Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ML UPDATE 52 / 2011

In lieu of Editorial

December 18 Pledge:

Let Us Make 2012 A Year of Heightened Struggles and Powerful Initiatives

As the first year of the second decade of the twenty-first century draws to a close, we can see a welcome upswing in popular struggles across the world. Reeling under economic recession, corporate loot and dictatorial rule, the people have clearly started fighting back across the world. History will remember 2011 as the year of the Arab Spring and also as the year of the 'Occupy' movement. The impulses behind the Arab Spring and the 'Occupy' movement are still very much alive and so the ongoing battles will surely be carried forward into the coming year. The same holds very much true for our own battle in India against corruption and corporate loot and for securing the rights of the people in various fields of life.

The present crisis of global capitalism is turning out to be quite deep and enduring. It has simultaneously hit both US and Europe, the two biggest centres of global capitalism. And it has hit the financial sector as well as several major manufacturing industries. The dominant capitalist model of neo-liberalism, based on the free-market mantra of deregulation and privatization, seems to have reached a dead-end. The combined effect of growing relocation of industries and outsourcing of labour-intensive production and labour-displacing technological innovation has pushed unemployment levels unbearably high in most advanced capitalist countries.

Global capital is trying to overcome this crisis by grabbing as much natural resources as possible precipitating a mad corporate rush for every conceivable resource – most notably, land, water, forests, minerals, and oil and gas. Together with this drive to grab ever greater share of resources, imperialism is also waging its relentless war on resource-rich countries, ostensibly in the name of combating terrorism and promoting democracy and human rights. After Afghanistan and Iraq, the war is now clearly, though in an undeclared manner, spreading to Iran and Pakistan and also increasingly to Africa as indicated by the US-NATO intervention in Libya. But equally clearly, the war is also running into increasing opposition both in the occupied/invaded countries and also in the heartlands of global capitalism, the US in particular.

Globalisation is thus emerging as a dialectical process. Alongside the globalization of corporate loot and imperialist war, we now also see the other dimension of globalization – globalization of capitalist crisis and globalization of people's resentment and resistance. The global environment today stands in a refreshing contrast to the kind of situation we faced till recently when the US and other Western powers seemed to be dominating the world on their own terms. For communists and progressive forces the world over, the possibilities of a renewed advance are surely knocking on the doors.

This may sound rather wishful in the Indian context if one goes by recent electoral outcomes. But in a situation of growing systemic crisis and heightened popular activism, it is terribly wrong to try and assess political reality merely in terms of elections. For example, election results may suggest that the CPI(ML) has little base left in Bihar, but then the great success of the November 21 rally in Patna and the response evoked by the series of mass initiatives preceding the rally have clearly shown that the party surely retains its capacity to mobilize the masses and intervene in ongoing political developments. In fact, all through 2011 we could sense the potential of expansion and powerful intervention that we possess not just in Bihar and our major areas of work in other states but also in many developing areas and emerging sectors. In 2012 let us better our efforts to realize this great potential.

The Left movement in India is passing through a challenging phase. For every section of the Left, it is time for some reality check. The CPI(M)'s fabled electoral strength has received a body blow in West Bengal and with it, its stature as the leading Left current has eroded considerably. And this has happened not just because the party had spent too many years in power in West Bengal, but because the party's line of implementing the neo-liberal agenda in practice while claiming to oppose it in theory has run into a serious crisis.

The Maoists too have suffered a major setback in West Bengal, and it clearly shows that unless they rethink their strategy, they will not be able to break new ground or hold on to their bases merely on the basis of their military strength. After the disastrous experience of Andhra Pradesh a few years ago, the Maoists have suffered a similar debacle in West Bengal. Their theory and practice of political intervention by military means has been exposed quite thoroughly and it is clear that military strength is no substitute for either mass work or independent political initiatives.

The initiative we took to unite various fighting forces of the Left on a common platform is making steady progress. With the CPI(M) and the Maoists both facing major challenges, we must sharpen the ideological-political debate to assert the correctness of our revolutionary communist line even as we intensify our ongoing national campaign against corruption and corporate loot and for democratic rights of the people. Let us make 2012 a year of heightened struggles, greater political initiatives and closer interaction with fighting Left and democratic forces.

2012 will also be the year of preparation for the Party's next Congress. The Central Committee has decided to hold the 9th Congress in early 2013. Let us make the most of the coming year to prepare the Party in every way for the Ninth Congress. The CC has already outlined some key points in this regard with special emphasis on organizational expansion and consolidation and ideological-political mobilization of the entire party. As we prepare for the Ninth Congress, we will also seek and welcome creative ideas and inputs that we can get from our friends and well-wishers.

This December 18 marks the thirteenth anniversary of our beloved leader Comrade Vinod Mishra. Comrade VM had led the Party from its early underground days when the Party was confined to a few pockets to its all-round growth as a revolutionary communist party with an all-India presence and comprehensive practice. He had led the Party in combining serious mass work with vibrant political ideas and initiatives, in waging sustained ideological struggle against sectarian and dogmatic ideas as well as against parliamentary cretinism and all kinds of opportunist ideas and practice, in imparting strategic thrust and national vision to day-to-day grassroot-level work in remote areas. He dreamt of the CPI(ML) emerging as the biggest communist party and leading the communist movement forward to the ultimate victory of revolution.

Today as we begin preparing for the Ninth Congress and the challenging possibilities of "Left resurgence through people's resistance" knock on our doors, let us learn once again from Comrade VM's teachings and rededicate ourselves to the realization of his unfulfilled tasks and dreams.

Central Committee

Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)



CPI(ML) Statement on Mullaperiyar Dispute

The CPI(ML) expresses grave concern over the alarming escalation of the controversy over the Mullaperiyar dam. CPI(ML) appeals to the people of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to maintain patience and peace, rebuffing attempts to whip up competitive chauvinism and violence.

The people living in the area downstream from the dam in Kerala are apprehensive that the 116-year-old dam might burst, endangering the habitations in the region. These long-standing safety concerns have been heightened in the wake of recent tremors in the region. On the other hand, people of Tamil Nadu fear the denial or reduction in water supply in case of construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar and any change in terms and conditions of the 999-year agreement between both states.

Four districts of Tamilnadu have been traditionally dependent on the water rights they have long enjoyed from the dam, and there is a fear that any change in arrangements might endanger agriculture and the livelihood and survival of lakhs of peasants and labourers. These concerns assume even greater proportions in the backdrop of the deepening agrarian crisis and shrinkage of cultivable land in Tamilnadu.

Continuity of the existing water rights for the people of Tamilnadu, and safety for the people of Kerala are both genuine concerns that must be recognised in their full gravity and adequately addressed in a manner that generates confidence among the people.   

A large share of responsibility for the present crisis and impasse falls on the Central Government and Central Water Commission, which have failed to act for over four decades, in spite of conflict brewing on this issue since the 1980s. The matter is now subjudice, with the Supreme Court having appointed an Empowered Committee to look into the issue. The Supreme Court must facilitate an expeditious resolution of the dispute.

We call upon the Prime Minister to use his office to facilitate dialogue between both states, generate confidence and allay apprehensions, in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution. We appeal to the Governments of Kerala and Tamilnadu to abjure any hardening of positions, and work towards a reasoned and mutually favourable solution.

In the meantime, the respective state governments must take urgent steps to ensure the security of Tamilians in Kerala and Keralites in Tamilnadu. There have been disconcerting reports of chauvinistic attacks on Tamil labourers and Ayyappa devotees in Kerala, and similar targeting of Malayalees and their shops and business establishments in Tamil Nadu. We appeal to common people in both states to resist forces that are fishing in the troubled waters and fuelling discord among people who have a long history of living in harmony.   

Hooch Horror in Bengal

On the heels of the AMRI fire has come another terrible tragedy – the hooch (illicit liquor) tragedy at Sangrampur of South 24 Parganas, that has claimed 190 lives till date including that of an 8-year-old child, and the death toll continues to mount.

This latest tragedy highlighted the ruling TMC Government's callousness once again. As the tragedy began to unfold, the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's first response was to disclaim the Government's responsibility by blaming the deaths on a 'social evil'! In other words, according to her, the Government had no responsibility to ensure that the lucrative business of bootlegging does not flourish and endanger lives!  

Subsequently, as the death toll arose and angry people demolished the illegal hooch 'theks' and ransacked the houses of their owners, the Government was forced to change its stance and order an enquiry. However, the Chief Minister is yet even to pay a visit to Sangrampur, even as the appalling state of healthcare contributes to the death toll. This apathy is in stark contrast to Mamata's show of promptitude in the case of the AMRI fire, and is a measure of how much her Government really cares for the rural poor!        

The hooch kingpin running the illicit liquor trade in the area is one 'Badshah', known to have enjoyed CPIM patronage in the earlier regime, and having shifted loyalty to the TMC with the change of guard. He is still absconding. In any case, Badshah is only the tip of the iceberg. There are estimated to be 27,000 illicit liquor brewers in the state – a whole illegal industry that thrives with the patronage of power.

The government, doing nothing to ensure even prompt and adequate medical care, has merely announced Rs.2 lakh compensation for the victims' families, and even that is yet to materialize.

Sankalp Divas in Memory of Comrade VM


December 18, the death anniversary of Comrade Vinod Mishra, was observed as Sankalp Divas (Pledge-taking Day) by Party units all over the country. This year, the December 18 programmes also launched the fund collection drive for the party's forthcoming Ninth Congress.

In Delhi, a cadre convention was held at the party's central office, in which the December 18 call was read out by Comrade VKS Gautam. Comrade Kavita then discussed some of the key tasks outlined by the Call in the context of party work in Delhi, and Comrade Ravi presented a brief paper on the political perspective and organizational principles that underlie the ongoing task of membership renewal, recruitment, transformation of candidate members into party members, branch functioning and party organs. Several district and branch secretaries and party activists introspected on the ongoing work and the tasks ahead. CCM Comrade Rajendra Pratholi also addressed the Convention. Delhi State Secretary Comrade Sanjay Sharma concluded the discussion, calling on comrades to intensify the movement of Delhi's working class and urban poor, and strengthen the party in Delhi.

The Sankalp Divas at Patna was observed with a Cadre Convention by the Patna City Committee, addressed by the Bihar State Secretary Comrade Nand Kishore Prasad, AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee and Lokyuddh editor Comrade BB Pandey, Patna City Secretary Comrade Saroj Chaubey, and was attended by a large number of leading activists. Conventions were also held at 12 blocks in Patna rural as well as Badh. A district level convention was held at Jehanabad addressed by PBM Comrade Ramjatan Sharma and Darbhanga, addressed by CCM Comrade Dhirendra Jha, as well as at Buxar, Purnea, Arwal, Muzaffarpur, Begusarai and W Champaran. Block level Sankalp Sabhas were held at Bhojpur, Siwan and Gaya, as well as Samastipur, Aurangabad, Kaimur. The fund collection drive was launched with great enthusiasm at all places.    

A state-level cadre convention was held at Saria (Giridih) in Jharkhand. The conventon began with floral tributes to Comrade VM as well as Comrades Mahendra Singh and Ibn-ul Hasan Basru. Cadres held a motorcycle march in Bagodar preceding the convention. The Convention was conducted by Jharkhand State Secretary Comrade Janardan Prasad. SCM and the party's MLA in the state Assembly Comrade Vinod Singh presented the December 18 Call for discussion. 16 leaders then discussed their work in various districts and fronts. Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya addressed the Convention in conclusion. PBM Comrade D P Buxi, and CCMs Comrades Manoj Bhakt, Shubhendu Sen as well as SCMs were present. In the Convention, workers' leader from Bokaro Comrade JN Singh was greeted with enthusiastic applause when he contributed the amount of Rs 15,000 received as a 'best worker' award from SAIL to the party's Ninth Congress fund. Contributions received at the Giridih district convention and the state convention amounted to Rs 4700. The Convention resolved to conduct a campaign against corruption and corporate loot, the first phase of which would culminate in Comrade Mahendra Singh's martyrdom day on 16 January. On that date, a big rally will be held at Bagodar, and mass meeting in other districts. Another decision was to launch a campaign against the state government's betrayal of the people, in which four teams will march in four Assembly constituencies in Giridih from 25 December onwards. From 16 January to 23 March, a second phase of political-organisational campaign will be conducted, concluding with a rally on 23 March and the State Conference of the party on 23-25 March at Koderma. From 18 December, women comrades will take up the task of full scale preparations for the AIPWA National Conference. A memorial meeting for Comrade VM was also held at Garhwa.

In Uttar Pradesh, Sankalp Sabhas were organized in many districts. The programmes included a rally to district HQs at Devaria, with the slogan 'People's Power Against Money Power', attended by about 2000 people including ASHA, anganwadi and mid-day meal women workers in addition to party members. Block level GBMs of party members were held at Ballia, Gorakhpur, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Allahabad, Sonebhadra, Lakhimpur Kheri. At Mirzapur, Varanasi, Azamgarh, Gonda, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jalaun, Sitapur and Pilibhit, pledge-taking GBMs were held at district HQs. 

The Tamilnadu state committee organized a state cadre meeting to observe the 'Pledge Taking' day. 83 leaders and cadres of the party participated in the meeting. At the meeting, the December 18 Call was read and discussed, with Com S Kumarasamy, PBM, explaining various key aspects of the call and the key tasks before the party, and calling on comrades to implement the CC call with full vigor and determination. The cadre meeting earnestly embarked on the challenge of turning the Tamil party organ, 'Theepori' into a fortnightly from January 1, 2012. District secretaries, in-charges and other comrades shared their experiences of 'Theepori' subscriptions promotional campaign in a very lively manner. A total of 1,900 subscriptions (Rs 1,90,000 collected in these 15 day campaign presented to Com G. Radhakrishnan, Manager of 'Theepori'). Chennai committee crossed 600, Coimbatore achieved 500 and Kanyakumari, 350. The meeting overwhelmingly endorsed the target of 5000 to achieve before the party's state conference to be held in end March. The meeting pledged to strengthen the party organ, a key tool in party building and political advance.

Party State Secretary, Balasundaram, announced decisions taken in the 2-day state committee meeting that concluded a day before the Pledge-taking Day. The meeting resolved to take up vigorous mass political campaign against the anti-people Jayalalitha Government which will culminate in a party rally and state conference of the party to be held on March 30, 31 and April 1 at Coiambatore. Responding to the CC's call the cadre meet contributed Rs 17000 towards 9th Party Congress fund. This was presented to PBM, Com S Kumarasamy.

In Andhra Pradesh, the pledge-taking day was observed at East Godavari, Jaggampeta, Yeleswaram, Prathipadu, Krishna, and Khammam. In W Bengal, Sankalp Sabhas were held at branch and area level in most districts, while district-level cadre meetings were held at Nadia and Jalpaiguri on 18 December. The cadre meeting at Jalpaiguri was addressed by PBM Comrade Kartick Pal. On 19 December, a Sankalp Sabha was held at Darjeeling. In Uttarakhand, party activists gathered for a Sankalp Sabha at Bindukhatta, addressed by Uttarakhand In-charge Comrade Raja Bahuguna. On the same day, the Almora District Conference of the party was held at Deghat preceded by a procession and mass meeting. The Sankalp Divas was also observed at Pithoragarh.

The party units in five districts – Udaipur, Pratapgarh, Ajmer, Jhunjhunu and Jaipur – of Rajasthan celebrated Sankalp Divas with cadre meeting. At Chhattisgarh, a meeting of party cadres was held at the party office in Bhilai, and at Lal Khadan in Bilaspur. A meeting was held in Raipur on 19 December. A cadre convention was organized at Ahmedabad (Gujarat), addressed by the party's Gujarat in-charge Comrade Ranjan Ganguly, as well as party leaders Lakshmanbhai Patanwaria and RYA leader Amit Patanwaria.

All India Kisan Sabha and CPI(ML) Haryana held a Sankalp Sabha at Sonipat in which many peasant organization leaders participated. The peasant leaders protested against the government's policies of corporatizing agriculture. Peasant leader Om Prakash Arya, Hansraj Rana, AICCTU leader Satbir Shramik, CPI(ML) CCM Prabhat Kumar and AIKS Vice President Prem Singh Gehlawat addressed the meeting, and a cultural team presented a revolutionary Ragini (folk music of Haryana). Sankalp Divas was also observed at Odisha, Tripura and Karnataka. 

The Pledge day was observed at Puducherry with a meeting, in which state secretary Comrade S Balasundaram presented and explained the December 18 Call. Many new members were recruited during the meeting. The meeting passed resolutions for an amicable resolution to the Mullaperiyar issue, protesting the PM's statement in Russia on Koodankulam, and demanding that the government of Puducherry implement the interstate migrant workmen (Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1979, which was pending more than 32 years.

'People's Rights Declaration' at Coimbatore

On 17 December, a massive CPIML-AICCTU 'People's Rights Declaration' mass meeting was held at Periyanayakanpalayam, Coimbatore. A huge number of Pricol workers participated in the mass meeting, which was presided over by Com Krishnamurthy. Party PBM and National President of AICCTU, Com. S Kumarasamy, State Secretary Balasundaram, AICCTU Dy. General Secretary Com. Bhuvaneshwari, AIALA State General Secretary S Janakiraman, AISA State President K Bharati, LMW workers and staff union Treasurer Chandran and other spoke. The newly elected Coimbatore District Secretary of the party delivered a vote of thanks. Workers assembled in the mass meeting enthusiastically welcomed the announcement of holding state rally and party's 9th State Conference in Coimbatore in late March.


Comrade Nandji  

Comrade Nandji, party leader in Delhi, passed away early morning on 20 December. He was 59. He had suffered from a paralytic stroke not long ago, but was fast recovering, and was recuperating at the party's NOIDA Sector 10 office when he suddenly suffered another fatal stroke and passed away. 

Comrade Nandji was a district committee member of East Delhi. He was one of the senior-most party members in Delhi. He was founder President of the IPSS Security Workers' Union, and that union fought many militant struggles in his leadership. Though he took VRS and retired, the IPSS Union continued, being one of the few unions where all the labour laws are implemented thanks to workers' struggles.

Active in the party from his early youth, he had been a squad member in Bhojpur when the party was underground. Subsequently he had come to Delhi as a migrant security worker. When the party's first MP was elected from Bhojpur in 1989, he sought out the party in Delhi and remained active with the party in Delhi since then.

Comrade Nandji, till the very end, played a very active role in building the unions of rickshaw pullers, domestic workers, and street vendors in NOIDA. The Delhi party could rely upon this sturdy comrade in every situation. His demise is a shock and a great loss, but his commitment and loyalty to the party will be a role model for all party members. 

Party activists and leaders including Comrade Swapan Mukherjee, CCM and General Secretary, AICCTU, Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma as well as CCM Comrade Rajendra Pratholi, as well as Delhi SCMs Shyam Kishore, Santosh Roy, Shankaran, VKS Gautam, Mathura Paswan, Ramabhilash, Aslam, Uma Gupta, and many others gathered at the NOIDA office to pay tribute to Comrade Nandji. Comrades marched in a procession with the cortege, wrapped in the party flag, to the cremation ground, bidding farewell to Comrade Nandji on his final journey. 

[On December 15, in keeping with the call issued by AIALA's National Conference, the AIALA held countrywide Block-level protests demanding inclusion of all the poor in the BPL category, housing plots for agricultural labourers, 200 days of work at Rs 300 per day under MNREGA and other demands. A detailed report of this protest will be covered in the next issue of ML Update.] 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

ML UPDATE 51 / 2011

51 / 2011
The AMRI Disaster: The Killer Fumes of Corporate Greed

The morning of December 9 came as a huge shock to Kolkata and the entire country. More than 90 lives – including old-age patients in various stages of treatment and recovery – were lost in a fatal disaster in the AMRI hospital in Dhakuria in south Kolkata on that fateful morning. The disaster was triggered by a major fire that broke out in the basement of the super-speciality hospital in the pre-dawn hours, but it was the toxic fume engulfing the multi-storey building which claimed most of the lives. Every report emanating from the site of the disaster since then has compounded that shock and turned it into utter shame and indignation. The disaster can only be called a huge corporate crime with the state being equally complicit.

Consider these facts. The fire broke out at around 3 AM, but it took the hospital authorities nearly two hours to inform the fire-brigade. The reason behind this inexplicable delay lies apparently in another case of fire which had broken out in the basement of the same building two months ago on October 8 – the security guard who had then promptly informed the fire-station had incurred the wrath of the hospital administration and was suspended for two weeks. So this time round the staff apparently tried to douse the fire themselves before informing the fire-brigade. Valuable time had already been lost and the fire-brigade found itself ill-equipped when it finally reached the spot after negotiating the narrow and overcrowded approach roads in this busy neighbourhood of the city.

The fire-alarm system of the hospital did not work as it was apparently disabled by smokers! It now also turns out that the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH), the apex agency that grants accreditation for hospitals, had refused to renew the hospital's accreditation because the hospital did not conform to expected safety standards and fire-fighting norms. The basement of the hospital had been turned into a veritable dumping place for all kinds of inflammable materials and radiotherapy instruments. Reports have it that the hospital had been warned by the fire-fighting department during an inspection in the month of July and the hospital authorities had promised to clear the basement in two months. There was never a follow-up to check if the 'promise' had been kept. According to the NABH CEO, the hospital also did not have the required safety certification from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board for two new machines it had recently procured for its radiology unit.

Having systematically violated all relevant rules and standards, the AMRI management also exhibited a flagrant disregard for basic human values even in the face of the macabre dance of death. The local people who were the first to rush to the spot and extend a helping hand risking their own lives were not allowed in. Family members of patients who desperately tried to rescue their dear ones were stopped and asked to first clear all dues! While some members of the AMRI staff also died in the tragedy, most top members of the AMRI management were conspicuously absent from the scene, issuing empty condolence statements and trying to silence the angry people by announcing some token compensation for the dead.

How did an irresponsible entity like AMRI that had Advanced Medical Research as a part of its name (probably with a view to claiming more benefits and concessions from the state) but epitomized nothing but corporate greed and arrogance come to be treated as a 'premier super-speciality healthcare provider'? Indeed, the rise and expansion of AMRI since the middle of 1990s symbolized the changing complexion of the healthcare 'industry' in the era of neo-liberalism – where healthcare became an expensive consumer product traded in a thoroughly corporatized and commercialized environment. The site where AMRI made super-profit by fleecing patients earlier housed a state-run polyclinic where the common people could expect quality medicare at affordable rates. In the 1990s, the state-run polyclinic gave way to AMRI – a public-private partnership project in which the state government initially held 51% share.

Over the years, the share of the state came down progressively to less than 2%. Meanwhile the head of one of the private groups owning and controlling the hospital, Mr. Shravan Todi grew very close to the CPI(M) leadership and the Left Front government, even becoming a formal member of the CPI(M), and AMRI grew into a hospital chain with the state government providing heavily subsidized plots in prime locations. The AMRI is also co-owned by the Emami group of the Goenkas – also known to be close to the (CPIM). The bonhomie between the likes of Shravan Todi and the CPI(M) was of course nothing exceptional – it was of a piece with the kind of cosy ties that had evolved between the CPI(M) leadership and business establishments in different sectors, be it the jute and hosiery barons, private players in the power sector like the Goenkas or tycoons like the Tatas, Ambanis or the infamous Salim group of Indonesia.

The managers of the ruling TMC dispensation and the dominant media in West Bengal today are pointing fingers at the CPI(M) leadership for the growth of the greedy corporate culture epitomized by the AMRI. But we remember it very well that before Singur and Nandigram, the same media had been busy lauding the CPI(M) rulers for their pro-business attitude, marketing 'brand Buddha' as the most wonderful communist model in India! Also, the TMC-led Kolkata Corporation and fire service too can hardly wash their hands off their share of responsibility for the tragedy. And we are also acutely aware of the fact that under neo-liberalism all shades of governments in India have been busy promoting corporatization and commercialization in every sector of the economy and public service. The AMRIs are the norm in this policy environment. It is another matter that when things go horribly wrong, the rulers desperately seek to disown such erstwhile 'success stories' and treat them as villainous aberrations!

For the people of Kolkata and the whole of India, the lessons of the AMRI disaster are pretty straightforward. If we want to avoid a second disaster, we must free healthcare services from the killer fumes of corporate greed. The right to health and education must be upheld as fundamental rights of the people and the business-politics nexus must not be allowed to play with these rights.


Convention at Trivandrum Demanding Moratorium on Death Penalty  


A one-day convention was organized by a group of human rights activists at Trivandrum on 28th November 2011 to demand moratorium on judicial executions. It was an unequivocal condemnation by progressive voices against continuation of capital punishment. The convention was preceded by a demonstration and a rally to the state secretariat.

The convention was inaugurated by distinguished writer P Zachariah while participants were welcomed by Gireesh Kumar on behalf of the organizing committee. The convention was addressed by long list of speakers including BRP Bhaskar, a veteran journalist, Dr N A Karim , former Vice Chancellor of Kerala University, Dileepraj an activist writer, Dr K K Rajaram of Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA), R P Amudan, documentary film maker, Dr K K Chandran, Advocate P A Pauran, President, PUCL, Kerala , K K Shahina, journalist, K Ramachandran, a noted environmental activist, H S Suraj of Students Against Death Penalty and C Vasukkuttan of Dalit Social Forum.

Comrade Venugopalan, State Leading Team member of CPI(ML) also addressed the gathering along with other Left party leaders MN Ravunni of 'Porattam' and P N Provint, State Secretary of CPI(ML) (KNR Group).

Com. Venugopalan expressed solidarity with the cause and demanded immediate repeal of death sentences against the three persons under death row in the Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case and in cases like that of Afsal Guru where death sentences are being awarded even without sufficient evidence to prove the guilt.

'Thudarum Neethikkolaigal '(The Continuing Judicial Executions), a latest documentary film was also screened.


Seminar at Trivandrum on 
 "Lessons of October Revolution to  the Indian Working Class"


Purogamana Charcha Vedi (Progressive Debating Forum), a small platform of activists committed to debating the issues of class struggle and taking forward progressive ideas to the people, organized a seminar on November 7th at Trivandrum marking the 94th anniversary of the October revolution.

The topic of discussion, "Lessons of October Revolution to the Indian Working Class" was initiated by Dr NA Karim, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Kerala. Comrades Shaji of Purogamana Charcha Vedi, Susheelan P and Prof M K Shiva Prasad also addressed the gathering along with many others.

Dr Karim pointed out that the present crisis of global capitalism is not only much bigger than that of the great depression, it has also acquired features of cronyism and has transformed into some sort of casino capitalism that has expanded to a global scale.

KM Venugopalan of the CPI(ML) Kerala State Leading Team emphasized on the role of working class in the struggle against opportunism in the Left movement as a major lesson. He also elaborated on the opportunist slogan of 'defend the fatherland' in the context of Second World War that led the opportunist Left to rally behind the bourgeoisie. He contrasted it with Lenin's revolutionary vision that was vindicated by the victory of Bolsheviks in October revolution, which skillfully utilized the imperialist crisis in the interests of the working class. He also called upon all oppressed people across the globe to unite to fight globalization, liberalisation and corporatization in the present context.


KM Venugopalan

Women's March and AIPWA NC Meet in Siwan

The National Council of AIPWA met at Siwan for a 2-day meeting on December 10-11. Prior to the meeting, women held a march through Siwan town, raising slogans against violence on women and demanding women's equality, dignity, and freedom. The procession, led by the national council leaders from various states, marched through the busy main streets of the town, almost bringing traffic to a standstill, and distributed leaflets among the public. Women raised slogans against the UPA Government at the Centre for betraying its commitment to passing the 33% reservation Bill. They also raised slogans against Nitish Kumar's false claims of 'empowering' women in Bihar – which were belied by the increasing incidence of barbaric feudal and communal violence, and state repression on women in the NDA-ruled state.  


The procession culminated at Comrade Chandrashekhar's statue, where the national leaders from various states offered floral tribute. A mass meeting was held at the spot, addressed by AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari, Bihar State Secretary Shashi Yadav, National Secretary Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA leader from Andhra Pradesh, Nagamani, Bhadravati from Assam, and Indrani from Bengal. A large number of people gathered to listen to the meeting, and were especially enthusiastic about the speeches from women leaders from other states. 


The National Council meeting condemned the UPA Government for its adamant refusal to scrap the notorious AFSPA in spite of the numerous acts of violence against women by armed forces, and saluted the ongoing hunger strike by Irom Sharmila against AFSPA, that has lasted 11 years. The meeting condemned the disappearance and suspected killing of nurse Bhanwari Devi of Rajasthan, in which senior state leaders of the Congress party including a former Minister are said to be implicated; the killing of a nun Valsa John at the behest of coal mafia in Jharkhand; the gang rape of a woman by joint forces in Bengal; and the custodial sexual violence inflicted by the Chhattisgarh police on an adivasi woman schoolteacher Soni Sori; the slapping of a woman teacher by a sarpanch and lathicharge on teachers protesting this incident in Punjab; and feudal assaults and increasing violence on women in Nitish's Bihar. The meeting demanded speedy punishment for the Gujarat police and government officials responsible for the custodial killing of Ishrat Jehan. The meeting also condemned the UPA Government's plans to introduce 51% FDI in retail, a move that will affect the livelihood of millions of small retailers, a large section of whom are women eking out survival by running a shop or street vending.


The meeting made detailed plans and preparations for the forthcoming 6th National Conference of AIPWA to be held at Vijaywada on 8-9 February. The Conference will be held with the central slogan - "We'll not tolerate violence, rape, insult – We'll fight and win freedom, employment, dignity!"


Women Domestic Workers' Union Conference at Khoda 


 The first conference of the Khoda (Ghaziabad) unit of the Gharelu Mahila  Kamgar Union was held on 13 November at Delhi. A large number of women domestic workers enthusiastically participated in the conference. Most of these women are migrants from Bengal, who have settled for long in and around Delhi-NCR.


Addressing the conference, Sanwli Sarkar from Noida said that, "We are called 'kaamwali' but are still not recognized as workers. We are forced to pay bribes to the police or subjected to harassment."


Saroj Bala added, "We too want to educate our children, we want them to have jobs. But because we're migrants, we're denied ration cards and identity cards, and our children are denied admission in schools as a result."


Tanuja said, "We are demanding that we be recognized as human beings and equals. Our employers rarely pay us on time. Though many of us have been here for 20 years, we are not valued or respected because we are migrants. Middlemen cheat us, taking money in return for promises of getting us ration and id cards. We're badly hit by price rise, yet the Government tells us we're rich if we spend more than Rs 32 a day! Even our daily travel expenses by rickshaw cost up to Rs 40! We're called 'pardesi'(foreigners/outsiders), and considered vulnerable because we're migrants. We must unite if we're to become a force and win the respect and rights that are due to us. That's why we're determined to strengthen our union."


Meera said, "Our wages are often cut on the pretext that we have left jobs undone or taken leave. We are often asked to do work beyond the fixed work. Our wages do not match our labour. I feel we're weaker because we're migrants. We need a law to ensure that wages are fixed, regular and adequate."


Other women workers who spoke at the conference included Kamlesh, Lutfa Bibi, Pooja, and Chandmoni.


Avalokita, AISA activist from Jamia Millia Islamia, helped the women workers in conducting the conference. Kavita Krishnan, National Secretary of AIPWA, addressed the Conference, saying that domestic workers' struggle went beyond the everyday tussles with employers. It was a struggle with the Government to ensure their recognition as workers, and a guarantee of their rights. They not only faced the irregularities that other unorganized sector workers faced; they also faced sexual harassment at the workplace, and are often denied basic dignity. They clean the homes of the well-off – yet they are branded as 'dirty' and prevented from using toilets and lifts! She said that domestic workers needed to organize as workers and as women to struggle for their rights, and the union's first conference was an encouraging step in this direction.

VKS Gautam, Delhi State President of AICCTU, also addressed the Conference, saying several lakhs of women domestic workers worked in the Delhi-NCR region, with no labour laws to protect them, and no social security or dignity of labour.

Aslam, State Committee member of CPI(ML), called upon the domestic workers to unite with other sections of the working class, to resist the anti-worker, anti-people policies of governments, be it the Mayawati Government in UP or the Congress Government at the Centre and in Delhi.

Sanjay Sharma, Delhi State Secretary of CPI(ML), reminded the women workers that the International Labour Conference of ILO at its 100th session, adopted a Convention and a Recommendation for domestic workers, defining International Labour Standards to domestic workers around the world for decent working conditions including duty hours, weekly rest for 24 hours, leaves, timely payment, right to associations and collective bargaining like other industrial workers. The government of India too voted for the Convention, though reluctantly. Now, the Government has no intention of abiding by its commitment to this international norm, but the domestic workers must intensify their struggle and compel the Government to do so. The Gharelu Mahila Kamgar Union must increase its strength in the Delhi-NCR region, confronting the governments headed by Mayawati, Shiela Dixit as well as Manmohan Singh.


The Conference elected a 15-member committee to lead the Khoda unit of the Union, with Sangeeta as Secretary and Tanuja as President, Meera as Vice President and Chandmoni as Treasurer. The Conference concluded with rousing slogans by the women workers.




Comrade R P Dimri  


Comrade R P Dimri passed away on 4 December 2011, after a brief bout with cancer of the urinary bladder. He was around 66, and is survived by his wife and two sons.

Comrade Dimri was one of the few comrades in Delhi who joined the CPI(ML) early in its underground days. His home provided one of the main shelters for party activists and leaders in Delhi. Many comrades, including Comrades Vinod Mishra, Nagbhbushan Patnaik and Ram Naresh Ram, took shelter at his home when in Delhi for medical treatment. He took an active role in organizing party education in Delhi.   

He was a delegate to four party state conferences of Delhi, and also remained a state committee member for some period. He was secretary of school teachers' party branch. Hard working and ever-smiling, Comrade R P Dimri, even in his last days, always felt very inspired by the spirit of the Naxalbari movement, and by news of mass militant struggles.

Red Salute, Comrade R P Dimri!

Comrade Lalan Kumar

Comrade Lalan Kumar of Begusarai passed away untimely on 9 November 2011 at the age of 50, due to kidney failure, after a life-and-death struggle for the past year.

Comrade Lalan joined the party in 1983 and took membership in 1984. He was active in IPF, and in cultural activism that attracted urban youth to the party. He also earned the respect of intellectuals with his bold and persuasive participation in debates.

Just before his illness, he had helped to organize newspaper hawkers and led a successful struggle of the hawkers against the local agent. The Hawkers' Association, Begusarai, is still active.

The party flag at the Begusarai flew at half mast in tribute to the departed comrade. Party leaders and activists as well as masses gathered to bid final farewell to Comrade Lalan.

Red Salute to Comrade Lalan Kumar!

Comrade Rameshwar Singh

The sudden demise of Comrade Rameshwar Singh, employees' leader of Bihar, on 7 December 2011 from a haemorrhage has come as a sudden shock for the entire party as well as his family.

Comrade Rameshwar Singh was born on 11 January 1954 in Bahera village of Kamur district (Kudra thana). Active in the CPIM, he joined the CPI(ML) in 1988 along with a group of activists.

He was the State Secretary of the Bihar State Non-Gazetted Employees' Federation (Gope faction), and the General Secretary of his departmental union, the Bihar Cooperative Extension Officers' Association. He was also honorary President of the Bihar ASHA Workers' Association, and played an invaluable role in organising the struggle of woman ASHA workers. At the recently held National Conference of the AICCTU in Bhilai, he was elected a National Council member. He was also a member of the Patna Town Committee of the party.

His loss is very hard to reconcile to, and his example with continue to inspire us in the days to come.

Red Salute to Comrade Rameshwar Singh!  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

ML UPDATE 50 / 2011

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  14            No. 50                                                          06 - 12 December 2011


NATO Firing on Pakistan Troops:

Perils of Partnership with Imperialists

On November 26, a NATO air attack on a border patrol in North-West Pakistan claimed the lives of 28 Pakistani soldiers. The attack, which took place around 2 am, reportedly lasted two hours. While the US military has maintained that the attack was unintentional, Pakistan has asserted that the attack was not inadvertent, since NATO possessed detailed information about the position of border posts, and worked in close coordination with Pakistan's military. 

The incident has sparked off huge protests in several cities in Pakistan, including at the US Embassy in Karachi. This attack is not the first by US and NATO troops on Pakistani soil. Since 2001, Pakistan has facilitated the US and NATO war in Afghanistan and been an active part of the US-led 'war on terror.' Increasingly, the US put pressure on Pakistan to launch an offensive on its Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and North West Frontier Province (NWFP), causing huge civilian casualties and displacement. Since 2008, US drone attacks, ostensibly in the name of targeting Taliban forces in Pakistan, have claimed a large number of civilian deaths, even as the US military claims 'zero collateral damage.'

Pakistan's ruling class has incurred the wrath of its people for its complicity with these imperialist attacks. The Wikileaks cables revealed the Pakistani Government telling the US that they did not much mind the 'collateral damage' in drone attacks, but explaining that they would have to adopt a posture of condemnation in the National Assembly for public consumption. The US military raid which killed Osama bin Laden was yet another violation of Pakistan's sovereignty that had Pakistan's people frustrated and angry with their Government's subservience to imperialist aggression.

The latest attack which claimed the lives of Pakistani troops has been the proverbial last straw – and public anger has forced the Pakistan Government to take an unusually tough posture. Pakistan boycotted the Bonn Conference which was held to mobilise international support for the continued war and occupation in Afghanistan; closed its borders to NATO convoys supplying international troops in Afghanistan; and expelled the US from its drone base in the country: one of the major bases for drone operations over Pakistan and Afghanistan.           

The US response to the drone attacks smacks of its characteristic audacity. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey, ruled out any apology for the incident. US President Obama, too, has refused to make any formal apology for the attack, in spite of the US ambassador to Pakistan explicitly requesting a formal video statement from Obama to help defuse the escalating public anger against the US. Meanwhile, in the wake of Pakistan's move to close convoy routes and expel the US from its drone base, two US Senators, one Republican and one Democrat, have urged the White House to initiate "tough diplomacy" and threaten to withdraw funding unless Pakistan restores full cooperation. These statements and the US' brazen refusal to apologise, only underline the essentially unequal relations between the US and its 'junior partners.'    

More shameful is India's silence on the issue of such a major attack by imperialist forces on a close neighbour's soil. With its silence, the Manmohan Singh Government is displaying its abject loyalty to its US masters. Secretly gloating at the growing rift between Pakistan and the US, the UPA Government hopes to have India replace Pakistan as the US' most trusted lieutenant in the subcontinent. Democratic and anti-imperialist forces in India must condemn the NATO attack in Pakistan and the Indian Government's silence.

The US is notorious for its shabby and arrogant treatment of its 'friends,' once the latter have served their purpose. The US has revealed that such 'friends' can be no more than subservient allies for it. Having killed innumerable civilians and 28 soldiers in Pakistan, its most loyal and long-serving ally, the US cannot even pay it the basic courtesy of an apology. Pakistan's experience ought to serve as a grim warning to India, as her rulers aspire to be the US' new 'best friend' and junior partner, of the inevitable fate of US imperialism's friends and partners. 

Resolutions Adopted at CPI(ML) CC meeting

(Patna, 24-25 November)

On Kishanji's killing

The CPI(ML) demands a judicial enquiry into the killing of Maoist leader Kishanji by security forces in Bengal. Last year, questions had been raised about the authenticity of the 'encounter' in which Maoist leader Azad had been killed, and Mamata Banerjee herself had endorsed the demand for an enquiry. However, no credible enquiry followed. Now, a judicial enquiry should be ordered into the killings of Azad as well as Kishanji, without delay.

Promises of peace, and talks with Maoists before elections – followed by severe repression and liquidation of Maoist leaders immediately after coming to power: this is a familiar pattern seen in the behavior of the Congress Government in Andhra Pradesh in 2004, and now, the TMC Government in Bengal. The CPI(ML) condemns the repressive tactics of the TMC Government and the demands that the Governments at Bengal and the Centre withdraw its repressive operation and seriously initiate talks.

On FDI in retail

The CPI(ML) condemns the Cabinet decision to introduce 51% FDI in multi-brand retail. This measure will hand over the Indian consumer market to the big multinational retail corporations like Wal-Mart etc., and will jeopardize the livelihood and survival of innumerable small retailers, employees, small producers and marginal farmers in India. The decision has been taken under pressure from Indian corporates, MNC lobbies and their parent governments. The CPI(ML) calls for sustained countrywide protest against this anti-people move.

NATO Attack on Pakistan

The CPI(ML) condemns the continued air strikes by NATO and US forces on Pakistani soil. The latest NATO attacked claimed the lives of 28 Pakistani soldiers, while many attacks have claimed civilian lives. The CPI(ML) calls upon the democratic people in India to stand in solidarity with the Pakistani people in the face of these attacks, and demands an end to these imperialist assaults on Pakistan's sovereignty.

Ishrat Jahan's Killing

The SIT appointed by the Gujarat High Court has termed the supposed encounter by Gujarat police of a 19-year-old student Ishrat Jehan in 2004 to be a cold-blooded murder. Both Narendra Modi's Gujarat Government and the Congress Government at the Centre have maintained all along that Ishrat Jahan was a terrorist – the SIT report has exposed these claims to be lies. The Gujarat HC has now ordered a CBI enquiry into the killing.

Ishrat Jahan and three others killed with her were said to be terrorists targeting the Chief Minister. Now that Ishrat Jahan's killing stands exposed as a fake encounter, the enquiry into this killing must look into the complicity of Narendra Modi as well as top Gujarat police officials. Those responsible for the shameful assassination of this young girl must be brought to book.   

Pension Bill

The Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority Bill tabled in Parliament is a move to rob the lakhs of government employees of their due pensions, and put these pension funds on the stock market. The Government has ignored the long-standing working class opposition to this neoliberal measure. The CPI(ML) demands withdrawal of this Bill that seeks to erode the rights of the employees and working class.  

On Notification of Rules Nuke Liability Law

The Nuclear Liability Law passed by the UPA Government was in any case weak and tailored to limit the liability of foreign suppliers. However, even that weak law failed to satisfy the global nuclear industry and their parent governments, especially the US, which have been clamouring for further dilution. The UPA Government, in notifying the rules for the Nuclear Liability Law, has further diluted the provisions relating to liability of foreign suppliers in case of a nuclear accident. At the same time, the Government is determined to force through the nuclear projects at Koodankulam, Jaitapur and other places, ignoring the huge people's movements against these. 

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, there is a new and urgent awareness worldwide about the dangers of nuclear disasters. The global nuclear industry is keen to free itself from any liability obligations, leaving host countries (in this case India) to bear the burden of compensation and clean-up.

Not only must the rules notified by reviewed and made stringent to ensure that foreign suppliers bear their full share of liability; the CPI(ML) also reiterates the demand for the UPA Government to announce a moratorium on nuclear projects pending a thorough review of the whole question of nuclear power in India.   

CPI(ML) March Against Communalism on 6 December

On 6 December, marking the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, the CPI(ML) held a March Against Communalism, For Secularism and Democracy. Participants – including students, teachers, workers, women and intelligentsia – marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar, raising slogans and displaying placards and banners demanding action against the perpetrators of communal violence and fake encounters. 

At Jantar Mantar, the march culminated in a public meeting. Addressing the public meeting, Kavita Krishnan, Central Committee member of CPI(ML), said the date 6 December stands out as a dark day for India's democracy. On that day, in 1992, the Babri Masjid was demolished by the communal forces and BJP leaders in full public view – while the police and Central Government headed by the Congress stood as a mute spectator. Today, nearly two decades later, even after the Liberhans commission of enquiry held LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and many other BJP leaders guilty for the demolition, the UPA Government lacks the political will to take any action against them.

Girija Pathak of CPI(ML) said the Babri Masjid demolition was a result of an organized political campaign of communal hatred by the saffron forces.  Today, that organized political campaign of communal violence and hatred continues in many forms. In Gujarat in 2002, the Modi Government sponsored riots that killed thousands of minorities. Senior police officers who gave evidence of CM Narendra Modi's role in that violence have been victimized. The Modi Government has also been implicated in a series of fake encounters. Pointing out the recent SIT finding that the 'encounter' of a 19-year-old girl, Ishrat Jahan, was a cold-blooded murder by police officers, Sandeep said it was ironic that the Central Government, headed by the Congress, was uniting with the Modi Government to brand Ishrat as a terrorist.  

General Secretary of AISA Ravi Rai spoke of how nine innocent Muslim men were framed, jailed and tortured in the Malegaon blast case, before Swami Aseemanand's confession proved that the Malegaon bomb blasts had been done by the saffron forces. Only recently, these men were granted bail, but there has been no move to compensate them or redress the injustice done to them. JNU unit President of AISA Akbar Chaudhary said that the Malegaon case is a reminder of how common it is for communally biased investigative and police agencies to frame innocent Muslim youth in terror cases. In Delhi, too, the Congress Government has refused to allow a judicial enquiry into the Batla House 'encounter' – though there are ample indications that the 'encounter' was fake.

Senior Journalist Anand Pradhan, Social activist Mehtab, AISA leader from Jamia Naseem and from DU, Anmol, and many other also addressed the gathering. They emphasised on the Congress party and UPA Government's betrayal to the cause of secularism and justice, repeatedly. The latest instance is the UPA Government's vacillation on the question of passing the Communal Violence Bill, which is intended to fight the communal biases embedded in the police force. The BJP is trying to whip up a communal campaign against the Bill. And the Congress, instead of defending and enacting the Bill, is dragging its feet.

Prabhat Kumar and Rajaram, Central Committee members of CPI(ML) and Sanjay Sharma, Delhi State Secretary, CPI(ML) led the procession. The meeting ended with a call to the people of the country to reject and resist the communal forces, as well as communally biases in police and government, and expose the doublespeak of the Congress on the question of defending secularism and democracy.  

Rape of Tribal Women in Tamilnadu

Fact-finding Report

On 22nd November, TN police unleashed brutality in T. Mandam hamlet of Vizhupuram district. Four women from the Irula tribal community were raped by the Tirukovilur police in the early hours of the morning.

Hearing the news, a six-member team of CPIML and AIPWA led by Party State Secretary Balasundaram visited Vizhupuram district to investigate the incident. The team members visited the Irula hamlet and the Government Hospital in Vizhupuram, where the victims were admitted for medical examination, and interacted with the relatives of the victims, leaders of Irula tribes' association, human rights organizations, media persons and lawyers. The fact finding team comprised Com. Balasundaram, State Secretary, Com. Venkatesan, District Secretary, Com. Gopalakrishnan, Com Suseela, AIPWA district secretary, Com. Baby and Com. Ranjani.

The Irulas are a local tribe numbering barely 40000 in the Vizhupuram district. They live by catching rats, snakes and iguanas, and sometimes by working in quarrying. They are at the lowest rung of the ladder in terms of socio-economic status. It is routine for the police to slap theft charges on them and jail them. Irula men are the scapegoats in every unsolved theft case. 

The team found that on the day of the incident, six men of a family were falsely implicated in theft charges and arrested by the police. Around 8 pm the police ransacked the house; the girls were beaten and forcibly pushed into the police vehicle, took them to a remote place at midnight and raped them. The girls were threatened with dire consequences if they divulged the matter.

As men of their family were in lock-up, the girls were unable to act, till one R Gopalakrishnan helped them to reach the Irula tribes' association. With the help of this association, the girls approached the District Superintendent of Police to lodge a complaint. But the SP, instead of sending them to hospital for a medical examination, or arresting the culprits, detained them in his office for 18 hours. The SP and his team, including women police, intimidated them and forced them to sign blank papers. Only after the media highlighted the issue, an FIR was filed and court proceedings began. The Madras High Court, on a PIL petition, directed the SP to send the girls for medical examination. As a damage control exercise, the Chief Minister announced Rs 5 lakh as compensation, and 5 police men have been suspended.

The fact finding team demanded that the Chief Minister Jayalalitha should own responsibility for the incident and take stringent action against the culprits immediately. The police involved in the heinous crime should be imprisoned immediately, and the District Collector and the DSP and SP should be suspended for dereliction of duty and be booked under the SC/ST Act. Stringent action should be taken against the police personnel who indulged in suppressing the facts.

Further, the team has demanded an impartial enquiry by the State Women's Commission and State Human Rights Commission and SC/ST commission, as the investigations under the district police machinery, which itself is the accused party, cannot render justice. The team demanded proper protection for the victims and their family and the release of the men of the victims' family who have been arrested under fabricated theft charges. We also demanded a review of all cases filed on Irula men, and implementation of special socio- economic programmes.

CPIML and AIPWA leaders, Comrades Balasundaram, A S Kumar, Venkatesan, Ammaiappan, Thenmozhi, Devaki, Kuppabai and Lilly met the DGP on December 2, and demanded the immediate arrest of the culprits and action against the SP and DIG under SC/ST Act.

On December 5, a militant protest demonstration was held by CPIML and AIPWA in front of Vizhupuram Collectorate. Comrades Suseela, AIPWA, Venkatesan, CPIML district secretary of Vizhupuram, Ammaiappan, district secretary of Cuddalore, Dhakshanamurthy of AIALA and Dhanaval of RYA addressed the demonstration. Addressing the demonstration, Balasundaram, State Secretary of CPIML, castigated the police administration for crimes on tribal women. He also charged the education minister, along with District Collector, MLA and MP of AIADMK and DMK, for getting photographs with the rape victims to appear in dailies, citing several Supreme Court judgments and norms against revealing the names and identities of rape victims. He demanded that the High Court should take action suo moto in this matter; and the Chief Minister should drop the Education Minister from the council of ministers. He also noted that in the AIADMK regime, police repression and violence on the Dalits at Paramakudi, women at T.Mandapam and other weaker sections is on the rise.

Protests Against FDI in Retail

A massive protest demonstration was held on 1st December 2011 at Puducherry town opposing UPA II's Cabinet decision to allow FDI in retail to MNC's like Walmart, Metro, Tesco, Lawsons etc. The protest, held in support of the traders' bandh on the same issue, was led by Comrade G Palani, SCM and the protestors demanded withdrawal of UPA's decision. A large number of CPI(ML) and AICCTU activists and workers took part in the protest. S Balasubramaniam, State Secretary CPI (ML), P Sankaran, State Convenor, AIALA, S Motilal, State Secretary, AICCTU, and J Sakthivelu, co-convenor, Movement for Protection of Roofless, Puducherry, addressed the demonstrators. 

In Delhi, on the same day, the party expressed support for the traders' bandh. The party and AICCTU activists distributed leaflets in the marketplaces, held mike meeting and raised slogans against FDI in retail in Narela, Wazirpur, Govindpuri, Mayur Vihar, Shahdara and Mandawali.

ASHA Wokers Protest in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers' Union held out protest demonstrations in various centres of the state. A protest was held in Nainital on 8 November. Protest in Bageswar Distt. was also held on the same day while in Champawat, the it was organized on 2 November. A protest in Pithoragarh was held on 1 November. ASHA workers and representatives from various blocks in respective districts participated in these protests. CPI(ML) and AISA leaders also took part at various places. Memoranda addressed to the Chief Minister were sent through the District Magistrates in these protests reminding the latter of the promises made earlier.

AIPWA Pratapgarh District Conference

All India Progressive Women's Association's Pratapgarh (Rajasthan) District Conference was held on 4 December 2011. The Conference was addressed by AIPWA National President Srilata Swaminathan who called upon to intensify the struggle against unemployment, price rise and corruption along with the struggles against the women's inequality, malnutrition and starvation which have become inseparable parts in women's lives. The conference was also addressed by CPI(ML) Rajasthan State Secretary Mahendra Chaudhary who emphasized on the need for greater interventions by women on national scale on their issues. AIPWA State Secretary Sudha Chaudhary also addressed the conference. The conference elected a 11-member Executive with Abida as its Secretary. Various resolutions were passed by the conference including against price rise, for making MNREGA available for the whole year, increase in its wages to Rs. 300 per day and to appoint woman supervisor where women workers are more in numbers, for old age pension to women, homestead land for landless women, easy availability of Diesel, kerosene, and LPG, medical facility for pregnant and poor women, etc

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication,
R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22518248, e-mail: mlupdate@cpiml.org, website: www.cpiml.org

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ML Update 49 / 2011

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 14, No. 49, 29 NOV – 05 DEC 2011

Resist FDI in Retail:

No to MNC Profits At the Cost of Indian People's Livelihood!

Delivering a huge blow to crores of small retailers in India, the UPA Government has taken a decision to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail. This will mean that the giant MNC retail chains can open outlets in India. The move has been met with widespread opposition – not only from traders' organisations who have called for a nationwide bandh, and from Opposition parties of all hues, but even from some UPA allies. The TMC and DMK have come out in opposition to the move, while even several Cabinet members are known to have expressed reservations or dissent openly, wary as they are of the price they may have to pay during the next elections. Meanwhile, while so many sections within the Government and the parliament are opposing the move, the US Ambassador has come out in support of the decision!


Faced with widespread countrywide opposition, the UPA Government is resorting to blatant propaganda for the corporates and MNCs. It has brought out full-page ads in papers extolling FDI in retail. Unwittingly, these ads acknowledge people's concerns of job losses, of kirana store owners being put out of business, of multinationals gaining full access to and control of India's retail sector, of farmers being exploited - but attempt to dismiss these concerns as 'myths.' The UPA Government, as well as corporates and neoliberal ideologues, are telling us that if companies like Walmart (the US MNC, one of the world's biggest retail chains), Carrefour, Tesco etc are given more space in India's retail sector, they will create ten million new jobs; ensure low prices for consumers; and a better deal for farmers.


The truth of these claims can be judged by the fact that Walmart has been struggling in vain since 2005 to open an outlet in one of the USA's most prominent cities - New York City. Local people and unions in NYC are unwilling to allow Walmart into their city because it is notorious for killing jobs; putting mom-and-pop (family-run) stores out of business; destroying communities by driving down wages and driving up real estate prices; disallowing unions; and extremely exploitative working conditions. Now, the UPA Government is inviting Walmart, which is unwelcome in its own home country, to put small stores out of business, kill jobs and employ people in sweatshop conditions in India!


Walmart is run by the Walton family - which is the richest family in the world. Is it fair to force small Indian family stores and street vendors to compete with the richest in the world? It is well known that such MNC giant retailers resort to predatory pricing, squeezing out the smaller retailers by selling at low prices, only to hike prices once they have a monopoly on the market. So, the benefits for consumers are purely illusory and short-lived.


In India, there are around 1.2 crore shops, employing 4 crore people. Most of these are small, self-employed establishments. The retail sector is also the refuge of those unable to find employment elsewhere, allowing them a chance to eke out a living by running small shops, pushing handcarts or selling vegetables on the street. Even if we accept the Govt's claim that FDI in retail will create a crore jobs, should we not ask how many jobs and means of survival it will jeopardise and destroy in India? Moreover, the quality of jobs in the corporate and MNC retail chains are notorious the world over for being the worst paid and exploitative, with the least workplace democracy.


The much-touted benefits for farmers are equally far-fetched. All around the world, it has been seen how corporate and MNC retail chains squeeze small farmers, forcing them to sell at low prices and laying down arbitrary quality standards which most farmers can't meet. By allowing FDI in retail, the Government is actually paving the way to cut back on procurement by Government, which will further jeopardise agriculture and food security.


Not long ago, on the Lokpal issue, the Government was preaching Parliamentary supremacy to people protesting on the streets. Now, when it is clear that the majority in Parliament is opposed to FDI in retail, the Government is audacious enough to take such a vital policy decision merely by holding a Cabinet meeting even as Parliament is in session – claiming that the decision needs no Parliamentary debate or approval!


The Government claims to have provided certain checks and safeguards, like restricting foreign retail chains to 51 cities in India and requiring them to source 30% products from the Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs). But the fact remains that even if the MNC retail chains are initially limited to the bigger Indian cities, it is not difficult to see that they will skim off the cream of the Indian retail market. Also, a token 30% reservation would not save the Indian SMEs from the adverse impact of unequal global competition. We have all witnessed how, with the entry of Pepsi and Coke in the soft drink sector, all Indian companies were swallowed up or pushed out.


The UPA Government, in its full-page ads, ends by making a telling comparison. Manmohan Singh ushered in the Liberalisation-Privatisation-Globalisation two decades ago, they say, and now it's the turn for a 'revolution' in the retail sector. In fact, the LPG policies have wreaked havoc on jobs and livelihood, workers' rights, agriculture and farmers' survival. Now, it is the retail sector – and the survival of countless family store owners, street vendors, suppliers and sales workers, shop employees and workers involved in transportation of goods, small-scale producers and small farmers – that is the target! Already, Reliance and other Indian corporates are getting a foothold in the Indian retail market. Now the giant MNC retail chains are being invited in.


Let us join the traders, unions and common people all over the country in forcing the Govt. to back down on FDI in retail! Let's tell the UPA Govt - we won't allow Walmarts of the world to rob our people of livelihood and survival!


Farmers Hold "Kisan Sansad" at Parliament Street:

Demand Withdrawal of LARR Bill and FDI in Retail

"In the interests of food security and environment, enact laws to protect agricultural, forest and coastal land from land grab" – Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML)


New Delhi, November 30 :


Hundreds of famers from all over the country gathered at Parliament Street today to hold a 'Farmers' Parliament' (Kisan Sansad) on policy issues affecting farmers, including the Land Acquisition Bill and FDI in retail. The Kisan Sansad, organized by the All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM), was attended by farmers from UP, Bihar, Punjab, Haryana, Jharkhand, Bengal, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Assam, Odisha and several other states.


Introducing the Kisan Sansad, Rajaram Singh, General Secretary of AIKM, said, "Parliament and Government are pushing through Bills and policies affecting farmers – without even consulting the farmers themselves. This is why we farmers are holding a Farmers' Parliament – to assert farmers' own views on laws and policies affecting them."


The Kisan Sansad was presided by Ruldu Singh, President, AIKM, AIKM Vice Presidents Kartick Pal, Prem Singh Gehlawat, Devendra Singh Chauhan, Rajaram, as well as CPI(ML) CC Member and former Jharkhand MLA Bahadur Oraon.


The assembled farmers debated resolutions on the LARR Bill and the FDI in retail policy. The Kisan Sansad adopted a resolution demanding withdrawal of the UPA Government's LARR Bill, declaring it to be a blueprint for land grab. Instead they demanded measures to protect agricultural, forest and costal land from land grab.


Addressing the Kisan Sansad, CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said, "Land grab threatens not only the survival of farmers but also the country's food security and environment. The LARR Bill's provision allowing acquisition of up to 5 percent of multi-crop irrigated area in a district will jeopardize food security. The Government must withdraw the anti-farmer LARR Bill, and instead enact protection for agricultural, forest and costal land in the interests of food security and environment." He continued, "Land reform laws mandate that government lands be redistributed among the landless. Violating this principle, the LARR Bill paves the way to hand these over to corporates!" He concluded, "The UPA Govt is trying to hand over India's agriculture and retailing to MNCs and corporates – but the farmers are holding their own Parliament, and tell the Government and Parliament that they will not allow anti-farmer policies to be pushed through."


The Kisan Sansad also adopted a resolution condemning the Government's unilateral decision allowing 51% FDI in multi-brand retail. Rajaram Singh, AIKM General Secretary, said, "The PM is claiming that this measure will benefit farmers. In reality, the experience all over the world has shown that giant MNC retail chains tend to source produce mainly from very large farmers and contract farms. Small farmers inevitably lose out, because they cannot match the arbitrary quality standards of these chains. The MNC retailers also arm-twist farmers into selling cheap. Procurement by MNCs will reduce Government procurement, and will mainly divert the produce towards food processing – jeopardizing food security." FDI in retail will threaten not only small retailers in India, but also small farmers, agriculture and food security, famers felt.


The Kisan Sansad also passed resolutions demanding withdrawal of the anti-farmer Seed Bill. They also demanded the release of activists Afroz Alam of CPI(ML) in Uttar Pradesh and Abhay Sahoo, the anti-POSCO leader from Odisha, who have been jailed while leading struggles of rural poor and peasantry.


The Kisan Sansad was also addressed by CPI(ML)  CCM and AICCTU General Secretary Comrade Swapan Mukherjee and senior journalist Shri Kuldeep Nayyar.


The resolutions passed were submitted to the Lok Sabha Speaker as well as MPs of all parties, demanding that Parliament heed the opinions of the Kisan Sansad.


Rajaram Singh,

General Secretary, AIKM


Support Traders' Bandh on 1 December

Protest Against 51% FDI in Retail

(Party's statement)


The CPI(ML) condemns the Cabinet decision to introduce 51% FDI in multi-brand retail. This measure will hand over the Indian consumer market to the big multinational retail corporations like Wal-Mart etc., and will jeopardize the livelihood and survival of innumerable small retailers and shop employees in India.


The CPI(ML) extends support to the countrywide bandh called by the Confederation of Indian Traders on 1 December against the move to introduce 51% FDI in multi-brand retail, and calls upon its units and mass organisations to hold protest actions.


CPI(ML) Central Committee



Protests against The UPA Govt.'s Move to Introduce 51% FDI in Multi-Brand Retail


New Delhi – 30 November: PM's Effigy Burnt


Unorganised sector workers, street vendors, and people from all walks of life under the banner of CPI(ML) burnt the effigy of Manmohan Singh at Jantar Mantar in protest against the Government's decision to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail. The protestors held placards asking, "When New York can show red light to Walmart, why red carpet for Walmart in India?"; "No to Assault of MNCs on India's Retail Sector!" and "Shame on Manmohan Singh – Agent of MNCs." A protest meeting was held, which was addressed by Comrades Sanjay Sharma, Kavita Krishnan (CCMs), Santosh Rai and Shyam Kishore.


Sanjay Sharma, Delhi State Secretary, CPI(ML), expressed the party's support for the countrywide traders' bandh called on 1 December against FDI in retail, saying that such an anti-people move that is being supported only by corporate and MNC lobbies and imperialist powers, and is opposed by the vast majority of Indian people must never be allowed.


Tamilnadu - 29 November: CPI(ML) held protests all over the state demanding withdrawal of FDI in retail.

In Coimbatore a public meeting was held in which over 300 workers participated. Comrades N Krishnamurthy, State Secretary of All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) and S Kumarasami, Politburo member of CPI(ML) addressed the meeting.


In Chennai a demonstration was held in which more than 100 workers participated. Com. Munusami, City Committee Member of the Party led the protest. Com. S Sekar, SCM and Com. Bharathi, State President of All India Students' Association (AISA), spoke in the meeting. Mr. Karunakaran, District President of Tamilnadu Traders' Association participated in the meeting and warmly welcomed our quick initiative saying that CPI(ML) only is advancing the cause of poor and it has gone to the streets immediately on the issue of FDI in retail. He said that he draws strength from the demonstration to help in implementing the December 1 All India Traders' Strike forcefully in Chennai.


In Gandarvakottai of Pudukottai a demonstration was held in the market. The demonstration drew the attention of the traders in the market and the local traders' association representative spoke in the meeting following the demonstration. They said that only after listening to the speakers at this demonstration they came to know about the December 1 All India Traders' Strike and that they would spare no efforts for its implementation.


In Tirunelveli, a padayatra was held in Suthamalli and demonstrations were held at two centres. Comrade T Sankarapandian addressed the demonstrations. Demonstrations were also held in Kanyakumari, Villupuram and Salem. In Tiruvallore, the police did not let the demonstration take place.


Programmes against AFSPA and in Solidarity with Irom Sharmila


Several organisations in Wardha, University professors, social activists, students, AISA, AIPWA and CPI(ML) leaders and activists from Nagpur city and intellectuals jointly held a procession on 5 November at Wardha in Maharashtra to express solidarity with Irom Sharmila, who has been on hunger fast for last eleven years to press for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from North East. The march was organised by JanAdhikar Manch.


The procession marched ten kilometres before reaching the District Magistrate's office where a day-long fast was observed. During the day long hunger strike the students performed various street plays and group songs. The meeting that followed was addressed by AISA's Maharashtra President- Abhilasha and CPI(ML)'s Harendra Srivastava among others. AISA activists played crucial role in organising this programme.


Varanasi - Film Screening: AIPWA organised a film screening on 5 November at Lanka in Varanasi against the AFSPA and in solidarity with Irom Sharmila. The film – AFSPA 1958 – directed by Haoban Pawan Kumar, is wel known for very closely capturing the harrowing trauma that the people of Manipur and north-east, especially women have been subjected to since the AFSPA was imposed in the region. The impact of the visuals was evident from the moist eyes of the viewers at the film screening. AIPWA dedicated the programme to the steely resolve of Irom Sharmila.


AISA, RYA Hunger Protest against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project


AISA and Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) held a fast on 26 November in Chennai demanding scrapping of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. Over 150 students-youth and workers participated in the day long hunger strike. The protestors also demanded from UPA government to withdraw its decision on FDI in retail. Com. Bharathi, State President of AISA led the protest. Com. Venkatachalam, State General Secretary of AISA and Com. Malarvizhi, State Secretary, AISA, addressed the fasting protesters.


AIPWA Demonstration against Hikes in Milk Price and Bus Fare


In Chennai the All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) held a demonstration on 24 November demanding immediate withdrawal of milk price rise and bus fare hike which has virtually broken the back of the poor and the working people of Tamilnadu. Dozens of women took part in the demonstration. Com. Devaki, AIPWA State VP led the protest. Com. Thenmozhi, AIPWA State President addressed the gathering.


Earlier, on 7 November, on the anniversary of Russian Revolution, AIPWA's Chennai unit held a study class on 'Our Revolution, Our Party and Women's Movement: Basic Concepts and Our Tasks'. In the class it was also decided to concentrate on membership and the forthcoming AIPWA's All India Conference. Com. Devaki, AIPWA State Vice President presided over and Com. Thenmozhi, AIPWA State President, spoke about the immediate tasks ahead.


 Odisha: Arrest Condemned


The Odisha State Committee of the CPI(ML) condemned the arrest of a leader of the anti-Posco  struggle Abhaya Sahoo in false cases like murder and dalit atrocities. Comrade Khitish Biswal, Party's State Secretary said that due to popular movement and broadest support of people people the Posco has been thwarted in its attempt to displace people and so the Govt is acting like henchman of Posco by slapping false cases and arresting a leader of the popular struggle. CPI(ML) has demanded immediate and unconditional release of Abhaya Sahoo.


Movement against Anti-workers' Policies in Assam


In Assam, attacks on workers have been on the rise. In a fresh move, Govt of Assam recently passed an order stating to transfer pending cases under Labour Courts and Industrial Tribunals to the respective Session Judges concerned, with immediate effect and subsequently Guwahati High Court passed an order instructing to transfer pending cases to the Sessions Court. It is nothing sort of a conspiracy to abolish 13 different courts such as Labour Courts, Industrial Tribunals, Family courts, Motor Accident Claim Courts, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Courts etc.


A workers convention jointly organized by AICCTU and Struggling Workers Centre in Guwahati on 27th November, discussed the issue and decided to launch movement to resist this anti-workers policy. A presidium comprising of AICCTU state president Com. Biren Kalita, State President of Struggling workers' Centre Com. Tapas Das and APBE (Assam branch of AIBEA) leader Com. Dilip Sarma conducted the convention and representatives of nearly 20 trade union organizations, including central trade unions AITUC and UTUC, condemned this anti-working class move.


Com. Subhas Sen pointed out different conspiratorial move of Assam Govt against the workers and called upon the working class of Assam to build a movement against this. The convention resolved to start a movement and formed a convening body to resist this anti-worker, anti-people move.


Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: mlupdate@cpiml.org, website: www.cpiml.org