07 July 2010

Jose Saramago: Communist Story teller

Jose Saramago, the first ever Portuguese writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998. passed away on 18 June. He was 87. Saramago was born in 1922 into a peasant family in Azinhaga, a village in Ribatejo, northeast of Lisbon. When he was two, they moved to the capital, where his father |ose, an artilleryman in the first work! war, found a job as a traffic policeman and his mother worked as a domestic cleaner. After the 1926 coup d’etat overthrew the republic, Antonio de Salazar rose to power with his fascist militias and P1DE secret police. “Small Memories”, Saramago’s memoir, describes his family’s sordid living conditions in Lisbon and hints at a coercive submission within the household to the fascist slogan of “God, Fatherland, Family”. Shortly after the family moved to Lisbon, his elder brother Francisco died, aged four. Saramago’s efforts to track down his grave some 70 years later, while collecting information for his memoir, fed his novel “All the Names”. Since his family could not afford to keep him at grammar school, he went to vocational school and became an apprentice mechanic in a garage. Yet he read “at random” in public libraries, and worked at a publishing company in the mid-1950s. He translated Tolstoy, Baudelaire and Hegel among others, before becoming a journalist. His first novel was published when he was 23. Then...

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Make the July 7 All-India Strike of Rural Workers A Resounding Success !

Rural poor brothers and sisters, Ruling parties of various hues come to us during every election, and take away our votes after promising a better future. It is the majority votes of India’s rural poor that forms governments, yet as soon as power is grabbed, the very same governments forget us and all our needs and aspirations. In this regard, it is difficult to find any distinction among all governments whether at the centre or in the states. It is as if betrayal is another name for governance. A majority of the population living in rural India are cursed with landlessness. While land for cultivation is still a distant dream, even 10 cents of land for building a house is not made available to the poor. The share­croppers are not even guaranteed minimal legal protection. It is not as if Central and State governments don’t have laws to work with, there is no dearth of reports either, yet governments have been running away from implementing land reforms in favour of the poor. At the same time, governments are working overtime to displace tribal people, and poor peasants and appropriate an ever greater share of water, forests, minerals and fertile land for massive corporate loot and plunder. We the landless and rural poor know that in every village and panchayat, even to day there are large tracts of land that...

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Resurgent Workers’ Movement in China

WANT to have a glimpse of the core of the “Made in China” electronics export hub? Welcome to the Longhua complex of Foxconn, the renowned manufacturers of components for renowned multinationals like Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, Sony and Dell. Located just outside Shenzhen in China, it spans three square kilometers and is criss-crossed by tree-lined streets with a water fountain at the centre, a hospital, a host of restaurants, a swimming pool surrounded by palm trees, banks and a bookstore among huge factory buildings and towering dormitories – all for the workers. Recently the company has added two more facilities for the benefit of its employees: erecting nets around the buildings and hiring counsellors for employees to talk to. But why? Well, to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths, a strange habit they have developed of late without any valid reason whatsoever, as the bosses claim. Ask the workers, and you will get a very different answer. About 80 percent of the front-line production employees work standing, some for 12 hours a day for six days a week, not excluding those working 12-hour overnight shifts. Conversation on the production line is forbidden, toilet breaks are kept to 10 minutes every two hours. Mostly migrants from distant villages aged below 25 years, with little education and skills, they have to bear with all this, the more so since the craze...

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Glimpses of Unfolding Turbulence in Greece

“The collapse of the [international] financial system is real, and the crisis is far from over”, George Soros said at a conference in Vienna on June 10. “We have just entered Act II of the drama”, he added. Indeed, after a brief and uneasy calm the fury of the crisis of capital is back with a vengeance, exactly as Marxists had predicted it would. “Act II” depicts what has been called “sovereign debt crisis”, with Greece occupying the centrestage in Scene I, Dubai and Iceland in the backdrop and a host of European countries like Portugal, Spain, maybe even the UK waiting in the wings. After joining the EU at the turn of the century, Greece enjoyed the apparent benefits of the European Common Market for half a decade or so, growing at nearly 3.5 per cent per year – a remarkably high rate for advanced economies – on borrowed money, while at the same time incurring huge current account and fiscal deficits. The deep-seated problems did not come to light until 2008. But when growth slipped that year owing to the international crisis, the process became unsustainable. With its national debt reaching nearly 120 per cent of its national income (GDP) by May this year, the country reached a near-insolvent position where it was on the brink of defaulting on its sovereign bonds (bonds issued by the state)....

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End the Siege of Gaza!

ISRAEL’S blatant act of piracy when its navy viciously attacked and captured the Free Gaza flotilla on May 31 in international waters, killing 9 unarmed activists and injuring dozens more, has not only blown the lid off its nefarious and highhanded siege of Gaza but exposed to the world the brutalities that it has been inflicting on the hapless Palestinians for decades. This blockade of the sea coast off Gaza began over three years ago and is just one more way that Israel is trying to crush the Palestinian people and take over their lands at all costs. Needless to say, the US administration has supported the blockade under the Bush administration and continues to do so under the Obama one!  The sea blockade is just one of the many ways in which the Palestinians are being ruthlessly marginalised, denied all rights and benefits and are being made refugees in their own land. First, all land routes into Gaza have been blocked and taken control of. Over the years, Israeli settlements have taken over more and more land till now more than ninety percent of Palestinian land is under Israeli occupation. Palestinians have to carry identity cards even to move around within their own country. All entrance and exits into Gaza are strictly policed by the Israeli IDF (Israeli Defence Force) and there are more than 570 check points...

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Martyrs’ Column Unveiled

35th Anniversary of Historic Ghorhuan Martyrdom Day! ON 3rd June 1975, weeks before the infamous Emergency, fifteen brave fighters of the people including Comrades Virad Manjhi, Gyaneshwar Yadav and Rambabu Yadav had inscribed a new chapter in the epic battle for liberation of Indian people. When encircled by the CRPF at Ghorhuan village in Masaurhi block of Patna District, they chose to embrace martyrdom rather than slipping away from the encirclement. For 18 long hours they fought a heroic battle with the combined might of the police and paramilitary forces like the CRP and BMP. Comrade Virad Manjhi (40, hailed from Dehri village in Punpun) was the chief commander of the squad and also member of the then Patna-Gaya Zonal Committee. Comrade Gyaneshwar Yadav (native of Buxar; aka Nagendra) only 25 at the time of martyrdom, was member of Bihar State Committee and chief political commissar of the squad. Amongst the Party organisers Comrade Rambabu Yadav (28; aka Kailash) was member of the Patna-Gaya Zonal Committee, Comrade Prakash Chandra Mukherjee (27; aka Gopi, resident of Jakkanpur, Patna) was area committee member and Comrade Ramjatan Manjhi (22; also younger brother of Com. Virad Manjhi) was also a squad commander. The other martyrs were all fighters and squad members – Ramji Manjhi (21; Dehri in Punpun); Rajvallabh Ravidas (20), Rajaram Ravidas (25), Kavindar Ram (20) and Girija Paswan (22; all four...

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Updates

Conference of Rickshaw Pullers THE Delhi State Committee of CPI(ML) successfully organised the 1st Conference of cycle-rickshaw pullers at Sector 25 in Noida on 23 May. Two hundred rickshaw pullers participated in the Conference. A 15 member committee with Comrades Shyam Kishore Yadav and Suresh Paswan as President and Secretary respectively was elected through the Conference. AICCTU General Secretary Com. Swapan Mukherjee and Delhi Secretary Com. Sanjay Sharma addressed the conference and congratulated the participants. The Conference passed resolutions on several immediate demands of the rickshaw pullers including (i) granting of licences to all rickshaw-pullers and their mandatory inclusion in BPL and social security list, (ii) construction of cycle-rickshaw stands with shades and drinking water amenities, (iii) granting of easy loan and micro credits from banks to free them from the clutches of usurers, (iv) stopping all harassment by the police and administration and (v) recognising their service for its contribution to minimising environmental pollution. Bihar : Rural Poor Resist Pro-BJP Feudal Conspiracy to Stop Construction of Rural Road in Patna LIKE the Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Bihar Chief Minister too has a scheme of construction of rural roads in the name of “Mukhyamantri Gram Sadak Yojana” (Chief Minister Rural Road Scheme). But the scheme of a 300 metre road linking village Ghurnabigha in Paliganj to the main road, which was recommended by the local CPI(ML) MLA...

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Delhi : AICCTU Leads Determined Struggle in Wazirpur Ind. Area

A workers’ struggle has been on for past several months in the Wazirpur industrial area in Delhi. The workers of W.C. Steel factory have been fighting a protracted struggle for ensuring their basic mandated rights and facilities as the owner of the factory continues to deny them even the minimum wages. The struggle started in January with a petition submitted to the labour minister who is yet to take any action on the matter. With the Delhi government, labourv office and courts all siding with the recalcitrant owner, the workers faced retrenchments and all kinds of threats. However, the workers, despite being thrown out, have chosen to organise themselves under the banner of AICCTU and strike back with determination. For the past few weeks, the retrenched workers along with workers from other factories in the area have been sitting on a dharna at the factory gate braving all the usual intimidatory tactics, including a court case, by the factory owner to break the struggle. On 21 June, AICCTU organised a massive demonstration at the local Deputy Labour Commissioner’s office. A large number of demonstrators with significant participation of women gheraoed the DLC office protesting against the collusion of the labour department with the guilty factory owners and demanding implementation of minimum wages and other legal provisions in the industrial area. The demonstration was led by AICCTU State Secretary Com....

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RSS Goons Attack CPI(ML) Leader in Kalahandi : Police Station Gheraoed in Protest

IN protest against the brutal attack by RSS, BJP and BJD goons on Orissa state committee member Com Nilanjan Bhattacharya and demolition of tribal and dalit Christian houses in Ulladani village panchayat of Rampur block in Kalahandi district, nearly 500 activists of CPI(ML) gheraoed Kalahandi police station on 19 June. The CPI(ML) has been fighting for last four years for land and housing rights of local tribal and dalit Christian people. The local RSS unit however has been trying its level best to stop these people from getting their land rights so that communists did not get any foothold in that area. Yet defying RSS pressure, the land rights campaign succeeded in securing patta for some people. The RSS-BJP-BJD goons then forcibly demolished the huts set up by the CPI(ML) supporters on 9 June. When on the next day, Comrade Nilanjan went to investigate the case, the RSS-BJP-BJD goons assaulted and abducted him. Following intervention by the State Committee and a visit to the area by State secretary Comrade Khitish Biswal on 11 June, Comrade Nilanjan was eventually released. On 19 June nearly 500 people led by Comrades Nilanjan Bhattacharaya, Mahendra Parida, Arjun Majhi, Sanjay Naik, Balaram Hota and Joseph gheraoed the Kalahandi police station and asked the SP to take immediate action against the RSS-BJP goons. It may be noted that the area borders the Kandhamal region where...

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Uttar Pradesh: Mounting State Repression in Maya Raj

ON 13 May, Mayawati completed 3 years in office. In these three years, the BSP has systematised an extremely repressive regime in the state with steady erosion of all democratic rights. It is indeed ironical that despite the Chief Minister being a woman and a Dalit, the crimes against these very social groups have increased tremendously under her rule, and the state police on several occasions have even refused to register their complaints. Mocking BSP’s poll-time promise of cleansing the state’s politics of criminal elements, we find that many known criminals, mafia dons and history-sheeters have found a safe haven in the BSP itself. The cleansing act has been reduced to an occasional arrest or a rare farcical expulsion. The abysmal state of law and order was evident when in March 2010 communal riots were allowed to escalate and continue for days in Bareilly, while the entire state and police machinery was kept occupied for “smooth” conduct of birthday celebrations of Kanshiram on March 15, 2010. Farmers in particular are victims of the intensified loot and repression, at the mercy of middlemen who procure their produce at below the minimum support price and then sell them at support price. Recently, in Maikalganj (Lakhimpur Khiri) CPI(ML) activists caught one such truck that was carrying food grains procured from farmers by the middlemen. Farmers protesting against grab of fertile land by big...

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Punjab: Popular Struggles and Left Assertion

Punjab is going through a lot of turmoil. The state which is known as the granary of India is now in the grip of an acute agrarian crisis. Reeling under spiralling debts, marginal peasants and agricultural labourers in many parts of Punjab are being driven out of agriculture. According to Prof. Sukhpal of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, around 2.5 lakh households have been pushed out of agriculture during 1995-2005 and 7,500 new households have joined the category of rich farmers with landholding exceeding 25 acres. Contract farming is on in full swing with Reliance, Nestle, Pepsico and other MNCs taking over large tracts of farm lands on lease for a period of anything between 10 to 55 years. Large tracts of land are also being appropriated by the education mafia for private engineering and medical colleges run by the kulak-trader lobby. Massive real estate projects are coming up on agricultural land in the vicinity of towns and highways. Only a handful of farmers and traders (not more than 7%) are reaping the harvest of this narrow kulak-landlord path of development and appropriating all government resources, while 65% of the farming population holding less than 10 acres of cultivable land are facing acute crisis. There is no increased industrial development in the state to absorb the people who are being pushed out of agriculture. The scope of employment in government jobs...

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Undeclared Emergency in University Campuses

Brazen violation of democratic rights and freedom of expression appears to be seamlessly institutionalized as a norm in university campuses across the country. As the UPA govt bulldozes its commercialization agenda to restructure the existing universities, curbing students’ rights, student organizations and student unions has become its overriding priority to pre-empt all organized protest from the student community. Campuses are in a state of undeclared emergency – student unions remain virtually banned in all major Central Universities. Introduced in the name of ‘cleaning up of student politics’, Lyngdoh recommendations became another tool to restrict student activism, stall elections in a vibrant campus like JNU, while its recommendations of mandatory student union elections in all campuses is given a quiet burial, reaffirming Lyngdoh Committee’s hidden intentions. In this context it is important to highlight the recent developments in some of the prestigious campuses of the country. AMU: Suspension for Criticizing Administration on Internet Continuing with a spate of authoritarian and draconian suspensions of students, the AMU VC has suspended one more student, Mohd. Adil Hossain, of M.A. (Previous) Mass Communication on 3 June, 2010, ostensibly for “incessantly indulging in rumour mongering, canard spreading, defaming the Aligarh Muslim University,” and that he has “lowered down and tarnished the image of the University over the internet”! Mired in numerous charges of financial and administrative corruption and facing high-level enquires, the corrupt VC...

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Spontaneous Outburst of Rail Workers at Jamalpur Workshop in Bihar

The Jamalpur Railway workshop in Bihar (Eastern Railway) witnessed an unprecedented outburst of railway workers on 4 June 2010. Never in its history of 148 years, had the workshop experienced a workers’ outburst of this magnitude. The incident took place over the death of Mahendera Mandal, a rail worker of Jamalpur workshop. At about 8 AM he fell from his bicycle due to stone chips lying on the road and was run over by a rushing sand loaded truck. The stone chips and the sand-loaded truck all belonged to a contractor. Workers of nearby shops rushed to the spot at once and as the news of the death spread thousands of workers soon assembled at the spot. The workers demanded immediate presence of higher officials but the latter did not dare to face the angry workers. Infuriated, the workers then set the truck afire. Railway protection force came to intervene but was chased away by the workers. One ASI of RPF Parameswar Singh was injured in the course of the scuffle and declared dead at the Railway Hospital. This led to the arrival of the DM and SP with a huge contingent of police force from adjoining police stations. The workers however refused to talk to the DM and asked for the presence of senior railway officials. The police then resorted to lathi charge and blasting of tear gas...

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Air Corporation Employees’ Strike:

Air Corporation employees’ flash strike from 25th May starkly exposed the murky state of affairs in the aviation industry. Against the backdrop of the May 22 Mangalore air crash, the government, management and the media have all conspired to project the strike as an act of insensitivity on the part of the Air Corporation employees. But just one look at the sequence of events leading to the strike is sufficient for any rational observer to judge who is at fault. In the wake of the May 22 air crash in Mangalore airport when the whole country was discussing the tragedy and trying to find out the reasons, one of the office bearers of the unions cited before the media the negligence of the management as the main reason behind the tragedy. This invited the wrath of the management and citing the gag order of the management that the employees cannot go public on anything that would cause potential damage to the revenue earning capacity of the organization, the management took action on the employee for breaking the gag order. Over 20,000 employees all over the country promptly resisted this move with their flash strike on May 25. So more than any economic demand of the striking workers, what lay at the heart of the strike was the management’s obsession with its image and profits and its attempt to stifle...

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The Rhetoric of Rectification and Beyond

The repeated electoral debacles suffered by the CPI(M) in the recent past have triggered a veritable churning in CPI(M) circles. The CPI(M) has never recognized any theoretical debate or practical criticism or questioning of the role, policies and priorities of state governments led by it from any Left quarter. Even after Singur and Nadigram, when sympathetic Left intellectuals too began to openly question the CPI(M)’s role and understanding, the party’s initial and rather instinctive response was to disown all those intellectuals and dogmatically dismiss all those debates as anti-industry peasant romanticism and anti-Left conspiracy. But when the votes were counted, and the chickens of Singur and Nandigram all came home to roost; the party needed something more than a conspiracy theory to account for its worst ever electoral performance. Three major talking points seem to have emerged in the CPI(M)’s internal discourse – the need for a rectification campaign, the alleged violation of the line adopted at the party’s Coimbatore Congress (March 29-April 3, 2008) and reinforcing the principles of democratic centralism. While none of these three points really deals with the role of the CPI(M)-led governments, a fourth strand of inquiry can also be discerned in some recent writings of Ashok Mitra and Prabhat Patnaik, focusing not just on the specific role of the West Bengal government but also on the theoretical context in which this role is...

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