CPI(ML) Red Star Statement on Covid-19
When PM Modi has told the people in his brief address that his government has done everything possible to confront the pandemic and there is nothing more to be done now except waiting for the Vaccine to come, there are many serious questions we have to ask him. The Covid-19 was declared a pandemic on 12th March by the WHO. Before that the first case was detected in India on 30th January. Nothing was done to check the international passengers at airports, to test and quarantine them, So, during this period 15 lakh passengers reached India without checking.
On 24th March, just after closing down all means of transport, without announcing plans for preparing the people to face the pandemic, abruptly the Lockdown was announced, with Modi claiming that in three weeks’ time it will be contained. Now after many Lockdowns, followed by continuing series of Unlocking lasting over 7 months, the number of Covid19 patients has increased from 500 to nearly 79 lakhs and the number of dead is already 1,18,000. Nobody believes these numbers, including the WHO. Since the state governments are asked by the centre to cut down the testing, the actual figures Covid19 patients in India, already in second position, may have crossed the figures of US, 88 lakhs, the first in the list long back. Except calling upon everyone to use masks, clean the hands and keep physical distancing everywhere, the only thing the Prime Minister and his Home Minister are doing nothing except repeating let us wait for the vaccine. And in the Bihar elections, the BJP has made free supply of vaccine as one of its election promise, clearing the message it is going to be charged!
Meanwhile what is happening in the country? Nobody knows the actual number of patients died of Covid19, as well as through other diseases and accidents, during the exodus from cities following 24th March Lockdown, due to starvation and malnutrition. As almost 30 crores contract/casual workers were thrown out of jobs, and most of them are not yet rehabilitated, the number of jobless people has sky-rocketed. Meanwhile even all existing workers’ rights are also cut, economy has further contracted, opened units are also cutting down number of workers, and as a result they are impoverished further.
The Modi govt. has refused to ask the managements to pay wages for the lockdown period or provide allowances to the unemployed, free rations, free testing and treatment to all, while announcing a series of assistances to the corporates. Even the medical staffs are not paid wages regularly, forcing them to strike at many places. As the number of tests are drastically cut, and in the festivals and political rallies as in present Bihar elections all restrictions are violated, the number may jump up in the cases at any time creating catastrophic conditions. Already there are reports from Europe, Africa and Latin America about a second wave of increase in the number of Covid19 patients. In this situation, once again the CPI(ML) Red Star is putting forward the following urgent demands:
- Remove restrictions on tests, provide free tests for 3 or 4 times more, hospitalize those affected and make quarantine compulsory. It will help to locate the patients and prevent uncontrolled spreading. Continue necessary restrictions on festivals, meetings, and providing safety kits to all those who need it. Provide unemployment allowances to all jobless, free family ration and free treatment for all.
- BJP is the ruling party at the centre. In Bihar it has announced that it will provide free vaccines to all in Bihar if it is voted back to power. Other parties are also announcing such promises in different states. The vaccine should not become an issue in Election Manifesto of any party. The central and state governments should ensure that the vaccine is made available free of charge to all citizens.
- Contrary to Modi’s claims, the testing, treatment and quarantine is not provided free of charge in many states. As a result, more and more people have to depend upon private hospitals. From the beginning it was demanded that the private hospitals should be brought under the control of the government. Now many reports are coming out from practically all states that they are fleecing the patients enormously and some of them are even running ‘organ trade’. The central and state governments should be asked to bring them under control, and a campaign should be launched, especially focusing on those running mafias for organ trade etc. for bringing them under government control till the Covid19 subsides. Take stringent action against private hospitals who used Covi19 pandemic to loot patients and indulged in unlawful activities. Organize agitations against corrupt hospitals to compel government to take action.
- On the question of unlocking of transport sectors there should be a uniform policy. Now airways, taxis, buses, metros and even some special trains and in Mumbai some of the local trains have started operating. But from some states not even essential long distance trains are not started. In the special trains tickets are very costly. At the same time Railways privatization process is taking place fast. A policy should be worked out according to concrete conditions in each state to run essential trains which is the only long distance transport available for the common people taking necessary precautions based on discussions with people’s representatives.
Polit Bureau, CPI(ML) Red Star
The spread of Corona Virus in India has been on the upswing despite the measures undertaken by the state. In most parts of India the suffering has been immense. The central Government took up the issue of Covid 19, with great amount of delay. From early February WHO started warning the Governments all around about the impending dangers of the pandemic. That time Indian Government was busy in organizing ‘Namaste Trump’ and the ruling party at Centre was busy with the operation Kamal to overthrow the Congress Government in MP. As The Janata Curfew was declared on 22nnd March and total lockdown on 24th March, the issue started being taken up seriously. To shirk the responsibility of the state, it found a very convenient target. The Tabligi Jamaat’s (TJ) seminar (13-15 March) in Markaz Nijamuddin was blamed for the spread of Corona by the Government and then by the media. Definitely some lapses must have occurred in organizing of the seminar at this time, and a large assembly taking place during a pandemic is inexcusable at one level.
At the same time thousands of people had come to India for the event ‘Namaste Trump’. Nearly two lakh people were exposed to this event. The Temples and Mutt congregations were going on. The TJ people had come to India with due permissions and screenings at airports. Despite all this the move to blame them for spreading Corona just exemplified the mind set and political manoeuvre of the Government. Demonising Tablighis was to target the whole Muslim Community of country.
The Godi (Lap) Media (or Communal media) went hysteric in proclaiming that Tablighis were deliberately spreading the disease as per the plan. This is their ‘Corona Jihad’ and they are preparing ‘Corona Bomb’ in Markaz, which is at stone’s throw from the police station of the area! The reach of this section of media is astounding. It got picked up and ‘Muslims are deliberately spreading the disease’ became part of the ‘common social understanding’. The impact on the social life was instant. Muslim truck drivers at places had to run away to escape the mobs. The Muslim vegetable vendors were beaten up at places and not permitted in many housing colonies.
After some of these Tablighis were quarantined and admitted to hospitals, it was a heyday for the fake news makers. What started doing rounds was that these Tablighis are making obscene gestures to nurses, are spitting, and are moving in the wards without clothes. All this gave grist to the mill of Islamophobia, already peaking in India. Police promptly went into action and cases were launched against the Tablighis who had come from abroad. The cases filed were under various clauses related to violation of VISA rules, spreading the epidemic, and also preaching Islam.
In couple of judgments on the issue, the role of media and police has come from scathing criticism. The blatant falsehood of FIR’s and the propaganda of section of Media stand exposed. In its judgement the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High court, the observation of the court are remarkably reflecting of the state of affairs of the attitude of police and media towards Muslims. The High Court clearly stated that the action against Tablighis is an attempt to find the scapegoat for the Covid 19. It observes, “, “A political Government tries to find the scapegoat when there is pandemic or calamity and the circumstances show that there is probability that these foreigners were chosen to make them scapegoats. The aforesaid circumstances and the latest figures of infection in India show that such action against present petitioners should not have been taken.” And further critiquing the media, the Court observes, “There was big propaganda in print media and electronic media against the foreigners who had come to Markaz Delhi and an attempt was made to create a picture that these foreigners were responsible for spreading covid-19 virus in India. There was virtually persecution against these foreigners.”
The judgment should go down as a case study of the attitude of state (police) and media towards its religious minorities in the country as those Muslims who came from aboard for seminars or touring the country were harassed to no end. The Court states, “This action indirectly gave warning to Indian Muslims that action in any form and for anything can be taken against Muslims. It was indicated that even for keeping contact with Muslims of other countries, action will be taken against them. Thus, there is smell of malice to the action taken against these foreigners and Muslim for their alleged activities. The circumstances like malice are important consideration when relief is claimed of quashing of F.I.R. and the case itself.”
Incidentally as Covid 19 shows us that those who matter and those who spread information are totally biased and look for scapegoats among Muslims, it also shows that there are some who are treated as Holy Cows. In the recent Delhi violence most of those who have been targeted are those who were active in protests against Government in anti CAA-NRC agitations. Those who gave provocative speeches, Desh Ke Gaddaron ko, (Anurag Thakur), There are rapist amongst those participating in the protests (Parvesh Varma) and ‘We will dislodge them physically (Kapil Mishra), are very much moving around while those who talked of peaceful protests are under the scanner.
Similar attitude was also observed in the series of bomb blasts, which shook the country between 2006-2008. Just one example will suffice, in the aftermath of Makkah Masjid blast (Hyderabad) scores of Muslim youth were arrested right away. They were released again by Court for the lack of any credible evidence. In Malegaon blast case ditto, one of the accused in the blast Pragya Thakur is on bail and has become the law maker. In practice what is ruling is the biased attitude, targeting some for their religion and exonerating others, again for their belonging to a particular religion!
In 2020 September Issue of Red Star, under the title “India’s Economy is projected for the Biggest-ever Contraction”, quoting both international sources and official Indian agencies, we have briefly outlined the unravelling economic scenario for India in 2020. Accordingly, IMF, World Bank and ADB, together with India’s own Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI), RBI, and the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), have come to a consensus on the projection that the Indian economy was moving to a 4.5 percent contraction in 2020. Some independent researchers even predicted a shrinkage of India’s GDP from $2.11 trillion as estimated in 2019 to $ 1.9 trillion in 2021. Of course, independent institutions such as the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning (CESP), had even went a step ahead warning an impending 15-22 percent contraction for the economy. Among the factors identified by these studies that led to this historic downturn, the most important was the prolonged, ill-conceived and coercive and authoritarian lockdown superimposed by Modi.
However, most of these agencies were unwilling to have a close scrutiny of the economic performance of the 6 years (2014-20) of Modi’ rule and more or less were concentrating on the pandemic-link of the economic crisis including the regime’s ill-conceived policies that accentuated it. Though India’s per capita GDP has been one of the lowest in the world (140th rank according to 2019 estimate), corporate centres along with Modi government were still spreading the illusion that by 2024 India’s economy would move to a $5 trillion size. Contrary to the perspectives put forward by well-meaning scholars that Indian economy under Modi has been plunging throughout, the neoliberal pundits and a many academics were reluctant to have a concrete evaluation of the crisis confronted by the broad masses of Indian people. Though a general agreement is there among them that lockdown is the immediate cause for economic reverse, still they are in tandem with the official view that strict lockdown has helped India keep case fatality rate lower than counties like the US, the UK, France, Japan and Italy.
However, following the Economic Review report for August prepared by Indian Finance Ministry that was released following the spread of the information that GDP numbers for the first quarter ending June showed the worst ever quarterly performance by the Indian economy, the government was forced to willy-nilly admit thus: "Data now available for the April-June quarter confirms a significant world-wide year-on-year contraction of output resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. US economy has contracted by 9.1 per cent, UK, France, Spain, Italy and Germany by 21.7 per cent, 18.9 per cent, 22.1 per cent, 17.7 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively with the overall Euro area contracting by 15.0 per cent and Japan has contracted by 9.9 per cent. Relative to these advanced nations, India's GDP contraction at 23.9 per cent is slightly higher." And it is to justify this unparalleled collapse which Modi regime whitewashes as “slightly higher” without any scientific basis, that the Finance Ministry claims the “stringent lockdown” as helping the nation to contain its COVID-19 case fatality rate to 1.78 percent, as compared to 3.04 per cent in the US, 12.35 per cent in the UK, 10.09 per cent in France, 1.89 per cent in Japan and 13.18 per cent in Italy. On the contrary, as is evident from IMF’s Gita Gopinath’s unkind comment on India’s GDP contraction as “worst among G-20 countries”, neoliberal centres are unwilling to take Modi regime’s explanation as taken for granted. And of late, Lancet, the renowned medical Journal has vehemently criticised both Modi government and the ICMR under its control for covering up the gruesome pandemic situation in India.
Coming to the economic scene, the 24 percent collapse in GDP in the first quarter (April, May, June) of the financial year 2020-21 has gone against the calculations of the ruling classes. In common parlance, it implies that the total value of goods and services produced in India in April, May and June this year is 24 percent less than the total value of goods and services produced in India in the same period last year. In fact, sector-wise analysis of data shows a more frightening situation. In terms of the gross value added (GVA), barring agriculture where GVA grew by 3.4 percent (on account of favourable weather good monsoon) as claimed by government, all other sectors of the economy saw an absolute collapse. Thus, GVA in construction sector has shrunk by 50 percent, in trade, hotels and similar services by 47 percent, manufacturing by 39 percent and mining by 23 percent. According to some estimate, the entire economic activity during the quarter has been only 25 percent of what it was during the same period in 2019. The job-loss due to the collapse of the relatively labour-intensive sectors mainly comprising informal/unorganised activities alone is estimated at around 140 million. Meanwhile, the Express Research Group of MoSPI has made the startling revelation that compared with the first quarter of the previous financial year, individual consumption expenditure that comprises around 56 percent of GDP experienced a decline worth Rs. 531803 crore (the decline is estimated at 27 percent) and private business investment that is composed of 32 percent of GDP collapsed by Rs. 533003 crore (the decline is estimated at around 50 percent) in the first quarter of the current financial year.
The outcome of this unprecedented decline in respect of the two biggest “growth engines” (i.e., individual consumption and private investment which form economy’s driving force on account of the continuous downsizing of the government expenditure resulting in a decline in its share in GDP to around 10 percent) of the neoliberal economy that accounted for 88 percent of India’s total GDP, The government has no data regarding the millions of informal/unorganised workers, migrant and daily workers who lost means of livelihood and employment, though unofficial estimates count them in the range of 12-14 crore. As estimated by CMIE, around 21 million white collar professional employees and 5 million industrial workers have been sacked in India during the past one year alone that does not all include self-employed professionals like doctors, lawyers, chartered accountants, etc. As a matter of fact, the 23.9 percent GDP contraction in the first quarter of 2020-21 as estimated by Indian Finance Ministry, on account of paucity of data, is not based on the real state of the economy pertaining to the informal sector. Therefore, as pointed out by US-based neoliberal experts like Raghuram Rajan, if the damage to the informal sector is also taken into consideration, then the economic collapse will be worst in sharp contrast to the GDP drop of 12.4 per cent in Italy and 9.5 per cent in the US, two of the most COVID-19 affected economies. Hence, as the global economy is going to contract by 4.3 percent this year (as calculated by UNCTAD, this year the world will experience a complete wipe-out of $ 6 trillion in terms of GDP –equivalent to the combined GDP of Brazil, India and Mexico), as estimated by MOSPI, Indian economy is going to collapse at the rate of 7 percent in the current year!
However, the very same neoliberal centres who now expose India as the worst performing economy were unanimous in characterising it as the “best performing country” in the world in 2014 with a GDP growth rate of around 7 percent when Modi government assumed power 6 years ago. Since then, what happened has been an irreversible downward trend in GDP growth rate along with the intensifying poverty, deprivation and pauperisation of the broad masses of toiling people as manifested in the historic decline in production, biggest unemployment in five decades, horrific levels of inequality and corruption. Though already discussed much, let us go through a few indices to unravel this historic plunge of India during 2014-20. For instance, in 2014 India’s ranking in Global Hunger Index (prepared by the International Food Policy Research Institute) was 55. Under Modi, within two years it steadily declined to 100 in 2017 and further to 102 in 2019 among 117 countries in the world and much below that of all South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka (66), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (88) and Pakistan (94) in 2019. Regarding hunger and deprivation of children, an indication of the seriousness of poverty and deprivation, Indian position is despicable. In India, only 9.6% of all children between 6 to 23 months of age are given a minimum acceptable diet and medical care. India is also notorious for under-5 mortality rates and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food. And, as an indicator of inequality and deprivation, India’s rank out of 189 countries on the 2019 Human Development Index released by UNDP is 129. Of course, there is no dearth of statistics highlighting the extent of poverty, hunger, inequality, unemployment, corruption, etc. in India.
Let us see the other side of the picture too. Under Modi regime during the same period, the concentration of income and wealth with the superrich Indians witnessed a sky-rocketing. For instance, in 2013, i.e., before Modi’s ascendance to power, the number of dollar billionaires (those having assets worth $100 crore and above) in India was 63. After Modi’s coming in mid-2014, their number steadily grew to 90 and further to 138 in 2019. Ambani who leads this list with $ 8060 crore (equal to around Rs. 6 lakh crore) is the fourth richest in the world today. In the absence of reliable domestic data, we have to depend on international sources such as Forbes, Oxfam, Credit Suisse, etc. to get a real picture on this. While 53 percent of the entire national wealth is gobbled up by just one percent of the superrich, the poorest bottom half of the population owns only around 4 percent of the national wealth as of now. When Modi came to power if one percent of the superrich appropriated around 50 percent of the additional wealth generated in a year, on account of his superimposition of corporate saffron-fascism, today this proportion has grown to almost 80 percent, quite unheard of anywhere in the world!
Over the last six years of Modi regime, this horrific wealth concentration on the one hand, and hitherto unknown levels of deprivation and destitution of the masses on the other, have revealingly taken place along with a process of India’s economic transformation from “best performing” as estimated in the 7 percent GDP growth rate in 2014 (as recognised by both Indian international agencies) to “worst performing” as is manifested in the 7 percent contraction of GDP as now admitted by the Indian Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI). Obviously, the roots of this destructive process are not caused by any extraneous or external disturbances but a logical corollary of the fascistic “surgical strikes” directed against the people ranging from the superimposed demonetisation to the coercive lockdown pursued by Modi without any economic or medical basis. Demonetisation in 2016 that terrorised and subjugated the people in the guise of dealing with black money was an ingenious move for an unprecedented concentration and centralisation of wealth in most corrupt corporate, crony capitalists. The GST that followed (since mid-2017) was also aimed at bringing India’s goods and services market under the firm control of corporates after demolishing the federal structure of the Constitution. Both these neoliberal-fascist offensives that may be characterised as economic holocausts led the entire economy to a frozen state, brought all economic activities to a standstill and paralysed the agricultural sector that provide sustenance to 50 percent of the people and destroyed the informal and traditional sectors which are the sole source of livelihood for 95 percent of the 52 crore workforce in India.
The whole package of far-right neoliberal polices and direct measures such as pro-corporate tax exemptions, neoliberal labour and environmental deregulations, series of stimulus and economic packages that directly channelled trillions worth of public money into the coffers of corporate thugs and outright loot of public sector banks coupled with the fascistic demonetisation that at a stroke wiped out 86 percent of currency in circulation quite unheard of in modern history, followed by GST and so on have already led India to a historic economic stagnation on the eve of COVID-19 itself. The fabulous wealth thus appropriated by corporates, both foreign and Indian, according to the logic of neoliberal accumulation, instead of contributing anything towards employment-oriented productive sphere, actually went into money-spinning speculative spheres or for further appropriation of public assets by a handful of the superrich billionaires. Consequently, on the eve of COVID-19 itself, Indian economy had entered into the biggest-ever contraction in its history along with its concomitant manifestations in all spheres.
Historically, crisis has been an opportunity for fascists and Modi knows the art of effectively utilising it from his experience of heading both state and central administration. Thus without even consulting the parliament or opposition, and with a four-hour notice, and quite reminiscent of the manner in which demonetisation was implemented, he superimposed the most stringent and most coercive lockdown that continued at a stretch for two months on an economy which, as we noted in earlier articles, was already in ICU. This highly authoritarian and destructive move which is unjustified and uncalled for while collapsed the entire industry and service sectors, also impacted the agricultural sector due to abrupt collapse in demand and freezing of trade and transportation. Only the fascistic administration and its oppressive instrument such as police required to implement the lockdown remained functional. The outcome: India has become the worst performing economy in the world during 2020 April-June quarter.
Now if we take the entire Asian countries, the estimated COVID-triggered economic contraction for this part of the world during this period now hovers around an average of around 6 percent, even as the real economic collapse of India may be larger than the 24 percent now estimated by government’s own agencies. For instance, former chief statistician Pranab Sen had projected a GDP contraction to the extent of 35 per cent if the real situation in the informal sector is also taken in to consideration. Therefore, COVID-19 is only partial explanation for India’s current economic collapse. Rather, it is directly connected with Modi regime’s far-right fascistic policies that serves corporate capital since 2014. The present unparalleled economic collapse of India is corporatisation-induced. To reiterate again without much elaboration, as we have already said, unless this trend is reversed through an appropriate political intervention, the corporate-saffron fascist regime will again try to deploy all avenues at its disposal to carry forward its disastrous pro-corporate agenda and put heavier burdens on the backs of common people.
Presently humanity is passing through an unprecedented crisis when all over the world it is almost paralyzed under the Covid19 pandemic, with no hope an early control of its very fast infection. But the ruling system in all the countries along with the mainstream media are indulged in diverting attention from the intensification of climate change or global warming, basic reasons for the outbreak of viruses like SARS in 2003, then MERS in 2012 and now the Covid19 with extremely high capacity to spread, or about the fast melting of huge glaziers in North and South poles, or about the receding of glaziers in Himalayas, about the super cyclones, wild fires as the one raging in US for weeks and so many other cases of destruction of eco-system and bio-diversity exposing how the corporatization/neo-liberalization under the capitalist imperialist system have taken the imperialist loot of nature to extreme levels. As the ruling system in all the countries which is becoming increasingly fascistic, stubbornly persists with very same policies, humanity is facing the danger of ecological catastrophe and threatened with even extinction of human species.
As the ecological destruction becoming increasingly dangerous following the imposition of neoliberal policies from the 1970s, there were numerous protests by people forcing the imperialist powers and their junior partners in power to convene climate conferences which were coming out with many proposals like Kyoto Protocol. But, the imperialist countries were not ready to cut down the energy consumption or to control the consumerist lust. So, all these proposals remained only in paper, they were not implemented. In Madrid Conference most of these powers withdrew from even these conferences, and the token climate conferences have also coming to an end. Even after the Covid19 outbreak and possibilities for more dangerous viruses surfacing and natural calamities breaking out, like the corporates allowed to loot the workers to any extent they want by throwing out even the existing labour rights, they are allowed to neglect all restrictions on environmental protection in spite of repeated warnings from the scientists and the concerned people’s movements.
It is imperialist barbarism and arrogance of the ruling system in action. It is a great challenge we have to take up urgently. The CPI(ML) Red Star calls for united action at national and international level to throw out the capitalist imperialist system and create conditions for protection of nature and creating an egalitarian society.
CC, CPI(ML) Red Star
Joint Statement by Anti-Imperialist and Anti-Fascist United Front (AIAFUF)
The Industrial Age saw capitalism progress, squeezed profits from human labor, amassed great wealth for a few and impoverished the masses. The 20th century saw the rise of monopolies, formation of financial oligarchies, the export of capital, international combines, and a world divided and redivided by war. It was also a battleground for socialism. The working-class and oppressed peoples fought, won and suffered setbacks. Yet, history goes forward.
The reintegration of former socialist countries into the world monopoly capitalist system aggravated the systemic and periodic crises of capital accumulation under capitalism. Before the close of the last century, a paradigm shift for neo-liberalism and liberal democracy ruled. The U.S.-led “War on Terror” and several regime changes failed to revitalize the economy. Fascism reared its ugly head passing the imperialist crisis on the working people and poor nations.
The financial crash of 2008 has led to worse crisis of the world capitalist system and to a far bigger fall of the financial and economic system in 2020 at a rate faster than that of the Great Depression of 1929 onwards. The neoliberal policy regime has become more bankrupt than ever resulting in unprecedented accumulation and inflation of assets of the financial oligarchy and monopoly bourgeoisie, unsustainable debts, depression of the economy as the consuming public is impoverished and the escalating contest of the fascist and anti-fascist currents throughout the world.
The current plunge of the world capitalist system coincides with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has become a greater crisis than it should be because the prevailing imperialist system and the current neoliberal economic policy has destroyed public health systems and also dictates to impose austerity on the people further enforced by the neoconservative policy of increasingly repressive and militarist measures. The accelerated enviromental crisis as well exacerbates the social, economic and health impacts of the pandemic and contributes to the emergence of new pandemics.
The number of the ailing and dying is staggering. Half of humanity is in lockdown. Desperate quarantine measures resulted in massive job and income losses. Suffering the most are workers, the unemployed, the youth, women and children, migrants, people of colour, the rural poor, and those in congested jails.
Trillions of dollars, Euros and Yuan seek a way out of the crisis. The police and the military, the coercive powers of the state, enforce stricter lockdowns and quell dissent. The people, even at home, are restless. They want a way out of the crisis. They want a stable and sustainable future.
Over a century of imperialism, of profit-driven plunder and wars, killed millions of people and will not save humanity. The people are crying out for systems change. Use the social wealth created by the working people to guarantee jobs and incomes, provide economic relief and medical services. Redistribution of wealth, taxing the rich, is not enough. Bailouts should not be for corporations. Production and exchange should be for the people. Socialism is the only viable alternative. We must nationalise strategic sectors including banks and financial systems and put these in the hands of the workers. Now should be the era for the common good.
In line with our long-term aspirations, we assert these immediate and urgent demands:
- Guaranteed incomes and benefits, cash grants and relief for the working people now.
- Epidemic management upholding peoples’ rights, mass testing and adequate health services for the people.
- Social protection for the farmers, workers and the toiling masses.
- No bailouts for big corporations, implement bail-outs for the working class.
- Cancellation, not simply relief, of onerous foreign debt of poor developing countries.
- Suspension and renegotiation of unequal trade agreements.
- Mobilize science and technology for the people.
- Nationalize public health systems, resist and condemn neoliberal polices.
- Respect democratic and human rights; release all political prisoners.
- Lift sanctions against 30 countries and territories including Cuba, Venezuela, Palestine and the DPRK.
- Re-channel military budget to public health and social services.
We need to educate the people, expose the roots of the crisis, know the needs of the people and find ways to support them, and oppose increasing militarism and fascist measures.
Fight back imperialism and fascism! Assert people’s welfare and rights! Struggle for sovereignty, democracy and socialism!
June 24, 2020
As Covid-19 has created havoc all rounds, the rulers of certain countries are using it to further intensify their set agendas. The democratic freedoms are being curtailed in certain forms, the reaction to which has come in America in the form of a campaign, which is opposing “stifling” cultural climate that is imposing “ideological conformity” and weakening “norms of open debate and toleration of differences”. In India similar intimidations have been intensified. In addition the occasion has been used by the sectarian forces first to link the spread of Corona to Muslim community and now in the name of reducing the burden of curriculum certain chapters on core concepts related to Indian nationalism are being deleted from the text books.
It has been reported that chapters on federalism, citizenship, nationalism, secularism, Human Rights, Legal Aid and Local Self Government and the like are being dropped. Education has been an important area for communal forces and they constantly keep saying that leftists have dominated the curriculum content, it suffers from the impact of Macaulay, Marx and Mohammad and so needs to be Indianized. The first such attempt was done when BJP came to power in 1998 as NDA and had Murli Manohar Joshi as the MHRD minister. He brought the changes which were termed as ‘saffronization of education’. Their focus is more on social science. Some of the highlights of this were introduction of subjects like Astrology and Paurohitya, and chapters defending caste system, nationalism of the type of Hitler was praised.
With defeat of NDA in 2004, the UPA did try to rectify some of these distortions. Again after 2014 the RSS affiliates working in the area of education have been active, interacting with MHRD officials to impress upon them the need to change the curriculum matching with their Hindu nationalist agenda. Its ‘Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas’ has been asking for removal of English, Urdu words in the texts. It has asked for removal of thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore on Nationalism, extracts of autobiography of M F Husain, references to benevolence of Muslim rulers, references to BJP being Hindu party, apology of Dr. Manmohan Singh for anti Sikh pogrom of 1984, the reference to killings of Gujarat carnage in 2002 among others. This they call as Bhartiykaran of syllabus.
As RSS is a multithreaded hydra one of its pracharak Dinanath Batra has set up ‘Shiksha Bachao Abhiyan Samiti’ which has been pressurizing various publishers to drop the books which are not conforming to their ideology. One recalls their pressuring withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s ‘The Hindus’, as it does present the ancient India through the concerns of dalits and women. Mr. Batra has already come out with a set of nine books for school curriculum, giving the RSS view of the past and RSS understanding of social sciences. These have already been translated into Gujarati and thousands of the sets of these books are being used in Gujarat Schools.
The present step of deleting parts of curriculum which gives the basics of Indian Nationalism, secularism and human rights is a further step in the same direction. These are the topics which have made the Hindu nationalists uncomfortable during last few years. They have been defaming secularism. They removed it from the preamble of Indian constitution, when they put out an ad on the eve of Republic day in 2015. From last few decades since the Ram Temple movement was brought up, simultaneously the secular ethos of India’s freedom movement and secular values of Indian constitution have been constantly criticized. Many an RSS ideologues and BJP leaders have been asking for change of Indian Constitution for this very reason.
Secularism is part of the concept of Indian nationalism. In the name of religious nationalism, sectarian divisive nationalism they have been attacking various student leaders in particular. When we study Nationalism, the very genesis of Indian nationalism tells us the plurality of our freedom movement with its anti colonial roots. The struggle was for Indian nationalism and so the Muslims and Hindu communalists kept aloof from this great struggle against colonial masters, it was this struggle which built the Indian nation with all its diversity.
Similarly as we have equal rights as citizens the chapters on citizenship are being dropped. Federalism has been the core part of India’s administrative and political structure. As the dictatorial tendencies are becoming stronger, federalism is bound to suffer and that explains the dropping of this subject. Democracy is decentralization of power. Power reaching the lowermost part of the system, the villages and average citizens. This got reflected in Local self Government. The power is distributed among villages, cities, state and centre. By removing chapters on federalism and local self government, the indications of the ideology of ruling party are on display.
While we are not dealing with all the portents of the planned omissions, one more aspect that related to dropping of chapter on Human rights needs our attention. The concept of Human rights and dignity are interlinked. This concept of Human rights also has international ramifications. India is signatory to many an UN covenants related to Human rights. The indications are clear that now rights will be for the few elite and ‘duties’ for the large deprived sections will be put on the forefront.
In a way this incidental ‘Corona gifted opportunity’ to the ruling Government is being fully used to enhance the agenda of ruling party in the arena of Educational Curriculum. The part of curriculum with which the ruling party is uncomfortable is being removed. This act of omission does supplement their other acts of commission in changing the shape of educational curriculum, which are reflected in RSS affiliates’ suggestions to MHRD regarding Bhartiyakaran of contents of syllabus. As per this the things like regarding the great epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata as History, the things like India having all the stem cell technology, plastic surgery, aviation science etc. will have a place in the changes planned by communal forces