A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 17 No. 41 7 - 13 OCT 2014
The Agenda Behind Modi's
'Make in India' and
'Clean India' Slogans
What do these slogans tell us about Modi's unfolding agenda? It is quite clear that Modi finds it inconvenient to talk about prices now. It is also understandable that having won an election on the so-called 'development' plank, he cannot afford, or does not even need, to focus on the vicious Sanghi agenda of 'love jihad' and 'cow protection'. There are plenty of other leaders in BJP or organisations in the Sangh brigade to do that. So while the foot soldiers of the Sangh brigade and the likes of Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj are busy spreading the communal and jingoistic venom with impunity, Modi waxes eloquent about FDI and cleanliness.
Modi and his men would like us to believe that the 'make in India' mission is modelled on China's experience of using FDI to emerge as a spectacular manufacturing hub. Modi is however keenly aware that given India's bitter historical memories of colonial drain and plunder, and the more recent experiences of MNC-led devastation and arm-twisting (Union Carbide, Enron, Vodaphone, to name only a few), the common people are not too enamoured of the idea of FDI. He is therefore trying to give the whole thing a false 'nationalistic' spin by explaining FDI as "First Develop India". There could not possibly be a more false and fraudulent claim. Development of a country of India's dimensions has to be powered from within and indiscriminate foreign investment can only leave a trail of damage and dependence, not development and public welfare.
Before we start invoking the case of China, we must remember a few facts. By the time China started attracting FDI in manufacturing, it had already laid a solid infrastructure of both social capital and physical infrastructure through decades of post-revolution land reforms and socio-economic reconstruction. It never relied on FDI to come to China and develop the Chinese economy. Much of the FDI in China is made by the non-resident Chinese. And when China sensed trouble in the world market in the wake of the recent global economic crisis, it immediately redirected its attention to expanding the domestic market by effecting significant wage increases. Also China has a much more effective regulatory framework to deal with FDI. Yet as we all know, increasing FDI in China has also added to the country's share of problems whether in terms of damage to environment and public health or social inequality and regional disparity.
India does not match China on any of these counts. The three D's Modi is dangling before foreign investors (democracy, demography and demand) cannot hide the 4th unstated D which stands for 'desperation' and this desperation can only further reduce India's strength and bargaining power while handling FDI. To attract FDI, Modi government has already succumbed to the pressure of the American pharmaceutical lobby by relaxing price-controls on life-saving drugs and agreeing to American monitoring of India's patent laws. And when Modi offers 'Democracy' as an incentive for FDI, it becomes clear that what he has in mind is just the majority he has won in this election and not the democratic right of the Indian peasant, worker and consumer to defend their rights and resources in the face of corporate aggression. By advocating liberalised labour laws, diluted environmental norms and an aggressive land acquisition approach, Modi has actually made it clear that he is all for regimentation of democracy in India to facilitate indiscriminate deregulated FDI.
Modi's 'clean India' mission is another exercise in obfuscation and trivialisation of a major public concern. While everybody must be encouraged to keep the environs clean and hygienic, clearly the drive for cleanliness in this era of toxic capitalism can neither begin nor end with a few leaders and celebrities wielding the broom for the benefit of the camera. At a time when the whole world is grappling with climate change and environmental safety and protection, the biggest question is how India deals with industrial pollution and corporate-driven degradation of the environment. Improved public hygiene also requires a massive overhaul of our sanitation network and mechanism and the key issues that we face concern as much the state of sanitation workers – the indignity, low wages and abysmal conditions they have to experience even in this 21st century – as the state of the sanitation and waste management infrastructure. For Modi, the 'clean India mission' is not just another mega propaganda spectacle, it is also a desperate attempt to try and appropriate the Gandhian legacy and also legitimise the RSS and its agenda. Modi would like to single out the issue of cleanliness from the Gandhi legacy of anti-colonial mass awakening, economic self-reliance and communal harmony and project himself now as an inheritor of Gandhi just as he has been attempting so far to appropriate the legacy of Sardar Patel. And while Modi hogged the limelight with the cleanliness agenda on Gandhi's birthday, his government quietly engineered a coup on the following day by forcing the Doordarshan to televise the Vijaya Dashami speech of the RSS chief even as Modi took the radio route to address the people on the same day.
No previous NDA government ever dared to let the public broadcaster be openly misused as a propaganda organ of the RSS and no Indian PM has ever addressed the nation on a Hindu festival day. Prime Ministers and Presidents have been addressing the nation year after year on the national occasions of Independence Day and Republic Day. But using the Vijaya Dashmai occasion – which is not just a Hindu religious day, but the foundation day of the RSS – to address the people through AIR and DD, the public broadcaster, is a brazen misuse of power in the service of the RSS and its agenda and vision to make India into a Hindu Rashtra.
When the Modi regime becomes a platform to promote indiscriminate FDI and systematic RSS penetration, the clean India campaign will have to be directed as much against the dirt on the road as against the threats to democracy and secularism.
Campaigns for sanitation workers' rights on 2 October
Even as the Modi government launched a much publicised 'Swacchata Abhiyaan' (cleanliness drive) on 2 October, with the entire media broadcasting stories and visuals of the Prime Minister Modi, Ministers, bureaucrats and celebrities sweeping roads, AICCTU ran campaigns in Delhi stating clearly that no real 'Swacchata Abhiyaan' was possible without ensuring sanitation workers' rights. At the Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra hospital in Narela, AICCTU has been organising a protracted struggle to ensure basic minimum workers' rights for the safai karamcharis employed in the hospital. On 2 October, a hunger strike and protest was organised at the hospital against the forced retrenchment of 22 safai karamcharis who had been working on contract in the hospital and against the systemic violation of sanitation workers' rights. The workers pointed out that even in institutions run by the government, such as government hospitals, exploitation of sanitation workers is rampant. In the Harishchandra hospital, minimum wages are not paid, workers are forced to work for 12 hours every day without being paid any overtime that too without any safety equipment such as gloves. They cannot avail of weekly holidays, and are denied the legally mandated PF and ESI benefits. Moreover, after opening bank accounts for the sanitation workers, the contractor in charge of the sanitation work in the hospital has illegally confiscated the passbooks and cheque books of the workers and is forcibly getting the workers to sign on blank cheques. The hunger strike on 2 October by the sanitation workers on in Narela raised all these issues, even as the workers organised a cleanliness drive on the roads near the Harishchandra hospital.
In JNU, a 'Pledge for Rights' (Adhikaar Shapat) programme was organized on 2 October, highlighting the Modi government's criminal silence on sanitation workers' rights. Even as the JNU administration organized a cleanliness drive as per the diktats of the Modi government, with brand new brooms being provided to the JNU administration officials, around hundred sanitation workers along with several students and teachers participated in the parallel protest with black bands tied around their arms. They read a pledge which demanded an end to contractual labour and an immediate abolition of the horrific practice of manual scavenging not just in the law but also in actual practice. The pledge also demanded implementation of workers' rights such as wages, bonus and PF which have been systematically denied to sanitation workers across the country.
Initiatives in Bawana
Against communalisation and riot-mongering
In the first week of October, as the festival of Id approached, in the Narela and Bawana areas of Delhi, a campaign against cow slaughter by a group calling itself the 'Hindu Krantikari Sena' was used to threaten and intimidate Muslims. In the backdrop of this ongoing campaign of communal hate and riot-mongering in Narela and Bawana, a team comprising CPI(ML) CC member and Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, CC Member Ravi Rai, comrades Surendra Panchal and Amarnath Tiwary, JNUSU Vice President Anant, JNUSU-SSS councillor Rama Naga, AISA activists Om Prasad, Radhika Krishnan and Rahul, as well as comrades Mathura Paswan, Saurabh Naruka and Munna Yadav from AICCTU visited Bawana JJ Colony area and met several families in Bawana and also with local activists and leaders working against the orchestrated communal hate mongering. The following facts were gathered by the team which visited Bawana.
Over the years, there have often been concerted attempts by politically motivated forces to deliberately vilify the atmosphere in Narela and Bawana through communal hate mongering. In 2012 for instance, completely unsubstantiated claims were made that Muslims were illegally 'slaughtering cows' during Id, creating a huge amount of communal tension in the area. This year too, under the banner of the 'Hindu Krantikari Sena', several inflammatory posters were put up in the area claiming that the 'India-Pakistan war' had reached Bawana, and asserting that the Hindu religion was under 'threat' from daily cow slaughter. On 2 October 2014, these communal forces alleged, with no evidence whatsoever, that a truckload of cows had been brought into the JJ colony for slaughter. There are also reports that a compliant regarding cows being brought into JJ colony had been made by calling the Police helpline number '100'. To worsen maters, the Police and local administration refused to reveal the source of the call and of this false 'information' about rampant cow slaughter by Muslims, despite repeated demands by the residents of JJ colony. Subsequent to this rumour, around 200 men – accompanied and escorted by some members of theDelhi Police – entered the colony and conducted a 'search' of any building they deemed 'suspicious'. This also included one of the local mosques. No cow was found during this search. The search however obviously resulted in huge tensions and a palpable atmosphere of fear amongst Muslims in Bawana and Narela. During the 'search', there were also incidents of violence, intimidation and stone pelting. In all, the whole point of the entire exercise of 'searching' the colony was clearly to spread communal hatred and division and to disturb the peace and amity in the entire region.
After these incidents of 2 October, the residents of JJ colony demanded proper surveillance and security by the government and the local administration. They demanded that the police closely monitor the situation, and prevent any attempt to plant 'evidence' of cows in the locality to implicate the Muslims and further exacerbate the situation. These demands assumed all the more importance given that on late night of 3 October, there were allegedly attempts by some Hindu men to release cows in the area as 'evidence'. Despite repeated demands, the local police did not take adequate steps to control this volatile situation. They did not reveal the call details, or take any action against the person who falsely complained that a truck load of cows had been brought into the area. On 5 October, the local administration allowed the Hindu Krantikari Sena to conduct a huge meeting and 'Oath Taking' against cow slaughter on the eve of Id, where inflammatory speeches were made.
As a result of the intervention of democratic forces who have expressed their horror at the unfolding communal tensions being orchestrated in Narela and Bawana, some deployment of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) has finally made in the area on 5 October – as per the demand of the residents of the JJ colony. CPI(ML) and other democratic forces who visited Bawana assured the residents of their complete support in the face of this highly condemnable communal hate mongering. AICCTU leaders in the Narela industrial area established close contact with the residents of JJ colony so that immediate and coordinated resistance can be organized in case of any orchestrated communal flare-up. CPI(ML) demanded from the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, the union Home Ministry as well as the Delhi Police take full responsibility of the safety and security of the residents of Bawana JJ colony by providing adequate 24x7 security and surveillance as per the demands of the local people. CPI(ML) also demanded that on the day of Id (6 October), responsible authorities should be deputed to remain in the area all the time, in order to ensure that the communal tensions do not escalate and that no untoward incident occurs, and that the Delhi Police should immediately file charges and take action against the person who falsely complained to the Police that cow slaughter was being planned in JJ colony, thus deliberately instigating communal tensions in the entire region of Narela and Bawana.
On 6 October, as news came in that the RAF deployment had been removed from Bawana, CPI(ML), AISA and AICCTU leaders once again went to Bawana to ensure that that the Delhi Police takes adequate steps so that the situation does not escalate into riots and violence. As a result of the timely intervention of democratic forces, large scale violence was prevented despite the well-orchestrated communal tensions.
Sustained campaign against feudal violence in Ballia, UP
On the intervening night of 19-20 August 2014, a cloth trader Chandrashekhar Verma was brutally killed by dominant forces in Pihraharpur village falling under Nagra thana in Ballia. After the killing, the thousands of people who gathered refused to hand over the dead body to the police until they were given an assurance that immediate action would be taken against the guilty. However, despite the assurance, the police only registered an FIR against 'unknown' persons. Though the BJP MP Ravindra Kushwaha as well as the sitting MLA from the Samajwadi Party and BSP leaders met the police after the murder, none of them demanded action against the culprits.
On 2 September 2014, a meeting was organized in the victim's village at the initiative of CPI-ML, which was attended by more than 500 people. Through the meeting, the administration was given a time limit of 13 days to act against the culprits, failing which CP-ML announced that it would launch an agitation. In spite of the victim's wife Tara Devi giving the name of one person, the police did not think it fit to interrogate that person as he has close ties with leaders in the ruling SP government. When no action was taken, CPI-ML under the leadership of State committee member and Akhil Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Sabha national secretary Com. Shriram Chowdhury, along with the deceased's wife Tara Devi, started an indefinite dharna in Belthara tehsil on September 15, in which over 600 people participated. The dharna continued without break and the number of people participating increased. On 19 September a 5-member delegation of the CPI-ML under the leadership of Party district secretary submitted a memorandum at the SP's office demanding that action be taken against the killers of Chandrashekhar Verma, and cognizance be taken of the ongoing agitation in Belthara tehsil. Seeing the wide reach of the agitation, BSP leader Swamy Prasad Maurya was forced to take cognisance of the protest and subsequently tried to meet the victim's relatives. On the 6th day of the indefinite protest, 2000 people participated in the dharna, including a large number of women. Under pressure from the agitation, COSOG (crime branch) in charge Anil Singh came to the spot and assured the agitators that within 15 days action would be taken and the culprits would be sent to jail. After this assurance the agitation was put on hold. Though the BSP has been trying to get some political mileage from this incident, it has become clear that there is no substantial difference between the BSP and SP when it comes to protecting killers. Meanwhile, as the accused is from the Muslim community, the BJP has been trying to communalise the matter but has failed in doing so. In the days to come, CPI-ML will be carrying forward this movement demanding justice for Chandrashekhar Verma.
CPI(ML) Uttarakhand State Office
'Deepak Bose Bhawan' inaugurated
A new CPI(ML) office was inaugurated by party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya in Uttarakhand. The office has been named after Deepak Bose, veteran leader of farmers' struggles in the Tarai and Bindukhatta area. After the inauguration, a public meeting was held which was presided over by CC member Raja Bahuguna and conducted by Nainital district secretary Kailash Pandey. Addressing the public meeting, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya talked of the people's betrayal by the Modi government. For a government that was elected on an agenda of 'acche din' and 'development', and fighting corruption and price rise, it had betrayed all the hopes and aspirations of the common people by know-towing to the corporate agenda on several crucial matters, even as it sought to stoke communal tensions and divisions across the country. The floods last year in Uttarakhand as well as the recent floods in Kashmir and the north-east are in fact the results of the disastrous economic policies being followed by the UPA as well as the current NDA government, pointed out comrade General Secretary. Moreover the Modi government has put in place an undeclared emergency, by brutally clamping down on all dissenting voices.
He also pointed out that the new office in Uttarakhand had been constructed on land acquired during CPI(ML)'s land struggles in the region – a struggle which led to the formation of CPI(ML) in Uttarakhand and which is an ongoing struggle for the party. Today, farmers and peasants across the country are fighting to defend their land against forcible land acquisition and corporate land grab, and this struggle has to be led by revolutionary forces such as the CPI(ML). The meeting was also addressed by Uttarakhand state secretary Rajendra Pratholi, comrades Purushottam Sharma, Bahadur Singh Jangi, Nishaan Singh, Girija Pathak and KK Bora. Comrades from across Uttarakhand attended the inauguration and public meeting.
Party Workers' Convention in Ramgarh
A one-day Party workers' convention was organized by the CPI(ML) at Badkagaon, in Ramgarh on 14 September 2014, which was attended by about 400 activists. Com. Heera Gope, Bhuneshwar Bediya, Secretary Devanand Gope, Sarju Munda, Naresh Badaik, Qayamuddin Ansari, Pairu Pratap Ram, Jagarnath Oraon, Javed Islam, Devkinandan Bediya, Anant Prasad Gupta, Manoj Bhakt and others were present on the dais. Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya was the main speaker. After tributes to Com. Jayant Ganguly, Naresh Badaik presented the approach paper. The convention was conducted by Com. Qayamuddin Ansari.
Comrades from various blocks and panchayats discussed the state of the Party in Jharkhand and branch committee activities in their areas, as well as how to increase Party membership, disseminate ideology, and have better booth management, and resolved to take forward the work of the Party in a better planned manner for better results in the Assembly elections. Hazaribagh-Ramgarh in-charge Com. Anant Gupta said that the sitting MLA (former agriculture Minister) has formed a criminal organization called 'Tiger', but never bothered about land, seeds, fertilizers or irrigation for farmers, food for the poor, or pensions for the senior citizens. Com. Devkinandan Bediya said that the Modi government is crippling agriculture as well as labour, the two sectors upon which Badkagaon is dependent, by weakening and flouting the labour law and by depriving farmers of their land. Com. Javed Islam cautioned against the communal polarisation of the BJP. PB member Com. Manoj Bhakt stressed on the need to strengthen booth management.
Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the coming Assembly elections have to be fought simultaneously on many fronts. Congress, BJP, and JMM use money power, muscle power, corporate power, and electronic media. We must combat these with the power of the people since people are our strength. Past elections have shown that the Party's vote share is greatest where our booth membership is high, and vice versa. Clearly, we have to strengthen our Party organization before December if we wish to do well in the elections. Three and a half months into the Modi government, it has shown that it will surely betray all the aspirations of the common people of the country. To expose the true face of this govt, we must go to every village with our socio-cultural agenda. The people want change, and the CPI-ML can give them this change if we work with greater energy, activity, and courage.
Finally, the convention resolved to strengthen Party organization, stress on local struggles and people's mobilisation, work for booth level correction of voters' lists, strong and sustained campaigning, fund collection from the people, dissemination of Party literature, panchayat level 'jansunwai', and booth level Party membership.
Veteran comrade Ishwar Chand Tyagi passed away on 2 September 2014 at Nagal in Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh. Comrade Koppanghi Venkatanarayana passed away in the early hours of 18 September 2014. He was 83, and was an ex State Committee Member (SCM) of Avanigadda in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. Red salute to these comrades.