05 May 2011

Free my feet from the shackles

Free my feet from the shackles Like bangles made of thorn Confined inside a narrow room My fault lies in Being incarnated as a bird. Inside the dark room of the prison Many voices echo around Unlike the sound of birds Not the merry laughter Not that of a lullaby A child snatched away from the mother’s bosom The lamentation of a mother A woman separated from her husband The cry of anguish of a widow A cry springing out of a sepoy’s hand A ball of fire is seen Dooms day follows it The ball of fire was lit By the product of science Because of oral experimentation Servants of sense organs Everybody is in trance Intoxication – the enemy of thinking Wisdom of thinking is annihilated No experimentation of thinking Laughing with smiles on the face By the traveller of coming beyond the hill ranges Nothing remains but my laments Nothing saved by the seeing eyes Strength cannot show itself Human life is precious Before life comes to an end Let me be light of darkness Nectar will be sown A true of immortality will be planted. Putting on artificial wings All the corners of the earth will be covered Near the joining line of life and death Morning songs will be sung The chores of the world will be performed. Let the gate of the prison...

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OBITUARY

The Hero of Naxalbari Peasant Upsurge Com. Manilal Singha is No More Com. Manilal Singha, veteran of the Naxalbari Movement, passed away at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital on 10 February 2011, after sustaining a massive heart attack at his native village Telengagachh in Darjeeling district. He was 86. He is survived by his two sons. Comrade Manilal was born in 1924 in a middle peasant family. He had his primary school education in Tetulia Primary School in the then undivided Bengal. But he could only continue till Std. IV. When he came of age, he joined the Jayprakash Narayan-led Socialist Party in 1947. He later came in contact with Charu Mazumdar, Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal and became a member of the undivided Communist Party of India in 1952. Inspired by the first three documents of Charu Mazumdar he along with Dipak Biswas, Shanti Pal, and Kadam Mallick set off an intensive campaign among the landless peasants of Darjeeling district since 1965. On 7 May 1967, he presided over the historic Kisan Sammelan held at Rambhola Jote, Khoribari that witnessed the first clarion call for protracted armed struggle. He was one of the proud members of the third delegation (along with Shanti Pal, Souren Basu, Kadam Mallick, Dulal Chanda, Anil Mukherjee, Sukumar Roy and Pabitra Sengupta) to China that had to brave the tortuous road to Beijing,...

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The Revolution Cannot Be Rolled Back

(The Egyptian people are refusing to leave Tahrir Square. They keep coming back, to demand a say in the shape of things to come; to demand punishment for Mubarak and the confiscation of the public money stolen by him; to protest against the bans on strikes imposed by the military. Below, we carry an abridged version of a report on the workers’ struggle in Egypt today, by Carl Finamore, a US Labour activist who has made a short video on labour’s role in the Egyptian revolution [Untold Story of the Egyptian Revolution, which can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frtpwNYc980]). Tens of thousands filled Tahrir Square once again on April 1, emphatically demonstrating the utter failure of prolonged attempts by Egypt’s military government to demobilize and demoralize the pro-democracy movement. Fifteen thousand people, already attending the Friday Muslim prayers in Tahrir Square, were joined later in the afternoon by twice as many protesters jamming the central Cairo plaza. In what was called “The Friday for Rescuing the Revolution,” protesters demanded bringing to trial deposed President Hosni Mubarak and his cronies, ending the official state of emergency and releasing all political prisoners. In fact, important sections of the population continue to call for serious and fundamental democratic reforms, going far beyond the transparently shallow changes to Mubarak’s discredited constitution recently suggested by the top generals. Nonetheless, the military did successfully cast the...

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CPI(ML)’s Appeal to Voters in Bihar Panchayat Polls

Make Panchayats a Platform for Struggle against Corruption and People’s Problems! Establish People’s participation and Vigilance in Selecting and Executing Developmental Schemes! Dear voters, The whole country is reeling from the scourge of widespread corruption. Politicians, bureaucrats, army generals, judges and the media world – all are involved in scams amounting to thousands of billions. Twelve thousand crore rupees withdrawn from the treasury in Bihar has not been accounted for. A CBI enquiry was deferred when the Government promised to submit accounts of expenditure of this huge sum in the High Court. People of the State too gave a second chance to the Nitish Government, but according to the latest report of the CAG this amount has further grown to Rs 16,000 crores. We demand a CBI enquiry into the treasury scam and appeal to you to intensify the struggle against corruption in panchayats. There have been many boasts about development in Bihar, however neither the Central not the State Government has shown any consideration for the poor people of Bihar. The Centre had talked about enacting a food security act and Nitish had said that whether the Centre provides grains or not his Government would provide grains to 1.5 crore BPL families on its own. Grains are a distant dream for the poor as the Nitish Govt is delaying even the work of preparing BPL lists. Massive corruption...

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UPDATE

Third Odisha Party Conference at Bhubaneswar The Third Odisha Party Conference was held at Nagbhushan Bhavan, Bhubaneswar, on 2-3 April 2011. The Conference began on 2 April with the hoisting of the red flag outside the Conference Hall by Party Politburo member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya. Tributes were then paid to the martyrs’ memorial and two minutes silence observed for departed comrades. A six-member presidium was formed to conduct the proceedings. The Conference was inaugurated by Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya, who in his inaugural address outlined the challenges before the Odisha party. Odisha was one of the major centres of corporate loot of land and resources that was the defining feature of corruption in the liberalised economy, he said. People’s resistance against corporate loot was facing severe state repression that the Government was attempting to legitimise in the name of combating Maoists. This corporate plunder and war on the people is directly targeting the livelihood and survival of the adivasis and poorest people in the state. The CPI(ML) faced the challenge to build a powerful people’s movement against this all out plunder and repression – and Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya called on the Odisha party to rise to the occasion. Comrade Khitish Biswal, outgoing State Secretary, placed a work report document for discussion in the house. Over the course of the two days, around 130 delegates from many districts of Odisha participated...

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Legacy of Rabindranath: Discard the Dead, Uphold the Living

[On the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Thakur (May 8, 1861 — August 7, 1941) Liberation pays tribute to the great Indian internationalist and humanist. Here we bring you the first part of a three-part article in which Arindam Sen tries to understand the poet’s political personality as revealed in his works and in his actual role at important junctures in national and international politics.] “The wheels of Fate will someday compel the English to give up their Indian empire. But what kind of India will they leave behind, what stark misery? When the stream of their centuries-old administration runs dry at last, what a waste of mud and filth they will leave behind them! I had at one time believed that the springs of civilization would issue out of the heart of Europe. But today when I am about to quit the world that faith has gone bankrupt altogether. As I look around I see the crumbling ruins of a proud civilization strewn like a vast heap of futility. And yet I shall not commit the grievous sin of losing faith in Man. I would rather look forward to the opening of a new chapter in history after the cataclysm is over and the atmosphere rendered clean with the spirit of service and sacrifice. Perhaps that dawn will come from this horizon, from the East...

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CPI(ML) Election Campaign

West Bengal: For a Resurrection of the Fighting Left The CPI(ML) is contesting in 37 Assembly constituencies spread over 13 Districts in West Bengal, elections for which are going to be held in six phases starting from 18th April and ending on 10th May. Nine of these 37 seats are in the North Bengal districts where election will be held on 18 April. Most of the remaining seats are in five districts: Nadia (6), Bardhaman (5), Hooghly (4), North 24 Parganas (4), Bankura (3). Beyond these 37 seats, the party is supporting a communist group which has broken away from the CPI(M) in West Medinipur district and put up seven candidates. In the remaining seats the party is willing to support any independent Left and democratic candidate opposed to the Left Front, the Congress-TMC-SUCI combine and the BJP. The party’s election campaign calls upon the electorate to reject both the coalitions ruling in Kolkata and Delhi and strengthen the third camp comprising genuine Left and democratic forces. The State Committee has brought out an Election Appeal highlighting 15 demands, including repeal of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894; SEZ Act; UAPA (Amendment) Act; immediate withdrawal of ‘Operation Green Hunt’ and atrocities on people’s struggles; return of land to the peasants at Singur; 50 Kg of rice to each poor family at Rs.2 a Kg and 5 litres of kerosene to...

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New Awakening and Confidence in the Battle against Corruption

Is it a threat to democracy and democratic process for people, through democratic protests, to demand a say in what kind of law a Government introduces? Many critics of the anti-corruption movement that emerged around the fast by Anna Hazare on the Lokpal Bill issue seem to believe so. Protest Enriches, Not Undermines Democracy The entire movement has been variously branded as ‘blackmail’, as a ‘putsch,’ and as an attempt to subvert ‘democratic process.’ One analyst opined that the fast amounted to ‘blackmail,’ and that demand to include anti-corruption campaigners from civil society in the Lokpal Bill drafting committee was “absurd,” because people cannot be allowed “to dictate policy to a representative process.” According to these critics, it seems that people’s rights in a democracy are confined to the right to elect representatives. Having done so, have they no right to hold those representatives accountable to people’s wishes? Have they no right to ‘dictate’ what kind of policies those elected representatives will make? Must they watch passively while the Radias, Tatas, Ambanis and so on ‘dictate policy’ to elected representatives?! It is strange that most critics who accuse the anti-corruption campaigners of arrogating legislative powers to themselves, have seen no threat to democracy in the process whereby Bills (on Right to Food, Right to Education, Right to Information, NREGA and so on) have been drafted by the NAC. Surely...

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Census 2011: False Alarms and Real Challenges

The provisional figures of the 2011 census, released on March 31, raise several questions while demolishing several population-related myths. With a total population of 1.21 billion, India has now inched closer to China, the most populous country in the world. According to current projections, India may well surpass China by 2025. Those who see India’s population figures as the biggest problem facing the country will of course continue to raise a huge alarm; but census 2011 clearly tells us that the rate of growth of Indian population is slowing down. In terms of annual rate of growth, India with a growth rate of around 1.4% is ranked 93rd in the world. In decadal terms, the growth rate during 2001-11 stood at 17.64%, down from 21.5% during 1991-2001. Even in absolute terms India actually added less people between 2001 and 2011 than in the previous decade. The Sangh brigade never misses an opportunity to talk of growing infiltration from Bangladesh as a key factor propelling India’s population growth. Indeed, the issue of ‘foreign nationals’ remains an explosive topic in the northeastern state of Assam, with both Sonia Gandhi and Narendra Modi promising ‘to do everything to deport foreign nationals’ in the ongoing election campaign in the state. But the 2011 census figures tell us that the decadal population growth rate in Assam remains lower than the all-India rate – in...

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Poll Promises

Mixer-Grinder in Tamil Nadu, Switzerland-London in West Bengal! Election time is manifesto time. On the eve of elections we are used to the spectacle of ruling parties releasing eye-catching manifestos with spectacular promises. Former Haryana Chief Minister Chaudhary Devi Lal had once famously said that all manifestos read alike, the difference lying only in cover pages showing the names and election symbols of respective parties. There is surely an element of truth in what the earthy leader had said – almost every ruling party manifesto today for example echoes the same rhetoric of ‘good governance’ and ‘inclusive growth‘ even as in real life governments vie among themselves in promoting corporate plunder, curtailing democratic rights and enacting multi-billion scams. Yet reading between the lines, manifestos still help us in getting an idea about the forms of politics practised by different parties and holding them accountable after they come to power. Dominant politics in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh has never had any dearth of cinematic gloss. Once again, the manifestos of both DMK and AIADMK gave us a glittering picture of competitive populism. The DMK manifesto promised free mixers or grinders for women, free laptops for SC/ST engineering students and 35 kg free rice for Antyodaya card-holders, and Rs. 400,000 loan for women self-help groups with a maximum subsidy component of Rs. 200,000. The previous DMK...

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Wikileaks – Exposing Imperialism and Its Agents

The US diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks continue to shine the spotlight on an area where murky darkness prevailed before – the precise nature of the intimacies between US imperialism and India’s ruling class and government. In an interview with the editor of The Hindu, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said that the leaked cables pertaining to countries across the world proved that “the State Department is an instrument of U.S. industry of all types”, meddling in the internal affairs and policies of countries to serve US corporations and imperialist interests. What Marxists of the 60s alleged was happening in the ‘banana republics’ of Latin America, he said, was not mere political rhetoric, in fact continued to be the routine modus operandi for the US. Assange has also commented on the Indian PM Manmohan Singh’s attempt, in Parliament, to suggest that the Wikileaks cables are unverified and discredited by most of the world’s Governments. According to Assange, Manmohan’s actions look “like the behavior of guilty men”; “a deliberate attempt to mislead the public by suggesting that governments around the world do not accept the material and it is not verified.”As Assange reminds, “Hillary Clinton last year in December spoke to the Indian government …to forewarn that this material would be coming out. There is no doubt that these are bona fide reports sent by an American Ambassador back to Washington…”...

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Binayak Gets Bail – When Will All our Binayaks Get Justice?

Dr. Binayak Sen has finally got bail following a favourable directive from the Supreme Court. In granting him bail, the apex court has also questioned the flimsy basis on which the Chhattisgarh government has charged him with sedition. The judges, Justice Harjit Singh Bedi and Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad, are reported to have said that Binayak may well be a Maoist sympathizer but that does not automatically attract charges of sedition. They have also said that just as mere possession of Gandhi’s autobiography does not make one Gandhian, the same also holds good for the works of Marx, Lenin or Mao. It should however be noted that the comments made on the issue of sedition, though made in open court and reported widely in the media, are not part of the court’s order. In fact, the judges did not give any reason “lest they prejudice any party” in the case! It is nevertheless refreshing to hear such words of sanity from the apex court at a time when the state has identified ‘Maoism’ as the biggest threat to internal security and cutting across ideological divides, central and state governments are joining hands to wage a veritable war on democracy in the name of combating the Maoists. Indeed such sanity is quite rare and on plenty of occasions the apex court has just upheld lower court verdicts without giving any...

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Scrap Jaitapur Nuke Project

Just over than a month since the partial meltdown of the Fukoshima nuclear reactor, Japan is still coping with this disaster, which scientists have officially termed ‘at par’ with the explosion and meltdown that happened in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. The full impacts of this catastrophe are yet to reveal themselves. The tragedy has intensified the resolve of the people of Ratnagiri on the Konkan coast of Maharashtra not to allow the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant to come up. The Congress-NCP Government in Maharashtra and the UPA Government at the Centre have responded to the well-founded apprehensions and opposition of the people with draconian crackdowns and an outright refusal to reconsider the project. The entire area close to the project site has been converted into a virtual police state, dissenting voices have been detained, and protesters have been fired at by the Maharashtra police. Tabrez Sayekar, a resident of the fishing village of Sakhri Nate was killed in the police firing, and eight others injured. One paper (the Indian Express) recently carried an editorial holding the presence of “village posters using Fukushima images to scare villagers about what’s in store for them” to be proof that anti-nuclear activists are exploiting the lack of “nuclear literacy” and branding the resistance to the Jaitapur project as a blind ‘Luddite’ opposition to ‘development. What the people of Ratnagiri...

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Onward to a More Determined Assault on the Citadels of Corruption and Corporate Plunder

The indefinite fast launched by Anna Hazare on April 5 demanding a Jan Lokpal Bill (JLB) has ended in an initial victory. The fast has been withdrawn after 98 hours following an agreement between the UPA government and some leading JLB campaigners. A 10-member drafting committee has been constituted with as many members from the government side as from the JLB campaign. The draft of the Bill will presumably be ready by June 30 and Anna Hazare says he would like to see the legislation become effective by August 15. This is surely an encouraging moment for the anti-corruption movement in the country. The idea of a Lok Pal (ombudsman) has been discussed time and again since the 1960s. Every time corruption in high places has hit the headlines, the idea has been mooted and then shelved. Since 1968, there have been ten instances of a Lok Pal bill being introduced and then being allowed to get lapsed. The Lok Pal bill can thus be described as the oldest member of the club of long-awaited legislations like right to work, reservation for women in State Assemblies and Parliament and comprehensive legislation for agricultural labourers. How could an idea which has been shelved for decades get ‘clinched’ in less than a week? This can be attributed primarily to two factors – the intolerably high levels of corruption and the groundswell...

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