Thank you comrades & friends, #ResistTrump event in Bangalore was a phenomenal success.
We would specially thank the following who made this #ResistTrump special & unique by sending voice & mail messages to be played and read out at the protest venue in Bangalore. Binu Mathew (Editor Counter Currents, Kerala), B.Buresha (Cine Director and Theatre Dreamer from Bangalore Karnataka, Who organises Workers in Entertainment Industry of Karnataka, Supporter and Sponsor of Rs.100/- an hour Minimum Wage Campaign) Fiona O’Loughlin (an exceptional Irish socialist woman from the land of James Conolly) , Weizemann Hamilton (General Secretary, Workers And Socialist Party (WASP), South Africa), K P Sasi (People’s Celebrity, Film Maker, anti-nuclear activist.) Kshama Sawant (celebrated Socialist Councillor from the City of Seattle, a leading Socialist Politician of USA, a fighting woman for the oppressed around the world) Suvrat Raju (Scientist, anti-nuclear activist and writer)
The ‘Bangalore Joins Global Resistance to Trump’ was a remarkable event, as we joined the #ResistTrump movement that has engulfed and raged around the world in continents.
Though, the numbers were not commensurate as we expected (due to another rally/march held by the women’s organisation fighting Misogyny and Sexual Harassment, and a seminar on Demonetisation of Indian Currency, clashed with the timings of our event), nevertheless, the protest event was attended by the members of Karnataka Tamil Makkal Iyakkam (KTMI), Students Christian Movement of India(SCMI), Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), Students from Mount Carmel College, Bank Workers Union, and of course there was this good presence of uniformed and un-uniformed policemen around.
The speakers at the event were Rajan Cinnaiah, President of KTMI, who inaugurated the event and spoke in chaste Tamil and said, why Imperialism has to be fought tooth and Nail. He gave a call to all those fighters, that the linguistic minorities such as Tamils, Kannadigas, Malayalees, and Telugu people have a common cause to unite against the inland Indian and foreign Imperialism. Protesting the Xenophobic, Islamophobic, Sexist and Misogynist Trump is more a bounden duty rather than a routine solidarity issue.
Amar Mansoor of SIO was very eloquent and brought the perspective of how all the minorities of the world have to stand together, he also spoke about Rohit Vemula and Najeeb of JNU, how they have been treated here, and drew parallels of what Trump, Modi & Putin of Russia represent and the common dictatorial agendas they have.
Naveen Angamuttu of New Socialist Alternative-Bangalore spoke with particular reference to on the Jallikattu protests erruption in Tamilnadu, explained very rightly saying “there is a lot of confusion among the people that why a feudal ritual is being revived and why Tamils are so enraged about the issue. Tamils are not asking the revival of Jallikattu, Behind the protests and the anger, the enormous failure of the ruling classes to solve the basic problems are the driving force, the vanished OX breeds, and the impoverishment of the Peasants and marginal farmers and the pent up anger surrounding the Indian Govt’s treatment of Eelam issue are all revisiting in an unconscious manner, that has brought the young masses of Tamilnadu to streets.”
Dakerlin Mukhim of SCM who is from the sate of Meghalaya, who said “first I thought why protest a guy who has just been elected in a far of country, but once I came here, and heard the speakers and understood the nitty-gritty of the issue, I thought every one on earth must protest Trump and Trumpism” In their messages of Solidarity co thinkers and comrades of New Socialist Alternative, echoed very radical stand against trump and the need to build the resistance. Celebrated film maker, and the producer of America America Music video K.P. Sasi (which has been viewed more than a million times across the globe!) in his written message said “We are all aware that the victory of Trump in the presidential elections in the United States has serious implications to the marginalised sections not only in America, bu also all over the world. Given the context of the present political leadership in India, the victory of Trump can have serious implications on countries like India also. Therefore the call given for global resistance against Trump will serve us in such a way to prepare ourselves for the upcoming disasters India and the world may face in the near future.
The racist, anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-minority, anti-immigrant and working class political stand of Donald Trump is well established. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that millions of people all over the world have responded to this call for global resistance to Trump. The youth, women, religious minorities, sexuality minorities, blacks, immigrants, indigenous people and all other marginalised sections have started protesting all over the world in large numbers. It is an act of preparation against the upcoming suppression of the marginalised and the environment.
Here in India, we have similar leadership playing the same game of attacking the dignity of the marginalised and yet winning the elections with the use of thousands of crores of rupees for generating a self image. The democracy is in India as well as the United States is under threat today under the governance of those who indulge lavishly in the art of self promotion rather than addressing the real concerns of the poor and the marginalised. To those who say that `Give Him a Chance’, we say `Give People a Chance’. To those who say to `Respect the Verdict and Move on’, we say `Respect the People’s Verdict’. So far as elections are controlled by major investments from the corporates to ensure that `their man would rule the country’, democracy will stay only on top of broken pillars. It is now our job to see to it that people do not get broken further. It is now our job to raise our voice against racism, against homophobia, against Islamophobia, against misogyny, against sexism and against the politics of violence on the environment and the marginalised sections in India as well as the United States of America. Against the rulers who promote such values!” Sasi concluded his letter by writing “I congratulate New Socialist Alternative team for having undertaken this historic step of informing the world that the Indian people are equally concerned about the marginalised sections in the United States, through this public protest in Bangalore. Perhaps this resistance is a beginning in this country. But we will soon see in the coming history, what this protest has initiated.”
B.Suresha, the unique film director of Kannda film industry, who has a very pro-people stand on all the issues concerning the poor and the marginalised sent his Solidarity Message in Kannada through WhatsApp which says (translated)” Friends, the new president of America, has clearly made his intentions and Agenda throughout his electioneering, he has a very corrosive anti-Islamic stand point, which can destabilise that stable democracy, in turn it would have far reaching consequences. Those of us who love democratic values and freedom must support #ResistTrump initiative, I being a Kannada Film Maker, and a Theatre Dreamer, fully support this campaign to Resist Trump.”
Comrade Fiona,from Ireland, said the following in her WhatsApp voice message(the gist) “Solidarity to our friends and comrades in India, this a greeting from Ireland, we are on our way into the Women’s March in solidarity with the women Internationally, particularly the fighting women of America who are fighting back against the Racist, Misogynistic agenda of Trump, we won’t accept that women should be treated in a Misogynist & Sexist way, women internationally will fight back to push this agenda under the stone, where it came from. Here in Ireland we are involved in campaign to have Abortion Rights in Irelandwhere abortion is illegal, we want the Church & the State separated, we want women to decide for themselves, if and when they have children. In order to defeat this right-wing populist agenda represented by Trump, we need on the 100th anniversaryof the Russian Revolution the greatest event in human history for working class people, we need to organise ourselves as working class people Internationally, here in Ireland,in India and everywhere else, to fight to change this system, the capitalist system, which is what represents the sexist and unequal society, we will organise past today to change this system.
Kshama Sawant, the fighting Socialist women from America had this message previously, while the protest was being planned “Trump’s right-wing nationalist agenda is destructive to the interests of workers in the U.S. and elsewhere. Women on every continent need to stand together against the right wing attacks on women. His targeting of American Muslims should be opposed by the working class in America and India alike. His billionaire cabinet is deeply hostile to all workers. His administration will certainly go after public sector unions first, and workers internationally – both unionised and otherwise – have to stand together against this. I think, like here, in India also, the role of young people and students in fighting the right is increasingly important. Last but not least, I would emphasize that the J20/21st protests will be the largest-ever protests against a president’s inauguration in U.S. history – therefore we need the largest possible solidarity protests in every country.”
Weizeman Hamilton, General Secretary of WASP, South Africa, who is on the International Executive Committee of the CWI sent this WhatsApp message to the protest “ The Workers and Socialist Party of South Africa, stand in solidarity with the American Working Class in the face of the imposition of a bigoted, right-wing in the recent memory, This is a president who is unashamed racist, xenophobe, homophobe, transphobe, misogynist, whose cabinet members believe that Islam is a Cancer, this cabinet is populated by white supremacists, which believes that Climate Change is a fiction. We must stand with the American working people to defeat the dream of this president to serve even one term….The lesson of the rise of Trump is that the working class needs its own voice, the voice of the 99% against the 1% represented by Trump.
Binu Mathew, Editor of Counter Currents, who responded first for the request of solidarity, sent this short voice message from Kerala, it says “ Donald Trump’s philosophy is retarded and even dangerous. He harps back to the outdated 19th century nationalism which is out of tune with the global solidarity that is needed to fight for issues like Climate
Change, Green energy revolution, and human rights and many other issues that need global solidarity, in ominous action po-tenting the dark times ahead the white house website deleted all files on climate change, civil rights movement and the LGBT right, it would be interesting to draw parallels between the Modi governments destruction of one and a half lakhs of files immediately after assuming office, that is how the demagogues work, it is times for solidarity, action and resistance, salute to all who have gathered in Bangalore to resist Trumpism”
Vishwanath Singaiah, Bangalore organiser of New Socialist Alternative, spoke and made a very audacious and political financial appeal, and said the working class and the oppressed needs the Cash, to fight the bigots like Modi & Trump, and only the ordinary working people can sacrifice their hard earned money can invest in such a class act. The fighting fund collection was successful in raising Rs.1063/- from a small gathering of 30 to 35 protesters. Narasimha Murthy, was in charge of the Press & Media, his efforts had brought many national and local channels to cover the event.The over all moderation an anchoring of the event was done by Jagadish Chandra, National Organiser of New Socialist Alternative, who elaborated upon the phenomenon of Trump, and how we can defeat it, and stressed upon the need of unity in the face of Racist, Jingoistic attacks against Dalits, Muslims and Linguistic minorities in this country and everywhere.
Comrades of New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) in Pune & Chennai also successfully organised and held #ResistTrump events, in solidarity with Global Resistance to Trump. It doesn’t matter if we were less in numbers, but we were part of the HISTORY IN THE MAKING. The American working people, the giant has started moving, notably leading them are the Women, Blacks and the Student Youth who are the oppressed in that society. The massive resistance that was evident in city after after city on 20th & 21st Of Jan. are just the first notes of the music ensemble of the future. In solidarity with them every country of Europe, had massive downpour of people on to the streets, notable among them were; Ireland, England, Germany & Sweden where the forces of Committee for a Workers International (CWI) played a decisive role in mobilisations.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2015, New Socialist Alternative in Bangalore participated in protest rally organized by several women’s group in Bangalore in which over 2000 people participated. We also distributed over 1000 leaflets in the rally.
In Pune, our comrades had organized a small meeting on the occasion. We had Prof. Swati Rajan as the main speaker. About 30 people attended the meeting.
For over a month now, New Socialist Alternative, Pune has been campaigning and protesting against the recent public transport price hike. The 50% hike will hit many ordinary people hard and many in Pune are angry about this.
In our campaigns we have been highlighting on the very notion of a public transport system and it is not about generating profits, but the duty of the local municipality to provide affordable and quality public transport system. We have campaigned on different bus stops throughout the city, interacted with over 1000 people and got petitions signed.
We raised important issues such as how the corporation has strategically under-funded public transport, reduced the revenue of the corporation by cutting down on octroi/Local Body Tax (LBT) to favour the petty-bourgeoisie trading businesses and then crying hoarse saying lack of money so the need to privatize these essential services would be the only alternative.
After getting favourable responses amongst the general public, we approached the various organizations for a meeting and it was decided to organize a protest in front of Pune Municipal corporation. Apart from us, the other organizations involved included Parisar, Shramik Mahila Morcha, Bharatiya Mahila Federation, Lokjagar, Lok Chetana Manch and individual activists Sulabha Brahme, Anagha Lele.
The protest was held on 21st February and over 40 people attended. We also protested against the daylight murder of the communist party veteran activist – Govind Pansare and condemned the communal forces.
The joint demands put forward, included
Both Pune Municial Corporation and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation must contribute 400 Crores each annually for PMPML as the both remain the only shareholders/owners of it.
Min. fare should be Rs.3 and that of Maximum should not be more than Rs. 20. Ticketing should be done based on ‘Kilometer Basis’ and not on ‘stage basis’.
PMPML should purchase 1500 buses more (as it lacks the same number and it hires those no. of buses as per statistics.). Proper planning of bus routes should be done and the timetable should be displayed on every bus-stop.
(Private/personal) Four wheelers should be charged Congestion Tax and parking charges across the city.
Huge spending of capital on bridges and underground should be stopped immediately.
Contract system in PMPML should be stopped.
Contract laborers should be made permanent employees and until then they should be paid on ‘Equal work, Equal pay’ basis.
B. Youvraj and Rushikesh Divekar of New Socialist Alternative, Pune gave representation to the mayor of the city and Chairman of PMPML. The campaign is still ongoing and different protests are being planned in the coming period.
The India wide protests that have erupted following the “circumstances” orchestrated by the RSS/BJP right wing which lead to the forced death (SUICIDE) of Rohith Vemula. Rohith a Research Scholar coming from the Dalit SC community was pursuing his doctoral studies at the Hyderabad Central University (HCU). His murder by suicide has once again brought to the surface the ugly face of India’s caste ridden hierarchical society. To make matters worse, we have a ruling party that is steeped in an ideology of hate against minorities and the oppressed castes (particularly the Dalits), promoting Brahmanical bigotry every step of the way.
It is not surprising that the HRD ministry under the aegis of ‘Manu’Smriti Irani and another minister hailing from Hyderabad – Bandaru Dattatreya (with an RSS background) had a direct hand in the suspension of the 5 Dalit research scholars. A confrontation between ABVP (RSS/ BJP student wing) and Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) in August last year was blown out of proportion when the ABVP goon Susheel Kumar made false accusations against the 5 students and used his connections with the BJP at the highest levels to teach Dalit students their place in the University.
More than a mere clash of personal differences, the radical politics of ASA was beginning to ruffle more than a few feathers. Not only was it challenging the traditional left politics espoused by the CPI(M)’s SFI, but were increasingly confronting issues like death penalty, LGBT rights, beef politics, minority rights including those students belonging to Adivasi, Northeastern India, Kashmir etc. With over 500 members from different marginalized backgrounds and beginning to find an echo across the campus (even winning an election in 2011-12), this must have set alarm bells ringing in a very much conservative institution. Incidentally, Rohith Vemula saw himself as a Dalit Marxist and left the SFI precisely for the same reason that Ambedkar had once confronted the Stalinist CPI (M)– caste (Lal Salaam to Jai Bhim: Why Rohith Vemula left Indian Marxists).
Hindutva Revival Department under ‘Manu’Smriti Irani
This is not the first time that the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry under Smriti Irani has courted controversy. Last year, the Ambedkar – Periyar Study Circle (APSC) was banned at IIT-Madras following an anonymous complaint. Following a social media uproar, this was later revoked. On a more education related issue, the HRD ministryscraped (now reinstated) all fellowships granted to MPhil and PhD students who had not taken the National Eligibility Test (NET). This gave birth to the #OccupyUGC student movement which is very much alive and has linked up with the present protest movement. Smirti Irani’s tenure as minister has been anything but controversial. Known more for her roles in the (patriarchal) soap operas than anything concerning education, Irani has gone out of her way to please her RSS bosses.
Worse, Irani’s earlier response in relation to the recent events has only fanned the flames by triggering the resignation of over 10 faculty members from the University. Her assertion such as “not a Dalit vs non Dalit issue”, no blame on any organization/ individual in the suicide letter, following administrative procedure regarding suspension and other defensive arguments are simply packed full of lies. Undue interest was shown by the ministry by sending four letters between September to November to the HCU Vice-Chancellor (VC) regarding the action taken against the students.
The other villain in the plot – Bandaru Dattatreya (MoS for Labour & Employement) is equally responsible for Rohith’s fate. Apart from applying undue pressure on the HRD ministry, his letter to the HRD in August last year labeled ASA and leftist political activities in the campus as ‘casteist, extremist and anti-national’. It has become the habit of the present ruling party to call anyone opposed to the them as anti-national or anti-Hindu. Ironically it is actually the BJP (and the Sangh Parivar) that is in fact the den of extremist, casteist, communal elements that is opposed to all that is progressive or pro-people and has done everything to break the delicate social fabric of the country.
Previous probe findings that had cleared the students was summarily set aside by the newly appointed VC Appa Rao (a BJP appointee and with a past record of discrimination against Dalits) and students were suspended restricting their access to hostel, library, public spaces within campus etc. More crucially their fellowship funds amounting to Rs. 175,000 (in case of Rohith) that were already delayed by 7 months (due to cut backs in social spending in education in the last year budget) was causing them undue financial distress. A Joint Action Committee (JAC) was formed by the student groups and taking a step further Rohith and his fellow comrades decided to protest by sleeping in the open, but the authorities deliberately ignored them.
The short life story of Rohith Vemula, hailing from a Dalit background and raised by single mother, would make anyone cry. The double curse of poverty and still more horrendous experience of being born a Dalit in India can never fully be understand or expressed in words, and yet Rohith overcame all these barriers to securing PhD in a prestigious university under general category, not through the reservation route (which is a major argument used by upper caste elite to further discriminate Dalits students), is no small achievement!
The Rohith’s last letter says it all. Even before he took that fatal decision to end his life, we find in his letters not complaints or any display of petty mindedness but a zest for life, wanting to be a science writer like Carl Sagan, echoing one his famous words ‘we are made of star stuff’. The letter stands as a brutal condemnation of the feudal and casteist society that is India, and all that false story build around growth, development etc.
The dignity and magnanimity displayed in the letter should have put the entire ruling political party and its supporters to shame. However, all we get to see is their petty mindedness on full display– from shameless characters such as Smriti Irani, Bandaru Dattatreya or BJP party members and the hordes of Sanghi loudmouths online that are casting doubts such as Rohith is not ‘Dalit’ enough, reservation is all to blame, Rohith was indulging in ‘anti-national’ activities, was psychologically depressed and so on. It is this attitude and arrogance of the present government (& supporters) that is filled with bigots and nut-cases that would surely be the cause of its downfall one fine day.
Marking a change in its confrontational attitude, Narendra Modi (PM) finally broke silence after 5 days expressing sadness over Rohith’s death at a student convocation in Lucknow (UP), but was met by students shouting slogans such as ‘Modi Murdabad’, ‘Modi go back’ etc. More specifically he did not say anything about taking actions against all those responsible. But the damage has already been done, BJP has managed to single handedly alienate Dalits, backward castes and youth across the country. This will surely be reflected in the elections to come in the next period especially in UP were Dalit votes matter.
Protest Movement and Beyond
This not the first time a Dalit was forced to take his own life, nine students (from Dalit or backward castes) have taken their lives in the last seven years at HCU alone. There have also been other incidents of Dalit students committing suicide at elite institutions such as IIT’s, AIIMS etc because of caste discrimination. While the previous incidents did not evoke any protests across the country and were mainly confined to the institutions concerned. But this time there have been massive protests in Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and also in other smaller metros across India.
The difference is the heightened consciousness of many student groups that have been involved in other face offs with the govt. Protests have not been confined to Dalit organizations alone, but many youth from the upper caste background have also shown solidarity.
The other important factor contributing to this is the string of controversies that have been the hallmark of Narendra Modi’s tenure as PM. Apart from his love affair with the corporate elite at the expense of the majority, the governments covert backing of the Hindutva agenda has polarized the country like never before. (See: Is Modimania On The Wane?)
The FTII student protest lasted for about 139 days and the struggle still continues though in other forms. #OccupyUGC movement despite a formal victory, is still continuing with protests for the last 2 months over certain aspects that has not been clarified by the HRD ministry. So it is not far-fetched to expect this protest to last even longer if the core demands of the JAC are not met. Even if this protest is dissipated, the damage has already been done. And next time around, another controversy of this scale could put a question mark on the longevity of this right wing, communal BJP led government.
On the other hand, the BJP is desperately trying to buy its way out such as the ex-gratia payment of Rs. 8 lakh (which has been rejected by the family of the deceased), ordering a judicial commission inquiry and if the worst comes may even drop Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya or take action against some low hanging fruits like the VC or Susheel Kumar. Unless legally compelled or via mass pressure to act on the JAC’s core demands, the central govt is unlikely to go beyond mere tokenism. How this will play out depends on several factors and crucially on how sensitively/ insensitively this govt handles the situation.
The present situation in India can best be described as radicalization of different sections of the Indian youth and working people on the one hand and communal polarization going hand in hand. Failure to meet expectations and lurching from one major controversy after another, Narendra Modi govt. could unwittingly end up causing a mass upheaval in the country. But it is the leadership of the left forces that is really wanting to take advantage of that enormous class anger to challenge the communal, casteist and capitalist forces that are presently holding the reigns of administration.
Hence, there is a crying need to build a genuinely left, viable mass alternative to challenge the present Capitalist, Communal & Casteist regime and pave way for a Socialist Alternative as urgently as possible.
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