People's Democracy

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


No. 16

April 18, 2010



People's Struggles Will

Bring Social Justice: Yechury

N S Arjun


SOCIAL justice can be achieved only by unleashing people's movement that integrates the struggles against social oppression with those against class exploitation. In Indian conditions, caste and class actually overlap and they are like two legs which can take the movement forward. Dalits, tribals, OBCs, minorities, women.. all such sections of people must join these struggles and help in achieving social justice.

This was the call given by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury while addressing a meeting on �60 years of Indian Constitution and Social Justice� at Hyderabad today. The meeting was organised by CPI(M) on the occasion of the 120th  birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and AP state secretary B V Raghavulu was the other speaker in the meeting presided over by PSN Murthy, Hyderabad CPI(M) city secretary.

Yechury at the outset sought to clear the misconception that Ambedkar's effort was limited to just drafting of the Constitution or that he was concerned only about ending caste discrimination. He quoted from the speech made by Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949 � �On January 26, 1950 we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life, we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognising the principle of one man-one vote and one vote-one value. In our social and economic life, we shall by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man-one value� Ambedkar had warned that if we continued to ignore this contradiction the very existence of political democracy would be in peril. Yechury underlined that Ambedkar's idea of social justice meant equality in both social and economic fields and this has to be kept in mind by all.

In the last 60 years of our Republic, the contradictions pointed out by Babasaheb Ambedkar have only intensified with greater economic inequalities. Even as millions were becoming jobless in our country due to the impact of economic crisis, the number of dollar billionaires has doubled from 26 to 52 in 2009. These 52 persons control 27 per cent of our GDP while 70 per cent of our population barely  manages to earn Rs 20 a day. The obscene amounts of money being spent on IPL cricket tournament is yet another reflection of these inequalities. In this background, social justice in our country can be achieved only when the economic policies that are fostering such wide inequalities are resisted and beaten back, asserted Yechury. And that would be a real tribute to Ambedkar. Referring to those who portray a contradiction between caste and class, he said they do not realise the fact that in Indian context both caste and class actually overlap.

Yechury also stressed the importance of people's struggles to even get the Constitutionally enacted provisions implemented. He referred to the provision of 27 per cent reservations for OBCs in public higher educational institutions by amending the Constitution two years back. Despite that nothing is being done to implement the provision. Similarly the Forest Rights Act is being ignored by most governments except the Left ruled ones. Tripura is the only state in the country that has distributed maximum number of pattas to tribals. The Bengal government has announced 10 per cent reservations for religious minorities as per Mishra Commission recommendations. So, mounting popular pressure through struggles is an effective way of forcing the governments to act on such provisions, the CPI(M) leader felt. 

Yechury concluded by appealing for huge participation in the April 27 countrywide strike called by 13 political parties against the unprecedented price rise due to government's faulty policies. He warned the government to roll back the hike in petro prices or face a cut-motion which would be supported by 46 MPs who are presently extending support to the government. The UPA would be left with a 2 vote majority which would include the speaker's vote. He  said it remains to be seen whether the government would resort to same buying tactics that they indulged during the vote on India-US nuclear deal.

B V Raghavulu said that it shameful that even after 60 years of becoming a republic, we are witnessing feudal oppression on dalits in rural areas. The situation is so bad that even after 10 years of continuous efforts to identify and resist such practices, we are still not able to eliminate them. He recounted his experiences in the past one week while participating in the yatras of KVPS (Struggle Committee Against Caste Discrimination) in different parts of the state. Dalits were not being allowed into temples, they were discriminated at even government ration shops, drinking water facilities, at liqour dens etc. The upper caste landlords were provoking the backward caste people against dalits in order to continue their oppression.

Tracing the persistence of such discrimination and atrocities to the continuing existence of feudal system, Raghavulu felt that fighting against feudal remnants would be crucial to breaking the stranglehold of caste system. He felt that much bigger long term struggles have to be waged to achieve this. He castigated the state government for paying mere lip service to social justice rather than doing anything. Referring to a recent temple order in Vijayawada which specifically barred non-Brahmins from being employed for laddu (prasadam) making, he said the state government must be booked under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act for not doing anything despite having a separate ministry for temples. It is another matter that the temple authorities had to back off and withdraw the order following protests and outrage from all sections, including the CPI(M).

Raghavulu also decried the trend of highlighting only regional inequalities in growth, leaving out the inequalities among people. �The regions where dalits and tribals are the most neglected and poor are the regions which are also backward. Without developing these sections, the regions cannot develop. Therefore mere splintering of the state would not solve the problems of these sections.� He called upon major political parties, particularly Congress and TDP, to do more than just garlanding Ambedkar statues on April 14. He urged upon them to conduct campaigns against caste discrimination at village level because it is the cadre of these parties that are usually the perpetrators of such discrimination. He wanted the government to immediately appoint the chairman for SC/ST Commission. Raghavulu concluded by asserting that the CPI(M) would further intensify the ongoing struggle for social justice.

CITU Andhra Pradesh committee had given a one day call (April 4) for collection of fund to be given to KVPS for undertaking social justice campaigns. It has collected around Rs 2 lakh statewide. Half of this amount is to be given to KVPS in the districts and half to the state centre. CITU general secretary R Sudha Bhasker handed over a cheque of Rs 1 lakh to KVPS general secretary John Wesley on this occasion. This move of CITU was warmly applauded by the audience.

Hyderabad CPI(M) committee has enrolled 500 new annual subscribers for People's Democracy following the circulation campaign call given by the Party Central Committee. City secretariat member K Yadagiri Rao handed over a cheque of Rs 1 lakh of subscription money to PD editor Sitaram Yechury.