People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 31, 2006
Push Ahead People’s Struggles In 2007
PEOPLE’S DEMOCRACY wishes its readers a Happy New Year!
As the New Year began in 2006, we had through these columns called upon our readers to join us and the Indian people in the struggles to shape the contours of a modern India. As we now move ahead into 2007 and look back, 2006 had indeed been a year that saw the consolidation of the political process beginning with the defeat of the BJP-led NDA in the 2004 general elections.
The signal feature of 2006 has been the resounding victories of the CPI(M)-led Left Front in the assembly elections in West Bengal and Kerala. In West Bengal, the Left Front won for a record seventh consecutive term. These victories have strengthened the Left and its capacity to raise, at the national level, such policy matters as are directed at improving the people’s livelihood and the sovereignty of our country.
At the international level, the resistance to US imperialism’s hegemonic drive continues to grow. Despite its brutal military aggression and occupation of Iraq, US imperialism has so far failed to bring about any normalcy there. The Iraqi people’s resistance to US military occupation continues to grow. Now the Bush administration has once again decided to send additional troops to strengthen its military occupation. This criminal military occupation has already claimed the life of lakhs of innocent Iraqi people.
On other fronts as well, imperialism is facing growing resistance. Latin America is literally on the march, with people’s struggles progressively changing the political situation in one country after another. After the Left victories in Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay, Hugo Chavez and Lula have been re-elected as presidents of Venezuela and Brazil. Daniel Ortega led a triumphant Santinista return to power in Nicaragua. Ecuador is the latest to join the anti neo-liberal people’s offensive in Latin America.
Imperialism has not been able to conclude the Doha round of negotiations in the WTO. We had opined in these columns that no agreement is better than a bad agreement. The battle to ensure that the USA and European Union are forced to reduce their gigantic agricultural subsidies and give the developing countries a level playing field in world trade will surely go on in 2007. It is simply unacceptable that while more than half of the world’s population lives in poverty, earning less than 2 dollars a day, a cow in the European Union is subsidised to the extent of 2.10 dollars a day.
While the struggle against neo-liberal policies continues to intensify globally, such popular struggles are also on the rise domestically, here in India. The CPI(M) and the Left, on whose crucial support this UPA government continues, have been putting constant pressure for implementation of whatever pro-people policies are contained in the Common Minimum Programme. These pressures were strengthened during the course of 2006 through big mass mobilisations and protest actions. The CPI(M)’s August campaign was followed by all-India jathas organised by the Kisan Sabha, students and women separately. The working class resistance culminated a series of struggles in a nationwide industrial strike on December 14. All these, put together, have been able to partially succeed in halting, if not rolling back, the neo-liberal agenda of economic reforms (!) in India. Privatisation of the public sector has been kept on hold. The pension bill, the banking bill and the moves to increase the FDI cap in various sectors like insurance have also been resisted. Needless to add, these struggles will have to be intensified in 2007 as it would be naïve to believe that the neo-liberal pundits would abandon their agenda.
While pressing the UPA government to redeem its promises made in the Common Minimum Programme, other urgent issues also demand attention in 2007. The crisis in rural India is deepening, with agrarian distress continuing to intensify. No number of packages announced by the prime minister has stemmed the tide of growing suicides by farmers. Agricultural growth continues to stagnate at levels disturbingly lower than the all-India growth of over 9 percent tomtomed by official spokesmen.
Finally, the forest bill has been enacted. Crores of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers, who have been residing in forests for generations, will finally have their legal rights recorded. Along with the Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the Right to Information Act, this legislation constitutes an important element of the CPI(M) and the Left’s struggle to shift the focus of economic reforms in the country --- away from being preoccupied with capitalist profits and towards improving the people’s welfare. Needless to add once again, these struggles need to be intensified in 2007 to ensure that there is indeed such a shift in the focus of ‘reforms.’
The year 2006 confirmed the apprehensions we articulated in these columns last year on the pressures that will be mounted to dilute the independent character of India’s foreign policy. The Indo-US civilian nuclear deal is rightly being seen as a part of the US imperialist efforts to reduce India to a supplicant of its strategic global interest. India’s vote in the International Atomic Energy Agency on the Iran issue was a product of such efforts. Through popular pressure and interventions from the parliament where the entire non-UPA parties openly exposed such dangers, the government was forced to declare that it shall not ignore any of the nine issues raised by the CPI(M) and the Left. As these negotiations reach a decisive stage, it has to be ensured that the UPA government does not allow the US imperialism to either influence India’s independent foreign policy or undermine its sovereignty.
While such issues which affect the day-to-day existence of crores of Indians and the direction of the country’s future have been engaging the attention of the vast majority of our people, the communal combine has, as the year ends, begun to refurbish its arsenal. With the brazen motive of seeking to consolidate the majority vote, communal passions are being sharpened and minority bashing intensified. Unable to accept the fact that its myth of `Muslim appeasement’ has been thoroughly exposed by the findings of the Sacchar committee, the RSS and BJP have declared their intention to intensify their campaigns on hardcore Hindutva agenda. The forthcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are being prepared as a testing ground for the spread of venom and hatred to advance their political fortunes. The road to Delhi is via Lucknow, we are told. Elsewhere in the country, from Madhya Pradesh to Karnataka wherever the BJP is in a state government, the fomenting of communal passions and tensions is being intensified.
Clearly, the secular democratic modern Indian republic is once again coming under a serious challenge from the communal forces. The process of political consolidation, which we spoke of earlier, squarely requires the foiling of this challenge. The gains made by the Indian people in the 2004 general elections and in the subsequent years cannot be allowed to be undermined by such a disastrous communal offensive.
As move on into the New Year, this communal challenge, which is completely antagonistic to the character of the modern Indian republic, will have to be defeated once again. This is all the more necessary in order to ensure that the struggles on vital issues concerning our people’s livelihood and our country’s sovereignty are not diverted into disruptive channels.
Come, let us together strengthen these struggles for building a better India!