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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 37 New Delhi September 5, 2015

Nationwide TU Strike, Remembering 1965 War

Saturday 5 September 2015, by SC


While the newspapers—and the electronic media in particular—are full of detailed accounts of the sordid murder of Sheena Bora magnifying the role of Indira Mukerjea behind the entire episode, the news of the nationwide strike called by 10 central trade union organisations, that disrupted normal life in different parts of the country yesterday, could find space only in the inside pages of major newspapers claiming to be national dailies. This only betrays the skewed priorities of the present-day media that must be unreservedly assailed. The fact is that even if one is opposed to the frequent calls for such strikes, something that devalues the importance of these protest actions, one cannot possibly gloss over the significance of the September 2 bandh, in which 15 crore workers from the organised sector participated, called to protest against the proposed changes in labour laws, divestment of PSUs, introduction of FDI for railways, insurance and banking besides demanding mandatory minimum wage of Rs 15,000 per month (as against the government’s insistence on Rs 7100 instead). This bears sufficient testimony to the restlessness of the TUs and working class in general—all the central TUs had called the strike and they also included RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and the National Front of Indian Trade Unions which, however, withdrew only at the last moment stating that they would like to “give the government time to deliver on its promises”.

On the national political front the most noteworthy development today was the decision of the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party to sever its ties with the Janata Parivar and contest the BIhar Assembly polls on its own strength and not fight the elections as part of the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance. This has naturally elated the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah-led BJP now facing the crucial election battle in the State with its back to the wall. However, the JD(U) and RJD’s efforts to pacify Mulayam will not end as they both know how critical all-in unity of the secular forces at the present juncture is in the State even if the Left parties have yet to realise that (as they too have declined to have any truck with the major anti-BJP front in Bihar).

Meanwhile the country is observing the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war that put paid to Pakistan’s aggressive designs especially in J&K. That conclusi-vely showed that US military supplies (like the Patton tanks) were not sufficient to ensure victory for Pakistan in the battlefield. India fought valiantly defeating the Pakistani assaults that were encouraged by both Washington and Beijing, and the Khemkaran sector became a veritable graveyard of Patton tanks thanks to the T-72 tanks generously supplied to New Delhi by Moscow (which did not, contrary to assertions from sections of our media, remain neutral in the conflict). While it is palpably incorrect to “celebrate” the event as an Indian “victory” over Pakistan, as the BJP Government is officially doing, the basic truth that cannot be obliterated in any way is that Islamabad’s attempts to forcibly seize Kashmir came out to be a cropper fifty years ago.

Today fifty years after the war the need of the hour is to strengthen the edifice of peace and India-Pakistan amity, as was mentioned by the founder of this publication (whose ‘Editor’s Notebook’ on the subject written in the 1990s has been reproduced elsewhere in this journal). The path being tread by the Narendra Modi dispensation vis-a-vis Pakistan today is only reinforcing the hawks within Pakistan (as the Pakistani Defence Minister who has irresponsibly called for a renewed armed conflict with India this time with nuclear weapons). It is time New Delhi adopts a different course and compels such elements to discard their time-worn rhetoric and return to the negotiating table.

This does not brook the slightest delay as time is fast running out. Return to the path of negotiated settlement of all outstanding issues with Pakistan would be the best tribute to our courageous soldiers who had fearlessly laid down their lives for our national independence and unity fifty years ago.

September 3 S.C.

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