National Round up 2013

A year of growing struggles of the working class and people against the anti-social offensive of the bourgeoisie

The year 2013 was marked by the united actions of the working class against the intensification of capitalist exploitation and attacks on workers' rights. It was marked by continuing resistance of peasants to the corporate land grab and further opening up of Indian markets to global imperialist plunder. It was marked by a high tide of revulsion and outrage among broad masses of working people and the youth about the violence against women in our society. The year ended with elections in five states revealing the intensifying crisis of the rule of the bourgeoisie.

Significant united actions of the working class

February 2013 began with the working class unions calling for an All-India General Strike against the rapid rise in consumer prices, for increased and assured minimum wages, against the contract labour system and against privatisation of public property. The working class demonstrated a high degree of unity and active participation in the General Strike. Thousands of workers across the country and across the major industries and services united to organise rallies and demonstrations.

The workers expressed their anger with the central and state governments through numerous slogans, including: Halt the price rise! We cannot remain mute witnesses to our super-exploitation! Stop handing over public property for private gain! Provide job security to all! Working class will become the ruler of society! Down with capitalism! Inquilab Zindabad!

Later in the year, on 25th September 2013, the Trade Unions Joint Committee of Delhi organised a massive demonstration at the Income Tax Office (ITO) to protest against the policies of the government. Hundreds of activists of all the trade unions took part in this militant demonstration. On the same day and at the same time, there were similar demonstrations in capital cities of all the states. Lakhs of workers raised their voices in support of the slogans: “Those who produce the wealth of the country must become its masters!”, “Stop the privatisation of collective wealth and public services!”, “Down with the corrupt and parasitic capitalist state!”, “Minimum wages of Rs.15,000 must be implemented!”

The year ended as it began, with a militant demonstration on 12th December with lakhs of workers from across the country marching in a massive rally to Parliament. The central federations of trade unions were joined by representatives of state and local unions and associations of workers in various industries and services. They includes workers in government departments, public sector undertakings, banks, insurance companies, water supply board, municipal corporation, health, transport and communication, rickshaw and auto-rickshaw union, anganwadi workers and street vendors.

Opposition to privatisation

The struggle against privatisation gathered strength during 2013. Airport workers across the country launched a militant agitation in response to the announcement of the UPA Cabinet's decision in early September to privatise the six airports of Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Lucknow, by allowing private parties to pick up 100 per cent equity stake in operation and management of these airports through the public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

Workers associated with various unions of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) formed a joint forum and carried out a three day long strike in front of the Civil Aviation Ministry in Delhi and at AAI offices across the country. Thousands of employees launched a relay hunger strike in various cities.

 A leaflet issued jointly by the Airports Authority of India Employees Union and Mazdoor Ekta Committee pointed out that airport workers were carrying out one of the most critical tasks in the aviation industry, by running 123 big and small airports all across the country. All its assets and services belong to the people of our country. The capitalists want to usurp the enormous wealth created by workers over decades. Workers who have created this wealth of assets and services are also fully capable of further modernizing, operating and managing it in the general interests of our society. There is no need for profit thirsty capitalists to step-in in the name of modernization. The leaflet declared the resolve of the workers to not submit to the privatisation programme of the government.

Consistent struggle of Railway workers

The Railway administration has followed a deliberate policy of dividing railway workers, setting one section against another and thus demoralizing workers and smashing their struggles. Through various moves during the year, it continued to deliberately trying to set one section of drivers against another to break the unity of all railway drivers.

The Motormen of Western Railway organised several militant actions, through which they demonstrated their opposition to the nefarious moves of the Railway Administration and through which they built unity with commuters who used the services day in and day out. The motormen pointed out to them that this anti-people policy would affect their safety and quality of the services provided to them. The actions of the motormen in this context were a continuation of their steadfast fight in defence of their rights.

The Southern Railway Mazdoor Union opposed the Railway Ministry’s move to provide the drawings and designs of coaches of Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, to five private coach manufacturing factories to come up in the country.

Railway workers raised several issues and demands in their agitations throughout the year. Besides these actions, they held important meetings of the workers in various cities to strengthen their organisational unity. Their main demands have been for adequate numbers of assistants and helpers, shorter hours of work, proper time for checking the condition of the engine and enough rest to resume their critical work of ferrying thousands of passengers every day.

On June 30, 2013, the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) organised a Convention in Madurai on the theme "Accident Free Train Service". The All India Loco Running Staff Association and All India Guards Council jointly organised a convention and rally on April 7-8, 2013 under the leadership of the Joint Action Committee, to press for their long pending demands. The Gangmen (workers who lay the sleepers on the track) organisation also participated in the action. It should be noted that all over the country, loco drivers and rail guards have been fighting for their just demands for years; however the Railway Ministry has refused to address their long pending demands.

Actions in Gurgaon in defence of the rights of the workers

On the occasion of two significant anniversaries of attacks on workers of the Honda and Maruti Suzuki plants, the workers of Gurgaon and NCR united in action and pledged to fight unitedly and militantly against their continuing harassment and further attacks.

The Maruti Suzuki Workers Union demonstrated at Gurgaon’s Leisure Park on July 18 to mark “one year after the state repression of the workers”. They reiterated their main demands for the release of their 147 colleagues, for all workers to be taken back to work and for an independent judicial enquiry into the death of the Human Resources Manager Avnish Kumar.

Simultaneously, several workers’ unions and organisations across the country organised meetings and expressed their fraternal support for the courageous struggle of Maruti-Suzuki workers in Kolkatta, Karnataka and other locations. Several workers’ organisations in Mumbai took out a rally from Parel to Dadar in support of the Maruti-Suzuki workers and held a meeting in Vanmali Hall under the theme of “an attack on one is an attack on all.” Kamgar Ekta Committee, Trade Union Solidarity Committee, Godrej Workers Unions, Airport Contract Workers Organisation, Transport Union, Mumbai University Teachers’ Union, CITU, Kamgar Agaadi, Sarva Shramik Sangh, students of Radical Study Circle and other organisations participated in the action.

The workers unions and mass organisations of Gurgaon organised a public meeting at the Mini Secretariat, Gurgaon on 25th July 2013 on the 8th anniversary of the brutal state oppression of Honda workers by the Hooda government at the same venue in 2005. Addressing the gathering, speakers denounced the Hooda government and said that the government is openly allowing labour laws to be flouted in Gurgaon and the rest of Haryana. They pointed out that the government does not take any action against capitalists. On the other hand if workers of any company wish to register their union, which is their legal right, they are not allowed to do so. Eight years have passed since this barbaric attack on the workers of Honda, but the workers who have been entangled in false cases foisted upon them have not got relief till date. Workers’ struggles are going on in several factories and industries. Police, the administration and the Labour Department of the government are trying their best to finish off these struggles.

Outrage about violence against women

The mass protests in the wake of the gang rape and murderous assault of a young woman in Delhi in mid-December 2012 brought the question of violence against women to the fore. Throughout 2013, thousands of working people, men, women and youth, continued to protest on the streets against the lack of safety for women. Women demanded the rights that belong to them as women and as human beings, which are presently denied to them.

What is the root cause of the widespread violation of women’s rights in modern society? This question was answered over 100 years ago by the working women who proclaimed 8th March as International Women’s Day. Working women of that time declared that the root cause of their oppression lies in capitalism and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. They proclaimed that communism, which is the condition for the emancipation of the working class, is also the condition for the complete emancipation of women.

The bourgeoisie does everything to prevent people from coming to that conclusion today. They want to hide the fact that in a system which turns everything into a source of maximum profits for a super-rich minority, women will inevitably be exploited and oppressed.  Women are exploited as workers, as peasants and oppressed as women.  They are treated as objects of sexual gratification.  The victims of rape are deemed to be impure and ostracized.  The capitalist system and the state inherited from colonial times keep alive the caste system and various outdated customs that serve to deny women their most basic rights and to super-exploit them.

In these conditions, it is very important for communists to sum up the experience of the people and draw their attention to the inescapable conclusion that the overthrow of the neo-colonial state which defends capitalism and the caste hierarchy is a necessary condition to end the violation of women’s rights. This is the political message that Communist Ghadar Party took widely among the women throughout the year.

Advancing the movement for people's empowerment

Lok Awaz Publishers and Distributors organised a meeting in Delhi on 24th February to commemorate the historic initiative taken at Ferozeshah Kotla 20 years before. On that day in 1993, the opening day of the budget session of Parliament 20 years ago, organisations of workers, women and human rights activists jointly staged a bold protest rally at Ferozeshah Kotla, condemning the criminal deeds of the principal parties in Parliament. They appealed to all men and women of conscience to take joint action for bringing about a fundamental change in the political system to empower the people.

Addressing the meeting on 24th February 2013, Comrade Lal Singh, General Secretary of the Communist Ghadar Party of India pointed out that the issue of people's empowerment is the central problem today in the context of the capitalist system and its political process that marginalises the people from political power. He gave the call that communists must step up the work to establish and strengthen samitis among the workers, peasants, women and youth all over the country. This is the work that the comrades of the Party have been engaged in since formation of its precursor, the Preparatory Committee for People’s Empowerment (CPE) in the aftermath of the state organised communal violence that spread across several parts of the country.

In Thane, Maharashtra, Lok Raj Sangathan (LRS) organized a "Lok Raj Utsav" on 28th April, to mark the 20th anniversary. People came pouring in from various places in and around Mumbai, Thane and Pune. Workers, peasants, adivasis, intellectuals, students - there were about 300 people from all walks of life. Women and young girls formed a large part of the gathering. There were presentations on the work done by Lok Raj Sangathan towards its aim of empowerment of the people, and on the prevailing political process that marginalises the role of the people in setting the agenda.

It is in the interest of communists to fight for the empowerment of the people because the liberation of the working class is tied up with the liberation of society from all forms of exploitation and oppression. The capitalist class is dead opposed to people’s empowerment because its interest is diametrically opposed to the interests of the vast majority of people.

Marking the Ghadar Centenary

A public meeting to celebrate the centenary of the founding of Hindustan Ghadar Party in 1913 was held at the Gujarati Samaj auditorium in Delhi, on 15th September. It was jointly organised and sponsored by over three dozen organisations, at the initiative of Lok Raj Sangathan. Together, these organisations had ensured that India’s capital, its industrial areas, its universities, and its residential and commercial areas were plastered with lakhs of colourful, beautiful posters announcing the meeting. Leaflets and invitation cards had been widely distributed in the weeks prior to the function.

As representatives of all the organisers spoke one after another, the hall reverberated with the spirit of Ghadar Jari Hai! The main message of the meeting was the necessity to carry forward the legacy of Hindustan Ghadar Party and its uncompromising struggle against British imperialist rule. It was pointed out that the Congress Party and Ghadar Party were championing, respectively, the two paths of compromise and of revolution. Today, too, we have to choose between the path of compromising with imperialism and of making a clean break with it so as to lay new foundations for a modern civilised India.

The meeting passed two significant resolutions. The first was to “continue the struggle to achieve a radical rupture with the colonial legacy; and to lay new foundations for a civilised India that respects and defends the rights of all members of society and all constituents of the union, guaranteeing prosperity and protection for all.” This reflected the view that was expressed by many speakers: Why should we, the people of India, not elect a new Constituent Assembly to formulate a new Constitution to enable Hindustan to march on the high road of civilisation in this 21st century?”

The meeting also passed a resolution condemning imperialist interference in Syria and the proposed US aggression in the name of punishing the Government of Syria for alleged violation of international norms. It called on the Government of India to take an unequivocal stand in defence of the national sovereignty of Syria and against foreign intervention and interference in her internal affairs.

Delhi Elections

Communist Ghadar Party participated very actively in the Delhi Assembly elections in November-December, with the aim of making the people conscious about the necessity for a revolutionary change in the nature of the state and the orientation of the economy. We put forward the program to usher in a superior form of democracy – lok raj – in which sovereignty is vested in the people.

Communist Ghadar Party actively supported the campaign of five candidates put up by Lok Raj Sangathan.

One remarkable feature of this campaign was its low budget. Another was the fact that there was collective campaigning in all the constituencies, with the candidate of Tughlakabad campaigning for the candidate in Okhla, and so on. This is because of complete absence of the self-promotion motive among the candidates, who worked collectively for the cause of bringing workers and peasants to power.

The call to the people was that there is only one solution to Delhi’s problems – Lok Raj! Lok Raj! The common manifesto of the candidates had this message that people have to collectively organize in samitis at their workplaces and residential colonies to resist the anti-people program of the ruling class and their parties.

The common manifesto boldly declared: It is the epoch of the toilers! Let us march towards Lok Raj! Ghadar Jari Hai!

Growing Political Unity

Communist Ghadar Party took several initiatives this year to bring organisations of the toiling majority of people together to build a Shram Shakti Morcha, the united front of all those who toil. It is necessary to build a political front against the capitalist-imperialist reform program and accompanying state terrorism, and around the program for the Navnirman of India, with an entirely new Constitution fit for modern times. The electoral campaign in Delhi showed a significant degree of success in this effort. In addition to our Party, the campaign for Lok Raj was supported by Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist), Delhi Shramik Sangathan, All-India Workers’ Council, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha and other organisations.

The effort to build the political front of those who work needs to be persisted with and escalated in the coming year. One of the conclusions emerging from the outcome in Delhi is that the effectiveness of the revolutionary opposition will be far greater if all parties and organisations of the working class unite, not only in mass demonstrations but also in the electoral arena.

Conclusion

As 2013 draws to a close, Communist Ghadar Party is optimistic that the day is not far off when a united vanguard of the working class will rally all the working people to take up the task of preparing for the Ghadar of the 21st century, which will overthrow capitalism and establish a new State of worker-peasant rule.

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