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STEPHEN HAWKING, one of the greatest scientists of all times has been a living wonder to the science of medicine. Being one among the leading theoretical physicists and cosmologists of the present era, Hawking will be known for ever for his brilliant integration of the theory of relativity with quantum mechanics and his projection of the future of universe, which is also an inspiring source of further scientific research.

From the very beginning of his career as a scientist, Hawking came out of the clutches of so called bourgeois neutrality of science and openly declared his political preference by declaring solidarity with the world people fighting the US aggression on Vietnam in the early seventies.

As a concerned scientist, Hawking has been the staunchest critic of corporate greed, burden imposed on nature and unsustainable consumerism of the financial elite. His approach to artificial intelligence and prediction of doom on humans by machines, etc. though have earned him the branding of a pessimist, Hawking stands above all others in his love and concern for humanity.

For us, the sad demise of Hawking came when we just published his article “Greed and Stupidity will end Humanity earlier than Expected” in Red Star Weekly No. 8 Vol.7 dated 12th March 2018.

The CPI(ML) Red Star extends its tribute to Hawking and express heartfelt condolences to those who love him. 
THE ASIAN AGE, published this statement of Mamta Banerjee on Jun 13, 2017. She has repeated such allegations hundreds of times for last 15 months, while naked facts on ground level reveal the truth that it is a people’s movement led by CPI(ML) Red Star, and that it is advancing day by day, blocking the Grid Line that people rejects, and inspiring many such movements in Bengal and elsewhere. From Biman Basu and Surjkant Misra, PB members of CPI(M) to many of its other leaders repeatedly go to Bhangar and support the movement, even after Red Star has categorically stated that support to the movement is welcomed whole heartedly, but no political alliance with social democratic CPI(M).

In Bengal, Biman Basu and other CPI(M) leaders laugh at Mamta for calling Red Star comrades and people of Bhangar Maoists, while in Kerala CPI(M) leaders starting from chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to local leaders attack Red Star comrades and others as Maoists for supporting the Kizhattur people’s movement against the Expressway By-pass project. For them comrade Sunny, Kerala state executive committee member and other comrades of Red Star are Maoists, just like Red Star PB member com. Alik and others are Maoists for Mamta! What a ridiculous stand! It shows that they never learn from what happened to their party in Bengal and Tripura for pursuing neo-liberal policies! But in Bhangar, in spite of Mamta’s goons attacking villagers with bombs and guns, the movement is still continuing and expanding to dozens of villagers around. It is also inspiring many more movements! Almost the same thing is going to happen in Kerala also. Now please read what Mamta said:

Kolkata: Chief minister said that Maoists were inciting villagers of Bhangar in South 24 Parganas to protest. She said on Monday that the Maoists were extorting money from foreign countries by using photographs of people’s movement in Bhangar. The area witnessed protests over a power grid project in recent times compelling the Mamta Banerjee government to stall work.

“They are getting funds from Venezuela by showcasing your land agitation. They will flee after some days, but your lives will be doomed. Don’t allow them to create trouble in Bhangar. Remember they had murdered 400 to 500 people in Junglemahal,” Ms Banerjee said.

The police had submitted a report to the state government, accusing Maoists and a group of around 40 Jadavpur University students of turning the peaceful agitation violent outburst. Ms Banerjee, who had spearheaded the land movements at Singur in 2006 and Nandigram in 2007 as an Opposition leader criticised the Bhangor movement and said, “In Nandigram, there was an effort to capture the villages in the name of chemical hub. But in Bhangor, the villagers are being cheated and their future is being doomed. I cannot allow this to happen.”

She flayed a section of real estate developers for duping innocent villagers in Bhangar into selling off their land at a low price. “Some promoters and developers want to acquire the farmlands at a low price and construct multi-storey apartments. These promoting companies are trying to cheat farmers and grab their land,” she said.

She added that some outsiders had brought arms and bombs and they had stockpiled them in the villages. “If you don’t surrender arms to the police, we will recover them either today or tomorrow. We will recover the bombs as well. Who will guarantee that the villagers will not be killed by the arms?” she questioned, requesting villagers not to provide any kind of support or shelter to the “outsiders”.

She urged the villagers to come forward with their grievances. “If you have any grievances against political leaders in Bhangar including those of the TMC, please let me know. My officers will convey the details. I am ready to communicate with the villagers but not with any outsider,” she said. 

AN OVERVIEW OF BHANGAR MOVEMENT

CONFRONTING state terror and attacks by TTMC goons, during the last few months the Bhangar mass movement against the Power Grid Project has consolidated itself further. New villages have joined the Committee and the movement. Over the last week of December 2017 and first week of January 2018, the ruling party tried once more to crush the movement through the use of terror. A bike rally of the villagers was attacked with bombs and bullets and there were more targeted attacks on the villages most closely associated with the movement. At the same time, while the police refused to take action despite our FIRs against the attackers, they filed cases against all the leaders of the movement including com. Alik, accusing them of throwing bombs at the villagers.

However, even this fresh bout of terror unleashed by the Trinamool Party and its government turned to our advantage as the entire civil society spoke out in favour of the villagers and against the TMC. When the TMC realised that they had failed in their objective, the CM announced a huge and absurd compensation for even those over whose land the high voltage lines would pass. This announcement was greeted with contempt by the people of Bhangar who saw it as just another ploy to derail their movement. Further, the CM’s announcement of compensation made it clear that the high voltage lines would harm the farmland and that is why she was speaking of compensation. Thus it was proved that the Committee had been right all along in stating that the project would have an adverse impact on land and livelihood. Thus the CM’s declaration gave a boost to the movement instead of demoralising it as she had intended.

Here, it would also be pertinent to mention that the armed attack of the TMC served to make the villagers even more firm in their position. On the day following the attack, the people under the leadership of the Committee took out a 10,000-strong rally which shook the TMC. Simultaneously, on that very day an instant protest was launched by Bhangar Andolon Sanhati Committee in Moulali crossing near Sealdah with a human chain which blocked the busy crossing at mid of the day. Both the programs were well covered by the media.

However, as a result of the armed attack of the TMC, the Kolkata Chalo programme of 4th January had to be postponed. The program was shifted to Bhangor. Instead of Kolkata Chalo, the program was renamed as Bhangar Chalo. The program was a huge success as a massive participation took place. The government cracked down on those who were trying to enter the area in order to participate in the program. From Chinar Park crossing near Rajarhat-Newtown area where the members of different struggling organizations were mobilized, the Baguiati police detained nearly 200 activists. In the wee hours of the same day, the Belgharia police arrested a team of 11 members of comrade Akhil Gogoi’s organization who came to Kolkata from Assam to participate in the 4th January program, along with comrade Raju Singh of our party. All the comrades were released in the evening from both the police stations. This crack down of the government to jeopardize the program evoked huge stir and reaction among the democratic people of the state, which again was widely covered in media.

On 17th January the Martyrs’ day was observed. The Central Program took place at Bhangar, in a field opposite to the Power Grid Substation, while at least in 50 places in South Bengal the day was observed throughout the day at the call of Sanhati Committee. In more than 10 places in Kolkata city area temporary Martyrs’ columns were erected and the day was observed. Our party’s program took place in Taltala area in Kolkata city in the morning. The Central program at Bhangar was participated by top leaders of all the organizations supporting the movement including the opposition leaders of the Assembly and by all the politburo members of our party.

Meanwhile in response of the 4th January program of Jomi-Jibika Committee the ruling TMC organized a counter-program at Bhangar on 6th January where the leaders of TMC including MLA Rezzak Molla and other central leaders declared that within one month the work of the Power Grid project will be restarted, in a mass meeting where only 700 supporters of the ruling party brought from far away areas were present. After completion of this declaration the people of Bhangar gave a befitting reply organizing a massive rally of more than 12000 people with bamboo sticks in hands from Bogdoba to Shyamnagar, a stretch of 7 kms.

In end-February three days sit-in demonstration took place in Padmapukur area. The participation was absolutely massive in all the three days. The members from all the associated organizations participated. Meanwhile, Bhangar Andolon Sanhati committee organized several street corner meetings in support of the movement in different parts of the Kolkata city. The urban middle class people at present have gradually started to realize the justification of the movement as a result of continuous effort of Sanhati Committee and Jomi-Jibika Committee.

Another People’s Convention took place on 19th of March at Yuva Kendra in Kolkata where large number of intellectuals and democratic minded people participated.

Meanwhile, according to the decision of the state committee to form a mass-political front discussions with other organizations are started. Apart from MLRO there are five organizations to which we have put forward our proposal. These organizations are PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism), Radical Socialists, CPIML (Liberation), CPIML (ND), and PCC CPIML. All of these organizations are in a flux regarding their task at present situation. Further discussions shall be initiated putting forward a clear concept from our side explaining why we are thinking about this type of a front. The draft program of the front which has been prepared shall become the basis of this discussion.

Meanwhile the political condition of the state is moving in a direction where the main parties are trying to come closer in order to resist BJP, especially, after the latter’s ‘unexpected’ victory in Tripura. Mamta Banerjee is so much scared that she is now openly asserting to give the ‘Left Front parties’ some political concessions in order to prevent the shifting of their vote bank in favour of BJP. The possibility for the alliance of Congress and TMC is getting brighter in every passing day. Already, TMC has extended their support to Congress candidate in the fifth seat in the Rajya Sabha. Undoubtedly they will be happy if their friendship will exist until the Parliament election of 2019, and will be happier if the ‘Left Front parties’ join them. In this scenario the task of carrying forward the flag of uncompromising battle against neo-liberalization in particular and Corporate-Communal Fascism in general will become extremely important for the organizations like ours. What impact of this scenario will be felt in the anti-imperialist mass movements like Bhangar movement that must be closely watched.

PEOPLE'S CONVENTION HELD AT KOLKATA

THE leading intellectuals of the state have once again expressed their support and solidarity to the ongoing Bhangar movement in West Bengal. In a Citizens’ Convention held in Moulali Yuva Kendra, Kolkata, on 19 th March they criticized the state government for not entering in a discussion with Jomi, Jibika, Poribesh o Bastutantra Rakhsha Committee (JJPBRC) in Bhangar issue. Instead of holding a talk with the committee the state government recently has set up three police camps in the power-grid area.

The intellectuals raised their voices against this notorious act of the government. Partha Sarathi Sengupta, one of the most senior and leading lawyers of Kolkata High Court, said that the Bhangar movement is placed on solid arguments and moral justification. That is the reason why the government is still not being able to enter in a discussion with the struggling people of Bhangar. He said that the government is trying to bulldoze the people’s opinion to carry forward the anti-people project. The use of black laws like UAPA on the workers of mass movement is the result of this anti-people policy. Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, under whose leadership a team of expert lawyers defeated the government in High Court in Bhangar case, expressed his solidarity and said the determination and courage of the people of Bhangar will win. There is no power in the country to stop this. Eminent lawyer and activist in democratic movement Bharati Mutsuddi also expressed her support and solidarity to the movement.

She said that the struggle of the people of Bhangar is an inspiration to all the struggles which are going on throughout the state at present. Veteran poet Shankha Ghosh, historian Partha Chattopadhyaya, Somnath Chatterjee, ex Speaker of the parliament, and eminent senior writer of the state Nabanita Deb Sen sent their written statements as they could not participate physically. Shankha Ghosh is the most senior and respected poet in the state who has been writing poetry that reflects the struggle of the masses since 1951 when the police of the then Congress government brutally killed several persons including a minor girl by firing on a procession which was demanding food in Cooch Behar district of Bengal.

He took a prominent role in favour of Singur-Nandigram movement and against the Left Front government at that time. Therefore, his statement in favour of the people of Bhangar and his sharp criticism of the present government in this issue was significant, opined by the political circle of the state. Historian Partha Chattopadhaya sent a long and elaborate statement that totally unmasked the government where Sri Chattopadhaya asked the government that if they think that the project is being set up for the purpose of the people then why they are failing to convince the people. He declared that the mal-intention behind the project will not be successful as the solidarity of the democratic masses of the state is growing in favour of the movement. The convention received wide media coverage where it was said that the government had faced yet another blow in Bhangar issue as a result of the huge success of the convention. 
BOLIVIA’S President Evo Morales has been highlighting his government’s independence from international money lending organizations and their detrimental impact the nation, the Telesur TV reported. We’re revolutionizing the news industry, but we need your help! Click here to get started.”A day like today in 1944 ended Bretton Woods Economic Conference (USA), in which the IMF and WB were established,” Morales tweeted. “These organizations dictated the economic fate of Bolivia and the world. Today we can say that we have total independence of them.” Morales has said Bolivia’s past dependence on the agencies was so great that the International Monetary Fund had an office in government headquarters and even participated in their meetings.

Bolivia is now in the process of becoming a member of the Southern Common Market, Mercosur and Morales attended the group’s summit in Argentina last week. Bolivia’s popular uprising known as the The Cochabamba Water War in 2000 against United States-based Bechtel Corporation over water privatization and the associated World Bank policies shed light on some of the debt issues facing the region. Some of Bolivia’s largest resistance struggles in the last 60 years have targeted the economic policies carried out by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Most of the protests focused on opposing privatization policies and austerity measures, including cuts to public services, privatization decrees, wage reductions, as well the weakening of labor rights.

Since 2006, a year after Morales came to power, social spending on health, education, and poverty programs has increased by over 45 percent. The Morales administration made enormous transformations in the Andean nation. The figures speak for themselves: the nationalization of hydrocarbons, poverty reduction from 60% to less than 40%, a decrease in the rate of illiteracy from 13% to 3%, the tripling the GDP with an average growth of 5% annually, the quadrupling of the minimum wage, the increasing of state coverage on all fronts, and the development of infrastructure in communications, transportation, energy and industry. And above all, stability, an unusual word in the troubled political history Bolivia, of which today, with the economic slowdown experienced by many countries in the region, is a real privilege.

(Written by American Herald Tribune) 
SPEAKING against corruption from roof top and propping up the most corrupt corporate-financial elite have become the hall mark of the present Indian regime. It is a globally acknowledged fact that corruption today is inseparable from neoliberal corporatization and is systemic in character. The unhindered corporatization that is taking place in India under Modi regime is firmly rooted in the corporate-politician-bureaucrat nexus in policy decision-making such that presence of the most corrupt corporate financiers in the corridors of power as well as in prime minister’s frequent foreign tours has become a regular feature. The very same corporate thugs like Ambani, Essar, Adani, etc. are behind the so called NPAs to the tune of more than Rs. 10 lakh crores pushing the entire public sector banking system in to an utter collapse. It is common knowledge that this biggest-ever corporate loot can take place only with the patronage from the highest echelons of power. Nirav modi is only the tip of the iceberg.

Though Indian corporate media who are also beneficiaries of this biggest-ever plunder of the nation and its people keep a studied silence on the issue, studies by leading international agencies like Transparency International (TI) have already identified India as one of the most corrupt countries in the world today. In this context, the study by TI is worth noting. Based on a sample survey of 20000 respondents in 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and covering almost one-and-a half years, TI has recently assessed how India surpassed Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam in terms of corruption. Accordingly, India under the present regime has become the typical example of flourishing ‘crony capitalism’.
APPARENTLY it is not just jobless growth that we should be worrying about. Rather, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), a far greater concern is the fact that vulnerable employment is on the rise. According to the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2018 report, while the global unemployment rate is expected to stabilize at around 5.5% over the next couple of years, the significant progress achieved in the past in reducing vulnerable employment has essentially stalled since 2012.

As ILO Director-General Guy Ryder puts it, “decent work deficits remain widespread”. Almost 1.4 billion workers globally are estimated to be in vulnerable employment in 2017 - a majority live in Asia - and an additional 17 million are expected to join the ranks per year in 2018 and 2019.

So what is vulnerable employment? Vulnerable employment is often characterized by inadequate earnings, low productivity and difficult conditions of work that undermine workers’ fundamental rights. It is defined as the sum of the employment status groups of own account workers and contributing family workers. They are more likely to be informally employed, and are therefore more likely to lack a ‘voice’ through effective representation by trade unions and similar organizations.

In India, vulnerable employment roughly affects three out of four workers-77% of total workers according to World Bank (derived from ILO data). This, while all eyes have focussed on the unemployment rate. ILO actually projects the latter to stay steady at 3.5% till 2019-thanks to its rapid labour force growth, Southern Asia (which includes India) is expected to account for close to 90% of the total employment growth in Asia and the Pacific in 2018-though that means that the number of unemployed will go up from 18.6 million in the coming fiscal to 18.9 million in the next.

Worse still, a large proportion of the jobs being created is of poor quality, and expected to remain so. The report notes that “while there has been strong job creation in some ICT-intensive services, notably in India, a significant portion of the jobs created in the services sector over the past couple of decades have been in traditional low value added services, where informality and vulnerable forms of employment are often dominant.”

Other regions in Asia are faring far better. The share of vulnerable employment in total employment in South-Eastern Asia and the Pacific (which includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia) is expected to stay steady at 46% till 2019 and the figure is pegged at 31% for Eastern Asia (China, Japan, Taiwan et al). In the developed world, the figure is under 10%, but that’s still 56.5 million people.

“Underlying these aggregate labour market and social trends are disparities across a number of demographic groups. Gender disparities are of particular concern,” says ILO, adding that in Southern Asia, vulnerable employment rates among women are 8 percentage points higher than those of men.

The lack of employment opportunities for youth (i.e. those under 25 years of age) presents another major global challenge. Young people are much less likely to be employed than adults, with the global youth unemployment rate standing at 13 per cent, or three times higher than the adult rate of 4.3 per cent. The corresponding figure of Southern Asia is 9.5%.

On a more positive note, the report notes that the incidence of working poverty is expected to continue on its downward trend. As of 2017, 295.5 million people in Southern Asia were living in moderate or extreme poverty, which is projected to come down to 285.5 million in 2018 and about 276 million the year after. “Additional efforts need to be put in place to improve the quality of work for jobholders and to ensure that the gains of growth are shared equitably,” said Ryder. However, the high incidence of informality-it affects around 90% of all workers in India-continues to undermine the prospects of further reducing working poverty.

(BusinessToday. January 24, 2018)
IN what is perhaps the first direct electoral fight between the CPI(M) led Left Front and the Ultra Right in the country, the BJP’s aggressive ‘chalo paltai (let’s flip it)’ campaign in Tripura has managed to seduce the state’s sizeable young electorate with the promise of jobs, free smart phones and ‘poriborton (change)’. In spite of massive campaign by BJP it is difficult to predict the result of the elections to the assembly held on 18th February in which almost 80% voted, the result of which to be announced on 3rd March. Tripura has 3.6 million people spread across 60 constituencies, with growing population of literate but unemployed youth. Ironically, it tops the list of Indian states in both literacy and unemployment rates. In multiple interviews with The Wire across the state, many young and first-time voters said that they have seen CPI(M) rule all their lives and are willing to give the BJP a chance, while many others appreciated chief minister Manik Sarkar for maintaining peace in the state and ensuring at least basic social security for all.

Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah have attacked Sarkar for failing to adequately tackle poverty and unemployment; 19.7% of people in Tripura are unemployed. As is the story in most of the region, the government is the largest employer but jobs created fall way short of demand. The Left Front government has been in power in the state for the past 25 years and BJP is trying to focus on just the possibility of a change exciting to many young people.

There have been widespread allegations of favouritism in government jobs and the state is yet to fully implement the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations. Apart from this, MGNREGA jobs have failed to create rural assets, and private jobs are scarce as there are no major industries in the state. The government’s promotion of rubber plantations in rural Tripura and agricultural subsidies have significantly increased household incomes in the region, but agro-based industries have not been encouraged. The Sarkar government’s own economic review for 2015-16 has described the challenges: “The state’s economy is characterized by high incidence of poverty, low per capita income, low capital formation, inadequate infrastructural facilities and geographical isolation and communication bottleneck, low progress in industrial field as well as high un-employment problem. On the other hand, low availability of infra-structure has made the process of economic development extremely difficult in the backward state of Tripura.” Finding it very difficult to communalize the polls as in UP or elsewhere, BJP is trying to focus on these economic issues to seek a change.

But the real loser in this election is going to be Congress which was the number 2 force behind CPI(M) since 1977, when the latter replaced it. This time it is going to become a distant third force. As far BJP is concerned it had only 1.5% votes in 2013 assembly elections which increased to more than 5.5 % in 2014 and is expected to increase sizably this time, since in spite of the clean image of Sarkar and the absence of Singur, Nandigram like agitations as happened in Bengal, the main challenge faced by the CPI(M) is that it has no alternative model to project against the neo-liberal model of Congress and BJP. 

KASGANJ : THE FACTS AND NOT THE HYPE

Muslims of Kasganj were celebrating Republic Day on January 26 by hoisting the Indian national flag hoisting program at Veer Abdul Hamid Tri-Crossing. Veer Abdul Hamid incidentally, is the Paramveer Chakra decorated martyr from Ghazipur, UP, who demolished several Pakistani Patton Tanks during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. This tri-crossing is located at the heart of a locality where Muslims and Hindus have been living peacefully for generations. While Muslims were hoisting the tri-colour flag in a small ceremony with chairs and guests, , a group of boys suddenly appeared on foot and bikes to disrupt the event. These boys were not carrying out a tiranga yatra. You can see in the picture and the video, that these men, ostensibly from the Akhil Bharatiya Yuva Parishad, were carrying a saffron flag.

Muslims requested these boys to join their program and celebrate Republic Day together. They asked them not to disrupt the flag hositing and to join it together But the boys insisted that the ceremony be stopped, and uprooted the stand on which the Muslims had hoisted the tri-colour. The Muslims tried to reason with the boys even then, who were all not from the locality and outsiders. The boys wanted the Muslims to hoist the RSS-saffron flag. When the Muslims protested, the boys got violence, They slapped an elderly Muslim.

A scurffle ensued. The boys raised dirty abusive slogans against the Muslims. One of these being, “Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan, K****Bhago Pakistan.” The youth then left the place, so as per all reports violence did NOT take place at the Veer Abudl Hamid Tri-Crossing beyond what has been stated above. Instead another group joined the initial youth in another part of Kasgang, and this mob moved attacking thelas pf Muslims, torching trucks at Bilram Crossing. They attacked and looted Muslim shops. They had arms and were firing in the air, according to eyewitnesses. It was at this point that one Chandan Gupta was hit by a bullet.

Preparation for trouble had begun earlier, with a Muslim man driving from Aligarh to Kasganj being brutally attacked by a mob. The saffron flag which the group was trying to hoist, is still there at Veer Abdul Hamid Chowk.

Amaresh Mishra n
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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.