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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 13 New Delhi March 16, 2019

People Will Win

Sunday 17 March 2019

BINOY VISWAM

We are passing through a very crucial period in the history of our country. The political battle for which we are gearing up is to determine the destiny of our nation. The formations and strategy of the battle are being finalised by various forces depending upon different factors. Political developments are taking place in a swift manner. The Left and democratic forces understand the complexity of the political conditions. The questions they pose before the nation are also complex. Experiences of these days again remind us of the inevitability of strengthening our struggle and preparedness to face all sorts of challenges. The RSS-controlled BJP is in a desperate mood to hijack the political agenda of the coming elections. In these general elections, after five years of Modi rule the socio-economic policies and their impact should have been the issue of political discourse. But the ruling dispensation wants to divert the attention of the people from the real issues of the common man’s life and to arouse a war hysteria, wedded to ultra-nationalism. The people are committed to national security and are pledged to defend the country from any sort of foreign intervention. They will stand with the armed forces in fulfilling the task of protecting India. But the people of India reject the RSS-BJP theory that defending India means defending the BJP!

The BJP, the party of the extreme Right, came to power with its fascist philosophy in 2014, making all kinds of promises before the people. Bringing back black money, two crore jobs per year, eradication of poverty etc. were the highlights of the BJP manifesto. Sab ka saath, Sab ka vikas was the watch-word of that document. The manifesto in its last paragraph declared “.... Under the charismatic leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, we enter the elections to the 16th Lok Sabha and we will work whole-heartedly to give a stable, strong, visionary and progressive government to India. It is an opportunity to change our fate and of our nation. Glory to mother India, glory to her children.”

What has happened in the last five years is just the opposite. Hardships of the common people were doubled during this period. Hunger and poverty were the fate of a majority of mother India’s children. As per the 2018 Global Hunger Index (GHI), published in October 2018, India was ranked 103rd out of 119 qualifying countries in the index with a score of 31.1. India suffers from a high level of hunger that is serious.

The Oxfam report says that the top one per cent of the country’s richest are getting richer by 39 per cent as against just three per cent increase in the wealth of the bottom half of the population. The bottom 60 per cent, the majority of the population, own merely 4.8 per cent of the nation’s wealth. The report also shows that women and girls are the hardest hit by the rising economic inequality. India’s top 10 per cent of the population holds 77.4 per cent of the nation’s wealth and 13.6 crore Indians continue to remain in debt since 2004. This report was published on the eve of the World Economic Forum held in January 2019. The rulers of India used to make hollow claims of achievements at this Forum.

The CRI (Commitment to Reduce Inequality) Index released by Oxfam and Development Finance Internatinal, ranks India 147 among 157 countries. It has been placed 151st on the index for public spending for healthcare, education and social protection, 141st for labour rights and wages.

DURING Modi’s regime the unemployment rate be-came the highest in the last 45 years. The latest CMIE (Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy) report shows that the unemployment rate shot to a 27-month high of 7.38 per cent in December 2018 and more than 1.09 crores lost their employment over the last 12 years. Of these 83 per cent jobs were lost in the rural areas and the majority job-losers were women.

The report of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), that reveals the alarming proportion of unemployment, was shelved by the Modi Government. The Chairman and members of the National Statistical Commission who ratified the NSSO findings were forced to resign. The government, which replaced the Planning Commission with NITI Aayog, had no hesitation to change the basic year in determining the GDP from 2004-05 to 2011-12. Still they failed to hide the crisis that has engulfed the growth scenario of the country. Official sources have recently come out with the rate of growth in the third quarter of the current financial year; this is only 6.7 percentage points whereas it was seven per cent in the previous quarter. These years witnessed the naked collaboration of the ruling party with the corporate houses more than ever before. ‘Achhe Din’ was experienced only by the richest in the country. In turn their coffers were laid at the service of the ruling party. According to the reports produced by the Association of Democratic Reforms, the political funding from the corporate houses to the BJP was about Rs 437.04 crores (through 2977 contributions). In the same period what they contributed to the second biggest beneficiary, the Congress party, was only Rs 26.65 crores (through 777 contributions).

The Narendra Modi Government, guided by the fascist philosophy of so-called Hindutva, was bent upon doing irreparable damage to the Constitution and to all the institutions established under it. Their antagonism was against sovereignty, democracy, secularism and socialism which are the fundamental principles of Indian republic. Their attempt was to tame the executive, legislature and even judiciary to serve their narrow majoritarian world view. Attack on universities and education was the order of the day under the BJP rule. All investigating agencies, including the CBI, were treated as parrots caged by the BJP’s high-handedness. Minorities were living under constant fear. Their cultural and religious rights were often attacked. Under the brahminical-patriarchal influence of the RSS ideology the rights of the Dalits, Adivasis and women were ruthlessly suppressed. In many places innocent people were killed in the name of cow vigilantism. All of a sudden cow became a political animal which could easily provoke communal frenzy. The Human Rights Watch report released recently says that the cow protection groups in India have killed at least 44 people over the last three years and 36 of the dead were Muslims. About 280 people have been injured in more than 100 attacks between May 2015 and December 2018.

Workers and peasants, the real producers of wealth in the country, were the sections most badly affected by the pro-corporate policies of the government. Peasants all over the country were denied remunerative prices. They were made to suffer under the debt burden and lack of irrigation facilities. Millions of them were forced to become agricultural labourers. In May 2017, the govern-ment informed the Supreme Court that every year more than 12,000 farmers’ suicide was reported in the agricultural sector since 2013. According to this, in the five years of Modi rule more than 60,000 peasants had to commit suicide.

In places like Madhya Pradesh they were even shot dead. The government has stalled the release of data on farmers’ suicides for the past two years. A government of neo-liberal policies committed to the class interests of the super rich would essentially become anti-working class. The Narendra Modi Government throughout its tenure treated the workers as its class enemies. Even the 44 labour protective laws enacted since the British days were thrown into the dust bin and in their place the idea of four labour codes mooted. Workers were placed at the mercy of capitalists on the pretext of ‘ease of doing business’. Nationwide workers’ strikes and the demands raised in those strikes were totally neglected by the ruling class.

The Indian Labour Conference met only once during the five years of Modi. Workers in the financial sector like banks and insurance had to undertake a series of struggles for their very existence. The waves of united actions against the anti-worker, anti-people policies developed the fighting spirit among the masses. On January 8 and 9 around 20 crore workers struck their work, the biggest ever number in the history of free India. Through a series of mass actions the working people served their warning notice to the ruling classes. The toiling masses will not sit idle when their motherland is being looted by the exploiting classes more than ever before. They are determined to fight for their emancipation from the yoke of exploitation, communal-casteiest forces. On March 5 their war cry was again heard in the national Capital at the workers’ convention organised by the Central Trade Unions. Workers and peasants together with all democratic, secular forces will definitely throw out the Modi Government, the symbol of national betrayal.

The author, a former Minister of Forests and Housing in the erstwhile LDF Government in Kerala, is a member of the CPI’s Central Secretariat.

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