Thursday, March 3, 2011

ML UPDATE 10 / 2011

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 14, No. 10, 01 – 07 MARCH 2011

Budget 2011:

Concessions for Corporates,

Cuts for the People

With Assembly elections approaching in several key states and the government having lost all credibility for its complete failure to check prices and curb corruption, the budget this year was widely expected to be a desperate 'balancing act'. A 'balancing act' it has been, but the end result is once again more of the same: a crushing burden on the common people, bountiful largesse for the corporate biggies. Despite unprecedented inflation, the government slashed food, fuel and fertilizer subsidies by more than Rs. 20,000 crore and signalled further cuts in the coming days. Contrast this to signals to the corporate sector: reduction in surcharge on corporate tax from 7.5% to 5%, and no curtailment in stimulus package, and there can be absolutely no doubt as to who the budget is meant for.

The budget and the economic survey have seemed to create an impression that agriculture has bounced back. The rise in last year's agricultural growth rate reflected no real increase but only a recovery from the impact of the previous year's drought. In his budget speech the Finance Minister prayed for the blessings of Lord Indra (for a good monsoon), but made no effort to increase public investment in irrigation and agriculture. The renewed spurt in farmers' suicides has not bothered the Finance Minister – he has remained busy building castles of second green revolution in air. In terms of budgetary allocations and policy priorities, agribusiness has nearly replaced agriculture. There are enough indications that the government is moving in the direction of complete privatization of agricultural trade. There can be no food security for the ordinary Indian people if the reins of agricultural marketing are left in private hands.
There is also a lot of self-congratulatory noise over increased social sector spending in the budget especially in education and healthcare even as the steep increase in defence budget (which has now reached a staggering magnitude of more than Rs. 1.64 trillion) has gone virtually unnoticed. Much is being made of the doubling of the honorarium paid to anganwadi workers who are the backbone of the ICDS programme, but even this doubled honorarium – Rs. 1500 and Rs. 3,000 per month – makes a complete mockery of any notion of minimum wages for women workers who are playing such a key role in rural healthcare. While the government would like to highlight the increase in outlay, a look at the government's tax and excise duty proposals makes it clear that medicines, diagnostic tests and various education-related items like textbooks, notebooks and other accessories are all going to cost more!
The tax proposals made in the budget point to an increasingly regressive tax regime with the government relying much more on indirect taxes borne by the rich and the poor alike than on direct taxes, corporate or personal. While the government hands out massive tax exemptions to the corporate sector, in the name of revenue generation it resorts to disinvestment, and increased excise duty on necessary articles of mass consumption. The budget this year expects disinvestment proceeds to contribute Rs. 40,000 crore while corporate tax exemptions (described as "subsidy payment to preferred taxpayers" in the budget) in 2010-11 stood at a staggering Rs. 88,263 crore! It may be noted that the total quantum of revenues forgone is rapidly increasing – it was about Rs. 2.4 lakh crore in 2006-07 and Rs 5.7 lakh crore in 2010-11! The proportion of revenues forgone to revenues collected is also rising fast – from about 50% in 2006-07, it reached 80% last year.
The budget contains many new concessions for foreign capital, the most significant being the entry of foreign capital in the mutual funds market. Foreign Institutional Investors can now invest $40 bn in Indian corporate bonds against the $20bn available earlier. The Economic Survey has mooted phased opening of foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail – while the budget has not yet made any specific commitment in this regard, the Finance Minister has talked of further liberalization of the government's policy regarding foreign direct investment. While throwing open the Indian capital market to foreign players, the government has announced no concrete measures to check the illicit outflow of Indian wealth to foreign banks. A study made by the Global Financial Integrity has estimated the illicit outflow to be of the order of Rs. 240 crore every single day.
The Economic Survey released before the budget has mooted several measures towards greater economic liberalization and privatization and some of them have already been echoed in this year's budget. Some of the key proposals include banking licences for microfinance institutions and business houses – a clear move towards privatization of the banking sector; "streamlining land acquisition and environmental clearance" for infrastructure projects – a euphemism for accelerated corporate plunder of land, minerals, forests and other natural resources; and privatization of state-run SEZs set up before the 2005 Act. To increase investment in infrastructure the Economic Survey emphasized not only the much-touted PPP model but also "exclusive private investment wherever possible".
If the country was expecting any respite from the pressing problems of inflation, black money, agrarian crisis, industrial slowdown and the growing exclusion of the aam aadmi from the basic necessities of life, then the budget has completely betrayed this expectation. But then budgets in neoliberal economics are hardly meant to address the concerns of the people, their only business is to appease 'the sentiments of the market'. The rhetorical references to the aam aadmi, inclusive growth and responsive governance have never made the UPA budgets any different. Budget 2011 has proved to be no exception.


Godhra Verdict: Questions Remain

The trial court verdict in the Godhra train burning case has raised more questions than it has answered about the horrific incident of 2002 in which 59 kar sevaks had lost their lives.
The trial court has upheld the prosecution's theory of a pre-planned 'conspiracy,' while acquitting those whom the prosecution had claimed to be the 'key conspirators.' It is unclear how there could be a conspiracy without the conspirators. The fact that 63 people were acquitted points to the way in which the Gujarat police had indiscriminately arrested Muslims of Godhra and baselessly charged them with the crime. Evidence of police coaching witnesses to give false statements was ignored by the court. The court relied on custodial confessions of the accused which had been subsequently retracted on the plea that they were obtained under torture.
It must be remembered that in February 2009, the Gujarat high court upheld the POTA review committee's finding that there was no element of terrorist conspiracy in the Godhra case, leading to the withdrawal of POTA charges from the accused. The findings of the Rail Ministry-appointed UC Banerjee Committee had also ruled out the possibility of conspiracy in the train fire – and the Nanavati Commission appointed by the Gujarat Govt., while upholding the conspiracy theory, was unable to satisfactorily answer questions raised by the Banerjee Committee.
In the case of Babri Masjid demolition and the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002 (for which the Godhra incident had provided a pretext), despite ample evidence of criminal and communal conspiracy at the top levels of BJP and RSS leadership, none of the conspirators has faced trial. But in the Godhra case, where the 'conspiracy' claim stands on questionable and flimsy grounds, people have been convicted and even sentenced to death. Such a verdict cannot be accepted as closure in the Godhra case, and it is hoped that higher courts will provide a more convincing conclusion.
23 Feb: Working Class' Massive Rally in Delhi
23rd February 2011 has become a milestone in the Indian trade union movement when the capital witnessed the assertion of lakhs of workers on the streets of Delhi. The whole central Delhi came to a standstill with workers marching to Parliament street from Ramlila ground with clinched fists and powerful slogans. The whole rally and meeting was vibrating with the enthusiasm and fighting spirit of the working class.
The massive, spontaneous response and the fighting spirit in the rally amply shows the growing disillusionment of the working people with the corrupt, repressive rule of UPA 2 government. The rally also shows the determination of the working class to fight back the pro-corporate-MNC rule of Manmohan government which is totally insensitive and cruel towards the plight of the working people living under unprecedented price rise, massive unemployment and continuous curbing of labour rights.
The composition of the rally reflects the all India representation and also of the cross section of Indian working class. Financial sectors like Bank and insurance contingent was present in good numbers, as was telecom and railways. Biggest contingent were from construction, Aanganwadi-Asha-mid day meal, agriculture labourers and workers from in and around Delhi. This is for the first time that a large number of women workers particularly from ASHA Aganwadi- mid day meal participated in the rally in most articulate and visible way. The left's mobilization played decisive role for the success of the rally.
Though the mobilisation was done by the left, there was attempt to focus on the presence of INTUC by media and influential sections of the left. This attempt blunts the political edge and political assertion of the working class. Like National Advisory Council raising voice for aam aadmi and Manmohan led government pursuing pro-corporate, pro MNC policies or Swadeshi Jagran Manch raising people's issues when NDA was in power, these are ruling parties ploy to capture opposition space, confuse people and blunt the edge of political offensive.
The 23rd rally amply proves the fighting mood of working people against the Govt's policy of economic liberalisation and privatisation. AICCTU as revolutionary centre of Indian working class movement must gear up to lead the struggle at various levels and develop strong network. AICCTU General Secretary Comrade Swapan Mukherjee addressed the rally among others.


CPI(ML)'s March in Lucknow to Protest Rising Crime against Dalits & Women

The angry protest march against rising crime against Dalits and women under Ms. Mayawati's Government was held on 25 February in Lucknow. Thousands of party members, women and activists from different districts of Uttar Pradesh marched five kilometers from Charbagh to dharna place at Jhulelal Park at the banks of river Gomti. The well-decorated march shouting slogans against the Ms. Mayawati's Govt. and carrying red flags, festoons and banners passed through Latush Road, Kaisarbag Crossing, Parivartan Chauk and Hanuman Setu. More than half the marchers were women participating with great dynamism.
The march was led by Comrades Ramji Rai (Party's Polit Bureau member), Sudhakar Yadav (State Secretary-CPIML), Krishna Adhikari (CCM) and AIPWA's National Secretary Kavita Krishnan. Through the protest march the Party has demanded immediate dismissal of ministers and MLAs found involved in crime against Dalits and women, stringent action be initiated against accused police officers and Govt. officials, making State Women's Commission a representative and effective body and as members inclusion of representatives from different women's organisations/groups, and holding respective DM-SP accountable for incidents involving oppression of Dalits.
Com. Sudhakar Yadav said that ministers and MLAs of Bahujan Samaj Party itself have been found involved in murder and rapes of women and minors in the State in atleast three cases. Ms. Mayawati, who rode to power promising freedom from Mulayam's goonda raj and improvement in safety and security of the weaker sections, is silently watching criminals devastating lives of innocents and thus emboldening the criminals.
Speaking as main speaker Com. Kavita Krishnan noted that most of the victims in the State are Dalit women and that involvement of ruling party politicians and police personnel in crime against Dalits and women has exposed the true colours of BSP's social justice. Other AIPWA leaders including Tahira Hasan (National Vice President), Vidya Rajwar (State President), Premlata Pandey (Secretary), Rama Gairola, Shankar Kol (leader active among Tribal groups) and leaders from AISA and RYA also addressed the dharna.

New Delhi:CPI(ML) Protests against pro-Corporate, anti-people Budget

The CPI(ML) Liberation held a protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar on 1st March against the UPA-II's General Budget for 2011-12, which appeased corporates and betrayed the people, failing to address any of the three burning concerns about the Indian economy – inflation, agrarian crisis and black money. Protestors including workers and students raised slogans against the anti-people Budget and held a protest meeting on Parliament Street.
Addressing the protest meeting CPI(ML) State Secretary Sanjay Sharma said that the Budget's predictions of a lower inflation rate could not be believed since the Economic Survey, released just three days ago, had warned of higher inflation and further increases in prices of food and fuel. The Budget merely repeats the vague promise of some food security legislation later this year without any budgetary provisions. And, despite soaring inflation in food grains and other agro-products, the allocation for Food and Public Distribution has been reduced from Rs.68,021.08 cr. to Rs.61,606.01cr. At least Rs.6000cr. has been reduced under the head of storage and ware-housing. This clearly shows the Govt.'s real intent of further dismantling the existing public distribution system, giving a freer hand to hoarders and speculators and facilitating the entry of private players and FDI in food retail business.
CPI(ML) Central Committee member Kavita Krishnan said that the Budget talks of 'second green revolution' but in fact, the Budgetary allocation for agriculture has gone down from Rs. 17, 695.48 cr to Rs. 17,522.87cr. Central plan outlay for Rural Development has been slashed from Rs. 55438 cr. to Rs. 55288 cr. Meanwhile revenue foregone on account of sops and exemptions to corporates for the year 2010-11 continues to be over Rs. 500, 000 crore – amounting to almost half of the total budgetary expenditure of this year! Had these revenues been achieved from the super-rich corporates, surely the Government could have substantially increased expenditure on health and education for our citizens? The Government gives Rs 5 lakh crore every year to the corrupt corporates – and yet claims to be very generous when it makes a minor increase in the honorarium paid to Anganwadi workers to a mere Rs. 3000 per month – which is less than even the minimum wages.
Ravi Rai, General Secretary, AISA, said that the increase in budgetary outlay for education and health is highly inadequate, especially when compared to the massive hike in defence budget which is more than 3 times the budget on education and 6 times on health. The higher education budget has seen a meagre increase from Rs.18,206 cr. to Rs.21,912 cr. and the health budget from Rs. 23,300cr. to Rs.26,897 cr.
The protest concluded by calling for intensification of the CPI(ML)'s countrywide people's campaign against the UPA government, its disastrous policies and callous and corrupt rule, culminating in the all-India Rally  to be held in Delhi on 14 March 2011.


Successful strike for wage increase by power loom workers in Tamilnadu

After 2 months of negotiations for an increase of 43% in wages as against 11% being offered by factory owners, ten thousand power loom workers under the leadership of AICCTU went on strike from 27 January to 9 February. AICCTU also sought an intervention by government to resolve the issue.
While the strike was on, the Owners' Association began negotiating with other trade unions. We immediately organised demonstration in front of the Owners' Association building with 200 workers on January 30th. On February 1, workers from two different localities organised road blockades under our leadership. It was withdrawn only on assurance by police officials that they will arrange to include AICCTU in the negotiation process.
In another area Sadayampalayam, Mr. Sebastian, representing the owners and also Vice President of the panchayat informed the gathering of some 200 striking workers that there won't be any talks with Communists (meaning AICCTU), and he asked the striking workers to come out of the AICCTU, only then negotiations would be possible. But workers turned down the offer and within an hour hoisted AICCTU flag in that area and took AICCTU membership. All sorts of attempts to scuttle this programme were foiled. Comrades Jacqueline Mary and Kamala, both woman leaders were at the forefront.
The owners relented somewhat but since deadlock continued we continued with the strike. Strike was continued by all sections of workers on our call even after few agreements that we rejected were signed. Finally Owners' Association agreed for across the board increase of 20% to all sections of workmen and then the strike was called off.
We have been in the forefront of wage revision struggles in this area for the past 23 years. Every time we struggle, stop work, stage protests and road rokos, Owners' Association used to settle the issue with AITUC, CITU and Other letter pad unions. These TUs, irrespective of their colour are concerned about falling profit margins of owners because of increase in raw material costs. But this time all their postures were defeated by workers' struggles. AICCTU has emerged as most reliable union among all sections of workers. In Kumarapalayam alone there are 5000 power looms employing about 30,000 workers. We could mobilize 10000 from some 2000 power looms in this strike. The agreed 20% wage revision is applicable to all factories.
Job-order contractors: Some times back those who take job orders from the owners resorted to strike for increase in rates. We supported their struggle on the condition that 50% of the increased wages have to be given to workers. Job order contractors conceded to our demand and implemented it. And this time, because of workers strike, rates of job order contract was also increased. This is a significant notable phenomenon. The role of job order contractors has in past posed complex issues in raising of wages of workers in small set-ups. However, a process has started to untangle this situation.


2nd State Conference of TN Democratic Construction Labourers' Union

TNDCLU's 2nd State Conference was held at Nagercoil, district HQ of Kanyakumari on 27th February. One thousand workers marched through the main streets of the town that culminated in a mass meeting. About 80 percent of the participants were women workers.
Some of the demands include free bus pass to all construction workers, increase accident benefit to 5 lakh and natural death to 2 lakhs, minimum pension of 3000 and eligibility age to be amended to 50 years for women and 55 years for men.
Conference also condemned the atrocities let loose by Srilankan Army/police on Tamil fishermen and demanded adequate protection to be provided by central and state governments. It called upon the workers to make the coming March 14 Rally at Delhi by All India Left Co-ordination a Grand success. It also called upon the workers to defeat corrupt and treacherous DMK-Congress alliance in the coming assembly election and reject the opportunist AIADMK alliance. It appealed to workers to intensify struggles and support CPI(ML) candidates. Com. S Kumarasamy, National president of AICCTU addressed the rally.


Chhatisgarh: AICCTU held a day long dharna on 24 February at the main gate of Bhilai Steel Plant to say NO to disinvestment of SAIL and to fulfil all other long-standing demands like housing, PF dues etc., and guaranteeing minimum wages of contract workers simultaneously with ensuring harassment-free work environment for them.

A dharna was also held on 23 February in front of the Collector's office in Bilaspur.


Uttarakhand: AICCTU held its Pithoragarh District Conference of Bhojanmata Union and Aanganwadi Workers on 1st January and 20 February respectively. Both the Conferences elected their district units. Comrades Govind Kaphalia and Vidya Rajwar were speakers at these conferences.

Kisan Mahasabha unit of Dharchula block held its unit conference on 23 January at Pangla. Com. KK Bora was the main speaker.
Cadre Convention in Patna
Party organised a cadre convention on Saturday resolving to launch an intense agitation against skyrocketing prices and unbridled corruption at the national level. The convention was held at Vidyapati Bhawan in Patna and wa addressed by CPI(ML) General Secretary. Besides speaking on our current tasks, in context of the ongoing people's movement in Arab countries of Middle-East he said that a myth that Muslim countries were being dominated by religious fanatics has now been exploded with a series of protest in Egypt and Tunisia where the Muslim population has come out in revolt against the rulers on the issue of livelihood, democracy and dignity.


Wisconsin Workers Standing Up Strong To Save The Unions!

Abridged version of the Statement of the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA


February 26, 2011: Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson aptly entitled a recent column: "Workers Toppled a Dictator in Egypt, But Might Be Silenced in Wisconsin". In mid-February newly elected Wisconsin governor Walker announced a "non-negotiable" state budget plan that substantially cuts the benefits and eliminates nearly all collective bargaining rights for state workers. As a police state tactic, he put the National Guard on alert, in case state workers rose up in protest.

In their tens of thousands, they did! Workers from both the public and private sector (joined by many supporters) took off from work, took to the streets and occupied the state house in Madison, WI, peaking at some 70,000 participants, and now continuing into its second week. Thousands more have been demonstrating in support all over the U.S. At least one Wisconsin Central Labor Council has raised the need for a general strike. These "fight back" actions (undoubtedly partly inspired by the popular successful uprisings of the Tunisian and Egyptian people) are encouraging and needed. It's in sharp contrast to the anemic response of the Labor movement's leadership to the increasing corporate and government assaults on unions and workers in general in the context of the economic crisis, caused by the greed and speculation of finance capital and the resulting massive job and home loss. Wisconsin is now a battleground state for the survival of Unions in the United States.


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:, website:

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