Saturday, September 22, 2012

First Krishna Khopkar Memorial Lecture delivered

The first Krishna Khopkar Memorial Lecture, organised by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), was held in Nashik on the 15th September 2012, Saturday. The memorial lecture was delivered by Professor V. K. Ramachandran, Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. Professor Ramachandran spoke on "Resolving the Agrarian Question in India".

After paying rich homages to Comrade Krishna Khopkar, Ramachandran spoke on "Resolving the Agrarian Question in India". He said that the agrarian question continues to be the foremost national question before the people of India. This question had deeply influenced selfless leaders of the kisan movement like Krishna Khopkar through their life. The significance of the agrarian question in India lies not merely in the fact that more than 70 per cent of India’s population lives in rural areas (an important reason in itself), but in the fact that the agrarian question is the axis of the people’s democratic revolution, and its overwhelming significance will remain as long as the people’s democratic phase continues.

When India gained Independence 63 years ago, the major economic problems of the newly independent nation could be characterised thus: hundreds of millions of India’s people lived in the depths of income poverty, in conditions of hunger, illiteracy, lack of schooling, avoidable disease, and subject to what were among the worst forms of class, caste, and gender oppression in the world. The truly appalling feature of more than six decades of independent development is that that characterisation of India’s economic problems remains true even today. The basic reason is clear: modern historical experience has shown us that no fundamental transformation of conditions of poverty and oppression in Indian society is possible without a resolution of its agrarian question.

He explained that to solve the agrarian question today is to address seven major issues: 1) to free the countryside of all forms of landlordism, old and new; 2) to free the working peasantry and manual workers from their present fetters of unfreedom and drudgery and to guarantee them the means of income and livelihood; 3) to redistribute agricultural land; 4) to provide the rural working people with house-sites, and basic, clean, sanitary homes and habitations; 5) to create the conditions for the liberation of the people of the scheduled castes and tribes, of women, and other victims of sectional deprivation (including in most parts of India, the rural Muslim population); 6) to ensure universal formal school education; 7) to achieve the general democratisation of life and progressive cultural development in rural India.