Do governments “callously and deliberately neglect” food producers to avoid alienating corporate party funders?
Ms Truss, the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, says British farming is one of the Government’s key successes – though farmers are taking their own lives at a rate of one a week, according to many sources, though officialdom is reticent about this.
The Times of India reports that Maharashtra’s farmer suicide count in the six-month span from January to June this year stood at 1,300 cases, the state’s revenue department figures show.
Respected analyst Devinder Sharma points out that indebtedness and bankruptcy tops the reasons behind these suicides; followed by family problems and farming related issues. In both countries the authorities try to evade the real issue and blame the availability of shotguns, pesticides and so on.
Snapshots from a presentation to the UN summarises the real reasons:
British and Indian governments daren’t offend the party funding middlemen and corporate end-buyers who – without lifting a finger – profit from the food produced at the expense of the hard-working producers who are often obliged to sell at a loss.
More respect from the new Greek government
At least – the Financial Times points out – in Greece, Syriza is allowing some leeway to those producing the most essential goods. They are refusing to increase the financial burdens on farmers, who at present pay 13% per cent income tax, compared with the general 25% rate, and receive special treatment for fuel and fertiliser expenses.
With 12.4% of the country’s labour force employed in producing food and cotton and a thriving fishing industry, the new Greece government is showing some grasp of essentials and priorities – would that the British and Indian governments showed similar respect for their most important workers.
Suicide: Britain bleats about Fairtrade, denies its own farmers & puts no fairly traded milk in its Fairtrade coffee
So large are the number of farmer suicides that Max Kutner of Newsweek (April 10, 2014) has called it an international crisis. He reports that in the U.K. one farmer a week commits suicide.
Indian analyst Devinder Sharma points outs today that a farmer does not primarily need credit, he needs income: “Successive governments have deliberately kept him poor”. Britain struggled for 15 years for a Groceries Adjudicator which now cannot and does not help at all. British farmers are forced to sell perishable produce at a loss, to bolster supermarket profits. Some family members work without pay and some farmers and their wives take second jobs to cover the shortfall. Many solutions/palliatives are offered by authorities funded to help, amongst them:
- focus on exports
- raise productivity
- enabling easier access to credit
- adoption of different technologies
- more careful handing of pesticides
- remove guns from farms
- making counselling available
None work. The consumer pays a fair price for food, but it doesn’t reach the farmer, who needs a just return from those who buy his produce – the processor or supermarket – and decent insurance against crop failure. –
Global business interests downplayed surprise Delhi election results: they desperately need the corporate-friendly Narendra Modi as India’s prime minister.
The recent state elections were reported here as a victory for Modi supporters, but – thanks only to a lead from analyst Devinder Sharma – the writer read about the success of Aam Aadmi, or Common Man Party, also known as A.A.P.
Why are they entering politics?
The AAP website records that for the past two years millions of common Indians came out on streets to fight against the biggest evil in our country today – corruption.
It continues: “The current system of polity does not allow honest politicians to function. Our aim in entering politics is not to come to power; we have entered politics to change the current corrupt and self-serving system of politics forever. So that no matter who comes to power in the future, the system is strong enough to withstand corruption at any level of governance”.
Founded only a year ago, the AAP came a close second to the BJP in the capital, depriving the BJP of a majority and leaving Congress with only a handful of seats. AAP members wearing their trademark white caps with the slogan “I’m an ordinary person” celebrated in the streets by waving the party symbol – brooms, used by India’s street cleaners. They won 28 out of 70 seats in the Delhi elections, after only a few months of vigorous campaigning on the promise of combating corruption.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, an IIT educated engineer and former tax collector, gained twice as many votes as Sheila Dikshit, the state’s long-serving Congress chief minister and winning her seat in New Delhi. He met Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and discussed the party’s role in a Delhi government.
The Financial Times has covered the elections well. It reports: “Mr Kejriwal’s party depends largely on small donations from ordinary citizens, and one candidate, Ms Shazia Ilmi describes how she tried to dissuade a fruit vendor on the street from donating the relatively large sum of Rs500 ($8). “I said, ‘It’s too much,’ I felt guilty, and he said, ‘Look, I have to give Rs500 [in protection money] to every policeman.’
The FT’s Victor Mallet in New Delhi explained AAP’s need to persuade voters that the ballot is secret, that those receiving food subsidies will not lose them if they vote AAP, and that it is worth voting for a new party with few resources.
The New York Times reports that Rakhi Birla, its youngest candidate at 26, was born and raised in the low-income neighbourhood of Mangolpuri and, as a former television reporter, had no political experience.
Through her publicly funded party, Rakhi Birla ran against millionaire politician Raj Kumar Chauhan, 56, who joined politics in 1976 and had won four consecutive elections since 1993 for the Indian National Congress, which also leads the governing coalition of the central government.
Her victory of over 10,000 votes stunned many political observers. Arvind Kejriwal, the Aam Aadmi Party leader who defeated the three-term chief minister Sheila Dikshit of the Congress Party by over 20,000 votes, cited Ms. Birla’s win as a shining example of the spirit of their politics.
Kejriwal, “When the common man rises up, the thrones of a lot of powerful people will be rocked; some of those thrones have been broken today”
Ms. Birla dismissed any credit for her big victory. “People didn’t vote for me; they voted for the broom,” she said, referring to her party’s symbol, which signals a sweeping away of corruption and the old order.
Global business interests flourish only when there is a corporate political nexus formed by individuals and their family members passing backwards and forwards through the revolving door.
Aam Aadmi is not playing that game.
The average citizen ‘bears the brunt’ – yet again – while the rich enjoy an ongoing ‘subsidy bonanza’
The preamble to Devinder Sharma’s blog sets his messages in context:
This is what made me begin on a journey in search for the abandoned path to equity, justice and sustainability. My journey begins with the fundamentals — food, agriculture and hunger.
He returns to another aspect of the mainline economic thinking and practice which has added to global problems
Some years back he detailed the agricultural subsidies given to the rich and powerful in the European Union and the United States.
Sharma approves the concept of farm subsidies for ‘hands-on’ food producers, to ensure a reasonable standard of living for farmers, countering market manipulation of prices and the vagaries of the climate, but wonders how the subsidy bonanza to the rich and wealthy in the name of farmers can be justified:
”Here is the earlier analysis, published by Sharing the World’s Resources — Farm subsidies: The report card (http://www.stwr.org/imf-world-bank-trade/farm-subsidies-the-report-card.html).
”At a time when the economy is faced with recession, and country after country is resorting to austerity cuts, I find no mention of restricting farm subsidies. Specially after the economic meltdown of 2008-09, I had expected the industrialised countries to cut farm support to the wealthy and divert the precious financial resources to creating employment opportunities. With this intention, I thought of doing a reality check.
“No, nothing has changed”.
Three cases are mentioned:
- One of the richest people in Britain – the Duke of Westminster — received £6m during the same period.
- Sir Richard Sutton, who features in the Times Rich List, still got £1.9m in farm subsidies.
- The Queen is reported to have received a subsidy of £7m in the past ten years (http://bit.ly/A8TSTw).
”Well, the message is loud and clear. For the rich and powerful, life goes on as usual.
“Whether it is economic recession or depression, the rich remain untouched.
“It is only the average citizen who has to bear the brunt and be prepared to rough it out”.