Rebuilding the relationship between youth and the soil: KRRS Youth Assembly

After 37 years of work, KRRS strongly feels that the youth should be given the space to get ready to lead the movement forward. 37 years ago, KRRS leaders were mostly youth. Youth leadership is the very essence of the movemens’ birth. Every 10 years KRRS has tried to bring in the new generation into the movement. In the context of agrarian crisis and rural change, youth are neither attracted to agriculture nor the farmers movement, which KRRS defines as the biggest danger to our collective future.

It is very important for the movement to create a space for young people to own, which is free from all sorts of oppressions and has positive ideas for constructing a new world.

On April 1, 2017, at KRRS’ most recent Youth meeting entitled “What should we do?” many such positive ideas were shared.

Jagdish from Honalli Taluk told, “We don’t want to just continue complaining that the government hasn’t fulfilled its duties. Common people ourselves must take action. In my area, young people self-organized to desilt more than 40 lakes. Now, in spite of severe drought conditions, the water table is relatively healthy.”

Other positive ideas included rejuvenating the soil, promoting mixed farming system with dairy farming, conserve water & forests, start using local seeds, planting millets in drought conditions, and building our own marketing systems. ONe youth observed the change in farmers’ well being, as farmers have left producing food crops instead of cash crops.

Another young person said, “I request senior people to learn to respect the youth. We aren’t always immersed in Facebook and our phones as everyone claims. We have our own critical thinking and social causes, and we use social media to share them.”

Youth identified the link between agriculture and their own generation has been broken. Rural youth from farming families are encouraged to have the ambition to escape agriculture, which is considered a dying sector. They felt that youth are disconnected to agriculture because they are losing land, land is getting fragmented, drought plus land infertility makes production difficult. Market instability and lack of access to credit provide additional challenges.

Yet, this cannot be done alone. The KRRS youth impressed upon the senior leaders a need for guidance and mentorship towards pursuing these goals. “We need to rebuild the relationship between youth and the soil.”

Together with this, youth activists analyzed the impacts of privatization of education and the closing down of government schools, along with the impacts of alcohol abuse in rural communities. Youth are being used by political parties, which often interfere in youth’s unified organization.

“This generation cannot continue with gender discrimination. We have to accept women and men equally,” a young man put forward. “We have to be casteless, gender equal, and start peasant student federations.

Senior leaders urged youth to think more about land issues— they spoke about land fragmentation, but not landlessness

“Young farmers taking pledge at the end of the program”

An ad-hoc committee was formed including Yatish (Tumkur), Kolar (Prasad and Uma), Chikballapura (Arun), Haveri (Nagannagowda and Shiala), Jagdish (Davangere), Chamrajagara (Nalluru Shivu), Bellary (Meheboob), Vidyashree and Krishnamurthy (Chikamagalur), Yadgiri (Mahadevi), Kalburgi (Amresh Gowda, Jagadevi Hegade), Mahesh (Bagalkot), Mysore (Vasanta), Nisar (Ramnagara), Bangalore Urban (Krishnamurthy)

The activities were moderated by Chukki, Vasantha and Sobha from Amritabhoomi, Dr.Vasu and Mallige from Karnataka Janashakti and Ramesh from Samvada. In the day, senior leaders like Badagalapura Nagendra shared their personal stories about how they joined the farmers movement during their student days, and about their journey in the movement.

This step is a new beginning, in a young direction. It is the enthusiasm, concern and energy of youth that will shape the farmers movement in the days to come.