06 June 2013

On Cover : Crony Capital Fixes Cricket, the Celebrated Game of ‘Glorious Uncertainty’

IPL cricket is in the eye of a match-fixing scandal. The teams now have more than 11 players – big money and bookies have become the invisible players who rule the game. This degeneration of cricket is inextricable from the rise of speculative capital. As speculation has driven capitalism into crisis, it is also vulgarising the field of sports and culture. Kerry Packer, a media tycoon challenged the traditional copybook cricket and “gentleman’s game” spirit by introducing a parallel brand of Pajama-cricket in the late seventies. Multi-camera production enriched the telecast as Packer announced “I don’t want to show the bums of the cricketers”. The mid-over breaks provided the opportunity to advertise consumer goods and sponsors rushed in. The money spinning machine made the boards and players cash-rich. Cricket was transformed from an artistic game to a sequence of televised sensations. How can such a high-value popular event evade the hawk eye of gamblers? From the early nineties cricket provided greater space to the betting syndicate. Salim Malik, former captain of Pakistan was first found guilty of offering bribes to Shane Warne for underperforming. Watching Sreesanth being picked up by police, one may recall Kapil Dev’s tears on television pleading innocence to the nation. The then Prime Minister Vajpayee stepped in to terminate the dispute: “We don’t have too many youth icons; this might misguide our young generation.” Dev...

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On Cover : AICCTU Delegate at ILC Confronted PM Demands Release of Noida, Maruti Workers and Arrest of Gangaram Koal’s Killers

AICCTU leader Comrade Subhas Sen confronted the Prime Minister and Labour Minister at the latest session of the Indian Law Conference, demanding answers on the arrest and jailing of Maruti and NOIDA workers, and the heinous assassination of tea garden workers’ leader Gangaram Koal at the behest of a Congress MLA in Assam, the State from which the PM is a Rajya Sabha MP. The 45th Session of Indian Labour Conference (the highest tripartite forum, also called Labour Parliament) was held on 17-18 May, 2013 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The AICCTU delegation was led by National Secretary Subhas Sen, who was the designated delegate at the conference. When the Union Labour Minister, Mallikarjun Kharge, rose to welcome the PM, Comrade Subhas Sen stood up and demanded that the PM must answer for why Comrade Gangaram Koal’s killers were being protected by the Congress Government of Assam, and why the CBI had yet to be notified about the enquiry that the Chief Minister had committed to ordering into the murder. Comrade Subhas Sen also demanded an answer for the indiscriminate arrest and jailing of hundreds of workers and TU activists in the Noida industrial area during the all India General Strike on 20-21 February 2013, and of Maruti (Manesar) workers. Subhas Sen and other members of AICCTU delegation raised these issues, overcoming attempts by the Minister to silence the...

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‘Made in Bangladesh’: Globalized Capital’s Genocide of Workers

The death toll from the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, in the outskirts of Dhaka, on 24th April, is a staggering 1,127. That statistics makes it the deadliest garment-factory disaster anywhere in the world. An estimated 2,500 suffered injuries. The dead – a majority of them, women – were workers in five ready-made garment (RMG) factories housed in the upper floors of the building. These factories were among thousands of low-paid exploited and largely feminized labour force tributaries feeding the globalized supply chains of Western apparel sharks like Walmart, Primark, Benetton, Bonmarche, Joe Fresh, Mango, Monsoon among others. The Rana Plaza collapse was not an accident. The eight-storey building was an illegal construction, sans valid permits for running factories, and pretty much left unmonitored. Cracks and fissures in the walls and columns had been visible, and conditions had so worsened that the day before it all crumbled, inspectors had finally ordered safety evacuation. But workers were forced back into assembly lines in such unsafe and dangerous conditions – under threats of salary cuts, layoffs, and possible loss of outstanding dues. None of this is an aberration in Bangladesh’s RMG industry. When 112 garment workers were choked and burnt to death at the Tazreen garment factory last November, it was found that so many got killed because they could not escape the death trap. Doors and exits...

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UPDATES

Resisting the Assault on Delhi University Delhi University (DU), one of the largest public funded universities in the country, is facing yet another massive neo-liberal assault. Close on the heels of the introduction of the semester system, DU has now forcibly put in place the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) – a programme that goes against the guidelines of the National Curriculum Framework and which will further compromise egalitarian and quality education in DU. Along with many teachers’ organisations and the DUTA, AISA and Left and Democratic Teachers’ Federation (LDTF) have been protesting against FYUP – campaigning extensively to expose the VC’s dubious claims of “employability”, “flexibility” and “multidisciplinary approach” of the FYUP. The VC, who has scuttled all democratic decision-making processes in the Delhi University to somehow push through the FYUP with practically no serious debate with DU teachers and students, has now taken to holding “open sessions” to promote the FYUP. It has been widely noted and reported that at these so-called “open sessions”, the DU administration been inflexibly closed to the anxious queries put forward by the parents and teachers. In fact, contradictory information was provided, and several serious issues were completely sidestepped. During each one of these open sessions held so far (including three at the DU North Campus and one at the Tagore International School), AISA activists campaigned amongst the students and teachers, interacting...

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WOMEN’s MOVEMENT : Capitalism, Sexual Violence, and Sexism

Sexual violence cannot be attributed simply to some men behaving in ‘anti-social’ or ‘inhuman’ ways: it has everything to do with the way society is structured: i.e., the way in which our society organizes production and accordingly structures social relationships. Once we understand this, we can also recognize that society can be structured differently, in ways that do not require – or benefit from – the subordination of women or of any section of society. What are the material structures that underpin sexual violence? As I address this question I will also engage with some of the arguments made in two recent articles which offer a professedly Marxist analysis of sexual violence and women’s subordination in India; one is ‘On the Empowerment of Women’ by Prabhat Patnaik, People’s Democracy, January 27, 2013, and the other is ‘Class Societies and Sexual Violence: Towards a Marxist Understanding of Rape’, by Maya John, Radical Notes, May 8, 2013. Prabhat Patnaik analyses the differences between gender oppression in advanced capitalist countries and countries like India. He notes, rightly, that the development of capitalism in the advanced capitalist countries was accompanied by a destruction of their pre-capitalist structures, facilitated by colonialism and the resulting large-scale emigration into the so-called ‘new world’. Whereas in India, “the “old community” associated with our pre-capitalist structure…continues to remain with us.” The persistence of pre-capitalist structures and extremely stubborn...

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Obituary

Long Live Comrade Brij Bihari Lal ! Comrade Brij Bihari Lal, a Freedom fighter and an ex-member of CPI(ML)’s Central Control Commission, died in Pilibhit on 11th May 2013 at the age of 92. Fighting several illnesses including cancer, he breathed his last at the King George Medical University’s Gandhi Hospital in Lucknow. At the time of death members of his family and CPI(ML) leaders and activists were present at the hospital. Comrade Brij Bihari Lal was born on 14 June 1921 in Itauria village under Puranpur Tehsil in Pilibhit district. He was jailed thrice during the Quit India movement of 1942. After Independence, he joined the Communist movement. Popularly known as Mahashayji, he was among the founders of the Communist Party in Pilibhit. He took CPI(ML) membership early in the 1980s. Later he became a member of the Party’s Central Control Commission. He remained a committed and active Party member till the very end of his life. His struggle with death was a long one and just a few days back while on hospital bed he tried to entertain others with these lines: “92 varsh kiye hain puray, hum ab bhi jiye jaate hain/Ae maut, tujhe hum baar-baar challenge kiye jaate hain!” (Have completed 92, still I go on; O’ death I’m challenging you on and on”) The cremation was held on 12th May in his home-town of...

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After Karnataka, the BJP/NDA Must Be Made to Bite the Dust in Bihar

The results of Karnataka Assembly elections have given a big jolt to the BJP’s dream of emerging as the unstoppable national alternative to the Congress. At a time when the Congress is battling an enormous crisis of credibility, it has managed to stage a comeback in Karnataka simply because the BJP’s crisis of credibility proved much bigger than what the Congress is facing. Apart from the ignominy of losing its first southern bastion, the BJP must also be feeling the blow of the deflating of the Modi balloon. Earlier, the BJP had lost in Himachal Pradesh despite the supposedly magical presence of ‘NaMo’ as the star campaigner, and now the experience was repeated in Karnataka. Modi advocates can now only claim that the BJP would have ended up a bigger loser without Modi campaigning! With the account in Karnataka settled for the time being, the focus now shifts to the election-bound states Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi where elections are due later this year. Speculations are rife that the Lok Sabha elections may well be held together with these Assembly elections. However, in terms of electoral presence there is still no significant third force in these four states and electoral politics remains effectively polarised between the Congress and the BJP. The two states where the political situation seems most open and dynamic at the moment are Bihar and...

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Assembly Elections 2013: People’s Mandate Against BJP Against Communalism, Corruption and Non-Performance

Karnataka assembly election results have blown out many popular myths surrounding the BJP’s so-called Lingayat vote-bank, influence of money power, invincibility and indispensability of land, mining and other mafia in Karnataka’s politics. The BJP has been dealt a severe blow. Its defeat in its own fortress of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts is an important pointer to the fact that the people of Karnataka have delivered a clear-cut mandate against communalism, corruption and non-performance. If the Congress will follow the same BJP line, it will also taste the same fate. That is the message of this election for the Congress as well. When the BJP captured power in Karnataka in 2008, through manipulations and flexing the money-power of the mining mafia, Karnataka was considered as the party’s political laboratory in South India. The BJP’s victory in Karnataka was considered to be a gateway, a launching pad for the party’s southern expedition. But the saffron dreams have been shattered by the 2013 Assembly elections. Karnataka’s assembly election results reflect a popular mandate against corruption and communalism as well as an altered alignment of caste power-groups. Verdict against BJP, not a positive vote for Congress The verdict in Karnataka is more a verdict against the BJP than a positive verdict in favour of the Congress. The Congress has improved its share of popular vote only by a mere 1.78% from 34.76%...

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Sarabjit and Sanaullah: Paying the Cost of Communal Jingoism and War-mongering

The brutal attack by co-prisoners on an Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in a Lahore jail, resulting in his eventual death, is a heinous instance of extra-judicial killing and violation of human rights on part of the Pakistani State. The fact that co-prisoners were able to launch this murderous assault on a high-profile death-row prisoner indicates collusion on part of the jail authorities and government in Pakistan. Early this year, another Indian prisoner Chamel Singh had been lynched to death by fellow prisoners in the same jail. In spite of this, no steps were taken by the Pakistan Government and the jail authorities to ensure security for Indian prisoners, especially for Sarabjit Singh, who was especially vulnerable because he was an Indian convicted of a terrorist crime in Pakistan. A credible probe must be instituted at the earliest, to identify and punish the killers and conspirators responsible for the murderous assault on Sarabjit Singh. Compounding the horror of the lynching of Sarabjit Singh was the retaliatory lynching of a Pakistani prisoner Sanaullah Ranjay by Indian fellow-prisoners in a Jammu jail, rendering him brain-dead. The incidents of lynching have underlined the vulnerability of Indian and Pakistani prisoners in jails in both countries, and the costs of the dangerous game of competitive communal jingoism played in both countries. The attempts to whip up anti-Pakistan jingoism and war-mongering in the wake of the...

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In Akhilesh-Ruled UP Minority Youth Dies in Custody While Varun Gandhi Goes Free

Khalid Mujahid, a so-called “accused” in the 2007 serial blasts in UP died on Saturday 18 May in police custody, yet another shameful injustice to a victim of Muslim witch-hunt. Khalid, a resident of Mariahu in Jaunpur and a Madarsa teacher, was arrested by the special task force of the UP police in December 2007 following serial blasts in UP and immediately and declared, without any evidence, to be an ‘operative of the Harkatul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI)’. Since then, he had been languishing in jail for the last 6 years. Following sustained protests against false framing, a commission was formed to probe the matter. The report submitted in 2012 found discrepancies in the “official” police case against Khalid. On the basis of the report, the UP govt. was forced to file an application in the court to withdraw the case against Khalid. However, the court turned down the application. According to activists, the UP Government put up a weak application, and now Khalid has died under mysterious circumstances, raising serious questions of cover up and conspiracy. It is indeed yet another copybook instance of killing and suspicious death in Police custody of so called “terror accused” against whom the police never managed to provide any evidence. One has not forgotten, how just last year 8 June, Mohd. Qateel Siddiqi of Darbhanga, arrested since Nov 2011, on charges of ‘involvement’ in several...

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Resist the TMC’s Authoritarian Bid to Appropriate Panchayat Power

The TMC government of West Bengal and the State Election Commission are embroiled in a protracted legal battle over the ensuing panchayat elections in the state. On the face of it, the battle may well seem to be over the issue of supremacy of the state government and the state election commission over their respective jurisdictions or domains, but we must see it in the evolving political context of West Bengal and the hostile and contemptuous attitude of the TMC government to various institutions of democracy. The panchayats were the first to reveal the direction of ‘paribartan’ or change of guard in West Bengal when in the wake of Singur and Nandigram, the TMC managed to wrest control of almost half the village panchayats in 2008. The ‘paribartan’ wave could be felt even more strongly in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and by the time the Assembly elections were held in 2011, the results were a foregone conclusion for all but the politically blind. But now this is 2013, and the panchayat elections will mark the first major test for the new regime. The TMC has now been in power for two years and by all indications disillusionment has already started setting in among large sections of the society in West Bengal. Like most other states in India today, West Bengal is also in the grip of a deepening...

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Chit Fund Scam: TMC-Saradha Nexus Puts the Poor at the Mercy of Predatory Capital

On 15th April, the Bengali New Year day, a strange drama was being played out on television sets across West Bengal. Anchors and technicians of Tara Music, a popular music channel, were putting up a tear-jerker funded all by themselves. The channel owners had decided to shut shop. Little did people realize that, this was signaling towards one of the biggest financial scams that the state has seen in recent times. The closing of Tara Music along with a host of other print and television media houses meant that Saradha Realty, the Ponzi scheme company behind this vast media empire, had collapsed. For millions of urban and rural poor, this meant losing their life’s hard-earned savings. Now they are angry and desolate. Protests spread rapidly after the news came. Angry depositors and agents vandalized Saradha offices across the state. At many places they pitched themselves against local Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders, who were known to be close to Saradha Realty. People everywhere demanded that the State Government bring the swindlers to book. The Shyamal Sen commission, a body set up by the state government to probe the scam, have received close to three lakh applications by irate depositors and agents duped by Saradha Realty. According to government sources, till date 20 people have committed suicide. Most of them belong to the rural and urban poor households. An economic scam...

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The Game Is Up for Team Manmohan – It’s the PM who Must Go Now!

Recent revelations have once again confirmed the extent to which the UPA Government is mired in corruption and cover-ups, from a series of Ministers right up to the Prime Minister. The UPA Government, which had brazenly denied the coal scam in which the PM was directly implicated, has now been caught red-handed trying to ‘fix’ the probe into the scam by ‘editing’ the CBI’s status report submitted to the apex court. Now, the Supreme Court has delivered a scathing indictment of the role of the Government and the CBI, calling the CBI a “caged parrot speaking in master’s voice”, and finding that the “heart of the report had been tampered with”. The CBI’s own affidavit testifies to the fact that the Government lied to the Court when it assured that the report had not been amended. Not only the Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, but the Joint Secretaries of the PMO and the Coal Ministry (the very same institutions directly being probed for their role in the coal scam!) perused the CBI’s status report and dictated strategic deletions and amendments. Eventually the Government, which had defiantly refused to sack the Law Minister, was forced to get the Law Minister to belatedly resign as a last-ditch attempt at damage control. But if Ashwani Kumar had to lose his job as Law Minister, why should not Manmohan Singh lose his job as...

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