A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 13, No. 11, 09 – 15 MARCH 2010
Uphold the Glorious Legacy of International Women’s Day
8 March 2010 marks the centenary of International Women’s Day – a hundred years from the time when the working class women’s movement first thought to observe ‘Women’s Day’ to celebrate their day-to-day struggles and assert the goal of women’s liberation.
International Women’s Day (IWD) inherits and represents the legacy of a glorious struggle for equality, dignity and emancipation that started long before the formal adoption of this day by women’s wings of socialist and communist parties—in fact well before the first socialist/communist parties were born. Even if we leave apart the previous periods of history, we cannot forget that the French Revolution of 1789, that great harbinger of modernity, was started by plebeian and semi-proletarian women of Paris. It was the same contingent that literally woke up and mobilised their men folk in the wee hours of 18 March 1871 against conspiratorial activities of the Versailles government, thereby launching the struggle for Paris Commune.
What communism did to this centuries-old struggle for women’s enlightenment and emancipation was to raise it to a qualitatively new level by consciously integrating it, both politically and organisationally, with the united movement of all the downtrodden for revolutionary transformation of the entire oppressive social order. IWD, a product of this integration, served to mobilise more and more women in the communist movement. The democratic revolution in Russia that overthrew the Tsarist monarchy in 1917 was actually started on IWD, with women workers in Petrograd spontaneously going on strike and demonstration. Guided by their proletarian class instinct, they ignored local Bolsheviks who advised restraint, and started the offensive. In our country we observe Naxalbari Day on 25 May to pay tribute to the eight women comrades who along with two babies they carried and one male comrade became the first martyrs of Naxalbari in 1967.
These are but a few of numerous historic instances of working women playing vanguard roles in epoch-making emancipatory struggles involving both sexes. Today, simultaneously with their growing involvement in productive activities, women are brilliantly carrying forward this legacy -- not just in the arena of various mass movements, but in all walks of life from politics to sports, in academic, artistic, scientific and literary pursuits, and so on. Like in the past – and here lies the great merit, the special significance, of women’s struggles and achievements – they are doing this in the face of tremendous negative discrimination and all sorts of resistance offered by semi-feudal and capitalist patriarchy.
In the centenary year of IWD, the issues and slogans raised by the revolutionary women’s movement a hundred years ago continue to resonate with renewed relevance in the women’s movement of today. The first Women’s Day was marked by militant women workers raising demands for women’s rights at the workplace as well as the right to vote. Today, in the wake of the global economic crisis and policies of liberalisation, women are bearing the brunt of retrenchment and also being disproportionately represented in the most exploitative sectors of the economy.
While women’s political participation has increased, full and equal participation continues to be a far cry. In India, the slogan of enhanced political participation has found expression in the demand for 33% reservation in Parliament and Assemblies that successive governments have betrayed for the past decade, and even on the occasion of the IWD Centenary, the Indian Parliament witnessed a display of violence and patriarchal sentiment against the Women’s Bill.
‘Bread, Land, Peace’ – the rallying cry for Russian women on March 8 1917 – assumes great significance today: not only in the context of women’s resistance against imperialist wars and occupation in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, but also for women in India resisting price rise and hunger, repression in the course of struggles against land grab, and state repression.
In keeping with the growing assertion of women, especially toiling women, their active participation in the communist movement has increased manifold. But has there been a corresponding increase in the role of women in the communist organisation? Do we see larger numbers and enhanced activism of women members, organisers and leaders? In spite of years of efforts and some partial success, we cannot really claim that. The IWD Centenary is an occasion for renewed and energetic efforts in this direction.
A hundred years ago, communists imparted a new revolutionary dimension to the women’s movement of the period. Today, the occasion of the centenary of IWD should serve to highlight and reassert that legacy – and also to take the legacy of IWD and the historical achievements of the women’s movement as a precious resource and inspiration to meet the challenges for the women’s movement today.
Pass Women's Bill Without Further Delay
(Statement issued by the Party on 8 March 2010 in New Delhi)
On the occasion of the centenary of International Women's Day today, the Rajya Sabha has again witnessed unseemly acts like tearing of the Women's Bill (for 33% Reservation) and anti-woman remarks by several political leaders opposing the Bill.
While the tabling of the Bill is welcome, it must be remembered that it was long overdue, and it is only the past 14 years of women's movement that has forced the Congress-led UPA to present the Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
Leaders like Laloo Yadav are indulging in blatantly anti-woman propaganda in the name of opposing the Bill, and the RJD and SP have withdrawn their support to the UPA Government on this issue. Laloo Yadav claims that he wants representation in the Bill for OBC women; but his remark that "India is a male-dominated country and here women will vote only where their husbands tell them; ...If I ask my wife, Rabri Devi, to vote for a particular party, do you think she will vote for another party?" reveals the patriarchal basis for his opposition to the Bill. It proves that those opposing the Bill are in fact wishing to preserve the "male-dominated" character of society and deny women an independent political voice. Parties like JD(U) are also displaying rank opportunism on the issue of the Bill, with different leaders speaking in calculatedly different voices. These forces are all banking on the fact that for the past 14 years, Congress and BJP alike have paid no more than lip service to the Bill, and they hope that this time too, aggressive propaganda against the Bill will once again be made an excuse by the Congress to postpone the passage of the Bill.
We demand that the Congress-led UPA ensure the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill without a single day's delay.
Central Committee, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation
On Women's Day Centenary
Against disruption in Rajya Sabha on 33% Reservation Bill
Against Price Rise
Violence and State Repression
On the occasion of the centenary of International Women's Day on 8th March 2010, All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) held militant demonstrations in various states and districts across the Country and raised slogans- 'Salute 100 years of Women's Liberation Struggles! Onwards to Achieve Liberty, Equality and Dignity!' Women also raised spirited slogans against price rise and state repression. Massive protest marches and other events on 8 March were held by AIPWA at New Delhi, Jaipur, Patna, Lucknow, Allahabad, Banaras, Guwahati, Chennai, Madurai, Karnataka and many other places.
New Delhi: AIPWA participated in a March to Parliament from Mandi House organised by the Centenary Celebration Committee. AIPWA mobilised women from various jhuggi clusters, women workers as well as students of All India Students' Association (AISA) from JNU, DU and Jamia Millia in this March, who raised colourful banners and placards and shouted slogans highlighting the legacy of 100 years of Women's Day and women's liberation struggles. Health workers of the All India CGHS Employees Association (Women's Wing) led by the Women's Wing General Secretary Rajkumari Ujjainwal also marched along with AIPWA in the procession. The demonstration here was addressed by AIPWA’s National Secretary Comrade Kavita Krishnan and JNUSU Vice President and AISA leader Shephalika Shekhar among others.
Bihar: On 8th March, huge rally was organised jointly by AIPWA and Parivartan Kendra in Patna. The rally began from Gandhi Maidan and it reached the Legislative assembly gate at R block crossing. Two thousand women from Patna and Vaishali districts participated in the rally. The main demands of the rally were- (1) Pass the Women’s Reservation Bill without any further delay, (2) Police and Judiciary should be alert and sensitive towards the issues of violence against women, (3) Closing down the liquor shops opened by the State government in Bihar and (4) women’s right to property among several other demands. Rally was addressed by AIPWA’s General Secretary Comrade Meena Tiwari and Parivartan Kendra’s Secretary Varsha Bela. The participants in the rally resolved to conduct various different programmes to celebrate the 100 years of Women’s day.
On 9th March, another protest rally was held by AIPWA in Patna to protest the disruption and violent attitude shown to the Women’s Reservation Bill in Rajya Sabha. Rally started from AIPWA office on Birchnad Patel Marg and concluded at the Dakbuglow Chowraha. The rally was led by comrades Meena Tiwari, Saroj Chowbey and Shashi from AIPWA and Varsha Jawalgekar from Parivartan Kendra.
West Bengal: The WB unit of AIPWA organized a militant, well decorated procession on 8 March in Kolkata. Slogans like Salute to Hundred Years of Women’s Liberation Struggles, intensify struggles for Equality and Freedom, Pass the 33% Reservation Bill Now, Fight Against Price Rise, Violence and State Repression, Withdraw Operation Green Hunt rent the air as hundreds of working women marched from College Square to Dharmatala.
Jharkhand: More than a thousand women from AIPWA, Hul Mahila Ekta Manch and Mahila Ulgulan Sangh jointly held a militant demonstration in front of the State Legislative Assembly in Ranchi and blockaded the main entrance for 3 hours demanding passage of the Women’s Bill and stop operation Greenhunt. The AIPWA members for the protest here came from three districts- Ranchi, Lohardaga and Gumla. Several protest demonstrations comprising hundreds of women were held in Giridih dist. - in Bagodar, Saria, Birni, Rajdhanwar and Jamua. Deonstrations were also held at Garhwa and Ramgarh. In Dhanbad the AIPWA members sat on a dharna at the Randhir Verma Chowk.
Tamil Nadu: In Chennai, a demonstration was held on March 8, highlighting the issues of working women. Women took part in the demonstration which was led by Com.Devaki, State Vice-President, AIPWA. Com.Kuppabai, State VP, AIPWA, Com.Shenbagavalli of Villupuram spoke in the demonstration. Com.AS Kumar, AICCTU DGS, also addressed the gathering.
In Tirunelveli 75 women held a demonstration demanding homestead patta among other demands. Com. Thenmozhi, State President, AIPWA, addressed the demonstration. The demonstrators raised slogans demanding passage of the Women's Reservation Bill and controlling price rise.
In Kanyakumari, a convention was held in which 200 unorganised women workers participated. Com. Mary Stella, State Secretary, AIPWA, and Com. Anthoni Muthu, State Vice-President, AICCTU addressed the convention.
In Tanjore a demonstration was held in which dozens of rural women participated and demanded passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill and controlling price rise.
Rajasthan: Hundreds of AIPWA members from across the State- Udaypur, Banswara, Ajmer, Kishangarh, Pratapgarh, Chittaurgarh, Bhilwara, Tonk and Jhunjhunu – held a militant demonstration at the Chief Minister’s office in Jaipur. In the morning the women marched in a rally from Shaheed Smarak to CM’s office where they raised spirited slogans and held mass meeting for two hours. AIPWA’s National President Com. Srilata Swaminathan along with other AIPWA leaders led the rally and demonstration here.
Later a delegation of AIPWA also met the CM Mr. Ashok Gahlaut and presented their list of demands which includes among other to- extending NREGA to all the districts and guaranteeing 50 percent employment for women with minimum wage at Rs.200/8hr, NREGA to be extended to town areas and urban centres also with 50 percent jobs for women, those living in unauthorised bastis be urgently provided land pattas and all eviction attempts be curbed immediately, old age pension for all needy women, their name be included in BPL list and they be given ration cards, and Chairperson for the State’s Women Commission be urgently appointed.
Upon assurance from the CM for addressing these demands, the delegation let it known that if there is no progress they will intensify their agitation.
Chhatisgarh: Rally and public meeting was organised by AIPWA at Bhilai in Durg district on 8 March. The women in the rally and mass meeting resolved to intensify their struggle for land, livelihood, peace, equality and dignity. The rallyists also demanded strict implementation of labour laws and re-inducting all retrenched sanitary women workers. The women also condemned the growing violent attacks on women in the name of Maoism.
Meeting was also held at Bungoli vill. in Raipur and Jagdalpur under Bastar districts on 8 March.
MARCH 5 – Central TUs’ Jail Bharo/Satyagraha Day
Tamil Nadu: All India Central Council of trade Unions (AICCTU) participated in the All Trade Union protest on March 5 all over the State demanding to rein in the escalating price rise, expansion of PDS, implementation of worker welfare legislations, no disivestment, extending benefits to the unorganized workers without any pre-conditions. Protests took place at 10 centres throughout the State.
In Chennai and Erode over 300 AICCTU workers participated at 6 centres. In Tirunelveli, 100 unorganised workers participated in the road block held at 2 places. In Kanchipuram and Trichy around 50 workers joined the protest.
Chhatisgarh: AICCTU leaders participated in a joint dharna at the Employment chowk of Bhilai Steel Plant. TU leaders from CITU, AITUC, INTUC, HMKP, HMS and BMS participated in the dharna. A memorandum for the PM was handed over to the DC.
From Circular of Central Committee Meeting
(Chittaranjan, 4-6 March 2010)
The Party Central Committee met at Mihijam (Chittaranjan) in Jamtara district of Jharkhand (bordering Bardhaman district of West Bengal) from 4 to 6 March, 2010. The meeting was hosted by comrades of All India Railway Party Committee in cooperation with other concerned comrades of Jharkhand and West Bengal. The deliberations and decisions of the CC meeting are summarized below.
1. Budgets 2010-11: This year, the budget session came in the backdrop of sky-rocketing prices with food inflation being as high as 20%. Even the economic survey identified the price situation as a big worry. Yet the budget has made absolutely no attempt to extend any relief to the common people. Instead, the hike in petrol and diesel and fertilizer prices and the increase in excise duty and service tax will have a cascading effect on prices of most goods and services adding to the back-breaking burden on the common man. The budget claims to have showered benefits on 60% taxpayers – but the threshold level for tax benefits is an annual income of Rs. 400,000. This then is the government’s real definition of aam aadmi and inclusive growth!
Apart from tax sops for the middle and upper-middle class and the corporate sector, this year’s budgets have also delivered a big push towards privatization or greater opportunities for the private sector. While the railways are promoting public-private partnership in a big way, the setting up of Coal Regulatory Authority and the policy of RBI granting banking license to private banks and NBFCs mark a major reversal of the perspective of bank and coal nationalization.
To suit the neo-liberal market-driven model, the tax system is being relentlessly restructured with further dilution of direct taxes (taxes on income and wealth) and greater accent on indirect taxes (taxes on goods and services) which do not distinguish between the rich and the poor.
We must conduct a sustained campaign against price-rise, for greater allocation for agriculture, rural development and social sectors including health, education, housing, employment guarantee schemes and social security measures and reversal of the pro-privatisation measures announced in the budget. Generally speaking, the central slogan for the campaign against price-rise can be: “Check Prices, Give us Jobs – Carry out Land Reforms.” Apart from demanding a roll-back of price hikes, we must intensify struggles for wage increase and on PDS related issues (struggle for inclusion of all poor families in BPL list, for expansion and strict implementation of PDS, against hoarding and black marketeering, and against the corrupt dealer-politician-bureaucrat nexus responsible for PDS loot) as well as for increased procurement prices and subsidies in all our areas of work.
The CC has called for month-long campaign against price-rise and other related issues throughout the month of March culminating in statewide rallies and demonstrations between 23 and 31 March. Assam will hold decentralized demonstrations in district headquarters on March 23 while Jharkhand will organise a state-level mass rally in Ranchi on the same day. Orissa will organize a state-level programme in Bhubaneswar on March 27 and Bihar will have a state-level Jan Adhikar Rally in Patna on March 30. Delhi and Punjab will jointly organize a protest meeting outside Parliament on March 26.
2. Operation Green Hunt: Operation Green Hunt is the centerpiece of a more generalized campaign of larger state offensive against the democratic movement. In many of our areas of work, we are also facing heightened state repression and administrative harassment and even conspiratorial media coverage at times. While organizing appropriate and timely protests in all such cases, we must send fact-finding missions to some key theatres of Operation Green Hunt, Chhattisgarh in particular. While state repression and Maoist retaliation are escalating, the UPA government and Maoists are both talking about talks. We call for immediate cessation of Operation Green Hunt and initiation of talks in a conducive atmosphere.
3. BPL and Food Security: As many as three official reports (Tendulkar Committee Report, NC Saxena Committee Report and Arjun Sengupta Committee report) have rejected the existing Planning Commission estimate of poverty and the artificial ceiling of 28%. We call for automatic inclusion of all agricultural and rural labourers, small and marginal farmers and unorganized workers in the BPL. The UPA government had promised to enact a Right to Food Act which remains unfulfilled even after the second budget of UPA-II. The government’s draft proposal in this regard is extremely inadequate; we must press for a minimum monthly provision of 50 kg foodgrains at Rs. 2 per kg for every BPL household.
4. Ranganath Mishra Commission Report: The UPA Government is sitting over the Ranganath Mishra Commission Report which recommended reservation in education and employment for deprived sections of the Muslim community and for extension of SC recognition to Dalits who have converted to Islam or Christianity. We call upon the government to accept and implement the Ranganath Mishra Commission recommendations without any further delay.
5. Telengana, Second States Reorganisation Commission and Article 244A: Having agreed to the demand for creation of a separate Telengana state, the Congress is now playing a dangerous game of dilly-dallying and dividing the people on this issue. We call upon the UPA government to immediately fulfil its promise of a separate Telengana state, implement Article 244A to grant Autonomus State status to Karbi Anglong and NC Hills districts of Assam and also set up a Second States Reorganisation Commission for a favourable and time-bound disposal of all other pending popular demands of statehood.
6. Centenary of International Women’s Day: This March 8, the International Women’s Day turns 100. AIPWA has already drawn up some year-long plans for the centenary year. The women’s department and education department and the entire Party organization should also get involved in a planned and concerted manner. For the women’s organization, the focus should be on spreading the IWD message (commemorative programmes should preferably be organized in 100 centres across the country) and AIPWA network with special emphasis on working women and girl students, while for the Party the focus should be on developing and promoting women cadres on different levels and fronts.
7. All India Peasant Conference: As directed by the 8th Congress of the Party, the CC has resolved to launch an all-India peasant organization through a national peasants’ conference. The conference will be held in Patna on May 10 (the 1857 anniversary day).
The main slogan for the conference will be “SaveFarmLand, Farming and Farmers – End the Reign of Plunder and Disaster” and “National Peasant Conference for Dignity, Democracy and Development”. The peasant association will inherit and uphold the anti-feudal anti-imperialist legacy of peasant revolts and communist-led peasant movement starting from the colonial period. In particular, the Patna conference will uphold the radical legacy of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati (founder of AIKS in 1936 who had played a pioneering role in the anti-zamindari peasant movement in Bihar) and his vision of worker-peasant solidarity and thwart the ruling class design of using peasants as corporate and feudal pawns and pitting them against agricultural labourers. In the context of today’s agrarian crisis, the peasant association will fight against feudal remnants and growing corporate domination and imperialist intervention and press for implementation of comprehensive land and tenancy reforms, necessary assistance and facilities for poor and middle peasants, and increased public investment in agriculture.
8. Bihar Assembly Election and Patna Rally: A State level rally – named Jan Adhikar rally (People’s Rights Rally) – has been planned in Patna on March 30. It will challenge the official euphoria of Nitish Kumar’s ‘growth miracle’ and Mahadalit rhetoric by highlighting the key issues of land reforms, employment guarantee, agricultural and industrial development, and the actual conditions and aspirations of the rural poor.
9. Panchayat Election in Jharkhand: Jharkhand is the only state where panchayat election has not been held till date. The Supreme Court has recently cleared the way for panchayat elections. We must insist on, and prepare for, early holding of panchayat elections in compliance with the provisions of PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas) and 50% reservation for women.
AIALA’s Massive Demonstration in TN
From March 5 to 8, All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) organized panchayat level demonstrations in TN demanding inclusion of names in the BPL list, work under MGNREGA, Rs.200 daily wages under MGNREGA and homestead land and patta. In Pudukottai, on March 5, over 1100 rural poor went to the panchayat offices in 3 panchayats and submitted 1200 memoranda. In Tiruvallore on March 5 over 450 participated in a rally and demonstrations held in one panchayat. On March 8 rally and demonstrations were held in 2 panchayats in the same district in which 500 rural poor participated. In Villupuram, on March 8, demonstrations were held in 3 panchayats with 800 rural poor submitting their memorandum to include their name in the BPL list. In Nagai, on March 6, demonstrations were held in two panchayats in which 400 participated. In Tuticorin, around 100 rural poor participated in demonstrations held in 2 panchayats.
Andhra Pradesh: CPI(ML) Khammam District Committee held a protest demonstration at Sathupalli (Khammam district) near APSRTC Bus stand with nearly 100 members and staged Dharna. They submitted a memorandum to the Tahsildar. Raised slogans against the UPA government and its anti-people and anti-workers budget. The demonstration was led by Bandaru Venkateswararao, Secretary of Sathupalli, Dist. Secretary CK Damodar addressed the meeting.
ML Update -13-11 pdf.pdf