There is a limit to being and getting oppressed!

Police charging at Wistron Workers
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.

It is reported that Wistron Corp has not paid wages to several of the employees for over two months and that they were overworked in 12-hour shifts. One could hear through the videos circulating, that an aggrieved worker commenting “they make us work two shifts and pay just ₹ 8000.

Conditions & Conciousness
Be it the tremendous and unparalleled ongoing agitation of the farmers all over India, or the flash strike of the Transport workers of Karnataka or the demonstration of the anger at Wistron Co. all these are some indications of the gathering storms to challenge the very system Capitalism and Landlordism. It is amply loud and clear now that the oppressed sections of India’s 1.34 Billion+population are saying loudly “Enough is Enough”.

The leadership of the Trade Unions and the left have to take their heads out of the sand and must take note of the lava that is underneath in this otherwise “calm” waters. Workers and toiling sections of India are fed up of the mere slogans of development wherein they can only experience the ruination of their lives, while the rich become super-rich.

Development for whom?
It is said that even under Corona era, while working-class had to pay the price by losing jobs to the tune of millions, there wages being cut forcing them to further penury but the rich increased their wealth by fourfold or even more. According to the Forbes’ India Rich List 2020 released in October this year, the net worth of India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, rose 73% over the past year to nearly $89 billion (Rs 6.52 lakh crore). This is over three times more wealth than the second richest person on the list, Gautam Adani, at $25.2 billion. With this, Ambani remains the wealthiest Indian for the 13th year in a row.

As India has landed in its worst recession in history, it is ironic how billionaires have prospered on the backs of the impoverished population. According to the recent Forbes report, India’s richest 1% of the population holds 42.5% of national wealth while the bottom 50% – the majority of the population, owns a mere 2.8%, and this is obscene.

The anger of India’s have-nots is undoubtedly a notch higher than usual. In the context of the ongoing Farmers’ protest all over India, the 250 million-plus General Strike on 26th November ’20 did not get much reportage in the popular print or electronic media, workers from every section of the manufacturing and services were solidly out on strike. In the entire country, road transport was affected.

The working class of India have time & again have shown their determination to fight-back at the system of capitalism. Since the imposition of neoliberal economic policies on the country began 29 years ago, workers have gone on strike 20 times, the recent November 26th General Strike was the fifth in the row country-wide strike by workers against Modi’s regime, the earlier four being – September 2, 2015; September 2, 2016, and the two-day strike on January 8 & 9 in 2019 and January 8, 2020.

Urgent need, a Political Programme!
Indeed it is a pertinent question asked by many thinking workers as to where all these class actions and General Strikes are leading us? Many even wonder, in the absence of a decisive political programme to unite all the dispersed sectional struggles of all oppressed people from poor peasants, Dalits, Women, oppressed National minorities, would it not serve the oppressive regime’s vested interests to divert the attention and drive a wedge to render the struggles into a futile routine exercise.

The answer lies in the struggle to build a new leadership that can challenge and end the current rotten Capitalist system and replace it with a Socialist Alternative that can harness the latent talents and energies of India’s working multitudes to usher in an unforeseen development of the society as a whole.

Jagadish G Chandra
New Socialist Alternative