ML UPDATE 9 / 2011

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 14, No. 09, 22 – 28 FEBRUARY 2011

Confessions of a CEO Prime Minister

Ahead of the budget session of Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a televised meeting with some select editors of television channels. The Prime Minister had a simple explanation for all the problems facing the country: ‘compulsions of coalition politics’. And he had a simple suggestion: the media should not pay too much attention to the scams and other problems for it affects the ‘self-confidence of the people’ and the ‘international image of the country’! The economist PM brushed aside the whole issue of the 2G scam by likening the spectrum loot to the subsidy on food, fuel and fertilizer! And he also did not forget to remind his listeners that his government would complete its term for it still had a lot of unfinished business.

In May 2009 the UPA had returned to power promising food security for the hungry and ‘inclusive growth’ for all those who have never been invited to the celebrations of economic growth. But while food security and inclusive growth still remain cruel jokes, under UPA-II, the country has had no respite from soaring prices and mega scams. The government knows it has forfeited whatever confidence the electorate may have reposed in it and it therefore asks the media not to weaken the ‘self-confidence’ of the people by focusing too much on the scams! And if the PM’s press meet was any indication, the media is only too willing to play ball. There was hardly anything asked on the issue of illicit outflow of Indian wealth abroad, estimated at Rs 240 crore every single day. Nor was any clarification sought from the PM on the issue of appointing a tainted official as the CVC!

The PM had the audacity to compare the loss to the national exchequer caused by the spectrum loot to the subsidies meant for the poor. Even if one ignores the crucial distinction between the beneficiaries in the two cases – the 2G spectrum loot only bolstered corporate coffers while the subsidies are meant to help the poor survive the onslaught of the market – how can the PM compare a budgeted subsidy to a loss caused by the non-auction of a key resource? If it is the government’s policy to allot spectrum on ‘first come, first serve’ basis and not through auction why did not the government declare that? Why did the government then go in for auction in the case of 3G spectrum, claiming credit for the revenue it yielded? Why did Manmohan Singh write to the Telecom Minister Raja in November 2007 suggesting auction of 2G spectrum if he thought it should be made available to telecom companies at subsidized rates?

The Al Jazeera correspondent of course drew the PM’s attention to the ongoing developments in the Arab world and asked if he thought such mass upsurges could also happen in India. True to his politics, Manmohan Singh expressed concern over what was happening in the Arab world before reluctantly extending his good wishes to the people of Egypt if they wanted to move towards democratization! He was however sure that there was no ‘danger’ of Egypt being replicated in India, for India is a ‘functional democracy’ where the people “already have a right to change governments”. And he seemed to be sure that the Indian people would not exercise that right against his government! “Of all the decisions that I take, 7 out of 10 turn out to be correct. The shareholders of a normal corporation will say a job well done”, said Singh.

So here we have Singh’s essential vision of democracy and his role as Prime Minister: he is the CEO of a ‘normal corporation’! Manmohan Singh and his ilk can only see politics through the corporate prism – where the government is just a service provider to those who can afford to buy that service. Not even a ‘sleeping shareholder’, the notion of a citizen has actually been reduced to that of a fee-paying customer and those who cannot afford to pay simply do not count! But India is not a ‘normal corporation’ – it is a country of more than a billion people 77% of whom live on a daily income of less than Rs. 20 while Rs. 240 crore daily migrate illegally to the safer shores of foreign banks. Manmohan Singh is a crisis manager whose way of crisis management only deepens the crisis. In 1991 he initiated the new economic policies in the name of solving the country’s balance of payments crisis. Twenty years later, there is crisis on every front, but Manmohan Singh and his ilk are doing brisk business.

The people will have to accept the challenge thrown up by Manmohan Singh. Beyond a mere change of government, the Indian people will have to rise for a change in the disastrous policies. The entire policy establishment of liberalization, privatization and globalization and its trademark products – economic crisis, megabuck scams and state-corporate assault on democracy – will have to be dismantled. In Manmohan Singh’s vocabulary, his normal corporation will have to be sent out of business. And if it needs a replication of Egypt in India, the people of India will have to rise to the occasion and foot the bill for a real change.

AISA Organises “People’s Parliament on Education”

Delhi: Students, Teachers, Educationists Reject UPA’s

Pro-Corporate, Pro-Privatization Bills on Education!

“People’s Charter on Education” Released,
Demanding Universal, State-funded Education,
Increased Budgetary Allocation for Education,
Withdrawal of PPP Models
and Offers Made by UPA to Bring Education Under the WTO/GATS Regime!!

On the first day of the budget session of Parliament (February 21st), AISA held a “People’s Parliament on Education”, along with the All India Forum for Right to Education. Several noted educationists and teachers participated at this People’s Parliament including Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Ramesh Patnaik, Dr. Soumen Chattopadhaya (JNU), Dr. Maninder Thakur (JNU), Prof. Minati Panda (JNU), Dr. VN Sharma, Dr. Ramesh Sarin (Satyawati College, DU) and Dr. Vikas Gupta (DU). The People’s Parliament was also addressed by Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML). Hundreds of students from the universities in Delhi, Allahabad University, BHU (Varanasi), AMU (Aligarh) and Lucknow University attended this Parliament and many of them also addressed the session.

This People’s Parliament was organized in the backdrop of the UPA’s attempts to further commercialise and privatise education. In the budget session that began today, the UPA proposes to table to a slew of anti-student and pro-corporate Bills. Several of the participants at the People’s Parliament discussed the repercussions of the proposed legislations, which will not just usher in a regime of corporate-driven education, but will also scuttle reservations and social inclusion in institutions of higher learning.

“These proposed legislations will mean unregulated, exorbitant fee hikes, commercialization of campus spaces and facilities like health care, halls, canteens and auditoriums, extraction of “user charges” even for basic facilities like water and electricity and a fundamental shift in focus of educational curriculum towards market-oriented courses”, said Ravi Rai, national general secretary of AISA. “Moreover, apart from converting institutions of higher learning into exclusive enclaves of the rich, social inclusion will further be scuttled since reservations will NOT be mandatory in the higher education institutions being envisaged by the proposed Bills,” added Ravi.

The proposed legislations will also herald in a regime of immunity for private players from the law of the land. Several clauses allow the government to “exempt” educational institutions from provisions of the Bills; students will no longer be able to approach district level courts or the High Courts for justice in case of violations of the law.

After a detailed discussion of the proposed legislations, the People’s Parliament rejected them. Also, the People’s Parliament adopted an alternative People’s Charter on Education. The main points in the people’s charter included:

n Curbing of privatization and commercialization: the charter demanded that the offers made by the UPA to bring education under the WTO/GATS regime. Also, the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model should be completely done away with: all state funding should be invested in state-owned institutions, and not routed through PPP projects. Fee structures of existing educational institutions should be strictly monitored, and they should not be allowed to charge exorbitant fees arbitrarily. Active steps should be taken to prevent new private players from entering the education sector. Policy initiatives aimed at commercializing campus spaces and facilities should be reversed immediately.

n Regulation of higher education institutions: The government should put an end to the mushrooming of unrecognized colleges and universities, and should tackle the lack of proper infrastructure, lack of qualified faculty, poor conditions of work, scuttling of legally mandated reservations, and increasing contractualisation in the education sector.

n Budget allocation for education: The budget allocation of education should be increased to at least 10% of Union budget, and this money should not be routed through PPP projects. It should be used to create state-funded and residential educational institutions where all basic facilities are heavily funded.

n Social inclusion in educational institutions: In order to ensure more social inclusion, a progressive admission policy (which incorporates deprivation points for students from backward areas and also for women) should be universally put in place. Also, SC/SC/OBC/PH reservations should be made universally mandatory. Madarsa certificates should be recognized and existing financial assistance schemes should be enhanced. Educational institutions should encourage students from multi-lingual backgrounds and accessibility to physically challenged students should be increased.

n Inclusion of women in education institutions: Apart from financial assistance to women students, special cells to look into issues of sexual harassment should be instituted in all colleges and universities, and moral policing of women through dress codes and restrictions of the movement of women should not be allowed.

n Campus democracy: Greater democratic participation of students in decision-making processes should be ensured, and democratization of campuses should be encouraged through a culture of debate and discussion.

Parallel Students Assembly at Davanagere, Karnataka

As a part of AISA’s all-India campaign against anti-student, anti-education bills to be introduced in the parliament, Davanagere unit of AISA organized a Parallel Students Assembly on 21 February. Thousands of signatures demanding scrapping of bills were also collected from students from many colleges. The assembly passed resolutions demanding withdrawal of anti-student measures that include introducting various bills in the parliament. The parallel assembly also condemned Yeddyurappa led BJP government for rampant corruption and scams and demanded withdrawal of government permission being accorded to the formation of various private universities in the state.

Com. Javaraiah, SLT member of CPI(ML) inaugurated the convention and Com. Rati Rao, VP of AIPWA delivered key note address. KA Oblesh, lecturer at AVK College, Virupakshappa, lecturer from RL Law College were also main speakers along with AISA state leaders Hanumanthappa and Kumar. Prasad, NEC member and Manju, NCM presided over the programme while newly elected Taluk president Rekha, Secretary Manoj, Joint secretaries Prashant and Sanjeev, district conveners Prakash and Ganesh also addressed the students. Sushma, taluk Vice-President welcomed the gathering while Santosh, HPHalli taluk president sang revolutionary songs.

CPIML-AIALA demand Special Assembly session to decide on Land Reforms Commission

On February 14 state-wide demonstrations were held by CPI(ML) and All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) in Tamilnadu demanding special session of State Assembly to decide on Land Reforms Commission in the State.

Karunanidhi Govt has utterly failed in its election promise of distributing two acre agricultural land to every landless family and instead passing the same to MNCs and big corporates by thousands of acres. In 2006 election manifesto, the DMK promised to retrieve 55 lakh acres of Govt land which were handed over previously by AIADMK’s Jayalalithaa Government (in 2003) to the corporate houses and distribute the same to the landless families in the state.

Report of the Ministry of Rural Development on land reforms has also noted this in its findings submitted to the Govt of India. But the present corruption ridden DMK government has utterly failed to honour its poll promise. Similarly about 20 lakh acres of Panchama land distributed to Dalits in the state during the colonial period were encroached by the land grabbers and even by the government institutions. Apart from seven lakhs of wet and dry lands held by Temples, Mutts and religious trusts, scores of private universities, colleges and for-profit corporate hospitals have got several hundreds of agricultural land under Land Reforms Act exemption clause.

More than 30,000 acres of agricultural land has been given to big industrial houses, operating in SEZs. TNCs like Hyundai and Nokia have cornered huge tracts of agricultural lands at throw away prices. Thanks to these reckless policies of the successive AIADMK and DMK governments agriculture is ridden with crisis. Agricultural labourers and small and marginal peasants are bearing the massive brunt of this development. Migration has become acute in TN with both in and out migration taking place in millions. Unabated price rise has compounded the woes of the poor. In this appalling situation CPIML-AIALA demanded to urgently address the land question in the state.

Owing to the decades long demand for retrieval of panchama lands and as election eve gimmick to impress the dalit electorate DMK Govt appointed a committee to go into the issue of Panchama land. In this back drop CPIML-AIALA demanded that the same Marudamuthu committee must be appointed as high-power full-fledged Land Reforms Commission as was recommended by the MRD Committee report on Land Reforms.

Employment question of the rural poor is in severe crisis. A deep and powerful resentment is seething in the country side on this issue. The implementation of the NREGA is ridden with corruption. The DMK in its 2009 Parliamentry election manifesto promised increasing 100 days under NREGA to 150 days but nowhere in the State even 100 days of employment is guaranteed. The Congress which is supporting the DMK Govt. had promised Rs.150/-day in wages. None of the promises has seen the light of the day. In this State-wide protest programme CPIML-AIALA demanded guaranteeing 200 days of employment, Rs.200/- as wage per day, and extension of the scheme to town panchayats too.

To highlight these demands CPIML-AIALA organized state wide demonstrations on 14th February. In Chennai agricultural labourers’ assembly was held. More than 300 hundred agricultural labourers and industrial workers assembled in the gathering. Chennai City Committee Secretary Com. Sekar conducted the programme. Com. Janakiraman, State General Secretary of AIALA, CPI(ML)’s Polit Bureau member Com. Kumarasamy addressed the assembly. The rural-urban workers’ assembly demanded to immediately convene a special session of State Legislature to decide on Land Reforms Commission.

In Ulundurpet, more than 300 rural workers, most of them women, took out a colorful procession and gathered in front of Taluk office where Villupuram dist. secretary and AIALA’s Dy. GS Com. Venkatesan and CPI(ML) State Committee member Ammaiyappan addressed the protesters.

Demonstrations were also held in Kumbakonam, Kandarvakkottai, Karambakudi, Kunrandarkoil of Pudukkottai district, Avathipalayam in Namakkal dist., Nellai, Madurai and Kanyakumari. Com. Ilangovan, proposed candidate for Tiruvidai Marudur constituency, Janardhanan, State president of AIALA, Kannaian, addressed the demonstrators in Kumbakonam. Com. Asaithambi, proposed candidate for Kandarvakkottai, Dy. GS of AIALA Valathan, SCM Desikan, addressed the Pudukkoattai gatherings. Venkadachalam, proposed candidate of Kumarapalayam constituency, AISA leader Govindaraj, CPI(ML) District Secretary of Namakkal addressed the protesters in Namakkal dist. Thenmozhi, proposed candidate of Nellai constituency, Sankarapandian, State Vice-president of AICCTU addressed the Nellai demonstration. In Kanyakumari and Kolachal, similar demonstration was held. Com. Anthony Muthu, the proposed candidate of Kolachal constituency and other dist. leaders addressed the protest. In Madurai, the proposed candidate of Sholavandan constituency Com. Murugesan conducted the meeting at protest and addressed by State Secretary of CPI(ML) Com. Balasundaram who demanded immediate convocation of State Legislature to fulfil the basic demands of rural poor. He also called upon the toiling people to rally in the ongoing ‘oust corrupt, treacherous Congress-DMK UPA Govt.’ campaign. He also stressed that the toiling people must defeat the anti-people and corrupt DMK-Congress alliance and reject the opportunistic AIADMK led alliance. Village level women activists narrated their experiences of struggles on the question of welfare measures of DMK Govt. Almost on every count they implicated the Karunanidhi Govt. as responsible for the pathetic condition of various measures meant for rural poor.

People’s Campaign Calls to Kick-out the Killer Vedanta and Save Selvarayan Hills

A people’s convention in Salem resolved to kick-out killer Vedanta from the Selvarayan Hills in Salem Dist. which is rich in bio-diversity and mineral resources. For the past 40 years the bauxite mining activities in the 700 acres of land by Vedanta in and around the hills has done irreparable damage to the biodiversity. Apart from destroying the flora and fauna and rare kind of species, the very existence of the Malayali tribal people numbering about 50000 is under serious threat. Though only 400 acres of land was leased in agreement Vedanta is illegally mining another 300 acres of land. Due to reckless mining more than 10,000 acres of agricultural land in the surrounding areas has been affected where agriculture has failed. Thousands of tribal youth had to migrate for employment. Young tribal girls are forced to work in spinning mills of Coimbatore on wages below minimum requirement for livelihood.

Around 50 villages out of the total 67 villages have been affected. Flouting all the rules and regulations with the connivance of top Govt. officials Vedanta amassed wealth to the tune of Rs.3000 crores from mining activities here. Apart from evading the village taxes, 300 cores to the State Govt and 151 cores due to the State Electricity Board has been evaded.

A fact finding team comprising of political activists, from different organisations, journalists and environmentalists toured the hills, met with people and also geologists of Vedanta on 12 December, 2010. Through RTI, materials were collected from different departments and institutions.

Pastors of the Church there (who had fought against Vedanta – MALCO) also came in support of the initiative and shared information and documents with the team. A comprehensive report prepared by the team was released to the press on 23-01-2011. The Tamil version of the report was released for the public on 13-02-2011.

A Convention was held in which tribal activists, tribal leaders of TN (Malayali) Peravai, professors, scholars, junior scientists, students, workers, political activists from CPI, CPIM, CPI(ML) and other ML stream, Periyar Diravidar Kazhagam, literary activists, and journalists attended the Convention. The report was released by Balamurugan, PUCL state leader and novelist.

Apart from many activists representing different organisations, Comrade Balasundaram, State Secretay of CPI(ML) also addressed the Convention calling upon the activists and people to intensify people’s movement to kick-out the Killer Vedanta to save the Selverayan hills.

‘Oust DMK-UPA’ Campaign Launched in Tamil Nadu

On 13 February, ‘oust the corrupt and unreliable DMK-Congress UPA’ campaign was launched. Comrades Chandramohan, CPI(ML)’s State Committee member, Mohanasundaram, Salem Dist. Secretary, Ayyandhurai, AICCTU, Natarajan, District leader of Construction Workers Union, Viji of Manuda Viduthalai Panpattu Kazhagam and others spoke. State secretary Com. Balasundarm called upon the people to defeat DMK-Congress alliance, reject opportunistic AIADMK alliance and to support and strengthen the CPI(ML). This was the first program in the State launching ‘oust UPA’ campaign.

Seminar against Privatization of Health Serveices

Medical Workers Union Affiliated to All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) organised a seminar against privatization of health services and a workshop on the condition of health employees working at private medical facilities and centres at Nirala Auditorium in Allahabad University on 6th February. The Seminar was inaugurated by Comrade Kumudini Pati who made a comparison between the utterly cruel policies of privatization of health and medical facilities on the one hand and Rs.20/day as only means for survival for 840 million Indians on the other hand. On top of this, people’s doctor Binayak Sen who has been struggling for providing health care to poor tribal people are being implicated on false charges and jailed. She called upon the people for building massive opposition to these developments.

Comrade Ramkishan, General Secretary of All India Health Employees Federation was the main speaker at the seminar. Veteran write Neelkant, Comrades RP Kaithal, KK Pandey, Harshankar Tiwari, Subroto Bannerjee and Anil Verma also spoke apart from several other representatives of various left and democratic trade unions. In the end a ten point resolution was passed.

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

MLU-14-09.pdf

MLU-14-09.doc

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