Thursday, March 17, 2016

ML Update | No. 12 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

| Vol. 19 | No. 12 | 15 ­– 21 MARCH 2016 |

Corporate Plunder From Public Sector Banks 
A Scam Even Worse Than The 2G Scam

The Modi Government has made it clear that while it will help corporations loot and scoot from India, it will brand activists defending the rights of India's poor as 'anti-nationals'.

The Modi Government prevented the environmental activist Priya Pillai from flying out of India, branding her 'anti-national' for seeking to discuss concerns about MNC plunder of adivasis' land and destruction of the environment.

But the same Government has just facilitated the super-rich Vijay Mallya in fleeing Indian shores to avoid paying his massive debts to public sector banks and evade criminal charges of money laundering.  

The police issued 'lookout notices' to Ms Pillai and to two JNU students facing 'sedition' charges. But the CBI under Modi 'modified' the original lookout notice seeking Mallya's detention at the country's exit points, instead seeking only 'information'. For the Modi Government, then, dissenting students can be treated as dangerous criminals and arrested, but corporate scamsters are given a free hand to plunder the country and then go scot free to evade justice. Mallya's company Kingfisher called itself 'The King of Good Times' – and indeed Modi's promised acche din has materialized for the likes of Mallya and Ambani alone.    

Another notable contrast is between how different categories of loan defaulters – depending on whether they are poor farmers or corporate cronies of the Government - are treated in the country. Farmers who take loans of modest amounts and fail to repay them are hounded and humiliated by the police and loan recovery agents – resulting the suicide of some 15000 farmers every year. But Mallya, who owes public sector banks upwards of Rs 9000 crore, is allowed to flaunt his lavish lifestyle of yachts, parties and private islands, and simply quit Indian soil rather than life itself.

Both the UPA and NDA Governments promoted cronyism, forcing the public sector banks to bear the burden of the unpaid debts of the Mallyas, Ambanis and other corporations. In 2010, when Mallya's Kingfisher airlines was heading for a crash, the UPA Government facilitated a safe landing, with a debt-restructuring agreement. Mallya handed over goodwill and trademarks of the Kingfisher brand to the public sector banks as security in the event of non-payment of dues – but today, the brand value of Kingfisher has plummeted and the banks are unable to find buyers! In 2015, the Modi Government facilitated a debt restructuring agreement for Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Gas, allowing it to repay its massive loans to public sector banks by 2031 instead of 2019!

These corporate bailouts combined with a larger economic slowdown, have precipitated a banking crisis in India, with Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) of banks surging to 17 per cent in the past couple of years. A report of the Credit Suisse titled 'House of Debt', has listed the 10 most indebted corporate houses in India - Lanco Group, Jaypee Group, GMR Group, Videocon Group, GVK Group, Essar Group, Adani Group, Reliance ADA Group, JSW Group and Vedanta Group – pointing out that the bulk of these unpaid debts are owed to public sector banks. 

These unpaid loans point to a scam even larger than the 2G scam. Rs 1.14 lakh crore – amounting to 40% of corporate bad loans – have been written off during the last three years (2013-15). According to the India Ratings Report, a further Rs 52,227 crore is expected to be written off in the financial year 2016 – taking the total up to 1.66 lakh crore. This does not count the huge loans which have been 'restructured' to delay repayment periods or slash interest costs. RBI governor Raghuram Rajan pointed out that "this money would have allowed 1.5 million of the poorest children to get a full degree from the top private universities in the country, all expenses paid." Imagine, then, how many degrees from public universities this amount could have funded? Yet, the BJP machinery brands subsidies to JNU, where a substantial percentage of students are from socially, economically and regionally deprived backgrounds, as a 'waste of public funds', while presiding over an open plunder of public funds by crony capitalists!

The phenomenon of crony capitalism extends also and especially to crony 'godman' businesses – where godmen close to Governments, like Asaram, Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravishankar are allowed to flout laws with impunity. Recently the Modi and Kejriwal Governments have together allowed the godman Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his Art of Living organizations to organize a massive extravaganza on the banks of the Yamuna, irreversibly destroying the fragile riverine ecology and grabbing land forcibly from Dalit peasants. Sadly, even the National Green Tribunal and the courts, while noting the illegality and the damage, disciplined and restrained themselves rather than the offenders. Instead of putting a stop to the Ravishankar extravaganza, the NGT merely imposed a fine to 'compensate' for the damage – of which Ravishankar arrogantly refused to pay a paisa.        

Why are the public sector banks not declaring the names of serial offenders in terms of unpaid loans – and the pending unpaid amounts? The country deserves to know the amount stolen from the public banks and the names of plunderers – and the Government must be made to answer for this loot. Crony capitalists and crony godmen cannot be allowed to practice the 'Art of Cheating' and the 'Art of Looting and Leaving' India. 


International Women's Day:

AIPWA's Sankalp March in Patna and Launch of All-Women's Cultural Team 'Chorus'

AIPWA observed International Women's Day with a Sankalp March in Patna from the Radio Station to Gandhi Maidan. Hundreds of women from different blocks of Patna district participated in the march, raising slogans demanding 33% reservation for women in the Parliament and state legislative assemblies, rollback of sedition charges on JNU students, implementation of total prohibition in Bihar and government employee status for temporary 'honorarium' workers. The march was led by AIPWA national General Secretary Meena Tiwari, national Secretary Kavita Krishnan, national Vice President Prof. Bharti S Kumar, Bihar State President SarojChoube, Secretary ShashiYadav, Joint Secretary Anita Sinha, Tulika Asthana from Bhubaneshwar, Kusum Verma from Banaras, Patna AIPWA leaders  Damyanti Sinha, Madhuri Gupta, Anuradha Singh, Vibha Gupta, Sona Devi and others.The march culminated in a meeting at Kargil Chowk in Gandhi Maidan.

Addressing the meeting, comrade MeenaTiwari said that communal forces are playing the politics of frenzy and destruction in the country today. From Hyderabad Central University to JNU, Lucknow and Allahabad University, they are not just murdering democracy but also smothering students' voices by slapping false cases of sedition on them. She further said that the women's reservation Bill has been pending for the last 20 years but they do not consider this important or a priority. Incidents of violence against women are moreover on the rise under the JD(U)-RJD-Congress government in Bihar which has come into power with a large majority; MLAs of the ruling Parties are implicated in rapes but they have not even been arrested. The government which had promised total prohibition is now talking of prohibition in phases; they are also going back on their word by now saying it will be done first in villages and then in cities. Various speakers pointed outthat honorarium workers have not been given the status of government employees. Their right to fight panchayat elections has been taken away. Their votes were garnered in the elections by increasing their honorarium by a mere 25%. The proceedings of the meeting were conducted by Comrade Anita Sinha. It was declared at the meeting that AIPWA and Bihar Rajya Vidyalaya Rasoiya Sangh would jointly organize a protest at the Chief Minister's office on 18 March 2016 to press for the above demands.

On Women's Day, an all-women's cultural team, Chorus, was inaugurated. This all-women's team was an initiative of the revolutionary poet Maheshwar, and has been revived now. Comrade Samta Rai will be the convenor of the Chorus team. Chorus staged Premchand's Manovritti and also presented various songs. Theatre artist Maya Krishna Rao also presented a version of her legendary performance 'Walk'.


CPI(ML)'s 10th Patna District Conference

People's Convention on "Save JNU, Save Democracy"

The open session of the 10th Patna district Conference of CPI(ML) was held in the form of a people's convention at the public library maidan in Patna on "Save JNU, Save Democracy, Save the Country from Assaults by Sangh Parivar and Modi Government". This was organized in memory of Narendra Dhabolkar, Govind Pansare, Prof. Kalburgi and Rohith Vemula. CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, Politburo member Ramji Rai, Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Rajaram Singh, CPI(ML) legislative group leader in the Bihar Assembly Mahboob Alam, Tarari MLA Sudama Prasad, former Professor of Patna College Nawal Kishore Choudhury, Dr. PNP Pal, former JNU student Prof. Abhay Kumar, Advocate Javed Ahmed and several others participatedin the convention.

After the people's convention, the delegates' session started at 6 PM and was conducted by a committee comprising of comrades Rambali Prasad, Anita Sinha, Satyanarayan Prasad, Mohan and Anwar Hussain. The session was inaugurated by Politburo member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya. Outgoing District Secretary Comrade Amar presented the written working report, and reviewed the struggles and movements which had been undertaken. He highlighted the Party's experiences during this period as well as the future responsibilities facing the Party. This was followed by a discussion on the report. The delegates gave concrete suggestions on several issues, including the Party's role in panchayats, developing a concrete working system for educating and training new members, strengthening Party branches and other lower structures, maintainingthe Party's control over use of economic resources, ensuring adequate guidance from the Party organization to people's organizations and other issues. Comrade Amar welcomed the delegates' suggestions and said that they would be incorporated in the report as required, after which the report was unanimously passed.

Addressing the delegates' session, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya highlighted the need to develop a system for strengthening branches and local structures to make them active and able to shoulder new responsibilities and achieve new targets. He also stressed on the need to strengthen the role of people's mass organizations. In the final session, the rural and urban sectors of Patna district were integrated and a 53 member Patna district committee was elected under the watch of observer Comrade RN Thakur. The Conference concluded with the district committee members electing Comrade Amar as Secretary.A total of 221 delegates attended the Conference.


Mahadharna by Contract and Honorarium Workers

In response to the call by the Bihar Rajya Anubandh-Mandeya-Niyojit Sewakarmi Sanyukt Morcha, about 1000 contractual-honorarium workers belonging to 17 unions (affiliated as well as not affiliated to the Morcha) staged a massive protest on 1 March 2016 in Gardanibagh, Patna, on the following issues: protesting the Nitish government's policy of repeated extending the tenure of the high level committee and procrastinatingon the crucial issue of regularization of contractual and temporary workers; demanding regularization of contract-honorarium workers; and demanding passing of the Bill related to service security until the age of 60 and 'equal pay for equal work' in the current session of the Bihar Legislative Assembly. Apart from these demands, the Mahadharna also announced a 3-day protest from 10 to 12 March to demand removal of anomalies in payment and fixation of honorarium. It was announced that during this period all contract-honorarium workers would work wearing black bands.

The Mahadharna was addressed by Comrade Rambali Prasad, State President Pradeep Kumar Pappu, honorary President Ranvijay Kumar, Bihar Shiksha Pariyojna Parishad Employees' Union General Secretary Shivshankar Prasad, Karyapalak Sahayak Sewa Sangh Ashish Kumar, AIDS Niyantran Karmachari Sangh General Secretary Dayashnkar Prasad, Sankhyiki Swayamsewak Sangh President Manjay Kumar Chandravanshi, Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalaya Union President Vidyavati, ASHA Union President Shashi Yadav, Rasoiya Sangh President Saroj Choube, Samvida Ameen Sangh President Ravishankar, Midday Meal Karmachari Sangh leader Dinesh Prasad Singh, Shikshak evem Visheshagya Sangh President Rakesh Kumar, Jeevika Karmachari Welfare Association State President Pradeep Kumar Singh, Shiksha Abhiyan Karmachari Sangh General Secretary Shashi Kumar, Anuj Kumar of Sakshar Bharat, TET-STET Shikshak Sangh President Markandeya Pathak, ITI Sangh President Chandrashekhar Verma, Samaveshi Shiksha Sangh spokesperson Santosh Kumar, and Kastura Gandhi Vidyalaya Sangh President Atul Bansal.

The speakers at the dharna questioned the intensions of the Nitish Kumar government on the question of regularizing the lakhs of contract-honorarium workers in Bihar. They alleged that the workers who were already deprived of their rights are now being also deprived of the right to fight elections; it was pointed out that this is unconstitutional.


'JNU Speaks' Event Attacked by ABVP at Muzaffarpur

In Muzaffarpur in Bihar, a citizens' forum Muzaffarpur Nagrik Manch organised a 'JNU Speaks' (Main JNU Bol Raha Hun) program on 13 March, inviting several JNU teachers, students and alumni. They had booked the Municipal Corporation hall. At the last minute, the Bihar Administration cancelled the permission citing objections from one Pandit Chandra Kishor Parashar who runs a Cow Protection Committee (Gau Raksha Samiti - this is a vigilante, violent outfit of the kind that killed a man in Dadri on the pretext that he ate beef). The organisers then continued the program on a stage outside the hall. Around 20 ABVP goons flung huge rocks at more than 200 people gathered peacefully for the program, injuring several. The gathering included a large number of women.

The police did not arrest the assailants, and instead made an attempt to arrest the organisers, but could not do so because hundreds courted arrest along with the organisers.

Participants included Dr.Subodh Malakar, JNU Professor and Comrade Kanhaiya's guide, ex-JNUSU President and Delhi AISA Secretary Ashutosh, Prabir Purkayastha, Science Activist who as a JNU student was jailed during Emergency, Dr.Ish Mishra of Hindu College, JNU alumni QaiserShamim, former JNUSU President Jagdeeshwar, ex-JNUSU Joint Secretary Kavita Krishnan and several others.

The gathering then held a protest march on the streets of Muzaffarpur where all was peaceful, and then culminated the 'JNU Speaks' event in the garden outside the CPI(ML) Office.

The whole episode raised several issues. First, the episode once again showed how the ABVP and RSS is systematically launching dangerous physical attacks of a murderous nature on public events that are critical of the Government and the RSS worldview. Lacking ideas, they launch rocks, batons and in Gwalior, even bullets, at speakers and intellectuals who do not share their ideas. It is such violent fascist attacks that constitute a clear and present danger to India and democracy. Second, the Grand Alliance Government headed by Nitish Kumar - with its newfound bonhomie with Modi - kneeled to the Sangh and cancelled permission at the diktats of the Gau Raksha goon. The cancellation of the program deliberately exposed the participants to the violent attacks of a handful of ABVP assailants, whom the police did nothing to disperse or arrest. Why is it that the Nitish Government seems helpless or lacks the will to prevent Dalits' huts being burnt down by feudal attackers in Nawada, nor able to walk its talk on supporting JNU and defending democracy from Sangh attacks? Third, the people of Muzaffarpur showed that unlike the JD(U)-RJD administration, they would not kneel to the Sangh's hooliganism. Hundreds of people from Muzaffarpur including scores of women refused to disperse or run away - and stayed till the very end, saying that JNU was the one place where students from poor homes could study and emerge as leaders of society.

Speaking at the event Ashutosh reminded the gathering that Chandrashekhar, the JNUSU President martyred at Siwan, had been the one to lead a struggle against fee hikes in 1995 and for affirmative action in admissions - due to which JNU fees remain low enough for students from poor and deprived backgrounds to enter JNU and thrive. Ashutosh demanded the release of JNU students Umar and Anirban and DU Professor Geelani, justice for Rohith Vemula, and withdrawal of all punishment for JNU students by a biased enquiry committee. Prof.Malakar pointed out that a substantial section of JNU students were SC/ST, OBC students and women, and this was taken as an affront by the RSS. Dr. Ish Mishra spoke of his days as a student in JNU in the 1970s, when JNU students fought to keep DTC bus rates low - for the people of Delhi. Prabir Purkayastha remembered the days of Emergency and said that JNU student activists were being arrested now in 2016 from the campus as they were during the Emergency. Qaiser Shamim and Jagdeeshwar spoke of the attack on JNU in the context of the concerted attacks on the Constitution and democracy under Modi's rule. Kavita Krishnan pointed out that Modi was hunting JNU students for slogans, while allowing Mallya and other corporates to loot India and scoot. She said that the whole country drew hope and inspiration from the resistance of HCU and JNU students, and hoped that an even more powerful movement would be seen in days to come, to defend the path of BR Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh.        Organisers of the JNU Speaks event included the Convener of the Muzaffarpur Nagrik Manch and JNU alumnus Vijay Shankar Choudhury, Shahid Kamal of AIPF, Prof Awadhesh Kumar of RVBM Mahila College, Prof Harish Chandra Satyarthi, Social Science Head of BR Ambedkar University, Dr Nand Kishor Nandan of LS College, Prof DP Rai retired professor of of RVBM College, Suraj Singh Convener Insaf Manch, AAP leader Anand Patel, as well as CPI, CPIM, CPIML, CPIML-ND, Insaf Manch, Gram Sabha and Mohalla Sabha. 


10th year of Pricol Workers' Struggle Commenced

Pricol workers held a meeting on 13 March 13 to celebrate the commencement of the 10th year of their struggle for workers' rights and dignity. The whole area around the venue was decorated with red flags which announced that the efforts of the State, the industrial lobby in Coimbatore and the management to crush the Pricol workers' movement can never succeed. The programme commenced with a spirited performance of folk music and dance by the Kovai Cultural Team.

Comrade Mallika, one amongst the 29 workers who were slapped with false cases and acquitted on 3 December, hoisted the red flag. The workers then paid homage to those who laid their lives for the cause of workers' rights and transformation of society. Comrade Saminathan, General Secretary of the Kovai Maavatta Pricol Workers Otrumai Sangam, presided over the meeting. Advocates K.M. Ramesh, Lakshmananarayanan and Bharathi who fought Pricol workers' cases at various stages were honoured by Comrades Gurusami, Krishnamurthy and Janakiraman, leaders of Pricol workers' movement.

Com. Dipankar released AICCTU's Working Class Charter for the 2016 Elections and AICCTU state office bearers Comrades S. Jawahar, N.K. Natarajan, A.S. Kumar, T. Sankarapandian and Bhuvaneswari received the copies. Comrade Dipankar said that the Pricol workers' struggle began as a workers' struggle, developed into a struggle of their families and then as a struggle of the working class as a whole. He came down heavily on the BJP government at the Center and Sanghi forces for their concerted attempts to push their corporate, communal and casteist agenda. He referred to the various electoral fronts that are emerging in Tamil Nadu on the eve of elections and said these ruling class political parties can form many fronts but the actual front is the battlefront which fights for the rights of workers' and people.

Comrade S. Kumarasami said that Pricol workers are in jail as they fought for the rights of the workers, they are in the same jail where the freedom fighter and working class leader V.O. Chidambaram was lodged for fighting for workers. Comrade Dipankar introduced the candidates of two constituencies in Coimbatore. Comrade P. Natarajan, area committee secretary of the Party and President of KMPTOS is contesting the assembly elections from Mettupalayam constituency and Comrade Velmurugan, former councillor in Coimbatore Corporation in Goundampalayam constituency. The meeting concluded with militant slogans of the workers who vowed to do all that they can to bring their comrades in jail back. Earlier, Comrade Dipankar inaugurated a library opened in the memory of Comrade TKS Janarthanan.


AIPF Meeting in Solidarity with Hyderabad-JNU-JU and against the Communal Fascist BJP

"Have you ever seen an anti-national? If not, look at me, I am an anti-national": Dr.BinayakSen thus began his speech at the Bharat Sabha Hall in Kolkata on 27 Febaruary, in a protest meeting organised by AIPF West Bengal in solidarity with student protests in Hyderabad, JNU and Jadavpur. Dr.Binayak Sen exposed the designs of the BJP government in Chhattisgarh and highlighted the fact that even after the High Court in Chhattisgarh had announced a sentence life imprisonment on his case, the Chhattisgarh government had appealed that he should be hanged to death becausehe was an "anti-national"! After a long legal battle, Dr. Binayak Sen was released by the Supreme Court. At the AIPF meeting, he made the crucial distinction between being anti-State and anti-national – a distinction which the RSS-BJP is aggressively undermining. He also pointed out that charges of "sedition" are aimed at stifling the voices of protest against the anti-people policies of the government. He called for the promulgation of a law against "anti-people"activities, to be used against all those who propagateanti-people policies.

Addressing this well-attended protest meeting AISA President Sucheta De said that struggling people all over the country are with JNU. She also mentioned that JNU has consistently exposed the corporate-fascist policies of the Modi government. And so, JNU was an eye sore for the Sangh Parivar and to be "punished" for consistently daring to oppose the RSS-BJP. Other speakers included Subhonil Chowdhury, alumni of JNU and Research Scholar of Institute of Development Studies, social activist Bolan Gangopadhyay, Advocate of Calcutta High Court Subroto Mukherjee, Secretary of APDR Rajnit Sur, Student of Jadavpur University (JU) Sudhanya Pal and Professor of JU Manas Ghosh.The meeting was presided over by Dr. Debasish Dutta, Meher Enginear, Amlan Bhattacharya of PUCL, AB Chowdhury and Kalyan Sen, A resolution demanding immediate release of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, repeal of Sedition Act, and withdrawal of all cases on JNU students was passed in this protest meeting.


Red Salute to Comrade Chinta Singh !

Comrade Chinta Singh, a veteran of several struggles in Palamu in Jharkhand, passed away on 12 March. For the past 5-6 years, she had been suffering from goiter. She was born on 25 August 1964 in the Manatu block of Palamu in Jharkhand, an area known for feudal oppression. She joined CPI(ML) in 1986 and led several movements against feudal forces in the area. She played an important role in organizing the poor, and especially women, in the Palamu block. In the 1990s, she led a massive and successful movement of Dalit-adivasi workers against the local forest officials, demanding more wages for workers employed in the tendu leaf industry. She organized workers of the Hindalco Siding company to demand their rights, and led a movement against state repression in Latehar. Comrade Chinta emerged as a voice of resistance against feudal oppression and state repression, leading movements against a gang rape in Tarwadih in 1986 and against the draconian TADA law in 1992. In 1995, she was also the CPI(ML) candidate from the Assembly constituency. In 2005, she fought the zila parishad elections from Tarahsi. From 1992 to 2003, she held several responsible positions in AIPWA as well as the Party at the district, state and Central levels. In all these struggles and responsibilities, she received support from her husband, Comrade Gupteshwar Singh, who is a government teacher. CPI(ML) salutes the legacy of our beloved comrade Chinta! 

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