Brief description of Indian movements
participating in the ICC
The Karnataka Rajysa Raitha Sangha (KRRS,
Karnataka State Farmers' Association) is the biggest movement of
small and medium farmers and landless labourers in India. It was
launched in 1980 and today several million peasants are organised in
KRRS. The KRRS plays a key-role not only in mobilising people in the
Indian state Karnataka but also at national level (bringing
movements together in networks such as JAFIP and BKU) and in
international networking (through Via Campesina and Peoples Global
KRRS has a clear concept of direct action and civil disobedience. Members of the KRRS can go for election, but only when voted and financed by their constituency. Any form of alliances is rejected. The proposal of KRRS for an alternative model of development is based on the gandhian concept of "village republic", which they see as the only way to bring the power and decision-making about political, technological and economic issues in the hand of people. All issues should be solved on the same level on which the people are affected by it.
KRRS receives neither foreign funds nor any financial support from any party, state or government. All the money required comes from the members of KRRS. It is collected on village level for the own organisational needs - the villages finance the district level, the districts finance the state level. During demonstrations money is collected as well.
The Bharat Kishan Union has its roots in the south-indian state of Tamil
Nadu when farmers started to organise themselves in the end of the 70s. After that several farmers' movements in different states, especially in the North of India, came up as BKU-units and in the middle of the 80s the Indian Farmers Association was formed. For the first time landowning peasantry and landless workers came together with similar demands:
The reason was the "Green
Revolution", that caused a fundamental change in the structure
The process of liberalisation and especially the introduction of the "New Economic Policy" by the Indian government under the dictate of the IMF was (and still is) having such a huge impact on the agricultural sector, that in some states the BKU has developed a political standpoint on this process: rejection of Free Trade and of the international institutions which are pushing the liberalisation-process forward. Instead of being dependent on export and the world market the agricultural sector has to emphasise self-sufficiency and traditional forms of cultivation. This didn't find the agreement of all movements organised in the BKU.
A group around Sharad Joshi, one of the
leaders of the Shetkari Sangathan, left BKU: They are in favour of
Free Trade and liberalisation and want the state to get out of the
economy, because they think farmers would get a better deal from the
market than from the state. In an unrestricted competition the
Indian agricultural sector -according to them- would gain high
benefits on the world market.
Today, the BKU is increasingly adopting a policy of confrontation and
intensifying the attempt to strengthen the voice of the resisting
peasantry. Through participation in the "Joint Action Forum of Indian
People" (JAFIP, see below) they are in a network together with
labourer-movements, marxist movements and other radical leftists in
The "Joint Action Forum of Indian
People against the WTO and Anti-People-Policy" (JAFIP) was
launched in April/May 1998 with a convention and a big demonstration
in Hyderabad demanding India's withdrawal from the WTO.
It is probably the biggest forum of people's movements against the WTO today and it has the capacity to grow bigger and stronger, because movements from quite different sectors of the society in India are coming together in this forum and are mobilising and campaigning under a common declaration. They realised that the liberalisation process and the incorporation of India into the global market is a threat to all of them.
The Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement) was formed in the middle of the 80s to fight against the "Narmada Development Project", which comprises the construction of 30 big, hundreds of medium and thousands of small dams along the river Narmada, crossing the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharastra.
NBA formed a new way of environmental
Through confrontational direct actions, like blockades and hungerstrikes, combined with international support, NBA forced the Worldbank in 1993 to pull out of the Sardar Sardovar project, one of the biggest dams in the whole "Narmada Development Project".
Unfortunately the Indian government continued the project on its own and built up the dam to a height of 80 metres. Only through intensifying the resistance and taking the risk of getting submerged ("Nobody will move, the dam will not be built"), NBA could prevent the shut-down of the dam-gates and any further construction. Apart from this dam, NBA stopped three other dam-projects as well.
Nevertheless, the fight continues. The government is determined to re-start the construction of the Sardar Sardovar dam, and other dams are already in construction, e.g. the Maheshwar-dam-project, the first fully privatised mega-project in India, financially backed by the Indian government, but built and run by private companies, including foreign Multinationals, such as Siemens, ABB, Hypobank.
The National Forum of Fishworkers (NFF) was formed in the beginning of the 90s through the initiative of the fisherfolk movement in Kerala. It was intented to bring the struggle of the different movements all along the Indian coasts together in a network on national scale. The main issues are:
With their strategy of direct action and clear confrontation along with pressure on the government and tribunals, NFF has managed to get the joint-ventures and the industrial fish-trawlers banned from India. NFF and Fisherfolk movements from other continents have recently created the World Forum of Fisherfolk. Like the farmer movements, the fisherfolk movements are in the process of co-ordinating their resistance on a global level.