Adding Insult to Injury:
Bush Says Starving India Eats Too Much
Karl Marx, born on 5 May, 1818, nearly two centuries ago, had in 1867 laid bare the “intimate connection between the pangs of hunger of the most industrious layers of the working-class, and the extravagant consumption, coarse or refined, of the rich, for which capitalist accumulation is the basis” (Capital Vol I, Ch 25). In May 2008, nearly a century and a half later, as we hear Emperor Bush hold forth on global hunger, we are reminded that capitalism and global wealth remains just as intimately wedded to hunger.
The global policeman Bush, in the time-honoured traditions of backyard bully, has long harboured the habit of dictating to nations who their friends and enemies should be. Now, he has taken to telling nations how much they should eat, and of wagging a disapproving finger at poor nations whose middle class has made some improvements in its diet.
Bush’s sentiments (and those of his lieutenant Condoleezza Rice) reek of callous contempt for the world’s poor. They lay bare the fact that the only perspective Bush and US imperialism is capable of is that of the US corporations. In Bush’s words, the growing purchasing power of the middle class in the developing world is “good” because “y’know, it’s hard to sell products into countries that aren’t prosperous.” But, lamented Bush, “you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food”. In other words, India’s growing appetite was pushing food prices up and causing the rest of the world go hungry. Unfortunately the world’s people haven’t mastered the art of being markets, not mouths: of tightening the belt over their bellies while loosening their purse strings...
Bush is the head of the nation whose successive governments used its military to ruthlessly batter a long list of Latin American and African countries into being pliant suppliers of cash crops for the US corporations; and in the process devastating the food security of these nations. Major General Smedley Butler has described how, as a US Marine, he had been “a high class muscle-man for Big Business...a gangster for capitalism” who had helped to make Honduras, Mexico, Haiti, various Central American republics, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic “safe” for plunder by American fruit, oil, and sugar corporations and banks in the early twentieth century. His latest exploit has been to “make Iraq safe” for US oil corporations, in the process devastating its economy, its infrastructure, and its thriving health and education structures. Now, Bush has the gall to offer in charity what his nation has plundered by military muscle and economic arm-twisting. Like a rapacious wolf dressed up as a kindly and nurturing mother, he describes the US as an “unbelievably compassionate and generous nation” and offers to help the poor countries out by “buying food directly from farmers as opposed to giving people food.” So, the deepest desire of the US corporations – to have the farmers of developing countries as captive and direct producers for them alone – is projected by Bush as generosity!
The US today along with a small and exclusive club of ‘developed’ countries guzzles a disproportionate share of the world’s scarce resources including fuel, paper, and food. It is also responsible for a disproportionately high share of global pollution. Although constituting only five percent of the global population, the U.S. emits more carbon dioxide, consumes more paper and other forest products, and produces more municipal waste than any other country. Yet Bush refused to curb carbon emissions in the US, saying “the American way of life is not negotiable,” and peddling the absurd theory that cows were more responsible for such emissions than cars, and so countries like China and India ought therefore to bear a greater burden of curbing emissions!
Annual per capita foodgrains consumption in the US is over five times that of India, and three times that of China, according to figures released by the US Department of Agriculture for 2007. On an average a US citizen consumes 1046 kg of grain, and around twenty times more meat and fish and sixty times more paper, gasoline, and diesel than the average Indian. But in India, since the entry of globalisation, the average per capita consumption of food grain has actually gone down from 177 kg per person to 155 kg per person: which is the same as the hunger levels seen during famine in times of the British Raj. And in India, foodgrains absorption is rising fast for the (mainly urban) middle class, which boosts the national average. A large section of rural poor are actually reduced to as low as 136 kg per capita per year – which is the same as that of starvation-hit sub-Saharan Africa. Bush grudges the 350 million-strong Indian middle class its improved diet: he is blithely silent about over 350 million rural Indians who are below the average food energy intake of sub-Saharan African countries! Studies have shown a long-term tendency towards declining per capita calorie consumption, especially in rural India – that is, Indians are growing hungrier year after year. Deaths by hunger are an all-too common phenomenon which Indian rulers are united in denying.
And these millions owe their hunger directly to the rural job losses, income decline, land grab, slashed government expenditure on rural development, slashed PDS and increased grain exports – all of which are policies aggressively promoted by the US-backed IMF-World Bank, and faithfully forced on Indian people by Manmohan Singh and his predecessors.
Of course, the actual food consumption of the poor Americans is less than the national average. Hunger and homelessness are a growing phenomenon in the US, the world’s richest country. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2006 over 35 million people lived in food-insecure households, including 13 million children. Adults living in over 12 million households could not eat balanced meals and in over 7 million families someone had smaller portions or skipped meals. In close to 5 million families, children did not get enough to eat at some point during the year. This hunger at home is all the more horrific when one knows that more than sufficient food grains are grown in the US – but is fed to cars as ‘bio-fuel’ rather than to hungry people!
Bush’s bratty and bullying arrogance is really nothing new: we expect nothing better. The real question is why Manmohan Singh, our Prime Minister, describes a man with such contempt for India and for the poor of the world, as ‘India’s best friend’? Why insist on continuing with US-dictated policies which favour imperialism and force millions of Indians to live in misery and hunger?
CPI(ML)’s 9th Uttar Pradesh State Conference:
Concludes With The Resolve to Advance the Political Assertion of Poor and Strengthen the Party !!!
9th Uttar Pradesh State Conference of the CPI(ML) was held successfully on 28-30 April at Comrade Vinod Mishra Nagar (Mirzapur) focusing on the issues of price rise, unemployment, police repression, communalism and corruption in National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). The Conference concluded with the resolve to intensify struggles on these issues, advance political assertion of the poor and strengthen the Party.
Three hundred and twelve (312) delegates from 36 districts of the State were present in the Conference. Leaders present at the Conference were CPI(ML) Gen.Sec. Dipankar Bhattacharya, Polit Bureau member Swadesh Bhattacharya, Polit Bureau’s UP incharge Ramji Rai, Outgoing State Committe’s Secretary Akhilendra Pratap Singh, Bihar’s State Secy. And PB member Nand Kishore Prasad, CC member and central observer Kunal and editorial member of Liberation Lalbahadur Singh. Condelence resolution was read and two minute silence was observed for comrades who were martyred and who passed away due to othe reasons since the last State Conference. The Conference venue and the main entrance was named Com. Ajanta Lohit Hall and Com. Jeeta Kaur Gate respectively. The delegates, observers and guests were received and welcomed by human rights activist and teacher Sharad Mehrotra from Mirzapur.
Inaugurating the 3-day State Conference CPI(ML) Gen.Sec. Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya reflecting on the election results of Nepal said that the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has today become the largest political Party on the support derived from political mobilization of the poorest sections of Nepal. He called upon the delegates and Party members to take a positive lesson from this and apply full strength and take propaganda, agitations and organisation as a unified task to develop CPI(ML) as the popular and strong Left Party of the Hindi belt, especially in UP. He called for taking bold and fearless political initiatives.
Outgoing State Secretary Com. Akhilendra presented the political-organisational report at the beginning of the Delegate Session. It said that the BSP Govt. that got clear majority in the State after about one and a half decade is completing nearly one year in power. But this Govt. has let down the common people by its policies and actions. The Mayawati Govt. has failed badly in improving the law and order situation in the State and in its slogan of “overpowering the goons”. In this regard it is not coming different anywhere from the Mulayam Govt. The report mentioned that the Mayawati Govt. has to its infamy many anti-people actions: implementing anti-peasant Ganga Expressway project in the backdrop of deepening agrarian crisis, no concrete steps to provide relief to drought-hit Bundelkhand, no meaningful action on hunger deaths and unemployment in the State, forcing draconian laws like UPCOCA on the people of the State, terrorising the Muslims, launching a debate on the State’s division without getting a resolution passed by the State Assembly, handing over many sugar mills including Anpara-C to private sector, Sarvajan instead of Bahujan, only rhetoric of development and good governance and siding with the feudal, communal and corporate interests instead of the poor people of the State.
On the other political parties in the State the political report says that the Samajwadi Party (SP) has nothing more than election promises to rescue farmers from agrarian crisis, protect minorities from state repression, and benefits for most backwards. The BJP is attempting at revival in the State with issues like Islamic terrorism, minority appeasement and Ramsetu, though it has not been able to break any new grounds. However, we have to be alert against the danger of communalism. The Congress is seeking to breathe new life in its organisation with focus on Kisan loan waiver, NREGS and Dalit oppression, but is not getting any visible success. The UPA Govt. led by it has become symbolic of inflation and agrarian crisis.
The report mentions that while exposing the State’s BSP and Central UPA governments, the CPI(ML) must intensify struggles against increasing repression of women, Dalits, minorities and other weaker sections of the society, for pro-people development and alternative development model along with advancing the assertion of poor. Powerful initiatives are needed against anti-people, pro-imperialist policies, especially grabbing of agricultural land by Corporates and excluding the poor from benefits of NREGS and BPL.
The report states about the Party Organisation that, “only after politicisation of our current mass base and consolidation of the Organisation can we bring to our fold the middle class and other outer sections. There is a danger of deviations like liquidation tendency if this political line is missed....We must put more emphasis on class aspect moving ahead of general democratic line. To equip our mass base with consciousness of class assertion, we must bring the task of developing class consciousness into the centrality of our political efforts.....Keeping in view the specificity of Hindi region we need to give special emphasis to the study and teaching of Marxism.....We have only advanced a few steps towards fulfilling the tasks assigned by the Bhubaneswar and Bardhman Conventions for building a Party Organisation capable of addressing current political demands. There is urgent need to move ahead speedily to meet these tasks at both the levels of form and content.
About 80 delegates presented their views on Draft documents in the Conference. After two days of debates and deliberations the political-organisational report was passed with a few suggestions and amendments. A five member presidium comprised by Comrades Krishna Adhikari, Yashwant Singh, Ishwari Prasad, Lal Sahab and Dr. Salauddin conducted the proceedings. The Conference gave the call “Jansangharshon ki karo tayiyari, Garibon ki badhao dawedari” (prepare for the people’s struggles, advance the assertions of the poor). In the end a 33 member new State Committee was elected and Com. Sudhakar Yadav was elected State Secretary unanimously.
Reports from CPI(ML)’s Nationwide Campaign Against Price-rise
BIHAR: With the slogan of Bandho mahangi, roko daam (arrest inflation, check prices), the Bihar unit of CPI(ML) and its mass organisations held various protest programmes. On 21 April the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and the Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) jointly held a protest march in Patna shouting UPA-NDA bhai-bhai, Janlewa mahangai lai, and burnt the effigy of PM Manmohan Singh at the ITO roundabout. RYA General Secretary and AISA State Secretary Comrades Kamlesh Sharma and Abhyuday respectively, said that the main culprits for the unfettered inflation are the neo-liberal economic policies and privatisation and all the political parties supporting these policies are equal culprits.
The Patna city committee of CPI(ML) took out protest marches in various localities of the city on 26 April and holding the State and Central govts responsible for the price rise burnt the effigy of Prime Minister. All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) also organised protest march in Patna on 23 April. Most of the women were carrying empty containers and cans, empty gas cylinders and vessels shouting “Dilli-Patna ka kaisa khel – assi rupaye sarson tel”. The protest was lead by AIPWA leaders comrades Meena Tiwary, Saroj Chaubey and Shashi Yadav. Addressing a mass meeting they said that survival of the poor is being made impossible by the UPA govt.
On 28 April, various District committees held dharna and protest demonstrations at their Distt. Headquarters. In Arwal the effigies of Prime Minister and Bihar Chief Minister were given a hanging after the mass meeting of people held them responsible for the worsening condition of the common people and supporting the profiteering and gluttony of the rich.
On the same day in Patna a big dharna was held at Shahid Bhagat Singh crossing near Gandhi Maidan, in which hundreds of CPI(ML) members and leaders from different villages and towns participated. Vetaran Comrade Shambhunath Mehta of Patna City Committee asked the government to check inflation and take strict action against hoarders. The dharna was conducted by comrade Gopal Ravidas.
GUJARAT Valsad: The Valsad Dist. Leading Team of CPI(ML) held a 3-hour long dharna at the Dist. Collectorate on 18 April against price rise. About 100 Party members and people from different Talukas of the Dist. Participated. There was anger and resentment among the poor and middle class people of the Tribal populated Dist. The dharna was led by Com. Shailesh Bhai Patel, Ganda Bhai Patel, Laxman Bhai Warli and Gaman Bhai Patel among others. RYA national secretary Amit L. Patanwaria was invited as the chief guest. The leaders exposed the real character of Narendra Modi while exposing the hollowness of his anti-inflation campaign and held both the Gujarat and Central Governments responsible for the massive escalation of prices.
Ahmedabad: Here, a dharna was held at the ITO circle on 19 April by CPI(ML) and RYA in which mostly youth numbering around 100 were present. The dharna venue was decorated with many banners, placards and flags with inscriptions against price rise on them. The dharna was led by RYA National Secretary Amit L. Patanwaria, Asmit, Mahendra Singh Chauhan, Dahya Bhai Parmar among others. The dharna was addressed by CPI(ML) City Committee Secretary Com. Laxmanbhai Patanwaria.
Dantral: CPI(ML) leaders Comrades Maqbool Masi and Minabhai have organised peasants and farmers of Tribal villages in Dantral panchayat of Kherbrahma Taluka under Sawarkantha Dist. On 22 April, CPI(ML) foundation day, there was detailed discussion on CPI(ML) and its programme. For rights on the forest land, the Party got the Tribal families to fill the forms. Widespread enthusiasm was visible among people after this meeting. Party has decided to go in for broader mobilisation of people in this Dist. To remind the readers, it was in this Panchayat that the CPI(ML) candidate Com. Reshmabhai Pargi polled more votes than BJP and Congress in the recent State Assembly elections.
Gandhinagar: On International Labour Day, 1st May, 2008, a grand dharna was organised in front of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly to highlight the issues of working class and against price rise. The dharna was organised by CPI(ML) Dist. Leading Team of Sawarkantha and AICCTU. About 700-800 men and women traveled more than 150 kms to participate in the dharna. Apart from P.W.D. and forest workers, a good number of employees working in mid day meal scheme were present. The meeting was led by CPI(ML) Dist. Secretary Dashrath Singhali, Dist. Committee member Rameshbhai Pargi, Com. Maqbool Massih,, workers’ leader Com. PravinbhaiJashiara and Com. Shantilal Bara. At the end of the dharna a delegation met the Gujarat Governor and handed over a memorandum.
ANDHRA PRADESH: On 16th April, Mandal level dharna against price rise was held at Anantpuram, Pratipadu, Yelleshwaram, Visaninpeta and other places. On 30th April, dharna was held against escalating inflation at the collectorate in Kakinada, Yelluru and Vijaywada.
On 1st May, International Labour Day, Flags were hoisted at Vijaywada, Vishakhapattinam, Yelleshwaram, Kakinada and Anantpuram.
HARYANA: The CPI(ML) members in Haryana took out protest march against price rise in Gurgaon and burnt the effigy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after assembling at the Mahavir Chowk. Before this the march passed through Civil Lines, Apka Bazaar, Ramlila Maidan and main market. The effigy of PM was burnt at other places also in Haryana and Gurgaon. The Party demanded that to tackle the dangerously ill effects of inflation the Public Distribution System be made universal and all poor people be provided BPL cards. He also demanded that the minimum wage be fixed at Rs.8500/- and stringent legal provisions be legislated to implement it. The meetings were addressed by the Haryana incharge of the Party Com. Prem Singh Gahlawat and other leaders of the Party Comrades R.P. Gaur, Dayanand, Naresh Yadav, Shyam Sundar, Mahesh Yadav, Ramesh Kataria, Vikram Sharma, Ashok Chauhan, Vijay, Ramesh Gurjar among others.
MAY DAY IN RAJASTHAN
May Day rallies, meetings, protests were held as per the Party's Mehangai Virodhi call in all six districts of Rajasthan in which the Party is active - Udaipur, Ajmer, Jaipur, Jhunjhunu, Jodhpur and Pratapgarh. In Udaipur a rally of 250 workers of the unorganised sector took out a rally, held a meeting outside the collectorate and presented a memorandum to the Collector under the leadership of district secretary, Com. Chandradev Ola, Coms. Nathulal and Gautam Meena.
In Ajmer a rally was taken out by District leader Com. Bhavri Bai which forced its way into the Collectorate and held its meeting which was also addressed by CCM Com. Srilata and State Secretary, Com. Mahender Chaudhary. A memorandum was not only given to the Collector but lengthy discussions were held with him. In Jaipur a public meeting of construction workers was held at Sodala chhogti under the leadership of Com. Harkesh Bugalia. In Jhunjhunu a memorandum was handed over to the collector by the main leaders led by Distirct Secretary, Com. Phulchand Dheva. While a public meeting was held in Buhana Tehsil under the leadership of Coms. Man Singh, Patu Ram and Ram Kumar Yadav.
In Jodhpur our Party joined the May Day Rally taken out by over a thousand workers of MCPI's trade union front and Com. Om Verma of our Party addressed the rally. In the newly formed tribal district of Pratapgarh a memorandum was given to the collector by Com. Shambhulal Rawal and others.
All the rallies, memorandums and protests called for the national demand raised by our Party against price rise, the proper execution of rations through the PDS system, for employment, minimum wage, stoppage of corruption in NREGA and all government projects like BPL, old-age pensions, pensions for widows and the handicapped. The Party is determined to strengthen and widen its agitations among the workers, poor peasants, youth, women and dalits.