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CPIML International Newsletter: July-August 2005 (plain text)

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    ML International Newsletter July-August 2005 *********************************************************************** An update on news and ideas from the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 28, 2005
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      ML International Newsletter

      July-August 2005

      ***********************************************************************

      An update on news and ideas from the revolutionary
      left in India.
      Produced by: Communist Party of India
      (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation international team
      ***********************************************************************

      Website: www.cpiml.org
      Email: cpimllib@... and cpiml_elo@...

      Table of Contents

      1) A Sizzling Summer of Popular Unrest
      2) The Upsurge of Jadavpur University
      3) Sixth All-India Conference of AICCTU
      4) State, Economy and Class Struggle in Nepal
      5) A Tsunami by Any Other Name
      6) Punjab Government's Response to Peasants’ Angst in
      Punjab

      Struggles in India

      A Sizzling Summer of Popular Unrest

      - Liberation, July, 2005.

      It is now well known that economic neo-liberalism can
      only flourish in an increasingly illiberal political
      milieu. The pro-market, anti-people policies that call
      for a so-called 'retreat of the state' cannot be
      sustained without state intervention of a different
      kind - increased application of state terror and
      repression. Over the last few weeks different sections
      of our society - from workers and peasants to students
      and intellectuals - have experienced first hand this
      brutal truth of our times. In the sizzling heat of
      June, as the mercury soared to new highs and people
      desperately awaited the first shower of a belated
      monsoon, governments of different hues were busy
      showering batons and bullets on peaceful agitations
      across the political landscape of the country.

      In Vasundhara Raje's 'royal' Rajasthan, five farmers
      have been gunned down and at least twenty injured by
      the trigger-happy police for demanding water. This
      happened in Tonk district, close to Raje's seat of
      power in Jaipur, when angry farmers blocked the
      Jaipur-Kota highway to press their demand for supply
      of water to their irrigation-starved land from the
      nearby Bisalpur dam. This is not the first time Raje's
      police have opened fire to quell an agitating public.
      In the eighteen months of Raje's stewardship, the Tonk
      firing marked the eighth major incident of police
      brutality. Last winter, six persons were killed in
      Sriganganagar district when police attacked farmers
      demanding release of water for irrigation from the
      Indira Gandhi Canal. And one person was killed and
      many injured earlier this month when police fired on
      villagers protesting against a custodial death in
      Dholpur, Raje's hometown.

      The Congress has described the Tonk incident as yet
      another example of feudal intolerance, a
      characteristic trait of the Raje regime in Rajasthan.
      But the Amrinder Singh dispensation in Congress-ruled
      Punjab is no less guilty of such autocratic arrogance
      and police high-handedness. In a brutal pre-emptive
      crackdown on the farmers' movement in the
      crisis-ridden Malwa region of Punjab, hundreds of
      farmers, workers, students and CPI(ML) leaders have
      been falsely implicated and imprisoned by the Amrinder
      Singh government. In recent years, this region has
      witnessed at least 3,000 suicides by cotton growers
      and other debt-trapped farmers. The farmers' agitation
      led by the Bhartiya Kisan Union-Ekta (BKU) and Akhil
      Bhartiya Kisan Sangharsh Samiti is rooted in three
      most pressing immediate demands of the Punjab
      peasantry - debt relief, rollback of power tariff hike
      and stopping the privatisation campaign of the state
      government.

      When participants of the Rozgar Adhikar Yatra
      (Employment Right March), including economist Jean
      Dreze, were beaten up in early June by the police in
      Sarguja district of Bhartiya Jananta Party (BJP)-ruled
      Chhattisgarh, few could anticipate a repeat of such
      police brutality a week later in Communist Party of
      India – Marxist (CPIM)-ruled Kolkata. But this is
      precisely what happened when a posse of baton-wielding
      and gun-toting policemen belonging to the Kolkata
      Police and the elite Rapid Action Force launched a
      sudden midnight assault in the prestigious Jadavpur
      University campus to forcibly end a hunger strike
      agitation by six student leaders. Jadavpur is the
      constituency of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee
      and it is he who directly looks after the police
      department. The police continued to thrash the hunger
      strikers inside police stations and even after they
      were taken to hospitals and a girl student who was
      present at the site of the hunger strike was specially
      singled out by the police for physical assault and
      sexual harassment. The peaceful hunger strike was
      being held to demand withdrawal of arbitrary
      suspension orders slapped on six students of the
      university.

      It is not merely the liberal use of batons and bullets
      against peaceful agitations that has surfaced as a
      common thread connecting governments of diverse
      political varieties. If the different colours of the
      flags of different ruling parties have started merging
      into the united colours of coercion, equally striking
      is the other leveller, the logic that is being
      routinely invoked to justify the systematic assaults
      on democracy. The Chhattisgarh police argued that the
      Employment Guarantee campaigners' method of collecting
      and addressing the people was similar to that adopted
      by the Naxalites, and some of the girls present in the
      campaign had Nepali and hence 'Maoist' looks!
      Likewise, the Punjab police suspect a growing streak
      of Naxalite red behind the green turbans of BKU
      farmers. And for the CPI(M) in Bengal, the fear of
      Naxalism runs deep as a pathological fixation that
      starts haunting the party every time it sees
      pulsations of democratic life beyond its boundaries of
      'red' regimentation - be it a case of an independent
      assertion of the rural poor, a bold expression of
      disillusionment of the young, or a forceful
      articulation of intellectual dissent.

      This desperation of the ruling establishments is
      undoubtedly a major political recognition for the
      legacy of Naxalbari and the success of the Communist
      Party of India Marxist-Leninist, the CPI(ML), in
      keeping up the tradition and tempo of militant
      mobilization of the working people and the progressive
      intelligentsia. If the parties of the ruling classes
      have successfully patented the three C's of
      communalism, corruption and criminalization, the
      CPI(ML) has established itself as the most authentic
      political platform for the basic concerns of the
      working people and other defenders of democracy. It is
      also heartening to see that every attempt to gag the
      people's voice is only winning more and more friends
      for the movement.
      Students’ Struggle

      The Upsurge of Jadavpur University

      - Soumitra Bose

      “Modi’r lyric, Buddha’r sur; Gujarat er por Jadavpur!”
      [Mody’s lyric, Buddha’s tune; After Gujarat, it’s
      Jadavpur!”]

      This is how the students of Presidency contributed
      their creativity into the festival of people – the
      revolt of Jadavpur! The Jadavpur University (JU), as
      usual and always for at least a hundred years or so,
      has been the hot bed of consciousness! It has always
      flared up against the system, against The Institution,
      against the Authority and against the State. Jadavpur
      has always roared collectively! Consciously!
      Conscientiously and always spoken for the people, for
      the masses, for the righteous, for the subaltern! This
      time is a repetition of that old tradition!

      What happened on that date?
      Since the sun went down on the 10th of July – Friday,
      a few battalions of armed police entered the premise.
      They were challenged and prompt came the lie that they
      are in to investigate a different case, but no one
      knew what case was being referred to. After a couple
      of hours went by, more posses of police force arrived
      within the university and they barricaded the main
      administrative building. The Registrar of the
      university was then “rescued” by the police at around
      11:00PM. The students called up the Vice Chancellor
      and the Registrar, the Deputy Registrar and other
      officials. No one picked up the phone and there were
      no communications. Students came to realize that today
      would be the D-day. Just about midnight the Police
      force approached the students commanding them to clear
      the place. The students denied to talk to them and
      told them that they can only talk to the concerned
      university authorities. The police then completely
      unprovoked pounced upon the students with lethal
      weapons and fire-arms. They took out the live electric
      wires and electrocuted the iron gates of the
      universities. The police then hurled the fasting
      students on to the gate and electrocuted them. They
      beat up all the students (around 600 in number), they
      caned the students with iron rods and rubber rods.
      Bruised, bled and electrocuted the emaciated students
      and their friends could not resist the police action.
      The police caught hold of the fasting students, beat
      them up and made sure that the leaders of the movement
      are first made to bleed and then hurl them to
      ambulances. They then pounced upon the female students
      who were accompanying their male counterparts. The
      police tossed them like toys and manhandled them,
      molested them and mercilessly beat them up. This is
      what the CPI (M) government has brought the culture
      among its police forces. The girls were hauled up in
      vans without any female escorts. There in the van the
      girls were threatened, beaten up, manhandled and
      molested. The victims were taken to the government
      hospital and within the hospital each fasting student,
      instead of being taken for medical examination and
      treatment, were tortured till they bled profusely. The
      resident patients of the hospital came out, pleaded
      with the police and found them getting thrashed. The
      hospital turned into a torture center. One female
      student was again beaten up, threatened by the male
      police of gang rape and other dishonoring acts. The
      leaders were individually taken to separate rooms and
      beaten up and tortured. The whole of the night,
      certain cadres of the CPI (M), in the garb of doctors
      and nurses were threatened and maltreated the
      students.

      Meanwhile the teachers of the university and press
      workers challenged the police, they were threatened
      and yet they went on opposing and challenging the
      police. After many nerve racking hours the police gave
      in and the students (non fasting ones) were released
      at 6:00AM in the morning. The injured strikers were in
      the hospital. Teachers, fellow students and others
      from the neighborhood gathered at the hospital, other
      resident patients joined in and after many hours of
      negotiations and game playing the injured students
      were released.

      What ensued?
      The news spread like wild fire. The media (electronic
      and print) came out with full-blown stories. The
      entire state was stunned. News of solidarity and wrath
      poured in from all quarters. The print media was first
      very cautious and then judging by the mood of the
      people relented to giving out the true picture in bits
      and pieces. The intellectuals started gathering at the
      site of the university. Next day, the students started
      gathering even though it was a Saturday and Sunday.
      The ex-students congregated, the left parties outside
      the government came out in the street. Even the
      rightwing opposition poured in. Students outside the
      realm and pale of any organization came together
      spontaneously. The cadres of the CPI (M) were thrown
      out, they were publicly heckled and had to leave the
      premises. Arts faculty is run by Students Federation
      of India – student wing of the CPI (M). The entire
      Arts faculty came out of the organization, broke off
      with their old link and formed a different forum.
      Students of all faculties united together and started
      spontaneous rallies. Rallies after rallies took place
      almost every hour absolutely spontaneously. The
      students had video-taped the incidents, they received
      bytes from the other media personnel and then combined
      them in DVDs and started showing the public. Radical
      activists, pessimists and all kinds of sympathizers
      are trying out their own method of contribution into
      the movement. The ex-students in the IT community has
      donned black badges and are demonstrating mute. The
      teachers are out on the streets. All academic
      activities are stopped inside JU. All classes are
      brought to halt. The next day the West Bengal state
      saw a spontaneous student general strike throughout
      the state.

      Solidarity
      Students of all the premier institutions boycotted
      their own institutions and joined in. Thursday the
      16th will see a massive students’ rally in Kolkata,
      joined by Jadavpur, Presidency, Indian Statistical
      Institute, Medical Colleges, Shibpur Engineering
      College, and all the empathetic people. They will be
      joined by a special team from Jawaharlal Nehru
      University, who are now camping in the city. Protests
      rallies have taken place in Delhi, Allahabad,
      Bangalore, Guawahati, Patna and many other cities of
      India. An unprecedented students’ solidarity is in the
      air. Students from different places are coming and
      showing solidarity, boycotting their own institutions.
      It is now a veritable festival of the students.

      Painters have come in, they are drawing and painting
      graffiti, singers are singing in the streets, poets
      reciting their poems in protest, celebrities joining
      the sit-in with the students and even top echelon
      employees of the students are walking on the streets
      in the scorching heat of 125F/47C. Those who despised
      politics are now in the streets - “Rastai yakmatro
      Rasta! (The highway is our only way!) . Educated youth
      of Kolkata are receiving their real education on the
      streets!

      On 16th of July, 2005 thousands of students dared the
      scorching heat of 49C and 97% humidity came out on the
      streets for the “big rally”, truck loads of students
      from Presidency College, from Medical College, from
      colleges from the districts poured in. Even before the
      start a few students fainted struck by the heat
      stroke, the spirit shot even further. It was like a
      pilgrim rally where fainting and emaciating is a bonus
      point. Students are joining from the pavements while
      the rally moves on. Even general people joined in the
      rally, for the first time one sees the media people
      walking along the rally with the students. It was a
      festival of protest. Roars and slogans, songs and
      closed fists, vows and wrath, determination and
      exhaustion all mingled to give the students and the
      on-lookers the message of people’s response to state
      terrorism.

      Kolkata writes the history again, the history of
      rebellion, of revolt, of protest, of standing for a
      cause, of standing up against atrocities and
      repression. The famous 60’s is repeated, the famous
      70’s may follow. For once again we see Jadavpur
      snuggled up with Sorbonne of 60’s, Berkeley of 70’s,
      Presidency of 70’s and those of the entire world of
      once-upon-a-time. Jadavpur, a tiny hamlet centered
      around a University is now an icon - an icon of all
      that we do and should stand for.

      Lal Salaam (Red Salute) from the battlefields to all
      the toiling masses of the world who dare to fight and
      dare to win!
      [This is an abridged version of the article – Ed.]
      Working Class Struggle

      Sixth All-India Conference of AICCTU

      - Shankar, Liberation, June, 2005.

      It was an exceptional, different and historic
      gathering for Guwahati, in fact for the whole North
      Eastern region. Guwahati witnessed the first ever
      all-India trade union conference, and that too from a
      revolutionary trade union organization. More than 350
      delegates from Chennai in the south to Jaipur in the
      north had assembled on the occasion of the sixth
      all-India conference of the All India Central Council
      of Trade Unions (AICCTU) on 21-23 May 2005. Delegates
      from 16 states and 26 sectors attended the conference.
      The conference was preceded by a national convention
      on “Strengthen Worker-Public Coordination to Defend
      Public Sector” on 20 May.

      On the day of the conference, on 21 May, thousands of
      workers of Assam and North Bengal, mainly tea garden
      workers, along with conference delegates marched on
      the streets of Guwahati. The entire city was thrown
      out of gear by the impressive ‘Mazdoor Ekta Rally’
      (Workers Unity Rally) that raised thundering slogans
      against privatization and implications of
      liberalization. The rally was addressed by Comrade
      Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of the CPI
      (ML) along with other guests, including Comrade Osamu
      Yamano, Vice President of Japan Confederation of
      Railway Workers (JRU).

      The conference began with electing a presidium and a
      steering committee to conduct the business. Comrade
      Dipankar Bhattacharya delivered the inaugural address.
      Comrade Dipankar said that the onslaught of capital on
      workers is not just economic; rather, it is
      ideological and political. He expressed his concern
      over growing depoliticisation among the working class
      and held the central trade unions and the politics of
      compromise of their political parties responsible for
      such depoliticisation. He said that most of the trade
      unions owe their political allegiance to either
      parties in power or the parties of power – ranging
      from the Congress to the Communist party – that follow
      the same orientation and policies. He also said that
      criticizing NGOs only at the realm of ideology is not
      enough; rather a revolutionary trade union should be
      able to establish its supremacy in terms of ideas,
      initiative, struggles and organization. He also said
      that a trade union is an intermediate organization
      between a communist party and the mass of workers.
      Individual trade unions may have many limitations and
      weaknesses. The task of a central trade union is not
      to condone them but to work for eliminating them. He
      also said that the trade union should work with whole
      range of forces at various levels, not formally but
      seriously. He concluded his address with a call for
      inculcating clear vision and developing strong
      determination in order to develop an alternative trade
      union practice of class struggle against the politics
      of compromise.
      Delegates began their deliberations on the draft
      political resolutions and the organizational review
      presented by the AICCTU General Secretary Comrade
      Swapan Mukherjee. The conference criticized the
      aggressive implementation of policies of
      liberalization, privatization and globalisation by the
      United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government following
      the footsteps of National Democratic Alliance (NDA),
      in spite of the people’s mandate against the course of
      liberalization. It also said that the Common Minimum
      Program (CMP) cannot be the basis for developing a
      working class movement in the present juncture. The
      conference also criticized the theory of
      ‘interdependence’ articulated by some Left leaders. It
      also said that the Left had failed to make any imprint
      on the overall functioning of the UPA government in
      spite of dependence of the UPA government on the Left.
      The conference also passed resolutions against the
      inapplicability of labour laws in Special Economic
      Zones (SEZs), anti-worker labour reforms, Patents Act,
      increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) cap, and
      the eyewash of National Employment Guarantee Scheme.
      It also demanded a separate, comprehensive bill for
      agrarian labourers, and a bill for the protection of
      unorganized workers and their social security
      measures.

      Some of the experiences narrated by delegates were
      really inspiring. One such experience is that of the
      oil sector in Assam where we began with a small group
      of workers and have reached the position of being a
      major component of North Eastern Region Oil Workers
      Coordination Committee (NEROWCC) of 17 unions which is
      a pioneer of oil workers coordination in the country.
      Moreover, oil and power workers of Assam jointly
      called for a bandh on 21 April in Assam against
      privatization of oil sector and unbundling of Assam
      State Electricity Board into five private companies.
      The significance of the bandh was that it was jointly
      supported by Left parties CPI, CPI (M) and CPI (ML) in
      the state. Moreover, when power workers went on a
      militant rasta roko, it was made successful in many
      districts because of the active involvement of AICCTU
      activists. Here too, our comrades played a pioneering
      role in founding an independent union of power workers
      with a membership of more than 8000. The Assam
      experience reveals the open and broad-minded approach
      of AICCTU activists to forge class unity and to
      advance class struggle fighting against narrow trade
      union rivalries. On the other hand, Asam Sangrami Chah
      Sramik Sangha (ASCSS), the trade union of tea workers
      affiliated to AICCTU in Assam and our union in North
      Bengal are emerging as alternative platforms against
      the domination of pro-management union owing
      allegiance to the Congress. With our consistent and
      uncompromising struggles and organization, tea workers
      have started joining our union in large numbers in
      recent times. The pro-management union and the
      Congress are facing a threat of decline of their
      social base among tea workers.

      In Tamil Nadu, our work among construction labour is
      developed as an alternative practice focusing on
      movemental thrust in contrast to the welfare
      board-centric activities of other unions in the
      construction labour movement in general. Among beedi
      labourers too, we are enjoying influence among
      thousands and thousands of beedi workers and are
      waging militant struggles to achieve workers’ demands.
      In the textile belt of western region of Tamil Nadu,
      we have emerged as a trade union of militant and
      uncompromising struggles and are moving towards
      expansion among other segments of textile workers and
      in other areas of the region. Our work among powerloom
      workers and other sections of textile workers have
      gained significance in the context of export
      orientation and inhuman labour market conditions of
      the sector. In Pondicherry too, our initiatives along
      with other trade unions have resulted in an unusual
      step of handing over of National Textile Corporation
      (NTC) mills, which were at the verge of dismantling,
      to the state government.

      In Uttar Pradesh (UP), our work among handloom silk
      weavers and powerloom workers of Varanasi is gaining
      momentum recently and the experience of organizing
      municipal workers of Allahabad is coming up with new
      challenges in the backdrop of policies of outsourcing
      of scavenging activities. In Bihar, the State
      Government employees’ movement gained a significant
      victory of their demands in the run up to the state
      elections and is moving towards forming an all-India
      coordination of state government employees through an
      all-India convention in another few months. In
      Jharkhand, we are seriously trying for revitalizing
      our work among workers of coal and steel sector and
      concentrating our efforts at organizing the
      unorganized. Some interesting experiences were shared
      by comrades from Maharashtra. They have succeeded in
      forcing employers either to abolish the labour
      contractor and raise wages as in Hindustan Lever Ltd
      Tea Company near Pune or forcing the company to raise
      overtime wages as in the case of Bharat Forge where
      double the rates of wages are paid.

      The conference decided that the central task is to
      bring the workers’ agenda to the center-stage of
      politics and to develop the working class as an
      independent political force. AICCTU also decided to
      unite with the struggles and aspirations of the
      agrarian labour and poor peasants and develop a strong
      bond with the ongoing democratic movement against
      oppression and other anti-people policies of the UPA
      regime.
      The conference elected a National Council of 137
      members and elected Comrade S. Kumarasamy as the
      President and Swapan Mukherjee as the General
      Secretary.

      South Asian Struggles

      State, Economy and Class Struggle in Nepal

      - Pratyush Chandra

      Monarchy & Democracy in Nepal – Myth and Reality
      The foremost reason that is cited in support of
      monarchy in Nepal is to ensure politico-economic
      stability. Inherent in this thesis is a criticism of
      the Nepali society that democracy by itself cannot
      sustain stability there. Parliamentary democracy that
      enlivens various local interest groups has to be
      tempered and controlled by an overseeing authority
      that can police them. Both the monarchists and ‘legal’
      democrats in the country uphold this bias against the
      Nepali ‘demos’. The latter perhaps will counter this
      assessment by saying that they support constitutional
      monarchy, as in Britain, where monarchy is simply
      allegoric. But, this is not what was established in
      Nepal with their agreement in the 1990s – the
      arrangement to which they agreed keeps monarchy as the
      final authority. Given the internal class dynamics in
      Nepal and international scenario, is their any reason
      to hope for a successful reformist road to Nepali
      democracy, even in the pattern of constitutional
      monarchies of European countries?

      The comparison of Britain and Nepal is not only
      hilarious but mischievous too. A sense of being equal
      to the royal whites placates many hearts in Nepal.
      After all, many times in the 19th and 20th Centuries
      the Nepali royalty struggled to be treated equally. In
      the world of big powers, where Nepal is evidently
      powerless and on the receiving end, it gives some
      Nepalis an easy sense of national pride, history and
      identity. Understandably, it gives them a heart in
      this heartless world of competition and race. A
      handful of Nepali middle class immigrants and children
      of Nepali high and low nobility in Europe and the US
      may get a source of emotional and even material
      sustenance through the exotic image of a Hindu Nepal.

      Britain in the 16th-19th centuries, as the pioneer of
      world capitalism, was going through tremendous
      internal transformations as a result of fierce
      struggle for hegemony between the rentier interests
      and profiteers – between landlords, merchants and
      industrialists. It was this struggle that determined
      the fate of monarchy in Britain. The situation in
      Nepal is obviously nowhere near Britain. Definitely
      like in Britain, in Nepal too the rentier interests
      are the most consistent support bases for monarchy.
      But the comparison has to stop here. These rentier
      interests are not complemented and countered by the
      forces rising from trade and industry within the
      country as in Britain. The formidable presence of
      foreign economic interests in the case of Nepal
      destroys any scope of such internal ‘class’ struggles
      among the exploiting classes for hegemony. These
      foreign forces find Nepali rentiers, at least till
      now, better equipped to regulate the superstructure to
      sustain their interests on the Nepali soil.

      The class base sustaining monarchy in Nepal is that of
      the financial ‘capital’/moneylenders/landlords,
      ‘corporate’ interests in many joint ventures with
      Indian and other foreign capitalists, the mercantile
      establishments and the upper crust of civil servants
      and armed forces. The mass base for monarchy is
      constituted by sections of rich and middle peasantry,
      petty bourgeoisie and urban intellectuals who waver
      according to the strength of the working class
      struggles and their own class-conscious elements. Most
      of the ‘legal democratic’ forces at grassroots’ level
      represent this mass base. However, the post-1990s
      political economic development has developed a
      ‘democratic’ elite who has consistently interacted
      with the new institutions and has formidable interest
      in sustaining them. It is this section that today
      constitutes the leadership of all the mainstream
      ‘democratic’ forces in the country. The post-February
      development this year characteristically attests this
      fact. Even when the younger generation of democrats
      occasionally displayed republican sentiment, the
      leadership almost consistently refrained from
      attacking the institution of monarchy in their
      criticism of the monarch. In fact, many of them called
      for the preservation of the ‘heritage’ of monarchy.

      Nepali Economy – Problems and Prospects
      In order to understand the Nepali situation we must
      look at its economic contours. In 2003, Nepal’s
      population was around 24.7 million, of which around
      86% resided in the rural areas, suggesting their
      dependence on agriculture. The per capita income (PCA)
      is US $240, which is far below the average PCA in
      low-income countries ($430) and in South Asia ($460).
      The share of agriculture in the total Gross Domestic
      Product (GDP) has come down from 60.3% in 1983 to
      40.6% in 2003. On the other hand, the services sector
      has increased its share from 26.9% in 1983 to 37.8% in
      2003, while the industrial sector too has increased
      its share in GDP from 12.8% to 21.6%. Even though the
      increasing share of services and industrial sectors in
      GDP in comparison to the agriculture sector is a
      universal trend, it is a peculiar South Asian
      phenomenon that this is not accompanied with a
      proportionate shift of the working force from the
      agriculture sector to the other two sectors. As
      mentioned above, 86% of the population is directly
      dependent on agriculture and allied activities, while
      80.2% of the labour force is employed in this sector.
      The services absorb 17% of the labour force, while the
      industrial sector employs just 2.8%. This situation is
      aggravated by a tremendous sluggishness in average
      annual growth (AAG) in the overall productive sectors
      (agriculture and industrial) and stagnation in
      services sector. The AAG in agriculture decreased from
      3.4 in 1983-93 to 3.3 in 1993-2003 (2.2/2.5 in
      2002/03) and in the industrial sector for the same
      periods it decreased from 9.2 to 4.9 (-2.8/2.3 in
      2002/03). In the manufacturing sector, specifically,
      the AAG declined from 10.1 in 1983-93 to 4.3 in
      1993-2003, while it was -10.0 in 2002. On the other
      hand, in the services sector it remained constant
      during both decades at 4.9 (-1.7/3.2 in 2002/03).

      These facts have several grave implications for the
      Nepali society. We can enumerate some of them here.
      Firstly, there is a tremendous rural/urban divide,
      which provides the topological glimpse of poverty in
      Nepal – an immense sea of rural poor encircling a few
      islands of urban affluence. Officially, people living
      below poverty line amount to 42%. The lowest 20% of
      population gets 11.5 % of national income whereas the
      highest 20% gets 44.8%. Taking into consideration the
      extent of rural inequality and the persistence of
      semi-feudal forms of exploitation in an increasingly
      monetised rural setting one can only imagine the state
      of the poor peasantry, the semi-proletarians and the
      landless. In 1994, 43.1% of rural household were
      marginal farmers (less than 0.5 hectares) occupying
      just 11.3% of the total land, 45.9% were small farmers
      (0.5-2.0 hectares) owning 46.8% of the total land, and
      11% were large farmers (more than 2.0 hectares) owning
      41.9% of the total land. Even the World Bank admits
      that the poverty cannot be reduced in Nepal since
      “growth has been concentrated primarily in the urban
      areas and particularly in Kathmandu valley, largely
      excluding 86 percent of the population who live in
      rural areas, where per capita agricultural production
      has grown minimally and the overall level of economic
      activity has been sluggish”.

      Secondly, the disproportion between the share of
      industrial sector in the GDP and the amount of
      employment generated there demonstrates that whatever
      growth we find in this sector is in capital-intensive
      industries controlled by foreign capital collaborating
      with a handful of Nepali mercantilist corporations. (A
      major section of this Nepali big capital is in fact
      from the Indian business community of Marwaris who
      migrated a hundred years ago. Since Marwaris are
      largely endogamous, they have strong familial ties
      with their Indian counterparts.) In the
      post-liberalisation phase in the Indian subcontinent,
      where the Indian big capital overwhelmingly dominates,
      the employment-generation potentiality of the
      profit-driven industrial growth is very limited.
      Whatever employment is generated in the peripheral
      small scale industries fall in the informal sector,
      with rampant casualisation, no job security and very
      low wage. The extent of informalisation in the overall
      Nepali economy can be gathered from the fact that,
      even if the “market agricultural workforce” employed
      in commercialised farming activities is excluded, the
      informal sector employment, officially, comes to 90.7%
      of the total labour force. Further, in Nepal
      unemployment is at 4.89%, which by the head count
      methodology goes up to 15%, and underemployment is 45%
      of the total man-days.

      Thirdly, the stress on the services sector, especially
      on tourism, has led to critical consequences. On the
      one hand, it too has been unable to absorb workforce
      proportional to its share in GDP, and the labour
      market in this sector is rampantly informal. Further,
      the Shangri-la image of Nepal that is sold in this
      sector, especially in tourism, has degenerating
      fallouts with a tremendous increase in drug abuse and
      prostitution. There are people in command who seek to
      sustain Nepal’s image as South Asia’s Las Vegas or
      even Bangkok.

      Fourthly, the impoverishment in rural and urban areas
      has resulted in sluggishness in domestic demand for
      industrial goods, which has further eroded the
      possibility of an increased industrial growth in
      Nepal. This fact coupled with the backlash of
      liberalisation (export-oriented production) has made
      the industries in Nepal increasingly dependent on
      external markets – depleting internal resources to
      feed external demand. This further perpetuates the
      need for capital-intensity and an import of
      technologies to compete globally. The World Bank, in
      2002, itself provided the glimpse of Nepali dependence
      while prognosticating slower growth in
      non-agricultural sectors and a contraction in
      manufacturing. It speculated that this sluggishness
      would be due to “(i) drop in domestic demand due to
      falling agriculture growth that especially affects
      small industries and services; (ii) decline in export
      demand as growth in both OECD countries and India has
      decelerated; (iii) cancellation of export orders
      caused by trade disruptions and higher insurance costs
      after the events of September 11th; and (iv) rising
      costs and uncertainty due to power disruptions, bandhs
      (general strikes) and direct terrorist attacks by
      Maoists and other groups on carpet and garment
      factories and on the liquor business” (these
      industries are most exploitative, and are heavily
      dependent on casualised workforce). Hence, there is
      not much in store for the Nepali industrial sector due
      to service sector-based (rent-oriented) development
      strategy and turbulent external market. Moreover, the
      Indian Multinationals in Nepal have added another
      dimension to the Nepali economy, they prefer employing
      Indian labour instead of Nepalis to avoid any
      investment in human resource development and, of
      course, class-conscious native proletarians.

      Finance, Foreign Aid and Politics in Nepal
      Interestingly, the fastest growing sub-sectors among
      services are financial/real estate and
      community/social services. Moreover, these are the
      areas that concern the rentier interests (in and out
      of the State apparatuses) the most. They have been
      trying everything to make these sub-sectors stable and
      rewarding. It is the financial sector that is the
      force behind the neoliberal revolution throughout the
      world, which motivates the commercialisation of
      economies and breaks every boundary even if it is
      meant to attain a degree of self-reliance to be able
      to compete in the market. While, on the one hand, it
      helps in the capitalist control over local resources
      by funding economic activities, on the other hand, it
      rewards the peripheral agencies who facilitate such
      acquisitions.

      The financial sector in these efforts is complemented
      by foreign aid driven ‘social sector’, the other
      sub-sector that has never slackened in Nepal since the
      initial American efforts under the Truman Doctrine to
      buy off the Nepali rulers to counter the ‘second
      world’ influence in South Asia. A foremost radical
      political economist from Nepal, Nanda R. Shrestha
      rightly concludes in his 2001 book, “The Political
      Economy of Land, Landlessness and Migration in Nepal”,

      “This is what so-called development or foreign aid had
      achieved: mesmerization of the restless Nepali
      intellectuals into submission to the reality of
      consumerism and family sustenance.” It has created a
      slavish middle class fully trained in protecting and
      serving the imperialist interests on the Nepali soil.
      It has created a vast population of “development
      victims”, too. While enticing the rural producers into
      commercial ventures without providing them training
      and peripheral infrastructure, and motivating them to
      a reckless utilisation of fertilisers, chemicals and
      genetically transformed seeds for immediate profits
      regardless of their ecological repercussions, they
      have made their survival dependent on the ups and
      downs of the market and on creditors, thus enforcing a
      form of archaic primitive accumulation and
      mercantilist exploitation. Shrestha writes in “In the
      Name of Development: A Reflection on Nepal”:
      “Development funds have proved to be not only a
      fantastic boon for the elites, but also a powerful
      tool of control in their class (power) relations with
      the poor, an instrument that helps to keep the poor in
      check while issuing themselves fat checks…To wit, some
      of the development money has certainly trickled down
      to a few poor, mainly in the urban-commercial
      contexts. Consequently, one can find a few poor who
      have become rich, thus providing good anecdotes of
      development (capitalist) success. And development
      advocates are quick to hail such anecdotal
      rags-to-riches stories to stress their message that
      the development works. For instance, a poor butcher in
      Kathmandu has become the owner of a relatively large
      supermarket-like grocery store which is quite popular
      among Kathmandu’s elites and Westerners. But what they
      fail to announce openly is that, for the poor,
      development is a lottery game and that buried under
      every success story are scores of tragic stories of
      development victims. Simply put, poverty remains the
      stepchild of development, with foreign aid now acting
      as its sponsor.”

      Political Changes in Nepal
      We provided an overview of the Nepali economy above,
      and briefly touched upon the various processes in its
      formation. But underneath these processes one must
      recognise the semi-conscious designs of hegemonic
      forces to stabilise their hegemony – their struggle to
      sustain the roots that gave birth to them. Hence, the
      people who talk about stability and peace at this
      juncture must clarify whose stability and peace they
      want. If they say the forces that came to power in the
      1990s must be stabilised to be able to deliver goods,
      then one must identify who came to power during that
      time. Did they do anything to curb the continuity and
      ‘stability’ of the above-mentioned economic processes,
      which have sustained the rule of the people thriving
      on foreign aid and squeezing the indigenous productive
      sectors? The liberal inflow of imperialist capital has
      been further smoothened. The overstress on attracting
      aid has become another government enterprise. A
      finance minister in 1993 while enumerating the Nepali
      Congress government’s successes added – “there has
      been a noteworthy increase in the volume of foreign
      assistance after the formation of the elected
      government”, even when most of this assistance were in
      the form of loans, increasing Nepal’s indebtedness.
      Further, data presented above clearly shows the
      deepening of dependency of the Nepali economy during
      1990s after the ‘democratic takover’, rather than any
      move to counter it. The contribution of the 1990
      ‘revolution’ was simply that it served to bring the
      neo-rich rural and urban gentry close to the state
      power, which was earlier monopolised by the royalty
      and armed forces directly representing the Nepali
      rentier-corporate class and negotiating with global
      capital. In fact, the 1990 ‘revolution’ was a
      culmination of the Panchayat system and
      commercialisation of the economy undertaken during
      that time, which created numerous local facilitating
      agencies and elites. In their urge to find a
      sustainable political accommodation, they utilised the
      general unrest and eventually compromised its
      revolutionary potential by agreeing to the arrangement
      that kept the monarch at the helm. It was this
      intermediate ‘class’ representing neo-rich and petty
      bourgeois interests in the society that entered the
      parliament. So, effectively the Panchayat System was
      repainted as parliamentary democracy, leaving the
      institution of monarchy to play the same gimmicks of
      diminishing the vitality of the forces of change by
      accommodation and repression.

      However, this 1990 incident can be called a revolution
      only in this respect that it was only after it that
      for the first time in the history of Nepal that the
      labouring classes – proletarians, landless and poor
      peasantry – could nationally and independently
      organise themselves, independent of the wavering
      petty-bourgeois leadership. The successes of Maoist
      revolutionaries, despite the news about their recent
      errors and ‘sectist’ infightings, show that the
      exploited masses of Nepal can be organised above
      localism and beyond reformist concessionary movements.
      What the spontaneous Sukumbasi (landless) movement of
      1979 in Tarai lacked, and thus was suppressed brutally
      and quickly, the Maoists have provided – an
      organisation with a clear political vision.

      When we talk of the working class’ struggle against
      exploitation in societies like Nepal, which is
      predominantly an agrarian society with a few enclaves
      of industrialisation, we need to avoid the schematic
      ‘pigeon hole’ framework of class analysis. In fact,
      class boundaries in sociological sense are always
      fuzzy and their solidification (in a sense, of ‘class
      solidarity’) depends on the level of class struggle.
      The level of class struggle in turn depends not only
      on local production relations, but also on the locus
      of these production relations in the overall national,
      regional and global political economy. An agrarian
      society in South Asia, where agriculture is heavily
      dependent on seasonal variations, where low
      technological development and population pressure
      characterise the whole economy, there is always an
      organic linkage between the proletarian and rural poor
      (poor peasants and the landless). This linkage if, on
      the one hand, depreciates the overall wage-levels and
      perpetuates casualisation of workforce, on the other
      hand, it allows a self-organisation of the labouring
      masses across the rural-urban divide. If on the one
      hand, villages act as depositories of cheap labour, to
      be pulled out and pushed forth, whenever capital needs
      it, on the other hand, these same villages act as the
      zones of political and economic solidarity among
      labouring masses. The experience of the Chinese
      Revolution, the glorious history of Latin American
      workers and the peasant movements and the ongoing
      struggles in Nepal attest the presence of such
      potentiality in agrarian societies.

      (Note: The data utilised here are taken from various
      World Bank reports on Nepal and from the studies
      published by a Nepalese trade union, GEFONT, available
      on its website, http://www.gefont.org)

      Tsunami Update

      A Tsunami by Any Other Name…

      - Sundaram

      In the early days, soon after the deadly Asian tsunami
      struck coastal regions in south and south-east Asia
      there was a curious sight to be seen along the East
      Coast Road (ECR) in India that runs down all the way
      from Chennai to Kanyakumari.

      On one side of the road, towards the sea, were
      hundreds of colourful, pitched tents sheltering
      thousands of fisher folk being supplied with relief
      material by a large number of NGOs, religious bodies
      and state agencies. These were all those who were
      unfortunate enough to be struck by the tidal surges
      brought by the Asian tsunami and who had lost
      everything – loved ones, homes, most of their personal
      belongings.

      On the other side of the ECR, were people who may not
      have been equally miserable but for whom poverty had
      been a way of life for long even without any tsunami
      hitting them. Here though, there was not a charitable
      soul to be seen helping anyone in any way.

      Six months after the tragic events of 26 December 2004
      this strange divide between these two sets of
      have-nots – one struck, the other spared by the
      tsunami – on both sides of the ECR remains for me the
      most compelling image of the world’s response to the
      disaster. Myopic, discriminatory, half-hearted,
      superficial, token in its spirit and completely devoid
      of context it has been yet another shallow exercise in
      self-adulation by the globalised middle-classes of
      Planet Earth.

      But was not the response of the world so
      ‘unprecedented and overwhelmingly generous’? So much
      so that it was being dubbed a ‘tsunami of charity’ all
      on its own? And is it not true that the response to
      the tsunami tragedy came not just from ordinary people
      around the globe but also corporations, rich
      governments, celebrities, movie and sports stars?

      In a world where compassion is in such obviously short
      supply it would extremely mean of me to insist that
      all this show of generosity was meaningless or
      useless. One should be thankful for small mercies and
      compliment all those who made any effort to reach out
      to the victims and survivors of the Asian tsunami in
      any way.

      Having said that there still remains the very
      legitimate question of “So what? How did all that
      generosity make any difference to the ground realities
      in the tsunami affected areas?”

      Who really cares what happens to those thousands of
      people whose lives got totally disrupted by the
      tsunami in the long run? Who cared about them before
      the tsunami hit and thrust them so embarrassingly dead
      on the television screens of the world’s consuming
      classes? Or for that matter who is really bothered
      about the thousands upon thousands of extremely poor
      people, who live amidst those struck by the tsunami,
      but don’t qualify for assistance because they were not
      touched by the saltwater?

      The sad fact is that there is nobody who is really
      concerned about any of the long-term issues involved
      in the tsunami-affected areas. So what we have in the
      name of relief and rehabilitation, from India to
      Indonesia, are a series of totally ad hoc measures
      that only touch the surface of problems facing the
      people but not deep enough to make a fundamental
      change to their future.

      So for example you have inappropriate shelters built
      without consideration for the local people’s needs or
      the vagaries of the weather – imagine tin sheds in the
      Asian summer. Or you have NGOs and private
      corporations dumping hundreds of boats amidst the
      tsunami-hit fishing communities without asking whether
      the fishing economy is large enough to sustain all of
      them. And then of course there are the real estate
      sharks trying to scare the already terrified coastal
      folk to abandon their ancestral lands so that they can
      resell the same to tourist and hotel resorts.

      In the meanwhile the big guys, the superpower and its
      acolytes, go about using the tsunami as an excuse to
      make strategic military interventions into areas where
      they would not be allowed with pretext as grand as a
      tsunami. The Americans and the Australians in
      Indonesia, the Indians in Sri Lanka, the entire world
      in Thailand – we live in times where even mass
      funerals have become venues for promoting imperialism.


      Some of the other problems with the way the world
      continues to deal with the post-tsunami situation
      include:

      Lack of context: One of the most obvious shortcomings
      of the international response to the tsunami disaster
      has been the complete lack of contextualization. So
      for example the international community seems to have
      deliberately overlooked a range of very important
      factors influencing the lives of affected communities
      ranging from the entire civil conflict in Aceh to the
      money and muscle power of tourism operators in Phuket
      to the pre-tsunami socio-economic problems of
      survivors in Sri Lanka and India.

      So for example you have every one from international
      NGOs to multinational corporations rushing in to do
      rehabilitation work in places like Aceh and northern
      Sri Lanka with little idea of the history, causes and
      portents of the civil war in these places. You have
      agencies dumping millions of dollars into projects
      that enrich contractors, NGO administrators and local
      politicians in coastal Tamil Nadu or Sri Lanka without
      asking what happened to all the money that was spent
      in the past on similar projects.

      While the specific problems generated by the tsunami
      are unique and need to be addressed this can be done
      best only by taking into serious account the
      background in which the disaster occurred.

      Local culpability: The primary responsibility for
      whatever happens to the people affected by the tsunami
      lies with the local elites, the societies in which the
      survivors live and in many ways with the survivors
      themselves. While outsiders can indeed play a positive
      role in helping these people the fact is that without
      major changes in the way many of the affected
      societies are organized and run there is little hope
      that future disasters can either be prevented or
      generate a better response.

      Here some of the questions that should be asked, but
      no one is asking, include why there was a complete
      failure of state machineries when the tsunami struck
      India or Indonesia or Thailand or Sri Lanka. What are
      the leaders and bureaucrats of these countries worth
      if they cannot build emergency disaster management
      systems that can save the lives of their citizens or
      provide them with relief in times of dire need?

      In that sense one of the most important long-term
      goals of any rehabilitation of the tsunami-affected
      people should aim to build institutions that can deal
      with disasters of all kinds on a regular basis. This
      is a fundamental right of the people and one that in
      our age and time should be relatively easy to set up-
      even if it takes mass agitations to force policy
      makers on this issue.

      Lack of linkage with other disasters: It is quite
      amazing that almost all the relief and rehabilitation
      efforts undertaken in the tsunami affected countries
      have been done with little reference to other natural
      disasters that have taken place in recent years.
      Whether it is the earthquakes in Turkey and Iran or
      Hurricane Mitch there is a huge bank of experiences
      and knowledge of dos and don’ts that can benefit those
      dealing with the situation in India, Indonesia, Sri
      Lanka or Thailand.

      Also, right now there is a complete disconnect between
      the rehabilitation work going on in one affected
      country and the other. No one in coastal India knows
      about what is happening in coastal Thailand or
      Indonesia. In this age of so called instant
      communication such a lack of information flow is truly
      shocking and shameful.

      No respect for the survivors: Another very disturbing
      aspect of the way governments and NGOs have approached
      the ‘affected population’ has been to look at them as
      completely helpless people in need of relief,
      rehabilitation, counseling and so on. There has been
      very little attention paid to the skills, inherent
      strengths and human resources of the affected
      communities.

      So there are no programs to help the community
      consolidate and develop their own traditional skills,
      and better still use these talents to make additional
      income or create new livelihood opportunities. It is
      time for the world to stop being so patronizing,
      become a little more humble and realize that while
      those who survived the tsunami do need help in many
      ways they also have many things to teach all of us.

      Peasant Struggle

      Punjab Government's Response to Peasants’ Angst in
      Punjab
      - Radhika Menon, Liberation, July, 2005.

      In Punjab, the cotton districts of Mansa, Sangrur,
      Bhatinda and Barnala have been witness to intensifying
      peasant agitation. The soaring price of inputs,
      un-remunerative price of agricultural produce, the
      vice-like grip of the multinationals and big
      corporations over the inputs, burden of debt and the
      exploitation by the commission agent has made life
      very difficult for the farmers in Punjab. A rally was
      announced in Tapa Mandi, Barnala on 10 June 2005 by
      Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) to highlight these issues.


      The immediate factor behind the rally was a dispute
      between a farmer and a commission agent, wherein the
      farmer was thrashed over an argument. The farmers who
      had had enough called for protest on 2 June. As the
      peasant leaders were called for negotiations by the
      administration and a singer sang about the plight of
      the farmers, the commission agents started stoning the
      farmers. The police and administration, which had
      already indicated that the farmers opposition to the
      debt burden and exploitation of farmers was "naxal" in
      nature promptly lathi-charged the people sitting on
      the dharna. Several persons were injured in the
      process.
      The farmers, led by BKU (Ekta) promised to highlight
      the issue by mobilising in larger numbers and coming
      back to Tapa Mandi. The administration, which had
      been backing the commission agents, however, planned
      to foil the rally by arresting the leaders of the
      farmers from their homes, offices and fields from 8
      June onwards. Atleast 400 people were arrested on the
      day.

      Undeterred, when the farmers proceeded to Barnala on
      10 June for a peaceful protest rally against the
      police lathi-charge, they were stopped and arrested
      from railway stations, bus stops and at 21 other
      barricades and sent to jail. Villages were sealed and
      even farmers who were watching the proceedings were
      arrested. More than 2000 farmers, CPI (ML) leaders and
      BKU leaders, and even student activists were sent to
      Barnala, Bhatinda, Sangrur, Ludhiana, Firozpur and
      Moga jails. As the peasants were jailed, supposedly
      for being a threat to peace, the government found it
      opportune to announce a massive hike in electricity
      rates! However, if the police and administration
      thought they had terrorised the people into not
      protesting, they were in for a bigger surprise as
      large number of people came to protest the police
      repression at various meetings.

      In this region where camel carts are used along with
      tractors and trucks, the dispute with the commission
      agents in Tapa Mandi acted as the proverbial straw
      that broke the camel's back. Farmers have been
      suffering humiliation and indignities following heavy
      loans that they have incurred over the years. Several
      farmers lost huge sums of money and sank in debt
      following the failure of two successive crops in this
      cotton belt. A good crop has become impossible without
      heavy pesticide use and this implies heavy loans,
      almost always taken from the commission agents and
      when the crops failed, it finished several families.
      Last year a good crop was harvested by those who could
      afford the loans but not many had ventured into it
      following the bitter experience and the subsequent
      impoverishment in the two years before that.

      In this part of the country, impoverishment is not
      obviously visible. The towns have plush markets, the
      houses are all pucca and there are several huge
      buildings announcing this or that private college. The
      pucca houses, interspersing fields planted with paddy,
      are painted with advertisements announcing one or the
      other brand of motorized water pumps. The pumps are
      ubiquitous and now said to be indispensable. The hike
      in electricity charges announced by the Punjab
      government is going to affect the small peasants the
      most and the pumps can draw up huge bills with
      dwindling subsidies and falling water table.

      Much of the prosperity visible in these parts is said
      to be on loan. The houses, the tractors, the
      motorised pumps, the diesel for the machines, the
      seeds, the saplings, the fertilisers, the pesticides,
      education and even the health services. The commission
      agents give the money, recommend a particular pump, a
      doctor, pesticide brand and so on. A farmer pointed
      out that sometimes, the only thing that they actually
      own is their ability to cultivate and everything else
      belongs to the commission agent. When the crops are
      ready, payments are made but crop failure and
      un-remunerative prices imply disaster. The
      measurements of the crops, the records of the
      commission agents are also adequately doctored to keep
      the farmer in a state of debt forever. A loan of Rs
      50, 000 easily becomes three or four times the amount
      in the records and the farmers’ unfamiliarity with
      account management makes them easy victims. The
      farmers, shy of accepting their impoverishment,
      withhold their condition and things only come to light
      when auctioneers and loan retrievers arrive at the
      household.

      In Sangrur jail, as we waited to meet the leaders and
      peasants locked up by the administration, for
      participating in a campaign to liberate peasants from
      debt (or even appearing to be sympathetic to the issue
      raised), yet another inmate was brought to the over
      flowing jail. A frightened old man of 60 years, in
      torn and soiled clothes, he was a farmer from
      Chathanankheda village. He had taken a loan of Rs 28,
      000, which he had failed to pay back and since there
      was nothing that could be taken away from him, the
      petrified old man had been sent to jail. A jail
      official pointed out that a number of such people were
      coming into the jail on loan and land disputes.

      Farmer suicides have become part of 'natural deaths'
      following poor crops and un-remunerative prices, even
      in this ''prosperous'' region. The cases that come to
      light are when the farmer chooses to kill himself
      outside a commission agent's shop or some such public
      place.

      The Congress government however has dismissed off the
      anguish of the peasants as a "law and order" problem.
      The District Commissioner of Sangrur when asked by the
      delegation that met him, on why peaceful rallyists
      were jailed, pointed out that the farmers had walked
      out of negotiations (wherein the administration was
      supporting the commission agents). While walking out
      of negotiations has never been reason enough to pick
      up and jail thousands, the official also gave the
      priceless information that the mandi was a private
      space since the commission agents had their shops
      there. Significantly, for the government, the farmers
      can commit suicide but not protest since even a public
      place like a mandi, which is a centre for their
      activities, is out of bounds for them.

      Mansa today has become the centre of struggle against
      debt through the Karza Mukti Andolan. As the movement
      is growing with the support of not only farmers, but
      other sections of society - the government has had a
      knee jerk reaction. The agrarian crisis aggravated by
      neo liberal agricultural reforms is being solved by
      the BJP government in Rajasthan through police bullets
      and the Congress government in Punjab through raids on
      activist offices and jailing of farmers. In the green
      revolution belt, the brokers of neo-liberal
      agricultural policy are obviously planning to push
      ahead their agenda of farmer pauperisation dressed in
      riot gear.

      Update:
      On June 26, Punjab peasants wore black turbans and
      held protests to commemorate the anti-emergency day as
      well as to express their resolve to fight back against
      the crackdown let loose on the farmers of
      Mansa-Bhatinda-Sangrur-Ludhiana belt by the Amrinder
      Singh government. Hundreds of peasants, men and women,
      in black turbans and shawls, marched in Mansa
      demanding immediate release of their comrades sent in
      jail by the administration to protect the illegal
      moneylender-arhtiya-police nexus. A mass meeting was
      also held in Mansa organised by CPI (ML) and BKU
      (Ekta) on June 27. Arrested peasant and CPI (ML)
      leaders and activists led by Party's State Secretary
      Rajwinder Singh Rana also held protest and wore black
      turbans inside the Bhatinda jail on June 26. Comrade
      Rana and others are reported to have been released on
      June 27.
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