An unmitigated public health disaster is gripping India. The daily number of people infected with Covid-19 has exceeded 350,000 for a week – the highest of any country since the pandemic began. Health services have been overwhelmed. Dead bodies are lying outside hospitals. Patients are dying from a lack of oxygen supplies, forcing relatives to scour the black market to obtain scarce and exorbitantly priced bottles.
The massive peasant protest of recent months, anchored around India’s capital, Delhi, with wider support across the country, is historic. It is the first time in the seven years of Modi rule that any action has pushed his authoritarian government onto the back-foot. This regime, which could on every occasion mobilise enough chauvinist hysteria to quell opposition to its policies, has, so far, failed to do so with the farmers. The dramatic events of 26th January, Republic Day, in particular, posed a new, major challenge.
The anger and violence that broke out in the morning hours of 12th December at the Wistron Corp, a Taiwanese owned factory, at Narasapur 60 km Bangalore, where 10,000 workers were working mainly on a contract basis, is a result of the continued exploitation of the workers from the nearby rural areas whose land had been acquired with a promise of well-paid jobs.
It is reported that the company which is manufacturing the high-end Apple brand ‘i Phones’ and other electronic white goods, was paying very low wages to the workers at the factory, and had not raised the wages commensurate even with the woefully inadequate Minimum Wages “fixed” by the state and central governments.
All India Bandh to Support Farmers’ Struggle
An unprecedented ‘OCCUPY’ moment has developed in New Delhi. The authoritarian regime of Modi for the first time is caught on back-foot. Some estimates are putting the number at hundreds of thousands if not millions of farmers and the peasantry have occupied Delhi with a resolute demand to defeat the blatantly pro-corporate new Farm Laws that were surreptitiously pushed through the parliament in the most undemocratic manner.
India’s Working Class resolutely flexes its Strength
Despite the widespread repression under this blatantly right-wing BJP-Modi regime, the all India General Strike on 26 November by working people involving more than 250 million workers (Joint Committee of Trade Unions- JCTU have claimed the number as 300 million-plus) seems to have set the tone for the battles ahead.