Sunday, June 23, 2013
Let Us Build a New India / SJP Political Resolution
Let Us Build a New India
( Political Resolution adopted at the National Conference of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Varanasi, 11-12 June 2013)
The UPA Government recently celebrated the completion of its nine years. It was highlighted that this government has the distinction of the longest tenure since 1977. If the period of Emergency is not counted in the tenure of Indira Gandhi(1966-77), soon Manmohan Singh will become the longest serving prime minister of independent India after Jawahar Lal Nehru. It is an irony that the most corrupt and anti-people government of India is going to complete its second term and there has been no serious political challenge to it. It is also ironic that the person democratically ruling over the country for the second longest term is the one who does not have an independent personality or ideology, who has not been able to win a single direct election and who can not deliver a good speech in public meetings. His Job is to implement policies of World Bank-IMF-USA in India. He can be reasonably called their agent.
This serious and pitiable state of affairs has arisen due to the decay of Indian politics. All the mainstream parties have become almost similar. There is not much difference in their policies, character and style of functioning. All of them are promoting the policies of capitalist globalization. The present political system has no real alternative. Not only BJP but other parties and leaders such as Nitish Kumar, Jaylalitha, Mayawati, Navin Patnaik, Akhilesh Yadav, Omar Abdullah have also disappointed the nation. The two personalities being projected as future prime minister of India, Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi, do not have any new vision. If elected, both will serve the interest of the business corporations and US imperialism, not the Indian people. Their development models are almost the same, the one which has already played havoc with the nation and its people. It is also clear that mere new blood in politics will not make any difference. What is needed is a new and radical vision, a leadership emerging from the people and dedicated to the people, and a mass movement for change.
Also needed is a new political culture and new style of functioning. Politics of existing mainstream parties is conducted from the top, it is detached and away from the people, and full with opportunism, dynasties and defection. It is devoid of any values or principles. These parties and their leaders use money, (mostly black money), muscle, caste and communalism to win elections. That is why the grip of capitalists and criminals over politics is increasing. It has become a vicious circle. Candidates spend crores of rupees in elections. When they get elected they try to earn many times more or favour those who have invested money in their elections. Elections have become a business and a gamble. Without breaking this vicious circle, Indian politics cannot deliver anything good. This vicious circle can be broken only with the mobilization of the masses, their organized power and big movements dedicated for change.
The great downfall of Indian Politics is indicated by a recent example. On the occasion of Parshuram Jayanti, all the political parties of Uttar Pradesh, the BSP, SP, BJP and Congress, organized grand Brahmin conferences. All the parties seemed to vie with each other to eulogize the Brahmin community. It is a pity, since BSP was originally established by Kanshiram as a movement against Brahminism and Manuism. Socialist Leader Ram Manohar Lohia was one of the chief exponents of the war against caste system.
The newer parties are no different. Loksatta Party was formed recently by an ex-IAS officer. One of its candidates in the recent Karnataka Assembly election wrote against dalit reservation on his Facebook page. He also expressed his opposition to certain IPC sections which criminalized cruelty against women. Another candidate of the party expressed her fascination for RSS. A third candidate praised Narendra Modi in her Facebook update. When the updates became matter of embarrassment for the party, its president Dr Jayprakash Narayan removed the first candidate and asked the other two candidates to remove the objectionable contents from their Facebook profile. Thus merely bringing together different people with different ideas cannot create new politics. Rather a mutually consistent progressive ideology is required. No revolution can take place without an ideology.
Same is the case with the anti-corruption movement and the party emerging out of it. Corruption is a serious problem. But corruption is actually a symptom of a grave disease afflicting the society. We cannot treat a disease by merely treating its symptoms. It is really surprising that the leaders and the exponents of the movement never felt it necessary to discuss and debate the roots of corruption. They did not organize even a single seminar on the issue. They are yet to take a clear stand on the issues of class and gender inequality, caste system, globalization or modern development model.
The Rise of the Middle Class
The rise of middle class is a matter of discussion these days. It is said that they will play a decisive role in Indian politics in coming days. The middle class has shown its strength in the anti-corruption movement and surge against 16 December gang rape incident in Delhi. Samajwadi Jan Parishad welcomes this new consciousness of the middle class. It indicates that the people are finally getting disillusioned with globalization. The crisis is getting so much widespread that even the middle class cannot remain silent and indifferent and they hit the streets.
SJP has maintained that a big revolutionary change cannot happen without the participation of the middle class. This class will be a source of many dedicated comrades and supporters. But few facts have to be kept in mind in this regard:
Firstly, the class that is labeled as middle class is actually not in the middle of the population. 75% of the country’s population lies below it. Hence statistically speaking, this middle class is actually a part of the upper class.
Secondly, it is a ‘virtual’ middle class and largely dependent on Internet for its mobilization. But 90% of Indian population is still outside the reach of Internet. The discussion on Internet has its own limitations. 95% of these discussions are in English. They are often full with caste and class prejudices. Still this new medium of communication has its own importance among the youth, and it should be used keeping in mind these limitations.
Thirdly, rise of middle class is mostly visible in the Metropolitan cities. Although the population of metropolitan cities has swelled considerably in recent times, but still it constitutes less than 10% of the country’s population. The conditions, circumstances and issues in the metropolitan areas, middle cities, small cities, towns, villages and tribal areas are quite different.
Only if the rising consciousness of the middle class aligns itself with the concerns and problems of farmers, workers, tribals, dalits and poor, it can serve as an agent of change. Today possibility of such a thing to happen is quite high but conscious effort is required. Further it is also clear that the major forces of change lie in the organization and struggles of the havenots, dalits, poor and other depressed classes. In absence of these forces the change will be incomplete and superficial.
Human Face of Globalization is not Possible
Recently UPA has started a chain of propaganda in the name of ‘Bharat Nirman’. It reminds us of a similar campaign of ‘India Shining’ by NDA government. Perhaps the UPA government is destined to a similar fate.
Central Government is projecting MNREGA, ICDS, Kasturba Kanya Vidyalayas and certain laws like Right to Education, Forest Rights Act, Right to Information Act, Domestic Violence Act and proposed Food Security Bill as its achievements. These programs and the laws may have achieved something. But even those who conceptualized and campaigned for them are getting disillusioned. This is indicated by the recent resignation of Aruna Roy from National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi. In fact, the problem is that the basic policies of the government are severely anti-people. The faulty development model combined with the capitalist globalization has promoted inequality, impoverishment, malnutrition, unemployment, inflation and displacement, besides destroying the environment. It has also taken the corruption to a new height. The ill effects of the LPG policies are almost clear after the experience of the last two decades. Still the Government of India has refused to learn any lesson and is progressing on the suicidal path. To cover the ill effects of these policies and to give a human face to globalization such programs were launched. But the damage is so high that such small measures could provide no relief. It is very obvious that the capitalist globalization cannot have any human face. Change in the basic policy of globalization is the only solution.
Capitalist Globalization and the development promoted by it is causing havoc to the lives of the people. The people are forced to struggle for their existence .Farmers are forced to commit suicide due to crisis in agriculture. People are fighting at Naiyamgiri, POSCO, Narmada Valley, Kundankulam, Lower Suktal, Chutka, Manesar and many more places. The Governments are also supporting the companies to exploit the workers and crush them. The greatest evidence is the recent incident at Maruti Factory. The impact of so called labor reforms, outsourcing and contracting is that the real wages have actually decreased rather than increasing. The case of MNREGA is a typical example where the government itself is paying less than the statutory minimum wages. This is the real face of capitalism.
Ironically the ruling class of India which includes the leaders of the major national parties, bureaucrats and intellectuals are running after capitalism at such time when the countries lying at the top of the capitalism themselves are facing severe crises. The crisis that started in USA has now gripped Europe. Millions of people are protesting in these countries against the system. Innovative movements like ‘Occupy Wall Street’ are taking place. The Latin American countries that were once considered as backyard of USA are today protesting against globalization and American imperialism. The new experiments of socialism are taking place there. The important point here is that such changes are coming through ballot, not the bullet. Various ex-guerrilla leaders have today become elected members of the Government and are implementing policies in favor of the people. There may be some lacunas in the Latin American Model and due to differences in the circumstances, it cannot be replicated easily in other countries. But the important thing is that they raised new hopes and struggle for alternative to capitalism has gained new strength.
The Limitation of Democratic Revolutions
There were successful uprisings against dictators in Arab Countries like Tunisia and Egypt in recent times. But the newly elected government in Egypt is also clashing with the people. There has also been news of clash from Turkey. The most unfortunate condition prevails in South Africa where a number of mine workers were killed recently by the police. South Africa got its independence after a long struggle against apartheid. But situation remained almost the same even after independence. Inequality, poverty and exploitation still prevail in South Africa.
The condition of Bangladesh is not very different. The factories manufacturing apparels for export are having accidents one after the other, killing hundreds and thousands of workers. The working conditions in these factories are very pathetic. In order to provide cheap goods to European countries and America the companies are involved in severe inhuman exploitation of the workers. In Bangladesh in the form of Sahbad Movement the Youth is rising against fundamentalist forces. They are demanding to put the convicts of 1971 Mukti Sangram to trial. But on the other side the common poor people of Bangladesh are showing support for Jamayte Islami. Awami Leag, the party in power in Bangladesh is like Indian National Congress of India. Both pretend to be a secular, but are surrounded by corruption and their economic policies are increasing the misery of the people.
Most of the South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Myanmar) is facing a similar dilemma. People fight for independence, they revolt against dictators, they remove anti-people governments, but still their miseries do not end. In such circumstances, they sometimes side with reactionary and fundamentalist forces.
In fact, democratic revolutions are important, and a step forward, but they are not enough. Along with these democratic revolutions, the socio-economic structure and development model must also change. Then only the people will be liberated from misery and democracy will get stabilized. To bring such a change the revolution has to fight against the forces of globalization and imperialism. The governments of Bangladesh, South Africa or India instead of opposing these forces act as their agents.
Socio-Religious Reform Movements
The rise of fundamentalism at the global level can also be seen in this context. When Western culture, capitalist globalisation and impearilism hurt the people, their identity and their culture, and progressive ideology and movements fail to provide a way out, then people seek refuge in religion and tradition. Fundamentalist forces use this opportunity .These forces are promoted by the vested interests, but it is also a failure of the progressive movements.
For a long time the leftist groups have criticized and rejected religion considering it reactionary. Something like religion is a need of the human society and its role is not always reactionary. Human beings cannot cut themselves from their tradition. That is why religion, tradition and culture should not be out rightly opposed, but their progressive elements and streams should be encouraged. An attempt is needed to purge them from hypocrisy, superstitions, obscurantism, communalism and inequalities.
In other words, today there is a need for a socio- religious reform moment which will be part of the wider overall change.
Women and Caste
The incident of gang rape of a young lady in Delhi on 16 December 2012 gave rise to a new awareness on issues of crime against women and gender discrimination. Samajwadi Jan Parishad welcomes this. Perhaps for the first time women’s issues have become part of the mainstream discourse. But the feminist movement has to mobilize and involve women at the lower stratum of the society and join forces with the other movements of the poor and oppressed to carry forward this movement.
This is also true of the movements of Dalit and backward castes. Caste system is becoming more entrenched rather than weakening. Caste atrocities continue even today. The difference is that now depressed castes are organizing themselves (individually, rather than collectively) to bargain for electoral tickets and posts in governments or at best reservation for their caste. When such depressed caste leaders reach the top, they imitate Dvija leaders in amassing wealth, living a luxurious life, self-glorification and personality cult. Their style of functioning is no different.
The original idea of Dalits, backwards, minorities, poor and women joining forces to break the stranglehold of the Brahminical system and the caste system has been lost somewhere. There is a need to revive it and to strengthen a holistic movement to build a new egalitarian society.
Samajwadi Jan Parishad supports the six months long agitation by Shyam Rudra Pathak to demand that the High Courts and the Supreme Court function in Indian languages. It is shameful that after 66 years of independence, a foreign language, language of our masters, is still ruling our country. The dominance of English has increased further in recent times. That is a cause of concern. Samajwadi Jan Parishad believes that English should be replaced by Indian languages, including those called dialects, the languages people really speak. Then only there will be true participation and empowerment of people and meaningful education. There are many movements and campaigns for recognition and promotion of these local languages and dialects. SJP calls these groups to come together to strive to build a new India.
The privatization and commercialization of education, health and water has played havoc in the lives of the people. The opening of each and every aspect of our lives to the global market has caused grave problems and distortions. The IPL fixing scam is a recent example. Sports, education, knowledge, health, social service, religion, politics, nature, all are becoming victims of the forces of profiteering. People are fighting against them at various places and levels, but it is high time that they struggle jointly against the capitalist globalization.
The Time Is Now
Samajwadi Jan Parishad believes that this is a delicate and crucial moment for our country as well as the world. The crisis in capitalist civilization and the subsequent disillusionment has created an opportunity for working towards a new, better and egalitarian society. There are two important requirements for using this opportunity. One, clarity of thoughts and direction of the alternative. Due to the lack of the ideological clarity and a clear vision, many big movements have deviated from their goals and disintegrated. Secondly, all people’s struggles, organizations, campaigns, groups and individuals should join together to build an all- India movement. They are agitating on different issues or campaigning or doing constructive work. If they want their goals to be achieved, then they have to join forces to create a new system.
In the context of India, drawing inspiration from our independence movement, but at the same time going ahead of it, we have to launch another sort of independence movement, so that a new India can be built. This new India will be based on a new development model and values of equality, liberty, simplicity, democracy, diversity, plurality and decentralization. This struggle will necessarily be multi-dimensional, involve the participation of diverse groups at the grass root level, and will be broadly non-violent and democratic. Samajwadi Jan Parishad calls upon all patriotic and humanitarian individuals and groups to join together towards this goal.