Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Brief Report on the Adivasi Rally on April 24 at the heart of Kolkata

[A rally was organized in Kolkata on 24 April in solidarity of Lalgarh movement. Pleople of Lalgarh under the leadership of People's Committee Against Police Atrocities have been boycotting police. Thousands of people from Lalgarh and adjacent areas came on 24 April to participate in the rally. People of Kolkata and representatives of different mass organizations also participated. Although Red Barricade was in the rally, due to unavoidable circumstances, we did not able to publish pictures and report of it. However, Sanhati has published report along with pictures. We request you to visit. We also publish the report from Sanhati.]

Koustav De, Sanhati. April 25, 2009
The rally was a huge success with adivasis from across Midnapore, Puruliya and other areas of Jangal Khand participating in numbers. It was an enormous rally, next only to the rally on November 14, 2007. However there were several obstacles: a large number of adivasis were not allowed to join the rally and their buses were stopped and the drivers heckled by the police. Reportedly some 150 buses came from Lalgarh area alone. The rally was participated by people from Nandigram, Khejuri, Singur, Puruliya, Bankura, Asansole and several other regions.
A clear point was made as to the spirit of the adivasi movement and it’s mass base. The theme was to make a call upon all people to protest against state violence all over. And the call was thoroughly successful.
Trouble broke out near Kalamandir when six buses from Lalgarh unloaded it’s passengers and were returning. The police stopped the empty buses and demanded bribe (which happens to be the common practice for buses from outside Kolkata); when they refused the police dragged a driver out, beat him up and broke a glass of that bus. The other drivers informed the adivasi passengers who had alighted and were moving in a rally towards the meeting point. Soon some 1500 people gathered and blockaded the road in protest. They demanded immediate apology and compensation for the harassment and damage.
At the other end, the rally was being addressed from a stage near the decided point at Esplanade. As the news of trouble near Kalamandir came in, a team left to look into the matter. Even as a beautiful program, combining speeches and adivasi songs and dance was going on, in sharp contrast a heated exchange was going on between demonstrators and the police. The police decided to wait and watch thinking that the people who has traveled some six hours already were going to loose all their energy with time. However the protesters were adamant that without an apology they would not budge.
As the program at Esplanade ended, everyone decided to stand by the sit-in at Kalamandir and decided to blockade at Esplanade. Overcoming some minor obstacles and provocations of the police and the RAF, thousands of adivasis blocked the heart of Kolkata. The two groups at Esplanade and Kalamandir co-ordinated and decided that a consolidated blockade will be continued into the night at Esplanade. As the massive rally from Kalamandir arrived at Esplanade, their anger was quite visible and the RAF decided to keep safe distance and retreated. From the evening, well into the night the heart of Kolkata was virtually occupied by the people of Jangal Mahal. Media flocked in and their voices were heard. The police decided that it was no longer safe to assume that their enthusiasm would burn out. Chatradhar Mahato got a call from the commissioner and soon a high ranking police official was sent to Esplanade to receive the complain. The complain was received and the official agreed to look into the matter and punish the police officer responsible after a enquiry, within seven days. The people erupted in slogans and rallied towards Sahid Minar where the buses were parked.

Maoism or Mao Thought?

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Call of May Day

[We have received a leaflet of Sangrami Sramik Sangathan (Struggling Workers' Organization). It is of significance in current context towards building and forwarding class struggle in favour of toiling masses. We are publishing it.]

Liberation does not come with election--but, only through REVOLUTION

Friends and Comrades,

International labour day, the May Day of this year is a matter of days to come. Let us hail the struggle of 1986 of Chicago’s Hay Market that is written in blood in the history; pay our homage to the martyrs of May Day. Every year working class and exploited, downtrodden and toiling masses of the whole world celebrate May Day as the day to organize themselves against exploitation and repression; and to flare themselves to build struggle with full enthusiasm. We do swear that we will move ahead following the lessons of May Day.

Meanwhile, in India, 15th parliamentary election is under the way. Starting from 15th April, it will continue till 13th May in five phases. The market of electoral politics is hot now. The election is being held in a time when whole capitalist world including US, Europe and Japan is under great depression or crisis. The production is on the verge of collapse; banking system is at stake; millions of people are the victims of job cut. Capitalism is stagnant world-wide.

In our country thousands of factories have been closed since long. Now, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are being constructed for the interest of MNCs and big comprador capitalists. Hailing it as development and industrialization the apologists of electoral politics are shouting a lot.

Our India is an agro-economy-centric country with large population. Our agricultural production is still backward. Has capitalist investment that has happened in capitalist country, taken place in India? Whatever 'high yielding' seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and agro-machines are being used, have been used for the sake of imperialist exploitation through MNCs. In reality, large backward rural areas and its great population is sunk under extreme poverty. The basic needs, namely food, clothing, shelter, education and health care are not secured in their lives.

Then what type of development has been taken place from 1947 to 2009? In simple words, our beloved India remains as the land under severe imperialist exploitation. It is not justified to call India as independent. Whomever we cast our votes, whoever gets elected in election—cannot make us free from imperialist chains.

Parliamentary parties are the running dogs of imperialism. The say "Casting vote is the democratic right". On the other hand, in the current system usury, hoarding etc. prevail; that means feudalism in different forms exists in our society. Therefore, voices are becoming louder at different corners supporting the call "Election boycott is a democratic right".

The backward rural India has to take the path of true development which is productive in true sense. The purchasing power of millions of Indian has to be increased. Then, there will be no hurdle towards the industrialization as it will be to satisfy the need of 100 crore (one billion) people. Under the circumstances, all closed factories could be opened again; crores (Millions) of youth will get job in their hands.

True development and industrialization could take place through the efforts of workers-peasantry and toiling masses under the leadership of working class following the abolition of feudalism-imperialism. And for the establishment of new democratic society with socialist orientation, the agrarian revolutionary struggles of Andhra-Bihar-Dandakaranya-Jharkhand and West Bengal’s Bankura-Purilia-West Midnapur and Sundarban have been moving fast passing over many turns and cross-roads.

Let us grasp the path of agrarian revolution throwing away the illusion of parliamentary politics; let us take side with the peasant-struggles of Lalgarh and Nandigram. Let us raise our voice to start production in all closed factories at the earliest. Let us build unity and resistance against job cut and low wage; continue the struggle for eight hours working day; raise our voice against excessive work-load. In different corners, let us build up Sangrami Sramik Sangathan (Struggling Workers' Organization). Let us drive out treacherous trade union leadership from political arena; snatch the great red flag of May Day from traitors.

With struggling greetings,
Sangrami Sramik Sangathan
(Struggling Workers' Union)
10 April 2009
Published by Com. Biren Sarkar on Behalf of Kolkata-North 24 PGS Industrial Area Committee of Sangrami Sramik Sangathan.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Do Indian People Have Faith On Indian Parliament?

The fifteenth parliamentary election has started. In the first phase ~60% voting was observed. In last 14 parliamentary elections the highest voting percentage was observed in 1984 and that was only 63.56%. In the last election, held on 2004 only 53% citizen casted their vote. Does it mean something? It simply means that Indian people are not actually integrated with the parliamentary system leaving almost half of Indian outside of it.

We have shown in our previous posts how the parliamentary parties manage their funds—mostly from the big companies and how many facilities a Member of Parliament enjoys. At the same time, we are fully aware that keeping people in dark the government very often takes decision, which are harmful to common people. Sometimes it does not even care to sick approval from parliament. The Indian parliament does not work in favour of people, does not keen to protect the national interest.

In the daily life, people feel that there is not a single parliamentary party which can bring change in the lives of common people. The election is just a matter of putting some individuals in power, who will enjoy bonanza for the next five years and then rest of their lives—even the wealth they accumulate in five years could be sufficient to maintain their next generations. So, form their experiences, the people feel reluctant to visit the polling booths.

Then what will be the task of progressive-democratic people of India? Should they take part in propaganda to inspire people to cast their vote? Or, to expose the character of Indian parliament which in turn increase apathy towards parliament among people?

Let us discuss this issue. Many people in the progressive-democratic camp, who do not believe that any fundamental change could be brought through election, believe that people should take part in election as it makes them politically conscious. The fallacy of this argument actually lies in the hidden proposition that only through the electoral campaign political consciousness comes. In contrast, political conscious actually comes only through the exposure of character of political economy of the society, character of state and through the understanding of the socio-economic foundation of the society. It is important to grasp conceptually that pressing a button in electronic voting machine (EVM) is actually not the democracy at all. Democracy means a system which serves the interest of majority. While government, irrespective of the parties it constitute, always takes decision in favour of MNCs-Big companies and feudal lords, pressing bottom in EVM actually mockery to democracy. The important decisions like petroleum price hiking, tax exemption to big companies, acquisition of land from farmers, opening of the national market to MNCs are not taken with the consent of people. Rather, the electoral victory of a particular party is used to make the people understand that the majority of people gave their consent towards these policies. Interestingly, it has been found that in the last parliamentary election, the Congress, the big brother of UPA government, secured a meager 26.53 % of casted vote. It shows that the government actually represents only a small fraction of people. Moreover, just to secure that support it has to spend huge amount of money.
Therefore, the task of the progressive-democratic-conscious people of India is to expose the reactionary, anti-people character of Indian parliament; how it has been used by the MNCs-big companies and feudal forces to make people fool—serving for minority in the name of majority.
Actually the bourgeoisie parliament is the political superstructure of independent capitalist system. In India, the parliamentary superstructure has been imposed while keeping its neo-colonial-semi-colonial-semi-feudal foundation intact. Therefore, there is a mismatch and this mismatch is being reflected in the apathy of Indian people towards parliamentary election. Under the circumstances, the task of progressive-democratic camp of India is not to raise the flag of Indian parliament, not to encourage people for the parliamentary election, but to expose its true character and to support the efforts of Indian people to abolish feudalist and imperialist exploitation. Only through the accomplishment of the victory of new-democratic revolution, which is anti-feudal and anti-imperialist in character, democracy in true sense can be established in India.
There is no short-cut rode to it.

Salary and Facilities of member of Indian Parliament

On paper, the salary of an MP in India is Rs 144,000 per year (about $3,200), which works out to just Rs 12,000 (about $266) per month.
But it is meagre only if you don't consider the numerous allowances and freebies an MP is entitled to. Here is a look at the allowances and perks that every MP -- India has 790 of them -- enjoys.

Each Indian MP gets:

Rs 14,000 (about $311) for office expenses every month, which includes Rs 3,000 for stationary items, Rs 1,000 on franking of letters and Rs 10,000 for secretariat services.
A monthly constituency allowance of Rs 10,000.
A daily allowance of Rs 500 when Parliament is in session. Parliament has three sessions every year. The Budget Session (February to May), Monsoon session (July to September), and Winter session (November and December).
A daily travel allowance of Rs 8 per kilometre.
Each MP and his spouse or companion are entitled to unlimited, free, first class railway travel anywhere in the country.
They can also travel anywhere in India -- with a spouse or companion -- 40 times by air free of cost every year, business class.
An MP gets a sprawling bungalow in the heart of New Delhi for which he pays a rent of just Rs 2,000 (about $44) per month.
Each MP gets near-free electricity of 50,000 units every year. And free water.
The MP's bungalow is furnished -- with air conditioners, refrigerators and television sets -- free of cost. Maintenance of the house -- including washing of sofa covers and curtains -- is done free of cost by the government.
MPs are entitled to three phone lines and 170,000 free local calls every year.
When an MP travels abroad officially, he is entitled to free business class air tickets. He is also paid a daily travelling allowance, which varies depending upon the country being visited.
Most medical expenses of MPs are taken care of by the Contributory Health Service Scheme of the Union government.
Each MP also gets Rs 20 million (about $434,782) each year from the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Fund. But the MP does not get the money directly. Instead, it is transferred to respective district headquarters where projects are being implemented.
After an MP completes a term in office, he is entitled to pension. The basic monthly pension amount is Rs 3,000 (about $66). But it goes up according to the number of years an MP has served in Parliament.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India last year alleged that many MPs have violated norms in the usage of this money.


Friday, April 10, 2009

In West Bengal, Lalgarh tribals resist police entry

The people in Lalgarh have been resisting the entry of police and paramilitary forces in their area since November. Their major grievance is that in the name of tackling Maoists’ threat, the police often harass and arrest innocent tribal youth.

The state administration was forced to to yield some major concessions, including withdrawal of paramilitary forces from the area, following stubborn resistance put up by the tribals. Now, the administration wants to deploy police personnel in that region as part of its election preparedness.

But the tribals are not giving in. Chhatradhar Mahato, the leader of the Committee Against Police Atrocities, who rushed to Kolkata to mobilise support for their cause, told Business Standard “people want elections. But we don’t want police to come in. In the name of holding elections, the police and CPI(M) cadres will try to take control and capture our area. We will definitely resist that.”

State home secretary Ardhendu Sen said: “Our priority is to hold elections there. We know Maoists are still operating there. If it leads to confrontation, what can we do?”

Elections in Lalgarh, which comes under the Jhargram Lok Sabha (ST) constituency, is scheduled on April 30. Pulinbehari Baske of the CPI(M) is pitted against Congress candidate Amrit Hansda in this seat. Aditya Kisku, the leader of a splinter group of the Jharkhand Party is also contesting. The CPI(M) has been winning this seat for many years without much contest. According to Chhatradhar, “Despite our efforts, both the factions of the Jharkhand Party are determined to put up their candidates, thereby dividing the opposition vote.”

Lalgarh, which shares a border with Jharkhand, has witnessed increasing Maoist attacks in the past few years. According to the state home department, there have been enough evidences that the Maoists are active behind the tribal agitation there.

However, Chhatradhar denies this strongly, saying “This canard has been going on since the 1990s. But this is an attempt to deflect the focus from the deplorable condition of tribals here.”

It is alleged that the tribals in Lalgarh were subjected to regular harassment by forest officials and the local police. Yet, they stood by the Left steadily all through the past 30 years.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

G20 Summit protest in London

Bloody clashes mark first day of G20 protests

London: Windows of the Royal Bank of Scotland were smashed amid clashes between the police and thousands of protesters who converged in London on Wednesday to vent public anger over economic meltdown, recession and climate change before world leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, gathered for the G-20 Summit.
The RBS is one of the beleaguered banks that has been rescued by millions of pounds of state funds. Protesters also converged on the Bank of England in thousands with slogans such as 'Swindlers List', 'Financial Fools day and 'Storm the Banks'.
A security officer was injured when a protester hit him with a large pole, while several people were arrested in various parts of London as world leaders prepared for the one-day G-20 summit that starts on Thursday.
The protests were mainly prompted by anger at bankers' role in the global economic meltdown, resulting in job cuts and major losses in the value of savings and pensions. Protests were also held outside the US embassy against the war in Iraq.
The largest demonstration was held outside the Bank of England, where four protest marches converged. A group of officers was forced to retreat behind metal crowd barriers outside the bank, apparently because of the crush of the crowd in front of them.
Fruits, empty beer cans and other missiles were thrown towards police as red smoke rose above the crowd. One injured protester was seen shouting at police officers who had formed a line in front of them.
Protesters also set up tents outside the European Climate Exchange for a camp aimed at demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the global approach to tackling climate change.
Many shops and businesses closed for the day, while those that remained open were braced for violence.
Protester Adam Lambert, 25, said: "I'm here with the Stop the War Coalition because we think the G20 are not representing the ordinary people in the world. We think they are representing the rich".
"Every day we hear of billions being given to bankers and billions are being spent on wars. We want to demonstrate today to say we are not going to put up with this and the G20 should represent us. I think people are angry and they want to show their anger," Lambert said.
The police stopped and questioned about half a dozen demonstrators who were travelling in an armoured vehicle and dressed in helmets and overalls.