New Socialist Alternative, Pune intervening during the General Strike.
General Strike

26th November- India’s working class flexes its muscles

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. read more

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CHALLENGE THE AUTHORITARIAN COMMUNAL REGIME!

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.

END UNEMPLOYMENT!
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.

RENATIONALISE!
*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.

END DISCRIMINATION!
* 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.) read more

News

Farmers Protest the Ruination of their Lives

The following write-up is the English translation of the Marathi language leaflet brought out by the Pune branch of New Socialist Alternative

‘New Socialist Alternative’ supports and actively participates in the nationwide farmers’ protest called today on 25 and the Bharat Bandh on 28th September. In the last few years, the agitation of farmers across the country has intensified. Farmers are constantly taking to the streets in various forms from strikes to long marches. On the one hand, it is clear that brutal attacks of capitalist policies are compelling not just the workers but also farmers to take to the streets. On the other hand, the social base against the capitalist attacks of the Modi government in power is widening. This movement is important in this regard.

The real motives –
The main objective of the three laws passed in Parliament by the Central Government is to pave the way for private corporate capital to gain control over the entire agriculture chain from production to distribution of the farm produce. Of these, the Agricultural Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act allows private companies, bulk buyers to have a private market system that allows them to purchase goods directly, bypassing the current market system through the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs). The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act removes control over the stockpiling of food grains and the profiteering that results from it, giving them access to stocks and the black market. The third law allows for corporate farming, that is, contract farming under the control of corporate companies.

Considering the recent economic developments and the class character of the ruling BJP, the real purpose behind these laws is clear. Now it is more than a decade since corporate capital has entered into the retail business with a plethora of malls selling agricultural commodities, foods in India. Also, in the recent past, financial capital has flowed into the sector through a number of small and large start-ups, such as Big-Basket for the delivery of vegetables, fruits and food grains. The functioning of market committees constituted under State governments though was limited, it was still a hindrance to their interests. Hence, the corporate sector has been demanding and lobbying hard for these legislations to open up agricultural marketing for a long time.

‘Karlo India Muthi Mein’
Of course, it is no coincidence that the Modi government carried out the historic task of fulfilling the long-cherished aspirations of the capitalists. This regime has not only come to power on the strength of big corporates including Ambani-Adani, but its survival too depends on continuously serving them. Modi-Shah led BJP has thus served their masters well bypassing these laws to hand over the agricultural sector to exploit it for their profits. In the last few months, Ambani’s Reliance has been playing a major role in capturing India’s retail sector through Jio; raising funding of almost 21 billion dollars. The retail turnover of the country is around Rs 7 lakh 65 thousand crores. From Reliance takeover of Future Group to its ongoing negotiations with Amazon, Ambani’s strategy to take over the sector is similar to what Jio did in Telecom. At the same time, the interests of big companies like Adani Wilmer and ITC in the commodity trade and food processing industry are also involved. The Adani Group has already struck a deal with Wilmer; a leading Asian Agri-industry company based in Singapore. And it is keen to dominate the country’s oil processing sector. Ambani, Adani and huge corporate giants in this way are desperately eager to take over the entire agro chain; from agricultural production to the market. The new laws in the field of agriculture and labour are for those who have such ‘Karlo India Muthi Mein’ intentions.

Need to reject laws in unison –
The government, their experts and their puppet media is sowing the seed of a dream that the farmers will be free than ever, as they will be able to sell their products to anyone. It is, of course, a blatant lie. Where Vodafone and Idea could not compete with Jio, how can the farmer stand up to corporates that are sometimes bigger than the economies of many countries combined together, and give them a fair price for their goods? By controlling retail, food processing, warehouses and cold storages, it is needless to say that a monopoly will be established on it. These laws are as dangerous for consumers as they are for farmers. It should not be forgotten how big traders and companies, in 2016, robbed the people by hoarding, black marketing and raising the price of Toor dal to Rs. 200. Adani’s involvement in this has been pointed out. Therefore, we need to get united to reject these laws.
An appeal to a broader movement, not a limited one.

Against this backdrop, ‘New Socialist Alternative’ participates in this nationwide protest. But at the same time, it should be noted that these agitations would be limited if they continue to sideline the interests, demands of small, marginal peasants, landless labourers. According to the Agriculture Survey of 2015-16, 86% of the farmers in the country are small landholders owning less than 2 hectares of land. Peasant agitations focused around MSP (Minimum support price) obviously undermine their interests. Also, the issue of unequal ownership of land and water by big farmers cannot be rolled under the carpet. The issue of land distribution is important for the landless agricultural labourers mostly hailing from Dalit castes. Program to undertake co-operative farming which is the only way that agriculture could be viable for most of the peasantry with active State investment and support is needed to alleviate the severe agrarian crisis. Agitations around limited demands of debt waivers and guaranteed prices will not help much. It should also focus on the employment of youth in rural-semi-urban areas. It is possible to create crores of jobs in rural semi-urban areas by setting up food processing industries on a cooperative basis. More importantly, these farm bills are passed along with draconian changes in labour laws reducing workers to the modern form of slavery. It can not be looked as a separate issue. A joint struggle based on the program of transitional demands could build a broader movement against brutal attacks on labourers and peasants.

New Socialist Alternative, Pune
www.facebook.com/NSAPune

News & Analysis

India: Huge ‘bad debt’ write-off for big business revealed


Image: Flikr/Wikimedia commons
A recent report that an enormous amount of taxpayers money is being used to bail out the bad debts of the super-rich has shocked workers and the poor in India, while the Modi government is refusing to spend enough to save lives during the covid-19 crisis. As this news emerged in response to RTI (right to information) query, the lives of the majority of workers and poor are devastated by the corona crisis, and many face starvation.

Since 2005, Indian governments have arranged for a consortium of banks to make loans worth trillions of rupees to Indian capitalists. A significant portion of the finance has been converted into the personal properties of the capitalists through bogus companies. For example, even conservative estimations estimate that Vijay Mallya, an ex-parliamentarian and a businessman, alone, allegedly transferred Rs. 4000 crore to tax “safe havens” [(Rs 68,607 crore is equivalent to approximately £70 billion (sterling)]. Many have looted wealth and escaped to other countries with big sums. After declaring themselves bankrupt, they are leading luxurious lives in London or Antigua. It is these vultures that the Indian government had decided to rescue. In the last election campaign, Modi promised to bring back to India the ‘black money’ resting places like a Swiss bank. But all we have seen is unbearable sufferings inflicted on the mass of the population through Modi’s reckless policies, like demonetization.

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The banking sector in India is facing an enormous crisis. Though the total gross earnings of the public sector banks have been on the rise every year, they end-up in net losses due to provisions they have to set aside for wilful bad loans of the capitalists. For example, last year the Chairman of the United Forum of Bank Unions said that the public sector banks posted a gross profit of Rs. 1,50,000 crore during the financial year 2018-19. Owing to the provisions towards bad loans, there was a net loss of about Rs. 66,000 crore. Last year, alone, the central government spent $37 billion to write off bad debt. The Reserve bank of India was forced to bail out a private bank, pouring billions of taxpayers money into it.

The provision funds of the banks are created with lower interest for deposits of ordinary people along with hidden charges to maintain bank accounts. This was propped up with extended working hours and employing less staff. The provision funds are added up to write-off the bad loans of “willful defaulters” that are referred by the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) to bankruptcy courts. In other words, organized theft of working people’s money by the state and banks.

The recent RTI (Right to information) revelation of Rs 68,607 crore bad loan write-off for big business is a mere tip of the iceberg. On Aug 02, 2019, the Economic Times casually reported that “it has been over two years since the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) ordered 12 loan accounts worth Rs 3.5 lakh crore to be taken to the bankruptcy courts. Banks have recovered more than Rs 40,000 crore from three of them.” Further, on February 4, 2020, the Indian Express reported that the banks have written off Rs. 6.66 lakh crores since the financial year 2015.

During her budget speech, finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, said that the government had injected Rs.3.5lakh crore capital into public sector banks. This huge amount of taxpayers money is used now to write off banks’ debt created by big capitalists.

There is no doubt in workers minds that the corrupted political parties and their leaders must have “gained” out of this through backdoor donations and underground dealings. This black money then flows during the election time as enormous spending on campaign work to defeat the interests of the workers and oppressed. This vicious process had seen the erosion of democratic rights of people, and the labour rights of workers, over the years.

It is to be noted that the government has “summarily” rejected a report prepared by a group of Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers that suggested raising income-tax rate up to 40% for the super-rich to rebuild the economy after the end of the corona pandemic. Cursing the report as an irresponsible act, the government also initiated a departmental inquiry against them, citing that it had created panic among the capitalists. This is another clear signal to workers about what interests the Indian government represents. Given this, there is no chance of recovering trillions of rupees thrown out to rescue the bad loans of billionaire defaulters.

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While this is taking place, the central government is going on the offensive, with attacks on workers’ conditions and wages. Recently, the central government froze an allowance to its employees for the next 18 months, when many are struggling with Covid-19 related inflation. The finance ministry has not responded to the demand to waive retail loan interests during the lock-down period. In fact, they have not delivered anything for the workers. So-called allocation of money to deal with Covid-19 has gone back into the pockets of capitalists. What had been promised to the workers and poor is a minimal amount handed out that is not enough even to manage a few days’ expenses.

The state governments, in turn, are also pushing ahead with attacks on workers’ conditions. The Tamil Nadu government recently announced that it would cancel earned leave for all teachers, adding to freezing wages and taking away pension money. This had already provoked a bitter reaction among education workers who voluntarily donated a days’ wages to deal with the corona pandemic.

The Indian central and state governments are using the crisis to save the profit of big business and rescue the capitalist class that they serve. An avalanche of attacks against workers and their conditions is being carried out to meet the needs of the capitalists. We must come together to resist this.

We condemn the daylight robbery of the capitalists and their political parties. We demand the immediate reversal of all bailout plans for big business and private banks. We demand an immediate appropriation of all assets of these banks and businesses and to bring them under the democratic control of the workers. We demand that the Reserve Bank of India opens its books and publish immediately all its dealings. We demand that all loans which were given to small businesses and workers and poor be written off. All education loans, in particular, must be waived immediately, along with agricultural loans. We must refuse to pay all debt to the banks. We demand appropriation of all properties of “wilful defaulters”! Appropriate the assets of all political parties who have accepted donations from these gangsters!

Vasanth Kumar
New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India)

 

Health

Joint statement in support of the Public Health Service Campaign.


Image Courtesy: Economic Times

Corona is certainly a dangerous Virus but the reason it has turned into a pandemic is certainly the making of capitalism. Decades of reckless policies of neo-liberalism led to constant neglect of public health care services to facilitate entry and expansion of private capital. It has turned even the basic health facilities into a profiteering business. read more