Dr. N. Bhattacharya
In January this year the media reported the dismal conditions in which homeless citizens were sleeping on the pavements of the capital in the coldest nights of December and January (with the temperature almost reaching freezing point and most of them were malnourished and sick). There was nothing new in this event because it is a normal daily event in the India of the 21st Century. Like previous years lot of people died this year too, and no one reported their numbers or bothered to count them. Surprisingly the Supreme Court intervened on this report and within 24 hours shelters were arranged by the authorities for around 1,50,000 homeless people who sleep throughout the year on the city’s pavements. The court also wanted, without mentioning any timeframe, that night shelters are to be provided in the rest of the country. Are we ashamed that this still happens in India after 63 years of Independence! The ‘inclusive growth with a human face’ promised by the mainstream political parties is to be found only in the school text books, while in real life 'aam admi’ (common man) is still suffering unbearable humiliation from continued unemployment, unbearable hunger and spending nights under the sky whether it rains or is freezing! How long will the Indian society tolerate such an insult to human life and dignity? Which law in the country allows the government to behave in such a cruel and negligent manner?
The Friends of Imperialism
The British took into confidence some randomly selected elites of this country and without any form of referendum or ascertaining public opinion divided their colony into two pieces and handed them over to their selected brokers cum agents. The British imperialists played according to their own game plan. Starting from 1946 both Hindus and Muslims were killing each other on the partition of this subcontinent.
During last 60 years India and Pakistan have fought three and half wars, with Pakistan being backed by USA and other European warmongers. Today both USA and Pakistan are in a mess fighting the same monsters they themselves created to take possession of Afghanistan from Soviet Union and to create eternal trouble for India. USA itself revealed that terrorist attack on 26.11.08 on Indian soil was masterminded by one Headley of USA and one Rana of Canada both having old connections with the US establishment! Many of our rulers are indebted to the USA for offering them opportunities like jobs in the World Bank, IMF and so on. Today USA maintains strong connections with the Indian mainstream political parties (the latest instance being to award the Padma Vibhusan to a person known for lobbying in USA). The politicians of India can’t take any rational stand on international issues without tactical approval from US even on the issue concerning country’s sovereignty. People of India were made to believe that after independence every Indian will live in this country with dignity and honour of a civilised human being.
Britain does not have any written Constitution, but the new rulers in India adopted a written Constitution and agreed to follow the ‘Westminster style of democracy’ and the Judiciary followed the Anglo-Saxon legal system. During the last six decades, every elected Government constituted under oath of this Constitution have willingly refused to implement not only the various provisions but even the ‘preamble’ of this constitution that state to ‘provide a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic’, then what is the credibility of such governments that wilfully dishonour its own constitution?
Members of the Election Commission are selected by the parties in power and not by any impartial body accountable to the nation. They are responsible for conducting elections but there is no law to stop criminals from contesting elections. Money and muscle power are the popular means to get elected to state assemblies or parliament. ‘Paid news’ has become one of the most important sources of income for the corporate ‘media’ during elections. Air transport by corporate sponsored planes is increasingly used by leaders of all political parties. Parliament and state legislatures are the best forums to stage wrestling and goondaism (hooliganism). Money exchanged within chambers of Parliament is telecasted live on all channels, without any regret or punishment.
The Table I demonstrates that the highest percentage of successful candidates were those who had declared asset value of more than 5 crore, while only 17 that is a paltry 0.43 percentage of winners came from the group with an asset value of less than 10 lakhs. ‘Am admi’ cannot dream even to contest election in this largest democracy of the world!
Number of candidates who contested election for the Lok Sabha in 2009 and their declared Assets.
|Declared Assets (Rs)||Number of
|More than 5 crores||343||112||32.65|
|50 lakh to 5 crores||1592||294||18.47|
|10 lakh to 50 lakh||1911||120||6.28|
|Less than 10 lakh||3964||17||0.43|
(Source: Election Watch)
Judiciary: Justice for Whom?
The state of Indian judicial system is also no better than the other pillars of democracy. Cases against habitual criminals are kept pending for years without any judgement being pronounced. The judiciary’s stand is that cases keep pending due to excessive numbers. The Ruchika Girhotra molestation and murder case that involved a 14 year old girl and a high ranking police official is a glaring example of the rot that has crept into this system. A simple case of ‘Murder and Molestation’ of this minor has dragged on for 19 years. The child was forced to commit suicide in utter humiliation and at the end this ‘criminal’ police official (convicted for only 6 months) wanted to avoid punishment on the plea that he is sick and an old man! He will take advantage of the law and postpone his punishment. Then can anyone have any respect left for the system called ‘rule of law’?
In 2005 Prabhu Shankar Agarwal, co-owner of the Rs 500-crore Haldiram Bhujiawala (fried products) unsuccessfully tried to eliminate an ordinary teashop owner by hiring paid killers. The only crime of this teashop owner was that he had refused to close down his teashop inherited from his father and leave the place. This businessman had wanted that his shop should look beautiful without the teastall around it!
After five long years, the accused was convicted and sentenced to jail. Under Anglo-Saxon legal process it will go to Supreme Court and when and what the last decision will be no one knows!
The carnage caused in 1984 on the Sikh community is yet to be decided by the judiciary! Shall we not demand time-bound decisions otherwise the judicial officers should be prosecuted. Judges are paid salary by taxpayer’s money and they should do their duty to the satisfaction of the people of this country. A retired Supreme Court Judge revealed that a large number of Supreme Court judges were corrupt. Otherwise, how being a shareholder of a Company (i.e. one of the owners) a person dares to sit in the bench which has to decide cases related to that particular company! Judges are not ashamed to invoke the Law of Contempt of British days if someone mentions such unimaginable malpractices practiced by the learned judges! Due to continuous debate in the country only recently some judges have started disclosing some information about their assets! Who can then assure that people of India are in safe hands of Judiciary – one of the pillars of Indian Democracy?
Corruption and Democracy
In a recent investigation Income Tax officials found huge undisclosed cash and other assets from the houses of three senior IAS officials in Bhopal and Raipur the capital of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh respectively. While the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh immediately suspended the officers, the Chief Minister of Chattisgarh was too busy in killing innocent tribals in Bastar and refused to act on the corruption issue. Tribals themselves are struggling on this issue against his government. How it is possible that the chief ministers of these states coming from same political parties did not know about the activities of their senior secretaries working right under them? Will civil society praise such law and order?
The first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru declared he would hang blackmarketeers, hoarders and criminals on the lampposts, but did nothing. The poor don’t even have purchasing power to buy even the subsidised substandard rice and wheat from the Public Distribution System (PDS). Below Poverty line (BPL) ration cards are kept by the dealers and the genuine card holders are denied ration on one pretext or the other. Dealerships of ration shops are mainly given to the ruling party’s politicians or cadres. In several villages of West Bengal the frustrated BPL card holders on being denied the ration raided the godowns of the ration shop dealers and took away all the grains.
The income of politicians, hoarders and black marketeers multiply manifold by creating artificial scarcity of essential commodities. In 2009-10 protests were organized by the political parties of all hues on the issue of price rise of essential commodities! They think that people of this country are naïve enough so as not to know that these political parties are funded by the same cartels who are involved in hoarding and speculative commodity trading and the agitations are pure and simple dramas to befool people. These anti-social business classes are allowed to carry on such activities by all the political parties else their associations always threaten to move away from the state and go to that state where their criminal activities will be protected. Tata went from Singur, (West Bengal) and immediately were rehabilitated in Gujarat. Now farmers in that state too are agitating against land acquisition. In the 1960s the people in West Bengal started ‘gherao, bandh etc’ against the exploitation of the capitalists. As a result the industrial houses shifted their base from Bengal to other industrial friendly states and crippled the economy of Bengal. This may be the reason why even the Left Front government in West Bengal never disturbs any business house despite the fact that industrialists and traders carry on all forms of illegal and corrupt activities as they do in rest of the country. This is the real face of ‘rule of law’ in independent India!
In January 2010 potatoes in Delhi were sold at Rs 10-12 per kg, but in West Bengal and other places farmers refused to harvest them as the price in the market fetched only Rs 2 per kg that did not even met the cost of production. Where is the warehousing for these crops and state intervention so that all crops produced are not wasted due to manipulation by middlemen? Globalisation presupposes fair play in the market but the markets are controlled by oligarchies and they are the real ‘terrorists’ enjoying respectable positions in society fully protected by political masters. Some businessmen were caught in W. Bengal immediately after partition days while adulterating poisonous seeds with wheat in preparation for atta (flour) and the first Chief Minister, a Gandhian, ordered such criminals to jail. On complaint from the traders’ association, Delhi intervened, changed the Chief Minister and legalised adulteration. In Delhi the then BJP chief minister failed to stop adulteration of mustard oil and several people were reported to have become blind after consuming the adulterated oil! Criminals are enjoying the fruits of the non-existence of ‘rule of law’ in independent India!
To whom this Government is accountable and which Constitution are they following? Even animals may get something to eat in the jungle, but in 21st Century India the poor neither have food nor shelter. They were told to feel ‘India shining’ when the NDA government was in power but people rejected them. The UPA government changed the wordings and called it ‘Incredible India’. The new Hindu Rate of Growth of 7 to 8 percent per annum during the reform period (1991 onwards) appears glittering against the 3.5 percent growth rate during the first 4 decades after independence. However, during the reform period the agricultural growth rate has been dismally low and has even witnessed negative growth. With such high overall growth rate the Government’s revenues have increased enormously. A huge amount of dollars (around 300 billion US dollars) is lying idle with RBI as foreign exchange reserve. The RBI has recently purchased lot of gold from the IMF. India is getting around 10 to 12 billion USA dollars on an average every year as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) against 80 billion USA dollars in China. The saving rate is also quite satisfactory hovering around 35 to 36 percent (though in 2008/09 it had gone down to 32 percent). To adhere to the constitutional obligation of reducing the gap between the haves and the have-nots the government was urged to give priority to and make additional investments in agriculture and social sectors but our capitalist money bag carrier government favoured ‘economic reform’ through Globalisation, Privatisation and Liberalisation as dictated by their imperialist masters. They thought that this would increase the size of the national cake and the government will be able to spend more and more resources to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.
In reality something else is happening. The US magazine Forbes shows a list of 53 US dollar billionaires from India with their total net worth around 31 percent of country’s GDP. Rajus of Satyam created a ripple among the Indian corporate honchos, because almost all the business houses, both Indian and foreign, are experts in ‘window dressing’ their financial statements. The Ambanis officially used to have two Profit and Loss Account statements each year. One for the shareholders and other for Corporate Taxes and it was accepted by the government. Price Waterhouse Coopers, a multinational auditing firm, was found certifying wrong accounts but even then they were allowed to do business in India. The multinationals are given all sorts of concessions to earn higher and higher profits. Indian businessmen are allowed to bring money via the Mauritius route called Foreign Institutional Investments (FII) without paying any tax! To evade tax, money is kept in Swiss Banks and other financial tax havens. The government is fully aware who these tax evaders are but it does not want to take any action. The United States charged UBS, the largest such bank in Switzerland of having deposits of tax evaders of USA and it had to disclose the details of such accounts. The G20 countries have agreed that banks don’t enjoy any such privilege of ‘secrecy’ and they are bound to disclose if it is required by governments. But our government doesn’t want to take any action because the people running these governments are themselves depositors of money in these foreign banks. The economic reform that started in India was not really to benefit the ‘am admi’ of India, it was for the benefit of a small section of may be 5 to 10 percent or even of smaller number of people of this country!
Now it is time that these beneficiaries of the government’s reform policies have to tell the people their individual annual assets as disclosed before the Income Tax authorities. Income Tax is public money and every Indian has a right to know how people are accumulating wealth over the years and from which sources. Banks have to inform who the defaulters are and not paying back their debt and what action they have taken. Hitherto it was being avoided as legal obligation not to disclose personal secret transactions between a bank and it customers, but now under the new Right to Information, as banks are public service organisations, they cannot keep such details secret. Moreover this is no longer acceptable today in view of large-scale sufferings of the common masses the world over due to the massive wilful wrong doing of the financial institutions. The Reserve Bank of India under the RBI Act is supposed to be an independent regulatory body, but its Governors are appointed by the party in power and the organisation functions as an extension counter of the Ministry of Finance. A retired governor of RBI is the chairman of Economic Advisory Committee of the PM. Economy’s fiscal policies are implemented by Ministry of Finance and monitory policies are not to be dictated by the same government that is why a separate Act was passed to form RBI. When will the regulatory bodies start functioning as independent bodies as required under their relevant Acts? It is clear that present chaos of Financial Capitalism is primarily due to the virtual wilful failure of the regulatory mechanism. Till capitalism is replaced by socialism, regulatory bodies will have to act and act independently.
The official high growth rate in the economy during the last 2 decades of economic reform was simply ‘jobless’ growth’. Since 2008 millions of workers have been sacked or lost their job and there are no official figures for the job loss that occurred during this period. Our industrialists and Ministers participate in the annual jamboree of the Economic Summit at Davos, Switzerland, the Indian PM is invited to attend the G-20 meetings but we don’t know what the unemployment figure was after the deep depression in 2008 and what the situation of employment now is when India claims that it has crossed the recession hurdle. In the U.S. unemployment is hovering in double digits, in Japan and EU the situation is no better, but the exact unemployment situation in India is kept secret as a matter of policy and there is no plan to provide jobs at least to the educated and skilled manpower. When will this country start providing unemployment insurance to job seekers?
MNREGS: Is It Really Helping the Poor?
The government is celebrating the 4th year of MNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) and claims to have spent approximately Rs 39000 crores in the financial year 2009-10. Under this scheme Rs 100 per day is paid for only one member of a family for a maximum period of 100 days in a year. This means that a family may earn maximum of only Rs 10,000 in a year. How much does it cost to purchase flour, rice, pulses and cooking oil for 5 persons in a family in a year? Why not increase the number of working members from each family and adjust the wage rate with inflation rate? Compare this with the salary paid to the cabinet secretary, who is the highest paid bureaucrat of the Central Government. A cabinet secretary gets more than Rs 12 lakh per annum, with additional perks. Then how can one expect a family of 5 to survive at Rs 10,000 per annum? There is a limit to playing jokes with the poor of this country!
In a year devastated by both widespread drought and flood, the number of working days should vary with the requirements in each region, and we have food grains rotting in FCI warehouses, then why let people be malnourished and sick! This scheme claims to have paid wages through banks, but where are the banks in the villages? Today 60 percent of Indians do not have a bank account!
Incredible India: For Whom?
Between 1991 and 2001 according to the census report around 80 lakh farmers left farming and we are waiting for the figures of next 10 years’ period from census figures of 2011, definitely the figures will be much higher. It does not disturb our democratic polity that during last 12 years from 1997 and 2008 around 2, 00,000 farmers committed suicide to evade being tortured by private moneylenders. The cost of cultivation is going up and commercial banks refuse to lend money. At the same time the land owning peasantry gamble with commercial crop cultivation knowing fully well the risks involved.
There was pressure on India to open up the foreign insurance and banking sector after WTO membership in 1995, and they came to this country in large numbers, but has any one seen them in rural India, all the foreign banks have opened their offices only in class I towns and safeguarding the interests of some xyz company and their highly paid executives. What are the regulators of Banking and Insurance doing? How Banks and Insurance are allowed to do business totally neglecting the interests of two-thirds of our population living in rural India? One should not forget that when the FMCG companies were hit globally in the current depression, they concentrated their attention on the demand of rural population of India and they were saved. It is very simple logic that unless we initiate correct steps to save Indian agriculture, some industries here and there, can’t help in total destruction of this country. One thought that during current shortages of our agriculture products, the USA will offer some symbolic help by exporting cheaper agricultural products to India because one of their friendly regimes was in trouble but that remained a daydream. All supporters of USA administration in India remained tight lipped.
The artificial picture of ‘incredible India’ or ‘shining India’ is totally irrelevant to the vast majority of our population who have nothing to do except work in some organisations or in the field as bonded labour as happened in the 18th Century. Organised sectors since long have stopped recruiting regular employees; they rather employ labourers supplied by contractors and exploit them as slaves. No labour law is enforced to safeguard the interests of the workers even in those states ruled by the Left parties. This was one of the conditions of so-called ‘economic reform’ from the employers’ associations – FICCI, CII and ASOCHAM, where they demanded that employers should be given a free hand to hire and fire. This fascist torture and exploitation can’t go on indefinitely. The government unofficially has withdrawn all labour laws and there is no official report of labour exploitation in India so that our exports are not rejected by the developed countries on the ground of ‘labour excesses’. One of the companies registered in England and engaged in the Indian mining and fabrication sector, M/S Vedanta Resources is on the receiving end. At first the Norway Governments’ Pension Fund protested against the Company’s anti-tribal policies in India and sold its entire holding in protest and now the Church of England verified the facts at the ground level and sold out its holding in the company for torturing adivasis in the mining and manufacturing locations of Orissa and Chattisgarh. The company had recently advertised to rope in big names in India to carry on its business of robbing minerals and annihilating the tribals of this country. The present home minister of India Mr. P Chidambaram was one of the Directors of this well known organisation before he became cabinet minister in 2004!
The workers are themselves getting organised and coming out in groups in places like Haryana, Tamilnadu, Delhi, Noida etc. The lynching of a company executive in Coimbatore, the strike in the Nokia factory, the alleged murder of the CEO of Graziano industries in Noida or the destruction of a company’s property after a fatal accident at Commonwealth Games construction site in Delhi by thousands of building workers are worth noting. The recent mass strike by 60,000 to 100,000 workers, in support of the Rico workers in Gurgaon clearly gives signal of the impending storm. Don’t we have any law to stop these profit accumulating managements to carry on ‘industrial terrorism’ on such a massive scale and suck the blood of hapless workers knowing fully well that each and every torture on these workers anywhere in the country gets reported in the national and international press? The price of achieving 9 or 10 percent growth becomes very costly once the pent up anger of employed and employable workers bursts in the open!
Citizens Under Threat
Will the courageous people of this country come forward and save this country from the total anarchy created by the widespread exploitation by the private sector? Yes, they are there and fighting for survival since the days of independence. One such group belongs to two separate geographical locations: one in the extreme north west in Jammu and Kashmir, Leh and Ladakh. The other in the North East beautifully termed as the seven sisters. People living in these two extreme corners of the country were never integrated into the mainstream of Indian life and wilfully neglected and tortured inhumanly for raising demands for justice since independence. Paramilitary forces and the army were deployed to address the grievances of citizens. Can an average person living in Delhi think what will be his/her reaction if for 60 long years paramilitary and army dictate ceaselessly for 24 x 7 how he or she will behave? Encounter killings in these states are the rule and not exception!
The other group(s) are scattered in an unorganised manner in different parts of the country and are demanding an alternative form of Government in which the people will decide at the grass roots level what type of changes in life and environment they want and act on the basis of collective decisions taken at the grass roots. Decisions taken in some distant developed countries to fulfil their narrow self interest cannot be implemented on Indian soil. The Congress Party in the late 30s thought of planning for this country, Subhas Bose and Nehru were partners in that venture. From the Third Plan onwards our planning booklet is a doctored document to advance the interest of developed countries and implemented by their agents in India. The public sector concept was introduced and wrongly termed as socialistic; in practice it was used as a vehicle to support the growth of private sector at the cost of taxpayers’ money. Licence and Permit Raj was beautifully planned and implemented to help some selected industrial families to corner the wealth of this country.
The automobile industry in 2010 is being treated as a new symbol of development. This sector has been the hardest hit by the recession since 2007 and is still in a mess. In India its performance was never affected by the current recession. Rather there is an attempt to help this sector, so that they can compensate for their losses elsewhere, otherwise what was the need to give stimulus to this sector as the demand for automobiles has not been impacted by the economic crisis. We have here MNCs like BMW, GM, Suzukis, and Toyota etc. and in Indian brands we have Mahendra, Tata, and Hindujas et al. In the US the CEO of GM came to attend meeting with members of Congress seeking help from the government and got an immediate snubbing from Congress members. In India on the other hand these industrialists are earning an increasing amount of profit and demanding from the government more and more taxpayer’s money as stimulus. In three different instalments the central government has given these ‘Big Money Beggars’ around 1.86 lakh crores of stimulus packages, but they are demanding more and they still call themselves Private Sector. No one is ready to discuss the fate of those poor workers who were given pink slips to go home and starve. To help the private sector automobile industry Government are acquiring thousands of acres of fertile agricultural land and spending millions to build 6 lane wide roads so that the vehicles may run faster and the corporates improve their balance sheet. Why should the government spend money on infrastructure development like wider roads, when the Indian business community is flooded with cash and can take up such projects on their own? They call such venture as Private-Public joint project, but in practice the entire benefit goes to big private companies and taxpayers suffer because governments are left with no money for free compulsory education up to the age of 14, governments don’t have funds for either to provide safe drinking water or health care facilities for all. Since 2005 the government started Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and acquired a huge quantity of productive land even using force against the unwilling landowners in different parts of the country. What has happened to these projects? How many SEZ are ready and exporting goods and services and bringing huge quantity of foreign exchanges? Indian exports to the world are still less than 1 percent of the world’s total export. On the other hand China has come out as the largest exporter in 2009 leaving Germany behind. The concerned Indian Commerce Minister is now appointed to build roads and there he is acquiring land from unwilling farmers by muscle power. No, there is no export from those pockets and in due course of time the government will come out with its unwritten plan to convert the entire land acquired for SEZ to be given to the real estate sector to earn capital profit! This is another example of Indian democracy for the ‘people’!
In 2010 US President Obama has asked US companies to stop ‘outsourcing’ and depend on local higher cost human resources. But the US companies are outsourcing in their own interest to earn more profit and not for love of any country.
In 1995 India was dragged into the WTO and was forced to open the gates to import foreign goods and services. The USA’s approach on outsourcing is nothing new, continuously for last one and half decades it is insisting on increasing its exports of industrial and service products to India and we agreed. The demand of BRIC countries (India, China, Brazil and Russia) on USA to reduce subsidy given to USA agriculture was never accepted and we are forced to import subsidised agricultural products from USA e.g. BT cotton and kill our own cotton growers. Genetically Modified Food Crops (GM) are not accepted even in developed economies. When the then US President George Bush visited India he had with him representatives of Monsanto, a USA corporation producing GM seeds. Such is the pressure that these MNCs can create in introduction of GM food. In SEZ we agreed to forget our ‘sovereignty rights’ over the area, and by introducing the GM food we shall be mortgaging the life of human and millions of our cattle to the hazards of the GM crops for ‘profit’ to be earned by some MNCs.
The well-planned strategy of our rulers to allow the private sector – Indian and MNCs – to exploit without any restriction all the natural resources of this vast country as early as possible has to be challenged in national interest. We have already lost huge forest areas and millions of acres of erstwhile fertile agricultural land is standing naked and barren. Like typical vultures local and foreign corporate houses are allowed to go and destroy whatever forest cover is there, though we have in the statute book the Forest Conservation Act 1980. These companies are busy in the dense forests in exploiting minerals. Most of these minerals are exported and the mining companies make huge profits. By exporting each tonne of iron ore one gets more then Rs 3000 and the State Govt. gets hardly 1 percent of that sales price as royalty. The central share is 5 to 10 percent as custom duty; during a recession the government may even withdraw this to give more benefits to these private companies. The rest is profit minus mining and transport costs. The agreement with POSCO, the Korean MNC, is quite different. They will take out the best quality haematite iron ore to their factory in South Korea and export the processed iron and steel back to India and for that they want a new port adjacent to Paradip. Are we that foolish and we don’t even understand how they are cheating the nation! To pressurise Indian people they invited the Korean President on the Republic Day function 2010 and a chief minister was immediately called to meet him in Delhi. Instead of purchasing minerals from a public sector mineral producing company at the then market rate, POSCO is given captive mines without any cost! In the same manner lot of mineral exploring companies are allowed by Delhi to dig out minerals though we have laws related to minerals: Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act 1957 and it was to be replaced by a new Act. What is wrong if we discuss these policies at proper public forum and take appropriate decisions?
We forget that the people who are living in these dense forests we call them Tribals and in Hindi ‘Adivasis’ or the original settlers of this place. They account for hardly 80 lakh and or 8 percent of total population. The government wants that they should shift from their places of settlement so that these mineral looters can carry on their plunder. Adivasis in Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and in other places refuse to leave their ancestral places. Police tried to threaten them by force and killed many of them, even then they refused to move out. They know from experience what happened to their elders who believed the assurances of the government and left their homes to allow so-called developmental projects to come up. They are now in urban centres pulling rickshaws and their women folk are maids in rich men’s house. Some of these tribal women are rotting in red-light areas. In 2006, Parliament passed an Act ‘Scheduled Tribe and other Forest Dwellers’(Recognition of Rights)’ and assured the tribals that no one would disturb them. Then why hundreds of adivasis are displaced every day in these states and put into camps under one pretext or the other. Salwa Judum, SPO, shanti bahini etc are there and now the Government. of India and these State governments are deploying trained armed forces of BSF, CRPF and Military to teach these adivasis proper lessons! Are we not ashamed to fight against our citizens in general and adivasis in particular?
We know the government claims that it is the Maoists who are instigating the adivasis against governments and they (not the innocent people) are the target of police repression. How many Naxalites they have killed and how many innocent adivasis were killed by the armed police and paramilitary forces since the operation started? This the real question that is worth pondering? In a recent meeting with the Chief Ministers of Maoist infected states, the Home Minister declared ‘battle’ against the Maoists. The Naxal movement started in 1967 from the villages of North Bengal based on the demand for land distribution. The West Bengal state government tried to suppress it by force, but after 4 decades it has spread in rest of the country and is totally out of control of individual states. So now the centre has entered into the picture with its entire might telling people that Maoists are the worst form of ‘internal terrorism’.
Our military, police and other armed forces can not kill our own people unless in self defence, but the record shows that even the Supreme Court doubts the real intentions of such operations. Gujarat carnage of 2002 is still pending in the Supreme Court. In the name of killing Naxalites if we kill more and more adivasis, we have history to tell us what happened to British in the nineteen thirties! Sheer madness of one or more political party should not be allowed to destroy such a beautiful country. Why should we annihilate our own people to promote the selfish interests of some rich corporation? If we refuse them permission to mine and exploit here they will go elsewhere to earn more profit. Can’t we preserve our own valuable minerals for the posterity? The mineral resources of Latin America, Africa and India are robbed because their governments have agreed to accommodate these international plunderers. The organisation of oil exporting countries (OPEC) showed in 1973 how to protect their own resources and they are rich today for their controlled production targets. Political parties may come and go, but the interest of the country is to be safeguarded and for that export of minerals should stop and only the public sector should be allowed exploration of minerals under the control and supervision of a Regulatory Body. Natural resources are exhaustible and they should be exploited keeping in mind the interest of future generations. Any individual or group who allows the misuse of minerals of the country should be publicly brought to book.
We have seen that till today we don’t collect employment/ unemployment data either on a weekly or monthly basis. Our statisticians if allowed may do this job, provided policy makers want it. In the same manner we are still deliberately confusing people about the number of people suffering from the agony of poverty. Since sixties we are keeping people guessing about this concept. Recently Prof. Suresh Tendulkar committee revealed that the number of people below the official poverty line has not declined as claimed by the government, rather it has increased marginally. Other economists like Utsa Patnaik disagreed with their calculations and suggested that with 2400 Kcalorie per day consumption in rural India as base in 1993-94, 58.5 percent of population were under the poverty line and in 2004-05 this figure reached 69.5 percent. The Congress nominee in Rajya Sabha Prof. Arjun Sengupta came out with even more revealing story. According to him 5 to 6 years back 70 percent people of this country could spend hardly Rs 20 per day, which is equivalent to around 50 cents; when reform policy initiators in India – WB and IMF – prescribe at least 2 US dollar per day income!
It is high time the Indian mainstream political parties should start talking about how to improve the lot of those Indians who are forced to live in the villages without any support from either the state or central government. In West Bengal, to protest against a car factory being established at Singur and a chemical hub at Nandigram, villagers had to sacrifice their life. To eliminate Maoists from Jungle Mahal of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, the Centre since June to December, 2009 has already spent from more than Rs 90 crores, students in West Midnapore, where Operation Green Hunt is carried on, could not attend classes for six months as forces occupied their schools. The paramilitary Forces are afraid of Maoists and have refused to live in tents in the open. In war do they stay in pucca (concrete) houses? Are they not trained?
There are no medical units in these villages, no fair price shops as if
these hapless villagers are not citizens of this country but belong to
some enemy country. In short, we have failed as a nation in the 21st
Century. The relevance of our Constitution is being questioned. Two
thirds population of the country who are the target of present
repression by the state very well know how to face this crisis that has
been created by the ruling class to hide their corrupt policies: this
is nothing new for them. They have faced boldly in the past such
irresponsible, short-sighted and selfish political adventurous groups.
The politicians must read the writing on the wall. History after all is
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