People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 25

June 29 , 2008



                                                                    AIAWU'S Call For Struggle Against  Anti-People Policies Of UPA Govt

The following is the text of the resolution adopoted unanimously by the general council meeting of the AIAWU held in Thiruvananthapuram on June 21-22, 2008. The resolution was placed by Suneet Chopra, joint secretary of AIAWU

THE general council meeting of AIAWU held on June 21-22 at Neyyar dam in Kerala charges the UPA government at the centre with knowingly pursuing anti-people policies against small producers like farmers and craftsmen, small-shopkeepers, agricultural labour and the working class in general, in the interest of multinationals, corporates and real estate giants, under the dictates of WTO. Worse, this has been fraudulently projected by the government of India as unavoidable or even beneficial to the people.

The UPA government has pursued a policy that has ruined the rural masses bringing sharp distress to farmers, agricultural labour, scheduled castes, tribals, and women, who suffer economic and social discrimination and are being marginalised under WTO prescriptions and government policies being pursued to suit them. Public investment in agriculture has come down from 4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product in the eighties to 2.6 per cent now as a result of a policy of opening up space for private investment that never came.

What it led to was unavailability of rural credit and increased reliance on money-lenders. Around 33 lakh farmers are forced to sell their lands each year and 1,66,304 have committed suicide in the last 8 years, with their number increasing over the last four. Even the recent debt-relief offered to farmers is merely a bankers' exercise and cooperatives and private money lenders are not included in it. Bad debts of the banks have been written off and the farmers get nothing.

Hunger stalks the land. 20,000 people have died of starvation in the same period while both the UPA and the BJP-led NDA governments have been falsely claiming that poverty has come down. They have done so by simply reducing the food component of poverty from 2200 calories to 1800 calories. Otherwise, at 2200 calories, the figure was 56.4 per cent in 1973-74 and has increased to 64.5 per cent now. The availability of foodgrains has gone down from 450.9 gms per person per day in 1998 to 427 gms in 2006, representing a decrease of 50 gms per person per day This disgraceful state of affairs has resulted from the abandoning of food security by the government by encouraging speculation and cash-cropping and relying on imports of grain from foreign multinationals.

This has been made worse by setting a low minimum support price while allowing foreign companies to compete with the government in the open market, leaving nothing for it to buy to stock the PDS and then buying the same grain at inflated international prices, making it an excuse to raise the already unbearable prices that are beyond the reach of the people and liquidate the rationing system. The attack on the PDS is many sided. The poorest have been priced out of it with the BJP-led NDA government having doubled the prices. The UPA has cut down quotas even for states like Kerala, where the system functions well, by as much as 82 per cent forcing it to access grain independently from West Bengal

Instead of checking prices by dehoarding, increasing food subsidies and ending futures trading in commodities, the UPA government has pushed inflation into double figures by raising fuel prices rather than cutting down taxes and duties imposed on petroleum products or getting private companies to pay a 'windfall' tax as they reap profits from soaring international prices. The UPA government has preferred to falsify figures of losses of state owned oil companies to burden people with an unsustainable price rise that is eating into real wages.

While global speculators benefit from rising prices, the Indian people are faced with high prices and no earnings, with inflation rising above 11 per cent. The days of work available to the rural masses have gone down by half and profit taking in private industry has only increased the work- load rather than jobs. Profits have gone up two and a half times and wages down by one third even in the organised sector. Conditions in the unorganised sector are worse.

Even while the UPA government claims NREGA as its key measure, it has allowed it to be crippled with inadequate funds and corruption. Not only has the per district outlay been cut down to less than half the original amount, but even this is not being spent. Forty per cent of the funds provided for government employment schemes, a huge Rs 11430.78 crores were lying unspent as on December 31, 2007. In fact the standing committee of parliament was forced to criticise the government for its failure to protect the poorest through providing employment. So we can honestly conclude that these schemes too are being used to fool the people not feed them. The BPL is a scandal. Not only is Rs 9 a day too little to qualify for it, even those who do are not given cards. Over half those who are eligible do not have cards today.

At the same time, the government is planning a strategic relation with the USA, the fountainhead of exploitation and terror in the world today, in the name of fighting a war against terror. But the government ignores the fact that thanks to its subscribing toUS dictated policies, insecurity and corruption have increased. The number of murders that have taken place have made India the "murder capital" of the world. Conspicuous spending of a few and misery of the many is the cause of this. Communal and divisive forces are taking advantage of this growing divide of rich and poor to challenge the internal security of our country with diversionary movements. Bal Thackeray calls for the creation of Hindu terrorists. His nephew Raj Thackery spews venom against North Indians. The UPA government has also failed to counter them or the BJP effectively in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Karnataka, showing a criminal lack of concern for the internal security of the country as long as speculators and profiteers continue to make money.

The AIAWU calls on the growing mass of the rural landless who are increasing at the rate of 33 lakhs per year to unite with all workers and small producers in the country to defend their lives and livelihood, and even their land, that is now under attack from WTO conditions favouring multinationals and foreign capital with vast areas of agricultural land being handed out to them, while the operation of the Forest Rights Act for tribal people and traditional forest dwellers is being delayed.

We demand effective control over prices by making hoarders speculators and profiteers pay for their plunder and not the people. If the UPA government wishes to remain in power its primary concern should be the Indian people and not the US administration. That requires food, work and a roof over the heads of the people.

We tell the UPA government, change your policies or you will destroy yourselves and destroy the country. We demand that prices be controlled by dehoarding foodgrains, ending speculation in the necessaries of life and PDS to be universalised with ration cards made being available to all. NREGA and other employment schemes be funded and implemented on a war footing. Credit must be made available to farmers, crafts persons and agricultural labour to carry on their production and old debts of agricultural labourers, crafts persons fishermen and other sections of the poor be written off to allow them to start afresh. The creative energy of the people must be unleashed and not that of criminals and predators as the UPA and NDA policies have done.

We call on all our members to go out and campaign for pro-people economic policies health, education and social security for the masses and social justice for the dalits, tribal people women and migrants. As a first step we will campaign independently for our basic demands from August 1-15 in support of the August 20 general strike called by the trade unions and make it an unprecedented success. Then we will launch a series of struggles for jobs, a properly functioning PDS to provide all the necessaries of life, for house sites and land, for increasing expenditure on health and education and for making the lives of our people more secure from corruption and crime.

Our union been in existence now for twenty five years and leaders of the stature of P K Kunjachan, Dasrath Deb, L B Gangadhar Rao and Harkishen Singh Surjeet, to name only a few, have helped to guide and develop our organisation to the 4 million mark. Now we must carry this proud tradition forward. This year is our silver jubilee year and we plan to carry our message across the length and breadth of the country with jathas that will start from Amritsar, Varanasi and Erode to come together in Hyderabad on November 11 this year. The passing of a comprehensive central legislation for agricultural labour and enrolling five lakh members should be our target this year. This is the time to seize the opportunites offered by the situation created due to pro-corporate, anti-agriculture and anti-worker policies, both of the Congress and the BJP, and call on the people to find an alternative to both by struggling for it.