A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 15, No. 34, 14 – 20 AUGUST 2012
For the UPA Government,
Students and Youth and Democratic Protestors Are 'The Enemy'
Students and youth from all over the country marched to Parliament on 9 August, the anniversary of the Quit India movement, demanding that 'corporate plunderers Quit India', and equitable education and dignified employment as fundamental rights. These thousands of young activists found, however, that the barricades at Parliament Street are not manned only by Delhi Police. Instead, the Sashastra Seema Bal (central Armed Border Force) had been deployed in large numbers! Faced with the ominous sight of the SSB contingent in full gear, the students and youth did not baulk. They marched forward and stormed the barricades – and braved a brutal beating by the police and SSB. What can be clearer proof that for the UPA Government, the country's younger generation and democratic protestors have become an 'enemy' force?
A few days after that, a villager who interrupted a public meeting in West Bengal to ask the Chief Minister a question about steep fertiliser prices and irregularities in BPL rations, was branded a 'Maoist' by the CM and thrown in jail under non-bailable charges! Maruti workers in Haryana are facing a virtual witch-hunt, with attempts to brand them, too, as 'Maoists' in order to justify an all-out crackdown on their trade union struggle. Intolerance towards and brutal suppression of dissent and popular protest is marking the entire country today, with the Congress and UPA-led Governments leading the way.
Youth in particular are feeling let-down by the growing crisis of employment and education. According Census 2010 data, more than 50% of India's population is under 25 years; and 70% of the population is under 35 years. This makes India home to the world's largest youth population. The Government often seeks to justify disastrous pro-corporate policies – be it land acquisition, FDI in retail, or opening up of crucial sectors of the economy for corporate control – by claiming that they would promote 'growth', create jobs for Indian youth, and expand educational opportunities.
Facts, however, show that corporate-led 'growth' has proved to be an all-out offensive on the rights and potential of young Indians. Let us consider the period of 2005-2010: five years which saw some of the worst scams. This was also the worst offensive of neoliberal policies. The Government's own data, made available by the NSSO, shows that this was a period of jobless growth. While GDP was increasing at a 9% rate, employment grew at a negligible rate of just 0.22%. In agriculture, on which almost 60% of the population continues to be dependant, the employment rate was minus 1.60%. And the youth unemployed in India make up almost half (49%) of the total unemployed despite the fact that, the youth share of the total adult workers is only 21%.
What has been the quality of employment created? The facts show that Government policies have resulted in a dangerous casualisation of the workforce. Young workers in particular are insecure and exploited. 50% of the youth workers are 'self employed'; 35% of youth workers are casual labourers. 26% of youth employed suffer from poverty (around 22 million). Around 40% of youth population are categorised as 'vulnerable'.
Even in the organized, manufacturing sector, we find a shrinking share of wages and rising share of profit. The rise in labour productivity was 5 fold between 1980s-2010. But the wage bill declined from 30% of net value-added in 1980s, to 11.6% by 2009-10.
The UPA Government, aggressively pushing privatisation of education, argues that the Government suffers from a fund crunch and therefore, the further entry of private players in the education sector needs to be facilitated. But this claim of 'fund crunch' needs to be confronted with some startling facts. The education budget in the entire 9 years of UPA rule totals Rs. 3.52 lakh cr – virtually equivalent to the losses incurred in the 2G scam and the Coal scam, which together amount to Rs. 3.56 lakh cr. Further, revenues foregone by the UPA Government every year as tax waivers for corporate is Rs 5 lakh cr - more than what the UPA Government spent on education in nine years!
It is in this backdrop that students and youth under the banner of the AISA and RYA have raised the question of dignified employment and equitable education – in contrast to the prevailing policy of appeasement of corrupt corporates and corporate plunder.
The courage and determination of the students and youth was in sharp contrast to the farce enacted by Baba Ramdev. From the beginning, the Baba made it clear that he would steer clear of any sustained movement, opting instead for a 'symbolic' protest on black money and corruption. After an equally symbolic arrest, he ended his fast, merely demanding that black money and corruption find a mention in the Prime Minister's Independence Day speech! The real purpose of the Baba's platform was clearly not to conduct any movement or struggle against corporate corruption, black money, or corruption in high places. The Baba has given a call to 'Oust Congress' – echoed by top BJP and NDA leaders who shared his platform, and he also received expressions of support from the Samajwadi Party and the BSP. Undoubtedly, the UPA Government at the Centre has emerged as one of the most corrupt regimes, and there is need for an all-out movement to teach this corrupt and anti-people Government a lesson and oust it from power. But a coalition of equally corrupt political forces (state governments and top leaders of BJP, SP, BSP, are all riddled with major charges of corruption) on a reactionary platform can hardly lead any real anti-corruption movement or any alternative to the corrupt Congress-led regime at the Centre.
The likes of Baba Ramdev and his corrupt and communal political allies must be exposed – and it is democratic forces fighting corporate grab of resources, students and youth, and common people on a resolutely democratic and anti-corporate plank, that can lead the struggle against the corrupt and repressive UPA Government.
Students and Youth Storm Barricades at Parliament Street
Thousands of students and youth from all over the country, under the banner of All India Students' Association (AISA) and Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA), stormed the barricades at Jantar Mantar on 9th August, protesting corporate plunder and the UPA government's pro-corporate scams, and demanding equitable education and dignified employment.
Before the students and youth marched to Parliament, they held a massive meeting, which blockaded the Jantar Mantar road. Waving red flags, and colourful painted hoardings and banners, they raised slogans of 'Corporate Plunderers Quit India' and 'Shame on UPA Govt that Subsidises Corporates and Sells Out Students'. The hoardings said, "UPA Govt Spends on Education in Nine Years What It Allows to Corporates to Loot in Just 2 Scams", pointing out that the total amount looted in 2G and Coal scams amounted to Rs 3.56 lakh crores – more or less equal to the Rs 3.52 lakh crore that is the UPA Government's total education budget of the last nine years!
The mass meeting was addressed by national leaders of the AISA and RYA, and the main speaker was CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. He said that the battle against corruption not be waged by the likes of Baba Ramdev who hobnobbed with communal killers and made deals with ruling class parties, and who ran away when the police attacked. He also said that Anna Hazare too had failed to target corporate plunder as the root of corruption. He congratulated the students and youth for taking corporate plunder head on – by barricading Parliament Street last year, and now by storming the barricades.
After a rousing call by leaders of the AISA and RYA leaders, the students and youth began marching peacefully towards Parliament. This march to parliament was participated by AISA and RYA leaders and activists from several parts of the country, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Karbi Anglong, West Bengal, Darjeeling, Punjab, Maharashtra, UP, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. The student and youth wings of the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM), DRSF and DRYF, also joined the March to Parliament. They broke down the first two barricades, braving a severe lathicharge by police and Sashastra Seema Bal in which more than 50 students suffered severe injuries.
One wonders what the Sashastra Seema Bal was doing at Jantar Mantar and why they attacked the students and youth with no warning or provocation. Several AISA and RYA activists from Delhi, UP, and Andhra Pradesh have sustained head injuries and a comrade from Madhya Pradesh has fractured his leg in the lathi charge. Several students (including young women) were manhandled by male police. The police also detained AISA and RYA's national leadership and some activists for a short while but had to release them soon under pressure from thousands of students and youth who refused to walk away from the barricades at Jantar Mantar.
The march to Parliament was led by AISA President Sandeep Singh and General Secretary Ravi Rai, RYA President Mohd. Salim and General Secretary Kamlesh, DRYF leaders Sekhar Chhetri, Rabin Rai, and Arun Ghatani, DRSF leaders Birendra Giri and S Chamling, JNUSU President Sucheta De, RYA leaders Amarjit Kushwaha, Bal Mukund Dhuria, AISA leaders Abhyuday, Malay, Bharati, Diganta, and other AISA and RYA leaders of several states.
Demonstration against Death of Migrant Workers
Eleven migrant workers from Assam and Odisha died in 2 mega projects in and around Chennai. On 6 August 10 migrant workers engaged in construction of a private college of education baron Jeppiar in Kanchipuram district, died and 50 were injured when the under construction concrete beam collapsed and fell on them. The adjoining wall for supporting the concrete column was not built and further construction work was being carried out to meet a deadline without any structural safety. The tragedy occurred when the workers were standing near the column.
AICCTU released posters immediately all over the state demanding action against the college authorities, implementation of inter-state Migrant Workers Act 1979 and the TN rules of the Act and Rs.20 lakhs in compensation to the families of each deceased. On 7 August AICCTU State Secretary Comrade Eraniappan and CWC member Comrade Mohan visited the injured workers in the Government hospital. They also visited the accident site. Jeppiar, Mariam Selvam, director of the college, the contractor and the mason were arrested.
On 8 August a crane in Chennai Metro Rail project crashed injuring 10 workers from Odisha and one of them died in the hospital. L&T manager and contractor were arrested. AICCTU held a demonstration on 10 August before Kanchipuram Collectorate stressing the demands.
Demonstrations in Tamilnadu
About 150 members of Tamilnadu Electricity Board (TNEB) Dr. Ambedkar Employees & Engineers Association affiliated to All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) held a demonstration at Dharmapuri on 24th July, demanding regularisation of contract labourers and promotion of masthurs to helpers. Com. Chandramohan, State Vice President was the main speaker. The demonstration called on the employees of electricity board to participate en-masse in the August 25 State-level Demonstration to be held at Chennai. Com. Murugan, office bearer of Dharmapuri circle led the demonstration. Demonstrators, most of them are contract employees demanded regularisation of contract employees as per the 1998 court order.
In Chidambaram, on 19 July, a dalit masthur had a fatal accident and Caste biased administration suspended one masthur, one lineman and one woman Assistant Engineer, all belonging to dalit community, whereas the assistant engineer responsible for the accident was let scot free because he is a non-dalit. A 200 strong demonstration held on 26th July including employees of engineer cadre demanded immediate withdrawal of punishment orders and action against the AE responsible for the fatal accident. Demonstration made it clear that AICCTU will not allow caste prejudices in the TNEB to prevail. Comrade Chandramohan also recalled the experiences of revolutionary movement in dealing with casteist organisations like Ranveer Sena.
There was a negotiation with Chief Engineer at Villupuram. In turn, he ordered withdrawal of suspension orders. General Secretary of the union Comrade Subramanian and Comrade Murugan of Dharmapuri participated in the demonstration.
Statewide Agrarian Strike in Bihar at the Call of AIALA
A Statewide agrarian strike was enforced on 26 July by the Bihar unit of All India Agricultural Labourers' Association (AIALA) bringing to halt agricultural and farm work in thousands of village. During the strike the AIALA activists and members also held demonstrations at more than two hundred blocks to demanding from the Bihar Govt to stipulate Rs. 300 as minimum wage, linking of the MNREGA with the agricultural work, CBI enquiry into the Mahadalit land scam and urgent initiation of drought relief work in view of the impending drought.
This is the 7th year in power for the Nitish-Modi Govt that talks about development with justice, but, in no village or panchayat of the State the minimum agrarian wage fixed by the Govt is abided by. The workers are not even getting ten days of work under MNREGA which is supposed to guarantee hundred days of work in a year, neither the daily wage of Rs.151 fixed by the Govt. Due to its anti-poor character and reluctance the Govt is extremely sloppy in execution of work under MNREGA and is not even able to spend the specified sum allocated to MNREGA. In a State with one crore and three lakh (10.3 million) job cardholders, a mere sum of Rs. 4000 crore per annum is also going unspent, whereas a State like Rajasthan spends Rs.8000 crore, and on average a worker gets 50 days of work under MNREGA annually. Out of the money spent in Bihar 70 percent is gobbled up by the nexus of the corrupt officials, politicians and contractors and only the remaining 30 percent trickles down to the poor households. The Govt has proved to be completely insincere and vacuous on its own announcement to allot 3 dismil (decimal) land for homestead to landless and Mahadalits and scam after scam is surfacing under this scheme. This has opened floodgate of opportunities for the land mafia, landlords, thugs and rural bullies to loot and swindle the homestead land. Areas, most unsuitable for dwelling, such as land falling under river bed, ponds, canals and land prone to water logging, is being allotted to them. Atrocities against the poor, daily wagers and dalits has risen in the State and they are subjected to injustice routinely. Unjust verdict of the Patna High Court in Bathani Tola case, death sentence to ten persons and life imprisonment to four from mushahar caste in Khagaria, killings by police in Forbesganj, growing incidences of killings of workers in Arwal-Jehanabad, brutally beating of a child from poor family under allegation of theft and the barbarity of hammering of a nail in the leg are all burning instances of the growing atrocities against poor, dalits and minorities. As a result of acquisition of land for Govt projects in the State and the boost the egos of zamindars and kulaks has received from the ruling dispensation, the landless and poor are being evicted from their settlements. The official announcements of enlisting 1.5 crore (15 million) families in the below poverty (BPL) list, ensuring monthly ration and fuel, and making the educational-health programmes reach the doorsteps of the poor have all got stuck in web of institutionalised loot and the Govt is seen running away from its responsibilities everywhere.
In light of the above the State Council of the AIALA decided to hold a one-day agrarian strike on 26 July. Organised under the leadership of agricultural labourers-rural poor, statewide campaign was conducted for propagating information about this strike. One lakh leaflets were distributed during the preparations, hundreds of campaign materials, and tens of conferences were organised to create a statewide atmosphere. Prior to the strike study/survey work was conducted in several villages and the conditions leading to migration were studied. During the course of campaign several irregularities in land distribution and swindling of fund meant for mahadalits were also unearthed by the campaign teams often led by AIALA leaders of the region. Intense campaigns were conducted against cruelty against workers especially in Jehanabad.
Through the strike the issue of linking of MNREGA with farm and agricultural work was made the number one priority. Along with Rs.300 as minimum wage as per the recommendations of various labour commissions, and the agricultural labourers working the land of financially exhausted poor-middle peasants and sharecroppers be paid with the help of MNREGA. This has had a positive impact and it was observed that it has created a new basis for a broader unity among the agrarian workers and small-middle peasants.
At some places the demonstrators also taught some lesson to the corrupt and irresponsible officials (BDOs). Rural poor also confronted the biased police at some places and forced them to release their arrested comrades. AIALA organised such a strike for the third time. The form of this movement challenging and encircling the Govt on the issues of rural poor-agrarian labourers has proved to be effective and a new phase of independent class assertion of the rural poor has taken shape. A lot remains to be done to develop this form of movement.
CPI(ML) and Various Mass Organisations Held Dharna in Front of Bihar Vidhan Sabha
The Monsoon session of the Bihar State Assembly was extremely brief. When JD(U)-BJP were in opposition they had demanded to make the sessions longer (Left parties have always firmly insisted on longer sessions of the Assembly), but now the Nitish-Modi Govt too is shamelessly continuing the tradition of running the administration through the subjective decisions of the cabinet and keeping the sessions as brief as possible. In this brief session, the opposition inside the Assembly did not go in for vehement protest against the Govt on several issues except for raising the issue of a gang-rape of a student in Patna.
The CPI(ML) and its various mass organisations- AIALA, Inquilabi Muslim Conference, AIKM and AIPWA - as the real opposition outside the Vidhan Sabha, held protest demonstrations in Patna and series of dharnas in front of the Vidhan Sabha raising burning issues of the people of Bihar as continuance of the series of movements against the JD(U)-BJP Govt, for justice and democracy. The dharnas were addressed by Party's General Secretary among other Central and State leaders.
Comrade Haricharan Teli passed away on 12th August, 2012, after a brief illness. He was around 90, and is survived by a son and three daughters. His another son Comrade Gobinda Teli was assassinated along with 6 others on 25 February, 1980 at village Hurua, Dharmanagar, Tripura, by the police of Left Front Govt then headed by CPI(M)'s Chief Minister Nripen Chakraborty. Comrade Haricharan Teli was one of the few comrades in Tripura who joined CPI(ML) in its early underground days. His house provided one of the main shelters for Party activists and leaders; till today it continues to do so.
After Hurua Genocide where his son Gobinda was assassinated, he played an active role in the formation of Hurua Hatya Birodhi Sangram Samiti, and after four days of incident under his leadership a mass rally was organized against the killings by the police. As part of this initiative the Party was able to prove before the Justice A K De Inquiry Commission that the police murdered them in cold blood.
He also earned admiration and respect from other intellectuals for his bold and persuasive initiatives. Comrade Teli was hard working and even in his last days he always felt inspired by the spirit of the Naxalbari Movement and by news of other mass movements. Party leaders and activists as well as common people gathered at his house to remember and pay tributes to Comrade Haricharan Teli.
Red salute to Comrade Haricharan Teli
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: email@example.com, website: www.cpiml.org