People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 04, 2001
THE National Convention organised by the National Platform of Mass Organisations expressed deep condolence over the death of about one lakh people in the devastating earthquake that rocked Gujarat on January 26.
The Convention condemns the BJP-led government at the centre for its pronouncement for a harsh budget, including increase in railway fares and freight, to cover up the expenditure for the earthquake rehabilitation.
As otherwise the government has stepped up heaping further miseries on the people in a blitzkrieg manner through the second generation of economic reforms.
While speaking of "Swadeshi" the government is allowing entry of MNCs in all sectors of the Indian economy, creating a multi-dimensional crisis in all the sectors, ignoring the opposition of all sections of the people.
The public sector is being dismantled, undermining the foundation of the self-reliant economy. All the vital sectors including power, telecom, banks, insurance and the financial sectors are being privatised and opened up for the multinationals. Disinvestment is going on in a fast track manner. Sick PSUs are being closed down instead of revival. Salaries have been withheld in the sick PSUs, which have led to suicides by some workers. The Second National Commission of Labour has been asked to recommend amendments to the labour laws to suit the policy of liberalisation. Even before the recommendations, some state governments like the Maharashtra government, has taken a move to amend the state laws. Big business and MNCs have been allowed entry even into the small-scale and tiny-scale sectors, resulting in large-scale closures of these units.
The BJP-led government has violated the agreement between the central government employees organisation and the former government. It has stopped filling up the vacancies and has abolished the vacant posts. It has imposed a further 10 per cent cut in staff strength in all departments and banned recruitment in government services, and also stayed all promotions for an unspecified period of time. A number of states pursuing the central government policy have also followed suit. The centre has further refused devolution of funds to the states, due to which many state governments are refusing parity of pay to the state government employees with those of the central government.
The Convention expresses serious concern over the judicial pronouncements banning bandhs, hartals, etc which impinge on the trade union and democratic rights of the working class and the people. At the same time such pronouncements to close down or relocate polluting units result in rendering lakhs of workers jobless. The industrialists on the contrary should be compelled to implement the environmental norms in the units.
The peasants and agricultural workers are among the worst hit. The government has refused to carry forward any land reforms. The amendment of the Patent Act will adversely affect the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as agriculture. The peasants will have to purchase even the seeds from the MNCs at high cost and which cannot reproduce themselves. It will endanger the food security of the country. In many states the peasants are committing suicide. Further, the government is withdrawing the quantitative restrictions on imports of 1429 items. This will cause unprecedented crisis in agriculture and in the SSI units. The new Agricultural Policy will bring in unprecedented crisis in agriculture. The new policy will accelerate the process of eviction of small, marginal and middle peasants and be replaced by corporate farming. They are multiplying the ranks of the agricultural labourers. The government has even refused to enact a comprehensive central legislation for the vast multitude of agricultural labourers to give them social protection or guarantee minimum wage. There has been a cut back in the subsidies given to the agricultural sector. The official agencies are not buying the agricultural produce, although the government has declared the support prices. As a result, while the peasants are deprived of remunerative prices for their produce, they are forced to sell them at extremely low prices and are groaning under indebtedness and fleeced by the system of usury. With price rise and collapse of the PDS system and growing unemployment, there is continuous growth of poverty as well.
Women continue to be blatantly discriminated against socially and in wages and employment. Sexual harassment and crime against women are on the increase. Unemployment among women is showing a steady rise. The government has not even introduced the 33 per cent Womens Reservation Bill. Despite tall talk of equality, they are not being given equal property rights and joint pattas in the name of husband and wife. Maternity benefit is not implemented. Ban on night work is being lifted. Even in various unorganised sector industries where women are in majority, as in beedi, handloom, etc identity cards are being issued in the name of their husbands only.
While prices of all commodities are increasing unabatedly, there is a galloping rise in unemployment, aggravated by rising closures. Students and youth are facing a bleak future due to the growing lack of jobs. The government had promised one crore jobs every year. But there is no employment policy at all. The Convention expresses serious concern over the growing attacks on and the killing of trade union leaders by management hirelings. It condemns the nexus between the management, police and administration.
With the globalised economy, there has been a growing offensive by the decadent imperialist culture on the Indian youth. Education is being commercialised and communalised. History is being distorted. Institutions like the ICHR, ICSSR, NCERT, etc are being filled with RSS ideologues, and textbooks are prepared with the fascistic ideology of Hindutva.
No sooner did the present BJP-led government come to power, than in a planned manner the RSS, VHP, Bajrangdal, etc, have launched and heightened the nefarious offensives on Muslims and Christians, and on the secular democratic foundation of the country and its composite culture. The government is even trying to amend the Constitution to install a presidential form of authoritarian government.
The government has undermined the Non-Aligned Movement and showed its pro-imperialist stand. This National Convention condemns the government for its entreaties to the USA to serve as its junior partner in the globalised economy
The convention therefore calls upon all the mass organisations to organise a countrywide campaign and agitation on the following demands:
The Convention calls upon all mass organisations to implement the following programme in pursuance of the above demands, uniting all sections of workers and other mass organisations of peasants, agricultural workers, students, youth and women all over the country.