Vol. XLI No. 39 September 24, 2017

JAN EKTA JAN ADHIKAR ANDOLAN: Convention against Neoliberal, Communal Policies

THE all India convention of mass, class and social movements was held on September 18 in New Delhi to intensify the issue-based united struggle against the anti-people neoliberal and communal policies of the BJP led NDA government. 

The Jan Ekta Jan Adhikar Andolan (people’s unity, people’s right, people’s resistance) was launched in the convention which will be expand to all states and districts. It gave a call for people’s unity torch light meetings/processions at district/lower levels across the country on October 30.

Leaders of more than a hundred all India and regional based movements attended the convention which has been organised in the context of the intensified onslaught on people’s rights and the democratic fabric of the country by the NDA government and the growing struggles of different sections of the people.

The Jan Ekta Jan Adhikar Andolan will work towards common cause and will try to bring all possible Left and democratic movements, organisations and individuals willing to fight against the neoliberal policies and RSS-BJP combine and other forces of authoritarianism and communalism. It will strive for people’s unity, people’s rights, people’s resistance- jan ekta, jan adhikar, and jan pratirodh.

The convention expressed  support and solidarity to the ongoing struggles by the joint platform of central trade unions – the three day’s continuous mass dharna from November 9-11 before parliament and the struggles by the joint platform of peasant organizations – the march to parliament on November 20.

Activists of mass, class and social organisations representing workers, peasants, agricultural workers, students, youth, women, employees, tribals, dalits, minorities, other socially oppressed sections, writers, cultural groups, intellectuals, secular progressive individuals etc from all the states attended in the convention.

A presidium comprising Hannan Mollah (AIKS 36 Canning Lane), Amarjeet Kaur (AITUC), K Hemalata (CITU) Atul Kumar Anjan (AIKS Ajoy Bhawan)  A Vjijay Raghavan (AIAWU) Rajeev Dimri (AICCTU) , R K Sharma (UTUC), Manoj Bhattacharya (RSP), Anil Choudhury (INSAF),  Shankar (MSM),  Mariam Dhawale (AIDWA)  Annie Raja (NFIW), Kavita Krishnan (AIPWA), Vikram Singh (SFI),  Gautam Modi (NTUI),  K Madhuresh Kumar (NAPM) , Roma Malik (AIFWPU) and P Krishnaprasad (AIKS 36 Canning Lane) conducted the proceedings.

Vikram Singh welcomed the delegates. Amarjeet Kaur made the introductory speech.  The resolution was placed by Hannan Mollah and charter of demands by Atul Kumar Anjan. Many delegates participated in the discussions. 

The resolution adopted at the convention expressed grave concern at the attacks by the Modi led BJP government at the centre on the hard won rights of all sections of the toiling people and on the secular fabric of the country. It came to power promising ‘Acche Din’ (good times): freedom from price rise, corruption and violence against women; employment generation and ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’ (inclusive development for all). But, during its more than three years rule, the Modi led BJP government has been achieving just the opposite. In addition to betraying its promises, it is attacking the rights achieved by the people through hard struggles and is fostering a climate of violence against minorities, oppressed sections, and dissenting voices. The latest victim of this climate of organised hate-mongering and violence is the journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh. 

The resolution noted that corruption is being institutionalised, including foreign and domestic corporate funding for political parties, and crony capitalism. It expressed its dismay at sharp rise of 42 per cent in the number of farmers’ suicides during 2014-15, one in every 30 minutes; and the large number of hunger deaths in different parts of the country. Instead of implementing its poll promise of minimum support price as per Swaminathan Committee recommendations, the BJP government meets farmers’ demands of MSP and loan waiver with bullets and killings as was witnessed in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh. At the same time, bad loans of wilful corporate defaulters amounting to more than Rs 1.91 lakh crores were written off during the three financial years of Modi regime with a record Rs 81,683 crores in 2016-17 alone. FDI and corporatisation of agriculture through contract farming is being vigorously pursued with insurance companies profiteering in the name of crop insurance. Large scale displacement and dispossession of rural poor is taking place through forcible land acquisition without proper rehabilitation and resettlement. The Forest Rights Act is not being implemented and adivasis and other forest dwellers are being evicted; the CNT/SPT Acts protecting adivasi right to land are being diluted. Agricultural workers are being pauperised in absence of jobs, minimum wages and social security; and due to cuts in fund allocation, absence of adequate job and delayed payment in MNREGA. 

The resolution noted with alarm the deteriorating employment situation belying the promise of two crore jobs every year. In three years of Modi led BJP rule, it is not just a job-less economy, but in reality a job-loss economy: government’s labour bureau statistics show that employment in eight major labour intensive sectors plummeted to the lowest in eight years; only 2.31 lakh new jobs were created in these sectors in the nine months ending in December 2016. According to the 5th annual employment unemployment survey of the labour bureau, around 77 per cent households in the country had no regular wage/salaried person. The job crisis and resulting distress amongst the common people has been rendered considerably worse by the huge adverse impact of demonetisation and GST, as well as increasing bank charges, and Aadhar linkage for social welfare benefits.

The resolution further noted that, in the name of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Ease of Doing Business’, corporates, both domestic and foreign, are being invited to exploit our country’s resources, including oil, gas and other natural resources as well as India’s workers. Laws to protect the environment are being diluted or openly violated. Labour laws are being amended brazenly favouring employers, snatching away the hard-earned rights of the workers including the right to organise, to do collective bargaining and claim social security benefits. Workers’ lives, their safety, health and livelihood are sought to be left to the mercy of the greedy corporates.

The resolution noted with concern the massive drive for privatisation of our national wealth through disinvestment, outright sale and strategic sale of the public sector. Despite all talk of nationalism, even strategic and key sectors like defence, railways, banks, insurance, BHEL and others are sought to be handed over to the foreign and domestic corporates. Rapid decline in human development indices are a serious concern. There is a sharp decline and commercialisation of health and education as has been revealed in mass killing of children in Gorakhpur hospital.

The convention expressed its outrage at the growing attacks on dalits and minorities during the last three years; there have been organised attacks on dalits in Una in Gujarat, Saharanpur in UP and in several other places. Lynch mobs of so called ‘gau rakshaks’ have been attacking and killing Muslims on the pretext of ‘beef eating’. Legal cattle traders carrying all necessary documents are also not being spared. The bans and restrictions on cattle trade have hit the livelihoods of lakhs of people, particularly dalits and minorities and other poorer sections in the country.

It condemned the brutal state repression and custodial violence unleashed on adivasis in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Jharkhand and on the people of Kashmir; and the ongoing attempts to impose the Hindi language on the people of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Assam and other non-Hindi peoples.

It condemned the substantial shift in the country’s independent foreign policy to embrace US imperialism and condone Israel’s colonial and racist occupation of Palestine.     

The resolution adopted at the convention condemned the government’s apathy in controlling spiralling price rise particularly of essential commodities like vegetables, dal, etc affecting common people with deterioration of public distribution system. Instead of reducing petrol, diesel and cooking gas prices following decline of oil prices in the international market, the government has decided to increase price of LPG every month until the subsidy is totally eliminated and hand-in-hand with corporate houses plunder the people by hiking the domestic price of petrol and diesel every day. Increasing futures trading and commodity exchange are adversely impacting on the availability and prices of essential commodities.

The resolution condemned the retrograde patriarchal attitudes being promoted by the communal fascist forces patronised by BJP governments. These forces have unleashed a virtual war on women’s autonomy. These regressive attitudes are also reinforced by employers – including governments as well as Indian and transnational corporations which use them as a tool to exploit and discipline women workers. The ruling party is promoting a political culture which unleashes abuse against outspoken women in public life and which seeks to trivialise violence against women, protect the culprits, and blame the victims. 

It condemned all-out attacks on the freedom of expression and protest under the BJP regime. Dissent against government policies, opposition to the fundamentalist ideology of the RSS are being equated to being ‘anti national’. Student activists, universities with a progressive outlook, and rational thinkers are being attacked while regressive retrograde and unscientific ideas are being promoted. There is increasing communalisation of educational institutions, slashing of research seats and reduction in budget allocation for education.

It recalled the immense sacrifices made by the people of our country, our forefathers, who fought the British colonialism and achieved independence 70 years ago. They visualised an independent India with an egalitarian society where all its citizens can lead an equal and dignified life irrespective of their caste, creed or gender. Today, the fundamental rights and freedoms, guaranteed by our constitution to all our citizens, are being subjected to worst ever attack by the present BJP led government. There is shrinking of democratic spaces and increasing RSS ideology and personnel penetration in different spheres including educational institutions.

It extended support to the rapidly growing countrywide united trade unions and peasants struggles and called for joint solidarity actions.      

In such a situation, this convention called upon all Left, democratic, secular, rational, progressive and broad minded people to come together to reclaim our country and our democracy; and unite to fight back these fascistic, authoritarian and autocratic elements and the divisive ideology that guides them; and decided to hold similar conventions with more broader participation in state capitals, district headquarters and at lower levels to propagate the issues and united actions; and organise united people’s ‘Jan Ekta Mashal’ assembly/procession on October 30 in districts/lower levels in large number of areas across the country.