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
Take the Message of Leaders of Renaissance Movement to the People!
Expose and Defeat Manuvadi Hindutva, Theoretical Base of RSS Neo-Fascism!
Indian society is in an unprecedented crisis. The RSS using Manuvadi Hindutva based caste system and patriarchy is carrying forward the neo-liberal, corporate policies at maddening speed, opening the Indian economy and all other fields to IMF-World Bank-WTO trio and other imperialist agencies through Modi government. Whole burden of the crisis caused by these neo-liberal/corporate policies, presently further aggravated by the outbreak of Covid19 pandemic, is thrown on the back of the working class and oppressed peoples by the imperialists and their junior partners. It has already made tens of millions of people jobless and impoverished around the world. They have started expressing their dissent in various forms. To crush these resistances at any cost and to prevent the toilers and oppressed trying to assert their rights, the most reactionary sections of the finance capital system are resorting to neo-fascist aggressive measures in ever larger number of countries, through the RSS like forces around the world. They use all hues of divisive ideas and forces to destroy, disintegrate, or weaken the people’s revolutionary unity. India is a very good example for this.
When we discuss about the Varna system and Manusmriti imposed by the Aryas for subjugating the people who were already settled here, who had developed the Harappan and Tamil civilizations and the agriculture, the Brahmanical forces always try to challenge it by raising many cock and bull stories, and claim that they were also the original inhabitants of India. But, according to latest scientific studies, there were no original inhabitants anywhere, except in the African region where the homo sapiens emerged as a part of the process of evolution taking place in the nature. So, in a way all the humans in India had migrated at different times to this sub-continent during tens of thousands of years. They had settled here and around ten thousand years ago started getting settled in to agricultural societies as in Harappa and Tamil regions of South India. Contrary to the claims of the RSS historians, the Aryan migration to India took place between 2000 BCE to 1500 BCE. It was in the second phase of Vedic period, that is from around 1000 BCE the Varna system was evolved in its full form. This system was developed based on distribution of works and right to properties with the Brahmins on the top. To get acceptance to it among the humans it was claimed that God created this Varna System with the all sections of the humans divided in to Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras. Gita is quoted as its authority. A vast multitude of people who were outside this Varna system, or living outside the area where the Aryas had already reached are referred to as Ati-Sudras, or assimilated in to different categories according to the concrete conditions and the interests of the dominant Brahmin and Kshatriya sections. The Manusmriti which codified the rules about the Varna system was drafted around 100 BCE and 2nd century AD. The migration of Aryas, Vedic period, Varna system, all happened after the weakening of the Harappa settlements. And the Lokayat and Charvaka philosophies had developed in the struggle against the very philosophy of Varna system. Following Gautham Buddha’s teachings around 600 to 500 BCE, a powerful movement against the Varna system developed. Buddhist philosophy, not only went to China and Sri Lanka, it spread very fast all over Indian sub-continent. Monasteries were established in large numbers. It is pointed out by the historians that even in Kerala, there were dozens of monasteries. In spite of Buddhism got promoted by many kings against Buddh’s wishes, and started getting diluted to present forms, the Buddha’s teachings, together with Lokayat and Charvak philosophies resisted the Brahmanical domination. During this period though there were invasions by Alexander and later Hoons, they could not sustain them.
This picture changed in the 8th century AD with the aggressive Adi Sankara campaign to uproot all non-Brrahmanical streams by force, in a most barbaric way. In this the Brahmanical forces used the oppressed sections who were influenced the superstitions, beliefs and customs spread by them also The heinous ways used by the Sankara led Brahmanical forces to drive out the Bhikkus and destroy their monasteries are still re-enacted every year in the Kodungallur temple in Trichur district of Kerala. As the resistance was powerful from the Bhikkus and their supporters here, from faraway places oppressed sections were brought, giving liquor and permission to loot, for murderously attacking the Bhikkus and to drive them out singing most vulgar songs! Including Swami Vivekananda, even all so-called Hindu religious reformers from among the Brahmanical forces, nobody has condemned this massacre of Bhikkus, destruction of thousands of monasteries including those at Puri, Ayodhya and Sabarimala, burning down of libraries and knowledge centers opposed to Manusmriti. From that time the Manuvadi Brahmanical forces launched the dark age of caste system based on Varna, which divided the people and imposed inhuman laws in the name of God. Even compared to the dark age imposed in Europe by the Catholic Church, it was more barbarous and against all humane values. It drastically divided and weakened the Indian society so much that all the forces who tried to enter India after Sankar’s Brahmanical offensive, could conquer it and rule over it for a millennia and much more.
So, whatever happened in the sub-continent, the disintegration, the criminalization and the weakening of Indian society, the Hindutva forces who imposed their cultural and political hegemony over the people of the sub-continent are entirely responsible. The Brahmanical forces had established their cultural hegemony through a plethora of rules and regulations, customs, festivals etc. In such a situation, the only way out for the Sudras, Ati-Sudrans and the Vanavasis (as they called the tribal people) was to convert to other religions. But, as all those religions also got infected by the caste system, liberation from Manuvad eluded them there also.
Manusmriti and the Varna/caste system imposed by the Brahmanical forces on Indian society are most authoritarian (as it was dictated that it was God’s own creation and imposed brutally), discriminatory, inhuman and totally undemocratic, even compared to any other religious, racist, gender laws imposed anywhere in the world. Its tentacles were very powerful. Even when the early phase of renaissance movements against it came up starting with the Basava movement in Karnataka in the 12th century AD, followed by the various streams of Bhakti movements, soon after the death of their leaders, their ideas were disarmed, made harmless and easily assimilated to the Manuvadi system, at the same time elevating their protagonists also as new incarnations of God. As a result of severe weakening of the Indian society under the extremely divisive caste system, when the Manuvadi kings lost the political power, and new political centres like Sultanate and Mugal rule emerged centrally or regionally. Still the Brahmanical forces could continue their hegemony by compromising with the new rulers and becoming the main advisers and administrators serving them. It was so more so under British period. The Brahmanical forces have repeatedly proved themselves capable of penetrating and utilizing every ruling system even when many changes were taking place in the society and its relations of production in such a way that the Manuvadi control over the toilers, oppressed and women could be kept secure, in the main.
Though the Savarnas, the Brahmin-Kshatriya-Vysia section, still constitute only 7-8 % of the population of even present India, they are still ‘controlling’ the so-called 80-85 % of the dalits and Adivasis, and OBCs through a cleverly built web of socio-cultural hegemony. They started with creating a hierarchy of Gods, unlike other religions, and have manufactured numerous myths through the so-called Vedic literature. During the last two millennia, using the Manusmriti, the Brahmanical forces have institutionalized women’s status as slaves of males, and dalits as born to serve the upper castes, without any right to property, because they are sinners during last janma, so should suffer all miseries without complaint in this janma to get the right to become a Savarna in next birth! To suit these dictates, even the pre-Arya myths, or the myths which came up during the resistance in the beginning, popular among the people were/are destroyed systematically, and the indigenous people’s festivals are replaced by Brahmanical festivals, made extremely popular using mainstream media and state support. For example, if the myths about Banasur, or Mahishasur, or Maha Bali or numerous others who were/still are popular among the people and festivals were celebrated around them, soon these festivals were turned in to their opposites, and replaced by those festivals which were so far confined to Savarnas, glorifying theirGods/Godesses who killed them through deceit. Now using the political power wielded by the RSS through neo fascist Modi rule these things are done directly.
After the British colonial rulers introduced English education for creating an administrative system with English knowing Indians, as a by-product the scientific temper developed from the time of Industrial revolution, and the bourgeois democratic values based on Liberty, Equality, Fraternity like slogans made popular by the French revolution, a new wave of renaissance movements came up with new vigour. Though the British administration in India were dominated by the Brahmin forces, a section of English knowing intellectuals made renaissance effort as in Bengal by Rajaram Mohan Roy and Iswarchandra Vidya sagar for example. They took the help of British government to introduce laws for some of the social reforms made against untouchability and superstitions, for abolition of child marriage and Sati, to allow women’s education and widow marriage etc. These were big achievements considering the extent of backwardness of the Hindu society maintained under Brahmanical domination. But the socio-cultural influence of Brahmanical-Manuvadi forces is still so powerful that some of these are still not fully implemented. Still in Puri like temples, the priests continue untouchability towards even Indian president Kovind. Another stream of renaissance movement was started by the radicals among the Brahmins to end many Manuvadi customs which led to heinous and criminal enslaving and oppression of Brahmin and other upper caste women, to popularize modern education among the Brahmins etc.
But the radical, main stream of the modern age renaissance movement was launched and led by a new generation leaders like Ayyankali, Narayana Guru, Sahodaran Ayyappan in Kerala, Periyar in TN, Phule, Savitri and Ambedkar in Maharshtra, and many others from other regions. Sighting the deplorable conditions of the dalits, Adivasis, OBCs and women under Manuvadi Brahmanical domination, they started fighting for the right to use the public roads, to end untouchability, to get the right for temple entry, the right to education for all, to get the right to use the water from public wells and tanks, and for the right own land and houses anywhere etc. The renaissance movements in different states helped enormously to educate and to mobilize the dalit masses including women and to encourage many militant struggles to challenge the Brahmanical Manuvadi domination. In Kerala, the struggle for basic democratic rights for dalits, and the slogan of Narayana Guru, One Caste, One Religion, One God for all humans, led even to Sahodaran Ayyappan’s call: No Caste, no Religion, No God. In TN the movement led by Periyar also took very radical positions challenging the Brahmanical forces. In Maharashtra the movement led by Phule and Savitri which took up women’s right to education and dalit’s democratic rights, further developed to the movement led by Dr. Ambedkar calling for caste annihilation, and nationalization of land and industries under the banner of ILP which had a red flag. These movements created a situation when all the progressive political forces in the country were forced to recognize the caste question’s significance in mobilizing the oppressed classes and sections also for the independence movement. At the same time, the Brahmanical Manuvadi forces alarmed by these developments frantically sought ways to defeat this progressive democratic movements and to re-impose the domination of their reactionary hegemony over the society.
Right from the early days of East India Company, British colonialists were encouraged to start their empire building process seeing the possibility of using the deep communal and caste divide in the sub-continent. They started hatching their own plans to use the religious and caste contradictions in India to defeat these divisions as they used the dalit-Maratha divide to win the Bhima-Koregaon war. Similarly, the communal divide was used to defeat the challenge posed by Tippu Sultan in the south. After what happened in the 1857 First War for Independence it was clear that if the Hindus and Muslims unite and take the oppressed people also along with them, the colonialists can be easily thrown out. So, they intensified efforts to use the communal and caste divisions for pursuing their “divide and rule” policy more vehemently. They helped to start the Benares Hindu University by Madan Mohan Malavia, a rabid Brahmanical leader. At the same time they helped the founding of Aligarh Muslim University. When Muslim League was formed and later called for Pakistan as Jinnah found Muslim interests will not be secure in a Hindu dominated India, British promoted it.
On the other hand, when the Congress leader Bal Gangadhar Thilak took the stand of politicizing Hindu religion for mobilizing Hindu masses for independence and transformed Ganesh festival observed only in the Brahmin houses in to a symbol of Hindu resurgence, British were very happy, and made moves to make the political Hinduism and political Islam fight each other to serve their purpose of prolonging colonial rule. Though, after Gandhi returned to India and took over the leadership of Congress, and united the different factions, to make Congress a struggling organization, along with this he also take a soft Hindutva stand. British gave more attention to the Savarkar led Hindu Mahasabha like forces. When based on the concept of political Hinduism, i.e. Hindutva of Savarkar, and inspired by the movements of Mussolini and Hitler, RSS was formed in 1925, the British authorities helped it to strengthen. RSS, calling itself a cultural organization, kept away from the anti-British movement. Its documents show that it is spreading the Hindutva culture based on Manusmriti and to transform India in to a Hindurashtra. It was totally against the renaissance movement and the challenge posed by it to the Manuvadi Hindutva.
But the Congress did not wage any struggle against the Hindutva of RSS, on the contrary continued to pursue the soft Hindutva line to serve its electoral plans from 1935. Though Gandhi started a movement against untouchability and suppression of dalits, called them “harijans”, he was supporting the varna/caste system. The Congress Socialist Party, then working inside Congress, also took a reformist position towards it. As far as the leaders of the undivided CPI were concerned, though they opposed untouchability and suppression of dalits, they refused to unite with Ambedkar to launch joint struggles of the textile workers, were not prepared to take the stand taken by the renaissance movement for caste annihilation. They were afraid such a step will weaken their support base among the upper castes. Besides, there was a mechanical understanding that all these reactionary systems and socio-cultural problems including caste annihilation and women’s liberation shall be resolved once the revolution takes place in the country. As a result, when the renaissance movements called on the upper caste activists to start abandoning the caste based, religion linked titles, caste linked sacred threat like things etc even the leaders of the CPI opposed it as a mechanical demand as, according to most of them, revolution shall resolve the program. They also pointed out that wherever the anti-feudal struggles are taking place as in the Telengana agrarian movement, the dalit and Adivasi masses are the main force and Communists are leading them. As a result, in a country like India where the unique caste system has powerful influence, the relation between class and caste in India where the dalits, Adivasis and the most backward among the OBCs are workers in the urban areas and agricultural workers or a section among the poor peasants in the rural areas, to win over these masses, who are looked down, and are tortured under the Manuvadi system, if the Communists had taken a more positive approach to the annihilation of the caste system called by Ambedkar and other renaissance leaders, Indian history would have been different. But, still among the broad left spectrum ranging from right opportunist CPI, CPIM like forces, the parliamentary left, most of the CR forces, to the left adventurist stream, while all are opposed to the suppression against dalits, Adivasis and especially against their women in hundreds of Hathras like gruesome incidents, they refuse to go beyond, to take caste annihilation as a part of their program, thereby refusing to recognize the dialectical relation of class struggle with caste struggle.
Today the situation is more critical. The RSS neo-fascism led forces are in power. RSS has penetrated to all state apparatus and even the Constitutional institutions. Though RSS/BJP do not formally claim, under the Modi government all over India, especially in UP like states where Yogi is chief minister, the Manusmriti is in action, with the Savarna elites who still constitute vast majority among the upper echleons of power and wealth, they in practice behave as if India has already become a Hindurashtra. As told in Manusmriti they consider women as unworthy of equality and liberation; dalits have no right to study and come near the corridors of power. RSS and its Manuvadi Hindutva ideology is putting Modi like neo-fascists in power to protect the ruling system controlled by the most reactionary section of the capitalist system. So, not only in Hathras in UP, but everywhere, though they may not tell openly in some places, the Savarnas think they have the right on not only over the wealth of the nation, but also on the women of the un-Aryas. It is a barbarous situation.
Meanwhile, in more advanced forms than during the colonial days, in these neo-colonial days, when neo-liberal/corporate forces are in total control all over the world more or less, the imperialist think-tanks have developed new theories, not only to intensify their plunder, but to keep them also with the ruling powers! See how it is functioning. They promoted the post-modernist ideas when it came up in the 1960s, and so also the identity politics when it started emerging in the 1970s. Numerous NGOs were promoted all over the world to campaign that, we have reached the end of history, the period of socialism is over, as the society is divided in to religions, castes, numerous sub-castes, various tribes etc; each section should get organized and work for their identity and share in the existing ruling system; there is nothing like system change.
Dr. Ambedkar defined the reservation in the field of education and administration as a small democratic right to help the socially and culturally down trodden sections at least to reach near the corridors of education and power. At the same time, he called to struggle for annihilation of caste and for nationalization of all land and industries as part of emancipation of the dalits. But, the Neo-Ambedkarites, whether they are functioning like NGOs, or political parties like BSP, Republican party factions, LGP, they mainly work for preserving the caste system so that the reservation will be available continuously, and instead of working for social revolution, they strive for sharing power with the ruling system, even with the Maunuvadi Hindutva RSS neo-fascists! If BJP found publication of Mondal Commisssion Report by VP Singh government and the social engineering emerged based on relations between caste based parties, a move against them and opposed them, today it is in the forefront to organize even micro groups of people belonging to sub-castes and include them in its vote bank under the banner of caste harmony. The opposition to Manuvadi Hindutva is turned to its opposite! The ruling class parties are competing with each other in playing this game among all sections of oppressed people including women.
Almost the same has happened to many of the other renaissance leaders’ movement also. In TN, after Annadurai left Dravida Kazhakam founded and led by Pariyar, with his friends and formed DMK, and it and the ADMK splitted from it have become the mainstay of ruling class system in the state serving the neo-liberal/corporate forces. Many other Dravidian groups separated from the DK also have become part of the ruling system. In Karnataka, Basavanna was taken over by the very caste forces he fought against and deified. In Kerala, for those who follow identity politics have reduced Ayyankali to an icon. Narayana Guru is worshipped as a God by the vested interests bargaining for share of power with all ruling class parties, many times hobnobbing with the RSS. So, during the last century, especially after the Second World War, when US led imperialist system transformed its colonial forms of exploitation to neo-colonial forms, and along with UN and a plethora of organizations under it, and IMF-World Bank were formed, and unleashed a new wave of reactionary campaign targeting the communist movement as well as other progressive movements, all of them have suffered severe setbacks. Under neo-liberal/corporate offensive this degeneration is reaching its peak.
It is in this situation sections of the Communist Revolutionaries, and those dalit, Adivasi and other oppressed people’s organizations who uphold the social revolutionary teachings of the renaissance movements and other likeminded forces from various other streams are once again trying to develop the caste annihilation movement as a broad struggling platform, as part of the all embracing and comprehensive class struggle, with a better understanding of class-caste relation. One of the fundamental components of the success of Indian people’s struggle to overthrow the RSS neo-fascist, neo-liberal/corporate rule led by Modi, and to advance towards people’s democracy and socialism, is making this initiative broader and stronger day by day to ensure the unity of the toiling classes with the oppressed people.
(Editorial of November 2020 issue of Caste Annihilation)
Regional Comprehensive Economic Participation (RCEP), world’s largest Free Trade Agreement (FTA) ever,comprising 10 ASEAN countries and other 5 big players, namely, China, Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand formally came into existence Bangkok on November 15, 2020. It accounts for about one-third of world population, 30 percent of global GDP and 28 percent of world trade among them. The scope of further strengthening of regional value chains among RCEP members is comparatively large since 44 percent of their total trade is already intra-RCEP.
Till its disengagement from RCEP negotiations by the dawn of 2020 mainly on account of China factor,amidst widespread protests across India from farmers, lakhs of medium, small and petty producers and millions of informal workers, the Indian government was having an active role in RCEP negotiations and since his ascendance in 2014, Modi has his personal attention in the past 6 years of long drawn out intense bi-partisan talks with ASEAN, the precursor of RCEP. In fact, India’s signing of the final agreement was almost certain even during the 2019India visit of Chinese president Xi leading a 90-member delegation including Chinese foreign minister. Though the content of Modi-Xi talk was almost covered up and doled out to media as “informal talks”, external affairs ministry had characterised the interaction between two heads of states as “productive”, “pleasant conversation over a long dinner”, etc. Obviously, being the biggest economic power (on PPP basis)but still second to US in military prowess, and as the leading partner in RCEP, the fact that China would be the biggest gainer from this FTA was already recognised. Therefore, Xi’s arrival at Mamalapuram, near Chennai at that time was also interpreted as a tactical move to pressurise his Indian counterpart to bow to Chinese diktats, in continuation of the success on the part of US led Western imperialist bloc in using the Kashmir issue as a tool for blackmailing the Indian regime to pry open more avenues of plunder in India.
Modi was actively participating in the 6 years of long drawn out intense bi-partisan talks with in the grouping composed of 10 ASEAN, the precursor of RCEP. However, in the context of the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent Sinophobic propaganda by US and the eruption of Sino-Indian border dispute in March, the Modi regime took a somersault and retracted from all further discussions pertaining to RCEP.
Of course, regional FTAs (such as ASEAN, NAFTA, MERCOSUR, EFTA, half-baked and aborted SAFTA, etc.) are to be evaluated as complimentary to neoliberal globalisation. Both WTO and the Bretton Woods institutions, the pillars of imperialist plunder today are propagating regional trade agreements among countries as effective tools towards global integration of distinct economies into bigger markets for capital flows as well as trade in consumer items with tariff and non-tariff barriers. According to WTO provisions regional trade agreements are “gateway” to internationalisation or globalisation of market and investment. RCEP encompassing South and East Asian countries is also in accordance with this neoliberal dictum. Generally, on account of closeness and proximity, RCEP-like FTAs will lead to full market access within the free trade area as far as members are concerned, and consequently will be more threatening, than even WTO, to those members who are lack comparative cost advantage.
Now Modi’s retraction from RCEP has given rise to many arguments for and against it. The main argument by those who criticise Modi regime for not joining RCEP is in terms of the usual logic always upheld by “free traders”. According to the standard liberal economic theory, free trade among countries increases the economic size of the free trade area as a whole, as it allows goods and services to be produced more efficiently and at the least cost. Free trade encourages productivity as production will move to those locations where natural resources, infrastructure, or skills and expertise are best suited to production. Greater competition and less red tape within the FTA will make goods and services available consumers at lower prices and ultimately, will result in increased GDP growth for the members of the FTA. So neoliberal experts and free trade theorists always argue in favour of a free trade area.
However, experience has been on the contrary. Traditional agriculture and informal/unorganised industries which cannot withstand competition from cheap products within the FTA will collapse altogether leading to unemployment and pauperisation of the broad masses of population. Cut throat competition will lead to a massive deindustrialisation wiping out the domestic industrial base in economically backward members of the FTA. It will prohibit governments in backward economies to protect domestic agriculture or industries with adequate price support programs. For instance, take the case of the 25 provisions finally adopted by the RCEP. These terms were in fact dictated by the two leading members, viz., China and Japan, of the union. The immediate effect of RCEP on India, which today faces the biggest-ever economic collapse on record, would be an immediate transformation of India as dumping ground for the almost all agricultural and industrial products from China and Japan which enjoy a clear-cut technological superiority over India.
In fact, as part of India’s erstwhile agreement with the ASEAN, cheap agricultural products have already been entering India with devastating impact on its farm sector. Now the RCEP which is an expanded version of ASEAN, on account of their higher productivity and comparative cost advantage will enable China and Japan also to dump their cheap industrial and agricultural goods in India.
Meanwhile, a section of the Indian ruling classes and their economic experts have interpreted Modi’s disengagement from RCEP as a historic blunder, as it has lost a golden opportunity of economic integration especially with the less developed ASEAN countries. According to them, the economic disadvantage arising from Chinese and Japanese goods flooding Indian market would have more than compensated by India’s growing market access to developing economies of the 10 ASEAN members of RCEP. They also argue that RCEP will result in enhanced technology transfer and inflows of FDI into India. According to them, turning away from RCEP, a grouping which is also in conformity with Article 24 of WTO, is autarchic, protectionist and isolationist and will make India uncompetitive and inefficient, thereby making India unable to reap the fruits of economic integration among countries.
Now let us examine these arguments in relation to concrete facts. Free trade arrangements are not new for India. Except China, India already has some form of bilateral free trade agreements with all constituents of RCEP such as ASEAN, Japan and South Korea, while discussions for free trade deals with New Zealand and Australia are in the final stage. While all such trade agreements have led to surge in India’s imports from these countries, there has been no perceptible growth in Indian exports to them, leading to a steady growth intrade deficit with them. Over the past years organisations of both farmers and medium and small scale industries as well as petty producers have been strongly opposing India aligning with ASEAN; but the Modi regime was not even willing to hear their genuine concerns. And, if India becomes a constituent of RCEP, then in view of the existing trend, its outcome will be a further intensification of this negative trend and further worsening of the country’s historic economic collapse. Obviously, it will be due to the superior position of China in RCEP. For instance, in spite of India having no free trade agreement with China, the latter has been India’s biggest trading partner. From a meagre $1.8 billion worth of trade in 2000, the trade volume between the two rose to almost $90 billion in 2018. In this, since India’s exports to China are worth only $14 billion, the deficit in India’s trade balance with China was $76 billion. According to preliminary estimates, in the event of India becoming a member of RCEP which shall inevitably be led by China, the former will be duty-bound to eliminate tariffs on around 80 percent of the imported Chinese goods either fully or partially, resulting in unforeseen consequences for the economy. That is, India’s adverse trade balance and harmful impact on its agricultural and industrial production arising from its erstwhile pact with ASEAN (for instance, India’s trade deficit with ASEAN was $24 billion in 2018, in spite of Modi regime’s aggressive export-push approach under the cover of self-reliant postures such as ‘Make in India’ and the latest ‘Atmanirbhar’) are bound to accentuate further in the event of India joining RCEP.
Obviously, the real reason behind Modi regime’s abrupt turning away from RCEP at the last moment, is geopolitical and not economic. On account of its extreme servility to imperialist capital and in the course of fulfilling the commitments to neoliberal market obligations, the Modi government has shown little consideration to the sustenance of millions of domestic produce or their genuine sentiments. In accordance with that, till last year, Modi was systematically propping up India’s close trade integration with China in continuation of what he did during his long tenure as chief minister of Gujarat. And in spite of the much trumpeted ‘Make in India’, it was under Modi that Indian market became flooded with cheap Chinese goods. For, during the first four years of Modi rule, bilateral trade between China and India rose by around 25 percent from almost $65 billion in mid-2014 to $ 90 billion in mid-2018, with trade balance highly unfavourable to India, as already noted. As a matter of fact, Modi’s participation in RCEP talks in which China has the key role till the end of 2019 was inseparable from India’s growing bilateral trade with China. Therefore, any reversal in this adverse trend in India’s trade with China would at least have a cushioning effect on India’s trade deficit and on the domestic economy. To that extent, India’s move away from RCEP is to be welcomed.
On the other hand, Modi’s sudden disengagement from the mega trade deal RCEP was not motivated by any economic consideration, and not at all based on the obvious economic logic behind it, but is purely dictated by geopolitical factors. For, unable to economically compete with China which already had acquired the technological capability to challenge the US, the latter, with its protectionist approach under Trump and with whom India has a strategic military cooperation, was compelling Modi regime to withdraw from the RCEP from the very beginning. Together with this sharpening inter-imperialist contradiction between US and China, it was the eruption of the border dispute with China that compelled Modi to have a U-turn on RCEP along with the imposition of many rounds of tariff and non-tariff barriers and other import controls on many Chinese products. Now this is done under the cover of ‘Atmanirbhar” in the place of the worn out ‘Make in India’ which had already ended up as ‘made in China’.
However, turning away from the China-led RCEP,in tune with RSS’ time-tested, historical allegiance to US imperialism, along with strengthening India’s position as a strategic junior partner of US in latter’s geo-political contradictions with China and by signing many military-to-military partnerships with Washington, Modi is laying red carpet for US finance capital’s biggest-ever plunder of India by resorting to a series of ‘investor-friendly’ measures such as aggressive liberalisation of labour, tax and environmental laws along with many digital deregulations as required by US MNCs. Now the outcome is like that of ‘jumping from the frying pan to the burning fire’, as involvement in a US-led military and economic arrangement is more vicious in degree compared with the RCEP grouping, which too led by another imperialist power.
Today, when world market is dwindling and negative growth trends are a ubiquitous phenomenon, India with its continental size and with a population of 137 crore richly endowed with immense natural and human resources, there is vast scope for pursuing an independent, self-reliant and self-expanding path of development pursuing friendly relations with other countries and peoples. What requires is an immediate overhauling of the existing foreign market-oriented neoliberal, pro-corporate model and the adoption of a pro-people, pro-nature, domestic-market oriented development strategy ensuring livelihood and sustenance of the vast majority of working and oppressed masses.
Comrades and friends,
When the mighty farmers’ movement has reached the 10th day, it is getting strengthened day by day with more and more farmers and working masses who support them are reaching Delhi from all parts of the country to strengthen it. But, instead of accepting their just demands, the Modi government is engaged in weakening the movement by proposing the dilution of their demands. As we all know, after issuing the three black bills for total corporatization of agriculture as an ordinance, they were bull-dozed through the parliament, getting approval in the Rajya Sabha in most undemocratic manner. Throughout this whole process, no effort was made to seek opinion of the farmers’ associations, after the bill was moved no steps were taken to seek discussion by sending it to a select committee. So, when confronted with such a mighty resistance from the farming community as a whole, if the Modi government is proposing amendments to these three acts, without withdrawing the core issue-the corporatization of agriculture-, is a clever move to weaken and destroy the demands for withdrawal of the three acts along with the Electricity Bill 2020.
In this situation the AIKSCC has only one option before it: intensify the ongoing movement to higher levels to compel the Modi government to withdraw these acts. It is in this situation the call for observing Bharat Bandh on 8th December is given; side by side all roads to Delhi shall be blocked on that day.
CPI(ML) Red Star fully support this demand and all party state committees to come out with their full strength to mobilize all those forces who can be mobilized, form People for Farmers’ Movement like platforms uniting all the forces who supported the Anti-CAA,NPR movement, to chalk out concrete programs according to conditions in each state, and make the Bharat Bandh a great success.
Get prepared for a protracted people’s movement to defeat all heinous moves of RSS neo-fascists through Modi government to weaken the farmers’ movement! Give it a crushing blow to these forces of reaction by making the farmers’ achieve its goals! Strive hard to make the Bharat Bandh a great success, and strengthen the solidarity movement by launching a struggle platform like People for Farmers’ Movement!
CPI(ML) Red Star.
5th December 2020