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
What is given below is a note presented in the webinar on 14th June on the subject: When Crises like Covid19 pandemic threatens ecological catastrophe, Significance of the struggle for system change with people oriented alternate development perspective. Based on the discussion in the Webinar on 14th June, with the above subject in which scientist Soumya Dutta and environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman participated along with comrades Sanjay Singhvi, Arun Velaskar and Vijaykumar – KN Ramachandran
- When whole humanity is in the grip of Covid19 pandemic, the warnings of Stephen Hawking like scientists that ecological destruction intensified by the arrogant ruling political class shall lead to a catastrophe, to possible destruction of this species itself sounds very relevant. Still the capitalist-ruling system wants to push forward with its re-creation of the world in its own image under neoliberal globalization. Not satisfied even with the accumulation of 73%of the wealth of the society already with the top 1% of the corporates, developing nuclear weapons capable of destroying the earth a hundred times, building great cities with glittering malls, highways, fly-overs and techno parks, bringing most of the people under the sway of consumerist lust, they want more and more of them. They laugh at suggestions that climate change, global warming like phenomena are due to the ecological destruction caused by their brand of development; that if not curbed it shall cause devastation, that it shall lead to global environmental catastrophe. So, Trump walked out of Kyoto Protocol, or all of them assembled at Madrid during last year’s climate conference dumped all talks about environmental dangers as rubbish!
- But Covid19 has surprised the globalized world; it has frozen the world for weeks. Is nature reacting in its own ways through SARS in 2003, MERS in 2012 and now more dangerous novel corona virus, Covid19 apart from more frequent super cyclones, forest fires etc? Scientists have recently warned also about old viruses getting mutated, and appearance of more dangerous viruses, dormant for many millennia, now coming out with the breaking of huge glaziers at both poles under global warming.
- In spite of these warnings, what happened? China, soon after its partial recovery from Covid19, rushed to its old ways! In all other countries also, after initial panic, once the lockdowns are being unlocked, they are hurrying back to business as usual, even when millions are newly affected and tens of thousands are still dying daily due to fast increasing infection of Covid19. They are seeking ways to loot the human labour and nature more voraciously, to recover the losses! They are intensifying the use of new intelligence machines and digitization at unprecedented scale for it. At the same time, they are shifting the whole burden of the pandemic to the backs of the workers and oppressed people once again with tragic consequences as we are witnessing around us.
- It is based on our studies on how the intensifying capitalist loot during the phase of neoliberal corporatization has taken the ecological destruction to by the imperialist powers and their junior partners in power in the dependent countries to unprecedented levels and how all the proposals of the scientists and environmentalists are rejected in practice by them, the CPI(ML) Red Star in its Program adopted by its 9th Party Congress in 2011, pointed out that, along with the plunder of labour and world people, the plunder of nature is also intensifying from the time of emergence of the capitalist system. In The Capital and other studies, Marx and Engel pointed out that from the time of emergence of the class divided society and beginning of exploitation of humans by humans, the interference in nature by man also had started. But, this interference started taking an antagonistic form, a quantitative leap, with the beginning of industrial revolution, and the advent of the capitalism. As it led to colonization of the whole world, the was further intensification of the loot of the oppressed peoples and the natural resources there. After, Second World War, transforming colonial forms of plunder to neo-colonial forms characterized by the ever increasing export of finance capital, market system and technology, the capitalist imperialist system along with the junior partners to whom they had transferred power in former colonies, further intensification of the exploitation of labour, massive entry of capital and technology in to agricultural sector under the banner of Green Revolution, and looting of nature. From 1970s, to surmount another bout of serious crisis inherent to capitalist system, they adopted neoliberal globalization and corporatization, taking imperialist plunder to a still higher phase.
- History teaches that, just because its barbarous character is exposed, just because the vast masses of people are facing more brutal plunder and oppression, the ruling system is not going to change on its own will, or it can be transformed from within through reforms. The latest example for this is its present mad rush for returning to Business as usual, even when the pandemic is spreading fast. For further accumulation of wealth, they are intensifying uncontrolled plunder of labour and nature, unconcerned about the threats of ecological catastrophe and extinction of human species, as they do not show any concern even after already damaging the eco system and bio-diversity. So, if we want to protect what is left of nature, and the human species, the one and only way out is to throw out the capitalist system with the perspective of putting in to practice a sustainable alternate development outlook.
- Celebrating the severe setbacks suffered by the socialist countries and their degeneration to capitalist path, the global capitalist system and its junior partners, launched the neoliberal corporate offensive based on globalization-liberalization-privatization in the 1970s , repeating ‘there is no alternative to neoliberal policies,’ asserting their world outlook. It is against this world outlook which has taken the humankind to verge of disaster, starting with Marx, the revolutionary forces are consistently fighting in spite of many ups and downs, taking lessons from their past experiences, for another world, by overthrowing the capitalist system at global level and initiating socialist transformation under people’s democracy , towards an exploitation free egalitarian society, progressively bringing all means of production under co-operative, social control..
- What you mean by this alternative is the central question asked by all? Our answer, of course, is: based on past experiences, and our socio- political –theoretical orientation it has to be evolved, and developed through practice. From what capitalist imperialist system has done, we have the clarity that if further attacks on the boundaries of nature should be ended forthwith, we have to drastically do away with the ‘parameters’ of development assiduously cultivated by the capitalist system, like the uncontrolled use of energy and consumerist lust. An alternative to capitalism can never be another mere economic model. A new socio-cultural-political outlook is to be developed, redefining human needs, and democracy as a way of life with the perspective of internationalism, a world without war, with co-operative, social ownership in all fields.
It means planning everything from the grass root level, with democratic institutions which ensure all power to the people. It calls for outright replacement of the bureaucratic-corporate-fascist model of governance with a people’s democratic model starting from the neighbourhood committees under Gram Panchayats, as a pyramid, with the power vested maximum at the panchayat level, then at bloc/taluk, district and state levels progressively diminishing as you go up, with very little power at the centre. It shall be built up as part of an international system, totally de-militarized, with open borders, where every country ensures food, clothing, housing, healthcare, education and employment to all as primary needs to begin with. Towards such a people’s model, many lessons can be drawn from the positive contributions of the models initiated in Paris Commune, Soviets in Soviet Union, People’s Communes in China and other countries during their socialist days; the attempts made by various progressive governments in Latin America, Asia and Africa, and what is done by the Scandinavian countries in Europe. Though presented from different political outlooks, there are alternate perspectives put forward by many including the concept of Gram swaraj of Gandhiji. According to concrete conditions in each country, and based on a critical study of all these, a new alternative can be developed.
Alternative development model means a society where democratic way of life and sustainable egalitarian path of development are integrally linked. In order to advance to such a development paradigm, the pre-condition is that the capitalist imperialist system is thrown out; and secondly, the recognition that people’s democracy means a direct rule of the people, people’s political power starting with the grass root level neighbourhood committees, which promotes progressive relation between humans and nature, put an end to all forms of exploitation of humans by humans, replacing present family system with a progressive partnership, putting an end to Manuvadi caste system, racism like revanchist systems, customs and habits and patriarch, where gender inequality and all other social and economic inequalities will be ended, with scientific temper and humanism guiding the world outlook Mobilization of the toiling masses and the oppressed classes and sections of people calls for a great cultural revolutionary approach, in short a vigorous fight for transforming the thinking among humankind cultivated by the oppressor classes during last many millennia. An evaluation of the experience of the former socialist countries show that at a critical time during the socialist transition, the leaks from the roof, the capitalist, consumerist influences which started influencing the super structure, started corroding the economic base, speeding up the degeneration of the former socialist countries. This can happen to the communist parties, groups and individuals also, if they do not engage in class struggle without a comprehensive approach, and do not pursue a cultural revolutionary perspective.
- To conclude, human society has reached a critical stage when either the capitalist imperialist system shall lead it towards ecological catastrophe and its own extinction, or the toiling and oppressed masses and the revolutionary intelligentsia shall come together, create public opinion and overthrow the capitalist system, and march towards a new socialist future, where humans, as a part of the nature shall co-exist with it friendly, giving birth to new blossoms of democracy and an alternate development paradigm.