Skip to main content

Punjab civil rights group campaigns to 'expose' 75th anniversary of Independence

By Harsh Thakor* 
Punjab's civil rights organisation, Lok Morcha, launching a campaign engulfing 14 districts of the state, has taken the stand that there is a need to "expose" the true nature of the 1947 Independence in the light of its 75th anniversary. The organisers particularly targeted the Congress, pointing out how the party digressed the path of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru by "diluting the cutting edge of class struggles of the working class and peasantry." 
The civil rights leaders sought to analyse the various junctures of the freedom movement -- be it the Quit India Movement, the Non-Cooperation Movement or the Civil Disobedience Movement -- where they said the Congress "nullified the militant resistance of the broad masses."
According to them, the Congress and the Muslim League "never waged a secular resistance" to combat partition, but instead danced to the tune of the "notorious divide and rule policy of the British". They added, there was clear dichotomy of the paths of Gandhiji and the Congress leaders vis-a-vis that of Bhagat Singh and the Ghadar Party.
The speakers touched upon how the base of feudalism, imperialism and capitalism was "not erased" and how foreign capital was allowed to penetrate in India. Examples were offered to point out how the "slavish policies" continued in factories, fields, educational institutions, transport and health centres. They said, land reforms initiated by the Congress were "superficial", even as noting that the right to strike to industrial workers was cosmetic.
Giving the examples of how the Telengana armed struggle and the Naxalbari movement were crushed, they claimed, the Congress rulers adopted diversionary tactics in order to subdue the revolutionary democratic student and youth movements of the 1970s as also the JP movement.
Pointing towards suppression of the rights during the Indira Gandhi-imposed Emergency, they insisted, the Congress "fostered Hindu communalism." At the same time, they condemned the "diversionary nature of the Akali Dal  and Sikh fundamentalism. In fact, they said, laws were introduced of the type that existed during the colonial era to "repress" democratic movements and activists.
They believed, liberalization and globalization from 1991 broke the backbone of the organized movement of the working class, leading to large scale retrenchment, entrapping of the peasantry with debts, leading to mass suicides, and destroying the livelihood of the tribal community, with the MNCs seizing their land. 
It was elaborated how the exploiter classes' monopoly reached an unprecedented level during the Congress rule, pointing out, agro-friendly or local industries were liquidated and farmers were unable to procure seeds at affordable prices.
Coming to what they termed Hindutva fascism, they said, the Narendra Modi era from 2014 was riddled with the fundamentalist ideology penetrating every sphere of society at a magnitude unscaled, reinforced with suppression of the democratic dissent. 
The manner in which democratic activists were being framed with false charges and Muslim minorities were stripped of their rights, they said, reminded one of the dark days of the Emergency in a more pernicious form. They particularly gave the example of the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), currently being used to suppress dissent. 
Liberalization and globalization which began in 1991 broke the backbone of the organized movement of the working class
Economic disparitied have scaled new heights, they said, adding, industrialists and corporates were allowed to profiteer without any restrictions, strangulating the broad masses as never before. Price rise in recent years has caused havoc with the masses with no control over inflation.
The leaders asserted that real Independence could be won only with a genuine revolutionary movement where the class struggle of the people was sharpened and no stone should be unturned to challenge the exploitative base of the social order.
Gatherings took place in several districts, including Barnala, Bhatinda, Faridkot, Patiala, Moga, Sangrur, Muktsar, Ludhiana and Amritsar, with an average of around 400 persons assembling in each of the meetings. 
There was a token participation of the Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa) and Naujwan Bharat Sabha at these meetings. Cadres of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) and the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union also participated. Jagmel Singh and Shireen Kussa were prominent speakers.
Many of the leaders said, it can be debated whether the 1947 Independence was genuine or it was merely a transfer of power or whether leaders like Gandhiji made a positive contributions. However, none can deny the glorious contribution of comrades like Bhagat Singh ,Sukhdev and Rajguru, the Ghadar Party or the Kakori martyrs, and how Gandhiji and other leaders gave scant respect to people's revolutionary uprisings. 
There was a view wondering whether the Lok Morcha Punjab campaign can serve as a model for the other states of India in exposing the alleged bankruptcy of the current social order. It was, however, felt that the de-centralized method of undertaking the campaign was "impressive."
*Freelance journalist who has covered mass movements all over India, especially Punjab



Whither Govt of India strategy to reduce import dependence on crude oil, natural gas?

By NS Venkataraman*  India presently imports around 80% of it’s crude oil requirement and around 50% of its natural gas requirements . As the domestic production of crude oil and natural gas are virtually stagnant and the domestic demand is increasing at around 7% per annum, India’s steadily increasing dependence on import of the vital energy source is a matter of high energy security concern. This is particularly so, since the price of crude oil and natural gas are considerably fluctuating / increasing in the global market due to geo political factors, which are beyond the control of India. India has promised to achieve zero emission by the year 2070, which mean that the level of emission has to start declining at slow and steady rate from now onwards. It is now well recognized that global emission is caused largely due to use of coal as fuel and natural gas as fuel and feedstock. While burning of coal as fuel cause emission of global warming carbon dioxide gas and sulphur

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Fascism on prowl? Religious meet 'deeply pained' at silence of Church, bishops, priests

Counterview Desk  The ‘Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace’which held its 17th National Convention at the Montfort Social Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana from 22 to 24 September 2022 on the theme “Deepening our Identity as Religious: Responding to the Signs of the Times”, has expressed concern “at the deteriorating situation of our nation on every front”, especially stating, “Fascism seems to have come to stay” in India. At the same time, the convention, which took place with the participation of 60 persons from 16 states representing 20 religious congregations, in its unanimously-adopted statement added, “We have reached abysmal depths on every parameter: be it social, economic and political”, underlining, “The poor in India become poorer every day; the rich and powerful continue to profiteer at their expense and amass scandalous amounts of wealth.” Text: We, members (63 women and men Religious, from 16 states representing 20 Congregations) of the Forum of Religious for Justice

Muslim intellectuals met Bhagwat, extra-constitutional authority 'like Sanjay Gandhi'

By Shamsul Islam*  In a significant development a delegation of five Muslim intellectuals namely former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi; former senior bureaucrat Najeeb Jung; former AMU vice-chancellor and Lt Gen (retd) Zameer U Shah; politician-cum-journalist Shahid Siddiqui (presently with RLD); and businessman Saeed Shervani [Samajvadi Party] met RSS Supremo Mohan Bhagwat at RSS Delhi headquarters. The meeting was kept secret for reasons known to the participants and was held in August. According to the Muslim intellectuals the meeting held in “a very cordial” atmosphere continued for 75 minutes whereas time allotted was 30 minutes! In a post-meeting justification of the parleys Quraishi stated that their main concern was “the insecurity being increasingly felt by the Muslim community in the wake of recurring incidents of lynching of innocents, calls by Hindutva hotheads for genocide and the marginalisation of the community in almost every sphere”. This delegation consistin

Why Bose's India Gate statue suggests RSS, BJP need violence-loving ‘Hindu’ Netaji

By Prem Singh*  In a TV channel debate, a BJP spokesperson and anchor shared and served a lie that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's daughter in her letter to the Prime Minister has alleged that the Congress kept devaluing Netaji to further Gandhi's non-violence; because Netaji had taken the path of liberating the country through violence mode by forming the Azad Hind Fauj (INA). They also praised the Bombay Royal Naval Mutiny of 1946 to confirm that the country got its independence through a violent route. I stated that I have read the letter of Netaji's daughter, and there is no such allegation in it. But a lie told in the intoxication of power is bound to be blatant. Netaji's daughter Anita Bose Pfaff, even in the past, has already requested some earlier prime ministers of the country to bring back the mortal remains of her father from Japan to India. In none of the letters she has spoken about devaluation of her father’s role in the freedom movement on the basis of Gandh

'Massive concern for people': Modi seeking to turn India into global manufacturing hub

By Shankar Sharma*  The news item quoting Narendra Modi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet, "Want to turn India into a manufacturing hub: PM Modi at SCO Summit" should be of massive concern to our people. One can only continue to be shocked by such policies, which can be termed as ill-conceived to say the least. Without objectively considering the environmental and social impacts on our communities in the medium to long term, such policies will also result in massive economic impacts because a lack of environmental and social perspective cannot be economically attractive either. In order to become the global manufacturing hub, India will have to meet an enormous demand for energy of various kinds, and in order to meet this much energy demand the economy has to manufacture enormous number of appliances/ gadgets/ machineries (to generate and distribute commercial forms of energy such as coal, nuclear, gas, hydro, and renewable energy (RE) sources such as so

Pesticide companies' lobbying 'seriously impairing' basics of governance, regulation

Dr Narasimha Reddy Donthi*  The Indian agricultural sector is grappling with low incomes, shortage of natural resources, increasing pest incidence and low public investments in research and extension. Pest attacks are increasing. Previously unknown pests are attacking crops. Farmers, indebted as they are due to various market mechanisms, are finding it hard to protect their crop investments. Thus, farmers are pushed into the conundrum of pesticide usage by pesticide markets and companies. Pesticide usage in India is increasingly becoming a regulatory problem. Regulation has not been effective in the face of such challenges. Scientific expertise on pesticides is often subsumed in the policy tradeoffs that, in the ultimate scenario, encourage production and marketing of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs). Expert Committee reports, which are recommending withdrawal of certain HHPs, are not being acted upon. Lobbying by pesticide companies has seriously impaired the basics of governance an

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Is coal import dependence of more than 50% by 2047 of any relevance to India?

By Shankar Sharma*  I have read the article " Building Resilience in India’s Power Sector " by N Vedachalam, released by the Observer Research Foundation, with a lot of interest. I expected it to provide few useful recommendations to our authorities in charting out a sustainable pathway to green energy transition much before the climate catastrophe push our communities to the precipice. But I am sorry to say that the overall discussions or the message implied in the article disappointed me. I was expecting the article, coming from an engineer with past experience in the power sector, to discuss the much needed recommendations to put the power sector on a sustainable developmental pathway. But I could notice mostly technical jargon and a lot of statistical information, which may already be available in the public domain.   The article also seems to have simply accepted what some of the official agencies seem to have indicated as inevitable for the power sector in our country;

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.