09 Septembe 2012

Inauguration of Charu Bhawan

On 28 July 2012, the 40th anniversary of the martyrdom of CPI(ML)’s founding General Secretary and leader of the historic Naxalbari movement, Comrade Charu Mazumdar, the CPI(ML) inaugurated its Central Office ‘Charu Bhawan,’ and unveiled a bust of Comrade Charu Mazumdar at the office. The CPI(ML) Central Office was christened Charu Bhawan and inaugurated by the party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. A bust of Comrade Charu Mazumdar was unveiled by party Politburo member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya, who is also the sole surviving member of the CPI(ML) Central Committee which was reorganised on the second martyrdom day of Comrade Charu Mazumdar, 28 July 1974. The bust of Comrade CM was sculpted by Shri Bodhan Hansdah of Birbhum district of West Bengal. Anita and Madhumita, daughters of Comrade Charu Mazumdar, as well as his son, party Central Committee member Abhijit Mazumdar, were also present on the occasion. Politburo and Central Committee members of the party, CPN(UML) Central Committee members Comrades Devi Gyawali and Guru Baral, Kalpana Wilson of the South Asia Solidarity Group (London), as well as veteran party leaders, former members of the party central committee, leaders of mass organisations, and leaders from various states, paid floral tributes to Comrade Charu Mazumdar’s bust. Cultural groups Hirawal from Patna and Ganasanskritik Parishad from Kolkata presented ‘Shaheed Geet’ (songs in memory of the martyrs). A condolence resolution was adopted, paying tribute...

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Forbesganj Struggle Continues: People Construct Bhajanpur-Sheetalpur Road

Thousands of villagers armed with traditional weapons offered ‘shramdaan’ and volunteered as labourers in order to construct the Bhajanpur-Sheetalpur road at Forbesganj, Bihar, on 16 August. This is a victory for the people’s struggle, which has braved the severest repression and communal encirclement. This public road, which has been in existence for the past 60 years or so, connects the Bhajanpur village (mainly inhabited by 1000 families of the minority community), to the Karbala, Idgah, hospital and local bazaar. Last year, on June 3, police fired on a demonstration by local people protesting against this same public road being blocked off for a private factory owned by the BJP MLC’s son. The factory itself was being constructed on BIADA land that had been illegally allotted. Police not only fired on unarmed protestors, they also jumped viciously on fallen bodies, displaying communal hatred. Four people – Mustafa Ansari, Mukhtar Ansari, Sajmin Khatoon and 8-month old Naushad – were killed in the police brutality. A whole year has passed – but the people of Forbesganj are yet to get justice. The one-man enquiry commission has barely taken off the ground. Following the firing, the villagers had already constructed the road once last year at the time of Ramzan. But under pressure from above, the road was again destroyed. And the road continued to remain destroyed in spite of repeated appeals to...

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Massacre of Mineworkers in South Africa

In a shocking massacre, reminiscent of the worst horrors of the apartheid era, 34 striking South African mineworkers employed in the British mining company Lonmin, were gunned down by police at Marikana, SA, on 16 August. The striking miners had gathered on a hillock. They were encircled, chased and gunned down by the heavily armed police who mowed them down. The mineworkers were armed with traditional weapons, and the police claims they were armed and dangerous. But there can be no comparison between the traditional weapons wielded by the workers, and the guns and firepower of the police. Moreover, the massacre was clearly not an act of self-defence, but a deliberate offensive on the workers, who had been gathered in the area for several days. Mining and Apartheid Lonmin is the new name of the colonial company Lonrho, which was set up in 1909 to plunder minerals in Rhodesia. In 1973, the British Tory PM Edward Heath had called the Lonrho boss “the unacceptable face of capitalism,” when the company stood accused of tax evasion, bribery, and breaking UN sanctions against the racist regime in Rhodesia. In the apartheid era, several police massacres took place – in Sharpeville and Langa in 1960, Soweto in 1976, Boipatong and Bhisho in 1992. The Marikana massacre revived the memories of those terrible massacres. The Socialist Worker observes, “Apartheid was not simply an...

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London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony: Rebranding British History

How does an ex-imperial superpower now in deep decline represent itself to the world? How does one celebrate ‘Britishness’ without either projecting an openly offensive jingoism or satirizing the very notion? And how does one acknowledge Britain’s multicultural present while steering well clear of the entire colonial history and ongoing struggles which have shaped it? These appear to have been the questions haunting Danny Boyle, the British film director best-known for Slumdog Millionaire who was entrusted with directing the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. Parachuting royals aside, the eclectic ceremony with its theme of Britain’s 19th and 20th century history, was noted firstly for its visually impressive reconstruction of the Industrial Revolution, complete with William Blake, the uprooting of trees representing a pre-industrial rural idyll, and the strikingly choreographed emergence of an industrial working class which erects towering chimneys and ultimately smelts gigantic fiery Olympic rings. Secondly, virtually the centrepiece of the ceremony was a performance representing Britain’s post-1945 universal free healthcare system, the National Health Service. This had a particular resonance with the current onslaught on the National Health Service and the public sector as a whole by the Conservative-led coalition government and the popular resistance and protest it has generated, and was seen by some commentators in Britain as indicating a left-inspired or at least subversive flavour to the event. Yet while the welfare state theme struck...

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Tribute : Gore Vidal: Rebel in the US Establishment

(US writer and intellectual Gore Vidal passed away on July 31 this year, aged 86. As a tribute to him, we carry excerpts from the article ‘The decline and fall of the American Empire’ by Alan Woods, published on 16 July 2002.) Gore Vidal is a member of one of America’s leading families – a patrician in background, upbringing and culture. His close personal acquaintance with America’s ruling elite gives him a unique insight into the workings of the system, and he understands the hypocrisy that underlies this pretence, and the vicious, exploitative and aggressive character of US imperialism. He is one of those extremely rare animals – a bourgeois political commentator whose vision transcends the immediate and has a broad historical view of things. His father and grandfather held high political office and he is related to Al Gore, the Democratic candidate who in fact won the last presidential elections and was cheated of victory by the manoeuvres of the Bush camp. In Vidal’s opinion, “the [American] Republic ended in 1950. Since then we have had an imperial system.” What are the chief characteristics of this system? First, the USA intervenes in an aggressive way in every part of the world. According to his researches, since 1950, the USA has waged at least 300 wars in different parts of the globe. Yet, although the Constitution stipulates that any...

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Obituary

Comrade Haricharan Teli Comrade Haricharan Teli passed away on 12th August, 2012, after a brief illness. He was around 90, and is survived by his son and three daughters. Another of his sons, Comrade Gobinda Teli, was assassinated along with 6 others on 25 February, 1980 at village Hurua, Dharmanagar, Tripura, by the police of Left front government headed by CPI(M) Chief Minister Nripen Chakraborty. A leading activist from the tea tribe, Comrade Haricharan Teli was one of the few comrades in Tripura who joined CPI(ML) early in its underground  days. Party activists and leaders continue to feel at home in his house even today. Comrade Gobinda Teli, while he was a school student in 1967-68, had been a leading activist of the Tripura Students Federation, which was the state unit of CPI(M)’s student wing before the formation of SFI. After the Hurua massacre on 25 February, 1980, in which his son Gobinda was assassinated, he took an active role in forming the “Hurua Hatya Birodhi Sangram Samity”, and led a mass rally four days after the massacre. It was under his initiative that the case was properly placed before the Enquiry Commission headed by Justice  A K De, which was able to conclude, based on the testimony and evidence, that the Harua killings were cold-blooded murders by the police. However, the report of the  Enquiry Commission was rejected...

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Resisting Violence on Women

[The Guwahati mob molestation, the moral policing and molestation by Ram Sene at a party in Mangalore, murderous assaults and feudal sexual violence on women in UP and Bihar, a spate of rapes and the atrocity on athlete Pinki Pramanik in West Bengal, the suicide of Geetika in Haryana, in which ex-Minister Gopal Kanda is implicated – all these recent instances show that the alarming trends of attacks and exploitative relationships which claim the lives of women, are far from abating. And with it, is the inevitable tendency to blame women’s attire and behaviour: a tendency which people in high office from the NCW Chairperson downwards have displayed. Below are some recent reports of struggles against violence on women.] AIPWA Protests in West Bengal There has been an alarming escalation of violence against women in Bengal, often at the hands of the state. Some of the worst cases include that Shibani Singha who consumed poison from being raped by Jangalmahal police; of athlete Pinki Pramanik who was humiliated and forced to undergo ‘gender tests’ in a horrific case of sexual abuse in police and medical custody; the murder of Barun Biswas of Sutia who had organised local people in the Pratibadi Mancha against more than 35 cases of rapes of local women committed by those with political influence. Attempts to lodge FIRs are thwarted by police; TMC’s elected representatives...

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Special Report : Growing Struggles Against Land Grab and Displacement in Bihar

[With the Nitish Government’s rapid embrace of neoliberal policies, land acquisition and eviction are fast emerging as major points of conflict in the State. A brief report of some of the emerging struggles and CPI(ML)’s role follows.] W Champaran West Champaran is experiencing the biggest land grab since the grabbing of land by the colonial British for indigo farming. The Valmikinagar Tiger Project in West Champaran district of Bihar threatens to uproot 300 villages and evict lakhs of adivasi and non-adivasi residents. The forest rights of adivasis are being blatantly violated, and civil rights and liberties suppressed. Ever since the Tiger Project was declared in 1989-90 in this forest area, the Tharu and Oraon adivasi communities and other traditional residents (most of whom are dalit), found their traditional rights to eke out a living by collecting minor forest products, were curbed. Livelihood based on bamboo etc were snatched away. Later, livelihood based on mining sand or stones of forest rivers, also vanished, and lakhs migrated to Nepal as well as other states in search of a living. Entire villages in the Gaunaha block are deserted. Scores of villages in four blocks of West Champaran face eviction. Development work on streets, schools, Indira Awas homes, TV towers, and electrification have been stopped in 32 villages. The Forest Department has subjected these villages to an economic embargo. In order to prevent...

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Special Report : Successful Jharkhand Bandh Against Land Grab

Forced acquisition of land from adivasis is all too common in Jharkhand. On 25 July, the entire state came to a standstill in response to a Bandh called by the CPI(ML) against land grab. Several other organisations also supported the Bandh call or gave independent calls for a Bandh on the same day. The Jharkhand Dishom Party independently called for a Bandh, and 21 organisations including the Adiovasi Jan Parishad, the Adivasi-Moolnivasi Chhatra-Yuva Sanghatan, the Sarna Prarthana Sabha, Nagdi-Chaura Zameen Bachao Morcha, and Ulgulan Mahila Manch actively participated in the Bandh, holding a torchlight procession in Ranchi on the eve of the Bandh, and holding a mass meeting on the evening of 24th July at Albert Ekka Chowk which effectively blockaded the Chowk for several hours. The Nagdi Struggle The Bandh was called in the wake of the ongoing struggle of adivasis of Nagdi village near the capital Ranchi, against the attempt to grab 228 acres of fertile land. The Jharkhand Government plans to grab land of 35 villages for campuses of IIM, Law College and Triple IIT, and Nagdi was a test case. The land in question was acquired on paper way back in 1957 – but even then, adivasis waged a successful struggle, refused compensation, and retained effective control of the land. Since then the land has been cultivated every year by the adivasis, who even have...

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Ghettoization Of Migrant Workers In TN

In Tamilnadu, in a short span of 3 days, one accident claimed the lives of 10 workers from Assam and injured more than 50 workers, and the other took the life of a Bihari worker and injured 10 others. One accident on 6 August took place at the Jeppiar Institute of Technology near Sriperumbudur where a stadium under construction collapsed. The cement column which collapsed was not cured properly; and the supporting wall for the column was not built, yet further construction was carried to meet a deadline. The workers took shelter near the column when there was rain and the uncured column collapsed. The injured workers said that they were demanding safety helmets for quite some time and that the contractor was saying that it would be arranged soon. The workers also said that had they worn helmets causalities would have been much fewer. 6 workers died in the debris and 4 of them died in the hospital. Jeppiar, who is a well-known education baron in TN, running many colleges in Chennai and Kanchipuram districts, announced a compensation of Rs.2 lakh to those killed and Rs.50,000 to those who were injured. Jeppiar, Mariam Selvam (the Director of the college), and the contractor and supervisor were arrested after 3 days, and the bail petition of Jeppiar, filed on health grounds, was rejected. He is now in Vellore prison. The...

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Behind the Present Wave of Unrest in the Auto Sector

We reproduce below an article by Research Unit for Political Economy (RUPE) that appeared in the Aspects of Indian Economy (No.52, June 2012). “Motown braces for wage revisions after three years”, reads a headline in the Business Standard on April 6, referring to wage negotiations in the Gurgaon-Manesar auto belt. “Haridwar factories brew Manesar-like labour situation” warns another headline in the same paper, reporting strikes at two major auto parts suppliers. The Reserve Bank of India, in its latest “Monetary and Macroeconomic Developments”, warns of the “pressure on generalised inflation from sustained increase in wage costs”. What is happening to industrial wage levels? Is the prosperity of which the ruling establishment speaks now ‘trickling down’ to workers? Do workers now have the upper hand, and are they grabbing a bigger share of value added? The last few years have indeed seen a rise in labour unrest, particularly in the auto and auto parts sector. Among the prominent instances are: Mahindra (Nashik), May 2009 and March 2011; Sunbeam Auto (Gurgaon), May 2009; Bosch Chassis (Pune), July 2009; Honda Motorcycle (Manesar), August 2009; Rico Auto (Gurgaon), August 2009, including a one-day strike of the entire auto industry in Gurgaon; Pricol (Coimbatore), September 2009; Volvo (Hoskote, Karnataka), August 2010; MRF Tyres (Chennai), October 2010 and June 2011; General Motors (Halol, Gujarat), March 2011; Maruti Suzuki (Manesar), June-October 2011; Bosch (Bangalore), September 2011;...

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Maruti Workers’ Struggle : Challenges for the Working Class

With the all-out offensive on the Maruti workers, the assault of neoliberal capital on labour in India is intensifying and assuming more dangerous dimensions. Consider the implications of some of the recent developments. The Maruti plant has reopened on 21 August with a ‘havan’ (religious ceremony), minus its existing workforce. 500 permanent workers have been officially sacked, and the existing contract workforce too is not being taken back. Army veterans with firearms on the shop floor will function as personal security officers (PSOs) for managers, and a special Rapid Action Force will be deployed by the Haryana government outside the factory. Perhaps for the first time in India, workers on a factory floor will work under the ominous shadow of armed security personnel. Industrial democracy has reached a new low. As it is, workers have been finding the industrial and political climate increasingly hostile to their struggles to avail of the legal right to unionise and to demand wages and rights in accordance with labour laws. ‘Bouncers’ and armed thugs have become common tools brought in by management in most factories to intimidate and quell labour struggles and ‘resolve disputes’. It is not hard to imagine the fate of labour rights and struggles, in the presence of ex-army personnel on the floor and paramilitary at the gates. Another notable development is the fact that after the 18 July incident...

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Cover Feature : Students And Youth Storm Barricades At Parliament Street

The battle lines became clear. Young people from all over India who marched to Parliament on 9 August, the anniversary of the Quit India movement, declaring ‘corporate plunderers Quit India’, and demanding equitable education and dignified employment as fundamental rights, found that the barricades at Parliament Street were manned the Sashastra Seema Bal (central Armed Border Force) in large numbers! What can be clearer proof that for the UPA Government, the country’s younger generation and democratic protestors have become an ‘enemy’ force? Faced with the ominous sight of the SSB contingent in full gear, the students and youth did not baulk. They marched forward and stormed the barricades – and braved a brutal beating by the police and SSB. Before marching to Parliament, the huge gathering of students and youth, under the banner of AISA and RYA, held a massive meeting, which blockaded the Jantar Mantar road. Waving red flags, and colourful painted hoardings and banners, they raised slogans of ‘Corporate Plunderers Quit India’ and ‘Shame on UPA Government that Subsidises Corporates and Sells Out Students’. The mass meeting was addressed by national leaders of the AISA and RYA, and the main speaker was CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. He said that the battle against corruption not be waged by the likes of Baba Ramdev who hobnobbed with communal killers and made deals with ruling class parties, and who...

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Reclaiming Dr. Ambedkar

Dr. B R Ambedkar was voted as the ‘Greatest Indian After Gandhi’ in a poll conducted by Outlook, CNN IBN, and History TV18. Ambedkar beat Nehru and Sardar Patel, as well as APJ Abdul Kalam, to emerge victorious. The poll went through three separate methods (ranking by jury, ranking by market research, and ranking by popular vote by phone and website), and two phases, and Ambedkar emerged at the top following the cumulative ranking. Significantly, the jury ranked Ambedkar second, after Nehru; the market research company ranked him 6th; and it was in the popular votes category that Ambedkar truly came into his own, polling 19,91,734 votes, head and shoulders ahead of Kalam (13,74,431) and Sardar Patel (5,58,835). It is also intriguing that Nehru, ranked first by the jury, came bottom in the popular votes category. The popular voting (through phone calls, online, and missed calls) was highest from Maharashtra, followed by Uttar Pradesh, and then Gujarat. No doubt, there must have been a considerable component of organized polling by Dalit groups from Maharashtra and UP, but it is equally true that there might have been organized polling for Sardar Patel from Gujarat. It could be argued that such polls are rather superficial. But the fact that Ambedkar emerged victorious in such a poll is, undoubtedly, significant. The responses from various quarters to this poll (as quoted in the...

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Anti-Corruption Platforms: Political Trajectories

Perhaps inevitably, the anti-corruption platforms led by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev are moving towards a more openly avowed political role. Baba’s Saffron Show The Baba’s Ramlila Maidan show that began on 9 August this year made his political affinities clear, if they were ever in doubt. Top BJP and NDA leaders shared the dais with him, espousing his ‘Oust Congress’ call, while he thanked a series of Sangh outfits for their cooperation. Significantly, the Baba also received declarations of support from Mulayam Singh and Mayawati. Those who had opposed the Anna agitation alleging a hidden Sangh hand and a reactionary casteist agenda, have remained conspicuously silent on the open saffron presence on Ramdev’s platform, his embrace of Modi, and his recent defence of khap panchayats’ diktats on same gotra marriages. From the beginning this time, the Baba made it clear that he would steer clear of any sustained movement, opting instead for a ‘symbolic’ protest on black money and corruption. After an equally symbolic arrest, he ended his fast, merely demanding that black money and corruption find a mention in the Prime Minister’s Independence Day speech! The real purpose of the Baba’s platform was clearly not to conduct any movement or struggle against corporate corruption, black money, or corruption in high places. Undoubtedly, the UPA Government at the Centre has emerged as one of the most corrupt regimes,...

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