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Updates from CPI (ML) Red Star

by CPI (ML) Red Star, 29 November 2016

 

Editorials

Demonetisation Not For People, But For Corporates !

Modi’s demonetisation announcement withdrawing 500 and 1000 rupees notes from circulation with effect from the midnight of 8th November has resulted in utter economic chaos and untold misery to the vast masses of common people in the country. As the so-called surgical attack along the Line of Control has boomeranged and the Kashmir situation is becoming worse, Modi has resorted to this dramatic move with the aim of cashing it for the forth coming elections to UP, Punjab like states. There is no economic justification for demonetisation as a tool for curbing black money. So, Modi has put forward this anti people move by hiding himself behind the garb of patriotism. This sudden withdrawal of 86.4% of the currency value in circulation without making any efforts to replace it with notes of lower denominations for daily transactions has resulted in unprecedented collapse of people’s purchasing power. The catastrophic outcome of this credit squeeze has been a total devastation of all productive activities including agriculture, retail trade, traditional rural employment and so on. Since 95% of the work force in India is in the informal or unorganized sector where the whole economic transactions are cash based, the outcome of this move has been a disastrous credit crunch leading to halving of the countries growth rate within a span of two weeks.

It is a well recognized fact that black money is generated by the present economic system, the ruling regime which is in unholy alliance with corporate billionaire black money holders like Ambanis, Adanis, Mallyas etc. who have already stashed away more than the country’s national income in foreign tax havens. While ascending to the throne of the prime minister two and half years back Modi had promised that he would bring back this black money and put Rs 15 lakhs in the accounts of every Indian within hundred days. Instead of taking any step in this regard, he was protecting corporate black money holders and even encouraging them to accumulate wealth by channeling their illegal money as FDI flows in to India through the Mauritius route. It is even officially recognized that almost 80% of the black money generated by the ruling regime is in ‘Swiss banks’. Lion’s share of the remaining 20% of the black money that is within the country is stored in the form of real estate, land, gold, company shares, drug trafficking etc. Only 5% of the currency in circulation is held as black or unaccounted cash. It is for capturing this 5% the 86.4% of the currency is withdrawn!

Instead of supplying the requisite badly needed small denomination notes, the advance printing of Rs 2000 notes is to appease corporate billionaires. At the same time, it is like rubbing salt in the wounds of common people. Even as 60 people standing in the queues have died so far, under the cover of demonetisation Modi has also dared to freeze the hard earned money of the peasants and common people in the co-operative banks, agricultural credit societies, housing societies and so on. This has altogether paralysed the rural and agricutural economy. All these expose that the true intention of this corporate-led assault is not eradication of black money, but to unleash a social engineering for draining away the meager earnings of the common people in to the coffers of corporate billionaires through the banking system.

In this crucial situation, the Polit Bureau of the CPI(ML) Red Star which met at New Delhi on 19-20 November appeals to the workers, peasants and all oppressed masses to come out on the streets and resist this brutal corporate led assault by the Modi govt:

Demonetisation not for abolishing black money, but an attack on people, resist it!

Confiscate all black money at home and abroad!

Put Rs. 15 lakh in the account of every citizen!

 

Take Lessons from October Revolution for Future Revolutions

the centenary programs of October of Revolution shall start from 7th November this year and culminate with programs across the world on 7th November next year. This shall be a year of great celebrations; a year for learning from the past to create future for the working class and oppressed people.

Hundred years ago on 7th November, 1917, the working class of Russia seized political power and established the worker-peasant state, first time in history. It took place during First World War when imperialist plunderers were engaged in a bloody cut-throat war for re-dividing the colonial world among themselves. Discontentment among workers, peasantry and army men was intensifying. They were mobilized around the slogans of Bolshevik Party: “Peace, Bread and democracy” and “All Power to the Soviets”.

Following revolution, people’s democracy overturned all the policies of the bourgeois state. Land was confiscated from landlords and distributed among the tillers. The control of factories was handed over to workers. A peace proposal was put forward before warring bourgeois states of Europe. It declared that sons and daughters of the workers and peasants of Russia were not prepared to shed blood for the imperialists and their Russian friends. It gave freedom to nationalities kept under suppression by Tsardom, it gave the message that the workers’ state do not keep any weaker nationalities under subjugation.

These achievements of October Revolution deeply influenced the workers, peasants and oppressed masses globally. It inspired and gave new direction to the national liberation movements. Communist parties were formed in many countries. In some countries revolutions took place. Organizing Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union) it inspired the concept of forming union of nationalities based on equality. It initiated liberation of women from shackles of patriarchy. For the first time they got right to vote based on universal franchise. The defeat of fascist forces during Second World War was a great achievement for which humankind will be grateful to Soviet Union.

In spite of all these, it degenerated to capitalist path due to internal sabotage by the capitalist roaders, disintegrated in 1991 and is today reduced to Russian imperialism. There are two important questions now in front of us: how to provide correct leadership to revolution and how to save the workers’ state from internal sabotage by the capitalist roaders.

Today’s situation is quite different from that during October Revolution. No threat of World War immediately before us. Still imperialist system is confronting greatest internal challenges. US superpower is finding it difficult to impose its hegemony. Sparks of people’s discontentment are spreading everywhere. Still, working class and oppressed masses are not in a position to take advantage, as they are unorganized and divided.

In our country also, crisis in the ruling system and condition of the working class and oppressed masses are in any way different. While basically united on the economic-fiscal policies, the ruling system is dividing people based on caste, religion, language etc to continue neo-liberal raj. It is dominated by corrupt, criminal and communal (especially, Hindutuavadi) forces. The Modi government is spreading communal hatred and unleashing unprecedented oppression of dalits and minorities. This is increasing resistance against these policies everywhere.

It is in this situation, the struggling left and democratic forces, the oppressed classes and sections including dalits, adivasis, minorities and women are striving to come on a broad platform of struggle, taking lessons from October Revolution and innumerable revolutionary movements of the toiling and oppressed masses of our country. The primary task is to advance for people’s alternative power which ensures livlihood, housing and democracy for all.

People’s Democracy a Reality Through Worker-Peasant Raj !

Livlihood, Housing and Democracy : People of India demands them!

Workers and Oppressed Peoples of the World, Unite !

 

Statements

 

Joint Statement : Stop The Violence Against The Rohingya People

WE, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the current escalation of violence and the further brutal crackdown against the Rohingya in Rakhine State, Myanmar.

As you are aware, Myanmar security and other forces have occupied the area around Maungdaw in response to attacks by unknown assailants on border posts on 9 October 2016. The authorities have accused Rohingyas of carrying out the attacks and are now taking recrimination against the Rohingya population. We have reports of killings, rape, abductions, forced evictions, beatings, the burning of homes and communities and the general terrorising of the local Rohingya population, The very real concern is that this situation will deteriorate even further and possibly quickly. We call on all parties to put a stop to this terrible situation with immediate effect.

As we also know, this is not the first time that there has been state-sanctioned violence against the Rohingya women, men and children who are still trying to live their lives in dignity in their homeland. You will be aware of the extensive documentation over some thirty years and more, of the systematic violence, discrimination and repression against the Rohingyas by the government of Myanmar and their friends. Thousands have been killed, thousands of women sexually violated and physically abused, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee (often into the hands of human traffickers), and now most recently the Rohingya have been written out of the Constitution, denied any citizenship rights, and rendered stateless.

The government of Myanmar must take complete responsibility for the situation. It has consistently failed to protect the rights of the Rohingya and consistently failed to give them any protection, but instead has consistently denied them their rights as human beings and citizens and has sanctioned hatred, bigotry, racism, violence and deprivation against them over very many years.

The current violence re-ignites fears that there will be another round of state-sanctioned killings, violence, destruction and land appropriation, forcing ever more Rohingya away from their homeland and further creating a humanitarian crisis for the Rohingya and for the region. It is long overdue that this stopped.

We hereby call upon the govt. of Myanmar to :

immediately stop the killings and violence in Rakhine State;

respect, restore and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Rohingya people, including re-recognising them as citizens with full rights to freedom of movement, marriage, education, healthcare, justice, protection and more;

  expedite the work of the nine member State Advisory Commission chaired by Kofi Annan, charged with finding solutions to the situation in Rakhine state. The Commission should help ensure that

any person or persons whoever they may be who have been involved in killings, rape, abductions, or any other abuse of the basic rights of people are brought to justice;

all properties and land destroyed in the recent violence are restored to their rightful owners and compensation paid for any loss;

any person or persons inciting racism, bigotry and hatred are arrested and charged accordingly;

steps are taken to rehabilitate and reintegrate all internally displaced persons and refugees who have fled their homes because of the conflict in Rakhine State.

  lift all restrictions of aid to Rakhine state and allow unfettered access to Rohingya for persons including international aid workers and media.

We also call upon the ASEAN community and all other parties to take immediate steps to facilitate the process for lasting peaceful solution for the on-going crisis in Rakhine State. We urge the governments of ASEAN, including Malaysia, to recognise the basic rights of refugees, including all Rohingya refugees, and to provide proper and timely humanitarian assistance to those fleeing the terrible situation.

 Signed by : Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), CPI(ML) Red Star and 35 mass organizations of Malaysia

Articles

Imperialist Crisis, Neo-Liberal Offensive and Religious Fundamentalism

Paper presented by KN Ramachandran, General Secretary, CPI(ML) Red Star at the International Seminar at National Press Club, Dhaka on 29th October, during the 11th Congress of the Communist Party of Bangladesh from 28th to 31st October – Red Star

the greatest challenge facing the international working class and the oppressed masses presently is that the crisis-ridden global imperialist system is hell-bent on to promote the neoliberal policies of globalization-liberalization-privatization along with corporatization through all possible means to intensify its neocolonial domination in all fields for perpetuating its hegemony. Linked with this, it is also pursuing behind their backs, war preparations far exceeding the level of popular consciousness which only benefits the capitalist elites. It was over one hundred years ago the First World War was imposed over the people for the division of the world among the imperialists. The end of WWI in 1918 was followed two decades later by the eruption of the Second World War, accompanied by the horrors of fascism, for the re-division of the colonial possessions. Together, they took the lives of 100 million people and devastated vast portions of the globe.

The brutal colonial plunder and the consequences of these world wars increasingly put forward the choice of imperialist barbarism or socialism sharply before the world people. The increasing awareness of the barbarous character of the imperialist system among the working class and colonially oppressed peoples, the initiation of the socialist path of development in Soviet Union and its great contributions in defeating the fascist forces paved the way for the emergence of a powerful socialist camp by the end of the WW II. The national liberation movements against colonial powers were also becoming stronger. Confronted by these great challenges from the socialist forces, the imperialist camp under its newly emerged leader, the US, realized the need for new devices and methods of capital expansion and plunder. Therefore imperialism initiated important steps for transforming the colonial forms of plunder with neocolonial forms, by launching the process of ‘de-colonization’ transferring power to the comprador classes during the post-WWII years in order to facilitate further global expansion of finance capital and its free entry everywhere. This transformation imparted a qualitative dimension to imperialist domination defined as neocolonialism in the postwar period.

For augmenting this process of neocolonial plunder, a whole set of institutional arrangements were needed. At the political level, the United Nations, its Security Council and various agencies were established for exerting political control over the global community of countries. At the economic level, through the Bretton Woods Conference, IMF and World Bank were installed with US veto power for speeding up the imperialist control over international monetary system and free financial flows. The GATT was established for manipulating international trade in tune with imperialist market interests. To ensure global military domination, NATO was formed involving both US and European imperialists with its headquarters in Europe. A whole set of US-led military engagements like SEATO, CENTO, etc. along with hundreds of military bases around the world for military interferences also came into being. In continuation to these, based on Keynesian economics, the state intervention in the field of production and services, along with welfare concepts were promoted. Side by side, the imperialist think tanks were promoting all anti-communist, reformist ideologies. To weaken the left advances in West Asia during the post-WWII period, the Zionist rule in Israel, and in the name of opposing it, the Islamic fundamentalists were promoted. In a way it was a continuation and advancement of the ‘divide and rule’ policy used by the British and other colonialists to create communal divide and weaken the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal movements.

The developments during these post-WWII decades reveal that neither the international communist movement (ICM) could correctly evaluate and take lessons from these counter revolutionary offensives by the imperialist camp, nor it could develop its own theory and practice according to the new situation to combat them effectively. The Keynesian policies and public sector and other forms of state capitalism promoted by imperialism to tide over its crisis were misinterpreted by the right opportunist and revisionist trends in ICM as automatic and peaceful move towards socialism. Including these, the severe setbacks suffered by the ICM during the last five decades and the survival of the hegemony of the imperialist system along with the growth of religious fundamentalism and sectarian racist, neo-fascist, and casteist like forces should be seen in this context.

The history of the earlier phase of the ICM show that Second International got liquidated when its leadership failed to correctly analyze the transformation of capitalist system to monopoly capitalism, or imperialism, and to develop its own theory and practice accordingly. Only when this weakness was rectified under Lenin’s leadership, only when a correct analysis of these changes was put forward in “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism’, developing the theory and practice of revolution in the imperialist era, and developing the path of revolution in Russia, the October Revolution could become victorious and the ICM could advance under the Communist International. When the imperialist camp transformed its colonial plunder to neocolonial forms during the post-WWII years almost a similar challenge confronted the ICM.

The right reformist trend which came to dominance in the CPSU by that time argued that the imperialist system has weakened and the ICM can advance through “peaceful co-existence and peaceful competition with imperialism, and through peaceful transition to socialism”. The path of class struggle was replaced by path of class collaboration. Though Chinese Communist Party led by Mao Tse-Tung in its polemics against Krushchovian revisionism correctly interpreted neocolonialism as more “pernicious and sinister form of colonialism”, the subsequent advent of left adventurism in CPC failed to make any concrete analysis of it further. The vigilance against the ideological, political offensive, against the policies and dominant ideas of the ruling imperialist system was abandoned. The line of demarcation between the imperialist and socialist path started getting obliterated. It was in this situation all alien ideological trends, like post modernism, post-Marxism and its offshoot the ‘identity politics’, religious fundamentalism, racism, casteism, etc. got strengthened under the patronage of imperialists and their lackeys.

But, in spite of the severe setbacks to the socialist forces under this rightist offensive and the weakening of the socialist challenge to it, the imperialist camp had started confronting a new crisis as manifested through the intensifying stagflation by the 1970s. State intervention, ‘welfare state’, regulation of financial markets, etc., pursued in the initial postwar decades could provide only temporary relief to the capitalist imperialist system. On the other hand, under the Keynesian camouflage, imperialism had been reproducing and piling up its inherent contradictions on an unprecedented scale leading to stagnation in production, massive unemployment and widespread inflation throughout the world in an unparalleled manner. This crisis arising in relation to growing inter-imperialist rivalry also exposed the relative weakness of USA, the supreme arbiter of the postwar neocolonial order and, as a manifestation, it was forced to abolish the convertibility of dollar in to gold, exposing the vulnerability of the Bretton Woods system itself. The “oil shocks” of the early seventies also fuelled this crisis further. All these developments compelled the imperialists to abandon Keynesian policies.

Unlike in the past where temporary recoveries were possible, the developments since the crisis of the seventies have revealed certain new trends in the global political and economic scenario. It was very clear that the so called “crisis-free capitalism” of the fifties and sixties could not be repeated anymore. The internationalization of production led by MNCs using the latest developments in production, transportation and communication technologies and unprecedented expansion of world market have transformed every crisis appearing in any part of the world in to a global one. Imperialist efforts to overcome stagflation through neoliberal policies starting with Thatcherism and Reaganomics have imposed greater burdens on the working class and broad masses of people. Deindustrialization, outsourcing of work to global destinations with cheap labour, downsizing and roll back of the state, cut in social spending and deregulation of finance, etc. had laid down the basis for a prolonged period of joblessness and global financial explosion. At the same time, the collapse of East Europe and Soviet Union by the end of the 1980s and capitalist restoration in China followed by its eventual integration with imperialist market opened up new avenues for finance capital by way of a further expansion of the world market and inter-nationalization of speculative finance capital. Under imperialist globalization since the 1990s, downsizing of the public sector, privatization and liberalization became the mantra even in neocolonial countries. Incessant attacks on the hard-earned democratic rights of workers and oppressed peoples became the norm. As a result, even as stagnation and unemployment continued, profits of MNCs and global financial giants went on reaching new heights. This enabled imperialist centres and funded research institutions to carry on with their “end of history” and “end of ideology” prognoses.

But this euphoria was short-lived. The eruption of the 2008 crisis and the financial and economic breakdown that continue without any let up once again exposed the vicious cycle of crisis engulfing the whole imperialist system under neo-liberalism. The exponential growth of financial speculation worth trillions of dollars utilizing the latest developments in digitization and plunder of nature at the expense of job-oriented genuine productive activity have led to a social and ecological crisis threatening the very sustenance of humankind itself. In this context, imperialism faces both a policy paralysis and an ideological crisis. Though apologists and reformists of the ruling system suggest neo-Keynesian solutions to overcome the present crisis, erstwhile fiscal manipulations are non-viable today on account of soaring public debt at a global level.

As space for manoeuvres such as “rescue packages”, such as “quantitative easing” for big corporate companies is fast-depleting, talk of a return from monetarism—contemporary version of laissez-faire—to neo-Keynesianism by bourgeois ideologues is not all a sustainable solution. As a reflection of the mounting crisis arising from imperialist aggression and plunder, the international “refugee crisis” has become unmanageable even as imperialist countries and centres such as US, EU, etc., are propping up anti-immigrant, chauvinist, neo-fascist forces to divert people’s simmering discontent against the ruling classes. Brexit like phenomena should also be seen in the broader context of mounting imperialist crisis. Meanwhile, unknown levels of concentration of wealth with corporate MNCs and billionaires on the one hand, and unprecedented poverty and deprivation of the world people on the other together with gruesome ecological destruction have reached horrific proportions the world over, both in imperialist and neo-colonially dependent countries.

In spite of this counter revolutionary offensive involving neoliberal attack on workers and broad masses of toiling people along with increasing plunder of natural resources, the world crisis since 2008 is a clear manifestation that the imperialist and the comprador regimes could not overcome the mounting crisis confronting the system in diverse forms. In resistance to neoliberal offensives a series of upsurges have taken place all over the world, especially in North Africa and West Asia. Some of these uprisings were so powerful that they uprooted decades’ long dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt and stirred up revolts in countries where the rulers were having apparently peaceful times. But in the absence of powerful communist parties capable of providing orientation and leadership to them, the Islamic fundamentalists or such other forces aligned with imperialists and their lackeys could come to their leadership. The experience of 25 years of war on terror shows this.

Presently, against the ever intensifying neoliberal attacks the toiling masses are waging numerous agitations practically in all the countries. Though it is not leading to any basic social change in the absence of genuine communist parties capable of leading them to revolution, the repeated agitations of the people are creating trouble for the imperialists and their lackeys. Even in the Latin American countries, where the US is succeeding to topple most of the comparatively progressive governments which had come to power, the continuing people’s movements are causing trouble for the imperialists. As the crisis-ridden imperialist system and the corrupt comprador governments are taking away all the welfare measures, the contradiction between the people and the ruling system everywhere is intensifying.

In this situation, the imperialists and their lackeys can continue their hegemony over the people only by continuous reduction of their democratic rights or by increasing fascisization of the ruling system. For achieving it, everywhere the religious fundamentalist and other reactionary forces are strengthened by spreading their sectarian ideas with the help of state power and corporate media. No doubt, the crisis is systemic and irresolvable. But until being thrown away, as more than three centuries of capitalist history shows, the capitalist-imperialist system can always find a way out of even the deepest crisis.

Only a revolutionary political intervention led by the international working class can provide an alternative and resolve the crisis.

Demonetisation As a Weapon For The Biggest Corporate Assault on People

PJ James

Now, almost two weeks have elapsed since Prime Minister Modi’s dramatic, surpriseful and unscheduled televised announcement of demonetizing Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 bank-notes from November 8 midnight. Already more than 70 people have died by this time while standing on unending queues before the banks and ATMs. While the livelihood and sustenance of the broad masses of people have come to a standstill, the whole economy is in a state of utter chaos and uproar. As per Reserve Bank of India reports, the total banknotes in circulation in India were valued at Rs.16.42 lakh crore (US$ 240 billion based on current exchange rate) as on 31 March 2016, out of which Rs. 14.18 lakh crore (US$ 210 billion)) or 86.4 percent was Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes. The overnight scrapping or withdrawal of this 86.4 percent of the currency value in circulation without doing any sincere efforts to replace it has resulted in a credit squeeze quite unparalleled in the entire economic history creating this horrific situation.

Though scrapping of the stipulated currency/currencies and replacing them with a preferred volume of new notes so as to avoid any disruption in the economy are two inseparable aspects of demonetization, Modi government’s duplicitous inaction regarding the latter aspect has created the present unprecedented anarchic and chaotic socio-economic condition in the country. For, as per the latest data released by the RBI, people have been squeezed to deposit a whopping Rs. 5.12 lakh crore in the banking system between November 10 and November 18 while only Rs. 33, 000 crore has been exchanged during this period — a clear proof of the extent of squeeze to which people are subjected. At the same time, as we shall see below, the locking of these deposits in banks will enable them to overcome the erosion in their capital base arising from the unprecedented growth in “non-performing assets” (NPAs).

While declaring the circulation of all 500 and 1000 rupee notes invalid effective from the midnight of November 8, Modi himself was hiding in the garb of patriotism and “war against terrorism” as there is no historical precedence nor any valid economic justification for a demonetization of such a magnitude in the concrete conditions of today. The crucial issue here pertains to the efficacy of demonetization itself as a weapon against black money in the Indian context. As a matter of fact, the very approach to black money or accounted money itself is problematic. An attack on black money without understanding what it constitutes can result in unforeseen repercussions. For instance, Modi government’s characterization of black money as a “monetary stock” is very superficial and misleading and often camouflages the economic, social and cultural relations behind the whole issue.

To be precise, black money is systemic, and is generated by the economic system and the policies of the utterly corrupt ruling regime. Moreover, the acceleration in black money generation in India, has been directly attributed to the unfettered freedom granted to corporate-market forces since the onset of neoliberal globalization two and half decades back. Even according to various official studies including that by RBI, more than 80 percent of the ill-gotten wealth or black money generated in India is stashed abroad in foreign tax havens and lion’s share of the remaining 20 percent is in the form of land holdings, real estate, gold, shares, various forms of trafficking, etc., and actual “black money hoards” or unaccounted cash in the economy come to around only 5 percent of the total cash in circulation. Quite revealingly, the printing cost of new notes required to replace the demonetized currency is estimated at a minimum of Rs. 12000 crore. If this is true, then there is little economic logic or legitimate reasoning behind making 86.4 percent of the currency in circulation illegal all of a sudden. Thus, it has become an outright attack on the people who are dealing in legitimate monetary transactions for their life’s sustenance.

While Modi fans claim this anti-people move as “masterstroke”, “surgical strike”, “strike against terror funding,” etc., it has come as a “financial terrorism” on the hapless common people of India. Here, we must not forget the fact that India had the experience of two demonetizations in the past. In January 1946, on the eve of power transfer, there was a demonetization of the 1000 and 10000 rupee notes. Again, the Janata Party government had demonetized 1000, 5000 and 10000 rupee notes on January 16, 1978. However, common people had never seen these high denomination notes even in 1978 and the demonetization had no harmful effects on the people as, unlike Modi’s “ masterstroke” that scrapped 86.4 percent of the currency value, the high-valued currency then constituted only 2 percent of value of notes in circulation. Though Morarji Desai government’s action had little impact on black money, it had the benefit of at least not hurting the common people.

On the contrary, while this Modi move is going to be ineffective in resolving the malady of Indian black money as it does not address both corruption and tax evasion which are the roots of the problem, it has already imparted a tragic blow to the people. Today common people use both 500 and 1000 denominations not only as a medium of exchange, but also as a store of value. 80 percent of the economic transactions in India even today is cash-based, while 40 percent of the people still have no bank accounts. Hence the ultimate outcome of this cash or liquidity crunch would be a horrific contraction of the economy and added penalization of the “informal” and unorganized sectors which still account for around half of the so called GDP and more than three-fourths of the employment generation in India. It is said that this demonetization resulting in an abrupt collapse in people’s purchasing power and fall in consumer demand triggering several adverse economic chain events may have the effect of halving the present GDP growth rate too.

At a time when Modi’s media managers, leading Indian corporate black money holders like Adani, imperialist financial institutions such as the IMF, global financial consultants like the Moody’s and even imperialist states have come forward eulogizing the BJP regime for this drastic step, several misconceptions have been created even among well meaning people regarding the whole issue of demonetization. Hence, a clarification on the frequently asked questions in relation to various aspects of black money including the efficacy of demonetization as a policy tool in eradicating black money, counterfeit currency, corruption, “terror funding”, etc. stressed by Modi in his speech may be in order in this context.

1. What is black money?

Firstly, black money is not just a hoard or stock of money. There is no economic rationale behind the government’s prognosis on black money as no line of demarcation exists between “black” and “white” notes. It is the underlying economic process that generates black or unaccounted money. That is, black money has no existence independent of the economic system and the policies of the ruling regime. Wealth accumulated through illegal activities like corruption, tax evasion and outright plunder of workers and toiling people and nature by the corporate billionaires are not kept in pillow covers or in underground caves but is immediately “whitened” and even multiplied through investing in real assets such as land, real estate, company shares, black marketeering, hoarding, gambling, speculation and other money-spinning and criminal activities. The flourishing of such illegal, black money generating parallel economy is due to the inefficient and corrupt institutions of the ruling system and the entire bureaucracy including tax, enforcement, intelligence and police authorities in the country and because of the unholy nexus among the corporate billionaires, ruling class politicians and top bureaucrats. Under such a scenario, the idea that black money is an idle stock of cash held conveys a very naïve and archaic view of the whole issue.

2. What about Modi’s promise of confiscation of black money stashed abroad and putting Rs. 15 lakh in the account of every Indians?

During his election campaign, Modi had pledged that within hundred days of his ascendancy to power he would put Rs. 15 lakh each in the bank account of every Indian citizen. To make this point clear, a few facts about the extent of the volume of black money or unaccounted wealth that is held by Indian corporate billionaires is indispensable. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of the black money generated in India has been kept in foreign tax havens such as “Swiss banks.” A recent report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has put the total black money siphoned out by the super-rich Indians and put in numbered accounts with foreign banks at Rs. 130 trillion (I trillion = I lakh crore) or $ 2 trillion which is almost equal to the country’s national income today. A major part of the so called FDI coming to India is this very same black money diverted through Mauritius, a country with which India at the behest of Ambani, Adani, Mallya, etc., has formed tax avoidance agreement, such that after re-entering India this huge illegal wealth having traitorous dimensions is whitened as badly needed corporate investment.

In fact, Modi himself was very much aware of this and he cunningly used the above-said promise as a trump-card throughout his campaign. But after coming to power, he has never cared to say anything further on this issue. When asked about Modi’s silence on this issue, Amit Shah, the BJP president, diverted the whole issue characterizing it as a mere election stunt. Meanwhile, the Enforcement Agencies had framed a case against Adani, Modi’s closest friend who had illegally siphoned out more than Rs. 5000 crore to Mauritius. With Modi’s coming to power, while the case against Adani is no more, those Enforcement officials who were after Adani are now reportedly facing CBI charges on them. Though foreign banks recently have transferred the details of a long list of Indian black money holders there, Modi, the self-styled crusader of black money, is reluctant to disclose even their names to public.

3. Can the present demonetization eradicate black money and corruption?

Not at all! After all, Modi has completely left out the major chunk of black money that is kept in foreign banks from the purview of his demonetization drive. And the present so called “surgical strike” is supposedly directed against domestically held “black money” that comes to around 20 percent of the total unaccounted Indian wealth, modestly estimated at around Rs. 35 lakh crore. However, as already explained (question 1), with the connivance of the government agencies, major part of this has already been “whitened.” According to in depth studies by the RBI and agencies like the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, only around 5 percent of the currency notes held today have been unaccounted. Therefore, it is clear that demonetization cannot do any long-lasting damage to the black economy since, even if fully successful in wiping out the entire black currency hoards, it can touch only the tip of the iceberg. That is, the demonetization exercise, by excluding almost 95 percent of the country’s black or illegally accumulated wealth from its ambit, will not touch the roots of the problem.

It is well known that today corporate policy-making itself is the source of corruption as several notorious scams are associated with it. Corruption and black money generation are inherent in the reckless and illegitimate financial dealings of the corporate-politician-bureaucratic nexus that commit the biggest frauds on the backs of toiling people. Under corporatization, even the various institutions of the regime right from executive and legislature up to judiciary, because of their alliance with corporate capital, are becoming corrupt and rotten to the core.

The corporate class in India which is intimately connected with the ruling regime and entering into all kinds of underhand deals, tax evasion, bribes, commissions, kickbacks, black marketing, hoarding, forward trading, false documentation, manipulation of export-import prices, transfer pricing and other tricks of trade, smuggling, counterfeiting, hawala operations, insider trading in stock markets, gambling as in IPL, financial speculation, etc., is the source of all corruption and black money generation in the country. While these lines are written, the apex court of India is going to hear a case involving allegations of bribery against prime minister Modi, MP chief minister Sivaraj Singh Chouhan, Chattisgarh chief minister Remon Singh, former Delhi chief minister Shiela Dixit and Maharastra BJP leader NC Shaina in the coming days. Modi’s posturing about cracking down on corruption while propping up this elite section including their activities through neoliberal policies is nothing except a mere smokescreen. It has been a major political and publicity coup for enhancing his reputation as a “muscular leader.”

4. Does it resolve the question of “fake currency” and “terror funding” as claimed by Modi?

This is yet another propaganda blitzkrieg by corporate media which claim that through demonetization, Modi has imparted “shock and awe” to counterfeiters and terror financiers. An impression is also created that much of the cash in circulation is composed of counterfeit currency printed and pushed into India by the neighbouring country. But what are the facts? Contrary to the perception that is deliberately created among the public, the value of counterfeit currency in circulation in India is quite insignificant. A recent study using scientific methodology pioneered by the Kolkata based Indian Statistical Institute has arrived at the revealing conclusion that the value of “fake” or counterfeit notes in India comes to only Rs. 400 crore or just 0.002 percent of the total currency value in circulation. The argument by FICCI like corporate outfits that demonetization abolishing 500 and 1000 denomination notes will “deal a body blow to terror financing” should also be read along with this concrete estimates on fake currency.

At the same time, intervening in social media discussions, the RBI itself has been forced to admit that the new 2000 notes are being released without any additional security features. It is also reported that because of the hurried printing many errors are also being crept in these notes. Because of the absence of additional security features coupled with presence of mistakes, the task of counterfeiting will become easier. And the new higher denomination of 2000 notes will make it more profitable for counterfeiters. It will also facilitate the hoarding of cash in black. Revealingly, while the cash-starved common people of India are waiting on the long queue, the new 2000 notes are already available with the “militants”. According to a report just reached, Indian security forces have recovered two freshly issued Rs, 2000 notes from two slain LeT militants in north Kashmir.

No country is free from the menace of counterfeiting and the only alternative is constant vigil from enforcement agencies with the backing of people. Demonetization is not at all a panacea for counterfeiting as smugglers, arms and drug traffickers and international criminal gangs regularly resort to the printing of “super notes.” India’s position in this regard is all the more vulnerable as only two-thirds of the currencies are domestically printed. Apart from printing, India’s dependence on the NATO countries for the essential raw materials like ink and “paper” is no secret. Resolving these vulnerabilities is the alternative and, in spite of known cases of counterfeiting, US and EU countries are not prepared to demonetize their currencies as such a step will be detrimental to their economic stability and creditworthiness before the people.

5. Is it proper on the part of Modi announcing the decision?

It is matter of propriety that prior parliamentary approval is sought before such a demonetization decision by the government. As per the Indian Constitution, only parliament is empowered to take decisions pertaining to people’s property and wealth having far reaching repercussions. With BJP’s absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, Modi’s dictatorial approach of not allowing debate or discussion in parliament on important issues is already a much discussed topic. In the past, it was not usual on the part of prime ministers to announce such decisions which were the prerogative of the governor of RBI or that of the finance minister. If Reghuram Rajan who reportedly declined in 2012 a demonetization proposal from the former UPA regime continued as the RBI governor, Modi would not have been able to create this much drama and sensationalism through such a midnight announcement.

It has by now become quite clear that Modi’s attempt to project it as an “emergency measure” was to derive maximum political mileage out of the move. And BJP spokespersons sensationalized demone-tization as a “landmark initiative” in the country’s 70-year history. While the financial administration and the RBI were woefully unprepared for such a demonetization, in view of the forthcoming elections to UP, Punjab, etc. it was both an image-building exercise for Modi and a poll-dictated hurried move on the part of BJP. The immediate context for this decision has been the boomeranging of the so called “surgical strike” across the line of control and worsening of the Kashmir situation further.

6. Demonetization information has leaked?

While an impression is being created that the demonetization decision was a “closely guarded secret” and as the news of the withdrawal of notes caught the Indian people by surprise, the information is emerging that corporate sections and financial elite very close to the ruling party had prior intimation of the move. What strengthens the suspicion that many with black money were warned in advance is mostly due to the sudden spike in bank deposits in the quarter ending September 30. In an unparalleled manner, during this period more than Rs. 6 lakh crore were deposited in the banks. Finance minister Jaitely has argued that this was due to the disbursal of salary arrears for central government staff. However, this explanation is quite insufficient as this arrear salary is only around one lakh crore and only a portion of it is likely to be deposited in banks.

Moreover, this unprecedented rise in bank deposits happened despite stagnation in industrial production and in the absence of any facilitating factors in the economy. In the absence of an upturn in any of the recognized economic parameters, the BJP regime is bound to give a satisfactory explanation for the sudden rise in deposits just before demonetization decision. According to information that is pouring in, during the past few weeks, local dailies in Gujarat and UP as well as social media had reported on the forthcoming demonetization. The unusual and sudden deposit of huge sums of 500 and 1000 notes by the BJP’s West Bengal unit on the eve of Modi’s announcement is fishy. A BJP MLA from Rajasthan, Bhawani Singh Rajawat, claimed in a video that ‘Ambani and Adani’ were informed about the demonetisation, and made arrangements for whitening their wealth, though under pressure he later denied his statement claiming it as an off-the-record  conversation. Sanjeev Kamboj, another BJP leader from Punjab, is also reported to have deposited about 2000 notes only days before the official announcement. To cap it all, the present RBI governor Urjit Patel who had been a CEO of one of Ambani’s business divisions and against whom several allegations are already on record, is also having close matrimonial relations with Ambani, the biggest Indian business tycoon. All these factors are sufficient proof that information on demonetization may well have leaked, and this move itself is unfolding as another scam.

7. Why Modi is blacklisting cooperative rural banks?

In the guise of fighting black money, the Modi government has not only prevented the cooperative banks and cooperative credit societies from dealing in cash transactions but also has frozen the earnings and deposits of the people in them. If the cooperative institutions are not functioning in accordance with the rules and regulations enacted by the central and state legislatures, then, rather than penalizing people, it is the duty of respective governments to take appropriate actions against those in charge of them as per law. Instead of doing that, blanket attack on cooperative banks and cooperative credit societies as embodiment of black money has other ulterior motives. While the Modi government is encouraging all new generation banks and even non-banking financial intermediaries to flourish, and is allowing foreign multinational banks to swallow up even public sector banks by liberalizing FDI norms in the banking sector, people’s dependence on the evolving urban-based banking conglomerations can be ensured only if the cooperative sector that provides the essential credit to peasants and self-employed people is destroyed. Under the liberalization-privatization regime where the commercial banks with huge NPAs and “lack of capital adequacy” are completely serving the interests of corporate capital, the ultimate aim of destroying the cooperative sector is forcible integration of the rural economy with the corporate sector, totally eradicating whatever is left of “people’s banking” in the country.

8. Is not demonetization a pro-people, patriotic act?

The well-known 19th century thinker Samuel Johnson’s famous quote “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” is apt here. Keeping himself in the veil of nationalism and patriotism, Modi has inflicted the biggest-ever anti-national attack on common people. It is the Modi regime that protects the traitors who have cheated the people of India and who have stashed away around Rs. 130 trillion in various corporate tax havens in the world as already noted. The names of 648 such traitors given in the ‘Panama list’ are already with this government. Even after repeated RTI requests, Modi, professing himself as the anti-corruption champion, is not releasing even their names for fear of hurting corporate business sentiments, though he has no such sentiments to the toiling workers, peasants and oppressed masses of India. Recently his government has written off Rs. 1.14 lakh crore corporate loans owed to banks in the name of NPAs. Though the leading names among them are otherwise known to people as Ambani, Adani, Essar, Jindal, Mallya and so on, Modi government is reluctant to officially disclose these names.

As of now, it is estimated that the NPAs of public sector banks have crossed Rs. 11 lakh crore, and no effort is there on the part of the government to confiscate this hard–earned money of the Indian people from the corporate, traitorous thugs. The direct tax arrears of these corporate billionaires now hover around Rs. 5 lakh crore and this black money crusader is silent on this. Meanwhile, during the past ten years under the UPA and present NDA regimes, the total tax exemptions granted to the same corporate plunderers amount to around Rs. 40 lakh crores. Since the ascendancy of Modi regime, such annual tax exemptions have crossed Rs. 6 lakh crore whereas the same had been Rs. 5lakh crore on an average during the Manmohan regime. While the previous government had the habit of disclosing these details in the form of a separate document entitled “Statement on Taxes Foregone” appended to every budget, the ‘patriotic’ Modi government has decided to give up even that to appease the corporate tax evaders. Now it is left to the people to decide on the true essence of Modi brand of patriotism.

9. What is the impact of demonetization on the people?

It has now become very clear that this much trumpeted demonetization does not touch the root problem of black money generation, tax evasion or corruption in our country. On the other hand, while totally ineffective in countering these economic evils, this move is the biggest assault on the common people. Since common people are routinely bound to use 500 and 1000 notes which compose 86.4 percent of the currency value in the monetized and cash-based economy, the sudden freezing of their transactions has brought all economic activities to a standstill. People’s condition is pathetic as a major section of them in the rural areas are having no bank accounts (at the all India level, banking penetration is only 46 percent), and even if they have, are not accustomed to banking. In such a scenario, when cash held by hundreds of millions of the poor as savings and for meeting contingencies has become worthless piece of paper, they have little else to fall back upon. More than 80 percent of the country’s employment and around 50 percent of the GDP are still generated in the informal or unorganized sector which is outside the formal banking system and whose life-blood is cash-based transactions. Contrary to the virtues of cashless economy and digitization propagated by the techies and Sanghies, only 20 percent of the population has acquaintance with “plastic money” or credit and debit cards, mobile and internet banking or other electronic money transfer facilities.

Even for those who are depending on credit and debit cards, there are no sufficient ATMs in India. Among the BRICS countries, India with a population of more than 130 crore people has the poorest ATM availability. While Russia has 184 ATMs per lakh population, Brazil has 129, South Africa has 66, China has 55, India has only 18, while world average is 43. When Modi after his midnight announcement was directing people to fall in line in front of ATMs, as per reports now available, of the more than two lakh ATMs none was fit for operation with the new 2000 notes. And as of now only one-third of the ATMs has been recalibrated to use new notes, exposing the gross unpreparedness of an ultra-rightist government whose true motto is serving corporate and imperialist capital.

When India is far behind the required infrastructure for a cashless economy, withdrawing bulk of the cash in use through demonetization is nothing short of deliberate penalization of the masses. It has brought the unorganized sectors including retail trade, peasant agriculture, self-employment, household and traditional activities to total paralysis and extreme chaos. Desperate for cash and standing in unending queues holding old banknotes for long hours outside non-functional ATMs, the country’s workforce is wasted. In the process, the marginalized and the oppressed including migrant workers and socially ostracized sections who lack the access to ID documents are the worst affected. Modi government’s squeezing and depriving people of their livelihoods through demonetization has led to an unmitigated disaster for the people.

Conclusion

This assault unleashed on the people of India by Modi government is unprecedented with no parallels anywhere. Even the colonial government was more sympathetic to the people than the Modi regime as it was very careful not to dispossess vast majority of the people through demonetization. Preaching nationalism and patriotism to dispossess people and asking them to make sacrifices in the interests of nation while faithfully serving imperialism and corporate sections is just like rubbing salt in people’s wounds.

Demonetization is part of Modi’s corporatization agenda. Like GST, at the cost of federalism, the aim of this neoliberal move is to crush and squeeze the unorganized workers, small retailers and peasants in order to promote corporate capital. By this masterstroke, except Swiss Bank operators, the corporate elite and plastic money holders, all Indians including middle classes, small businessmen, the working class and lower and marginal sections of the peasantry who need currency notes and liquid cash for their survival and sustenance are the worst hit. Together with this the blow suffered by intermediate and small capitalists and businessmen will also be advantageous to corporate capitalists.

While the economy shrinks, this demonetization will also lead to manifold appropriations by the corporate class leading to greater a concentration of wealth and widening of the gap between the haves and have-nots. This demonetization is nothing but propping up of the most corrupt corporate sections in the guise of opposing black money and corruption. Corruption and black money which are inherent in the neoliberal-neocolonial system cannot be eradicated by a policy like demonetization. What is required is a political alternative capable of restructuring the system itself along with the installation of appropriate people’s social, economic, and cultural institutions capable of wiping out corruption.

Donald Trump's Victory: Is It a Victory of The Working Class?

Sanjay

Trump’s win in the elections, though a surprise given the absolutely insane stands that he had taken, had been expected by many. Many reasons are being given for this win. Some have said that he could only win because he did not have a strong opponent. Others have said that he won only because of interference by the Greens and other candidates who got around 7 million votes. If these votes were to go to Hillary, she would likely have won. Yet other point out to the fact that he lost the popular vote by as much as over 1.7 million votes. They say that Trump only won due to the inherently undemocratic nature of the American system where all the electoral college votes of a state go to the candidate who wins the popular vote in that state. Of course there are counters to all this. Hillary was not seen as a weak candidate by the millions who voted her in the primaries against Bernie Sanders. Trump himself scoffs at those who point to the popular vote. He says that the system of campaigning was based on the electoral college system. He points out that this is the reason why he (and Hillary) spent so much time campaigning in certain states. If the popular vote counted by itself, he points out, the pattern of campaigning of both would have been different. He says tht if he had campaigned in New York, Florida and California, then he would have won even bigger in the popular vote.

But all these are not moot. If we analyse the voting in the US presidential elections we can see that Trump was able to widen the traditional Republican base in the rural areas while also being able to shore up support in the urban areas mainly on the basis of white blue collar workers. His lead among white blue collar workers was 40% while his lead among white male blue collar workers was 49%1. All analyses give the same result. If we analyse the results in the form of states, then Trump was able to win six states from the Democrats where Obama had earlier beaten Romney. These were Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin. It is not coincidental that four of these, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are among the top ten industrial states in America by employment. Further, the three states of the “blue wall”2, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan are also in these. Almost all of these states (other than Florida where, in any case, both Trump and Hillary did not get 50% of the votes and the margin was very small), belong to the “rust belt”. This term refers to the states of the Northeastern US and the Great Lakes area and parts of the Midwest. This was once the industrial heartland of the USA. Since the latter part of the last century, however, industry in this area is in decline. Even the population of most of the towns and cities here is on the decline. Unemployment is a very big concern. The residents of these areas are the ones who lifted Trump on the crest of their wave to victory.

The question naturally arises. Why did they vote for Trump and not for Hillary? This was not for lack of campaigning, though in some areas like Wisconsin, probably under the illusion that it was “safe” being in the “blue wall”, Hillary did not address a single public meeting after being given the Democratic nomination. Still, the main reason was not campaigning. The main reason was that Trump was able to address their fear of even more unemployment. To quote from Michael Moore, who wrote in an article in late October (before the elections), entitled “Trump will win” :

Midwest Math, or Welcome to Our Rust Belt Brexit.  I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million). Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and tied with her in Ohio. Tied? How can the race be this close after everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it’s because he’s said (correctly) that the Clintons’ support of NAFTA helped to destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest. Trump is going to hammer Clinton on this and her support of TPP and other trade policies that have royally screwed the people of these four states. When Trump stood in the shadow of a Ford Motor factory during the Michigan primary, he threatened the corporation that if they did indeed go ahead with their planned closure of that factory and move it to Mexico, he would slap a 35% tariff on any Mexican-built cars shipped back to the United States. It was sweet, sweet music to the ears of the working class of Michigan, and when he tossed in his threat to Apple that he would force them to stop making their iPhones in China and build them here in America, well, hearts swooned and Trump walked away with a big victory that should have gone to the governor next-door, John Kasich.

From Green Bay to Pittsburgh, this, my friends, is the middle of England – broken, depressed, struggling, the smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we use to call the Middle Class. Angry, embittered working (and nonworking) people who were lied to by the trickle-down of Reagan and abandoned by Democrats who still try to talk a good line but are really just looking forward to rub one out with a lobbyist from Goldman Sachs who’ll write them nice big check before leaving the room. What happened in the UK with Brexit is going to happen here. Elmer Gantry shows up looking like Boris Johnson and just says whatever shit he can make up to convince the masses that this is their chance! To stick to ALL of them, all who wrecked their American Dream! And now The Outsider, Donald Trump, has arrived to clean house! You don’t have to agree with him! You don’t even have to like him! He is your personal Molotov cocktail to throw right into the centre of the bastards who did this to you! SEND A MESSAGE! TRUMP IS YOUR MESSENGER!

And this is where the math comes in. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost by 64 electoral votes. Add up the electoral votes cast by Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s 64. All Trump needs to do to win is to carry, as he’s expected to do, the swath of traditional red states from Idaho to Georgia (states that’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton), and then he just needs these four rust belt states. He doesn’t need Florida. He doesn’t need Colorado or Virginia. Just Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that will put him over the top. This is how it will happen in November.”3

Let us be clear on the phenomenon of Trump’s victory? It was the swing in the vote of the blue collar working class, albeit a disillusioned forlorn working class, that has given him the extra support to allow him to win. (Trump, even before standing for this election liked to call himself the “blue collar billionaire”). This in spite of his stand on Muslims and Hispanics, despite his proved groping of women, despite his stand on global warming, despite his stand on immigrants, in short, despite his near fascistic ranting. Trump was able to use his most reactionary stands to his advantage to mislead the blue collar working class. He called NAFTA (the North Atlantic Free Trade Association), the worst trade deal the US ever signed. He cited the United Technologies (makers of Carrier air conditioners) having moved 1400 jobs to Mexico. He criticised Ford motors for sending jobs to Mexico. Though Ford motors denied this, the workers at the Ypsilanti plant in Michigan, who have seen 2200 jobs being reduced are not convinced. Trump vowed, in his election promises to, “cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.” He has publicly stated that he believes climate change to be a hoax. He had hinted that the so-called myth may have been started by the Chinese. He preached that climate changes fears were being used as roadblocks to stop manufacturing activities, thus cutting jobs. On the other hand Clinton had remarked during her campaign, “I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?” Of course she went on to say, “And we’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories.” What was remembered was that she was for closing of the mines!

Does this mean that the working class is therefore now bound to oppose all new thinking? All change in the world? This has happened before as well. During the big movements in the US against the Vietnam war, in the 1970s the term “hard hats” was used to describe the construction workers who used to oppose the “long hairs” who were opposing the war. If we look at the demographics of the Brexit vote we will find a very close similarity to the vote in the US. It was again the areas dominated by white English working class which voted for Brexit in great numbers especially in the rural areas. To some extent, we can see the same phenomenon in India. It is the savarna working class and middle class which provides the vote base for Modi and his policies.

Let us look a little more closely at the case of the “hard hats” and Vietnam. Christian G. Appy in his book “Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam” says one survey, taken in the same year the media invented the term hard-hats (1970), found that 48 percent of the northern white working class was in favour of immediate withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, while only 40 percent of the white middle class took this dove position. And when the entire working class including Blacks was included, the percentage for withdrawal went up. The working-class youth that volunteered for service did not do so out of any John Wayne-type patriotic fervour. In fact, a large-scale survey in 1964 found the biggest single reason for volunteering was to avoid being drafted! This was even more so when the survey was repeated in 1968. Patriotism was the answer of only 11.2 percent in 1964 and 6.1 percent in 1968. At the same time, there was a more pronounced opposition among workers to anti-war demonstrators than to the war itself. Why? Appy is right on the money.

This, I think, indicates that working-class anger at the anti-war movement—primarily a middle-class movement—often represented class conflict, not conflict over the legitimacy of the war.

Michael Moore has made the same observation of the working class in his article predicting Trump’s victory cited above. In Germany also, it is the white working class votes who are gravitating towards AFD (Alternatif fur Deutschland), mostly on the plank of opposing immigration. To a certain extent we can see a similar phenomenon in India. The self-proclaimed “gaurakshaks” are largely from the savarna poor. To a certain extent their fight is not for “hindutva” but expresses their disgust with what is happening today in their lives. They are also angry at the failure of the progressive movement to make any change in their lives.

At the same time, we have to keep in mind that the economic scene is still in turmoil all over the world. The very imperialist system is undergoing some changes. Till a few years back, it was the big imperialist countries which were calling for greater globalisation. They won their way with the Dunkel draft and formation of the WTO in 1994. Barely 20 years later, the leading imperialist countries have voted for protectionist policies in the form of Brexit or Trump or the AFD. These countries wanted, till yesterday,that all the former colonies should bring down their walls. In physical terms they broke the Berlin wall and in terms of conception, they broke all walls hindering the free flow of capital into the neo-colonies. Today, these same countries want to build walls around their own borders. In physical terms like the wall with Mexico and in terms of concepts as protectionist policies disallowing capital to travel outside their own borders, disallowing jobs to go out of their borders and disallowing immigrants from coming in. This is a profound change taking place in the world which we, as Marxists, will have to understand fully.

What is the role of the left in all this? The left has not been able to measure up. All this shows that the left has not been able to propagate enough to the workers and the poor on all the real questions of the day, like climate change, like globalisation, like secularism, like nationalism and such. It is not able to reach the vast multitude of the masses with their message. No doubt, partly, this is a failure of their propaganda machinery. But this alone cannot explain this failure. We have to face the fact that there is much lacking even in the content of our propaganda. Not only are we not able to reach our message to the masses, but our message itself is not so palatable to the masses that they will propagate it on their own. This is because, often we are not really doing the work of analysing the real problems of the people but are merely repeating as platitudes the great formulae put forward by the leaders of a hundred years ago. No doubt such messages were great at addressing the conditions of their times but to think that the same messages will apply, in the same terms, to all times is to do a disservice to those leaders.

The policy makers in all countries still try to solve the crisis only in terms of further exploiting natural and human resources. As if more of the same will stave off the danger! That is all that Hillary stood for, the status quo and more of it! The left and the progressive forces are not able to come to terms with the real changes. They are not able to convince the masses of the real dangers ahead, or of socialism as the only alternative. In this scenario, it is natural for the masses to turn to the far right for their solutions. It is the most conservative, most reactionary, most outrageous, most low-brow solutions that will naturally appeal to the masses, in this situation, as the only chances of any change. And change, of course, is a must.

(Footnotes)

1 Newsweek article of 9th November 2016 accessed at http://www.newsweek.com/2016/11/18/donald-trump-white-working-class-voters-election-2016-519095.html

2 Term given to states who have voted only for Democrats at least since 1992

3 Accessed from http://michaelmoore.com/trumpwillwin/

OPDR’s Kashmir Fact Finding Report

Released at a press conference at Andhra Bhavan, New Delhi, on15th November, and at Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Bhubaneswar

A seven member OPDR team (here afterwards ‘the team’) was in Kashmir on 10th, 11th and 12th November, 2016. It met a cross section of Kashmir society in Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla cities. The team also visited Jagati Colony of Kashmiri pundits, 15 km from Jammu city on 13 November, 2016. Here follows a brief preliminary report of the team’s findings, conclusions and recommendations. We wish to share this information with the people and concerned authority of Indian Union through the media.

At Srinagar the team met:

1) APDP leadership, including its chairperson Parveena Ahangar (her son a student of tenth class in 1990 was a victim of enforced disappearance)

2) Kashmir Motor Drivers Association

3) JKCCS representative and a senior advocate Parvez Imroz

4) All Party Sikh Co-ordination Committee

5) International Human Rights Organisation representative Sarbjit Kaur

6) Valley Citizens Council

7) Professor Hameedah Nayeem of Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies

8) Kashmir Economic Alliance Group

9) Pellet-killed Riyaz Ahmad Shah’s family

At Anantnag the team met:

1) Dr. Adbul Majeed Mirab, Superintendent, MMAB Memorial Hospital

2) Adil Rasid Bhat, 33 years, pellet-blinded

3) Qasim Sajjad, Senior Journalist, Fearless Journalism

At Baramulla the team met:

1) Trade Federation delegation, Baramulla

2) Abdul Hameed Kakru, 83 years, senior most advocate and Abdul Saram Rathode, President, Baramulla Bar Association

3) Tareeq Ahmad Mugloo, at martyrs’ Kabragah (graveyard).

The team met considerable number of ordinary people also.

What do Kashmiris’ Want?

OPDR has been visiting the valley periodically since 1992. This time we observed a paradigm shift in the attitude of Kashmiri people when compared to 2013 too. Though there has been a heavy repression and repeated massacres resulting in disappearance of 8 to 10 thousand people and more than 30,000 people lost their lives, there were sections of Kashmir society with a hope that Government of India will mend its ways. But now in 2016, especially after the ‘murder in encounter’ of Burhan Wani on July 8 and subsequent shelling by security forces with pellets and bullets ‘to blind and kill’ the people, the entire Kashmiri population is monolithic in its demand – the Government of India should “implement the agreement at the time of wedding knot” on October 26, 1947. When the team asked to explain what they mean by it, many delegations said: In 1947 October we willingly entered into a contract marriage with Indian Union under the leadership of Shaheed Sheikh Abdullah. Our confidence in “secular democratic India” started weakening after arrest of the then Prime Minister of our Kashmir in 1953 and imprisonment of him for more than 14 years. In the subsequent 63 years we have seen and suffered from the various intrigues and horrible repression of successive governments of India. We feel bitter that the people of India in general are not empathetic towards our lawful demand of right to self-determination. Now nothing short of Azadi is acceptable to us. So we demand the Government of India, they said

1) Take initiative to organize a round table conference of all the stakeholders, i.e., Government of India, people of the whole of Kashmir which includes the separatist leaders and Government of Pakistan.

2) All cases against the people should be withdrawn unconditionally and all the imprisoned people should be released forthwith.

3) People of Kashmir should have the right to determine its future, i.e., a plebiscite is required in Indian administered Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir.

4) Governments of India and Pakistan should implement UN Security Resolutions on Kashmir question.

All sections of the people the team met unanimously declared that the people of Kashmir will continue the agitation and struggle until Independent Kashmir is achieved. “Let it take hundred more years, we don’t mind”, they firmly declared. They said they invite all the Kashmiri Pundits, who stand for Azadi back to valley and they further said they miss Pundits.

Case Studies

1. ATM Guard Killed in Srinagar

Riyaz Ahmad Shah was an ATM guard in an area of Srinagar. On 2nd August he was walking back home after duty at about 10 pm. The security forces, without any warning, fired on him from the back and killed him. The post-mortem revealed 65 pellets in his spleen and urinary bladder. Thousands and thousands of people, including hundreds of women, marched on the streets of Kashmir for three days demanding that the culprit personnel should be arrested and prosecuted. But the government did not do so. The sister of the victim, Sumera declared firmly and loudly that the whole family is prepared to die for the sake of Azadi.

2. Pellet Blinded Adil Rasid Bhat, Village Checkibonadal, Near Anantnag

Adil Rasheed Bhat, 23 years old, was returning from their family agricultural field along with his friend on August 21 around 2 pm. There was no agitation or morcha on that day in that area or even in Anantnag town. While they are walking on the footpath of Anantnag town, security forces fired on him and Rasid collapsed with unbearable pain all over the body. His friend was lucky to go unhurt and informed the family members of Rashid of this calamity. Rashid was referred to Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital at Srinagar which in turn referred him to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi. Rashid’s brother Mr. Abid told the team that the hands of the doctors AIIMS were full of such cases and so they took his brother to L.V. Prasad Eye Hospital at Hyderabad, the capital of Telengana state. His eyes were operated there. The team is informed that one eye is permanently blinded and the other eye may recover maximum 10 per cent vision. Mr. Abid also told the team that the family spent Rs 1.5 lakh on his brother’s treatment and they raised that money by selling a part of their land. The reports of L.V. Prasad Hospital treatment were shown to the team.

Pundits in Baramulla Town

The team met two Pundits – one Mantu, a textile businessman in Market Road of Baramulla town, and another medical shop owner. They said that though there were a few selective attacks on Pundits in 1990, now they are safe and doing their business normally. They don’t want to leave either Baramulla town or Kashmir Valley. They said they are for independent Kashmir.

Pundits’ Colony near Jammu City

The team visited Jagit Colony, 15 km from Jammu and interacted with more than 5 families. The team was informed that there were around 25000 Pundit families in 10 colonies in that area. Another 30,000 families are living outside the colonies and some have migrated to various states of the Indian Union and there is a considerable number of diaspora of migrated Pundits in various other countries. All of them shifted out of Kashmir Valley in 1990. They alleged that in 1989 the ‘Muslims’ of the Valley announced over the loudspeakers from the Masjids that the Pundits should en masse embrace Islam or quit the Valley. They further told the team that there was some selected killing of Pundits including that of a retired director of All India Radio by the ‘Muslims’. Afraid of the situation they said that they left the Valley. They said that they are not willing to go back to their native land even if the Union government advise or force them to go back to the colonies under construction in the valley, which was being initiated by Government of India.

Observations and Conclusions of OPDR

1. The Security Forces at the obvious directions of the rulers at Delhi are firing upon the peaceful Azadi agitators and also the common people of Kashmir Valley “to kill and blind”.

2. The records of at D.M. Hospital, Anantnag revealed 30% jump in registered patients in the four months period starting with July 9th. The total number of patients registered in that period is about one lakh. The hospital records further revealed 370 were pellet-injured, bullet injured 37, blast injured 20 and eye-injured 102. More than 80 per cent of these injuries were inflicted above the thighs. Thousands of patients were trauma inflicted, said the superintendent of the hospital.

3. In Baramulla town alone more than 200 people were killed since 1990 and the team visited “Shahid Kabragah”.

4. Since July 9, 2016 more than 13 thousand people are injured, more than 100 civilians killed and more than 120 people lost their eye vision from the pallets, bullets, tear gas shells, rubber bullets and baton charge of the armed security forces.

5. The people of Kashmir including respected intellectuals allege that the security forces fired tear gas shells on the peaceful people’s ‘morchas’ and when the angered people throw stone on the security forces following which the forces indiscriminately open fire on the people. They opined it as a policy of “provoke and kill”.

6. The Central government policy undoubtedly appears to exhaust the people of Kashmir and thus to subdue them.

7. The team’s interaction with very broad sections of Kashmir civil society including unions of trade, workers, advocates, academicians, women, very clearly point out that the entire Kashmiri nation is more determined than ever before to fight for Azadi. They are comparing their situation with Palestine and the government of India to Israel.

8. They declare their hope lies in democratic sections of India in addition to their own struggle.

9. Overwhelming majority of the people are not for joining Pakistan nor remaining in India but to live in independent Kashmir with friendly relations with both India and Pakistan.

10. There were incidents of people waving the flag of Pakistan and also recently the flag of China. It is nothing more than an act of anger towards the government of India and an expression of frustration.

Demands of OPDR to Government of India

1. Send all the Security Forces like BSF, CRPF back to barracks.

2. Scrap Public Security Act,1978 and AFSPA

3. Restore the civil administration fully.

4. Withdraw all the cases filed against the people in the struggle and release all the imprisoned including young dynamic, persistent human right defender Khurram Parvez.

5. The security personnel who fired on the peaceful agitators and who forcefully entered the homes of the people and those responsible for the torture of the people in police lock-ups and elsewhere should be identified and their prosecution should be initiated.

6. With the purpose of implementing the resolutions of the United Nations, Indian government should initiate the process of organizing a tripartite meeting of the people of Kashmir including separatist leaders, government of Pakistan, representatives of Pak-administered Kashmir and Government of India.

Appeal to the People of India

Visit Kashmir Valley in large numbers and interact with the people there and find the truth of Kashmiri question. Demand the Government of India to implement all the terms and conditions of “Instruments of Accession” and the promises of the first Prime Minister of India Mr. Jawahar Lal Nehru and UN Resolutions to which Government of India is a party.

Members of the Fact Finding Team

1) C. Bhaskara Rao, All India Convenor, OPDR,

2) M Srinivasulu, President, AP State Unit, OPDR,

3) U. Sambasiva Rao, President, Telangana State Unit, OPDR,

4) B. Narsimha Reddy, Secretary, Telangana State Unit, OPDR,

5) Siddhartha, social activist, AP,

6) Hanumesh, Advocate and All India Committee member, OPDR - Karnataka,

7) Vivek Ranjan, Advocate and All India Committee member, OPDR - Odisha

 

Is BRICS Traversing the Path of SAARC for a Similar End Up?

PJ James

BRICS, the acronym for the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which among them account for almost 40 percent (3 billion) of world’s population with around a quarter of World GDP, around 20 percent of global trade, and attracting 53 percent of global financial flows has often been interpreted as a concrete symptom of the transition from unipolarity to multipolarity in international politics in the neoliberal period. At the same time, the Hindu supremacist Modi regime toeing the US neocolonial agenda as the latter’s “strategic junior partner” on almost all international issues including the “pivot to China” policy together with its “sub-imperialist” ambitions in South Asia as the big brother in SAARC and having a number of bilateral frictions with China are often pointed out as hindrances to the coherence of the BRICS.

On the other hand, rather than being an initiative in the direction of qualitatively altering the present international economic and political relations, China, the de facto leader of the grouping with its economic and political might along with Russia has been trying to make effective use of the BRICS to carve out its own ‘sphere of influence’ within the present neocolonial framework. For, in the finalization of the Goa Declaration that totally excluded Modi’s characterization of Pakistan as the “mother-ship of terrorism” and concerns on “Pak-sponsored terror”, this China-Russia alliance was clear-cut and solid.

While China with its imperialist might blocked India’s attempts to include the names of terror groups like JeM and LeT (despite both JeM and LeT being proscribed by the UN) in the Declaration, Russia, India’s “long-standing ally” was totally disinclined to argue Modi regime’s case. Ironically, Russia’s submission to the Chinese position on an issue related to “Indian security concerns” has come as a revelation to the Modi regime’s security managers. Therefore, in spite of academic analyses from different persuasions envisaging the BRICS as the template for a change and launching pad for a “fundamental restructuring” of the existing world order, its eighth summit at Goa organized with much fanfare by the current host India has once again underlined this so called “Shanghai-ed” orientation of the BRICS.

At the outset, it needs to be stated that Goa Summit was an abject failure for the Modi regime that went for hosting it with the explicit purpose of isolating Pakistan after successfully aborting the SAARC scheduled to be held there. In the run up to the Goa Summit, Modi has been engaged in a relentless campaign against Pak-sponsored cross-border terrorism and his media mangers were propagating the illusion that BRICS Summit in its resolution would give a befitting reply to the Pak regime in this regard.

In fact, what makes more disgraceful for New Delhi was the omission of even the name of the “perpetrators” of both Pathankot and Uri attacks in the Goa Declaration, even as it figured Syria-based Jabhat al-Nusra along with ISIS as Russia continuously and relentlessly targets both in Syria and elsewhere. On the other hand, in spite of India’s insistence, in the face of Chinese opposition, Russia shied away from supporting the inclusion of Pak-based organizations that even the UN has designated as “terrorist entities”.

Thus, in terror-related issues, as Russia itself has been the clear “winner” in terms of BRICS’ focus and as China continues to call the shots on almost all issues including BRICS Bank and other financial mechanisms, questions have already raised in Indian ruling circles about “the utility of Brics for India.” Senior Indian bureaucrats are already disgusted with the manner in which China secured the permanent headquarters of the BRICS New Development Bank by granting India a “consolation prize” of the Bank’s first president.

While China together with Russia once again successfully managed to gets its own way in the Goa Summit, the feeble answer from MEA secretary Amar Sinha to the government’s own strategy analysts and critics of the Goa Declaration who questioned its continued utility was thus: “…there was no consensus on naming Pakistan-based terror groups because other countries are not affected by their actions.”

Obviously, the Goa Declaration’s evaluation of terrorism was unequivocal in totally disregarding India’s “Pak-oriented”, “cross border” obsession towards it. Thus the Declaration , among other things says: “9. We call upon all nations to adopt a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism, which should include countering violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, radicalization, recruitment, movement of terrorists including Foreign Terrorist Fighters, blocking sources of financing terrorism, including through organized crime by means of money-laundering, drug trafficking, criminal activities, dismantling terrorist bases, and countering misuse of the Internet including social media by terror entities through misuse of the latest Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Successfully combating terrorism requires a holistic approach. All counter-terrorism measures should uphold international law and respect human rights.”

It continues: “60. We acknowledge the recent meeting of the BRICS High Representatives on National Security and, in this context, welcome the setting up and the first meeting of the BRICS Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism on 14 September 2016 in New Delhi. We believe it will further promote dialogue and understanding among BRICS nations on issues of counter terrorism, as well as coordinate efforts to address the scourge of terrorism.

61. We acknowledge that international terrorism, especially the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Daesh) and affiliated terrorist groups and individuals, constitute a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security. Stressing UN’s central role in coordinating multilateral approaches against terrorism, we urge all nations to undertake effective implementation of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, and reaffirm our commitment on increasing the effectiveness of the UN counter terrorism framework. We call upon all nations to work together to expedite the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN General Assembly without any further delay. We recall the responsibility of all States to prevent terrorist actions from their territories.”

In his closing statement at the summit, Modi proclaimed that BRICS member-states were “agreed that those who nurture, shelter, support and sponsor such forces of violence and terror were as much a threat to us as the terrorists themselves”. The BRICS 109-paragraph Summit Declaration, however, does not have a single sentence reflecting this purported agreement among members. As already noted, the Declaration that calls for action against all United Nations-designated terrorist organizations (which ought to have included LeT and JeM) names only the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s latest proxy, Jabhat al-Nusra—both threats to China and Russia. Meanwhile while effectively scuttling Indian regime’s repeated attempts to mention terror groups like LeT and JeM in the Declaration, in conformity with their imperialist stature, the call for the “adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the UN general assembly” by both China and Russia has been interpreted as a strategic move to outsmart the other imperialists such as the US and EU.

However, to appease the other three “junior brothers”—Brazil, India and South Africa—in the grouping and to ensure BRICS’ sustainability thus, the Goa Declaration at the insistence of both China and Russia also resolved: “We reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.” The hollowness of this support for India’s entry (along with that of Brazil and South Africa) into UN Security Council is self-evident in view of China’s consistent refusal through various diplomatic routes to let India enter even the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group.

Meanwhile, acknowledging China’ s ascendancy to the status of an imperialist power, the other imperialist powers led by US was compelled to incorporate its currency, the Renminbi (RMB) in to the basket of internationally accepted currencies that determine the value of SDR, the currency issued by IMF. The formal decision pertaining to this was taken in the second week of October, 2016, on the eve of the eighth BRICS Summit. Interestingly, the Goa Declaration has had a special mention of this new stature of RMB underlying the Chinese intention to use at least the BRICS as a testing ground to deploy it alongside the dollar. It says: “31. We welcome the inclusion of the RMB into the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) currency basket on 10 October 2016.”

Along with this, the Declaration has also called for a reform of the neo-colonial monetary system including the IMF as usual. “We reaffirm our commitment to a strong, quota based and adequately resourced IMF. Borrowed resources by the IMF should be on a temporary basis. We remain strongly committed to support the coordinated effort by the emerging economies to ensure that the Fifteenth General Review of Quotas, including the new quota formula, will be finalized within the agreed timelines so as to ensure that the increased voice of the dynamic emerging and developing economies reflects their relative contributions to the world economy, while protecting the voices of least developed countries (LDCs), poor countries and regions.”

A similar resolution on the role of WTO which has emerged as the most effective neocolonial institution at par with the Bretton Woods twin during neoliberal period also was incorporated in the Declaration: “We reiterate our support for the multilateral trading system and the centrality of the WTO as the cornerstone of a rule based, open, transparent, non-discriminatory and inclusive multilateral trading system with development at the core of its agenda. We note the increasing number of bilateral, regional, and plurilateral trade agreements, and reiterate that these should be complementary to the multilateral trading system and encourage the parties thereon to align their work in consolidating the multilateral trading system under the WTO in accordance with the principles of transparency, inclusiveness, and compatibility with the WTO rules.”

In terms of economic influence and military prowess, India’s position is weak compared with China or even Russia. It was this concrete reality that was unfolded in the BRICS deliberations. As a junior partner of imperialism, India’s role (like that of Brazil and South Africa) as provider of “global security” is negligible or very marginal. Despite his whirlwind tour of more than 40 countries within a span of two years, Modi has yet to understand the distinction between performance theatre intended for captive domestic audiences and real power business abroad. The open US servitude of the new Brazilian president Temer (who himself is a US stooge and the product of a coup engineered by “US regime change machinery”) and Indian prime minister Modi along with the ideologically confused Zuma of South Africa makes it well-nigh impossible for the three to take any position in the BRICS to the dislike of Washington.

Therefore, except for its role as a “sub-imperial” facilitator of corporate financial flows, trade, imperialist climate deals, etc., as is evident from the Goa Declaration, as a political-economic project, the BRICS has become useless on account of its own inherent divergent and centrifugal tendencies.

What makes the Goa Summit different has been the Indian initiative to involve the so called BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sector Technical and Economic Cooperation consisting of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Sri Lanka) regional grouping as part of the “BRICS outreach.” As a matter of fact, the logical regional association which should have been invited was the SAARC. Its exclusion is connected with Modi regime’s intention to keep off Pakistan. However, the three countries, Brazil, Russia and South Africa in BRICS, which obviously do not share any common border or geopolitical interest with BIMSTEC, have nothing to gain from this “outreach.” Among the BIMSTEC countries India today has cordial relations only with Bhutan. With Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, China’s relations are deeper than that of India. And China is also planning to have a corridor linking Bangladesh and Myanmar via India as part of its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative linking South-East Asia to which India is very skeptical. The other country in BIMSTEC, i.e., Thailand is already in the US Asia-Pacific strategic network. To be precise, Chinese influence in BIMSTEC is advancing relative to India. Therefore India’s effort to reach out to East Asia through BIMSTEC to compensate for the breakdown of SAARC is going to be a “strategic blunder” on account of growing Chinese influence in this region.

To conclude, in view of growing strategic Sino-Russian convergence (including its closer ties with Pak) on the one hand, and South African-Brazilian lethargy on the other, the BRICS as a wall of loose bricks is losing its grip. Except China and Russia, the systemic integration and allegiance of the other three countries in the grouping to Washington-centered political, economic and military arrangements is much deeper than their involvement in BRICS.

As far as the comprador Indian regime is concerned, right from its inception, the BRICS has been a bargaining tool for it to demand from US and EU more voting rights in IMF, for an entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group and for achieving a seat in the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, in the Goa Summit, Modi has initiated a spirited and forceful campaign for utilizing the BRICS platform to nail Pakistan. But his painstaking efforts failed to get the support of other BRICS leaders who preferred to stick to the core agenda of the Summit based on their own pre-conceived international political-economic affiliations. As already noted, lack of coherence arising from divergent political and economic perceptions and interests among its members has once again reduced the BRICS to the status of a talking shop incapable of shouldering any relevant international tasks.

 

Two Peoples Bound by Water: An Open Letter to Our Fellow Indians on IWT

Soumya Dutta

OVER the last week or so, there is an increasingly shrill demand coming from the hawkish ‘foreign policy advocates’ and the right wing war mongers that as a “fitting reply” to the tragic killing of 18 of our soldiers in the condemnable Uri attack on Sept.18, India should abrogate the 1960 Indus Water Treaty between the two countries, thereby ‘choking Pakistan’ of its life giving water.

The Indus treaty gives Pakistan a major share of the three Himalayan far ‘western rivers’ Indus, Chenub and Jhelum (with some rights for limited irrigation, power generation & transport to India), while giving India full rights over the three ‘eastern rivers’ – Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. Hawks have ‘discovered’ this ‘unique possible punishment’ that can be meted out to the multiple millions of Pakistani farmers, water-stressed urban communities in Pakistani Punjab and Sindh provinces and the food security of Pakistan itself. As if “Pakistan” is not a country full of people-just-like-us, often speaking very similar languages, eating very similar foods and wearing very similar clothes, but an ugly, dangerous mythical monster that needs to be killed by any means, howsoever immoral !

What does the water of the Indus (or the Sindhu) mean to Pakistan (that land was called ‘sapta-sindhu’ in ancient times – mean anything to raging war mongers ?). This is a dry country, with average annual rainfall of less than 250 mm, less than our desert district of Bikaner and just a little over the Thar desert lands of Jaisalmer. Thus the drinking and agricultural water needs of major parts of the country is dependent on its main river system – the Indus, which irrigates around 70% of Pakistans food-basket farmlands in Punjab & Sindh. For India, the Himalayan states of Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh – through which the Indus flows, have many other water sources. Thus the Indus is literally the life line for the people of Pakistan.

The critical questions are many

1. Do we have the moral right to create – assuming that it can be done – famine and starvation in a large and poor agrarian country, just to avenge a military loss or covert support to terrorism by its military/state? Over 70% of Pakistan’s agriculture depends on the augmented Indus. What will be the Indian government’s response to the assured & subsequent global condemnation? Will Bangladesh, our friendly neighbor, ever trust India after that?

2. Let’s look at the ‘feasibility’ of this abominable act. To do this, Indian authorities will have to divert the largest river-flow in the western Indian Himalayas. To ‘evacuate’ a river, you need to create another river. How do the war mongers propose to do this in high mountain territory? By blasting through hundreds of kilometers of the high Himalayas? Where do you divert this massive flow (several thousand cumecs at peak flow)?

One look at the topography of the region will show you the massively mountain damaging, multi-decade ‘engineering project’ needed, to ‘divert’ Indus on to the nearest Jhelum or the next nearest Chenub This will be a massive, decades long project and will regularly cause big flood-events in Kashmir. The innumerable blasts to be used for “crating a big new river channel” will loosen the already fragile mountains, in a region that is also the most earthquake prone zone. What a grand invitation to mega disasters in our own lands! And just recollect that the 2010 Indus floods killed 2000 in Pakistan, and displaced nearly two crores people! Neither the Jhelum nor the Chenub possesses anywhere near the carrying capacity for this huge extra flow. Do we want to bring that kind of misery, the 2010 Indus floods – magnified by massive mountain-shaking, to Indian Kashmir, year after year? Just to avenge a small military humiliation?

3. And do take another look at the map – all the six western Himalayan rivers subject to the Indus Water Treaty – including India’s share of Ravi-Beas-Sutlej, ultimately drain into the Indus inside Pakistan. Do our Pakistan-killers plan to divert all six of them!! Madness -howsoever malignant – also has its limits.

4. Last but very crucial – we must not forget that as Pakistan is the lower riparian state in case of Indus and the five other rivers subject to the treaty, India is a lower riparian state for multiple rivers, from the entire Brahmaputra system in the Northeast to many lifeline rivers of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. What if China retaliates by accelerating Brahmaputra diversions? Which country is going to support our hollow pleadings then? China has much larger financial & engineering capacity to do these kinds of destructive mega projects. What if China & Nepal collaborates – as India loses all moral arguments – in mega engineering on Kosi, Sharda and other rivers in Nepal territory, and teach India lessons ‘at a time and place of its own choice’ , with selective sudden flooding and choking ? Will the 300 million people in UP and Bihar take this happily for the sake of ‘revenge’?

Can we imagine a South Asia after this – even if it is possible at great human cost on both sides of the political border ? The drumbeats of a crooked war are on the rise/Millions will be deprived water, as ultimate price/ Blood-thirsty war hounds know no morals/Lives, kinships, shared identities – all for sacrifice.

(Soumya Dutta is a founder member of 'India Climate Justice platform" and Convenor of BJVJ)

Resistance in Central University of Hyderabad Continues

Ghanshyam

THE Central University Of Haryana has instituted a probe against two teachers who were involved in the production of Mahasweta Devi’s celebrated story, Draupadi. Indian Express in its editorial “Storyteller vs mob” writes: “A students’ production of Mahasweta Devi’s celebrated story, Draupadi, at the Central University of Haryana on September 21 has triggered protests involving sections of the students, ABVP cadres and local villagers in the neighbourhood who claim that it shows the army in poor light. The university has apologised for allowing the play and has instituted a probe against two teachers who helped with the production.  The university’s action amounts to insulting the memory of a great writer, celebrated for her powerful articulation of the tribulations experienced by the poor and the oppressed and their resistance. Devi is part of the literary canon. Her writings are bound to be read, studied and staged in campuses. Like most great writers, she wrote to disturb, provoke and reflect. It is shameful that a central university administration chose to cower before the mob.…”

The following link to the “Report of the People’s Tribunal on Caste Discrimination and  Police Action in the University of Hyderabad” narrates the circumstances leading a suicide of Rohit who fought for freedom of expression and speech:  www.academia.edu)

The main findings and recommendations:  The tribunal was organized by the concerned teachers, writers, and lawyers of Hyderabad.  It was chaired by Justice  K. Chandru,  Retired judge High Court Madras. Prof Govardhan Wankhede, TISS, Bombay and I were the members. The brief to the tribunal was to examine the circumstances leading to leading to the suicide committed by Rohit Vemula Chakravarthy, a Research Scholar as well as the police action subsequent to his death and the existing caste discrimination practice by the University. And, to recommend among other things, besides protocols to enable marginalized students to fully participate and enjoy the academic, political and social space of the university more productively and effectively; and to examine the existing grievance redressal systems to prevent caste discrimination in the University of Hyderabad and evaluate their effectiveness.

The Findings

  The issue raised by late Rohit Vemula Chakravarthy and his organization, (Ambedkar Students Association) was a larger political issue related to freedom of expression and idea of India. There was nothing ‘castesist’ in these issues, as MHRD alleged and persuaded the University to change its earlier decision and take action against the Dalit students. Instead of looking at the issue in larger perspective, the adversary of ASA dubbed it ‘casteist, extremist and anti-national’.

  The manner in which the university authority conducted the inquiry against Rohit and other Dalit students give an impression of targeting them for their political position. At least that is how the Dalit students and many perceived.           

   Rohith’s suicide in the UoH is not the first one. In less than ten years, three other students had committed suicide. The University has done nothing to prevent recurrence of suicides of students in the past.  This was despite the fact that the earlier committees, appointed by the University, consisted of the university teachers, had made recommendations to set right things regarding student issues. What is disturbing is that UoH has not yet taken these suggestions made by their own colleagues seriously.  

   Even as early as the year 2013 the High Court of Andhra Pradesh (now renamed as High Court of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) in PIL No.106/2013 had issued several directives to all the Universities in the state to prevent recurrence of suicides.  However, neither the UGC Regulations of 2012 nor the Court directives nor UOH Committee recommendations have been implemented. 

Recommendations

(1).  The University should immediately implement the AP High Court Order Interim Measure No 3 that calls upon the University for instituting a Special Commission to review disciplinary orders imposing major penalties such as rustication, expulsion from hostels and stoppage of fellowships in the case of all students and especially those from SC/ST/OBC and other marginalised backgrounds.

2. Although at the University level, there are entities such as Office of the Dean, Students’ Welfare, the Central Grievance Committee, and SC/ST cell to address any problems faced by the students, there is no formal, institutional mechanism in any of the Schools for redressal of grievances of students, especially those who belong to the marginalized categories. The existence of such agencies even at the University level and the procedures to be followed are not widely known to the students. The doctoral committees, which may be expected to take up this role, exist more on paper than in practice in all schools.

3.  The University should institute as early as possible the Grievance Redressal Committee headed by the Ombudsman as per UGC (Grievance Redressal) Regulation 2012. And, on the priority basis, it must implement all the Directives in the Order passed by the High Court of AP in WP (PIL) No. 106/2013.

4. It appears that UoH has not yet set up the Equal Opportunity Cell headed by the Anti-discrimination Officer as per the UGC (Promotion of Equity in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations 2012. That has to be done urgently. Simultaneously, SC/ST cell to safeguard the interests of SC/ST students; and remedial coaching in English language programme to improve their academic performance require review and to be made more effective.

5. The university requires the formation of a broad-based “Students Counselling System”. Such system needs to be interactive involving students, teachers and parents to address common student concerns ranging from anxiety, stress, fear of change and failure to homesickness and a slew of academic worries. 

6.  The University should on priority basis appoint anti-discriminatory faculty advisors for SC/ST students.  It is a responsibility of the advisors to work as watchdogs to protect the students against discrimination. Moreover, they should also look into the problems –personal and academic- faced by the students and advise them accordingly. They should work as counsellors.

7.  The University does not have effective system encouraging one-to-one student- teacher relationship at all levels. The students in general and those belong to the marginalised communities feel alienated in the university system. Besides classroom and laboratory teaching, the teachers need to make a special effort to cultivate a one-to-one relationship with all the students so that when a student needs guidance/advice s/he can contact a teacher without fear. This responsibility needs to be interwoven with teaching and guidance. If needed teacher-student ratio needs to be reduced so that all the teachers get opportunities to spend time with the students.

 8. The teachers need to be more sensitive towards the students coming from the rural background and of the marginalised communities.  They need to self-introspect critically regarding their bias and approach towards the students belonging to the different social background than theirs. All the three committees appointed by the university have emphasised this. 

9. Universities in general and the elite universities, in particular, should not only be the centre for disseminating knowledge but they should also disseminate knowledge in such a way that it provides space to the subaltern and empower them by enhancing their capacity and self-confidence. It is dangerous if the dissemination of knowledge reinforces and legitimizes inequality in society. The task of university needs to inculcate values among students of mutual respect, equality, and fraternity.

10.  University has an important role in creating and disseminating knowledge in society. In order to facilitate the task, it needs to provide congenial space for critical inquiry without fear. Within the university boundaries, no concept/idea/symbol is sacrosanct. The academic community enjoys the freedom to express their views and debate on all issues under the sky without fear. Dissent is a core of critical thinking which needs to be allowed and protected within the university campus. University is not a factory to manufacture robots. It is a place to develop a critical mind. Everyone has a right to dissent, including dissent against capital punishment. The university of Hyderabad needs to protect such freedom.  Dialogue and debate have to be an integral part of academic life. Without that, the university would be dead.

Review: Imperialism in Neo-Colonial Phase

Thomas Sebastian

OVER the years, measuring inequalities of income in the world has improved from the single measure of per capita income to the Gini coefficient to the Human Development Index. What all these indicators show us is that these inequalities have persisted and there is no sign they are going to go away any time soon. Nevertheless, all people from the IMF/World Bank, UN and world leaders of all hues agree something has to done to change things. However the path to take to achieve this is not clear as the prognosis does not address the real issues.

The modernisation theories propounded by the mainstream economists tell us that the poor countries are poor because they lack capital to undertake investment which is the main source of development and growth. Initially, in the 1950s the developed nations and purveyors of world development - the IMF/WB - proposed an Import Substitution Industrialisation (ISI) strategy for the poor countries using foreign capital.

After the failure of this policy the same idea was repackaged as the Export Oriented Industrialisation Strategy (EOI) by establishing Special Economic Zones by the 1970s. By the 1990s the same ideas were refurbished as the Washington consensus, which we know as Globalisation. The central idea under the new dispensation is that if the developing countries open up their doors to Multinational Corporations, to operate without any constraints, the developing countries can achieve what they have not been able to achieve for all of these years. This strategy has been in place for the last 25 years, and Downloaded from cnc.sagepub.com at University of Birmingham on September 28, 2016 382 Capital & Class 40(2) there has been no perceivable change for the better in the lives of the people of these countries.

As opposed to the modernisers, the dependency theories propounded by economists associated with the ECLA (Economic Commission for Latin America) have been telling us that the backwardness of the underdeveloped countries is due to the deteriorating terms of trade for these countries. The goods that the advanced countries export are priced high as the wages in these countries are high while the goods exported by the developing countries are low as the wages there are low. Thanks to this unequal exchange the developing countries are likely to remain poor in the future unless there is a new international economic order that comes into existence. Thanks to their efforts a new international economic order was declared by the UN in the 1970s. But it has not improved the situation for the developing countries, other than putting the stamp of ‘fair trade’ on some bananas and tea packets on sale in the supermarkets of the developed countries.

The above two mainstream theories discussed in economics textbooks on Trade and Development Economics are incapable of giving a satisfactory explanation for the state of the world. It is here that PJ James’ book Imperialism in the Neo-colonial Phase becomes relevant. Dr. PJ James, an academic from Gandhi University, South India, is well equipped to present this as he is not only an accomplished academic but also a veteran political activist.

Through 600 pages of this book he puts forward a strong argument with hard data, quotes from authorities and by the force of logic, that the exploitation of the world working class by global capital is much more severe than during the period of colonialism. His preferred term for the present condition is Neo-colonialism. The expression Neocolonialism has been regularly in use to describe the state of affairs of the world for a long time. For instance Kwame Nkrumah, the first Prime Minister of Ghana used to use this expression in his speeches in the 1960s. The Chinese Communist Party, in a document entitled ‘Apologists of Neo-colonialism’ (1963) said, “this neo-colonialism is a more pernicious and sinister form of colonialism.”

Unfortunately, under the influence of Kruschevian revisionism this conceptualization was not taken up for further discussion in Marxist circles. The dominant idea was that after the Second World War global capitalism is in decline and socialism would be victorious in the near future. But nothing of the sort happened. Today the socialist camp is weaker than ever though some signs of its revival can be seen in some western and Latin American countries. However, the alternative they seem to be putting forward goes nowhere near what we had in the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, or in China under Mao. The important point is that finance capital is so dynamic that it is capable of adjusting to changing global situations and has been able to carry on with its prime goal of accumulation, an essential point James makes in this book.

For nearly a century Lenin’s Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism has been a guide for all students and activists to understand the global political economy, for in it Lenin identified the main characteristics of imperialism, one of which was the division of the world into imperialist countries and colonies. During the years following the Second World War political power was transferred to the domestic bourgeoisie. This has been the cause of the greatest confusion for students of imperialism, as this transfer of Downloaded from cnc.sagepub.com at University of Birmingham on September 28, 2016 Extended Book Reviews 383 power is interpreted as true economic freedom. The formal transfer of power and the establishment of new international political and economic institutions (UN, IMF, WB, GATT/WTO) were the beginning of a new phase of imperialism. However this did not happen suddenly within a decade. As the power of the leading imperialist power, Great Britain, was declining over the last decades of the 19th century, the rising imperialist power of the US was preparing the ground for a new world order. The author deals with this aspect of neo-colonialism in Chapter 1 titled ‘Genesis of Neo-colonialism.’ In the second chapter ‘Transition to Neo-colonialism’, the book discusses the various neo-colonial institutions that were put in place for the new imperialist system. According to James, it is during this period that MNCs emerged as the main pillar of neo-colonialism.

During the period, Keynesianism also emerged as the leading economic philosophy. The following chapter traces the decline of Keynesianism and the rise of Monetarism as the leading economic ideology. The developmental role that the state played under Keynesianism in developing countries mutated to that of a facilitator of the operation of foreign capital.

In the chapter devoted to India, ‘India: A Showcase of Neo-colonialism’, the author analyses the economic condition of this country since the transfer of power in 1947. During the period, and despite the fact that they had the means at their disposal, Indian capitalists refused to invest in technology and were content to produce goods with technologies supplied by the imperialist powers. Add to this their dependence on foreign capital for finance and their integration into global imperial capital is complete. They act as junior partners in the exploitation of the Indian masses. In the chapter, ‘Towards a Phase of Irreversible Crisis’, the author tries to put the global financial crisis of 2008 in perspective. He shows it is one more sign that capitalism has lost all its progressive character and has become decadent and moribund, as stated by Lenin. During the years of crisis, while the growth of the economies declined, corporate profits increased. Capital is no more interested in productive activities but rather solely in the redistribution of the wealth to capital.

Two important characteristics dominate the present phase of imperialism, or Neocolonialism - the export of capital and the dominance of MNCs. In the developed countries the so-called FIRE sector (finance, insurance, real estate) have an increasing share in the national income accounting. MNCs have achieved a re-division of the world to suit their strategy of exploiting the advances in technology. In this book the author has exposed these two important aspects of the neo-colonial phase of imperialism admirably.

The author argues that Pax Americana has been dominating the world during the second half of the 20th century. However, he agrees that the hegemonic rule of the US is on the decline. But he does not see any other country taking its place. If we agree that capital export is an important feature in this phase of neo-colonialism then one can see some important changes taking place in the global capitalist dynamics of today. Today China is the second largest exporter of capital. True it is a poor second. But it is a second all the same. Besides China, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have taken some initiative in countering the IMF and World Bank, especially in initiating the New Development Bank (NDB) to counter the IMF and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to counter the World Bank. However, James dismisses China or the BRICS in terms of their ability to pose a challenge to the hegemony of the US, as the Downloaded from cnc.sagepub.com at University of Birmingham on September 28, 2016 384 Capital & Class 40(2) capital available for these banks is only a tiny portion of that which is under the control of the US through the IMF and WB. China is also making advances in technology as their spending on R&D as a percent of the GDP is soon likely to match that of the developed countries. China is also catching up with the developed countries in acquiring patents. Lately the Chinese currency was admitted into the list of key currencies by the IMF. In the light of this, I wonder whether China’s increasing role in the global order can be dismissed so lightly.

This book is full of data and is not for the weak hearted. As Marx said, the fruits of science do not come easy and in this case the extra effort one puts in is worth every bit. Better editing would have made the reading easier.

(Imperialism in the Neo colonial Phase by PJ James, Massline Publications. Thomas Sebastian is Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham)

Reports and Comments

CPI(ML) Red Star Calls For Countrywide Resistance Against Modi's Demonetisation

The Polt Bureau of the CPI(ML)Red Star, which met on 19th and 20th November at New Delhi Party Centre, has called for Organizing resistance against demonetisation, a corporate led assault on people. The PB views the demonetisation imposed by Modi Government is not for the people but for the corporates. It benefits only the corporates and mafias who have stashed away 80% of the national assets as black money in foreign and domestic havens. The PB calls on all party committees to mobilise the people and organize active campaign and resistance against demonetisation based on the slogans: Demonetisation not for abolishing black money, but an attack on people, resist it! Confiscate all black money at home and abroad! Put Rs. 15 lakh in the account of every citizen!

The PB calls for continuing the campaign in support to the Kashmiri people’s right to self determination and against Modi government’s war mongering.

The PB welcomed the decision of the former leading committee members and members of the CPI(ML) New Democracy in Maharashtra to become part of the class and mass organizations like TUCI and AIKKS as the first step towards discussion of party line and merger. The PB decided to carry forward merger talks with other communist revolutionary organizations also.

The new Education Policy of Modi government is for all round commercialization and communalization of the education system. All party committees should expose this RSS led policy and organize resistance against it joining hands with AIFRTE units and other like-minded forces.

The PB has called for supporting the Caste Annihilation Movement’s decision to organize a vigorous campaign from 28th November, Mahatma Phule Day, to 6th December, the Dr. Ambedkar Day, against increasing caste based atrocities and for distribution of land to the landless dalits and adivasis, and has extended support to it.

It severely condemned the arrest of com. Jignesh Mewani and three more comrades in Gujarat and their custody in Ahmedabad central jail for advocating the dalit cause and raising the demand for land with the slogan “Jai Bhim, Lal Salam”. It has called for their immediate release.

The PB has called for observing 6th December as Anti-Communal Day. It was on 6th December 1992 the Babri Masjid was demolished by the RSS hoodlums and their allies. In order to communalize the voters for the coming UP elections the RSS parivar is intensifying the campaign for building a Ram Mandir at the Babri Masjid site. In this situation, the PB calls on all party committees to join with secular forces and observe 6th December as Anti-Communal Day.

The Supreme Court in its order has called for Equal Wages for Equal Work. The PB calls on all party committees to organize a campaign based on this SC order for implementation of this principle in all fields.

The PB meeting observed two minutes silence in memory of the large number of passengers died in the Indore-Patna Express tragedy during the early hours of 20th November and extended its condolences to the bereaved families. It expressed its anxiety about the way the privatisation of the railways is frantically speeded up under Modi government discarding the priority to be given for maintenance and safety, leading to such accidents.

 

DPF Rally on 7th November Launching Russian Revolution Centenary Programs

marking the beginning of year-long 1917 Russian Revolution centenary programs, thousands of comrades from different parts of the country mobilized by the Democratic People’s Forum (DPF) participated in a massive rally at Jantar Mantar on 7th Nov. with the slogans: People Demand Housing, Livlihood and Democracy and Take Lessons from October Revolution to advance towards secular, socialist India.

Addressing them com. K N Ramachandran, General Secretary of the CPI(ML) Red Star pointed out how the replacement of the rightist UPA government by the ultra rightist Modi government has further intensified the corporate raj and saffronization of the society and polity. Condition of the dalits, adivasis, minorities, women and all other oppressed classes have worsened further under the Hindu Rashtra concept pushed forward by the Brahminical forces. Fascicisation has reached the level of informal Emergency Rule leading to ban on TV Channels to subjugate the media also. He called for intensifying people’s resistance to replace the reactionary ruling system by taking lessons from the October Revolution which shook the imperialists and lackeys, and paved the way for national liberations and socialist advances

The meeting was addressed by leaders of other constituent organizations: com. Mohammed Gouse (General Secretary of MCPI-U), Ram Kavindar Singh (Navjanavadi Lok Manch), OP Sinha (All India Worker's Council), Raghav (Sarvodaya Prabhat Party). Representatives of New Socialist Movement (Gujarat), Janshakti (Karnataka), DSS(Karnataka), Jan Jagrutik Abhiyan of UP who could not attend had sent messages of greetings. All of them explained how the condition of the masses has worsened under Modi regime apart from intensification of the fascicisation of all walks of life. Only by throwing out this ruling system by taking lessons from October Socialist Revolution and other hitherto people’s revolutionary movements the people can advance towards people’s democracy and socialism.

Though the rally was planned from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar, in the last minute the Delhi police denied pemission for it, exposing how it is curtailing the democratic rights. While comrades Sankar Das conducted the meeting, it was also addressed by comrades Pradeep Singh (Bengal), Sivaram (Odisha), Pramila(Basthi Suraksha Manch), Saura Yadav (Chhattisgarh), Rudrayya (Karnataka), Vimal (Delhi), Rajkumar Dhillor (Delhi Jan Manch) and others.

Along with a number of mass programs in all state capitals, the Delhi rally marked the beginning of the programs of centenary observation of October Socialist Revolution taken up internationally by the commmunist movement and democratic forces.

 

Odisha: Protest against Sum Hospital Fire Massacre

THE CPI(ML) Red Star Bhubaneswar Committee organised a demonstration on 19 October at Lower PMG area and submitted a charter of demands to Chief Minister and Governor against the Sum hospital fire massacre. The protest meeting was presided by com. Chintamani Moharana and addressed by comrades Sivaram,Rebati ballav Mohanty, Pramila, Sabyasachi, Slum Movement leaders and others. The charter of demand included:

1. Throw out the private profit seeking businessmen/houses/institutions from the vital and essential service sector like health.

2. Give exemplary punishment to the SUM Hospital Authority for undermining the security measures against fire and safety to make huge profit for which more than 21 people have died of fire. Immediately arrest the main owner, not the ordinary workers of the Hospital.

3. Institute a judicial investigation. Stop the nexus between the health mafia, politicians and govt officials.

4. Provide compensation of Rs 50 lakhs to the families of each of the dead persons. And the compensation money to be recovered from SUM Hospital Authority and the higher officials responsible for this massacre.

5. State Govt. should bear all expenditure for treatment and food-lodging of the injured persons till they totally recover and this sum also should be recovered from the Sum Hospital Authority.

6. Strictly implement all necessary standard safety measures including fire safety in all the Govt. and Private hospitals. Strictly make enquiry about the safety system on a regular basis. Stop functioning of all the hospitals who don’t obey the rules with immediate effect.

7. The party state committee demanded the resignation of the chief minister and health minister for numerous incidents like the SUM Hospital tragedy, death of 19 children in Nagada, for the incident of carrying the dead body of his wife on shoulder by Dana Majhi due refusal of govt. ambulance service, abandoning of the children on the way by the 108/102 ambulance service, for promoting private hospitals and neglecting Govt. hospitals, for denial of treatment to patients who can’t give demanded money in private hospitals, for the looting of the amounts due from Health Insurance Scheme for treatment in the private hospitals etc.

Founding Conference of Delhi Jan Manch Calls for People’s Alternative

THE founding conference of Delhi Jan Manch attended by nearly 150 delegates from different parts of Delhi (NCR) has called for struggling in all fronts for achieving People’ Alternative Power against all the ruling class- Manuvadi parties and for basically changing the despotic, corrupt regime they have imposed over the toiling masses. In his inaugural speech in the conference com.KN Ramachandran [GS, CPI(ML)-Red Star] called for intensifying the struggle of the toiling masses against neoliberal policies and communal fascist onslaughts from the Manuvadi forces. He called for strengthening the Delhi Jan Manch as a powerful political force capable of capturing the power fighting against all forces of reaction. 

Following this the Vision Document and the 22 point Alternative Program for all round development of the citizens of Delhi-NCR, presented by com. Vimal and Vijay Pandey, were discussed and adopted. The first session was presided by Shri Rajkumar Dhilor, Dr. S.N. Gautham, Dr. Omkarnat Mithal, K.C. Arya, Harsh Mehta, P.K. Raghav, Amar Singh Amar, Sharafat Hussain Siddiqui, Miss. Manju, Jyothi, Nusrat. The second session was presided by Shri Sharoor Khan, Lala Madanlal, Kripal Singh Chauhan, com. Jile Singh, Shri Aftab, Ansurui and Shravan Chanchal.

The Conference adopted a fifty one member panel as the leading committee of the Manch and a 21 member executive committee with Rajkumar Dhilor as its Convener. The Conference concluded calling for making the 23rd October program a great success and to make the Delhi Jan Manch the real leading political movement of the economically and socially suppressed masses of the Delhi-NCR region. As its first program of action a dharna was organized on 23rd October from 11 am demanding the implementation of the alternative program put forward by it.

23rd October: Delhi Jan Manch Organizes Dharna at Jnatar Mantar

The Delhi Jan Manch formed in the 9th October Convention organized a dharna at Jantar Mantar on 23rd October to announce its decision to launch a vigorous movement for housing for all slum dwellers, an end to contract system and minimum wages of Rs. 22,000, drinking water, sanitation, education, healthcare facilities for all toiling masses. The dharna was addressed by comrades KN Ramachandran, Dr Mithal, Vimal Trivedi, Raghav, Jyothi, Rajkumar Dhilor and many other leading activists from different movements and organizations. A memorandum with its 22 point demands was handed over to the offices of president, prime minister and chief minister. The DJM committee will meet on 25th October to chart a program of future struggles.

Kashmir Week Observed

Following the call of the Central Committee, the party committees in different states organized campaigns, demonstrations and dharnas from 1st to 7th October supporting the right of self determination for the people of Kashmir, and demanding the withdrawal of army and para military forces from policing in the state. Slogans raised: Oppose war mongering of Modi govt; Withdraw military and para-military forces from policing in J&K; Repeal AFSPA; Release all political prisoners; Initiate political discussions with Kashmiri people and Pakistan for a political solution based on the right of self determination.

 

Messages

Message of Greetings to the CPN (Mashal)

Dear comrades,

WE wish great success to the meeting of the NCP (Mashal) to be held from 21st October at Bhutol. We are very sorry that we are not able to participate in this meeting due to earlier engagements. 

We recognise the NCP (Mashal) as one of the closest parties to us in the world. We have enjoyed a close and fruitful relationship with the NCP (Mashal) since at least around 35 years. Much has changed with both our countries in these years but our friendship has remained constant. We are proud and grateful for this.

We know that the NCP (Mashal) is also one of the parties which has the ability and the desire to reach the new conclusions that are necessary for making the revolution in the new situation in the world. We hope that we can work together to meet the new challenges that imperialism is throwing at us. We welcome this meeting of NCP (Mashal) to take a decision on the program on the 100 years of the October revolution. We are of the opinion that the discussion on this campaign will help in reaching a proper conclusion on the grave questions facing the International Communist Movement today. We hope to be working fraternally with the NCP (Mashal) in this campaign and in finding the correct answers.

We are also acutely aware that the Indian state, as always, and especially under the Hindu fundamentalist BJP Government is bent upon curtailing the sovereignty of Nepal. We are aware that the interference of the Indian Government in the framing of the Nepal Constitution was absolutely uncalled for. We have started a movement in India to call upon the people to fight against such expansionist policies of the Indian government. 

Wishing the utmost success to your meeting once again,

With revolutionary greetings to all delegates,

Your fraternal comrade,

KN Ramachandran,

General Secretary

CPI (ML) Red Star

Message of Greetings to the 11th Congress of the CPB

Dear comrades,

THE Central Committee of the CPI (ML) Red Star extends fraternal greetings to the 11th Congress of the Communist Party of Bangladesh from 28th October to 31st October 2016 taking place at a critical situation in both of our countries, in South Asia as well as at international level, with the neoliberal policies affecting all of them. We recognize that in your country while the religious fundamentalist forces have intensified their attacks along with political forces aligned with them, the government is using these attacks as a cover to curtail the rights of the people and to resort to more repressive measures.

In our country with the coming to power of the ultra rightist BJP led NDA government at the centre, the Hindutua fundamentalist forces are intensifying the attacks on all oppressed classes and sections including the minorities, especially Muslim people, to divide and weaken all people’s movements and to intensify the corporate-communal regime. Its refusal to take political measures to settle the Kashmir question involving the people of the region, has led to worsening of the Indo- Pakistan relations. It is engaged in war mongering and communalization of the country to country relations. As a result, the already weakened SAARC is made totally stagnant. On the one hand it is acting as a junior partner of US imperialism by signing the LEMOA like agreements with it, and on the other it is trying to become a regional bully. Under the present BJP government, the relations with all the neighboring countries have further worsened. This has provided increasing opportunity for the imperialist powers, especially the US,, to continue its hegemony and military aggresions in Afghanistan while increasing interference in all fields in all the South Asian countries.

All these developments are worsened in a situation when the international communist movement has suffered severe setbacks from 1960s with the former socialist countries and the communist parties coming under increasing influence of right opportunist and ‘left’ sectarian tendencies. Starting from this 7th November when we are starting the programs observing the centenary of the October Revolution we hope all the communist parties shall take up the evaluation of the hitherto experiences to overcome the past mistakes and make revolutionary advances to people’s democracy and socialist transformation. As constituent parties of the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR), we hope, both our parties shall continue to strengthen our mutual relations not only to advance towards revolutionary transformation in our own countries, but also to strengthen the South Asian and international relations based on the spirit of proletarian internationalism.

We extend revolutionary greetings to the Central Committee of your Party and to all the delegates attending the 11th Congress, and hope you shall succeed to achieve greater unity and higher ideological political consolidation through the deliberations in this Congress. We once again extend revolutionary greetings to the 11th Congress of your party.

Long Live the Unity of the CPB and the CPI(ML) Red Star!

Let us Strive Hard for the Unity of the Peoples of South Asia!

Workers and the Oppressed People’s of the World Unite!

KN Ramachandran

General Secretary

on behalf of the CC of the CPI(ML) Red Star

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