India

India is hyped as being very modern, yet in the midst of the towering buildings and corporate plazas there are huge swathes of ghettos overflowing with intense poverty and misery, where human beings are forced to live in bestial conditions of unhygienic and filthy dwellings. The artificial glitter and the facade of modernity fails to conceal the primitive social and economic conditions that prevail across India. These conditions are reflected in politics, and particularly in the elections that are being held in nine stages from 7th April to 12th May this year.

South Asia’s elite historians have deliberately distorted certain events within their accounts of the struggle against British imperial rule and subsequent bloody partitioning. One such significant episode was the struggle of the Hindustan Revolutionary Socialist Association (HSRA) and its most renowned martyr Bhagat Singh. On the 23rd of March 1931 the twenty three year old revolutionary and his comrades in arms Sukhdev and Raj guru were murdered at the Lahore central jail.

One of the cruellest features of the present period of lull and social stagnation in the Indian subcontinent is how economic and social conditions are seen from the standpoint of the bosses who have a total disregard for the pain and misery inflicted by this economic development on the heaving masses.

On July the 1st at Mavalankar Hall, New Delhi, a historic convention was held. At this convention, leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) agreed on the text of a declaration, an alternative policy platform, with which they will approach “all democratic parties and mass organisations” in the lead up to next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

Over the past few weeks Indian politics has been rife with talk of a new electoral front being built to challenge the political hegemony of the currently ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by the Congress Party, and its rival National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP). But, what does this discussion actually represent?

Today marks the beginning of a two- day general strike in which the working class of the whole of India will rise with one voice to declare their dissatisfaction at the horrible conditions being imposed upon them by the crisis of capitalism. This unprecedented action should not be seen as a one off event or as simply a demonstration. Rather, it is indicative of the pressure that has been building up within Indian society over the last period and is symptomatic of the on-going fight within the trade unions to force the leadership to come up with a fighting solution to the problems which are faced by the workers on a day to day basis.

On December 16, 2012 Jyoti Singh Panday along with a male friend boarded a bus in South Delhi. When Jyoti and her friend boarded the bus, they expected to be transported to their destination. They could not have known of the horror that was awaiting them. The victim, Jyoti, was gang raped and brutally tortured by a group of six men in the bus. Jyoti and her friend were then thrown out of the moving bus and she was taken to hospital in a critical condition. She was later flown to Singapore for better treatment but unfortunately she died there on December 29.

The electricity shutdown that immersed almost half of India into darkness and brought life to a standstill exposed the stark realities of “shining India” and the fragile nature of its so-called economic miracle that has been portrayed to the world. This also lays bare the contrast between the high growth rates of the market economy in the former colonial countries and the debilitated conditions of the social and physical infrastructures in these societies.

After being coerced for decades in communal frenzy, sectarian violence, regional conflicts, caste prejudices, religious bigotry, nationalist chauvinism, regional antagonisms, democratic deception and cricket hysteria by the ruling classes and their harlot media, the Indian proletariat is awakening to the new epoch that is dawning across the planet. The 24-hour general strike that took place on 28th February is a turning point in the social and political evolution of present day India.

The struggle of the Power Loom workers in Ludhiana, Punjab has escalated with the workers taking the step of starting an indefinite Gherao (encirclement) of the local Labour Offices in order to get the State government to force the employers to cede to their demands. This marks a stepping up of the struggle and shows a firm willingness on the part of the workers to fight until their demands are met.

On 3rd October, striking Power Loom workers from various areas of Ludhiana gathered to demonstrate in front of the Labour Department offices for a second time to increase the pressure on local officials to get their demands met. This was the 12th day of the workers’ struggle to get a pay increase to offset the recent rises in inflation and to have labour laws enforced that are part of the Indian constitution. These have yet to be accepted by the employers who are trying their best in order to ignore the plight of the workers.

Gathering in Kolkata on Monday 12th September a joint press meeting was held by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), the All India Trade Union Congress and other trade union bodies, where Kali Ghosh (State General Secretary of CITU) and Ramen Pandey (INTUC State General Secretary) denounced the Anti-Labour policies of the Trinamool Congress lead government of West Bengal.

Societies seething with discontent and deprivation erupt in most peculiar ways. In India’s egregiously unequal society, the recent upheaval, if at all it can be called that, around the right-wing conservative social activist Anna Hazare shows the malaise that has set in in this largest democracy in the world with one of the fastest growing economies.

The Indian economy has undergone a long period of high and sustained growth. It remains a country of huge contradictions, with immense polarisation of wealth. And yet, in spite of all the propaganda about the state being “bad”, without it Indian capitalism could not have developed as it has.

The drastic defeat of the Left Front, led by the CPI (M), in the state elections of west Bengal, the results of which were announced on May 13th, is a significant turning point in the left politics of the south Asian subcontinent.

The famous Prussian military theorist, Carl von Clausewitz, once wrote that “war is the continuation of politics by other means”. In the South Asian subcontinent the threat of war and the process of peace are also used as a device of deception for domestic consumption.

For more than two decades society has been under a kind of Orwellian spell where almost everything written or said in the mainstream media and intellectual circles in fact means its opposite. Clichés like “end of history”, “socialism has failed”, “capitalism has lifted millions out of poverty”, etc., reek of a moral and ethical decline of the system and society as a whole.

The corridors of power from Srinagar to Delhi and from Islamabad to Washington have been shaken by the uprising of Kashmiri youth. For the past ten weeks, major parts of the valley have seen widespread protests, strikes and unrest. Everyday life has been brought to a standstill in most districts including Srinagar by this forceful movement. And the attempts to crush the movement on the part of the state apparatus are adding fuel to the fire.

We publish a comment by a Pakistani Marxist on the situation in India today. He outlines the appalling levels of poverty, highlighting that this is getting worse, not better, as the gap between rich and poor gets ever wider. The answer is to be found in the unity of workers across the whole of the South Asian subcontinent in the struggle for a socialist federation.

Several tragic accidents have taken place at the Delhi Metro railway building site, involving the death of a number of workers. This has now turned into a full-scale scandal, revealing collusion, in cutting corners and turning a blind eye to the application of safety regulations, between government officials and the companies involved. It reveals how barbaric the capitalist system is.