There is really no
difference in the policies of the two fronts. What the one does crudely the
other does with the mask of a human face. Dictated by the imperialist policies
of economic reforms, both the fronts resort to increasing dictatorial and
fascist rule to stem the tide of people’s discontent against their policies. One
does it with the aid of Hindutva, the other does it with soft Hindutva and a
humanistic mask. The NDA crudely used the iron fist, the Congress keeps the iron
fist in velvet gloves. And to add to the fraud the CPM with its regular futile
noises helps to add further legitimacy to the policies which differ little from
that of the BJP. No wonder the ‘Left’ was showered with praise from the
imperialist’s biggest stooges in the country ….. none other than the very
Finance Minister, Chidambaram and also the Prime Minister.
There has been much
talk of a rural oriented policy of the new UPA government. This is an outright
fraud and even where it had promised free electricity it has been quick to
reverse these policies. Privatisation in all spheres has hit the rural economy
the worst. In fact we see a growth in money lending, further reduction in
government spending in rural areas, and acute marginalization of the rural poor.
It has aggravated the rural crisis thereby resulting in an even greater number
of peasants resorting to suicide. Besides the rural elite the agony of 70% of
our country’s population that live in the rural areas has aggravated in this
past one year.
Besides this, the one
year of UPA rule has focused its prime attention on further speedening the speed
of sell-out of the country and building up the instruments of repression. These
two have been the twin aspects of a orientation set by the imperialist on whose
instructions the comprador rulers act.
Major Sell-out of the
First, the policies
have allowed for windfall profits to big business, like the massive subsidies,
tax concessions, tax holidays, import/export concession and most important the
change in labour policies to allow for increased exploitation of labour. So,
some of the top 550 companies (private) in the last quarter of the year 2004-05
(the three months to March 31 05) increased their net profits by a massive
45.5%. This alone has given windfall profits of Rs.11,196 crores to these
companies. Over the entire year companies like Reliance increased their net
profit by 41% and Wipro by 56%. The top IT companies have increased their net
profits by 40% over the previous year; the Cement giant, ACC has increased it by
81%. Many other’s profits have jumped even more. Big business is quite naturally
thrilled with the new government. The PSU, SAIL’s profits net profits leaped a
massive 171% in just the year 2005. Even the banks have seen their profits
sky-rocket, with the State Bank of India’s net profits reaching the $ 1 billion
(Rs.5,463 crores) mark in the year 2005.
In the year 2004
there was a 16% rise in the write-off of so-called non-performing assets (i.e.
amounts owed by big business to the banks). Some companies have thereby got
gifts as much as Rs.100 crores. So far a total of Rs.45,000 crores has been
written off, much of it during NDA rule.
The next big
achievement of the UPA rule has been to open up the country to the imperialists
at an even faster pace than that of the earlier NDA rule. It is a competition
between the two as to who can prove greater servility to the imperialists to be
bestowed their favours. And this opening up is notwithstanding the presence of
the CPI/CPM’s prop to the UPA. This is of course not surprising as the very
initiator of economic reforms in the country is the present Prime Minister. The
PM is a man who has not been elected and a bureaucrat with deep links to the
World Bank/IMF combine. This has resulted in the just one year of UPA rule
Rs.33,000 crore ($7.5 billion) take-overs of Indian and comprador companies.
This figure far surpasses any previous year. In the previous year it was $4.5
billion. This then is the speed with which Indian and comprador companies are
falling into the direct hands of the TNCs.
achievement is to pass the New Patent Bill to kill over 20,000 small scale
pharmaceutical companies and allow the TNCs to hike medicine prices enormously
to make even bigger windfall profits
Yet another big boon
has been to the US company Monsanto and other such TNCs by the passing of the
Seeds Bill 2004.
achievements’ in this sphere is the opening out of the telecom sector to 74% FDI,
construction and real estate to 100% FDI, private banks to 74% foreign
investment, allowing 100% FDI in export and wholesale trading, allowing FIIs to
pick up upto 26% in print media companies, etc. Besides it has scrapped Press
Note 18 (PN 18 was meant to protect the interests of Indian partners …. i.e.
comprador’s ….. of joint ventures with the MNCs) to facilitate easier flow of
foreign investment into all joint ventures with the Indian compradors. It has
also relaxed FII norms in debt instruments with the result that the entire
corporate bonds sold recently have been cornered by 6 FIIs. Even a new
legislation has been passed on the SEZs (Special Economic Zones) to allow for
even greater flow of FDIs into industries here. Imperialist capital is on the
rampage swallowing up sector after sector thanks to the policy changes of the
one-year old UPA government. FII’s have defacto control of the Bombay Stock
Exchange with over 20% share in it. The percentage of foreign investments in all
major companies has increased phenomenally in the past one year. In many they
have taken control, in others they are on their way to take over total control.
It appears that the
PM Manmohan Singh is taking direct orders from the big bosses of the TNCs of the
US. The Chief of Wal Mart, the biggest retail company in the world visited the
country amidst high pitched talk of allowing 49% FDI in the retail sector. He
was wined and dined by cabinet ministers as also the Prime Minister. Close on
the heels of this US business tycoon came the head of the General Electric. He
too was given a royal welcome. This TNC giant says they already have $ 1 billion
invested here and promised to buy up a host of Indian banks and industries in
the near future. Hardly had he left the country that the Prime Minister made
major statements on the need to step up privatization of the Electricity Boards
and even electricity services. One wonders from whom he is taking his orders.
Wal Mart is the largest company in the world and GE is within the top five.
Never before have two chiefs of companies of such large and powerful TNCs
visited India in so short a time. This shows their pleasure with the ruling
Congress and UPA governments.
Yet another major
achievement is chalking out massive plans to sell our natural wealth to the TNCs
on a gigantic scale. In Orissa, which has 70% of the country’s bauxite (for
aluminum production), entire areas have been handed over to these foreign sharks
and their Indian compradors displacing thousands and thousands of Adivasis from
their lands with little or no compensation. A massive 35 new steel plants are
planned, of which one is a conglomerate from South Korea worth some $12 billion.
In Chattisgarh diamond mines are to be handed over to foreigners. Now the
government has an urgent plan for the privatization of the coal sector to hand
over even this key raw material to the imperialists. The natural recourses of
the country are being sold off at a pace not seen by the earlier governments.
And for all the noise made by the CPM they are nothing but collaborators in
these nefarious schemes.
The UPA government
has particularly gone full speed ahead to sell off India’s financial sector.
Thereby the entire money wealth of the country will be put in foreign hands. The
continuous reforms in banking sector over the last one year are but one example.
Now the FM has announced further sweeping ‘reforms’ in banking and
infrastructure. He has also announced his intention to introduce a Bill in the
monsoon session of Parliament which will allow for raising foreign investment in
insurance from the present 26% to 49%. Not only this, the UPA also now seeks to
open out the huge retail sector to 49% foreign capital AS DICTATED BY THE
Wal Mart chief.
. This is not all.
The UPA is busy hastening the pace of sell off of our entire water resources and
even genetic wealth of the country. The speed at which the Delhi government is
moving to clear the grounds for its sell off is just one indication. They have
revalued the DJB’s (Delhi Jal Board) assets at a fraction of its real cost so
that it can be finally sold off cheap, and have hiked the price of water about 5
fold to allow for big profits to them. This has enhanced the burden on the poor
and middle classes whose back has already been broken by increased charges for
electricity, health care, medicines, transport and basic food items. India has
become one of the biggest centres in the world to for tapping its genetic
resources and also the hotbed for clinical trials of new drugs, where the Indian
people are being used as guinea pigs for foreign pharmaceutical companies. All
these have increased apace in the one year of UPA rule.
Another major gift of
the UPA government has been a massive hike in the import bill to a gigantic $105
billion and a skyrocketing trade deficit of $28 billion, which is predicted to
go up to a massive $50 billion by the end of this year. Thus India is becoming
more and more a dumping ground and market for foreign produce. Such a massive
deficit is unsustainable and can push the country into a crisis unless there is
a continuous flow of foreign capital. It is a trap where the nature of the
development project adopted by the present rulers pushes the economy into a
vicious circle that is more and more dependent on foreign capital. No wonder
Chidambaram has been shouting for the urgent need for more FDI/FII to balance
the growing trade deficit.
The UPA also has big
plans for the privatization of the profit-making PSUs like BHEL, GAIL, BSNL,
MTNL, etc. It has just announced a plan to disinvest 10% of its shares in BHEL
and raise Rs.5,000 crores from disinvestment in the other four. The CPM looks on
with its traditional noises of half-hearted ‘opposition’.
Finally, the UPA
pushed through the VAT which has been a demand of the imperialist ever since the
‘reform’ process started in the 1990s. This will increase the tax burden on the
masses and will crush much of the small traders or force them to face the
harassment of the tax official.
And as such policies
will have a disastrous impact on the lives of the people, the UPA government has
taken up a systematic and long-term policy for unleashing the worst ever attacks
on the masses, particularly those in the forefront of the battle.
Systematic smashing of all Resistance
Though the UPA
government has focused its main attention for suppressing the Maoist movement,
it has not hesitated to attack the poor in all ways possible. While waxing
eloquent on rural development its policies have hit the rural population the
There is not a single
pro-poor step by the UPA government in the last year — in concrete terms. What
may have existed is only in rhetoric, that too mostly of the CPI/CPM allies,
which seeks to white-wash the black deeds of the Congress. The worst crisis is
in the countryside. With Banks cutting their rural branches the peasantry is
being forced deeper and deeper into the arms of the moneylender. With the
existing agricultural pattern loans are necessary and debt is becoming one of
the major problems of the peasantry, besides the land hunger of the rural poor.
The UPA did nothing to halt the collapse of the PDS. Nor the fall in the
purchasing power of the rural people. Rural jobs are down. Distress migration is
leaping up. The Employment Guarantee Scheme brought in is a hoax (see article on
unemployment in this issue).
In the last one year
the Maharashtra government has demolished over 80,000 hutments making 4.5 lakh
people homeless. The brutality of the attacks matches that of the Emergency in
the slum demolitions at Delhi. This is part of the Vision Plan of Mumbai-based
big-business plan to turn Mumbai into a Singapore. It is backed by the World
In Delhi the Sheila
Dixit government, after winning the elections, has introduced measure after
measure to tax the residents more and more and increase the burden on their
lives. So also has been the case with all the state governments of the UPA.
continuing to rise and millions are being pushed to the edge, where survival
itself is a growing problem. The peasantry has been the worst hit. Thousands are
committing suicide each year and the tempo picked up in the one year of UPA
rule. All its promises, like free electricity, Employment Guarantee, etc, have
been gone back on. With the massive mining projects planned by the UPA
government lakhs of tribals are set to be displaced and marginalized even
further. In fact the burden on the peasantry, workers, tribals, and even
middle-classes have only increased. Lakhs of small business have been forced to
Worst of all the UPA
has been pushing ahead with lightening speed with the privatization of even
water. Even this basic natural resource is not being spared from the ruthless
profit machine. Delhi and Maharashtra governments are on the verge of taking the
step towards privatization. The five major TNCs in this field are waiting like
sharks to pounce on their prey. When it comes to improving the needs of the
people, whether it is water, health, public transport, etc the governments’
claim to have no money. But when it comes to writing off thousands of crores
owed as NPAs or by the fraudulent Enron, the funds do not seem to matter.
And with this has
come the enormous plans of repression to stem the discontent of the masses.
While making a show of scrapping the POTA it introduced an equally draconian
legislation. Not one of the culprits of the gruesome pogrom of Gujarat has been
apprehended and, till today about 130 Muslims languish in jail under POTA.
Besides it seeks to incorporate all the draconian measures of the POTA in the
very Criminal Procedure Code itself. The UPA government is actively going about
trying to implement the recommendations of the Malimath Committee report. While
the NDA could not implement it due to the opposition from the lawyers, the UPA
is taking systematic steps to ‘educate’ the lawyers and bring in the suggested
changes. It is working hard to instiutionalise all the legal instruments of
repression. The Malimath Committee report is even more draconian than all the
‘anti-terrorist’ laws put together.
The brutality in J &
K and the North East continue unabated. In fact it has been stepped up in
Manipur which is continuing the struggle against the Indian occupation forces.
It is now seeking to change the labour laws on a war footing to tie the hands of
the trade unions even more. As it is even the smallest action by workers is
crushed brutally. The smallest peasant unrest is suppressed. Dalit assertion has
to continue to face the same violence of the ruling upper caste elite and is
crushed brutally, with the police conspiring with the ruling elite at the
village level. Though anti-Muslim hysteria is down, little is done to draw them
actively into the social life of the country.
But the UPA, with all
its sweet talk on the Naxalite problem being a socio-economic one, has put its
major effort into plans for the long-term crushing of this movement. The UPA put
on a liberal mask giving the impression that they seek talk with the nationality
and revolutionary movements. But, this is nothing more than a mask to hide the
intense military preparations being taken to suppress it. They very well know it
is only the Maoists who can give effective leadership to the growing discontent
of the masses. It is for this reason that they are focusing their major
attention on the suppression of the Maoists. Never before has such a systematic
plan been worked out against the Maoist of the countries. Also its brutality in
AP, after the collapse of the talks, was on a scale that matched the massacres
of the early 1970s in Bengal. Even the CPM has matched the terror of its partner
at the centre. Recently the CPM government of West Bengal arrested two top
leaders of the CPI(Maoists), the politburo member comrade Shome and the state
secretary of the West Bengal unit of the Party. In the last issue of this
magazine we have given a detailed account of the steps taken by the Centre to
crush the growing Maoist movement in the country.
The Congress has
sought to fool the people by pretending to offer the olive-branch of ‘talks’
with the armed organizations of both the nationality and revolutionary
movements. It merely seeks thereby to diffuse these movements or divide them;
and if neither work then launch even more brutal repressive measures. This is to
be seen in the ongoing repression in J & K, Manipur and against the Maoists. Its
‘human faced’, further pinked up by its CPI/CPM allies, hides the vampire-like
Even after that one
can understand the extent of the Centres preparations from the statement of the
Minister of State for Home, Shriprakash Jaiswal, made on May 29th at Bhopal and
reported in the Economic Times of May 30th. To quote, he said "the Centre
would go to any level to gain control over the Naxalite problem and would not
hesitate utilising the services of the army. Though force alone cannot solve the
problem, we will go to any level to gain control over the Naxalites, even if it
means using services of the Army." He further complained that funds of the
Centre for this suppression are not being fully utilsed in the northern states.
He added that "the money is under-utilised despite the Centre relaxing norms
and by reducing amounts of matching grants which have to be given by the states
from 50% to 40%, 40 to 25%, and 25 to 100%. …. We have decided to provide modern
equipment like armoured vehicles and helicopters. AP and Orissa have
agreed to bear 50% expenses and the machinery would be given to them".
Not only in this
country, the UPA has even stepped up its expansionist and repressive policies in
South Asia. From the very first days after coming to power the foreign minister
vowed to give all help to the rulers of Nepal to crush the Maoist movement going
on in that country. The statements made were even more aggressive than that of
the NDA. The Congress’s foreign minister’s first visit was to Nepal for this
very purpose. It also sabotaged the SAARC meeting due to be held in Bangladesh
and have made open threatening noises against that country. It has been more
actively intervening in the events of Sri Lanka and working to split the LTTE
and prop up a renegade faction to promote internecine killings.
Such then are the
ruthless plans of the UPA government to crush any discontent of the masses by
brute force. Behind the human face of a so-called secular Congress-CPM combine
one has the vampire-like policies of a monster which ahs a long tradition of
serving the ruling classes from the times of British rule. Yet all is not bright
in the UPA camp.
Factional Feuds and
The massive and open
feuds within the BJP have been the best performance aspect for the UPA. The
public squabbling amongst even the leadership of the BJP/RSS outfits was so
intense that all opposition to the UPA has been minimal. This has been its major
asset and has hidden the factional feuds within it. In Bihar the infights were
so acute that even a government could not be formed, with two UPA constituents
treating each other as their major enemies. In Kerala a major section of the
Congress (I) split and formed a new Party. In Maharashtra the relations between
the Congress and the NCP has reached breaking point on a number of occasions. In
Delhi the entire Congress leadership revolted against Sheila Dixit who continues
due to her close links with Queen Sonia. At the centre a number of ministers are
at loggerheads with others. Power, of course, unites them all, but the unity is
fragile and can break with the smallest of disturbances.
The Fraud of the Dandi Yatra
The Congress with much fanfare sought to re-enact the Dandi
yatra to shore up it ‘patriotic’ credentials. Vast funds were pumped in to
stage this hypocritical jamboree. But at the same time the Congress has taken
the maximum steps to crush the small salt producers and hand over the vast
salt market estimated at over Rs.5,000 crores to the TNCs and big compradors
by once again introducing a ban on non-iodised salt .
For example even while the Dandi March was on the
government refused to implement a supreme court judgment to pay compensation
of the land snatched away from local producers in 1974 on the basis of the
very Salt Act of 1870. The original Dandi March was against this very Salt Act
that that allowed the take over of all salt land by the British Government for
revenue purposes without compensation. In 1974 the then Nehru government
seized 3,000 acres of such land in Uran, off Mumbai without paying a single
paise of compensation. This was done on the basis of that very Salt Act of
1870. The land was handed over to the JN Port Trust, which today leases out
the same land to companies for Rs.1.5 crores for 30 years. The case has been
going on for the past 30 years. The landowners won their claim at every level
of the judgments, but the government refused to pay them, challenging the case
in the high court and then Supreme Court. But even then when the judgment went
in favour of the owners the government has refused to pay. Most of the owners
have been reduced to acute pauperization by not only loosing their only source
of livelihood but due to expenses incurred in fighting this cases for over
three decades. The original owners are dead. Their children peruse the case
and are also now reaching old age. The compensation would come to a huge
Rs.600 crores which the government wants to swallow.
But on the question of salt the Indian compradors are even
more cunning than the British. In the name of care for the health of the
people an earlier Congress govt. banned all non-iodised salt. Iodine is
necessary in the diet to counter the disease of goiter. Under the pretext that
goiter is rampant it introduced this ban. But this has been proved to be false
as goiter is only to be seen in some hill communities. It is not at all that
prevalent in the country. This has been proven by many research reports. Yet,
the rule persists. Even while introducing the latest ban, the report cunningly
just mentions that the consumption of iodine has gone down, not that there is
any deficiency of iodine. As the cost of machinery for producing iodised salt
is expensive this will virtually crush all the small salt producers in the
country allowing TNC and comprador companies like Hindustan Lever and Tata to
monopolise the trade. They now are able to charge Rs.7 and more per kilo,
where the cost of production will not be more than a few paise. The profits
In 2000 the BJP government lifted the ban on non-iodised
salt. The Congress-led UPA government has again re-imposed the ban in June
this year and given all small manufacturers two months notice. As 71% of
India’s salt is produced in Gujarat, the BJP lifted the ban as the bulk of
these small producers are with the BJP. This time not only does the government
seek to wipe out the small producer but also the medium producer. It has said
that it will soon bring in legislation for "compulsory double fortification
of common salt with iodine and iron". This will make the production
process even more capital intensive wiping out all the smaller producers. Such
legislation will help the handful of big producers monpolise the trade in salt
and will push up the prices of salt even more. This will open up a huge market
to the TNCs as, for example, the consumption of iodised salt in a state like
UP is only 10% of the total.
Like the earlier hoax of Gandhi to divert the attention of
the masses from the militant action on the Chauri Chaura police station, so
also the recent repeat performance is even a bigger hoax. If it is serious
about allowing salt to reach the masses at reasonable prices and help the
small producers it should remove the ban on non-iodised salt and immediately
pay the compensation to the Uran people. But this they will not do, and to
cover up their treacherous policies they will enact more such Dandis. But as
was once said, history repeats itself, first as a tragedy, then as a farce.
This present Dandi was a gigantic farce on the people of the country. Not
surprisingly it attracted little attention and passed off without much notice.
It is these growing
infights within the ruling classes and their parties that can help act as a
stumbling block on some of their plans. Though they are fully united on basic
policy — economic reforms and brutal repression — the widening cracks can
paralyse action to some extent.
There is no real
opposition to these polices of the UPA from within the framework of parliament.
All are party to these games, with each seeking to gain the maximum for itself.
On policy there are nominal differences. So any really opposition has to be
built outside the framework of the parliament through a huge mass movement of
all progressive and revolutionary forces. It is this and this alone that can act
to beat back the reactionary polices of the UPA and their hangers on throughout