05 May 2007

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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Why Virginia Tech shootings happened

Yet another rampage has occurred at a school, this time leaving 33 people dead at Virginia Tech—the worst such incident ever at a U.S. college campus. The news media seem stunned and surprised, yet their coverage sounds so similar to the stories about Columbine eight years ago. They dwell on the personality of the young man the police say did the shooting, before killing himself. They talk about him being a “loner,” depressed, perhaps angry at women. But aren’t there lonely and depressed people all over the world? Many countries have high suicide rates. Why is it that here some become mass murderers? The U.S. is the world leader in seemingly random acts of violence by individuals. Why? President George W. Bush rushed to Virginia to speak at a large convocation the day after the killings and tried to set the tone for what could be said about them. “It’s impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering,” he said. Don’t ask why, don’t try to understand. It makes no sense. “Have faith” instead, was Bush’s message. But there ARE reasons these things happen here, and they are pretty clear to the rest of the world. It’s just in the United States that no one is supposed to talk about the reasons. What distinguishes this country from the rest of the world? It is neither the most affluent...

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The Ghosts of Nandigram

There was panic at the CPM headquarters on Calcutta’s Alimuddin Street as rumours spread like wildfire of a ‘special’ investigative team having arrived to do some fact-finding on the gory events of 14 March 2007 in Nandigram. The ‘dream’ team, spotted by party activists and corroborated by airport immigration staff, is said to have comprised of the founding fathers of the global communist movement – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels themselves. As if their presence was not enough, accompanying them in tow were a certain Vladimir Illych Lenin and Mao Tse-Tung. Eyewitnesses reported seeing two white bearded men with prophetic looks asking for directions to get to Nandigram and expressing frustration at the fact that all official road signs in the city showed only turns to the right. Ordinary folk on the other hand were observed turning left even if this sometimes meant breaking through brick walls blocking their way. One person with a Lenin beard sitting inside the dark-windowed car was seen taking down notes under the heading ‘What is to be done?’ while the Chinese gentleman, with an enigmatic countenance, was overheard saying sceptically “Comrades, getting to Nandigram is not going to be a tea-party”. This was the grim scenario the CPM top brass had been worried about for years together- the return of Marx, Engels, Lenin or Mao to West Bengal. As long as they dangled...

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Two Reports

Highlights of CPI(ML) UP Poll Campaign The Mirzapur Administration, in a written agreement signed by the SDM, Chunar, had acknowledged that following a protest by the CPI(ML) State Secretary Comrade Akhilendra Pratap Singh, orders were being passed that the barricades around a pond in Bhadkuda village be removed to allow Dalits access to it; and FIR be lodged under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act against those who beat up the agrarian labourer Manju Devi and payment of her pending wages of 6 months. Protesting on this issue Comrade Ramkrit Biyar went on hunger fast, was jailed and eventually force fed after a month of hunger fast. He continues to contest elections from jail. On April 5, the Chief Secretary of UP once again ordered that the barricades around the pond be moved. Not only was this order not implemented, but subsequently the DM visited the area and declared that CPI(ML)’s demand is not valid, since despite the barricades, a path to the pond has been left open. The issue has emerged as a major one in the elections in Chunar. Meanwhile in Jamania too CPI(ML) is at the forefront of a struggle against the feudal forces led by the UP Cabinet Minister Omprakash Singh who represents the Rajput power lobby in Mulayam Cabinet. On March 15, CPI(ML) held a March in protest against the repeated attacks on the...

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Working Class Reports

Lock out at Ganges Jute Mills The Left Front police greeted the striking workers of Ganges Jute Mills, Bansberia, Hooghly with ruthless lathi chare of the morning of Bengali New Year’s day, it 15 April. Birendra Das a fighting worker of Ganges Jute Mills and Krishna Pal, a worker of Dunlop Factory, owing allegiance to M-L politics were severely injured and admitted to the hospital. Next day, on investigation team of AICCTU Hooghly District Committee, led by Com. Prabir Haldar, Batakrishna Das and Sudarshan Prasad Singh visited the spot, and met the workers. Ganges Jute Mill is glaring example where all the laws stipulated in the Labour Act are violated to the hilt, again exposing the mockery of LF industrialization policy. Nearly 4000 workers are strike working in Ganges Jute Mills as ‘apprentice’ for years together, getting a stipend of Rs. 73 per head per day, sans all statutory benefit and are employed in perennial nature of work allotted to the permanent workers. It is worth mentioning that an agreement was signed by the management and three trade unions, viz CITU, INTUC and BMS, that after completion of their trainee period, all such workers name shall be enrolled in the muster roll and shall get Rs. 100 daily. But the management has thrown that bipartite agreement into the waste-paper basket after colluding with the signatory above mentioned trade unions....

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Pricol Workers On Struggle: Charting out a New Path

Workers of Pricol, a leading auto components manufacturing factory supplying components to most of the leading auto majors joined AICCTU and declared formation of the union through a General Body meeting on 25 February. Workers frustrated by the pro-management, loyal unions like CITU, AITUC, LPF, INTUC, etc., dissolved all of them, formed a single union in Plant III and affiliated the union with AICCTU. Following this, management resorted to the unfair labour practice of transferring six workers from Plant I and III for forming union, which proved to be the last straw. Protesting this, more than 5000 workers, including those in Satellite Vendor Units and Other Contract Labourers resorted to strike. Various forms of struggles were resorted to by workers including Rasta Roko by women workers, demonstration by workers’ children, dharna of workers’ families and friends, hunger strikes by workers, solidarity hunger strike by students, etc. When management wanted workers to be away from 100 m, workers challenged the management by occupying the whole factory for its illegal deployment of new work force. The incident led to police lathi charge and our insistence on state government intervention finally led to the release of workers. More than 40 teams of workers toured all through the city and campaigned among people seeking support for the struggle. The campaign was well received by the public at large. It was a very different...

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Rising Working Class Unrest

As usual, the working class has, once again, proved all bourgeois theoreticians wrong this time too. Well thought out strategies of contractorisation, casualisation, etc., not withstanding, workers are up in arms in all possible ways, sometimes, in a more organized way and sometimes in a much more anarchist way. But, all efforts to blunt the edge of working class struggles, in spite of some temporary relief to the masters of reform, have not yielded desired results and the working class movement is all set to acquire newer dimensions. New strategies of the bourgeoisie, including casualisation, semi-bonded systems, increasing informalisation and feminization of work force, etc., have given birth to newer forms of oppression and exploitation on the one hand and to newer and newer forms of workers outburst and revolt, on the other hand. Be it the ongoing, unceasing struggles of Pricol workers of Coimbatore, be it the construction and other unorganized workers of Kanyakumari, be it the beedi workers of Tirunelveli, be it the semi-bonded, highly unorganised powerloom workers of Kumarapalayam and Pallipalayam, be it the contract workers of Ordinance Factory (OFT), be it the young, women garment workers of Peenya, be it the Readymix concrete workers of Bangalore – working class movement is all set to witness a new phase. The era of trade union movement being the pocket boroughs of few ‘great’ leaders is being replaced...

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Homage to May Day Martyrs

[In 1884, In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a legal day’s work from and after May 1, 1886. Chicago was the centre of this rising working class movement for the 8-hour working day, with the International Working People’s Association at the forefront. On May 3, 1886, police fired into a crowd of strikers at the McCormick Reaper Works Factory, killing four and wounding many. As a mass meeting the next day in Haymarket Square to protest the brutality was ending, a bomb was thrown at the police, killing one. Police responded by firing into the crowd, killing one worker and injuring many others. With this pretext, eight of Chicago’s most active labour leaders were charged with conspiracy to murder in connection with the Haymarket bombing. A kangaroo court found all eight guilty, despite a lack of evidence connecting any of them to the bomb-thrower (only one was even present at the meeting, and he was on the speakers’ platform), and they were sentenced to die. Their speeches in court still ring with revolutionary reason, clarity and commitment, and continue to inspire the revolutionary movement for time to come. They graphically record the brutality and barbarism with which the capitalist class and media responded to working class struggles – and reminds us that each labour law was...

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Bihar Police Act: ‘Reforming the Police’, or Protecting it from Reform?

(The Nitish Kumar Government in Bihar has recently passed the Bihar Police Act 2007 – a move that has been met with protests all over the State. The people of Bihar are apprehensive that the new Act is actually meant to be used as a draconian weapon to crush people’s struggles. Bihar is not new to State repression. Political patronage for private armies and mafias has meant that it is the rural poor and agrarian labourers who have been at the receiving end of the police’s bullets, batons and jails. Heads of private armies, perpetrators of massacres of agrarian poor and mafia MPs have gone scot-free while dalit organisers of agrarian labour movements have been jailed under TADA, faced torture in police custody, their peaceful protests have been in the line of police fire, entire settlements of agrarian labourers have born the brunt of combing operations, have watched police preside over their villages being burnt down. Police Reform, for the people of Bihar, could only mean safeguards to ensure punitive action against Government and police in case of such actions. The Bihar Police Act 2007 has therefore evoked massive protests. One of its more dangerous provisions is that it allows for ‘Special Police Officers’ to “assist” the police force – which from Kashmir to Chhattisgarh play a notorious role of unbridled abuse of human rights. Even the Model Police...

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Party Foundation Day Reports

April 22, Comrade Lenin’s Birth Anniversary and the 38th Foundation Day of CPI(ML) was observed all over the country in a variety of ways. In Bihar, General Body meetings were held at around 500 places, right down to the block and village levels, in which around 30, 000 party members participated. They saluted the movement’s martyrs, hoisted the party flag and discussed ways to strengthen the party organisation and rise up to the challenge of upholding Lenin’s legacy and taking the Naxalbari movment ahead to its revolutionary goal. Party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar participated in the GB meeting at the District Headquarters at Bhojpur. GB meetings were held at district and block HQs in West Bengal too. It is customary for Left leaders from all parties to pay respects at Lenin’s statue at Dharmatola. At the statue, CPI(ML) comrades hung a banner with the lines:”Lenin bhumistha rakte, klibatar kache nei wrin – ganahatyar kshama nei, garjay ajuta Lenin” (Lenin lives on/is alive in our blood, we have no debt to impotence – no carnage goes unpunished, roar a million Lenin). When Buddhadeb Bhattacharya came to the statue, he was greeted by the sight of that banner, the first line of which is from a poem by the revolutionary Communist poet Sukanta Bhattacharya (whose legacy his nephew Buddhadeb is in a hurry to shed). At Rajasthan, GB meetings were held...

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Develop the CPI(ML) as the Rallying Centre for all Sincere Communists and Progressive Democratic People

This April 22 we are observing the thirty-eighth anniversary of our Party’s foundation. A month later, May 23-25 will mark 40 years of the glorious Naxalbari uprising, the uprising that had inspired revolutionary communists in every corner of the country to rebel against the CPI(M) leadership’s betrayal and form the CPI(ML) as the true inheritor of the revolutionary trend of the Indian communist movement. While the CPI(M) denounced Naxalbari as Left adventurism, and did everything it could to suppress the uprising and its aftermath, revolutionary communists rightly saw Naxalbari as the continuation and development of the glorious legacy of peasant resistance of the Tebhaga-Telengana period. Naxalbari did not happen spontaneously – behind it lay years of conscious revolutionary practice. The transition from Naxalbari to the foundation of CPI(ML) was also not automatic – the new party could take shape only through serious debates and a fresh polarisation between comrades who could sense the urgent need for a revolutionary communist party and those pedantic and puritan ‘Marxist-Leninists’ and ‘Maoists’ for whom the formation of a revolutionary communist party could wait endlessly for ideal conditions to mature. The history of the foundation of our Party shows us the close relation between the rise of militant mass movement and the development of the revolutionary Party. Without a revolutionary party, a militant movement of the people cannot be sustained for long or cannot...

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Naxalbari: Now and Then

May 25 marks the Naxalbari Day. … What is the real meaning and significance of Naxalbari? Naxalbari means a mass uprising of the poor and labouring peasantry. It does not mean isolated squad actions here and there or some sensational armed exercises. Nor does it mean raising revolutionary storms over tea cups in Kolkata, Delhi or Mumbai. However much various groups may abuse us to hide their own failures, the fact remains that such mass peasant awakening on the lines of Naxalbari is going on only in Bihar and it is our Party that is leading it from the forefront. Naxalbari symbolises the rise of a revolutionary current in national politics on the basis of such a peasant awakening. Mere fulfilment of a few local economic demands of the peasantry is no Naxalbari. All claims of building an alternative political current by building ‘red army and base areas’ in hills and jungles have proved hollow. It is not politics that is in command of those guns; on the contrary, it is a case of gun-power dictating politics. Naxalbari did not signify an abstract victory of Marxism over revisionism, armed struggle over parliamentary path. Petty bourgeois revolutionism however understands Naxalbari precisely on such lines. This is why it believes that it is possible to resurrect Naxalbari anywhere and at any time on the basis of sheer revolutionary spirit and some...

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The Continuing Long March for a New India

May 25, 2007 marks the 40th anniversary of the great Naxalbari peasant uprising, the uprising that had blazed a bold new trail for a new democratic India with agrarian revolution as its core. Today as rural India reels under a deepening agrarian crisis, as peasants and agrarian labourers fighting for their land and livelihood face the brutal onslaught of the state, and students and intellectuals express their open and active solidarity with the fighting peasants, Naxalbari once again evokes a powerful resonance in the public mind. And the resonance gets stronger when we once again hear the CPI(M) cry foul against the Naxalites! Back in those stormy years of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Indian state tried all the means at its command to crush the uprising and suppress the new Communist Party – the CPI(ML) – that had emerged in its wake. Illegal detention and third-degree torture, fake encounters and organised massacres – every method of repression was freely practised by the state in its war on Naxalism. With the custodial killing of Comrade Charu Mazumdar in Kolkata’s Lalbazar lock-up (28 July, 1972), the Indian state heaved a huge sigh of relief and triumphantly claimed to have eliminated the ‘scourge of Naxalism’. This military war was of course coupled with an aggressive political strategy. The Congress led by Indira Gandhi, and backed by sections of old...

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Nandigram Effect: SFI Loses Union Polls in Jadavpur, JU, JNU

Students’ remarkable participation in the campaign against the Nandigram massacre and SEZ corporate land grab has shown dramatic results in student union elections in JNU as well as various institutions in West Bengal. In JNU, re-elections were recently held to one Councillor post each in School of Social Sciences (SSS) and School of International Sciences (SIS) where candidates from SFI and AISA had tied in the November JNUSU elections. The re-elections were widely seen as a referendum on the SEZ policy and Nandigram massacre, where SFI had been defending the SEZ policy and CPI(M)’s actions in Nandigram, while AISA had been spearheading a campaign demanding scrapping of SEZs and against the Nandigram massacre. In SSS, AISA candidate Sucheta De won a convincing victory with 339 votes (out of 690 votes polled, therefore nearly 50% of total votes polled) while the SFI candidate polled 215 votes. And in SIS, AISA candidate Arundhati Choudhury tied yet again – this time with ABVP, on 117 votes, while SFI polled 99 votes. AISA has proved its mettle as the champion of democratic movements as well as the Left force that is challenging ABVP on the campus. Meanwhile on 27 March, SFI lost its hold on the Jadavpur University Arts Faculty to the independent platform FAS. On 3 April, FETSU (JU’s Engineering Faculty Union) was retained by DSF, and on 5 April the Jadavpur...

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