Published fortnightly from Kolkata
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Vol. 53 No. 6 November 1 2019
In this issue
- Withdraw the decision to privatise BPCL — SUCI(C)
- Pass -Fail : Victory of people’s prolonged determined movement
- By conducting powerful mass struggles on the strength of genuine leftist ideology, rabid communal forces must be isolated from the masses : Comrade Asit Bhattacharyya raises the call on the Shibdas Ghosh Memorial Day
- Severity of economic crisis and the futile attempt to hide it
- NEWS & VIEWS
Withdraw the decision to privatise BPCL — SUCI(C)
Central Committee SUCI(C) has issued the following statement on 29-10-2019 :
Modi Government has decided to privatise the central public sector BPCL, rated as ‘Maharatna’company by the central government based on its performance and profit. BPCL has a market share of 25%of the petroleum products in the country. It has 4 refineries, 6000 acres of land in the prime locations,14802 petrol pumps, 5907 LPG distribution centres, and have 11 subsidiary companies. This company having an asset of more than 8 lakh crore rupees is going to be sold at a throw- away price of 56000 crores of rupees to national or foreign monopoly capitalists. More than 1 lakh people all over India are depending on this company for their livelihood.
If the marketing of petroleum products are thrown open to the national and foreign capitalists the price of petroleum products and as a result the price of essential commodities will increase like anything.
This move of the Modi Government is a day light robbery of hard earned money of the common people of our country and is against the people’s interest. Hence we urge the central government to desist from the move to privatise BPCL. We request all the well-meaning people of this country to develop mighty peoples movement to force the Govt. to withdraw the move to privatise this public sector company.
Pass -Fail : Victory of people’s prolonged determined movement
In a statement issued on 24 October 2019, Comrade Chandidas Bhattacharjee, West Bengal State Secretary, SUCI(C), said: “Today, the state government has declared that it would bring back pass-fail system at the primary level. Irreparable damage has been caused to the students of this state because of the decision of the erstwhile CPI (M) government of West Bengal to implement no detention policy upto class IV. Later, lakhs of students of the entire country including West Bengal suffered immensely when the former Congress-led central government decided to abolish pass-fail system upto class VIII. Against this disastrous policy, we have been conducting movement for several years in various forms involving all sections of education-loving people. Today, the West Bengal government has been forced to make this announcement of re-introduction of pass-fail under pressure of movement. So, this is a victory of people’s movement. Our demand right from the beginning has been that pass-fail should be re-introduced right from class I and our movement would continue on that demand.
Severity of economic crisis and the futile attempt to hide it
Which are the parameters that the bourgeois economists base their analysis of progress or regress of economy on? Number one—growth rate of GDP. Number two — growth rate of industrial production. Number three — rate of unemployment. Number four — state of market demand. Broadly these are the four major ones. Added to this, what is referred to quite often these days is the stock market index. If one looks at any of these parameters, it would be established beyond doubt that the country’s economy is not only in tailspin but in severe crisis. For the most part, we will only refer to the published figures, comments of the economists, experts, columnists and bureaucrats belonging to the circle of ruling dispensation as well as defenders of the prevailing capitalist economy.
Confirmations by official parameters
First is GDP growth rate. As per official figure, it has tumbled down to 5% baffling all the ‘experts’ and government spokesmen who were hitherto busy showing how Indian economy was poised to overtake other countries in its pace of growth. Even RBI governor admitted that such drastic fall “has come to him as a surprise, worse than all predictions”. Both World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have significantly slashed India’s GDP growth rate prediction. Next is industrial production. For the April-June 2019 period, the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) had slipped 7 per cent lower compared to corresponding period in the last fiscal year. Growth of eight core sector industries— coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement and electricity – has dipped by 2.1%. Two Purchasing Power Manager’s Index (PMI) surveys conducted by IHS Markit indicate a slowdown in both services and manufacturing activities which constitute bulk of GDP growth. Officially, 6.8 lakh industries are reported to have closed down throwing lakhs out of job. Demonetisation, the much clamoured flop, gobbled up thousands of jobs in cash-based industries especially in the unorganised and small-trade sectors and agriculture. According to a Consumer Pyramids Household Survey by the Centre for the Monitoring of the Indian Economy (CMIE), nearly two million jobs were lost between January and August because of demonetisation. The cascading impact of job loss at such magnitude also dealt a blow to other means of livelihood in the neighbourhood. Besides this government-sponsored blow on jobs, many small and medium-scale companies have been forced to lay off lakhs of employees over the past few months to reduce production costs and volume. A report shows that 4.70 crore jobs were lost between 2011-12 to 2017-18. Automobile sector which has been facing deep wounds for the last 10 months on account of declining demand, has already shed over 3,50,000 jobs. Indian Railways is reported to be planning to hive off 3 lakh employees. North Indian Textile Mills Association (NITMA) apprehends that over 50 lakhs employees and workers might be jobless because of ongoing recession. 605 spinning mills have shut down across India. Tamil Nadu Open-end Spinning Mills Association estimates that 1.2 lakh workers have already lost their jobs in the previous year. Contractual employees (mid-to-junior level) everywhere are the first casualties. Obviously, with spurt in job loss coupled with rapidly shrinking job opportunities, unemployment is soaring alarmingly. It has already come to light that unemployment is at 45 years’ low, a record indeed! Earlier, several instances came to light on how joblessness is compelling hundreds of highly qualified candidates including doctorates, rank-holder engineers and post-graduates to accept lowly paid jobs like those of peons or sweepers. It was reported in the media only in October last that as many as 1,59,278 candidates had appeared for 1,149 for posts of peons and bailiffs in Gujarat. Among those who qualified in the test and were appointed there were seven doctors, 450 engineers and 543 post-graduates. If one adds the number of unemployed with those under-employed and casually employed, the figure would be astoundingly high. More than 80 percent of Indians work in jobs without regular pay, or social benefits, according to the International Labour Organization. In the cities, they are employed as street vendors, construction workers and in small kirana shops, or as labourers on farms and in fields, without any job security or subsistence level emoluments. Finally, rapid fall of demand in the market has no more remained a secret. Data show consumption expenditure which is at the core of domestic demand is registering sharp decline. Sales of Hindustan Lever, one of the biggest fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) company in India are reported flat. Britannia’s Managing Director opined that people are thinking twice even before buying a five-rupee biscuit pack. In fact, it is a common observation that the industrial and other productions are slowing down, if not shut down, because there is no taker in the market meaning no demand. As consumer demand slumped, industries are announcing more and more layoffs and production cuts to further peril of the economy.
A glance at the basics
Why is there no demand? Because the consumers, meaning the common people, lack purchasing power to buy goods at the prevailing prices. Why are the people lacking purchasing power? Because they are progressively denied bare means to earn the money needed to purchase even the basic necessities of life, let alone buying other items of utility. With job loss, unemployment, pseudo-employment and under-employment mounting with every passing hour—courtesy the endemic law of capitalist economy, avenues for earning by the common toiling people—the workers-peasants-middle-class— are squeezing further. So, these multitudes of common masses are losing buying power. Losing buying power by common people means absence of market for the goods. Since there is no market for selling goods, the capitalists or industrialists, in modern terminology ‘investors’, are shying away from deploying capital in productive sectors. So, the existing industries are closing down one after another while no fresh investment is forthcoming. In capitalism, the owner capitalist class invest capital to earn maximum profit. If scope for profit maximization diminishes or is abolished altogether in a particular industry, no capitalist or industrialist or promoter—whichever term may be used to denote them—would come forward to invest fresh capital. As a class, they, particularly in the present stage of decadent moribund capitalism, are least bothered if the common people are starved of basic necessities and pushed to the precipice of total ruination. What they are concerned about is profit, multiplication of wealth. If they find no buyers of any goods at the price determined by them, they slash the volume of production leading to less supply. This increases the prices further and pushes out more buyers from the market and thereby deepens the crisis more.
Secondly, with scope for profit maximization depleting in productive sectors, the capital remaining idle in the hands of the capitalists are channelized in non-productive areas like arms manufacturing, usury and speculation. Since the government is nothing but a caretaker of the capitalist state, it is used for boosting militarization of the economy as is evident in all imperialist-capitalist countries, India included. And then a bulk of the capital is pumped in stock market or capital market speculation. If more money is injected in share market to chase limited number of shares, prices of the shares or stocks climb up. For example, earlier, say, Rs 1,00,000 was chasing 100 shares. So average cost per share was Rs 1000. Now if Rs 4,00,000 lakhs are infused afresh in the share market, Rs 5,00, 000 would chase the same 100 shares or stocks changing hands through sale and purchase and average price per share would jump to Rs 5000. Hence, stock market index would go up. Pointing towards this artificial jacking up of share market, the economists-columnists-experts owing allegiance to the capitalist system try to claim that the ‘economy is on the move’. But a careful observation would reveal that such rise of stock market index is a sign of disease and not health of the economy. This speculative jump or slide of a select group of shares basketed to form the index has no link with or effect on common economic life of the people and the country. Hence, citing upswing of stock market index to buttress optimism about economy is a misnomer, if not a ploy to hoodwink people.
Prescribing medicine of headache for containing dysentery
Now, how is the government trying to lift the economy from its sagging mode? As we have shown above, problem is of lack of demand triggered by dipping buying power of the masses. But the government is trying to pose as if problem lies in lack of investment. So, it is pretending to give a boost to investment by lowering corporate tax, liberalizing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), opening more and more Special Economic Zones (SEZs) with plethora of concessions including tax waivers, handing over the essential public welfare sectors like education, healthcare, civic activities, railways, road, and water transport, electricity generation and distribution and so forth to the monopoly houses on a silver platter for running on a commercial basis through more ruthless exploitation of the common countrymen. Just the other day, corporate tax was reduced from 34.94% to 25.17% which would cost the exchequer as high as Rs 1.45 lakh crores. Prior to that, the government announced the ‘Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product’ (RODTEP) scheme to boost the exports which would entail forgone revenue of around Rs 50,000 crore. If this stimulus, instead of being gifted to the industrial houses, was used for subsidizing agricultural inputs, spending more on social and public welfare sectors like education, healthcare, electricity, transport etc., increasing maximum support price of crops and withdrawing additional cess on fuel, it would have given some relief to the suffering people. But then the government’s focus is on the corporates, not the tormented countrymen. A very rough calculation would show that if one takes into account all the following measures like the revenue foregone because of cut in corporate tax, Special Economic Zones (SEZ) not taken off, deduction of export profits of units located in SEZs, deduction of profits of undertakings engaged in generation, transmission and distribution of power as well as deduction of profits of industrial undertakings derived from production of mineral oil and natural gas and non-recovery of direct tax, the figure of tax loss by the government per year would be around Rs 10 lakh crores (Rs 10 trillion) per year. Not only this much. On the pretext of boosting investment by the industrial houses, the government is benevolently waiving bank loan defaults by them and continuously reducing bank interest rate. Four years back, the total debt of India’s top 10 corporate borrowers alone was Rs 731,000 crore, nearly four times the amount of farm loans. Indian banks wrote off a record Rs 2.54 lakh crore of bad loans in Financial Year (FY)2019 to show reduced NPAs on their books, a trend that continues into FY2020 as well. And then, to compensate the loss, the government in the last 10 years has infused fresh capital of Rs 3.8 lakh crore to the public sector banks (PSBs) from government exchequer. Yet, there is no sign of increased credit offtake by the industries since there is no avenue for fund deployment other than speculation and arms production. SBI Chairman himself admitted that the bank is sitting on Rs 1 lakh crore to lend for investments but finds no candidate. Ahead of the last Union budget in July 2019, investment in new projects was stated to have plunged to a 15-year low as per data provided by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). Nowhere in the world, slashing of bank interest rate has boosted investment. On the contrary, continuous lowering of bank interest rate is eating into the returns common savers particularly retired persons earn from their hard earned money deposited in the banks. This is further making a dent in their buying power. Clearly, the government is giving one-sided emphasis on so called boosting of investment by wooing the monopoly houses and corporate behemoths instead of trying to increase income of the common man, and has been peddling in stunts and gimmicks like demonetization and GST to make things far worse. While the problem is of falling income of the people at large, the government’s diagnosis is that giving more and more concessions to the industrial houses and corporate barons would cure the ailment of the economy. How prudent the diagnosis is! Even if it is assumed that there is a spurt in investment from domestic capitalists or through FDI route, would that ipso facto create jobs, as claimed, and generate income for the common workers? History of last three to four decades would say an emphatic “NO”. Whatever few industries are set up are high-tech ones, that means capital-intensive or sophisticated technology-based, needing hardly any manpower. So, a new term “jobless growth’ has already found currency in the parlance of bourgeois economics now. And more the exchequer loses revenue because of plethora of tax concessions, waivers and exemptions to the industrial houses and big business, more curtailed is the allocation of funds towards whatever miniscule public welfare is undertaken by the government causing people at large to suffer more and more. This escalated misery and penury is captured in the Global Hunger Index where India ranks 102 out of 117, peasants’ suicide exceeding 3.5 lakhs, suicide of retrenched workers is going up, number of migrant labours soaring, continued influx of landless jobless peasants into the town areas increasing the umber of beggars and footpath-dwellers and retrenched factory workers ending life by consuming poison or hanging. Obviously, when the underprivileged are dragged to the dregs, prosperity is skewed in favour of the privileged. Under the current rule, Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, two leading monopolists, are reported to have doubled their wealth in five years. According to Forbes India figures, while Mukesh turned out to be the richest Indian by increasing his wealth by 118% (from Rs 1.68 lakh crore to Rs 3.65 lakh crores), Adani’s wealth zoomed up by 121% from Rs 50.4 thousand crore to a breath-taking Rs 1.1 lakh crore. Gautam Adani who is stated to be owing Rs 72, 000 crores to the banks has been granted fresh bank loan to the tune of Rs 3000 crores for buying mines in Australia. The number of billionaires in India more than doubled to 119 between 2013 and 2018. And the country will lead the global growth in ultra high net worth individuals, with its numbers rising 39 percent to 2,697 by 2023, the researchers estimate. Thus, prosperity and ‘favourable’ treatments are vulgarly skewed in favour of the privileged at the cost of death, starvation, deprivation, destitution, wails and woes of the multitudes of oppressed countrymen. Is it something to be celebrated over?
A section of ruling circle has also been trying to impress that the hiccups of Indian economy are attributable to global economic slowdown. They hasten to add that since Indian economy is driven more by internal factors — consumption, supported by demographics and investments, supported by the need for infrastructure — rather than trade, there is no apprehension of its slipping into a recession. But a global recession will have an adverse impact on growth due to slowing international demand and increased competition from imports, they contend. Both the contentions are euphemized deceptions. We have already seen the peril of the ‘internal factors’ driving Indian economy. Secondly, if our economy is claimed to be a robust one spurred on by internal consumption, how can ‘slowing international demand and increased competition from imports’ have so much of adverse effect as to cripple it? Absurdity par excellence! Fact is that economy of India as well as other capitalist-imperialist countries are governed by the rules of capitalism and hence the crisis endemic of obsolete capitalism is surfacing everywhere with virulence.
Ruling dispensation refusing to acknowledge economic crisis
So, unable to deny the stark reality even after a slew of manipulations, calibrations, suppressions and diversions, the ruling dispensation is now trying to either refuse to acknowledge that economy is in severe crisis or to evade responsibility by beating about the bush and making ludicrous comments. While most people in the country are concerned about layoffs, job losses and the lack of employment generation, and the impact this is having on India’s young people, Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal commented two years back that the decrease in employment opportunities is a “very good sign”. Recently, he described the ongoing economic slowdown as a structural adjustment, periodic in nature and said he is not unduly perturbed by the slowdown. “Times are good, profits are welcome”, he added.
When the inconvenient fact of plummeting GDP rate was put forward before him at a press conference last September, he responded that ‘math never helped Einstein discover gravity’. Likewise, addressing of late a media conference in Chennai, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Skirted the questions on falling GDP numbers, job losses and the overall slowdown in the economy and refused to acknowledge the growing concerns over the state of Indian economy’s health. Instead, she said that they respect the wealth creators and hence she is talking to the industrial barons, taking their inputs and suggestions and responding to what they expect from the government. Once again, it is clear that the government finds ‘friends and philosophers’ only among the corporate tycoons whose wealth is soaring in tandem with the distress of the myriads of toiling countrymen and would continue to be driven by the latter’s needs and wants.
Making a strong case for escapism, Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief said there was “too much discussion” about the “so-called” slowdown. ‘It was this excessive discussion”, he said, ‘that was leading to a decline in economic activity. In other words, if only we stopped talking about the slowdown, business activity will pick up. Just like we go to the movies to feel we can all be superheroes’. While addressing an RSS meet, he also said that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a “faulty” parameter to judge economy” and “the country is growing”. Most bizarre has been his definition of recession. “An economist told me that you call it recession only when you report growth rate of below zero. But we are having a growth rate of around 5 per cent. One can show concern towards it, but there is no need to discuss it,” he said. We do not know which economist he was talking about and how the well-known economists would react to such an iconoclastic comment.
Even Circles of Establishment miffed by this appalling ‘bypassing’ of the real issues
Thus, the government and its mentors have been posing as if they have plucked out all the prickly issues which have created a negative perception and eroded trust. But if a tyre is losing air pressure, removing nails from the road ahead will not stop the air from leaking.
The appalling ‘bypassing’ of the poor and downtrodden and moves on the part of the government to fatten the swelling coffer of the handful of super-rich — akin to the proverbial saying of “Carrying coal to New Castle”—have irked even a section of those belonging to the quarters of establishment. Expressing concern at the demand crunch coupled with a slump in macro parameters, Raghuram Rajan, former RBI governor opined that “ill-conceived demonetisation and the poorly executed GST roll-out” are the two key reasons behind the economic slowdown. “To my mind, there is no greater cardinal sin in finance than the misuse of the common man’s hard-earned savings. It seems brutally unfair that we have allowed a system of loan waivers and write-offs every now and again, but yet we do not have a robust enough financial system to protect the honest common man’s savings,” commented Deepak Parekh, HDFC Bank Chairman. Economist Parakala Prabhakar, who is the husband of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, also expressed that the Narendra Modi-led government has not shown willingness to frame its new policies. Accusing the government of being in denial mode, he wrote, “While the government is still in denial mode, data flowing uninterruptedly into the public domain show that sector after sector is staring at a seriously challenging situation.” Hitting out at the Centre, he blamed BJP’s “inexplicable reluctance” as the reason behind the issue. Arvind Subramanian, who was till last year one of the Prime Minister’s most senior economic advisers, has taken a dig at the government for overestimating growth by several percentage points through manipulation in calculation methodology and held that hitherto projected 7% economic growth is actually 4.5% . Nobel laureate Amartya Sen had again kicked up a storm last year after he reportedly said, “India has taken a step in the wrong direction after 2014.” Abhijit Banerjee, the latest Nobel Laureate, had observed six months back that there was some mystery that surrounds the growth numbers, the investment numbers were down, the rise in reported unemployment was real and job seekers wanted job security, good pay, benefits which are scarce, which is why 2.5 crore applied for 90,000 low level railways jobs. He also quipped that ‘pakoda (fried vegetables) selling’, as observed by the Prime Minister, was no employment and pointed out that average farming family has long given up making a full living from agriculture. He also said “It looks very much like we are in a Keynesian downspin. Meaning, there’s not enough demand. People aren’t buying food. So, if I had to pick one thing the government should do is put cash in the hands of the poor. Through higher support prices for crops, through NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme)…” “I think a bunch of money in the hands of lower income people will start up a demand. So the biscuit companies won’t start closing. The biscuit companies closing is a really bad sign,” he said.
Capitalist economy is in crisis, people bearing the brunt
But, the most significant remark has come from Raghuram Rajan when he during his interview to BBC Radio 4’s in last March warned that capitalism is under “serious threat” of a ‘revolt’ as the economic and political system has stopped providing for the people.” This is where the entire bourgeois economist fraternity is alarmed . So, all of them are busy prescribing empiric medicines to cure the ailment. It is true that right at this moment, the task imperative is to boost demand for which providing enough and appropriate avenues for income to common people in the form of creating gainful permanent jobs, advisably by setting up labour-intensive industries in the public sector, is necessary as was once done under public pressure. Secondly, there ought to be a corruption-free nexus-free crop procurement system at remunerative price from the peasants and boost buying power of the rural masses. That is what, the theorists of ‘poverty alleviation’ are also stressing on taking a cue from the Keynesian prescripts which, in order to rescue global capitalist economy from the Great Depression in the early 1930s, had also stated that “there is no automatic self-righting mechanism tending to establish full employment in an unplanned private enterprise economy”. So Keynes stressed on more government initiative in boosting purchasing power of the people and stimulate demand to pull up the sagging economy. True that as an immediate corrective measure in our country, it is needed to boost buying power of the people and thereby stem their growing pauperization a bit. But that would not solve the problem which stems from the worn-out capitalist system itself. Keynes’ proposition, in the ultimate analysis, was a theory which sought to rewrite operative aspects of capitalist economy in order to stave off the crisis engulfing it in its decadent moribund stage. What needs to be kept in mind is that it was Keynesian model which paved the way for neo-liberalization now spelling disaster in people’s life. Recent developments in Chile bear eloquent testimony to that. In a number of Latin American countries, influence of Keynes and his Latin American proponent Raul Prebisch was forced during the 1970s to give way to liberal-monetarist principles of Milton Friedman. Chile was one of them. Even 5 years back, Chilean government boasted of “historical increase in public investment” and pledged to pump more money into developing certain remote regions and consolidate social welfare schemes. But then there is a fundamental difference between giving a man a fish to feed him once and teaching him how to fish so that he may become more self-reliant. Capitalism can ill-afford to make a man self-reliant since it is enmeshed in its own cobweb. The moot point is that poverty cannot be alleviated by keeping the source breeding it day in and day out, that is, the capitalist economic system based on exploitation of man by man by way of appropriation of labour power and consequential inequality in distribution of produced wealth and premised on profit maximization for handful of capitalist owners. Following inexorable course of history, capitalism has become obsolete, reactionary and breeding all crises, the brunt of which is borne by the common masses. So, is witnessed worldwide spurt in people’s protest against capitalist-imperialist oppression which can only be led to their logical culmination by overthrowing capitalism by revolution under leadership of a correct proletarian revolutionary party. Let us end by quoting great Lenin who clearly pointed out the truth: “ if capitalism…could raise the standard of living of the masses, which are still poverty-stricken and half-starved everywhere in spite of the amazing advance of technical knowledge , then capitalism would not be capitalism….unevenness of development and semi-starvation of the masses are fundamental, inevitable conditions and prerequisites of this (capitalist) mode of production.” (Imperialism , the Highest Stage of Capitalism)
By conducting powerful mass struggles on the strength of genuine leftist ideology, rabid communal forces must be isolated from the masses
Comrade Asit Bhattacharyya raises the call on the Shibdas Ghosh Memorial Day
[This is the second and concluding part of the speech delivered in Assamese by Comrade Asit Bhattacharyya, Member, Polit Bureau, SUCI (C), in Guwahati on 5 August 2019 on the occasion of 44th death anniversary of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the great leader of the proletariat. Translation error, if any, lies with the Editorial board, P Era.]
CPI(M)’s designation of Congress as secular is totally incorrect and only helping the RSS-BJP to gain ground
Today, anti-movement mentality of these so-called communist political parties, their hobnobbing with bourgeois parties and attitude of bonding with the capitalist class are coming out vividly even to common people, not only to us. This feature is causing such resentment in people than many, despite expressing their support and empathy for our Party, ask our cadres with a resentful mind, if we are allying ourselves with the CPI(M). If anybody takes up a proper analysis of their last election results, it will be apparent that they are fast losing their mass support. In a situation when the rightist fascist forces of RSS-BJP are rising up alarmingly, and when for fighting them unitedly it has become a historic necessity to unify the left-democratic forces, it is not welcome by any means for us to see them in such a pathetic condition. But how does it matter to them, if we or the people at large suffer from their downfall. Their bonding with capitalism is not going to get affected.
I would like to apprise you of a few other dangerous outcomes of this disastrous politics of theirs. You now find CPI(M) to have shunned the path of movement and to have got bogged down in the mire of parliamentary politics simply from their greed for power. For just one or two seats, they are set to form electoral combination with the Congress, a trusted party of the capitalists, calling it a secular force. This is the general line they have publicly proclaimed. People of the country, one and all, know that the Congress is one of the most trusted parties of the capitalist class. Right now they are not in power. But for nearly 53/54 years in the near past they were in power and from that position of theirs they only strengthened and consolidated the Indian capitalist system, by faithfully serving the interests of the capitalist class. The CPI(M) is now adorning them with the cloak of a secular party, merely in the interest of vote politics. There is a definite concrete history of emergence of secularism. In those days of bourgeois democratic revolution when capitalism was flourishing, when democratic concepts and democratic values were blooming – it was at that time that the concepts of secularism emerged. During monarchical rule, the state was dominated by the church, rather by religion. The political system, state machinery were all under the domination of the church or religion. People fought a prolonged battle against these. And in course of that struggle, the concept emerged that religion was completely an issue of personal faith. There should not be any relation between religion on the one hand, and the state, state structure, and the running of the government and the state, on the other. At a still later and higher stage, the newer concept that appeared held that genuine secularism meant ‘non-recognition of any supernatural entity’. This is a historic truth that secularism did not evolve during the rule of feudalism and monarchy; rather it emerged in course of the struggle for overthrowing those. Secularism appeared in the way of development of democratic values. It was the historic necessity of that period. During those days, the rising capitalism was giving birth to democratic values on the one hand, and on the other, was waging fierce battle against feudal discriminations, all sorts of separatism, divisiveness, religious fanaticism and such others. But today, it is the age of utter decadence of that capitalism. Today, from its fear complex of revolution, capitalism in its frantic bid to hang on to power is itself shattering everything that it once created. It is burying all democratic values it once gave birth to, and is hell bent upon disuniting people to whatever extent possible in the name of caste-language-religion-colour etc. and by any means whatsoever. They are even trampling under-foot the lofty ideal of secularism, which rests on higher democratic values. The situation being thus, how can we call a bourgeois party secular, more so in this age of decadent capitalism? Great Lenin repeatedly reminded us that the concept of democracy is not supra-class. Definitely it has a class character; on one side is the bourgeois democracy, on the other is the proletarian democracy, democracy of ninety five percent of population. To this extent, in this age of utter decadence of capitalism there is not a semblance of genuine democracy and genuine secularism to be found today in the capitalist class, or the parties and their governments serving the class. Afraid of revolution, capitalism has turned into a demon. It is destroying its own creations. So in this capitalist system, no bourgeois party can bear the banner of secularism, being simply anti-government while in opposition. How unfortunate the case is : CPI(M) which still goes with its Marxist banner is trumpeting this totally false theory and thereby is creating in the mass-mind of exploited people a false dangerous illusion about one of the most trusted parties of the capitalist class. Who among us are not aware of the heinous attacks on religious minorities, and indiscriminate murder of them, that took place during the 53-54 years of the Congress rule. The role of the Congress can also not be denied in bringing the rabid communal forces like the RSS-BJP to where they have reached today.
Necessity of elaborate discussions and ideological struggle and consolidation of organizational strength to combat and arrest the rising menace of RSS-BJP
No doubt, BJP is another party highly trusted by the capitalists. But their predecessors could not gain a foothold at the time of the freedom movement. Even after independence, for some time when the effect of the freedom movement still permeated the social ambience, the RSS could not make any dent in the mass-mind. Savarkar, who is now being projected as a hero, could not make any impact on people’s mind during the days of the freedom struggle. Rather, he not only belittled but actually went against the freedom movement taking the side, and joining hands, with the British imperialists. He even wanted the British rule to continue. After independence, it was the Congress which indulged this RSS, Hindu Mahasabha, Jan Sangh and BJP. Without facing any obstacle from the Congress government rule, day in and day out, these forces engaged in bitter anti-Muslim hate campaign, brought down attacks on Muslim people, ignited communal riots and indiscriminately butchered innocent people. But the Congress government was nowhere found to mete out punishment to any of the assailants. Rather taking advantage of the absence of powerful united left-democratic movement of toiling people, and the tacit backing and patronage of the Congress government and the ruling capitalist class, the RSS-BJP rose to their present position. Both the Congress and the BJP are bourgeois parties. There is no difference between them in their serving their master, the capitalist class. You must have noted the political events of Karnataka which took place a few days back. A bulk of Congress MLAs joined the BJP to bring down the Congress-Janata (S) government from power and place the BJP in its place. Such changing allegiance from Congress to BJP and vice versa is nothing new. It happened earlier and still happens time and again. If this be the fact, where lies the ideological struggle of the Congress against the RSS-BJP? Where is strong opposition and struggle from the Congress against the communal venom that the RSS-BJP have spewed across the country today? You yourself can see what filthy kind of communalism the RSS-BJP are spreading in the name of Hinduism and Hindutva. Renowned religious preachers of the past from Ramkrishna, Vivekananda, Sankaracharyya, Chaitanya, Shankaradev and so many others have elaborated different facets of Hinduism. Nowhere in their teachings there is Muslim hatred or slighting of other religions. Rather they have called all religions equal; they have pleaded for multiple views on life fulfilment of dharma and multiple ways of devotion. On all these aspects, our Party is conducting elaborate discussions and ideological struggle. Through these, we are trying to hammer the truth that the words and activities of the RSS-BJP contain intense anti-Muslim feelings reflecting fascist outlook. These do not uphold greatness of Hinduism, by any means. 150/160 million Muslims now live in India. If they are continuously steamrollered, being dictated in every aspect of life from what to eat or what to wear and anything and everything, if they are continuously ordered in public to convert themselves into Hindus, it not only infringes upon their fundamental rights, in fact it turns them into slaves. This is what is fascism — this is nothing but Nazism of Hitler. If the same treatment is meted out to the Hindus in Bangladesh, what would the RSS-BJP leaders say? We strongly believe, that it is urgently needed that there hould be thorough discussion, intense exchange of opinions on these issues of communal politics. We appeal to common people of the country: stand up and resist, save the situation, save the country from impending destruction. At the same time, we would urge you to realize that it is the capitalist class which is using religion in their own interest. Religion is a great refuge for them today. Mainly in the interest of this class the RSS-BJP is creating such a hellish condition in the country. Horrendous anti-Muslim feelings, terrible hatred at the very sight of them – an all-out effort is being made to create such an ambience throughout the country, replete with the poison of such horrific enmity. To take anti-Muslim mindset to deeper levels, even the history of the country is being distorted. During the days of monarchy and feudalism Muslim kings had raided India coming from outside. Those days such raids and invasions were characteristic of feudalism and monarchy. Without explaining these events in the proper light of history, the RSS-BJP are using these to whip up anti-Muslim mindset. Day in and day out, in every remote nook and corner of the country they are carrying on this hate campaign. In absence of propaganda of the real truth, their campaign is leaving its mark on the mind of common people too. So it must be understood that the RSS-BJP is not just a political force, it constitutes at the same time an arch-reactionary communal fascist ideology. What then is the way to confront and thwart this reactionary trend? Such reactionary ideology cannot be combated only through votes. In different elections different political parties came into combinations against the BJP, and sometimes these have caused the defeat of the BJP, too. But how far have such defeats reduced their communal politics, to what extent has it been fought back and thwarted? Rather, without finding any opposition, they are assuming more and more dangerous shape with passing days. So it must be seriously probed by the thoughtful section of people of the country, to what extent the thoughts of the RSS-BJP can be uprooted from the soil of the country simply by anyhow forming an electoral combination with some bourgeois parties like the Congress, and others terming them secular. We have been repeatedly showing that this contention is entirely wrong. Treading this incorrect path, the CPI(M) leaders have not only brought their own party to ruination, they have brought debacle to leftism even. Time and again we spelt out that with a view to arresting this reactionary ideology of the RSS-BJP, we must give birth to a higher ideology, to higher thoughts.. There is no simple short-cut method for that.: Today Marxism alone provides these higher thoughts: Marxism is that higher ideology. All exploited toiling people irrespective of their caste-religion-language- community, etc. need to be united on the basis of this ideology. They need to be united on the slogan : “Workers of the world , Unite!”, the same slogan which was raised by Karl Marx in 1848. And with this unity of toiling people achieved on the strength of that invincible slogan, incessant powerful mass movements need to be launched and conducted on the edifice of higher morality-ethics and culture to fulfil the legitimate demands of exploited people and with the goal of total emancipation of people from exploitation at the fore. The great leader and teacher Comrade Shibdas Ghosh reminded us time and again that while building up and conducting these movements all efforts must be made at every step to cultivate class consciousness, whereby exploited people have to be freed from the influence of thoughts and views of bourgeois parties that prevail in the existing capitalist system. He cautioned us that there is no other way left. For this reason he said, that from the angularity of revolutionary struggle, the present situation must be judged as the phase of democratic movement. At this stage the revolutionary task is to establish the revolutionary leadership over the democratic movements. You must have noted by now that on being saddled in power, the BJP is not just carrying on their communal politics in the name of Hindutva; they are also taking to the politics of doling out privileges among the toiling people. It cannot be denied that in absence of movement on legitimate demands without sufficient momentum, this privilege-seeking politics has created a kind of illusion about them in the mass-mind. In such a situation it will not be easy to defeat the RSS-BJP simply through votes. This is particularly true because they have a strong all-out support from the capitalist class and a total grip on money, judiciary, in one word the entire state machinery, aided and abetted, above all, by a powerful propaganda machinery.
If the base political line of a revolutionary party remains correct, a party initially small inevitably grows into a big party
Judging all these we reiterate that the correct strategy today is to develop sustained united movement of exploited people on demands for amelioration of their burning problems of life, and at the same time making unceasing efforts to make people conscious about the bourgeois character of the RSS-BJP, their heinous communal character and activities, thereby making people class conscious too. The historic struggle that lies ahead today must be conducted with these two important objects before it. You can see it clearly that just as in the case of developing movements on people’s burning problems, at this critical hour before the country, all political parties other than ours have fled the field of actual struggle against the RSS-BJP, chanting slogans of giving defeat to them only through votes.
As in other cases, on the question of resisting RSS-BJP, too, it is becoming clear that whatever may be the apparent differences among these bourgeois parties, in reality they are all acting as one single camp. In opposition to them, we alone are acting as the other camp. As the revolutionary Party fully conscious of our tasks , as the Party leading the Indian revolutionary movement, it is on us that the historic task has devolved to provide leadership to the movement for resisting this rabid communal force of RSS-BJP enjoying and moving with all-out patronage of the capitalist class. And that struggle must be accepted as inalienable part of our responsibility that we have to discharge by building up and conducting the day-to-day struggles of the masses. This is the correct line along which we must immediately strengthen this historic struggle all around the country. Howsoever limited may be our strength, if we can draw in the exploited masses, the movement will take on its momentum and advance. In the mass mind or even in the mind of our own cadres and supporters there may arise the question: with the apparently limited strength of ours how far it is feasible to develop a powerful movement under our leadership. I am of the opinion that on the question of accepting the challenge of fulfilling any other historic task, the first step is to take up the responsibility, for that is the first step. There is no other choice. The same approach is necessary to take up the apparently impossible task of organizing revolution on the basis of Marxism in one country after another, and as indispensable part of it the task of founding and nurturing the respective revolutionary party. To initiate this task brooks no delay by arguing: where is the necessary strength? Strength is acquired in the course of marching ahead along the correct line. The history of development of revolutionary movement in the world has also confirmed that in whichever country the struggle was initiated on correct line, there was fast progress in the process of founding and developing the revolutionary party. On this historic day of remembering the great leader Comrade Shibdas Ghosh I would reiterate how the history of foundation of our Party corroborates this very truth. When Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the great leader of the Proletariat, had initiated the struggle of building up this Party with only a handful of comrades, when he had propounded the indispensable methodology of formation of revolutionary party (following Leninist principle), when he had propounded the invincible correct strategic line of Indian revolution — accepting all these wholeheartedly a few dedicated comrades pointed to the limited strength at the very initial moment of the struggle and questioned if it were wise to take up the task at that stage. While answering them Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had said : howsoever limited we may be in our strength first we must decide : can we opt to become slaves, should we shut our eyes to the truth? It is now part of history how fast the struggle advanced which Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the great leader of the proletariat had then taken up at that time, based upon correct realization of truth and correct line. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh repeatedly reminded the necessity of determining the correct theory and following the correct methodology — a task that is indispensable. You are well aware that starting from zero, through continuously developing higher realization of this revolutionary theory and following the required methodology correctly, during the span of 28 years between 1948 and 1976 he shattered the cloak of communism that CPI-CPI(M) had been wearing and brought our Party to its present stature. During the 43 years following his demise, despite the heart-breaking absence of a great leader of his height, this Party founded by him, is winning recognition as a revolutionary party from people of every state of the country. And that has been possible only by establishing the correctness of his thoughts in every sphere. In this regard I would like to recall a significant teaching of another great leader of the proletariat, Mao Zedong. In the Tenth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party he firmly reiterated the truth : If the base political line of a revolutionary party, that is, the basic theoretical analysis and strategy remain correct, even a small party will inevitably grow into a big party at a certain stage. On the contrary, if the base political line of a big party is wrong, it would no longer remain big, it will fast face its downfall. Even if it had gained state power its downfall will be inevitable.
By establishing the invincibility of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh thought, the Party is winning recognition as a revolutionary party from people
In the same vein, I would emphasize that we are no longer in the stage of infancy. Organiza-tionally, we have garnered strength to quite a perceptible extent by conducting sustained mass movements based on the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh and on the edifice of higher sense of morality and ethics. Our opponents, different bourgeois parties including RSS-BJP, are coming to realize that and are trying to get united to stall our further growth. In future they will bring down upon us fierce attacks; there is no doubt about that. There is one single way to thwart their attacks and that is by consolidating our position among the masses by conducting mass movements incessantly. Following this fundamental approach we must realize that it is indispensable to develop united powerful struggle under our leadership with a view to thwarting the rise of this reactionary rabid communal fascist force, the RSS-BJP. We must take up this historic task as an inalienable part of the historic responsibility of accomplishing socialist revolution, uprooting the capitalist class, as early as possible. Let this be our concrete pledge on the 43rd Memorial Day of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the great leader of the proletariat and one of the foremost Marxist thinkers of the present era. We appeal to the entire masses of toiling people of our country to also come forward with the pledge of self- sacrifice at this historic moment of resisting the rise of fascist RSS- BJP. I end here with my heartfelt greetings to you all for being present at this Memorial Meeting.
Long Live Revolution
Long Live SUCI (Communist)
Red Salute Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, Great Leader of the Proletariat.
NEWS & VIEWS
BPCL workers protest privatization move
Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), a PSU, is the sixth largest oil company in India. BPCL is now the leading name in the country. Kochi Refinery is one of the BPCL’s four refineries. BPCL’s largest investment was in the Kochi refinery. In the last five years, it invested a total of Rs 30,000 crores for development projects. From the earlier capacity of 2.5 MMTPA Kochi Refinery has increased its installed capacity to 15.5 MMTPA, becoming the largest public sector oil refinery in the country. In recent times Kochi Refinery has invested around Rs 40,000 crore for its expansion. One of the expansion projects, IREP, with an investment of Rs16,500 crore is completed. Another Petrochemical project worth Rs 5426 crore will soon be fully operational. This Petrochemical Hub is one of the largest employment opportunities and development projects in Kerala. Also it is a profit-making PSU having earned Rs 7,132 crores in last financial year (2018-19). It is pertinent to mention that BPCL, like many other PSUs, was established in 1976 as part of nationalization of the oil companies under public pressure being one of the labour-intensive productive units in key sector under the aegis of the government.
But now the central government has decided to disinvest 53.29 per cent stake in BPCL and thus virtually privatize this giant PSU. The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management has issued a notification for the appointment of Transaction Adviser, Legal Advisor and Asset Valuer for the purpose. When their legal proceedings are completed, the next step will be to invite expression of interest from private operators. It is said that the disinvestment value is estimated to be Rs 60,000 crore. It is baffling. ESSAR Oil Refinery, which had only one refinery in Gujarat, was bought by a Russian company called Roof Netflix for about Rs 80,000 crore in 2017. But the BPCL, which has more than ten times more asset, is now set to sell its major stake for just Rs 60,000 crore.
BPCL has 11,697 permanent employees in its fold. There are about 27,000 contractual workers. If the history of other privatized institutions is repeated, the number of employees will come down. Permanent jobs would vanish. Even some of the social welfare activities hitherto undertaken by BPCL would cease. Obviously, the BPCL workers have risen in protest against such an anti-people anti-worker pro-privatization move. Protest movements are going on in front of Cochin Refinery against the privatization. The trade unions in Kerala are on strike pointing out that the privatization of the ‘Maharatna’ Oil Company is against the national interest and are demanding that the central government must withdraw from the decision. The trade unions, CREA,CRWA,REU and others, working in the Kochi Refinery has formed a coordination committee to fight against the privatization. Even BMS, the trade union wing of the ruling BJP, is also opposing the privatization move. On 28 September last, BPCL National Convention of Trade Unions was held at Mumbai. The trade unions jointly wrote to the Prime Minister to withdraw the move for privatisation. On 15 October, at Thrippunithura Layam ground a joint convention was organised under the Ernakulam District joint action committee to declare the struggle against privatization of BPCL. State level leaders of all national trade unions participated in that convention. Thousands of workers also participated in it. From 17 October onwards, a dharna is going on at the gate of Kochi refinery. People at large are extending support to this just movement.
School Vehicle Drivers’ massive convention in Bangalore
The Karnataka United School and Light Motor Vehicles Drivers’ Union affiliated to AIUTUC with support from independent drivers’ unions namely – Akhila Karnataka Rajya Karmikara Hitharakshana Vedike, Kalpavruksha Shaala Vaahana Chaalakara Kshemabhivruddhi Sangha and Shri Jai Bhunaveshwari Shaala Vaahana Chaalakara Sangha organised a School Vehicle Drivers’ Convention on the 23 October, which saw participation of thousands of private school van drivers thronging the Gundurao Auditorium at Malleshwaram, Bangalore. The KUSLMVDU itself represented close to 16,000 private school van drivers, with its President, P.S. Shanmugham presiding over the convention.
Speaking on the occasion, Comrade K. Radhakrishna, State President, AIUTUC and Polit Bureau member, SUCI(C), said that such gatherings only prove that the working class is ready to conduct struggle against growing oppression and injustice. The present government which is hand-in-glove with big vehicle manufacturing firms is not only turning a blind eye to this self-employed segment of working people, but has been a partner to growing oppression on them by imposing hefty taxes and fees. He appealed to all the gathered drivers to continue their united organized just struggle. Also speaking on the occasion were Comrades K.V. Bhatt, and K. Somashekhar, Karnataka State Vice President and Secretary, respectively of AIUTUC.
Demonstration in Jharkhand for total ban on liquor and other demands
SUCI(C) Saraikela-Kharswan District Committee, Jharkhand organized a demonstration on 2 October, submitted a memorandum to the Block Development Officer at Chandil demanding total ban on liquors, declaring the Chandil Block a drought area, repairing of canals and ensuring proper irrigation, improvement of hospitals and employing adequate number of health professionals etc.
AIKKMS severly criticize
signing of RCEP-FTA
In a press statement issued on 14 October 2019, All India Kisan Keth Mazdoor Sanghatan (AIKKMS), severely criticizd the Central Government’s anti-peasant and anti-life move to sign Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — Free Trade Agreement (RCEP-FTA) with 10 South Asian Countries along with China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand for Free Trade on Agricultural Products which would further destroy life of the already suffering Indian peasants. Further, Indian government’s acceptance of the demands of Australia and New Zealand, two biggest exporters of dairy products, would virtually ruin India’s domestic dairy industry and ruin the rural population eking out a livelihood through selling milk and dairy products.
AIKKMS urged the government not to sign RCEP-FTA and called upon peasants, milk producers and those depending on dairying to build up an organized mighty movement to force the government to rescind the move.
Food Delivery Partners and AIDYO organized
“We too are Workers” Convention in Bangalore
Zomato, Swiggy, Uber eats and many such app-based food delivery aggregators hire delivery agents in the name of “delivery partners” who are not recognized as workers. Instead, these companies claim that such delivery agents are independent ‘freelancers’ and can choose to login as per their own will. By terming them as ‘freelancers’, companies deny them from benefits such as ESI and PF. These delivery partners who have no job security work on an incentive based system. Their pay structure depends on the number of hours of work, the number of orders delivered and the value of each order. Above this, there is a complex set of incentives based on bill amount of order, the distance travelled to delivery etc. which often is not paid. These delivery-boys are pushed to long working hours (16 to 18 hours a day!) under gruelling work conditions. As a consequence, they fall victim to a plethora of health problems. They also face harassment from customers sometimes. These ‘freelancers’ have no job security too. In all, there are over 400,000 such delivery boys and girls daily on the ground in the country while the number of such “freelancers” is around 8 crores in 500 cities round the globe.
After a widespread movement in Spain, the Madrid court has ruled to consider them as ‘employees’ and ensure them wage protection, social security and insurance. The European Parliament as well as Australian governments have also approved a set of minimum rights, and the right to work for more than one company.
In this background, AIDYO and Food Delivery Partners’ Struggle Committee jointly organized a well-attended massive convention on 3 October in Gundu Rao Hall, near Mantri Mall, Malleswaram, Bangalore. Comrade K. Radhakrishna, Polit Bureau Member, SUCI(C) was the chief guest to the programme. K. Subbarao, Veteran Labour Advocate, also spoke passionately about the plight of these ‘freelancers’ in various countries after globalisation and their duty to organize themselves and fight back. The Convention raised various legitimate demands of these oppressed ‘freelancers’; AIDYO declared to take initiative to develop the movement in different states.
Medical camp by AIDSO, AIDYO
A medical camp was jointly organized by AIDSO and AIDYO on 13 October 2019 at flood-affected Chota Baghara in Allahabad. A similar medical camp was also conducted by AIDYO in Gwalior involving a team of medical professionals including former Medical Officer of Gwalior Medical College, for the victims of the flood in Chambal River caused by sudden release of water from the Kota dam.