Rajarhat, on the outskirts of Kolkata has earned global fame as West Bengal’s new IT hub and a hotspot for real estate investment with companies like DLF, Unitech and others acquiring land and setting up major projects. The first phase of DLF’s Rs 280 crore (Rs 2.80 billion) IT project has been operational since 2005 and a second IT park is on the cards. Wipro, Infosys, IBM – all the major IT houses are in operation here, on subsidized lands. A wireless hub is in the cards. In contrast to Singur-Nandigram, official state government versions portray the Rajarhat land acquisition from the mid 1993 onwards as totally peaceful. 

Rajarhat is one of the most fertile areas of West Bengal and perhaps India. Leaving aside some region used for habitation, most, if not all, of the land had been producing 3-4 crops a year. Irrigated by the adjacent canals, this area got more than adequate water. Not having to bother overtly about fertilizing their land it could produce crops with relative ease. Besides varieties of rice, different seasonal crops along with many types of vegetables, fruits and flowers too were grown here. The production satisfied demands of the local population and also provided 20 to 25% of the demands of Kolkata and its suburbs. The area also supplied fish from the local bherries (fishing embankments) and the many canals that used to overflow their banks during the rainy season. Another valuable contribution was meeting Kolkata’s demand for milk. 

To set up the Rajarhat Township the government used the British colonial Land Acquisition Act (1894) to acquire 21 Mouzzas of land to start with. The Land and Land Revenues Ministry in 1995 issued a notice and by the order of the Governor, the West Bengal Government acquired all the land and water bodies of those 21. Later on a few more were acquired. The process was started in 1996 under the 12/2 section of 1 of the Act. The total number of affected families added up to nearly 1, 31,000 people. 

According to the documents of the land revenue department the number of recorded landowners was over 30,000 while 5,000 were recorded Bargadars(share-croppers). In reality, the number of unrecorded Bargadars was double of that. Long before the government notification and land acquisition process started, the land mafia started buying up the land from the poor farmers. 

The land acquisition process officially started in Rajarhat in the months of April-May of 1996. In the beginning of this process all the farmers of Mahishgot and Thakdari declined to accept the notice. Primarily, because the price decided upon for each Katha, i.e. Rs 6000 was too low as compared to the officially government registered price. More importantly for the major section of people here, farming was their assured source of income for the upkeep of their family and they knew no other way of earning their livelihood. Farmers unwilling to accept the notice was subjected to tremendous intimidation and brutality. CPI (M) goons were going around Rajarhat forcing people to accept the notice at gunpoint and this resulted in the farmers unifying to form Rajarhat Jami Bachao Committee (Save Rajarhat Land Committee) to resist. This organisation was not under the control of any political party 

All over Rajarhat the land use laws as well as the municipal laws are being flouted with impunity as ponds, other water bodies and marshland are being rapidly filled up and multi-storeyed buildings are being erected at a breakneck pace. Millions of rupees are being siphoned off by cocking a snook at the municipal laws by pocketing the various subsidies provided for house building and by illegally extracting money from the public in the name of building roads. Valuable trees planted by the Panchayat are being cut off and the lives of common people are being ruined in many other such destructive ways. 

It must be pointed out that worried about the dangers of having the natural drainage system of Kolkata and its adjoining areas irrevocably damaged and the ecological balance being destroyed by the steady acquisition of all the arable land and water bodies of Rajarhat, a case was filed with the green bench of Kolkata high court. As a matter of fact, Dhupirbil and Ghuni-Jatragachi area consisted of 2095 hectares of natural sewerage which has been filled up. 53 species of fish (many of them are endangered) were found here according to Department of Fisheries, Government of West Bengal. 

The sad irony of it all is the fact that while the farmers were paid only Rs. 6000, the same land was being sold by the government to the businessmen at around Rs. 600 000 a katha, while the promoter and developers in turn were making a profit of around Rs. 1,50,00,000 to Rs. 2,00,00,000. This means that the farmers are getting 1% of the profit that the government is making in selling the land to the big business or equivalently the farmers are earning 0.0001 % of what the real estate business are earning from the land. It is worth mentioning that in all of Rajarhat municipality the land price is determined as Rs 1500/square foot for multi-storeyed apartments. 

Yet after all this the land sharks are now eyeing the remaining farm lands in Rajarhat. A new scheme has been undertaken envisaging another township to build over 23 Mouzzas of land from Rajarhat and Bhangar. 

This scheme has been named BRADA for Bhangar Rajarhat Area Development Authority. In this plan 15 Mouzzas of Rajarhat and 8 Mouzzas of Bhangar are to be included. The total area of land acquired under this scheme would be around 4.5 Hectares. The BRADA scheme to be set up to the east of New Town of Rajarhat. This project would include – Modern roads, sewerage, car park, plazas, electric power station, sports grounds, waste disposal system, system to maintain the ecosystem balance, medical and engineering colleges, information Technology Park and housing. Industrial training centre, sports complex, water sports, agro-marketing zone, model school etc. 

It is being touted that BRADA is being set up to stop predatory private business interests from taking over areas adjacent to the New Town and to enable development in a manner that is beneficial to the lower middle class and the common man. Apparently all this will be carried out without spending government funds but with the help of private agencies instead. 

However, it seems the BRADA scheme too would be beneficial to the interests of the affluent, a special dispension where the low income groups and the common man has no place. Since this scheme is to be set up with private capital to the tune of thousands of crores, quite obviously this will ensure the enrichment of ministers, officials and the political leaders associated with this project. One should bear in mind that associated with this scheme is the same group of people who so ruthlessly had deprived the farmers of Rajarhat of their land and livelihoods. Rajarhat is sodden with the blood of the poor and it will never dry out. 

If we are still silent, the day would not be very far when Rajarhat will be completely erased from the agricultural map of the state while the struggle of the helpless farmers will be lost down the memory hole. 

We demand that: 

  • Immediately stop all acquisitions.
  • Immediately allow farming, fishing and other traditional activities on lands that have been acquired but on which no construction has been started.
  • Half of the profit accruing from the commercial transfer of lands and real estate business on the acquired lands of Rajarhat must be distributed to the landowners-farmers-fisher folks-sharecroppers and others due to the illegitimate acquisition of Rajarhat land.
  • An end to the illegitimate eviction of farmers-fisher folks at Rajarhat and everywhere else.

A Letter to Anna Hazare regarding his reported endorsement of the Narendra Modi government

·  Letter sent to Annaji by Social Activists of Gujarat.
Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah
Phone No: + 91 - 265 – 2320399,


Respected Swami Agniveshji, Shanti Bhusanji, Prashant Bhushanji, Arvin Kejriwal

We do not have the Email number of Annaji. We request you to kindly pass on our following letter to him. We request you to do needful on this issue which is very crucial for downtrodden masses and social movements in Gujarat. You may be receiving many more such statements.

Rohit Prajapati & Trupti Shah
Social Activists of Gujarat
Ghanshyam Shah
(National fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla)

Dr. Nandini Manjrekar
Dr. J. S. Bandukwala
President, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Gujarat
Fr C
edric Prakash sj
Director, PRASHANT   (A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)

 The Statement of Annaji creates wrong impression, endorsing the authoritarian fascist Government, which is anti-farmer, anti-women, anti-working class, anti-dalits, anti-tribals, anti-minorities and against all the marginalised groups.
We want Annaji to visit Gujarat to know the reality at grassroots level about ‘destructive development’ in Gujarat. Annaji, we have ‘Job Killing Growth’ in Gujarat.
·We are ready for open debate on ‘destructive development’ of Gujarat based on facts and figure.Rohit Prajapati & Trupti Shah, Social Activists of Gujarat

Dear Annaji,

The statement reported in Indian Express - “The kind of model that Gujarat and Bihar chief ministers have presented, that model should be emulated by all other chief ministers... I am saying this on the basis of the kind of works Bihar and Gujarat CMs have done in the field of rural development,” Hazare said during an interaction at the Press Club here today. – is unfortunate and does not reflect the reality of real Gujarat. We would like to draw immediate quick attention of our friends outside Gujarat is that Mr. Modi’s response to the Mahuva farmers' agitation during the recent assembly budget session is a stark reminder of the stand of Gujarat Government.

Farmers, Women, Fishing Communities, Salt-pan Workers, Tribals, Dalits, Workers and Minorities all have been waging a constant battle with the Modi government to seek what is rightfully theirs, but it remains an uphill struggle for them in Gujarat. People's movement in Saurashtra, Kutch, and Tribal areas in Gujarat only points to the contrary endorsement of Modi rule for rural development in Gujarat, Annaji.

Industrial development and development claims by CSR is one thing, while the claims of actual job creation in Gujarat, where unemployment continues to increase is yet another contrast. Annaji, we have ‘Job Killing Growth’ in Gujarat.

The success story of the two digit growth has masked the several digit realities of loss of livelihood, land acquisition, displacement and permanent loss of natural resources, which are treated as free goods in this process. The investment figure without the displacement and depletion of natural resources figure and the employment figure without loss of livelihood does not make sense.

Development-Induced Displacement in Gujarat 1947-2004 report prepared by Dr. Lancy Lobo and Shashikant Kumar of Centre for Culture and Development clearly indicates that there are 4,00,000 households displaced and affected in Gujarat during 57 years of Independence, amounting to 5% of the total population of Gujarat from developmental projects such as water resource related, transport and communications, industries, mines, defence, sanctuaries, human resource related, government offices, tourism and so on. This report further indicates that a total of 33,00,000 hectares of land has been acquired during 1947-2004 as computed from 80,000 Gazette notifications of the government of Gujarat and from Land Acquisition Departments from 25 Collectorates through RTI Act. This figure does not include the land acquired and people affected by the most controversial project Sardar Sarovar Dam [Narmada]. The acquisition of land was not based on the market value of the land but by bypassing the rule of law and even all the rules of market mechanism.

This figure of displaced also does not include the people who were dependent on land for their livelihood but were not the owner of the land. Thus real figure of loss of livelihood may even cross the figure of 50,00,000. We hope that this figure is not negligible for the Government of Gujarat.

Vibrant Gujarat summit is talking about huge investment but is silent on the issue of land acquisition and loss of livelihood because of the land “acquisition”.

Also, Annaji your endorsement of rural development is contrasts, the pollution map of Gujarat, which has contaminated land, surface water, and groundwater. Villages in Ankleshwar, Vapi, Nandesari and Vatva, Saurashtra and Kutch persistently remind who bears the brunt of industrial development. The groundwater has been contaminated in 74 talukas out of 184 talukas of Gujarat.

In Gujarat, one of the project the Final Effluent Treatment Plant (FETP). Touted by the Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), and various Industries Associations as a state-of-the-art solution the structure does not even meet the GPCB norms since 2006 even then the Chief Minister Mr. Modi of Gujarat inaugurated a pipeline of the same plant on 25th January 2007 and Centre and State Government invested more than Rs. 100 crores in the company. The explanation with the relevant documents for such an act was asked by us from the Chief Minister Office but the CM office replied that the documents are destroyed by their office and that is why they can not provide the information.

We have the Government who has not even care to appoint the members of Lokayukt in Gujarat State by giving all possible excuses.

We can share more information about the Gujarat. Annaji visit Gujarat to know the reality at grassroots level about ‘destructive development’ in Gujarat. We are ready for open debate on ‘destructive development’ of Gujarat based on facts and figure.

ohit Prajapati &         Trupti Shah
Social Activists of Gujarat

Ghanshyam Shah
(National fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla)

Nandini Manjrekar
Dr. J. S. Bandukwala - President, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Gujarat
Fr C
edric Prakash sj
Director, PRASHANT   (A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)

NAPM statement on Anna Hazare's Hunger Strike



New Delhi, April 7 : Shri Anna Hazare's indefinite fast and thousands others fasting across the country with a demand for enactment of an independent and stronger Jan Lokpal and Jan Lokayukta enters third day today. NAPM has extended its support to the demand since beginning of the movement and from 5th April
organised rallies, morchas, solidarity fasts, public meetings and other such programmes in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Unao, Itawah, Muzaffarnagar, Delhi and many other places across the country. NAPM reiterate its support, and even as the movement gains steam, pledges to intensify our

Even as we struggle to demand for a stronger Lokpal and Lokayukta to root out the financial corruption and irregularities in different government schemes, NAPM would like to point out that there are far larger issues at stake for our movement.

1.      The scale of corruption involved in Common Wealth Games and 2-G
Spectrum has shocked the nation and UPA government has to answer for it and
take action but at the same time we are concerned about the inaction from all
the political parties on ecological corruption and the naked loot of our
natural resources rivers, forests, land, minerals etc.

2.      Different political Parties across the political spectrum – illegal
mining in Bellary, Karnataka (BJP Government); Vedanata mining, POSCO Steel
plant, Tata Power and Steel Plants, Jindals and others in Orissa (BJD
Government); mining and steel companies in Jharkhand (BJP led government),
massive corruption in PDS and others in Assam (Congress led Government); Adarsh
Housing Society, Lavasa, Shivalik Ventures and other builders corruption in
Maharashtra (Congress led government) and othes are guilty of inaction and
facilitating the process of irregularities, gross violation and miscarriage of
justice and violence against those struggling against these. None of these
parties have shown political will in taking action against them.

3.      The amount of black money stashed in the different foreign banks need
to be brought in and those responsible for it punished but at the same time
there is a need to stop the ongoing privatisation of various basic services -
transport, water and electricity supply, health, food, PDS and many more.
Privatisation is encouraging the big Corporations like Tata, Reliance, Jindals,
Pricewater House Coopers, Essar, Mittal's, Vedanata and many others to engage
in the loot and go to any extent in buying undue favours from the politicians
and government machinery. We strongly oppose privatisation of the basis
services in the name of efficiency and better services. Government can't shun
its responsibility towards the aam aadmi and provide them affordable and
quality food, water, education, health, and transport. It can't just remain the
privilege of 25% of the Indians - the middle and upper middle classes alone.

4.      We as a nation has to ask for the accountability, transparency and the probity ar large in public life and not only in the government institutions. The corruption and violence unleashed by the State using its machinery including armed forces in parts of North East, Jammu and Kashmir and in Central India in the name of Operation Green Hunt has come to an end.

The dangerous trend has been the unholy nexus between the corporations, politicians and bureaucrats who have got together to facilitate the 'Great Indian Loot'. We are concerned by this and urge every one to target the systemic and institutionalised corruption. Jan Lokpal is the beginning alone and the movement will have to join hands with the millions fighting against the neo-liberal reforms which is facilitating a greater role and intervention for the Capital forces in the governance and thereby facilitating the corruption
and undermining the democratic institutions of the country. A check on the elected government's is what we need, but the inclusion of the Private Companies acting in the name of larger public purpose within the fold of Accountability and Transparency has to be ensured too.


We exhort everyone to join the struggle of millions of working class people, adivasis, dalits, women, forest workers, fisherfolks in their quest for a dignified livelihood and justice. Our movement against corruption has to go beyond the visible symbols of corruption and reach out for a wider systemic transformation in the country today. Let us all join this struggle ! The process of Jan Lokpal Bill mandates that in general the legislative processes has to be much more democratic and government must come out in public
and hold nation-wide consultations on important legislations apart from Jan Lokpal, such as Land Acquisition Amendment Bill, UID Bill and others.

Lastly, we would also like to reiterate that in this fight against corruption we have to choose our allies with care and take those along who have the moral authority to stand with the masses and have struggled for peace, justice and democracy in the society rather than pushing for a communal, casteist, patriarchal and divisive agenda and facilitated ecological corruption.


Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Gabriele Dietrich, Sister Celia, Maj Gen (Retd.) S.G.Vombatkere (Retd), Thomas Kocherrey, Prafulla Samantara, Suniti S R, Roma, P Chennaiah, Dayamani Barla, Arundhati Dhuru, Ramakrishna Raju, Anand mazgaonkar, Rajendra Ravi, Bhupendera Singh Rawat, Geo Jose, Mukta Srivastava, Simpreet Singh, Pervin Jehangir, Kamayani Swami, Madhuresh Kumar

Contact : 9818905316 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Sexual Assault on Rinku Das and the Murder of Rajib Das: How Unique

The Sexual Assault on Rinku Das and the Murder of Rajib Das: How Unique

Report of a discussion organized by Radical

Radical, the Bengali organ of Radical Socialists, had organized a public discussion on the assault on Rinku Das on 14 February, in the Buddhadev Bose Sabhaghar, Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, on 28th March. All the student organisations active in the Jadavpur University campus had been invited to send speakers. Two of them however did not turn up, both citing elections as the reason for their preoccupation. These were the Students Federation of India, associated with the CPI(M), and the All India Students Association, associated with the CPI(ML) Liberation. Initiating the programme, Kunal Chattopadhyay, editor of Radical, argued that pre-occupation with elections being cited as a reason for not sending even a single speaker to a meeting of this kind, suggested that for these organizations, parliamentary/assembly elections constituted the core of politics, while class and gender issues are diluted and sexual assault issues are seen as news worth being in the limelight for only as long as the salacious element sells well.

Three organisations had sent speakers – the USDF, the AIDSO, and the Forum for Arts Students, a local JU based organization strong in the Arts Faculty. The programme was moderated by Soma Marik, member of Radical Socialist and Nari Nirjatan Pratirodh Mancha, and Mihir Bhonsale spoke on behalf of Radical.

Soma Marik gave a background, talking about the Indian Penal Code, in which sexual assault finds no mention, there being only the categories of “rape” (defined as penile penetration of the vagina) and “outraging of modesty” (Sections 354 and 509) which would therefore cover everything from obscene gestures to stripping and parading women (things that have happened) and for which the maximum penalty is two years imprisonment. She pointed out that even for a high ranking person like Rupan Deol Bajaj, it took ten years to get the final verdict from the Supreme Court, and the accused, KPS Gill, simply paid a fine. His counsel argued that he had served the nation and this should be taken into consideration when he was being punished. It was only the Vishakha judgement in 1997 that for the first time saw sexual assault as a serious offence against women, with the system, and not merely individuals, being held responsible. She further argued that sexual assault was a violation of constitutional rights of women, including the right to freedom of movement. Women were the ones asked why they had gone out late, why they had worn certain dresses, or why they had gone unescorted. The SC judgement stressed not the intent of the harasser but the impact on the harassed, and refused to take a moralistic stance, instead stressing the rights of working women (which was what the case had been about). She finally argued that the SC verdict was important not simply because a court had said it, since the SC has often issued highly objectionable verdicts, but because of its content. She related this to the very terms used to downgrade sexual assault – eve teasing and outraging of modesty. Modesty has a strong class connotation. It assumes that women who work in the fields and factories, or in shops or markets, as well as women domestic workers, do not merit the same attention in cases of sexual assault since unlike the genteel women, they do not have “modesty”. In fact, even sex workers have a right to say no, and cannot be assaulted at will.

Sharmistha of AIDSO spoke first among the students. She did not talk about sexual harassment. On assault and rape, her focus was on a series of political rapes and assaults, including the ‘rape’ and murder of Tapasi Malik in Singur, the attacks on women  in Nandigram, and tied it to the assault on Rinku Das. According to her, all this stems from a moral decay caused by insidious capitalist offensive. She argued that sex education in schools is part of this moral decay, with the government abetting this, along with allowing the licensing of liquor shops.  Interestingly, she talked about the assault on “mothers and sisters”, a discourse in Bengali that slots women into a set of stereotyped social roles.

The next speaker was Chandan for USDF, who argued that the state apparatus and capitalism were te root cause of violence on women. He stated that even policewomen were subjected to sexual harassment and assault. Thus, assaults should be seen as a structural and not individual problems. The state, and the patriarchy present in society, were responsible. The state protects criminals in its own interests. The media merely sensationalises such incidents. A lumpen culture is generated, and that causes these incidents.

Nirjhar speaking for FAS stressed that if the slogan of “change” is so much in the air in West Bengal, there is a need to change the outlook. It is no use criticizing particular political parties. Civil Society ust take more responsibility and must fight for building democratic movements to halt violence. In the name of “parivartan”, people who had been musclemen of the CPI(M) were now joining the bandwagon of the Trinamul Congress. So no real change was coming. The real change would be when civil society built up a democratic movement across political parties and ideologies, purging society of all evils, including the patriarchal mindset.

Mihir Bhonsale, speaking for Radical, provided statistical data to show that West Bengal had a high incidence of assault and rape on women. However, he argued, that such statistics should be handled with care. That a province was higher or lower in the NCRB chart did not mean that women were safe. It merely indicated a position in a chart. Moreover, any cases went unrecorded, with the police often refusing to record sexual assault FIRs. He also argued that courts are often soft on assaulters. Finally, he argued that the blanket term civil society is useless, since the media’s sensationalisation of issues is also directed to civil society, and it is civil society that was the target of the West Bengal Home Secretary’s comment that Rinku Das was a divorcee, a comment that tried to suggest she might not be a “good” woman.

Kaushik, a second speaker for FAS, highlighted media representations of sexual assault cases, and talked about how globalization was causing social pressure, criminalization, and the targeting of women’s bodies in all conflicts. He also stressed that nomenclature was unimportant. Whether one calls it eve teasing or sexual assault it is all the same.

About thirty five people, mostly students, participated in the ensuing discussions. A heated discussion raged around the claims that sexual assaults were influenced by sex education. The AIDSO claimed that sex education had not been permitted in the Soviet Union and that had been the reason for high moral standards there. Others present contested this whole manner of argument, pointing out that the assaulters of Tapasi Malik, of the women in Nandigram, or those who had assaulted Rinku Das, were hardly people who had received sex education. It was further pointed out that sexual assaulters of Rinku Das would get a maximum of two years. So had they not killed Rajib Das, they would have been in little danger, showing what the state thinks about women and women’s oppression. That Rinku Das was an employee in a Call Centre, and was coming home from work, indicated that women workers were doubly vulnerable, a specific class-gender relationship that must be considered.

Alternatives to the dominant agricultural model

Alternatives to the dominant agricultural model

Viento SurEsther Vivas


Neoliberal globalization’s mission to privatise all areas of life including agriculture and natural resources threatens to condemn a vast part of the world’s population to hunger and poverty. Today it is estimated by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation that worldwide there are 925 million hungry people at a time when, paradoxically, we produce more food than ever before.

According to the international organisation GRAIN, food production has tripled since the 1960’s while the world population has only doubled. However, the mechanisms of the production, distribution and consumption of food serve private interests, preventing the poorest from obtaining essential sustenance.

The access of the local peasantry to access to land, water and seeds is not a guaranteed right. Consumers do not know where the food that we eat comes from, which makes it impossible to choose to consume GM-free products. The process of food production has been increasingly alienated from consumption and the increasing industrialisation and concentration of each stage of the agribusiness food chain in the hands of enormous agroindustrial concerns has led to a loss of autonomy for both farmers and consumers.

Opposed to this dominant model of agribusiness, in which the search for profits has been put before the food needs of people and respect for the environment, is the alternative paradigm of food sovereignty. This affirms the right of local peoples to define their own agricultural and food policies, control their own domestic food markets and promote local agriculture by preventing the dumping of surplus products. It encourages diverse and sustainable farming methods that respect the land, and sees international trade as only a complement to local production. Food sovereignty means returning control of natural assets such as land, water and seeds to local communities and fighting against the privatisation of all life.

Beyond food security

This is a concept that goes beyond the food security proposals advocated by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in the 1970’s, which had the objective of ensuring the right of access to food for all people. Food security has not served as an alternative paradigm in that it does not question the current model of production, distribution and consumption and has been stripped of its original meaning. Food sovereignty includes this principle that everyone must eat, while also opposing the dominant agro-industrial system and the policies of international institutions that give it support.

Achieving this goal demands a strategy of breaking with the neoliberal agricultural policies imposed by the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These organisations’ imposition of free trade agreements, structural adjustment, external debt and so on have served to erode people’s food sovereignty.

However, the demand for food sovereignty does not imply a romantic return to the past, but rather a regaining of awareness of traditional practices in order to combine them with new technologies and new knowledge. Neither should it consist of a parochial approach or a romantic idealisation of small producers but rather an entire rethinking of the global food system in order to encourage democratic forms of food production and distribution.

A feminist perspective

Promoting the construction of alternatives to the current agricultural and food model also involves an awareness of the role of gender, recognising the role women play in the cultivation and marketing of what we eat. Between 60% and 80% of the burden of food production in the South, according to FAO data, falls on women. They are the main producers of staple crops like rice, wheat and maize, which feed the poorest populations in the global South. But despite their key role in agriculture and food, they are, along with children, those most affected by hunger.

Women in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America face enormous difficulties in accessing land, getting credit, etc. But these problems do not only exist in the South. In Europe many farmers have little or no legal status, since most of them work on family farms where administrative rights are the exclusive property of the owner of the farm and women, despite working on it, are not entitled to aid, land for cultivation, milk quotas, etc.

Food sovereignty has to break not only with a capitalist model of agriculture but also with a patriarchal system that is deeply rooted in a society that oppresses and subordinates women. Any notion of food sovereignty which does not include a feminist perspective is doomed to failure.

Via Campesina

The concept of food sovereignty was first proposed in 1996 by the international movement La Via Campesina, which represents about 150 farmers’ organizations from 56 countries, in order to coincide with the World Food Summit of the FAO in Rome.

Via Campesina was formed in 1993, at the dawn of the antiglobalization movement, and gradually became one of the key organisations in the critique of neoliberal globalisation. Its rise is an expression of peasant resistance to the collapse of the countryside economy, caused by neoliberal policies and their intensification with the creation of the World Trade Organization.

Membership of Via Campesina is very heterogeneous in terms of the ideological origin of the sectors represented (landless, small farmers), but all belong to the rural sectors hardest hit by the advance of neoliberal globalisation. One of its achievements has been to overcome, with a considerable degree of success, the gap between the rural North and South, articulating joint resistance to the current model of economic liberalisation.

Since its inception, Via has created a politicised "peasant" identity, linked to land and food production, built in opposition to the current model of agribusiness and based on the defense of food sovereignty. It embodies a new kind of "peasant internationalism” ’that we can regard as "the peasant component" of the new internationalism represented by the global justice movement.

A viable option

One of the arguments used by opponents of food sovereignty is that organic farming is unable to feed the world. However, this claim has been demonstrated to be false by the results of an extensive international consultation led by the World Bank in partnership with the FAO, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) UNESCO, representatives of governments, private institutions, scientists, social interest groups, etc. This project was designed as a hybrid consulting model, involving over 400 scientists and experts in food and rural development over four years.

It is interesting to note that, although the report was supported by these institutions, it concluded that agroecological production provided food and income to the poorest, while also generating surpluses for the market, and was a better guarantor of food security than transgenic production.

The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology (IAASTD) report, published in early 2009, argued for local, peasant and family production of food and the redistribution of land to rural communities. The report was rejected by agribusiness and filed away by the World Bank, while 61 governments approved it quietly, except for the U.S., Canada and Australia, among others.

In the same vein, a study by the University of Michigan, published in June 2007 by the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, compared conventional agricultural production to organic. The report concluded that agro-ecological farms were more highly productive and more capable of ensuring food security throughout the world, than systems of industrialised farming and free trade. It estimated that, even according to the most conservative estimates, organic agriculture could provide at least as much food as it produced today, although the researchers considered as a more realistic estimate that organic farming could increase global production food up to 50%.

A number of other studies have demonstrated how small-scale peasant production can have a high performance while using less fossil fuel, especially if food is traded locally or regionally. Consequently, investment in family farm production and ensuring access to natural resources is the best option in terms of combating climate change and ending poverty and hunger, especially given that three-quarters of the world’s poorest people are small peasants.

In the field of trade it has proved crucial to break the monopoly of large retailers, and to avoid large-scale distribution circuits (through the use of local markets, direct sales, consumer groups, Community supported agriculature and so on), thereby avoiding intermediaries and establishing close relationships between producer and consumer.

Alternatives to the dominant agricultural model, which generates poverty, hunger, inequality and climate change, do exist. They necessitate a break with the capitalist logic imposed on the agricultural system and an insistence on the right of the peoples of the world to food sovereignty.

This article appears in the April/May edition of Socialist Resistance

র‍্যাডিকাল পত্রিকার উদ্যোগে আলোচনা সভা

প্রসঙ্গ যৌন নির্যাতন : রিঙ্কু দাসের উপর আক্রমণ ও রাজীব দাস হত্যা কি বিচ্ছিন্ন ঘটনা ?

র‍্যাডিকাল  পত্রিকার উদ্যোগে আলোচনা সভা

যে দেশের রাষ্ট্রপ্রধান একজন নারী, যে দেশের শাসক দলের নেত্রী একজন নারী, যে দেশের লোকসভার স্পীকার একজন নারী, যে রাজ্যের বিরোধী দলের প্রধান তথা পত্রিকাদের প্রচার অনুযায়ী আসন্ন মুখ্যমন্ত্রী একজন নারী, সেখানে আর নারীর ক্ষমতায়নের আর বাকী কতটুকু? অথচ সেই দেশে, সেই রাজ্যে, রাতে চাকরী করে ফিরতে গিয়ে যৌন হেনস্থার শিকার হয় রিঙ্কু দাস, তার প্রতিবাদ করতে গিয়ে খুন হয় ষোল বছরের ভাই রাজীব দাস। তার অল্প দিন পরেই সরকার পক্ষের অন্যতম দলের মুখপত্রে প্রবন্ধ বেরলো যে দিল্লীর পুলিশ প্রধানের মতে কলকাতার চেয়ে দিল্লীর মেয়েরা বেশী আক্রান্ত হয় ও কম প্রতিবাদ করে। অর্থাৎ কালান্তর পত্রিকা মেয়েদের দুনিয়া নামক পৃষ্ঠার মাধ্যমে বলতে চাইল যে পশ্চিমবঙ্গে মেয়েদের উপর যৌন নির্যাতনের ঘটনা বিরল।

বাস্তব ছবি কি বলে? ন্যাশনাল ক্রাইম রেকর্ডস ব্যুরো প্রদত্ত তথ্য জানাচ্ছে, ২০০৯ সালে দেশের জনসংখ্যার ৭.৬ শতাংশ এ রাজ্যে বাস করলেও  মেয়েদের বিরুদ্ধে অপরাধের ক্ষেত্রে এ রাজ্যের ভাগ ছিল ১১ শতাংশর বেশী। তার মধ্যে উল্লেখযোগ্য অংশ ছিল ধর্ষণ ও যৌন হেনস্থার ঘটনা। ভারত অন্য কোনো এক দেশের চেয়ে একটু ভাল, বা পশ্চিমবঙ্গ অন্ধ্রপ্রদেশের চেয়ে ভাল আছে, এরকম তথ্য প্রমাণ করে না যে ভারতের মেয়েদের উপর, বা পশ্চিমবঙ্গের মেয়েদের উপর, নিয়মিত যৌন নির্যাতন হয় না।

কিন্তু তার পর ও প্রশ্ন থাকে। নির্দিষ্টভাবে রিঙ্কু দাসের উপর আক্রমণ প্রশ্ন তোলে, এই ঘটনা কেন ঘটতে পারল? প্রথম উত্তর অবশ্যই, রাষ্ট্রের ব্যর্থতা। আজকাল যে নয়া উদারনৈতিক তাত্ত্বিকরা মনে করে জনকল্যাণকর কাজের ক্ষেত্রে ব্যয় সংকোচন করতে হবে, তারাও দাবী করে, রাষ্ট্রের কাজ নিরাপত্তা নিশ্চিত করা। কোনো আইনের বইয়ে লেখা নেই, রাত দশ থেকে সকাল ছ’টা নিরাপত্তা রক্ষা করা রাষ্ট্রের দায়ীত্বের মধ্যে পড়ে না। তাহলে ব্যাপারটা কি? এখানে শ্রেণী দৃষ্টিভঙ্গীর কোনো বিকল্প নেই। মাওবাদী রাজনীতি “খুনের রাজনীতি” বলে নয়, মাওবাদীদের ধরার নামে  আদিবাসীদের প্রতিরোধ ভেঙ্গে খনিজ সম্পদ দখল করে বেদান্ত সহ বড় বড় পুঁজিবাদী সংস্থাদের স্বার্থ রক্ষার জন্য অপারেশন গ্রীণ হান্ট চালু হয়েছিল । মনে রাখা ভাল, ২০০৪ পর্যন্ত বেদান্ত কোম্পানীর অন্যতম ডিরেক্টর ছিলেন পি চিদাম্বরম। অর্থাৎ ধন-দৌলতের নিরাপত্তার জন্য কোটি কোটি টাকা – রিঙ্কু-রাজীবদের জন্য কানাকড়িও না। আর, এ ব্যাপারে রাজ্যের “বাম” সরকার আর কেন্দ্রের সরকার, এদের কোনো মতভেদ নেই।

দোষ কেবল রাষ্ট্রের নয়। সমাজের সুশীলবাবুরা, যাঁরা শুধু বামফ্রণ্টকে উচ্ছেদ করতে চান, কিন্তু সামাজিক ক্ষেত্রে স্থিতাবস্থার ওকালতি করেন, তাঁরাও দায় এড়াতে পারবেন না। কোন সাহসে স্বরাষ্ট্রসচিব হঠাৎ ঘোষণা করেন, রিঙ্কু দাস বিবাহবিচ্ছিন্না? এ হল সুশীলবাবুদের ভাষায় কথা বলা  -- ও তো   পুরোপুরি ভাল মেয়ে না, তাই ওর উপর একটু হামলা তো হবেই।

কেন বাস্তবে রিঙ্কু, এবং তার মত বহু মেয়ে, অনেক রাতে বাড়ি ফেরে? নানা কারণের মধ্যে বিশেষভাবে উল্লেখযোগ্য – বিশ্বায়ণের ফলে চাকরীর চরিত্র পাল্টাচ্ছে। ইউরোপ-আমেরিকার সময় ধরে কল সেণ্টারে কাজ চলে। বিশ্বায়নের শিকার এই নতুন শ্রমিক শ্রেণী নিরাপত্তা পায় না। তাদের উপর নানা ভাবে চাপ আসে।

আমরা বলেছি এরকম ঘটনা বিরল না। ঘটনা ঘটে অনেকের উপর – বৃদ্ধা, অল্পবয়স্কা, সবার উপর। সঙ্গে আসে পিতৃতান্ত্রিক দাবী – মেয়েটারই নাকি দোষ ছিল। সে কেন আপাদমস্তক ঢাকা ছিল না?  সে কেন “অসময়ে” পথে ছিল? সে কেন একা বেরিয়েছিল?

আর, রাজীব দাস, সার্জেণ্ট বাপী সেনদের হত্যা রোজ না ঘটলেও, বলপ্রয়োগ করে ধর্ষণ ও যৌন হেনস্থার ঘটনা অনেক ছিল, আছে। বাধা দিতে যারা আসে তাদের উপর ও হিংসা প্রয়োগ অনেক ঘটেছে।  যৌন নির্যাতন করেছে পুলিশ, আধা-সামরিক বাহিনী; জাতের ইজ্জত রক্ষার নামে তথাকথিত স্থানীয় পঞ্চায়েত। তাই রিঙ্কু দাসের উপর আক্রমণ এক বিশেষ ঘটনা নিশ্চয়ই, কিন্তু এক ধারাবাহিক ইতিহাসের অংশও বটে।  বানতলা থেকে বারাসাত হয়ে সাঁকরাইল দেখাচ্ছে, ভোটসর্বস্ব রাজনৈতিক দলেরা এর বিরুদ্ধে প্রতিরোধ করে না, কেবল অপর রাজনৈতিক দলের নামে গর্জন করতে থাকে। তাই তৃণমূল কংগ্রেস রিঙ্কু দাসের ঘটনা নিয়ে ফয়দা তুলতে চায়, কিন্তু তাদেরই পৌরপ্রধান বলে, এই ঘটনা রাজীবের কপালে ছিল।

    রাজীব দাসের হত্যাকারীদের দৃষ্টান্তমূলক শাস্তি চাই
    সমস্ত যৌন নির্যাতনকারীদের বিরুদ্ধে অবিলম্বে আইনী পদক্ষেপ নিতে হবে
    যৌন নির্যাতনের অভিযোগ যাঁরা করেছেন তাঁদের নিরাপত্তার ব্যবস্থা করতে হবে
    প্রস্তাবিত যৌন নির্যাতন প্রতিরোধ আইনে অপ্রমাণিত অভিযোগের ক্ষেত্রে অভিযোগকারিণীর বিরুদ্ধে শাস্তির প্রস্তাব খারিজ করতে হবে
    প্রস্তাবিত যৌন নির্যাতন প্রতিরোধ আইনের আওতায় গৃহপরিচারিকাদের আনতে হবে
    মেয়েদের যে কোনো সময়ে নির্ভয়ে পথে হাঁটার পরিবেশ গড়তে হবে
    যৌন নির্যাতন রোখার দায় রাষ্ট্রের। তাই যৌন নির্যাতন ঘটলে পুলিশ, প্রশাসন, সর্বস্তরের পদাধিকারীদের শাস্তি দিতে হবে

সভার স্থান : বুদ্ধদেব বসু সভাঘর
তারিখ : ২৮ মার্চ                                                                           সময় : ২-৩০ থেকে
অংশ নেবেন বিভিন্ন ছাত্র সংগঠনের প্রতিনিধিরা  । সঞ্চালক  :  সোমা মারিক
র্যা ডিকাল পত্রিকার পক্ষে মিহির ভোসলে কর্তৃক প্রচারিত

Radical magazine's leaflet on 28 March Programme on Sexual Assault and Violence in West Bengal

Sexual Assault: How Unique was the Assault on Rinku Das and the Murder of Rajib Das?

Discussion organized by Radical magazine

What, one might wonder, is left of women’s empowerment in a country where a woman is the President, a woman is the leader of the ruling party, a woman is the speaker of the Lok Sabha, and in a province where a woman is the leading oppisition politician, tipped by the media to be the incoming Chief Minister? But in that country, in that province, Rinku Das was sought to be sexually assaulted and for protesting that, her sixteen year old brother Rajib Das was brutally murdered. And shortly after that, the CPI daily Kalantar, an organ of a ruling front partner, announced through an article in its weekly Women’s World page, that women are more insecure in Delhi than in Kolkata, and women protest more in Kolkata. But what is the reality behind such comparative assessment aiming to trivialise the issue and claiming that sexual harassment is rare in West Bengal?

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, data for 2009-10 shows that whereas West Bengal had 7.6 per cent of the country’s population, the state’s share of crimes against women was over 11 per cent. A significant part of these crimes were sexual assault and rape. Citing comparative statistics that prove that assault on women are slightly lower in India than perhaps in some other country, or that the situation in West Bengal is slightly better, according to NCRB, than in Andhra Pradesh, hardly bring solace to the assaulted women.

Beyond such general comments, specific questions remain. Who was responsible for the assault on Rinku Das and the murder of Rajib? Of course certain criminals. But why could they act with impunity? The first answer is, the inaction of the state. Even those ardent devotees of neoliberalism who stress that the state must spend no money on welfare measures, at least insist that law and order maintenance is the responsibility of the state. No law code says that the duties of the state with respect to ensuring public security will remain adjourned from 10 PM to 6 AM. Then why has the state virtually abdicated its responsibility in such matters? Class analysis alone provides a meaningful answer. The state spends billions for Operation Green Hunt. It does so, not because Maoists indulge in “politics of violence”, but because in the name of hunting Maoists, the state can silence all forms of adivasi protest while it aids big corporations such as Vedanta to loot mineral wealth at extremely low cost. It must be kept in mind that till 2004, P. Chidambaram was actually a Director of the Vedanta group. In other words – billions for the security of capitalist profit, not a paisa for the security of Rinku and Rajib Das. And the state as well as central government, the UPA as well as the Left Front, accept this policy.
But it is not the state alone that is guilty. The “civil” elements of the self proclaimed civil society of West Bengal, with their patriarchal values, are also responsible. Otherwise, why did the Home Secrretary dare to announce to the media that Rinku Das is a divorcee? So, she was not a “proper, decent lady”, and hence a little sexual assault would not be amiss.

Another question to be answered is, why should Rinku, and so many women like her, have to return home at such late hours? The answer lies in globalization and the changing structure of world capitalism. With call centres and other places keeping time to the clocks in New York, Chicago or San Francisco, people work odd hours in Kolkata, Bangalore or other Indian cities. This new working class gets neither security nor job security.

We said that this incident was not unique. Assaults occur frequently and on all sorts of women – the aged and the young. And then they are routinely blamed by the patriarchal rulers and dominant groups. Why was she not thoroughly covered? Why was she out so late? Why was she out walking alone?

And though the actual murder of a Rajib Das, a Sergeant Bapi Sen, may not happen every day, violence is ever present as an adjunct of sexual harassment and rape. People who protest routinely get beaten up. Sexual assaults have been committed by the police, by para-military forces, by so-called community panchayats in the name of protecting the prestige of the community, by any number of people. So each incident, like the assault on Rinku Das, is unique, but each is also part of a connected narrative of violence. From Bantola to Barasat to Sankrail, electopral parties have revealed themselves to be people who do not resist the core issues but merely point fingers at the other parties for electoral gain. That is why, the Trinamul Congress shouts at the CPI(M), but TMC municipal chairperson of Barasat declares that death was written on Rajib’s forehead.

•    Ensure exemplary punishment for Rajib Das’ killers
•    Punish the guilty of all sexual assault cases
•    Provide security for those who complain about sexual assault
•    In the proposed Sexual Assault Bill, scrap the provision for punishing the accuser if the charge cannot be proved
•    Include domestic workers in the proposed Sexual Assault Bill
•    Create an atmosphere that makes it possible for women to walk in public places without fear at any time
•    Preventing sexual assaults is the duty of the state. So punish law keepers, bureaucrats, at all levels, if they fail to do their duty

Venue: Buddhadeb Bose Sabhaghar

Date: 28 March                                                                Time: 2-30 PM

Speakers: Representatives of student organisations

Moderator: Soma Marik

Issued by Mihir Bhosale for Radical