People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 03, 2006
CITU-AIKS Chalk Out Joint Programme
A RECENT joint meeting of the Bengal councils of the CITU and AIKS resolved to work in close cooperation with each other based on coordination across the state and to organise in particular the rural masses of Bengal.
Attended by leading organisers of the two councils, including Shyamal Chakraborty and Kali Ghosh (CITU), Benoy Konar, Madan Ghosh, and Samar Baora (AIKS), the meeting was presided over by Benoy Konar.
Shyamal Chakraborty raised several important points in the meting. He said that of the 1 crore 84 lakh of workers in Bengal, 1 crore 48 lakh belonged to the unorganised sector. The trades and callings include bidi making, working in brick kilns, working as headload carriers (mutia-mazdoors), hotel boys and restaurant helpers, as employees in cold stores and workers in rice mills, and driving auto-rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, and hand-pulled rickshaws.
The largest bulk of the workers in the unorganised category reside in the rural areas. The CITU has not been able to cover these workers in any appreciable numbers, as the recent CITU council meting at Birbhum sharply pointed out.
The state has 73 lakh of khet-mazdoors who do not possess land. However, during a large part of the year when the sowing and reaping seasons are over, they have to work as unorganised workers in various sectors in the villages themselves. Of the 38,000-odd villages in Bengal, the CITU has little by way of units. The AIKS has a strong presence in the rural stretches.
Shyamal Chakraborty thus argued strongly in favour of soliciting direct cooperation of AIKS in setting up CITU units in the villages. AIKS leader Samar Baora said that AIKS could play a crucial role in helping CITU cover the unorganised, seasonal workers residing in the hamlets.
Shyamal Chakraborty pointed out that the ambit of non-agricultural work in the villages was on the rise, and with rapidity. In 1991, the percentage of persons engaged in non-agricultural work was 29.30 per cent. In 2001, the figure rose to 41.60 per cent. The past five years since then has seen more and more rural people engaged in non-agricultural pursuits as dependence on agriculture lessened. Home-based production units – 95 per cent being run by women – have had an explosive growth.
CITU would be engaged, with help from AIKS units, to organise the unorganised toiling masses of the villages and bring them under the cover of social security. The prime task would be to politicise them and build up their organisational skills. This would also help the democratic movement in the state accelerate and quicken in the rural belt.
In the meeting, several important pointers were raised and discussed. It was noted at the beginning that the villages in Bengal have an acknowledged presence of over 1.4 crore workers, seasonal or perennial. The number of landless agricultural labourers came to slightly under 75 lakh. In all, the number of rural people engaged in non-agricultural pursuits added up to under 2.20 crore.
The meeting took cognizance of the fact that the several factors contributed to the growth of employment opportunities in rural Bengal. The crucial factors are:
m Redistributive land reforms
m Extension of democracy to the grass-roots level
m Rapid increase of agricultural production
m Extension of trade and commerce
m Increase in rural production
m Extension of services including increase in the numbers of markets and haats
m Appearance and extension of newer professions, trades, and callings
Joint workshops will be held across rural Bengal to establish the ways-and-means in which the CITU and AIKS would work together in building up the organisational base of the joint workers’-peasants’ movement.
The primary steps to be taken towards building up TU units in the villages would look like this:
p A joint convention of CITU and AIKS in Kolkata to be attended by at least two organisers of CITU and two of AIKS from each block apart from district and state leadership
p District-level joint conventions will be held and in attendance will be AIKS and CITU organisers from each village
p CITU-AIKS organisation teams would be formed at the block level
p The number of whole-timer organisers would have to be increased manifold
p A comprehensive review meeting would held at the end of December