Manmohan Singh Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai
A US daily, the Washington Post, recently commented on India’s PM Manmohan Singh, observing, “The image of the scrupulously honourable, humble and intellectual technocrat has slowly given way to a completely different one: a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government,” and describing Manmohan as “a man whose aloofness from the rough-and-tumble of Indian politics has been transformed from an asset into a liability.”
The article as such said very little that was new. In fact, its main thrust was based on quotes by Indian observers, as appeared in a 2011 issue of the Caravan magazine. Historian Ramachandra Guha described Manmohan Singh as ‘a tragic figure,’ fatally handicapped by “timidity, complacency and intellectual dishonesty; while Sanjaya Baru, former media advisor to the PM, commented that the PM had been transformed into a figure of ridicule. The article also described popular jokes in India that poke fun at Manmohan Singh’s well-known penchant for silence on a variety of pressing political occasions.
What was interesting was the reaction of the Indian Government to this article. Stung by the article, the PMO leapt to the PM’s defence, demanding an apology from the Washington Post and the author of the article! This overreaction, if anything, showed Manmohan Singh in a more ridiculous light than ever.
What made the PMO so sensitive to an article in a daily paper? Why did the head of a State try, in vain, to gag the views of a journalist of another country, and try to extract an apology from him? Above all, the question arises – why was Manmohan Singh so sensitive to this particular article, when similar observations about his role appear regularly in the Indian press?
Clearly, Manmohan Singh is especially sensitive to criticism from any US quarters including the US Press. He finds it unbearable to be termed an ‘underachiever’ by Time Magazine or a ‘tragic figure’ by Washington Post, whereas the same criticism in the Indian press does not bother him. Manmohan Singh’s sensitivity to American criticism is the natural fallout of his excessive concern to get praise and pat on the back from the US. To understand why Manmohan Singh is so upset, we must first understand how, for very long, US approval has been his overriding guiding principle in policy-making.
And his sensitivity to US opinion should be contrasted with his complete insensitivity to Indian public opinion! Manmohan Singh has always been proud of the fact that he takes decisions without being swayed by considerations of political fallout. So, his Government stubbornly insists on fixing poverty lines at starvation levels (Rs 23 in rural areas and Rs 28 in urban areas), unmoved by the fact that Indians find this preposterous. Likewise, his government goes on opening up sector after sector of Indian economy and social sectors for foreign capital to keep the American masters happy even as the whole country calls for an urgent halt to this disastrous course of indiscriminate FDI invasion. And when it comes to deciding India’s foreign policy and domestic governance, his government has repeatedly made it clear that in its view national interests do not count, it is American interest which is of paramount importance.
Throughout his career as PM, Manmohan Singh has never hesitated to voice open – even fawning – praise of colonialism and imperialism that the Indian people would find offensive. In 2005, Manmohan Singh declared at Oxford that the British Raj was a model of “good governance.” In 2008, he bade an emotional goodbye to the world’s most hated US President – George Bush – by publicly declaring “deep love” for Bush, and expressing deep gratitude for “your affection, your friendship.” In 2009, at a time when the US economy was in deep recession, and US economic and political hegemony were at an all time low, Manmohan Singh’s loyalty remained rock-solid. He went out of his way to assert that the US economy would “bounce back”, that “there is no substitute for the dollar,” and that “we have not entered an era of irreversible shift in economic strength of the United States.”
So, Manmohan Singh’s angry reaction to the Washington Post’s opinion comes from a sense of wounded loyalty that went unrewarded. He openly supported the US establishment when its credibility was at an all time low, and feels let down that US public opinion now is not reciprocating, when his own credibility is in tatters and he is the target of public ridicule and anger among the Indian people.
State Cadre Convention in Bihar Resolves to Make November 9 Parivartan Rally in Patna a Roaring Success
fter the meeting of the Bihar State Committee of the Party held in Mairwa, Siwan from 2-4 September, a state-level cadre meeting was held in Patna on September 6 to mobilise the entire Party for the forthcoming ‘Parivartan Rally’ on November 9. The Party in Bihar is waging a relentless struggle against the growing failure and betrayal of the Nitish Kumar regime. Crime in Bihar is once again on the increase, corruption has crossed all limits and feudal-communal forces are flexing their muscles everywhere with the backing of the state government. Nearly one thousand Party cadres including members of district- and block-level committees and secretaries of local committees and Party branches attended the convention.
The Nitish Kumar government seeks to meet the popular outcry for justice with increased repressive measures on the one hand and by posing itself as the champion of Bihar vis-a-vis the Centre. The entire state government is currently busy with a so-called ‘Adhikar yatra’ which will culminate in ‘Adhikar rally’ on 4 November. Against this backdrop, the Parivartan rally has assumed additional significance, as it will highlight the strength and resolve of the fighting people of Bihar vis-a-vis the pompous show of power of a pretentious regime.
Addressing the state convention, Comrade Dipankar emphasised that the battle for justice for Bihar cannot be separated from the battle for justice for the people within Bihar. Nitish Kumar has already betrayed the people on the latter score, his slogan of ‘development with justice’ having turned into ‘loot with injustice’. Now he is out to betray the people on the issue of justice for Bihar, reducing the issue of special category status for Bihar into a bargaining chip with the Centre and the Congress. He waxes eloquent against the likes of Narendra Modi and the Thackerays, but his ideological-political intimacy with communal and divisive forces is demonstrated unmistakably in his long-standing alliance with the BJP and the NDA.
Comrade Dipankar pointed out that Nitish Kumar’s anti-corruption rhetoric had also proved to be utterly hollow and opportunistic. He demands cancellation of coal blocks, but defends the equally scandalous allocation of BIADA land in Bihar. He upholds CAG reports concerning the central government, but rubbishes the same CAG reports regarding the glaring lapses and huge scams perpetrated by his own government in Bihar. Comrade Dipankar called upon the convention to give a fitting rebuff to Nitish Kumar’s pro-feudal politics by making the November 9 Parivartan Rally a roaring success.
The convention chalked out elaborate plans for the next two months to spread the message of the rally across the state and mobilise all members and structures of the Party in an intensive preparatory work. Village level meetings and padyatras will be held in all our areas of work. Block- and district-level review meetings will be held from mid-September to mid-October. Mass organisations will also work systematically to mobilise for the rally. Kisan Mahasabha has convened a ‘Bhumi Adhikar Sammelan’ (land rights conference) in Patna on 21 September. RYA is holding its state conference at Samastipur on 30 September. AIPWA will organise a ‘mahila adalat’ (women’s court) in Patna on 2 October while Inquilabi Muslim Conference has convened an assembly in Patna to discuss the growing injustice and insecurity that Muslims are having to battle against in today’s Bihar.
Convention Held in Solidarity With Maruti Workers
he All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) and All India Students’ Association (AISA) held a Convention on September 7th at the Indian Social Institute, Delhi, in solidarity with Maruti workers. The Convention- ‘Intensified Assault on the Working Class: Challenges Before Democracy’, was attended by workers from the Delhi-NCR area, students, as well as concerned citizens and activists.
Several Maruti workers addressed the Convention, describing the exploitative conditions of work at the Manesar plant, in which they were given just 7 minutes to have tea and use the toilet, where pay was cut for every leave taken, and where the bulk of workers are employed on contract and paid less than permanent workers for the same work, in violation of labour laws. They described the incident of 18th July, pointing out that the Maruti management had introduced bouncers into the factory in order to intimidate the negotiating union leaders. They alleged that the violence was unleashed by the bouncers, who were responsible for the fire in which a manager lost his life due to asphyxiation.
The workers asked, “We are being described as criminals and killers. But can we ask – was it not illegal and provocative of the management to suspend an innocent worker and then introduce bouncers in the factory?” Comrade Matthew, former President of the Maruti’s Plant I Union who was terminated after the struggle in 2000-2001, also described the repression faced by workers at that time.
Rakhi Sehgal of the NTUI painstakingly recounted the many unanswered questions and inconvenient facts regarding the 18th July incident that contradict the 'official' version. There is ample evidence to suggest that bouncers in workers' uniforms were introduced into the factory by the management in connivance with the police. She highlighted the fact that the investigation was being conducted by police officials who themselves are under a cloud regarding their role on 18th July. She said that the workers of the Maruti factory firmly believed that the 18th July incident was a conspiracy to finish off the Union. A significant majority of the Maruti Manesar plant's workers are from southern Haryana, from a belt where they receive some support and backing from their agriculture-based families, and are therefore more difficult to intimidate or suppress. Therefore, it is likely that the management wanted an excuse to replace them, once and for all, with more pliant migrant labour.
Speaking at the Convention, S Kumarasami, the All-India President of AICCTU, and also the President of the union of the Pricol Automobile workers of Coimbatore, described the struggle of the Pricol workers from 2007 onwards, and the incident of 2009 in which an HR manager was killed. He said that in a situation where workers are having to work in a state of virtual 'rigorous imprisonment,' deprived of legal rights, basic democracy, and an atmosphere of intimidation, where unionisation and peaceful struggles are suppressed, and managements seem to enjoy impunity in the eyes of Government, it was all too natural for conflict to erupt. Such incidents were bound to increase as long as industrial democracy is suppressed. He said that the Pricol workers sustained their Union and their struggle in the face of repression, by forging strong links with the struggles of local people.
Describing the situation in Manesar now, Comrade Kumarasami said ‘industrial terrorism is being unleashed on the working class,’ with ex-army personnel and police being deployed right on the factory floor. Just as corporate plunder was being encouraged, as shown in the coal, 2G and mining scams, capital backed by the State is also focusing on maximum extraction of profit by maximizing exploitation of workers. The result, he said, was ‘21st century technology and 19th century labour conditions.’ He called for the Trade Union movement to reach out to the vast army of contract and apprentice labourers and for the working class to forge links with the struggles of contract workers as well as non-factory workers and common people. He highlighted the demand for the TU Act 1926 to be amended to make it mandatory to give recognition to the majority union in each factory as chosen by workers by secret ballot.
Labour historian Prabhu Mahapatra, Atul Sood, professor of economics from JNU, Senior advocate N D Pancholi of the PUCL, Ranjana Padhi, feminist activist addressed the convention. The Convention was also addressed by the Maruti workers’ lawyer Rajendra Pathak, and Santosh Rai, President of the Delhi State unit of AICCTU.
Among those who joined the Convention in solidarity with Maruti workers were Jawed Naqvi, columnist, Arundhati Roy, writer, Sanjay Kak, filmmaker, Madhuresh (NAPM), Prof. Vijay Singh, activist Gopal Krishna, Sandeep Singh, President of AISA, Sanjay Sharma, Delhi State Secretary of CPI(ML), Prabhat Kumar, CCM of CPI(ML), and several teachers of DU, students of Jamia Millia Islamia and other universities in Delhi. A member of the New Delhi Bureau of the party organ of the Communist Party of Japan also interacted with the Maruti workers and covered the Convention for his paper.
The Convention adopted a series of resolutions: appealing to all democratic organisations and citizens for support for the Maruti workers’ struggle; demanding- immediate withdrawal of police and paramilitary from industrial areas in Gurgaon-Manesar; release and reinstatement of all the workers; an independent judicial enquiry into the 18th July incident; that the Haryana Govt and Central Government be held responsible for upholding labour laws and industrial democracy and penalizing companies that violate these laws; ending exploitation of contract labour; and amendment of the TU Act 1926 to make registration of the majority Union mandatory.
Letter from CPI(ML) GS to Tamilnadu CM Regarding Koodankulam
New Delhi, September 8, 2012
We are very concerned to read in the news (The Hindu, September 7,2012) that the people of Idinthakarai and adjoining areas, under the banner of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), who have been raising questions about the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant through a peaceful mass movement against the commissioning of the plant, have decided to lay siege to the plant on September 9th.
We understand that ever since the Madras High Court gave the final nod to load enriched uranium in the KKNPP, the people have been attempting to dialogue with the State and Central Governments, but to no avail. It is in this critical juncture that they are resorting to such a drastic step.
We are deeply concerned about the consequences and appeal to you to stop commissioning of the plant, and intervene at this stage. The people of the area, receiving no convincing answers to their extremely genuine concerns about safety, have been agitating peacefully for very long. They have braved baseless sedition charges and a slew of cases. They are raising a matter of great public interest, not only for the present generation but for future generations. Yet they have been accused of being anti-national.
Now, the matter has reached a critical stage, with the protesting people, all common rural and coastal poor, deciding to lay siege to the plant. As a democratically elected leader, accountable to the people of Tamilnadu, we hope that you will at least now respond sensitively to the anguish and desperation of the people. We appeal to you not to use police force on peaceful protestors, who are fighting for their fundamental right to a safe life.
It is never too late to stop a disaster. We appeal to you to heed the wise and timely calls of the people of Idinthakarai, who seek to avert a Fukushima on Indian soil, and stop the commissioning of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant.
Combat the Divisive Communal Politics of BJP-Shiv Sena-MNS
Reject the Political Opportunism of Nitish Kr and his Ilk
Following Raj Thackeray’s venomous tirade against ‘Bihari infiltrators’ in Mumbai, his cousin and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has now come up with the demand for introduction of permits for Bihari workers in Maharashtra. The competitive display of chauvinism by the Thackeray cousins has once again exposed the communal and divisive politics of outfits like the Shiv Sena and MNS in Maharashtra. While MNS does not have any formal affiliation to either NDA or UPA, the Shiv Sena is a long-standing ally of the BJP and a founding constituent of the NDA. The Shiv Sena variety of regional chauvinism is a perfect ideological partner of the BJP’s politics of national chauvinism. The only difference is while the Shiv Sena whips up communal frenzy in regional garb, the BJP does it in the name of nationalism.
When violence broke out in Kokrajhar in the month of July, the BJP was quick to blame it on ‘infiltration from Bangladesh’. A sinister sms campaign and rumour mongering saw thousands of workers and students from Assam and the North-East rush back home from Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai lending further grist to the BJP propaganda against terrorism and infiltration. Following Muslim protests in Mumbai, the Shiv Sena/MNS ire has now turned once again against Bihari workers, and especially Bihari Muslim youth in Maharashtra. Meanwhile we had reports from BJP-ruled Karnataka of ABVP goons pulling out migrant workers from Bihar and Odisha from trains and beating them up, all in the name of teaching ‘illegal immigrants from Bangladesh’ a good lesson.
The chain of events from Kokrajhar to Bangalore and now Mumbai has made it abundantly clear that divisive violence in one corner of the country will quickly spread to another corner, and campaign against one community will quickly turn against another. The fear that haunts Bengali-speaking Muslims is inseparable and indistinguishable from the insecurity faced by Bihari workers. It is the BJP which fuels this fear nationally and Nitish Kumar waxes eloquent about Bihari identity under the BJP’s ideological umbrella while migrant workers and youth from Bihar are harassed and persecuted in Mumbai by the JDU’s partners from the same BJP-led coalition.
While strongly refuting and resisting the divisive politics of the Shiv Sena/MNS and the BJP, we must also sharpen our struggle against the political opportunism of Nitish Kumar which is emboldening the Senas in Maharashtra and the BJP right within Bihar.
Sivakasi Blast- Punish the Culprits, Rehabilitate the Victims!
A seven member fact finding team of CPI(ML) and AICCTU visited Sivakasi in Virudhnagar district of Tamil Nadu on 7th September where more than 50 workers have already died and several are critical.
The team found that blatant violations of safety norms and regulations are the reason for recurring incidents at Sivakasi fire crackers every now and then. What is shocking is that only a few days prior to this horrific incident the factory was ordered to be closed for its violations. Even then the factory was in full operation with the strength of more than 480 workers, most of them women, children and a considerable number of migrant workers from West Bengal. The owners of the fireworks and Govt officials in collusion were running this death factory in total disregard of all norms and regulations.
In no way this could be termed as an accident. It is a clear case of deliberate crime. The officials are manufacturing a story that only 12 of the dead were the workers inside the factory, others were the passer-by who were hit by flying rubbles due to explosion. Sensing the intensity and extent of damage, the team raises the doubt about explosives being stockpiled for quarrying purposes also inside the premises.
In the face of such a tragic incident neither the labour minister nor the local minister have made even a visit so for. Even though much publicity was made about the impending visit of the CM, it is intriguing that she failed to turn up! When this was pointed out by the team the refrain of the public was, “the owner is an influential AIADMK bully”.
The fact finding team in its report published to the press demanded immediate arrest of absconding owner, resignation of the labour minister owning responsibility to such ghastly incident, arresting concerned labour and revenue officials and suspension of district collector, compensation of Rs.20 lakh to the family of every victim, 50 thousand to the injured, rehabilitation of the families with govt jobs, strict enforcement of the Inter State Migrant Labor Act 1979, transparent, scientific safety norms and regulations in hazardous industries like fire cracker industry, making accountable the owner and factory and labour officers for such incidents etc. A Judicial enquiry must be instituted immediately to inquire into the many questions that have arisen.
The team was led by Comrade T Sankarapandian, CPI(ML) State Committee member and State GS of AICCTU. The members included Comrades Ponraj, Dist Party organizer of Tuticorin –Virudunagar, Mathikannan, Avudaiappan, AIALA dist organizer, Chellasamy, Murugan and Shanmugaperumal.
TN State unit of AICCTU immediately called for a state-wide protest on 8th September 2012 on the demands raised after the fact finding team visit along with the demand to closure of units which violate rules and arrange for a public audit on work place accidents.
Demonstration held at Chennai was led by Comrade Palanivel, State Secretary of AICCTU. Demonstration at Kumarapalayam of Namakkal district was led by Comrade Pugalendhi, Dist Secretary of AICCTU. A demonstration was held at Kandarvakottai by AICCTU of Pudukottai unit addressed among others by com P.Asaithambi, district secretary of CPI (ML). Posters were released on these demands by Salem, Tirunelveli and Coimbatore units of AICCTU.