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November-December 2010

 

Table of Contents

  1. Organise Country-wide Protests during Barack Obama’s India Visit

  2. US Hands off India, Hands off Asia!

  3. The Ayodhya Verdict: A Blow to the Spirit of Modern India

  4. CPI(ML)’s Charter for the People of Bihar

  5. All India Left Coordination (AILC) Holds Conventions

  6. The Human Cost of Wealth Explosion

  7. Comrade Ram Naresh Ram is no more

Struggles in India

 

Organise Country-wide Protests during Barack Obama’s India Visit

 

– Liberation, November, 2010.

 

US President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to India this November will inaugurate a new chapter in the ‘strategic partnership’ between US imperialism and India’s ruling class. As people of India, let us examine the interests that the US President represents and the implications of his visit for India.

 

Barack Obama became President of the United States because he represented, for the people of the US as well of the world, a promise of ‘change’ – change from the imperialist policies of the Bush regime that had imposed wars, occupation, and economic crisis on the world.

 

Two years later, both in the US as well as elsewhere in the world, that promise stands belied. Obama’s regime has represented ‘continuity’ rather than ‘change’ with the policies of US imperialism and war-mongering. Any ‘change’ has remained cosmetic. Obama colluded in suppressing the UN’s Goldstone Report indicting Israel for war crimes in Gaza. In the name of ending the occupation of Iraq, Obama has actually renamed 50, 000 US troops in Iraq as ‘advise-and-assist brigades’ rather than combat troops. The US war in Afghanistan continues unabated. And there has been no change whatsoever in the policies of US imperialism that force a grave economic crisis on the people of the world.

 

As Manmohan Singh’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II government rolls out the red carpet for US President Barack Obama this November, we will once again hear the familiar claims – that India’s ‘special’ relationship with the US is a matter of pride and that being part of the US’ strategic embrace protects India’s economic and security interests. But bitter experience has taught us better.

 

It has been revealed recently that the US had information of the Mumbai terror attacks’ mastermind David Headley’s links with terrorist outfits as well of his plans to target Indian cities, but did not share the same with India. Not only that, the US is even now keeping its own secrets by protecting Headley from facing trial in India. In the Bhopal gas tragedy, we saw how India’s rulers obliged the US by failing to make corporations like Union Carbide and Dow face the criminal consequences or even pay damages. The Indo-US Nuke Deal is designed to keep a US leash on India’s foreign policy and increase India’s dependence on the US, while the recently passed Nuke Liability Bill is scripted to protect the interests of the US nuclear industry. The Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture and ‘Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative’ are all increasing the US stranglehold over India’s self-reliance in education and agriculture.

 

Obama’s visit to India will undoubtedly serve US interests in many ways – by further prising open key sectors of the Indian economy for US investment; by expanding the Indian market for the US military-industrial complex; and by further binding India to the US’ imperialist strategies in the world. For the mass of Indian people, however, it is clear that India’s growing ties with the US are inviting economic crisis and terrorism on Indian soil, and shamefully shackling India’s independence and self-reliance to imperialist interests.

 

Barack Obama is coming to our country as the intelligent, democratic face of US imperialism; let all who stand for peace, justice and sovereignty greet him with protests all over the country with a loud welcome message:

 

US Imperialism Keep off from India, Keep Off from Asia!

Asia is not for US Meddling and Occupation!

Stop Outsourcing War, Terror, and Economic Crisis!

 

CPI(ML) Liberation

CPM Punjab

Left Coordination Committee (Kerala)

Lal Nishan Party (Leninist)

For All India Left Coordination

 

Politics in India

 

US Hands off India, Hands off Asia!

 

– Arindam Sen, Liberation, November, 2010.

 

Barack Obama’s journey to India in the first week of November promises to be remarkable on several counts. Not all US Presidents visited India; those who did came here only in their second terms in office. Obama will be coming here before completing his second year in the White House and the trip is expected to cover full four or five days – the longest on record. Generally speaking this is a measure of India’s enhanced importance in the American dream of world domination. But perhaps more important are the current context and the immediate concerns on both sides.

 

Right on the eve of Presidential trip, the CNAS (Centre for a New American Security), a think tank headed by Richard Armitage and Nicholas Burns — both former Deputy Secretaries of State under George Bush Junior and key architects of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal – brought out a paper titled “Natural Allies: A Blueprint for the Future of U.S.-India Relations”. Referring to the “rapid expansion of ties” during particularly the Bush years, the paper laments that now this progress has stalled. “Past projects remain incomplete, few new ideas have been embraced by both sides, and the forward momentum … has subsided” – the paper observes, adding “it is critical to rejuvenate the U.S.-India partnership and put U.S. relations with India on a more solid foundation.”

 

How does the Democratic administration propose to respond to this Republican pressure?

According to an official statement from the White House, the visit will focus on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, bilateral business ties and the world economy. It is easy to guess that the second item would dominate the agenda, since this is crucial both for a recession-hit and debt-burdened US and for an India betting on an outward-looking rather than domestic demand-driven strategy of growth. The two sides will therefore focus on issues such as the easing of high-tech exports to India by removing Indian firms from the banned entities list, which is mainly a fallout of New Delhi not signing the NNPT and other security-related technology transfer agreements like CISMOA (Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement) and BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement). If some success is achieved on this front, that will be used to project the visit as “historic”. The principal beneficiaries will of course be the corporate lobbies in both countries – particularly the military-industrial complex in the US. Firms like Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp. expect to sell military-transport aircrafts, military jet engines, freight locomotives, reconnaissance aircrafts and other items worth tens of billions of dollars. As for the Indian establishment, it will be only too happy to show off its commitment to “national security” with the newly acquired state-of-the-art defence equipments and technologies.

 

Apart from the huge profits to be made from the sale of military hardware, arming India to the teeth is important for Washington also as part of its China containment policy. In the recent past, China-US relations took some severe beatings on issues like arms sale to Taiwan and Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama while the perpetually simmering tensions in the Sino-Indian relations were also aggravated on more occasions than one. Naturally the Indian Government is a very willing accomplice in the American scheme of promoting “the world’s biggest democracy” as a counterweight to “authoritarian China”. Of course, this can happen only within a limit. For the Democratic administration also accepts China’s crucial role in South Asia, as the Beijing joint statement – which, inter alia, had appeared to convey that China and the US would now keep a watch over differences between India and Pakistan – made clear a year ago.

 

A thorny issue that will be sought to be sorted out during Obama’s visit is the teetering civil nuclear-energy partnership between the two countries. US sanctions against India ended with the signing of the nuclear deal a couple of years ago, but US firms like GE are not selling nuclear technology to India yet. They are not prepared to accept even the very limited liability placed on suppliers in the event of a nuclear accident under the Nuclear Liability Bill. India is hoping to assuage US firms that it will take care of their concerns through the rules to be framed under the law, while US officials and corporations want the law itself revised and the liability provision scrapped —which does not seem to be feasible in the given balance of political forces in India.

 

In the realm of world economy, the US wants India to support it in the currency war against China, blaming the latter for artificially devaluing the Chinese Yuan. But it has itself adopted a deliberate strategy to devalue the dollar, the principal means being quantitative easing (printing huge amounts of dollar for buying bonds and other financial assets from the market). A weaker dollar would help the President meet his avowed goal to double exports in five years, but this is not good omen for other nations. This explains why Pranab Mukherjee, during his recent visit to the US, refused to take the American side in this war against the Chinese, currently India’s most important trading partner. Nor did he forget to voice India’s disgruntlement with the Obama Administration’s policy of discouraging outsourcing. During the impending visit of the US President, he is likely to raise this question again, and ask for liberalisation of the H-1B visa regime.

 

The Indian wish list would also include a clear commitment from the US to support its claim for permanent membership in an enlarged United Nations Security Council. India, too, would be required to make a number of commitments and policy changes. It will be under great pressure for removing whatever restrictive regulations are still there in sectors such as energy, technology, retail, health care and banking. On the diplomatic front, New Delhi will be urged to join the US in bullying Iran. As a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has an “inalienable right” to develop and use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and according to the International Atomic Energy Agency there is no evidence to back up the charge that Iran is “planning to produce nuclear weapons”. And yet the US, which lied about imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to manufacture the logic of aggression, is now portraying Iran as a threat to peace and resorting to escalating sanctions and threats of military intervention against that country. Washington has already named India’s oil and gas flagship Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and three other firms among the 41 concerns worldwide having energy ties with Iran, an act for which it may impose sanctions on them and the pressure will now be further intensified.

 

Sending out a symbolic message of Indo-US partnership in the fight against terror, the US President will begin his tour from Mumbai, sight of the 26/11 attack. But is America really a dependable ally in this struggle? Soon after the visit was finalized, ProPublica — an independent non-governmental organisation which was a recipient of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting — gave out minute details showing that three years before the November 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, US officials knew that David Coleman Headley was undergoing training with the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which plotted the attack. Had this information and his photographs been shared with India at the time or even after the Obama administration took over, India would not have given a visa to Headley for his repeated visits and this could have prevented the terror strike. This point has been largely ignored by major sections of the Indian media, almost exclusively preoccupied as it is with exposing the role of Pakistan’s ISI in the attack on Mumbai.

 

Among regional issues, the Af-Pak policy of US will also figure in the talks, though hardly any breakthrough is expected. In the “Afghanistan and Pakistan Regional Stabilization Strategy” released in January this year, the White House promised an “enhanced partnership” with Pakistan that would move far beyond the military funding the Bush administration had provided. This was followed up by a provision of $7.5 billion to be given to Pakistan over five years. All this is not palatable to India, which never tires of complaining about US dollars being used by Pakistan in abetting cross-border terrorism. New Delhi is also eager to increase its stakes in Afghanistan and angry with President Karzai for talking to the Taliban. Pakistan on the other hand is reasonably aggrieved with the continuing US Drone attacks inside its territory. In a situation as complex as this, the visiting President will be hard put to balance relations between India and Pakistan — countries eternally at loggerheads, but both of which hold significant regional influence in American plans for a post-war Afghanistan.

 

The impending visit will have its interesting sidelights too. For a starter, the Tata Group has announced a $ 50 million (Rs 220 crores) gift to Harvard Business School — the largest donation from an international donor in the school’s history. The symbolism should not be lost on India’s state guest, who is also a Harvard (law school) alumnus. But in terms of substance, how much will the trip actually yield? Given the maze of multiple pressures and pulls in Indo-US relations, no sensible observer will dare come up with a categorical answer at this stage.

 

The US President comes to India at a time when he is experiencing a steep fall from a peak of popularity in his own country and abroad for failing to deliver on any of his high promises. The Manmohan Singh Government too finds itself beleaguered by a host of nagging problems ranging from skyrocketing prices to the CWG scam. Both sides desperately need a face-lift and they will use the trip for that purpose too. With the range of economic, diplomatic and strategic issues to be covered, it is also evident that Obama’s India sojourn aims at bolstering US interests well beyond this country. The point was driven home by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Robert Blake, one of the top diplomats coming to New Delhi on a ground preparation mission, when he said the centre of gravity of US foreign policy has shifted from Europe to Asia. The bottom line is clear. Barack Obama is coming to our country as the intelligent, democratic face of US imperialism; let all who stand for peace, justice and sovereignty greet him with a loud welcome message: US imperialism keep off from India, keep off from Asia!

 

Politics in India

 

The Ayodhya Verdict: A Blow to the Spirit of Modern India

 

– Liberation, November, 2010.

 

On the eve of the Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya, we had said the verdict would be a “test case for India’s secularism, democracy and justice.” Now, following a close look at the shocking verdict, we must say it has failed this test in every possible way. 30 September, 2010 will now be bracketed with 6 December, 1992. Eighteen years after the dastardly physical demolition of the Babri Masjid, we have now seen its judicial demolition, a verdict that flies in the face of the basic principles of justice and rule of law, and challenges the fundamental spirit of a secular, democratic modern India.

 

The High Court was supposed to decide on the title suit regarding the disputed site. It is well known that the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and its Sangh siblings were all along wary of the court deciding on this case on the plea that the whole issue concerned “faith” and there could be no adjudication over “faith”. It was clear to them that they had no legal basis for their claim and hence they chose the way of cheating the country. They assured everybody that the law of the land would be honoured, and then betrayed their own words to demolish the mosque through a communal-fascistic mobilisation in broad daylight.

 

Today, the Sangh is jubilant that the High Court has turned “faith” into law. All the three judges have accepted the fact that the idols of Ram, Sita and Bharat were smuggled in from outside on the intervening night of 22-23 December, 1949. Yet the judges have ruled by 2-1 majority that the “disputed structure” was not a mosque because it was apparently constructed by demolishing a Hindu religious structure and hence according to the tenets of Islam, it could not have the sanctity of a mosque! The other judge has of course differed on both counts – but the majority view prevailed.

 

The verdict is based heavily on two factors – the so-called ‘archaeological evidence’ marshalled by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) in its 2003 report that there was a Hindu temple on the site before the mosque was built, and the ‘faith’ held by many Hindus that the disputed area is the birthplace of Lord Ram. The ASI report has been widely questioned and rejected by a whole range of historians and archaeologists and can at best be treated as a piece of speculative conjecture based on inconclusive evidence and questionable interpretaion. The other aspect of ‘faith’ is just that – faith, which can by no means be treated as an evidence to decide a title suit.

 

After conceding the Ramjanambhoomi claim on such thoroughly questionable grounds, the judges sought to give the whole thing the appearance of a reconciliatory measure whereby the disputed land would be apportioned into three equal parts with one part going to the waqf board. Reconciliation can only be attempted and achieved on the basis of truth and justice. In this case, both truth (at least recorded historical truth) and justice have been sacrificed at the altar of this phoney reconciliation formula and hence it is a compound travesty of all three. Can there ever be a dignified compromise by compromising truth and justice?

 

After Gujarat genocide, the BJP had been steadily losing ground in most parts of the country. Ever since its debacle in the 2009 Lok Sabha election – its second successive defeat in five years, the party seemed virtually clueless as to how to arrest its continuing state of demoralisation and desperation. Now the Allahabad High Court verdict has breathed some fresh life into the demoralised and desperate saffron camp. Advani has already described the verdict as heralding a new chapter in the country’s history of national integration. In all likelihood, an emboldened BJP will now reopen the whole gamut of its ‘suspended agenda’ and refuel its Hindutva campaign.

 

The judicial trajectory of the case will now reach the Supreme Court. It remains to be seen if and how far the Supreme Court can salvage the spirit of law and justice and heal the post-Ayodhya wound on the body polity and the composite culture of the country that has only been rendered deeper and more acute by the Allahabad High Court verdict. Every effort must be made to make sure that the glorious tradition of India’s composite culture and the secular democratic vision of modern India prevail over the Sangh brigade’s conspiracy to redefine India on retrograde majoritarian lines.

 

Bihar Assembly Elections 2010

 

CPI(ML)’s Charter for the People of Bihar

 

  • Liberation, November, 2010.

 

CPI (ML) is in the midst of a most vigorous election campaign in the 104 constituencies of Bihar. Below is the election charter.

 

Fight against Corruption: Corruption has become a major drag on development and it marks a serious denial of dignity and democracy for the poor. The CPI(ML) is therefore determined to wage a “zero-tolerance to corruption” campaign and insists on comprehensive probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation or other credible and competent agencies into all frauds unearthed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and other vigilance agencies to ensure that all officials, politicians and contractors/middlemen responsible for misappropriation and diversion of public funds and Public Distribution System (PDS) loot are brought to book. More often than not, corruption flows from the top and it is therefore particularly important to mete out stern punishment in every case of corruption in high places. The CPI(ML) demands that each Minister and any other politician holding the office of profit and each bureaucrat be legally mandated to publicly declare his/her assets that s/he possessed before s/he occupies the public position, and then at every six months interval during the period of holding such position, failing which the concerned minister/official should face automatic termination. Special courts in sufficient numbers must be created right from the state level down to district and subdivision levels to try corruption cases through speedy trials.

 

Democratic Rights and Democratic Debate: There can never be ‘good governance’ without accountability, democratic rights and serious democratic debates on policy issues. Successive governments in Bihar have systematically downgraded democracy by curtailing democratic rights and reducing the role of the State Assembly as a platform for serious policy debates. The CPI(ML) rejects this authoritarian subversion of democracy, feudal-bureaucratic style of governance and increasingly corrupt and opportunist political culture, and is determined to fight for democratic principles and rights in every sphere and promote serious public debate both within and outside the Assembly.

 

Below Poverty Level (BPL): The latest UNDP report estimates the incidence of poverty in Bihar to be as high as 80%, but the BPL list in Bihar has become a tool for not only gross underestimation of poverty but also large-scale exclusion of the poor. The CPI(ML) will press for automatic inclusion of all agricultural and other rural labourers, small peasants and artisans, low-paid contract/unorganized workers, employees working on token honorarium in BPL category.

 

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGA): Immediate doubling of the current provisions to ensure 200 days of assured annual employment to two persons per family at a daily minimum wage of Rs. 200. Bihar has a very poor record of implementation of MNREGA. The government claims to have provided jobs to all applicants, but in terms of work given (person days), the ratio has actually come down from 35.34% in 2006-06 to 27.54%. If the proportion is calculated relative to the number of job cards issued, the figure will be as low as 9% in 2009-10. Yet the Bihar government has not paid unemployment allowance for failure to provide 100 days’ employment. While fighting for improving the provisions of MNREGA, the CPI(ML) will press for strict enforcement of all norms including prompt allocation of work and payment of wages, payment of unemployment allowance, childcare and other facilities for women workers, check on mechanization and middlemen in MNREGA projects and supervision through general body meetings of the beneficiaries.

 

PDS: Overhauling of PDS in compliance with Supreme Court food orders to ensure 50 kgs of food grains at Rs. 2 per kg and 5 litres of kerosene oil at Rs. 2 per litre to all food-deprived and low-income groups; expansion of commodity coverage under PDS to include all items of essential consumption including pulses, edible oil, soaps and detergents; replacing the present system of private dealership with a network of government-run ration shops in every panchayat.

 

Land Reforms and Tenancy Rights: The D Bandyopadhyay commission has made a modest set of proposals for land reforms and tenancy rights. CPI(ML) wants immediate and complete implementation of all recommendations made by the commission including (i) standardization and strict enforcement of ceiling laws so as to provide 1 acre cultivable land to every landless family, (ii) provision of 10 cents of homestead land for the shelterless and regularization of all settlements of the poor and the oppressed, (iii) registration of all tenants/sharecroppers, regulation of rent and protection of the right to cultivate and extension of necessary assistance to tenants/sharecroppers to help them develop their agriculture.

 

Flood-control and Water Management: Recurrent floods are one of the topmost problems facing Bihar, but the root of this problem lies not so much in nature’s fury as in criminal negligence on the part of successive governments in Patna and Delhi. The Bihar government submitted proposals for plan assistance worth Rs. 17059.62 crore for flood control in the Eleventh Plan, but did precious little to implement its own proposals and follow even the standard precautionary measures. The result was the unprecedented Kosi disaster in 2008 – but while the government has now turned to the World Bank for more funds in the name of rehabilitation, the breaches in Gandak embankments this year clearly show the continued criminal negligence and callousness on the part of the Bihar government. All pressure must be exerted on the state and central governments for immediate implementation of short-term and longer-term measures for flood-control, water management and rehabilitation of flood victims.

 

Irrigation: Despite Bihar remaining primarily an agricultural economy, not more than 50 percent of the cultivable area is irrigated. This strikingly low figure is despite creation of higher irrigation potentials for irrigating about 70-80 percent cultivable area. The gap between potential and actual irrigation area is because of serious neglect of distributory and field channel system, decreasing carrying capacity in the canals because of siltation, and virtual collapse of the government-run tubewell system, to mention three major reasons. Thus, increasing coverage area of irrigation by strengthening the existing system for realizing its potential should be a major agenda of reform. Modernisation of Sone canal and immediate completion of Kadwan reservoir project should be on top of Bihar’s irrigation priorities.

Lack of supply of power and rapidly increasing diesel prices have also proved major obstacles and Nitish Kumar’s promise of 4.64 million borewells has turned out to be completely bogus. If the government cannot guarantee assured power supply, it must consider providing free diesel for pump irrigation pumpsets. While neglecting the issue of maintenance, modernization and expansion of irrigation facilities, the government has been pursuing a strategy of privatization of irrigation, thereby further weakening the system and excluding the poor and middle peasants and tenants/sharecroppers from irrigation facilities. The CPI(ML) is determined to resist this course and fight for the peasant’s right to assured and affordable irrigation facilities.

 

Development of Agriculture and Allied Sectors: Development of agriculture and allied sectors including horticulture, animal husbandry, dairy, poultry and fisheries remains central to any notion of meaningful economic development in Bihar. Apart from guaranteeing thorough-going land reforms and increased public investment in agriculture and allied sectors, the state and central governments must be compelled to extend comprehensive assistance to the agricultural and allied population. Cheap credit, assured power and water and timely supply of subsidized inputs, procurement centres at every panchayat, coldstorage facilities and veterinary hospitals at every block, pro-peasant agricultural research and extension service – these are some of the key demands of agriculture and rural livelihood, and no government can be allowed to abdicate its responsibility on this score.

 

Power and Electrification: Compared to the national average per capita annual consumption of electricity (613 units), Bihar lags way behind at 75 units. Under the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme (RGGVY), Bihar was supposed to reach universal electrification by 2012, but by current estimates only 30% of Bihar villages have been covered till date. Among Bihar’s 1.26 crore rural households, only 6.5 lakh – a shocking 5.12% – are electrified. And in terms of supply, most of the ‘electrified’ areas receive very little and highly erratic power supply. Instead of taking urgent steps to improve power generation and rationalize the power distribution system by prioritizing sectors like agriculture, weaving, industry, education and healthcare, the government has only been desperate to dismantle the State Electricity Board and privatise the power sector. While opposing privatization, the CPI(ML) stresses rapid completion of ongoing power projects and also promotion of decentralized renewable energy to meet Bihar’s growing energy needs.

 

Road and Public Transport: While National and State Highways in Bihar show a degree of improvement, rural roads as well as roads inside district/subdivisional towns are still in very bad shape. Huge gap still exists in this sector seriously constraining the communication and marketing linkage between rural areas and the administrative locations, markets and towns and cities. Against a total of 82,958.63 kms of road network, still about 36,851.63 kms of roads, or 44.42 percent of roads, are kuccha as against 10 percent in Gujarat and 23 percent in Tamil Nadu. Bihar has low penetration of road network with only 77 km road length per 100 sq km, compared with 169 km in Orissa, 118 km in Tamil Nadu, and 97 km in Uttar Pradesh. What is worse, there is still virtually no public transport system in most parts of Bihar. While fighting for a comprehensive network of all-weather motorable roads, and optimum and transparent utilization of concerned resources, the CPI(ML) insists on a safe, affordable and effective public transportation system to take care of the growing communication needs of the people.

 

Healthcare: All shortages in public health infrastructure and staff strength, identified in the Bihar Programme Implementation Plan (PIP) of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and other recent surveys, must be filled up on war-footing. One Community Health Centre (CHC) should be set up in every panchayat and one 50-bedded hospital for every 30 km radius, assured supply of medicines for all sub-centres and CHCs. Bihar needs at least 3 all India Medical Insitute (AIIMS)-style super-specialities, and at least one medical college for each district.

 

Safe Drinking Water, Hygiene and Sanitation: Free and universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation has been recognized by the UN as a basic human right. The Bihar government must take urgent steps to guarantee this right and stop the growing privatization and commercialization of water. Building community toilets in every village, cleaning up all water bodies and freeing drinking water from dangerous effluents and chemicals, and adopting effective measures for water harvesting to stop the falling level of groundwater must be taken up as a priority.

 

Literacy and Education: Bihar’s record on the literacy front is still lagging behind most states in India with the literacy rate among dalits being as low as 28.47% (only 15.58% among dalit women). Rapid and sustained improvement on literacy and education front is crucial for Bihar’s overall progress. In this regard, the CPI(ML) insists on complete implementation of the recommendations made by the Commission on Common School System (CSS) in its report submitted in June 2007 to ensure free and compulsory education for all within the 6-14 years age-group. As visualized by the CSS commission, Bihar will need nearly 60,000 additional schools – another 26,000 primary schools, 15,500 middle schools and 19,000 senior secondary schools, and raise the strength of teachers from 3.72 lakhs in 2007-08 to 11.2 lakhs by 2012-13 and 15.28 lakhs by 2016-17. The Nitish government’s policy of recruiting teachers on contract/honorarium basis runs completely contrary to this vision – this policy must be scrapped and teachers must be provided job security and adequate training to improve the quality of teaching. The CPI(ML) also calls for regularization and upgradation of Madarsas and Sanskrit Vidyalayas according to this framework .

 

Industrialisation: The Nitish model of organizing glamorous “Global Meets”, wooing of corporate capital and looking to foreign agencies like USAID and World Bank for promotion of industrial investment in Bihar has been a complete failure. The CPI(ML) calls for greater conversion of savings accumulated in Bihar into investment by ensuring a higher credit-deposit ratio by nationalized banks, and a special package to ensure reopening of closed mills, revival of sick units in the public sector and promotion of employment-intensive agro-based and other small- and medium-scale industries.

 

Urban Development: Bihar is the least urbanized among all Indian states and yet the government’s vision of urban development is limited only to Patna. The CPI(ML) stands for rapid development of urban infrastructure and urgent provision of civic amenities in all district and subdivisional headquarters. The party will also press for restoration of urban land ceiling norms to curb speculative real estate deals and the consequent rise of real estate barons and land sharks.

 

Land Acquisition: Like in many other parts of the country, of late Bihar is also witnessing a land acquisition spree in the name of widening of roads, setting up of plants and all kinds of construction activities. The CPI(ML) is opposed to any forcible acquisition of land leading to displacement and dispossession of people without informed consent and adequate compensation and resettlement. As a policy, the government should make utmost effort to avoid acquiring cultivable land and displacing/disturbing existing settlements. As far as the demand of land for industrial purposes, against a total land of 4330 acres involved in different industrial areas, even till date about 880 acres are lying vacant. Additionally, a careful scrutiny of sick and closed units can identify which are beyond any possibility of revival, and land occupied by such units can also be freed to make that available to new units.

 

Mining: While most mineral resources of undivided Bihar are now in Jharkhand, Bihar continues to have heavy amount of sand- and stone-mining activities. Much of this mining is unregulated and operated and controlled by the criminal-bureaucrat-politician nexus. The CPI(ML) calls for regulation of this economy to ensure a better deal for the workers and the common people involved and protection of the environment.

 

Disaster Management: Bihar suffers from a recurrent cycle of floods, droughts and other disasters and yet disaster management remains one of the neglected areas of governance. In terms of both planning and preparedness and execution of relief and rehabilitation – the official response continues to be most lethargic and irresponsible. Construction of elevated roads and elevated platforms in flood-prone areas, safe storage of foodgrains, flood-resistant housing models, provision of fire brigades at every block, and district-level disaster-management planning and availability of trained personnel for prompt execution of such plans – these are certain basic measures that every government must guarantee.

Panchayati Raj: Introduction of party-based elections in panchayats and election of mukhia on the basis of majority support among elected ward members as in panchayat samitis and zila parishads; provision of regular salary and allowance for all elected people’s representatives in different panchayati raj institutions; giving more powers to panchayats regarding local planning and implementation and ending bureaucratic interference in panchayat functioning.

 

Cooperatives: Bihar needs a vibrant network of broad-based and democratically functioning cooperatives to service the multiple needs of agriculture and allied sectors, handicrafts and small industries. To this end, the existing cooperative rules should be amended to facilitate mass membership and democratic participation and supervision in various cooperatives and free them from the clutches of bureaucratic domination and mafia control. The government is transferring the agricultural marketing sector to private hands – the CPI(ML) opposes this policy of privatization, and calls for development of agricultural marketing – for both supply of inputs and procurement of crops and marketing of artisanal production – through a network of cooperatives down to every panchayat.

 

Teachers: Implementation of recommendations of the Common School System commission; regularization of all teachers and ending the practice of contract/casual employment in posts of permanent nature; guarantee of time-bound promotion and pension benefits for all teachers; strict implementation of the Patna HC directives on filling the teacher vacancies in schools; Sixth Pay Commission parity in the salaries of all school and college teachers and mandatory housing quarters for all government school and college teachers; treating teachers in primary/secondary schools at par with their counterparts in colleges/universities in regard to their right to vote and contest in MLC elections; just settlement of the longstanding issue of teachers in unaided schools and colleges, and extension of all essential facilities to such unaided but otherwise functional educational institutions.

 

Government Employees: Democratisation of the Bihar State Government Servant Conduct Rules to guarantee full democratic rights, including the right to strike, for government employees and teachers; immediate filling up of all vacant posts in government departments; revival of all government and semi-government undertakings with immediate payment of all accumulated wage-arrears; regularization of all employees employed on contract/honorarium/casual/daily basis; parity with central government employees in terms of pay scales, allowances, promotion, pensions and other benefits; comprehensive enforcement of all past agreements and court orders upholding the rights of employees.

 

Unorganised Workers: Minimum wages in Bihar should be revised immediately in parity with the minimum norms prescribed by the Sixth Pay Commission for government employees. Welfare boards must immediately be constituted in different industries/occupations to ensure housing, healthcare, education and pension benefits for unorganized workers and their families including agricultural labourers, and adequate compensation for all accident victims. The government must issue proper identity cards to all unorganized workers to save them from administrative harassment.

 

Women: Free education for girl students at all levels; 33% job reservation for women in all spheres; regularization of women engaged in Anganwadi, Mamata and Midday Meal schemes; provision of working women’s hostel facilities in every district/subdivisional town; compliance with relevant Supreme Court guidelines and central/state legislations and initiation of necessary new legislative measures to save women from sexual harassment in workplaces and from domestic violence and other anti-women crimes, separate cells or helpline for women in every institution that deals with the public. The Centre and State should jointly guarantee a credit of Rs. 50,000 on demand to any individual woman without collateral at an interest rate of 2 per cent per annum. The interest on SHG loans should also be brought down to not more than 4 per cent per annum.

 

Senior Citizens: All senior citizens in low-income families should get a minimum monthly pension of Rs. 1,000 and free healthcare facilities, provision of old-age homes and special care centres in every block to take care of old people without any family support.

 

Children: To abolish child labour in all forms and provide all children up to 14 years of age with free and compulsory education, the Common School System (CSS) commission in its June 2008 report suggested a set of concrete measures such as supplementing the income of families of child labourers or street children by at least Rs. 1,000 per month apart from taking full care of all needs of such children to ensure their enrollment and retention in schools. We call for a survey of all child labour and street children in Bihar and demand their urgent rehabilitation according to the norms prescribed by the CSS Commission.

 

Students: Education in Bihar is reeling under the combined assault of privatization, rampant commercialization, systemic neglect and declining standard, forcing more and more students to migrate in search of quality education. Unregulated coaching institutions and private colleges are mushrooming in the state and students are being forced to pay exorbitant fees for the so-called job-oriented courses that no longer guarantee any jobs. The CPI(ML) calls for reversal of this trend, regulation of coaching institutions, reduction of fees and special scholarships for students from low-income families. All vacancies in colleges/universities must be filled up immediately to enable existing institutions to function efficiently. Patna, Muzaffarpur and Bhagalpur universities should be upgraded to central universities, and the proposed branch of Aligarh Muslim University opened without any delay. Apart from setting up Indian Institute of Management (IIM) chapter in Patna, the state should take initiative to ensure affordable quality courses in Information Technology, engineering and medical education in Patna and all major urban centres and provide ample hostel facilities for students. College and university students must have their full democratic rights to elect representative student unions.

Youth: Provision of monthly unemployment allowance of Rs. 1,000 for every unemployed youth not getting any employment within six months after registration with state employment exchange; holding of railway and other national-level recruitment examinations for Bihar-based applicants at centres inside Bihar; construction of youth hostels in district/subdivisional towns.

 

Urban Poor: Most Nagar Panchayats in Bihar, though formally considered urban, have a socio-economic profile that is still predominantly rural; yet the poor in these areas are deprived of the BPL schemes available for rural areas. The same benefits should therefore accrue to the BPL population in Nagar Panchayat areas. Likewise, there should also be dedicated housing scheme and adequate civic amenities for the urban poor in bigger towns.

 

Street Vendors and Small Traders: All street vendors in Bihar should be provided with proper license and identity cards and protected from harassment by the police, officials or money-extorting goons. The CPI(ML) is also committed to the defence of small retail traders against extortion threats, other criminal offences, harassment by police and bureaucracy and heavy taxation.

 

Looms, Handicrafts and Artisans: There should be a special scheme of assistance for handicrafts and artisans. The Bihar government should organize relief for the weavers of Bhagalpur to protect the famous Bhagalpur silk and tussar from the impact of the global crisis and to curb cheaper Chinese fake products. Assured 12-hour power supply should be guaranteed to all powerloom clusters in Bhagalpur as well as in Biharsharief, woolen weaving in Nalanda, cotton powerlooms in Gaya, Nawada, Madhubani, Banka, Purnea and other centres in the state. The Weavers’ Service Centre in Bhagalpur should be upgraded to an Export Promotion Council/Centre and National Institute of Fashion Technology/Design branches should be set up in Bhagalpur and other prominent weaving centres, mainly to cater to the children from the families of weavers. Madhubani painters and artisans producing famous wall-hangings with Madhubani painting designs also need similar institutional support. The central and state governments should extend a one-time grant of Rs. 1 lakh to all artisans.

 

Housing: 10 cents of homestead land as recommended by the D Bandyopadhyay Commission, a proper housing scheme for both rural and urban poor, minimum housing grant of Rs. 200,000 and cheap housing loan at 2% interest for low-income groups.

 

Welfare and Rights of Muslim Community: The NDA government in Bihar pretends to be a great champion of Muslim welfare. It set up yet another commission on Bhagalpur riots, but only an interim report was submitted and while the committee recommended higher compensations on the lines of the 1984 victims of anti-Sikh pogrom, the number of victims was drastically reduced and the enhanced compensation/rehabilitation is yet to be effected. The CPI(ML) demands proper compensations and pension for all victims of Bhagalpur riot and similar compensation and pension for riot victims in other areas like Sitamarhi, Biharsharief and Nawada. Funds meant for Muslim welfare are also lying unused – last two years (2008-09 and 2009-10) saw some 25% funds (more than Rs. 60 crore) remain unspent. The CPI(ML) calls for effective implementation of the recommendations of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra commission and time-bound execution of the ongoing multi-sector development programmes not only in Bihar’s seven minority concentration districts but also to minority concentration blocks in other districts, with special emphasis on the community’s education, healthcare and employment needs.

 

Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (SCs/STs) and Reservation: A commission should be set up to investigate deprivation and discrimination against SCs-STs in all spheres and to propose remedial measures covering all sections of dalits and adivasi people; Tharus should be accorded ST reservation; dalit Christians and dalits among Bengali refugees should be recognized as SC; women should get 33% reservation in Assemblies and Parliament; job reservation for SC/ST in private sector.

 

Migrant Workers: Bihari workers constitute one of the biggest contingents of inter-state migrant population in India and are known for their tremendous contribution to the development of agriculture, industry and the service sector in the relatively advanced areas. Yet of late Bihar workers and education- and job-seeking youth have been victims of chauvinistic violence in state after state. The Bihar government must set up a migrant workers’ protection and welfare authority, with offices in major centres of migration like Mumbai, Delhi, Ludhiana, Kolkata, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Surat etc.) so as to take up the cases of attacks, harassment/ill-treatment and violation of labour laws hurting Bihar migrant workers in States of out migration, and establish a welfare fund to rehabilitate migrant workers displaced by economic crisis as in Dubai/Gulf, natural disasters like in Surat or terrorist/chauvinist attacks as in Mumbai, Manipur, Assam and Northeast or eviction due to urban beautification as in Delhi and Mumbai. Bihar Assembly should pass a resolution demanding a new stringent Central legislation in place of the present toothless Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act.

 

Rehabilitation of Victims of Massacres, Riots, Disasters and Displacement: Bihar has any number of families with deep scars of caste massacres, communal riots and state-promoted natural disasters. Yet successive governments have made only empty promises for the victim families – the record of Nitish Kumar government being one of the worst (disbanding of Amir Das Commission, politics of compensation with Bhagalpur riot victims, lack of compensation and rehabilitation measures for Kosi and other flood victims, lack of crop insurance and compensation in drought-affected areas). The CPI(ML) will fight for bringing all perpetrators of massacres and riots and officials guilty of inviting disasters to justice and provision of adequate compensation and rehabilitation measures for the victim families.

 

Prohibition: The department of prohibition has effectively been transformed by the Nitish government into the department of all-out promotion of liquor consumption. The CPI(ML) calls for urgent reversal of this ruinous trend and is determined to promote anti-liquor movement through popular mobilization.

 

In 2009, the Nitish Kumar government amended the Right to Information Act 2005, imposing unwarranted restrictions on the exercise of the right and limiting the concessions available for the BPL category. The CPI(ML) demands immediate withdrawal of these limiting provisions and unrestricted scope for the people to exercise their right to information so as to subject governance to greater transparency and accountability.

 

Languages and Culture: The state should uphold the right of every student to study his/her mother-tongue, if not receive education in mother-tongue. In this regard, the government must take urgent steps to recruit adequate number of Urdu and Bengali teachers. The CPI(ML) supports the demand for inclusion of Bhojpuri language in the Eighth Schedule. Along with Maithili and Bhojpuri, special measures should also be taken for the protection and development of regional languages like Angika, Bajjika and Maghi. The state government should set up a Bihar Film Development Corporation to promote film-making in Bihar, provide tax exemptions to local films and cash incentives to local talents, launch an National School of Drama (NSD)-type institution to help local talents in the field of theatre and a Sahitya Parishad to promote publication of literary works by emerging writers. There should also be several Regional Cultural Centres to foster the rich cultural traditional tradition in different parts of Bihar. Auditoria and cultural centres should be set up in all district headquarters as a tribute to eminent poets and writers like Nagarjun, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Phaniswarnath Renu and Gorakh Pandey.

 

Sports: Adoption of a sports policy to encourage rural sports, ensure availability of sports teachers and training facilities at every school and spot and groom budding talents at the grassroots level. There must be a properly built sports stadium in every block and a well-equipped sports complex in every district/subdivision headquarter.

 

Tourism: Tourism in Bihar is currently mostly confined to a few prominent Buddhist sites and places of religious pilgrimage. The tourism potential of Bihar in regard to places of historical importance and natural beauty remains largely untapped. The government of Bihar must come up with a comprehensive tourism development plan with due emphasis on development of tourism-related infrastructure for small-budget tourists.

 

Regardless of the composition of the next government, the CPI(ML) is determined to fight for this charter with all its might. Cast your valuable vote in favour of CPI(ML) candidates and strengthen the CPI(ML) for a better tomorrow in a changing Bihar.

 

All India Left Coordination

 

All India Left Coordination (AILC) Holds Conventions at Kolkata and Ranchi

 

– Liberation, November, 2010.

The All India Left Coordination, launched at New Delhi in August this year, held a Convention at Kolkata on 5 October at the Moulali Yuba Kendra on the theme “Decline of the opportunist Left – Rise of the fighting Left”. Among those who attended the Convention were renowned poet and litterateur Nabarun Bhattacharya, Samir Putatunda of Party for Democratic Socialism (PDS) and Aloke Nandy of Democratic Communist Party (Marxist) [DCPM]. Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) [CPI(ML)], Comrade Kumaran Kutty of Left Coordination Committee (LCC), Kerala, Comrade Bhimrao Bansod, Secretary of Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) [LNPL], Maharashtra were the main speakers at the Convention. Comrade Mangat Ram Pasla, General Secretary of Communist Party Marxist (Punjab) [CPM (Punjab)] could not reach the convention due to a delayed train, but addressed a press conference along with Comrade Dipankar and other leaders on the following day. The convention was presided over by Comrade Abhijit Majumder, Central Committee Member of CPI(ML), Liberation.

In his address Comrade Dipankar explained the background of the formation of the All India Left Coordination and the purpose of holding the convention at Kolkata in the backdrop of decline of the ruling Left in West Bengal. Comrade Kumaran Kutty spoke of the situation in Kerala, where extreme reactionary forces were on the rise to fill in the vacuum created by the decline of the opportunist ruling left. However, as a positive trend, he indicated that some disaffected left forces were leaving the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] with a commitment to uphold the genuine, fighting character of the Left rather than join right-wing forces. Comrade Bhimrao Bansod of LNPL emphasized the need to wage unrelenting struggle against the opportunist Left to develop an effective and struggling Left movement.

Samir Putatunda of PDS started with the question of democracy in socialism and urged the constituents of the coordination to be flexible in order to make the unity as broad based as possible and to embrace as much genuine left forces as possible. Poet Nabarun Bhattacharya acknowledged the high importance of this convention and termed the ruling left parties as corporate parties. Pointing to the intellectuals who have aligned themselves with the right reaction today, he called them purchasable commodities. He asserted his unflinching commitment to the left movement at any cost and underlined the need for the All India Left Coordination. Aloke Nandy of DCPM, which is operative in Danton of West Midnapore, expressed his full support to the initiatives and joint declaration finalized by the coordination. He narrated how they with their small organization have been fighting against the tyrannies of the CPI (M). He stated that they lost at least 3 of their comrades in CPI(M) sponsored terror attack and hundreds have been arrested. Defying CPI(M) terror, the DCPM’s strength has been growing.

Summing up the discussions, Dipankar said that a wave of change is coming in West Bengal, but that change is being perceived by many in a distorted manner. He said, the real vehicle of this change is the peasants and the rural poor. That was amply demonstrated in Singur, Nandigram and Jangalmahal. The fall of CPI(M) from power in West Bengal is now a foregone conclusion and no effort will be needed to remove it. Contradicting those who say that that attempts at Left revival must wait for the CPI(M)’s exit from power, he asserted that the task of reviving and rejuvenating the fighting Left has to be started now itself, so that its fruit can be reaped in future. He said that the unity and coordination of the fighting Left should be oriented to hasten the decline of the opportunist Left and work for the rise of the fighting Left.

The next convention was held at Ranchi on the theme “Liberate Jharkhand from Starvation, Loot and Injustice” at the Gosner Theological Hall in Ranchi. The well-attended Convention was addressed by comrades Mangat Ram Pasla, General Secretary of CPM(Punjab), Bhim Rao Bhonsle, Secretary, LNP(L), Kumaran Kutty from LCC Kerala and CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. Comrade Dipankar called upon the people of Jharkhand for uniting to thwart Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s intentions of converting the State in yet another laboratory of communal fascism and launching a robust fight against displacement, eviction, to build the Jharkhand anew as per the dreams of its martyrs. He further said that the ruling parties have subverted the State into ‘Lootkhand’ (plunder land) by numerous Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), lease and illegal mining. Panchayat elections under the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) have been on hold just to ensure that these MoUs are not annulled by elected gram sabhas (village committees) and it is the duty of the true inheritors of the revolutionary legacy of Birsa Munda and Mahendra Singh to transform the panchayats into a platform of struggles for democracy.

Comrades Mangat Ram Pasla, BR Bhonsale and Kumaran Kutty, speaking of the loot and plunder of resources and state repression that marked not only states like Jharkhand, but other states like Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala and the whole country, said that only a revolutionary Left movement can liberate the people from this situation. The Convention was also addressed by CPI(ML) leader and its representative in the State Assembly Com. Vinod Singh, renowned intellectual Shri VP Keshri and senior journalist Shri Faisal Anurag among others. The initiative and formation of AILC was warmly welcomed by the speakers who said that true Left has a serious responsibility of mobilizing and consolidating all the forces of struggle for a revolutionary alternative.

The Convention was presided over by Comrade Bahadur Oraon, Central Committee member of CPI(ML). Comrade JP Minz proposed the resolutions on behalf of the Convention which was unanimously passed. Prerna, a part of Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Manch presented cultural performances.

 

World Economy

 

The Human Cost of Wealth Explosion

 

– Arindam Sen, Liberation, November, 2010.

 

“In proportion as the labour develops, and thereby becomes the source of wealth, poverty and demoralisation among the labourers and wealth and culture among the non-labourers develop. This is the law of the whole hitherto existing history. In the present day capitalist society material etc. conditions have finally been created which enable and compel the labourers to smash this historical malediction” — Karl Marx

 

According to a recent report on global wealth by investment bank Credit Suisse, total wealth in India has tripled over the past decade to $3.5 trillion (this is a general trend in emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific region: Indonesia’s wealth for example has grown five-fold over the same period) and could further increase to almost double that amount — $6.4 trillion to be precise — by 2015. Given the hardly reassuring state of Indian and world economies, will the forecast come true? More pertinently, assuming it does, will that bring India any nearer the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015?

 

Such apprehension arises in view of a number of very disturbing facts and trends. The hallowed wealth increase occurred almost exclusively among the uppermost and higher-middle layers of population and much of it in stock market operations, where only around 5% of Indians participate. According to the 2009 Asia-Pacific Wealth Report, brought out by financial services firms Capgemini and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, the number of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) — defined as those having investable assets of $1 million or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables – were 84,000 in 2008. They had a combined net worth of $310 billion. According to the firms’ 2010 World Wealth Report, India now has 126,700 HNWIs, an increase of more than 50% over the 2008 number.

 

Not surprisingly, at least 200,000 peasants committed suicide around the same time as India became the nation with the second highest number of dollar billionaires, and the yearly food intake of an average poor family in 2007 turned out to be about 100 kg less than in 1997. In 2007-08 India occupied the132nd place in the UN human development index (HDI) index – down from the 122nd place it occupied in the same index in 1992.

 

We have the highest number of malnourished people and malnourished children (43% of India’s children under 5 are underweight – that is, with BMI lower than 18.5 – the highest in the world) as of 2008. In fact almost simultaneously with the Credit Suisse report, the 2010 Global Hunger Index published by the International Food Policy Research Institute placed our country far behind Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan in terms of people – children in particular – suffering from hunger and undernutrition. With these three countries placed in the 39th, 56th and 52nd positions and China miles ahead with the 9th place in the world, India occupies the 67th position. Shockingly, our country finds itself even behind countries in sub-Saharan Africa in respect to a whole range of indices like maternal and infant mortality rate.

 

The Gini coefficient of income inequality (a statistical measure where zero denotes complete equality and one denotes absolute inequality) in India comes to a high 0.535. Inequality of opportunity – which is more important in determining a country’s future growth trajectory and which depends mostly on distribution of land as well as access to education, health, stable employment etc – is even more pronounced.

 

The extremely skewed land ownership in our country is well-known, but few people know that India’s educational inequality is one of the worst in the world. According to World Bank estimates, the Gini coefficient of the distribution of adult schooling years in the population, a rough measure of educational inequality, was 0.56 in India in 1998/2000, which is not just higher than 0.37 in China and 0.39 in Brazil but even higher than almost all Latin American countries.

 

Now add to these figures the wherewithal of economic growth: large-scale displacement, land grab, resource loot and onslaughts like UAPA and Operation Green Hunt. What you get is the moral of the whole story – in the neoliberal model, growth in GDP and ‘national’ wealth has to be inversely proportional to real development and democracy. For the aam admi, therefore, the spectacular growth prospects highlighted by the Swiss bank comes as a warning bell, implying more deprivation, more marginalization, more attacks on democratic rights, more cultural and environmental degradation.

 

Surely this cannot go unchallenged. The fight for an alternative path of self-reliant and people-centred development as opposed to the present imperialist-dictated, corporate-driven growth – an alternative that would promote relatively more egalitarian and employment-intensive and less energy-resources-capital intensive path of development – thus assumes a new urgency as we approach the second decade of 21st century.

 

Obituary

 

Comrade Ram Naresh Ram is no more

 

– ML Update, 26 October – 01 November, 2010.

 

Veteran leader of historic struggles in Bhojpur, Central Committee Member and leader of the CPI(ML)’s legislative group in the Bihar Assembly from 1995-2010, Comrade Ram Naresh Ram passed away around 4 pm in Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH), Patna, where had been in a coma and battling a cerebral stroke for the past several days. 87-year old Comrade Ram Naresh Ram, popularly known as ‘Parasji,’ is among the tallest leaders of the revolutionary struggle and is an icon for the downtrodden and oppressed people, not only of Bhojpur and Bihar but the whole country.

 

Hailing from a dalit family of Shahabad (Bhojpur) region in Bihar, he became a full-time communist organizer in the 1940s, participating actively in the freedom struggle as an activist of the undivided CPI. When the CPI(M) was formed in 1964, he became one of its founding members in the Shahabad region. In 1967, he contested the mukhiya election and was brutally attacked by feudal goons. Inspired by the Naxalbari struggle, he became one of the founders of the CPI(ML) movement in Bihar, along with other legendary leaders like Jagdish ‘Master.’

 

In the 1980s, he was the Secretary of the Bihar unit of the CPI(ML). Ever since 1995, he consistently represented the CPI(ML) in the Bihar Assembly, and was the leader of the party’s legislative group. In 2003, when the founding conference of the All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) was held in Ara, he was elected the founding President of the AIALA.

 

Sahajanand Saraswati galvanized the peasantry of central Bihar in militant anti-feudal and anti-colonial struggles during the pre-Independence period; Comrade Ram Naresh Ram played a comparable role along with others like Jagdish ‘Master’ in galvanizing the rural poor in the post-Independence period in anti-feudal and anti-imperialist struggles.

 

Comrade Ram Naresh Ram had a deep sense of respect for the legacy of the First War of Indian Independence of 1857 as well as for the freedom struggle. As a legislator, he had had a memorial to the 12 peasant martyrs of 1942 constructed at Lasarhi village in Bhojpur.

 

In his simplicity and his life-long organic link with people’s struggles, combining both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary struggles, he was a model for communist parliamentarians and people’s representatives.

 

His abiding legacy will inspire the entire communist movement and the struggles of the oppressed for time to come.

 

Red Salute to ‘Parasji’!

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