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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sabrang India, March 5, 2019  

The Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA), an umbrella organisation of workers’ unions, took out a rally in the national capital on Sunday demanding better working conditions and social security for the unorganised sector.

New Delhi: The Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA), an umbrella organisation of workers’ unions, took out a rally in the national capital on Sunday demanding better working conditions and social security for the unorganised sector. The rally was to protest and resist the increasing attacks on working-class rights, living wages, division of labour, state repression and the unjust distribution of resources.

The massive rally was also organised against the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s attempts to weaken the labour laws and privatise the public sector. The rally began at Ramlila Maidan and ended at Sansad Marg. It was attended by workers from around 20 states across the country.

Some of the biggest labour representations came from organized sectors like automobile, electronics, garment, pharmaceuticals and related sectors from the core industrial regions in Gurgaon-Manesar (Haryana), Neemrana-Jaipur (Rajasthan), Rudrapur-Haridwar (Uttarakhand), Ahmedabad-Sanand (Gujarat), Pune-Mumbai-Goa, Chennai Sri Perumbudur. Tea garden Workers were also present which included Chai Bagan Sangram Samiti (CBSS) in Darjeeling Hills-Terai-Dooars and Chah Mukti Sangram Samiti, Assam. Workers of Coal mines from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bengal and Jharkhand also came to represent their voices. Rural workers from across the country, like MNREGA Mazdoor Union and Construction Workers Union from Haryana, were also present. Workers from unorganized sectors were also there in strength, like the Safai Karamcharis from Gujarat and Rajasthan, Rickshaw and Thela Pullers, Jari makers, Bidi Workers Union, Construction Workers Union, Anganwadi Workers and Domestic Workers Union from West Bengal.

 ”Today, neoliberalism, and especially the present regime backed by fascist forces, is wreaking total havoc on the toilers of the country. We see increased exploitation, repression and criminalisation of workers, intensifying contractualisation and unemployment, falling real wages and standards of living. But in the current context, where war hysteria peaks before the election, the issues of workers and farmers are completely absent from discourse. Hence, there was a need for the rally,” a volunteer of MASA said in a report by The New Indian Express.

Among other demands, the MASA has demanded the abolition of the contract system, creation of permanent jobs, Rs. 25,000 as minimum wage, halting the privatisation of public sector undertakings, and Rs15,000 pension, the right to unionise, including all social security benefits, for all unorganised workers.

The MASA constitutes organisations like All India Workers Council, Grameen Mazdoor Union (Bihar), Indian Centre of Trade Unions, Indian Federation of Trade Unions, IFTU Sarwahara, Inqlabi Kendra Punjab, Inqlabi Mazdoor Kendra, Jan Sangharsh Manch (Haryana), Shramikshakthi (Karnataka), Socialist Workers Centre (Tamil Nadu), Struggling Workers Co-ordination Committee (West Bengal), Trade Union Centre of India, Workers Solidarity Centre (Gurugram), and Workers Solidary Centre (Uttarakhand).

“A country runs on workers’ toil. But the country’s working class neither gets respect for their labour nor do they make their ends meet with their wage,” the organisers said.

MASA is a joint platform of struggling workers’ organisations and trade unions from across the country. Over 13 such bodies, including Indian Center of Trade Unions, All India Workers’ Council, Federation of Trade Unions, participated in the “Chalo Delhi” rally.

It is a broad coalition of working-class forces from across the country rooted in labour struggles. They have come together in the last three years to get their 17-point Charter of Demands approved.

Two and a half years back, on 26 August 2016, 14 workers’ organisations came together to form MASA in a Convention in Delhi and started with focusing initially on these central issues of a workers’ movement – against anti-worker labour law reforms, demanding a minimum wage of Rs. 22,000 (calculations based on the price level on 1st January 2016), abolishing the contract labour system, calling for permanent workers for jobs that are permanent in nature, attending to the demands of unorganized sector workers, and to build an uncompromising struggle against anti-worker neoliberal policies, a report said.

At the end of public meeting, comrade Sanjay Singhvi of TUCI presented following resolution against war hysteria created by ruling class, which was unanimiously accepted by workers: "MASA calls upon the people of India to come out on the streets in opposition to war-mongering and the threat of war. War mongering is being provoked by the Modi Government’s brinkmanship. War will harm everybody but mostly the toiling masses of workers and peasantry who mostly belong to the SC, ST and OBC castes.

War and war-mongering will benefit only the military-industrial complex, whether in the USA, Israel or in India. It will help the big corporate who will make a killing. It will help some political parties to build political capital in the name of “patriotism” during the coming elections.

We call upon the workers and all toiling masses to fight – fight for peace – on the streets all over India. We can already see that the workers and toiling masses of Pakistan are with us in this fight." n

JUMLA GOVERNMENT FURTHER UNMASKED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PJ James n

 

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

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

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

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

PJ James n

AIRWO OBSERVES MARCH 8 IN SEVERAL STATES

The All India Revolutionary Women’s Organisation (AIRWO) observed March 8 as International Workingwomen’s Day with seminars, public meetings and activists’ meeting in several states like Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and other states. We are publishing below the statement of the AIRWO issued on the occasion of International Women’s Day, 2019.

On March 8, 1917, women went on strike in the then Russian capital of St Petersburg, demanding Bread and Peace. At that time Tsarist Russia was in the middle of the bloody First World War, with millions of soldiers perishing at the Front for a war that brought nothing but misery and devastation to millions more. As the day advanced, tens of thousands of women took to the streets with a spontaneity ans militancy that shook the rulers of Russia. The women’s struggle spread like wildfire and soon men joined the ranks of women. The mass upheaval that followed led to the abdication of the Tsar a few days later and paved the way for the Russian Revolution later that year. The Russian Revolution of 1917, as we know, not only ended the war for Russia but also gave women rights unparalleled in history.

Today, a century and two years later, the rulers of India have thrust on us a warlike situation. The ruling Sangh Parivar-BJP combine has whipped up a frenzy of national chauvinism and jingoism. In order to divert public attention from our basic needs, from the exploitation of the masses, the government has resorted to rabid warmongering and is intent on splitting society along communal lines.

On this International Workingwomen’s Day, let us unite in our demand for Peace and Rights. Women have always been the worst victims of any war. In all militarised parts of our country, from J&K to the Northeast to Chhattisgarh, women are subjected not only to unimaginable atrocities by the armed forces but are also deprived of the most basic rights. We want an end to this situation; we certainly do not want it to be scaled-up across the country.

India has the dubious distinction of being the country that is the most unsafe for women. The sorry state of women in our country, the violence and degradation that they are unexceptionally subject to, the added exploitation of Dalit women and women belonging to minority communities — are of too great a magnitude to be chronicled.

As we fight for equality, as we fight for our inalienable rights to a life of dignity and liberty, what we do not need is a war. Nor do we need the war hysteria that puts paid to all democratic struggles.

Let us recall the role of our Russian sisters on 8th March a hundred and two years ago, and loudly clearly raise the demand for Peace. Let our unity drive out the war-mongerers forever.

Sharmistha Choudhury

General Secretary, AIRWO n

(Based on following statement issued by Central Committee of CPI(ML) Red Star on 1st March, different state committees of party organised anti-war programmes on 15th March)

With Pakistan handing over IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in a gesture of peace, there seems to be, for the time being at least, perceptible de-escalation of tensions between the two countries. However, the jingoistic fervour, ceaselessly whipped up by Modi and his govt., as also irresponsible and pro-Modi media, has not quite abated. Meanwhile, further state atrocities in Kashmir, in the name of ‘combating terrorism’, have worsened matters.

It is obvious that on the eve of the general elections, the Modi government, which has failed to deliver on all its promises and led the country to doom, is desperate to win back popular support by fanning the flames of national chauvinism.

Under Modi, unemployment has reached record levels, economic growth has actually shown a decline, our resources are steadily being sold to big corporates for a song, workers and peasants are facing unprecedented devastation, there is an all-out attack on democratic rights, the saffronisation of public institutions has reached absurd proportions, society is being deliberately split along caste and communal lines, and women, Dalits and minority communities are facing systemic violation of the inalienable rights of life and liberty.

Thus the frenetic warmongering and rabid jingoism resorted to by the Modi government barely a month before elections is a vile attempt to cover up its total failure in office, the murky scams discrediting the government in no small measure and the socio-economic disaster it has plunged the country into.

When Modi and the Sangh Parivar are hysterically shouting that the country is in safe hands, we assert: No, the country is not in safe hands. The entire series of events, from the Pulwama terror attack on a CRPF convoy to the retaliatory IAF air strikes, is shrouded in mystery. It is apprehended that as elections approach and uncomfortable facts related to both come up, the Modi government may resort to further warmongering to divert public attention from its gigantic failures.

The need of the hour is to categorically and unequivocally stand for peace and call for rapid and absolute de-escalation. It is clear that citizens of both countries want peace, not war. The way in which Pakistani civil society raised the demand for the release of Wing Commander Abhinandan is a clear indication of the mood of the people of our neighbouring nation.

CPI (ML) Red Star calls upon all democratic and peace-loving citizens to

n    Demand political and peaceful solution to the Kashmir question;

n    Demand an end to state atrocities in Kashmir;

n    Demand that there should be no tampering with Article 370 or Article 35a;

n    Call upon the Modi government and all opposition parties to stop warmongering;

n    Call upon the Modi government to refrain from all acts of external aggression and indeed from any action that may provoke war; and

n    Unite for peace, and against war. n

The CPI(ML) Red Star organized a seminar on 2nd March at Ambedkar Bhavan, New Delhi on the occasion of the centenary of formation of the Communist International (CI) at Moscow under the leadership of Lenin. Highlighting the significance of observing this occasion a paper by com. KN Ramachandran was published (see February issue of Red Star) “Uphold Proletarian Internationalism; Intensify efforts to Rebuild Communist International”. A booklet was also published with important contributions of Lenin on the preparation and launching of the International, the statement dissolving the International in 1943, Chou Enlai’s 1961 article explaining the CPC’s view on rebuilding the International along with the article by KN.

The seminar was presided by com. Sanjay Singh, CC member of the party and Deputy Coordinator of the ICOR. Com. Vimal, secretary of Delhi-NCR committee welcomed the gathering. Presenting his key-note paper com. KN briefly explained the history of the First and Second Internationals, the situation under which the CI was formed, its contributions, criticisms against it and its dissolution, before delving on the critic of the post-Stalin years when no effort was made for the reorganization of the International platform of the communist parties in any form by the leadership of the CPSU as well as the CPC.

He explained that as the Krushchovian leadership in the Soviet Union was abandoning the socialist path itself, it was naturally not interested in the concept of proletarian internationalism. But, in spite of putting forward an in the main valuable document, the General Line of the International Communist Movement (ICM) as part of the Great Debate against the Soviet revisionist line, what is baffling is why the CPC refused to even convene a meeting of the Marxist-Leninist forces opposed to Soviet revisionism including the ML forces emerging during the 1960s. On the contrary, the Chou Enlai article and those who uphold it are putting forward the strange argument that all revolutions took place when there was no International! It amounts to abandoning the very concept of proletarian internationalism itself. He pointed out our continuous efforts to establish relations with fraternal parties and its role in the formation of ICOR which is a coordination of a good number of organizations taking up various international developments seriously. We are not for building a Communist International of the old type, but an International rectifying the mistakes of the past and according to the concrete conditions of today.

Comrade KN Ramachandran concluded by asserting that when in spite of contention for world hegemony, the imperialist powers are colluding to perpetuate the all round domination of the capitalist system in all fields, making the world people’s plight increasingly miserable and leading the world towards an ecological catastrophe, this is the time when the unity of the revolutionary forces at international level is needed more than ever. With this understanding the debate on this question shall be continued.

Though invitations were sent to all organizations and groups left of CPI(M) and papers were invited, only com. Pravin Nadkar had sent a paper which is published in this issue. Comrade Arjun Prasad Singh and Vijay Singh along with progressive intellectual, com Sachin, in addition to com. Pravin who presented his paper spoke in the seminar. Com. Pavin’s paper emphasizes the importance of proletarian internationalism and supported all efforts for international unity efforts according to present conditions. It was a positive approach.

While com. Vijay Singh did not go beyond underlining the contributions of Stalin in this field, com. Arjun Prasad tried to defend the arguments of Chou Enlai which virtually rules out any efforts towards reorganizing the International in any form. Com Sachin dealt with some of the recent trends at the theoretical realm which calls for attention at the international level. Comrades PJ James and Sankar highlighted the importance of strengthening the spirit of proletarian internationalism and called for active steps to strengthen the ICOR and further steps to deepen the international unity of the revolutionary parties to combat imperialist onslaughts.

In his presidential speech com. Sanjay pointed out that we are initiating this discussion which should be continued vigorously in coming days as present challenges before the working class and humankind in general call for strengthening the spirit of proletarian internationalism and step by step moves towards a new International. 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.