CAB, Strategic Weapon Towards Hindu Rashtra
P J James
Following Cabinet approval, the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2019 that seeks to amend the Citizenship Act 1955, is set to be presented to parliament at the earliest and appropriate time most suited to the ruling BJP regime. If passed, it will be a historic landmark towards India's eventual transformation into a Hindu Rashtra.
As per the Indian Constitution, citizenship is neither religion-specific nor country of origin-specific. The proposed amendment, however, aims at undermining this fundamental character of Indian Constitution by offering citizenship to non-Muslim refugees and migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan on the one hand, and at the same time, denying the same specifically to their Muslim counterparts on the other. If implemented, the CAB in continuation of the abrogation of Article 370, will be another Constitutional coup and together with the pan-Indian extension of Assam-model NRC, shall alter the fundamental secular character of Indian Constitution.
During September, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has unequivocally made it clear that all Hindus missing from NRC shall be accommodated within India through the CAB. And the two-day Chhatarpur meeting of RSS and its affiliated organizations held towards the end of October has resolved to earnestly work for the implementation of NRC across India together with the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Contrary to what defence minister Rajnath Singh said of the spirit of "sarva dharma sambhav", embodied in CAB is the aggressive, xenophobic, and highly sectarian 'Hindu nationalism' or Hindutva with its genocidal hatred towards Muslims. It is a landmark in the direction of the establishment of a reactionary Hindu theocratic state or Hindu Rashtra - a century-long commitment and campaign so assiduously taken up by RSS. The Modi regime is bent on tabling it in Rajya Sabha with the hope of taking advantage of the fragmented position of the opposition. No doubt, it is the solemn duty of all the democratic and secular forces in this country to prepare for an all-out offensive to stall the passing and preventing the implementation of this most reactionary legislation that forms one of the corner stones of the corporate-Hindu theocratic fascist state.
Approach to the Constitutional Coup on Kashmir and the Task before Democratic Forces
[Edited version of Comrade Kolla Venkaiah Memorial Speech by P J James, PB Member, CPI (ML) Red Star]
Kashmir remains as the most militarised region in the world today. With the entire people being caged following abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019 by the corporate-saffron fascist Modi regime, Kashmir is literally a prison-house now. With 900000 military and paramilitary troops stationed in Kashmir, which has only a population of 15 million, it has become the highest militarized region in the world at par with Zionist occupied West Bank. With the possibility of the number one and two imperialist powers, US and China directly coming into 'conflict' at Kashmir, Modi regime through its actions have transformed Kashmir as one of the most important geo-strategic global 'hot-spots’ too. And it's consequences to the Indian people, especially in view of Indian regime's ongoing integration with US as the latter's junior strategic partner and as a launching pad in its machinations against China are gruesome. In effect, Modi's Hindu Rashtra policy on Kashmir has transformed India as a direct focal point in the inter-imperialist contradictions, especially between US and China.
Since the mainstream Indian corporate media is already co-opted or collaborated and those who are resisting being already subjugated, people have to depend on international media to know the whereabouts of Jammu and Kashmir today.
Meanwhile, the RSS-led BJP regime after abrogating Articles 370 and 35A through a Constitutional coup as per its Hindu Rashtra agenda, is engaged in a most vicious propaganda to justify its heinous move of downgrading J&K and dividing it in to two union territories. Claiming Kashmir as Akhand Bharat’s legitimate property, the usual argument being put forward is that the Special constitutional Provision for Jammu & Kashmir has been the root cause of the Kashmir issue including its alleged underdevelopment. Abolition of this special provision, it is argued, will lead to the integrated development of J & K and shall also result in ending the menace of separatism in the region.
At the outset, we have to unequivocally say that this is a ‘post-truth’ version on the part of Hindutva forces. At the time of power transfer, many princely states were outside the so called India and Pakistan defined and handed over to the respective rulers then by the British. It was through a complicated process that many erstwhile kingdoms acceded either to India or to Pakistan. In spite of that, J&K, Manipur, Nagaland and Sikkim continued outside India. However, Kashmir situation where majority of the population was Muslim but ruled by a Hindu king Hari Singh was totally different. The King initially took the position not to join either Pakistan or India. However, towards the last quarter of 1947, there was a Pakistan-instigated infiltration in Kashmir that prompted the King to seek Indian help followed by him joining India based on an Agreement (Instrument of Accession) between the two without seeking the opinion of Kashmiri people. According to this Agreement, except Defence, External Affairs and Communications, the J&K is empowered to frame laws of its own. There was also an understanding (connected with UN intervention in 1948 followed by India moving to UN opposing Pakistan) that there should be a plebiscite or referendum in which the people of Kashmir shall use their right of self-determination, thereby either to remain as an independent country, or to join India or Pakistan.
During the initial days, Congress leaders like Nehru were upholding this perspective, though RSS (also discredited with its involvement in Gandhi assassination, and on account of its espousal of Manusmriti as the Constitution, etc.) had been opposing this position from the very beginning. Meanwhile several rounds of discussion at national and international levels had been there regarding the Kashmir question, contrary to the false Sanghi propaganda now being spread that Kashmir has never been an international issue. Even ceasefire between India and Pakistan was arrived at based on UN propositions. However, in course of time, by the second half 1950s, a mood began to be created in Indian ruling class circles that the Instrument of Accession itself was sufficient enough to treat Kashmir as an inalienable part of India. Meanwhile though several discussions went on between Indian and Pakistani leaders on Kashmir, both sides took diametrically opposite positions that even led to wars also, finally resulting in the separation of East Pakistan in 1971 to form a separate country. However, Jan Sangh, connected with RSS had been consistently demanding abolition of Article 370 and 35A and forcible integration of Kashmir with India, and with emergence of BJP as the far-right ruling class party led by RSS, this demand got a further boost which even some Congress leaders also began to support. At the same time, because of the undemocratic approach of the Indian regime including dilution of the Article 370, majority of the Kashmiri people became alienated from India altogether. This should be seen in the general context of the utter collapse of even namesake federalism in India following the superimposition of GST, etc. by which India had already transformed in to a unitary regime instead of the much trumpeted ‘Union of States’.
As already noted, right from the beginning, the RSS has been systematically demanding the abolition of 370 as part of its other demands such as construction of Ram temple, Uniform Civil Code (which implies Hindu Civil Code) where Muslims will be treated as second class citizens. Today, it has strengthened its Hindutva offensive, with such additional moves as pan-Indian extension of Assam model NRC, super-imposition of Hindi, beginning of Manu courts, RSS-led military schools, etc. Therefore, the saffron forces cannot accept the historical context and the concrete facts that led to the incorporation of Article 370 in the Constitution and Kashmir’s special status based on it. However, today using its hold over all institutions of state apparatus including even judiciary, the Hindutva fascists have become successful in implementing one of their long-standing demands, abrogation of Article 370, division of J&K into two union territories and downgrading and subjecting it to the direct administration from Delhi. This is a gross violation of the Constitution, a Constitutional coup and a betrayal of the commitment made to the Kashmiri people at the time power of transfer that they would be given their right to decide on their fate.
In this context, in addition to the direct Hindutva agenda of forcible integration of Kashmir, the corporate interests behind this offensive on Kashmir, whose social and economic indicators of development as per existing international standards are much ahead than that of the other Indian states ruled by BJP, are also very important. Obviously, Articles 370 and 35A were a barrier to the unfettered plunder of Kashmiri people and their resources by both Indian and international corporate speculators who are propping up the Modi regime now. In particular, Article 35A prevents outsiders from buying land or property in the state and assures priority in jobs to state residents. This is an immediate factor that prompted the corporate fascist regime to abrogate both 370 and 35A. At a time when India is going through a historic economic collapse on account of Modi’s policies, and as existing avenues of corporate loot are drying up, being the chosen facilitator of corporatisation, it is incumbent on the saffron regime to open up new sources of loot. This seems to be the immediate context behind the sudden Constitutional coup on Kashmir.
Thus following the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A and caging the entire Kashmiri people, Modi govt. has initiated a series of initiatives to lay red carpet for the unfettered entry of all corporates in to Kashmir. To facilitate this corporate plunder, the central govt. has taken decision to hold a Global Investors Meet in Srinagar during the first week of November. The task of coordinating this global meet has been entrusted with Ambani, the biggest Indian corporate company along with Confederation of Indian Industries. An important development during this period, was the strategic deal between Aramco, the Saudi-based biggest international oil company and Reliance (Ambani) by which 20 percent of latter’s ownership worth Rs.1.1 lakh crore has been gone over to the former. This deal among other things has ensured the full support of Saudi Arabia, the so called guardian of Islamic community and West Asian pillar of US imperialism, to Modi’s Kashmir move. This clever initiative by Modi once again underlines the decisive role of corporate finance capital in fascistisation everywhere, which is applicable to Kashmir also.
Another important aspect to be noted with regard to Modi govt.’s fascist offensive on the Kashmiri people, as reported by S. Gurumurthy, the RSS intellectual, is the prior intimation that Modi had given to Trump, his imperialist master on the eve of the abrogation of Article 370, thereby ensuring the support of Trump administration in this regard. It is now known widely how Modi has won the support of US, France and Russia, three out of five permanent members of the Security Council in this Constitutional coup over Kashmir for which India has to pay a very heavy price by extending vast concessions and preferences to MNCs from them. And Modi has become the first head of a state who has visited an international summit site (G7) two times within span of a week, for appeasing the imperialist heads of states attending it. To put it differently, it is through naked sell-out of Kashmir and India in general to imperialist corporate capital that Modi has succeeded to ensure the support of all imperialists to his offensive on Kashmir. This has compelled Pak foreign minister to admit that by serving the economic interests of leading world powers Modi has become successful in ensuring their support to the betrayal of the Kashmiri people.
Therefore, democratic forces should have a comprehensive historical and political-economic understanding of all these developments which is essential for approaching the Kashmir question in the proper perspective. Though international and Indian public opinion is against Modi regarding Kashmir, various forces are at work that help Modi govt. to carry forward its sinister move. Within the country, various parties and organisations who do not have a proper understanding of the inter-linkage between saffronisation and corporatisation are unable to have concrete understanding of the Kashmir issue at this particular juncture. Internationally, by surrendering India’s vital interests to imperialist powers, Modi has ensured their silence, though foreign media is vehemently exposing Modi by highlighting the atrocities and unparalleled repression arising from militarisation of Kashmir.
Of course, abrogation of Article 370 and subjugation of Kashmir, as already said in the beginning, is just one among the series of saffron fascist offensives super-imposed by the Modi regime. The notorious National Citizenship Register (NRC) for Assam that has denied citizenship to around 20 lakh people and the move for a pan-Indian extension of this Assam-model together with the plan to construct detention centres all over India, the evil design to super-impose Hindi over non-Hindi speaking states, the groundwork for establishing Manusmriti courts in violation of Indian Constitution, the RSS initiative to start military schools for direct placement RSS-trained cadres in Indian military and above all the intensified lynching of dalits and minorities in the name of cow and Ram are all well-defined moves in the direction of building up the Hindu Rashtra. If not resisted and defeated at the earliest, the emerging frightening situation may lead to a ‘holocaust’-like situation with horrific consequences.
At the same time, it should be noted that, as elsewhere, the foundation of Indian fascism is also firmly rooted in corporatisation. In fact, what we are witnessing today is a pan-Indian extension of Modi’s Gujarat model. In continuation of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, during the decade that followed, Adani could multiply his assets by 1300 percent. Today Modi is replicating the same Gujarat model at the all India level and in the process has already transformed India as one of the most corrupt and unequal countries in the world, resulting in a historic collapse of Indian economy. Now Modi is trying to effectively utilise this economic crisis as the firm basis of corporate-saffron fascism in India. As such, the fascist offensive is inseparably connected with the putting heavier and heavier burdens on the backs of common people. That is, Hindutva fascism in India is inseparably linked up with a strengthening of far-right neoliberal policies in every sphere such as intensified sell-out of PSUs to corporates at throwaway prices, liberalisation of labour, tax and environmental regulations to make India investor-friendly, direct wealth transfers worth several lakhs of crores of rupees to corporates and so on, in addition to the biggest-ever corporate attacks on people through Demonetisation and GST.
In brief, therefore, a proper understanding of the inseparable link between corporatisation and saffron fascism is of utmost importance in building up a broad anti-fascist movement in India. That is, those opposition parties who are apparently opposing saffron fascism, but not having a firm position against neoliberal-corporatisation are incapable of giving leadership to the anti-fascist struggle on account of their ideological-political bankruptcy. The core of the anti-fascist offensive shall therefore be with the revolutionary unity of the struggling left forces who alone have an ideological-political clarity of the present situation. An anti-fascist broad united front led by them shall essentially be rooted in class and mass struggles and movements across India. It is the urgent task of all revolutionary and struggling forces to initiate for an open dialogue among themselves for exploring the possibilities of formulating a common minimum program both at the national and state levels encompassing both parliamentary and non-parliamentary struggles. To be precise, the need of the hour is to build up a broad anti-fascist united front based on this minimum program with all progressive- democratic forces and isolating all reactionary sections who are allying with corporate saffron fascism.
Let Comrade Kolla Venkaiah’s revolutionary memory enable us to shoulder this historic task at this critical juncture.
After officially acknowledging India’s historic economic downturn in 70 years, on August 23, 2019, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced a series of initiatives including further abolition of corporate taxes and many wealth transfer schemes to the superrich completely ignoring the unprecedented deprivation and destitution borne by the vast majority of common people. Till now, the govt. spokespersons have been working overtime to depict a rosy picture of the economy even manipulating data with official agencies. However, this ‘window dressing’ got exposed itself when global credit rating agencies like Moody’s Investors Service and even the Bretton Woods twin (IMF-World Bank) themselves have come forward strongly confirming a well-defined recession in India. It is in this context that, following Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar’s comment on the threatening financial system and particularly in the midst of Modi’s world tour, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has reiterated her govt’s unwavering commitments to corporate capital as announced in the maiden budget along with several fresh corporate-investor friendly measures.
The package of announcements include a series of tax exemptions and tax rolling backs including withdrawal of capital gains tax and surcharges on corporate speculators-- both foreign (FPIs) and domestic-- in stock markets, infusion of an additional Rs. 70000 crore into banks enabling them to lend another Rs. 5 lakh crore to corporate sector, dilution of violations of Corporate Social responsibility as a mere civil offence, pursuance of a soft approach to tax evaders, empowering bank officials to pursue a soft approach to corporate defaulters and so on, all in essence aim at further encouragement to ‘ease of doing business’ and boosting corporate animal spirits.
While such a mega booster is imparted to the corporate billionaires and foreign speculative investors for sky-rocketing the stock indices, there is not even a mention on the ground reality of the economy or on the extent of deprivation to which vast majority of the toiling people are subjected. In fact, the whole economy has been shrinking on account of withdrawal of productive investment by both public and private sectors, and as a manifestation, post-GST tax collection itself has gone down by 10 percent. Indian rupee's biggest ever depreciation is also integral part of the all round economic collapse. And even in the productive sphere that is sustaining, on account of the informalisation and casualization of workforce unleashed by corporate capital in its mad pursuit of super exploitation, the real earnings and purchasing power of the workers are shrinking at an alarming rate, even as unemployment rate is the highest in five decades. At the same time, under the Modi regime, with more than 80 percent of the national wealth generated being gobbled up by just one percent of the most corrupt corporate class, India has become one of the most unequal countries in the world.
Meanwhile, under such pro-corporate measures as Demonetisation and GST that while sucking out the life blood of the vast majority depending on cash-based informal and unorganised sectors on the one hand, and fattened the superrich on the other, corruption has grown to such an extent making India the most corrupt country in Asia surpassing Thailand and Pakistan. While there is no dearth of anti-corruption rhetoric from rooftops, the ultra-right neoliberal policies of the corporate saffron regime has done nothing to unearth the accumulation of vast sums of black money by the ultra-wealthy sections in offshore and domestic tax havens. And a major factor behind the unprecedented liquidity crunch that the economy confronts today is the diversion of funds mobilised from various sources to intricate, tax-evading underhand deals. Along with this, intensified downsizing and rollback of the state sectors coupled with collapse of industry and agriculture and drastic reduction in social spending have led to absolute reduction in the consuming/purchasing power of the people leading to lack of ‘effective demand’. Ironically, even while the economy in general is experiencing a downturn and common people are subject to more deprivation, corporate billionaires are successful in shoring up their super-profits. For obvious reasons, it is well-nigh impossible for Sitharaman even to mention these underlying factors that led to the present economic tsunami in India with its unfolding repercussions in the days ahead.
The slew of neoliberal-instigated tax-liberalisation and wealth transfer measures intended to further replenish the corporate looters now pursued by the Modi regime that resemble a ‘mini-budget’ are quite reminiscent of the ”quantitative easing” and “rescue packages” pursued by the imperialist powers ranging from the US and EU to China following the 2008 global economic meltdown. According to estimates, for instance, immediately after the financial crash, around 25 percent of the GDP of US was channelled in to the coffers of corporate-financiers who themselves were responsible for the crisis. But the crisis is still continuing. The outcome of the booster dose now imparted by Modi.2 is also going to be the same.
As the global economic downturn following the 2008 financial breakdown is a continuing process, India’s sudden economic collapse under Modi regime, though connected with many external factors, is different in many respects. For, as highlighted by several international and Indian experts, the Indian economy had been ‘relatively immune’ from the global meltdown of 2008 and as can be guessed from several studies such as the recent one by the Economic Research Department of SBI, the Indian economic scenario was relatively better on the eve of Modi’s ascendance to power in 2014. However, as reported in the media, now apart from manipulation of data, a despicable move also is there to erase such statistics which are unpleasant to the regime from govt websites altogether, even as under Modi.2 alone Indian stock markets have experienced a whopping loss worth of more than Rs. 15 lakh crore within a span of just three months. This bursting of the bubble itself is a symptom of an extreme crisis where even the corporate cronies integrated with the saffron-fascist regime are losing faith in the economy. That is, the extent of the historic collapse of the Indian economy is incomparable with the contemporary situation elsewhere including that in the leading imperialist powers US and China which are engaged in an unprecedented protectionist tariff/trade war.
Therefore, the ongoing economic collapse is inseparably linked up with the far right shift in economic policies under Modi regime. The root cause of the crisis today is the pan-Indian extension of the Gujarat model of aggressive corporatisation that took away even namesake barriers to corporate plunder. Indian economy today is engulfed in a vicious cycle of corporatisation-stagnation trap. No amount of ‘window dressing’ as that now resorted by the regime can drag the economy out of this crisis which is bound to assume further dimensions. What requires is a fundamental and immediate reversal of the explosive growth of the most corrupt and parasitic corporate class sucking out wealth from the real economy through manifold ways while remaining at the sphere of speculation. And as the crisis intensifies, along with putting heavier and heavier burdens on the shoulders of the people, all avenues at the disposal of corporate-saffron fascism are deployed not only against workers and all oppressed including dalits, adivasis, women and minorities, but also on political opponents and dissenters. Obviously, there is no shortcut, and the only option is a political alternative capable of resisting and defeating this horrific situation.
Com James PJ