06 June 2015

On 2nd Cover : CPI(ML) Solidarity Visit to Quake-Hit Nepal

Comrade Prabhat Kumar and I, on behalf of the CPI(ML) Politburo, made a solidarity visit to Nepal, that is struggling to recover from the quake of Himalayan proportions. We attended a volunteer training convention that had been organized by the CPN (UML) and presented a cheque for 1 million INR towards the natural disaster relief fund to CPN (UML) Chairman KP Sharma Oli and Party General Secretary Ishwar Pokhrel. The AICCTU and AIARLA contributed Rs 1 lakh each to this fund, while ex-MLAs and MPs of the party also chipped in with contributions from their salary and pensions. The disastrous earthquake on 25 April caused indescribable havoc in Nepal. 24 districts, out of total 75, including Kathmandu have suffered terrible loss and damage. 8519 lives have been lost and even today 500 people are missing. 638 people were killed in the second quake on 12 May. Most of the dead are women and children. More than 2 lakh buildings have been damaged. Historical heritage sites are in ruins. Cracks are visible in the Army HQ, Rashtrapati Bhawan, PM’s house, Parliament, and most government buildings. The UML Party office has suffered huge damage and has been declared abandoned. The office now functions in a small building, although even this has cracks. Essential work is also going on in tents put up on the campus. Heavy damage has been suffered by...

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On 3rd Cover : A Rightward Shift

A justice minister who wants to bring back hanging, an equalities minister who believes gay marriage should not be allowed, a disabilities minister who voted to deny welfare benefits to the families of children with disabilities, an array of ministers with links to the private healthcare companies which will benefit from the ongoing privatisation of the National Health Service… these are just some of the appointments to David Cameron’s new Conservative government after it returned to power in May’s elections, this time with an overall majority. They confirm the intensification of pro-corporate austerity policies which have already meant nearly a million people in Britain have to rely on food banks run by charities in order to survive; an extension of racist scapegoating of migrants (with new punitive measures announced even in the wake of the drowning of up to 900 people in one of many horrific incidents in the Mediterranean sea); the escalation of Islamophobia and oppressive ‘anti-terrorist’ laws; and of course a continuation of the cosy relationship between Cameron and Modi as well as between the Tory Party and the British representatives of the Sangh Parivar. The latter has been increasingly pronounced since the Indian elections: Priti Patel, the new Minister of State for Employment welcomed RSS leader Dattatreya Hosabale to London in September; she also complained that a BBC programme on India’s elections was biased against Modi...

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People Without a Country

When a boat carrying scores of starving Rohingya migrants was found drifting in Thai waters on 10th May, the world suddenly woke up to the ugly reality of the democratic experiment in Myanmar, a country which was a military regime until 2011 and is governed by an army-drafted constitution and the army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party at present. Disowned by Myanmar, and rendered stateless, the persecuted Rohingya Muslims were fleeing from Burma to seek shelter in Malaysia and Indonesia with the help of human traffickers of the region, only to be abandoned in the middle of the sea as the south-east Asian nations declared them as illegal immigrants rather than persecuted asylum seekers. Australia too has shown the same attitude, with the Australian PM callously saying ‘Nope, Nope, Nope’ to the demand that they take in the Rohingya refugees. The Socialist Alliance, which held a protest in Perth with the slogans ‘Let them land, let them stay,’ and ‘Rescue Rohingya Refugees’, observed, “Instead of calling for and joining a collaborative rescue effort, Tony Abbott has shamelessly stated his support of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in turning back Rohingyan asylum seekers. What’s more Tony Abbott has advocated for more resources to be invested in securing the Burmese border to prevent Rohingya refugees from being able to escape their abuse and persecution.” Eight other such abandoned boats carrying around 500-800...

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Book Rivew : ‘Political From Top to Toe’

A Biography of Eleanor Marx (Liberation introduces its readers to the 2014 biography of Eleanor Marx by Rachel Holmes.) Rachel Holmes’ biography introduces us to a remarkable figure of revolutionary communist history: Eleanor Marx, the youngest daughter of Karl Marx. Eleanor Marx (Tussy to her family and friends) was among the pioneering first generation of socialist activists, trade union organizers, and feminists. She was also the first to introduce the English-speaking public to Madame Bovary, to the first authentic account of the Paris Commune, and to Ibsen’s plays. And of course, she was the main source of biographical information about Karl Marx, and with Engels, the custodian of Marx’s political and intellectual legacy. Eleanor’s life and work is an important part of the legacy of the communist movement, and Holmes does a great service by introducing us anew to this legacy. Eleanor’s Childhood The biography has fascinating details about Eleanor’s early childhood – that coincided with Marx’s authorship of Capital. As Holmes observes, “Tussy and Capital grew up together.” Later, Tussy remembered how “it must have been no small nuisance to have a small child chattering while he was working at his great book. But the child was never allowed to think she was in the way.” Father Karl (called by his nickname Mohr by all in the family including his daughters) created a series of stories for his...

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OBITUARY : Lifelong revolutionary, peoples’ historian, life-affirming poet

(Excerpts from the tribute by Bonojit Hussain and Mayur Chetia in Scroll.in, May 20, 2015) I have no desire for heaven, Instead I go to the brewhouse, Gamblers, drunkards, prostitutes – bringing them together Sprinkling ashes from my soul’s pyre, I sing of hope: In flocks the phoenix flies to the sky. – “Mur Kabita/My Poetry”, Amalendu Guha 1960 Dr Amalendu Guha, eminent Marxist historian, poet and a littérateur from Assam, passed away at the age of 91 in the wee hours of May 7 at his humble residence in Guwahati. Remaining true to his rationalist outlook, he had willed in 2005 that his bodily remains should be handed over to Gauhati Medical College for scientific research. An unwavering pillar of left democratic movements, Guha was mostly known as a historian in mainland India, but his contributions and presence in the field of poetry and literature are also immense. Among his many other writings in Assamese and Bengali, his incisive travelogue on Afghanistan Afghantistanot Ebhumuki (A Glance into Afghanistan, 1961) is considered to be one of the classics in Assamese travel writing, which has also been translated into and published in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.  Despite publishing only two anthologies of poetry, Luit Parer Gatha (in Bengali), 1955 and Tomaloi (in Assamese) 1960, Guha is counted among the most prominent modern poets of Assam. Guha has earned his place in the annals of Assamese...

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UPDATE

CPI(ML) Leader Arrested for Leading Popular Agitation for Electricity Com. Vinay Santhalia, CPI(ML) leader from Rajdhanwar (Giridih, Jharkhand) who has been leading a popular agitation in Giridih for electricity, was arrested on 10 May on false charges filed against him for leading this agitation. Several CPI(ML) leaders and locals have been framed in false cases. In fact it was the police which had injured several agitators by firing bullets at them. Under the pressure from CPI(ML) leadership, the administration had apologized and promised to withdraw false charges, however, this arrest exposes the administration’s plan to repress the struggle. The agitation and resistance will continue till the demands of the people are met and false framing withdrawn.  AIPF Convention Marking 25 Years of Bhagalpur Riots The All India People’s Forum (AIPF) held a day-long convention against communal riots, violence and hate-mongering on 10 May at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in Bhagalpur. It has been twenty five years since the horrific communal riots in Bhagalpur, and AIPF’s convention, titled ‘How to understand and fight communalism: Questions arising 25 years after the Bhagalpur riots’, was organised to reflect on the current challenges of aggressive communal fascism in India. Several riot survivors, intellectuals and human rights activists participated in this convention. At the convention, several riot survivors talked about the horrors they had faced, and the nature of their ongoing battle for...

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CPI(ML) Leader Brutally Attacked in Bihar

Com. Upadhyay Yadav, a young CPI(ML) leader and a member of Jahanabad Zila Parishad, Bihar, was shot by miscreants on the morning of 2nd May and was admitted to hospital battling for life. Com. Upadhyay Yadav had been in the forefront of a movement in Ratni block on the issue of paddy purchase. During the movement, the block headquarters had been blocked completely for three days and due to the pressure generated by the movement the administration had to relent. The daylight attack on leaders raising the issues of the marginalized and oppressed once again expose the shallow claims of ‘good governance’ (sushaasan) in Bihar. Protesting against the attack on Com. Yadav and demanding immediate arrest of his attackers, a Jahanabad-Arwal bandh was held on 3 May 2015. The call for bandh found massive support from the people and the roads remained swarmed with the protestors. Following another protest in front of the DM’s office on 15 May, one of the main attackers was arrested. But other assailants continue to be at...

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Inaugural Conference of Midday Meal Workers’ Association

The Bihar State Midday Meal Workers’ Association held its inaugural conference in Patna on 17 May 2015. The conference was inaugurated by AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari. In her address, she said that the Central and State governments have launched many schemes for whose implementation lakhs of women across the country are working. However, most of these women have not been given the status of government employee. They are forced to work for a mere pittance in extremely difficult conditions, thus subjecting them to great economic oppression, and not even giving them basic respect, recognition and dignity. She pointed out that their conditions have become even worse after the Modi government came to power at the centre. The Modi government is bent upon suppressing trade union rights of workers in order to benefit corporate houses, and the Nitish government is following in the centre’s footsteps. The Nitish Government in Bihar talks big about policies for women, but the condition of women in the State are going from bad to worse. She called upon women not to be taken in by religious or communal ploys, and to take active part in the struggles led by AIPWA and AICCTU o find solutions to their problems. All women working on contractual/honorarium basis need to organize themselves strongly on a State level, sharpen and strengthen their struggle, and develop joint action plans with...

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AISA’s 8th National Conference

AISA’s 8th national conference was held in New Delhi on 10-11 May, near the north campus of the Delhi University. The inaugural session of the 2-day national conference was addressed by CPI(ML) general secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, human rights activist Prashant Bhushan, DUTA President Nandita Narain, AIPWA secretary Comrade Kavita Krishnan and leaders of SFI, AISF, DSF and AIDSO. Around 300 delegates from Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karbi Anglong, Madhya Pradesh, Maharshtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu attended the conference. Welcoming the delegates and guests at the inaugural session, AISA’s national president Sucheta De pointed that the conference was being held in the backdrop of several dangerous policy changes being mooted by the Modi government. She stressed that the student community and the student movement has the historic responsibility to oppose the systematic saffronisation of education, the choice-based credit system, the common Central University Act and RUSA. She called for a powerful student movement against the communal and corporate offensive of the Modi Government. DUTA President Nandita Narain said that the proposed CBCS was just FYUP in another form, and should be opposed by another movement on the scale of the anti-FYUP movement. She underlined the fact that the blueprint of privatisation of education was put in place by the previous UPA government, and is now being aggressively pursued by the...

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Build a Vibrant and Dynamic Working Class Movement !

(Address by Comrade S Kumarasamy, AICCTU President, to the 9th National Conference of AICCTU) Comrades, Eduardo Galeano, the author of Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of Pillage of the Continent wrote: “Reality is not destiny; it is a challenge. We are not doomed to accept it as it is.” The people and countries the world over are challenging and trying to change the cruel reality imposed by the neo-liberal agenda of finance capital. Following the pink wave in Latin America, it is now the turn of Europe. ‘Regime Change’ took place in the opposite direction in Greece. Spanish people are demanding food, job and roof with dignity and chanting ‘tick-tock tick-tock’ to indicate that the days of the austerity regime are numbered. The Europe of the old and the new are witnessing people’s struggles against austerity measures and demanding pro-people change. The pro people anti-imperialist march of Latin America is continuing. USA is coming to terms with Cuba. A few years back, in the US, indebtedness became the precondition not just for material improvement in the quality of life, but for the basic requirements of life. Financiers sought to wrap debt around every possible asset and income stream. Now 50 million people in the US carry a student debt burden. A part of the energy generated by the 99% vs 1% Occupy Movement was channelized into the...

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AICCTU’s 9th National Conference

All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) held its 9th National Conference at Bihar’s capital, Patna (Com. Yogeshwar Gope Nagar) on 4-6 May 2015. The conference began on 4th May with an impressive “March for Workers’ and Peasants’ Rights, in the scorching sun, culminating in a public meeting in which thousands of workers and peasants participated. The march was led by Comrades Swapan Mukherjee and S Kumarasamy, Bihar state leaders and foreign guests including Comrades Nikolaos Theodorakis (Greece) from WFTU; Kamlesh Jha and Kul Bahadur Khatri from GEFONT, Nepal; Lalbahadur Pakhrin and Ramdev Lal Das from CONEP, Nepal and Tapan Datta from BTUC, Bangladesh. The main areas of the city were impressively decorated with red flags and banners and gates. Addressing the mass meeting, CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the one year of Modi government has had been the year of attacks on workers and peasants, breaking the promises of ‘good times’. ‘Make in India’ is the pretext for snatching the rights of workers and peasants, who actually do make in and for India. He said this 9th National Conference of AICCTU is an important milestone in the direction of ongoing nation-wide struggles of contractual and honorarium and women workers for their rights, dignity, social security and equal wages. He saluted the brave struggles of workers of Maruti, of contractual workers throughout the country, of...

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Legitimizing Child Labour

“The worst thief is he who steals the playtime of children.” – Bill Haywood, Leader of the Industrial Workers of the World Union in the US In India, it is those who claim to protect children who are stealing their playtime! The PM who claims to have been a tea-seller as a child, is the one legitimizing child labour today, making a mockery of the fact that an Indian recently won the Nobel for taking up the cause of freeing children from child labour. The existing law in India, shamefully, only prohibits children below the age of 14 from being employed in ‘hazardous occupations.’ The UPA Government had proposed amendments to the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986, seeking to ban all child work until the age of 14 years, and to prohibit children between the ages 14 and 18 from employment in hazardous employment. Note that even the UPA Government did not propose what child rights activists have been demanding: which is a complete ban on all child work. The amendments approved by the Modi Government prohibit children between 14-18 from employment in hazardous occupations, while allowing children below 14 to be employed in ‘non-hazardous’ work in ‘family or family enterprises’. The argument given by the Government to legitimize child labour is that the ‘social fabric’ of the country would be damaged if child labour in ‘family’...

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Is the Right to Protest Reserved for Kejriwal Alone, Not for Aam Workers?

Delhi witnesses a series of protests by DTC workers on a variety of issues in the year 2015. The most recent one was a spontaneous flash strike following the brutal murder of a DTC driver of the Rohini Depot. The DTC is undoubtedly the lifeline of Delhi’s transport network. Contractual employees within DTC face inhuman working conditions and are subjected to tremendous work pressure to meet targets given by the management. As many as twelve thousand of DTC drivers are employed on contract. This means that they are not paid equal wages on part with permanent staff, for the same work. Their wages are not regularized. They arrive at the depot every morning – but may be turned away and denied work by the depot manager in cases buses have broken down. So, while they are officially ‘employed’, they are not even sure of getting work throughout the month! They have no right to a paid or even unpaid weekly off. Right from mid 2014 onwards, both the permanent staff and contractual workers of DTC protested for their rights. The contractual workers especially, supported the AAP and Kejriwal, based on the AAP’s promises to regularize contractual employees. When the AAP Government failed to keep those promises, the DTC contract workers organized a March to the Delhi Secretariat from the DTC headquarters on 13 April 2015 under the banner of...

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Bring the Badals Within the Orbit of the Law !

A 13-year-old Dalit girl was molested and flung to her death from a bus in Punjab, along with her mother who survived with grievous injuries. The molestation, which took place in broad daylight, has rekindled memories of the December 16th 2012 gangrape and murder on a bus in Delhi. The Congress Government of Delhi headed by Sheila Dixit had rightly been held responsible for the failure to provide safe public transport for women. The Akali-BJP Government of Punjab bears an even more direct responsibility for the Moga crime, since the molestation and murder were committed by the staff of the Orbit fleet of buses, owned by the Badals who head the Punjab Government and the ruling Akali Dal party. The Orbit buses enjoy a monopoly on many routes in Punjab. The bus service is part of Orbit Aviation Pvt Ltd, which in turn is part of the vast business empire of Punjab’s ruling family. The staff of the buses are well known to be goons, intoxicated with the impunity that comes from Badal patronage. In particular, Punjab’s poor and dalits bear the brunt of the arbitrary violence by the Orbit staff. The bus in question had tinted glasses and curtains, in defiance of the law. The staff molested the girl and her mother, and when they protested, flung them from the speeding bus. Even before this incident, CCTV footage...

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Lessons From The Nepal Earthquake

It is humanly impossible not to be moved by the magnitude and quality of the humanitarian disaster that has visited Nepal and the adjoining regions of India and Bangladesh as a result of the April 25 earthquake of magnitude 7.9. The death toll has already crossed 5,000. The entire world, and India in particular, must do all it can to help the earthquake’s victims with rescue and relief. The disaster is a grim reminder of how vulnerable large parts of South Asia are to natural calamities like earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, flash floods and landslides. It also shows how unprepared the region’s societies are to cope with these, and how governments routinely fail to mitigate their effects on the plea that some of these events cannot be predicted. The plea is specious. Nobody can forecast an earthquake to the year, but scientists know enough about region-specific seismic hazards to be able to say that an earthquake of high or medium magnitude is likely to take place in the course of a few decades. This furnishes an adequate basis to formulate policies and put in place measures of disaster preparedness, mitigation and management. It’s precisely because governments fail to recognise risks and take preparedness measures that natural disasters become social catastrophes. Earthquakes are natural only in their causation. Their effects are socially determined and transmitted through arrangements created by societies and...

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