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SAY NO TO NUCLEAR POWER

Even as a growing list of countries from Belgium and Denmark to Germany and Japan – among many others – pledges to phase out nuclear power, the Indian ruling class has reaffirmed its allegiance to US imperialism by signing a fresh deal to build six American nuclear power plants in India. This was declared in a joint statement issued by India and the US at the conclusion of the 9th round of India-US Strategic Security Dialogue, co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security this week. “They committed to strengthen bilateral security and civil nuclear cooperation, including the establishment of 6 US nuclear power plants in India,” the joint statement said. Nuclear power projects have always met with stiff resistance throughout our country. However, the government is determined to go ahead with more and more nuclear plants, endangering millions of lives. A strong and determined anti-nuclear movement is needed to foil this nefarious plan. n

As India is moving towards the election of a new government at the Centre, at the 9th round of US-India Strategic Security Dialogue in Washington on May 13, the Modi regime in violation of established precedents has succumbed to Trump’s pressure for establishing 6 US nuclear power plants in India.

The Modi regime has already yielded to the US diktat by agreeing to a review its import of cheap oil from Venezuela in continuation of agreeing in principle to the Yankee demand to cut oil import from Iran.  As of now, India is the second largest buyer of crude oil from Venezuela, and the new US challenge that follows in the aftermath of US trade sanctions for not providing “equitable and reasonable access to the markets of India” is going to aggravate the worst economic downturn and inflation that the country is confronting under the Modi regime.  Trump administration that has already prepared a blueprint for regime change in Venezuela is planning an economic embargo over it and its diktat to Modi regime to stop oil import from that country should be seen as part of this agenda. Following this, while directives have been issued to public sector oil refineries, Reliance, India’s largest refiner is reportedly in close coordination with US State Department to ensure full compliance.

It is in this context that US imperialism has strengthened its pressure on Modi to accept its supply of 6 nuclear reactors as an alternate source of energy. The American lackeys in Modi regime who have taken part in the Strategic Security Dialogue is reported to have agreed to the US ‘offer’ in view of US support of India’s membership in Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Details on all issues including liability rules especially relating to who should shoulder the costs and responsibility of an accident are not yet known. Ironically, to overcome the US isolation in relation to the Paris Climate Agreement, American think-tanks and ruling establishment have once again started proposing “carbon-free” nuclear energy as a “catch-all solution” to climate change and the Indian technocrats are also echoing the same despite the extreme mistrust on nuclear plants prevailing India among all concerned, especially with regard to nuclear accidents, waste disposal and high expenses.

Therefore, it is high time on the part of all sections to come out strongly resisting and defeating this anti-national move by Modi regime, that too at the fag-end of its rule. n

It has not even been two months since the government amended the power sector guidelines for special economic zones (SEZs) enabling stand alone power plants to qualify as SEZs and be eligible for tax sops. It seems that this move greatly helped Adani. The government has approved the Rs 14,000-crore special economic zone (SEZ) project of Adani Power in Jharkhand, which will export entire power generated to Bangladesh, an official said. The project was approved by the highest decision-making body on SEZ - Board of Approval - chaired by the commerce secretary, in its meeting on 25 February, the government official said.

Adani Power (Jharkhand) Ltd has sought approval for setting up of sector specific SEZ for power at villages - Motia, Mali, Gaighat and adjacent villages in Godda district, Jharkhand over an area of 425 hectares. It has received formal approval for the land in possession of 222.68-hectare area and in principle approval for remaining 202.32 hectares. It has not even been two months since the government amended the power sector guidelines for special economic zones (SEZs) enabling standalone power plants to qualify as SEZs and be eligible for tax sops. It seems that this move greatly helped Adani.

“Adani Power’s renewed request for a sector-specific SEZ for power in Jharkhand got the approval from the Board of Approval (BoA) for SEZs last week as the new power guidelines now allow such zones provided they are dedicated to exports,” a government official told BusinessLine. In January this year, the BoA approved the Commerce Ministry’s proposal of amending the existing power guidelines for SEZs to allow standalone power plants dedicated to exports to qualify as an SEZ in line with the new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Power.

“Further, there will be no option of selling excess power in the Domestic Tariff Area as the entire power has to be exported or consumed within the SEZ,” the Ministry had said in its earlier submission to the BoA.

The company has already signed a power purchase agreement for the supply of 100 per cent power generated from this plant to Bangladesh. This could be a huge dent in the fight of tribal and Adivasi residents of Jharkhand who have been protesting the Adani project in their regions since years. “It is clear from the inquiry that several laws have been grossly violated by this project till now. The Adani project is yet another example of government prioritising corporate interests at the cost of blatant exploitation of people and their resources. It is not surprising that most of the documents related to the acquisition for this project are not available on the district administration’s website, as mandated by the act,” the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha had said as reported by SabrangIndia.

According to the acquisition act, consent of at least 80 per cent of affected families and permission of the concerned Gram Sabhas are required for acquisition of land for private projects. But most of the Adivasi and several non-Adivasi landowners have opposed the project from the beginning. In 2016 and 2017, public hearings for social impact assessment (SIA) and environment impact assessment (EIA) were organised. Several landowners who were opposed to the plant were not allowed by Adani functionaries and local administration to participate in the hearings. The affected villagers also claim that people of non-affected areas were made to sit in the hearings. In one of these meetings, when affected families had protested against not being allowed to express their views, the police had misbehaved with several women and lathi-charged at them.

The project in Jharkhand has been marred by scandals ever since its inception right from the forceful acquisition of land, a severe violation of processes set by land acquisition act 2013, bulldozing standing crops of farmers, lying to people about the potential benefits, intimidating affected people with police brutalities, lawsuits and so on.

Sabrang India, March 5, 2019  

JUMLA GOVERNMENT FURTHER UNMASKED

General elections have been declared and the ruling BJP has come up with the electioneering slogan of ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai’ (Modi makes it possible). However, recent revelations have only proved that the one thing Modi has made possible is disaster and destruction. While state-owned concerns like HAL and BSNL are finding it hard put to pay their employees, recent data emerging from RTI enquiries have shown that the Reserve Bank of India had serious reservations about demonetization but Modi went ahead with it nevertheless, destroying millions of livelihoods and unsettling the entire economy in the process. Former RBI Governor Urjit Patel-led Central Board, which was asked to consider the Centre’s demonetisation proposal, had met less than two-and-a-half hours before the announcement of note ban on November 8, 2016. PM Modi went ahead with the decision even before the RBI’s board approved of it. The approval was sent to the government on December 16, a full 38 days after the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes stopped being legal tender, and RBI had in fact disagreed with most of the Govt.’s arguments in favour of the ban. The demonetization drive now appears to be a scam of mammoth proportions and it is likely that more such proof will surface in the near future.

India under Modi has the highest unemployment rate in 45 years. Meanwhile, Nirav Modi who with his family members cheated the taxpayer of Rs 13,000 crores of money in the Punjab National Bank Scam has been spotted (and photographed) jauntily strutting on London streets, with the Modi government making not even any pretence of getting him back. In fact, the Indian government has ignored British offers of help to facilitate action against Nirav Modi. Evidently, in its 5 years in office the Modi government has not only trained its gun on minorities and people from historically disadvantaged and marginalised groups, dividing society along caste and communal lines, it has also used communal politics to turn public attention away from the giant jumla of defrauding citizens of crores of rupees of taxpayers’ money. n

It was on March 14 that 108 eminent economists and social scientists from the academic profession issued a statement questioning the credibility of Modi government’s statistics “for being influenced and indeed even controlled by political consideration” and called for restoration of “institutional independence” and integrity to the statistical organisations. As in the case of other autonomous institutions, the Modi regime is alleged to have made systematic political interference in India’s statistical machinery such as CSO and NSSO “to suppress uncomfortable data” leading to the recent resignation of two members of the National Statistical Commission itself.

Just four days after this statement by economists, that is, on March 18, 131 accountants and auditors have come out with a counter statement calling former’s apprehensions as   “bogus” and “choreographed”.  They asked: “Now when India has become the Fastest Growing Economy in the world they are worried about the credibility of data. Is it their intention to scare Foreign Investors by creating doubts on the credibility of Data?” The signatories had also gone on putting things in the standard corporate-saffron format as if it was BJP’s election manifesto eulogising GST, Demonetisation, Aadhaar, Jan Dhan Accounts, tremendous increase in market capitalisation, India becoming the fastest growing economy …, etc., and concludes: “We appeal to the professionals around the world to come together to present the true picture of India and counter baseless allegations with political motivations.”

Of course, this is not the context to expose these claims of accountants as the vast majority of the people in India have not at all experienced any of them in their real life. Demonetisation was the biggest corporate attack that sucked out the life-blood of the people on the one hand, and whitened all the black money with the most corrupt corporate elite on the other. GST transferred economic power to corporate capitalists after destroying the constitutional foundations of federalism. Peasant suicides became unprecedented during the five year period. India became the most corrupt country in Asia.  Even the logo of the much trumpeted “Make in India” was designed by a foreign company, namely, Weiden+ Kennedy and the unhindered entry of foreign capital to the economy has led to an unparalleled joblessness.  India’s ranking in Global Hunger Index has deteriorated by 37 percent reaching 100 among 119 countries, much below that of neighbouring countries. The top one percent of the super-rich holding around 52 percent of country’s total wealth and the total wealth of the top 9 billionaires being equal to that of the bottom 50 percent of the population, India has become one of the most unequal countries in the world. As a result of Modi’s policies, while the wealth of these billionaires swelled by Rs. 2200 crore a day, the total wealth of 119 Indian billionaires crossed Rs. 28 lakh crore in 2018! Thus goes the list.

However, while leading accountants and auditors are driven to quick defence of the corporate-saffron regime, at a global level, the audit& accounts profession, on account of its proximity to corporatisation and financialisation, is in acute crisis today. Leading audit firms such as KPMG, Deloitte, PwC, and EY and the professionals associated with them are already blacklisted by several countries on account of their unholy alliance with corporate CEOs. In the mad rush for ensuring fabulous profits for corporate capital, leading auditing and accounting firms work hand in glove with  corporate thugs leading to financial swindles, artificial fixing of asset prices and  account manipulations for shoring up corporate profits. Auditing and accounting scandals associated with the collapse of Lehman Brothers are a much discussed topic. What are being exposed through the Paradise Papers and Panama Papers including the links between audit firms and tax havens whose undercurrents are manifested in India too are intimately connected with account manipulation under neo-liberal crony capitalism.

This being the situation, that is, at a time when the credibility of the accounting and auditing profession on account of its unholy nexus with corporate capital is at low ebb, the aforesaid position of the economists seems credible as against the counter-statement that came in the garb of chartered accountants.

PJ James n

 

The Election Commission (EC) initiative to curb the use of black money in the forthcoming costliest 17th Lok Sabha Election through coordination among tax authorities, financial institutions, investigative  and law enforcement agencies is going to be just a window dressing in the context of the flourishing Electoral Bond Scheme established by the Modi regime with effect from January 2018.

Electoral bonds designed by the think-tanks of crony capitalists associated with BJP is an ingenious devise to channel huge sums of unaccounted black money from the most corrupt corporate thugs and foreign tax havens in to the coffers of the ruling party. Almost 95 percent of this unaccounted money generated through this scheme has reportedly gone to BJP that came to power in 2014 with an anti-corruption plank.  In spite of that, the Congress is keeping a studied silence on this most corrupt election financing invented by BJP as the same will be useful to the former when it comes to power.

EC’s attempt to check the use of illegal cash, fake currency, etc., by deploying law enforcement agencies shall remain superficial as under the electoral bond scheme black money holders and corporate financiers have already pumped unlimited volume of unaccounted money mainly to the saffron party most anonymously. And the recipient is not legally bound to disclose the source of these funds as per the scheme. While the ruling party with its control over banks can identify the source and the amount that the opposition parties may receive, the latter will not be in a position to know the details of such flows to the former.

Therefore led by BJP, the electoral bonds scheme, which has become a synonym for corruption and crony capitalism, will make the 2019 election the most corrupt. And the Election Commission’s much publicised talk of curbing black money use in election will remain as mere wishful thinking as thousands of crores of black money without any transparency flow uninterruptedly in to campaign financing.

PJ James n

While putting forward the Communist Manifesto in 1848, Karl Marx and Frederick  Engels in the first sentence itself pointed out how “all the powers of Europe have entered in to a holy alliance to exorcise” the spectre of Communism. A similar situation is now emerging in those regions of the world where the neo-fascists and neo-conservatives have ascended to power.

It’s latest manifestation has now appeared in Brazil where Bolsonaro, the arch-reactionary, is  elected as the president. Immediately after coming to power, he has declared a war not only against Marxism, but also against all progressive thinking. To start with, he is reported to have given directions to the education ministry to totally revise the academic textbooks to eliminate Marxist, working class and feminist orientation in them. For instance, the education department has instructed all textbook publishers to avoid references to violence against women, leftist terminologies, etc. According to Bolsonaro, combating the ‘Marxist rubbish’ that has spread in educational institutions is essential for Brazil to achieve higher international rankings.

The irony is that Bolsonaro neither recognises the existence of Marxism, nor admits the threats from it. According to Brazil’s teachers’ unions, he is engaged in a shadow-boxing or fighting an enemy that for him not at all exists. However, the fact is that, like all other fascists, Bolsonaro is also afraid of Marxism. In spite of the political setbacks being suffered, Marxism is still capable of sending shivers through the spine of all right-wingers. All “end of history” and “end of ideology” prognoses have lost their steam and neo-liberalism is at crossroads.

It is Marxism with its materialist dialectics, the scientific method of cognition in science that is capable of envisaging the most dynamic, creative and revolutionary alternative to the irrational capitalist-imperialist order. It alone provides a programmatic orientation towards a new social order to the working class and the oppressed. Rather than an ideological discourse, Marxism continues as a philosophy and a guide to action for those who uphold the most advanced mode of thinking.

And this concrete reality is haunting all fascists ranging from Trump and Bolsonaro in the Americas, to Saffron fascists in India. Therefore, concerted efforts are in full swing everywhere to bring the entire educational and intellectual realms under ultra-rightist, neo-fascistic and obscurantist tutelage. Religious bigotry and obscurantism are superimposed on education, scientific research and culture. Marxist-dialectical, materialist thinking that constantly strives to seek truth from facts is the enemy of ruling classes and their cronies of all hues. The latest report from Brazil, the biggest country from Latin America on banning Marxism from campuses should be seen in this perspective.

Bolivia’s president Evo Morales has opened a new “anti-imperialist” military academy to counter US policies and military influence in Latin America.  He said the academy will encourage ‘anti-colonial and anti-capitalist thinking’ to negate US-based schools that targeted indigenous people  “If the empire teaches domination of the world from its military schools, we will learn from this school to free ourselves from imperial oppression,” the country’s first indigenous president said at an inauguration ceremony on Wednesday.

“We want to build anti-colonial and anti-capitalist thinking with this school that binds the armed forces to social movements and counteracts the influence of the School of the Americas that always saw the indigenous as internal enemies,” he told a crowd that included the defense ministers of Venezuela and Nicaragua. Some Latin American officers trained at the US-based School of the Americas went on to commit atrocities under 20th century military dictatorships. In 2000, the academy at Fort Benning, Georgia, was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

Morales, who expelled the US ambassador and counter-narcotics agents in 2008, accused Washington of encouraging “congressional coups” such as the impending impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil.  He also said the US promotes global terrorism through military interventions, citing the rise of the Islamic State group as an example. The Santa Cruz academy was initially inaugurated in 2011 as the “ALBA School” after the now-weakened regional alliance that includes Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Cuba.

Morales’s invitation to that event of then-Iranian defense minister Ahmad Vahidi provoked an uproar in neighbouring Argentina, where judicial authorities have accused Vahidi of a role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre that killed 85 people. The re-inaugurated school carries the name of General Juan Jose Torres, a leftist who was Bolivia’s de facto president in 1970 and who expelled the Peace Corps for allegedly sterilizing indigenous women. Up to 200 cadets will learn about history, geopolitics and military strategy, the government said. A semester-long course required for advancement to captain is being taught by the Argentine Marxist intellectual Atilio Boron, deputy defense minister Reymi Ferreira said.

(Courtsey: The Guardian)

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The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.