2007 (Year)

Agrarian Crisis and Farmers’ Distress

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced a waiver of crop loans up to Rs. 1 lakh. Although this move falls short of the BJP’s election promise of waiver of all crop loans, it brings welcome relief to one third of UP’s farmers indebted to banks. Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu’s farmers, hit by severe drought, have been resorting to more and more desperate measures to get the attention of the Tamil Nadu state government and now the Modi Government in Delhi. The Tamil Nadu farmers’ protests are a reminder that farmers’ distress and agrarian crisis in India has vast dimensions. Farmers all over India need relief, and governments also need to take urgent steps to reverse policy measures that are causing and sustaining the agrarian crisis. The Uttar Pradesh Loan Waiver The cost of the UP loan waiver which will benefit around 70-80 lakh farmers is Rs. 36,359 crores including a write-off of NPAs (Non-Performing Assets) worth Rs. 5,630 crores. 40 percent of the total households in UP are engaged only in agriculture, but UP’s expenditure in agriculture in below the national average; this crop loan waiver is less than half percent of the state GDP and 8% of government’s total revenue. Farming by sharecroppers and tenants is the predominant phenomenon, but they are excluded from any legal entitlement in absence of a proper framework. The marginal peasantry are...

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Finance Bill 2017

Daylight Assault on Democracy, Legalized Corruption and Company Raj (The manner in which the Finance Bill 2017 was passed in the Lok Sabha was a complete violation of parliamentary democracy. Several key aspects of the Bill – now a law – are deeply dangerous for India’s democracy. It is all the more dangerous that this Bill could be enacted into law without any substantial discussion among Indian citizens, with most media houses blatantly washing their hands off the responsibility to inform the public about the implications of this law for their lives. What are the implications of the Finance Bill 2017 for Indian citizens and Indian democracy? Let us find out. – Ed/) Undemocratic Process (a) Last Minute, Secretive Amendments It is important for the health of a democracy that members of Parliament as well as the general public should be fully informed, well on time, about proposed changes in any law so that the proposed changes can be fully understood and widely discussed and debates, both inside and outside Parliament. This principle was openly violated in the passing of the Finance Bill 2017. The Finance Bill 2017 introduced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 1, 2017 during the Budget Session of Parliament had 150 clauses. On March 21, the very day before the Bill was put to vote the Finance Minister introduced no less than 33 new...

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Adityanath As UP CM Exposes Communal Core Of Modi’s Pro-Corporate ‘Development’ Agenda

The BJP won decisive victories in the Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. However, in Goa, the mood of the mandate was certainly against the ruling BJP, with six of eight sitting BJP Ministers including the outgoing CM losing the elections and the Congress emerging as the single largest party. The BJP however effected a virtual coup in Goa, patching together a post-poll coalition with the legislators of the Gowa Forward Party that had projected itself as a staunchly secular party, as well as the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and several other MLAs who had contested the elections on a specifically anti-BJP plank. In a shocking breach of propriety, the Goa Governor admitted that she consulted the Union Finance Minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley before choosing to invite the BJP to form Government in Goa. In Manipur also, where there was a hung Assembly with the Congress as the single largest party, the BJP cobbled together an opportunist post-poll alliance with some MLAs to stake claim to form government, with the cooperation of the Governor. In Uttar Pradesh as well, the BJP’s choice of Chief Minister amounts to an attempt to manipulatively interpret the mandate as being for an explicit agenda of aggressive Hindutva. The BJP’s poll campaign sought a mandate based on overt promises of pro-poor ‘development’ and ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ (Inclusion and Development For All),...

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Identifying the Foundations of Womens’ Oppression, Charting the Course of Struggles for Liberation

8 March – International Women’s Day – was born in the struggles that women factory workers in their thousands waged against bondage a century ago. Communists began the tradition of observing IWD in memory of those struggles. Ironically, the powers-that-be and the advertisements all across try to hide the real legacy of Women’s Day and seek to establish a different narrative. They try to tell us that International Women’s Day (IWD) is an occasion when husbands are supposed to buy women washing machines and kitchen gadgets, when boyfriends are supposed to buy them flowers, and governments are supposed to make promises for ‘women empowerment’. So it is important for us to collectively reassert the fighting legacy of the international women’s day and draw lessons for the tasks and challenges at hand. On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2017 let us reiterate some key concerns of the women’s movement. Origins of Gender Oppression Women’s oppression is not ‘natural’ – it came into being in the course of human history. Marxism helps us to identify the material circumstances in which such oppression was born and in which it is sustained. In the most early human societies, women were not oppressed, and there was no rigid ‘gender division of labour.’ That is, women could hunt and gather food just as men did. Women were revered for their ability to give birth,...

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Students Protest Hate Crimes in The US

In the US, the election of Trump as President has ushered in a series of hate crimes against immigrants, with attackers unleashing verbal and physical violence against persons perceived to be ‘outsiders’ or ‘Muslims’ in the US. Several South Asians and Indians also have been at the receiving end of such violence. An American civil liberties group, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identified almost 900 incidents of racial harassment following Donald Trump’s win. These attacks can be called the ‘Trump effect’ since they flow from Trump’s own rhetoric against Mexicans, Muslims and immigrants. Three persons of Indian origin...

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Adityanath: A Track Record of Hate-Mongering And Violence

With Adityanath being appointed Chief Minister, influential sections of the electronic and print media in Hindi and English have gone into an overdrive to whitewash his track record and give his communal bahubali (goon/don) a makeover. So we have a host of stories remoulding Adityanath as a ‘Vikas Guru’ and telling us how he loves dogs and cows, what he eats for breakfast, and how he loves and employs Muslims. These media houses, happy to brand Muslim men as “terrorists” without any evidence, are shy of calling a spade a spade, and calling Adityanath a saffron-cloaked, hate-spewing leader of a terrorist outfit the Hindu Yuva Vahini. They are ignoring the copious, overflowing evidence of Adityanath’s speeches and writings reeking of obscurantism, misogyny, communalism and casteism, as well as evidence of direct involvement in crime and communal violence. The Gorakhnath Peeth: History of Hindutva Hate Travesty of Gorakhnath’s Teachings The Gorakhnath Peeth has evolved in a direction away from the original spirit of the teachings of the 11th century saint Gorakhnath, which are expressed in a set of couplets and verses called the Gorakhbani. To cite just some of those verses: While remaining within the mind, not disclosing the secret, The immortal words (words of nectar) should be spoken. If anybody in front (of you) is fire, O avadhūt, you should become water. A Hindu worships in the temple, A...

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Resist Communal Polarization and Subversion of Democracy; Challenge the Pro-Poor Posturing of the Modi Regime

The results of Assembly elections in the five states of Punjab, Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh have once again stunned political observers and exit poll pundits. The BJP was widely perceived to be having an edge over its contenders in both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, but nobody could predict the kind of sweeping victory the party has won in the two states. In Punjab, where the AAP was expected to be an equal claimant to power as the Congress, it was the latter which notched up a decisive victory giving a rude shock to the AAP’s ambitious expansion plans. In Goa too, the Congress re-emerged as the single largest party with five of the eight BJP ministers including the CM losing the elections and the BJP tally dropping from 28 to 13, but making a complete mockery of the anti-BJP mandate, the BJP has imposed Manohar Parrikar as the CM. Even in Manipur, where the BJP emerged as the second largest party, the Governor has invited the BJP to form the government. While Assembly elections usually have their respective state-specific contexts, the UP elections were destined to have a major ramification for the national balance of forces. In 2014, the victorious Modi campaign had won more than a hundred seats from UP, Bihar and Delhi. In the subsequent Assembly elections, the BJP fared badly in both Delhi and...

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Sanghi Terror – And A Convenient Election-Eve ‘Encounter’

On 8 March, a Special NIA Court sentenced two RSS pracharaks Devendra Gupta, 41, and Bhavesh Patel, 39 to life imprisonment in the Ajmer blasts case. The court acquitted RSS leader Swami Aseemanand and six others, giving them the “benefit of doubt” – while questioning the NIA on its clean chit to two other accused, Ramesh Gohil and Amit, as well as “suspicious persons” such as senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar, Sadhvi Pragya Singh, Rajenda Chaudhary and Jayant. This involvement of the RSS men (whom the RSS claims, as they did about Gandhi assassin Godse, are “former” RSS men) in acts of terror should have been a huge piece of news, calling for serious national debate, given that the current Indian Government, Prime Minister as well as Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states are often hand-picked by the RSS which also influences public policy in India in a huge way. Instead there was a conspiracy of silence in the media, where the news was buried away, for the most part, in small news segments. The shrill media frenzy that generally erupts around terror cases simply did not happen. Was it because ‘Hindu’ terrorists are inconvenient? Or because the RSS is too powerful to question? The acquittal of Swami Aseemanand also carries behind it a strange tale, which calls for a public discussion that, thanks to the media, did not take...

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A Seminar Becomes A Battleground

(AISA Activist Madhurima Kundu, a former DU student who is now a student at Ambedkar University, writes about the ABVP attack she witnessed on a seminar at Ramjas College.) The English Department of Ramjas College in association with WordCraft, The Ramjas Literary Society, organized a two day event on 21st and 22nd February titled “Cultures of Protest: Seminar Exploring Representation of Dissent.” A series of Seminar on topics ranging from Dalit Resistance, State Repression to Student Politics, and linguistic dissent was to be held. Sadly, of the eight seminar sessions and one performance that were scheduled, only two happened....

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On Being the ‘Right Kind of Brown’

(Reproduced with thanks from Counterpunch, March 21, 2017) A racist man shot Srinivas Kuchibhotla on February 22, 2017.  He wanted to kill a Muslim. He thought Srinivas and his friend Alok Madasani were Iranians. A week later, Harnish Patel was shot and killed in his driveway by another racist man. Sheriff Barry Faile, investigating Patel’s case said, “I don’t have any reason to believe that this was racially motivated.”  Sheriff Faile’s words are not convincing. Instead, the Indian community have concluded that these two brown men were gunned down by two racist Americans who couldn’t care less if these men belonged to the “model minority”class, or were U.S. born citizens or not.  All that mattered to them was that these two men were “brown” or “Muslims” and hence they must be deleted. Permanantly. America First. For the Indian community, however, these men were not just “brown” men.  One man was an Aviation engineer working for Garmin in Kansas, while the other, an owner of a Speed Mart convenience store in South Carolina.  For one, the Indian community raised $670, 000 for his funeral. There was no such GoFundMe campaign for the other. For one, the Indian Americans mourned in the Silicon Valley and all over America. For the other there was a hand made sign that was stuck on the window of his convenience store: “Store Close for few...

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Why Are India’s Automobile Workers in Jail?

In a recent trial court judgement on 10 March 2017, 117 workers of the automobile company Maruti Suzuki’s factory in Manesar, Gurgaon, India were acquitted of a murder charge. 18 workers were convicted of minor offences while 13 – all leaders of the Maruti union – have been convicted of murder and await the quantum of punishment, to be declared on March 17, 2017. The Maruti workers plan to challenge the convictions of their comrades in higher courts. Why are automobile workers being jailed for murder? The story at Maruti is a familiar one in India’s industrial scene. Where Unionisation Is A Crime In 2011, workers at Maruti Suzuki ‘s Manesar plant had formed an independent union and demanded recognition for it. Gurgaon-Manesar, not far from Delhi, is an industrial belt, where managements fear that an independent union in even a single factory would be contagious, emboldening workers in other factories to unionise. Labour law violations are rampant in the entire belt – but labour departments and governments turn a blind eye to these. Indian labour laws do recognise the right to form unions – on paper. In reality, every attempt to form a Union is met with immediate victimisation – those who are seen as leaders and organisers are either transferred to some other factory or sacked on some pretext. On July 18 2012, Maruti workers agitating outside...

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Kakkoos – Dirty Secret of Manual Scavenging

The All India People’s Forum (AIPF) on 19 March screened Kakkoos, (Toilet) a powerful Tamil documentary film on manual scavenging in Tamil Nadu, directed by Divya. The screening took place in Chennai at the Madras Reporters Guild. Though the film was released on 26 February 2017, and immediately received much acclaim and positive reviews as a courageous film, the TN police and Government, disturbed by the theme and content of the film, have stopped the screening of the film in Coimbatore, Madurai and Kanyakumari claiming it poses a threat to law and order. Organizations and groups attempting to screen the film were questioned and in some cases even threatened. The AIPF screening was organized to protest against and highlight such draconian attempts to curb free speech and prevent the dirty secret of manual scavenging from being revealed. Divya, the film’s director and editor, is a CPI(ML) activist from Madurai. She and her team covered many towns and cities in Tamil Nadu on foot to be able to locate manual scavengers – whose work is usually done ‘out of sight.’ The sights and scenes the film covers – men and women cleaning overflowing toilets, toilets clogged with sanitary napkins: cleaning human faeces with their bare hands – are difficult to watch and must have been extremely difficult to film. But it forces the viewer to face facts about the sheer...

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Reports

AIPWA Vidhan Sabha March in Bihar Thousands of women demonstrated under the banner of AIPWA in front of the Chief Minister on 19 March on the issues of education for women students, especially from dalit and weaker sections, increasing violence against women and attempts by the administration to shield the culprits, and justice for the victims. The protest march started from Gate Public Library, proceeded to the Vidhan Sabha and culminated in a meeting at Gardanibagh. The speakers said that contrary to the Nitish government’s claims of empowering women, they are actually being attacked in various ways. Lack of adequate number of schools, lack of facilities in existing schools, insufficient number of higher education institutes in districts and inability of guardians to send their daughters to cities for higher education, and paucity of infrastructure and teachers in district level institutions are serious deterrents to women’s education in the State. Moreover, several cases of rape, murder, death due to lack of medical facilities, and molestation have come to light in Ambedkar and Kasturba Vidyalayas. In the Dika rape and murder case the police failed even to add sections under POCSO and gang rape and no charge sheet has been filed even two and a half months after the incident. The Nawada girl student was even forced to change her statement under threat. The speakers stressed their determination to continue the...

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IWD 2017 Demonstrations

Pricol workers in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu observed IWD 2017 as an occasion to reaffirm ten years of their struggle. On this occasion, AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan felicitated six of the recently-acquitted Pricol workers, who declared their intention to hand over their earnings through jail labour as well as increased Diwali bonuses to the fund for freeing the two Pricol workers who are still in jail. Pricol’s women workers as well as women from the workers’ families remembered their struggles of the past ten years. Kavita Krishnan spoke about the significance of IWD and the need to fight battles both at the point of production (the factory) as well as the point of social reproduction (the communities and areas where workers live). AICCTU National President S Kumarasamy also spoke on the occasion. In Delhi, AIDWA, AIPWA, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, NFIW, RAHI foundation, Saheli, Jagori, Nari Shakti Manch, National Alliance of People’s Movements and other groups participated in an International Women’s day march from Rajiv Chowk, culminating in a public meeting at Jantar Mantar. Slogans of “women want azaadi- from moral policing, from patriarchy, Manuvad, inequality, exploitation, from violence and sexual harassment” and “Down with anti-women and anti-labour laws” could be heard. Shivani Nag addressed the meeting on behalf of AIPWA. Speakers from various organisations emphasized on the need to strengthen women’s movement against the fascist powers. Activists from various organizations...

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Bengaluru Municipality Contract Sanitation Workers Strike on Women’s Day

The official Government ‘celebrations’ of International Women’s Day came a cropper in Bengaluru thanks to a powerful strike by the city Municipal Corporation’s contract sanitation workers (97% of whom are Dalit women). The BBMP (the local administrative body in Bangalore) had not paid the workers arrears from August 2016. After a series of protests, wages for the contracted powrakarmikas (corporation workers) had been revised from Rs 7000 in most wards to Rs 14000 through a government notification. However, the BBMP has continued to pay the former unrevised wages. While the BBMP claims that the money for the arrears has been released, the passbooks of the workers indicate that they have not received it. The powrakarmikas of the union, the BBMP Guttige Powrakarmikara Sangha decided to Strike on International Women’s Day, to demand that the BBMP pay them their arrears, and also ensure their safety and dignity at work. ‘Know Your Powrakarmika’...

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