A POLITICAL earthquake has rocked south Asia following India’s general election. Millions of workers, the dispossessed and rural poor decisively rejected the ‘neo-liberal’ policies of the ruling Hindu nationalist coalition government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee.
TWO YEARS ago, it was a big thing when the then ‘socialist’ French government sent a delegation to the World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre, Brazil. At this year’s event in Mumbai, attended by 80,000 people, ministers were no longer a sensation. With the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) as one of the main organisers, the event was opened and closed by VP Singh, formerly both finance minister and prime minister of India. In fact, he introduced neo-liberalism into the country. Today, he has left the mainstream Congress party and is used by India’s two ‘Communist’ parties as a hired leader. They want him involved so that they can put themselves forward as a ‘secular front’ against communalism.
AS WE reported in last week’s issue of the socialist, over 120,000 people, mainly from the Indian sub-continent and other Asian countries, attended the fourth World Social Forum in the Indian city of Mumbai.
Members of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI – the international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated), have sent these reports and interviews with workers who attended.
THE ASIA Social Forum (ASF), held in Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh, India, from 2-8 January 2003, attracted over 15,000 delegates from all over India and there were around 400 foreign delegates. CWI members from India and Australia present at the Forum have sent the following report. We also publish the text of a CWI leaflet distributed at the Forum.
IN THE worst ever earthquake that India has seen in the last two centuries, Ahemadabad, Bhuj, Bhachau and the entire Kutch district have been devastated.
Ten days after the disaster the most conservative estimate puts the body count at 100,000. The final toll will be at least four times that number as the day of the earthquake was a holiday and people mostly remained home.