Stalemate at WTO
When the Doha round was initiated nearly 7 years ago, it was promised to be a "development round" that would address the concerns of poorer countries through "special and differential treatment" in respect to import tariffs. Never in the past was this promise kept, and the latest ministerial in Geneva broke down once again on the rocks of Euro-American adamancy in these matters.
The immediate cause of the collapse lay in the controversy over the precise point at which developing countries could use the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) to check a sudden surge in imports of farm products. While India and China wanted SSMs to kick in if imports increased 10 to 15 per cent over the base period, the United States demanded the limit to be set at 40 per cent at the minimum. Developing countries argued together that such a higher trigger would seriously affect the livelihood of a huge number of their peasants. Farm subsidies in the U.S. and Europe were already squeezing their own farmers out of the market -- they pointed out -- thereby reducing indigenous food production and endangering food security; they simply could not allow the situation to deteriorate further. There were other sticking points, too; the most important being US unwillingness to reduce cotton subsidies. The US Farm Bill 2008 having promised that cotton subsidies will be maintained or increased in the next five years, its trade representative was obviously in no position to agree to any meaningful reduction.
In this context it will be recalled that the U.S. is the only country in the world where people who farm (two per cent) constitute a lower proportion of population and compared to those who are behind bars (three percent). By contrast, three-fourths of the world’s poor survive on agriculture and 95 percent of the world’s small and marginal peasants live in developing countries. By seeking to subsidise a small section of Americans, the U.S. pitted their interests against those of nearly 90 per cent of world’s population. The EU and Japan stood by it. If things worked out according to their plans, they would have been able to retain much of the huge subsidies while developing countries would have been forced to undertake steep cuts in agricultural and industrial tariffs. To this end sweeteners were offered, there was behind-the-scene arm-twisting, and special deals with individual countries were sought to be struck. But all this went in vain. Developing countries said a farm "no" to what they saw as a very unjust, unequal deal.
Crucial in this respect was the role of China. The world's major trading powers had forced the country to lower or eliminate most of its trade barriers in exchange for letting it into the WTO in November 2001. China accepted this because its membership compelled others including OECD countries to eliminate quotas and cut tariffs on Chinese exports. Now after gaining a very strong foothold in world trade, it is in a position to do a hard bargaining and take better care of its farmers' interests. As for India's resistance, Kamalnath could ill afford to betray the Indian farmers once again after the continuing SEZ onslaught and in the midst of galloping price rise and that too in an election year.
The failure at Geneva bears out our Eighth Party Congress observation that the present world situation is marked above all "by a desperate attempt by the US in particular and imperialist countries in general to reinforce their economic, political and cultural domination and opposite endeavours on the part of developing countries as well as resurgent and emerging powers to shape up a multipolar world order" and that " compared to the past the Doha round witnessed a better level of unity among underdeveloped countries." Now the aborted talks have pushed the deadline for completion of the ‘Development’ Round to much beyond the previously contemplated December 2008. Reasonable doubts have also been expressed as to whether it will at all come to fruition. In the least, fresh talks must wait until after US Presidential election because the lame duck Bush administration can not finalise a trade deal.
American economist Fred Bergsten once compared trade liberalization and the WTO to a bicycle: they collapse when they are not moving forward. Given the fact that with the rise of a growing number of bipartite and regional trade blocs the WTO has already lost much of its relevance and command over international trade, today the question is: if Doha dies, can WTO be alive and kicking?
3rd TN State Conference of AIALA:
Constitute Land Reform Commission & Make AIALA The True Representative of Rural Poor’ Struggle
The 3rd Tamil Nadu State Conference of All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) held at Villupuram on 7th July in Com. Charu Majumdar Hall demanded constitution of land reform commission and fresh survey of lands in Tamil Nadu, for effective implementation of land reform. Several resolutions were passed in its one day delegate session.
After months long panchayat level propaganda, agitations and enrollment of agricultural labourers in AIALA through membership campaign, 256 delegates were elected for the Conference. However the number of women delegates was meagre at 2% only. The Conference was being held with 45000 fresh memberships from 74 panchayats. The cultural troupe of Manuda Viduthalai Panpattu Kazhagam played a rousing ‘PARRAI MUZHAKKAM’. Com Malleshwar Rao, the All-India Vice-President and central observer for the conference hoisted the Sangam’s Flag amidst resounding slogans of AIALA Zindabad! CPI(ML) Zindabad! An eleven member presidium chaired by Com S. Jankiraman conducted the conference proceedings. The conference observed two-minute silence in memory of martyrs and departed leaders.
Party Politburo member Com S.Kumarasamy inaugurated the conference. In his inaugural address he outlined the national political situation and elaborated Party’s response to the situation. He recalled and recounted the historical significance of 1908, the first political strike of Indian working class and reemphasized its relevance for us today. Drawing inspiration from the glorious history of struggles and sacrifices of CPI(ML), the urban-rural working class should carry forward the spirit of 1908 and wage war against imperialist domination and for democracy. He stressed the need and significance of grassroots level building of AIALA at panchayat level. He reminded Com. Charu’s teaching that “it is not important how much wage or how much land rural poor or poor peasant got, more important is how much political conscious and fighting spirit he got”. The Conference gave a clarion call to make Aug 20 Jail bharo call of the party a resounding success.
On behalf of the outgoing State Council of the AIALA Com. N. Gunasegaran presented the report to the house which elicited enthusiastic response from the delegates. Altogether 29 delegates spoke on the draft report. They cited several experiences of their own, sought clarifications and made useful suggestions. Some women delegates were quite assertive in their deliberations and expressed their hope and confidence that AIALA was not only a tool but a weapon in fighting all sorts of forces who come in the way of rural poor’s assertion. Speaker after speaker endorsed the report’s view that there is tremendous scope for AIALA but the lacking aspect is our preparedness and hard work.
The report discussed AIALA’s building at the grassroots level and called for a work style and determination to fulfill the same. It also discussed the question of NREGA implementation, land, wage and dignity. The repot outlined the organisational tasks to enroll one lakh members of AIALA before the national conference and to hold 120 panchayat conferences and 25 block conferences. District conferences will be held after the National Conference.
After clarifications and explanations given by Com.Gunasegaran the report was passed unanimously. A 47 member State Council was elected by the house. In turn the newly elected council elected Com. N.Gunasegaran and S.Janakiraman as President and General Secretary respectively.
The newly elected President and GS were felicitated and greeted by Com.V.Shankar, CCM. by presenting the AIALA flag. In his message to the conference, he underscored the emerging political challenges and the role of AIALA in accepting those challenges by radical mobilization of the rural poor.
Resolutions were passed unanimously by the conference placed by Com. Usha. Enactment of separate special legislation for agricultural labor, representation for AIALA in state employment guarantee council, presenting white paper in the state assembly on the NREGA implementation in the state and ensuring 2 acre land and 5 cent house site to every agricultural labourer family, fresh enumeration of BPL lists and provision of 50 kg rice at the price of Rs2/kg and 5 litres of kerosene at Rs2/ls, 200 days employment per year for two members in a family with Rs 200/day as wage and so forth., The conference also passed resolution commemorating 1908 first political strike of Indian working class and reaffirmed to carry forward the united struggles of rural and urban working class for genuine democracy and against imperialist domination, and demanded scrapping of SEZs and anti national Indo-US nuclear deal.
Com Balasundaram, State Secretary, outlined the political perspective of the grassroots building of AIALA at panchayat level. As big parties like DMK and AIADMK are loosing their grassroots support base, DMK, AIADMK and other bourgeois parties are trying desperately to recapture the power anyhow and trying every trick to arrest the drift. So it is in this context the strengthening of AIALA at panchyat level is a political opportunity and urgency, not just by enrolling members. He further appealed to and reminded the newly elected leadership that it should carry forward the energy and enthusiasm generated by the conference and should not be allowed to die down mid way.
AICCTU TN State GS Com NK Natarajan, AIPWA State Convener Com Thenmozhi, All India President of Construction Workers’ Federation and Party’s Puducherry State Secretary Com. S. Balasubramanian presented their solidarity messages to the conference. The conference was a success and the propaganda attracted passers by. Among the many comrades of CPI(ML) who worked hard to make the Conference a success were those comrades also who left CPI last October to join our Party.
AICCTU 7th All India Conference Concluded in Chennai
Com.Dipankar Bhattacharya, GS, CPIML inaugurated the conference. Comrades from fraternal organizations in countries such as Nepal, Com Balram Katri and Com. Surya Mohan of GEFONT,.and Bangladesh, Com. Zubran Ali Jewel, of revolutionary Garment Workers Solidarity addressed the open session of the conference. Com Kalpana, SASG also addressed the conference. Fraternal TUs from Australia and Japan have sent messages wishing success of the conference. The messages were read out in the conference.
Comrades of AITUC, TUCC, AIUTUC, CITU attended the open session. Com.R.N.Thakur hoisted the red flag. Conference paid homage to the martyrs. A 11-member presidium with Com Suvendu Sen as Chairman conducted the conference.
A special session on the issues of contract workers was held on August 3rd, and a session on Para teachers and health workers was held on August 4th.
370 delegates from 20 states and 22 sectors participated in the conference. The conference elected a 179-member council, 65-member working committee and Comrade S.Kumarasami as President and Com Swapan Mukherjee as General Secretary.
The resolved to make the August 20 All India Strike a great success by filling in the jails in the country.
Book on Lenin’s Life Released In Lucknow
In a ceremony organised by the Lenin Pustak Kendra (Lenin book centre) at the Convention Hall of Ambedkar Mahasabha on 27 July in Lucknow a book named Krantirathi (charioteer of revolution) based on Vladimir Lenin’s life by poet Brahmanarayan Gaud ‘Viplav Bidahari’ was released by Sudhir Vidyarthi (editor Sandarsh). Many writers, poets, cultural personalities, social activists and intellectuals were present on the occasion. Some among those present were Shakil Siddiqui, Anil Sinha, Dr. Ramesh Dixit, GC Srivastava, Shobha Singh, Krishna Pratap Singh and Dr. BN Gaud. The function was presided over by Jan Sanskriti Manch’s national vice president Ajay Singh and it was conducted by JSM’s Lucknow convenor Kaushal Kishore. Ganga Prasad, manager of the Lenin Book Centre read the vote of thanks.
Against UPA Government’s Treachery and Blatant Pro-Imperialism
Participate in and Make:
Nation-wide People’s Campaign (23 July – 20 August)
General Strike by Trade Union Organisations (20 August) &
CPI(ML)’s ‘Jail-bharo’ on 20 August
A Grand Success