Acceleration of Privatisation and Concentration of Capital
Prime Minister Modi, while announcing a Rs. 20 crore package on 12th May, gave a call for “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” or Self-Reliant India Movement. By the time all the details of the package were announced, the actual meaning of this slogan became clear. It means that workers, peasants and small enterprises must fend for themselves, without expecting any help from the Central Government, which will only take care of big business interests, Indian and foreign.
I was very happy to read the article entitled `In the midst of the Lockdown:
Workers across the country resist the attacks on their livelihood and rights' posted on the June 1-15, 2020 online version of MEL.
A grave situation is being faced by the hundreds of millions across the length and breadth of the country. In the midst of this lockdown the bourgeoisie has mounted a ferocious attack on the working people and on the masses. However, it was heartening to read that there has been significant resistance in the working class in face of great difficulties.
I am writing in response to the article entitled `Central Trade Unions to Fight Back Attempts of Draconian Changes in Labour Laws' carried in the June 1-15, 2020 section of the MEL. I am delighted to know that there will be a nationwide protest on 22nd May 2020 and that there has been a joint press statement by the Central Trade Unions dated 15th May 2020. I would like to summarize the grim situation as follows:
Workers from different sectors all over the country have orgaised dharnas, demonstrations and other protest actions, to express their strong opposition to the pro-capitalist amendments in labour laws and the all-sided attacks on the rights of the working class, that the government is trying to implement, using the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
On May 22, doctors and health workers treating COVID-19 patients across the country protested against the revised quarantine guidelines issued by the Centre and the health departments of some states. It may be recalled that on May 15, the health ministry changed the quarantine rules for healthcare workers working in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients, to state that the health workers should be quarantined only in case of “high risk exposure” or if a worker reported symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. According to the old guidelines, all workers were advised a 14-day quarantine after 14 days’ COVID-19 duty.
Nearly 550 health and sanitation workers employed on contract by the APCRDA (AP Capital Region Development Authority) in the Amaravati capital region of Andhra Pradesh held protest demonstrations on May 22. They are demanding payment of wages due to them for the last 4 months.
On 15th May, Finance Minister Sitharaman announced a “Rupees 1,50,000 crore package” and various policy changes in the name of helping agricultural growth. Prime Minister Modi claimed that it would boost the incomes of peasants. A close examination of these measures shows that they do not address the dire need of peasants for immediate relief at this time. On the contrary, the financial package and the policy reforms are both aimed at expanding the space for capitalist companies to increase their loot of the peasants.
The capitalist class is using the state of emergency declared by the Central government in the name of the Coronavirus pandemic to unleash an unprecedented onslaught on our rights.
India is confronted with a disaster of massive proportions. Crores of workers have lost their jobs, their source of livelihood as a result of the declaration of country wide lockdown which is about to complete two months. Crores of hungry, unemployed workers, deprived of a roof over their heads, are marching towards their villages thousands of miles away, through fields, forests, rail tracks and highways. Hundreds of men, women and children have died on the way, as a result of hunger, exhaustion or in accidents.
Joint Press Statement by Central Trade Unions released on 15th May 2020
The joint platform of Central Trade Unions in their meeting held on 14th May 2020 took note of the critical situation for the working people in the country during the Lock down period and decided to enhance united actions to meet the challenge.
Workers across the country resist attacks on their livelihood and rights
On May 12 the UP government announced its decision to abolish various allowances to the state government employees, as part of its “austerity measures” during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the government order, which is likely to affect nearly 1.6 million state government employees, at least 6 allowances including city compensation allowance, various special allowances to secretariat staff and police personnel, allowances for junior engineers and public works personnel, allowances to employees of the irrigation department, will be abolished from this month. As part of the austerity drive, the UP government had decided just last month to suspend any increase in dearness allowance to state employees for a period of one and a half years.
The ongoing pandemic worldwide has created more difficult situations for the working people. The capitalists are trying to ensure that their profits can remain intact by pushing the burden of the health crisis too on to the backs of the workers. Workers are fighting for their rights, for the right to a life of dignity, for their right to livelihoods, for their right to safe working conditions during the ongoing health emergency. We bring you a report of some of the valiant struggles waged by workers in recent weeks.
Almost 75 years have passed since the country became free. The era of zamindars and sahukars ended and the number of banks and their business increased a lot. However they had only one aim, to make maximum profit. After independence the drive to exploit the poor victims remained intact and in fact strengthened; the methods naturally changed.
In many states across the country, including Assam, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, and Punjab, peasants have poured thousands of litres of milk and dumped rotting fruits and vegetables on the roads. This goes against the traditional conviction that “Kisan apne liye paida nahin karta aur apna paida kiya kabhi nasht nahin karta” (peasants do not produce for themselves nor ever destroy what they have produced). It shows their heightened anger at the central and state governments for not organising timely procurement of their produce during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Early in the morning of 16th May, at least 24 workers were killed and several others severely injured when the trucks in which they were traveling collided in the Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh, about 200 km from Lucknow. This is the latest in a series of accidents in which workers have been killed while desperately trying to reach their homes.
I thank you for the highly principled and cogently written article entitled `On the 75th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany: The lessons of history must not be forgotten' written to mark the end of Second World War in Europe on May 9, 1945 with the surrender of Nazi Germany.
I thank you for carrying the article entitled `On the Occasion of the 202nd Birth Anniversary of Karl Marx' which fell on May 5, 2020. The article carries the byline `Times are calling for the transition from capitalism to socialism'. Indeed, nothing could be closer to the truth, as the working class world over is groaning under the weight of a continuous economic crises as well as the lockdown imposed by capitalist governments in response to the Covid-19 onslaught.