01 January 2017

Reject the Modi Emergency, Resist the Demonetization Disaster !

(Pledge Day Call issued by the Central Committee of CPI(ML) on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the passing of Comrade Vinod Mishra) The Modi government at the Centre has completed half of its 5-year term. During the first two years, the government remained largely busy with populist programmes like Swachh Bharat and Digital India campaigns, Jan Dhan Yojana and so on while the extra-parliamentary complement of the new dispensation, the Sangh brigade, which has now been bestowed an unprecedentedly overt say in the functioning of the government, went on unleashing its vicious agenda, item by item, from ‘love jihad’ to cow vigilantism to all kinds of moral and thought policing, with the tacit and sometimes open support of the PM. With the crucial UP elections round the corner – victory in which can give the BJP a much stronger presence in the Rajya Sabha and facilitate various constitutional changes the party is known to be contemplating in accordance with the RSS agenda – the government now seems to be in a definite hurry. The two so-called ‘surgical strikes’ in the recent past, the first allegedly on terrorists across the LoC and the second apparently on black money held inside the country, have been the biggest talking points of the Modi government till date. Both have proved to be thoroughly ineffective in terms of meeting their stated objectives....

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Dalits Self Dignity Convention at Bangalore

On 18 December 2016, on the occasion of Vinod Mishra Memorial Day, Dalits held a Self-Dignity Convention in Bangalore. Workers engaged in sanitation work and employed in government organisations, public and private sector in Bangalore participated in the convention. A large number of these were women. They expressed protest against atrocities against Dalits in Karnataka and in India as well as the systematic oppression of Dalits which is embedded in labour practices in India. They demanded an end to atrocities on Dalits and the practice of manual scavenging and untouchability. They demanded that the practice of getting manholes cleaned manually – a practice that demeans, endangers and claims the lives of Dalit workers all over India – be stopped. They called to ‘Throw away brooms, reject the practice of carrying carcasses.’ They spoke of their struggles for higher wages as well as free education, health and housing for all Dalits, sanitation workers and contract workers of all...

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Police Brutality on Dalits in Bhagalpur

A State level CPI (ML)-AIARLA team visited Bhagalpur on 11-12 December and enquired into the incident of a lathi-charge on Dalit protesters in which the Bihar police had brutally stripped and beaten Dalit. The team also met the injured protesters and went to Sultanganj to get full information of the incident. The team comprised State committee members, AIARLA State Secretary Com. Gopal Ravidas and AIARLA State Joint Secretary Com. Pankaj Singh. The team met the injured women at Bhagalpur Nehru Hospital—Sukhiya Devi, Tabli Devi, Kaili Devi, Sushila Devi and Kabuli Devi (village Tilakpura, Ganhariya). The most seriously injured woman who has broken bones in the neck and ribs told the team that in 1972, 1976 and 1988 they had been allotted about 39 acres of ‘ceiling fazil’ land by the Bhoodan Yagya Committee, but people from the dominant sections are not allowing them to settle on that land. “From 1988 we have been making our demands from the administration. But so far only 1304 people have been given possession. The descendants of Siyasharan Singh, and Sunil Singh (all associated with BJP or RJD) have captured the land. Dominant caste Yadav goons threaten us all the time.” Some local leaders have started an NGO ‘Jan Sansad’ through which they are working among the poor on land and health issues. They have the support of Rinku Yadav of the Nyay Manch...

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8th Patna Film Festival Against War-Mongering

Inaugurating the 8th Patna film festival “Cinema of Resistance” organized by Hirawal, Jan Sanskriti Manch, and The Group on 4 December, distinguished scientist, film-maker and poet Gauhar Raza reminded people of the historical links between war-mongering and the rise of fascism in Europe. He pointed out that war, whether it is on the border or at the banks, always inflicts suffering on the poor only. Earlier, Bihar’s well-known theatre director Kunal said that the culture of questioning, dissent, and criticism is essential to defend humanity. “Cinema of Resistance” is a step in this direction. Present on the dais at the inauguration were anti-nuclear activist Kumar Sundaram, senior journalist Manikant Thakur, Prof Santosh Kumar, Prof Bharti S Kumar, poet Pratibha Verma and ‘Filhal’ Editor Priti Sinha. JSM Bihar Secretary Com. Sudhir Suman began the proceedings of the festival with tributes to Fidel Castro and Polish film-maker Andrzej Witold Wajda and condolences to those who lost their lives due to demonetization and the recent rail accident and the soldiers killed in the Nagrota attack. The films screened at the festival gave the message of opposition to war and struggle for peace: Gauhar Raza’s documentary ‘Inquilab’; Anand Patwardhan’s ‘Jung Aur Aman’; ‘Fidel—the Untold Story’ based on Castro’s life; ‘Come and See’ portraying the times of Nazi Germany’s capture of Belaruse and the use of Mozart’s music for war-mongering; Vijay Raj’s ‘Kya Dilli,...

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Socialism International Conference 2016 (Malaysia)

The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) organized an International Conference – Socialism International 2016 – in Malaysia. The Conference was held at Kuala Lumpur on 25-27 November. Comrade Balasubramanian, Central Committee member of the CPI(ML) Liberation attended the Conference. Comrade Balasubramanian participated in a panel discussion on ‘Exit Capitalism – Build The Left’ along with Comrade Pierre Rousset, Fourth International, France; Comrade Alex Bainbridge, Socialist Alliance, Australia and Comrade Soh Sook Hwa, Central Committee of PSM. Comrade Balasubramanian also delivered a talk on ‘Breaking Away from Neo-Liberal Globalization’ along with Comrade Pierre Rousset, as well as Comrade Jayakumar Devaraj, Member of Parliament, Malaysia, and Central Committee member of the PSM. In sessions on ‘The Left Alternative in Elections’; ‘Climate in Crisis: Are we too Late?’; ‘Fighting Homophobia and Sexism under Global Capitalism’ and ‘Rebuilding for Socialism in 21st Century,’ activists from all over the world participated, including Comrade Mohamad Zaki Hussein, Partai Rakyat Pekerja (PRP) Indonesia; Comrade Jayantha Appudurai, Saya Anak Bangsa, Malaysia; Comrade Merck Maguddyao – Partido Lakas ng Masa, (PLM) Philippines; Comrade Pang Khee Teik, Activist, Sexuality Rights; Comrade Rachel Evans, Socialist Alliance, Australia; Comrade Farooq Tariq, Awami Workers Party, Pakistan; Syed Farid Al–Attas, Associate Professor, National University of Singapore and Dr. Mary Jane Ainslie, Social Scientist among others. In his talk on Breaking Away From Neo-liberal Globalisation, Comrade Balasubramanian pointed out that neo-liberal globalization operates primarily...

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Letter To Law Commission Regarding Personal Law Reform

[The Law Commission has sought responses on a flawed and biased questionnaire on personal law reform. Several organizations and activists – including AIPWA – have sent a collective response (below) to the Law Commission.] To, Dr B S Chauhan, Chairman, Law Commission of India Sub: Response to Appeal and Questionnaire released by the Law Commission of India on 07 Oct 2016 Dear Sir, The above referenced appeal from your office sought inputs and engagement from concerned groups on ‘the comprehensive exercise of the revision and reform of family laws, as the Article 44 of the Indian Constitution provides that ‘the state shall endeavour to provide for its citizens a uniform civil code through the territory of India’. Further, the appeal states that ‘the objective behind this endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices’. The Appeal also states that ‘Family Law reform, inter-alia has to view women’s rights as an end in itself rather than a matter of constitutional provisions, religious rights and political debate alone. With this in background the commission opens the debate on Uniform Civil Code and seeks your valuable suggestions towards social and legal reforms.’ There are several concerns we have regarding the entire process – the linking of women’s rights and the UCC, the format of the questionnaire, its timing and the process of seeking opinion. Our concerns...

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Abhivyakti Conference In Goa : Against Communalism, In Defence of Free Speech

Dakshinayan Abhiyan, a cultural organization based in Goa organized a three-day conference, Abhivyakti, from 18–20 November 2016 at Madgaon, Goa. The conference was organized to deliberate on the growing communal threat to India and its impact on freedom of speech. There were close to 800 participants which included scholars and writers from different states of India who had returned their Akademi awards such as G. N. Devy (who is also founder of Dakshinayan) Prof. Chaman Lal (retired Professor of Hindi), Atamjit Singh (Punjabi playwright), K. Sachidanandan (poet), and cultural teams from Punjab, Maharashtra (Dalit singer, Sambaji Bhagat), Karnataka (Dalit Kala Mandali), Gujarat (Charul-Vinay). The conference was addressed by intellectuals and activists including Yogendra Yadav, Sagarika Ghosh, Amol Palekar and Rajdeep Sardesai, Anand Patwardhan. Jignesh Mevani (of Una Atachar Ladat Samiti) was arrested on his way to participate in the conference. A march (sankalp yatra) was organized from Rabindra Bhawan (the venue for the conference) to the Lohia maidan which culminated in a public meeting. The speakers at the public meeting included Megha Pansare (daughter of Com. Govind Pansare), Hameed Dabholkar (son of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar) and Sri Vijay Kalburgi (relative of Prof. M. M. Kalburgi). The speakers condemned the Sanatan Sansthan which is based in Goa and whose members are connected with the murders of Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and Prof. Kalburgi. The murders of Pansare, Kalburgi and Dabholkar,...

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People’s Poet Inquilab

The noted Tamil poet, dramatist and rationalist Inquilab passed away on December 1, 2016. He was 72. He was born Shahul Hameed at Keezhakarai in Ramanathapuram district, he had been a Tamil Professor at New College in Chennai till his retirement. A rationalist, his body was donated according to his wishes to the Chengalpattu Government Medical College. He was popularly known as ‘Makkal Kavignar’ – People’s Poet. He began activism with the Dravidian movement, and had, like many others of his generation, participated in and been jailed during the anti-Hindi agitation of 1965. The massacre of 44 Dalit agricultural labourers at Kilvenmani in 1968 drew him towards Marxism – initially the CPI(M) and then the Marxist-Leninist movement. The angry lines of his song ‘Manusangada, naanga manusangada’ (Humans, we’re humans) on the Kilvenmani massacre is an anthem of sorts for the ML and Dalit movements. He was a trailblazer of the Vaanampadi movement of modern Tamil poetry. His plays brought Sangam poetry to the modern Tamil stage. His play Avvai challenged patriarchal stereotypes by imagining the legendary poet Avvaiyar, not as a wizened and wise old woman as she is usually portrayed but as a young, sensuous and free woman. His modern rendering of the celebrated epic Manimegalai lent itself to feminist theatre in Tamil Nadu. In 2006 he returned the Kalaimamani award given to him by Tamil Nadu government...

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Comrade Ganeshan

Comrade Ganeshan (PV Srinivas), a founding leader of the CPI(ML) Liberation, passed away at 2.30 am on 6 December 2016 in a hospital in Delhi, where he had been admitted with respiratory illnesses and tubercular meningitis. He was 78. PV Srinivas was born in Kerala. Poverty drove his parents to migrate to Chennai. He studied only up till Standard V. He worked as a hotel employee and was among the first in Tamil Nadu to form a Hotel Workers’ Union that had a membership of 30000. As a labour organiser, he would also argue many workers’ cases in labour court. He joined the communist movement, becoming a leader of the CPI(M). Together with Comrade Appu, he had helped launch the CPI(M) Tamil organ Theekadir. However, he along with Comrade Appu and several other comrades developed several differences with CPI(M), he came out of CPI(M) and joined the CPI(ML). When a young student comrade Ganeshan – an engineering student at Annamalai University who had joined the revolutionary student movement inspired by the Naxalbari uprising – was killed, PV Srinivas adopted his name to keep his memory alive, and has been known as Comrade Ganeshan ever since. Comrade Ganeshan was arrested and jailed during the Emergency. He led many militant working class struggles in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Thiruvalluvar. Comrade Ganeshan became a Central Committee member of the CPI(ML) in 1980, and...

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Commemorating Fidel: Thoughts on Cuba’s Experiment with Organic Agriculture

Cuban leader Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz passed away at the age of 90 on November 25, 2016 in Santiago de Cuba. For the last six decades, Cuba and Castro were almost interchangeable words to the world. His death most certainly has created a void among socialists as well as for all the struggles being waged against imperialism in any corner of the globe. The onus is now on us to fill this void, and for this we need to understand the legacy Castro has left. Fidel’s close comrade Che Guevara will be remembered for the foreseeable future as a leader of the youth. We will see many more generations of youth sporting t-shirts and caps with the Che emblem. But how will the world remember Fidel after his death? Castro all his life had remained a staunch opponent of any form of individual cult and hero-worship. He took this as a matter of socialist policy and hardly cared whether he would be remembered. But the fact remains that the working people of the world can hardly afford to forget a revolutionary who till the other day was a living legend – the legend under whose versatile leadership Cuba was able to wade through numerous challenges, succeeding every time. . From the day the Castro-led Cuban revolution dethroned the US crony Batista regime, it has been a relentless struggle and...

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TRIBUTE : Long Live The Legacy Fidel Castro

Flags flew at half mast in all CPI(ML) offices all over the country to pay respects to Fidel Castro Ruz, the iconic leader of the Cuban revolution and towering figure who inspired anti-imperialist fighters the world over, who passed away on November 25, 2016. Fidel Castro led the successful Cuban revolution that overthrew the repressive Batista regime, and defended the tiny nation of revolutionary Cuba in the teeth of successive US regimes that were determined to destroy it. Fidel himself triumphed over 600 assassination attempts by the CIA, passing away at the ripe old age of 90. It is ironic that the newly elected President of the USA, Donald Trump, has branded Fidel ‘a brutal dictator’, given that Trump’s own country, the supposed champion of ‘democracy,’ resorted to attempted assassinations of world leaders whose politics did not suit the USA. Trump claimed that Fidel’s legacy was one of ‘unimaginable suffering, poverty, and denial of fundamental rights,’ and that his Government would do all it could to ensure that the Cuban people could ‘begin their journey towards prosperity and liberty.’ Strange then that lakhs of Cuban people of all generations flocked to Fidel’s funeral, shedding tears and mourning the passing of the man whom they loved as a symbol of all that Cuba stood for. Cuban streets were paralysed by the funeral procession that, fittingly, called itself “the caravan of...

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Demonetization: The Digital Wolf in a Sheep’s Clothing

Forty days into the supposed ‘demonetization’, it is clear that the Modi sarkaar did not intend this as a move to eradicate black money. While it was always clear to us that this move was not about black money, what is to be noted is how the government itself has stopped speaking about black money and is repeatedly talking about a ‘cashless economy’. Lobbyists For ‘Cashless’ Economy While the government is only now talking about cashless economy, what is interesting is how people like Nandan Nilekani have been pushing for a cashless economy for a while now. In his foreword to a Credit Suisse report on the Indian Financial Sector (29 June 2016)[1], Nilekani repeatedly talks of taking our economy to a cashless mode. He speaks of how Aadhar, smartphones, the Unified Payment Interface etc will accelerate the move towards a cashless economy. A day after demonetization, in a interview to the Live Mint published on 10 Nov, 2016[2], Nilekani stresses that demonetization is a ‘defining point’ in India going Cashless. Similarly, a report[3] published in July 2016 titled ‘Digital Payments 2020 – The making of a 500 billion $ ecosystem in India’, co-authored by Boston Consulting Group and Google states – Regulators need to emphasise awareness on cost of cash and incentivise the use of non-cash instruments. On the other hand, International Funding agencies like the Bill and...

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People’s Voices On Note Ban

(Below are some testimonies from various People’s Tribunals and campaigns on the Note Ban, held in Patna, Udaipur and Delhi.) At a People’s Tribunal held in Patna on December 2, 2016, economist and activist Jean Dreze pointed out that contrary to popular perception, black money is not always ‘cash in suitcases.’ Instead we should identify corrupt economic practices. He said the purpose behind Note Ban was to force ‘cashless’ practices that benefit big companies. A farmer said: “I along with my entire family queued up at the bank and could get only Rs 5000 after 8 days. This amount is far from enough to meet labour and transport costs, let alone our living expenses. As a result of the Note Ban, the remuneration I get for the produce doesn’t even cover my input costs. My son is a construction worker, and he is still being paid wages in the old currency. Another farmer said: “In Bihar almost 80% of farmers are sharecroppers. This mean that their entire family labours in their fields and the men also work as wage labour. Poor peasants like this do not usually deposit cash in banks – they keep cash on hand. Today that cash – and with it, their freedom to buy agricultural inputs and pay for irrigation – has been snatched away. It is lucky that this year the western winds (pachua)...

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Note Ban : Propaganda Vs People

(India’s common people, hit by the Note Ban announcement by PM Modi on 8 November, initially thought that they would suffer temporarily for the noble cause of cleansing the country of black money and punishing black money holders. As the days have passed and Modi’s own 50-day deadline is up, the truth about the Note Ban has unfolded bit by bit. In the pages that follow, a common man and common woman of India discuss the Note Ban and compare its tall promises with its cruel and painful reality. Such conversations are happening all over India – in the endless queues, in homes, on the street corners and in the villages.) Midnight, 8 November: PM Modi announces: Mitron, the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes are no longer legal tender… it’s a surgical strike on black money… minor inconvenience for the honest common folk and sleepless nights for the corrupt and rich. Common Man (CM): Brilliant and brave move. The rich will be discarding their black money in sacks as rubbish! Serves them right! Common Woman (CW): We’re willing to stand in queues at the bank and to suffer for the sake of the war on black money. CM: This will break the back of terror funding, the PM says. CW: This will ensure clean elections – all the black cash amassed by political parties will become useless overnight!...

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Modi Government Subverting Institutions, Undermining Constitutional Norms

In two and a half years the Modi Government has already packed Universities, educational and cultural institutions with hand-picked RSS men, overriding considerations of institutional autonomy and transparency. Now, constitutional norms are being eroded by the Government in appointments to the armed forces and judiciary. No doubt, in any democracy, the armed forces must be subordinate to the elected Government. But it is also unhealthy for the Government to resort to political interference in the functioning of the armed forces. In superseding three senior officers to appoint Lt General Bipin Rawat as the new Army chief, the Government is undermining the internal autonomy of the armed forces. It has been the norm for the senior-most officer to be appointed as Army chief, but this time the Government superseded the top three senior-most officers – Lt General Praveen Bakshi, Lt General PM Hariz and Lt General BS Negi – to appoint Lt General Bipin Rawat instead. The Government’s claims of ‘merit’ and ‘experience’ being the consideration for the appointment notwithstanding, the appointment has been met with criticism by many retired and standing officers of the Army. It is cause for concern when transparent criteria for appointments in sensitive posts like the Chief of Army are overridden and the processes guiding such decisions are opaque and arbitrary. It is widely held that the decision to appoint Lt General Rawat was driven...

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