This Charter was issued at the Kisan Mahapanchayat held at Kisan Ghat, New Delhi on March 7, 1996.
The farmers of India including the landless, the tribals, the rural artisans have gathered in Delhi to save the country and themselves from the external assault of multinational corporations and the internal decay of hawalas, kickbacks and corruption. We consider this our highest moral duty.
The very survival of Indian farmers who constitute 75 per cent of India's population and 25 per cent of the entire farming population of the world is under threat. The resources on which our livelihoods as farmers depend - land, water, animal wealth, and seeds - are being appropriated and stolen from us under the new economic policies emerging from the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. We and the country are being crushed under the burden of an illegitimate debt.
We commit ourselves to fighting to protect our resources and our livelihoods which are guaranteed to us by the Constitution of India.
In every state, land reform policies and laws are being undone and the ownership of land is moving from farmers to industrialists, multinational corporations and to corrupt politicians who are building luxury farm houses with the Hawala money. The ranks of the landless are thus exploding while independent peasants and cultivators are disappearing.
We consider the purchase of land by non-agriculturists such as foreigners, multinational corporations, export industry and corrupt politicians as illegal. We will reclaim these lands for farmers and cultivators and ensure that illegally acquired Gram Sabha land is returned to Gram Sabhas.
SAVE THE LAND, SAVE THE COUNTRY
There is no drinking water in most of India's villages. Farmers do not have enough water for irrigating their crops. Under World Bank prescriptions, water is being privatised and farmers are being asked to compete with multinational corporations for access to water markets. These markets in water will create new water zamindari in which large corporations and agribusiness enterprise will have monopoly control over scarce water resources.
The farmers and rural communities of India refuse to allow water to be converted into a commodity. Water is a common resource necessary for life itself. We will decide its utilisation according to the principles of Gram Swaraj.
SAVE THE WATER, SAVE THE COUNTRY.
Animal wealth is the very basis of sustainable agriculture and farmers' survival. This wealth is being converted into meat for exports or to feed the fast food meat chains like Kentucky Fried Chicken and MacDonalds.
Our animals are sacred to us. They are members of our family. To save them is our duty. Like the farmers of Karnataka we will take action to stop the expansion of fast food chains and the setting up of slaughter houses for export such as Al Kabeer and Dera Bassi. We will liberate the animals being taken for slaughter. We will create a nation-wide movement for a ban on meat exports and for the protection of our animal wealth.
SAVE THE ANIMALS, SAVE THE COUNTRY
New laws are being made under the pressure of the World Trade Organisation which are converting seeds from being a resource, owned collectively by farmers into the private monopoly of transnational seed companies.
We are the original breeders of seed and our resource and intellectual rights are prior to, and set the limits for, corporate monopolies from any intellectual property rights regime. This further includes our fundamental right to exclude patents on plants and life forms because they violate our ethical values and our cultural traditions.
We will not cooperate with any laws which alienate our inalienable rights to seed.
SAVE THE SEED, SAVE THE COUNTRY.
Farmers are being crushed under a debt incurred for purchasing chemical inputs which have destroyed our lands and our self-reliance. The costs of inputs have gone up by 75 per cent while the prices of agricultural products have actually declined for many crops.
This debt is illegitimate and we will not repay it. We well also become free of our dependence on chemicals by shifting to our own organic resources for internal inputs and our own seeds.
FREEDOM FROM DEBT, FARMERS ARE NOT DEBTORS
We will establish a viable and just economic order to ensure that we are able to carry out our duty to provide food and food security to the people of India. We will join all sections of society fighting the entry of transnational agribusiness in agricultural production and trade.
We pledge ourselves to protecting our land, our water, our animals, our seeds, our intellectual capacities and our livelihoods. We pledge ourselves to saving our country.
Source: Lokayan Bulletin, 13 Jan- 1996.