07 July 2012

On Cover : Montek’s Musings

(Communing with nature on his posh pot at the Planning Commission, we imagine Montek musing on planning, poverty, and politics.) This country is a mess. Indian people always lack reason and sagacity. That’s why they can’t plan for themselves, and need me to plan for them. Look at all this fuss over the expenses of my toilet – and my travels! I mean, isn’t it obvious that these are bare minimum necessities for Planners like me? Without a toilet with a smart-card to keep riff-raff out, how can I get the required privacy to plan? And if I don’t make regular trips to the US, where will I get ‘plans’ from? My bosses – at the IMF and World Bank Headquarters at Washington – are there, after all. That’s where I brush up my economic theories. For instance, it was George Bush who taught me that inflation is all because Indians are eating better and getting more affluent! Every time I see the inflation index soar, I lower the poverty line – because higher inflation means people are eating good stuff, and won’t want the grains you get at the ration shop. Inflation is reassuringly high now. All those chaps spending more than Rs 22 daily must be gorging on gourmet food, that’s what’s pushing up the cost of food grains and vegetables so high! When was the last...

Read More

Gambling with Stars, Where is Artistry?

On the day when World and Euro Champions Spain started their Euro’12 campaign at Ukraine, 18 Spanish banks submitted to Helsinki seeking financial bail-out! Andre Iniesta’s words two years back at South Africa came alive once more. The Barcelona and Spain national team’s talismanic midfielder, after scoring the solitary goal in the final of FIFA World Cup’10, had reminded that in the midst of the euphoria was a reality where a large part of Spain’s people lived in poverty. As the ball rolls on the lush green meadows, the Eurozone crisis gets deeper and deeper. As Merkel and Eurozone bosses ‘warned’ Greeks not to vote for radical left Syriza and KKE (communist), the Greek football team, champions of 2004, managed to stay afloat in the “Euro-zone,” edging past favourites Russia. Karagounis and company may have reflected the zeal of the people of Greece to win against all odds. Not only Greece, the entire continent including hosts Ukraine and Poland, have been tormented by severe economic crisis in the wake of globalization which has reached a phase of crony capitalism, unemployment, lack of political stability leading to riots, strikes and brutal state repression. How can these not take its toll on the game? Though the present ruling class of Ukraine is eager to showcase its development by co-hosting this event, the backdrop has been chaotic with political turmoil and issues...

Read More

Greece After Second Round Polls: Harder Struggles Ahead

Following the inconclusive ballot of 6 May, the 18 June elections confronted the people of Greece with three basic platforms to chose from: to remain in the Eurozone and the EU and renegotiate the bail-out conditionalities, as espoused by New Democracy (ND) and PASOK, the traditional ruling parties; to remain in the Eurozone and the EU, but default unilaterally on debt and reject the Memorandum (the conditionalities) as proposed by SYRIZA, the rapidly developing militant Left; to reject the debt, the whole EU project, and the NATO with it, as espoused by the Communist Party. The first position meant continuation and deepening of the socio-economic crises that have already produced five years of negative growth, over 23% unemployment, an astronomical rise in poverty (from less than 15% to over 40%) and mounting suicides. The third position was revolutionary in strategic terms, but generated concerns about the harsh consequences of a sudden decoupling from the Eurozone. The second platform strove to strike a golden mean: rebel against the most onerous injustice and exploitation but don’t get isolated from the European alliance. The Greek and international bourgeois media sought to terrorise the electorate with a picture of economic chaos and collapse if Syriza were to win the elections and implement its programme. And it worked. The fear of being kicked out of the Eurozone funding and capital markets, with hardly any...

Read More

Death From The Skies: Drone Warfare And The Obama Administration

While accepting the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009, the US President Barack Obama tried to set himself up as a moral man with the authority to speak about a ‘just war’. Addressing the assembled gathering at Stockholm and the world at large, he spoke of how, “Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength…” It is, no doubt, in his role as the ‘standard bearer’ of the ‘Just War Against Terror’ that the Obama Administration has ventured upon its policy of drone strikes in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, Yemen and Somalia. And in keeping with such claims, the military and administrative propaganda surrounding these strikes takes great pains to stress that they are at all times ‘surgically precise’, ‘ethical’ and ‘wise’. These drone strikes began under George Bush’s presidency, but under Obama, they have increased exponentially. In simple terms, what this amounts to is war on auto-pilot. Remote-controlled planes, known as drones, are used to shoot down previously identified targets, but also unknown targets based on ‘suspicious patterns of behavior’...

Read More

Remembering a Departed Comrade: Dipankar Mukherjee

(A tribute by Prasenjit Bose, 18 June 2012, courtesy Pragoti.org) Dipankarda will be sorely missed by his comrades in the trade union movement and the broader Left democratic movement, as an untiring champion of the working class and a firm defender of India’s economic self-reliance. For those who had the opportunity to know him personally, he will leave a large void. It is impossible to forget his extraordinary personality; his quick-wittedness, his rare ability to talk straight, his indignation towards injustice and corruption and his sharp sense of humour. From the floor of the parliament to television debates, from working class rallies to drawing room discussions – Dipankarda would always stand by his convictions and argue his heart out, unyielding on what he thought was right. He was trained as an engineer from the Banaras Hindu University and worked for some years in the public sector fertiliser industry. It was his professional expertise, in-depth knowledge of various industries and a deep commitment towards the public sector, which made Dipankarda a formidable and revered parliamentarian from the Left (1994 to 2006). At a time when the public sector enterprises were being stridently berated from all sides, Dipankarda’s was an unapologetic voice in its defence. His interventions in the debates on BALCO privatization, Enron project, NLCL and NALCO disinvestment, Airport privatization etc. would be long cherished by all those involved in...

Read More

Campaign for Student-Youth Rights

(The AISA and RYA have undertaken an intensive countrywide campaign for students’ and youth rights – for education and employment, and against corruption and corporate loot. Despite the summer heat, students and youth in many states have begun campaigning daily, holding street plays, street corner meetings, and distributing leaflets. The campaign will culminate in a March to Parliament in August. We bring you some highlights from the ongoing campaign, based on inputs from Anmol Ratan from Delhi; Ramayan Ram from UP; and Abhyuday from Bihar.) Around 30 AISA activists of the three universities in Delhi – JNU, DU and Jamia Millia – began their campaign in the national capital on April 30, near the Patel Chest Hospital, near Delhi University’s North Campus. A street play prepared by students was staged, which exposed the nexus of the government with corporate, that results in massive scams, loot of natural resources for private profit. The street play shows how the exchequer is being looted to serve corporate, while, on the pretext of ‘fund crunch’, education is being privatised, and jobs with dignity are not being created. There was a good response to the campaign, with students signing a demand charter and taking AISA membership in large numbers. The next morning, the campaign took place in the student locality of Gurumandi (near DU’s North Campus), with a door to door campaign in hostels,...

Read More

Update : CPI(ML) GS Visits Bangladesh & Others Reports

CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya visited Bangladesh on the occasion of the 8th anniversary of the reorganisation of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Bangladesh (14 June 2012). He was accompanied by Comrade Basudev Basu, standing committee member of the Party’s West Bengal State Committee and one of the National Secretaries of AICCTU. On 13 June, they visited all important national memorials in Dhaka and paid homage to the martyrs of the Bangladesh liberation war and language movement. On the evening of 14 June, they addressed a seminar on imperialist aggression in South Asia and the fight for people’s liberation held in the National Press Club. Comrade Saiful Huq, General Secretary, presented a paper on behalf of RWPB. Other speakers from Bangladesh included economist Anu Muhammad, Secretary of the Committee to Protect Water-oil-gas-power-port, a popular broad-based Left platform of struggle in Bangladesh, and several left leaders and writers. Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya spoke on behalf of the CPI-ML. The next day a daylong central delegate session of RWPB took place in which the two parties had an intensive exchange of experiences. On the morning of June 15 there was a get-together with Trade Union leaders of Bangladesh and in the evening there was a seminar on capitalism, corporate media and struggle for people’s liberation held in RC Mazumdar Auditorium of Dhaka University. This was organised by the RWPB monthly organ...

Read More

UPDATE : Another Milestone In PRICOL Workers’ Struggle: Tripartite Agreement Signed

A tripartite agreement at Pricol was signed on 8 June 2012. Struggles and agreements are not new in TU movement. In that case, how are the Pricol workers’ struggle and agreement exemplary? The government, labor department, TUs and many including our workers knew for sure that those with CPIML and AICCTU can take up any fight against any management vigorously, that they can face any assault and can emerge more powerfully again. But many had the question as to whether and how we would conclude the struggle. Does the agreement signed in Chennai on 08.06.2012 before the additional labor commissioner, answer these questions? Why was the MOU signed on 07.02.2012, dragged till 08.06.2012, to become a 12(3) agreement? Has not AICCTU made compromises? An outsider, close to the Pricol Workers’ Struggle, answers these questions. A recap of the Pricol Workers’ Struggle is necessary here to put the present phase in perspective. Production was squeezed out of the Pricol Workers for a few decades since the company came into being. They were reeling under working conditions marked by lower wages, lack of dignity, compulsion to give production with no fixed limits, punishments, victimizations, TUs that stood on the side of the management etc. On the other side there was opposition too, which was waiting to explode. These conditions convinced them to introduce a leader from Chennai. In 2007 March, leaders...

Read More

Special Report : Comrade TP Chandrashekharan

(A JNU Students’ Union team comprising JNUSU President Sucheta De and JNUSU Councillor Shivani (both elected from All India Students’ Association – AISA) visited the family of martyred comrade TP Chandrashekharan on 1 June. They were accompanied by JNU students from Kerala, Lal and Sharad. CPI(ML) Liberation Central Committee member Kavita Krishnan from Delhi also accompanied the team. A report by Shivani Nag.) The CPI(M) organ People’s Democracy, denying any role in Comrade Comrade TP Chandrashekharan’s brutal murder, maintains that he and others who left CPI(M) to form the Revolutionary Marxist Party had displayed “a naked desire for position, parliamentary greed and absence of communist values.” At Comrade TP Chandrashekharan’s home in Onchiyam (a village in Kozhikode district), we were greeted by his 17-year-old son Abhinandan (Nandu) with a warm ‘Lal Salaam’ (Red Salute). When we met his mother, Rema, we were struck by her simplicity and her courage. Meeting Abhinandan and Rema, we felt a deep conviction that we were in the presence of ‘comrades.’ Comrade Rema told us she and her sister had been state-level leaders of SFI, and her father, who met us, is still an area committee member of the CPI(M). In that house of Comrade TPC, among his family members who seemed to embody communist values, Comrade TPC’s spirit seemed to refuse to die. Rema described how her husband used to cook at home,...

Read More

The Exit of Brahmeshwar Singh

Brahmeshwar Singh, the founder of the notorious Ranveer Sena and the mastermind behind dozens of massacres perpetrated by the Sena in Shahabad and Magadh regions of Bihar between 1995 and 2000, was gunned down at Ara in the early hours of 1 June. The cremation took place in Patna on the next evening. For two full days, Sena supporters went on a rampage, attacking hostels of dalit students at Ara, setting on fire private or public vehicles parked anywhere on the Ara-Patna route, beating up passers-by and journalists trying to take snaps of their acts of arson and vandalism. Ara on 1st June and Patna on 2nd June wore a deserted look and the state administration virtually disappeared from the scene leaving the people at the mercy of this rampaging contingent of thugs. As we go to press, reports of renewed attempts at whipping up a feudal frenzy are coming in from many corners of the state. So much for the real meaning of good governance and rule of law in the Nitish Kumar dispensation! Even though the Ranveer Sena was formally banned soon after its inception, the Sena had all the freedom in the world to carry out one massacre after another, usually at night but at times also in broad daylight, killing hundreds of innocent people, sparing neither women nor children or elderly people. The gruesome killings...

Read More

COVER FEATURE : Indian Economy in Deep Waters

The Indian economy is gripped by a veritable crisis. Agrarian woes are deepening, industrial growth is sharply dipping, inflation is persisting in the alarming zone, the unemployment rate is remaining chronically high, the fiscal deficit is defying all limits, the rupee is nose-diving against the dollar, exports are decelerating sharply with imports shooting up, and on top of it all, the country is all set to be on the brink of a sovereign debt crisis engendered by a serious Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis reminiscent of 1991, when India had to pledge gold to rescue itself from a sovereign debt default situation. Standard and Poor (S&P) has threatened India with “junk” status credit rating. The Indian economy is at the risk of falling out of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) group of nations. Standard and Poor’s report suggests that unless the government is able to handle the current situation of slow growth and economic downfalls, it won’t be able to maintain an investment grade rating and so might have to fall out from among the BRIC nations. But our Finance Minister won’t agree. He believes, “there are no significant events to indicate that the economy’s vulnerability to shocks has increased, though growth numbers for the fourth quarter 2011-12 have come below expectations.” He also put up a brave face, to vow that there would be a turnaround...

Read More

COVER FEATURE : Hike in Petrol Prices: Boosting Private Interest

The UPA led by Congress, which came to the power riding on the rhetoric of defending interests of the ‘common man’, continued its offensive on those interests with the Rs 7.54 hike in petrol prices on May 23, 2012. This steepest ever hike was partially rolled back by just Rs 2 (only 3 percent) in the wake of nationwide protests, even while crude oil prices internationally fell by more than 20 percent recently from its peak of $ 110/barrel in March 2012, compensating for the depreciated rupee in the process. Economists are fond of saying that inflation is a tax on poor. Inflationary pressure in the Indian economy is persistently strong as WPI is upward of 7 percent but that didn’t deter the party in power from taking this anti-people measure. Inflation persists at a high level mainly on account of the fact that the inflationary situation in India can’t be understood only from the demand side as often articulated by government in power. The normal logic offered is that since the nation has been witnessing reasonably high growth despite global economic downturn, people’s income level is consequently on the rise, resulting in a demand-supply mismatch. The excessive demand in the economy thus is resulting in demand push inflation. Supply side pressure including cost-push inflation as witnessed in agrarian distress is generally not factored into such logic, though it...

Read More

COVER FEATURE : Coalgate Scam

A CAG report (the draft version of which has reached the media) has found that, during a period when the Coal Ministry was directly under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a massive coal allocation scam took place, that allowed a large number of private companies to acquire captive coal blocks at throwaway prices, thereby securing massive “windfall gains” to the tune of Rs. 1.80 lakh crore. PM Directly Involved As in the 2G scam, the relatively more objective system of allocation through competitive bidding was repeatedly and deliberately rejected, in order to allow certain selected private companies to acquire control of a precious natural resource. As in the 2G scam case, the Government is again claiming “zero loss” and denying the scam. But in the 2G scam case, the UPA Government could place the blame on A Raja, maintaining that Raja in his personal capacity rejected the policy of auction that the PM and others had advised. In the coal scam, Manmohan Singh cannot shift blame onto anyone else. It is glaringly clear from the series of documents quoted by the CAG, that the PMO – ie. Manmohan Singh himself – repeatedly rejected the explicit recommendation of the Secretary (Coal) advising a shift to the system of competitive bidding. The Secretary (Coal) had stressed that the prevailing system of selection by a Screening Committee lacked ‘transparency and objectivity’ and highlighted...

Read More

COVER FEATURE : Three Years of UPA-II : Insufferable Saga of Corruption and Economic Disaster

Even as the UPA government celebrated the third anniversary of its second term with a report card claiming record food grains production and a dramatic decline in poverty, the country was treated to an unprecedented oil shock with the price of petrol shooting up by more than 10 per cent. A litre of petrol now costs around Rs. 75, and with the value of the rupee depreciating almost every passing day in relation to dollar, the price of not only petrol but every imported item threatens to escalate relentlessly in the days to come. While the price of petrol has been deregulated to enable it to soar freely, subsidies are being reduced across the board leading to a steady increase in the prices of almost all articles of essential mass consumption. An analysis of the ongoing pattern of price rise indicates that primary products, especially food and vegetable, are showing the highest rate of increase. In the eight years of UPA rule, primary articles have become 119% more expensive; fuel and power prices have gone up by 90.4% while there has been a 45% increase in the prices of manufactured products. This pattern of price rise naturally means the poor have been the worst victims. According to the latest NSSO survey on monthly per capita consumption expenditure, food items account for 66% of the monthly expenditure of the poorest...

Read More

Who Killed Mohd. Qateel Siddiqi?

Mohd. Qateel Siddiqi of Darbhanga had been in jail since November 2011 after being arrested on charges of involvement in several blast cases. On 8 June, inside Yerawada jail in Pune, two gangsters, Sharad Mohol and Alok Bhalerao, are said to have strangled Qateel to death. It should be noted that the Maharashtra ATS had failed to file a chargesheet against Qateel in the 7 months from November 2011 till June 2012. We can recall that recently, the Adarsh scam accused got bail because the CBI failed to file a chargesheet within the stipulated 6-month period. If the same norms had applied to terror cases, Qateel should have been free, given the failure of authorities to assemble any proof against him. Yet, he remained in jail, and the ATS kept claiming he was a ‘key Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative.’ The gangsters claim they killed Qateel because he was ‘anti-national’. It is a telling comment on the state of democracy in India, that criminal gangsters can claim to be ‘patriotic’ on the strength of having murdered a young Muslim terror-accused, who they can brand ‘anti-national,’ even without charges being framed, let alone proved in court! The custodial murder of Qateel raises serious questions about the role of the jail authorities and investigative agencies. As it is, the intelligence agencies stand deeply discredited in successive high-profile cases including Malegaon, Mecca Masjid,...

Read More
  • 1
  • 2