Claiming that non-vegetarian food began to be served at IIT Roorkee “in the holy city of Haridwar” and students at NIT, Rourkela, were “stopped” from holding Puja in community hall, both under the UPA rule, it said these incidents show that “these government-funded institutes from tax payers money’ are becoming a place for anti-India and anti-Hindu activities.” “Faculties with low moral are misguiding students. These activities either don’t come to notice of Board of Governors or are being ignored... Board of Governors should also be made responsible for anti-India and anti-Hindu activities being carried out in the institutes,” it said. Taking a dig at Kakodkar, the article in the RSS weekly said he accused HRD Minister Smriti Irani of taking directors’ recruitment “casually” but did not say a word over celebration of ‘Kiss of Love’ by IIT Mumbai faculty and students. The RSS weekly strongly argues for bringing in changes in the education sector in line with the Hindutva outfit’s views and has hit out at those opposed to its policies. Several older IIMs have also criticised the draft bill prepared by the HRD Ministry that would give sweeping powers to the government in running the institution.
I AND MY THREE COMRADES (Com. Saeed Famous, Com. Damodar Kurmi and Com. Hafiz Harun) are in receipt of your notice dated 23-6-2015. Firstly it is not clear from the notice whether you are acting on behalf of the Communist Party of India or on behalf of Advocate Arvind Srivastava, alone. As you are aware, the Communist Party of India is a registered political party with the Election Commission of India. We are therefore also sending a reply of this notice to the Central Office of the Communist Party of India in New Delhi.
I am the State Secretary, for MP, of the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Red Star which is also registered with the Election Commission of India. I am also aware that Advocate Arvind Srivastava is the Secretary of the State Committee for Madhya Pradesh of the Communist Party of India. However, I was not aware that he was a member of the Communist Party of India since 42 years. I am surprised to find that he joined the Communist Party in 1973. This means that he joined at the time when there was intense debate on the land question going on in India. In 1967 after the United Front Government came to power in West Bengal, the Agrarian Minister, Harekrishna Konar of the CPI(M) had put forward an agrarian policy in which he promised land being seized from the landlords and being distributed to the actual tillers.
To implement this policy, the Darjeeling District Committee of the CPI (M) under the leadership of Com. Charu Mazumdar organized the peasant struggle In Naxalbari. The United Front government of which Com. Jyoti Basu of the CPI (M) was the minister in charge of the police, caused the police to fire upon the peasants and tea garden workers who were taking part in the peasant struggle.
The Communist Party of India was also a part of this United Front Government and had two ministers in this Government. Around the same time the CPI (M) formulated its stand in its 1967 resolution “Tasks on the Kisan Front”. The actions of the United Front Government in Naxalbari were clearly at variance with this resolution.
A further more clear stand on the agrarian question was taken by the CPI (M) in its document called “Certain Agrarian Issues”. Com. P. Sundarayya who was then the General Secretary of the CPI (M) wrote certain explanatory notes on this document in 1973. I would be very interested in knowing what was the stand of Advocate Arvind Srivastava on the agrarian issue in 1973 and whether it had any role in his joining the Communist Party of India in 1973. The answer to this will enable me to give an even better reply to your notice.
You have stated in your notice that Com. Sayid Femas, Com. Damodar Kurmi and Com. Hafij Haroon have been dismissed from the Communist Party of India. I request you to kindly furnish me a copy of the charge sheet which was served upon them and the records of the Inquiry which was held into the said charges. Kindly give me details of the corruption and indiscipline of which you accuse them. To my knowledge, the said comrades have never been dismissed from the Communist Party of India but, in fact, have resigned from the Communist Party of India due their utter frustration with this party.
I am proud to admit that a meeting was held in Sagar on 13th May to inform the public that the above mentioned Comrades have become members of our party. I stand by whatever was stated in that meeting by me. As to the matter of defamation, as you are aware, defamation is a bourgeois concept in which the complainant puts a price on his “reputation”. In the first instance I do not remember even the name of your client Advocate Srivastava being mentioned in the meeting on 13th May. As such I fail to see how any damage could have been caused to his reputation. If it is the damage to the reputation of the Communist Party of India that you are suing for, then it is interesting to know that you have evaluated this reputation at the price of Rs. 100000 (Rupees One Lakh only).
As you are aware, the criticism made of the Communist Party of India was a political criticism. I am open to debate this question with you or with Advocate Srivastava on any convenient day at any mutually decided place. We can also agree to make this debate public if you so desire. I believe that this would be a more politically correct method of tackling this issue rather than going to the bourgeois courts and having advocates argue on this issue. Every day, in our country, many criticisms are made by one political party of the policies of another. Is the BJP not a Hindu Fascist party? Is not the Congress a pro-imperialist party? Would you also not call them as such? It would be amusing if the BJP and the Congress were to go to court every time we made a criticism of them. It is a very sorry fact that where even the BJP and the Congress do not take such matters to court, the CPI has threatened to take such matters to the bourgeois courts. Or do you not believe that the present courts are a part of the oppressive ruling system? Please let me have your views on this also so that I can further refine my reply to you.
Comrade, the recent elections have shown how high the reputation of the various communist parties in India is. Let us not tarnish this reputation further by indulging in such facile and childish exercises as your notice.
1. Urgent measures for containing price-rise through universalisation of public distribution system and banning speculative trade in commodity market.
2. Containing unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation.
3. Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measure for violation for labour laws.
4. Universal social security cover for all workers.
5. Minimum wages of not less than Rs. 15,000 per month with provisions of indexation.
6. Assured enhanced pension not less than Rs. 3000 per month for the entire working population.
7. Stoppage of disinvestment in Central/State PSUs.
8. Stoppage of contractorisation in permanent perennial work and payment of same wage and benefits for contract workers as regular workers for same and similar work.
9. Removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus, provident fund; increase the quantum of gratuity.
10. Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of submitting applications; and immediate ratification of ILO Convention C 87 and C 98.
11. Against Labour Law Amendments
12. Against FDI in Railways, Insurance and Defence.
1. Effect wage revision of the Central Government Employees from 01.01.2014 accepting memorandum of the staff side JCM; ensure 5-year wage revision in future; grant interim relief and merger of 100% of DA; Include Gramin Dak Sevaks within the ambit of 7th CPC. Settle all anomalies of 6th CPC.
2. No Privatisation, PPP or FDI in Railways, Defence Establishment and no corporatization of Postal services.
3. No ban on creation of new posts. Fill up all vacant posts.
4. Scrap PFRDA Act and re-introduce the defined benefit statutory pension scheme.
5. No outsourcing, contractuarisation, privatization of governmental functions; withdraw the proposed move to close down the printing presses, the publications, form stores and stationery departments and medical stores Depots; regularize the existing daily-rated/casual and contract workers and absorption of trained apprentices.
6. Revive the JCM functioning at all level as an effective negotiating forum for settlement of the demands of the Central Government Employees.
7. Remove arbitrary ceiling on compassionate appointment.
8. No labour reforms which are inimical to the interest of the workers.
9. Remove the ceiling on payment on bonus.
10. Ensure five promotions in the service career
Be it ever so mild, even the BMS, the labour union associated with the RSS, has always talked in terms of class – working class and industrialists. For instance, while criticising the budget put forward by the Modi Government this year in February, Vrijesh Upadhyaya, General Secretary of the BMS said that though the workers were looking forward to “Achhe Din”, the budget had disappointed the Government employees and the entire working class. However, Modi’s speech was predicated on the fact that workers and industrialists were, in fact, like brothers! In a further feudalisation of the Gandhian concept of trusteeship1 Modi has gone one step further and stated that the only hope for progress for India is if the employer and the worker act as part of one family. He actually stated in his speech that the industrialists should spend sleepless nights worrying about the workers problems and the worker must remain awake worrying about the factory’s problems. Whether that will solve any of the grave problems facing the industrial sphere in this country is doubtful, but what it will achieve is that everyone will become insomniacs!
In a later comment, Modi stated that there was only a thin line between industry and the industrialist, between Government and the nation and between Trade Unions and workers. However, he stated, we had to recognise this line and work for the progress of industry and not the industrialist, for saving the nation and not for saving the government, for the good of the workers and not for the good of trade unions. He seems to have forgotten one basic point. The Indian Labour Conference is a meeting avowedly of workers, employers and the Government. The nation is not party to the meeting, only the Government. Industry is not one of the parties, only the employers, represented by representatives of various Chambers of Commerce, etc. The third party to these conferences is workers, who are represented by representatives of recognised Central Trade Unions. The practise of holding such Conferences had started in 1940 during the Second World War, when strikes were banned and the Defense of India Rules substituted all labour laws. In this situation, it was felt that there was a need to bring representatives of workers and of industrialists to a joint discussion, in the presence of the Government, to prevent any conflagration of workers due to exploitation. In a sense, the very initiation of such conferences was a recognition of the class antagonism between industrialists and workers.
The Prime Minister did not talk of any of the real problems facing industry. He did not talk of why real wages were falling. He did not mention the problems of contract workers. He did not mention about corruption in the labour field where the employers do not even abide by the legal norms and are rarely prosecuted. Instead his speech was articulated with half-baked philosophy like about a “family” and a lot of fluff about the few small schemes being rolled out by the Government.
There has been fierce opposition to the proposed changes in labour laws in the Rajasthan pattern. It was the BJP State Government in Rajasthan that had first mooted that they would change the labour laws to make retrenchment and closure of industries easier and also make employment of contract labour easier by reducing the protection given to contract labour. Narendra Modi’s speech did not address this point at all. He only made some vague statements that there were too many laws and this was confusing and therefore the laws must be simplified so that even simple workers could understand their rights. This, he promised, would only be done with consulting the workers.
Presumably, he was referring to the plan by the Government to consolidate the over 40 central labour laws in the country into 4 laws – one on wages, one on industrial relations (trade unions, etc), one on social security and one on working conditions and safety. This seems to be at variance from the changes mooted in the Factories Act last year. If the Government wants to scrap the Factories Act altogether and make a consolidated law for conditions of work and safety then it makes no sense to amend the Factories Act. What the Government is actually trying to do is, under the guise of consolidation, to reduce the rights and protections won by the workers through a century of hard struggle. However, due to the ineptness of the Government in drafting these laws, even such subterfuge seems to be failing.
Of late there has been a growing demand to implement the decision of the 15th Indian Labour Conference, which had made a formula for determining the minimum wage, and thereby to increase the minimum wage to Rs. 15000. Modi had no light to shed on this demand. There are many issues pending about the wages of Government employees. Modi said not a word about these.
He had very little to say, also, about the direction that his Government was taking with respect to labour issues. He talked of the schemes like the Atal Pension Yojana, the PM Suraksha Bima Yojana and the PM Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana. He said that these were the schemes formulated by his Government to help the powor workers of the unorganised sector. In the first place these schemes are not at all for workers of the unorganised sector. They are for all persons who have bank accounts. Thus it is a misnomer to say that these are framed for the benefit of the workers of the unorganised sector.
Secondly, these schemes are mere rehashes of the schemes that had been introduced by the former UPA Government. The UPA Government had introduced the Janshree Yojana and the Rajiv Gandhi Swasthya Bima Yojana. So there is nothing new or innovative being done by the Modi Government in introducing such schemes.
Further, and more dangerously, such schemes are tending to change the way that society deals with social security. Till now, the mainstay of social security for workers was the PF and the ESI. The main fund for this was provided by the employer. Now the new schemes, from which the 94% workers of the unorganised sector are ostensibly to get their social security are based on their own contributions with a little tidbit being thrown by the Government to sweeten the deal. Thus the Atal Pension Yojana provided for the Government to add upto Rs. 1000 per year for some years to the amounts contributed by the subscribers who do not fall in the income tax bracket towards their individual pension funds.
To tackle problem of unemployment, Modi put forward the growth of “apprenticeship”. This is also a very dangerous trend. This seems to be a concerted trend all over the world started a few years ago to push down the average real wage. Workers are being made to work for much reduced work in many countries for years on end as “apprentices” under the pretext that they will “learn” their work. The bitter fact is that the work these workers do does not at all require such a long time to learn. They are merely being made into a new form of contract labour, where even the sham contractor does not have to be engaged. Modi pointed out in his speech that China has 2 crores of such apprentices, Japan one crore and even Germany has 30 lakhs. He has therefore put forward the target to increase the proportion of apprenticeship by tenfold over the next couple of years. This is no empty threat as the legal amendment to enable this has already been drafted.
Talking of amendments in the law, the press has made a great brouhaha about the fact that Modi said that laws would be amended only by concensus. This is not really true. Modi very guardedly said that laws would be amended by concencus while at the same time saying that old and outdated laws would have to be amended.
Though he did not say anything in his speech about the new changes in the ESI, the speech of the Finance Minister dealt with this at length. Even the banners advertising the conference talked of “ESI 2.0” which is how the few minor changes are being referred to. As at present available it seems that the benefits being mentioned are only cosmetic - like using a different colour of bedsheet on hospital on each day of the week to show that it has actually been changed. However, the real fact is that the income of the ESI Corporation has increased many fold over the past few years without any corresponding change in the benefits being made available to the workers.
It is in the context of the reality behind this “tamasha” - reality where the Government is hell bent upon making anti-worker changes in the labour laws that we have to see the call for the 2nd September protest day. Many of the demands being put forward for this day are only for Central Government servants. Even the demands for the general workers are not complete. There is no demand, for instance against contract labour. The demand for a minimum wage of Rs. 15000 is much less than the demand of the TUCI, based on the formula of the 15th Labour Conference for a minimum wage of Rs. 22000. Still, there is a demand to stop the amendments to the labour laws. There is a demand for minimum wage to be increased at least to Rs. 15000. There is a demand for social security for all.
There is also the added factor that this protest is being supported by all workers organisations across the board including the BMS, which is slap in the face for this Government. In this situation it is imperative that TUCI should also take part in this strike albeit with its own demands also.
Towards this end a meeting was held in Mumbai between the TUCI, IFTU, NTUI and AICCTU on 26th June where it was decided that all would form a front to support the strike. A common leaflet would be drafted. These four organisations would organise joint conventions in each state wherever possible. A national convention of these four organisations in suppor of the protest day is also to be held in New Delhi on 14th August.
In this situation, TUCI calls upon all the working class all over India to join this protest and strike work on 14th August. We call upon all workers to come on the streets on that day and to show this Government that the workers in this country are still the same force that played a pivotal role in the struggle against British imperialism and which fought with the revolutionary peasants of Naxalbari for their rights.
Workers of the World Unite!
Workers in India strike on 2nd September
Oppose the anti-worker changes in the labour laws
Stop the neo-liberal policies of this Government
Down with imperialism and Corporate Raj!
I FILED a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) at the Kolkata High Court against the Sports and Transport Minister of Bengal, Madan Mitra, praying for his removal from the West Bengal State Cabinet, on January 16, 2015. The court accepted the matter and asked the State Government to submit an affidavit within four weeks. Astonishingly, neither the said minister nor the State Government bothered to heed the court order, but such violation has now become a common feature of the Trinamool-led government.
Before filing the PIL I had sent a letter to the Governor of West Bengal in the context of the same issue but received no reply. After failing to get a response from Raj Bhavan, I moved High Court because since the Minister is in jail he is not able to discharge his constitutional duties – something he swore to before the Governor while taking his ministerial oath. I categorically mentioned in my petition that since Madan Mitra is in jail in connection with the Saradha Chit Fund scam case, he is unable to perform his ministerial functions currently, and so he should demit his ministerial post. Article 164 of the Constitution requires a Minister to take an oath that he will faithfully and conscientiously discharge his duties and would do right to all manners of people in accordance with the constitution and law. Under Article 188 of the Constitution, Madan Mitra had to take a similar oath as a member of the State Legislative Assembly.
As a matter of fact, Mitra’s clinging to his ministerial post with the obvious support of the Chief Minister is unprecedented, unlawful and obviously unethical. Mitra was arrested by the CBI in the process of investigation into the Saradha Chit Fund scam on prima facie evidence of criminal conspiracy, cheating, misappropriation of funds and deriving undue financial benefits from the Saradha Group. In similar situations, when Lalu Prasad Yadav, Jayalalitha, and recently former Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar were accused in different cases, they resigned from their ministerial offices after being sentenced to jail. Mitra’s incident clearly indicates that Mamata Banerjee attaches little importance to the Constitution or, for that matter, democracy.
The issue is not merely one of Madan Mitra’s remaining a Minister despite being in jail for over 6 months now. It goes far beyond that – it is a question of violation of the Constitution by the very government that is supposed to defend it, it is a question of an attack on democracy and also a question of defiant corruption.
Thus the issue is not one which can be dealt with only by a court of law. It is an issue that has to be raised from a people’s platform, it is the people who should raise their voice against this malpractice of the Trinamool government. The people of Bengal are experiencing an atrocious range of anarchy, violence and hooliganism in all spheres at the direct instigation of the Trinamool party as well as government. They are confronting questions they had not been prepared for in the era of Ma, Mati, Manush (the popular slogan coined by TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee to describe her government!). All movements against the state government are being crushed brutally and undemocratically by the police and the Trinamool party working in tandem. Even sections of the progressive force and intellectuals are keeping mum in this atmosphere of anarchy and mayhem.
It is in this scenario that the questions of corruption, trampling of democracy and violation of the Constitution have come together in the Madan Mitra issue. In fact, corruption lies at the heart of the issue. Madan Mitra was seen in video clips praising Saradha Group chairman Sudipta Sen(also in custody now) at a meeting of Saradha agents and enjoying benefits like car, fuel and driver at the company’s expense. He also extracted donations out of Sudipta Sen for a temple. The Saradha Group operated a Ponzi scheme offering massive returns of 40 per cent and more until it collapsed two years ago, leaving lakhs of small investors bankrupt in Bengal and other parts of the country. The money robbed of these small investors has filled the coffers of Madam Mitra and his ilk. Although the WB Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had strongly defended Madan Mitra some months ago and rhetorically asked, “Are they thieves? Am I a thief?”, these are questions the answers to which are widely known, though perhaps not openly acknowledged. Only a surging mass movement can lay bare the truth in such a manner that none can shirk from it.
Against this background, all radical, democratic and progressive forces have been called to a convention to be held in Mahabodhi Society Hall, Kolkata on July 31. The convention will decide how we will come together and constitute the direction of our movement by which we can combat the attack of the Trinamool Congress on the basic precepts of democracy with obvious emphasis on removal of Madan Mitra from the West Bengal State Cabinet. Strangely enough, the principal opposition party in the state, the CPI(M), has not raised the issue strongly within the Assembly or outside the Assembly so far – at least not strongly enough to make it a question of mass movement.
As it is clear that the CPI(M), as also the other parties in opposition, is either incapable of or disinclined to take the bull by its horns and unleash a popular movement against the rampant corruption within the government, beginning with the sensitive issue of a minister not being stripped off his post despite spending months in custody, it is up to the progressive and democratic forces to come together on a platform and do so.
The July 31 convention will discuss all these matters vividly and aim towards forming a platform which will fight against corruption and the attack on democracy. Fighting for democracy is not an easy job, especially in Bengal where the attack of the state administration is increasing gradually. But there is no other way out. The onus is on the masses to build up a movement against this trampling of democracy. No matter how much powerful the state is, with its police and military, we will have to continue our fight for our rights. Under this govt the administration is hand in glove with the anti-socials. Therefore there is a need for a collective movement to stand up against this tyranny and to restore the rule of law and preserve democracy. We want an end to the anarchy and oppression that have been unleashed by an unholy party which is in power. We will declare from our convention: “Remove Madan Mitra from Ministry” and “Accelerate the movement for democratic rights”
Demand Immediate Withdrawal of ‘Offer’ of Higher Education for Trade Regulation Before it is too late!
CPI (ML) Red Star central committee has called for supporting the movement led by All India Forum-Right To Education (AIF-RTE) against commercialization of education.
Call of the Hour
WTO-GATS regime reduces education into a commodity and turns the student into a consumer in clear legal terms. Turning education into a tradable commodity will lead not only to denial of education to the poor and disadvantaged but also to deception of those who can afford it because the very purpose, content and quality of all education and research will be degraded to suit the interests of corporate capital. It would also abandon the role of education as an enlightening, empowering and transforming process required to develop social individuals imbued with self-dignity, and citizens inspired by the constitutional values of democracy, plurality, social justice, secularism and socialism so that they are able to protect the independence and sovereignty of the nation. Education loving people and organisations in India have resisted the attempts by successive governments for inclusion of Higher Education under the WTO-GATS regulations since 1998 when WTO initiated moves in favour of bringing education under its regime. Yet, this could not stop the government from allowing 100% FDI across all sectors of education in February 2000 outside WTO and from making ‘offers’ under WTO in Higher education sector in August 2005.
With the impending conclusion of the Doha Round of trade negotiations in December 2015, it is imperative to build a strong movement demanding the withdrawal of the ‘offers’ for market access before they become irrevocable ‘commitments’. AIFRTE appeals to all pro-people organizations, activists, intellectuals, teachers, students and all sections of the struggling masses to join hands for a resolute struggle against this neoliberal assault on our education system and demand immediate withdrawal of the ‘offers’ given to WTO-GATS in Higher Education as they would become an irrevocable bondage for the nation and people!
The Central Committee of the CPI(ML) Red Star has supported this call and has decided to join it to make it a great success.
Programme of Action Against Committing Higher Education to WTO : "Fight WTO ! Save Education ! Stop Committing Higher Education to WTO"
The 4th National Council Meet of the All India Forum for Right to education (AIFRTE) held in Sewagram, Wardha, from 14th to 16th June, 2015 has taken serious note of all neo-liberal attacks on education and how the nexus between commercialization and communalization of education is playing havoc in the life of the people. The Council noted with grave concern that there is every possibility that the Government of India (GOI) will ‘commit’ Higher Education Sector for ‘Market Access’ to WTO in the ensuing 10th Ministerial Meet to be held at Nairobi, Kenya from 15th to 18th December this year. It is also noted that India has already made ‘offers’, an initial step of ‘commitment’, way back in 2005. In the case the ‘commitment’ materialises in higher education sector, the trade rules of the ‘General Agreement of Trade in Services’ (GATS), WTO will entangle higher education system of India in perpetuity. It is further noted that India, for that matter any member country, has the option to keep its education sector (or any service sector) outside the agreement before ‘committing’ it for ‘market access’ and also that if once a ‘commitment’ is made, it becomes irreversible for all practical purposes. It means that, as on date, India has an option open to it to keep its education sector outside the WTO regime and the option has to be exercised before the Nairobi Meet in December. If we do not persuade/compel the GOI to withdraw the ‘offers’ forthwith, education would be enmeshed in imperialist world trade rules perpetually. Proceeding from this understanding of the situation, the National Council decided to organize an intense campaign of resistance throughout India against the possible commitment to market access in higher education by GOI to WTO and demand the withdrawal of the ‘offer’ forthwith.
Further, the National Council decided that while every member-organisation of AIFRTE shall continue the struggles they are conducting for school education and higher education for protection and extension of educational rights of the people, they shall also build extensive campaign for withdrawal of ‘offer’ in higher education made to WTO in order to resist the neo-liberal onslaught. The ongoing struggles in the field of higher education shall be consciously linked with our proposed campaign against WTO-GATS. Since the strength of our member-organisations is limited, the priority of our campaign against WTO shall be to mobilise the teachers and students of Universities and colleges. We should also identify individuals and organisations that can join our campaign against WTO along with all those who stand against neo-liberalism. Our campaign shall be widespread in terms of opinion mobilization and our programmes should be persuasive and compelling so that the government is pressurized to withdraw higher education from WTO.
Campaigns and Resistance Programmes on Selected Dates/Periods:
1) Observe 9th August 2015, the legendary ‘Quit India Day’, as ‘WTO Quit Education, Quit India Day’. This shall be organised in a decentralized mode in all universities and as many colleges as possible in all districts in various states. For the purpose, leafleting, postering, signature campaign, group discussions, seminars shall be conducted from now onwards widely in universities and colleges. AIFRTE member-organisations shall plan the whole campaign such that the academic community in their area of activity get to know the danger of entanglement of education with global trade regime before 9th August. By this campaign we achieve a stage where even if a section of students and teachers may not join us immediately in protest programmes they are aware of what for these protests are taking place. This campaign shall prepare solid ground for further agitation.
March to Gowalia Tank, Mumbai: As part of the all-India call to observe ‘WTO Quit Education, Quit India Day’ on 9th of August, it is proposed to have a centralised programme in Mumbai on 9th August, 2015 as far as the state of Maharashtra is concerned. Our member-organisations in Maharashtra shall organise ‘WTO! Quit Education, Quit India! Day’ by marching to Gowalia Tank in Mumbai, drawing upon the imagery of the 1942 Quit India Day. Our member-organisations in Maharashtra may have to mobilise students, teachers and people from some select districts for the Mumbai programme. Further, they have to send campaign squads to Mumbai well in advance to go to all universities and colleges in Mumbai to mobilise students and teachers for the ‘March to Gowalia Tank’. All students’ organisations working with us, who have got working units in Mumbai and Maharashtra, may direct their units to make this programme a grand success. The Presidium and Secretariat of AIFRTE will also endeavour to take the support from AIFUCTO and FEDCUTA to mobilise university teachers for the historical programme. This proposed ‘March to Gowalia Tank’ will add a feather to the nationwide decentralised observance of 9th August as ‘WTO Quit Education, Quit India Day’.
2) All India Protest Week: Observe 28th September, the birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and 2nd October, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi (either of them or both) as ‘Stop Modi! Stop WTO! Save Education! Day’. The two dates may also be connected by member-organisations through a series of ‘Anti-Imperialist Consciousness Raising’ campaigns. Organise law break on 28th September and/or Observe Satyagraha and court arrest on 2nd October in big numbers in district headquarters. If the member-organisations in different states find any practical problem with either of the dates, they are free to organise protest on any day between 28th September and 2nd October. Irrespective of the date and form of protest, we should involve all organisations that come forward and more particularly people of different sections in these programmes. These programmes shall express the anguish of a cross-section of academic community along with local intellectuals, writers and artists of repute that the government can ill-afford to ignore. If some organisations can mobilise workers, peasants and masses of people that will be really great. These programmes shall be organised with such a great strength and vigour that the ruling circles should understand that people of India are rejecting handing over of education to the imperialist organ, WTO.
Satyagraha at Rajghat, Delhi: As a part of ‘All India Protest Week’ a Muhim (March) will be organised from Village Khatkad Kalan (Dist. Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Punjab), the place where Bhagat Singh lived his childhood and received early revolutionary orientation, to Rajghat in Delhi where Mahatma Gandhi’s Samadhi is established. The Muhim starts on 28th September (birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh) and culminates in Rajghat on 2nd October, 2015(birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi). Our member-organisations in J&K, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi States will organize the ‘Muhim’. Systematic efforts shall be made to mobilise students, youth and karmacharis from universities and colleges in Delhi with the support and participation of all-India students’ organisations, university teachers’ organisations (including AIFUCTO and FEDUCTA) and Delhi-based student, youth and cultural organisations. Renowned personalities from Delhi and nearby states shall also be involved.
This wave-like nation-wide protest held simultaneously in around two hundred districts and the capital of the nation, Delhi from 28th September to 2nd October shall be an eye opener to the ruling class and bring a break in the process of committing education to WTO. If all our organisations take this call seriously, as they do, the protests that are to be organised from 28th September to 2nd October would develop a synergy and if propagated properly through regular media and social media would influence the government decision-making process. The protests, in this period, throughout the width and breadth of the country by creating a public mood would confer great importance to the Delhi Protest on 2nd October and both, the people who are yet to join us, and government will understand that the struggle is not one-day affair but a widespread and protracted struggle that can sustain.
3) State-level demonstrations: State-level demonstrations shall be organised in various state capitals on any one day during the period from 1st to 10th November according to the convenience of member-organisations. If the dates are communicated to the AIFRTE Secretariat well in advance, the latter shall try to arrange for the participation of the AIFRTE Presidium Members or well-known personalities in these programmes. These demonstrations may be held at or lead to Governor’s residence and a memorandum addressed to the President of India shall be handed over to the Governor receiving an acknowledgment from his office for the same. These state-level demonstrations, in as many states as possible shall be organised impressively and shall be an advanced step after ‘All India Protest Week’ in our campaign against WTO. By this time, we shall also find newspapers widely reporting about the scheduled meetings of the WTO and the topics of trade that would be ‘discussed’ and resolved at the Nairobi Meet. We have to mobilise maximum number of people in these demonstrations not only to continue but to intensify our protest, both to retain the gains of observance of ‘All India Protest Week’ and also to mount more pressure on the government to desist from the process of committing education to WTO. The caption for this stage of struggle can be worked out by the end of September to be declared on 2nd October. We will have to keep our eyes on the developments in trade negotiations of WTO and develop proper slogans accordingly.
4) A Six-day Resistance Camp at Delhi, to be named ‘Resistance Camp against WTO Meet@ Nairobi’ will be organized by AIFRTE at Town Hall Premises in Chandni Chowk/Jantar Mantar/Rajghat/Red Fort/ from 13th to 18th December, 2015.This Resistance Camp will stand in solidarity with people fighting all over the world against the WTO’s neoliberal agenda and against listing of education as tradable service. This stage of struggle, though cannot be elaborated now, is very important. The struggles in different countries in WTO and resistance at Nairobi will be peaking at this stage. Things can be reversed even at this stage. Cancun meet in 2003 stands a testimony to it. The WTO was to go back in Cancun Meet at the last minute in the face of resistance. We shall hold the flag till the end and even thereafter! Note: The delegations of fighting organisations in India representing different spheres of life which will be going to Nairobi to protest there will be invited on 13th November to our ‘WTO Resistance Camp’ to express solidarity with our struggle before they leave for Nairobi. Further, please note that the concept of the programme and its title can be further developed over the period before the third circular is posted on 3rd October.
Delegation to Nairobi: We will also try to send a delegation with our own banner to Nairobi. More importantly, we shall mobilize our contacts with anti-neoliberal struggles in Africa, Asia, Europe and North & Latin America to express solidarity with our cause at the Nairobi meet. We shall take help from our comrades abroad for this.
Who does not prefer a cafeteria to the hostel mess? While the latter provides the same food to everyone, at the cafeteria one has the full freedom to choose a menu of one’s own. The cafeteria reminds one of the super markets whereas the hostel mess brings to us the memory (fast fading) of seedy government ration shops which provided a fixed set of items and those too in stipulated amounts. Does not the cafeteria provide us full freedom to choose whatever we would like to eat?
Freedom is a fascinating word till one adds a phrase to it–‘for whom?’ At a supermarket consumers exercise their daily freedom by ‘voting’ in favour of the commodity they most prefer, however the number of votes an individual can cast strictly and solely depends upon the amount she/he carries in her/his wallet. An empty wallet? No right to food in the market. Our central universities-turned-cafeterias are going to be no different.
Capitalism hates equality and thrives on inequality. In an astoundingly stratified society like ours it is indeed surprising that central universities could go on catering the same sort of education to all of its customers for so long. Imagine the plight of a student, whose guardian can afford to pay any amount of sum for her/his education and yet she/he is forced to share her/his classroom with any ‘riff raff’ who manages (against seemingly insurmountable odds) to score the required marks and take admission in a central university. Isn’t it a travesty? That all should sit in the same classroom and be tutored by the same set of professors? Thankfully for the rich, the Modi sarkar is here and it is keen to liberate the rich from equality. Come CBCS and our higher education would resemble an android app–a standard education for all, but the premium features would unlock only through payment of more money.
While a plain Jane would have to make do with a vanilla honours, paying patrons would be treated to such high end flavours as butterscotch and black currant. There will be ‘high grade’ courses offered by ‘rock star’ professors available to those whose guardians can pay; and some of these would be offered by private universities. From the bourgeois point of view this is a win-win situation: rich patrons’ children would finally get what they always wanted– a stratified education based on money muscle and in the process private universities would also churn out profits through publicly run universities.
But wait, this isn’t all! Santa Modi has many more gifts for the children of the rich. There is the newly implemented Accreditation system for universities. As per this regulation all universities would be accredited based on their ‘performance’. Under-performing universities would get lesser money from the UGC in comparison to those which perform well. No prizes for guessing which universities are going to emerge winners with flying colours in this ‘free and fare’ competition. And face palm at those who genuinely believe that Rajkiya Mahila Degree College, Ghazipur is going to pip over Lady Shriram College, DU any time in the foreseeable future.
For those who still haven’t been able to grasp the gist of what is being discussed, let’s take the example of the railways. In the beginning, there were just two classes in the railways, first and second. This upset the rich in two ways: a) they had to travel in the same class as the ones who were born to serve them, b) they pined for luxury at the payment of a price. The government, ever attentive to the ‘plight’ of the rich, began to stratify classes among train compartments– so that now we have 1st AC, 2nd AC, 3rd AC, AC Chaircars; and then there are varieties of trains, Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto, Premuim and Garib Rath for the rich and semi-rich. What the government is now doing to higher education is not very different from the scenario described above.
For the ‘Vanar Sena’ there is an added attraction to this scheme– now the entire syllabus, for all the course, across the universities throughout the breadth and length of the country, would be framed and designed by the UGC aka the government aka the ‘Vanar Sena’. So now physics books will teach ‘back to the vedas’ and the history books would read ‘Sab shri ram ki iksha thi’. Long live the banana republic! Na Hanuman na Ram Poonji hi hamara bhagavan!