എല്ലാ കാലത്തും ഇന്ത്യൻ രാഷ്ട്രീയത്തിൻ്റെ ഗതിവിഗതികളെ നിയന്ത്രിക്കുന്നതിൽ ജാതീയത നിർണായക സ്വാധീനം ചെലുത്തിയിട്ടുണ്ട്. ഇന്ത്യയുടെ വിഭജനത്തിന് അടിസ്ഥാനം മതമാണെങ്കിൽ ആ മതത്തിനുള്ളിൽ അന്നേ ജാതീയതയെ ഇരയുടെ പക്ഷത്ത് സ്ഥാപിച്ചെടുക്കാൻ ഹിന്ദുത്വ പ്രത്യയശാസ്ത്രത്തിന് കഴിഞ്ഞിരുന്നു. സവർണ്ണ ബ്രാഹ്മണിക്കൽ ഹിന്ദുത്വ പാരമ്പര്യത്തിൻ്റെ അടിസ്ഥാനത്തിലാണ് ഇന്ത്യയിലെ ജാതി ഘടനയെ അധികാര രാഷ്ട്രീയത്തിൻ്റെ ഭാഗമാക്കിയത്. കാലക്രമത്തിൽ ഇത് പൊതു സമൂഹത്തിൽ തങ്ങളുടെ അധികാര വ്യവഹാരത്തെ നിർണ്ണയിക്കാൻ അവരെ സഹായിച്ചു. ആ മത ചിന്താധാര രാഷ്ട്രീയത്തിലേക്ക് വരുന്നത് രാഷ്ട്രീയം പറഞ്ഞിട്ടല്ല മതം പറഞ്ഞിട്ടാണ് എന്നതിൻ്റെ അന്തരഫലമാണ് ഇന്നത്തെ ജനാധിപത്യത്തെ അങ്ങേയറ്റം ദുർബലപ്പെടുത്തുന്നത്. അതിനെ ശാക്തീകരിക്കാൻ 1992-ൽ ബാബറി മസ്ജീദിൻ്റെ തകർക്കൽ വഴി കഴിഞ്ഞു. അതു വഴി സാധാരണ ഹിന്ദു വിശ്വാസികളിൽ ഉണ്ടായ മാറ്റങ്ങളെ പരമാവധി പ്രയോജനപ്പെടുത്താൻ ഹിന്ദുത്വ രാഷ്ട്രീയ ശക്തികൾക്ക് സാധിച്ചു
ബ്രിട്ടീഷ് അധിനിവേശ കാലത്ത് നടപ്പാക്കിയ വിഭജിച്ച് അധികാരത്തെ നിലനിർത്തുന്ന രീതിയിലേക്ക് ഇന്നത്തെ ഹിന്ദുത്വ ഭരണകൂടം എത്തിക്കഴിഞ്ഞിരിക്കുന്നു. അവർ ദേശീയതയെ വംശീയതയായി നിർവ്വഹിച്ചു കഴിഞ്ഞു. സ്വാതന്ത്ര്യത്തിനു ശേഷം ആർ.എസ്.എസ്സിൻ്റെ ഹിന്ദുത്വവൽക്കരണത്തെ പ്രതിരോധിക്കാൻ കഴിയാത്തതാണ് ഇതിൻ്റെ കാരണം. ഭരണകൂട അധികാരത്തിന് പുറത്ത് നിൽക്കുമ്പോഴും ഹിന്ദുത്വ ബ്രാഹ്മണിക്കൽ പ്രത്യയശാസ്ത്രത്തിന് വളരെ ആഴത്തിൽ രാജ്യത്ത് വേരോട്ടം നടത്താൻ കഴിഞ്ഞു. അതാകട്ടെ ഉപരിതലത്തിൽ ഹൈന്ദവവിശ്വാസമായും അധോ മണ്ഡലത്തിൽ ഹിന്ദുത്വ ദേശീയതയായും വളർന്ന് വികാസം പ്രാപിച്ചു. അതിനെ നിയന്ത്രിച്ചത് പാർലിമെൻ്ററി അധികാര മോഹികളെക്കാൾ പൂണൂൽ വംശീയതയെ വളർത്തിയ ആർഎസ്എസ് ആണ്. മനു വംശീയ അടിത്തറയിൽ നിന്നുകൊണ്ട് ഇന്ത്യയിലെ ലിബറൽ ജനാധിപത്യ ശക്തിയെ അടിതട്ടിൻ നിന്നു പൊളിച്ചുമാറ്റുക എന്നത് അവരുടെ ലക്ഷ്യമായിരുന്നു. 1992-ലെ അദ്ധ്വാനിയുടെ രഥയാത്രയുടെ പ്രധാന ദൗത്യം അതായിരുന്നു.
പാർലിമെൻ്ററി ജനാധിപത്യത്തിൽ ഭരിക്കുക എന്നതിനപ്പുറം ജനാധിപത്യത്തെ സോഷ്യലിസ്റ്റ് പ്രത്യയശാസ്ത്ര മണ്ഡലത്തിലൂടെ വികസിപ്പിക്കാൻ അധികാര പാർട്ടികൾക്ക് കഴിഞ്ഞില്ല. ജനാധിപത്യ മതേതര ബഹുസ്വര ശീലങ്ങളെ നിലനിർത്തിയപ്പോഴും രാജ്യത്ത് അസമത്വം വർദ്ധിച്ചതിന് കാരണമതാണ്.ഇതേ ജനാധിപത്യം തന്നെയാണ് ഭൂരിപക്ഷത്തിൻ്റെ ശക്തിയിൽ രാജ്യത്തിൻറെ ഭരണഘടനയെ നോക്കിക്കുത്തിയാക്കി ഇന്ന് മുന്നേറുന്നത്. 2014 നു ശേഷം ഇന്ത്യയിൽ സംഭവിച്ച ഏറ്റവും അപകടകരമായ അവസ്ഥ പാർലിമെൻ്ററി ജനാധിപത്യം ദുർബലപ്പെട്ടു എന്നതാണ്. ഈ ദുർബലതയെ നിർമ്മിച്ചതിൽ ഇന്ത്യൻ നേഷണൽ കോൺഗ്രസ്സിനുള്ള പങ്ക് ചെറുതല്ല. 1984-ൽ 404 സീറ്റ് കിട്ടിയ ഈ രാഷ്ട്രീയ പ്രസ്ഥാനത്തിന് 2014-ൽ കിട്ടിയത് 44- സീറ്റാണ് എന്നോർക്കണം. ഈ തോൽവി ഉണ്ടാക്കിയതിൻ്റെ കാരണങ്ങൾ പലതാണ്. എന്നാൽ ഈ തോൽവിയിൽ നിന്നാണ് സമകാലീന ഇന്ത്യ ബ്രാഹ്മണിക്കൽ പ്രത്യയശാസ്ത്രം പിൻബലത്തിൽ പാർലിമെൻ്ററി സംവിധാനത്തിൽ വളർന്നത്. ആ വളർച്ചയുടെ ഓരോ ഘട്ടത്തിലും ശ്രേണി ബന്ധിതമായ ജാതി ഘടന അതിൻ്റെ അതിപുരാതനമായ ജൈവഘടനയെ ജനാധിപത്യത്തിൽ സ്ഥാപിക്കുകയുമാണ് ചെയ്യുന്നത്. അതിനെ രാഷ്ട്രീയ വ്യവഹാര മണ്ഡലത്തിൽ അവതരിപ്പിച്ചു കൊണ്ട് ഞങ്ങൾക്ക് രാഷ്ട്രീയവും മതവും വിരുദ്ധ ധാരയിൽ നിലനിർത്തേണ്ട ഒന്നല്ല എന്ന് ഭരണകൂടം സ്ഥാപിച്ചു കഴിഞ്ഞു. ഹിന്ദുത്വ ദേശീയതയെ സ്ഥാപിച്ചെടുക്കാൻ ഈ രണ്ട് വ്യവഹാര മണ്ഡലങ്ങളെയും തരംപോലെ ഉപയോഗിക്കാൻ ആവശ്യമായിട്ടുള്ള ജ്ഞാനപദ്ധതികൾ അവതരിപ്പിക്കുന്നതിന് ഭരണകൂട സംവിധാനങ്ങളെ തന്നെയാണ് ഉപയോഗിക്കുന്നത്. ചരിത്രത്തെ മാറ്റിപ്പണിതും നീതിന്യായ വ്യവസ്ഥയെ ഹിന്ദുത്വവൽക്കരിച്ചുമാണത് മുന്നേറുന്നത്.
ഇത് ഏറ്റവും കൂടുതൽ ബാധിക്കുന്നത് പീഡിത വർഗ്ഗമായ ജാതിയുടെ ഇരകളെയാണ്. ഹിന്ദുത്വ ഭരണകൂട അധികാര ഘടന ഇന്ത്യ എന്ന ദേശ രാഷ്ട്ര സങ്കൽപ്പത്തെ നരക തുല്യമാക്കി മാറ്റി കഴിഞ്ഞു. രാജ്യത്തെ സമസ്ത മേഖലകളിലേയും പുരോഗമനങ്ങളെ ഇത് പിറകോട്ടു നയിച്ചു. എന്നുമാത്രമല്ല ലോകരാഷ്ട്രങ്ങൾ ഏറ്റവും പുതിയ ശാസ്ത്രീയ വഴിയിലൂടെ മുന്നേറുമ്പോൾ ഇന്ത്യയിലെ മനുവാദികൾ രാജ്യത്തെ ബൗദ്ധിക മേഖലയെ പിറകോട്ട് നയിക്കുകയാണ്. ഇതിൻ്റെ പാർശ്വഫലങ്ങളാണ് രാജ്യത്തെ മതന്യൂനപക്ഷങ്ങളും ദളിത് സമൂഹങ്ങളും അനുഭവിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നത്. ഈ വിഭാഗങ്ങളെ മുഖ്യധാരയിലേക്ക് ഉയർത്തിക്കൊണ്ടുവരാൻ ഭരണഘടനാനുസൃതമായി അനുവദിക്കപ്പെട്ട സംവരണ തത്വങ്ങളുടെ രാഷ്ട്രീയത്തെ നിരാകരിക്കുക എന്നത് സവർണ്ണ ഹിന്ദുത്വത്തിൻ്റെ പ്രഖ്യാപിത അജണ്ടയാണ്. കേവലം സാമ്പത്തികമായി മനുഷ്യരെ ഉയർത്തിക്കൊണ്ടുവരാനുള്ള ഒരു മാർഗ്ഗമായി സംവരണത്തെ മാറ്റുക വഴി ദളിത് പിന്നോക്ക ന്യൂനപക്ഷങ്ങൾ അനുഭവിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്ന അസമത്വങ്ങളെ ഒന്നുകൂടി വിശാലമാക്കുകയാണിവർ. എന്നാൽ ഇത് കേവലം നിത്യ ജീവിതത്തെ ബാധിക്കുന്ന ബൗദ്ധിക പ്രശ്നങ്ങളല്ലെന്നും മനുഷ്യൻ എന്നർത്ഥത്തിൽ സമൂഹത്തിൽ ലഭിക്കേണ്ട അംഗീകാരവും സുരക്ഷിതത്വബോധവും ഈ വിഭാഗങ്ങളിൽ നിന്ന് എടുത്തു മാറ്റാനുള്ള അവസരമായിട്ടാണ് അധികാര വർഗ്ഗം ഈ മാറ്റത്തെ കാണുന്നത്. ഇതിൻറെ ഭാഗമായിട്ടാണ് ദളിത് പിന്നോക്ക വിഭാഗങ്ങളുള്ള ദേശ സമൂഹങ്ങളിൽ ഉണ്ടായിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്ന സ്ത്രീകൾക്ക് നേരെയുള്ള ബലാൽസംഗങ്ങൾ ഉൾപ്പെടെയുള്ള അതിക്രമങ്ങളേ കാണേണ്ടത്. കള്ളക്കേസിൽ കുടുക്കി പുരുഷന്മാരെ പുറംലോകം കാണാത്ത രീതിയിൽ ജയിലിലടക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നത്. ഇതിൻ്റെ സമീപകാല ലക്ഷണങ്ങൾ തന്നെയാണ് സപ്തംബറിലെ 18-ന് ബലാത്സംഗം ചെയ്ത ശേഷം മരണത്തിലേക്ക് വലിച്ചെറിഞ്ഞു കൊടുത്ത 22 വയസ്സുകാരി മനീഷ വാല്മീകിയുടെ ദാരുണമായ കൊലപാതകം. ഇത്തരം കൊലപാതകത്തിൻ്റെ നാൾവഴി പരിശോധിച്ചാൽ ഹിന്ദു ബ്രാഹ്മണിക്കൽ പ്രത്യയശാസ്ത്രത്തിൻ്റെ രീതി ബോദ്ധ്യപ്പെടും. ജാതി ഹിന്ദുക്കൾ എങ്ങനെയാണ് സമൂഹത്തിൽ നിലനിർത്തേണ്ടത് എന്ന് തീരുമാനിക്കാനുള്ള അവകാശം ഉയർന്ന ജാതിക്കാരിൽ അർപ്പിതമാണ് എന്നാണ് അവരുടെ ബോധം.
ഹാഥറാസിൽ ഠാക്കൂർ വിഭാഗത്തിൽപ്പെട്ട ഉയർന്ന ജാതിക്കാർക്ക് ഏതുസമയവും എവിടെ വെച്ചും ദളിത് പെൺകുട്ടികളെ പിടിച്ചുകൊണ്ടുപോയി ബലാൽസംഗം ചെയ്യാനുള്ള ജാതി പരമായ അവകാശമായി മാറിയിരിക്കുന്നു. ഉത്തർപ്രദേശിൽ ഇപ്പോൾ നടന്നുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നത് അതാണ്. ഇതൊന്നും സാന്ദർഭികമായി സംഭവിക്കുന്നതല്ല എന്നതിൻ്റെ തെളിവുകൾ ആധികാരികമായി പുറത്തുവന്നിട്ടുണ്ട്.
രാജ്യത്ത് ഓരോ 15 മിനിറ്റിലും ഒരു സ്ത്രീ ബലാൽസംഘം ചെയ്യപ്പെടുന്നു എന്ന് മദ്രാസ് ഹൈക്കോടതിയിലെ ജസ്റ്റിസ് കൃപാകരൻ, ജസ്റ്റിസ് പി വെൽമുരുകൻ എന്നിവർ അടങ്ങിയ ബെഞ്ച് ചൂണ്ടിക്കാട്ടിയത്. ഇത് പറഞ്ഞതാകട്ടെ ഹാഥ്റസിലെ പെൺകുട്ടിയുടെ കൊലപാതകത്തിൻ്റെ പശ്ചാത്തലത്തിലാണ്. എന്നാൽ സംഭവം നടന്ന് 14 ദിവസം കഴിഞ്ഞിട്ടാണ് ഇത് പുറം ലോകമറിയുന്നത്. ഇവിടെയാണ് ദളിത് പീഡനത്തിൻ്റെ രാഷ്ട്രീയത്തെ ഒന്നുകൂടി പഠിക്കേണ്ടത്. 2012-ൽ നിർഭയ ദാരുണമായി ബലാത്സംഗം ചെയ്ത് കൊലചെയ്യപ്പെട്ടപ്പോൾ ഇന്ത്യയിലെ മദ്യ ഉപരിവർഗ്ഗങ്ങൾ നയിച്ച പ്രതിഷേധങ്ങൾ രാജ്യത്തെ ഇളക്കി മറച്ചു. അന്ന് പെൺക്കുട്ടിയുടെ പേരോ, ഫോട്ടോയോ പൊതു ഇടങ്ങളിൽ പരാമർശിക്കാൻ പാടില്ലായിരുന്നു.എന്നാൽ മനീഷ വാല്മീകിയുടെ ദാരുണമായ ബലാൽസംഘത്തിൽ ഇരയുടെ വിവരങ്ങൾ മുഴുവൻ ചർച്ചയായി. അതിനു കാരണം, ഇര ദളിതാണ് എന്നതാണ്. ദളിത് വിഷയത്തിലെ ബലഹീനതയെ നിർമ്മിക്കുന്നത് സാമൂഹിക അധികാരഘടനയാണ്. ഒന്നാമതായി ജനാധിപത്യ സമൂഹത്തിൽ നീതിക്ക് ഒപ്പം നിൽക്കേണ്ട സംവിധാനങ്ങളൊക്കെ സവർണ്ണവൽക്കരിക്കപ്പെട്ടു കഴിഞ്ഞു.ഇതിൻ്റെ ഭാഗമായി ഭരണകൂട അധികാര മേൽക്കോയ്മ സവർണ്ണ വിഭാഗത്തിൽ കേന്ദ്രീകരിക്കപ്പെട്ടു കഴിഞ്ഞു. ബാബറി മസ്ജിദുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട രണ്ട് കോടതി വിധികൾ അത് സാക്ഷ്യപ്പെടുത്തിക്കഴിഞ്ഞു.ഈ സാഹചര്യത്തിൽ ദളിതുകൾക്ക് നീതി കിട്ടുക എന്നുള്ളത് അങ്ങേയറ്റം പ്രയാസകരമാണ്. ബിജെപി എം എൽ എ പ്രതിയായ ഉന്നവ കേസ് വഴി മാറി പോയത് നമുക്ക് മുമ്പിലുണ്ട്. മനീഷ വാത്മീകിയുടെ കുടുംബത്തെ ഭീഷണിപ്പെടുത്തിയത് ജില്ലാ മജിസ്ട്രേറ്റ് ആണെന്ന് ഓർക്കണം. ഭരണകൂടം പൂർണ്ണമായി സവർണ്ണ അധികാരഘടനയായി മാറി എന്നതാണ് ഇത് തെളീക്കുന്നത്.
ദളിത് വേട്ടയുടെ സാക്ഷ്യപത്രം.
രാജ്യത്ത് എത്രമാത്രം അരക്ഷിതാവസ്ഥയിലാണ് ദളിത് മത ന്യൂനപക്ഷങ്ങൾ ജീവിക്കുന്നത് എന്ന് തെളിയിക്കുന്ന കണക്ക് പുറത്ത് വന്നിട്ടുണ്ട്. 2019 ഡിസംബർ 31വരെയുള്ള കണക്കുപ്രകാരം രാജ്യത്തെ ജയിലുകളിൽ കിടക്കുന്ന തടവുകാരിൽ ഭൂരിപക്ഷവും മുസ്ലിം ദളിത് വിഭാഗങ്ങളാണ്. 21..5 ശതമാനം തടവുകാർ ദളിത് വിഭാഗങ്ങൾ നിന്നാണ് അതാകട്ടെ 16.6 ശതമാനം മാത്രമുള്ള ജനസംഖ്യ നിന്നാണെന്ന് ഓർമ്മിക്കണം. പട്ടിക വിഭാഗത്തിൽ പെട്ടവർ ജയിലിൽ കഴിയുന്നത് 21 ശതമാനമാണ്.ജനസംഖ്യയുടെ 8.6 ശതമാനം വരുന്ന പട്ടിക വർഗ്ഗ വിഭാഗത്തിൽ നിന്ന് ജയിലിൽ ഉള്ളത് 13.6 ശതമാനമാണ്. ഇവരിൽ 10.5 വിചാരണ നടക്കാത്തവരാണ്. ജയിലിൽ ശിക്ഷ വിധിക്കപ്പെട്ട കഴിയുന്നവരിൽ 16.6 ശതമാനം പേർ മുസ്ലീങ്ങളാണ്. മൊത്തം ജനസംഖ്യയുടെ 14.2 ശതമാനമാണ് ഇത്. വിചാരണ തടവുകാരിൽ മുസ്ലീങ്ങളുടെ അനുപാതം 18. 7 ശതമാനമാണ് എന്ന് ക്രൈം റെക്കോർഡ് ബ്യൂറോ വ്യക്തമാക്കുന്നു. ഈ കണക്ക് പ്രകാരം ഏറ്റവും കൂടുതൽ ദളിതുകൾ വിചാരണ നേരിടുന്നത് ഉത്തർപ്രദേശിലാണ്.17995-പേർ. തൊട്ടുതാഴെ ബീഹാർ പഞ്ചാബ് തുടങ്ങിയ സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങളും. എന്നാൽ സവർണഹിന്ദു വിഭാഗത്തിൽപ്പെട്ടവർ ശിക്ഷിക്കപ്പെട്ടു കഴിയുന്നത് 13 ശതമാനമാണ്. ഹിന്ദുത്വ ദേശ ഭരണകൂടങ്ങൾ ഇന്ത്യയിലെ താഴേക്കിടയിലുള്ള ജാതി ഹിന്ദുക്കളെയും മത ന്യൂനപക്ഷങ്ങളെയും തെരഞ്ഞുപിടിച്ച് പീഡിപ്പിക്കുന്നതിൻ്റെ തെളിവായി ഇത് മാറുകയാണ്.
ഈ രാഷ്ട്രീയ പശ്ചാത്തലത്തിലാണ് ഇന്ത്യൻ ജനാധിപത്യത്തിൻ്റെ ഭാവി വലിയ ആശങ്ക സൃഷ്ടിക്കുന്നത്. ഭരണഘടനയെ നോക്കുകുത്തിയാക്കി ഏകപക്ഷീയമായ തീരുമാനം നടപ്പാക്കാനുള്ള ശ്രമത്തെ പ്രതിരോധിച്ചേ മതിയാകൂ. അതിനു വേണ്ടത് രാജ്യത്തെ പീഡിത മതന്യൂനപക്ഷങ്ങളെയും ദളിത് സമൂഹത്തെ രാഷ്ട്രീയമായി ശക്തരാക്കുക എന്നതാണ്. അതിന് ആദ്യം വേണ്ടത് ബ്രാഹ്മണിക്കൽ പൂനൂൽ അധികാരത്തെ ചോദ്യം ചെയ്യാൻ തയ്യാറാകുക എന്നതാണ്. അത് ഉയർന്നു വരേണ്ടത് സമൂഹത്തിൻ്റെ അടിത്തട്ടിൽ നിന്നായിരിക്കണം.അതിനു വേണ്ടിയായിരിക്കണം ഇനിയുള്ള കാലത്തെ രാഷ്ടീയ ഇടപെടലുകൾ .
What is the picture of the environment on this world environment day? A strange question to ask? Yes, it may sound strange, but the reality compels us to ask this question with all seriousness. On this World Environment Day, whole world is in the ever tightening grip of the novel corona virus, Covid19. Already 70 lakhs of patients and nearly four lakhs dead. Still lakhs more are getting infected and thousands are dying everyday. But, the imperialists and their junior partners ruling the world have abandoned these, and the vast masses who are becoming its victims increasingly, and have started business as usual, plundering the labour and nature more voraciously to amass more profits. They laugh at you if you say your plunder has led to Covid like pandemics, Amphan like calamities, it poses threat of ecological catastrophe.
So, there are only two possibilities before the humankind today: either let the capitalist imperialist system to continue their plunder, lead to ecological catastrophe and to the extinction of human species on this earth; or the toiling and all oppressed masses and concerned scientists and intelligentsia join hands, create public opinion, overthrow the reactionary ruling system and create a new society where democracy shall blossom and an alternate people oriented development perspective shall be put in to practice protecting what is left of the nature, establishing friendly relation between nature and humans.
Which path we ar going to select? Of extinction of humankind, or the path of struggle for a socialist new world? Let this be the central question of discussion on this World Environment Day!
The Notification issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on October 7, 2019, as per Modi government’s directive with a view to “Deepening Digital Payments” across the country is of far-reaching consequences. The Notification contains the essential guidelines for a “pilot project” to convert one selected district in every state of India into fully digital or “cashless” in all financial payments and transactions by the end of 2020.Obviously, this pilot project is envisaged as a prelude to the eventual transformation of India as a full-fledged cashless society in the near future. Accordingly, the task for achieving this time-bound task is entrusted with the concerned ‘Lead Bank’ of the respective district in coordination with the administrative head, the District Collector. Instructions from RBI have already gone to the State/UT Level Bankers Committees (SLBCs/ UTLBCs) “to identify one district in their respective State/UTs for digital payment ecosystem on a pilot basis in consultation with banks and stakeholders” and the district identified “shall have significant footprint which will attempt to make that district 100 percent digitally enabled within one year.” The RBI Notification has also directed SLBCs/UTLBCs to ensure that such “cashless’” districts identified are converged with the “Aspirational Districts” already identified by NITI Aayog for “good governance” as part of Modi’s “Digital India” Program.
Of course, this strategic decision is not an overnight development. Its roots lay deep in the Demonetization superimposed on India by Modi at the behest of neoliberal-corporate centres. A Committee headed by Nandan Nilekani who spearheaded the Aadhar, world’s biggest biometric exercise (which, contrary to its declared objectives, has no empirical evidence on improving welfare delivery) has been working on this issue since Demonetization. Accordingly, the “High Level Committee on Deepening Digital Payments” led by Nilekani submitted its Report to the RBI in May 2019. In fact, the RBI’s Notification issued on October 7 2019 in essence is a repetition of what elucidated in the Nilekani Report. As pointed out in the Notification, the pilot project that is envisioned on an experimental basis aims at multiplying India’s ‘per capita digital transactions’ by ten times within a year—estimated at 22 as of now to 220— and increase the number of “cashless” or “digital citizens” from the current 10 crore to 30 crore by the end of 2020!
A glance at both the Nilekani Report and RBI Notification unravels the process or the various steps required for accomplishing this “pilot project” for cashless transactions within the proposed time-frame. Among other things, they comprise a concerted campaign for opening zero-balance accounts for all who are outside the banking system, an increase in the number of smart phones, swiping machines (PoS machines or terminals), linking of bank accounts with Aadhar, popularization of BHIM Aadhar Pay, discouraging cash withdrawals from banks, developing ‘feature phones’ appropriate to cashless payments, and so on. The RBI Notification does not ascribe much importance to ATMs in the transformation process towards digitization or cashless transactions. The idea is to reduce the number of ATMs which are conventionally used for cash withdrawals and to transform them mainly as CDMs (Cash Deposit Machines) so as to suck out the cash in circulation. In a cashless society, the new role of ATMS would be that of ‘digital facilitation points’ which implies a recalibration of them for bill payments, currency transactions, tax payments, mobile recharging, ticket booking, etc. A proposal is also there for the creation of specific ‘digital wallets’ for all payments and receipts pertaining to government transactions. Together with the existing US-based ‘digital tools’ such as Master Card, VISA, Debit and Credit Cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Paytm (controlled by Chinese giant Alibaba) which are widely used in India, emerging tools like Phonepe (controlled by Walmart, world’s biggest MNC) and initiatives to involve WhatsApp and Facebook are also in full swing.
Background for Modi Regime’s Cashless Move
The invention of money certainly led to an epoch-making transformation in human history like that of fire and wheel. It enabled human society to transform itself from the ‘primitive’ barter system (exchange of goods for goods) to a higher stage of development where money became a medium of exchange, store of value and standard of deferred payments. And till the end of the 20th century, in political-economic circles, there had been no talk of a cashless society or replacing cash by digital payments. In fact, discussion on cashless transactions has its beginning only in the turn of the 21st century along with the origin and development of cross-border/transnational digital flows. Over a span of two decades, broadband connections have become more important than shipping lanes and, in terms of its economic significance, are now at par with the centuries-old trade in goods. While internet penetration in US is estimated at 80 percent of the population, the same is around two-third in EU and one-third in Asia whereas in India it is only one-fourth. On the other hand, the so called “digital divide” (people having no access to internet) has become a clear manifestation of mounting economic inequality not only between imperialist and oppressed countries but also among people and groups within countries. Today digital flows have become indispensable for the movement of goods, services and above all finance, and every cross-border transaction today has a digital component. Digital business which is already in trillions is still growing in double digits. At the same time, compared with the sphere of production, it has been in the sphere of circulation and finance that digital flows have become truly a catalyst.
It is in this context that digital technology and data flows are becoming the driving force for cashless transactions. And, quite logically, the motive for this cashless initiative everywhere comes from the US- centred global corporate giants who are the custodians (with the exception of China today) of digital tools essential for cashless payments. However, ironically, among the countries which are much advanced in the realm of digital technology, only the Scandinavian countries are apparently moving towards a cashless economy. On the other hand, vast majority of the people in US which is much ahead of others in digital and network infrastructure, leading countries of EU and Japan are deadly against a cashless situation despite concerted efforts on the part of software giants, corporate financiers and monopoly banks in these countries which regularly propping up their respective governments for adopting digital payments.
For instance, with the backing of US Federal administration, various US-based software and digital giants as well as big banks are engaged in a massive and aggressive campaign for adoption of digital payments system. However such a move is vehemently opposed by various state governments in US. This has prompted the digital MNCs to target the so called ‘emerging economies’ in Afro-Asian-Latin American countries by influencing amenable regimes there. As a manifestation, various companies including VISA, Master Card, Citibank, Gates Foundation, Dell Foundation, etc. joining with the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) have already formed the “Better Than Cash Alliance” initiative for seriously taking up the cashless agenda amidst stiff domestic opposition to such a move in the US. The aim of this Alliance was to manipulate policy decisions in backward economies thereby superimpose cashless payments on global people.
The ascendance of Modi regime in 2014 and the Prime Minister’s proclamation on “Digital India” program in the following year should be seen in this context. And, as an appendage of the Better Than Cash Alliance, an initiative entitled “Catalyst” with the involvement of Indian Ministry of Finance started working since 2016. Catalyst began its operations based on the guidelines codified by USAID under what is called “Beyond Cash”. Alok Gupta, Director of Washington-based World Resources Institute, who cooperated with Nandan Nilekani in designing Aadhar was appointed as Indian Chief Operating Officer of Catalyst. According to available evidence, US think-tanks including neoliberal-far right economists like Larry Summers and ReghuramRajan were associated with this project in its beginning stage. In fact, the launching of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) as the brainchild of Rajan is considered as the forerunner of cashless initiative in India. As RBI governor, it was he who imposed restrictions on cash withdrawals from ATMs, even as 37 crore new bank accounts were opened in India under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana during 2014-18 preparing the background for the move towards cashless payments. No doubt, corporate-saffron forces effectively used these Jan Dhan accounts as a convenient tool for whitening huge volumes of unaccounted black money during the opaque days of Demonetization which was a “guinea-pig” experiment superimposed on the Indian people with intellectual inputs from the USAID-led Catalyst-an aspect to be taken up in the ensuing discussion.
Meanwhile, Catalyst had attempted at launching “cashless townships” in six Indian cities- Indore, Visakhapatnam, Kota, Jaipur, Bhopal and Nagpur- on an experimental basis as part of its action plan towards a making India perfectly cashless or digital. These six cities had been selected based certain criteria such as the use and popularity of smart phones, number of digital money transfers, the availability and familiarity with digital tools among vendors and merchants at the local level, various administrative factors essential for such an experimentation and so on. As noted above, and as well-documented by international sources (see Select References attached), it was in this overall background that at the behest of neoliberal-corporate think-tanks, Modi imposed Demonetization in November 2016 that enabled the most corrupt corporate big businesses and crony capitalists hand in glove with the ruling party to have the biggest-ever one-shot wealth accumulation in history by abruptly sucking out the life-blood of more than a billion people and at the same whitening all corporate-black money hoardings through banks.
Totally paralyzing all cash-based economic activities especially in the informal/unorganized sectors that provide sustenance and livelihood to more than 90 percent of the Indian workforce, Demonetization led to an unprecedented squeeze of the entire economy resulting in the biggest unemployment and economic slowdown in five decades coupled with a galloping of all kinds of money-spinning businesses and ballooning speculation at the macro level, thereby transforming India as the most corrupt country in Asia within a year. Of course, while Modi himself was immersed in the post-truth campaign of interpreting Demonetization as “surgical strike” against terror funding, black money and counterfeiting and tried to whip up Islamophobic and Hindutva chauvinist sentiments in the process, in those crucial days, it was left to Gurumurthy, the leading RSS intellectual and member of RBI Director Board to reiterate at the behest of imperialist centres that the true aim of Demonetization was to achieve a state of cashless or digital payments. No doubt, the latest RBI Notification regarding pilot project on “digital districts” is a logical corollary and continuation of both Demonetization and Catalyst-sponsored “cashless townships” already experimented in the country. Revealingly, as the RBI itself acknowledges, a copy of this RBI Notification was forwarded to USAID-led Catalyst too.
General Consequences of Cashless Economy
The immediate outcome of a cashless economy would be total alienation or marginalization of those who (a) have no bank accounts, (b) having no cash in their accounts, (c) having no access to the appropriate ‘digital payment tools’, and/or (d) not having the technical knowhow required for operating them. In spite of the enrolment of millions of “zero-balance accounts” initiated on a war-time footing under Jan Dhan Yojana after Modi’s coming to power, only 60 percent of the 135 crore of Indian population has even namesake bank accounts (many of them are reported to be bogus or benami accounts too).In the event of India moving to a full-fledged cashless or digital payments system, the custodians of the entire cash or currency in the country will be big banks or such other financial entities. This will automatically “disenfranchise” those who have no valid bank accounts or those unable to operate such accounts through proper digital tools. That is, when the Modi regime under the guise of “financial inclusion” is engaged in “digitizing citizens” it needs to be understood in effect as an ingenious corporate-fascist agenda of denying citizenship itself to the marginalized and oppressed. Therefore, at a time when 30 crore Indians (almost equal to the total population of USA) are below the official poverty line and around 50 crore of people having no bank accounts still being outside the banking net, this superimposed cashless project, contrary to the claims of its proponents, is leading to “financial exclusion” and not “financial inclusion”.
Let us see the whole issue of cashless payments from an international perspective too. That the US has already reached saturation regarding the availability of smart phones with iPhone and Android facilities and credit/debit cards is a widely conceived fact today. Moreover, as already noted, the US today still continues(in spite of cut-throat competition from the Chinese digital giant Huawei) to be the biggest source of the digital/software tools such as VISA, Master Card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, Square Cash, which have become indispensable for maintaining “digital imperialism”. Again, Walmart, the US-based biggest MNC, for instance, has its majority holding in the software tool such as Phonepe (as is the case with the Chinese giant Alibaba’s involvement in Paytm).As a result, in the World Digital Competitiveness Ranking, the US holds the top-most position today, and that of Sweden, which is moving towards cashless economy has third ranking in this regard, whereas India’s ranking is 44th among 60 countries. Thus, with all the necessary requirements, US is most favourably situated for embracing total digital payments. A study conducted by the Tuft University and published in May 2016 Issue of Harvard Business Review had unequivocally identified US, Japan, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Czech Republic, Brazil and China in that order as ideally placed on account of their technological capabilities and social realities to move towards a cashless situation. No doubt, as already mentioned, the formation of corporate-sponsored “Better than Cash Alliance” with its slogan “war against cash” took place in the US precisely in this context.
However, public opinion in the US from the very beginning has been vehemently against this pro-corporate cashless initiative. Upholding people’s sentiments, ten US states— Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York State, Washington State, Oregon, Rhode Island, Chicago, Philadelphia and California (whose GDP of $ 2.7 trillion with a population of 4 crore is equal to that of India with a population of 135 crore)—under the label “States for Cash” have enacted stringent laws with punitive measures against traders insisting on cashless payments. For example, in New Jersey, for the first violation of the law (i.e., forcing digital transfers), the fine is $ 2500 and for second violation the fine will be doubled to $5,000 (around Rs. 3.5 lac). Other states like California also have passed similar laws with criminal procedures and varying degrees of punishment. According to a New York City Council study, 11 percent of the New York residents does not have bank accounts at all. According to it, the superimposition of a cashless system of payments on the poor, immigrants and elderly who have no bank accounts is outright “disenfranchisement”, especially when the US Constitution does not insist bank account as a criterion for citizenship. In spite of having the highest potential for transforming in to cashless economy, most of the people in US prefer cash payments and more than 55 percent of transactions in the US are still under denominations of $ 10. In fact, this is the context that prompted the well-known online portal USA Today to declare “Cash is still King in USA”. The annual per capita digital transactions in the US is 474 compared with just 22 in India where the Modi regime totally cut off from concrete realities is shamelessly pursuing the cashless dream!
Specific Issues Concerning India’s Cyber Security
Issues connected with cyber security are of particular relevance when it comes to the case of India. According to cyber experts, digital flows/transfers with barely two decades of history are still like an unchartered territory. A recent BBC Report (bbc.com/worklife-101), has also pointed out the risks involved in the “payment over the cloud” and highlighted the need for proper studies on this emerging field. Serious attention is required regarding the issue of privacy. Of all digital dealings, financial transactions are subjected to highest level of surveillance and information manipulation not only by governments but also by private operators. While the rich and the powerful can ensure their privacy through extra payments, political activists and common people are always vulnerable and at the receiving end.
Cybercrimes and hacking connected with financial transactions are notorious. In this realm, India’s position is the worst. A 2015 Interpol Report situates India as having the lowest cyber security in the world. In that year, the Interpol noted around 111000 “violations” or “transgressions” in Indian cyber space. Assocham has endorsed these findings in a recent study and warned about more worries for India’s digital transactions in the near future. According to Chipset manufacturer Qualcomm, India’s hardware security is not at all compatible with digitization. It also points out how hackers can easily steal users’ passwords from existing Android models. On November 15, 2019, the BBC News has released the revealing news of RBI seeking the help of “Group-IB” a Singapore-based cyber security agency to investigate the “status” of over 13 lakh Indian debit cards whose data base might have been stolen. Ironically, this RBI decision to investigate into India’s digital payments came in October 2019 when its Notification on cashless project was also released.
Still more shocking is a recent revelation made by “Group-IB” itself (The Hindu, February 8, 2020, Kochi Edition, p. 12) regarding the display of 461976 Indian card information for sale in a notorious “dark net” called “Joker’s Stash”! This hacking was possible solely because of the fragile nature of India’s cyberspace. The information leaked includes card numbers, their expiry dates, CVV / CVC codes, cardholder names, emails, phone numbers and addresses. As estimated by “Group-IB”, these data base stolen probably from PoS terminals is worth over Rs 30 crore in the cyber market. Yet another case is regarding the recent leakage through social media of passwords and e-mail ID of around 30000 customers from Flipkart’s e-wallet. Personal details hacked thus were later put on the website ‘Throbin’. Another instance pertains to a recent hacking of e-mail accounts of almost 3000 government officials at ISRO, IGCAR (Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research), BARC and SEBI. According to analysts, these are only tip of the iceberg. Cyber violations in India where majority of victims are common people are less reported. For instance, millions and millions of informal and unorganized workers who migrate across different states within India and who are forced to use debit cards are often victims of cyber-security breaches. According to a BBC Report, it is the first-time users of net transfer in India who are facing major financial frauds. Amidst such reports which have become frequent, the obscurantist saffron regime’s rhetoric on digitization without even having minimum cyber security arrangement has already exposed it before all the well-meaning people the world over.
The Sorry State of India’s Digital Infrastructure
As already mentioned, compared with other Asian countries, India is far behind in terms of digital infrastructure. It was fully exposed during the critical days of Demonetization when many people all over the country were died standing on the queue before ATMs and banks. Of course, in a cashless situation, the existing ATMs will have to be recalibrated as ‘digital facilitation points’, an aspect noted earlier. In spite of that, even in the case of per capita availability of ATMs, India’s position is among the lowest, even below that of the so called “least developed countries” as defined by World Bank. For instance, in the case of BRICS countries, Russia with 184 per capita ATMs ranks one, Brazil second (107), China third (81) and South Africa fourth (68), while India has only 17 ATMs per capita. And over the past three years, on account of bank-mergers and consequent closure of branches mainly in rural areas, the number of ATMS in India has declined further.
However, coming to the case of swiping or PoS machines (terminals) which are indispensable for cashless purchases and transactions, Indian situation is too pathetic. Though the availability of PoS machines in India has increased from around 14 lac during December 2016 to 35 lac as of now, a country with 135 crore of people, this is meagre compared to international standards. Regarding PoS machines, from the very beginning, India has been abjectly depending on China. Two Chinese companies, Veriphone and Ingenica are the sole suppliers of PoS machines for India. During the years following Demonetization, and in view of Modi’s ‘cashless dream’, China is reported to have increased the production of PoS machines by around 600 percent, even as there is no dearth of rhetoric associated with ‘Make in India’. A Chinese PoS machine that simultaneously performs various functions such as billing, accounting, data storage, and money transfer on an average costs Rs. 5 lac. Though a cashless economy inevitably eliminates vast-majority of petti and small retail traders as it would be impossible for them to bear the cost of installing PoS machines, even the financial burden (which will be put on the backs of consumers in the form service charges) on the average merchant would be unbearable. Though there are reports on some Indian companies in Bangalore (e.g., ZkTeco) producing PoS machines, their efficiency and capability compared with Chinese machines are reported to below standard. Thus, the much trumpeted ‘Make in India’ itself has now transformed into ‘Made in China’. It is often said that Modi has to fulfill his cashless dream by totally depending on the mutually contending two biggest imperialist powers in the world; on the US for all the software components and on China for the hardware.
Along with cyber security, in the concrete case of uninterrupted and efficient power supply, download speed, bandwidth availability and server capacity, India lags much behind even the neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In terms of the Digital Networking Index based on a recent survey of 139 countries, India’s rank is 91 whereas, the same is still lower at 114 when it comes to the case of Basic Infrastructure Digital Transactions Index, as measured by international agencies. As reported by speedtest.net in December 2019, regarding mobile internet speeds of countries, India ranks 128th in the list of 140 countries. Further, the download speed of India is the lowest among BRICS countries at 11.46 Mbps (Megabits per second), while the world average is 32.01 (the highest speed is 103.18 which is in South Korea).
Given this extreme backwardness of India’s digital infrastructure and technology, the neoliberal advisers of Modi including Nilekani have suggested a “leap-frog” to overcome such hurdles for achieving the cashless dream. For instance, though the number of mobile phones in India comes to around 100 crore, according estimates, only 25 percent of the population has smart phones useful for digital payments. Hence the alternative suggested is to link Aadhar with BHIM and thereby develop BHIM Aadhar Pay as the main digital tool in the move towards digitization. Another suggestion is to make use of the new developments in digital technology such as “block chain”(capability of storing data as separate blocks as if in a chain) in accomplishing the declared objective.
But these claims have no basis and are only wishful thinking in view of India’s dismal experience with similar experiments in recent times. A best example is that of GST (Goods and Services Tax), which in many respects is a “digital tax”, that makes use of digital technology. Like the Catalyst-sponsored cashless project being super-imposed on India, the entire blueprint of GST that totally undermined the federal character of Indian Constitution itself was also designed by imperialist think-tanks. GST being the biggest post-war neoliberal tax reform, various institutions and agencies such as OECD, UNDP, IMF, World Bank, WTO, Price waterhouse Coopers (PwC), KPMG, Deloitte, Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB), Forum for Tax Administration (FTA), etc. have actively coordinated their work with India’s National Institute of Public Finance and Policy to design it. All stakeholders including traders can become part of the GST regime only by registering themselves with the GSTN and can pay taxes only through its software. However here too, on account of the extreme inefficiency and backwardness of India’s digital/software technology the GST experiment is in severe crisis today. Due to software malfunctioning, according to reports, more than 38 lac merchants across India are yet to submit their GST returns for the preceding year. In the specific case of the tiny state of Kerala, as of January31, 2020, only 25 percent of the registered traders has submitted their returns even for the fiscal year 2017-18—an issue directly linked with the non-viability and incompatibility of India’s basic digital technology with the avowed claims of its ruling classes.
Democracy and Freedom in a Cashless Society
Denial of the right to hold cash or currency, the universally accepted and time-tested tool or means for payments is inseparably linked with broader questions of freedom and democracy. Those who have no bank accounts and/or no cash in their accounts and have no access to the essential digital tools and/or not capable of to use them properly are the first to be deprived of their right to life, remain alienated and excluded in a cashless society. As mentioned earlier, digitization, like any other phenomenon is subsumed under class relations and concrete social divisions and the so called “digital divide” or “digital gaps” or “digital relations” arising from superimposition of digital payments will certainly reinforce existing socio-economic inequalities between and within countries and will “disenfranchise” the already deprived “other”. In a cashless economy, those who are not “digital citizens”, or those who are not “digitized” will be deprived of livelihood and basic sustenance and all those fundamental rights associated with ‘citizenship’ in spite of their being formal citizens.
Concrete details coming out from Scandinavian countries like Sweden which are moving towards the goal of cashless society pinpoint to many grass-root level difficulties including the problems faced by rural and elderly people on account of digitization. At a time when people are forced to be alert with many vexed issues of life, keeping the username and password, the ‘life-saving medicine’ in a cashless society always in one’s memory is an added liability. Loss or denial of one’s digital tool (e.g. smart phone) results in loss of one’s many rights associated with citizenship altogether. Why freedom-loving people should shoulder such unnecessary burdens? Digital payments will deprive people not only of their privacy, but even freedom associated with keeping cash with them. These are questions raised by well-meaning people even in countries like US which have the potential in terms digital technology for embracing cashless transactions.
Democracy giving way for Corporatocracy?
Obviously, cashless society is one where banks (and other financial entities) are the custodian of the entire currency stock in the country. This takes place under neoliberal corporatization, when banks are becoming the supreme arbiter or the decisive force in the economy. Today all socio-economic sectors are apparently becoming sub-structures of the bank-led financial superstructure that encompasses more than 90 percent of the entire economic activities. In this epoch, therefore, the ongoing close integration between corporate-led banks and the state regimes is the material basis of emerging neo-fascism everywhere. In a digitized and cashless economic system, real economic power will be in the hands of a few banking monopolies who control the entire monetary stock, the software giants and internet providers who provide the digital tools together with the neoliberal state. No wonder, ever since the advent of digitization, the biggest MNCs and billionaires have been digital-software giants or companies close to them. As is obvious, this directly results from the galloping profits especially from the digital-financial sphere. While there is no specific cost for physical cash/currency transfer/transaction among people, in a cashless economy, every swiping or digital transfer leads to a corresponding deduction in the form of service charge / fee/commission from the bank account of those involved. For instance, when any number of physical exchange of a hundred rupee note among persons can be done cost-free, the same through digital transaction will involve substantial deduction at every stage that directly goes into corporate coffers.
Very revealingly, Thomas Jefferson who drafted the US Constitution was reported to have warned in 1802 that banks controlling currency on account of their power to deprive people of their wealth would be more dangerous than standing armies. Later, in the “financial crash” of 1929 that led to the Great depression, this terribly destructive power of banks came to the fore such that,as part of New Deal, the Roosevelt government was forced to enact the Glass-Steagall Act for controlling bank-led speculation. Though controls were imposed on banks during the Keynesian welfare period that lasted till the early 1970s, with the collapse of Keynesianism and onset of neo-liberalism, all controls on banks have been taken away. In the global financial crisis (“sub-prime crisis”)of 2008, the dangerous role of banks was once again exposed more than ever. But unlike the 1930s, in the absence of countervailing forces capable of resisting the most reactionary offensive from monopoly banks and finance capitalists, merging with the corporate interests of neo-fascist regimes, banking monopolies and financial corporations notorious for financial frauds and swindles are coming to the centre-stage of economic policy-making today. In this context, digitization and cashless transactions have imparted a new dimension to the unhindered power of banks. As people are becoming captives of bank-controlled digital finance having transnational dimensions, democracy is giving way to corporatocray.
India, a Guinea Pig for Cashless Experiment?
In this context, why the Modi government is so adamant in imposing the cashless project which is totally inappropriate and incompatible with the India’s digital capabilities and social realities is the pertinent question now. As the aforesaid analysis underscores, despite having all the required technological infrastructure and tools necessary for digital transactions, with the exception of a few Scandinavian countries, the reluctance to embrace cashless payments is very strong in most countries of EU, crucial US, and Japan. Not only regarding digital payments, but in the case of other political-economic issues too, these countries are quite unwilling to cast their lot with digitization. Their conspicuous opposition towards EVM-based voting and strong affinity to ballots are noteworthy. This is mainly due to the possibility of manipulating people’s voting preferences through the insertion of malicious software in to EVMs. Another example is that of GST. As mentioned earlier, it is an acknowledged fact that various US-based institutions and agencies were in the forefront of superimposing the neoliberal tax regime of GST over world people. But these agencies have not yet succeeded to convince the federal states in US who are vehemently opposed to a GST regime.
The fact that Modi regime under the cover of its nationalist pretensions has been opening up India for the digital experiments especially of US corporate interests assumes particular significance here. Reports from western sources amply show the manner in which “Better Than Cash Alliance”, Gates Foundation, USAID-led Catalyst and so on have manipulated the Modi regime for superimposing a cashless system in India. For instance, referring to the Demonetization exercise in India, Bill Gates, Head of world’s richest Foundation declared: “It is certainly our goal to make full digitalization happen in the next three years in the large developing countries. We have worked directly with the central bank there (India) over the last three years” (Norberthaering.de/en/war-on-cash/2-years-demonetisation). For carrying out this task, Nachiket Mor, Head of Gates Foundation in India actively worked as a member of the Central Board of the RBI. More information on how under the pliable Modi government India has been made a “guinea pig” by US agencies for cashless experiments is already there in the public domain. A Report published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in the aftermath of Demonetization also confirmed how it was a catalyst for transforming India in to a cashless society. Modi’s Digital India program, Report of the High Level Committee led by Nandan Nilekani, RBI Notification on Deepening Digital Payments and the ongoing pilot project in selected Indian districts, etc. should be analyzed in this broader context.
There is a tendency even among well-meaning people to summarily dismiss these ongoing Indian initiatives for a cashless society as an impractical daydream. However, fascism is a specific situation where many an agenda which were considered impossible and impractical in yesteryears become concrete realities today. For instance, a few years back, nobody in India would have thought of religion becoming a criterion for Indian citizenship. Or nobody ever had thought of a ‘’surgical attack” on the Indian people like Demonetization. In fact, an objective reading of contemporary Indian history shall make it amply clear that corporate-saffron fascists in India will go to any extent to appease neoliberal corporate interests, especially those emanating from the US. This calls for a serious evaluation of the pilot project for transforming selected Indian districts into cashless ones and a pan-Indian extension of it thereafter.
Meanwhile, Lead Banks in charge of the districts selected for the cashless experiment are reported to have started their work in close coordination with the district administration of the respective districts. Initiatives for enrolling all those who are outside the banking net are also in full swing. Efforts to install the necessary digital tools like PoS machines in government offices are also going on. Work for involving NGOs, self-help groups, micro-finance institutions, trade organisations and other peoples movements in the cashless project has been started. And an all-out offensive for creating people’s awareness on digital payments is in the offing. Of course, more information on this experiment having far-reaching consequences is still to come. Meanwhile, it is high time on the part of all well-meaning people to have an analysis and understanding on the cashless project in the proper perspective, and thereby enabling all democratic forces to approach this corporate (fascist) agenda in its multi-dimensional manifestations from a people’s perspective.
- Report of the High Level Committee on Deepening of Digital Payments, May 2019 (rbidocs.rbi.org.in)
- Expanding and Deepening of Digital Payments Ecosystem, Reserve Bank of India (rbi.org.in/Scripts/Notification)
- Norbert Haering, “A welt-kept open Secret: Washington is behind India’s brutal experiment of abolishing cash” January 1, 2017 (norberthaering.de)
- Norbert Haering ,”More evidence of early US involvement in Indian de-monetisation”, January 7, 2017 (norberthaering.de)
- Norbert Haering, “Demonetisation in India was a great success—for the Better Than Cash Alliance” (norberthaering.de/en/war-on-cash/2-years-demonetisation)
- “Demonetisation is Catalysing Digital Payments Growth in India”, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, April 12, 2017
- National Bureau of Economic Research, Working paper on Aadhar, https://bit.ly/2T2wSe8
- Global Round-up of the World of Work-worklife101(bbc.com/worklife-101)
- “The US will not be cashless any time soon”, February 2019, Forbes(www.forbes.com)
- “America has technology to go cashless, but too paranoid to do...”, Nov.17, 2016 (www.businessinsider.com)
- IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2018(www.imd.org)
- PJ James, “Demonetisation as a weapon for Biggest Corporate Assault on People”, Red Star, December 2016 (www.cpiml.in)
- PJ James, “Modi Shifts Goalpost as Demonetisation becomes a Fiasco”, Red Star, January 2017 (www.cpiml.in)
- Interpol-Cyber Security (cybersecurityintelligence.com)
15.Bhumika Khatri, “India’s Internet Speeds Growing Much Slower Than Other Countries and That’s a Problem’’ (inc42.com/features/)
- Internet Bandwidth- Country Rankings (the global economy.com); also see, speedtest.net
- “11 Reasons Why Cash is Still King”, USA Today, June 14, 2017 (www.usatoday.com)
- “Cash is Still King in the Digital Era” (money.cnn.com)
- “Better Than Cash Alliance Lauds India’s Push for Digital Payments, Aadhar”, Nov.29, 2019 (livemint.com)
- Harvard Business Review, “60 Countries’ Digital Competitiveness Indexed” (sites.tufts.edu/digitalplanet/hbr)
- Thomas Jefferson on Banks (www.snopes.com)
- “Transforming the digital payments infrastructure”(www.livemint.com) n
CONCERNING new paradigm of development, we already had a
study class in 2013 on this topic. Further in 2015, a detailed and
well researched paper has been written on this by Com. PJ James and
also articles have been written on this by Com. KN Ramachandran and
others. We need not rehash the same articles in this paper for study.
What we intend to do in this paper is concentrate more on what exactly
is it that we mean when we say an alternate paradigm of development. It
is clear from Com. James’ paper that there can be no alternate paradigm
of development in the capitalist system and it will require the creation of
a socialist system to go towards a new paradigm of development. Comrade
KN’s articles have dealt with what was done in the Soviet Union to try and
make a new model of development. Still, we have to reach a concrete
conclusion of what exactly do we mean by a new paradigm of development.
Let us come to more concrete issues. For instance, take minerals.
Minerals are one of the mainstays of the capitalist production system.
They are one of the main raw materials required in the production. While
energy and water are universal to almost all production under capitalism,
minerals (in which we also include crude oil and its derivatives) are also
required in most production activities. The actual figures for mineral
production worldwide show that the production of minerals has gone up
from around 14.8 billion metric tonnes in 2009 to around 17.3 billion metric
tonnes in 2014 – a growth of around 17% in just three years.1 If we look at
the figures for the different minerals for the period from 2011 to 2014,
Bauxite has grown from 228 million tonnes to 260 million tonnes (14%);
Alumina from 84.2 million tonnes to 107.2 million tonnes (27%); primary
aluminium from 41.5 million tonnes to 53 million tonnes(28%); iron ore
from 2.6 billion tonnes to 3.4 billion tonnes (31%); lead from 4.4 million
tonnes to 5.4 million tonnes (23%); phospate rock from 182 million tonnes
to 245 million tonnes (35%). Even the production of coal has gone up
from 7.4 billion tonnes to 8.1 billion tonnes (9%). The production of even
such well controlled minerals like crude petroleum has gone up. In fact,
we can find that production has gone up in almost all minerals especially
since 2009 in an attempt to scrounge out greater profits since the most
recent economic crisis.
The utter rapacious plunder of the earth’s resources by the big
imperialist mining companies have grown to such an extent that there is
no hope of this being sustainable even in the short term. Take Iron Ore. It
is estimated that the total reserves of iron ore worldwide are about 190
billion tonnes5. In 2006 Lester Brown, of the World Watch Institute had
predicted that iron ore would run out in 64 years at the extremely
conservative estimate that production would grow by 2% per year. As
seen above the rate of growth of production between 2011 to 2014 averaged
over 10% per year. At that rate, the world’s iron ore reserves will be
exhausted in a mere 25 years. The same applies to other minerals. Crude
oil resources are estimated to be able to last from 30 to 50 years. Alumina
reserves are estimated at around 32 billion tonnes. The current production
is around 107 million tonnes. In 2011 to 2014, it grew at about 9% per
year on average. At this rate it is expected to be exhausted in less than
All this shows that such production in the mining sector is utterly
unsustainable even in the short term. We will leave the next generation
with a stark world bereft of minerals if we do not mend our ways. As such,
it is required to think of an alternative. Possibly a more efficient system of
recycling all over the world may help in some cases. For instance, even
today, recycled iron ore is more prevalent than new ore in the production
of steel. But this will require centralised planning at the international level
at a scale which can only be achieved under socialism.
Let us consider another resource like water. Water, by itself is still in
such quantities that we can think in terms of infinites. The problem is
with potable water. The production of such water is clearly unsustainable.
Here the problem poses a different problem than exhaustion. Let us look
at the graphic below (next page) :
As we can see, only 2.5% of the water on earth is fresh water. The
other is saline water. Of this 2.5%, only 1.2% (0.03% of the total water on
earth) is surface / other fresh water. Of this only about 24% (0.0072% of
the total water) is in lakes, rivers, swamps and marshes. It is on this
water that all capitalist production usually survives. This shows that there
exists enough water on earth to sustain much higher levels of production.
The problem is to make this water available. How to make, for instance,
sea water possible to use in industrial production? How to use ground
water more efficiently? The technology does exist even today to solve
this problem. All the existing solutions though, use too much energy and
are therefore too “costly”. If we could have cheap and abundant sources
of energy this problem too could be solved. The problem of water then is
essentially a by-product of the problem of energy.
Theoretically, energy exists in a magnitude which makes our needs
less than miniscule. Just the energy coming in solar rays is huge. The
total solar energy absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land
masses is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) per year. In 2002,
this was more energy in one hour than the world used in one year.1 If only
this energy could be harnessed for use in production, it could be a solution
to all our problems. The sun itself is, at todays levels of energy
requirements, a sustainable source of energy. Using solar energy also
has other benefits. It is a clean source of energy and harnessing this
energy to other uses will lower global warming. But that is not the only
source available. There are other sources of energy which we have to
explore much more. There is tidal energy which is basically generated by
the gravitational pull of the moon. Nuclear energy, though theoretically
usable is today an unsafe, unclean and costly source of energy. More
research must be put into making it a feasible source of energy.
At the other end is the actual rate of consumption. Today we can see
that the rate of consumption is too great to be sustained. If the whole
world was to consume food grains at the rate at which American citizens
consume them, then we would need four earths just to grow sufficient
foodgrain to sustain such consumption. At the same time, obesity is
growing in the US and is an alarming cause of concern, including infant
obesity. Heart disease is the single main cause of death. In short,
Americans are consuming too much and paying the price by dying of
Our concern is, what is causing humans to hurtle in this mindless
fashion towards oblivion? We have to change our patterns of production
and of consumption. We have to treat the earth and its resources, including
human resources as precious objects and regulate their use. One could
argue that this use is regulated even today in different ways. Different
taxes, tariffs and penalties are levied just for such regulation. Then why
are we still hurtling towards destruction as all indices show? Obviously
there is something wrong in the way in which such use of human resources
is being regulated. How can we change this?
Our first paper on the environmental question in 2013 had put forward
some directions. It said:
- More direct and proximate democratic processes for taking all
decisions on production;
- Free information to all including scientific papers in simple
language being made available for all;
- Fight against religion, superstition, etc. Fight against patriarchy,
brahminism, regional and language hegemonism, etc.
- Sustainable development is the only path – Man as a part of
nature and not Man vs. Nature as the basis of development.
It had talked of these principles being put forward, not as an alternative
to the struggle for socialism but as being in addition to the socialist
principles. In fact, these principles could only be achieved under socialism.
The regulation of production, distribution and consumption under
capitalism is based on the profit motive. The whole of capitalism works
on the principle that the rate of profit in society must increase for society
to prosper or even to sustain. Capitalism is, therefore, essentially short
sighted. If profits are down, if larger profits can be made by “fracking” for
the production of shale oil in the immediate run, then though fracking will
endanger the sustainability of the earth and its environment in the long
run, capitalism will invest in fracking. If the sustainability of profits requires
that more Coca-cola must be sold, then society will be bombarded with
advertisements for coca-cola, no matter what the ill effects in the long
run. Capitalism does not look at the sustainability of the earth and its
environment in the long run, it only looks at the sustainability of profits in
the immediate run. At a certain stage, both these are bound to be at
odds. As Com. James put in his paper, there is an immediate need for
the de-commodification of nature and of labour.
It is not as if capitalism was always bad for the earth and the
environment. At a certain stage of development, capitalism was the only
way forward for the earth. It broke the stranglehold of the monarchs and
the aristocracy over the earth, its produce and over the people. It brought
all of these onto the market place. The market as a regulatory mechanism
which constantly regulated production and consumption of commodities
was a wonderful advance which allowed mankind to advance from the age
of bullock carts to the age of space travel in just a few centuries. But
today, capitalism is facing recurrent economic crises. To recover from
such crises, it has to use quick and dangerous “fixes” to immediately
To change this method is not as easy as it seems. The whole earth
today is based on certain infrastructures. These infrastructures pervade
our very way of life upto the minutest degree. For instance, there are
petrol pumps, in every street. If we have to give up fossil fuels, not only
every car, but every petrol pump and every oil pipeline on earth will become
redundant. It is the powers that control such petrol pumps, the manufacture
of cars and the construction of such pipelines who are bound to resist the
change. They have a vested interest in retaining the status quo, no matter
the consequences. It is these very same powers, today, who enjoy
tremendous clout in governments all over the world. They control
governments rather than the other way around.
We have to fight for a new system of regulation. We have to fight for
a system of regulation where the people affected by the use of certain
products will be able to take the decisions on their production. This involves
changes in the system of organisation of society itself. We have to fight
for a system of regulation where the people taking such decision on their
own environment will be able to take a long term view. Where they will be
well informed on the consequences of their decisions. Where they will
not be influenced by factors like religion, caste, language, etc. In short,
we have to fight for a truly democratic society. This is what the new
socialist society will be like. Today, the technology to allow for such
democracy exists. Information is freely available and can be transmitted
and disseminated easily. People’s opinions can be easily polled. We
can easily aim for a new form of democracy where people can directly
take decisions on all matters that affect them.
One more question remains, this new system of organisation for
production will entail changes which will affect not only the big corporations
who will lose not just their profits but their whole infrastructure but will
also affect the workers. One might say that the petrol pump owners losing
his assets can be justified on the basis of what he has already made as
profits. What of the workers at the petrol pump? If mining must be stopped,
what of the mining workers? Actually this can also be clearly settled. All
mining workers be given an appropriate rehabilitation package. This means
that they should be paid their wages till the age of retirement or till they
find better employment. This is not unfeasible. The number of mining
workers all over the world are estimated to be around 3.7 million. To be
precise, the ILO reported that there were 1.5 million people employed in
the mining sector in 2010 in the developed countries and 2.2 million people
in the developing / emerging nations.
On the other hand the profits of the major mining companies in the
year 2010 were $110 billion ($132 billion in 2011). If only one year’s profit
of these corporations are given to the workers they will have an average of
$ 30000 to $ 35000 each. A simple calculation will show that this amount,
if invested at 8% per year, will be sufficient to pay each worker $ 300
each with an increment of 5% per annum for around 20 to 25 years with
sufficient amounts left over to provide for terminal dues. This will be more
than the wages paid to workers in most of the neo-colonial countries. To
pay miners in advanced countries, some more will be required. In other
words, the amount of just a few year’s profits of these massive mining
companies, can suffice to rehabilitate all the mining workers all over the
world by continuing their wages till they find better employment.
- The earth and the environment can no more take the level of
exploitation that we are subjecting it to;
- Capitalism today is more concerned with the sustainability
of its immediate profits and not with the sustainability of the earth
and of mankind on this earth;
- We have to create a system where nature and labour are no
more commodities but are seen as resources to be regulated in a
- Such a system will have to be based on a more democratic
organisation of society where people are directly involved in decision
making for matters concerning them;
- Such a system is today feasible with the technology available
for the dissemination of information and the polling of opinions;
- The creation of such a system will involve resistance from
forces that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo;
- While creating such a system we have to appropriate from
the big industries immediately a sufficient amount to pay for the
rehabilitation of all who are displaced by the change.
We will have to refine and further develop all the above points in
actual practice but these seem to be the only way to allow for this earth
and human society to exist beyond a few decades from today.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo is visiting India with a basketful of offers to resolve the trade crisis that has ripened between two of the major world economies and also to convert India into a total satellite state of the US by cajoling New Delhi out of its existing trade relations with Russia, the arch-rival of the US in its quest for global imperialist hegemony. Though the US, especially the Donald Trump regime, considers India a “near ally” and is generous in selling high-grade military hardware and technology to it, there is still a trust deficit due to India’s reluctance to abruptly end its ties with Moscow, though India stopped importing oil from Iran and Venezuela following the US’s diktat.
Yet, to budge India, Trump is not shy in flexing the trade muscles. On 5 June 2019, Trump formally removed India from the list of beneficiary developing country for purposes of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) (19 U.S.C. 2461 et seq.). Trump accused India of not allowing the US corporations enough access to its markets and resources, though it’s mostly the US corporate entities that have kept the Indian market and raw material sources hostage. According to the Presidential decree: “Pursuant to section 502(d)(1) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (the “1974 Act”) (19 U.S.C. 2462(d)(1)), the President may withdraw, suspend, or limit the application of the duty-free treatment accorded under the GSP with respect to any beneficiary developing country.”
“Section 502(c)(4) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2462(c)(4)) provides that, in determining whether to designate any country as a beneficiary developing country, the President shall take into account, among other factors, the extent to which such country has assured the United States that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to the markets and basic commodity resources of such country and the extent to which such country has assured the United States that it will refrain from engaging in unreasonable export practices.”
Though the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) regime obliged the US’s diktat on ending oil imports from Iran, despite the huge benefits of credit facility and timely delivery from Tehran that the Indian companies enjoyed, and also on cutting oil imports from Venezuela, which is also on the radar of the US occupation programme, Washington DC has been pressing New Delhi for more, especially to ensure that the ties with Moscow are loosened and existing plans of India to buy S-300 air defence systems from Russia are scrapped.
As Indian rulers, who also serve Moscow in return of dimes, didn’t severe defence and trade ties following Trump’s diktat, the US government took the step of removing India from the GSP. The charge of India not allowing the US equitable and reasonable access to its markets and basic commodity resources is a false and subjective charge, as following the embracing of the neo-liberal economic regime by India, it’s the US which has benefitted the most.
The removal of India from the GSP may have only affected $190 million worth exports, however, it’s mostly the small and medium-scale export-oriented enterprises that have been hit. The collective anger of these industries against the US’s arbitrary action to end the duty-free imports got the government moving. After giving a meek response on the GSP ouster, the Modi regime finally mustered the courage to approach the issue half-heartedly. The Modi regime decided to impose long-pending retaliatory tariffs on 29 US products on 14 June 2019. Though this imposition of the tariffs on 29 US products is shown as a retaliatory step, however, it’s not so. The issue of imposing the tariff was as old as one year, since when the Indian government has been deliberating on the issue. It’s unlikely to affect the trade volume and the benefits that the US and its big corporations enjoy in India, and their exploitation of Indian resources and labour will continue unbridled.
Pompeo, who is showing the signs of the US government’s willingness to talk to India over trade, is actually not coming to India to resolve the deadlock created over Trump kicking out India from the GSP, rather, his endeavour is to secure the US’s tight grip over the policies made by the new Modi regime in terms of economy and military. Pentagon has already declared the Indo-Pacific a “priority theatre” and it’s going to use the region, in coalition with India, to build up a war theatre against Iran, China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Isolating the Chinese and Russian influence in the region is also one of the US’s goals, with which Indian expansionist Hindutva fascist regime finds complete resonance.
The Trump regime is determined to start an escalation over Iran in the next few days and having India on its side, apart from countries the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Zionist Israel, will be of added advantage. So far, the US has already started military adventurism targeting Iran, and India’s support, especially under the LEMOA, will become quite crucial in its mission to topple the government of Iran and install a Saudi Arabian-Zionist Israeli puppet regime in its place.
How will India react to a war situation in the Persian Gulf, how better India can help its master — the US imperialism — as a loyal lackey during a war, and how better India can micromanage the logistical support for the US troops and military installations in its territory will become crucial pointers for the US before it starts its Iran aggression with the support of the Zionist Israelis and the Wahhabi Saudi Arabs. The US knows well that Russia, which is continuously increasing its influence in the region, in association with China, will play an important role in case of an Iran war. Russia is one of the closest partners of Iran and has vested interests in the country. It’s likely that Moscow will arm Tehran to the teeth and support it indirectly to deal with the threat posed by the US-lead coalition against it. Pompeo wants Indian help in the forthcoming war and in return, he is going to promise India more US military support to reassert hegemony over the Indian Ocean to isolate China and wean away allies from it.
The entire tour of Pompeo will be centred around turning India into a neo-colony of the US from its existing semi-colonial status, and establishment of the US’s monopolistic hegemony over India’s politics, economy, diplomacy and military affairs as now that the Modi regime has got a second term and an absolute majority to change the country’s Constitution and make it an official protege of the US imperialism.
For the democratic, progressive, anti-fascist and anti-imperialist forces, the visit of Pompeo and his engagement with the Modi regime is a threat posed to India’s sovereignty and its independence in terms of foreign policy, which subsequent governments have gradually sold to the US and its allies. It’s time to protest against Pompeo, the imperialist scum, and his master, the megalomaniac dictator Trump, who are keen to subjugate the people of India under an unapologetic neo-colonial regime. To protect India from the US imperialism, it’s mandatory to fight against the tyrannical Hindutva fascist Modi regime, which is determined to sell the remnants of Indian sovereignty to Washington. Without defeating the Hindutva fascist camp and its corporate-feudal support base, it won’t be possible to thwart the conspiracies hatched by the Trump regime and executed by Pompeo’s India visit. The more the democratic and anti-imperialist forces delay taking action, the severe will be the consequences of a notorious US imperialist agenda.
(Paper presented by comrade Pravin Nadkar, CPI(ML) Maharashtra, at a seminar held by CPI(ML) Red Star at New Delhi on 2nd March 2019 on occasion of 100 year of formation of Communist International)
Greetings to all comrades engaged in the task of generalising the revolutionary experience of the working people in the interest of the world revolution. Since Feb, 1848 when the Communist Manifesto was published, the possessing classes of the world recognised the proletariat to be their mortal enemy. Subsequent to the declaration of the communist manifesto, working class leaders took initiatives to form the first international to put the theoretical formulation of the document in practice. The movement from then on has struggled to proceeded internationally along the path indicated by the Manifesto of the Communist Party.
As the revolutionary movement advanced with the spread of proletarian consciousness among the international working class, Capitalist strategy to deal with the development of revolutionary situation in the world was to corrupt the working class consciousness with the promise of higher standards of living, especially so, in Europe. This was possible due to vast amount of resources at their disposal from the exploitation of the third world countries. An illusion was thus created that it was possible for the working class to improve their standards of living without indulging in a class struggle. This illusion led to downplaying the need for the international solidarity of the working class. The working class was thus kept away from drawing inspiration from the socialist model. Their proletarian consciousness was blunted with false consciousness. An attempt was made to legitimise the existence of the class divisions and inequality in the working class world view. This trend also had its corroding influence on the policies of various left forces in the international communist camp.
The contemporary post modernist theories expounded by the bourgeois intellectuals describe the new period of globalisation as end of imperialism and describe the present era as post imperialist. Liberal vision of human values, democracy etc are sought to be replaced once again with Neoliberal aspirational model which is insular to the norms of social justice. Since 1971 President Nixon started printing money without its equivalent value covered by gold reserves or with goods produced and started the strategy of flooding the private financial markets with huge amounts. This fake money temporarily created an illusion of prosperous economy. How ever their efforts to implement this strategy is now drawing a flak as the rich countries are on the edge of economic disaster. They are therefore forced to cut down the expenditure on welfare systems, medical systems etc. Imperialist world is facing the problem of unemployment and inequality in earnings like never before. Regional wars promoted by them have forced the problem of illegal migrants in their countries. After the financial bubble busted in 2008, today we have Brexit, yellow vests and other such movements denoting the failure of the strategy of the bourgeoisie to pacify the working class. Class contradictions are once again sharpening in the countries of the Imperialist world. Trade wars have started among the imperialist countries denoting the intensification of contradictions among the imperialist powers. As proven by the history, trade wars often lead to actual wars. The imperialist countries are competing to dominate the global energy sectors, technological systems and financial systems. Threat to world peace has thus become eminent. This situation once again demands a common working class strategy to oppose wars initiated by the war mongers of imperialism.
The mightiest imperialist power like USA has been forced to support its economy with tax cuts, debts, deficits and trade wars. USA has 50% of worlds defence forces at their disposal. It is using its military power to coerce North Korea to open its markets for America. It is also dictating its terms for regime change in Venezuela, Syria, and other countries of the world for their hegemonic goals. They are taking steps against the international economic, political and defence interests of China and Russia. America first policy is an open declaration of the denial of leadership role of the USA as a promoter of a social order based on the much talked about bourgeois liberal democracy. Imperialist global order has clearly failed in its stated objective of global equality, prosperity, Democracy and Freedom. This situation calls upon the working class to once again propagate the socialist alternative and show the world that socialism is inevitable. We need to take it up as an international task to propagate Marxism and promote socialist alternative for the world social order.
Since the beginning of the international initiative of the communists, the world proletariat has witnessed alternating periods of success and decline. Communists struggled to cleanse the movement of all kinds of left and right wing deviations and opportunism historically and till today ,that struggle continues. Victory of the Soviet revolution in 1917 proved the world that the dream of socialism based on communist principles was not merely utopian. The formulation about nations and oppressed people of the world to fight imperialism by launching an international struggle for socialism during the First Congress of the Third International was path breaking contribution for the struggle of the working class. The subsequent revolutions in the Asian countries proved the relevance of the communist ideology and politics for the third world countries as well. The world wide influence of socialism in countries of Latin America, Africa, Asia etc in fifties and sixties underlines the inherent international character of the international communist movement. The international coordination and leadership of the Communist International from 1919 till its dissolution in 1943 clearly played a positive role in the world wide success of the movement during that period.
Third International by name Comintern was formed as association of national communist parties in 1919. It’s stated purpose was the promotion of world revolution. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics came into existence on Dec 30, 1922. Even though it proved the correctness of the thesis that socialism can be established in one country without its simultaneous establishment at the international level, it was necessary to link its existence to the world wide movement for socialism. A united struggle with forces of socialism at the international level against Capitalism was the need of the hour at that time. The defence of the socialist state was inseparably linked to the establishment of Communist Parties with deep roots among the masses of their countries.
The aim of COMINTERN was to promote class war internationally and to convert the imperialist war into civil wars in other countries in order to further the cause of world revolution. That is why Communist International was built as a “World party of Socialist revolution”. The International made its decisions on the basis of democratic centralism. However in 1935 it adopted a resolution aimed at non interference in the internal affairs of the fraternal parties. In the 1935 resolution, the Executive Committee also decided to shift focus of its work to formulating the basic political and tactical lines for the international workers’ movement. After that it continued to exist for a few years and developed the Anti-Fascist United Front. In June 1943, with the outbreak of the Soviet-German war, the Communist International was dissolved.
The struggle of the Indian communist movement is for establishing an economic and political rule, free from imperialist hegemony and feudal fetters but we must also act in the interest of the international proletarian class as a whole. As mentioned in the Communist Manifesto, “In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.” As the communists are considered to be politically the most advanced and resolute section of the working class, they are supposed to have a deeper and factual understanding of the conditions of the movement and the line of march in accordance with it. Simple solidarity of workers irrespective of their nationality in their day to day political and economic struggles is not enough to deliver a fatal blow to international capitalism. On a higher level of political consciousness, workers have often supported the revolutionary struggles of workers and oppressed peoples throughout the world. The past achievements in establishing socialist states in various countries of the word have provided ample evidence of this practice.
Present day Government in India is making use of political Hindutva to win over the vast toiling masses in India over the side of corporate capitalism against the national as well as international interests of the proletariat. The revolutionary left has become the target of Governments authoritarian policies. M-L movement in India is facing severe repression in areas of peoples struggle. Dalit movement is being hijacked by the agents of reactionary regimes. Gender rights movement is being stigmatised as alien to Hindu culture. War hysteria against Pakistan is at its peak. Hyper-nationalism is the major theme for the media under the influence of the Neo-conservatives. The left movement in India has not been able to fight these attempts effectively.
The revisionist left is caught up in the compulsions of Parliamentary politics to go beyond the line of sloganeering and shedding tears against the saffronization of politics to be able to draw the broad masses of toiling sections on the streets to fight political Hindutva in action. The revolutionary left too is very much fragmented to emerge as principal opposition to the political Hindutva and win over the working class decisively on the side of truly national, secular, democratic and progressive front.
The left sectarian sections among the Marxist-Leninist movement are also unable to engage the working class in such a struggle due to their scant regard for the mass line of utilising the democratic space in the given situation to fight reactionary politics. There is also a politics of romanticising the tribal and peasant Guerrilla struggles and assigning a role of mere spectator to the actual working class in India. Their politics prevents them from organising them widely in open mass and party organisations. We need to rise above all these differences among the revolutionary left and unite the masses for the unity of the working class in India. This should be our primary task in the interest of the International working class movement in present Indian situation.
Since the world wide downfall of the socialist states, the perception of the new world order has changed from proletarian internationalism to capitalist globalisation. Social democratic states in Europe are no more hiding behind the garb of socialistic values. So called socialist states like China, Vietnam etc are struggling to find a place of prestige to fit in the new capitalist world order. The international institutions like IMF, WTO, UN, EU, NATO etc. are serving the interests of the corporate capitalism globally and creating impediments in the way of emancipation of labour. This is being done theoretically in the ideological sphere with the discourse about post truth and politically by supporting the Neo conservative forces internationally. The task of conquering the political power in the new conditions has once again become of utmost importance to the international proletariat. It is an arduous task, but not impossible because even today, we are reminded of the of words of Marx about the working class in his inaugural address of the first international held in 1864;
“One element of success they possess - numbers, but numbers weigh in the balance only if united by combination and led by knowledge. Past experience has shown how disregard of that bond of brotherhood which ought to exist between the workmen of different countries and incite them to stand firmly by each other in all their struggles for emancipation, will be chastised by the common discomfiture of their incoherent efforts. This thought prompted the workingmen of different countries assembled on September 28, 1864, in public meeting at St Martins Hall, to found the international association.”
The international Working men’s Association (IWA), the first communist international (1864-1876), was formed aimed at uniting a variety of different left-wing socialist, communist and anarchist groups and trade unions that were based on working class and class struggle. At this stage there was no revolutionary communist party to claim its role of leadership of this association. As the name suggests it was an association of many divided labour movements and individuals committed to class struggle in each country.
It is stated in the 7th point of general rules, October 1864, that … “Since the success of the workingmen’s movement in each country cannot be secured but by the power of union and combination, while, on the other hand, the usefulness of the International General Council must greatly depend on the circumstance whether it has to deal with a few national centres of workingmen’s associations, or with a great number of small and disconnected local societies – the members of the International Association shall use their utmost efforts to combine the disconnected workingmen’s societies of their respective countries into national bodies, represented by central national organs. It is self-understood, however, that the appliance of this rule will depend upon the peculiar laws of each country, and that, apart from legal obstacles, no independent local society shall be precluded from corresponding directly with the General Council.”
The task of establishing a common united platform of diverse revolutionary forces committed to working class interests and class struggle in a given country has been underlined in this rule. The general council has also kept its door open to individual fractions from the given country for a direct interaction with itself. It shows a non sectarian approach for unification of forces of class struggle. In the absence of a singular working class organisation qualified to represent the class struggle in a particular country, this rule made it possible to ensure participation of the combined forces of the working class in the interest of the united international proletarian struggle. This task of uniting the working class forces at the national level has been highlighted for the effective functioning of the General Council at the international level. Thus the process of building the international is conceptualised to begin at the country level itself.
In the present conditions of revolutionary working class movement in India as well as internationally, this approach is very much useful in the process of building up a communist international capable of leading the world revolution. The building up a world socialist international party is still a distant dream and necessity at the same time. n