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2019.08.18 08:56

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Updates from CPI (ML) Red Star

CPI (ML) Red Star April - May

Updates from CPI (ML) Red Star

 

17th Lok Sabha Elections: An Appeal to People

 

By the time this issue of the Red Star reaches you the fifth phase of the seven phase 17th Lok Sabha elections also may be over. The fact of the day now is that already it is proved as the worst, most ugly election so far, with the RSS parivar has proved that it is prepared to go to any extent to spread lies, to indulge in hate speeches, war mongering, presenting themselves as the only protector of national security. All the burning issues after more than seven decades after the transfer of power before the masses is still unemployment, peasants’ misery and poverty which have become worse after five years of Modi. With the help of the corporate media every effort was made to cover up these under war mongering, Islamophobeia and saffronization going to the extent of fielding Pragya Thakur, a terror accused, as a BJP candidate.

 

The central question in these elections is whether we should allow Modi another term as prime minister or not. During the campaign he and the RSS parivar behind him have proved that they will go to any extent to retain power. Modi has focused the whole campaign on ‘national security’, using the Pulwama incident and Balakot air strike, along with the launching of ASAT missile. All those who oppose him are called traitors, working for splintering the country and agents of Pakistan. Communal frenzy is whipped up. Utilizing a pliable Election Commission a no-holds barred campaign is launched, not bothering to answer how many of his 2014 promises were fulfilled, or what happened due to his demonetization and GST. From this campaign itself it is very clear that, if he is allowed another term all Sanghi fascist policies and crony capitalist agenda will be carried forward destroying whatever limited democratic and welfare values still survive; India will be turned in to a Hindutva fundamentalist, market fundamentalist corporate state, destroying all progressive values in the Constitution. So, our appeal to the people is to vote out Modi government decisively.

 

An over view of present all India scenario shows that people are alienated from Modi regime and angry with it. So, there are all possibilities for Modi getting thrown out in these elections. But we cannot be complacent because of it. The weakness of the whole range of so-called mainstream parties, ranging from Congress to CPI(M) who had shared or still sharing power at centre or in the states, is that though they are anti-Modi, irrespective of the ideological, political approach they profess, in practice they pursue neo-liberal/corporate policies and communal, caste appeasement for vote bank. So they fail to basically challenge the RSS line put forward by Modi. That is why even during the present elections many of the cadres and even leaders of these parties are flocking to BJP and many of these organizations, however small they may be, are joining the NDA. Even the line of demarcation of many of these parties like BJD, YSRCP, TRS etc. with BJP is very thin. Whatever may be its structure, and whoever may be its constituents, the alternate government going to be formed after the elections, like the UPA in 2004, will have no perspective and practice, basically different from that of the BJP, to offer. It poses the danger that even though Modi may disappear, the threat of RSS shall persist.

 

Here lies the importance of independent left assertion to build a people’s alternative as put forward by the CPI(ML) Red Star(see its Election Manifesto in www.cpiml.in). It calls for Defeat BJP and Rally for People’s Alternative. With this slogan from 17 states we have fielded about 40 candidates and are supporting like-minded candidates, asserting the independent left task of building up a people’s alternative.

 

What is the significance of this assertion based on a people’s Manifesto? Anyone going through Modi’s speeches and the BJP narrative through the corporate media is aware of the orientation of his vitriolic speeches creating hatred; he is putting forward a clear picture of the market fundamentalist and Sanghi fascist corporate state visualized by the RSS parivar. Like Israel, it will dove-tail its foreign policy to serve the global interests of US imperialism, while integrating Indian economy more firmly with the global imperialist system. Imposing its Hindutva dictates, it will alienate the Kashmiri people further, destroying all federal values in the Constitution and strive to make India a unitary state. Intensifying the hate campaign against Pakistan, it will increase war mongering and military budget. Aggravating Manuvadi approach, it will intensify attacks on minorities, dalits, adivasis and women. Corporatization of all sectors will be intensified. Modi’s narrative is for speeding up towards a Manuvadi corporate state. Even if Modi is defeated this RSS agenda shall persist dangerously.

 

How can this challenge be met? While intensifying the campaign to throw out the Modi rule, there should be conscious efforts to build the people’s alternative, based on genuine left assertion uniting the struggling left, democratic forces, people’s movements and oppressed classes and sections. With this perspective, the elections should be used as a weapon to throw out the hated Modi rule and, while knowing fully well that the present ruling system cannot be replaced immediately with a people’s government, we should start building and strengthening the people’s alternative for changing the ruling system, for social justice and for people’s democracy.

 

With this perspective: Vote against and throw out BJP and its allies all over India; Vote for CPI(ML) Red Star candidates and candidates of struggling left and democratic forces, people’s movements and of struggling organizations of oppressed classes and sections supported by it.

 

 

Defeat BJP, Build Up People's Alternative

 

KN Ramachandran

 

The 2019 General Election for the 17thLok Sabha is taking place at hitherto most critical juncture in the post-1947 history of our country. In the past, a serious challenge to Indian polity was faced when Indira regime had declared internal emergency and suppressed dissent autocratically. But she was compelled to declare elections in 1977 following growing people’s resistance to her emergency rule. In spite of favourable intelligence and media reports, Congress was routed out by the silent suffering majority of the deprived people.

 

Present situation is much more dangerous. The RSS parivar is making all out efforts to retain power at any cost as they are in a hurry to impose its Hindurashtra concept over the country. If it gets another term, it will reverse whatever democratic rights and institutions we could achieve and the danger of fascism shall become a reality. So defeating BJP and reversing whatever damage Modi rule has done to Indian polity and people have become the primary tasks before the people.

 

Though Modi and other BJP leaders sound very optimistic about getting another term the concrete facts speak otherwise. In fact they are alarmed and panicky at the growing people’s alienation following total failure of Modi government in implementing his numerous promises. Not only it failed to implement its promises, but the demonetisation and GST policies have ruined the people’s economy. Unemployment has become rampant, all welfare measures are cut, suicides by peasants have increased, and there is all round pauperisation of the masses, while a tiny section of the elite classes and corporates becoming fabulously rich. The divisive policies of RSS implemented at alarming speed have led to numerous communal riots, mob lynching of Muslims and dalits, and alienation of all these sections including the people of Kashmir and Northeast.

 

In order to cover up these failures, the communal and caste divisions are sharpened, an atmosphere of hatred is created. Anti-terror jingoism and Pakistan-hatred are cunningly whipped up by the saffron forces on the eve of the elections. War hysteria is spread through corporate media. Pseudo patriotic passions are whipped up. Any one questioning the failures of Modi rule in all fields are targeted and attacked as traitors as he is projected as the chowkidar, the real guardian of India’s security and welfare by the Sanghis.

 

But country-wide peasant upsurges, working class struggles, youth and students movements, protests by oppressed castes against subversion of caste-based reservation, adivasis’ movement against intensifying suppression and depriving of their rights to land and livelihood, women’s fury against patriarchal oppression and gender inequality, struggles for protecting the environment and habitat, etc. are gathering momentum against the corporate-saffron fascistic Modi rule.

 

Though the corporate media is working hard to sell the Modi brand once again, though the state machinery is utilised to sell BJP’s virtues and though the social media and money power is lavishly utilized, like in 1977, it is becoming almost clearer day by day that the silent majority, the suffering sections of the people are going to throw out BJP from power. But we cannot be complacent as the RSS parivar nay go to ant extent to retain power. Taking this in to consideration more vigorous mobilization of the masses is needed to throw out the Sanghi raj.

 

But, however hard the RSS parivar may try, during the last one year or so almost all the results of the assembly elections to Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh etc and the by elections have shown that Modi’s influence is waning. They reflect the anti-BJP mood among the people. Besides, there is a polarisation of most of the opposition parties including Congress and other ruling class parties along with a number of regional parties against Modi regime. The social democratic Left Front parties led by the CPI(M) are also part of this mobilization. Besides, all struggling forces all over the country, the oppressed classes and sections of the people are also determined to throw out the Modi regime from power. In this situation, in spite of all its vile campaign and communalization the trend is against BJP and its allies.

 

Even then, one weakness of the opposition to BJP from the ruling class parties is that all of them including even the Left Front parties are not behind BJP in going ahead with the implementation of the neoliberal/corporate policies. Similarly, though all of them are against the nakedly divisive communal fascist policies of Modi rule, they also indulge in communal and caste appeasement as part of vote bank politics. So, even while there are good possibilities for unseating the BJP in this election, the RSS and the communal, casteist forces shall continue to wield their influence. The corporate forces and the bureaucracy helping them shall continue to dominate. In such a situation the administration and the ruling system as a whole shall remain anti-people. The divide between the rich and the poor shall further widen. Like the 2014 situation which helped Modi to come to power attacking the weaknesses of the UPA rule, a similar or worse situation may be created again.

 

So, while we have to strive hard to throw out the BJP from power, the question of building up a people’s alternative against the ruling system should be addressed by the revolutionary forces. It will not weaken in any manner the struggle to defeat BJP in this election, on the contrary shall only make these efforts more meaningful. It is in this context, the CPI (ML) Red Star is intervening in the elections with the call to defeat BJP, build up people’s alternative based on a people-oriented development program rejecting neoliberal/corporate economic policies, and democratisation at all levels.

 

That is, while raising the central slogan of throwing out Modi rule, we look beyond to the socio-economic policies which were/are pursued by Congress and other regional parties also during last many decades, intensifying pauperization of the masses and enriching the elite classes. So, in order to build a real people’s alternative government, basic reorientation of all hitherto policies towards just, sustainable and equitable development and all round democratization of the society and polity including the judiciary is essential. The program of the people’s government proposed by the Red Star is explained in detail in the Election Manifesto published by the Party.

 

It is in this situation, the CPI (ML) Red Star is fielding 42 candidates in 17 states and supporting like-minded candidates as an alternative force facilitating the throwing out of the corporate-saffron fascist regime of BJP.

 

The party appeals to the people, the oppressed classes including women, working class including the vast majority of informal and unorganized among them, the peasantry, the agricultural workers, slum dwellers, youth, students and all democratic forces to cast their votes to strengthen the struggle for building of a people’s alternative government wherever such candidates are contesting. In all other seats they should vote judiciously to defeat the BJP and its allies.

 

 

 

Pro-People Approach Implies Restraining the Super-Rich Speculative Class

 

PJ James

 

India’s overall socio-economic collapse under the corporate-saffron fascist regime which among other things include the extreme deprivation of the vast majority of the oppressed and toiling masses is so deep rooted that cannot be resolved through a mere regime change. Mainstream discussion in the midst of the campaign on 17thLokSabhaelection that flourish in corporate media is least interested to go into the deep in addressing this grave question. At this critical juncture, while the BJP manifesto is nothing more than a corporate-saffron statement, unlike in the past, the manifesto of Congress, the other major Indian ruling class party, has given much importance for uplifting the people mainly from their pitiable economic condition. In drafting such a manifesto with a human face, the Congress is reported to have also drawn inspiration from the ideas of a wide array of liberal critics of crony capitalism ranging from Nobel price-winning economist Thomas Picketty to former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan. In this context, this note is an examination of the feasibility of implementing such a populist policy as elucidated by Congress in its manifesto under the existing neoliberal scheme regarding which the Congress has not made any re-examination till now.

 

Among other things, the Congress and its supremo Rahul Gandhi have come out with a series of employment generation programs, minimum guaranteed income to those below poverty line, increased social welfare spending, etc. For instance, it promises the filling up of 4 lakh vacancies in central govt. departments without any delay. Given the average government expenditure per new employee at about Rs. 600000, this alone requires a minimum allocation of Rs. 24000 crore every year by the central govt. And if the Congress manages to constitute a govt. at the centre, it would also insist the state govts.for filling the 20 lakh posts that remain vacant at the level of states which requires another outlay of more than one lakh crore every year by state govts.

 

No doubt, the ‘star’ promise made by Rahul Gandhi and the hallmark of Congress manifesto this time is that of a Minimum Guaranteed Income (NYAY)of Rs. 72000 per annum to 5 crore poor families encompassing around 25 crore people. For implementing this, an allocation of Rs. 3.6 lakh crore is needed in the central budget every year. Of course, the idea of a minimum guaranteed income is not at all a novel one. It belongs to the reformist and philanthropic tradition in bourgeois policy making aimed at camouflaging or diverting attention away from the plunder by rapacious capital. When the consuming power of the vast majority on account of the private nature of accumulation is going down and economy is collapsing due to insufficient demand, prudent bourgeois leaders in the past had put forward such initiatives. In fact, the post-war Keynesian welfare state that necessitated a leading role of the state in the capitalist economy had been an enlarged version of this guaranteed minimum income. Even after the abandoning of welfare state since the seventies, several bourgeois pundits have been suggesting a “guaranteed annual income” for maintaining people’s purchasing power at the desired level. But such views became redundant with the rapid spread of neo-conservative neoliberal policies at a global level.

 

For instance, following Rahul Gandhi’s announcement of the NYAY scheme along with his proposal for removing GST , neoliberal intellectuals and corporate centres started vehemently opposing it (For instance, see, T S Ramakrishnan, “Congress Manifesto: Absolute Profligacy”, The New Sunday Express, 07/04/2019) and characterised the Congress manifesto as “profligate populism” resulting in what they call a “deadweight for the economy”. According to them, the NYAY project alone that requires at least 13 percent of the budget outlay will lead to a violation of the mandatory deficit limits as stipulated by the FRBM Act of 2003 enacted by the Vajpayee govt. at the behest of IMF. According to neoliberal experts, it will also result in no-confidence among international investors for investing money and starting new projects. And the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has strongly criticised Rahul Gandhi for his populist statement on GST. Stock-market speculators and their ideologues have even characterised Congress manifesto a “mirage” as, according to them, every social spending by govts. today has to be in conformity with the fiscal and revenue deficit limits set by the Bretton Woods institutions.

 

Given this situation, if Congress is serious about its manifesto unlike Modi’s most deceptive and malicious election hoaxes in 2014 such as putting Rs. 15 lakh in the account of every Indians within 100 days of his ascendancy to power, then it has to clearly sort out an appropriate resource mobilisation strategy which is sufficient enough to ensure the required funds for the promised welfare schemes. Otherwise, Congress’s populist promises will also settle down as another election stunt. This requires at least a restriction on the fabulous wealth flows to the speculative, superrich and billionaire sections together with a reversal of the innumerable tax exemptions enjoyed by them over the past several years.

 

For instance, the budgetary policies of UPA and NDA governments have on an average been granting annual corporate tax exemptions of Rs. 4 lakh crore and Rs. 6 lakh crore respectively, even as top one percent of the same class is currently grabbing 73 percent of the wealth generated in India. And the top 10 corporate giants led by Ambani, Essar, Adani, etc., have in the guise of “non-performing assets” (NPAs) have gobbled up more than 90 percent ofthe 15 lakh crore money from public sector banks. Today, Modi’s ultra-rightist, pro-corporate policies are channelling Rs. 2200 crores per day in to the coffers of 9 biggest speculative billionaires in India. The role of the Indian state under Modi is just to act as a ‘facilitator’ of this corporate loot by the most parasitic money-spinning class in India. Since these billionaires are mainly operating at the sphere of financial speculation in financial and stock markets sucking out wealth from the productive economy through various channels, their wealth accumulation is constantly leading to horrific levels of joblessness in the country.

 

The upshot of the argument is that abolition of erstwhile Nehruvian restraints to corporate speculators and the consequent fabulous wealth accumulation by them are directly leading to unemployment, price rise and economic deprivation of the broad masses of working people. In an atmosphere of diluted labour laws and deregulated tax and environmental laws, corporate plunderers are appropriating the material conditions of people’s existence and squeezing the productive spheres such as agriculture and industry. In this context, the very sustenance of people becomes all the more difficult as the govt. drastically reduces subsidies and social spending according to neoliberal diktats. Therefore, any proposal to improve the living conditions of the people shall invariably be directed against the unprecedented wealth concentration in the hands of a few financial-corporate elite and against the methods of accumulation pursued by them including the speculation indulged by them in stock, real estate and commodity markets. Only such an intervention can reverse the undercurrents of economic slow-down, agricultural retrogression, de-industrialisation, joblessness, price rise and gruesome corruption.

 

Viewed from this perspective, the essential resource mobilisation needed for the provision of a minimum guaranteed income to the citizens which may be characterised as reformist is not at all a herculean task. What requires is a restructuring of the existing pro-corporate and pro-rich tax rates. For instance, as noted earlier, one of the sources of huge wealth accumulation by the Indian financial elite during the preceding quarter century of neoliberal globalisation has been unhindered speculation in stock markets. Even a large part of the money with banks and financial institutions, a share of which were formerly available to the so called ‘priority sectors’, started flowing to balloon speculation in stock markets with the initiation of financial sector liberalisation by Manmohan Singh in the early 1990s. As a consequence, the average daily trading on Mumbai Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange today has crossed Rs. 40000 crore or Rs. 14600000 crore per year. But today under pressure from foreign and Indian corporate speculators, no tax is imposed on this turnover in stock exchanges. A minimum 5 percent tax on stock trading alone can yield an annual resource mobilisation worth Rs. 7.3 lakh crore, more than double the amount required for implementing Rahul’s NYAY.

 

Along with this, a concerted effort is needed to overhaul the inherently regressive nature of Indian tax structure. While capitalist countries collect up to 40 percent of their GDP as the tax revenue, India has one of the lowest direct tax rates and highest indirect tax (GST) rates in the world and the tax-GDP ratio hovers around 15 percent. While the highest nominal corporate tax rate in India is 30 percent, the effective corporate tax rate on account of a host of tax exemptions is as low as 16 percent. Moreover, while direct-indirect tax ratio in capitalist countries is around 65:35, it is the reverse in India indicating the extent of tax burden borne by the common people on the one hand, and loss of revenue to the government on the other.

 

India which is among the most unequal countries in the world, there is immense scope for increasing direct tax (taxes on income, profits, capital gains, wealth and other assets)collection mainly through raising corporate-income taxes without affecting the common people. While vast majority of the common people whose entire income is spent on necessaries and essential services bear the burden of indirect taxes, the rich sections notorious for their conspicuous and luxurious consumption bear relatively negligible burden of the indirect taxes. It is high time that the taxes on necessaries, mass consumption goods and essential services are abolished and that on luxuries are increased. More than two decades of neoliberal globalisation in India have led to multi-fold galloping in the luxurious consumption of the rich. Deluxe items like private jets, imported luxury cars, yachts, entertainment gadgets, home furnishings and similar other extravagances are inexhaustible source of tax revenue to the govt. These are avenues for a prudent pro-people regime to appropriately intervene in the emerging consumption trend in the economy in a progressive manner. But the corporate-saffron regime or previous regimes for obvious reasons have been incapable to shoulder this pro-people task.

 

Obviously, under neo-liberalism, a people-oriented, active state-intervention is legally banned as per super-imposed IMF-World Bank diktats. For instance, the entire tax-expenditure policies of the central and state governments in India are now formulated in accordance with the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act enacted by the Vajpayee govt. in 2003 at the behest of IMF as a stepping stone towards the ‘second generation of globalisation’ in India. According to this Act the state is bound to drastically downsize itself by reducing public expenditures and pursuing a ‘pro-investor’ tax regime and transform into a corporate facilitator through market-fundamentalist policies by achieving a higher rank in what World Bank calls ‘ease of doing busyiness index’.

 

In such a scenario, even a ‘philanthropic program’ as minimum guaranteed income is a wishful thinking since the elected govt. is forbidden to seek a pro-people tax-expenditure policy. In a country like India which has the highest levels of malnutrition, hunger, illiteracy, morbidity, infant mortality, etc. in the world, the neoliberal prescription is to leave everything to the whims of private corporate sector and market fundamentalist forces. Let us once more take a simple illustration. According to a recent report by the US based Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP), today India has only one govt. doctor for every 10189 people while the WHO recommended ratio is 1:1000. This implies a deficit of 600000 doctors, while the deficit of nurses is 2000000. To rectify this alone requires an annual investment of around Rs. 2 lakh crore. These and other pro-people tasks cannot be left to the private sector and need to be resolved through a pro-active role of the state in the economy. This invariably calls for a repudiation of the philosophy and framework of neo-liberalism itself.

 

Therefore, those parties which promise an improvement in the material conditions and standard of living of the working class, peasants and the oppressed even while remaining as adherents of neo-liberalism are engaged in hoodwinking the people. Their rhetoric is only another election stunt. Under neoliberal corporatisation where the top-most companies after dissociating from employment-oriented productive activities are engaged in parasitism, speculation and ballooning the bubble economy, without imposing firm restrictions on them, there is little scope for a genuine pro-people program.

 

On an average, only 10 percent of the billionaire class today is associated with job-generating manufacturing. The remaining 90 percent of the super-rich is remaining as a stumbling block against any advancement of humankind in the progressive-democratic direction. As long this crony capitalists using the neoliberal state apparatus is dictating policies, all those much trumpeted development programs oriented to boosting so called ‘investor confidence’ are leading to accelerated transfer of wealth in to coffers of the financial elite. Unlike the erstwhile Nehruvian model which was the Indian edition of welfare capitalism, it has been the shift in economic policy to neo-liberalism that led to the most naked plunder of people and nature. To facilitate this loot, the leading corporate class is relieved of all governmental controls and regulations, and that is the immediate cause for the unprecedented deprivation of the broad masses of people today.

 

Hence, any promise of a guaranteed minimum income or minimum standard of living for the people without a program for reversing the neoliberal trend will be added insult to the people and more damaging.

 

 

Economic and Political Notes

 

PJ James

 

On Rahul Gandhi's Populism

 

Rahul Gandhi’s promise of a Minimum Guaranteed Income of Rs. 72000 (or Rs. 6000 per month) to 5 crore poor families encompassing 25 crore people as the hallmark of the Congress Manifesto is moderate compared with Modi’s 2014 malicious hoax (the most deceptive of all election stunts ever made by any ruler in history) that promised a deposit of Rs. 15 lakh in the account of every Indians that too within 100 days of his ascendancy to power. Rahul’s scheme can be implemented with an allocation of around Rs. 4 lakh crore every year.

 

The idea of a minimum guaranteed income is not at all a new and novel one. It belongs to the reformist and philanthropic tradition in bourgeois policy making aimed at camouflaging or diverting attention away from the heinous plunder on people and nature committed by rapacious capital. When the consuming power of the vast majority of people on account of the private nature of accumulation is going down and economy is collapsing due to insufficient demand, prudent bourgeois leaders in the past had put forward such initiatives.

 

In 1933, on the eve of unleashing his populist program called New Deal to overcome the Great Depression, American President Franklin Roosevelt said: “No busyiness which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” Of course, traces of such philanthropic interventions were there in the US even much earlier. To cover up the atrocities and crimes committed against the hapless Red Indians, Thomas Paine, ‘radical’ contemporary of Washington had suggested a ‘minimum guaranteed income’ for all who lost land.

 

And the advent of the post-war Keynesian welfare state as an ideological weapon against communism had been an enlarged version of the erstwhile philanthropic programs like guaranteed minimum income. When imperialism was thinking of abandoning welfare state in the late 60s US economists like Henry George once again suggested a “guaranteed annual income” which was also supported by Martin Luther King Jr. As neoliberalism began, Galbraith, Samuelson, Tobin and similar well known bourgeois economists started proposing ‘minimum income’. Even Moynihan and Nixon were supporters of the idea. And to fill the poverty gap in US, Clinton as President proposed “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” and Lula da Silva tried to implement what is called ‘universal basic income’ in Brazil under the name Bolsa Familia during the first decade of this century. Several capitalist countries had resorted to more or less similar populist programs. All these initiatives have become unsustainable as neoliberalism and neo-colonial plunder advanced further.

 

The laws of capital accumulation or the logic of crony capitalism today that has already redefined the role of the state as a ‘facilitator’ of corporatisation are at variance with a pro-people active role of the state. Social spending is to be curtailed for maintaining fiscal and revenue deficits at the desired level. Through superimposed IMF-World Bank diktats such as Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, the state in Afro-Asian Latin American countries are legally banned to actively intervene in the economy. World Bank has been consistently demanding neocolonially dependent comprador regimes like India to fall in line with its market fundamentalism for promotion to a higher ranking in the “ease of doing busyiness index”.

 

As such, if Rahul Gandhi is to be serious about his proposed minimum income scheme, then his think-tanks should also advise him to have a rethinking on those pro-corporate policies that channel Rs. 2200 crores per day in to the coffers of 9 biggest billionaires in India. If he is still upholding the budgetary policies that granted annual average corporate tax exemptions of Rs. 4 lakh crore and Rs. 6 lakh crore respectively under UPA and NDA governments, then it will be well-nigh impossible for him to implement his promises.

 

To be precise, even for a philanthropic program as minimum guaranteed income to the people and not to speak of a basic change in bourgeois policies, a reshuffling of the tax-expenditure policies is indispensable. And given his Party’s notorious adherence to neoliberalism, Rahul Gandhi’s minimum income program shall also be doomed as another election stunt.

 

Modi Government’s Appointment of Nine “Experts”?

 

Modi government's appointment of 9 “experts” on April 12, from private corporate sector including international and multinational companies through what is euphemistically called “lateral recruitment” to the post of joint secretaries that rank among India’s top bureaucracy is quite unprecedented. Among others, the list includes specialist from even KPMG, the audit firm that is blacklisted by many countries and facing ban in many others for notorious underhand corporate dealings. And 89 names are already shortlisted based on a circular issued on June 11, 2018 by the Dept. of Personnel and Training inviting applications from “talented and motivated” individuals who can “contribute towards nation-building” to be posted in revenue, financial services, economic affairs, agriculture, cooperation and farmers’ welfare, road transport and highway, shipping, environment, forests and climate change, new and renewable energy, civil aviation and commerce. All appointees shall be eligible for salaries, allowances and facilities at par with top bureaucrats and shall be “public servants” for the purpose of conduct rules and such other statutes as notified by the government from time to time.

 

Of course, India being a neo-colonially dependent country, posting of IMF-World Bank pensioners and US-trained technocrats in higher echelons of key policy-making has become an established tradition here. Under the pseudo-nationalist Modi regime, this dependency has intensified further. But the direct recruitment of private-corporate experts from both Indian and multinational sources is a qualitatively new ultra-rightist trend aiming at direct filling of entire administrative machinery with capitalist cronies. It removes even apparent parliamentary control over the country’s administrative machinery (including the IAS, the steel frame(ICS) inherited from colonial masters) and ensures corporate stranglehold over bureaucracy for facilitating the process of corporatisation that flourishes hand in glove with corruption assuming new dimensions under the corporate-saffron rule. And it is logical that these newly recruited corporate nominees shall get precedence over traditional IAS recruits in policy decision-making.

 

In fact, our neighbour Pakistan had a bitter experience of bureaucratic reforms. In order to weaken the bureaucracy which was a continuation of the “steal frame” inherited from colonial masters, in 1972 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had experimented with lateral entry to senior bureaucratic posts. But contrary to his expectations, it led to a weakening of the whole administration and strengthening of the preeminent position of the military in Pakistan policy-making.

 

One of the biggest casualties of this corporate-saffron offensive is the constitutionally guaranteed caste-based reservation in recruitment that prevails in India. Of course, since 2014, the Modi govt. has been systematically filling all key policy-making and implementation bodies, councils, and committees of the central government with RSS-affiliated academics, intellectuals, spiritual leaders and even Hindu godmen. The saffron forces have also initiated for a dilution of caste-based reservation through constitutional amendment on economic reservation even as two-thirds of the Class-1 posts in India are already monopolised by the brahmanical upper castes comprising less than 15 percent of the population. The timing of this move is also significant as dalit organisations together with progressive-democratic forces have demanded the extension of reservation even to private sector employment.

 

This extra-ordinary move should also be viewed in the context of the new conceptualisation with corporate thinktanks of a “de-bureaucratization” or “post-bureaucratic” transformation for bringing the neoliberal state under the direct control of private corporate capital. As a result of corporatisation, a close integration of the top bureaucrats of so called public sector industrial and banking institutions with the CEOs of the private corporate monopolies has already been there. But as the power of the corporate-financial class is growing, it is now striving to bring the entire state apparatus directly under its control. And Modi, at the behest of his corporate masters has abolished the Planning Commission and transformed it into what is called NITI AYOG. The latest decision by Modi, the most favourite of the corporate class is in continuation of this.

 

Weaponisation of Space as a Corollary of India’s Transformation as Strategic Junior Partner of US Imperialism

 

Modi’s mid-day announcement of test-firing of anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile after keeping people in suspense for almost an hour on March 27 is already exposed in Indian media as a “drama” and “publicity mongering” for reaping political mileage in the upcoming Lok Sabha election, and the opposition parties have characterised it as a clear violation of model code of conduct. Response from the international media is also more less the same. News agencies have viewed the “satellite strike” in the context of Indian general election as “mission ahead of Lok Sabha election” and perfectly in tune with the “Balakot air strikes” while some has interpreted it as “poll-eve desperation”. However this is just one aspect of the entire issue.

 

The major question arises from A-SAT launching is in relation to the saffron regime’s basic departure from India’s declared policy against outright weaponisation of space, though trend towards its militarisationusing satellites for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance missionshas been there during the neoliberal period, especially after India’s conversion as US’s strategic junior partner. As a member of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and as an adherent to the UN Resolutions on Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space, from the 1950s onward India upheld space as the common heritage of humankind according to which every nation has the responsibility to avoid actions which can lead to militarisation and weaponisation of this arena. Thus the Nehruvian approach to the use of space only for peaceful purposes along with non-alignment continued as the official tradition. As such, India has been launching satellites to be used for weather forecasting, communication, agriculture, disaster management, search and rescue operation, telemedicine, etc. And all of India’s prime ministers up to Manmohan Singh (including Vajpayee who revived India’s nuclear weaponisation through Pokhran-II), had to publicly reiterate the need to retain space as a weapons-free sphere.

 

Even after China’s ASAT test of January 2007, the UPA government, consistent with the erstwhile Nehruvian tradition continued to uphold its declared policy against space weaponisation despite pressures from military establishments in India and US. The then Director General of DRDO V K Saraswat (who as a member of NITI Ayog under Modi is now critical of the UPA of lacking political will) is reported to have submitted a proposal before the Manmohan government to weaponize the outer space, though he himself under instructions from government declared that India will not conduct a physical test to avoid creation of harmful space debris. By that time itself, as reported in the 97th Indian Science Congress held in Trivandrum, Kerala in 2010, India had acquired full-fledged scientific and technical capability for ASAT launching. In spite of that, during a press conference with Vladimir Putin, Manmohan Singh said: “Our position is similar in that we are not in favour of the weaponization of outer space.” A few days later, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony echoed similar sentiments when he stated, “we have always advocated peaceful use of technology. Thus, we are of the view that weaponization of space must be discouraged.” Moreover, in conformity with the 1985 Conference on Disarmament, India has been repeatedly seeking a ban on space weapons at all international fora. In spite of signs of fluctuations in policy towards space militarisation under Vajpayee regime, India was consistently adhering to its commitment on weapon-free space in accordance with the agreements that India entered into with several countries including Australia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, China, EUMETSAT-1, European Space Agency (ESA), France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Russia, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, UK, Ukraine, and even USA.

 

But with the ascendancy of far-right Hindutva regime in 2014 and India’s further degeneration under US diktats led to former’s intensified integration with US military and strategic interests. In view of the expansionist threat from China including its inter-continental infrastructure project called “One Belt One Road”, US started encouraging the comprador Modi regime to display India’s capability in anti-satellite weaponry as a counter to China’s ASAT weapons that reduce US military effectiveness in the Indo-Pacific Region. As a clear departure from erstwhile policy, at US insistence space weaponisation also became an agenda under US-India Strategic Partnership. In September 2018, both US Secretary of State Pompeo and US Defence Secretary Mattis in their US-India “2+2”ministerial dialogue with their Indian counterparts in Delhi decided to “integrate space into the broader US-India Strategic Partnership” and to address space security in the guise of responding to China’s growing military capabilities. ASAT launching by the ultra-rightist saffron Indian regime is the logical culmination of this closer coordination with US. And unlike in the past, under Trump and Modi both the aerospace industries/military industrial complexes in US and saffronised Indian military establishment are in proper coordination especially against Chinese expansionist designs.

 

Of course, the timing of this US-backed ASAT launching by Modi is dictated by petty political aims of winning the upcoming elections. But in essence, Modi’s move is consistent with its saffron-fascistisation of everything including life and nature. Its move away from disarmament and de-nuclearisation is also consistent with this. At the same time, the cool response from imperialist corporate media, especially that from US on this weaponisation of space by the saffron-chauvinist Modi regime is very revealing indeed.

 

Corporate Speculators Skyrocket Sensex to Bolster Winning Prospects of Chowkidar of Super-Rich

 

India’s economic fundamentals are in a downward spiral. Agriculture and industry are in doldrums. Demonetisation and GST have sucked out the life-blood of the people and broken their backbone. Economic growth rate is the lowest since 2008. Unemployment is the highest in five decades. In terms of UN global indices pertaining to hunger, malnutrition, poverty, happiness, etc., India’s position is the worst compared to all neighbouring countries and even much below that of the ‘least developed sub-Saharan’ African countries. During the last five years, inequality and wealth concentration have jumped to epic proportions. India under Modi has become the most corrupt country in Asia. Social and political tensions are mounting for obvious reasons.

 

It is in this context that global financial speculators backed by corporate media are working overtime to paint a rosy picture of India by boosting up the Indian stock market and driving up the Sensex to an all time peak at around 39000 points. To facilitate this in view of the upcoming general election, global financial speculators ( so called FII) sponsored by Morgan Stanley and others have already channelled around Rs 50000 crore in to the highly foreign-dependent Indian stock market. In the process, while share prices of Reliance, other corporate companies, and new generation banks are bubbling, that of almost all the PSUs are revealingly collapsing. More interestingly, while the Indian Sensex without having any valid economic basis is thus artificially boosted, while all the stock markets in Asia including that of China, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia are recording negative trends due to the prevailing global downturn.

 

The usual trend among stock market the world over during elections is to have a wait-and-watch approach. However, contrary to this, the most corrupt corporate speculators and crony capitalists, both Indian and foreign, who have multiplied their wealth over the past few years and who expect that Modi regime shall stay in power are bent on creating a feel-good factor regarding the Indian economy under his rule. In case of a critical situation, they are confident of repatriating their investment to safe havens on account of the unfettered freedom for capital flight already granted to this traitorous class.

 

No doubt, it is the heinous and calculated move on the part of this most parasitic strata of financial cronies that has led to the crossing of the Sensex to another landmark on the World Fools Day.

 

CPI (M)’s Journey from London School of Economics to London Stock Exchange

 

Kerala is marketed as a hub of Global Speculators and Crony Capitalists!!

 

If Jyoti Basu former West Bengal chief minister and PB member of CPI (M) created history in his speech at the London School of Economics in the early 1990s through the revelation on “globalization as an irreversible process” by invoking the TINA factor when even Congress chief ministers were tight-lipped on the neoliberal offensive launched by Manmohan Singh, today CPI(M) PB member Pinarayi Vijayan who rules Kerala is again creating history as the first Indian chief minister attending the listing ceremony of KIIFB (Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Boarda neoliberal SPV for attracting corporate funds) masala bonds in the London Stock Exchange scheduled on May 17.

 

Though the CPI(M) then had only 38 MPs, it was the bold investor-friendly and pro-corporate policies including “joint ventures” (forerunners of today’s PPPs, the most heinous form of corporate plunder) along with threats to labour unions of ‘stern action’ that made Basu acceptable as the 1996 consensus candidate for Indian prime minister for the ruling classes. Though he could not become the PM, he reiterated his position among other things by co-opting the MIT-returned Asim Dasgupta as finance minister of West Bengal, who led the Empowered Committee for pioneering the anti-federal and pro-corporate GST till 2008.

 

In the same vein, today after a quarter century, CPI (M)’s remaining chief minister is becoming the ‘blue-eyed boy’ of neoliberal centers for transforming Kerala as an attractive destination for deregulated and corrupt transnational money-spinning speculators encompassing a wide spectrum of self-professed asset managers, insurance companies, pension funds, banks, stock brokers and so on who are supposed to invest in the so called masala bonds issued by KIIFB.

 

Alarmed at the wide accolades that Pinarayi is getting from neoliberal centres and crony capitalists for his efforts to spread red carpet for them to Kerala, the opposition Congress, especially in view of the ongoing election, is raising a hue and cry of the whole issue with allegations of corruption. However, even as corruption is inherent to corporatization and financialisation, being adherents of neoliberal developmentalism, obviously the Congress has no alternative to Kerala’s mounting dependence on foreign speculators, international debt markets and neocolonial institutions including World Bank and ADB.

 

It is the task of the working class, all oppressed and progressive democratic forces to come forward exposing the manner in which the reins of the economy are transferred to the foreign parasitic classes and put forward a political alternative that requires a fundamental restructuring of the system including a reversal of the depoliticizing of development itself.

 

US Imperialism Strengthens Its Neo-Liberal Offensive by Nominating Trump Loyalist as World Bank President

 

David Malpass, known Trump loyalist and US Treasury’s under-secretary for international affairs is the new World Bank President. Nominating him Trump said: “America is the largest contributor to the World Bank. My administration has made it a top priority to ensure that US taxpayers’ dollars are spent effectively and wisely.”

 

As everybody knows, the Bretton Woods twins namely, the IMF and the World Bank are the two economic arms of US imperialism, the supreme arbiter of the post-war neo-colonial world order. As the largest shareholder with 16 percent of the voting power, it is the US that nominates the World Bank’s president since its founding and winning the backing of majority of World Bank shareholders made up of 188 countries including that of EU is usually formal.

 

Though Malpass is a junior in US bureaucratic hierarchy, comprador regimes in the neo-colonially dependent Afro-Asian-Latin American countries are bound to pursue his diktats in letter and spirit. As Trump bluntly hinted, it shall be the duty of the new incumbent to pry open the economies of the dependent countries and enforce the neo-colonial rules of the game and ensure super-profits for MNCs especially for those emanating from the US by smashing trade unions, imposing tax liberalisations, privatising public sectors and thus achieving what is called ‘ease of doing busyiness’ for transnational corporate capital. And as a diehard neo-conservative, Malpass has to toe his master’s line by effectively using the contemporary world economic crisis and geopolitical tensions as opportunities for super-imposing ultra-rightist and market fundamentalist policies.

 

A Regret Cannot Exonerate Britain from the Colonial Crimes Committed by It

 

As the 100th anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre by British imperialism is approaching, in response to the demand of a cross-section of the British MPs for an "unequivocal apology", Theresa May has made a belated "regret" that is far short of a formal apology, even as the reactionary Conservative Party came forward strongly defending General Dyer who led this massacre firing rifles into the crowd on April 13, 1919.

 

In fact, Jallianwala Bagh is only one among the innumerable crimes committed on the India people by British imperialism. The Wagon Tragedy of 1921 was another massacre in which almost a hundred Mappila patriots, who resisted British colonialists and their Indian agents, the upper-caste Hindu landlords, were saffocated to death by imperial police.

 

Probably, the biggest and the worst massacre was that of the Bengal Famine of 1943 that according to British records killed 40 lakh Indians consequent on Churchill's order of diversion of food to British soldiers. While talking on the Bengal Famine in 1943, Churchill said: " I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits."

 

The same mindset has been there for all colonialists who cherished the theory of 'white man's burden'. For instance, as a justification to exterminate the Red Indians, George Washington upheld more or less similar views as that of Churchill. For, Washington said :" (Red) Indians have nothing human except in shape...The gradual extension of our settlements will as certainly cause the savage, as the wolf, to retire, both being beasts of prey tho' they differ in shape"

 

The problem with May and her likes is this colonial mindset rooted in extreme contempt for the colonized. That is why, to appease the defenders of Dyer, she refrains from making an apology. British imperialists fully know that tendering apology for one massacre will force them to apologise for all the crimes against humanity that they committed not only in Asia but in Africa and all over the world in their mad pursuit of building up what Rudyard Kipling, the poet of British imperialism said 'the empire upon which the sun never set'.

 

 

 

Chosen Representative of

 

the Most Corrupt Corporate Class

 

PJ James

 

As Modi’s rule has reached its fag end, we are witnessing now is the latest malicious move to withhold the release of official data prepared by government’s own statistical machineries. The most conspicuous has been the ban imposed on publishing the NSSO’s 2017-18 data on employment. Modi came to power in 2014 with a promise of creating additional two crore jobs per year. But according to the NSSO survey, the details of which are leaked out on March 20, 2019, instead of the creation of two crore new jobs per annum, the country has been losing one crore jobs per year. Since this reversal on employment generation has obviously taken place due to Modi’s corporatisation policies, using the NITI Aayog, which devoid of any statistical expertise and that is working as a public relations department of the saffron regime, the govt. has released a series of doctored data which were completely at divergence with the NSSO figures.

 

Earlier, two members of the National Statistical Commission led by its chairman PC Mohanan had resigned protesting against the government’s manipulation of data. They had also questioned the manner in which the Modi government resorted to the new series of GDP data that can depict a relatively higher growth rate under Modi by artificially lowering India’s growth rates during the UPA regime. Contrary to Modi’s claims, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, India’s unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent in February this year from 5.9 percent in February 2018 which is the biggest job loss that India is experiencing in five decades!

 

While 60 percent of the toilets built under the Swachh Bharat are lacking water and in Chhattisgarh (which declared its rural areas ODF-open defecation free), for instance, in all the 18769 villages surveyed, they are used as storehouses instead of using for the expected purposes. During the first year of his ascendancy to the throne, budget allocation to healthcare was reduced by 15 percent. At a time when 2.4 million Indian people are dying per annum due to lack of primary medical aid, and renowned international journals like Lancet exposed this deplorable situation in India, in 2018 Modi started Ayushmann Bharat with much fanfare. It also proved another publicity stunt since only Rs. 2000 crore was earmarked for this project whereas the initial minimum requirement was Rs. 30000 crore for including at least 10 crore people under this scheme. Even if it is spent, it would have been less than Rs. 20 per person. While Modi has already spent Rs. 3643 crore on Shivaji statue and more for that of Patel, in the neighbouring BJP-ruled state of Maharashtra alone 4000 peasants had to commit suicide on account of a debt of Rs. 150 crore to banks from which leading corporates Amabani, Adani, Essar, etc. have looted Rs. 15 lakh crore in the guise of non-performing assets (NPAs). Like MNREGS, both Swachh Bharat and Ayushmann Bharat have turned out as mere hoax.

 

On the one hand, Modi government without sending lawyers to the court cunningly created the situation for the SC passing an order on February 13 evicting more than a million hapless tribal people from their habitat, and on the other expedited wildlife clearances for facilitating corporate mining and environmentally harmful projects in ecologically fragile and sensitive regions to the detriment of forest dwellers in particular. To speed up corporate plunder of nature, after coming to power, Modi actively intervened to dilute the 2013 Land Acquisition Act that under the UPA regime had brought about some regulations in corporate land acquisition and certain procedures for eviction of peasants and adivasis from their land.

 

While curtailing federal powers of the state government through such neoliberal offensives as GST, regarding execution of corporate projects, Modi regime extended a free hand to them to act in violation of even central laws and against the rights of forest dwellers and marginalized sections. In brief, regarding land acquisition and natural resource appropriation for projects whether private or PPP route, the Modi regime is openly siding with the corporates against the sustenance and livelihood of the oppressed.

 

While these lines are being written, the UN had released its latest World Happiness Report ranking India at 140 among 156 countries for which study was conducted. India which is among countries at the bottom of the index that experienced the highest decline in welfare and happiness in recent years has gone down seven spots compared with the last edition of the Report which analysed economic, political and social stresses that people suffer. People’s lives with respect to per capita income, healthy life expectancy, freedom and liberty, absence of corruption, social support, etc. are taken as the criteria for the study. Thus while Modi was shoring up India’s ranking in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Busyiness Index by liberalising all laws pertaining to environment, labour, tax and even democratic rights, unleashing all kinds of financial parasitism, unknown levels of corruption leading to predatory plunder by corporate MNCs and crony capitalists, India with its 140th rank has been going down in terms of UN’s World Happiness Report, even much below that of neighbouring Pakistan (67), Bhutan (95), Bangladesh (125) and Sri Lanka (130). As a manifestation of this, while Modi-bhakts and corporate-saffron media are working overtime to fool people in to believing that India is fast developing, all the basic economic, social, democratic foundations of the country are collapsing.

 

Modi came to power on an anti-corruption plank taking advantage of people’s fury against the corrupt UPA government. But what India witnessed since then has been the unravelling of Modi himself as the agent of most corrupt crony capitalists. In the notorious Rs. 59000croreRafale deal with a reported underhand dealing of Rs. 30000 crore, Modi himself is exposed as the agent/middleman of Ambani. No prime minister in India has degenerated to such a level. Probably, Modi’s unveiling of himself as the chosen representative of the most corrupt corporate class is with regard to his approach to corruption itself. The BJP itself later admitted Modi’s promise of putting Rs. 15 lakh in the account of each Indians after repatriating unaccounted money from abroad as a mere election stunt. The alteration that he has brought about in election funding through the Electoral Bond Scheme based on inputs from neoliberal centres is an ingenious move to cement the corporate-saffron unholy nexus. This scheme that channels unaccounted black money from foreign tax havens and corporate sources is already exposed as a corollary of the financial parasitism and corporatisation underlying behind the so called Modinomics. Till date, the BJP has reportedly cornered around 95 percent of the tens of millions of worth black money donations mobilised through Electoral Bonds.

 

And to facilitate the legitimisation of funding from foreign tax havens, Modi has gone even for amending the Foreign Currency Regulation Act of 1976. In 2017 itself, in the third year of his rule, as underlined by Transparency International, Modi has earned the distinction for his regime as the most corrupt in Asia relegating Pakistan and Thailand in to the background. All investigative and enforcement agencies were manipulated to cover-up corruption by the ruling regime even as they are systematically directed against political opponents. According to the latest information, the income tax department that has been in possession of a diary by Yedyurappa, former Karnataka CM that contains huge pay-offs of over Rs. 1800 crore to central BJP team along with extortions worth Rs. 2690 crore, did nothing to investigate them.

 

Under Modi regime, corruption has assumed a new dimension of being ingrained in to the very process of formulation and implementation of policies through the unholy nexus among corporates, politicians and bureaucrats. Demonetisation itself was a classic corrupt move for wholesale whitening of the unaccounted black money hoardings of the most parasitic corporate class and politicians associated with BJP. While sucking out the meagre cash holdings of the vast majority of toiling people, demonetisation enabled the corrupt super-rich to consolidate the country’s wealth in their hands. By damaging the circulation channels and supply chains of the economy it paved the way for further corporatisation by destroying the informal and agricultural sectors that provided employment for 95 percent of the Indian workforce, and ultimately led to a 2 percent decline in India’s national product or loss of around Rs. 3-4 lakh crores during the financial year that proceeded demonetisation. One of the declared objectives of demonetisation was a transformation to digitization and cashless transactions. But as per the latest RBI Report on currency circulation, demonetisation resulted in around 20 percent growth in currency circulation, rising to 21.41 lakh crore as on 15 March, 2019 from Rs.17.97 lakh crore as on 4 November, 2016, on the eve of demonetisation. According to BJP’s own statements including the affidavit it submitted to Supreme Court, demonetisation might have been whitened a minimum of Rs 5 lakh crore worth black money.

 

Along with it, the GST that is being superimposed over states destroying the federal structure, depriving the states of their constitutional right to resource mobilisation and transferring the reins of the unified Indian market to corporate monopoly forces has broken the backs of retail, informal, traditional and self-employment sectors where vast majority Indians depend for their sustenance.

 

Under the ultra-rightist, corporate-saffron regime, India witnessed a systematic destruction of almost all PSUs in strategic and key sectors including even the defence sector. While the budgetary targets pertaining to social welfare expenditures remain unfulfilled throughout, the disinvestment target for the fiscal year 2019 is already met. As announced by the finance minister on March 22, 2019, disinvestment receipts for the financial year have touched Rs. 85000 crore as against the budgetary target of Rs. 80000 crore. Along with this, calculated steps were initiated to privatise or destroy public sector/departmental undertakings relating to railways, oil and gas, national highways, ports, airports, telecom and so on. As a result, for instance, BSNL and ONGC are on the brink of collapse while Reliance Jio and Reliance Petroleum have already taken over their positions. On account of Modi’s ultra-rightist policies, while the entire employment oriented productive spheres including agriculture and industry are facing reverses, the wealth of the top 9 Indian billionaires including Ambani and Adani are galloping at the rate of Rs. 2200 crore a day or Rs. 803000 crore an year! This occurs when earnings and living conditions of the common people go on declining such that in the Global Hunger Index India’s ranking under Modi rule has deteriorated by 37 percent reaching 100 among 119 countries, much below that of neighbouring countries.

 

Unlike the UPA rule, the period since 2014 when Modi has been in power experienced sharp decline in international crude oil prices. Countries like Iran and Venezuela which are facing unilateral Yankee embargo are even ready to part with their huge stocks of oil and gas even at a reduced price than the prevailing international prices. But Modi as US bootlicker and chosen agent of the most corrupt financial corporate class used this occasion for plundering people and fattening private oil giants like Ambani and Essar. Compared with the period of the UPA regime, when international crude oil prices plunged from $ 140 a barrel to around $ 50a barrel during the entire period of Modi rule, instead of reducing domestic oil prices, Modi went on raising taxes on petrol and diesel without any let up. Thus he raised taxes on petrol and diesel by 200 percent and 400 percent respectively, and a doubling of LPG prices such that both the central and state governments could gobble up around Rs. 15 lakh crores from this account alone.

 

Instead of spending this amount on people-oriented programs Modi in his budgets provided corporate tax exemptions worth Rs. 6 lakh crore on an average. Together with the highest GST rates in the world coupled with corporate control over price-fixing, the fuel price hike which also is the highest in the world has led to a sky-rocketing of the prices of all items of mass consumption and essential services even as peasants are denied minimum prices for their sustenance.

 

Closer examination will reveal that under the cover of saffronisation and all round campaign for Hindu Rashtra, Modi has been working overtime to serve his corporate chieftains. The ultimate beneficiaries of war- mongering and war hysteria built-up by Modi regime are the corporate class. Unity among the working class and oppressed people against the corporate-saffron regime is diverted by creating mutual hatred among the general public and feelings of insecurity among dalits, adivasis and minorities. Patriarchal and obscurantist religious and caste-based values are directed against women for cooling down their fury against the system. Institutions related to education, research and culture are manipulated and brought under corporate-saffron diktats.

 

Under Modi regime, since policy decisions are often conceived in the corporate- saffron-bureaucratic nexus, parliament, various parliamentary committees and related institutions have lost their significance and elected representatives of the people are kept in the dark regarding strategic decisions. Together with parliament, judiciary, administration, enforcement and investigative agencies and police are subjected to saffronisation. Even military is utilized for serving the saffron agenda. Corporate-saffron think-tanks are hand-picked to serve crony capitalism where corruption forms an integral part. While constitutional offices like CAG and autonomous bodies like RBI and CBI are denigrated, non-constitutional posts like the National Security Advisor and those who have access to PMO’s office wield extra-constitutional powers. Those who oppose the regime are charged with colonial sedition laws and black laws such as UAPA while saffron intellectuals and activists behind terrorist attacks and cow vigilantes are let scot-free by official investigative agencies. Even judges who refuse to toe the official line are dealt with accordingly. UP has become the “fake-encounter capital” of India where a reign of terror is unleashed on political opponents and oppressed sections.

 

At this critical juncture, all the democratic forces in the country are duty-bound to come forward for overthrowing this regime based a concrete evaluation of the horrific situation that we are facing.

 

 

CPI(ML) Red Star’s Statement: Oppose Militarization of Outer Space.

 

CPI(ML) Red Star strongly condemns the 27th March anti-satellite missile test, Modi’s arrogant claims about India entering the elite club and BJP leaders’ war mongering sighting it to influence the ongoing election process.

 

One of the progressive aspects of India's foreign policy was that right from the beginning it had stood for universal nuclear disarmament. That is why even after achieving scientific-technological capability to make nuclear bombs, it did not go for it. But Vajpayee government violated this and went for nuclear arms soon after coming to power. When China test fired its anti- satellite missile in 2007 India had condemned it. India had opposed the use of outer space for armament and conflicts; it had opposed the sabre-rattling of US to use outer space for future arms race and possible wars. It was a positive step that in spite of having the capability to launch missiles capable of destroying satellites by 2010, it did not go for it.

 

But like Vajpayee, Modi has used this capability by ordering the anti-satellite missile test and is boasting about it for winning the elections. In effect he and the RSS parivar are destroying whatever positive aspects Indian foreign policy had hurriedly. It is similar to the destruction of all institutions built up under existing constitutional principles under Modi rule. So Modi's 27th March act should be opposed not from a defensive position, but by attacking him for destroying whatever positive values this country had. We should stand for and struggle for universal nuclear disarmament and against using the outer space also for weaponization and arms race. War mongering by Modi and the BJP leaders should be resisted and defeated.

 

The anti-satellite missile test and war mongering are calculated moves to divert attention from the total failure of his government to address any of the problems faced by the vast masses. We appeal to all progressive, secular democratic forces to strive hard to defeat BJP and its allies.

 

Weaponisation of Space as a Corollary of India’s Transformation as Strategic Junior Partner of US Imperialism

P J James

 

Modi’s mid-day announcement of test-firing of anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile after keeping people in suspense for almost an hour on March 27 is already exposed in Indian media as a “drama” and “publicity mongering” for reaping political mileage in the upcoming Lok Sabha election, and the opposition parties have characterised it as a clear violation of model code of conduct. Response from the international media is also more less the same. News agencies have viewed the “satellite strike” in the context of Indian general election as “mission ahead of Lok Sabha election” and perfectly in tune with the “Balakot air strikes” while some have interpreted it as “poll-eve desperation”. However this is just one aspect of the entire issue.

 

The major question arises from A-SAT launching is in relation to the saffron regime’s basic departure from India’s declared policy against outright weaponisation of space, though trend towards its militarisation-- using satellites for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance missionshas been there during the neoliberal period, especially after India’s conversion as US’s strategic junior partner. As a member of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and as an adherent to the UN Resolutions on Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space, from the 1950s onward India upheld space as the common heritage of humankind according to which every nation has the responsibility to avoid actions which can lead to militarisation and weaponisation of this arena. Thus the Nehruvian approach to the use of space only for peaceful purposes along with non-alignment continued as the official tradition. As such, India has been launching satellites to be used for weather forecasting, communication, agriculture, disaster management, search and rescue operation, telemedicine, etc. And all of India’s prime ministers up to Manmohan Singh (including Vajpayee who revived India's nuclear weaponisation through Pokhran-II), had to publicly reiterate the need to retain space as a weapons-free sphere.

 

Even after China’s ASAT test of January 2007, the UPA government, consistent with the erstwhile Nehruvian tradition continued to uphold its declared policy against space weaponisation despite pressures from military establishments in India and US. The then Director General of DRDO V K Saraswat (who as a member of NITI Ayog under Modi is now critical of the UPA of lacking political will) is reported to have submitted a proposal before the Manmohan government to weaponize the outer space, though he himself under instructions from government declared that India will not conduct a physical test to avoid creation of harmful space debris. By that time itself, as reported in the 97th Indian Science Congress held in Trivandrum, Kerala in 2010, India had acquired full-fledged scientific and technical capability for ASAT launching. In spite of that, during a press conference with Vladimir Putin, Manmohan Singh said: “Our position is similar in that we are not in favour of the weaponization of outer space.” A few days later, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony echoed similar sentiments when he stated, “we have always advocated peaceful use of technology. Thus, we are of the view that weaponization of space must be discouraged.” Moreover, in conformity with the 1985 Conference on Disarmament, India has been repeatedly seeking a ban on space weapons at all international fora. In spite of signs of fluctuations in policy towards space militarisation under Vajpayee regime, India was consistently adhering to its commitment on weapon-free space in accordance with the agreements that India entered into with several countries including Australia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, China, EUMETSAT-1, European Space Agency (ESA), France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Russia, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, UK, Ukraine, and even USA.

 

But with the ascendancy of far-right Hindutva regime in 2014 and India’s further degeneration under US diktats led to former’s intensified integration with US military and strategic interests. In view of the expansionist threat from China including its inter-continental infrastructure project called “One Belt One Road”, US started encouraging the comprador Modi regime to display India’s capability in anti-satellite weaponry as a counter to China’s ASAT weapons that reduce US military effectiveness in the Indo-Pacific Region. As a clear departure from erstwhile policy, at US insistence space weaponisation also became an agenda under US-India Strategic Partnership. In September 2018, both US Secretary of State Pompeo and US Defence Secretary Mattis in their US-India “2+2”ministerial dialogue with their Indian counterparts in Delhi decided to “integrate space into the broader US-India Strategic Partnership” and to address space security in the guise of responding to China’s growing military capabilities. ASAT launching by the ultra-rightist saffron Indian regime is the logical culmination of this closer coordination with US. And unlike in the past, under Trump and Modi both the aerospace industries/military industrial complexes in US and saffronised Indian military establishment are in proper coordination especially against Chinese expansionist designs.

 

Of course, the timing of this US-backed ASAT launching by Modi is dictated by petty political aims of winning the upcoming elections. But in essence, Modi’s move is consistent with its saffron-fascistisation of everything including life and nature. Its move away from disarmament and de-nuclearisation is also consistent with this. At the same time, the cool response from imperialist corporate media, especially that from US on this weaponisation of space by the saffron-chauvinist Modi regime is very revealing indeed.

 

Condemn Modi’s Greetings to Zionist Netanyahu.

 

The victory of Netanyahu, an ultra right, neo-fascist Zionist leader as the prime minister of Israel for the fifth time means more massacres against the Palestinian people. He will maintain Israel as an outpost for US imperialist maneuvers and aggression in West Asia, a threat to the oppressed peoples of the region.

Indian people have a history of opposing Zionist Israel and supporting the liberation struggle of the Palestinian people. Modi government has drastically changed this policy and along with Netanyahu, Modi is working as junior partners of Trump. The way in which Modi has congratulated Netanyahu for his victory shows to what extent he tries to make India's foreign policy dove-tail with the reactionary policies of US and Israel. It is the responsibility of all progressive democratic forces and all oppressed peoples to vote out Modi with determination in this ongoing elections to save the progressive values we uphold..

 

CPI(ML) Red Star’s May Day Call!

 

The working class all over the world is observing the May Day this year when the onslaughts against them in all fields are intensifying day by day. An overview of the long period after the Second International decided to observe May Day, the day on which the working class in Chicago organized the historic march for an eight hour working day, as the international working class day, we have witnessed many ups and downs of the movement. But what we are witnessing during the post Second World War decades, especially after the setbacks suffered by the international communist movement, is unprecedented. Under neo-colonial/neoliberal offensive, like a mad bull the capitalist imperialist system has not only launched increasingly savage attack on whatever rights so far won by the working class; it has transformed itself in to aggressively speculative market fundamentalist one when jobless growth and contract system have led to acute deprivation of the working class economically, politically and ideologically. In order to obfuscate the reality of class struggle, imperialist think tanks are replacing it with clash of civilizations like reactionary ideologies. Under it Islamophoebia is spread, and all hues of religious fundamentalists, racism, casteism etc are promoted. Even existing bourgeois democratic values are obliterated; the bourgeois democratic state is getting transformed in to ultra rightist, neo-fascist, corporate state.

 

This is a most severe challenge against the working class and all toiling masses. The impact of the neo-colonial offensive is so serious that, it has disarmed the working class and their political vanguards ideologically, politically, socially and organizationally. As a result, though numerous resistance struggles are coming up everywhere from the side of the working class and oppressed peoples, including mighty uprisings throwing out many anti-people forces in power, they are not becoming successful to overthrow the existing reactionary ruling system and replacing it with even a progressive anti-imperialist regime. The corporate forces controlling the world are succeeding to crush these rebellions or to integrate even the new forces coming up inside their global system.

 

So, when the May Day is going to be observed, the cardinal question confronting the working class today is how can they overcome these challenges and advance? It calls for the daringness to recognize and rectify hitherto deviations and shortcomings, and to reinvent themselves applying and developing the revolutionary theory according to the needs of the present concrete conditions. It is definitely a difficult task. But, present challenging times demand daringness to confront them in all spheres. On this May Day let us dare to take up this task and dare to struggle with the new orientation, so that we can once again realize our victorious path forward.

 

Condemn the Bombings in Colombo; Declare Solidarity with the Sri Lankan People.

 

The serial blasts in Colombo, Sri Lanka, a country which was suffered ravaged by violent internal strife for long periods should be condemned by one and all. It should be seen in the context when ultra rightist, neo fascist forces promoted by imperialists and their lackeys and supported by religious fundamentalists in the service of global corporate system directly or indirectly are gaining strength everywhere, violently attacking all democratic human values. So, while we are hurt when practically everyday such incidents are happening in some country or other, it should be recognized that these terrorist acts can be ended only by throwing out the imperialists and their agents who are behind them.

 

When the Khalistan fundamentalists had launched terrorist actions in the beginning of 1980s, when even some among the left circles had supported them, we had categorically pointed out that majority fundamentalism and minority fundamentalism are two sides of the same coin, that both help the growth of each other, and so both should be opposed uncompromisingly. Centuries long human history reveals that all hues of religious fundamentalism/communalism, racism and casteism are helping the growth of each other and all of them ultimately serve the interests of the ruling system only. In Sri Lanka we witnessed a quarter century of bitter strife between the predominantly Budhist Sinhala state and the LTTE rooted among the Hindu Tamils. But, while the nationality question still remains unresolved, all the communal forces grew. It was followed by Islamic fundamentalists’ attacks on Budhist centers, and retaliation by them. Now the present attacks on Christian churches under whatever justification by the Islamic fundamentalists shall only further aggravate the social contradictions in that multi-religious country. We are witnessing within our country how the growth of Saffron forces have vitiated the social life. It is a universal truth that whatever may be the claims of the religious fundamentalists, racists, their militancy and actions are making the life of common people more miserable; at the same time they help the ruling system and elite classes to perpetuate their regimes.

 

The gruesome tragedy in Colombo on 21st April is a reminder to all secular democratic forces that uncompromisingly combating the communal, racist forces of all hues, they should intensify the fight for inclusive, secular, democratic and renaissance values globally and in all countries.

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