Report on the situation in Bangladesh

-Tamzid Ahmed

After relentless pressure from the masses, the bourgeois courts were finally compelled to pass the death sentence on accused war criminal Sayedee . After the passage of the sentence, the people were in a celebratory mood, and Shahbag movement welcomed the verdict which was hailed as being a people’s verdict. Against this the forces of reaction led by Jamaat i Islami unleashed their wave of assaults. They claimed that Saydee was innocent and the trial was fabricated. In opposition to the verdict the party called a nationwide ‘hartal’ for two days . During that period a wave of retributive violence was unleashed against minorities and internet activists from the Shahbag movement. The violence was politically motivated and targeted the perceived support base for the present shahbag movement. The bulk of the violence took place in Shatkhira, Shirajgonj, Coxsbazar, Chitattagong shatkania, neelphamari and in the rural reaches near these cities. Nearly a hundred people were killed by the reactionary militias and in crossfire by the police.

The Jamaat is stronger in the countryside than it is in the cities where it’s base consists mostly of petty bourgeois and lumpen elements. In the countryside it has some following among poor and illiterate peasants who are more easily drawn to the islamist ideology. Soon after the trial some sections of the rural population were brainwashed into thinking that Sayedee was seen in the moon! Ironically, many believed this rumour after seeing photo shopped pictures ofSayedee on the moon and started to think of him as a godman! However, the majority of the country was against the Jamaat’s destructive actions, and there were many cases as was seen in Sylhet of villagers defending the property of hindu and buddhist minorities against the islami foes. Popular defenses here were more consistent than the state forces in securing the lives of the minorities under threat from the jamaatis. Opposition to the Jamaat’s actions included some religiousclerics/mullahs who declared Jamaat shibir to be unislamic.

The Awami league of course has shown both cowardice and inconsistency in dealing with fascistic forces in Bangladesh, and are no doubt soft on these criminal parties. But the Shahbag movement and the popular defense against violence thereafter, have shown how to deal with these forces. A very strong ground is being made in the present scenario which can lead to the abolition of islam as a state religion and the adoption of a secular constitution which was present in Bangladesh before 1975. The expulsion of the islami parties which have acted as an extension of the US-Saudi imperialist matrix has begun !

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The liberal economy and its effects upon Indian agriculture

– [ The article is written by Comrade Ephraim Rahabi based in Durgapur West Bengal. Though the article deals primarily with the effects of India’s economic transition upon the agrarian sector various other issues are dealt in this article as well dealing with the class forces at play ]

CAPITALIST POLICIES AND ITS HARSH EFFECTS ON THE PROLETARIAT OF INDIA

The real face of the bourgeois government in India has been unmasked in its attitude towards the masses. Recently the government once again decided to raise the price of petrol by Rs 2.50 and the common people who are being continually crushed under the iron heels of inflation are being forced to bear the brunt of this intolerable situation. The crisis of capitalism has shown everywhere the typical nature of the bourgeoisie which transfers the burden of the crisis on the shoulders of the working class and its allies. Naturally, the bourgeois class is benefited by this pitiless exploitation of the people. This is why the Indian bourgeois through its chief political apparatus, the Indian National Congress is so interested to keep on increasing the burden of the proletarians to ‘bail out’ the capitalist class.

FALLACIOUS AND NONSENSICAL ARGUMENT

The government says that in order to ameliorate the harshness of the inflation it is necessary to remove the subsidies from petroleum products because if it is provided at a subsidized rate then it would also be necessary to increase the money supply into the economy by other means (like, printing new currency) which would inevitably lead to an inflationary situation. The reality is that India today has an enormous internal debt burden which constitutes over half of the Indian GDP! Till date the government kept on piling this debt situation till breaking point by way of public borrowings. This was done to keep the rate of inflation down, however that is set to change now that the bourgeois is trying to find new ways of curbing debt. So the logic appears to be towards preferring a rise in inflation and burden the poor so as to curb the debt of the state! This debt situation is of course blamed quite conveniently on the vast public sector edifice the Indian bourgeois still maintains whereas in reality we find that the government has always adopted a policy of subsidizing the rich at the expense of the poor. Using these phony arguments the mendacious bourgeoisie intend to befool the people and hide the real situation. The state gave a tax subsidy and other economic privileges of Rs 500000 crores to the various MNCs and big corporate houses. Where was their serious headache about inflation while they were burdening the pockets of the crony capitalists? More than 75% of the Indian people earn less than Rs 20 a day and these fake messiahs of the poor are always on the prowl of depriving the toiling masses even of their last penny.

PROFIT AND LOSS : THE BOURGEOIS CAT AND MOUSE GAME

The bourgeoisies are however quite satisfied with this “developmental strategy” the government. As the subsidies for various objects are lowered or removed completely, these items enter the open market and the so called “open market forces” start the misuse of essential commodities for profit making(for example: buying cheap food grains from the market at “reasonable prices” and using them to make produce bio-fuels. This has become one of the factors for nearing conditions similar to famine as it is depriving the poor people of their staple food).Whenever the prices of raw materials increases the bourgeoisie take it as an opportunity to further increase their profits, whereas, the proletarians are forced to face all the difficulties as their incomes are not indexed to the rise in prices; when an inflation occurs the bourgeoisie get a chance to hike the prices of commodities produced by their firms(and thereby, maximize their profits) but the wages of the workers doesn’t increase in tandem with the rise in prices of commodities. So, when the bourgeois leaders boldly declare that inflation has lowered that is due to the fact that the proletarians have got sufficiently squeezed by it,otherwise, it would have continued ad infinitum. For example, if we have a look at the fishermen, we will see that the price at which they used to sell a particular item(for example, giant crabs) remains the same(Rs 4 to 5 per giant crab is the usual rate), but, in the present situation they will have to pay much more for the diesel to run the engines of their fishing boats. Whereas, the owners of 3 or 5 star hotels will now get a chance to make even greater profits by increasing the price of various dishes of Giant crab(which used to be approximately Rs 800 per plate). Recently, the price of sugar(an essential commodity) soared up to Rs 65 per kilogram, but what were the farmers benefiting from that? NOTHING!!! Rather some sugarmill owners who are well known for being “close” to some bourgeois leaders were benefiting from it. Not surprisingly, one of the major “Sugar barons” of India is a member of Parliament and part of the ruling coalition!

UPA GOVERNMENT’S “LONG TERM MEASURES”

The bourgeois government in place is weakening the PDS system on one hand by reducing subsidies on various essential commodities and on the other hand they are making plans for extending green revolution to eastern India; the green revolution, till now, has only benefited “rich and prosperous” farmers(who are actually nothing else than Kulaks).Merely increasing expenditure on pulses and oilseeds is nothing but an eyewash, the govt also intends to remove fertilizer subsidy, which will  further raise the prices of fertilizers and add to the woes of the marginal peasants. The UPA govt also plans to open up the entire agricultural sector to the MNCs and their so called “retail trade”, their nonsensical talks about “bringing down the differences between farm gate, wholesale and retail prices” is only aimed at veiling the truth, and the truth is: they are welcoming the corporate powers to intrude into the agricultural sector of Indian economy. The proposed policy of “contract farming” would surely lead to proletarianizing the weakest section of the peasantry and aid the capitalists by providing a fresh flow of cheap exploitable labor. The Government has also declared that it would “encourage” the capitalists to set up cold storage facilities and “trading” of agricultural commodities at farmgate prices, thus, ensuring huge profits for the blackmarketeers who would buy those commodities at farmgate prices, create an artificial scarcity by hoarding and then sell them at skyrocketing prices. The most notorious blackmarketeers created an artificial famine-like situation in West Bengal in the 1960s and 1970s and relentlessly received backing from the bourgeois leaders of that period. Not too different from the situation in Bengal during the great famine of 1946 which killed around 5 million in Bengal and surrounding provinces.

OUR TASKS

As we are increasingly faced with an agrarian crisis of the most acute nature, the workers in the cities and their peasant allies in the countryside are faced with the most aggressive face of their mutual class enemy. As Bolshevik Leninists and revolutionary Marxists it would be our foremost duty to organize the agricultural laborers and marginal peasants who have been bearing the brunt of this inhuman neoliberalism of the bourgeois government. Our aim, now more than ever, would be to strike an urban-rural alliance against the Indian bourgeoisie and its devious designs. In this the role of rural proletarians are significant being the working class equivalent in the countryside. The agricultural labourers are the only true proletarians in the agricultural sector and in this hour of crisis the duty of the Trotskyists would be to unite the agricultural labourers and marginal peasants in a relentless political struggle against the bourgeois forces so as to safeguard the democratic rights of the downtrodden masses.

LONG LIVE THE ANTI-CAPITALIST DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION!!!

LONG-LIVE THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION!!!

DOWN WITH NEOLIBERALISM AND IMPERIALISM!!!

ALWAYS TOWARDS SOCIALISM!!!

Report from Bengal

[We have received this report from a comrade based in West Bengal who has been following the developments of the struggle at the SRMB rolling mills plant at Rajbandh. We are here reposting the report with permission. ]

RMB Rolling Mill Strike and the Limits of the CITU

Ephraim Rahabi

On 25th November 2010 the workers of the SRMB rolling mill at Durgapur (West Bengal) stopped working in protest against the inconsiderate behaviour of their employers. Since a long time the workers were demanding an increment of mere Rs 36 in their daily wages (which was Rs 115 per day) and the employers , as usual, stubbornly refused to acquiesce in the legitimate demand of the workers.

So, ultimately the workers were forced to go in for a strike. On 25th November while the workers were demonstrating against the owners of their factory some “visitors” on behalf of the authorities arrived there (probably to see whether the “safety” and “security” of their plant’s equipments and their henchmen were jeopardized or not).

These “visitors” decided that the plant should be shut and this decision resulted in a lock out, due to which the workers were denied their bare means of subsistence : their daily wages.

Even after that the workers kept on demonstrating against the cruel decision of their employers, their morale was high.Ultimately the movement of the workers came to an end when the trade union leaders reached a point of agreement with the factory owners on 8th December, 2010.As for the result of the strike, the daily wages of the workers increased by Rs 36, just what they had demanded.

“Progress” For the Bosses on the backs of the Working Class

This enormous factory produces about 300 tonnes of iron bars daily and has around 500 labourers.

Since the building up of the plant in 2005, the SRMB rolling mill at Sagarbhanga (Durgapur-11) has become a source of perpetual nuisance to the local residents due to emission of untreated toxic exhaust and particulate matter which is the root cause of the widespread respiratory problems of the residents of the area.

The Durgapur Municipal Corporation always seeks to perpetuate the myth that “steel city” Durgapur has made a significant progress due to rapid industrialization.

Durgapur has found a place of eminence in the map of West Bengal, however, the reality can only be realized by those who suffer, both directly and indirectly.

The SRMB plant authorities are quite reluctant in matters of providing any sort of safety provisions to their workers.The “immense contribution” of this factory’s owners towards social welfare can be realized from the fact that workers aged between 14 to 16 years are frequently found in this rolling mill and the workers of this factory are forced to work for 12 to 14 hours per day.

The working conditions are horribly unhealthy and can only be compared to the purgatory.

The Policy of Spoil and Grab

The electrostatic precipitator remains permanently switched off (probably, in this matter the motto of the factory-owners is : “save energy, save (or kill?) the nation”).

The nauseating smoke and particulate matter emitted from this factory has led to the spoiling of the crops and also the productivity of soil of the nearby agricultural fields, thus forcing the owners of small plots of land to sell off their lands to the factory owners at meagre prices.

This policy of “spoil and grab” adopted by the industrialists has fetched them much success in acquiring large contiguous plots of lands which has immensely facilitated them in building up their industrial empires.

The Flaws of the Union

The CITU, a Labor Federation linked to the CPI(M), has not any serious strategy to fight back the bosses exploitation. On the opposite, their only strategy is to meet the policies of the CPI(M) in power in West Bengal.

a) Despite of the very low wages, the union has demanded mere R36 per day increase in wages. The total salaries went up to R151 per day. Who can survive with these wages? The CITU should demand a minimum wage five times higher.

b)The union never raises any issue relating to the poisoning of the area. Rather their party, the CPI(M), always tries to suppress all voices raised against the pollution. The CPI(M) leaders often get benefited by the land grabbings carried out by the industrialists (in which the CPIM leaders certainly do get a share). Whenever anyone raises his voice against the dishonesty of the officers of Pollution Control Board or the local CPIM leaders (who are perpetually hand-in -gloves with the factory owners) he is immediately branded as an “enemy of the workers” and earns the label of “being interested to close down the factories and make people unemployed”. As for the peasants, after they lose their land, they themselves become labourers in those factories and automatically come under the ambit of the CITU, which doesn’t allow any other union to enter the premises of these factories.

c) The union is supportive of the government of West Bengal which simply does nothing to defend the working people. Their government officials have received much and are still receiving more from the lousy capitalist scoundrels, so, even if the “management” of the factory decides to skin the workers alive and make boots out of them even then the Government of West Bengal won’t do anything.

d) There is no workers’ democracy in the decision making inside the CITU. The CITU officials decide when the strike starts and when it is over. The workers usually never have any say in the matters concerning decision making within the CITU. Some demonstrations were held against the decision of the factory owners, but ultimately, the workers as usual had to surrender to the union leaders.

Our Stand: For a New Leadership

The workers need a different unionism in order to win.

First, this unionism must be independent from all capitalist parties (the Congress, BJP or Trinamool) and have autonomy from the reformist parties and other parties (like the CPI and the CPI-M).

Second, this unionism must fight for a real minimum wages and for proper working conditions.

Third, this unionism must link the struggles of the workers inside the plant with the struggles of the workers/peasants outside the plant against urban pollution and land poisoning.

Fourth, this unionism must have full workers democracy. Every important decision must be taken in democratic assemblies. The demands of a strike must be decided in an assembly of the workers. The same with the decision on when to start and when to call the strike off. All leaders of the union should have their mandates revokable by an assembly. All leaders should have the same wages as rank and file workers.

Fifth, this unionism must fight for socialism, for a revolutionary change, for a workers’ government, for internationalism. The CITU leaders in reality opposes a socialist revolution although from time to time they do not forget to pay a lip service to Marxist-Leninist ideology.

For a Leninist Party!

The inspiring incident of workers’ resistance at the SRMB factory shows us that what we need is a truly Bolshevik-Leninist party which would be capable of serving as the vanguard of the proletariat of the Indian subcontinent and would be capable of leading a successful revolution of the workers, agricultural labourers and rank-and-file soldiers.

Socialism is the need of the hour. In order to accomplish it we must engage in the task of building up a revolutionary party with a do or die spirit.

Down with Stalinism and Capitulationism!!!

Always Towards Socialism!!!