11 November 2008

Ban the MNS and Shiv Sena!

The hooliganism and violence unleashed by the MNS and Shiv Sena on North Indian candidates in railway recruitment exams in Maharashtra, which cost the life of one young man, is a grievous assault on our democracy. The MNS and Shiv Sena had repeatedly targeted North Indian migrants in Maharashtra – workers, vendors, taxi drivers and students – without facing any stern punishment. This soft treatment by the Congress Government of Maharashtra and the UPA Government at the Centre has emboldened them to intensify their campaign of regional chauvinism and violence. Raj Thackeray’s brief arrest and prompt bail has only fuelled further rampage by the hooligans – undisturbed by the State Government. Railways Minister Laloo Yadav and Steel Minister Ramvilas Paswan are paying lip service to the grave issue – if they are truly critical of the soft-pedalling of MNC violence by the Congress-led Governments at State and Centre, they should resign from the Central Government in protest against the inaction and failure to protect North Indian migrants to Maharashtra. Regional chauvinism is against the Indian constitution and ought to have no place in a democracy. The Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna, competing with the MNS, has openly declared that “Shiv Sainiks were monitoring the movements of those who arrived in the metropolis throughout the night and beat the candidates.” Raj Thackeray too had made public statements openly inciting violence. The...

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The Tamil National Question in Sri Lanka Demands a Political Solution!

[Text of CPI(ML) Central Committee Statement on developments in Sri Lanka.] The Sri Lankan government’s ongoing military campaign to corner and crush the LTTE has led to a terrible humanitarian crisis in the country. Reports emanating from the island indicate that the Sri Lankan state is on the verge of wresting military control over large parts of LTTE territory including the administrative headquarters in Killinochi. While the number of people killed so far in the crossfire between the advancing Sri Lankan armed forces is anybody’s guess, some 500,000 people are estimated to have been displaced and rendered homeless in their own land. With the Sri Lankan government not allowing any relief to reach the people in refugee camps, international humanitarian organisations have been forced to leave the battle zones and recently even UN food convoys have had to return, leaving a vast population in the battle zones on the brink of starvation. Over the last two years the military balance has steadily tilted against the LTTE. Following the collapse of peace talks and withdrawal of Norway from the peace process, the Mahinda Rajapaksha government seized the opportunity to go for an all-out fight to the finish. In the post 9/11 international situation, the LTTE has already suffered considerable international isolation with the entire Western and developed world declaring it a banned terrorist organisation. The December 2004 tsunami had also...

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Reports

Symposium at Kottayam, Kerala The Kerala unit of CPI(ML) organised a symposium at Kottayam on 11 October 2008 on ‘Revitalising the Left Movement in India’. CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar addressed the symposium in which many social activists, dalit leaders, representatives of democratic forces and Left party activists participated in the discussion. The symposium assumed importance in the backdrop of ongoing social and political turmoil being witnessed in the Kerala society that feels betrayed by the dominant Left, the CPI(M). In Kerala, people had hopes from the LDF government led by VS Achuthanandan. But VS as CM has gone back on the positions he had advocated earlier as leader of the Opposition. The LDF government has not reversed any decisions of the previous UDF regime while vigorously implementing anti-people policies of liberalization. The present government has accepted ADB loan with harsh conditionalities, stopped the much publicized Munnar demolition drive midway yielding to the pressures of the real estate lobby, and is going ahead with elitist projects like Smart City, etc. Now, to appease private investment, it is advocating hire and fire policy, launching a systematic assault on the rights and gains secured by the organized peasant and workers’ movement in the state. CPI(ML) plans to concentrate in some pockets of three districts, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Palakkad, organising agricultural labour and construction labour. Comrade John K Erumely presided over the...

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Convention of Rural Poor in Karnataka

A convention of agrarian labourers and small peasants (Raitha – Karmika Samavesha) was organized at Harapanahalli in Karnataka on 16 October against communal fascism, politics of opportunism and against imperialism and for secular democracy, better standard of living and for the right to land, house and employment. Comrade Dipankar addressed the convention that was a culmination of an impressive rally against attack on churches in Karnataka and Orissa, anti-national nuclear deal and against the BJP government in the state. The rallyists also demanded nationalization of mining in the state that is the monopoly of few individuals who are ministers in the BJP government. Comrade Dipankar said that the country is also importing American crisis along with nuclear deal. He also accused the state BJP government of trying to use Karnataka as its latest laboratory for its virulent anti-minority, anti-democratic political agenda after Gujarat and Orissa. In the name of stopping ‘conversion’, the Sangh is actually resorting to forcible conversion of Christians. People belonging to minority communities are being rendered homeless in their own land. He also demanded immediate ban on VHP and Bajrang Dal. Comrade Dipankar said that, like elsewhere in the country, in Karnataka too, we are witnessing renewed struggles of rural and urban poor demanding regularization of ‘bagairhukum’ land and resisting the real estate mafia as in the case of Nandagudi and BMIC project. While talking about...

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Land Grab for Liquor Factory in Tamil Nadu

The party is conducting an agitation in Kallakottai, a panchayat in Gandarvakottai block of Pudukottai district in Tamil Nadu, against a liquor factory which is coming up on fertile land at the cost of livelihood of over 30,000 poor peasants and agricultural labourers in over 30 villages. The construction work for the factory started all of a sudden on 20 acres of fertile land in the beginning of August. Local people had no idea what was being constructed; they came to know only when some workers from the neighbouring villages were denied work and those from Trichy were brought in to work at the site. Then an investigation was conducted by the party, which revealed that a liquor factory was coming up, and that too based on faked documents like panchayat No Objection Certificate, environment authorities’ clearance etc. Further investigation about the factory revealed that the factory will draw 6.21 lakh litres of water per day for its operations and only 200 jobs will be generated. Construction work was started and bore wells were dug without due approval. The investigation also exposed that the local bigwigs and ruling party leaders were well aware of the project and only the people were kept in dark. As Party took up a campaign against the factory explaining the impending dangers to the resources, particularly ground water, those in support of the factory...

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Challenging Witch-hunt of Minorities

AISA-RYA Dharna at Azamgarh Student and youth activists of RYA, AISA and PUHR held a protest dharna on October 4 at the District Collector’s office at Azamgarh, against the witch-hunt of Muslim youth and students in the name of fighting ‘terrorism’. RYA National President Mohd. Salim, AISA State President Ramayan Ram, RYA State President Balmukund Dhuria and National Secretary Om Prakash Singh, PUHR’s district convenor Basant Kumar, CPI(ML)’s Gazipur leader Dr. Salauddin, former MLA Alam Nabi and CPI(ML)’s Azamgarh in-charge Jaiprakash Narain addressed the protest, condemning the communal profiling of Azamgarh and demanding a judicial enquiry into the Jamia Nagar encounter. Many intellectuals from Azamgarh also joined the dharna. People’s Convention in Azamgarh A People’s Convention titled “Terrorism, Harassment of Muslims, and Democracy” was held on October 19 2008 at Azamgarh, in solidarity with the people of Azamgarh, and to challenge the deliberate communal polarisation and profiling in the town. Addressing the Convention, CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya said that terrorism is rooted, not in Azamgarh but in politics dictated by America. He said that the communal attacks on the religious minorities in the name of terrorism is in reality an attack on the past and future of India. The convention was organised by the CPI(ML), People’s Union for Human Rights (PUHR), Revolutionary Youth Association, All India Students’ Association (AISA), Jan Sanskriti Manch, All India Progressive Women’s Association...

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CPI(ML)’s Nation-wide Protest Against Sangh Attacks on Christians

On October 3, CPI(ML) held nation-wide protests demanding prosecution of Chief Ministers of Orissa and Karnataka for allowing saffron mobs to indulge in an anti-Christian pogrom; demanding a ban on the Sangh outfits guilty of communal violence and protesting against the UPA Government’s refusal to take stern action against the communal killers. A memorandum to the President of India was submitted from all over the country. The memorandum, raising all the above issues and demands, also noted that the Sangh’s accusations of ‘forced conversion’ was actually serving to cover up their own acts of forcing adivasis and Christians to convert to Hinduism. Conversion from Hinduism has largely been an act of rebellion by the oppressed castes against the caste-ridden Hindu fold, noted the memo, and “the current wave of violence is therefore also an attempt to terrorise the Dalits and other oppressed social groups for their rebellion – and is therefore a continuation of social oppression in another form.” The acts of humiliation of Christians that have come to light – raping, parading naked, and forcing to eat excreta as ‘purification’ ritual – are all reminiscent of the atrocities against Dalits. The party also noted the increasing incidents of communal violence in Dhule (Maharashtra) and Adilabad (Andhra Pradesh), in which the minority community bore the brunt of the attacks. Also, it condemned the Tarun Gogoi Government for allowing the...

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Fact-Finding Report on Kandhamal Situation

A CPI(ML) fact-finding team visited Orissa’s Kandhamal District on 15-16 October, 2008. The team, comprising CPI(ML) CC members Rajaram and Bahadur Oraon, Orissa State Committee members Comrades Yudhistir Mahapatra and Radhakant Sethi, AICCTU National Councillor Mahendra Parida, Jharkhand State Committee member J.P. Minz, Hills Party Committee (Assam) members Samuel Ronghang and Daniel Teron, visited affected villages and relief camps, after facing interrogation by the Orissa Police and the CRPF. The team also met District Magistrate and various police officials of Kandhamal District. Below is a report by team member J P Minz. The DM’s Statement: The DM told us that Kandhamal had been peaceful for the preceding ten days. Whereas there used to be fifteen relief camps, now only seven were operational, having 12,641 people. According to him, breakfast, meals, supplementary food meant for children, and iron and calcium tablets for pregnant women are available in these camps; a doctor is available round the clock; books are available for children and there are regular reading sessions. Blankets, sarees, buckets and mugs and similar essentials have also been provided. Conditions of the Relief Camps: Our team visited Phulbani, Tikabali, Ji Udaygiri and Rakiya relief camps and found that the inmates of the camp are living in extremely bad conditions. In the name of breakfast they get only fifty grams of chura (beaten rice) and rice-dal for meals, which is not...

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Beyond the NIC Deliberations

After a lapse of more than three years the National Integration Council met last week against a backdrop of raging communal violence in several parts of the country punctuated by periodic bomb-blasts in major cities. The response of the state to such a situation conforms to a by now familiar, almost predictable pattern. The NIC deliberations only reflected and reaffirmed this pattern. In the face of communal violence unleashed by the Sangh Parivar, the state withdraws into a shell of inaction, or openly stands by the perpetrators and protagonists of such violence, depending upon whether the reins of the state are in the hands of the Congress/UPA or the BJP/NDA. In the wake of a terrorist incident, the same state however becomes hyperactive. The police swings into action, arrests and encounters follow suit, and we are treated to an official propaganda blitzkrieg with sensational stories as to how the state has just busted some ‘terror modules’ or killed or arrested some dreaded ‘terrorist masterminds’. While the police establishment reduces the whole question of tackling terrorism to a no-holds-barred battle between ‘terrorist masterminds’ and ‘encounter specialists’ in which the courts and constitution must not play spoilsport, the political establishment launches a competitive chorus for a hard state and tough anti-terror laws. The BJP demands re-enactment of POTA, the Congress rules out bringing back any law that has already been exposed...

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Work for all: An alternative path of development

(We reproduce for discussion, a note on a possible alternative path of development, prepared by some academics and social activists. Ed/- Discussions with Amit Bhaduri regarding his concept of “Development with Dignity” led some of us to think that the alternative path of development he was trying to chart could present before the resistance movement against the current onslaught of the big corporations a current programme of action which would also be relevant to the greater task of social transformation. A draft of such a programme of action is being hereby circulated for discussion. -Meher Engineer, Rabin Chakraborty, Subhasis Mukherjee, Soumya Guha Thakurta and Dipanjan Rai Chaudhuri) We start with two central questions: Development for whom? Who is to control development? The most pressing problem at this juncture is that of the great majority of Indians living in inhuman poverty. Their existence is marginal and they have no role to play in the country’s current path of development. Their agony and latent anger accumulate like thunderclouds on the horizon. They have lost faith in the promise that the ‘trickle down effect’ will better their lot some day. Their experience has convinced them that the ‘trickle’ reaches only those who have access to influence. An alternative path of development is immediately called for, an alternative that might chart a course of freedom for the teeming millions from their current miserable...

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PD Propaganda Can’t Wipe Out Singur Facts

With Tata’s flight from Singur, the CPI(M) seems to be expecting facts themselves to fly out of public memory! Their leaders are back to trotting out tired fictions in the pages of PD. Biman Basu (People’s Democracy October 12 2008), for instance, tells us that the entire Singur episode of land acquisition and compensation was a “meticulous pro-people, pro-poor, pro-peasantry exercise.” This is surely a piece of Orwellian ‘newspeak’ on par with the US calling its war of occupation in Iraq ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom!’ The process of scuttling the right of Singur’s peasantry and poor to know, let alone decide about the land handover; of using everything from batons to rape and burning alive to silence the protests; of preparing elaborate lies about ‘compensation’ and ‘consent’ was indeed a ‘meticulous exercise’ – but all to serve Tata and not the peasantry and poor people of Singur. Basu claims that “the highest amount of cultivable land are in the hands of poorest of the poor in the rural areas (of W Bengal – Ed/-), incomparable with any other part of the country. Due to the fragmentation of land and the pressure of population through the increase in the families and family members, land is gradually becoming unviable as a source of livelihood.” Way back in December 2006, PD had tried convincing us that “90% of the land acquired is mono...

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There Must Be No Free Exit for the Tatas

A key point in the corporate discourse on the ongoing economic reforms in India has been the clamour for what big capital calls an ‘exit policy’. Ratan Tata has just revealed what big corporates mean by this phrase. Paraphrasing Caesar, Tata’s exit from Singur could be described as a straightforward case of “I came, I destroyed, I left”. Till recently we were told that Singur was the ultimate answer to Ratan Tata’s search for a suitable site for his dream project of producing a ‘people’s car’. Now he tells us that conditions are no longer conducive, that the Tata group cannot operate in police protection. If Ratan Tata has an ‘ethical objection’ to police intervention, he should have abandoned his project at the very beginning of the process of land acquisition. The whole process has all along been soaked in coercion and violence including brutal doses of police atrocities. Perhaps the Tatas could not stomach the fact that the people of Singur should show the guts to challenge the combined might of the Tata empire and the state, and go on raising awkward demands regarding return of their land and payment of adequate compensation for the losses borne not only by landowners but also sharecroppers and agricultural labourers and other self-employed toilers who depended on the Singur land for their living? They might have found it even more offensive...

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Impact of US Meltdown on Indian Economy:

The Spreading Economic Contagion: A Reluctant Recognition Indian economy is insulated from the crisis…The global financial crisis will not affect us much…First Chidambaram went on in this vein until both he and his boss Manmohan had to reluctantly admit that no developing economy could possibly remain immune to the global crisis. Still, it was projected primarily as a financial crisis or at best a precursor to a mild recession. But no financial crisis is ever a mere crisis of the world of high finance alone. Just as the gloom in the trading floors soon spread to the shopfloors in the factories, financial turbulence is just a symptom of the turmoil in the real economy. In a global crisis of such historic proportion where the total bailout packages by all countries work out to some 3 trillion dollars but where there is still uncertainty whether the system can be salvaged, it is stupid to pretend that India would be immune to the systemic crisis. A finance minister’s job is not to give false hopes. Panic at the stock markets cannot be prevented for long with pep words from the FM. Till October 14, the Bush administration alone has announced bailout packages to the tune of over USD 990 billion apart from injecting fresh investment worth $200 billion in banks and private financial institutions to shore up their financial position. The...

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Financial Tsunami in US: Investigating the Root Causes and Broader Implications

“For many a decade past, the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeois and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that, by their periodical return, put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. …In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity – the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism… And why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. … And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand, by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.” — The Communist Manifesto For a start, take a look at this small assortment of typical views “New York is still here, ladies and gentlemen, but Wall Street has disappeared, like the Twin Towers.” — A...

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Nuke Deal Is a Conduit to Import US Crisis into India

The UPA government has finally sealed the nuclear deal with the US. For the Congress and the coalition of Unashamed Partners of America headed by it, the nuclear deal is the supreme achievement of the government. On the eve of signing the deal, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee reiterated India’s commercial commitment to the US nuclear energy industry: “We look forward to working with US companies on the commercial steps that will follow to implement this landmark Agreement.” In a second statement issued after the Agreement’s signing he also reiterated India’s commitment to implement the Agreement in good faith even though no such reciprocal assurance was made by the US to confirm New Delhi’s claim regarding the so-called US ‘guarantee’ on uninterrupted fuel supply. On India’s part, faithful implementation of the commitments, whether declared or undeclared, has long been underway. From the vote against Iran at IAEA to the continuing prevarication and procrastination on the issue of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline proposal, India has been complying with the Hyde Act, which requires India’s foreign policy to be congruent with American priorities and objectives, in letter and spirit. And now Pranab Mukherjee’s explicit assurance reaffirms the commercial component of India’s commitment, which can only be music to American ears at a time when the US economy is passing through its worst crisis in some eighty years. The dilapidated atomic reactor...

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