People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 06, 2008
THE largest organised contingent of state government employees, the Bengal unit of the coordination committee held its 15th state conference recently at Siliguri. Among others who delivered important addresses on the occasion were Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, all-India president of CITU Dr M K Pandhe, all-India CITU general secretary Mohd Amin, and the general secretary of the All India State Government Employees Federation (AISGEF), Sukomal Sen.
In his address, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said that the path ahead in the process of developing the state socially and economically lay through industrialisation. Because of the imperatives of constraints imposed on a state in the present framework, and in consideration of the declared and general reluctance from the early 1990s of the successive union governments to invest State-owned capital in industries, it was obligatory on the Bengal state government also to ensure participation of the private sector. In its modest way, the Bengal LF government has been engaged in developing industrial, as well as human resources with care and concern.
The private entrepreneurs, presently flocking to Bengal because of the infrastructural facilities and due to an abundance of skilled human resource faculties, in an environment of political stability, pointed out Buddhadeb, would look to profit when making investments. It devolved on the Bengal Left Front government to ensure that there was adequate generation of employment, and that the profit-motive would not see the worker-employees lose any of their hard-earned rights. It was a case of mutual advantage that the industrialists have given accordance to, perhaps reluctantly. Nevertheless, they are generally adherents of the industrial policy of the Bengal government.
Enumerating and in some detail the rush of investments Bengal has recently witnessed Buddhadeb quoted a significant statistic. In 2007, the iron & steel industry itself (an industry forcefully made moribund by successive union governments through lack of nurturing) has attracted Rs 90,000 crore investment. The progress at Singur on the small car manufacturing venture is progressing well. Each step in the industrial zone is initiated with care for the people, especially the land-losers and the rural and urban poor. The trade-off sensitivity of the kisans on whose plots industries would come up must be kept uppermost in mind while implementing projects, said Buddhadeb.
Lamenting how a rush of opportunist adventurism of the Bengal opposition served by media hype reduced to naught the ambitious and vastly employment-oriented chemical hub project at Nandigram, Buddhadeb pointed out that a similar scheme set up across the river Haldi thirty years back -- in the teeth of opposition of the union government -- had been paying large dividends in terms of employment alone. Over one lakh local workers are engaged at the Haldia petro-chemical complex directly, while four more lakhs commute to and from the Haldia on a daily basis. Buddhadeb spoke also about the state’s plan to put in place small- and medium-sized industrial units backed up from below by a myriad of micro enterprises. He also emphasised on the importance of self-employment and self-help groups and warned against school drop-outs.
Warning against any realm of opacity intervening between the state government and the people in the procedure and process of land acquisition and industrial set up, Buddhadeb said that the Left Front government was a strict adherent to the pledge of the 2006 election manifesto that had declared that industrial progress would be made on the solid agrarian base. The relevance and the need for diversification and continuous widening of the base of agriculture would remain relevant for decades together to come what with Bengal having a widening spread of irrigation network especially in the rain-shadow regions.
Denoting with statistical back-up, the inordinate and recent success enjoyed by Bengal in producing an over-abundance of production from the innumerable and statewide paddy fields, vegetable patches, fruit orchards, and flower groves, Buddhadeb said that Bengal yet lacked state-of-the-art marketing and preservation facilities. Between 10 to 30 per cent vegetables cannot be harvested because there were not enough of storage facilities.
Once the ongoing developmental scheme of preservation and processing comes to a head, kisans would get better process especially during the ‘off seasons,’ and the situational change will create more and more windows of employment opportunities. Concluding Buddhadeb warned against the uncontrolled inroads of big capital in agriculture for that will result in the massive array of people working in the market slot between the contingents of farmers and the ranks of consumers would be sure to be thrown out of work.
Earlier inaugurating the conference, Dr M K Pandhe said that the fundamental contradiction existing within the anti-worker imperialist globalisation consisted of the fact that operating in a fiercely competitive free market the imperative of production cost reduction was being found by the entrepreneurs to be a clear impossibility. Thus, the burden was shifted with ever more aggressive drives onto the already groaning shoulders of the workers-employees, upsetting their wages, salaries, work-related benefits, and affecting adversely their hard-earned TU rights. Above all, the spate of imperialist globalisation has witness a massive jobloss growth.
OPPOSE CAPITALIST GLOBALISATION
In countries across the world, continued the veteran CITU leader, it was being seen that the aggression of capitalist globalisation had a direct and adverse impact on TU rights. Under attack, the strength of the TUs, numerical and political, has gone on shrinking in a great many European countries. The TUC of Britain has lost enough members to stand at a paltry 10 lakh workers under its banner. The acknowledgement of and support by the ruling classes of globalisation has ensured an impact of great adversity on the workers-employees of the concerned countries.
Dr Pandhe said that in view of the aggressive globalisation affecting India, the TUs must counter-attack with equal and more militancy and belligerence while fighting unitedly and in a responsible manner. The unorganised contingent of workers must be organised in this battle, more and more. The existing lacunae of organisation in the sectors like railways, ports, banking, insurance, communications, services, coal, gas, oil, and power must be overcome and the sectors strengthened in a coordinated manner. If need be, the union government would be rendered immobilised with waves of movements in these core sectors. The additional components of the movement would come from kisans, khet mazdoors, and from the student, youth, and women’s organisations. The NPMO must be further augmented and made more efficient. Dr Pandhe also laid importance on international mobilising of workers-employees against imperialist globalisation and liberalisation.
Mohd Amin said that the coordination committee must take more responsibilities in explaining to the masses the dangers inherent in the economic and financial policies of the union government. It must also communicate to the people the need to enhance their level of consciousness to fight for their rights. Sukomal Sen said that the process of changes taking place nationally and internationally would certainly complicate and deepen the present political predicament and economic crisis of India.
To struggle against the new situation, more and more people must be inspired to participate in the struggle against such developments. While the class enemies would be eager to wage more attacks on the lives and livelihoods of the people, the latter must respond in an organised way with a sharp response and a rousing counter-attack through movements and struggle, in the task towards bringing about changes. Theory and practice must be appropriately coordinated to bring about qualitative improvements in the form of movements and struggles.
Also addressing the conference among others were state coordination committee leader Ajoy Mukherjee, CITU leader Kali Ghosh, and Bengal LF government’s ministers, Dr Asim Dasgupta, and Ashok Bhattacharya.
The conference saw the presence of 2023 delegates and observers of whom 102 took part in the discussion on the political-organisational report. General secretary of the state coordination committee Jyotiprasad Basu responded to the points raised in the discussion session.
The new leadership elected at the 15th conference of the Bengal unit of the coordination committee comprised Joydeb Buxi as president, Ananta Banerjee as general secretary, and Subhas Raha as the treasurer (who was re-elected). The new editor of the organisation’s popular mouthpiece Sangrami Hatiyar is Ashok Chakraborty.