March-April 2012

Table of Contents

  1. International Women’s Day and the Women’s Movement in India
  2. All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) National Conference
  3. India’s Working Class Strike of 28 February

  4. AISA sweeps JNU Elections

  5. Supreme Court Verdict on 2G Scam
  6. Karnataka’s Porn Scandal

  7. Dance of Death in West Bengal

 

Struggles in India

International Women’s Day

And the Women’s Movement in India

– Liberation, March, 2012.

Woman is born in chains, but everywhere she is fighting to be free. It is a world-historic struggle being waged in different ways in different national settings.

In our country the peculiar Indian version of neoliberal model of growth preserves, profits from and in some cases reproduces in modified forms certain vestiges of feudalism in socio-economic structures, customs and value systems. The working people of India, women included, therefore have to suffer the worst of both worlds – feudal backwardness and obscurantism as well as modern capitalist expropriation and exploitation. Among them, it is women and children whose interests are most severely jeopardized in myriad ways, for example by the retreat of the neoliberal state from its welfare responsibilities and the state-sponsored corporate land-grab campaigns. In addition to the perennial violence of hunger, women are routinely subjected to all kinds of oppression, discrimination and sexual assaults, with people in high positions feeling free to indulge in such crimes and shielding other criminals. In this respect Congress-ruled Delhi and Rajasthan look exactly like, say, National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-ruled Bihar and West Bengal under its first woman Chief Minister.

Attacks and obstacles notwithstanding, more and more women are coming out of their homes not only to take up traditional occupations but also to avail themselves of the new job opportunities, however limited, opened up by capitalist greed for exploiting cheap female labour. Even in the face of feudal-patriarchal opposition, they are trying to utilise the new opportunities – introduced by the provision of 50% reservation in panchayati raj institutions – for playing more active social and political roles as people’s representatives. The net impact of all this is that on one hand women are drawn into a new vortex of oppression and struggle in the wider world, while on the other the new experiences equip them with a keener political awareness, a higher sense of dignity and self confidence. The taste of hard-won relative freedom generates among them a healthy urge for further extending its narrow confines.

The slow but irresistible changes in the lives and attitudes of Indian women – changes that are no less conspicuous in the countryside than in urban areas – cannot but incite the forces of feudal-patriarchal reaction into frenzied attempts to stop the wheels of history. Such attempts range from emotional appeals to ‘the sacred duties and virtues’ of Indian mothers and wives through all kinds of moral policing to physical assaults, fatwas, honour killings and so on. But repression only regenerates resistance and domination the determination to fight back. Braving all difficulties and pains, women of India continue their forward march. It is this cool determination and robust dynamism of ordinary Indian women that a revolutionary women’s organisation tries to imbue with a communist consciousness and give the shape of an organized movement.

The practice of observing the 8th of March as International women’s Day was initiated about hundred years ago by socialist leaders like Alexandra Kollontai. A grand new chapter was opened up in the history of the struggle for women’s emancipation. A few years later the Communist International proclaimed in its programme complete social equality between man and woman in law and in real life, revolutionary transformation of husband-wife relationship and family code, status of social work to motherhood, social responsibility of nursing and education of children and adolescents and relentless struggle against all ideas and traditions that enslave women. Since then communists all over the world have steadfastly pursued this agenda as a most vital and inalienable component of the struggle for communism. On the occasion of International Women’s Day let us all rededicate ourselves to this noble cause.

Struggles in India

All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA)

6th National Conference Held at Vijaywada

– Liberation, March, 2012.

The 6th National Conference of AIPWA took place on 8 and 9 February at Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh. The entire city was decorated with colourful posters and flags. The women, from around 20 states, marched in a spirited rally from the railway station to Thomalapalli Kalakshetram (renamed Panchadi Nirmala Hall) while Vijaywada was renamed Snehalata Nagar (after the martyrs of the Srikakulam movement). Throughout the rally, women raised slogans in Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Bengali, Assamese, Nepali, Hindi, Telugu and other languages, demanding women’s rights and equality. Lambada women dressed in their traditional costume, and comrades of the Andhra Pradesh Jan Sanskritika Mandali dressed in red with red flags aloft, led the Rally, while women from many states spontaneously joined them in dancing.

Inaugural Session

On reaching the Thomalapalli Kalakshetram, veteran AIPWA leader Comrade Meera hoisted the AIPWA flag, and AIPWA’s National and State-level leaders paid floral tribute to the martyrs’ memorial, after which a minute’s silence for the martyrs was observed.

The inaugural session began with a revolutionary song performed by the Andhra Pradesh Jansanskritika Mandali. AIPWA leaders and guests were seated on the dais – including AIPWA President Srilata Swaminathan, General Secretary Meena Tiwari, Sanjila Ghising, General Secretary of the Democratic Revolutionary Women’s Front (DRWF) of Darjeeling, Durga Bhawani, State Vice President of National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), Challapalli Vijaya, State President of the Stree Vimukti Sangathan, AIPWA Vice Presidents Saroj Chaubey and Pratima Engheepi, National Secretaries Kavita Krishnan, Nagmani, Chaitali Sen, Shashi Yadav, Sunita, and AIPWA leaders from all states.

The Conference was inaugurated by AIPWA National President Srilata Swaminathan. In her inaugural address, Comrade Srilata said that governments and the powerful sections of society are only giving women discrimination, violence, and insults. But women are determined to resist all this, and will fight and win jobs, freedom, and dignity. She spoke of the many forms of discrimination and violence being faced by women in India, and of AIPWA’s struggles against the same.

Addressing the gathered women, Comrade Nagamani, State Secretary of AIPWA in Andhra Pradesh, spoke of women’s struggles against exploitative micro finance institutions, against rapes and acid attacks in the state. She said women from all over the country had rejected and protested the shameful statement by Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Dinesh Reddy, that women ‘invited’ rape by wearing ‘provocative’ clothes.

Comrade Durga Bhawani, State Vice President of NFIW, and Challapalli Vijaya, State President of the Stree Vimukti Sangathan addressed the inaugural session, expressing good wishes for the Conference, and calling for united struggles by women and women’s groups against the many challenges faced by the women’s movement.

Comrade Sanjila Ghising of the DRWF spoke of the dual struggle of the women from Darjeeling: for their national identity, as well as for women’s rights. After her speech, comrades of the DRWF felicitated all the AIPWA leaders and guests by draping scarves representing the Gorkha cultural tradition.

Comrade Meena Tiwari, National General Secretary of AIPWA, gave the concluding address at the Inaugural session. She said that the women marching on Vijaywada’s streets, were raising slogans in different languages – but their spirit was the same: they were determined to resist oppression and win women’s rights. She said that the Prime Minister and President had recently said that India’s scores on sex ratio, maternal mortality, and other social indicators of women’s well-being are a ‘national shame.’ But, she said, these leaders had no right to call the situation of women a national shame, because their own policies are responsible above all for this shameful state of affairs.

Not only the market, but even the Government, she said, were treating women like cheap labour and objects of exploitation. Not only is their labour inside the home unpaid, even their work outside in Government schemes, remains shamefully underpaid. She said, “History is witness that whatever rights women have achieved have only been through women’s own struggles. We’ll carry forward that legacy, and fight and win jobs, freedom, and dignity for women.”

Delegate Session

The delegate session of the 6th National Conference continued in the evening of 8 February as well as on 9th February. 425 women delegates from 17 states discussed their experiences of struggles, and to plan how to confront the challenges facing the women’s movement today. A presidium comprising Comrades Saroj Chaubey, Gauri De, Gunni Oran, Bhadrawati, Jasbir Kaur, Mona Lisa Tissopi, Thenmozhi, Gandhimati, T Aruna and Kavita Krishnan conducted the Conference.

Solidarity Messages from the South Asia Solidarity Group (London) and Working Women’s Alliance of Bangladesh (Bangladesh Sramajibi Nari Moitree) were read out at the Conference. Women workers in ASHA, anganwadi, and mid-day meal schemes in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Assam and other states shared their experiences of how they work in crucial health and education schemes of the central government, yet they are paid only a pittance of honorarium and no regular salary, with no job security. It was decided that AIPWA would intensify its efforts to organise these lakhs of women workers to secure their rightful place as government employees.

Women delegates discussed their experiences of struggles against many instances of atrocities against women by police officers and powerful people, including elected representatives. They noted that in many cases of rape and harassment, we saw that the perpetrators get open protection of police stations and from members of legislative assemblies (MLAs). It is difficult even to lodge an first information report (FIR), and even if one succeeds in lodging an FIR, the accused are not arrested.

Women from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab discussed the phenomenon of ‘honour’ killings. In these states, ‘khap panchayats’ have harassed and even killed couples who marry by choice, breaking caste traditions. Women from other states said that in fact, this phenomenon is spreading across the country. If women marry by choice, they are either forced to marry someone else, or killed. The Conference stressed the need to resist such assaults on women’s right to decide about their own life.

Women delegates discussed the struggles of women who are members of self help groups (SHGs) and exploited by MFIs. They demanded a ban on MFIs and easy government bank loans for women.

The Conference stressed the need to struggle for women’s right to dignified and secure jobs, which are crucial for women’s self-reliance. The Conference also condemned the Law Ministry’s proposal to dilute and weaken the dowry harassment law (Section 498 A).

The Conference elected a 95-member National Council, which in turn elected a 31-member National Executive. Comrades Srilata Swaminathan and Meena Tiwari were re-elected National President and Secretary.

The Conference passed resolutions demanding cancellation of the Assembly membership of the BJP MLAs of Karnataka Assembly who were caught watching a gang-rape video inside the Assembly; demanding that the Andhra Pradesh DGP who blamed women for provoking rape, be made to quit; condemning the Norway government’s decision to separate two children of Indian origin from their parents on flimsy grounds; rejecting the Government’s food security bill as a farce, and demanding a genuine food security bill that would truly address the widespread malnutrition and hunger, especially among women and children; expressing protest against the gang rape and murderous assault on a dalit girl by goons of the ruling BJD in Odisha, and condemning the Odisha Women’s Commission report that denied the gang rape took place; expressing solidarity with the struggle for a separate Gorkhaland and Telangana; and condemning the violence on anti-nuclear protestors including a large number of women at Koodankulam, and demanded scrapping of the Koodankulam project.

Cultural Evening

On the 8th of February, a cultural evening was organised, in which women from almost all the states participated with great enthusiasm, expressing the progressive and struggling cultural aspect of the women’s movement very well. The artists depicted their local struggles through folk dances and songs, as well as in individual compositions and poetry. The music and dance expressed struggles against the corporate plunder of land and resources, repression on people’s resistance, women’s resistance against inequality and violence, and their struggle for dignity and rights.

The cultural evening began with a graceful Bihu dance by Assam AIPWA comrades. Comrade Nagamani of Kakinada along with her team members, presented rousing songs that had the audience clapping to the beat, and also performed a musical play. Tamilnadu’s AIPWA comrades presented a song and dance, and Prerna, the women’s cultural team from Jharkhand, presented a traditional ‘jhoomar’ dance. Narender Kaur and Kiran of Punjab, Sunetra Sengupta of West Bengal, Kusum Verma of Varanasi recited poetry related to women’s lives and struggles. The team of Karbi Anglong women comrades presented progressive and revolutionary Karbi songs. Many women comrades sang individual songs –in Kudukh and Santhali languages, in Tamil, Assamese, Kannada and in many of the languages of Bihar. Comrade Meera Chaturvedi of West Bengal sang several songs in Bhojpuri, Bengali, Nepali, and, when requested by the audience, in Assamese too.

In response to ‘Why this Kolaveri,’ (‘kolaveri’ means ‘killer rage’ in Tamil), Comrade Srilata Swaminathan sang a spirited ‘We want Kolaveri,’ on the women’s movement and AIPWA’s struggles.

The cultural evening was conducted by AIPWA National Executive member Uma Gupta. The number of women participants in the cultural evening kept growing longer, and eventually, the programme had to be regretfully concluded, though the songs and dances continued even at the places where the delegates were staying! What was remarkable was that the participants ranged from 20-year-old Lakhimani from Jharkhand to 70-year-old Lakhrani Kunwar from Bihar.

An important part of the cultural aspect of the Conference was a painting exhibition on the theme, “Women’s oppression, Women’s Resistance,” by two young artists, Anupam Roy and Bablu Paul, and a poster exhibition by Kusum Verma from Varanasi. The exhibition of posters and paintings began on the first day, and continued till the end of the Conference. The paintings, prepared over a period of two months of painstaking and tireless efforts by the artists, were appreciated by several intellectuals as well as by the delegates from various states.

Struggles in India

India’s Working Class Strike of 28 February:

A Clear Mandate for Immediate Reversal of Ongoing Economic Policies

– Rajiv Dimri, AICCTU.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist- Leninist) [CPI(ML)] leader and General Secretary of All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) Comrade Swapan Mukherjee congratulated the working class for the unprecedented Countrywide General Strike on 28 February and termed this strike as a mandate for the reversal of ongoing economic policies of liberalization, privatization and globalization (LPG).

He said that the workers ranging from organized to unorganized sector, from industrial workers to agricultural workers participated in this strike in numbers more than 10 crore (100,000,000) and particularly the contract workers employed in PSUs and govt. departments have played a major role in this strike. Many states witnessed Bandh during this strike. This strike is a warning to the central and various state governments that the working people of this country will not tolerate these exploitative, pro-corporate and anti-worker policies, and in the days to come they will go ahead with heightened struggles.

The demands which the Striking workers are pressing include:

1.Concrete measures to contain price rise

2.Concrete measures for creation of employment

3.Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measures for violations

4.Universal social security cover for the unorganized sector workers without any restriction and creation of a National Social Security Fund with adequate resources

5.Stoppage of disinvestment in central and state profit-making and socially strategic public sector units (PSUs)

6.No Contractorisation of work of permanent/perennial nature and payment of wages and benefits to the contract workers at the same rate as available to the regular workers of the industry/establishment

7.Amendment of Minimum Wages Act to ensure universal coverage irrespective of the schedules and fixation of statutory minimum wage at not less than Rs 10,000/- with indexation

8.Removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus, provident fund, increase the quantum of gratuity and assured pension for all

9.Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days and immediate ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions numbers 87 and 98.

The call was given by all the Central Trade Unions in the country and was endorsed by almost all the major Independent National Federations of employees and workers.

There was massive response to the call of General Strike by the workers en masse visibly impacting almost all the sectors of the economy, viz., Coal, steel, petroleum, telecom, defence, banks, insurance, electricity, transport, port & dock, anganwadis, construction, brick-kilns, beedi etc., both in organized and unorganized sector is a fitting reply to the utter neglect and insensitivity of the Government towards the problems and miseries of crores of the working masses who are keeping the country’s economy running. This is also a signal that the working people and their unions would in no way accept such indifference and neglect on the part of the Govt. and carry forward their struggle to a higher pitch if their basic demands are not addressed by the Govt. through concrete remedial action.

Karnataka: AICCTU undertook an extensive and elaborate campaign around the all-India strike on 28 Feb. 2012. For the first time, the strike campaign in Karnataka was organized as a part of Joint committee of Trade Unions that comprised 10 central trade unions. In addition to that we also printed our own pamphlets explaining our political approach to the issues and also separate posters.

The tempo for the campaign was set by all trade union call of ‘Jail Bharo’ on 8th November. Our participation in state level convention on 30 January was also very impressive. The convention was addressed by national leaders all trade unions along with the state leaders.

Bangalore: We could make a better presence in the campaign in areas surrounding Electronic City, Information Technology Park Ltd (ITPL) and Yelahanka. We joined Bike rallies and other propaganda meetings. In the meantime, one particular MNC workers in readymix concrete industry in Bangalore joined our union and consequently, local Center of Indian trade Unions (CITU) was not willing to work jointly with us and the local joint campaign got disrupted. It was also a blessing in disguise as it evoked a sense of challenge among our workers and we organized separate bike rally and also strike enforcing rally and public meeting on the day of strike. The local CITU’s refusal, in fact, resulted in voluntary mobilization of hundreds of workers in the strike rally. Workers marched through the streets of the bigger industrial belt of international capital in Bangalore and forced shut down of several companies where there was no union. The rally in surrounding areas of ITPL was very militant and culminated in a public meeting that was addressed by Comrades Narayana Swamy, Somu, district secretary, Mani, treasurer, Govindaswamy, JS, Manjunath, district VP, Ashok, district JS, Sunil, JS and Kishore, Office secretary.

The rally at Veerasandra, near Electronic City was joined by all Indian Trade Union Congress (AITUC) workers and enforced strike in all factories where there was no union. The rallyists forced several companies to down their shutters and organized a public meeting at the end.

The rally and public meeting organized at the city centre was very militant and the traffic in the nerve centre of the city was thrown out of gear for more than 3 hours. Confrontation with the police in traffic regulation also resulted in mild lathi charge on some workers. CITU participated with full mobilization and few thousands of workers of all trade unions participated in the public meeting. Comrade Shankar, all-India Vice President of AICCTU, Prasanna Kumar, state GS of CITU, Anantha Subba Rao, state GS of AITUC, Shivshankar, President of TUCC, Prakash, state leader of AIUTUC also addressed the gathering along with state leaders of other unions, Hindusthan Maha Sabha (HMS), Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC). Comrade Shankar called upon workers to rise in more militant struggles to give a fitting rebuff to the liberalization policies.

Koppal District: Here too, in spite of joint call and initiatives at state level, CITU decided to go alone in strike campaign. AICCTU organized independent campaign meetings at various industrial centres in the district including Gangavati, Karatagi and Koppal. The rally on 28th was attended by more than 500 workers from rice mills, construction, brick kilns and also auto technicians and taxi and tractor drivers.

Davanagere District: AICCTU organized an impressive rally at Harappanahalli and the public meeting at the end was addressed by CPI(ML) state secretary Ramappa among others. Hundreds of construction and agricultural labour participated in enforcing the strike.

AICCTU, for the first time organized a demonstration at Harihar second major town in the district. Prasad, NECM and Manju, NCM of AISA addressed the gathering along with other local leaders Beerappa and Basavaraj.

Mysore District: AICCTU organized a demonstration jointly with AITUC at HD Kote taluk and construction and agricultural labour participated in the demonstration.

Delhi: The highly successful strike in Delhi’s Wazirpur Industrial area is very encouraging for militant trade union and workers’ movement. Thousands of workers (at least five thousand) were out on the streets enforcing the strike with forceful assertion. They were highly energetic in their robust actions closing the factories. The workers also clashed with the police while enforcing the bandh in factories. AICCTU played key role in organizing the strike in this area.

In Delhi’s Bhorgarh Industrial area too a very impressive rally of thousands of workers led by AICCTU and CITU was held and strike enforced. Comrade Surendra Panchal, CPI(ML)’s State Committee member led the campaign on our behalf.

In Jhilmil and Patparganj Industrial areas too it was mainly the AICCTU and CITU that led the strike and campaign. Comrades VKS Gautam, AICCTU’s Delhi President led the strike and campaign in these areas.

A notable development was the dharna in support of strike by the employees’ union of Lala Ramswarup (LRS) Institute of Respiratory Diseases and TB Hospital at Mehrauli. The union is affiliated to the AICCTU. Our members in MTNL and AICCTU affiliated union participated in a joint protest at Jantar mantar.

Puducherry: A week long campaign was conducted throughout Puducherry and Karaikal regions from 20-27 February. At Nine centres the workers of all above central TUs courted arrest in Puducherry.

In rural area at Villlianur, AICCTU blockaded the railway track, in which hundreds of workers took part and most of them were women. Construction and agricultural workers were also present. It was led by Comrade S Balasubramanian, State Secretary of CPI(ML). All were arrested and later released in the evening.

In Puducherry town nearly one hundred and twenty five workers of various factories courted arrest. In Puducherry and Karaikal Bharat Sanchar nigam Limited (BSNL), Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), Bank employees participated in the strike. The strike was total. A major union of state government workers -Central Federation of Government employees fully participated in the general strike and they took out a rally in the morning in Puducherry.

Andhra Pradesh: Nine left parties held a dharna at Hyderabad and the leaders were arrested. Com. Murthy, Politburo member, was arrested from the Dharna. Nearly 100 workers took part in the dharna. In Khammam district of Andhra mainly in three mandals AICCTU held rallies. In Vijayawada, Krishna district and Visakapattnam Narasipetta rallies were held.

Odisha: CPI(ML) and AICCTU along with CITU, AITUC, AIUTUC, and HMS organised strike actions at Rayagada, Bhubaneswar, Rourkella, Kendrapara, Puri and Khurdha. Railway Sweepers Union joined at Bhubaneswar and Puri, autoworkers, Aanganwadi workers at Kendrapara and Zaro workers, Rickshaw pullers joined at Bhubaneswar along with other workers and transport workers’ union at Rayagda.

At Puri Comrade Ashok Pradhan was arrested along with Dilip Samal of East Coast Railway Sweeper Workers Union. Protest was held by Maa Kalijayee Motorboat Workers Union and CPI(ML) at Balugan. At Rourkella protest was jointly held with CITU and AITUC under the leadership of Comrade NK Mohanty, President of AICCTU Odisha. At many places our comrades were arrested by the Odisha police.

The strike was a huge success in the State as towns and businesses were completely closed. The railways was affected in a big way and petrol pumps, autos, bus services were out of operation and banks and insurance companies were closed including Nabard and RBI.

Chhattisgarh: The blockade of the Maroda Gate of the Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) began early at 5:30 a.m. Here the AICCTU, AITUC, CITU, BMS, HMS and INTUC had jointly called the strike. Joint campaign was undertaken for the success of strike. Contract workers took active part in making the strike successful. The demonstration at this Gate was on till 3:30 p.m. led by TU leaders including Comrade Brijendra Tiwari. 90 percent of the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) Refractory Unit participated in the strike. Our members participated in the demonstrations at other four Gates also organised by other unions.

A demonstration was held at Bhilai Municipal Corporation. Prior to this the Bogda Bridge was blockaded at 5 a.m. Workers at stone quarries in Raipur’s Bangoli-Mura participated in the strike and held rally.

500-600 workers employed at Welcome Distillery and Rayalseema Concrete Sleepers situated at Kargiroad Kota in Bilaspur participated in the strike and took out a rally before congregating at Mandi Ground for a mass meeting. The rally and meeting was led by AICCTU’s National Vice President and Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha’s (CMM) President Comrade Bhimrao Bagde. Comrades from AIALA participated in the joint dharna in Bilaspur town. Comrade Lalan from AICCTU addressed the dharna. 400-500 workers of State Ware House and Central Ware House at Raipur participated in the strike and a rally.Sanitation workers working as contract workers in Bhilai town participated fully in the strike despite the fact that the BSP administration and the contractors had tried to terrorise the workers.

Punjab: Contract workers of PGI, Chandigarh, affiliated to AICCTU, and mess workers of Punjab Engineering College, Sec. 16 Hospital Union, Sec. 32 Hospital Union, workers from health sector’s malaria department. The leaders of the hospital unions stated that they have been forced to go on strike by the continued apathy towards their issues by the administration and the govt. Brick-kiln and rural workers in Mansa and Sangrur led by AICCTU went on strike.

Andaman & Nicobar: AICCTU, CITU and BMS jointly conducted one week long street corner meetings and public meetings place to place propagating the 28th all-India Strike and staged one day Dharna at Tiranga Park, Port Blair. Thereafter a procession was also held through main Aberdeen Bazar to Secretariat gate, Port Blair and concluded the same there with the address by leaders of Central Trade Unions. BSNL and all the bank employees went on strike in A&N Islands.

Madhya Pradesh: At Gwalior, Nagar Nigam Karamchari Kalyan Morcha (municipal employees’welfare front) affiliated to AICCTU organised a rally and meeting at Bara. Gwalior was bandh on 28th. Comrade Rajaram, CCM, was present at the Bara meeting. In Bhind, Hamal workers and other Left trade unions held a joint rally and meeting. More than 200 workers participated here.

Jharkhand: Thousands of workers affiliated to the Jharkhand Construction Workers’ Union (AICCTU-affiliated) started marching from the CPI(ML) State office and reached Commisioner’s office passing through the main streets. After handing over of memorandum there for Labour Minister the rally returned to Albert Ekka Square where a mass meeting was held. Rural workers in Jharkhand participated in the strike enthusiastically at many places. Rallies were held in ten panchayats of Bagodar block in which thousands of people took part. Grand Trunk road was blockaded for two hours at Bagodar town. Rallies and meetings were held in five panchayats each of Saria and Birni blocks and each comprising hundreds of people. Rallies were also held in ten panchayats of Jamua and three of Dewari. Two places in Rajdhanwar and impressive rally at Gawan.

After a long gap an impressive rally and a public meeting was held at Gandeya Assembly constituency which was attended by senior Party leaders that included Party’s General Secretary Comrade Dipankar, CPI(ML) leader and MLA Comrade Vinod Singh, Politburo member Comrade DP Bakshi and other district and State leaders.

In Garhwa, where our Party leaders and members have been subjected to torture and fabricated cases resulting in arrests, protest march was held that turned into mass meeting at Ranka turn. Impressive rallies were held in Bhawnathpur to make the strike a success. At Chautha village in Hazaribagh’s Bishungarh, road was blockaded. Patratu block office was gheraoed by hundreds of Party workers. Demonstration was held in Gumla.

Mugma collieries -Eastern Coal Fields Limited witnessed total strike. Strike in Baharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) was nearly total. AICCTU led an effective campaign and several workers came forward spontaneously that made the strike successful. Partial strike in Bokaro Steel Plant, however about half of all contract workers went on strike. Banks and LIC were completely on strike all over Jharkhand.

Bihar: Agricultural workers struck work throughout the State and workers in Industrial areas around Patna went on strike. At Bhagalpur members of all the unions affiliated to the AICCTU- Bihar State Construction Workers’ Union, Kamgar Mahasangh, municipal employees, transport workers’ union and many others comprising about one thousand urban and rural poor took out rallies from three different locations in the city before merging at Kotwali square and marched to the Station through main areas of the city. Half of the participants of the rally were the domestic women workers. The rally was led by AICCTU’s district president and secretary Comrades SK Sharma and Mukesh Mukt respectively.In the rural areas and villages AICCTU and AIALA jointly organised rallies and meetings that were led by local and district leaders. Here brick kiln workers went on strike.

Tamil Nadu: The workers of PRICOL, a major auto company in Coimbatore went on complete strike led by AICCTU.More than eight thousand workers of the All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) struck work in over 80 panchayats covering eight districts of Tamil Nadu. In Tiruvallur district the strike was led jointly by AICCTU and AIALA.

Struggles in India

AISA sweeps JNU Elections

All India Students’ Association (AISA) won the Jawaharlal Nehru University JNU students’ union (JNUSU) elections, held after a gap of four years. AISA has won all four seats in the central panel.

AISA’s win vindicates our vision of a socially inclusive, accessible and affordable campus. It is a mandate in favour of people’s movements struggling against SEZs, AFSPA and Operation Green Hunt,” said Sucheta De, the newly elected presidents of JNUSU.

More details:

http://sanhati.com/tweet/4667/

Politics in India

SC Verdict on 2G Scam:

A Victory for the Struggle Against Corruption and Corporate Plunder

– Liberation, March, 2012.

A recent Supreme Court verdict on the 2G scam has ordered cancellation of 122 licenses issued in 2008 and has imposed penalties on the corporations that benefited from corruption. This verdict is notable for the fact that it identifies beneficiaries of corruption – the private corporations, orders the withdrawal of all such benefits achieved through corrupt means, and imposes penalties on those who sought to benefit from such means. Predictably, the corporations hit by the verdict have expressed shock at the verdict, since they obviously expected that they would be treated like sacred cows, exempt from any consequences of corruption.

It must be recognised that in innumerable cases, the same apex court has delivered verdicts protecting corporate plunder. In the 2G case, a better verdict has been possible largely because of the overall climate of resistance to corruption and corporate plunder.

The verdict is also a decisive blow to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government which had consistently been denying the 2G scam entirely. In particular, the present Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal had, on record, repeatedly claimed ‘zero loss’ in the 2G allocations, and had rubbished any demand for cancellation of licenses. The SC verdict has exposed such propaganda by the UPA Government to be deliberately misleading and false attempts to cover up the scam.

The entire UPA Government, including the Prime Minister and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and the present Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, are collectively responsible, not only for the massive scam, but for covering up corruption and attempting to protect the corrupt. The UPA Government has no right to remain in power, after its efforts to defend and cover up such a major scam have been exposed.

Excerpts from the Supreme Court Verdict

To say the least, the entire approach adopted by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was lopsided and contrary to the decision taken by the Council of Ministers, and its recommendations became a handle for the then the Minister of Communications and Information Technology (C&IT) and the officers of the department of Telecom (DoT), who virtually gifted away the important national asset at throw away prices. This becomes clear from the fact that soon after obtaining the licences, some of the beneficiaries off-loaded their stakes to others, in the name of transfer of equity or infusion of fresh capital by foreign companies, and thereby made huge profits. We have no doubt that if the method of auction had been adopted for grant of licence which could be the only rational transparent method for distribution of national wealth, the nation would have been enriched by many thousand crores.

but for the vigilance of some enlightened citizens… unsuspecting citizens and the Nation would never have known how scarce natural resource …has been grabbed by those who enjoy money power and who have been able to manipulate the system.

(Telecom companies) who were benefited by a wholly arbitrary and unconstitutional action taken by the DoT …shall pay cost of Rs.5 crores each.

Politics in India

Karnataka’s Porn Scandal:

Shame on BJP’s Hypocrisy and Insult to Women

– Liberation, March, 2012.

The recent ‘porngate’ scandal in Karnataka, in which three BJP Ministers were caught by a TV channel, viewing a porn clip inside the Assembly, has exposed the BJP’s bankruptcy and moral double standards thoroughly. The Ministers in question have had to resign, but such damage control measures are far from adequate.

The BJP and its sister organizations in the Sangh brigade are notorious for imposing ‘dress codes’ on women, and assaulting women who defy these codes. In BJP-ruled Karnataka, the Government has defended and protected saffron goons who have attacked women for visiting pubs, or sitting in public with male friends. Around this time every year, there are reports of Sangh goons attacking couples who celebrate Valentine’s Day. Now, the world has seen how these self-proclaimed custodians of morality and self-appointed ‘protectors of Indian womanhood,’ while away their time inside the Assembly, watching clips of sexual violence on women.

One of the ex-Ministers caught in the act, has claimed that, in the context of a debate in the Assembly over a controversial party, they were watching a video of such a party held in a foreign country, in which a woman is gang-raped by the men she was dancing with. In other words, the clip being watched was not just a sex video, it was a video of a gang-rape! The BJP MLA’s bizarre ‘defence’ only underlines how much of pornography involves content that is violent and exploitative towards women. Newspapers have reported that this clip of sexual violence was shared and watched by several more BJP MLAs, before the TV cameras caught two of them on camera.

One of the MLAs caught viewing the clip, was the Women and Child Development Minister CC Patil, who, just a few weeks ago, said that women ‘invited’ rape by dressing indecently. A Minister holding the portfolio for women’s welfare, spends his time in the Assembly watching a gang-rape video with his male colleagues – and then brazenly justifies rape by blaming it on women’s ‘indecency’! There could be no better proof for the fact that those who seek to police women’s dress and conduct have much in common with those who perpetrate sexual violence on women.

Although the BJP, in a hasty damage control exercise, has had to get the three Ministers to resign, the MLAs and the party too remain unrepentant. The BJP has refused to expel the MLAs. The Goa Chief Minister from the BJP has said that the MLAs were ‘only watching’ and not ‘doing anything.’ The Jharkhand Assembly Speaker, also from the BJP, has said there is nothing wrong in watching videos in Assembly, and he would have taken no action on such MLAs if the incident had taken place in his Assembly!

The contrast between BJP’s moral sermonising and moral policing of women, and the conduct of its elected representatives in Assembly, is especially glaring. But violence and exploitation of women by elected representatives is common in other parties too. Former Uttarakhand CM from Congress, ND Tiwari, is accused of granting licenses for petrol pumps etc in exchange for sexual favours. In Rajasthan, Congress Minister Mahipal Maderna and MLA Malkhan Singh, are implicated in the murder of a dalit nurse, Bhanwari Devi, with whom they had sexual relations, in exchange for waiving her transfer to a remote area. A series of MLAs of the ruling BSP in Uttar Pradesh are implicated in rape, kidnapping, and murder of women. Former BJP MLA from Purnea Raj Kishore Kesri was implicated in the long-term rape and harassment of Rupam Pathak in Bihar. Between 2007 and 2010, several other BJP MLAs in Karnataka, too, have been implicated in violence towards women, including rape, blackmail, and murder.

The resignation from Ministerial posts is far from enough. The Assembly membership of all the BJP MLAs who shared and viewed the gang-rape video inside the Karnataka Assembly must be terminated. They have violated every norm of public conduct and women’s rights and dignity, and no longer have any right to call themselves people’s representatives.

Politics in India

Malevolent Mamata and the Dance of Death in West Bengal

– Arindam Sen, Liberation, March, 2012.

Safar Molla, an enterprising marginal farmer of Kaltikuri village in Bardhaman district, had lost his father at an early age and had been maintaining the family since then against heavy odds. Thanks to spiralling input prices including irrigation costs, he had to take loans and leave some bills unpaid, expecting a bumper paddy crop that would allow him to pay back. And a bumper harvest it indeed was! But he could not be happy. The market price was clearly lower than his cultivation costs. With no help from the government forthcoming, there was no way he could pay the bills and save his and his family’s honour. On 18 November he consumed some of the pesticide he had bought to protect his well-cared crops. He was only 17. Before and after him some 30 peasants, including a few sharecroppers, committed suicide since the middle of October last year under similar circumstances.

Vikram Singh of Kolkata Tramways Corporation was one among the many workers of five public transport corporations in West Bengal who were not receiving their salaries and other dues like retirement benefits for the past four months because the state government suddenly stopped subsidising these units. Surviving on borrowed money, Vikram was perhaps expecting some relief from the new, avowedly pro-peasant government. What he got instead was the transport minister’s statement that workers won’t be paid unless and until they pull their corporations out of the red and that the workforce will be downsized. Hearing this in a news broadcast, the 28-year-old worker immediately hanged himself, leaving behind his pregnant wife and a girl child.

The tragic stories of Safar, Vikram and others like them typify the plight of peasants and workers in post-“change” Bengal. In the case of starving transport workers, the blatantly irresponsible policy of the state government is directly to blame. As for the distressed peasants who are helpless victims of a deep agrarian crisis generated by successive governments at state and central levels, the TMC-led government has betrayed a total lack of political will to help them out. It has failed to make adequate arrangements for state procurement of paddy at minimum support price, leaving the peasants to the mercy of private rice mill owners and their agents. The latter are forcing the farmers into distress sale of their crop at prices much lower than the MSP, which itself is way below actual production costs. Mamata Banerjee claims she is not in a position to help, because the MSP is determined by the Central Government. But why can’t she pressure that government, as she claims to have successfully done in some other cases, to properly determine the MSP? Alternatively, why doesn’t she add bonus, as state governments have often done, to the MSP to save the cultivators? She pleads a severe funds crunch, but why doesn’t she use the available money on saving human lives rather than on beach festivals, doling out favours to youth clubs and increasing the salaries and daily allowances of ministers and MLAs?

Lacking proper answers to such pertinent questions, Ms Banerjee has fallen back on a shameless denial mode. Instead of taking prompt action to save lives, including the lives of babies who are dying in horrifying numbers in state-run hospitals, she blames the media, the opposition parties and even her coalition partner Congress for blowing things out of proportion. She claims, for example, that barring one incident, the peasants who committed suicides did so for purely personal reasons unrelated to debt burden or non-availability of remunerative prices!

Matching its criminal negligence in protecting human life, the government has stepped up attacks on people’s right to protest and get organised. The labour minister has announced that police personnel and government employees would no longer be allowed to form trade unions or hold rallies against the government. Meanwhile, public transport corporations have initiated the process of laying off the so-called irregular/temporary/ contract workers who have been serving their concerns for years on end.

But such attacks have only prompted the workers and employees to close their ranks and fight back. In a momentous move, ‘temporary’ workers in the Balurghat depot (North Dinajpur district) of North Bengal State Transport Corporation have formed a joint struggle platform comprising CITU-led and INTUC-led unions and struck work with full support of permanent workers, paralysing bus services in large parts of the district. In many places jute, potato and paddy growers have voiced their protest by destroying their crops which cannot be sold even at cost prices.

To be sure, this is only the beginning. The new government is fast exposing itself. The hour has arrived, perhaps sooner than many expected, for genuine left and democratic forces to unite and unfurl the banner of resistance against the autocratic ways of this anti-worker, anti-peasant government.

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