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.
GENERAL STRIKE 26th Nov 2020
Drunk with the success of a brutal parliamentary majority and with the cunning aid of spin doctors who tweak every failure of the Modi government as a glorious success, the authoritarian regime of Modi built on the ‘temple of lies’ is galloping with a spree of anti-people “reforms” challenging and destroying all that has been achieved by India’s Working Class people and other oppressed sections through decades of valiant struggles. The electoral process, Parliament, Judiciary and other institutions of India’s democracy and now even the rights of the workers and peasantry have come under severe attack. Many who are ardent supporters of BJP’s Hindutva agenda are now left wondering what is going to happen to their livelihoods in the very near future. Can grand temples and demonic sized statues feed them and their families?
Modi and his cohorts are transferring the burden of their utterly failed economic policies on to the toiling masses. To achieve this, they are using all the tricks and strategies in their armoury communalism. Now it is very clear that for the first time in the history of independent India, policy failures have pushed the economy of the country into a clear recession. Modi led BJP-RSS and their socially divisive and politically inflammable agenda pursued in the last six and half years has left a trail of blood in the entire country.
Unfortunately, India’s Working Class in the recent times has been subjected to the pressures of various identities, party affiliations and most crucially are very regressively getting influenced by the deep-rooted prejudices against the religious minorities and oppressed Dalits and Tribals. All this has contributed to the cacophonous propaganda of RSS and BJP that India is a country of Hindu majority, hence the myth that Modi is invincible as the aggressive face of Hindutva.
Fightback: The General Strike of 26th November provides an opportunity to the workers and other oppressed sections to demonstrate our unity against all divisions imposed on us by the capitalists and communalists. Like in the previous General Strikes where millions of India’s proletariat have proved time and again that given a leadership they are more than willing to challenge the system that oppresses them.
The Modi led Hindutva juggernaut can not only be challenged but can be decisively stopped. Our Class has to unite and act as one class against the oppressive Capitalist system, this can not be done by overlooking the divisions amongst us, these crucial pressure points can be the islands on which our oppressors camp and conduct covert and overt wars.
The Trade Unions have given a call to defeat the nefarious designs of the so-called Labour Reforms that is adversely affecting millions of workers, particularly the low-paid and non-unionised workers. Already 140 million have lost jobs since the onset of Corona. Losing jobs in a country like India which already poverty-stricken is nothing but a death sentence.
We have seen how our brothers and sisters in agriculture, who to the tune of 3,50,000 peasants were forced to commit suicides which is a direct result of the impoverishment caused by the 25 years of neo-liberal reforms. As for as the neo-liberal capitalism is concerned, there is a near-total agreement of all the establishment political parties in this country.
Public Health Care Now! The 1,31,578 (as of now) deaths due to Coronavirus in the country, doesn’t give the full picture of the crisis. Health care is not universal in this so-called the Democratic Republic, it is a privilege of the rich and powerful. The so-called opening up of the economy to the private capital has worsened the situation in health and education. Corona health crisis has exposed the ‘chinks in the armour’ of the so-called “socialistic” pattern of society, it is the profit-seeking and blood-sucking private health and insurance that killed tens of thousands in the last nine months alone.
Just before the 2017 general strike Modi regime promised Rs.15,000 minimum wages for all, until today it is a big lie, in fact, the wages have been slashed.
It is roughly estimated that there are around 500 million workers in India, of these over 94 per cent work in unregistered, unorganised enterprises ranging from pushcart vendors to home-based diamond and gem polishing operations. The organised sector includes workers employed by the government, state-owned enterprises and private sector enterprises. It is an estimation that the organised sector employed 27.5 million workers, of which 17.3 million worked for the government or government-owned entities.
It is time for a decisive fight back! 26th November should pave way for the total eradication of this communal, casteist and the capitalist system.
Resistance is On! Join the 26th November ‘20 General Strike!!
INDIA’S WORKING CLASS DEMANDS:
*An immediate rollback of Labour and Farmer’s reforms
* Trade unions and Peasant organisations must prepare for the occupation of Work Places and Agricultural fields to take over
* We want restoration of all Trade Union rights including the right to organise and strike.
The youth unemployment stands at a 45 year high * Every single economic policy of Modi has decreased jobs by Millions. Demonetisation, GST, Privatisation, shoddy response to Corona have caused at least 200 million jobs lost.
*Bank Sector Reforms must stop immediately
Just before the 2017 general strike Modi regime promised Rs.15,000 minimum wages for all, until today it is a big lie, in fact, the wages have been slashed
* Trade Unions must demand re-nationalisation of all that is privatised
* The Working class must demand more investment in Public Sector Health, Education and Food processing to create millions of jobs that are woefully needed
* Nationalise all Private Hospitals and Pharmaceutical Industry
* For a Universal free health care system now! No more deaths for want of basic medical care.
FIGHT FOR MINIMUM WAGE!
Just before the 2017 general strike Modi regime promised Rs.15,000 minimum wages for all, until today it is a big lie, in fact the wages have been slashed.
* We demand a monthly minimum wage Rs.25,000 for all.
* The attempts to re-introduce divisive Citizenship Amendments must stop
* Say no to all citizenship discrimination
* Say No to CAA-NRC-NPR
DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS FOR ALL!
Trade unions must launch a vigorous campaign to Reclaim democracy. Be it the people of Kashmir Valley or the Citizens of the North East, we demand full democratic nationality rights for all. We need to Fightback to reclaim all lost democratic rights and places.
(The above text was published as a leaflet in solidarity with the General Strike on 26th Nov. 2020. This leaflet was published in four languages; English, Kannada, Tamil & Marathi.)