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The Fani cyclone which hit Puri coast on 3rd May morning has caused extensive damages in all coastal districts of Odisha, and in northern districts of AP and southern districts of W. Bengal. The worst damages are in Odisha, especially in Puri-Bhubaneswar-Cuttack region. Still (5th morning) electricity, telephone, water connections and communications are not restored in thie region and many other areas. Lakhs of bastis and small structures including houses of many of our comrades and party office are seriously damaged. So far it is reported that about 45 people have died. The extensive shifting of people to shelters helped in bringing down the number of dead. Rehabilitation of the people including reconstruction of the hutments etc need help from all. We have asked our party state committees in Odisha, Bengal and AP to send reports and to organize relief work at state level. They can do it effectively only with help from outside.

In this situation, on behalf of the Central Committee all Party Committees are called upon to organize collection of Relief Fund for the affected areas. As the election campaign in most of the states are completed, all party comrades should be mobilized for collection of Relief Fund for Fani cyclone affected people of Odisha.

 As soon as the relief committee is formed in Odisha, its account no and other details shall be sent. Make all out effort to collect relief fund from today, 5th May to 5th June. Issue appeals to people for assistance.

Comradely

K N Ramachandran

General Secretary

CPI(ML) Red Star

 

The withdrawal of asylum from the activist Julian Assange by the Government of Lenin Moreno, shows its total submission to U.S. policy, to its geopolitical designs and interests. It was Mike Pence himself, Vice President of the U.S., who in June 2018, on an official visit to our country, demanded that President Lenin Moreno end the asylum of Julian Assange.

Unidad Popular rejects this measure, which is nothing more than the continuation of the sell-out, already in the signing of a letter of intent with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the intended signing of the FTA (Free Trade Agreement). Julian Assange is an activist who denounced the atrocities and permanent violations by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan through Wikileaks. The withdrawal of asylum is also a serious blow to freedom of expression and human rights.

(National Leadership of Unidad Popular - Popular Unity, Quito, Ecuador, April 11, 2019) n

Any erosion in the people’s confidence in the fairness of the ECI has very grave consequences for the future of our democracy.” In a letter addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of bureaucrats have bemoaned the ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The letter points to various violations of the model code of conduct and illustrates how the EC took little action, if any, on most of the complaints that have been filed with it.

In the letter, which has also been sent to the Chief Election Commissioner and other Elections Commissioners, the Concerned Group of Citizens ask the EC to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned and to firmly exercise the extensive mandate given to it under Article 324 of the Constitution of India to ensure that the Indian voter is able to exercise her/his franchise without fear or favour”.

The bureaucrats give several examples of violations where the EC has not taken the proper steps – from Yogi Adityanath’s ‘Modiji ke sena’ speech, to NaMo TV, a channel dedicated to all things Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It also brings up the prime minister’s speech after India conducted an anti-satellite test as well as a TV show, Modi: A Common Man’s Journey, about Modi that has five episode

It also ask why the EC has so far only sought a report about the prime minister’s divisive speech at Wardha, where he had said: “The Congress insulted Hindus. People have decided to punish it in the election. Leaders of that party are now scared of contesting from constituencies dominated by the majority population. That is why they are forced to take refuge in places where the majority is a minority.”

The retired civil servants also bring up the EC’s “obdurate conduct and its reluctance to undertake a proper VVPAT audit”. n

It was 100 years ago on 13th April, 1919, the barbarous Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place. It was a calculated move by the British colonialists to terrorize the Indian people so as to putdown their national liberation struggles. General Dyer like killers were/are no exception, imperialists still flourish through them. Presently though the British prime minister has expressed regret for it, the imperialists of all hues have not changed a wee bit. They continue to perpetuate more horrible atrocities even now against the oppressed peoples all over the world to impose their hegemony and to intensify their plunder. Numerous programs were organised all over the country and outside on 13th April highlighting Jallianwala Bagh massacre with the call for intensifying the struggle for national liberation and democratic revolution. n

Elitist ‘high culture’ of political Hindutva is attempting to make significant inroads in the mass culture of the Indian society. Cultural practices promoted by the right wing Hindutva forces are gaining popular support among the Indian middle and upper classes. We have reached a point of crisis in our cultural history which demands intervention by the forces concerned with the growing trend of vicious Hindu nationalist culture in our society. Divisive communal ideologies are brazenly propagated in defiance of our constitutional principles. If you have not noticed this you are not paying attention.

Hegemonic mono-cultural drive unleashed by the corporate sponsored right wing forces has placed religion at the centre of cultural and social practices. The Brahminical version of Hinduism is made popular among the Indian masses in the name of Indian Nationalism. This in turn creates ground for the rise of Muslim radicalism too. The communal divide thus formed is a breeding ground for ideas of religious sectarianism. Ideas of post-modernism are reflected in the new mass culture through revival of the traditional in the banal contemporary forms. TV soaps, films based on hyper nationalist themes, hate clips on social media, etc., are examples of manifestation of these post modernist trends. Neglect of fine art institutions, interference and interventions in the regional literary festivals by the saffron brigade, using censorship to muffle expression of dissent through media, saffronisiation of the cultural events are the examples of project of de-secularisation of our culture.

Authoritarian regime at the centre is set to wipe out liberal democratic values in our culture. Rise of communalism in India has posed a challenge before the advancement of progressive cultural movement. Mass culture is developing in a direction of serving the interests of imperialism and ruling classes of our country. Peoples interests are being ignored, artistic freedom is being impinged and real cultural progress is facing opposition from the pretentious Hindutva Cultural brigade.

All concerned artists and cultural activists should therefore actively resist this communal onslaught on our culture. We should also do all we can to promote secular popular culture. We should form action networks on issues concerning the project of opposition to the communalisation of Indian culture. It is also necessary to support the civil society institutions struggling to protect their independence from authoritarian forces. All our efforts to save democratic space for art and culture should be combined with struggle against neoliberalism which is the real prop for Neo conservatives of Hindu National variety.

Even liberal democratic values cannot be realised without addressing the real issues of social and economic inequalities in our society. We should therefore also strive to give form to the aspirations of the victims of these inequalities through our works of art and literature with a renewed vigour. This appeal is meant to address the cultural activists and the artists to defend our composite culture and strengthen the movement for cultural advancement of our country.

  • Reject the ‘high culture’ of political Hindutva!
  • Let us join the struggle to preserve and promote the syncretic traditions of our culture! 
  • Protest against the onslaught on the basic cultural rights and freedoms of Indian people!
  • Get active, rise up!

[Tuhin, Pravin Nadkar, Aseem Giri, Ravi Paloor, Samar Sengupta and Rajendra Prasad Singh on behalf of All India Coordination Council of Revolutionary Cultural Forum] n

We don’t want missiles, nuclear bombs and war, but we need bread, peace and equality.

Cultural evening was organized at Vrindavan Hall, Raipur (Chhattisgarh) on 31th March against yuddhonmad and communal hate by Revolutionary Cultural Forum (kasam). Com. Tuhin, its general secretary, highlighting the purpose of the program, said that today the whole country is severely affected by the spread of the poison of blind nationalism and yuddhonmad. As a result, unemployment, inflation, poverty as well as attacks on the common people by corporate forces are increasing. He explained that the cultural evening has been organized at Raipur as part of the countrywide campaign to raise the voice of peace, understanding and secularism against war mongering. The main attraction of the cultural evening was the participation of the famous singer Asim Giri, a member of the central committee of the Revolutionary Cultural Forum, who presented many popular songs in Bangla and Hindi along with lyrics.

A solo act  No. 13 Prasad was presented by the well-known cultural activist from Jabalpur, Samar Sengupta, also a member of the central committee of the RCF. He also presented Kaifi Azmi’s Nazam and presented the song “ Katasa-Kasa Step-step “ written by Shalove Singh Ram Singh. There was presentation of public songs, poetry / saswatext and laghnatika spreading messages of anti-communal, anti-violence humane values by the cultured personnel from Bhilai and Raipur. In the program, journalist and cultural activists, Rajkumar Soni, Bipasha Rao, ipta Bhilai’s Manimaya and Sucheta Mukherjee presented joshile jansongs and poetry lessons (written by Uday Prakash and Liladhar Mandalai). The presentation of short poetry and Ravindra Sangeet against the war hysteria by the poets Shivani Moitra, Aada cultural forum and the poet Nikhil Bang Parishad, poetry by Vijender of Bhilai, all of these were rich contributions. Presiding over the program, the city’s senior repertoire Bodhisava Chatterjee said in his statement that we do not need missiles, guns, nuclear bombs and no war, but want rise-bread, peace and equality. He spoke of anti-war books and films by director Michael Moore and the need to defeat the communal fascism which is the major threat today. Ravindra Yadav of Raipur conducted the program. In the program many cultured personnel, intellectuals, students and youth attended. n

Even as India goes to polls on April 11 in an atmosphere allegedly causing deep concern, several UK-based human rights and Dalits organisations held a vigil outside the Indian High Commission in London Pointing out that this was part of a global day of action with a similar protests taking place in New York and in solidarity with people’s agenda 2019 event which took place in Delhi, they released a set of demands on rights situation in India.

Participants included representatives from the South Asia Solidarity Group, CasteWatch UK, SOAS India Society, Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee GB, and the Ambedkar International Mission.

The demonstrators held pictures of Mohamed Aqhlakh, Zafar, Gauri Lankesh, Junaid Khan and Asifa and placards saying ‘Ambedkar Bhagat Singh! Democracy will win!’ They shouted slogans such as ‘Modi! Modi! Shame! Shame! No more killings in our name!’, ‘Hands Off Dr Teltumde! Hands Off Dr Saibaba!’ and ‘Justice for Junaid! Justice for Gauri Lankesh! Justice for Asifa! Justice for Judge Loya!’

They expressed their deep concern that lynchings of Muslims, Dalits and Christians by RSS-led mobs, assassinations of dissenters, rapes and escalating violence against women, the arrests and incarceration of human rights defenders and progressive intellectuals have indeed turned India into a republic of fear.

They noted that a media loyal to the government whips up hate and hysteria on a daily basis, while journalists who speak out are persecuted and even murdered. The independence of the judiciary has been systematically compromised and even judges are not safe from assassination if they dare to remain impartial.

They condemned the increasing repression and daily human rights violations in Kashmir, which is happening as the military occupation is intensified and extended, and warmongering jingoistic rhetoric is used cynically for electoral gain leading the country to the brink of a devastating war with Pakistan.

They expressed their concern that blatantly anti-people and pro-corporate economic policies coupled with shameless corruption have led to massive unemployment, corporate takeover of land, indebtedness and an epidemic of farmer suicides. Adivasi communities are being displaced and facing acute violence when they resist, and forests destroyed on an unprecendented scale; that basic economic rights are being denied to the vast majority of India’s people.

They condemned the open calls from prominent Hindutva figures to do away with the Indian Constitution – the cornerstone of the country’s democracy and civil liberties, written by Dr BR Ambedkar after India’s independence and the fact that these figures want to replace it with the Manusmriti, an ancient Brahminical legal text which is known for its misogyny and its contempt for oppressed caste.

(April 11, 2019 ) n

As apprehended, according to reports, the first phase of elections on 11th April witnessed widespread malfunctioning of the EVMs in many places where elections took place. The second phase of elections on 18th April also proved that EVMs are faulty and they cannot be relied on. For the last one decade CPI(ML) Red Star is demanding that EVMS should be replaced with the ballot system as done in vast majority of the countries. It is a good sign that all the opposition parties are also upholding this view now. But the Election Commission is adamant to persist with them and was not ready even to increase the number of VVPATs till the Supreme Court intervened. Still the demand to use 50% VVPATS is not accepted. There are reports that this system is also malfunctioning in many areas delaying the election process. The common feature is that everywhere EVMs are favouring BJP, that is even when button is pressed for a non-BJP party, vote goes to Lotus symbol! It itself shows the extent of malpractice and that it favours the ruling party. In our Election Manifesto we have demanded that:”Since the possibility of insertion of malicious software in EVMs and manipulation of voting preferences being already proved, immediately we should return to the ballot system”. In view of widespread complaints about EVMs, CPI(ML) Red Star reiterates this demand. 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.