11 November 2010

The Human Cost of Wealth Explosion

“In proportion as the labour develops, and thereby becomes the source of wealth, poverty and demoralisation among the labourers and wealth and culture among the non-labourers develop. This is the law of the whole hitherto existing history. In the present day capitalist society material etc. conditions have finally been created which enable and compel the labourers to smash this historical malediction” — Karl Marx According to a recent report on global wealth by investment bank Credit Suisse, total wealth in India has tripled over the past decade to $3.5 trillion (this is a general trend in emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific region: Indonesia’s wealth for example has grown five-fold over the same period) and could further increase to almost double that amount — $6.4 trillion to be precise — by 2015. Given the hardly reassuring state of Indian and world economies, will the forecast come true? More pertinently, assuming it does, will that bring India any nearer the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015? Such apprehension arises in view of a number of very disturbing facts and trends. The hallowed wealth increase occurred almost exclusively among the uppermost and higher-middle layers of population and much of it in stock market operations, where only around 5% of Indians participate. According to the 2009 Asia-Pacific Wealth Report, brought out by financial services firms Capgemini and Merrill Lynch Wealth...

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Organise Country-wide Protests during Barack Obama’s India Visit

US President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to India this November will inaugurate a new chapter in the ‘strategic partnership’ between US imperialism and India’s ruling class. As people of India, let us examine the interests that the US President represents and the implications of his visit for India. Barack Obama became President of the United States because he represented, for the people of the US as well of the world, a promise of ‘change’ – change from the imperialist policies of the Bush regime that had imposed wars, occupation, and economic crisis on the world. Two years later, both in the US as well as elsewhere in the world, that promise stands belied. Obama’s regime has represented ‘continuity’ rather than ‘change’ with the policies of US imperialism and war-mongering. Any ‘change’ has remained cosmetic. Obama colluded in suppressing the UN’s Goldstone Report indicting Israel for war crimes in Gaza. In the name of ending the occupation of Iraq, Obama has actually renamed 50, 000 US troops in Iraq as ‘advise-and-assist brigades’ rather than combat troops. The US war in Afghanistan continues unabated. And there has been no change whatsoever in the policies of US imperialism that force a grave economic crisis on the people of the world. As Manmohan Singh’s UPA-II Government rolls out the red carpet for US President Barack Obama this November, we will once again hear...

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Pricol Workers’ Family Festival

10.10.10 was a day of celebration for Pricol Workers. They celebrated their three years of consistent struggle for democratic rights and dignity. They had taken part in festivals organized by the management before. Now, they organized a family festival of their own. This festival was all decorated with red flags and laced with revolutionary slogans. They surprised the skeptics by organizing a mega event that even the ‘mighty’ management did not attempt so far, putting an end to speculations that their move forward would soon lose its sheen and that they would give up before the continued anti-workers measures of the management. In the Festival they made a clear statement: “Come what may. We will not waver from the path of struggle. We will add new tasks to our journey. Our journey will gain new strength and vigor.” The festival and the preparations went through in a phase in which the management unilaterally announced a long term wage settlement without any negotiations — either with the unions that enjoy majority or with any other union that enjoys the patronage of the management. The management expected this one-to-one settlement to sow seeds of division among the workers who are undergoing a difficult phase in making the ends meet. But, to the dismay of the management even those workers who are not in the union, who left the union and the...

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All India Left Coordination Holds Conventions at Kolkata and Ranchi

The All India Left Coordination, launched at New Delhi in August this year, held a Convention at Kolkata on 5 October at the Moulali Yuba Kendra on the theme “Decline of the opportunist Left – Rise of the fighting Left”. Among those who attended the Convention were renowned poet and litterateur Nabarun Bhattacharya, Samir Putatunda of PDS and Aloke Nandy of Democratic Communist Party (Marxist). Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of CPI(ML), Comrade Kumaran Kutty of Left Coordination Committee (LCC), Kerala, Comrade Bhimrao Bansod, Secretary of Lal Nishan Party (Leninist), Maharastra were the main speakers at the Convention. Comrade Mangat Ram Pasla, General Secretary of CPM (Punjab) could not reach the convention due to a delayed train, but addressed a press conference along with Comrade Dipankar and other leaders on the following day. The convention was presided over by Comrade Abhijit Majumder, Central Committee Member of CPI(ML), Liberation. In his address Com. Dipankar explained the background of the formation of the All India Left Coordination and the purpose of holding the convention at Kolkata in the backdrop of decline of the ruling Left in West Bengal. Comrade Kumaran Kutty spoke of the situation in Kerala, where extreme reactionary forces were on the rise to fill in the vacuum created by the decline of the opportunist ruling left. However, as a positive trend, he indicated that some disaffected left forces...

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Updates

12th Smriti Diwas of Comrade Nagbhusan Pattanaik Commemorated The 12th death anniversary of comrade Nagbhusan was observed at Nagbhusan Bhavan, Bhubaneswar, on 9th October on behalf of Nagbhusan Bhavan Smriti Committee. In the morning the statue of comrade Nagbhusan was garlanded and floral tributes with red salute offered by comrades Khitish Biswal, Diwakar Naik (state secretary of CPI), Radhakanta Sethi, Yudhistir Mohapatra, Mahendra Parida, Satyabadi Behera (president of AIALA), Praffulla Samantray of Lokashakti Abhiyan and Ashok Pradhan along with hundreds of party comrades. This was followed by a meeting on land movement in Orissa and the role of comrade Nagbhusan Pattanaik. It was presided over by comrade Yudhistir Mohapatra and the welcome speech was delivered by comrade Radhakanta Sethi. Comrade Khitish Biswal described the role of comrade NBP in land struggle and called upon the gathering to intensify the fight against corporate loot in Orissa today. Comrade Praffulla Samantray described the land struggle in Bisam cuttack and Naryanpatana while Prof Nilamani Sahu stressed the need of unity among communists for the sake carrying forward people’s movements in Orissa as well as in India. Comrade Diwakar Naik of CPI observed that comrade Nagbhusan worked most sincerely for communist unification and this is highly necessary in India today. Senior journalist Rabi Das emphasized the need for more literature on the life of Nagbhusan to inspire the youth of our country. Comrade...

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CPI(ML)’s Charter for the People of Bihar

Fight against Corruption: Corruption has become a major drag on development and it marks a serious denial of dignity and democracy for the poor. The CPI(ML) is therefore determined to wage a “zero-tolerance to corruption” campaign and insists on comprehensive probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation or other credible and competent agencies into all frauds unearthed by the CAG and other vigilance agencies to ensure that all officials, politicians and contractors/middlemen responsible for misappropriation and diversion of public funds and PDS loot are brought to book. More often than not, corruption flows from the top and it is therefore particularly important to mete out stern punishment in every case of corruption in high places. The CPI(ML) demands that each Minister and any other politician holding the office of profit and each bureaucrat be legally mandated to publicly declare his/her assets that s/he possessed before s/he occupies the public position, and then at every six months interval during the period of holding such position, failing which the concerned minister/official should face automatic termination. Special courts in sufficient numbers must be created right from the state level down to district and subdivision levels to try corruption cases through speedy trials. Democratic Rights and Democratic Debate: There can never be ‘good governance’ without accountability, democratic rights and serious democratic debates on policy issues. Successive governments in Bihar have systematically downgraded democracy...

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New Road to New Bihar

Bihar Assembly Elections 2010 As we go to press, comrades in Bihar are right in the midst of a most vigorous election campaign in the 104 constituencies we are contesting under a seat-sharing arrangement with the CPI and CPI(M). Here we publish our election manifesto and list of candidates. Dear Electors, Before you cast your valuable vote in the coming elections for Bihar Assembly, the CPI(ML) appeals to you to spare a thought on the following points. We know you are encircled by any number of issues in your everyday battle for existence. Yet another year of drought and crop-failure, yet another breach in yet another river, rising prices, elusive jobs, growing assault on food security and livelihood – life is certainly quite hard. What makes it even harder is the utter lack of basic facilities – whether electricity or irrigation, education or healthcare, transportation or housing. There is no paucity of high-sounding schemes – but in all probability your name is missing from the BPL list and hence the schemes do not have any meaning for you. Most probably you have to run around and bribe your way to secure any small benefit that should be yours as a matter of right. All these problems you have to face are only a reflection of the kind of governments we have and the kind of policies that are in...

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Karnataka, Jharkhand, Bihar: BJP’s Sordid Saga of Opportunism

In state after state where it is in power or shares power, the BJP stands racked by factional wars and opportunistic strife. The BJP’s “party with a difference” claims have been exposed long back by corruption and in-fighting. Even so, the recent dramas enacted in the Karnataka Assembly, the Jharkhand cabinet expansion exercise and resignations of prominent leaders in-charge of Bihar and Punjab point to a new low in the BJP’s trajectory. In Karnataka, the Yeddyurappa Government has lurched from crisis to crisis throughout its existence – many of them originating from the stranglehold of mining mafia over Karnatala’s politics in general and the BJP Government and party in particular. In the latest instance, the BJP Government faced a challenge to its existence when 16 MLAs (11 belonging to BJP and 5 independents) rebelled. In the ensuing vote of confidence, the Government survived through a controversial voice vote (division of votes was not counted) thanks to the Speaker’s questionable move of disqualifying all the 16 MLAs. The Karnataka HC, asked to pronounce on whether the anti-defection law invoked by the Speaker applies to the rebel MLAs (especially the independents) or not, first delivered a split verdict and is now again poised to deliver its verdict as we go to press. It appears that the Congress Government at the Centre will wait for the HC verdict before making any move...

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The CWG Aftermath: Lessons and Challenges

The Commonwealth Games 2010 are finally over. India finished second with 38 gold medals (third in overall medal tally), with Indian women participants contributing nearly 40% of the total medals. This is certainly a high point in the country’s performance in international sporting events, revealing the great potential that can be tapped with appropriate policies and care. The corrupt and inept organizers of CWG 2010 are now trying to bask in this glory achieved by Indian sportspersons, hoping that the country will forget and forgive the huge scams and bungling that made everybody aware of the CWG in the first place. We cannot let that happen. The UPA government has announced a high-level probe headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General VK Shungloo into various allegations of irregularities concerning the conduct of the Games. Several investigative agencies including the CBI, Central Vigilance Commission, Enforcement Directorate are supposedly already looking into various aspects of the CWG mega scam. The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, headed by Murli Manohar Joshi of the BJP, is reportedly also ready to table its report regarding the CWG expenses in the forthcoming winter session of Parliament. The report was apparently held back by the BJP till the Games were over, ostensibly to protect ‘national pride’. There is a strong public opinion in the country that wants responsibility to be fixed for the mammoth CWG mess....

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US hands off India, hands off Asia!

Barack Obama’s journey to India in the first week of November promises to be remarkable on several counts. Not all US Presidents visited India; those who did came here only in their second terms in office. Obama will be coming here before completing his second year in the White House and the trip is expected to cover full four or five days – the longest on record. Generally speaking this is a measure of India’s enhanced importance in the American dream of world domination. But perhaps more important are the current context and the immediate concerns on both sides. Right on the eve of Presidential trip, the CNAS (Centre for a New American Security), a think tank headed by Richard Armitage and Nicholas Burns — both former Deputy Secretaries of State under George Bush Junior and key architects of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal – brought out a paper titled “Natural Allies: A Blueprint for the Future of U.S.-India Relations”. Referring to the “rapid expansion of ties” during particularly the Bush years, the paper laments that now this progress has stalled. “Past projects remain incomplete, few new ideas have been embraced by both sides, and the forward momentum … has subsided” – the paper observes, adding “it is critical to rejuvenate the U.S.-India partnership and put U.S. relations with India on a more solid foundation.” How does the Democratic administration...

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Ayodhya Verdict: Faith Privileged Over Fact

[The demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 rocked the foundations of secular India. The Ayodhya issue, often misrepresented as a Hindu-Muslim dispute, in fact represents a contest between secular democratic values on the one hand and a communal fascist vision of India on the other. The idea of ‘Ram Janmabhoomi’ and ‘Ram Temple’ at the identical spot of the Babri Masjid, far from being articles of ‘faith’ for Hindus at large, was established as part of a sustained political campaign on part of the Sangh Parivar over a period of several decades – a campaign that the Indian State, for all its secular protestations, failed to arrest even when it blatantly violated laws of the land. The verdict of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court Ayodhya in the Ayodhya title suit case, instead of recognising the political nature of the ‘Ram Temple’ claim and dealing with the title suit claim on a strictly legal basis, has chosen to legitimise the ‘Ram Temple’ politics by upholding its key ideological propositions. What are the implications of such a verdict? Can it provide any effective resolution to the Ayodhya conflict? In this feature we seek to highlight some of the secular, democratic, progressive voices from various quarters as they responded to the verdict. Kavita Krishnan and Sudhir Suman on behalf of Liberation spoke to Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan...

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A Blow to the Spirit of Modern India

On the eve of the Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya, we had said the verdict would be a “test case for India’s secularism, democracy and justice.” Now, following a close look at the shocking verdict, we must say it has failed this test in every possible way. 30 September, 2010 will now be bracketed with 6 December, 1992. Eighteen years after the dastardly physical demolition of the Babri Masjid, we have now seen its judicial demolition, a verdict that flies in the face of the basic principles of justice and rule of law, and challenges the fundamental spirit of a secular, democratic modern India. The High Court was supposed to decide on the title suit regarding the disputed site. It is well known that the BJP and its Sangh siblings were all along wary of the court deciding on this case on the plea that the whole issue concerned “faith” and there could be no adjudication over “faith”. It was clear to them that they had no legal basis for their claim and hence they chose the way of cheating the country. They assured everybody that the law of the land would be honoured, and then betrayed their own words to demolish the mosque through a communal-fascistic mobilisation in broad daylight. Today, the Sangh is jubilant that the High Court has turned “faith” into law. All the three...

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