People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 14

April 04, 2010

REMEMBERING COMRADE EMS

 

Central and Kerala Budgets:

Glaring Contrast in Approach

Pinarayi Vijayan

 

COMRADE E M S Namboodiripad was a legendary Marxist leader and a great theoretician of enormous stature who had correctly analysed concrete situations with rational approach. Twelve years have passed after the demise of the great ‘adopted son of the working class’ on .... Comrade EMS had made outstanding contribution in applying Marxism-Leninism to Indian conditions. Such political interventions were not confined to the perimeter of our nation alone. His vigorous concern in evaluating even minute developments in the international communist movement and explain them to the common masses made the people of Kerala to properly identify with such international issues.  His talent to analyse any issue by evaluating its inter-relations and development and explain them with such uncomplicated method had truly helped in the political education of the working class movement of our country. No topic was away from his reach and intervention. Comrade EMS was undoubtedly a great genius contributed by Kerala to the whole world. His charismatic role is obvious in all realms of contemporary Kerala life, including that of political, social and cultural spheres.

Comrade EMS Namboodiripad was born in a famous feudal family at a time when feudal landlordism was the order of the day. He began his public career by intervening in the unbending struggles of the social reform movement. He started his political life as a Congress man and subsequently joined the Congress Socialist Party and finally became a Communist. He was a member of the first Communist group formed in Kozhikkode. During 1933, and 1938-40 he had worked as the secretary of the KPCC. And subsequently he had joined the Communist Party that had been organised secretly. He was always in the foremost leadership of the CPI(M) since its formation in 1964. He worked as the general secretary of the CPI(M) for a long period. He continued to be a member of the Polit Bureau and Central Committee of the Party till his last breath. Throughout his political life Comrade EMS had consistently fought against all deviations and alien trends, including right reformism and left sectarianism. He stood as a disciplined cadre till his last breath.

 

HIS IMPORTANT

ROLE IN KERALA

In order to materialise the perception of the ‘united Kerala’, Comrade EMS had provided his zealous leadership, both pragmatically and theoretically. The Party had assigned him the responsibility to head the first government in Kerala. Such experience of heading a state government in a bourgeois system by a Communist Party has never existed before and thus for the whole Party it was a first experience. While successfully prevailing over quite a few difficulties, he had successfully provided leadership to lay down the foundation for the overall – social, economic and educational – development of Kerala. Comrade EMS even during his last days was very keen about the future development of Kerala at a time when imperialist globalisation poses a threat to the life and livelihood of the common masses. And hence the International Congress on Kerala Studies and the People’s Campaign for the Ninth Plan were evolved under such circumstances. Such initiatives were extremely important in guiding the activities of the present-day Party.

The CPI(M) and the LDF government in Kerala presently strive to implement zealously the perception of alternative development that Comrade EMS had initiated. While the State attempts to divide the unity of the people, EMS had time and again underlined that it is the responsibility of the working class movement to get them united. The development concept of the People’s Plan was initiated with such a perspective. While initiating such developmental activities, he was of the firm opinion that issues related to downtrodden sections must be given primary and premier importance. At the same time, even under such limitations posed by the neo-liberal policies, he strongly advocated use of all possibilities for an alternative to such anti- people policies.

The recent budget of the Kerala government was prepared with such an outlook. A comparison of the Kerala and the central budgets can easily make a distinction on how differently the state and centre governments perceive the concept of development.  

Even though agriculture has vital significance in our economy, the UPA government frequently shows apathy and gives minuscule importance to it. Growth rate in agricultural sector has registered an unprecedented decline during this period. Considering this hard reality, the central government should have increased budgetary allocation to agriculture sector.  Unfortunately the central budget cut down even the very limited subsidy provided for agriculture. Such policies will undoubtedly pose serious threat to our food security in the near future itself.

In Kerala, agricultural sector registered a steady growth mainly as a result of serious intervention of the LDF government. The state government increased the investment in agriculture sector in the budget by more than 50 per cent. A comprehensive perspective to achieve food security has also been proposed by the state government in the budget.

 

STRENGTHENING

THE PUBLIC SECTOR

The Public Sector Units (PSUs) in our country have a vital role to safeguard self-reliance and sovereignty of our nation. While the global economic crisis has wreaked havoc on many developed economies, it is an irrefutable fact that the presence of PSUs in our country played an important role in limiting this impact on our economy. Again, it is alarming that the central government stated its commitment to privatise our PSUs. And hence the UPA government in its budget expects Rs 40,000 crore income by selling the shares of the public sector units! Unlike the UPA government’s policy to dismantle the PSUs, in Kerala the PSUs are gradually being made profitable and they contribute to the government exchequer and thus demonstrate an extremely different picture. During the present fiscal, such units have contributed Rs 200 crore to the government exchequer. While the central government dismantles PSUs, the state government allocates Rs 121 crore to set up eight new PSUs in the state. Another Rs 246 crore is being provided for revamping cottage and small-scale industries. And the budgetary support given for the coir industry is ever highest in the history of state.

While the central government gradually withdraws its responsibility in education by systematic budget cuts, the state government consistently increases budgetary allocation for education. In the current fiscal, the state government has hiked the budget for education by 50 per cent. And for higher education, the increase amounts to 112 per cent! The Kerala budget seeks to ensure infrastructure development and allocated Rs 1058 crore to ensure drinking water for all. It also plans to accomplish the proposed EMS house building plan that ensures home for all. The decision to expand the employment guarantee to urban areaa is also undoubtedly a boon for the urban poor. The decision to extend the scheme of providing rice at Rs 2 per kilo for 35 lakh families in the state shows the government’s stubborn commitment to the downtrodden sections of our society. It is to be noted that the central government had calculated and stated that less than 11 lakh of families only exist in the BPL list from the state.

Even though the question of global warming is widely debated, the central government miserably failed to address such questions. The state government, while facing financial constraints, still allocated Rs 1000 crore in its budget  for ‘green fund’ and this is hence undoubtedly a historic move. While the central government completely neglects the welfare of women, the state government allocated Rs 620 crores in the budget for women’s welfare. It is very common that this vision in intervening in environmental and women issues will certainly be widely accepted.

 

AAM ADMI

SPARED

While the central government earns its revenue by burdening the shoulders of the poor, the state government in contrast did not add any additional burden on common man. The central government had increased excise duty on petroleum products, which will directly hit the common people of our country. Same is the case with the way it restructured the income tax. In the central budget, surcharges for corporate houses are being reduced while demand for increasing the states' share in taxes is being denied. In this constrained fiscal scenario, the state government, while restraining from adding any burden on the poor, enhanced government revenue not by offering any concession, unlike the central government, to the rich. And hence the state government successfully implemented pro-people steps in the budget.

When the state government is implementing such pro-people measures, the central government policies are in a way sabotaging them and depriving the people from reaping the real benefits of the state government policies. The UPA-II government’s general framework is directed towards pro-rich and anti-people agenda. Many such instances can be quoted to depict such anti-people and pro-imperialist policies ushered in by the UPA-II government. The questions raised on the Nuclear Liability Bill are some among them. The Bill affirmed an upper limit of around Rs 2200 crore as liablity if a nuclear calamity took place. And for foreign nuclear companies such liability is as paltry as Rs 500 crore. As per the bill the decision of the Claim Commissioner is binding and cannot be questioned by victims. And a time frame of 10 years is also provisioned in the Bill for a calamity which may cause severe genetic tribulations even after. The India-US nuclear deal and its subsequent Liability Bill are unequivocally geared to serve the US interests, as the Left already revealed.

 

REAL

TRIBUTE

Comrade EMS had relentlessly fought against all such ruling class policies that confer miseries to the common masses. While doing so, he had tried to advocate certain alternate policies that ensure some relief to the people. Today's situation also demands for such added care to probe possibilities for such alternatives and to rally more and more sections of the masses against the policies of the globalisation. A thorough understanding of Comrade EMS will certainly provide us with all the added strength necessary to take such responsibilities. We have to strengthen the struggle that the Party had unleashed and intervene more vigorously to protect people’s interests. The real tribute that we can pay to Comrade EMS is to work unwaveringly for the triumph of the people's cause, that we communists visualise in creating a world free of exploitation”