AIDWA to Intensify Fight against Political, Economic and Cultural Onslaughts
THE 14th state conference of Tamilnadu unit of the All India Democratic Women’s Association was held from September 20-22, 2014 at Captain Lakshmi, Shyamali Gupta Memorial Hall in the city of Salem in Tamilnadu. The flag post in memory of martyr Krishnammal was brought by the Salem district committee and the flag in memory of Pappa Umanath was brought from Trichy. In memory of KP Janaki Ammal, Shajathi, Veerammal, Kasthuri and Leelavathi, memorial torches were brought from Madurai Rural, Cuddalore, Coimbatore, Theni and Madurai Urban districts respectively. A rousing reception was given to the flag, flag post and the memorial torches that reached the venue on 20th morning from various parts of the state. Amidst thunderous slogans, the conference flag was hoisted by J Vijaya Janakiraman, state vice president of the AIDWA. The conference was symbolically declared open by letting a few doves – representing world peace – fly into the sky. The presidium consisting of N Amirtham, S Valentina and D Chandra presided over the conference. Dr Chellammal, chairman of the reception committee welcomed the participants. N Amirtham delivered the presidential address. The homage resolution was moved by the state secretary Vanaja Kumari. Malini Bhattacharya, president of AIDWA inaugurated the conference. In her speech, she said that today new challenges are being faced in the political, economic and cultural fronts; she emphasised that such challenges could be faced only through the united struggle of all the segments of the society. She said, “It was generally expected that with the growth of the nation, the atrocities on women would come down. However, it has not happened. And the reason for this is that today, the State is playing a different role, changing its character and gradually they are withdrawing from the promise of democracy, equality and non-discrimination.” She also lamented that there were days when democratic rights had some respect from the rulers and the State. But today, be it the Narendra Modi government at the centre or the Mamata Banerjee government in the state of West Bengal, there is little respect for these democratic rights. The government which came to power swearing by ‘growth’ and ‘achhe din’ for the people pursues the same pro-rich and pro-corporate policies. Apart from this, the BJP led central government today, wants to divide the people in the name of religion, caste, region, etc. She called upon the conference to chalk out programmes of action to fight against these political, economic and cultural onslaughts by building a broader unity. The conference felicitated the women who had relentlessly fought against the economic, social and cultural attacks on the women. Guru Easwari who fought against domestic violence, Priyadharshini against dowry harassment and Amirthavalli against child abuse were felicitated. The short film director Geetha Ilangovan was felicitated for her film titled “Maatha Vidai” (Menstruation) that portrays the physical and social problems faced by women during the period of menstruation. Chandrika, who was once a child labour in a power loom factory but is today pursuing her M.Phil degree out of love for education and quest for knowledge – was also felicitated. The work and organisational reports were submitted by P Suganthi, general secretary of TN state AIDWA and the statement of accounts were submitted by R Brindha, treasurer. Around 65 delegates participated in the deliberations on the reports submitted, and enriched them with their views and suggestions; they also shared their experiences. In the conference, commission papers on 1) Increasing trend of alcoholism 2) Women and Caste politics 3) Women, Tradition and Culture 4) Migrating families 5) Sexual Harassment at work place 6) Challenges faced by teenage girls - were presented. There were group discussions on them by the delegates. During the course of the conference, Mahalakshmi, convener of Tamil Nadu Working Women’s Co-ordination Committee (CITU), Mani, general secretary of Tamilnadu Agricultural Workers’ Union, Muthukannan, general secretary of TN state committee of DYFI greeted the delegates and called upon them to carry forward the united programmes of actions in the days to come. The conference was also greeted by P K Shreemathi, MP, treasurer of AIDWA. Two publications titled “Women in the freedom struggle” and “Violence-Varma Committee-Laws” were released by Malini Bhattacharya and Shreemathi respectively. A CD on the Act against Sexual Harassment at work place was released by Sudha Sundararaman, vice president of AIDWA. The conference souvenir was released by U Vasuki, vice president of AIDWA. P Suganthi, general secretary summed up the discussions. The conference unanimously elected the state committee with 87 members. The newly elected state committee unanimously elected S Valentina as president, P Suganthi as general secretary and Mallika as treasurer. The conference called upon the women of Tamilnadu to fight against alcoholism in the state and resolved to lock the TAASMAC liquor shops being run by the Tamilnadu state government which are located in prominent places like schools, hospitals, bus stand, railway station, etc. Sudha Sundararaman introduced the newly elected office bearers. Winding up the conference, she congratulated the delegates for their deliberations which reflected the enhanced level of their consciousness and understanding. She urged them to fight against all forms of inequalities. She further stressed that for this a strong organisation matching the needs of the movement was to be built, and women from various strata of the society were to be brought under the banner of the AIDWA. The conference came to a close with a vote of thanks proposed by P Suganthi. On the evening of the concluding day, a massive rally - flagged off by Malini Bhattacharya, wended through the streets of the Salem City. The rally was greeted by leaders and cadres of the CITU, SFI, DYFI, Tamilnadu Kisan Sabha, and AIIEA. The rally culminated in the maidan named after Pappa Umanath where a public meeting was held. It was presided over by K Jothi Lakshmi, state secretary. K Rajathi delivered the welcome address. Manik Sarkar, chief minister of Tripura delivered the special address. In his address, he extended his warm greetings to the 500 odd delegates who participated in the conference for the three days and contributed to the successful conclusion of the Tamilnadu state conference of AIDWA. While congratulating the delegates for having resolved to unleash relentless struggles against the anti-people policies that are being implemented by the BJP led government at the centre and the AIADMK government in the state, he said that it is good and important that our mothers and sisters have resolved so. He said, "Our experience in Tripura is that the mothers and sisters of Tripura are in the forefront of the mass, class and political struggle and they have actually changed the character of these struggles in the state. Because of the participation of the women of Tripura in a massive way, the Left Democratic Movement in the state has gained strength". He also informed the gathering about the various social welfare and pro-people schemes and policies that are being implemented by the Tripura state government. He said, "50% of our gram panchayats, municipal corporations are being run and managed by our mothers and sisters. They have been taking leading role in anti-illiteracy campaign, in implementing MNREGA scheme in the state. They have been playing very important role in running anganwadi centres and health activities in the rural areas of the state. And the role that the women of Tripura play in such activities has been helping to change the political character of the state." In literacy, today Tripura has surpassed even Kerala and stands number one in the country. At one point of time, in Tripura we had the problem of insurgency. But we could overcome this because of the positive role played by the Tribal and non-Tribal women. Today Tripura has become a model state in the country by showing the way to combat terrorism with the participation of people. Not only on this, we also stood first in the implementation of MNREGA scheme. In the year 2013-14, we have provided work for 88 man-days, which is top in the country, Manik Sarkar said. PRO-PEOPLE POLICIES Education in Tripura upto college level is free of cost. 97% of the population is directly dependent on the health care facilities that have been provided by the state government and this is the unique feature of our state, said Manik Sarkar. We are not dependent on private sector in this area like in the state of Tamilnadu. We also provide land to the landless people. We provide house to those who do not have any house to live. All these have become possible because of the mass and class struggle led by the women of our state. I would like to tell that in Tamilnadu too, until and unless the women of the state take part in the mass and class struggle, the character of the government could not be changed, he added. BJP – CONTROLLED BY RSS While speaking on the political situation prevailing in the country, Manik Sarkar said that the BJP is a party of rich, who are very much interested to take care of the monopolies, corporates and the landlords. He also pointed out that they want to maintain their links with imperialism, in particular with the US imperialism. He also cautioned that the BJP is not a simple bourgeoisie party like the AIADMK or the DMK in Tamilnadu. But it is different and dangerous. He said the RSS which works for Hindutva ideology and which has been campaigning that each and every Indian is a Hindu, is the heart of the BJP. He also said that the RSS is controlling the BJP and that without the consent of RSS, BJP cannot take up even a single step. He also drew the attention of the people to the fact that after this government assuming office, 30-40 cases of communal violence have taken place in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Assam. And in all these clashes, minorities – Muslims, Christians and Sikhs have been affected. All these communal clashes have taken place because of the fabricated campaign by the RSS that India shall be Hindu Rashtra and this is very dangerous. BJP & CONGRESS ECONOMIC POLICIES – TWO SIDES OF THE COIN While exposing the fascist character of the BJP, he also charged that the BJP is not taking any step to keep up the promises that it made during the election campaigns for the 16th Lok Sabha. He further said that this government has been elected for a period of five years and it has now completed just three and a half months. So, some people say it is too early to criticise them. But there is a say that the morning of the day shows how the day would be. Likewise, from the three and a half months rule by this government we could clearly see what their intention is. He criticised that the prices of essential commodities were not controlled by this government. He also questioned that when this government increased the railway fare and the freight fare, how we could expect that they would control the price rise. Since the day of assuming office, this government has increased the price of diesel and petrol on three occasions. At the same time, they have not taken any steps or spelt out anything about the implementation of universal public distribution scheme. They have not taken any steps to control future trading, which also contributes for the price rise of the essential commodities. The economic policies pursued by the Narendra Modi government clearly show that BJP and the Congress are the two sides of the coin as far as the neo-liberal policies are concerned. BJP which promised generation of employment opportunities to the youth of the country during the election campaigns has not taken any positive step in this direction after coming to power. Rather, it has been even destroying any scope for creation of job opportunities. In fact they want to sell the shares of 10 to 12 profit making PSUs and generate 43,000 to 45,000 crores of rupees and take care of the deficit in the budget that has been submitted by them. On the other hand, they want to carry out amendments in the labour laws and snatch away the hard earned rights of the working class. They also want to wide open the doors for FDI in railways, insurance, defence etc. He further stated that our experience shows that Congress cannot be an alternative to the BJP and BJP cannot be the alternative to Congress. Both the parties are pro-rich and anti-poor. In this situation, he called upon the women, youth, peasants, workers, middle class to isolate these two parties and strengthen the Left and democratic Forces. He also stated that Tamilnadu is one of the biggest states in the country. It is actually full of natural resources. In spite of its richness, it is a state in which poorest of the poor live, farmers commit suicide, starvation is taking place, and migration of people from rural areas is taking place. One after another, industries are being closed and workers are losing their jobs. Therefore, he called upon the people of Tamilnadu to strengthen the hands of the Left and democratic forces. For this, there is no other option, than to unleashing continuous struggle by the workers, peasants, students, youth, middle class, government employees, teachers, traders, etc. And in all these struggles, he called upon the women of Tamilnadu to play a very important role and thereby change the character of mass, class and political struggle in the coming days. All India leaders Malini Bhattacharya, P K Shreemathi, Sudha Sundararaman and U Vasuki addressed the huge gathering. Leaders of the state committee N Amirtham, P Suganthi, K Balabharathi MLA and S Valentina also addressed the gathering. The meeting ended with a vote of thanks by I Gnanasoundari, president of Salem district committee of AIDWA.