In a talk given to Workers’ Party members in Dublin, Varghese Joy, President of Kranthi Ireland, reports on the current political situation in India and the work of the Communist Party of India Marxist in combating the attacks on workers, farmers and minorities by the BJP government.
India is currently ruled by a semi-fascist, extreme right-wing Hindutua Government lead by Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). During the election, Modi promised that India would become the fastest growing economy in the world, the rupee would gain ground against other currencies, exports would boom and investors, both foreign and domestic, would flock to the country and make India a manufacturing hub.
From the outset, Modi’s government has obsessed about the ‘ease of doing business’ – a euphemism for subverting the rights of workers, tribals and anybody else who is a hurdle in the unrestricted loot by corporate interests and for turning a blind eye to environmental concerns. Billions of rupees of bank loans of corporations have been written off. It has spread out the red carpet for foreign capital in a way that puts to shame even earlier governments who were committed to neoliberal policies.
By the government’s own data, the growth rate of GDP at market prices has fallen from 8.2 percent in 2015-16 to 7.1 percent in 2016-17 and further to 6.6 percent in 2017-18. And this is at a time when the global economic environment has actually been extremely conducive to growth. Most developed countries including the US have in this period seen their economies recovering from a slump and oil prices have been unusually low. India’s exports have actually fallen from the pre-2014 levels.
Attacks on workers and farmers
Of all the sectors shattered by Modi Goverment, the one most affected is the agricultural sector which has been trampled by the pro-corporate policies of Modi. While the workers and the common people find it difficult to balance their meagre budgets because of price rises, particularly of food items, the peasants are not getting remunerative prices for their produce. The agricultural workers can’t get work in the villages. Land is being forcibly grabbed from the peasants and handed over to the corporations and land mafia. Adivasis are being displaced and driven out from the forests. Farmers, particularly the poor farmers, do not have access to cheap institutional credit. Thousands of peasants continue to commit suicide. It may be hard for you to believe this but the Times of India reports that over 12,000 farmers suicides have been reported every year since 2013.
The basic rights of workers are being attacked by amending the labour laws in favour of the employers, in the name of improving the “Ease of Doing Business’. The democratic rights of all sections of people are being attacked. Attacks on dalits, minorities, women and children have increased across the country. The term “Dalit” denotes people belonging to the lower caste. The caste system in India is a very peculiar entity which is inextricably linked to the social fabric of the country. Marx had a very good understanding of this. He says in Capital, “this division of labour is a necessary condition for the production of commodities, but it does not follow, conversely, that the production of commodities is a necessary condition for the division of labour. In the primitive Indian community there is a social division of labour, without production of commodities”.
Increasing communal violence opposed by the CPIM
Communal forces are spreading hatred among the people. They are trying to dictate and control the lives of people and impose their way of thinking on the entire country. Instead of taking firm measures to control these forces that divide and disrupt the unity of the people, Modi’s government is actively patronising them.
Mob attacks and lynching muslims and dalits to death by cow vigilantes is another growing trend in India. Hundreds of people have been killed in North India by cow vigilantes in the name of various Hindu organisations under the umbrella of Sangh Parivar. The last two months have seen a spate of mob attacks and lynchings in different parts of the country. This wave of shocking violence has led to the killing of at least 30 innocent people in 10 states over the months of May and June.
Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPIM) organises protests at various levels against the BJP Government. The most remarkable ones are the struggles organised by the All India Kisan Sabha which is the farmer’s division of CPIM. In Maharashtra state, over 50,000 farmers marched 180 km to reach Mumbai requesting the waiving off their bank loans and the guarantee of a minimum price for their crops. The Maharashtra state succumbed to the farmers protest. Similarly, Kissan sabha has organised various marches across the country with thousands of farmers.
Another means of protest employed by CPIM is by using the parliament through its members being the voice of the toiling masses, farmers, dalits, students, muslims and the various marginalised sectors in the country. Comrade Sitaram Yechuty, General Secretary of CPIM, who was a member of parliament until few months ago, unleashed democratic warfare in the parliament. Yechury visited Ireland in May this year to take part in Kranthi’s May Day Comemmoration.
CPIM leads the way in Kerala
CPIM is currently ruling the southern state of Kerala which, through its excellent performance, is setting the standard for other states in many regards. Kerala’s health-related indicators are akin to Europe and America. Average life expectancy at birth in Kerala is 75 years which is the highest in the country. The Indian Express reported in 2017 that infant mortality rate (IMR) in Kerala is 6/1000 live births which equalled the USA whereas the average Indian IMR is 41/1000. The left government in Kerala has brought about radical reforms like housing and electricity for all, old age and retired farmers and widow pensions were doubled and delivered at people’s door steps.
The first Communist government in Kerala which came to power in 1957 was one of the first Communist goverments to come into power through election. Since then, whenever they have been in power they have brought radical changes to society. Kerala was the first state where the land reform act was enacted which took the land from feudal landlords and handed it over to farmers. Kerala was the first state to achieve 100% literacy rate in 1991 through the magnificient efforts of the left government at the time.
However, the CPIM has not yet been successful in getting the people’s support in most of the north Indian states. Hopefully, through the recent success in bringing thousands of farmers into protesting against the cronyism of BJP Goverment, the CPIM will be able to achieve more public confidence in the north.