A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 16, No. 50, 03 – 09 DECEMBER 2013
Obama's Iran Deal: Washington Finds another War Unaffordable
All these events and developments have lessons and messages for India's foreign policy. Let us take the Commonwealth summit for example. Quite understandably, there was tremendous mass opposition in Tamil Nadu against India's participation in the summit. Sections of democratic opinion elsewhere in the country also wanted New Delhi to stay away from the Colombo summit to press for a credible international probe into the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan state. The UPA government chose an opportunist middle path of sending the external affairs minister to Colombo while the Prime Minister stayed away. The message that got conveyed was that India had to respect the overwhelming sentiment of Indian Tamils and not that there must be a probe into war crimes coupled with effective post-war rehabilitation of Sri Lankan Tamils.
The issue of war crimes however overshadowed and dominated the Colombo summit, and ironically it was the British Prime Minister David Cameron whose proposal for military intervention in Syria was defeated in the House of Commons and whose predecessors were notoriously complicit in war crimes perpetrated in Iraq and Afghanistan by US and its allies, who emerged as the champion of the campaign against war-crimes with his widely publicised visit to Jaffna and interaction with war survivors. The Indian policy response to war crimes in Sri Lanka remains muted and constrained, partly because of the legacy of extreme fluctuations in Indian position vis-a-vis the Sri Lankan Tamil question and partly because of India's own shocking human rights record in Kashmir and North-East.
India's immediate northern neighbour Nepal, had a remarkably quiet and peaceful election even though the breakaway Maoist group had vowed not only to boycott but resist the elections. The results show a major decline in the strength of the Maoists who had swept the polls only five years ago. From the peak of 120 seats won in April 2008, the Maoist tally dwindled to 26, and their vote share too dropped dramatically from 30% (3.1m) to 15% (1.4m). The vote shares of the Nepali Congress and CPN(UML) both rose marginally, but in terms of seats Nepali Congress led the tally with 105 seats with CPN(UML) finishing second with 91 seats.
The Maoists have complained about various irregularities and ordered an 'internal probe', but there can be no denying the fact that they have squandered the gains and goodwill they had achieved in the process of abolition of the monarchy, and the present elections reflect an unmistakable mass disillusionment with and desertion from the Maoist fold. The Maoist plank that a constitution could only be ensured by ensuring 2/3rd majority for Maoists has evidently not cut ice with the people. The Maoists frittered away the initial advantage they had got by ignoring the core agenda of constitution-making and instead getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty of rehabilitation of Maoist cadres. Corruption and other allegations followed and they lost their appeal and initiative.
While the Maoists fell from their high pedestal, UML recovered some lost ground and regained its erstwhile position as the leading party of the Left. In spite of little progress in constitution-making and several missed deadlines, it is reassuring to note that there is no revival of royalist forces in Nepal. But the Nepali Congress, the old bourgeois party of Nepal which did not play much of a role in the popular upsurge that overthrew the monarchy in Nepal has now occupied the number one political slot. The coming years will be years of close contention between the Nepali communists and the Nepali Congress and it will be interesting to see how the communists handle this contention and mobilise the positive democratic aspirations and energy of the people to carry Nepal forward.
The biggest development has been the deal between Iran and US and other big powers. Even though it is an interim accord and tough negotiations will now go on over the next six months to give it the shape of an agreement, it has come as a welcome breather for Iran and it has also signalled the fact that the US could not possibly afford another war and that the people in advanced capitalist countries would not brook war-mongering while the global recession was busy eating jobs and eroding wages. After Syria, the Iran deal signals another moral victory for the international anti-war campaign. India must now revive the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project and stop serving US foreign policy goals in Asia.
While welcoming American retreat on Syria and Iran – Obama seems to have rediscovered the merits of diplomacy to settle international disputes – we must ask Washington not to try and fish in the troubled waters of East China Sea. The stand-off between Japan and China over the eight small uninhabited islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, is a bilateral dispute that China and Japan should settle peacefully between themselves and the US has no business to meddle. Or is Washington's going 'slow and soft' on Syria and Iran meant only to allow it to pay 'greater attention' to its currently number one foreign policy objective of 'containment of China'?
AISA Workshop in Uttarakhand
A two-day State level workshop was organized in Uttarakhand by the All India Students' Association (AISA) on 19-20 November 2013 at Srinagar (Garhwal). The present scenario in students' movements, the history of the AISA movement, organization building, and the current political situation were among the topics discussed in the workshop. The discussion on these topics was led by AISA national executive members Om Prasad and Sandipan.
It was resolved in the workshop to conduct membership drives in all working centres of AISA. The demand for more books in libraries, and other campus and college related issues were also discussed. The workshop was attended by Vaibhav Kulashree, Atul Satee, Utkarsh Bamrada, Chandraprakash Rautiyal from Shrinagar (Garhwal), Rudrapur Students' Union Vice-President Kavita Verma, Ruby Bharadwaj, Naresh Kumar, Kunwarpal Rathore, Divya Gangwar, Shivani Pandey from Gopeshwar, Dharmendra Negi from Joshimath, and others.
AICCTU Protests Death of Steel Plant Workers in Odisha
On 13 November 2013, a terrible accident claimed the lives of workers who were installing the second blast furnace unit of the Bhushan Steel Plant at Dhenkanal district of Odisha. The company claimed that just one worker died on the spot while another died in the hospital, and 15 suffered serious burn injuries. However, the number of deaths is suspected to be much higher. According to preliminary enquiries done by trade unions, 120 of the 250 workers who were on the installation site, are missing. The company was doing the installation of the blast furnace without the requisite permission. AICCTU along with other trade central unions protested demanding arrest of the Bhushan CEO and owners, guarantee of proper safety of workers in all the factories, and regular monitoring on this matter, Rs 20 lakhs rupees to the family members of deceased, and a probe to establish the full extent of the casualties. The rally was led by Comrade Radhakant Sethi, Vice President of AICCTU, and Comrade Mahendra Parida, secretary of AICCTU.
CPI(ML) Demands that Justice Ganguly Step Down from WBHRC
CPI(ML) has demanded that Justice (retd) AK Ganguly, who has been named as the retired Supreme Court judge who is alleged by a law intern to have sexually harassed her last December, step down from his post as Chairperson of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission. It goes against propriety and justice for anyone to hold such a post while suspected of sexual harassment, and so it is only right that Justice Ganguly step down pending investigation. The matter is being probed by a 3-member panel set up by the Supreme Court, and the panel revealed the name of the accused judge recently.
The case also highlights the impunity in-built in certain institutions to protect sexual offenders. The Courts and the Army have remained insulated from the Vishakha guideines. Ironically, the Supreme Court's own Vishakha guidelines have only been implemented in the SC in the wake of the intern's testimony, and even now, judges are kept out of the ambit of the Vishakha committee. The current instance also highlights how law schools fail to implement Vishakha guidelines, thereby failing to protect their students who serve as interns. It is high time that impunity is ended, and Vishakha committees to prevent and punish sexual harassment are strictly implemented in all workplaces.
Red Salute to Comrade Ramagya Ram!
Comrade Ramagya Ram, who had dedicated his whole life to the Communist ideology and unity, passed away on 11th October 2013 at Bhikhampur village in Bhojpur district. We pay tribute to this well-wisher of CPI (ML) who never hesitated to give the Party all help in fighting against oppression of the people. His memory will remain with us forever. Lal Salaam!
Long Live Comrade Madhu Hansda!
Comrade Madhu Hansda, who was a dedicated CPI(ML) activist in the Purnea district of Bihar's Seemanchal district, was abducted on 15 October 2013 and subsequently murdered. This political killing is the conspiracy of BJP leader and Bihar Scheduled Tribes Commission President Babulal Tudu and JD(U) leader Nawal Kishore Yadav.
48 year old Comrade Hansda came into contact with the Party after the martyrdom of Comrade Brijesh Mohan Thakur and became a member in 1990. He was the Party candidate in the Panchayat elections for the post of Mukhiya. He raised his voice against corruption and loot in the Indira Awas, BPL, and ration card issues. After his murder the Thana in-charge refused to register an FIR as sought by comrades. Later, an FIR was registered, but only after the newspapers carried threats of widespread agitation by CPI (ML). JD (U) members are openly flaunting their responsibility for his murder and yet the police are not taking any action against them. The Party is putting pressure on the police and the administration to arrest the killers.
Red Salute to Comrade Madhu Hansda!
Letter To Uttarakhand CM Protesting Sexual Harassment by Higher Officials
CPI (ML) and mass organisations of other Left and democratic parties wrote to the Uttarakhand CM recently protesting against sexual harassment of a young lady by the Upper Secretary (Home) on pretext of getting her a job. The Dehradun police refused to register an FIR and the victim was forced to register the FIR in Delhi. The letter demanded a high level enquiry by an independent agency, immediate suspension and arrest of the official in question, and strict action against the SP of Dehradun (Rural). It also demanded steps for ensuring security of women, filling of vacant posts in State Commission for Women, and constituting Complaints Committees against sexual harassment in State government departments, which have a dismal record in this matter. The letter pointed out the vulnerability of women working on ad hoc or BPO basis in the State Secretariat and other departments and demanded security and regular work hours for them.
The letter was signed by Indresh Maihuri of CPI(ML), Vijay Rawat of CPI-M, Samar Bhandari of CPI, Rajiv Kothari of Uttarakhand Parivartan Party, Indu Naudiyal of AIDWA, Virendra Bhandari of CITU, Nirmala Bisht and Padma Gupta of Uttarakhand Mahila Manch, and others.
AIPWA Stages Bihar-Wide Protests Against Harassment of Women
The Bihar unit of AIPWA organized State-wide protests against the rising harassment and oppression of women in the country. At a protest march and meeting in Buddha Park, Patna, on 26 November, the protesters, led by AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari, State President Saroj Choube, Secretary Shashi Yadav, Joint Secretary Anita Sinha, executive members Madhu, Vibha Gupta, Madhuri Gupta, Uma Yadav, Anuradha, Rachna, Neetu and others, demanded the constitution of a committee on Vishakha guidelines in Tehlka, immediate arrest and action against Tarun Tejpal, action against CBI Chief Ranjit Gupta for his sexist remark against women, arrest of the culprits in the Biddupur incident, and a thorough enquiry into the state of all remand homes.
Bhojpur AIPWA President Meena Kunwar, Secretary Indu Singh, Vice President Bindu Sinha, Sugapati Devi and Meena Devi led a deputation to the DM and submitted a memorandum. A dharna in Hilsa block of Nalanda was led by Shashi Yadav and Arati Devi, protesting against the molestation of a schoolgirl in Bisnupur village, and other such issues. In Jehanabad, AIPWA leader Kunti Devi and ML District Secretary Com. Shrinivas Sharma conducted an enquiry into the incident of a woman athlete being brutally beaten by a tempo driver for resisting his attempts at molestation. The protest march was led by AIPWA State executive member Leela Verma.
The gherao of the thana and protest march on 27 November was led by AIPWA district President Malati Ram, Secretary Sohila Gupta, Vice President Kumanti Ram, and Joint Secretary Manjita Kaur. They raised their voice against the rape of a minor girl in Khilwa Taal coming under Guthni thana. Around 150 people joined the protest demanding action against the culprits who committed the crime and against the police who initially refused to register a complaint and did so only after strong protests by AIPWA.
'Sexual harassment at work place high'
(Based on report in The Hindu by Bindu Shajan Perappadan )
Seventeen per cent of working women in India claim that they have experienced sexual harassment at workplace. This high incidence of sexual harassment, both in the organised and the unorganised sectors, was revealed in an opinion poll titled 'Sexual Harassment at Workplaces in India 2011-2012" released by Oxfam India.
The survey for which women were interviewed in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Lucknow and Durgapur was jointly conducted by Oxfam India and Social and Rural Research Institute.
Most women claimed to have faced incidents that were non-physical, according to the survey. "Sixty-six of the 400 respondents reported to have faced a cumulative of 121 incidents of sexual harassment, 102 of 121 incidents reported to be non-physical, whereas the remaining 19 incidents were physical in nature,'' indicated the survey.
The report also noted that while 87 per cent of the general population and 93 per cent of working women respondents reported awareness of sexual harassment of women at work place, majority of the victims did not resort to any formal action against the perpetrator. The top three categories that have emerged unsafe for women are labourers (29 per cent), domestic help (23 per cent) and small scale manufacturing (16 per cent).
Majority of respondents (both general population and working women) perceived women working in the unorganised sector to be more susceptible to sexual harassment due to lack of awareness of legislation. Interestingly, 26 per cent reported to be the sole earning member of their families, indicating that economic vulnerability further makes women more vulnerable to harassment at the workplace.
The study said that the reasons stated for not taking any action by the women despite the harassment were fear of losing the job, absence of any complaints mechanism at the workplace, fear of getting stigmatized and not aware of redress mechanism.
Further the survey pointed out that the Supreme Court Guidelines on Sexual Harassment were known to as many as 17 per cent of the respondents among the general population. It was found that awareness of the Guidelines was higher in metro cities -- 24 per cent as compared to other areas. Also overall more than 80 per cent of the respondents reported the need for a separate law for dealing with sexual harassment at work place.
17% mediapersons in Mumbai have observed colleagues being sexually harassed at work: Survey
(Based on report, Nov 29, 2013, DNA Web Team, Mahafreed Irani)
While the media reports several cases of rape and sexual assault on a daily basis, it fails to identify and report instances that happen within the industry itself.
As per a report on workplace gender equality by Social Access in association with NGO Population First 17% of employees in the media industry have seen their counterparts being sexually harassed. What's shocking is that a small fraction knew what to do about it and even fewer actually reported it.
Disappointingly 9% of the women were subjected to inappropriate physical contact and 7% were to improper sexual advances. What is more appalling is the fact that there is complete lack of awareness among men in the industry as to what constitutes sexually inappropriate behaviour or even sexual harassment.
Flavia Agnes, a prominent women's rights lawyer and co-founder of NGO Majlis says, "I get calls from several journalists many of whom do not know the definition of rape. Some want to write about Tehelka not having a sexual harassment committee but do not know whether their own company has one".
The worst part is that 50% of employers haven't bothered to form a committee to address sexual harassment.
Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.cpiml.org