KISAN SWARAJ YATRA

“KISAN SWARAJ YATRA”

‘Kisan Ki mazbooti mein hi desh ki mazbooti’

‘Krishi Bache, Kisan Bache, Desh bache’

An outreach effort across India towards self-reliant, ecological farming and for securing farming communities’ rights

Jal, Jangal, Zameen aur BEEJ (Water, Forest, Land & SEED) – the basic common resources that have always belonged to people who acted as the resource-savers and resource-keepers – are in great jeopardy today. These are the basic resources which are pre-requisites for the sustainable livelihoods of millions of Indians. Along with these resources, the very lives of our fellow citizens are perched precariously, mired in unconscionable poverty, hunger, lack of basic rights and any assertive power.

While unsuitable (market-driven, anti-nature, ‘treadmill’) technologies have degraded and contaminated these resources over the decades, a more basic concern is around the appropriation of these resources by the State and commercial interests, posing a serious question on the fundamental rights for all citizens of India and on the very vision (or lack of it) for Sustainable Development for all. It is no surprise that we are all a witness to thousands of farmers committing suicides, given that key members of our government articulate a vision that would like to see only 15% of Indians in rural areas soon!

It is a matter of shame that in a country where nearly 70% of the population is still connected with farming and food production, rural hunger and starvation is also very high. Worse, the people who are producing food to feed the entire nation are committing suicides in lakhs and are demoralized with their self-respect being eroded constantly, while the industry and sections of the government are gloating about the business opportunities presented by agriculture in India! As we are conversing, the largest displacement ever in our history is happening from agriculture….., with not even basic social security assured for those who are fleeing and are being displaced.

Increasing corporatisation of basic resources, through pro-industry, anti-farmer policies, regulatory frameworks and by conferring legal rights to industry in the form of exclusive rights like IPRs over life forms, the government is violating the apriori rights of our farmers over resources like Seed. Further, the willful policies of the government to undervalue the contribution of agriculture and farmers through various mechanisms need to be questioned and addressed squarely.

In this era of neo-colonisation, it is increasingly obvious that the new ways of controlling a whole nation and its sovereignty center around Food & Farming. It is anticipated that one of the main ways that the proverbial last nail would be put in is through the entry of GM seeds.

Bt Brinjal, the first GM food crop sought to be introduced in India has been stopped on its juggernaut towards our dinner plates for now. However, the initial regulatory approval and the opposition to the moratorium decision after February 9th 2010 actually showed the nation and the world how the pro-GM lobby will go to any extent to bypass citizens’ democratic voices and ram these unwanted technologies down our throats. There were even official proposals of imprisoning GM critics through a new statutory regime in the form of the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) in addition to wanting to curb the constitutional authority of state governments which are increasingly asserting their right to remain GM-Free, under pressure from people.

On another front, the movement of ecological farming, to reduce the risks of small and marginal farmers of the country, to shift them to greater food security and sovereignty and to make farming viable for them again, is gaining strength in various states across the country. However, this continues to be an upstream effort given that the ‘powers that be’ with their neo-liberal mindsets would rather opt for commerce-driven intensive agriculture models even as this contributes to climate change and makes farmers more vulnerable to this phenomenon and even after such intensive models have shown their negative impacts on the social, economic and environmental front in states like Punjab already.

It is in this context that an outreach tour across India called “Kisan Swaraj Yatra” is being proposed, to cover at least 15 states of the country. The Kisan Swaraj Yatra will be organized by the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture, a loose network of all those individuals and organizations that believe that the way forward for Indian agriculture and farmers is that of sustainable agriculture, that will conserve and improve farmers’ livelihoods and resources, even as it addresses consumer needs.

This Swaraj Yatra seeks to remind all Indians about our hard-won independence and the insidious manner in which neo-colonial powers in the form of big agri-business MNCs, often times hidden behind their Indian avatars including public sector institutions and behind huge charitable organisations, are threatening such independence. Hundred years after Hind Swaraj where an admirable vision for a sui generis kind of development of India was proposed, based on our ethos, resources and conditions and decades after many freedom fighters became martyrs in pursuit of independence from control and subjugation by others, India appears to be truly on its way to neo-colonisation unless this is resisted strongly by all of us.

As can be widely seen, the mode of control is now through Seed and other related agricultural technologies, to control our food and farming systems and to profiteer on the ever-expanding huge markets available. In this greedy profiteering, though the “Farmer” is used as an excuse, it is apparent that this is about destruction of farmers and farming as we have always known in India. It is about appropriating people’s resources like land and seed.

This control is already being experienced in farmers’ rights in statutory frameworks being narrowed down constantly, the de-skilling of their knowledge and the discounting of their contribution, the appropriation of their resources and the impoverishment that they are being subjected to…..

This Yatra sees GM seeds as a danger to be resisted in itself (given its many adverse implications on farmers, consumers and our environment) as well as a symbol of this new colonization, which needs to be resisted. We see this as the “Salt” of our new war of independence, for communities to reclaim their resources, knowledge, livelihoods and lives.

Kisan Swaraj Yatra will focus on telling the truth, based on the philosophy of “Satyameva Jayate”. The truth about the macro-agricultural policies, the truth about technologies like GM seeds and the situation in India at present, the truth about MNCs like Monsanto, the truth about the public sector institutions that we are supporting with our tax money, the truth about other unsustainable technologies like synthetic pesticides, the truth about corporate and contract farming and most importantly, the truth about ecological farming as the only way forward. The Yatra will also highlight the fact that in this age of appropriation of people’s natural resources for corporate greed, the only way to attain sustainable development for all is to stop such an appropriation.

In addition to farmers who have suffered with GM seeds/pesticides/fertilizers/agro-fuels/appropriation of their land and other resources sharing their stories of woes, the Yatra will have successful and experienced ecological farmers sharing their knowledge and views throughout the yatra, reaching out to fellow farmers and consumers with a message of “Swaraj” in our food and farming. The Yatra will have citizens asserting their right to informed choices with regard to something as basic as food. This will also have “experts” seeking to demystify the real implications of corporate-science-driven “modern technologies” and would seek to democratize science & technology debates in the country; further, activists and others would analyse the various policies and developments at the macro-level and present various pertinent issues for debate and discussion. This is a platform where all citizens concerned with what is happening to our food and farming will have space to join and take part in asserting their rights. While the Yatra will also create a platform for state governments which want to assert their constitutional authority over agriculture and health as State subjects, it will also attempt to get those governments which are still viewing this issue from a distance to take a firm pro-people stance on the side of sustainable development for all citizens.

The Yatra will commence on 2nd October 2010, on Gandhi Jayanti from Sabarmati in Gujarat and will end on 11 December 2010 in Delhi, after traversing through Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana.

The Yatra will have exhibitions, seed diversity and organic food festivals, public meetings, rallies, film screenings, cycle yatras, street plays, direct actions, lobbying meetings, press conferences and ‘skillshares’ on its mission of “Swaraj”.

Margadarshak Mandal:

Anupam Mishra (Gandhi Marg), Bhaskar bhai Save (renowned natural farmer), Chennaiah P. (National Agricultural Workers’ Forum), Dayamani Barla (Adivasi Moolvasi Asthitva Raksha Manch), Dr B D Sharma (Bharat Jan Andolan), Dr Banwari Lal Sharma (Azadi Bachao Andolan), Dr Claude Alvares (Organic Farming Association of India), Dr Inderjit Kaur (All India Pingalwara Society), Dr Jagmohan Singh (Association for Democratic Rights), Medha Patkar (National Alliance for People’s Movements), N D Patil (farmers’ leader), Omkar Chand (Servants’ Society of India), Radha behn Bhatt (Gandhi Peace Foundation), Rashida Bee & Champa Devi Shukla (Goldman Prize winners), Shubhmoorty (Bhoodan Samiti), Vijay Pratap (Lokayan)

“Protect our Rights & Resources,

Say NO to GMOs & Chemical Pesticides,

Bring in Ecological Farming,

Save Farmers”

Abhi nahin to kabhi nahin…(If not now, never..)

COME, JOIN THE YATRA!

TO FIND OUT MORE ON THE EXACT ROUTE AND EVENTS DURING THE YATRA GO TO THE NEXT FEW PAGES.

TO FIND OUT VARIOUS WAYS IN WHICH YOU CAN JOIN AND SUPPORT THIS, READ THE ATTACHED APPEAL…..

JAI KISAN!

“KISAN SWARAJ YATRA”

YATRA’S ROUTE ACROSS INDIA

Date Event at: Night Stay at
GUJARAT: CONTACT KAPIL SHAH: 094-270-54132 or jatantrust@gmail.com
October 2, Sat Sabarmati, Ahmedabad Mehsana
October 3, Sun Mehsana/Surendranagar Saila
October 4, Mon Bharuch Bharuch
October 5, Tue Dahod Dahod
October 6, Wed (field visit to farmers) Raipuria in Jhabua
October 7, Thu REST, in Raipuria Raipuria
MADHYA PRADESH: CONTACT NILESH DESAI: 094-253-29222 or ndesai52@gmail.com; JAYANT VERMA: 094-251-51871 or vermaj51@gmail.com
October 8, Fri Petlawad Raipuria in Jhabua
October 9, Sat Indore Bhopal
October 10, Sun Bhopal Jabalpur
October 11, Mon Jabalpur Jabalpur
October 12, Tue REST/ DAY TRAVEL Nagpur
MAHARASHTRA: CONTACT AARTI PANKHARAJ: 094-224-60587 or aarti_pan23ngp@yahoo.co.in
October 13, Wed Nagpur/ Sewagram Sewagram (leave for Akola early morning)
October 14, Thu Akola Jalna
October 15, Fri Jalna Ralegaon Siddhi
October 16, Sat Ralegaon Siddhi Mumbai
October 17, Sun Mumbai Mumbai
October 18, Mon TRAVEL TO GOA Goa
GOA: CONTACT MIGUEL BRAGANZA: +91-832-2255913 or myofai@gmail.com
October 19, Tue Goa Goa
October 20, Wed Goa Dharwad
KARNATAKA: CONTACT KRISHNA PRASAD: 098-808-62058 or sahajasamrudha@gmail.com
October 21, Thu Dharwad Haveri
October 22, Fri Haveri Bangalore
October 23, Sat Bangalore Mysore
October 24, Sun Mysore & HD Kote Mysore/HD Kote
October 25, Mon REST/DAY TRAVEL TO KASARAGOD Kasaragod
KERALA: CONTACT SRIDHAR: 099-953-58205 or mail.thanal@gmail.com
October 26, Tue Kasaragod/Kannur Calicut
October 27, Wed Kozhikode Calicut
October 28, Thu Malappuram Palghat
October 29, Fri Palghat Coimbatore
TAMIL NADU: CONTACT SELVAM RAMASWAMY: 094-436-63562 or organicerode@gmail.com and KANNAIYAN: 094-449-89543 or sukannaiyan69@gmail.com and VICTOR: 094-860-86938
October 30, Sat Coimbatore Erode
October 31, Sun Erode/Trichy Kumbakonam?
Nov. 1, Mon Pondicherry Chennai
Nov. 2, Tue Chennai Chennai
Nov. 3, 4, 5, 6 (Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat) DIWALI BREAK Chennai uptil 6th morning; 6th night in Anantapur
ANDHRA PRADESH: CONTACT RAMOO: 090-006-99702 or ramoo@csa-india.org and KIRAN VISSA: 097-017-05743 or kiranvissa@gmail.com
Nov. 7, Sun Anantapur Hyderabad
Nov. 8, Mon Hyderabad Vijayawada (night driving)
Nov. 9, Tue Vijayawada Visakhapatnam (night driving)
Nov. 10, Wed Srikakulam Berhampur
ORISSA: CONTACT DEBJEET SARANGI: 099-385-82616 OR livingfarms@gmail.com and SAROJ MOHANTY: 097-771-54149 and S CHANDRASEKHAR: 09437973831  schandrashekar@siddharthvillage.org or BINAYAK SWAIN: 098-611-12338 or batnet97@hotmail.com
Nov. 11, Thu Berhampur Bhubaneswar
Nov. 12, Fri Bhubaneswar Bhubaneswar
Nov. 13, Sat TRAVEL TO REACH RAIPUR Raipur
CHATTISGARH: CONTACT JACOB NELLITHANAM: 094-255-60950 OR farmersrights@gmail.com
Nov. 14, Sun Raipur Sambalpur
Nov. 15, Mon Sambhalpur Baripada, Mayurbhanj dist.
Nov. 16, Tue Baripada/Mayurbhanj dist Baripada, Mayurbhanj dist.
Nov. 17, Wed REST/TRAVEL, East Medinipur Kunthia, East Medinipur
WEST BENGAL: CONTACT ANSHUMAN DAS: 094-330-79847 or dasanshuman@yahoo.com
Nov. 18, Thu East Medinipur Kolkata
Nov. 19, Fri Kolkatta Shantiniketan
Nov. 20, Sat Shantiniketan Dhanbad
JHARKHAND: CONTACT PANKAJ BHUSHAN: 094-729-99999 or mail.tarafoundation@gmail.com
Nov. 21, Sun Dhanbad Patna
BIHAR: CONTACT PANKAJ BHUSHAN: 094-729-99999 or mail.tarafoundation@gmail.com
Nov. 22, Mon Patna Muzaffarpur
Nov. 23, Tue Muzaffarpur & Samastipur Champaran
Nov. 24, Wed Champaran Gorakhpur
UTTAR PRADESH: CONTACT DHARMENDAR MALIK: 092-196-91168 or bku.tikait@gmail.com and UTKARSH SINHA: 099-357-36877 OR utkarshks@gmail.com
Nov. 25, Thu Gorakhpur/Basti Varanasi
Nov. 26, Fri Varanasi/Sultanpur Lucknow
Nov. 27, Sat Lucknow Lucknow
Nov. 28, Sun Bareilly/Moradabad Moradabad
UTTARAKHAND: CONTACT BIJU NEGI: 097-604-21947 or negi.biju@gmail.com
Nov. 29, Mon Haridwar Haridwar
Nov. 30, Tue Roorkee/Saharanpur Saharanpur
*HARYANA: CONTACT UMENDRA DUTT
Dec. 1, Wed Kurukshetra/Ambala Nahan
*HIMACHAL PRADESH: CONTACT KULBHUSHAN UPMANYU: 09418412853 or kbupmanyu@gmail.com
Dec. 2, Thu Nahan/Solan Chandigarh
PUNJAB: CONTACT UMENDRA DUTT: 098-726-82161 or umendradutt@gmail.com
Dec. 3, Fri Chandigarh/Ludhiana Ludhiana
Dec. 4, Sat Patiala/Sangrur Bathinda
RAJASTHAN: CONTACT RANA: 094-141-33141 OR mlpctrust@gmail.com
Dec. 5, Sun Bathinda & Hanumangarh Bikaner
Dec. 6, Mon Bikaner Bikaner
Dec. 7, Tue Jodhpur (by afternoon) Jodhpur
Dec. 8, Wed Beawar/Ajmer Jaipur
Dec. 9, Thu Jaipur Jaipur
HARYANA: CONTACT SUNDERLAL: 099-960-22534 or scriakhori@yahoo.co.in
Dec. 10, Fri Rewari Rewari
DELHI: CONTACT NAYANI: 099-997-78674 OR nasa.nayani@gmail.com or Gautam at: g_agarwala1@yahoo.com or YUDHVIR SINGH: 098-994-35968
Dec. 11, Sat Delhi Delhi

* : Two parallel teams in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh at the same time

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