(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 24, 2013
Intensify Struggles for a Better India
THE four legs of the CPI(M)’s Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha culminated in a historic rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan on March 19, 2013. In one of the largest gatherings at the call of the CPI(M), this rally gave the battle cry launching a new political Ramlila in the country against the twin-demons of corruption and anti-people policies.
The central theme of the rally is that it is possible to create a better India where all its people can be provided with the basic rights to a decent life for which there are sufficient resources in the country. These resources are currently being either looted through the mega corruption scams or are being utilised to provide super profits and luxury to a miniscule few in the country while increasing the economic burdens on the vast majority of our people thus denying them their basic rights to a decent life and pushing them into greater depravation. It is these policies that need to be changed in order to create a better India for all our people. The current trajectory that is widening the hiatus between the two Indias is simply not acceptable.
In order to create such a better India, it is imperative that the following six basic rights of the people must be ensured. This can be done by changing the policy direction in our country.
1) Right to Land and House-sites: Implement land reform policies by distributing surplus land to the landless. Guarantee house-sites to each landless household.
2) Curb Price Rise and Right to Food: Universal right to 35 kgs of foodgrains at a maximum price of rupees two a kg. Scrap APL/BPL based fraudulent poverty calculations. Stop forward trading in foodgrains and other essential commodities.
3) Right to Education and Health: Stop privatisation of educational and health services. Increase allocations for education and health. Guarantee implementation of the Right to Education Act. Strengthen public services in health and ensure strict regulation of the private sector.
4) Right to Employment: Step up public investment to ensure creation of jobs; lift the ban on recruitment and ensure time-bound recruitment for all vacancies, particularly for SC/ST/OBC backlog; increase days of work under NREGA with price index linked minimum wages and expand it to include guarantee of work days in urban India.
5) Ensure Social Justice and Rights of Women : Curb violence against women and provide one-third reservation for women in legislatures and parliament; end social practices of untouchability and discrimination against dalits; protect the land and forest rights of adivasis; provision of equal opportunities in education and jobs for the Muslim community.
6) End Corruption: Enact Lokpal legislation with independent powers of investigation; bring back black money stashed in foreign banks; recover losses from the corporates responsible; send the corrupt to jail.
The ruling classes often argue as articulated by our prime minister recently that “money does not grow on trees”. This logic is used to impose greater burdens on the people through hikes in prices of essential commodities and cuts in subsidies meant for the poor. The budget presented recently in the parliament for the year 2013-14 shows that the fiscal deficit last year stood at nearly Rs 5.21 lakh crores. In the same year, the amount of legitimate tax foregone by the government was over Rs 5.73 lakh crores. In other words, more than Rs 52,000 crores over and above the fiscal deficit is the tax foregone by the government. If these taxes were instead collected, then there would have been no fiscal deficit at all. However, in the name of reducing this fiscal deficit, greater burdens are imposed on the vast majority of our people pushing millions into poverty. Such injustice is simply not acceptable.
Further, if these taxes were collected and used for public investments to build our much-needed infrastructure, particularly irrigation facilities to improve our agricultural sector and prevent the rising tide of distress suicides by our farmers, lakhs of new job opportunities could have been created. This, in turn, would lead to significantly increase the levels of domestic demand giving the impetus for manufacturing and industrial growth and thereby the overall growth of our economy. Such an alternative policy direction must be ensured through growing popular struggles.
On the other hand, the mega corruption scams, if prevented, could have provided sufficient resources to provide universal food security, education, health and other necessities to improve the life of our people. The 2G scam alone (Rs 1.76 lakh crores) would have released enough resources to provide 35 kg of foodgrains at not more than Rs 2/kg to all families in the country both APL and BPL. The coal block allocation scam – coalgate – of Rs 1.86 lakh crores would have been more than sufficient to ensure that every single boy and girl in our country would be in school and provided with books, uniforms and mid-day meals by the government. Such a mega loot of our resources must be stopped by mounting greater pressures through popular struggles on our ruling classes.
As the rally began, came the news that an important ally of the UPA-2 government – the DMK – has withdrawn its support plunging this government into greater political uncertainty. Already this is a minority government surviving on the outside support of parties like the BSP and the SP. This political uncertainty has, naturally, thrown up the question of an alternative government.
On this score, viewed from the point of an alternative set of policies required to create a better India, the BJP is no alternative. Its economic policies are virtually no different from the neo-liberal reform trajectory. While the BJP-led NDA was holding the reins of the central government, it had suggested to permit FDI in the retail trade sector. When the CPI(M) objected to this and organised protests, the Congress party then opposed this move. Now when the Congress-led UPA is holding the reins of the central government, FDI in retail has been permitted despite the BJP supporting the CPI(M)’s steadfast and consistent opposition of this reform. The BJP, when in government, undertook large-scale disinvestment of public sector. Its first 13-day government, while facing a certain defeat in the confidence vote in the Lok Sabha, called a cabinet meeting hurriedly during the Lok Sabha proceedings to grant the now disgraced and bankrupt multinational – Enron – its power purchase agreement which was virtually a loot of the people. In the current parliament, the BJP supported the UPA proposal to privatise the pension funds, thus, exposing crores of our employees to vulnerabilities of global finance.
While the BJP continues to function as the political arm of the RSS to achieve their objective of transforming the modern secular democratic republic of India into the RSS version of a rabidly intolerant `Hindu Rashtra’, it also pursues the same anti-people policies of neo-liberal reforms.
Therefore, what the country needs is not merely an alternative grouping of anti-Congress anti-BJP political parties to form a government. What the country and the people need is an alternative policy direction. The political alternative which can bring about such a shift in our policy direction can only come on the strength of rising people’s struggles.
The need of the hour is to strengthen popular struggles for bringing about such a shift in the policy direction of our country. In order to carry forward such people’s struggles to higher levels, the rally gave the call for countrywide picketing of all government offices from the block, district to the state level between May 15 and 31. Such a programme of mass picketing will also include the violation of law assuming the dimensions of a mighty civil disobedience movement.
The CPI(M) calls upon the Indian people who have responded very positively to this Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha to come forward in larger numbers for ensuring mightier struggles in the future for creating a better India for all our people.
(March 20, 2013)