Important Movements in India - Farmers Movement

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Notes

Farmers movement:

  • Most people in India reside in rural areas (69 percent, according to the 2011 Census). They are employed in agriculture or occupations that are mainly associated with it. Thus, Agriculture is more than just a source of livelihood in rural India. It is a way of life as well. Our agrarian roots can be seen in many of our cultural customs and patterns.
  • Cultivating castes were not the actual landowners throughout the Precolonial Period. Instead, the land was ruled by groups that were typically Kshatriya or members of other upper castes, such as the local kings or other politically influential figures in their regions. They had to get a sizable percentage of the harvest from the peasants or cultivators who worked the land. Most taxes were paid in crops and based on the production of the land. Taxes were either eliminated or reduced during drought.
  • During the British Colonial Period in the 18th and 19th centuries, social struggles against British brutality included peasant movements. 
  • These movements only existed to bring back previous systems of societal order and governance.
  • The farmer's movements were inspired by the thoughts of Mahatma Phule, Justice Ranade, and Mahatma Gandhi.

Causes of Peasant movements:

  1. During the British colonization of India, the introduction of the new land revenue system and the alteration of the agricultural structure as a result of colonial economic policies were all significant factors in the impoverishment of the Indian peasantry.
  2. The overcrowding of the land due to the destruction of the handicraft industry.
  3. In the Zamindari system, the zamindars took as much output or money as they could from the cultivators while the colonists imposed strict land revenue on agriculture. During a large portion of the British era, agricultural production stagnated or even decreased as a result of the zamindari system. For the population was destroyed by frequent famines and wars, and tyrannical landlords and peasants fled.
  4. The colonial administration worked directly with the farmers or landowners under the Ryotwari system. For the purpose of paying high land taxes levied by the colonial government, the "actual cultivators" were exploited. Fearing he would lose his only source of income, the overburdened farmer frequently went to the local moneylender. afterward demanded extortionate interest rates on the money lent, taking full advantage of the former situation.
  5. In some situations, desperate peasants turned to crime to get away from unpleasant circumstances. Dacoity, social banditry, and robbery were among these offenses.

Important Peasant movements:

Vallabhbhai with Bardoli Satyagrahis

1. Bardoli Satyagraha:

  • Location: Bardoli Taluka, Gujarat
  • Leader: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
  • Bardoli taluka experienced financial difficulties in 1925. Despite petitions from civic groups, the Bombay Presidency administration increased the tax rate by 30% that year.
  • Following the peasant satyagraha campaign, the British administration opted to hike taxes by only 6.03%. However, the fundamental issues facing the peasants remained unresolved.

2. Champaran Satyagrah:

  • Location: Champaran Districts, Bihar
  • Leader: Mahatma Gandhi
  • Indigo planters in Bengal exploited local peasants by making them produce indigo on their estates rather than more valuable crops like rice.
  • The planters compelled the peasants to sign false contracts and accept advance payments, which were later turned against them.
  • The British government give the verdict that indigo cultivation could not be pushed upon ryots, and only the law would be used to settle any conflicts.

Deccan Riots

3. Deccan Riots, 1857:

  • Location: Maharashtra
  • The peasant was imprisoned in a vicious network of moneylenders in Western India under the Ryotwari system, which imposed a heavy tax load.
  • The situation worsened as a result of the government's decision to boost land revenue by 50% in 1867, a decrease in cotton prices following the end of the American Civil War in 1864, and a run of unsuccessful harvests.
  • As tensions between the moneylenders and the peasants grew, a social boycott movement developed into agrarian riots that included systematic attacks on the homes and businesses of the moneylenders.
  • The Deccan Agriculturists Relief Act was passed in 1879 as a conciliation measure.
  • The Maharashtrian modern nationalist intellectuals like backed the cause of the peasants.

Green revolution and its Social Consequences:

  • As you are aware, the government implemented a programme to modernize agriculture called the Green Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • The use of new technologies seemed to be causing inequities in rural society. Because the crops of the Green Revolution were so profitable, farmers who had access to land, money, technology, and expertise, as well as those who could invest in new seeds and fertilizers, could improve their output and raise their income. However, it frequently resulted in the eviction of tenant farmers.
  • The ultimate outcome of the Green Revolution was a process of ‘differentiation’, in which the rich grew richer and many of the poor stagnated or grew poorer.

Demands of the farmer's movement: The appropriate price for agricultural products, agriculture to be treated as an industry, implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, debt relief, debt cancellation, and national policy for agriculture are some of the demands of the farmer's movement.

Famous farmer's organizations in India: Shetkari Sanghatana, Bharatiya Kisan Union, All India Kisan Sabha.

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