GUWAHATI, Sept 25 - �If there is one segment of Indian population which has been consistently and intensively exploited over the centuries and continues to be so to this day, it is the Indian peasantry and rural labour,� said Utsa Patnaik, Indian Marxist economist and Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She was delivering the 12th Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Annual Lecture at the Sudmersen Hall of the Cotton College today.
Speaking on �The State and Indian peasantry: History and the present�, Patnaik presented an enlightening study on the topic starting from the colonial period exploitation followed by a limited respite in post-independent India and then again a renewed onslaught on the peasantry in the era of neo-liberal globalisation.
Elaborating, she explained how during the colonial period the agricultural surplus from India was extracted for global diffusion of capitalism.
Referring to the works of nationalist writers Dadabhai Naoroji and RC Dutt, she mentioned how taxes raised internally by the ruling foreign power were not spent exclusively within the country, with a very large part of it being spent abroad.
Denouncing the remark that the �drain of wealth� was an old fashioned idea, she took a dig at the historians and economists for not bringing to the fore the facts like impact of tax revenue collection right from the days of the East India Company in Bengal province that started in 1765. She further stated that since the elite segment was not harmed in a major way, the grim realities responsible for the death of poor peasants remained obscure.
�The country noticed a partial recovery under the dirigiste regime from 1951 to 1991, where thrust was on enhancing foodgrain production, banning grain export, raising manufacturing capacity etc. However, a renewed attack on peasantry started in 1991 and continues till today. The expenditure deflating neo-liberal reforms from 1991 have adversely impacted both rural and urban employment and incomes by reducing public investment and development expenditures generally, thus lowering the level of activity.
�As a result of the declining trend under economic reforms, India at present has the lowest level of grain consumption for all uses in the entire world, lower than even the least developed countries. Although the GDP per head of population has been rising faster than before, the demand for grain for all uses has been falling. The reason is very sharp adverse shifts in the distribution of income away from the peasantry and the labouring poor, and towards the well-to-do minority in our society,� she added.
The Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Trust is a non-profit entity constituted in the memory Brajamohan Sarma, a philanthropist known for his extraordinary sensitivities towards the downtrodden and the less privileged in society.
Today�s function was presided over by noted academician Apurba Kumar Baruah.