People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 28, 2007
Stop Giving RUR Status To Private Sector
BANGALORE witnessed a massive protest of public sector workers passing through the streets of city. This was the biggest protest by the public sector workers in the last 25 years. The mass rally vociferously demanded not to give accreditation of RUR (Raksha Utpadak Ratna) status to private sector, which facilitates entry of private companies in defence production.
More that 8000 workers of HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) BEL (Bharath Electronics Limited) BEML (Bharath Earth Movers Limited) ITI (Indian Telephone Industry) and BHEL (Bharath Heavy Electricals Limited) participated with great enthusiasm. This rally of public sector workers is historic, after the 80 days strike of 1982. The protest rally was organised by joint action front (JAF) of PSUs Bangalore. The rally also demanded immediate notification of A1 status to Bangalore city which will entitle house rent allowance of 30 percent to all workers, scrapping DPE (Department of Public Enterprises) guidelines, long term wage settlement for five years only and to take immediate steps to revive ITI.
The rally was addressed by Dipankar Mukherjee, secretary CITU and convenor TU forum for self reliance in defence. He said that government of India during NDA regime appointed Kelkar Comittee on Defence which has recommended allowing private sector in defence production with accreditation of “R U R" (Raksha Utpadan Ratna). This accreditation of RUR equates such private companies on par with Defence PSU in defence production. As a result eight DPSUs in our country will suffer from lack of production orders and also will pose serious threat to Indian defence preparedness and security.
Accreditation of private companies with Ratna is not fair and also is an insult to the public sector family as a whole, Dipankar said. Defence PSUs like BEL and HAL which have a history of 50 years in defence production have been accredited with Navaratna status in June 2007. That is, defence public sector industry got Navaratna status after 50 years of contribution and service to the nation, whereas accrediting the private companies without any contribution or service in the field of defence is a sheer surrender to their pressure.
The terms of reference of the Kelkar Committee was to suggest ways and means to reduce defence import bill and achieve self reliance in defence. The recommendations are in contradiction to the terms of reference. It is very much necessary to first plan for full capacity utilisation of defense PSUs, for example, till now in Bharath Electronics only 61 percent of the capacity is utilised. HAL’s full capacity is also not utilised. CAG(Comptroller and Auditor General) report clearly pointed out non utilisation of capacity in BEML and HAL. Basically defence import bill can be reduced only by increasing the full capacity utilisation of the PSUs which have the capacity to indigenously produce radars, sonars, nightvision glasses, light combat air crafts etc. Further, the defence equipments which need technology transfer will be divested to RUR accredited private sector, Dipankar said. Ministry of defence is the in process of finalising RURs and short listing is being done, he said.
The Kelkar committee recommended for creating a development fund for research and development in private sector and has not recommended for samitkar funding for defence PSUs. It is very clear that undue favouritism is being shown to private sector to promote them in defence production. Another damage is that the government is proceeding towards accreditation of Anusandan Ratna and Anusandan mini Ratna status to private companies, facilitating them to encroach in the area of research activities of DRDO (Defence Reseach and Development Organisation).
Dipankar Mukherjee said that all these decisions are taken without consulting workers and their trade unions who are major stake holders in defence industry. He called upon the working class of defence PSUs to intensity the struggle against these moves.
The meeting was presided over by D Ananthapadmanabha,co-ordinator JAF and was addressed by S R Viswanath,president HAL employees association, Balappa, general secretary BEL workers unity forum, G V SriramaReddy, MLA CPI(M), S Prasannakumar, working president, BEL workers union(CITU), Ramappa, president, ITI employees association, D Vinayakam, general secretary, BHEL employees association and Satyamurthy , president ,BEML employees association. The rally was greeted by Radhakrishna, convenor coordinating committee of central government employees, Anathasubbarao, general secretary, AITUC and Somanna, BMS leader.