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KERALA is widely recognised as a benchmark for development not only in India, but across the world too. But what is the character of this development, its class orientation? For, hundreds of Adivasi and Dalit families in the state, the promise of the Kerala model of development has remained just that, a promise that seems endlessly deferred. For over four years, hundreds of these landless families from Arippa in the state’s Kollam district have been locked in an agitation spearheaded by the Adivasi Dalit Munnetta Samithi. For the last 300 days, over 350 families have brought this protest to the doorstep of the government, undertaking a serial protest in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram.

Every day for the last 10 months, at least 10 Adivasi and Dalit families from Arippa have been gathering outside the Secretariat demanding that the government fulfil a promise made to them – that they will all be given enough land to earn a basic livelihood.

We are demanding agricultural land for our survival. We have no educational qualifications to get government jobs or any other profession. Agriculture is our only means of survival. If the government does not want to give us the land, how do we fill our stomachs?

Left Behind by Land Reforms

Behind this protracted struggle of the Arippa agitation is a long history of uneven development in Kerala that has left the state’s Adivasis and Dalits struggling to eke out a livelihood on the margins. Adivasis historically lost out to peasant communities migrating into tribal territories from other parts of the state, bringing with them new concepts of land ownership that disrupted the traditional claim that Adivasis had on their land. Dalits, on the other hand, were disabled by caste from staking claim to agricultural land. When Kerala carried out its historic land reforms, one of the most successful such programmes in the country, these Dalit families only received ownership for small household plots, but not to agricultural land. The Land Reforms Act enacted in the Kerala State in the 1960s helped thousands of landless tenants realise their dream of owning land but it also denied justice to tribal people.

Though a 1975 law by Parliament made it mandatory for all states including Kerala to return land alienated from Adivasi communities, this
“OCHI” cyclone has severely affected the life of the peoples of Kanyakumari and Cudalore districts in Tamil nadu.The fishermen usually stay in the sea for 2 to 3 days for fishing. The Tamil nadu government and the state weather research center took gave warning for the precautionary action only on 29th Nov, while the storm came on 30th Nov morning. So fishermen who went into the sea before 29th Nov didn’t know about the storm.The government didn’t take any special precautionary action for the peoples who went into the sea before 29th November. So the life of thousands of fishermen was in danger. In this situation, the dead bodies of fishermen are washed up everyday. Still hundreds of them are missing. So, the peoples are angry and frightened.

After 7 days, where the fishermen were missing, the government gave the statistics as 260 fishermen were missing. But people said that the number of missing people were nearly 1000. The government didn’t have the even proper details about it. Modi’s digital technologyis exposed before the people, with no idea to rescue the fishermen. The chief minister of state and other leaders were busy with observing fhe first death anniversary of former chief minister Jaylalitha and had no time to help the fishermen who were in danger and their families. The Central and state government should take responsibility for the death of fishermen. Angry against the apathy of the central and state governments blocked the railways and Highways from 6th December demanding: 1) The government should expedite work to rescue the missing fishermen. 2) The government should give the subsidy of Rs. 25 lakh to the family of dead fishermen and should give the full compensation for the damaged boats, fishing nets, houses etc. 3) Free ration and assistance should be provided to fishermen who and families deprived of work due to the cyclone.

Kalai vanan, State organiser, AIKKS
EVEN before the counting of votes for UP municipal elections start coming out on 1st December, the corporate channels had started flashing Breaking News that BJP is sweeping the polls. On 2nd morning most of the corporate newspapers wrote that BJP has swept 14 out of 16 mayors posts, but most of them did not give details of results to other seats. The UP Election Commission’s statement shows that BJP’s victory was mostly limited to mayors’ elections where EVMs were used, but overall its performance is much below the State assembly elections! We are giving below report written by Amresh Mishra from facebooks to see the full results which can be verified by all from Election Commission’s website.

BJP has taken a solid punch. UP has thrown them out but media would have you believe it otherwise. Full and final, real results of UP local body elections.

Indepents win 225 seats out of 652 and emerged as the single largest group... BJP loses the status of being even the single largest party...

This infinitely, is a bigger scam than demonetisation, selling India to Ambani, Adani, foreign nations and foreign capital. This is a bigger scam than Modi drinking tea with Nawaz Sharif in a blatant act of cynicism when our Jawans were being killed at the order. You must have heard of booth capturing, rigging etc; but how would you term an electoral exercise where the real results are hidden from the public — part is presented as whole... Where a parallel false ‘Reality’ is created to counter the ‘Real Reality’.

BJP’s measly, victory of the gutter, just 14 out 16 in urban hubs, is being presented as a victory! Where is Shekhar Gupta, where is Prakash Bhanu Mehta, where is Abhisar Sharma, where is that... that... man... Prannoy Roy.... where is Rajdeep Sardesai...where is Arvind Kejriwal...where is Radhika Ramseshan, where is Burkha Dutt...where is Abhisar Sharma... where the hell are u guys hiding? What are you guys afraid of?

None of you have had the guts to at least present real facts of UP civic polls before the people.

Yesterday(on the day of UP local body election result), the entire day, media kept raping facts... kept showing that BJP has won 14 out of 16 Municipal elections. Not a word about results of Nagar Parishad and Nagar Panchayat!

Indian Express, Times of India, Hindustan Times, Tribune, Dainik Jaran, Aaj Tak, Zee, NDTV, CNN-IBN, and yes, first post, second post, third post—

I call out for justice... here are the real figures:

Nagar Panchayat (Town Area) Presidents: 438/438 — Independents: 182, BJP: 100, SP: 83, BSP: 45, Congress: 17, AAP: 2, Rashtriya Janata Dal: 2, Rashtriya Lok Dal: 3, AIMM: 1, AIFB: 1, Unrecognised Party: 2

Nagar Palika Parishad (City Municipal Council) Presidents : 198/198 — BJP: 70, SP: 45, Independents: 43, BSP: 29, Congress: 9, CPI: 1, and Ad hoc registered party: 1

Nagar Nigam (City Municipal Corporation) President: 16 — BJP: 14, BSP: 2

WAIT... the best is yet to come... Out of 652 seats in the Corporation Councils, BJP gets 184 seats... and who gets the maximum? Bloody hell! It is the Independents!!!!

Indendents win 225 seats out of 652 and emerged as single largest!, SP emerges as the third party with 128 seats out of 652...

BSP emerges in the fourth position with 76 seats out of 652... again, BSP has re-gained some of its Dalit votes... but overall, sliding behind SP must have given it cold comfort...

Now, let us see the voting pattern: Out of a total population of 22 Crores, 8 Crores were eligible to vote in the 3 tiers...

Polling was 52.4% ... again, roughly, a little over 4 Crore votes were polled...

2.65 Crore votes were polled in 438 Nagar Panchayats, 35 Lakh in 16 Corporations, 1 Crore in 198 Nagar Palika Parishads...

BJP winning 14 out of 16 Corporations...in all 16 seats, BJP scored 87% votes...BSP 12.5%...

So 87% of 35 Lakh would be close to 30 Lakhs...

In Nagar Palika Parishad, 70 seats got by BJP fetched it 35.5% of the vote...SP polled 22.5 % and BSP 14.65% while Congress polled 4.5%...Independents polled 21.72% of the votes polled...35.5% votes polled by BJP in Nagar Palika Parishad out of a total of 1 crore votes, amounts to 35 lakhs...

In the 2.65 crore votes polled in Nagar Panchayats, BJP with just 100 seats out of 438 could manage only 22% of the vote! In this segment, Independents polled 41.55% of the votes...SP polled 18.95% and BSP polled 10.27%...Congress vote share stood at 3.88%...

Now how much is 22% of 2.5 crores? Around 58 Lakhs... and how much 41.55% of 2.5 crore votes? 1.7 Cr....So, in toto, BJP polled 1,23,00,000 votes out of 40000000... how much is that in percentage terms? 30%!!!!!!!!! In 2017 assembly elections, BJP polled 42% of the vote. It had swept rural areas. Now its share has come down to 30%!

This is my challenge; If elections are held today in UP, BJP will get 30-24 seats. And between 158-162 assembly seats! That’s it ... Now if the same thing is going to play out in Gujarat. If BJP is polint 30-33% vote in Gujarat ... which means it will come down to below 60

...With few exceptions, BJP lost entire seats in Nagar Panchayats in Basti, Gonda, Chitrokoot, Allahabad, Mirzapur, Barabanki, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Kausambi, Fatehpur, Farukkhabad, Firozabad on and on... Amethi was with BJP last time also... no big deal... This loss is a fatal blow for Yogi.... imagine BJP trailing behind Independents... the latter trend opens the flood gates for the rise of new forces in UP! 
THE write-off of loans of corporate hoses in the last six months comes at a time when banks are struggling to resolve many cases of repayment of loans and recover money stuck with corporate defaulters through insolvency proceedings. Total bad debts write-off adds up to Rs 3,60,000 crore in 10 years. India’s PSU banks have written off loans worth Rs 55,356 crore in the first six months of fiscal 2017-18, according to data compiled by credit rating agency ICRA, as banks attempt to clean up their balance sheets after a string of defaults by firms and promoters in the wake of the economic slowdown.

The write-off in the last six months — 54 per cent higher than the Rs 35,985 crore written off in the same period last year — comes at a time when banks are struggling to resolve many cases of repayment of loans and recover money stuck with corporate defaulters through insolvency proceedings. Figures obtained by The Indian Express from the RBI through the Right to Information (RTI) Act for the last decade show that banks had written off Rs 2,28,253 crore in nine years — from fiscal 2007-08 to 2015-16. The central bank did not provide data for the subsequent period. Separately, responding to a questionnaire from The Indian Express, ICRA said that write-offs amounted to Rs 1,32,659 crore in 2016-17 and the first six months of 2017-18. This means the the total write-off in the last ten years is now over Rs 3,60,000 crore.

Given the current trend, the total write-off in fiscal 2018 is estimated to top Rs 1 lakh crore, bankers said. PSU banks wrote off Rs 25,573 crore in the June quarter and Rs 29,783 crore in the quarter to September, the highest in any quarter, ICRA said The RBI had earlier explained that writing off of non-performing assets or bad loans is a regular exercise carried out by banks to clean up their balance sheets.

The write-offs, even if “technical”, is significant in the context of ongoing efforts by the government to enable a clean-up of balance sheets of banks. Repairing that and enabling banks to lend again by infusing fresh capital is at the heart of some of the recent measures unveiled by the government. Banks will initially make provisions on such assets and then a write-off is done when the loan becomes irrecoverable. The loan is then excluded from the balance sheet and taxable income of banks gets reduced. Banks were engaged in a massive write-off of loans over the years and the figure hit a high of Rs 77,123 crore during the year ended March 2017, against Rs 57,585 crore in fiscal 2015-16. Ten years ago, in 2007-08, loans written off by banks were just Rs 8,019 crore, the RBI said in its reply to an RTI query.

However, experts say there is a perception that write-offs are not transparent and public funds are being misused. You ask any bankers. They have written off Vijay Mallya’s loan. Then how are they going to recover that money? According to ICRA, provisions made by banks on advances surged by 30 per cent to Rs 64,500 crore during the second quarter ended September 2017, with more corporates coming under the insolvency process. For the first half of the fiscal, the total credit provisions were up by 17 per cent on a year-on-year basis at Rs 1,10,000 crore. With the total exposure of Rs 3,00,000 crore of accounts likely to be resolved under the new bankruptcy code, the overall credit provisions are likely to be at Rs 2,40,000-Rs 2,60,000 crore, including impact of ageing on existing NPAs and provisioning on IBC accounts, for FY2018 as against Rs 2,00,000 crore during FY2017.

The asset quality pain is likely to continue in the near term with Rs 1,70,000 crore of standard restructured advances. Gross non-performing assets (GNPA) are likely to peak at Rs 8,80,000-Rs 9,00,000 crore (10.0-10.2 per cent) by the end of FY2018 as against NPAs of 9.5 per cent (Rs 765,000 crore) as on March 31, 2017.

INDIA RANKED 97TH OF 118 IN HUNGER INDEX

POVERTY, unemployment, lack of sanitation and drinking water are main factors for the sorry state.

India continues to have serious levels of widespread hunger forcing it to be ranked a lowly 97 among 118 developing countries for which the Global Hunger Index (GHI) was calculated this year.( The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) makes the annual calculations of GHI.).

Countries worse than India include extremely poor African countries such as Niger, Chad, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone besides two of India’s neighbours: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Other neighbours Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and China are all ranked above India. The Global Hunger Index is calculated by taking into account four key parameters: shares of undernourished population, wasted and stunted children aged under 5, and infant mortality rate of the same age group.

Of the 131 countries studied, data was available for 118 countries. This year, for the first time, two measures of child hunger -wasting and stunting -have been used to give a more complete picture. Wasting refers to low weight in relation to a child’s height, reflecting acute undernutrition.Stunting refers to the deficiency in height in relation to age, reflecting chronic undernutrition.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) makes the annual calculations of GHI. Basing its readings on the most recent data, the 2016 GHI for India was derived from the fact that an estimated 15% population is undernourished -lacking in adequate food intake, both in quantity and quality.

The share of under-5 children who are ‘wasted’ is about 15% while the share of children who are ‘stunted’ is a staggering 39%. This reflects widespread and chronic lack of balanced food. The under-5 mortality rate is 4.8% in India, partially reflecting the fatal synergy of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments. Although India runs two of the world’s biggest children’s nutrition programs, the ICDS for children under 6 years and the mid-day meal programme for school going kids up to the age of 14, malnutrition continues to haunt India.

Endemic poverty, unemployment, lack of sanitation and safe drinking water, and lack of effective healthcare are main factors for the sorry state. Compared with previous years, marked improvement has taken place in child stunting and under-5 mortality rates but the proportion of undernourished people has declined only marginally from 17% in 2000 to the current 15%. The share of wasted children has inched down similarly.

India was ranked 83 in 2000 and 102 in 2008 with GHI scores of 38.2 and 36 respectively. This implies that, while hunger lev els in India have diminished somewhat, the improvement has been outstripped by several other countries. Hence India’s ranking is worse today than it was 15 years ago. In fact, Bangladesh was ranked 84 with a score of 38.5 in 2000, just below India. But in 2016, it has improved beyond India with a GHI score of 27.1 and a rank of 90 to India’s 97.

Subodh Varma| TNN | October 13
ALTHOUGH he substantiates his claim and justifies his approach both analytically and empirically, he omits to link this with proletarianization processes under way in the service sectors in the global north and to a smaller extent in the global south and thus weakens the generalizability of his argument concerning ‘the coming of the global working class’. Even when he discusses developments in the global north, he restricts his references to proletarianization processes to the past and present of migrant work. The absence of even a rudimentary discussion of major processes occurring in the global north, such as the rising social inequality and the shrinking of the so-called middle-class or labour aristocracy, is in my view a significant omission that although carrying the danger of diluting the argument could have enriched the scope and projected implications of the book’s analysis.

The second weakness concerns the balance between and within the three case studies and between the descriptive and explanatory function of the analysis used. Ness undertakes a very ambitious task: to account for recent developments in three big sectors and three countries, two of them really having the size of continents. While this empirical strategy allows Ness to make the necessary projections and identify global theoretical and political implications, the huge volume of data necessary for the understanding of the historical, economic, political and social context in each case study leaves insufficient room for discussion of the issues. Although the richness of the empirical data used is valuable, at certain points the analysis becomes thin as the weight falls on contextual description, chronicling of events and narrating facts.

Overall, Ness’ book is a valuable one as it analyses very recent developments covering hitherto unchartered ground and expands the scope of existing knowledge. It offers a comparative discussion across sectors and countries and empirically refutes a series of Western-centric ‘post-Marxist’ discourses about the declining significance of industrial work and of the working class as an analytic category and a social force. It provides detailed accounts of new forms of struggle by informal workers, outside traditional trade unions which can expand and enhance our understanding of mobilization processes and social movements.

Ness argues forcefully that the demise of traditional trade unionism is structural and that it cannot in its current form have organizational success, challenge neoliberal capitalism or express workers’ interests and that more attention and energy must be spend in new and innovative forms of really existing worker mobilization as they appear primarily in the informal labour markets in the global south.

London: Pluto Press, 2016; ISBN 9780745336640, £16.99 
IF the rupee’s purchasing power has dipped from 19.77 yen in 1985 to 1.72 yen today, then after 50 years can a rupee buy anything more than just a fraction of a yen? Now that the hype over the bullet train has subsided, it is time to do some cold calculations. India will borrow Japanese yen 150,000 crores [equal to Rs 88,000 crores today], bearing 0.1% interest, with a 15 year lock-in period, repayable in 50-60 years. Looks attractive indeed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reported to have commented: the loan is “in a way free”. The prime minister was evidently not briefed properly, as the following analysis will indicate.

Today Re 1 buys 1.72 yen, ten years ago Re 1 could buy 2.80 yen and, 32 years ago, say on February 26, 1985, Re 1 could buy 19.77 yen. On February 26, 1985, the exchange rate of dollar/yen was 261 and that of dollar/rupee was 13.20. Divide 261 with 13.20, you get 19.77. So, had India borrowed 150,000 crores yen on February 26, 1985, today, that is after 32 years, the principal amount of loan (without interest) would have swelled 11.49 times (divide 19.77 by 1.72). Depending on repayment schedule and lock-in period of loan, the multiplication factor could have reduced from 11.49 to 6 or 7 on a conservative estimate. This is simple arithmetic and no rocket science.

So, can we not predict what fraction of a yen, Re 1 would buy after 50 years? If the rupee’s purchasing power has dipped from 19.77 yen in 1985 to 1.72 yen today, then after 50 years can a rupee buy anything more than just a fraction of a yen? Unlikely, unless yen interest rate shoots up and rupee rate becomes close to zero, which is highly improbable. Therefore, this 50-year yen loan, with a 15 years lock-in period, is anything but free. It is in fact a rip off. By the time the loan is repaid in 50 years, India would have shelled out Rs 300,000 crores at least, or even more, depending on how quickly the loan is extinguished. This excludes interest of 0.1% on yen loan which would add to the cost. Yen is a dangerous currency and it would be imprudent to ignore its track record.

India can ill-afford to keep such a huge liability in yen unhedged. But even the cost of hedging rupee/yen exchange risk would be prohibitive. Initially India would be required to buy Yen 150,000 crore forward outright in the international market, and keep doing rupee/yen swaps – sell yen spot and buy yen back forward, matching with each due date of loan repayment installment. This process would continue till the entire loan is extinguished. This is called roll-over swap, which corporate in India execute to hedge currency exchange risk in external commercial borrowings. But, such swaps, on each occasion, would entail huge costs for the simple reason that forward delivery of yen against rupee would be at a premium so long as yen interest rate remains lower than rupee.

It is axiomatic that forward delivery of a currency yielding lower rate of interest would always be at a premium vis-à-vis the currency yielding higher rate of interest. The yen interest rate is now close to zero. The rupee repo rate (rate at which banks borrow from the Reserve Bank of India) is 6%. Thus, multiple swaps executed till the currency of the loan would be hugely expensive as forward premia would have to be paid by India on each swap. India would thus end up paying well over Rs 300,000 crores (multiplication factor 3.4 taken) on a most conservative estimate. Notably, rupee/yen quote will not be available directly in the international forex market; consequently, dollar being the intervention currency for India, swaps would have to be performed through dollar/yen quotes. Rupee would thus have be converted into yen only through dollar.

The above figures/calculations do not take into account 0.1% interest burden on yen loan. Today, interest rate in Japan is hovering around zero to fractionally negative, like in Sweden. On September 7, 2017, the Central Bank of Sweden held its benchmark interest rate at (minus) – 0.5%. Similarly, the Central Bank of Japan has slashed interest rate to just shade below zero. Tokyo Inter Bank Offer Rate (TIBOR) is around 0.06%. A ten year Japanese Government Bond yields barely 0.04%. Therefore, 0.1% interest rate that Japan would earn from India is a very lucrative investment opportunity for Japan, which is struggling to fight deflation for over 15 years. More the lock-in period/tenure of yen lending in India, merrier it is for Japan, and costlier it is for India.
As struggle against Vizhinjam port with the Call "Adani Baby, Quit Kerala" temporarily withdrawn, the questions it raises remain.

Though the work of Adani on Vizhinjam Transit Harbour stopped due to the struggle of the local people may be resumed for the time being as the Catholic Church leaders interfered and signed an agreement, the basic questions raised still continues... Now, the agreement is on possibility for rehabilitation and compensation. But how can you rehabilitate and how can you compensate? The southern tip of Arabean sea is the only wedge bank (highest biodiversity region) for India among the only 20 wedge banks in the world. Can you rehabilitate and compensate the rare and threatened species of this region? Can you rehabilitate over 50,000 coastal people who will lose their jobs? Can you rehabilitate or compensate two hills from the Western Ghats which will be lost? Can you rehabilitate the beaches which will be lost? Can you rehabilitate the famous Kovalam beach which will become Kovalam rocks? Can you rehabilitate the loss of 25 coastal villages which will be affected by this developmental terrorism
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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.