06 June 2016

Mahakavi Bharathiyar’s Poem

Pseudo Nationalists (English translation of a poem by the great Tamil poet and freedom fighter Mahakavi Bharathiyar, reproduced here with the permission of the translator, writer Bhargavi Chandrasekharan. The poem’s thoughts on fake nationalists are particularly apt for the Sanghis who claim to stand for ‘Swadeshi Jagran’ (promoting Indian interests) but actually support policies that promote the interests of foreign corporations; who use ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ to bully others but attack women, as well as minorities, Dalits and any citizens who reject the idea of a Hindu India.) Bereft of fortitude and honesty, They speak with malice, Oh birdie, they are only the warriors of words! Of industries and factories And Indian textiles, they talk, Dear birdie, magic never brought mangoes down! Talk of Indian sugar, salt and sarees, They join the party and lie “I use them too!” Oh birdie, they are a part of the patriotic fashion! Of women’s honour and God’s power, Their tongues yap, not the mind, Dear birdie, they have no conviction! With no confidence nor inner strength, They lead only animal lives, Oh birdie, they are unfit to live! Like chanting the Lord’s name, But aiming for liquor, Dear birdie, their heart is everywhere but nowhere! Their own brothers are martyrs now Yet they march without care Oh birdie, they have forgotten their duty! Their mother has been dying, They don’t act...

Read More

159th Anniversary of the 1857 Uprising: Reclaiming India from Corporate-Communal Clutches

Corruption is back as the big talking point in Indian politics. But interestingly enough, the charges this time around are not being levelled by the opposition against the powers that be. On the contrary, it is the government of the day which is seeking to capitalise on a scrapped defence deal against the principal opposition party. The controversial VVIP chopper contract was awarded to the UK-based AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian parent company Finmeccanica, in 2010 and the first lot of three of the dozen helicopters ordered arrived in 2012. But charges of bribery soon came up in Italian courts and in February 2013 Italian police arrested Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi on charges of paying bribe worth Rs 362 crore to Indian middlemen to secure the Rs 3,500 odd crore (560 million euro) contract. The UPA government, already reeling under charges of several major scams, cancelled the contract and ordered a CBI probe into the scam. Now, on the basis of reported disclosures emanating from Italy, the BJP is seeking to make the chopper scam the biggest issue for parliamentary debate when it has little to show by way of progress of investigations by Indian agencies. The BJP would like us to believe as though we were still in 2013 with the UPA in power and the BJP in opposition! The discussion on the AgustaWestland scam has in fact...

Read More

London Rejects Islamophobia and Anti-Corbyn Smears, But Blairite Sadiq Khan Offers ‘Business As Usual’

The resounding victory of Labour candidate Sadiq Khan in the London mayoral elections which took place on 5 May demonstrated two things in particular. Firstly, in electing the first Muslim mayor of a major European city in the modern era, London’s electorate decisively rejected the hysterically Islamophobic campaign run by David Cameron’s Conservative Party and their mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith, which reached its nadir the day before elections when they outrageously tried to directly associate Khan with the 7/7 bombings in the minds of voters. Secondly, Khan’s victory proved wrong the insistence of both the Tory leadership as well as the Blairite right MPs within the Labour Party (of whom, rather ironically, Khan is one, of which more later) that Labour could not gain votes under the leadership of a leftist like Jeremy Corbyn. Both the Conservatives and Corbyn’s opponents within his own party made the mayoral elections, and local and Scottish and Welsh Assembly elections, which took place at the same time, into a test of Corbyn’s leadership. But despite the spinning of a hostile media determined to make it look like a disaster, Labour under Corbyn actually made considerable gains, with the Conservatives losing more seats in local elections, as well as gaining back the London Mayor after 8 years under Tory Boris Johnson. And while Khan tried to distance himself from Corbyn during the campaign, it...

Read More

A Coup In Brazil

Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, has been impeached by the country’s Senate on allegations of corruption. She stands suspended from Presidency, and has to face a trial. Dilma Rousseff has been undoubtedly a thoroughly honest person in her professional life and this fact is not disputed even by her detractors. Her interim successor Michel Temer was Vice President in Dilma’s government till a month ago, when he resigned and gave a call to oust Dilma. He is a known proponent of right wing economic policies. His party Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) was in alliance with the government led by Dilma as her Workers Party (PT) does not enjoy a majority in the Congress. Temer has been charged with bribery and kickbacks in the past, and is under the scanner in a scam popularly called Operation Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash). His name also figured in the Wikileaks cables as an informant for the US embassy who criticised Lula for “excessive focus on social safety programmes that don’t promote growth or development”. This impeachment is being termed a ‘soft coup’ in Brazil. Temer along with Eduardo Cunha, the Speaker of the lower House who is suspended by the Supreme Court and facing corruption and perjury charges, are the lead actors behind this coup. Now people like Temer and Cunha will decide the future of Dilma Rousseff and the course...

Read More

Socialism As An Alternative

Reflections and Report on International Conference on Socialism for the 21st Century (Radhika Menon attended the Conference on Socialism for the 21st Century held in Sydney as the representative from CPI(ML). The Conference, held on May 13-15, and hosted by the Green Left Weekly, Socialist Alliance and Links Journal of Socialist Renewal, explored the themes of Moving Beyond Capitalism, learning from Global Struggles. Radhika reports on the Conference.) Several governments across the world have launched neo-liberal policies with the claim that they are helpless and that ‘There is No Alternative’. What remains unsaid in this argument, is that neither have alternatives been searched nor adequately developed because pro-corporate capitalist governments do not want to see the alternative posed by Socialism. However, developments across the world show that there is growing resentment against capitalism’s new guise neoliberalism. Huge movements have challenged the neoliberal policies of privatization, theft of public resources in the name of disinvestment, increasing work hours and the exploitation of the waged and salaried. Students have been rising in protests, workers have fought snatching away of hard earned labour rights, while land grab and resource grab of marginalized communities have not gone unchallenged. Governments have fallen and have had to mimic Left slogans to retain power, and respond with concessions while withdrawing state’s responsibility towards citizen’s health, education and other entitlements necessary for ensuring life. The onward march...

Read More

Updates

RYA’s Uttar Pradesh State Conference Held in Lucknow The 5th Uttar Pradesh State Conference of Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) was held in Lucknow on 19th March. The Conference started off with a Student-Youth March from Charbagh Station to the venue of the Conference, Ganga Prasad Memorial Hall. The March saw enthusiastic participation of around 500 youth from 20 districts in the state. The city echoed with the slogan of azaadi which has become the clarion call of the student youth movement across the country echoed throughout the city. The slogans demanded azaadi from unemployment, from the RSS, from Modi, from communal-fascism and freedom from all forms of oppression. The participants with the red flag in their hands were equally scathing on the misrule of the Samajwadi Party Govt. in the state, asking tough questions to the ‘youth’ Chief Minister of UP, Akhilesh Yadav who came to power by promising to put an end to unemployment and providing unemployment allowance to the unemployed youth of the state. The anger against the betrayal of the SP govt. was clearly visible in the march. Ganga Prasad Memorial Hall, the venue of the Conference was filled to the last seat. The session started by the release of the AISA-RYA booklet ‘Utho Mere Desh’. The main speakers of the Open Session of the Conference were by JNUSU VP Com. Shehla Rashid, Prof. Rajesh Mishra...

Read More

May Day 2016 : CPI (ML) and AICCTU May Day Events

May Day 2016 Some highlights of the 2016 May Day events from around the world include a massive rally by hundreds of thousands of Cubans which condemned the campaign to ‘destabilize’ leftist governments around Latin America. In France, May Day came in the wake of a huge ongoing uprising of workers and youth against a proposed new labour law legislation that would be a major blow to workers’ rights. The Socialist Party Government introduced this proposed reform in February, unleashing waves of protests. On March 9, 500,000 people participated in a national day of action. 1.2 million joined trade union demonstrations in more than 250 cities and towns on March 31. On the night of March 31st, despite rain, hundreds gathered night in Paris’s Place de la République, in the first of the “Nuit Debout” occupations. On April 9, tens of thousands more marched in Paris and other French cities against the law. Nuit Debout night-time vigils and mass meetings are now being held all over France, against the proposed labour law and also calling for political change. The “state of emergency” declared in Paris since the November 13 terror attacks have given the police a green signal to crackdown on the protests against the labour law, with tear gas and violent beatings. In March, a video of high school student protesters being violently beaten by the police led...

Read More

Killings of Journalists, Activists, Citizens in Bihar

Incidences of crime in Bihar have been steadily on the rise after the Bihar Assembly elections. In the most recent incident journalist Rajdev Ranjan of the ‘Hindustan’ newspaper was brutally murdered in Siwan. Just a few days earlier, ruling party JDU MLC Manorama Devi’s son Rocky Yadav killed a businessman’s son in Gaya over for the mere reason that he had overtaken Rocky’s car. These rising instances of crime have certainly created an atmosphere of fear in the minds of the people of Bihar which the BJP, shattered after the Assembly election defeat, is looking to cash in on. The BJP is again singing the old song about “jungle raj in Bihar”. Certain elements in the media are also joining in this chorus. But even a child in Bihar can tell you that the most bloodthirsty wolf in the ‘jungle raj’ whose return the BJP is harping on was the Ranveer Sena. It is well-known that the Ranveer Sena goons were shielded by BJP’s political protection. Their chief Barmeshwar Mukhiya, who was accused of the murder of 300 dalits and OBCs was lauded by the BJP as a “Gandhi”. It was under pressure from the BJP that Nitish Kumar arranged the wholesale acquittal by the High Court of the perpetrators of 6 carnages including Bathe, Bathani and Miyanpur. Also, it is strange that the killing of a journalist in...

Read More

Jharkhand Bandh

Against Anti-Adivasi Amendments To Land Laws The CPI(ML) had called for a Jharkhand bandh on 14 May to protest against the domicile policy declared by the BJP government, communal frenzy, and amendments to the CNT and SPT Acts that protect the rights of tribals to land. The BJP State government in Jharkhand used every possible repressive tactic in vain to stop people from participating in bandh, and large scale arrests were made on the bandh day as well as on the eve of the bandh. But nothing could stop the people from expressing their anger against the policies of the Raghuvar Das government and the bandh was a huge success. On 14 May in Giridih district more than 10,000 people came out on the streets in support of the bandh, held road blocks and marched in bazaars, chattis and villages in Bagodar, Birni, Rajdhanwar, Sariya, Khorimahua, Gawa, Teesri, Jamua, Deori, Gand, Bengawad, Dumri, Giridih Sadar, and other blocks. According to newspaper reports, 2,000 people courted arrest. The people’s support for the bandh was so overwhelming that there was a dearth of police buses for the arrests. The sea of people surged voluntarily and needed no prompting. The bandh was led by district Secretary Manoj Bhakt, Rajkumar Yadav, Vinod Singh, and several other activists. The entire district was shut down. Similarly, in Koderma district hundreds of people marched in support...

Read More

Campus Watch

(All over the country students are waging struggles on India’s campuses. A brief update on these ongoing struggles follows.) Court Stays JNU Punishments, Students End Hunger Strike JNU students lifted their heroic hunger strike after the Court stayed all punishments and directed the JNU VC to respond to the appeals. The JNU VC had, quite literally, been running away from facing the demands by JNU students and teachers that he review and revoke the punishments recommended by the ‘High Level Enquiry Committee (HLEC)’. In spite of 52 Academic Council members passing a resolution to this effect, the JNU VC fled the Academic Council meeting rather than implement the resolution. Thus, he became the first Vice Chancellor of a Central University to jog away from an Academic Council meeting. In spite of a 16-day hunger strike by students peacefully appealing that he revoke the HLEC punishments, he refused to respond. What the High Court order of 13 May 2016 does is to firmly tell the JNU VC to face the students’ appeals rather than run away. The JNU VC had been trying to hide behind the fig-leaf of the HLEC process and punishments being ‘subjudice’, claiming that the University cannot revoke the punishments since the matter is in Court. This is what the ‘Urgent Appeal’ by the JNU Administration on Day 12 of the hunger strike claimed. The High Court...

Read More

‘Good Times’ For Whom?

Where are the ‘good times’ that Modi promised the Indian people during his 2014 election campaign? Two years after he came to power, Liberation revisits his key promises and looks back at what two years of Modi rule have meant for India. “Enough of High Prices? Vote Modi This Time!” Modi’s election slogan was “bahut ho gayi mehengai ki maar, ab ki baar Modi sarkar.” The BJP manifesto had promised to curb inflation; cut down prices of essential commodities and set up a price stabilisation fund. Instead, prices of essentials have soared. Pulses – the main source of protein for Indians – have become so steeply priced that the joke is ‘bazaar me daal, murgi barabar’ (Dal costs as much as chicken in the market), a play on the popular saying ‘ghar ki murgi dal barabar’ (A home-grown chicken costs the same as dal). Prices of chana dal soared by 51%; tur dal by 94%, urad by 88%, mung by 10%, masoor by 20% in the year between December 2014-December 2015. The Government did nothing to mend matters till the price rise issue came to a head in the Bihar elections in October 2015. It was only in October that the Government acted against hoarders and recovered hoarded pulses from warehouses. But the Government still avoided importing enough pulses to meet the shortage and curb prices. International oil prices...

Read More

Political Drama in Uttarakhand

After a 54-day high voltage drama, the Harish Rawat government has been reinstated in Uttarakhand. In this phase of “firsts” that the country is witnessing, it can also be said that Harish Rawat is the first Chief Minister to become Chief Minister thrice in a single term. This whole episode started on 18 March when, during the budget session of the Assembly, 9 legislators of the ruling Congress party demanded a vote on the budget. Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal rejected their demand and declared the budget passed by voice vote. The 9 Congress legislators (one of whom was Harak Singh Rawat, a Cabinet Minister) met the Governor along with the Opposition BJP and claimed that the Harish Rawat government had lost its majority. Governor Dr KK Pal asked Harish Rawat to prove his majority by 28 March. Meanwhile there surfaced a sting of Harish Rawat talking to a regional news channel owner Umesh Kumar which created quite a sensation in the entire matter. On the basis of this sting the Governor dissolved the Uttarakhand government and imposed President’s rule on 27 March, one day before the date fixed for proving Rawat’s majority. Harish Rawat went to the High Court, Nainital against this. The High Court, first through a single bench and then through a double bench presided over by the Chief Justice, citing the SR Bommai and other cases,...

Read More

What the State Owes Mothers, Parents And Women

India worships mothers; political leaders are fond of equating the nation with Mother, and politics and popular culture both make a huge deal of ‘respect for mothers’. But in spite of this hyper-visible, in-your-face celebration of motherhood, there seems to be a deliberate obscuring of the labour of mothering and care work that women perform. ‘Put her on a pedestal and forget her’ seems to be the approach of Governments. Worship of mothers and slogans of ‘Bharat Mata’ and praise for mothers’ supposed capacity for ‘sacrifice’ and ‘silent suffering’ help us to reinforce the myth that motherhood is a responsibility that women must bear cheerfully and single-handedly, expecting nothing from the State, from employers, from society. And yet, if we would bother to listen to the voices of real live women, we would find it difficult to keep celebrating domestic drudgery as happy self-sacrificing motherhood. In the 19th century, a Bengali woman Rashsundari Debi taught herself secretly to read and write; in her autobiography Amar Jiban, she describes her life as a wife, daughter-in-law, and mother in terms of unremitting, life-sapping labour. Historian Tanika Sarkar observes that Rashsundari challenges the popular icon of “happy, self-effacing motherhood,” using the image of kolhu-ka-bael – “the blind-folded bullock moving mindlessly round the oil-press” to describe her life. (Tanika Sarkar, Hindu Wife Hindu Nation: Community, Religion, and Cultural Nationalism, 2001, p 120) That’s...

Read More

Acche Din for Sanghi Terror-Accused?

Ever since the Modi Government came to power, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is working systematically to protect terror-accused who are ideologically affiliated to the Sangh Parivar. Last year, Rohini Salian, Public Prosecutor in the Malegaon 2006 and 2008 blasts cases, went on record to say that she was being pressured to go ‘soft’ on the accused. Now, the NIA has now moved to drop charges against a key accused in the Malegaon 2008 blasts case, Pragya Singh Thakur (Sadhvi Pragya). Pragya Singh, a former ABVP leader, is known to be a close associate of the RSS and BJP. While continuing to prosecute Lieutenant General Purohit, the NIA has withdrawn MCOCA charges and is invoking only UAPA. The withdrawal of MCOCA charges makes custodial confessions inadmissible in Court, and therefore many confessional statements obtained in the Malegaon 2008 blasts case have now become useless. By allowing custodial confessions, the draconian MCOCA actually legitimises and encourages custodial torture. In fact, it would be welcome if the NIA were to review every terror case, withdraw MCOCA entirely, and only pursue those terror cases which do not rely on custodial confessions. In the 2006 Malegaon blasts case, eight Muslim men, held on the basis of custodial confessions obtained under torture, were recently acquitted by a sessions court. These men had remained in jail even after investigations by both ATS and NIA had...

Read More

The May 2016 Verdict and Lessons for the Left

After suffering a series of electoral debacles all through 2015, the BJP has again made big gains in the recent round of Assembly elections. The party has come to power for the first time in Assam, thereby greatly bolstering its political presence and prospects in the North-East, apart from opening its account in the Assemblies of West Bengal and Kerala, backed by impressive double digit vote share in both the states. Two years into power, when the Modi government finds itself being rapidly discredited on every major front, the Assam victory will provide a much needed shot in the BJP’s arm. The Congress has suffered a comprehensive defeat in both Assam and Kerala. While Kerala has evolved a well established pattern of alternating governments, and the LDF victory conforms to that established pattern, it is the loss in Assam, where the party has been in power for the last fifteen years, which must hurt the Congress really badly. Till recently, the BJP was not in a position to contemplate an immediate ascent to power in Assam even though with its Hindutva politics the BJP always had the potential to manipulate the sensitive ‘foreign national’ issue to its advantage. It was the split in the Congress in Assam with Tarun Gogoi’s once close lieutenant Himanta Biswa Sarma joining the BJP with several MLAs, and the AGP-BJP alliance, which brightened the...

Read More
  • 1
  • 2