A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 19, No. 23, 31 MAY – 06 JUNE 2016
Two Years of Modi Government:
Mirage of 'Development', 'Change' in the Direction of Communal Fascism
arendra Modi was propelled to power after an elaborate media-crafted image-building exercise that claimed a larger-than-life image for Modi and his magic wand of 'development'. After two years in power, the Modi Government is having to resort to the same tactics of corporate-funded eyewash and propaganda in order to cover up the reality of its dismal failure to deliver on its tall promises, and the menacing moves in the direction of a Hindu Rashtra.
In his 2014 election campaign Modi had promised an end to inflation. The reality is that inflation continues to soar and prices of essentials like pulses (dal) went up by more than 30 per cent. Modi promised two crore jobs every year. In fact, India has seen the lowest job growth since 2009, and there has been a decline of 20,000 jobs across 8 labour intensive sectors. Central Government spending on MNREGA has also fallen, and even MNREGA payments were made only after Supreme Court intervention. With the Government slashing University Grants Commission funds by 55%, the UGC has announced a new policy that amounts to massive cuts in university teaching jobs and increased burdens on existing teaching staff. This will not only affect the job prospects of young scholars, it will adversely affect the quality of higher education in the country.
Farmers suicides continue unabated. While the Modi Government does nothing to alleviate the agrarian crisis, farmers' distress and severe drought conditions, his Ministers and BJP leaders vie with each other to make statements that insult and humiliate farmers. Forest Rights laws have been systematically undermined to facilitate corporate grab of tribals' land.
The BJP President admitted that Modi's promise of bringing back black money to the country was a 'jumla' (empty phrase-mongering). In truth, the Modi Government can be described as 'government of jumlas.' The 'Jan Dhan Yojana,' launched with much fanfare, is a non-starter, with 27% zero balance accounts and 33% duplicate accounts. 'Make in India' has failed to attract much investment; but it has been a ploy to dismantle and weaken labour and environment laws and depress wages in the name of 'ease of doing business.'
All the Modi Government is able to plead in its defence is that it is as yet untainted by big-ticket corruption. But its Ministers are implicated in helping the scamster Lalit Modi as well as the bank defaulter Vijay Mallya flee the country. Its Government has deferred bank loan repayments for one of the worst defaulters, Gautam Adani, known to be close to the Prime Minister.
The Gujarat Model itself – Modi's biggest election plank in 2014 – has unravelled and proved to be a story of jobless growth and dangerous work conditions. The Gujarat Government was recently reprimanded by the Supreme Court and directed to pay compensation to families of tribal migrant workers who died due to silicosis. Authorities recently admitted that the Gujarat Government under Modi "did nothing" for construction workers' welfare, compensating only 7 out of 731 workplace deaths.
The Modi Government slogan 'Desh Badal Raha Hai' (The Country Is Changing) is rather like the Vajpayee Government's 'India Shining' slogan that was seen by voters in 2004 as a mockery of the abject conditions of their life. But in certain sinister ways, India is indeed changing. Under Modi, the country has changed to the extent that people are being killed on allegations of having 'eaten beef' or 'killed cows'; University-going women are being called 'shameless' by ruling party leaders, and being beaten and molested by ABVP men from Jadavpur to Banaras; autonomy and democracy in Universities and higher education institutions across the country are under an assault by the Central Government; inter-faith marriages are described as 'love jehad' and attacked by Hndutva groups; the Government has distinguished itself by offering justifications for communal and caste atrocities ranging from the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula to the Dadri lynching to Dalit children being burnt alive. Hindutva groups accused of terrorism are being acquitted; these groups have indulged in murders of rationalists; and are openly holding armed 'training camps' that systematically prepare for communal violence. Syllabi in schools are being changed in tune with Hindutva ideology – that seeks to impart both irrationality and bigotry to young children.
Under Modi, India is indeed being taken down the road of corporate-communal fascism. In his speech at his two-year extravaganza, Modi described this dangerous direction of 'change' as 'Vikas-vaad' (developmentalism) and dubbed resistance to it as 'Virodh-vaad' (opposition-ism or nay-saying). By branding the resistance to his pro-corporate and pro-communal policies as 'Virodh-vaad', Modi has let slip how threatened he feels by people's movements. His attempt to pass a law to facilitate corporate land grab was defeated by peasants' resistance; his policy of fund cuts and meddling in Universities has been met with determined and inspiring struggles by students and teachers; workers protests all over the country (most recently by garment workers in Bengaluru) are fighting back against anti-worker moves by the Government. The Modi Government's self-congratulatory propaganda cannot silence the determined dissent and resistance by the people of the country.
Crackdown on BHU Students' Struggle For 24/7 Access to Library
The universities are supposed to be places of higher learning, but in Banaras Hindu University (BHU), students are having to take on an extremely insensitive and brutal administration to fight for the very right to study and access library facilities. Students in BHU have been fighting for the right to study 24/7 in the BHU Library. By curtailing the hours for which the library is accessible to the students, the university has engaged in a direct assault on their right to study. The students even launched a long hunger strike to ensure that their demand is met. The university authorities – as has become the norm in the Modi regime – have chosen to respond by brute oppression. The protesting students have been ruthlessly assaulted and several of them rusticated. ABVP goons too were witnessed brutally beating up protesting students including female students. Though the hunger strike was subsequently lifted due to tremendous pressure exerted by the university administration by way of getting striking students arrested and the failing health of students, the movement continues.
Expressing solidarity with the struggling students of BHU, AISA national president, Com. Sucheta De, AISA leader Com. Shweta Raj, and AISA leader and ex JNUSU Vice President, Com. Anant Prakash also visited the BHU campus to provide support to the movement. Comrade Sarita, a senior leader of AISA from Banaras, also visited BHU. The AISA leaders participated in a protest where the circular notifying the rustication was burnt. They also appealed to the students, youth and progressive individuals throughout the country to rally behind students of BHU and send postcards to the VC of BHU in support of the students' demands. AISA activists in Patna also staged a 'rail roko' protest to express solidarity with students of BHU, demanding revocation of rustication and fulfilment of their demands pertaining to library access. The leaders addressing the protestors said that while the Prime Minister talked of 'Mann ki Baat' (speaking his mind), he had shown complete disdain when it came to the 'Mann ki Baat' of students and youth who are being beaten up, rusticated or jailed for demanding their right to education and employment.
The coming together of students across universities should send clear message to the university authorities that instead of using university premises to organise propaganda sessions by members and sympathisers of the Sangh Brigade, they better respond to the real issues confronting the students.
Firing on Protesting Students of Patna University
The students of Art and Crafts College of Patna University have been protesting against misuse of college infrastructure and the autocratic ways of the college principal. These protesting and hunger striking students including several AISA activists were fired upon by the Patna University Administration recently.
Since some time the electricity from the college premises was being diverted, disturbing the academic life of the students. When the students confronted the contractor, he mercilessly beat up the students and when the students approached the principal to complain about the incident, the principal rusticated 8 students on no grounds at all. Since then the students of the college have been in a long drawn struggle demanding revocation of rustication of students, suspension of the autocratic college principal and improvement of campus infrastructure. The students also went on a hunger strike. On the 12th day of the hunger strike, far from engaging with the genuine demands of the students, the college and university administration responded by having the security guards open fire at the striking and protesting students.
Even as the CM Nitish Kumar has on a few occasions criticised the Modi government for its attack on students, when it comes to colleges and universities in Bihar, he has refused to comment and take action on the Patna University authorities who are assaulting students on his watch.
On 25 May, the AISA called for a massive demonstration in which the effigy of CM Nitish Kumar and the PU VC were burnt. On 27 May, AISA activists in Begusarai organised a huge protest and jammed the NH-31 protesting the firing on protesting and hunger striking students by PU administration. They demanded resignation of the dictatorial VC of the Patna University and also the Principal of the Art college, along with action on the guard who opened fire. Addressing the protestors, AISA leader Com. Naveen Kumar said that by ordering fire on students who were only exercising their right to protest to register their demands, the PU VC has once again demonstrated his dictatorial ways. On 28 May protests were also called by AISA in Bhojpur in solidarity with students of Arts and Crafts college and students of BHU and showing to the governments yet again that the student movements against anti-student policies and the solidarities between them will only strengthen in days to come.
Naxalbari Day Observed
The District Committee of Kolkata CPIML observed Naxalbari Day and the 49th Anniversary of Naxalbari on 25th May. The event was held at College Street, adjacent to Presidency College which became the symbol and centre of revolutionary students' movement during the stormy decades of 70s. In spite of bad weather, veteran communist revolutionaries and party comrades along with students participated in the programme. Comrade Partha Ghosh, Secretary of West Bengal State Committee, and Jayatu Deshmukh, member of State Standing committee addressed the gathering, talking of the crucial role of the Naxalbari peasant uprising as a watershed in the Indian Left movement. The Naxalbari uprising took forward the heroic traditions of the revolutionary peasant movements of pre-independence India, and was also a decisive shift from the revisionist and opportunist currents in the Indian Left movement, giving birth to the CPI(ML).
Comrade Nimai Ghosh, a very close associate of Com. Saroj Dutta and first publisher of Liberation was also present and addressed the meeting. Comrade Krishna Banerjee, a veteran comrade who faced brutal police torture during that period, and Madhumoy Pal, a renowned intellectual also addressed the meeting. Comrade Nitish Roy sang revolutionary songs and Comrade Dibakar Bhattacharya presided over the meeting.
Naxalbari Day was also observed at Jagampeta town of East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Hundreds of people gathered at Travellers Building on the hot summer day, and marched towards Srinivas Hall where the meeting was held. Comrade Yenugupati Arjunarao, District President of AIARLA, presided over the public meeting. Comrade N Murthy, State Secretary of CPI(ML) gave the key note address, discussing the importance of the Naxalabari peasant uprising in Indian history. Comrade Bangar Raju, Central Committee member also spoken about the land struggles in and around the district of East Godavari. Comrade Harinad, District Party Secretary and Comrade R. Simhachalam, President of Andhra Pradesh Girijana Sangam participated in the rally and public meeting.
Protest Against Murder of Dalit Woman in Andhra Pradesh
A Dalit woman Kokundu Simhachalam, of Pedda Sankaralapudi village of Prathipadu Mandal of East Godavari district in AP was killed by upper caste people. When Dalits demanded arrest of the accused, the police detained some Dalit villagers at the police station. The CPI(ML) Liberation Prathipadu area committee leaders went to the village and secured the release of the Dalit villagers. Along with villagers and local Dalit organisations, the CPI(ML) organised a protest demonstration at the police station on 28th May. Protesters started a sit-in dharna in front of the Prathipadu police station demanding arrest of the killers of the Dalit woman. Comrades Manukonda Lachababu, Yenugupati Arjunavarao, Dapa Lakshmi of CPI(ML) Liberation, Kaparapu Rajeswararao from Srujana, and Aam Admi Party local leader Adhikari participated in the dharna.
Protests Continue Against Attack on Uttarakhand Labour Leader
AICCTU had announced an indefinite relay dharna by workers from 26 May at Haldwani if the attackers of labour leader and AICCTU State General Secretary KK Bora were not arrested by 25 May. As announced, the dharna began on 26 May at Budh Park, Haldwani.
Addressing the dharna AICCTU National Vice President Raja Bahuguna said that the statement made at a Press conference in Nainital by DGP Uttarakhand that he was not aware of the assault on KK Bora is absolutely false. The truth is that the whole episode was brought to his notice on the very day of the incident. On the other hand, DM Rudrapur has sent a notice to labour leaders yesterday charging them with breach of peace!
Former National Vice President of the State Bank Staff Association NC Khulbe also addressed the dharna. Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers Union State President Kamla Kunjwal said that ASHA workers would work wearing black bands until the arrest of KK Bora's attackers. Bank union leader KN Sharma said that attacking leaders who raise their voice for workers' rights is an attack on democracy. Kisan Mahasabha district President Bahadur Singh Jangi said that farmers would also stand in solidarity with the workers and put pressure on the administration for arrest of the culprits.
On 28 May, an effigy of the Chief Minister was burnt in protest, on the third day of the dharna. Addressing the dharna AICCTU leader Kailash Pandey pointed out that the Chief Minister and Labour Minister are shielding the attackers; otherwise, how could it be possible for the chief accused to be seen roaming freely in the Collectorate complex? RML Union President Mahesh Tiwari said that SIDCUL has become most notorious in matters of flouting labour laws.
The dharna was also addressed by ASHA Union Okhalkanda block President Shanti Sharma, Mohanlal Arya, Pankaj Inqalabi, Jagdish Mishra of MINDA Union, Navin Chandra Khulbe of the Bank Union, Amar Singh Bohra, Vipin Bora, Champa Maheshwari of the MK Auto union, Navin Kandpal, Shankar Lal, Kailash Chandra, Rakesh Chandra, Narayan Singh Matiyali of the BSNL union, Lalit Matiyali, Kamal Joshi, Maya Tiwari of the CPI (ML) and others.
It was unanimously resolved at the dharna that the dharna in Haldwani which was going on from 29 May would join the dharna at the Rudrapur DM office.
Protests against the attack on KK Bora were also held at the gate of both plants of the Pricol factory in Coimbatore on 27 May, and poster and leaflet campaigns also took place in other districts of Tamil Nadu.
Statement by AISA Against UGC Gazette Notification May 2016
(Excerpt from a statement by AISA)
The recent UGC gazette notification – UGC Regulations (3rd Amendment), 2016 – is actually a blueprint for massive JOB CUTS and outright DOWNGRADING of public-funded Higher Education and University system. This amendment in the UGC regulations of 2010, has serious and negative implications for both teaching community (both Permanent and Ad-Hoc) and students. The amendment, notified on 10 May 2016, has:
(a) drastically increased the teaching hours for Assistant Professors from 16 Hours to 24 Hours Per Week and from 14 hours to 22 hours per week for Associate Professors,
(b) devalued the tutorial classes for Humanities and Social Sciences, which until now, was an important feature of class room learning and a great boon to students from deprived backgrounds,
(c) For Science courses, from now on a 2 hour of practical class will count as just 1 hour of lecture classes.
Job Cut for Ad Hoc Teachers and Young Scholars: For the permanent faculty this will clearly mean a 50% increase in work load; and automatically for the current Ad-Hoc faculty, it will simply mean a severe decline in job prospects. More than 70% ad hoc faculties can lose their jobs in the next session. Currently there are almost 4000 vacant posts in Delhi University alone, filled mainly by research scholars. The anti-student, anti-teacher and overall anti-education stance of this present government is clearly reflected in this move, as instead of filling the already vacant positions in DU, they are cutting down the number of teaching posts.
Down Grading of Teaching Quality : The severe increase in working hours for teaching community will also have drastic consequences for student community. Firstly, it will lead to worsening of the teacher-student ratio as the number of teachers will come down. Secondly, because of increment in workload, the QUALITY OF TEACHING WILL BE AFFECTED NEGATIVELY, as teachers will be forced to teach more courses in a limited time period. Lastly these changes will have extremely negative impact on students, especially for those coming from deprived socio-economic background (who might need special attention) as the prospect of engagement between teacher and student will decline because of increased workload.
Elimination of Reservation Backlog: This decision is also reflective of the anti-reservation mindset of the BJP government, as most of the current vacancies belong to the reserved category not filled for years. Immediate filling of the backlog has been a long standing demand of AISA and many other organisations. But, instead of filling the backlog, the UGC and MHRD are conspiring to abolish the teaching posts all-together!
The UGC Notification is a direct consequence of the massive 55% fund-cuts for the UGC in the Union Budget of 2016-17 (from Rs 9315.45 cr. in 2015-16 to Rs. 4286.94 cr. in 2016-17). The UGC gazette is merely the 'software' required to implement the agenda of killing public funding in higher education and pushing for privatization.
The UGC Gazette Notification (May 2016) is also in the line MHRD's undeclared war on Universities which include:
•Drastic fund cut of UGC and Universities
•Intervention in courses and syllabus to saffronize and undermine the autonomy of Universities
•Direct targeting and police action on opposing teachers and students like FTII, HCU, JNU, BHU etc.
Just last year, the UGC under the diktats of MHRD tried to cut down the Non-Net fellowship for research scholars. This was met with severe student-teacher resistance. Once again, let us be prepared to resist this anti-education move by the Modi Government in every manner until the Government withdraws the UGC notification in toto and fills the huge backlog and increases the budget for education.