Sunday, April 4, 2010

ML UPDATE 14 / 2010

ML Update 14 / 2010

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 13, No. 14, 30 MARCH – 05 APRIL 2010

A Bill that Seeks to Kill Higher Education

The peddlers of education have fired their salvo from the willing shoulders of Kapil Sibal’s Ministry. The Cabinet has given the nod for The Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, and it is to be presented in the Parliament. And what the Bill introduces is the notoriously unequal regime of the WTO-led General Agreement on Trades and Services in higher education.

Foreign educational providers are already present in our country through twinning programmes and collaborative education since 2000. So why is the UPA in such a hurry to pass this Bill? Currently, such collaborative education have been found mostly in the field of technical education, where the foreign educational institute is supposed to be regulated by AICTE and allowed to operate as Trusts or as Society and they are not permitted to give their degrees without an undertaking. The UPA has planned to merge the AICTE with other regulatory bodies in education, to form the corporate-activated but supposedly Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE) as suggested by the Knowledge Commission and Yashpal Committee. The foreign educational enterprises are unhappy with this state of affairs and prefer what in GATS is known as Mode 3 or commercial presence in the market. So Sibal is opening up the possibility for them to set up franchises, which will then operate as businesses with no pretence of social responsibility as implied by a Trust or Society. Thus, for all purposes, in spite of the claim to ‘regulation’ implied by the Bill’s name, the Bill is not necessarily for regulation, but rather for furthering the commercialization of education.

The argument that the commercial presence of foreign educational institutes (FEIs) will encourage students to study in India rather than go abroad is laughable. It is known that students do courses abroad either in the hope of settling there or on the look out for an international experience that comes with campus atmosphere and not necessarily through tele-conferencing and foreign textbooks. For students with these goals, FEIs in India do not provide a significant alternative. Shamefully, the UPA government is inviting in the foreign educational businesses – not for those students who leave but for those students who stay!

It is an established fact by now that franchises and branch campuses are often set up by foreign universities that are facing a crisis in their countries because of a cut in public funding. As a result they end up exporting poorer quality versions of their courses and implementing programmes that are market led, so that they can remain afloat. Thus while the claims of stalling the outflow of foreign exchange through student migration is hypothetical, what is certain is that in the name of globalised-collaborative education the local students are going to be preyed upon by the collaboration between the educational loan market and the foreign teaching shops. The victim is sure to be the larger student community which will fall into further indebtedness and employment insecurities.

What is also certainly being engineered by the UPA government is the decline of public-funded universities and their dismantling and replacement with teaching shops both of domestic and foreign make. The bluff of Sibal’s concern for poor quality of deemed universities has also been called with this Bill as it seeks to allow the FEI to become a ‘deemed university’, with an approval from UGC (which is also going to be subsumed under IRAHE)! It is evident that the Bill is part of the agenda of neo-liberal packaging of education as a saleable good with no commitments to social responsibility.

Sibal has already declared that reservation policies may not be applicable for these institutes, thus freeing them from minimum requirements of social justice and violating even the liberal vision of equal educational opportunities. The domestic private universities in the country have long got away with flouting reservation policies, fee and donation barriers and reserved themselves for the rich. The government has not shown any ability nor exercised any will for regulating the domestic educational mafia. In such a situation, the claims by a government which has proved so servile to corporate interest, that it will ‘regulate’ foreign institutes appears ludicrous. Higher education is being increasingly cordoned off for the rich and privileged, further aggravating educational inequalities in the country. The Bill must be defeated as should Sibal’s larger agenda of neo-liberal education.

Bihar's Poor Organise Massive Jan-Adhikar Rally under CPI(ML) Banner

Hundreds of Thousands of State’s Poor Assembled in Patna, Surpassing all Past Records

People from all Corners of the State Posed Open Challenge to the Feudal-Communal forces

Rally gives Clarion Call for Land Reforms, Share-croppers' Rights, Checking Price-rise, Land, Housing, Employment and Democratic Rights

Rally Calls for Decisive Battle against pro-Feudal, pro-capitalist Nitish Govt.

Hundreds of thousands of poor agricultural labourers, peasants, women and men from every nook and corner of Bihar assembled in Patna’s historical Gandhi Maidan and held a massive rally raising and highlighting above issues. The massive participation also laid bare the good governance claims of the Nitish Kumar’s Govt. Challenging the feudal forces of the State from the dais of Jan-Adhikar Rally, CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the Bihar’s poor have firmly resolved with the CPI(ML) to get the Land Reforms and Share Cropping Act implemented and no forces can push them back from this.

Gandhi Maidan became a sea of Red with tens of thousands of Red flags everywhere which demonstrated the growing assertion of Bihar’s poor in State politics. Com. Dipankar said this rally will embolden and encourage all the poor and toiling people of Bihar. On the previous day’s incident in which ABVP’s (student wing of RSS) cadres uprooted flags and banners of the Jan-Adhikar Rally, he said that such incident is an indicator of growing unease in feudal-communal forces. Challenging these forces he said that there is no force capable of suppressing the might of Red Flag’s onward march.

On the BPL Quota he said state and Central Govt.’s are colluding to eliminate the name of poor from the BPL list. Lambasting the Growth-hype of Nitish Govt. he mentioned that the said development was visible only to the Capitalists in metros, American politicians and institutes like World Bank and UNICEF. What kind of development is this that does not check massive migration of people from Bihar, that does not reverse declining agricultural output, factories are closed and even small capital investments are not there.

He further said that employment guarantee act has been made to look like a toothless act in the State as 80 percent people never got any work and it is controversial how much of the remaining 20 percent actually got work. There is huge pulling out of grains for PDS distribution but nobody knows where all the grain is going. Not only all the ruling class parties in Bihar are united to prevent implementation of Land Reforms and Share Croppers’ rights, when CPI(ML) legislators started distributing diesel grants, all the ruling class legislators inside Bihar Legislative Assembly got united against CPI(ML) MLAs. He said these parties and this Govt. has no right to use the name of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati.

Terming Bihar as the land of peasant movement he announced that on the lines of Agricultural Labourers’ organisation, CPI(ML) is going to unite State’s farmers and peasants and to this end it is organising national conference of farmers and peasants in Patna on 10th May, anniversary of 1857. He called for immediately stopping Operation Green Hunt and passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the current session of Parliament.

Rally and mass meeting was presided over by CPI(ML)’s Bihar State Secretary Com. Nand Kishore Prasad. The meeting started after a cultural performance by JSM artists. On the dais were senior leaders of CPI(ML)- PBMs, CCMs and SCMs. Among others present were Comrades Swadesh Bhattacharya, DP Bakshi, Ramjatan Sharma and Ramji Rai.

The rally was also addressed by a number of Party and mass organisations’ leaders and in the end the rally passed a 12 point resolution to intensify the movement on the issues for which the this rally was organised.

CPI(ML)'s Massive National March to Parliament

Party held a massive March to Parliament on 26th March in New Delhi against exorbitantly rising prices. Thousands of workers, peasants, women, students and youth from various states marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar raising the slogan, “Check Prices, Give Us Jobs – Carry Out Land Reforms!,” demanding increase in minimum wages, creation of jobs, land reforms, housing for the poor and inclusion of all agricultural workers, workers in unorganised sector and other low-paid occupations and poor peasants in the BPL category.

The March culminated in a mass meeting at Jantar Mantar. Addressing the mass meeting, CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said- “Congress and the UPA Government, instead of protecting the poor from the impact of the steep rise in prices of food and other essentials, have contributed to the price rise by hiking fuel prices and taxes on the aam aadmi. The Union Budget 2010 has proved Congress ‘aam aadmi’ slogan to be a sham and in the past year, the Government has handed out Rs.1 crore a minute to the richest corporates in the land by way of ‘revenues foregone.’ These big businessmen are the ones who have made it to the list of the world’s billionaires.” He further said, “It is ironic that when prices are rising, minimum wages and NREGA wages continue to stagnate. We demand Rs 200 a day wages for NREGA workers and upgrading of minimum wages in all sectors to match those suggested by the 6th Pay Commission.” Dipankar Bhattacharya continued, “The UPA Government’s idea of a ‘Food Security Bill’ is a cruel hoax, since the Government’s whole effort is shrink the PDS provisions and to exclude the poor from the ration system. Be it the Tendulkar Committee or the SC-appointed Wadhwa Committee or the earlier Arjun Sengupta Committee, all official committees have exposed and rejected the prevailing Planning Commission estimate of 28% poverty as false and inadequate. The CPI(ML) demands that all agricultural and other rural workers, all small and marginal peasants, unorganized workers in low-paid occupations and unrecognized employees rendering social service (para-teachers, rural health workers in ASHA and Anganwadi schemes) for a paltry ‘honorarium’ – all should be included in the BPL category. There must also be a guaranteed provision of at least 50 kg foodgrains at subsidized rates for every BPL household. Provisions should be made within the PDS system to protect the middle class from soaring free market prices through a network of government run fair-price shops.” Comrade Dipankar reminded that the country has witnessed powerful struggles in recent times on the question of land. “Meanwhile a Committee appointed by the UPA Government’s own Ministry of Rural development had come out with a report indicting successive government for the “Unfinished Agenda of Land Reforms.” Despite this the Government is refusing to implement the recommendations of its own Committee, and instead is determined to abandon and reverse the agenda of land reforms. Housing and homestead land too were central concerns of the rural and urban poor; but the Government’s ‘Rajiv Awas Yojana’ for urban poor and Indira Awas Yojana for rural poor are ridiculously inadequate. In the first place, large numbers of the poor fail to be included in these schemes. Moreover, the Indira Awas allocation of Rs. 45,000 in plain areas and Rs. 48,000 in hilly areas is too low. We demand that the IAY grant be increased to at least Rs.100,000 per beneficiary and IAY allocation be increased to clear the backlog.”

The mass meeting was also addressed by Swapan Mukherjee, GS of the AICCTU, who highlighted the fact that thousands of agricultural workers and peasants from Punjab were participating in the March, who were jailed in large numbers last year for agitating for homestead land and NREGA jobs. Rajwinder Rana, Secretary of the CPI(ML) in Punjab spoke about the ongoing mass arrest of peasants in Punjab, following protests against the murder of a prominent peasant leader.

Delhi State Secretary Com. Sanjay Sharma said that Shiela Dixit’s Budget has ensured higher taxes for the aam aadmi, hiked diesel prices and even steeper rise in prices of food, cooking gas, transport costs- all in the name of increased budget for Commonwealth Games. Not only are subsidies being slashed and prices hiked to generate revenue for the Games, the Delhi High Court has had to take note of the fact the basic rights and even minimum wages of Commonwealth Games workers are being shamefully violated. The meting was also addressed by CPI(ML) CCM Prabhat Kumar, Convenor of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (AIKSS) Rajaram Singh, AIKS leader Ramchandra Kulhari from Rajasthan, Girija Pathak, member of the CPI(ML) State Leading Team of Uttarakhand, and Ravi Rai, GS of AISA. The meeting was conducted by Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, AIPWA.

Odisha Rally

A large rally was taken out from Bhubaneswar Railway Station to PMG corner near State Assembly on 27 March. People from 22 districts of Odisha were present in the Bhubaneswar rally. Apart from highlighting mass concerns like price rise, BPL, PDS and NREGA, the rally called for an immediate end to Operation Green Hunt, release of all political prisoners, withdrawal of concessions granted to big companies like Posco, Vedanta, Tata and nationalization of the entire mineral sector. Speakers included Comrades Khitish Biswal, Radhakanta Sethi, Ashok Pradhan, Bidyadhar Patra, Satyabadi, Savita and Bidhan and CPI(ML) GS Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya. Veteran TU leader from Rourkela and AICCTU Vice President Com. NK Mohanty presided over the meeting.

Demonstration in Front of Jharkhand State Assembly

To protest the massive price rise, drought, migration, police repression in the name of Green Hunt and to declare the schedule for panchayat election without further delay, the Jharkhand State Committee of the CPI(ML) organised Vidhansabha gherao on 27 March in Ranchi. The march began from Hatia Railway Station compounds in the leadership of State Secretary Com. Janardan Prasad and Com. Subhendu Sen and Com. Manoj Bhakt.

The march transformed into a road blockade and mass meeting when the police prevented them from proceeding to the State Assembly. The mass meeting was addressed by above leaders, Comrades Bahadur Oraon, Vinod Singh, Rajkumar Yadav, Devki Nandan and JNU Student leader Sandeep Singh among others.

Mahadharna in Chhatisgarh

CPI(ML) and Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha jointly organised a mahadharna (grand dharna) in Raipur on 26 March to protest the exorbitant prices of essential necessities. Hundreds of rural poor from various districts of the State participated in the mahadharna. Later, a memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minister demanding immediate roll back of hike in the prices of diesel and urea, to include all agricultural and contractual labourers in the BPL list, providing 50 kg of grains monthly at Rs.2/kg, minimum wages to be raised to Rs.200/-, take action against all the black marketeers and corrupt officials of the State and fulfill all the promises made to the peasants and farmers of the State. The maha-dharna was addressed by CPI(ML) CCM Com. Rajaram and CMM’s Com. Bhimrao Bagde among many others.

Roads Blockaded in Assam

In continuation of the movement launched by Sadou Asom Gramin Sramik Santha (Assam unit of All India Agricultural Labourers’ Union- AIALA), Asom Sangrami Chah Sramik Sangha and Karbi Anglong & NC Hills Kisan Sramik Sabha blockaded roads in different districts of Assam, on 23rd March, 2010 to press their longstanding demands. As reported in the last issue, nearly 5000 rural workers marched to Raj Bhawan on 21st January and handed over an 11-point mass memorandum to the Governor of Assam. It was a culmination of a mass signature campaign in Assam’s districts of AIALA’s major work. No response came from the Govt. during the ongoing budget session of Assam Assembly.

Road blockade was effective at different places. In Tinsukia nearly 500 people gathered on the main road and blocked the road for an hour. In Dibrugarh dist. programme blockades were laid at Lahowal and Tingkhong where nearly 1000 people took part. In Bargang, Behali (Sonitpur district) nearly 2000 agrarian workers and tea workers imposed path avarodh (road blockade) for nearly an hour. In Nagaon programme was held in two places- Nagaon town and Jakhalabandha, participated by 1200 and 200 people respectively. In Jorhat 500 people gathered in Assam Trunk Road and blocked it for 45 minutes. In Chandrapur (Kamrup district) some 300 people took part in the programme. From Barpeta a memorandum reiterating the demands was sent to the Governor through the DC, Barpeta. In Karbi Anglong district, programme was held at Bokajan.

Main demand among various others has been to hold Special Assembly Session to discuss works of Rural Development department.

Convention on Land Issue

On 27th March a convention was held at Vijayawada as a part of political campaign from March 23-31 in which 400 people participated. The theme of the convention was 'Forest Land Grab by Land Lords and Struggle of the Poor for Land'. In Krishna district more than 25000 acres of forest land is illegally occupied mostly by land lords with the help of forest and revenue officials. Instead of vacating the landlords forest officials are harassing the poor. CPI(ML) started a movement long back demanding “vacate landlords from the land immediately, provide that land to the poor”. Recently under Party and AIALA’s leadership 400 hundred people captured 300 acres of the land from 6 landlords. In this back drop the convention drew much attention. The convention was addressed by N Murty among others.

VISAKHAPATNAM: As part of nation-wide protest by the Party on price hike, employment and land reforms a dharna was held at the Collectorate in Visakhapatnam on 29 March in which 100 people participated. N Murty addressed the dharna. B Vasudeva Rao, District Secretary along with other comrades submitted a memorandum to the collector.

23rd March: 79th Martyrdom Day of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh

Anti-Communal Convention at Gangavati

Gangavati unit of CPI(ML) organized a convention against communalism on 23 March, the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh. This is a follow up of the massive rally held on 6 Dec. 2009 demanding the arrest of culprits of Babri Masjid demolition, including Advani, Vajpayee and Thackarey. The convention also passed resolutions against the recently passed acts by Karnataka Assembly that has a strong communal bias against Muslim people. Few hundreds of people, including Muslims, participated in the convention.

Com. Shankar, Central Committee member (CCM), presiding over the convention, said that the fight against communalism cannot just be confined to opposing the BJP and the Sangh Parivar alone, but it also extends to waging a relentless, simultaneous battle against the appeasement to communal forces by the Congress and the JD(S) in the state. He accused the JD(S) to be responsible for the formation of the BJP government in the southern state of Karnataka. He ridiculed the state government’s decision to form a university for Sanskrit which is not a spoken language of any section of the people while it rejected the demand to form a University for Urdu which is the mother tongue for lakhs and lakhs of Muslims in the state. He condemned the BJP of using the government apparatus for promoting its own communal objectives by enacting cow slaughter bill. He called upon all Muslims and democratic forces to join the uncompromising battle for true secularism being waged by the CPI(ML).

Vittappa Gorantli, president of ‘Save Koppal Movement’ inaugurated the convention remembering Bhagat Singh. Prof. VN Lakshminarayana of Mysore presented a comprehensive account of the evolution and traits of fascism its similarities with the Sangh Parivar in the country and the State. Com. Aslam from Delhi and VP of AISA, exposed the role of the central government in Batla House encounter. Com. Bharadwaj, SLT (State Leading Team) member of CPI(ML) narrated the Party’s experience of fighting communalism in Gangavati.

Mustafa Kamal Pasha (Hafiz Moulana), the Chief of Jamia Masjid and Allagiri, a journalist, among other guests were present on the occasion. DB Giraddi, a journalist conducted the proceedings.

Rajasthan: A meeting was organised in Jaipur on 23rd march to commemorate 79th martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, conducted by Comrades Harkesh Bugalia, Surendra Yadav and Vikash. Similar meeting was organised in Jhunjhunu conducted by Comrades Phool Chand Dhewa and Ramchandra.

Delhi: Shaheed Diwas is a regular annual feature at Narela in Delhi and the comrades have been organising it with ever growing enthusiasm every year. Many artists and poets presented their creations and Jasam’s Sangwari team sang revolutionary songs. Nishant, a theatre group led by Com. Shamshul Islam, presented a play and sang revolutionary songs. Jasam’s Mukul Saral recited many ghazals of his. Com. Satbir sang Haryanvi folk Ragri and conducted the proceedings. The cultural evening was also addressed by Com. Kavita Krishana, CPI(ML) CCM and Com. Bhasha Singh, Jasam’s Delhi Secretary.

Condolence Meeting to Remember Com. Ajaib Singh Siddhu

A Condolence meeting in memory of Comrade Ajaib Singh Siddhu was organised in Delhi (held in Central Office's Convention Hall) on 28 March 2010. The meeting was addressed by CCMs Prabhat Kumar, Swapan Mukherjee, Kavita Krishnan, Shankaran, Santosh Rai, Ravi Rai, Ardhendu Roy, many comrades who worked with Com. Ajaib in DTC, Ramkishan, Rajiv Dimri, and many others. Meet was conducted by Sanjay Sharma.

Comrade Hari Sharma (1934-2010)

Comrade Hari Prakash Sharma, writer, activist and friend of the Naxalbari movement, passed away at his home in Vancouver, Canada on March 16 following a prolonged battle with cancer. Born in UP and educated at Agra University and Delhi University, he moved to the US for further education in 1963. While a student in the US, he like many others was radicalised in the course of the movement against the Vietnam war, and remained a life-long Marxist. He was also a gifted writer of short stories in Hindi and a photographer.

Inspired by the Naxalbari peasant uprising in 1967, he visited Naxalbari, and remained a sympathiser and friend of the movement all his life. Along with Kathleen Gough, he edited Imperialism and Revolution in South Asia, which was published in 1973 by the Monthly Review Press, New York. In 1975, he along with other comrades founded the Indian People's Association in North America (IPANA) in Montreal on June 25, 1975, the day Emergency was declared in India. These activities led to the revocation of his passport by the Indira Gandhi Govt. in 1976. In 1989 Comrade Hari Sharma mobilised the South Asian community of Canada to form the Komagata Maru Historical Society to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident, in which Indian immigrants traveling to Canada on a chartered ship were turned away from the shores of Vancouver by the racist policies of the Canadian Government. Since the 1980s, Comrade Hari Sharma campaigned against communalism, raising the issues of the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 and targeting of Muslims by the BJP and Sangh Parivar. He played a central role in organising several North American forums against Hindutva fascism.

CPI(ML) dips its flag in memory of Comrade Hari Sharma

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