A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 17 No. 38 16 – 22 SEP 2014
Kashmir Floods Call for Humanity and a Rejection of Jingoism
Jammu and Kashmir as well as the areas of Kashmir across the LoC have been with the worst floods in living memory. The floods, caused by sudden and extreme rainfall, have claimed some 80,000 across the LoC and 2000 lives in J&K. The region is facing a massive humanitarian crisis, with people stranded without food, potable water and shelter, and thousands having lost their homes, property and means of livelihood.
Not long ago, Uttarakhand also suffered a terrible calamity. It seems that Governments refuse to learn the bitter lessons taught by each such calamity. In J&K, as in Uttarakhand, it is apparent that reckless urbanization fueled by a tourism economy, with scant regard for the fragile ecosystem, have contributed in great measure to the scale and magnitude of the disaster. Moreover, in spite of a string of similar disasters, Governments have refused to put in place early warning and evacuation systems that can accurately forewarn populations of an impending calamity and move people to protected areas.
The Supreme Court, overruling the Centre’s plea against the Court’s intervention, ordered the Centre to accelerate rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations for the flood victims, setting up a Unified Agency if needed. This has underlined the fact that the ongoing relief and rescue operations are woefully inadequate. Though the Army and Air Force are conducting rescue and relief operations in tough conditions, the fact is that huge numbers of people continue to be stranded with no sign of help in sight. In such circumstances, the efforts of common citizens to organize evacuation, and take food and water to stranded people, are heartening.
Delays and inadequacy in relief, failure to reach the worst affected, breakdown of basic services including medical services and food and water as well as communications, have resulted in a desperate situation. Angry outbursts by affected people in such circumstances are commonly seen in all disaster-affected regions including Uttarakhand, North Bihar and Assam. But in Kashmir, it is disturbing to see callous right-wing politicians and the media portray the devastated victims of the deluge as heartless and anti-national ‘stone-pelters’ who are attacking the heroic Armed Forces rescuing them.
Democratic forces must not only strive to reach out to the people of Kashmir with much-needed relief material and help; they must also shame and condemn the politically motivated attempts by the BJP and sections of the media to use the tragic floods as an occasion to give a clean chit and a character certificate to the Army. The Army, with its training and resources, no doubt plays a commendable role in disaster management all over the country. But in Kashmir, this humanitarian role is being invoked to justify the inhumane AFSPA and other atrocities that the people of Kashmir have suffered and continue to suffer. This amounts to using the floods to rub salt into the open wounds of Kashmiris – reminding them, that even in the midst of a terrible tragedy, they will be seen, not as victims with a right to rage and sorrow, but as fodder for a jingoistic campaign of triumphalism and humiliation.
The calamity of the Kashmir floods must indeed take centre-stage now. And every effort should be made so that the floods wash out the jingoism and muscle-flexing between countries and governments, to make way for shared efforts at rescue, rehabilitation, as well as conservation and ecological healing to preserve the unique ecosystem that knows no national boundaries.
But the floods – the natural calamity – cannot be allowed to wash away the memory of the calamity manufactured by the Indian State, to which Kashmir has been subjected. The empathy for the victims of the floods, should create room, beyond jingoistic propaganda, for empathy for the mother of the ‘disappeared’ youth killed in police or Army custody, who lie in mass graves in the Valley, the young boys shot dead during funeral processions, the raped women who await justice in vain.
The Kashmir floods are a terrible tragedy. And the drought of truth, justice and freedom that the Kashmiri people have suffered is no less a tragedy – requiring urgent relief work. We cannot look to an efficient Army or to Governments in the hope that that relief will come from them. That task – of acknowledging the truth of the crimes of endless custodial killings and rapes; struggling for justice for all those crimes; and demanding an end to the daily humiliating siege in which Kashmiris lead their lives – is up to all thinking citizens with a care and concern for democracy and humanity.
Contribute Generously to Support Flood-Affected People of Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is suffering devastation by the worst floods in sixty years. The death toll is mounting, even as thousands have lost their homes, fields and means of survival. The people of J&K need our solidarity and support.
As in the Uttarakhand calamity, the extent of devastation causes by the floods in Jammu and Kashmir is much worse due to indiscriminate environmental devastation and callous failure to institute any warning mechanisms to protect people from natural calamities.
CPI(ML) is launching a nationwide campaign for flood relief for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. All state units of the party, as well as mass organizations are requested to collect funds and contribute to the relief campaign. We appeal to all concerned people to make your contributions by cheque/draft in favour of “CPIML”. Please indicate that the donation is for “Jammu and Kashmir Flood Relief”. Please send your donations to: U-90, Shakarpur Delhi 110 092, India
AISA Sweeps JNUSU Elections Once Again,
Doubles Votes To Emerge As Significant Third Force in DUSU Elections
The All India Students’ Association (AISA) has swept the JNUSU elections once again this year, winning all the four office bearer posts. Ashutosh from the AISA won the post of President by polling 1386 votes and defeating the candidate from the Left and Progressive Front (LPF) by 377 votes. On the post of Vice President, AISA’s Anant Prakash Narayan polled 1366 votes and defeated the ABVP candidate by 610 votes. Chintu Kumari from AISA was elected General Secretary after she polled 1605 votes and defeated the ABVP candidate by 814 votes. AISA’s Shafqat Hussain Butt is the newly elected Joint Secretary, who won after polling 1209 votes and defeating the LPF candidate by 240 votes.
“At a time when BJP, RSS and the ABVP are trying to convince us that the ‘acche din’ have arrived, AISA’s huge and clear mandate in the JNUSU elections is proof that the students of JNU have decisively rejected their communal fascist and pro-corporate agenda”, said Ashutosh, the newly elected JNUSU President. “This is a mandate for a JNUSU that defends the idea of a truly secular, democratic society. It is moreover a mandate for a JNUSU that fights for students’ academic and infrastructural needs, for a JNUSU that resists corporate takeover of higher education, that fights for workers’ rights on the campus and that joins all progressive voices of dissent against corporate land grab, violence against women, communal hate mongering, AFSPA and state repression”, he added.
In the recently held DUSU elections too, AISA’s vote share has doubled. In a campus like DU where student politics was dominated by the NSUI and the ABVP, AISA has emerged as a strong contender, posing the strongest opposition to ABVP’s communal agenda and NSUI-ABVP’s pro-corporate politics. AISA increased its votes on all post in a big way, getting the support of a maximum of 12932 (on the post of Secretary) and lagging behind NSUI by just 2100-2600 votes on the post of Vice President, Secretary and Joint Secretary. It is the first time a Left student organization – or any student organization that does not enjoy the political backing, money- and muscle- of any of Delhi’s ruling parties – has achieved so much support and votes in the DUSU polls. The DUSU polls are all the more challenging because around 45 DUSU colleges are spread all over the city of Delhi, and the ABVP and NSUI openly violate the code of conduct and indulge in corrupt practices.
AISA won the support of DU students with its consistent campaign against the FYUP, and its struggles on the issues of transportation and affordable accommodation for the students, as well as its leading role in Delhi’s struggles against rape and corruption.
AISA’s assertion among the students of Delhi’s central universities is an important asset and source of support for democratic movements all over the country.
National Convention of Workers
A National Convention of Workers was held on 15TH September 2014 at New Delhi, under the banner of joint platform of all the Central Trade Unions of the country. The Convention was held in protest against the policies of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization and the all-out attack on trade union/working class rights by the Modi government and the Rajasthan government. The Convention rallied around the ten-point charter of demands of entire trade union movement calling for concrete action against price-rise and unemployment, ensuring minimum wages for all of not less than Rs. 15000 per month, halting mass scale unlawful contractualization, for strict implementation of labour laws, universal social security benefits and pension for all including the unorganized sector workers etc. and compulsory registration of Trade Unions within 45 days and ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.
The joint platform of all Central Trade Unions includes AICCTU, BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, UTUC and LPF. The convention was participated in by independent national federations/organizations from all the sectors and service establishments including Bank, Insurance, Defence, Railways, Central/State Govt. Employees etc.
The Convention was addressed on behalf of AICCTU by the General Secretary, Swapan Mukherjee. National Secretary, Santosh Roy was member of Presidium on behalf of AICCTU. The convention was addressed by, among others, Gurudas Das Gupta GS of AITUC, Tapan Sen GS of CITU, Harbhajan Singh Siddhu GS of HMS, Vrijesh Uppadhyay GS of BMS and G. Sanjeeva Reddy President of INTUC.
The declaration adopted by the Convention called upon the working masses to hold State level joint conventions during September-October; wherever possible initiative may be taken to hold district-level and industry-level joint conventions; and National Protest Day on 5 December 2014 through massive joint demonstration in all state capitals and at Delhi Joint demonstration of workers from the neighbouring states.
The National Convention called upon the trade unions and working people irrespective of affiliations to unite and make the above programmes a massive success paving way for countrywide united struggle to resist the onslaught on the life and livelihood of working people throughout the country.
- NATIONAL CONVENTION OF WORKERS
15TH Sept. 2014, NEW DELHI
This National Convention of Workers being held under the banner of joint platform of all the Central Trade Unions of the country along with independent national federations/organizations from all the sectors and service establishments expresses deep concern at the unilateral move to amend the labour laws by a number of state governments and by the Central Govt. Most of the amendments sought to be done will have serious negative impact on the working conditions including trade union rights of the workers and the employees. It is unfortunate that in spite of the assurance given by the Labour Minister that Central Trade Unions will be consulted, these amendments in labour laws are being pushed through without any consultations with them.
The amendments passed by Rajasthan Assembly on 31st July, 2014 in Industrial Disputes Act, Factories Act, Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act and Apprenticeship Act will make hire and fire much easier for the employers and will result in rampant casualisation of employment. Liberalising the provisions of Factories Act will imperil the safety at work place in small and medium scale enterprises and will push majority of factories out of its coverage. Similarly raising the threshold employment ceiling of 20 to 50 workers for registration of contractors will enable the principal employer and contractor to become unaccountable for service conditions of the workers in a large number of enterprises. It is unfortunate that the Govt. being model employer deploys the largest number of contract workers and thereby depriving them of the security of job, wage and social security benefits.
The Amendment Bills already introduced in Parliament by the Central Govt on Factories Act, Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers for certain Establishments) Act and Apprentices Act are also designed to bring about such changes which will adversely affect the service conditions of the workers throwing overwhelming majority of them out of the coverage of all basic labour laws. The Factories Act Amendment Bill introduced in Lok Sabha on 7th August 2014 further liberalises the coverage of factories under the Act as amendment proposed in definition of factories (Section 2m) authorizes States to fix number of workers for coverage under the Act. This will legitimize amendment already passed by Rajasthan Assembly on 31st July, 2014. The Central Govt. is also considering amendments in Minimum Wages Act and Industrial Disputes Act. The amendment to Apprenticeship Act will pave the way for replacement of the contract/casual/ temporary workers and even regular workers by comparatively low paid apprentices. Moreover, these amendments will straightway empower and encourage the state governments to bring about pro-employer changes in labour laws as per the Rajasthan model. The process of amendments in labour laws is also aimed to do away with tripartite consultation mechanism.
In essence, all moves of amendments in the labour laws, both by the central government and by the Govt in Rajasthan are aimed at empowering the employers to retrench/lay off workers or declare closure/shut down at will and also resort to mass scale contractorisation. These are also designed to push out more than seventy per cent of the industrial and service establishments in the country and their workers out of the purview of almost all labour laws, thereby allowing the employers a free hand to further squeeze and exploit the workers.
The Convention also expressed dismay over the Govt’s total inaction in implementing the consensus recommendations of 43rd, 44th and 45th Indian Labour Conferences on formulation of minimum wages, same wage and benefits as regular workers for the contract workers and granting status of workers with attendant benefits to those employed in various central govt schemes. It is also noted with utter dismay that the present government is also continuing to ignore the ten point demands of entire trade union movement pertaining to concrete action to be taken for containing price-rise and aggravating unemployment situation, for strict implementation of labour laws, halting mass scale unlawful contractorisation, ensuring minimum wages for all of not less than Rs 15000 per month and universal social security benefits and pension for all including the unorganized sector workers etc. the demands also include compulsory registration of Trade Unions within 45 days and ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.
The National Convention also denounced the retrograde move of the Govt in hiking/allowing FDI in Defence sector, Insurance, Railways and other sectors and also its aggressive move for disinvestment in PSUs including financial sector which will be detrimental to the interests of the national economy, national security as well as mass of the common people.
The Convention demands upon the Rajasthan Govt. to reverse the enacted amendments to the labour laws and urge upon the Central Govt. to desist from its unilateral move to amend labour laws and consult and honour the views of Central Trade Unions on the issue. The Convention also demands immediate steps to implement the consensus recommendations of successive Indian Labour Conferences and also positive response to long pending ten-point demands of the entire trade union movement of the country. The Convention urges the Central Govt to desist from mindless drive to liberalise FDI in defence, insurance, Railways etc and instead reverse the direction of the ongoing economic policy regime which has landed the entire national economy in distress and decline affecting the working people most.
The Convention calls upon all the trade unions, federations across the sector to widen and consolidate the unity at the grass-root level and prepare for countrywide united movement to halt and resist the brazen anti-worker and anti-people policies of the Govt and in preparation to the same undertakes unanimously the following programmes:
1. State level joint conventions during September-October; wherever possible initiative may be taken to hold district-level and industry-level joint conventions
2. National Protest Day 5.12.2014 through massive joint demonstration in all state capitals. At Delhi Joint demonstration of workers from the neighbouring states will be held.
The National Convention calls upon the trade unions and working people irrespective of affiliations to unite and make the above programme a massive success paving way for countrywide united struggle to resist the onslaught on the life and livelihood of working people throughout the country.
- BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC, LPF and All India Federations of Banks, Insurance, Defence, Railways, Central/State Govt. Employees and other Service Establishments
AISA Initiatives in Allahabad University
The AISA organized a campus meeting at the students’ union building in Allahabad University on 10 September to discuss issues of communal corporate fascism, rise in violence against women, and loot and anarchy in the campus. Speakers included K. K. Pandey of Jan Sanskriti Manch, AISA State President Sudhanshu Bajpai, and Research scholar from the Political Science department Ankit Pathak. The AISA unit of Allahabad University elected its office bearers in the second session of the campus meeting.
The AISA submitted a memorandum to the Allahabad University Vice Chancellor seeking action against ragging on the campus, following a 3-day signature campaign against the incidents of ragging that took place on September 3rd. The AISA demanded that the university administration should constitute an enquiry committee without delay so that such incidents can be prevented in future.
The AISA also conducted widespread relief-collection on the campus and in the city, for the people affected by the Kashmir floods.
ASHA Workers’ Rally in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand ASHA health workers’ union, affiliated to AICCTU, took out a state level Jawab do, Hisab do (Settle Accounts, Provide Answers) rally. The rally displaying a sea of red flags and banners, was led by Union President Com. Kamla Kunjwal and General Secretary Com. Kailash Pandey. The rally reverberated with slogans of “Sthayi naukri aur vetanman lekar rahenge”, “Vaada khilafi nahi chalegi”, “Shram kanoonon ka ullanghan band karo” and other slogans. As the rally was about to take off from Kalumal Dharmashala at 11 am, the C.O. City and City kotwal stopped the rally with the police force and said that it will not be allowed to proceed as prior permission had not been taken. AICCTU leaders and ASHA activists protested and vowed to take out the rally come what may. After SDM Sadar Mohan Singh Barniya and SP City Ajay Singh gave the assurance of talks between ASHA representatives and top officials, they agreed to hold the protest at the Secretariat. The main speaker at the meeting, AICCTU national vice president Raja Bahuguna said that after the formation of Uttarakhand State, the condition of workers, particularly working women, has become very bad. He said that the Congress and BJP both are equally guilty of neglecting the working class and Uttarakhand State has become a synonym for neglect and oppression of workers with mafia forces ruling the roost. ASHA workers, working in the most difficult conditions, are the backbone of the health sector but their just demands are totally neglected. After the historic national strike of January 20-21, the government of India was forced to give ASHA workers the status of working class. Therefore the government must ensure their permanent appointment and wage scales. Com. Bahuguna said that ever since Modi came to power, prices have skyrocketed and oppression of workers has increased manyfold. The working class must unite and fight to give a fitting reply to communal corporate fascist forces.
Union State President Kamla Kunjwal said that every government which ruled the new Uttarakhand state has broken its promises to ASHA. The Khanduri govt had promised an incentive of Rs 5000 to ASHA workers and subsequent govts had twice announced bonuses but all proved to be empty promises. She said that the announcement to give arrears on Sept 13 is a victory for us.
Union general secretary Com. Kailash Pandey said that if Sikkim, W Bengal and Jharkhand can give minimum wages to ASHA workers then why not Uttarakhand, which was formed on the strength of women workers’ sacrifices. He demanded insurance of 20 lakhs for the ASHA workers, free treatment in govt hospitals, issue of health cards, ASHA rest houses to be built in every hospital, and said the Union would strongly oppose the PPP model of hospitals.
Hundreds of ASHA workers from Nainital district, Udham Singh Nagar, Champawat, Bageshwar, Almora, Pithoragarh, and Garhwal participated in the rally. A delegation of Uttarakhand ASHA health workers’ union met the upper health secretary B.R. Arya who informed them that the govt has issued directives for Rs 5000 per year to ASHA workers. He promised to put the demands of ASHA for arrears from 2011 before the CM and assured them that this demand would also be met. He also agreed to the previously agreed Diwali bonus to be deposited in the ASHA workers’ accounts. He also promised positive action soon on the demand for minimum wages. He assured the representatives that after 28 Sep the health secretary, health director, and NRHM director would meet AICCTU and ASHA leaders and discuss all their demands.
The meeting unanimously passed the resolution that until the demands were met, ASHA workers would work wearing black bands, and if the demands were not met within 15 days, the effigy of the Chief Minister would be burnt.
Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication,
R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: mlupdate, website: www.cpiml.org