Punjab Peasantry Re-Write History in Delhi
In depth they summarized how it gave Corporates a license to plunder the peasantry by having a total monopoly in dictating prices or obtaining land. The speakers elaborated how now the Corporates had a complete monopoly over the public distribution system and thus morally were a far greater menace to the peasantry than the traditional middlemen.”
The peasantry of Punjab belonging to 32 different organisations of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee have literally written a new chapter in history after igniting a spark into a Prairie fire. Arguably in the entire world has a farmers movement hit such a crescendo. There is hardly a adjective in the dictionary that can do justice to the extent of intensity or relentless spirit of the peasant agitators. Facing the deepest depths of despair and thwarted by impregnable police barriers they revealed death defying courage of an army. It was not just the vast numbers which climbed over 10 lakh but the great qualitative or electrifying impact it had striking the ruling classes in their very backbone.
Contribution of BKU-Ekta (Ugrahan)
The greatest credit for galvanisng the combat forces and their crystallisation in such magnitude goes to the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugarhan).It galvanised over one and a half lakh people, including around 50000 women alone. More than 50% of the protestors were the youth which was a positive trend. It was a perfect illustration of their surgical mass line practice. It confronted any type of legalism or economism to the core, by sustaining the agitation when other organisations decided to withdraw. Their storming into Delhi reminded one of a surgical operation of an Army batallion, with in depth understanding of the subjective conditions. It created the impact of a tornado in bordering regions of the capital. It has created such a thorn in the flesh for the ruling classes who are now even embarrassed to deploy the police to foil the protest.
It may take a book to describe the most soul-searching scenes at Tikri, Singhu, Jharoda, Ghazipur and Chilla, areas at the border of Delhi. The farmers confronted the teargassing, water cannons and barricades of the police weathering the chilliest of temperatures, with courage in proportions of Vietcong challenging the might of America in the Vietnam war. It was reminiscent of a boulder weathering the most turbulent of storms or gales. It set up Langars, established base camps, raised slogans waved flags and pounded tractors in. With the great methodology of an architect or surgeon it chalked out strategic points to agitate.
Significant solidarity was initiated by the Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa), Nauawan Bharat Sabha and Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union. It speaks volumes of the painstaking class -mass work to sharpen essence of revolutionary democratic politics has been undertaken at the very base. I would compare this effort of Ugrahan group with the best ever mass organised protests of the poor peasantry in world history. I apologise if I am being partial but most intellectuals have failed to portray the distinguishing features of the Ugrahan group in this development.
Speeches were continuously made highlighting how the agricultural bills were morally neo-fascist and destroy to dust any democratic aspirations of the peasantry. In depth they summarized how it gave Corporates a licence to plunder the peasantry by having a total monopoly in dictating prices or obtaining land. The speakers elaborated how now the Corporates had a complete monopoly over the public distribution system and thus morally were a far greater menace to the peasantry than the traditional middlemen.
The speakers stated that the dominance of corporate houses in agriculture sector meant the complete tarnishing of public distribution system. The new sytem would l ensure profit for the corporate houses and imperialist multinational corporations by depriving people of essential commodities. The new system would also increase black marketing and artificial glut and scarcity in the market. The leaders stated that this agitation was an attempt to save a profession like agriculture and to ensure food security of the masses. This is the reason that the agitation is getting support from people across the country and different walks of life.
The connivance of opposition parties be it the Congress or Aam Admi party or Akali Dal was exposed in no uncertain terms explaining that their economic policies were an integral part of the semi-feudal,semi-colonial state and thus in essence not different from the Bharatiya Janata Party. However still the main attack was on the Narendra Modi led Bhartiya Janata party illustrating how it blessed imperialism at crescendo never reached before or patronizing corporates more than any ruling party ever did in India. The expression on the faces of the peasantry was the very writing on the wall on the semi-slavery they were subjected to. The relevance of a broad united front of al democratic classes was brought to the fore. The manner reinforcements are sent reminding one of how a great army replenishes its forces.
In recent days it even highlighted how Industrial families were seizing Panchayat land and violating the Punjab Village Common land rule of 1964.They narrated how the state has about one and a half lakh acres of Panchayat land and their contracts and make crores of income with the government’s eye now on these lands. The intention of looting the prices of Panchayat lands is a direct raid on the interests and rights of the poor farmers. Whose interests are in farming on these lands.
Contribution of Other Democratic Forces
I also applaud the heroic role of the Kirti Kisan Union and the Naujwan Bharat Sabha who most qualitatively shimmered the spark of resistance and also mobilised a significant dalit landless labour section. Around 20,000 participated from Kirti Kisan Union who placed accent on the fascist rule unleashed by the centre and how it was empowering itself to crush all federal status of Punjabi people. In recent days some very notable work has been undertaken by the Punjab Students Union in solidarity and consolidation.Many convoys of Punjab Students Union are on their way to Delhi .No organisation shave mobilsed the Dalit agricultural labour Community as these forces. The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda)) has too risen to the hour significantly.
Sadly some important leaders of Kirti Kisan Union accused the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) of sabotaging the movement projecting is as trying to promote its own image and violating the collective spirit. This was countered by many intellectuals and refuted by Urgahan activists themselves who explained that only by prolonging resistance can any revolutionary alternative path be paved. Even an ex- cadre from their camp to the core was critical of the comments of Comrades Sardara Singh Mahil and Rajinder. Publicly such leaders expressed that the BKU (Ugrahan) hosting a langar at the initial stages near the border was derogatory. However, the Ugrahan group gave no counter statement in light that it would cause friction amongst the participants. Almost every day interviews were carried out with Joginder Singh Ugrahan,the president of the BKU.
Reports of Important Protests in Delhi Movement
On 4th December BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) continued its protest at Tikri border where protesters have occupied kilometres of road and established five stages to address the gatherings. Shingara Singh Mann, Jaswinder Singh Soma, Harinder Kaur Bindu, Paramjit Kaur Pitho, Zora Singh Nasrali of Punjab Khet Mazdoor union, Amolak Singh of PLS Manch, Amitoz Singh Maur of Punjab student union (Shaheed Randhawa), Sushil Kumari, Rajesh Dhankar, Mukesh Khasa and Khushbir Kaur from Haryana addressed the gathering. The speakers explained that Modi government Is responsible for the discomfort of the local community is facing due to ongoing agitation. It was reiterated that this is an agitation for the security of the farmer as well as the food security of the country. (Sukhdev Khokri)
The speakers stated that the dominance of corporate houses in agriculture sector mean end of public distribution system. New system will ensure profit for the corporate houses and imperialist multinational corporations by depriving people of essential commodities. The new system will increase black marketing and artificial glut and scarcity in the market. The leaders stated that this agitation is an attempt to save a profession like agriculture and to ensure food security of the masses. This is the reason that the agitation is getting support from people across the country and different walks of life. The speakers appealed to the residents of Delhi that they should take the purpose of agitation into account while facing the problems caused by it. While appreciating the cooperation extended by the local community the speakers asked for more support from the capital city. (Information from Sukhdev Khokri)
A play, Superpower was performed along with choreographies by PALS Manch. Jagsir Singh Jida and his Lok Sangeet Mandali Jida performed in their typical style. Ajmer Singh Akalia presented revolutionary songs on the occasion.
On 4th December BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan) has named five protest sites after the names of historical personalities representing the legacy of struggles leading up to the ongoing agitation against farm Bills passed by the Modi government. The protest site spread over kilometres have been divided into cities named after these personalities – Baba Banda Singh Nagar, Chacha Ajit Singh Nagar, Bibi Gulab Kaur Nagar, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar and Shaheed Sadhu Singh Takhtupura Nagar.
Union’s state secretary Shingara Singh Mann and Wome leader Harinder Singh Bindu said that these cities have been settled on the names of the heroes of our fighter heritage. They told that this city was settled in the name of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Uncle Ajit Singh, Gadri Gulab Kaur, Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Shaheed Sadhu Singh Takhtupura.
Shingara Singh Mann e said that a press gallery has also been installed in the name of Shaheed Ashfaq Ula Khan to provide information to the press in the ongoing front. He said that Baba Banda Singh Bahadur is the hero of the great rebellion of the farmer who has made the farmers own the lands with the strength of long and slowing down. He said that uncle Ajit Singh is the leader of the Jatt movement to take care of the Shanamati turban against the British government which is still a light torch for the farmers fighting for their rights. He said that Gadri Gulab Kaur is the heroine fighting against the colonial government who is fighting for his rights and is a light for the women in the Delhi front.
He said that Shaheed Bhagat Singh is the great martyrs of the National Liberation Movement who first presented the program of the British government as well as the elimination of the loot of indigenous robbers for the freedom of farmers, labourers, youth and countrymen. He said that Shaheed Bhagat Singh is still a great hero who made the heartbeat of farmers, laborers, women and youth who struggle to get rid of loot. He said that Shaheed Sadhu Singh Takhtupura is the hero of the current Kisan Movement who has been important in giving the form of a huge movement to our organization and the farmer movement by drinking the jam of martyrdom against the government-sponsored Bhau Mafia during the Akali BJP rule. Played the role.
Farmer leaders said that the towns, named after these heroes of their great fighter heritage, are the symbol of the narrow element of the Kisan Movement, whose roots are in the great heritage of the country’s secular and democratic traditions. He said that the city is also a symbol of the strong intentions of farmers, labourers, youth and women who stand against agriculture laws that they will return home after returning the five laws.
The leaders explained that the sites named after these legendary personalities manifest the progressive and secular character of the ongoing agitation against farm laws. The ongoing movement is in continuity with the glorious history created by struggling masses and that history inspires farmers, workers, women and youth to struggle against the injustice, they said. The duo remained confident that the ongoing movement would carry the people’s history forward and emerge victorious.(Tribune News )
On 5th December BKU Ekta Ugrahan embarrassed the Modi Government at its boiling point at six places and more than 500 places in districts in Punjab and Delhi Kisan Morcha.
Gathering together Shingara Singh Mann, Harinder Kaur Bindu, Paramjit Kaur Pitho, Amarjit Singh Saidoke, Jaswant Singh Tolewal, Puran Singh Doda, Manjit Singh Niyal, Gurpreet Singh Noorpura, Jora Singh Nasrali, Amolak Singh, Rajasthan leader Santvir Singh Mohanpura Haryana Teke Ram Narnol, Manjeet Julka, Om Prakash Rathi, Joginder Kathota Sarv Employees Association Haryana, Munisa Student Ekta Manch Haryana, Chandigarh, Young Student Amrit Kaur, Leader of Five Member Kisan Sangharsh Committee Gurbaz Singh.
Shingara Singh Mann said expressing solidarity on the invitation of all farmer organizations in the country that the BKU unity will also take a strong participation. Invitation to the different workers of the society to connect their leaders with this solution. Addressing them especially to the Dalit community and farm workers, they said that they should be a big part of the society in support of the movement of the labor stage and give a strong reply to the politics of the BJP which is distributing caste distribution. He said that shopkeepers and small businessmen who are being oppressed by the FDI and GST should raise a joint voice to dismiss these people’s killing policies. In the same way, this day should be made a joint voice of people of every stage including the workers, employees, students.
Solidarity Protests in Punjab
In solidarity in Punjab to illuminate spark of the agitation in over dozen places in Punjab solidarity rallies have been launched or cultural programmes.
On December 3rd on invitation of the Kirti Kisan Union, the leader of the Rural Labor Union Hariram Rasulpuri, Mata Gujri Women’s Chetna Committee, was held in support of the historic farmer’s struggle in the country at village Mehmudpur (District Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar). Addressed by Mehmudpur President Madam Kulwant Kaur, Secretary Ranjit Kaur and Press Secretary of Democratic Rights Sabha Punjab Buta Singh. Bawa Singh Atwal, the leader of Kirti Kisan Union and rational leader Ninderpal Maidita were also present on this occasion. The people of the village responded to the invitation of Jago with so much enthusiasm that more than 200 villagers including young people, children and women joined. And for two hours in the village, the slogans of Modi government Murdabad, Farmer’s struggle Zindabad, Labour-Farmer unity Zindabad were echoed. Demanding the abolition of anti-people agriculture laws and opposing the dictatorial decisions of the fascist Modi government, the villagers were invited to reach the maximum number of protests in Nawanshahr on December 4.
On December 5th effigies of the Modi government were burnt in Rasulpura, Mehamudpur and Kahma. At Chandigarh Road on December 4th Kirti Kisan Union undertook a major solidarity action in support of the Farmer Morcha organized in Delhi on December 8, Nawanshahr announced to close the district Nawanshahr on Langdoa Bypass on December 8. In the meeting, Auto Workers Union, Tempu Union, Taxi Union, Women Jagriti Manch, Indian Federation of Trade Unions, Kirti Kisan Union, Rehri Workers Union, Migrant Labor Union, Bhatha Workers Union, Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Rural Labor Union, Medical Practitioners Association, Democratic Teachers Front, Punjab Students Union, Sikh Organizations, Social Organizations, Leaders of Cooperative Meeting, Traders and Panchayat Representatives attended. Representatives have announced to make this closure a success with an opinion. Kirti Kisan Union Nawanshahr leader Tarsem Bains, IFTU state president Kulwinder Singh Waraich, Jasbir Deep, Buta Singh of the Democratic Legislative Assembly, said that people are protesting against the central government’s agriculture laws, electricity bill 2020.
On December 2nd in Bathinda city, the Farmers Struggle Support Committee conducted a huge torch march in the city in support of the farmers sitting in Delhi. The number of 4-500 mobilised comprised of 100 women, of whom 80 % were teachers. The projection of the slogans was contentful and the enthusiasm and rally completely effective. Funds were also given by the shopkeepers from the same market.
Support to Farmers Protest and Most Positive Happenings
Arguably never in Indian history has the base of Hindutva neo-fascism been given such a striking blow by democratic forces illuminating spark of liberation. There could hardly be a better illustration of the peasantry to establish its own striking power or how in essence the so call neo-liberal economy is model or manifestation of proto-fascism engripping the entire nation.
Major solidarity has been undertaken in states like Andhra Pradesh,Telangana, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh etc. Farmers organisation have openly intervened from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Very impactful solidarity demonstrations were undertaken by workers in industrial areas of Ludhiana. It is also a significant development that many small traders, shopkeepers or businessman have supported the struggle and even integrated with it. The student and youth community most sporadically came out in support of the peasantry which must be welcomed.
One of the most inspiring instances of this agitation was how BKU women leader Harinder Bindu shimmered flame of resistance to mobilize over 10000 women. It paid a fitting a tribute to the valiant effort of the organised movement to make women an integral part of the movement. The morale support of singer Diljit Dosanjh also was most inspirational in an era when most commercial singers turn their backs on people’s movements and literally sell themselves like slaves of the culture of imperialism or exploiter classes. I was also most impressed by a University student Hindol Mazumdar from West Bengal openly describing the BKU (Ugrahan) movement as an outstanding one which distinguished itself from economist or sectarian trends. It highlighted how the BKU Ugrahan thwarted leader Yogendra Yadav from making the peasants retreat. Even this is rare today when most revolutionary sympathisers are either absorbed in heroics of Maoist armed squads or neo-Ambedkarist pro-Dalit movements. In a small article he narrated the class essence of this struggle.
A most welcome developments has been the support of top sportsman and artists from Punjab wholeheartedly supporting the farmers struggle and willing to relinquish their awards or medals. This is a very rare occurence in India where top sportsman and artists are sold on making hordes of money and have scant respect for social values. Such a phenomena is a vitally lacking ingredient in the Indian democratic movement today.
Gatherings were also addressed by young film Saj Jatinder Mahar, renowned Rangkarmi Samuel John, student Vijay Dhankhar teacher leader Haryana. On this occasion, plays were played by Manavata Kala Manch Nagar (plus stage) and revolutionary songs were presented by Jagsir Jida, Ajmer Singh Aklian and Nargis.
The leaders of this struggle are not willing to sit on the negotiation table after even the fifth talk and have boldly declared a bandh on December 8th.They find the Govt.solutions or amendments futile after 5 successive rounds of talks ending in a stalemate.
A most welcome development has been the support of top sportsman and artists from Punjab wholeheartedly supporting the farmers struggle and willing to relinquish their awards or medals. This is a very rare occurrence in India where top sportsman and artists are sold on making hordes of money and have scant respect for social values. Such a phenomena is a vitally lacking ingredient in the Indian democratic movement today.
On December 4th Hundreds of students, Women’s Rights leaders, industrial workers and intellectuals of Delhi rallied today at Jantar Mantar to protest against the Govt. of India’s callous attitude towards the just demands of the Farmers. They were stopped and heckled by the Delhi police, but they held their ground and continued with their meeting, where leaders expressed their anger firstly the repression and hurdles placed on the march of the Punjab & Haryana farmers, then the failure to address their main concern and now the repression that has begun by giving Police Notices and preventing protests.
All over the nation organisations are boycotting toll plazas supporting the peasant protest. Above all, whatever differences the basic unity of the agitation against the bills has not been broken which is most heartening.
What Steps Should Be Taken to Consolidate Agitation
What is binding and will intensify this stir is the solidarity from force s outside Punjab and abroad. However, one must guard against trends that wish to portray this uprising as a resurgence of ‘Sikh movement’ confronting the anti-federal dictates of the state or a consolidation of ‘only rich peasantry. ‘Here I remind readers that Sikh or Punjabi people do not comprise a separate nationality. Tooth and nail we must of course refute those who identify Khalistani politics in this agitation. The essence of class polarisation must not be diffused here particularly by Ruling class politicians fostering Sikh identity sentiment and dividing the movement on communal lines. Leaders must also strike a balance and not become victims of either compromising with ruling class leaders or under estimating subjective forces at crucial junctures.
So far, the leaders have shown great political maturity when participating in talks with the rulers. Another crucial aspect is that it should not just reduce the Dalit landless labour community into an appendage or cosmetic force but an integral part of the agitation. The working class must also be mobilized in tandem with the peasantry, highlighting its relationship with their day to day lives or class struggles. I have never witnessed an agitation which has harnessed support from such a wide range of sections.
It is important that democratic forces all around the nation are galvanised in support to form a broad spectrum and that every oppressed or democratic section must form separate platforms in support be it students, teachers, government employees or doctors. It should also be connected to the secular democratic revolutionary resistance to Hindutva fascism as a whole with an acute connection made between Hindutva ideology and patronage to classes of Corporates and big landlords.
A protracted effort must be made to sharpen revolutionary class politics sand make peasantry demarcate from the ruling class ideology which in essence only divides the rich and mighty. It is also important that caste politics does not intervene to divide the agitation and even Ambedkarites come out in full support. It is important that Communist revolutionaries do not claw the agitators with their political line and pursue a patient, painstaking approach to educate the peasantry.
It can also develop in a platform to demarcate from the revisionist or reformist policies of the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and win over m any cares belonging to peasant unions of those parties.
In my view however acute is the contradiction with feudalism such a development testifies the role or impact of imperialism in determining feudalism and how in regions like Punjab feudalism may not be the principal contradiction.
It is also of vital importance that polemical issues do not break the fundamental unity of the organisations, which would splinter the movement. Sharp demarcation must be made of electoral politics which in the past has often induced parliamentary tailism by democratic peasant forces.
A most important contribution will be a report on the agitation by Punjabi revolutionary journal ‘Surkh Leeh’. It should be propagated very widely in all circles with its incisive revolutionary democratic analysis. In detail is publishing a study on its political significance. For politically advanced leftsis sections the statement of the Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist) when it is published which would be of great relevance in connecting this agitation with the interest of the agrarian revolutionary movement as a whole
I thank the inputs or reports from BKU (Ugrahan) secretary Sukhdev Singh Khokri, Surkh Leeh editor Pavel Kussa, Rupinder Chaunda of Naujwan Bharat Sabha, Shingar Singh Mann of BKU (Ugrahan) as well as from Kisan Morcha and Delhi Kisan Morcha
Today (5thJanuary) is the 41st day of the historic farmer’s struggle for repealing the 3 farm acts which will lead to corporatization of the entire agriculture sector, devastating not only the farmers’ life, but also lead to collapse of food security, winding up of the Food Corporatization of India and to the end of the Public Distribution System. According to latest reports already 50 farmers have become martyrs during this bitter struggle in extreme cold days, the situation made worse by the last two days’ heavy rain. The indefinite hunger strike by two farmers have reached the 22nd day. Many women are participating in day hunger strike. Still, braving cold and the heavy rains the struggle is continuing and more and more people are joining it.
Though Modi is pretending that he is not perturbed by the farmers’ struggle and treat it with contempt, recognizing the seriousness of the steps to be taken to disperse such a large number of people. So, the discussion drama is repeated in meaningless form, in which the farmers’ organizations repeat their demands to repeal the 3 farm acts and the Electricity Bill 2020, and Modi’s men repeating that clause by clause discussion is needed. It is a dirty tactic of Modi to prolong the agitation and thus forcing them to withdraw the struggle. Modi and the RSS/ BJP goons are meanwhile spreading more lies and slanders against the movement. Now it is abundantly clear that Modi is not ready to repeal these black acts and the struggling forces have to force him to do so. It calls for intensification of the struggle, not only at the borders of Delhi, but all over India.
When Modi is repeating that the struggle is by farmers from Punjab and Haryana only, we have to make the ongoing district and state level programmes more powerful exposing his lies. It is in this context we are appealing to all forces opposed to corporatization of agriculture to convert the 23rd January Netaji Day March to all Raj Bhavans to March followed by Gherao of the Raj Bhavans till 26th January, when the farmers and supporters shall break the barricades and march to parliament. Let us expand the resistance and the siege continued heroically so far around Delhi in to a resistance at state level also.
CPI (ML) Red Star
5th January 2021
Today Indian economy is confronting the worst contraction on record. Officially also, it is acknowledged as historic down-turn in 70 years. It is a fact that COVID-19 came when imperialism has been still reeling under the impact and repercussions of the 2008 global crisis. Now the pandemic has driven the world economy to a state of crumbling, the dimensions of which are surpassing that of the Great Depression of 1929-33.For instance, based on October 2020 database, IMF estimates a 4.4% contraction in world output in 2020. Except China which is expected to mark a growth rate of 1.9%, all leading countries will contract or represent minus growth- US(-4.3%), Japan(-5.3%), Euro Area(-8.3%) and UK(-9.8%). On the other hand, while the average growth rate of the so called “developing countries” is predicted to contract by -3%, that of India will be a staggering -10.3%.
According to Swiss bank UBS, by the dawn of 2020 itself, half of world’s net wealth belonged to the top 1% of the superrich; and top 10% of the population held 85% of total global wealth. Conversely, 90% of the people have only 15% of world’s wealth (and top 30% holding 97% of the total wealth). During the pandemic, world’s billionaires whose number rose from 2158 in 2017 to 2189 by mid-2020 increased their wealth by 27.5% during April-July 2020, to a record high of $10.2 trillion.
Its global consequences as manifested in surging poverty and unemployment are horrific. While IMF predicts a fall of an additional 90 million people in to extreme deprivation in 2020, ILO calculates an unemployment/underemployment of up to 2 billion people (58% of the world’s total labour force of 3.46 billion in 2019) in 2020 itself. According to the World Food Program, on an average, around 9 million people are dying annually from famine and hunger-related causes. Now, on account of the pandemic, this figure may skyrocket as there will now be 1.5 to 2.0 billion famine-vulnerable people, many of whom may die.
Indian Economy Facing The Worst-Ever Contraction
However, the present collapse of the Indian economy, as noted in the beginning, is quite unparalleled and the worst on record. Both International agencies and official Indian sources have acknowledged this. In continuation of a 24% contraction or negative growth for the first quarter of 2020, the IMF, in its latest World Economic Outlook, predicts a 10.3% contraction for the entire financial year ending March 2021, revising its earlier prediction of a 4.5% decline. This additional 5.8 percentage-point downgrade of Indian GDP is the worst in the world. Strikingly, IMF’s outlook for India is worse than RBI’s prediction of a 9.5% decline in GDP in the current fiscal year. A comparison of the sector-wise official statistics pertaining to the first quarter of the previous year (2019-20) with that of the current year, gives a more concrete picture. For instance, except agriculture, forestry and fishing (that shows a growth of 3.4% in the first quarter of 2020-21 compared to 3.0% growth in 2019-20), all other sectors are steadily contracting. Thus, 2020-21 quarter one contraction for mining and quarrying was -23.3% (4.7% in 2019-20), for manufacturing, it was -39.3% (3% in 2019-20), electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services -7% (8.8% in 2019-20), -50.3% (5.2% in 2019-20), trade, hotels, transport, communication, broadcasting services -47% (3.5% in 2019-20), financial, real estate and professional services -5.3% (6.0% in 2019-20), and public administration, defence and other services -10.3% (7.7% in 2019-20).
As such, according to independent analysts, the crisis is more deep-rooted and worse outcomes are in store. For instance, India’s former Chief Economic Advisor and World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu have predicted the economy to shrink by around 12% in the current year. According to Arun Kumar, another well-known economist, India’s GDP decline in the current year will be around 50% and not 24% as officially claimed. This is because of the devastation of India’s unorganised/informal sector that provides 94% of total employment and yields 45% of total output produced in the country. Contradicting CMIE data, Arun Kumar also puts the actual unemployment figure at 20 crore. According to him, unless appropriately managed through policy interventions, the official optimistic projections for 2021 will remain as wishful thinking.
The massive decline of around 24% in India’s GDP, as officially estimated, in 2020 April-June quarter makes the size of GDP almost the same in size as that in the same quarter in 2015. Hence it can be said that the GDP level has leaped back by 5-6 years, more or less equal to the same level when Modi came to power. As a result, the past half-a-decade under Modinomics may be characterised as lost years for India. A comparison between Bangladesh, India’s neighbour would be more illuminating in this regard. According to IMF data, on an average, India’s per capita GDP has been 24 percent higher than that of Bangladesh during the last 5 years. But by mid-2020, India’s per capita GDP in nominal US dollar terms was $1876.53 (Rs. 1.25 lakh approximately) compared to $1887.97 for Bangladesh.
Consequently, in the 2020 Global Hunger Index prepared jointly by World Hunger Aid and Concern Worldwide, India’s rank slipped to 94 (among 107 countries) from 55 (among 76) in 2014. Most of the South Asian countries — Sri Lanka (64), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Myanmar (78) and Pakistan (88) — are better off than India in this regard. As its manifestation, with 17.5% of world population, India is home to 22% of world’s most poor and hungry people. As a direct outcome of this destitution, with 37.4% of the underweight children, India has the distinction of having number one position in the world in this regard too. In the same vein, in the case of other indices such as Inequality Index (where India’s position is 129 among 157 countries), Happiness Index (144 among 156), Environment Performance Index (167 among 180), and so on, India’s deterioration continues unabated. With 18 million slaves (out of 46 million worldwide) almost entirely from the lowest rung of the caste system, India under Modi regime occupies number one position in Global Slavery Index too.
At the same time, amidst a 24% GDP contraction during the first quarter of 2020-21, as estimated by Forbes, within one year Ambani has his wealth increased by 73% from$3730 crore to $8870 crore, that of Adani by 61% reaching $2520 crore, and in that order for many billionaires such that the total wealth of the first 10 Indian billionaires rose to $51750 crore (approximately Rs. 38 lakh crore) during the same period. In general, as Oxfam has estimated, today around three-fourth of the additional income or wealth generated in India is gobbled up by the upper 1% of the super-rich (close to 60 percent of the country’s total wealth is in the hands of upper 10 percent of the population). If we exclude the 75% of the income appropriated by the upper 1%, then the per capita income of the 99% will be a paltry portion of the officially estimated Rs. 1.25 lakh. And if we exclude the organised sector and take the unorganised and informal sectors where 95% of the Indian workforce are depending for their sustenance (for which no detailed official data is there), then the situation will be too gruesome. It may be more horrific than what Arjun Sengupta, the then Planning Commission member had estimated a decade back—that 83% of Indians subsist on just Rs. 20 a day!
Analysis Of The Situation
The cause for this situation is now generally attributed to India’s lockdown which is acknowledged as the most coercive, the most stringent and most prolonged in the world, on account of its deadly restrictions on social and economic life. For instance, a study on the government responses to COVID-19 by the Oxford University, after comparing the pandemic-induced lockdowns that put the economy in a frozen state on account of disruptions in both movement of the people and supply chains in various countries, has attributed the highest “Stringency Index” of 100 to Modi government followed by Italy (with a Stringency Index of 95.2), Spain (90.5), Germany (81), US (66.76) and Japan (45). Revealingly, while all other countries resorted to lockdowns when the number of infections reached around 100000, the strictest lockdown in India was superimposed when the total infections were just around 5000 in the third week of March 2020. While putting the entire economy in a frozen state leading to a devastation especially of the informal sectors that provide sustenance for vast majority of the toiling masses, in the absence of any worthwhile intervention for containing the pandemic, the lockdown that lasted for almost 2 months utterly failed to get the pandemic under control, with the number of corona-virus cases crossing 7.6 million (by the beginning of the 3rd week of October, while these lines are written), second only to the US.
COVID-19, The Immediate Cause Only
The government and corporate media in India now firmly claim that the economic collapse with all its manifestations is caused by the corona virus pandemic. This is also endorsed by IMF when its chief economist Gita Gopinath referred to the “great lockdown” of India. But this forms only a partial explanation and not in accord with concrete facts. On the other hand, a closer analysis reveals that the elements of the present crisis and the consequent irreversible economic downturn got a new turn since the advent of Modi in 2014. In fact, COVID-19 is only the spark and not the root cause triggering the present crisis.
That is, while the post-meltdown crisis has been a continuing process at the global level, India’s economic collapse under Modi regime, though connected with many external factors, is to be understood as different in many respects. For, as highlighted by several international and Indian studies including that done by the Economic Research Department of SBI , the Indian economy was ‘relatively immune’ from the global meltdown of 2008 and the country’s GDP had been growing at 7-8 % on an average up to 2014-15. This also prompted neoliberal centres to characterise India as “the best-performing economy” in the world during the years immediately following 2008 meltdown.
Thus, in retrospect, it can be seen that the ongoing economic collapse of India has been inseparably linked up with the complete transformation of the Indian state as a “facilitator” of corporatisation and the consequent far-right shift in economic policies under Modi regime. For instance, without any qualm, immediately after coming to power, the first step that Modi did was the abolition of the more than six-and-a-half decade-old Planning Commission, the last remnant of state-led development, and its replacement by a corporate-bureaucratic think-tank called NITI Aayog and entrusting the task of policymaking with it without even consulting the parliament. To transform the State as corporate-investor-friendly, and to rapidly improve India’s indices pertaining to “ease of doing business” and “global competitiveness” as laid down by Bretton Woods twin (and, of course, fully in tandem with the far-right economic philosophy of RSS that guides the Modi regime), what followed was a pan-Indian extension of the ultra-rightist Gujarat model that uninterruptedly flourished under Modi’s chief ministership. Mimicking China’s export-led growth, the flagship “Make in India” initiative was announced in September 2014 with the declared aim of transforming India into world’s manufacturing hub, creation of an additional 100 million jobs in the manufacturing sector and raising the proportion of manufacturing from 16 percent to 25 percent of GDP by 2022. However, what happened is the opposite and today this proportion has further fallen down to around 13 percent. The foreign capital that rushed in taking advantage of liberal tax, labour and environmental regulations under the cover of “Make in India” mainly went into money-spinning speculative activities, as capital that flowed in was least interested in employment-oriented production. Consequently, “Make in India” transformed India into a dustbin corporate-speculative capital on the one hand, and a dumping ground for capital and consumer goods from imperialist sources ranging from US to China.
Modi’s 2016 Demonetisation superimposed on the people in the guise of a surgical strike against black money was an ingenious move to whiten the black money with the most corrupt corporate black money holders on the one hand, and suck out whatever left in the arteries of common people by denying them cash which is the life-blood of the informal sectors and essential for people’s daily transactions, leading to a further concentration of wealth with the corporate-financial elite closely connected with the ruling regime. In the process, the whole economy remained in a paralysed state. This was followed by GST that deprived the states of their Federal right of resource mobilisation and shifted the tax burden on the shoulders of common people and on the unorganised sectors.
Though Modi came to power in 2014 claiming to generate an additional 2 crore jobs every year, according to independent estimates, by the beginning of 2020, i.e., on the eve of the pandemic, the country had lost around 14 crore jobs since 2014. And India today experiences the worst unemployment in recorded history. Almost 50 percent of the people is still clinging to agriculture for their sustenance though the contribution of agriculture to GDP is only around 15 percent as of now. Modi’s input-output pricing policies pertaining to agriculture and its forcible integration with world market coupled corporatisation policies have pauperised the peasantry. Over the years, corporatisation of agriculture had displaced large sections from agriculture altogether.
Though concentration of income and wealth under Modi is of unprecedented proportions, only 1.5 crore Indians are effective direct tax payers (including corporate and personal income taxes) and in spite of extreme concentration of wealth and inequality, Indian corporate tax rate at 15 percent is the lowest in the world. The direct tax-GDP ratio in India is stagnating at around 5.5 percent which also is the lowest in the world. If the upper 10 percent of the wealthy sections are brought under the tax net, together with 30 percent corporate tax prevailing when Modi came to power (during the 1970s, the highest rate was up to 90 percent), the direct tax-GDP ratio could have easily been raised to 20 percent.
To compensate for this biggest loss in direct tax revenue arising from tax rate reduction, along with the increase in indirect tax burden on the people through GST, Modi has been resorting to the biggest-ever loot of the broad masses by sky-rocketing prices of petroleum products (mainly through raising taxes and cesses on petrol, diesel, cooking gas, etc.), and by this alone during 2014-20 the regime has amassed an additional amount worth Rs. 17.5 lakh crore compared to the UPA regime. Ironically, the average world crude oil price (India imports around 80 percent of its crude oil requirements) during the entire Modi regime has been around one-third of what it was during the previous UPA rule, and following declining global demand in the context of COVID-19, global price is now hovering around one-fourth of what it had been a decade ago. Meanwhile, declining government revenue from direct and indirect taxes(the latter mainly on account of loss in people’s purchasing power) coupled with corruption (though Modi came to power on an anti-corruption plank and with the promise of bringing back Indian black money from foreign tax havens and putting Rs. 15 lakh in to the account of each Indian citizen, under him India became a “flourishing example of crony capitalism” and the most corrupt country in Asia) and loss to exchequer in manifold ways, etc., are resulting in an unprecedented growth in India’s debt-GDP ratio to around 85 percent during the Modi period. To cap it all, an unprecedented loot of public wealth through disinvestment of PSUs and plunder of public sector banks through the creation of NPAs by corporates are flourishing without any let up.
The anti-people nature of this government is self-evident in its reluctance to distribute at least a portion of the huge stock of food grains among the starving millions including the migrant workers who were condemned to bear the brunt of the coercive lockdown. In spite of Modi regime’s anti-farmer policies including the latest pro-corporate central agricultural legislations, India is ranked second in food and agricultural production. As such, the total food grains stock (rice plus wheat) with FCI has topped 100 million tons by mid-2020. On account of grave storage challenges, millions of tons of this grain stock are prone to decay, and the government could have effectively and quickly liquidate the heavy burden of storage by immediately distributing this among the needy, vulnerable and destitute sections through a free-grain scheme. But true to its fascist character, except certain window-dressing (eg, the announcement to distribute 5 kg wheat/rice for 3 months among the poor as part of Aatmanirbhar), the government least interested to distribute the food grains among the tens of millions of poor including the migrant workers.
To be precise, prior to COVID-19, the neoliberal-corporatisation policies pursued by Modi government have been driving the country to an economic contraction of unprecedented proportions. Now the pandemic is again used as an opportunity by the corporate-saffron fascist regime for stimulating the corporates by its far-right agenda more aggressively. For instance, the recently announced so called “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” is another cover for an unprecedented “stimulus package” for those whom Modi regime characterises as “wealth creators” (a synonym for most corrupt corporate looters). Aatmanirbhar Bharat is a vulgar imitation of the earlier prognosis of “Make in India” (of late, “Make in India” is replaced by the new catchword “Assemble in India for the World” in accordance with the “Global Value Chains” hypothesis recently put forward by World Bank)and what envisaged now is the outright sell-out of remaining key and strategic sectors including mining, transport, defence, banks and insurance, space exploration, power distribution, health research, and entire frontier technologies to foreign and Indian corporates. No doubt, such “supply-side” interventions belong to the same genre of pro-corporate stimulus packages pursued elsewhere by neoliberal centres. Revealingly, out of the Rs. 21 lakh crore Aatmanirbhar package, what addressed to the vast majority of toiling and oppressed masses is only around Rs.2 lakh core or just one percent of the country’s GDP, the remaining straightway going to corporate coffers.
On Understanding the Present Economic Collapse
Obviously, for fascists, crises are new opportunities, and the corporate-saffron fascist Modi regime is no exception to this rule. Using COVID-19 as a cover, Modi.2 is now engaged in an aggressive wealth transfer to corporate looters on the one hand, and imposition of heavy burdens on the backs of common people on the other. Of course, as can be seen, there has been a constant economic downturn under Modi-1 and Modi-2, and the GDP contraction cannot be only due to the pandemic or the severest lockdown. Ironically, as we pointed out earlier, corporate wealth accumulation is flourishing without any let up even as the economy and all its components are going down—private consumption expenditure contracted-26.7%, exports-20%, construction-50%, investment and services (including trade, hotels, communication, transport and broadcast)-47% respectively and so on in the context of the pandemic. In the ultimate analysis, all these variables could be seen directly and indirectly linked up with gross value addition, production, employment and earnings ofthe people. Therefore, it is important to understand this irreversible declining trend under Modi regime with respect to the logic of corporatisation (“wealth creation” as the govt. officially puts it) vigorously pursued by it.
From its very inception, Modi government’s concentrated effort has been to create an ‘investor-friendly” atmosphere for the corporate speculators. In the guise of unleashing the “animal spirit” of the most corrupt corporate giants, unprecedented tax give-aways and exemptions along with steep reduction in corporate tax rates have become regular feature of all budgets and extra-budgetary measures since 2014. Now at 15 percent, Indian corporate tax rate is the lowest in the world. Corporate companies are exempted from paying Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT), audit exemption for adapting to cashless transactions up to Rs. 5 crore, amendment in Indian Company’s Act for abolishing penal steps against those violating it including non-adherence to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and so on. Even profit-making PSUs are disinvested at throwaway prices to be gobbled up big corporate companies. Leading corporates were allowed to build-up huge non-performing assets (NPAs) with public sector banks that pushed the banking system to crisis. Elimination of all restrictions to the free entry and exit of foreign corporate capital and similar other steps were also initiated in a systematic manner.
But this unparalleled wealth transfer to corporates in the guise of boosting production and employment has, instead of positively contributing anything to employment-oriented production, rather led to horrific proportion of wealth accumulation by both foreign and domestic corporate giants who diverted a major component of this wealth to terribly destructive speculation and money-spinning activities. Even banks, financial institutions and mutual funds have become reluctant to deploy the immense funds at their disposal for productive investment. Still under the so called ‘expert’ advice from neoliberal centres, red carpet has been continuously laid down for attracting foreign capital. And the economic situation which was bad in the pre-Covid situation has become worse, or as is conceived by many, the economy which was already in the ICU is now put on the ventilator. Thus, Modi government’s wholehearted embrace of the logic of corporate capital-i.e., if left free capital today invariably goes to the most profitable avenues- has pushed Indian economy in to a vicious corporatisation-stagnation trap. Its ultimate outcome is 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.
Lenin in his theory of imperialism had already explained much on the character of fictitious or speculative capital –an aspect briefly noted by Marx too in Capital. Today under neoliberal imperialism, speculative capital that develops exclusively in the financial sphere by sucking out value from the real economy without any real link with material production has become the dominant form of capital. And this is the essence of economic contraction and crisis today. India today is in the firm grip of a vicious circle—i.e., lack of investment in employment-oriented productive investment leads to lack of jobs resulting in lack of income and purchasing power for the masses, which in turn leads to lack of demand for goods and services and market contraction that lead to lower or lack of profit from the productive sphere which again pulls back investment in spite of repeated corporate “stimulus packages” by the government. As this vicious circle of contraction/stagnation strengthens, Modi government which rolls itself back from all investments, in tune with neoliberal diktats, is coercively superimposing 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, minorities, women and even children, 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.
On Immediate Options and Political Alternative
Obviously, from the perspective of Marxist political economy, the alternative to this corporate-fascist offensive is to break the logic of neo-liberalism itself, which calls for an appropriate broad-based, nationwide people’s movement led by revolutionary forces capable of imparting death blows to corporate capital. The immediate requirements or slogans for initiating such a process are there in the Draft of the Common Minimum program for building the Anti-Fascist Front already proposed by CPI (ML) Red Star (see, “ Appeal to All Revolutionary Left Organisations”, Red Star, August 2020). The specific economic demands (items 3-8) mentioned in it, for instance, if urgently implemented, will ensure more purchasing power in people’s hands and will provide a boost to productive economic activities. Though reactionary sections of corporate capital may still keep aloof from investment, it will definitely prompt sustainable agriculture, encourage medium and small industries to actively come forward to boost production and employment, which can break the vicious circle of economic stagnation.
Together with this “demand push” (as against “supply side”) initiatives, demands for reintroducing progressive corporate taxation, wealth and inheritance tax, abolition of regressive indirect taxation including the neoliberal GST that puts disproportionate burden on the people, introduction of redistributive wage and universal social and security and gender-specific policies, ensuring quality public services including water, health and education, total elimination of burden of unpaid work especially by women, guaranteeing elder care as well as child care, ensuring minimum wage sufficient enough for adequate standard of living, regulating ratios between lowest and highest wages and earnings, price support programs for peasants, reasonable restrictions on financial dealings and ban on speculation, capital flight, illicit financial flows, etc., anti-monopoly and anti-corruption policies, strengthening public sector and reversal of disinvestment and denationalisation policies and so on can appropriately be incorporated in to the minimum program. This shall form the stepping stone towards a sustainable political-economic alternative capable of resisting and overcoming the hegemony of corporate capital.
(Party School Paper for 2020)
The centenary day of the first meeting of the communists from India is 17th October, 2020, which was convened at Tashkent based on the call of the First or Foundation Congress of the Communist International (Comintern), which is generally considered the beginning of the Communist movement in India. On 17th October, 2019, we had started the campaign to observe the centenary, taking the message of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and our decisions to confront and overcome the present challenges faced by the communist movement in our country and all over the world. But, meanwhile the humanity had to confront the still continuing worldwide crisis caused by Covid19 pandemic. It has its serious impact in India. So, this campaign could not be carried forward as we planned. The Central Committee of the CPI(ML) Red Star had called on all party committees to observe the conclusion of this campaign on 17-18 October in all states with webinars in different languages, hall meetings wherever possible, postering, distribution of handbills and social media campaign from 11th to 18thOctober. Some of the state committees are organizing programs till 7th November, the 103rd anniversary of the October Revolution explaining the importance of both.
We are of the view that unlike the parliamentary left, CPI and CPI(M), we should avoid a controversy whether the beginning was in 1920 or ‘25? As everybody accept, the first meeting was held at Tashkent which helped to initiate the efforts to build party inside the country and the first Conference of the Communist movement in India at Kanpur in 1925 paving the way for formal beginning of the party with the formation of the CPI. In the same year the RSS was also formed. So, during the discussions and evaluation of the experience of the Communist movement during this period, naturally the challenge posed by the RSS neo-fascism which is ruling the country through Modi led BJP also came up repeatedly. For us this should be a time for serious introspection for the Communists.
If the RSS has developed as such a mighty parivar with many millions of members, starting its work from Bal Gokul and ABVP to dozens of organizations, including the biggest trade union centre BMS, infiltrating every sectors of state machinery, armed forces, judiciary, and every Constitutional institutions, running the country in most ruthless Manuvadi, Brahmanical, neo-fascist way, where are the Communists? What led to the severe setbacks suffered by the Communists and their splintering, ideologically, politically and organizationally, in spite of the valiant struggles waged, the sacrifice of vast number of comrades etc. It calls for serious self-critical examination. But, see what is happening in Bihar elections? The BJP alliance is mainly challenged by the opposition Grand Alliance led by RJD-Congress. It is joined by the parliamentary left including the CPI(ML) Liberation. The six party front of BSP, Owaisi’s AIMIM, etc is in effect serving as a B-team of BJP.
Even though there is no dispute on the question that the opposition alliance is qualitatively not different, in this situation, if the BJP and its allies are to be defeated there is no other option but to support it, while the revolutionary left coming together in a coordination with a Common Program and campaigning against the fascist forces calling for a revolutionary alternative, fielding candidates jointly only in seats where they have some mass base. Though all the CR organizations were approached by the RLC with this proposal, they declined. While those taking Maoist positions are still pursuing their anarchist line, without recognizing the gravity of the RSS neo-fascist onslaught and the necessity to weaken Modi government by all means including by the correct utilization of parliamentary elections, they are approaching the elections in an aimless and sectarian manner fielding few candidates for self-satisfaction.
In the present critical condition, this opportunity of observing the centenary of the Communist movement in India, should be utilized to find out the reasons for degeneration to these sectarian positions within our country and internationally. Communists should continue efforts to find answers for it. The Communists who are still want to pursue the revolutionary path should dare to make a concrete analysis of the present situation, analysis of the transformation gone through from the post-Second World War years by the capitalist imperialist system including the changes it has made in its strategy and tactics, the transformation in the mode of production and ruling class policies in our country under the impact of these international changes.
From the time the Comintern called for uniting all anti-imperialist forces including the movements led by the big bourgeois class, it had stated that Communists should always pursue the path of independent communist assertion, build the party, class/mass organizations and the class struggle led by them, and be prepared to take the leadership of the revolutionary transformation of the society. Though the CPC under Mao’s leadership became a torch-bearer in applying this line correctly all other parties including the Communists in India failed in this repeatedly.
But in India, in spite of the numerous struggles it waged building up the party at all India level, during the colonial days, though imperialism versus masses of the people, it never tried to come to the leadership of the movement for national liberation and democratic revolution, it failed to understand the importance of the caste annihilation to achieve the unity with the most down trodden forces, to analyse the national question in India and unite the people of all nationalities around the demand for a genuinely federal India, defeating British efforts to communally divide the country using RSS and Muslim League, and to correctly pursue the international tasks during the Second World War while not compromising in the anti-colonial struggle within the country. As a result, during the period of independence struggle, in spite of many opportunities it failed to assert the communist line, or, the leadership followed a class collaborationist line, away from reality
During the post 1947 period following the left deviation and years of uncertainty, though a correct line calling for utilizing all forms of struggle including the ongoing armed agrarian movement of Telengana to complete the PDR was adopted in 1951, when confronted with the challenge of how to use the first general election came up without surrendering the Telengana struggle, the leadership once again surrendered to rightist positions. As the post-Stalin leadership in Soviet Union committed serious mistakes in evaluating the transformation of colonial forms of plunder to neo-colonial forms under US imperialist leadership following SWW, and degenerated to revisionist positions, the CPI leadership also went along with it. Though the inner party struggle continued and the first split happened in 1964 leading to formation of CPI(M), contrary to its claims it took a neo-revisionist stand soon. It became clear when making opportunist understanding with various forces including split away sections from Congress and Muslim League, the CPI(M) and CPI contested elections in 1967 and came to power in West Bengal and Kerala. So, the Communist Revolutionaries (CRs) within CPI(M) raised the banner of land to the tiller, which led to the Naxalbari Uprising and formation of CPI(ML) in 1969, a sharp break from the revisionist path.
But again a serious mistake took place in analyzing the Indian situation and developing the party line. Under the influence of Lin Biaoist sectarian line it opted for the China’s path, analyzing India as a semi-colonial, semi-feudal country with people’s war as path. So it abandoned the formation of class/mass organizations, called for boycott of election as a strategic slogan, and armed struggle as the only form of struggle, to be initiated with the annihilation of class enemies. It was a left adventurist line pursued hastily without going for building a rudimentary form of party organization, mobilizing the millions who had supported the Naxalbari Uprising. Following brutal suppression by the state forces, the movement started splitting fast and by 1972 it was splintered into many groups. Though all these groups did not make any change in the semi-colonial, semi-feudal, people’s war line, soon one section continued to persist in te left adventurist line, another section had started veering to rightist positions. All came under severe stress and strain during the tumultuous 1970s, including arrests, martyrdom and suppression during the emergency rule. After revocation of the emergency and defeat of Congress, a more rightist Janata Party, came to power.
One benefit of this change was the release of almost all the CR forces and supporters from jail, including all top leaders. By this time the International Communist movement, the imperialist policies and the situation in the country also had undergone vast changes. Contrary to the expectations of the ML forces, after Mao’s death the capitalist roaders usurped power through a coup, and took China also to an imperialist path. Based on erroneous analysis of Mao’s contributions, the Albanian Party took opportunist positions. As all the former socialist countries degenerated from revolutionary path at various levels, the imperialists and their lackeys intensified anti-communist tirades. Following severe crisis in the 1970s, the US led imperialist camp went for neoliberal policies, cutting down all welfare measures and state intervention in the field of production. While on the one hand the globalization-liberalisation-privatisation created many illusions among the middle classes, it intensified the plunder of the working class and the oppressed people. Finance capital, and corporatization entered all fields, integrating the economies of the whole world, with WTO speeding up market dominance. Internationally itself, the CPI, CPI(M) like social democratic parties started advocating ‘there is no alternative’ to neo-liberal policies, and their executioners wherever they came to power.
The impact of these vast changes raised many important questions before the CRs. How to analyse the changes in China, Albania and all other former socialist countries? Whether the Communists should go for international unity, to form at least a platform at international level? What should be the approach to neoliberal policies and their impact in Indian agriculture and other spheres? What should be the approach to the newly emerging movement of middle and rich farmers for MSP and subsidies, who were by and large against the demands of poor and landless peasants, the agricultural workers for minimum wages and better living conditions? What shall be the nature of agrarian revolution in the new situation? As only feudal remnants are left, how to link the completion of the remaining anti-imperialist tasks of the democratic stage with the socialist stage of revolution? Or, have we reached the stage of socialist revolution? What should be the approach to the caste system which has become more divisive? Can we support the minority fundamentalism as in Khalistan movement against increasing threat of majority fundamentalism? Or should we take genuine secular stand opposing both? How to unite the CR forces and build a powerful Bolshevik style communist party capable of leading Indian revolution forward? How to approach the intensifying ecological destruction threatening ecological catastrophe, and even extinction of human species from earth? These and similar questions like national question, gender equality etc demanded answers from the CRs.
But almost all CR groups refused to answer any or most of these questions, and were ready to reject the semi-colonial, semi-feudal, people’s war frame, though most of them took mass line.. Three of them who rejected mass line later polarized as CPI(Maoist) pursued the armed struggle alone line. In spite of losing many of their past strong holds it pursues the same in more sectarian forms. On the other hand with CPI(ML) Liberation in the forefront a powerful section of these groups, including micro-split away groups and individuals have shifted to CPI(M) led Left Front. There are a number of groups in the middle, still sticking to the old frame and not ready to address these questions. It is by pursuing a ‘unity and struggle’ with all these sections, while striving to find answers to all above questions, the CPI(ML) Red star stream has developed with the merger of different CR organizations, groups and individuals continuously to its present position, ideologically, politically, organizationally. Internationally its intervention has helped the development of ICOR as a growing platform of the CR forces also. During the various webinars, discussions and articles by the leading comrades various aspect of this struggle by Red Star both in the spheres of theory and practice were explained during the concluding programs concerning the century of the communist movement in India. At two levels it is continuing this struggle: one an ideological struggle against the right deviation, which is the main danger in the communist movement; two, a campaign against Manuvadi Hindutva, the theoretical base of RSS neo-fascism. The Party expects these ideological offensives, along with the developing practical struggles in the various fields shall lead to a polarization of all CR forces as well as the vanguard elements from the present generation leading to the building of a powerful communist party capable of leading the revolution to victory overcoming all obstacles.
Long Live Indian Revolution!
Intensify Campaign Against Manuvadi Hindutva, the Theoretical Base of RSS Neo-Fascism!
Intensify Struggle to Throw Out RSS
Neo-Fascism! Advance to People’s Democracy and Socialism
CPI(ML) Red Star Statement on Covid-19
When PM Modi has told the people in his brief address that his government has done everything possible to confront the pandemic and there is nothing more to be done now except waiting for the Vaccine to come, there are many serious questions we have to ask him. The Covid-19 was declared a pandemic on 12th March by the WHO. Before that the first case was detected in India on 30th January. Nothing was done to check the international passengers at airports, to test and quarantine them, So, during this period 15 lakh passengers reached India without checking.
On 24th March, just after closing down all means of transport, without announcing plans for preparing the people to face the pandemic, abruptly the Lockdown was announced, with Modi claiming that in three weeks’ time it will be contained. Now after many Lockdowns, followed by continuing series of Unlocking lasting over 7 months, the number of Covid19 patients has increased from 500 to nearly 79 lakhs and the number of dead is already 1,18,000. Nobody believes these numbers, including the WHO. Since the state governments are asked by the centre to cut down the testing, the actual figures Covid19 patients in India, already in second position, may have crossed the figures of US, 88 lakhs, the first in the list long back. Except calling upon everyone to use masks, clean the hands and keep physical distancing everywhere, the only thing the Prime Minister and his Home Minister are doing nothing except repeating let us wait for the vaccine. And in the Bihar elections, the BJP has made free supply of vaccine as one of its election promise, clearing the message it is going to be charged!
Meanwhile what is happening in the country? Nobody knows the actual number of patients died of Covid19, as well as through other diseases and accidents, during the exodus from cities following 24th March Lockdown, due to starvation and malnutrition. As almost 30 crores contract/casual workers were thrown out of jobs, and most of them are not yet rehabilitated, the number of jobless people has sky-rocketed. Meanwhile even all existing workers’ rights are also cut, economy has further contracted, opened units are also cutting down number of workers, and as a result they are impoverished further.
The Modi govt. has refused to ask the managements to pay wages for the lockdown period or provide allowances to the unemployed, free rations, free testing and treatment to all, while announcing a series of assistances to the corporates. Even the medical staffs are not paid wages regularly, forcing them to strike at many places. As the number of tests are drastically cut, and in the festivals and political rallies as in present Bihar elections all restrictions are violated, the number may jump up in the cases at any time creating catastrophic conditions. Already there are reports from Europe, Africa and Latin America about a second wave of increase in the number of Covid19 patients. In this situation, once again the CPI(ML) Red Star is putting forward the following urgent demands:
- Remove restrictions on tests, provide free tests for 3 or 4 times more, hospitalize those affected and make quarantine compulsory. It will help to locate the patients and prevent uncontrolled spreading. Continue necessary restrictions on festivals, meetings, and providing safety kits to all those who need it. Provide unemployment allowances to all jobless, free family ration and free treatment for all.
- BJP is the ruling party at the centre. In Bihar it has announced that it will provide free vaccines to all in Bihar if it is voted back to power. Other parties are also announcing such promises in different states. The vaccine should not become an issue in Election Manifesto of any party. The central and state governments should ensure that the vaccine is made available free of charge to all citizens.
- Contrary to Modi’s claims, the testing, treatment and quarantine is not provided free of charge in many states. As a result, more and more people have to depend upon private hospitals. From the beginning it was demanded that the private hospitals should be brought under the control of the government. Now many reports are coming out from practically all states that they are fleecing the patients enormously and some of them are even running ‘organ trade’. The central and state governments should be asked to bring them under control, and a campaign should be launched, especially focusing on those running mafias for organ trade etc. for bringing them under government control till the Covid19 subsides. Take stringent action against private hospitals who used Covi19 pandemic to loot patients and indulged in unlawful activities. Organize agitations against corrupt hospitals to compel government to take action.
- On the question of unlocking of transport sectors there should be a uniform policy. Now airways, taxis, buses, metros and even some special trains and in Mumbai some of the local trains have started operating. But from some states not even essential long distance trains are not started. In the special trains tickets are very costly. At the same time Railways privatization process is taking place fast. A policy should be worked out according to concrete conditions in each state to run essential trains which is the only long distance transport available for the common people taking necessary precautions based on discussions with people’s representatives.
Polit Bureau, CPI(ML) Red Star