03 March 2013

On Cover : Protest Against Afzal Guru’s Execution

On 9 February at 8 am, news of the stealthy and shameful execution of Afzal Guru came in. The PUDR called for a silent protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar. CPI(ML) Central Committee member Kavita Krishnan, Comrade Girija Pathak of CPI(ML) central headquarters, and AISA and RYA activists joined the demonstration. A small band of Bajrang Dal goons were at Jantar Mantar ‘celebrating’ the execution. When some Kashmiri young men and women raised placards of mourning and outrage, they were attacked by the Bajrang Dal men, who collected some other men from around Jantar Mantar by whipping up hatred against ‘anti-nationals.’ The police stood as mute spectators as the mob grew in aggression, and allowed the saffron goons to inflict violence on the peaceful protesters, including young Kashmiri women and men. A civil liberties activist’s face was blackened. The police, instead of arresting the saffron mobsters, arrested several of the peaceful demonstrators, especially the Kashmiri youth, and took them to Mandir Marg police station. However they were released later on the intervention of human rights lawyers. In Dehradun, too, Kashmiri students protesting against the recent killings in Kashmir, the blockade and the hanging of Afzal Guru, were beaten up on 12 February by Bajrang Dal goons and arrested. Kashmiri youth, who had not even participated in the protest, were also beaten up in the market place by the Bajrang Dal...

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ON COVERS : Massive Protest Against Modi’s Visit to DU

Hundreds of students and teachers of Delhi University and other campuses in Delhi held a spirited protest on 6th February against Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) in Delhi University. All India Students’ Association (AISA) along with other student groups joined the protest. Students and teachers expressed shock and anger at the politically motivated use of academic space to whitewash the image of the mastermind of Gujarat carnage for his future political ambitions. AISA leaders said that the justice loving students, teachers and people of Delhi will never forgive and forget Modi’s real character, while the victims of the Gujarat massacre are still crying for justice. Democratic minded people will continue to foil Modi’s farcical image building exercises, in Delhi and elsewhere. One participant in the protest said, “In the barbaric Delhi gang-rape case, we held the Sheila Govt responsible even though the Govt did not actually mastermind the brutal rape. In Gujarat 2002, equally barbaric rapes and killings took place. The rapists and killers (like Babu Bajrangi who ripped Kauser Bano’s foetus out with a sword) proudly boasted that ‘Narendrabhai’ was the one who made all that carnage possible. Can we, then, fail to hold Modi responsible for those horrific rapes and killings?” Protesters recalled the custodial rape and murder of Kauser Bi, wife of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, in which Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah,...

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Special Report : First-ever Two-Day Nationwide General Strike

The strike called by 11 central trade unions including AICCTU against the pro-corporate and anti workers’ policies was unprecedented throughout the country affecting all vital sectors bringing the life to a standstill. The banking system collapsed. The transport sector has responded magnificently in most of the States. The strike was observed in oil, telecom, mining- coal & non-coal, defence, power, port & dock, insurance, State Government employees. Post offices were on strike; income tax offices have largely been hit by the strike. Industrial workers all over the country have shut down the production. Public and private industrial centres have been heavily affected. The industrial area of Gurgaon and Dharuhera at Haryana remained virtually closed on 21st. In many states trains were stopped and highways were blocked for several hours. There was unprecedented participation of unorganised labour including largest sections like agriculture, construction apart from other rural and urban workers. Significantly Contract workers have joined the strike in a magnificent way. The impact of the strike has been considerable in all the States. Several states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Puduchery and Kerala observed complete Bandh. The strike was magnificent in Assam, Orissa, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, U.P. and W. Bengal. Many areas have reported the incidents of attack on the workers, lathi-charge and indiscriminate arrest. In Noida, there was a brutal lathi-charge on a peaceful demonstration causing serious...

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Draft 9th Party Congress : Resolution on the International Situation

1. Global capitalism remains trapped in a protracted recession which has been widely acknowledged as the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Even though the Obama administration now talks of a growing recovery and ‘the beginning of the end of the crisis’ five years on since the spectacular collapse of several gigantic financial firms in the US, the crisis shows no sign of abating. The epicentre of the crisis has been the US economy, still the biggest in the world, but in the era of global capitalist integration the crisis today is being felt across the world. In sectoral terms, finance was where the crisis erupted with great intensity, but since contemporary capitalism is predominantly financial capitalism, the crisis has affected every major aspect of the global economy. What began as a financial crisis has grown into a protracted and comprehensive economic crisis. 2. The method adopted by the US, and now increasingly by the European Union, to combat the crisis has been to bail out banks and other financial firms tottering on the verge of bankruptcy while imposing harsh austerity measures on the working people. As a result while on the one hand many big corporations have been saved from certain collapse at the cost of increased public debt of governments, the working people have been hit hard by growing joblessness and declining...

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DRAFT 9th PARTY CONGRESS : On Agrarian and other Rural Struggles

1. The agrarian crisis continues to spread and deepen. Instead of addressing any of the structural dimensions of the crisis, whether by way of increasing public investment in agriculture or making better infrastructural facilities available to the agricultural population or carrying out progressive reforms in land and other agrarian relations that could improve the lot of actual producers, the central and state governments continue to push the neo-liberal policy package in the agrarian arena, resulting in further aggravation of the crisis of Indian agriculture and the plight of the real producers including rural labourers. Token government measures like occasional loan-waivers announced usually as a vote-catching tactic during elections have failed to provide any relief to the debt-ridden peasantry and the shame of peasant suicides continues unabated. 2. Massive acquisition and relentless diversion of agricultural land into non-agricultural use has begun to pose a serious threat to food security. The availability of net cultivable land is further declining because of problems like soil erosion, desertification and increase in salinity, and lack of planned and effective measures to ensure soil improvement and land reclamation. The boastful claims of self-sufficiency in production of food grains are giving way to growing dependence on food imports. According to a study of land-deals worldwide since 2000, India figures among the top 10 countries accounting for a loss of 4.6 million hectares of agricultural land (out...

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Cover Feature : How UPA Govt Ordinance Undermines the Very Spirit of Justice Verma Committee Recommendations: A Comparative Analysis

The JVC Report The Govt’s Ordinance 1 For the first time in India, spelt out a constitutional Bill of Rights for women, and the means to ensure those fundamental rights to equality, freedom, and autonomy Ignores the Bill of Rights 2 Recognised that sexual violence is not an act of sex or lust: it is an act of patriarchal power. Therefore, to reduce sexual violence, we must safeguard women’s freedom and rights; and to ensure that perpetrators are punished, we must undo the impunity and protection for such offences that is built into the laws and into our system Maintains the inbuilt ways in which laws protect powerful perpetrators 3 Recognised women’s rights to autonomy: including her sexual autonomy and her right to choose her partners, friends, and spouses. Recommended changing the archaic and anti-women vocabulary of laws. Understood sexual violence as a violation of a woman’s bodily integrity and her dignity, rather than as ‘outraging modesty’, ‘robbing honour’ or bringing ‘shame’. Has many clauses that go AGAINST women’s autonomy and freedom, and retains the anti-women wording of ‘outraging modesty’ instead of molestation or sexual violence 4 Redefined the meaning of ‘consent’: stating that unless a woman indicates ‘Yes’ to sex, either by word or by gesture, no one can ‘assume’ that she consented. In the present system, many rape cases go unpunished because a woman is ‘presumed’ to...

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Cover Feature : An Ordinance That Dilutes and Subverts Justice Verma Recommendations

(A version of this article appeared in Tehelka Issue 07 Volume 10). Any ordinance is promulgated as an emergency measure. Women live in a daily state of ‘emergency’, their freedom curbed by the fear of sexual violence. But it is not that emergency which has prompted the Government’s ordinance. Rather, for the Government, the ‘emergency’ was the desperate need to somehow dilute and divert the Justice Verma recommendations, which reflected the aims and demands of the ongoing countrywide movement. The Justice Verma Report was a breath of fresh air, letting in the flowing wind of democracy and freedom into all the prisons of patriarchy. For the first time, here was a set of reasoned recommendations, backed by painstaking homework that recognised that sexual violence was about power, not sex; that removed sexual violence from the frame of ‘shame-honour’ and understood it in terms of women’s bodily integrity and dignity; and which sought to undo the many kinds of unbridled power and impunity that breed violence against women. The ordinance, instead, shores up the walls of patriarchal privilege and impunity. It is true that the ordinance expands the definition of sexual violence, recognises stalking, acid-throwing, and voyeurism, and introduces more severe punishments. But on a range of key questions, the ordinance actively militates against women’s autonomy and rights, and protects the impunity of powerful rapists, and the lack of accountability...

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Cover Feature : Resisting the Patriarchal ‘Lines of Control’

(A version of this article appeared in the February issue of Hard News.) “Whoever expects a ‘pure’ social revolution will never live to see it.” – V I Lenin ‘Middle class selective outrage’; ‘lynch mob mentality’; ‘macho protectiveness’; ‘coexistence of placards demanding women’s autonomy with those demanding castration for rapists’ – these are the ways in which some sceptics have described the ongoing movement against sexual violence. Activists of women’s movements and students’ movement who have chosen to identify with this movement have been accused of romanticising what is actually a dangerous mob phenomenon. Why should the prospect of contradictory consciousness in a mass movement worry us so much? Thinking about this question brought me, inevitably, to the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci who wrote of this inevitable contradictory consciousness: “The active man-in-the-mass has a practical activity, but has no clear theoretical consciousness of his practical activity, which nonetheless involves understanding the world in so far as it transforms it. His theoretical consciousness can indeed be historically in opposition to his activity. One might almost say that he has two theoretical consciousnesses (or one contradictory consciousness): one which is implicit in his activity and which in reality unites him with all his fellow workers in the practical transformation of the real world; and one, superficially explicit or verbal, which he has inherited from the past and uncritically absorbed.” This contradiction,...

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Cover Feature # International Women’s Day : Long Live Women’s Struggle for Justice and Freedom!

8 March – International Women’s Day – marks the historic day when, more than a century ago, women workers on the streets of the USA struck work to demand an 8-hour working day and the right to vote. This commemoration of over a 100 years of women’s struggles for equality and liberation takes on a special edge this year in India; it will be observed in the wake of a remarkable countrywide people’s upsurge against sexual violence. Reclaiming the Republic On Republic Day this year, thousands marched in Delhi in a ‘Freedom Parade’ to assert women’s freedom and people’s freedom. The Freedom Parade, taking place not long after the Republic Day parade ended, was held under the banner of the ‘Freedom Without Fear’ campaign, launched to take forward the ongoing movement against sexual violence. Around 2000 protestors, including students and teachers from Delhi University, JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia, women’s groups and citizens from different parts of the city, marched in the procession from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar to ‘Reclaim the Republic’. In the weeks preceding Republic Day, young protesters against sexual violence had been branded as ‘dented and painted’ and as a ‘mob’. That is why they marched to assert that the Republic comprises of the ‘public’, whose role is not just to be spectators; to realise the true spirit and the potential of the constitution, you need...

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CPI(ML) State Conference in Punjab

The first Punjab State Conference of CPI(ML) was held in Mansa, Punjab on 30-31 January 2013. The Conference was preceded by a well attended mass meeting of agrarian workers, peasants, workers and people from other walks of life who came mainly from the Mansa district. This was addressed by Central Committee members Kavita Krishnan and Swapan Mukherjee, Party’s Punjab State Secretary Rajwinder Singh Rana, Gurmit Singh, AIALA leader Bhagwant Samaon, RYA leader Kanwaljeet Singh and some other state leaders. Comrade Ruldu Singh, President of All India Kisan Mahasabha presided over this meeting. Central Committee members Rajendra Pratholi and Sanjay Sharma also attended this rally. A delegation of local traders and shopkeepers’ Association attended the rally to express their solidarity with our movement. Comrade Samuel John, the lead actor in a Punjabi film ‘Anhe Ghore Da Daan’, based on the life and struggles of dalits in Punjab which won many international and national awards, was felicitated by Com. Kavita Krishnan and other guests at the rally. Comrade Samuel stages two plays on this occasion. The Conference Hall was named Comrade Hakim Singh Samao Hall and the stage was named after Comrade Jeeta Kaur. The delegates from many districts of Punjab including Mansa, Sangrur, Bhatinda, Barnala, Gurdaspur, Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur, participated in the Conference. Nearly 15 percent of the total delegates were women. The Conference elected a 5-member Presidium and...

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Corruption, Caste, and A Dubious Brand of Social Science

It may be perfectly correct to argue against Ashis Nandy’s legal prosecution. It may be perfectly correct to argue that Ashis Nandy’s remarks in Jaipur Literature festival must be seen in context and no hurried conclusions be drawn about his intentions. However, none of his defenders so far have been keen to examine the kind of theorizing of social psychology he has been doing for decades. His defenders have eulogized him for his ‘intuitive’ intellect, his ‘ironic’ wisdom and so on. None seems to demand from him any empirical correctness or logical consistency, if not a dialectical treatment and validity of what his ‘imagination’ or ‘intuition’ induces him to utter. Such demands on someone working with social theory are not out of place. Some have suggested that for Ashis Nandy, corruption may be a form of upward mobility for the disadvantaged and that he declared that ‘lower caste corruption gave him faith in Indian democracy and its future.’ Can one be faulted for missing the irony or figure of speech, if any, contained in such statements? It demands some kind of an empirical assessment as to how many ‘lower caste’ people are socially positioned to exercise such ‘entitlement to corruption’ which Mr. Nandy seems to propose for their upward mobility. It is also worth probing which social classes are at the receiving end of public or private corruption? Take...

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The Politics of the Execution of Afzal Guru

When in his recent address at the Jaipur ‘Chintan Shivir’ of the Congress Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that he had got investigation reports that the RSS and the BJP were promoting ‘Hindu terrorism’ through their training camps and a slanging match ensued between the Congress and the RSS-BJP on the issue, little could one suspect that the Congress was actually getting ready to give in to one of the BJP’s most strident demands – the clamour for hanging Afzal Guru convicted in the 13/12 Parliament House attack case. The secretive hanging took place in Delhi’s Tihar jail in the early morning of 9 February. The government did not care to inform Afzal’s family; his wife Tabassum had petitioned the President in 2006 seeking clemency and her right to know if and when her petition had been rejected was simply not honoured. There was also no question of Afzal being allowed to say a final farewell to his dear and near ones. The BJP is understandably in a gleeful mood that one of its key demands had been met, however ‘belatedly’. ‘Der aaye, durust aaye’ (better late than never), tweeted Narendra Modi. The Congress claims the execution proves its no-nonsense ‘zero tolerance’ stand on issues of terrorism. The dominant media, especially the big TV channels, are celebrating the two ‘back-to-back’ executions of Ajmal and Afzal, a media...

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The Message of Feb 20-21General strike: Heed the People’s Voice or Quit Office

Even as the Parliament in India began its annual budget session, millions of Indians went on strike across the country calling for urgent policy changes. The general strike called by 11 central trade unions and large numbers of sector-based federations and independent trade unions evoked massive response across the country. This was the 15th general strike called by Trade unions in the last two decades when liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation became the religion of India’s ruling elite. But this was the first time when trade unions called for a two-day strike and stuck to it despite the government trying to mislead the unions with empty last-minute gestures. And this was one trade union strike that truly became general with broader social support and all-out involvement of the CPI(ML) and other parties of the Left and a section of the non-Congress non-BJP opposition. The powerful pan-union strike reflected a growing unity and assertion of the Indian working class. The unity one sees above in the form of all trade union centres including the INTUC and BMS – the trade union wings of the Congress and the BJP, the two parties that must share the biggest responsibility for the pro-corporate pro-imperialist policies that have been proved ruinous for the working people – coming together for a pan-union strike reflects a much more powerful united resolve of the working class at the...

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