03 March 2016

Will They Call Tagore Anti-National ?

Will They Call Tagore Anti-National ? I have no hesitation in saying that those who are gifted with the moral power of love and vision of spiritual unity, who have the least feeling of enmity against aliens, and the sympathetic insight to place themselves in the position of others will be the fittest to take their permanent place in the age that is lying before us, and those who are constantly developing their instinct of fight and intolerance of aliens will be eliminated…. it is my conviction that my countrymen will gain truly their India by fighting against that education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity. – Rabindranath Tagore, author of India’s national anthem (and also the national anthems of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) Affection Cannot Be Manufactured Section 124 A under which I am happily charged is perhaps the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen. Affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by the law. If one has no affection for a person, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection, so long as he does not contemplate, promote or incite to violence. But the section under which Mr Banker and I are charged is one under which mere promotion of disaffection is a crime. I have studied...

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‘Purging’ and ‘Pest Control’ – Chhattisgarh Style

In the wake of the JNU attack, we have seen prominent supporters of the Modi Government talking of the attack on campuses as ‘pest control,’ while BJP nd RSS leaders call for ‘purge and sanitisation’ of campuses. Journalists are being hounded and threatened in Delhi. In Dantewada, the Chhattisgarh Government and Central Government are actually achieving a systematic purge of activists from the area – as part of the larger plan to purge the area of adivasis and pave the way to handover the forests to corporates. The intensified offensive of the past few months – including fake encounters and rapes by security forces, have been orchestrated by the IG (Bastar) SRP Kalluri. Kalluri is notorious for his role as the Sarguja SP in 2006 when he was accused of raping a tribal woman and ordering her gang rape by policemen for ten days. He had also presided over the Tadmetla massacre, where 300 homes and neighbouring villagers were burnt, people killed, and women raped by security forces in 2011. Attack on Soni Sori On the night of 20th February, adivasi activist and AAP Bastar coordinator Soni Sori, herself a survivor of custodial sexual violence, was attacked by three goons in Geedam. They threw a chemical substance on her face that caused severe pain and burning, and threatened her saying “stop complaining against the IG, stop raising the issue...

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Red Salute, Comrade AB Bardhan

(25 September 1924 – 2 January 2016) (CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya pays tribute to veteran CPI leader Comrade AB Bardhan) As 2016 began its journey, Comrade AB Bardhan bade goodbye to his countless comrades and admirers. His long march in the communist movement had begun in the 1940s when he was a student and continued ceaselessly for nearly eight decades with youthful energy, activism and optimism till the very end. Comrade Bardhan breathed his last soon after the CPI observed a series of programmes across the country to mark the party’s 90th foundation anniversary. Comrade Bardhan’s last public appearance was in the international communist seminar held on this occasion in the CPI headquarters in Delhi followed, a few days later, by a symposium against communal fascism. For a large part of his communist life, Comrade Bardhan worked on the trade union front. He was a communist organizer and leader of the working class who paid as much attention to the task of imparting political education and popularizing Marxist ideology among workers as to the task of defending the immediate economic interests and political rights of the working class. As the General Secretary of AITUC, he played a key role in forging a broad fighting unity of Left trade unions and other mass organisations to resist the neo-liberal policy offensive during its initial phase. Many of our trade union...

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The Strategic Goal of Socialism

(Excerpts from a talk by Prof Randhir Singh at a seminar on ‘The Present Political Situation and the Challenges of Strengthening the Left’, at Gandhi Peace Foundation, on the occasion of the Vinod Mishra Memorial Meeting, 18 December 2003.) I have been associated with the Indian revolutionary wave since 1938-39, and it is an association as a militant, not as a scholar or intellectual. I have done teaching, too, I have tried to live as a militant not as an intellectual. The problems our country faces today are even more serious than the ones we faced before independence. But I have felt for some time now that we do not discuss those problems in the perspective in which they should be discussed. I had begun to feel that perhaps I’m a dinosaur with outdated ideas, and that at my age perhaps it was time I retired. In fact, I initially refused a speaking engagement on these grounds. But in the meantime I came across a conversation between two intellectuals of a Leftist persuasion: German Nobel Laureate Günter Grass and renowned sociologist Pierre Bourdieu who recently passed away. I found some things in their conversation useful to understand what’s happening today. Grass observed that what is peddled today as “progress” and neo-liberalism is actually a regression to nineteenth century capitalism. (“What is peddled today as neo-liberalism is a return to...

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Lal Salaam Comrade Randhir Singh

Eminent Marxist scholar and popular teacher of political theory Prof Randhir Singh passed away on the night of 31st January in Delhi. He was 95. Prof Randhir Singh was a founder of the Left student movement in India, during India’s freedom struggle. He is best remembered for his unwavering lifelong commitment to popularising and communicating Marxist theory widely, in the most accessible language of the people. Till very recently, he would still travel to Punjab villages and small towns to give talks on political developments as well as on Marxist thought. In spite of his formidable academic prowess, he was always had the unassuming air that is the hallmark of the activist. He was a close friend of many Left activists, and many in the CPI(ML), young and old, will have fond memories of their rich interactions with him. Prof Randhir Singh inspired many generations to study Marxism and to study society using Marxist tools. Liberation pays tribute to him with memories shared by academicians and activists, as well as excerpts from his writings and speeches. Comrade Randhir Singh’s Legacy (CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya reflects on Comrade Randhir Singh’s legacy for the Left movement.) I did not have the luck of being a student of Professor Randhir Singh. But I consider myself greatly fortunate that I had several opportunities of listening to him and discussing with him and...

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Hold Panchayat Elections on Party Basis

The Bihar government has to take back its condition of mandatory toilet for fighting panchayat elections. It should be noted that the CPI(ML) and AIARLA had taken up a campaign demanding revocation of the ‘toilet’ condition, conducting panchayat elections on party basis, and against giving cash instead of food grains. On 25 January different gram panchayats had taken out mashal juloos and on 29 Jan dharnas were held at block offices. Bihar State Secretary, Com. Kunal said that the taking back of the condition of toilets was a people’s victory, as this condition was imposed with the aim to keep out marginalized sections from the election process. Victory marches were taken out in various panchayats from 3 to 9 February. However, the fight for party-based panchayat elections and against cash-for-food would continue. In this regard, CPI-ML and AIARLA jointly held district level dharnas on 9 Feb across the State. In Patna a dharna was held at Gardanibagh. Speakers at the meeting said that 3-phase panchayat elections have been announced in Bihar, but these elections are not party-based, thus giving the ruling class parties the opportunity to run pocket panchayats with dominant-bureaucrat-middlemen nexus and remain free of accountability to the people. Thus the panchayats have become mere agencies for implementing government decisions. Such a non-party based panchayat model holds no future for the people; they must be party-based in order...

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Contract Sanitation Workers’ Struggle for Regularization in Bangalore

AICCTU led contract sanitation workers of BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) rallied more than a thousand and formed a human barricade demanding regularization of all contract sanitation workers on 2nd Dec. 2015. The struggle was led by Comrades Balan, state president, Clifton D’ Rozario, state General Secretary and Nirmala, the General Secretary of the contract sanitation workers union (Guttige Powrakarmikara Sangha). The protest was in response to the state government’s move to recruit few thousands of people quite alien to any sanitation work at all. It is a well known fact that it is only Madigas, even among dalits, who are engaged in sanitation work. Still, the government revealed its intention to recruit new people who are totally unrelated to any sanitation activities while more than 18000 existing contract workers under BBMP are left in the lurch. Workers protested vociferously. They demanded regularisation of the existing workforce and then to look for any new recruitment. The government has not considered the demand for regularization of existing work force in spite of a definite recommendation for its abolition by the sub-committee on contract labour under BBMP constituted under the chairmanship of Com. Balan, all India Vice President of AICCTU. The newly elected Mayor of Bangalore Corporation came to the spot to listen to the grievances of the contract workers and assured that he will bring it to the attention of...

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Tribals Falsely Arrested in Red Sanders Murder Case Released

More than 350 tribals, arrested on trumped up charges of double murder of Andhra Pradesh forest officials at the behest of red sandalwood smugglers, have been acquitted and released from jail following a prolonged struggle by All India People’s Forum and other groups. TN has 7.5 lakh tribals, approximately 1% of the state’s total population. They are severely neglected politically, and deprived economically and socially. Of the various tribal groups in TN, a Tamil speaking Malayalee hill tribe is the largest group, with a population of 4 lakh approximately. Alienated from their lands and hills, which were occupied or purchased at cheaper costs by rich people and politicians, they lost their livelihood with the land. They began migrating towards Kerala and Karnataka in search of estate work. Many young girlsfrom among them became workers in the exploitive Sumangali scheme of spinning mills. The estate work in Kerala and Karnataka were seasonal. For the past 5 years or more, the Andhra Pradesh Red Sanders timber mafia hired the tribal workers as woodcutters. Proximity to the Tirupati forests and experience in woodcutting, as well as unemployment in TN drove them to the killing fields of the Seshasalam forests. They are not smugglers, just woodcutters. After the double murder of two AP forest officials in the Tirupati forests on 14.12.13 by the Red Sanders Mafia, a spate of arrests took place. More...

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‘Free Pricol Eight’ Campaign In Tamilnadu

Anticipating some severe punishment in the case, AICCTU state working committee meeting was held in Coimbatore on December 1 which decided to get prepared for any eventuality. After the meeting, a meeting of Pricol vanguards was held which decided to gather in large numbers to protest the TN government’s apathy in dealing with the havoc caused by floods and to condemn ensuing punishment for their co-workers. CPI(ML) and AICCTU staged immediate protests in many parts of Tamilnadu on the day the verdict was delivered, December 3, and many workers in the state were detained for picketing and demonstrating without permission and released later. A militant demonstration held in the evening after the EIGHT were taken to the jails, vowed to fight against the offensive on workers’ right to protest. As soon the news of the sentence reached the workers who were on duty they stopped work for a while. In Chennai, in spite of lashing rains, worker vanguards managed to get organized themselves and staged a protest in Ambattur. On December 4 a press meet was held in Coimbatore which was addressed by AICCTU national vice-presidents Comrade Swapan Mukherjee and Comrade Shankar along with Comrade S Kumarasami. The press meet also condemned the criminal negligence of TN government in dealing with the floods. On December 5, Comrade Kumarasami, along with Pricol Workers’ Union and AICCTU office-bearers visited the families...

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The Left in 2016: Tough Challenges And Great Opportunities (Part II)

Part II Like in Venezuela, the left movement in Greece too now finds itself at a crossroads – but of a very different kind. Let us pick up the thread where we left it in our October 2015 number (Greece: Betraying People’s Referendum, Syriza Capitulates to Troika’s Memorandum). In the Aftermath of the Syriza Somersault January 2015 saw Syriza gatecrash into power riding on the crest of a powerful mass movement; in January 2016 it finds itself as the target of the very same movement against the atrocious debt slavery imposed by the imperialist troika and administered by an elected government. The outrageous capitulation of the Syriza leadership before lenders’ blackmailing in July 2015 naturally led to a sense of frustration and cynicism replacing the combative mood of the people. This was reflected in reduction of voter participation from 63% in January to 55% in the September elections, the lowest in memory. Syriza got 145 seats (four fewer than in January) while neo-fascist Golden Dawn improved its score from 6.8% in January to 7.9%. The Syriza-ANEL coalition was returned to the seat of power. From late October, disgruntlement started assuming the shape of organised protests. A nationwide general strike took place on November 12 and the second one rocked the country on December 15. Since January this year, hundreds of trade unions rallied by the All-workers’ Militant Front (PAME,...

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#StandwithJNU

As the sordid tale of morphed pictures, doctored videos, witch-hunting based on fake twitter handles and brutal violence against JNU students and faculty inside the court premises and outside begin to emerge, voices from various parts of the country and the world have affirmed their solidarity with JNU. On 12 February a massive march took inside the campus demanding release of JNUSU president Com. Kanhaiya and withdrawal of sedition charges against other students. The march was led by the JNUSU and JNUTA and over 4000 students and teachers participated in the march. Besides leaders of the left, several other scholars and political leaders addressed the meeting held after the march. The next day, students, faculty members, alumni and several others joined hands to form a nearly 3 km long human chain in JNU. The students and faculty of JNU have continued to stay in the ad-block, and holding a lecture series on ‘nationalism’ and the ‘idea of the nation’ in which lectures have been given by Prof. Ayesha Kidwai, Prof. Prabhat Patnaik, Prof. Nivedita Menon, Prof. G. Arunima, Prof. Vivek Kumar, noted journalist P. Sainath, among others. Nearly 40 teachers’ associations from across campuses of this country have come out and expressed their solidarity with JNU. Teachers from some of the top universities in the world including Harvard, Oxford, Yale and Columbia have expressed their support to the JNU...

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Meet The Eight JNU Students Suspended For ‘Sedition’

Speeches of JNU Leaders Excerpts JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar They are the people who burn the tricolour; they are the stooges of Savarkar, who apologised to the British. They are the people who, right now, in Haryana, run the Khattar government that has renamed after a Sanghi an airport named after Shaheed Bhagat Singh. The upshot is, we don’t need a certificate of patriotism from the RSS. We don’t need the RSS to certify us as nationalists. We are of this country and love the soil of India. We fight for those 80 per cent of this country’s people who are poor. For us, this is desh bhakti. We have full faith in Babasaheb. We have full faith in our country’s Constitution. And we want to firmly assert that if anyone lifts a finger against this country’s Constitution — whether the Sanghis or anyone else — we won’t tolerate it. We have faith in the Constitution. But we have no faith in the constitution that is taught at Jhandelwala and Nagpur. We have no faith in the Manusmriti. This nation was never yours — and will never be yours. A nation is made of its people. If the nation doesn’t have space for the hungry, the poor, the workers, then it is not a nation. JNUSU Vice President Shehla Rashid Shora Right-wing propaganda on the internet says ‘JNU students...

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Zee News Producer Vishwa Deepak’s Resignation Letter

Excerpts Zee News whipped up a frenzy against JNU, and was later joined by other channels like Times Now and News X. All three aired fake video footage, fake ‘IB reports’ suggesting that JNU students had ‘terrorist’ links, and established the lie that the slogans shouted in JNU amounted to sedition. The police were present on 9 February when the slogans were shouted but they arrested no one and filed no case. Instead the whole business of arrests and police harassment began after Zee News aired the footage of the slogans, spiced with its own deliberate distortions. A Zee News producer Vishwa Deepak resigned in protest over this matter. Below are excerpts from his letter. We journalists often question others but not ourselves. We decide the responsibilities of others, but not our own. We are called the fourth pillar of democracy but are we, our institutions, our thinking and our methodology democratic? This question is not mine alone but is being asked by everyone. The way the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student’s Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was framed in the name of “nationalism” and, after a media trial, was proved to be an anti-national, is an extremely dangerous trend. As journalists, it is our responsibility to question the powers that be, not move step in step with the powerful. Whatever good and beautiful has been achieved in the history of...

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How ABVP Lost the Battle for JNU

The ABVP thought it could destroy the Left in JNU by branding it as anti-national. Instead, the ABVP stands thoroughly isolated and defeated in JNU. Several of its own activists have resigned in protest over its position on the Rohith Vemula issue and JNU. Three ABVP office bearers of JNU, Pradeep, Joint Secretary, ABVP JNU unit, Rahul Yadav, President SSS ABVP unit and Ankit Hans, Secretary SSS ABVP unit resigned, condemning the Government’s handling of the JNU issue, and stating that there is a difference between asking questions and “crushing ideology and branding entire Left as anti-national.” Their letter declared, “We can’t be mouthpiece of such a government which has unleashed oppression on student community, legislature like O P Sharma, govt. which has legitimized the action of right wing fascist forces either in Patiala house court or in front of JNU north gate. Every day we see people assemble at front gate with Indian Flag to beat JNU students, well this is hooliganism not nationalism…” They also cited “long standing difference of opinion with party on Manusmriti and Rohith Vermula incident.” Abhilash Goyal who had been a Councillor candidate for ABVP in 2015 resigned, saying a part of his heart belongs in JNU and “when I see questions are being raised on the most democratic, most progressive, liberal, accommodating, diverse, safe and intellectual uplifting space I’ve ever been a...

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Branding Dissent As Anti-National

“The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.” – Adolf Hitler As India debates over a sustained attack on civil liberties and free speech today, and the National Democratic Alliance-II government is on a spree to brand every dissenting voice as ‘anti-national,’ these words of the 20th century German fascist ruler echoes more strongly than ever. Who is an anti-national after all? If one goes by the Sangh Parivar’s logic, anyone who does not believe in aggressive-expansionist militarism, or anyone who voices the concerns of the minorities and scores of adivasis and Dalits living in abject penury, is an ‘anti-national.’ What else can one deduce at a time when six students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) are facing sedition charges because they raised slogans for freedom – against feudalism, against patriarchy, against casteism? At a time when three students are in police custody and three others are living in the fear of being arrested, the Sangh Parivar has raised its rhetoric of hyper-nationalism to polarise Indian society. One is reminded of the American president George Bush’s warning...

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