In this Issue
Commonwealth Games: Corrupt, Wasteful and Exploitative Continuation of a Colonial Legacy
The Commonwealth Games, touted as the Country’s pride, is shaping to become the symbol of national shame in more ways than one. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has in a preliminary investigation of Commonwealth Games works in the Capital, found indications of pervasive corruption by virtually all the government organisations involved in executing the works. As we go to press there are reports of the CWG Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi’s direct involvement in doctoring an email to cover up irregular financial transactions with a London based firm.
The PWD, MCD, DDA, NDMC, CPWD and RITES are among the organizations which stand implicated in corruption. The Chief Technical Examiner Organisation (CTEO) report of the CVC indicates that work has been awarded at higher rates and to ineligible agencies, bids tampered with, irregularities in issue of tenders, and ‘upgradation’ of various facilities without establishing the need for such upgradation. While the whole raison d’etre of the Games is said to be the setting up of ‘world class’ sports and infrastructural facilities in the national Capital, the CTEO report of the CVC has listed a series of cases in which quality has been deliberately compromised and quality tests fabricated. Already, the effect of such poor quality constructions are beginning to show: a section of the false ceiling at the Yamuna Sports Complex collapsed after heavy rains, and at a test event at the SP Mukherjee Swimming Complex, a swimmer was hurt thanks to the shoddy construction.
The Congress CM of Delhi as well as senior leaders in the Union Government have tried to dismiss the CVC allegations as unsubstantiated, and the CVC too has issued a clarification that the CTEO report is a ‘first step’ in the vigilance process and is not a ‘final CVC report.’ But the fact remains that the denials of the Games organizers and the Governments at Delhi and Centre do not cut any ice.
What are the implications of the CVC allegations?
As it is, the Games extravaganza mocks our country’s poor who are reeling under price rise. On top of it the evidence that government officials are lining their own pockets with crores of taxpayers’ rupees in the name of the Games is nothing short of a crime against the people who are battling for survival in our country. Further, we might recall that independent groups have established that labour laws and safety regulations are being rampantly violated at Games worksites, resulting in the deaths of a large number of workers in worksite accidents. While casual workers and migrant labourers lose their lives and are robbed even of their due minimum wages, the Games are proving to be a bonanza of loot for the politicians and the bureaucrats. In the name of national pride, the poor are being branded as ‘beggars’ and evicted from the Capital city, street vendors robbed of livelihood, and slum-dwellers are being insulted by the creation of bamboo hedges to hide their hutments from the view of ‘foreign visitors.’
Not only are the Games proving to be corrupt, wasteful and exploitative – the very idea of the ‘Commonwealth’ Games as a symbol of national pride is a tasteless joke with our legacy of anti-colonial struggle. The ‘Commonwealth’ – a collection of former British colonies in unity with Britain, all symbolized by the British Crown and Queen – is an anachronism at best and a shameful survival of the colonial legacy at worst.
Far from the glitter and glamour that the Congress Government seeks to project through the Games, the Commonwealth Games have provided a pretext to the Congress Government to rush through the liberalization agenda of evicting street vendors and the homeless, as well as a golden opportunity for massive loot of public money. Such an exploitative and spectacularly corrupt extravaganza – that is a colonial hangover to boot – should be exposed and resisted by all democratic voices in our country.
“Intensify the Militant People’s Movement against Scamster, Autocratic Nitish Govt.”
On 28 July, 38th martyrdom anniversary of CPI(ML)’s founder Comrade Charu Mazumdar, the Bihar State Committee of the Party organised a State-level Convention at Srikrishna Memorial Hall in Patna with the call to “Intensify the Militant People’s Movement against Scamster, Autocratic Nitish Govt.” At 11 a.m. a march was held from Party’s State Office to the Convention Hall led by General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, State Secretary Comrade Nand Kishore Prasad, PB members Ramjatan Sharma and Amar and other Central and State Committee members. When the march reached the Convention Hall a minute’s silence was observed in memory of the martyrs and thereafter Comrade Charu Mazumdar’s portrait was garlanded followed by cultural performance by Hirawal.
This was a unique cadre convention in a way as two thousand cadres from 38 districts including State Committee, District Committee and Prakhand Committee members, branch secretaries and leading women comrades who led the political literacy campaign attended the Convention.
Comrade Ram Naresh Ram, part of the seven member presidium, welcomed all the cadres. Com. Nand Kishore Prasad discussed the changes in different aspects of Party life in the interim of one year since last cadre convention and mentioned about the important initiatives of the Party. On the current situation of Bihar he said that the slimy face of Nitish Kumar’s vikas yatra and now vishwas yatra (development march and trust march) stand exposed in the face of massive treasury fraud and earlier refusal to implement the LRC report. The illegally withdrawn money in the name of rural poor’ welfare is a massive cheating on them whose punishment will be pronounced not by the judiciary and CBI but the people of Bihar.
After this, Com. Arun Singh, Party’s second in command inside the Bihar Legislative Assembly describing in detail the course of events during Monsoon session spoke of how the Govt. engineered attacks on opposition MLAs and MLCs under a well thought plan and carried on with its self-styled functioning in a opposition free Assembly after autocratically suspending them for the rest of the Monsoon session. Comrade Rajaram Singh and gave detailed account of various initiatives being taken by the Kisan Front (All India Kisan Mahasabha) in different districts and Comrade Dhirendra Jha, GS of All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) apart from other initiatives on agricultural workers front discussed the 7 July strike of rural workers against the massive loot by the Govt. in NREGA. He also announced the intensive campaign that AIALA has planned for the first fortnight of August. AIPWA’s State President Comrade Saroj Chaubay informed the cadres in detail about the Party’s political literacy campaign conducted among women. 674 classes were held all over the State in which 15 thousand members/active elements participated, for which 146 women (apart from men) were trained. Decision was taken that one representative form each of the 674 class will attend the Convention. The classes have not only raised the level of political consciousness of the women but also exposed Nitish Govt’s betrayal to women. Other women comrades Leela Verma from Patna rural, Sohila Gupta from Siwan and Rita Varnaval from Gaya recounted their experiences in their respective districts.
Jayprakash Paswan, mukhiya of Behrama panchayat in Patna shared his experiences about the distribution of certificates and diesel to sharecroppers. Comrades Satyanarayan, Mahanand, Sunil Yadav and Satyadev Ram from Patna, Jahanabad, Gopalganj and Siwan respectively spoke about the developments in their work areas. Comrade KD Yadav discussed the peasant movement in different districts.
Summing up the varied developments on organiational front and developing political situation in Bihar, Party’s GS Comrade Dipankar discussed the campaign and movemental responsibilities in the next phase. The convention concluded with revolutionary slogans after passing a seven point resolution.
Shame on VS Achhutanandan’s Slur on Muslim Minorities
Kerala Chief Minister VS Achhutanandan, in a recent press conference in Delhi, in the course of commenting on the barbaric attack on a teacher by an outfit called the PFI, accused the said Muslim outfit of ‘luring youth for conversion’ and seeking to ‘Islamicise Kerala’ through ‘money and marriage.’
Later, the CPI(M) and VS Achhutanandan himself on the floor of the Assembly, did not deny the statement but clarified that the remarks pertained to the PFI alone and not to the Muslim community as a whole. Whether the remark pertained to the Muslim community as a whole or to a particular outfit is immaterial. What is undeniable is that the statement echoed and gave credence to the mainstays of Sangh Parivar hate-speak against Muslims: the bogey of Muslims seeking to outnumber the Hindu ‘majority’ through conversion, ‘love jehad’ (i.e marriage with and conversion of non-Muslims) and population increase. As it is, it calls to mind the West Bengal CM’s 2002 statement that “Madrasas are ISI dens” and appears to be a transparent ploy to capitalize on communal sentiment towards the Kerala polls. Such a sentiment can only embolden the Hindutva brigade – and is a shameful utterance for any Left leader.
CPI(ML) Central Committee
Stop the Ongoing Massacre of Kashmiri Civilians by Armed Forces
The CPI(ML) Central Committee took serious note of the relentless killing of Kashmiri civilians in firing by armed forces. It is deeply disturbing and shameful that no less than 8 people were killed yesterday on the streets of Kashmir, while in the period since 15 June, some 32 civilians including a large number of children and youth have been killed in firing. The killing of children in police firing or fake encounters would evoke outraged protest anywhere in the country. But when the Kashmiri people hit the streets, their protests are being branded as “terrorist-inspired” in order to justify further repression and killings. The firing on protestors in Kashmir is no one-off instance – it is clearly a policy of repression that has the blessings of the UPA Governments at the State and Centre.
The firing on street protests and daily bloodshed of innocents, as well as the Government’s attempts to insult the Kashmiri people by branding their valid and natural protest as ‘inspired by terrorism’, must stop. We demand the resignation of the Omar Abdullah Government as well as the Union Home Minister and nothing short of immediate withdrawal of troops from Kashmir.
CPI(ML) Central Committee, Statement issued during CC Meet, Mirzapur,
August 2, 2010
No Commonwealth Games at the Cost of Common People! AISA Organises Public Hearing in Delhi
Students, workers, vendors, trade unionists and teachers attended a Public Hearing on 2nd August in Delhi University and spoke on the reality of the Commonwealth Games (CWG). The members of the Jury were Dunu Roy of Hazards Centre, Dr. Manoj Jha of Dept. of Social Work, DU, Dr. Maninder Thakur from JNU, Vijay Singh-Academic Council Member, DU, and Santosh Roy, General Secretary, AICCTU Delhi. Paintings of Anupam Roy on the condition of workers in the CWG projects were also exhibited.
The University Administration has evacuated the UG Hostels of different colleges for the CWG without caring to provide alternative accommodation to ousted hostellers. In Delhi University, over 2000 students have been evicted suddenly from their hostels to make room for CWG athletes and officials. University Administration which has been aggressive in pushing its agendas (in the name of academics) recently despite widespread opposition did not bother to give even a trifle of thought- for this eviction which will surely impact the students quite adversely. The landlords in nearby areas have increased the rent manifold (some charging as high as `10000 per student) as they know that the students have no alternative left.
AICCTU leader Comrade Santosh Rai said that violations of workers’ rights are rampant at CWG sites. Neither minimum wages nor overtime payments are provided. Working conditions are unsafe and worksite facilities, crèches or even proper housing are absent. Over a hundred workers have died at these sites from accidents or diseases such as cerebral meningitis, but their death is as cheap as their lives and their labour. Dunu Roy, Jury member said that in the wake of this assault, all forces of the affected students, vendors, teachers and workers need to join hands to defend their rights. The hearing resolved to continue the struggle against these aspects of the games, in a united manner.
PUNJAB AISA: Gidderbaha, a tehsil town, falls under Muktsar district of Punjab. It is known as the home turf of Badals (the present ruling family of the state).MLA from this constituency, Manpreet badal is also the current finance minister of the State. Some years ago Badals illegally acquired the building of the only government college Gidderbaha had. Building was allotted to Badal's own private school and the college was shifted 4-5 kms away from the town. There it was allotted land by a local dera and now for some years the town has only a single college, a private aided college, MM DAV College.
This college is controlled by a managing committee that consists of some Congress politicians. Any type of student organisation is strictly curbed by the college management. College management is so authoritarian in their approach that even for a mild protest students were expelled from the college. Any type of disciplinary action is in the form of suspension/expulsion or monetary fine.
At the start of this year's session in July, a new dictatorial decision was taken by the college management. Classes of boys and girls were separated without any reason. Both male and female students opposed such a move. When students protested college authorities called in the police and also ordered expulsion of three students. Hence the students brought the whole matter to AISA leadership.
Next day on 30th July a strike was observed under the banner of AISA which forced the Administration to call for talks. A delegation under the leadership of AISA leaders met college authorities and after an unyielding stance by AISA, delegation was successful in making authorities accept most of the demands of the students. Students raised radical slogans at this victory. This has attracted students to get to know more and associate with AISA.
ORISSA AISA: In recent history Orissa has been marked by state repression in Kalinganagar and Jagatsinghapur and by people’s resistance in these two places and also beyond. State Govt’s policy in this phase has facilitated rampant loot of nation’s mineral by MNC’s of various hues and education sector has been thrown open to private players. While the State run college and universities have witnessed drastic degeneration, the democratic aspirations of the student community has been trampled with while private institutes have mushroomed all over the State.
All India Student’s Association has started organizing student community against state’s above mentioned policies in Koraput, Raygada, Bhadrak, Puri, Bhubaneswar and Khurda districts. A convention was held recently on 29 July in Gunupur Town in Raygada district to shape the rising student unrest against the State’s policy of repression and facilitating indiscriminate loot and plunder of resources by Corporates. Convention was organized by Raygada district committee of AISA and was inaugurated by Comrade Tirupati Gomango, State Committee member of CPI(ML) and a popular mass leader. Com. Jul Mukherjee, National Joint Secretary of AISA, along with Com. Littu Lal (Orissa convener of AISA), Ruposwini Tatitu, Laba Dora spoke on the occasion. More than hundred students from adjacent four colleges were present braving ABVP smear campaign and a Maoist strike in the area.
Maha Dharna Held in Hyderabad
The Andhra Pradesh State Committee of the party took up a campaign to expose the anti-people policies of the State Government, widely distributing a leaflet in the form of an ‘Open Letter to the Chief Minister’ with a charter of demands focussing on corporate land grab, state repression and the firing at Sompeta, illegal mining, corruption in NREGA, and the demand for a white paper into fake encounters. The week-long political campaign comprised padayatras, cycle rallies, street corner meetings in a number of mandals, towns, panchayats and some district HQs covering nearly 9 districts. The campaign concluded on 28 July with a massive dharna at Indira Park, Hyderabad, in which more than a thousand people participated from several districts. The dharna was addressed by Comrades N Murthy, B Bangar Rao, M Malleswar Rao, D Haranath, R Nagamani, B Viplav Kumar, B Vasudev Rao, CK Damodar, Siva Reddy and T Aruna. The Jan Sanskriti Manch unit of AP led by Dr. Satyanarayana held a captivating cultural performance. Comrade K Randhir presided over the meeting and Comrade Swamy made concluding remarks.
A Class for Workers in Bangalore
Bangalore unit of the Party organised a daylong class for workers on 25 July. More than 50 workers from to RMC and RDC readymix concrete companies and construction industry attended the class. Prof. Lakshminarayana spoke on the role of working class in social change and the need for a revolutionary theory to the proletariat in a simple way with many practical examples. District president of AICCTU Appanna spoke on the issues related to the construction labour welfare board, the benefits and the challenges involved in organising them as a political force. Com. Gandhimathi, AIPWA leader spoke on legal issues and the necessary approach of the trade union movement. Com. Shankar, CCM, spoke on the need for greater politicisation and larger role of workers in the present day politics dominated by the mining mafia in the state. Com. Somu, district secretary presided the session while Thomas of RMC and Sunil of RDC conducted it.
Rally demanding House-sites
On 2 August, AICCTU organised a 500-strong rally of workers from rice mills and auto industry demanding house sites for workers in the town. Hundreds of angry workers marched on the streets of Gangavati against the local BJP MLA and corrupt officials who divided the house sites allotted under ‘Asare’ scheme among themselves. The scheme meant to construct house and provide shelter to the houseless poor people was used to promote the interests of local ruling party politicians and officials. The militant rally was led by J Bharadwaj, SLTM of the party and the demonstration in front of the municipal office was addressed by AICCTU leaders Ismail, Virupaksha, Uma Shankar and Hari. Com. Linge Gowda of AIALA also addressed the protestors.
ASHA 's Campaigns in Assam
The 19th July, being the 6th Foundation day of ASHA was observed in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh. In Tinsukia there was a day long programme and martyr’s memorial was inaugurated by Comrade Subhas Sen. Later a huge procession was taken out till the DC office where a memorandum for the Union Health Minister was handed to the DC. In Dibrgarh too 300 ASHA members marched to hand over the memorandum.The All Assam ASHA Association (AAAA) has put forth the following demands: (1) offer permanent status to ASHA as Govt. employees like those of NRHM, (2) fix a monthly salary of `8000 as is given to Central Govt. employees as minimum monthly wage; and other demands like making both NRHM and ASHA permanent, dignified treatment of ASHA as workers and women and to build ASHA Bhawan at every PHC and sub-centres, apart from other crucial demands important for executing their role as rural health professionals. Programmes were also held in Jorhat and Shivsagar where conventions were held.
It is extremely shameful on part of the Govt. that despite alarming rise in cases of life threatening diseases especially in rural areas the Govt. is unwilling to sustain a workforce that could stem the threat by early intervention.
One More Bhopal Type Gas Leak in Sriperumpudur Foxcon Factory
Foxcon is the company manufacturing spares of Nokia cell phones with 7000 workers situated near Chennai. On 23 July there was an accident inside the factory and workers who inhaled fumes started fainting one after another. When 1st batch of women workers fainted, management attributed it to the fasting by women workers during the auspicious Adi Tamil month. Management said that everything was fine and asked others to start their work. But workers were uncomfortable and many of them started vomiting. Both men and women suffered giddiness.
About 250 workers were admitted to hospitals. Condition of some 15 workers is said to be serious. Sriperumputhur solidarity forum intervened timely to bring this issue in the limelight. Comrades of solidarity forum met the hospitalized workers. AICCTU comrades led the efforts in exposing the accident to the media. AICCTU leaders also met the workers in the hospital, enquired about their condition and expressed solidarity.
Foxcon workers working inside as an anciliary of Nokia went on strike in solidarity. Com. Tamilarima of solidarity forum addressed the big gathering of workers. It is learnt that the factory was operating without safety clearances. TN government ordered closure of the factory until investigations are over. The labour minister of TN has also visited the hospital.
Management’s move to cover up the whole incident didn’t materialize and the incident got wider coverage. Authorities of pollution control board and factory inspectors are investigating. We have been campaigning that investment alone is not enough, safety and security of the workers has to be taken extremely seriously.
We demand- Proper medical treatment and compensation to the victims, factory should not be allowed to open unless safety and security of the workers are ensured with proper certification, a tharough investigation into the incident and report made public, action to be taken on those responsible for the accident.
Protest at Vedanta Plc’s AGM in London
The demonstration in London on 28 July organized by a large and vocal group from Foil Vedanta was very successful with about 250 people and a very energetic protest including slogans saying ‘Anil Agarwal, Blood on Your hands’ ‘Who killed Arsi Majhi? Vedanta, Vedanta’ and masks of Anil Agarwal as a Wanted Criminal and of David Cameron and Manmohan Singh as accomplices in the crimes of Vedanta.
Despite police efforts to keep the demonstrators away from the building in which the AGM was being held, (The Institute of Civil Engineers, in Westminster, London), they moved partially into it and on to the steps with a large banner proclaiming ‘Vedanta plc : Stop the killings! Stop the destruction!’
There were messages of support for the protest from organizations in India as well as Britain, including the All-India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) and the Greater London Association of Trade Union Councils. Inside the AGM, many shareholders were unhappy about Vedanta’s activities. Anil Agarwal chaired the meeting and Naresh Chandra, a Vedanta plc Board Member took all the questions. They were faced by a barrage of questions from shareholders critical of Vedanta, centering mainly on the destruction of the Niyamgiri mountain.
Vedanta tried to counter this by showing a power point presentation by Mukesh Kumar, the Chief Operating Officer of the Lanjigarh refinery, in which he made a number of claims about improvements in the quality of life of Dongria’s since the arrival of Vedanta plc in their region. He claimed that the Niyamgiri mountain was no longer worshipped by the Dongria and that they welcomed Vedanta’s intervention. These claims were challenged by Samarendra Das (author of the recent pathbreaking book ‘Out of this Earth’ Orient, Black Swan publishers) about the Aluminium industry who was attending the meeting as a shareholder.
Das, himself from Orissa, with years of experience of working with the Dongrias accused Mukesh Kumar of misleading the shareholders and asked ‘How much do you know about the Dongrias? Can you even tell us the name of their God. Tell us if you know it!’ Mukesh Kumar was unable to answer and admitted that he did not know. After the rebuttal at AGM, two European banks announced that they were to disinvest in August this year and a representative of Aviva, the insurance company, said his company was also considering disinvesting.