Forward with the Agenda of the Working Class!
Statement of the Central Committee of Communist Ghadar Party of India, 21st August, 2015
Workers’ unions and all the central federations of unions in the country have together given the call for an All-India General Strike on 2nd September, 2015. This General Strike has been called at a time when workers and peasants are facing all-sided attacks on their livelihood and rights. The General Strike is a mark of protest by the toiling majority of people against the rulers of the country (see Box 1).
Communist Ghadar Party calls on all workers, peasants, women and youth of the country to extend full support to the General Strike and the growing united struggle of the working class!
Immediate demands of the Striking Workers
Addressing the country on 15th August, 2015, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that his government is waging a “war on poverty” by inviting the capitalists of the world to come and invest here to “make in India”. He also announced that his government was consolidating 44 labour related laws into just four laws, and claimed that this would benefit the working class, allegedly because it is simpler for workers to understand 4 instead of 44 laws.
Life experience has taught the working class not to believe what Prime Ministers say. They generally say one thing while doing the exact opposite.
The agenda of reforms in labour laws that the Modi government is pursuing is aimed at fulfilling the demands of Indian and foreign capitalists to make it easier to hire and fire workers as they please. It is aimed at making it convenient for capitalists to intensify the degree of exploitation of workers by extending working hours, resorting more and more to temporary contracts and hiring through labour contractors, and making it more difficult for workers to form their own fighting unions. In one word, the aim of the official reform agenda is to deprive workers of basic rights that have been won through long years of struggle and sacrifice. (See Box 2 on Anti-Worker Agenda of Labour Law Reforms)
The youthful working class of our country is being offered to the capitalists of the world, saying, “Come and super-exploit our skilled and cheap labour force! Come and make super-profits in India!”
Whether it is BJP or Congress Party heading the government in New Delhi, or it is a so-called Third Front, the course of the economy and our society has remained capital-centered. It has been dovetailed to suit the interests of the monopoly capitalist groups. Newer and newer slogans keep getting invented by the spokesmen of the capitalist class, but the reality is that exploitation and plunder are becoming more and more intense and unbearable over time.
We have heard of “Garibi Hatao” under Indira Gandhi, “Modern and Efficient India” under Rajiv Gandhi, “Shining India” under Vajpayee and “Reforms with a human face” under Manmohan Singh. Now under Narendra Modi there are new slogans concocted every day, including “acche din (good times)”, “sab ke saath, sab ka vikaas (along with all, development for all)”, “Make in India” and now “Start Up India and Stand Up India”.
Anti-Worker Agenda of Labour Law Reforms
The source of the rapid growth of poverty, in India and on the world scale, lies in the capitalist system. It lies in the offensive launched by imperialism and the bourgeoisie on the world scale following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, against those who labour, against the sovereignty of nations and the cause of world peace. Poverty has multiplied in our country, more rapidly than before, as a result of the globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation drive. It is only by fighting to end the capital-centered economic orientation that exploitation and poverty can be eliminated.
In the name of privatisation and disinvestment, successive governments have been handing over valuable public assets to private capitalist companies. Education, health, water, electric supply and other essential and basic services have been opened up for the private profiteers. In the name of “public private partnership”, profits are funneled into private capitalist pockets while the burden of losses and outstanding debt is loaded on to the public account, meaning on the backs of the entire people.
In the name of liberalization, giant global trading companies have been permitted to extend their domination over agricultural trade, establishing their vice like grip over our peasantry. Barriers have been lowered for foreign capitalist monopolies to penetrate more and more sectors of the economy. This now includes vital and strategic sectors such as defence production, railways, banking and insurance.
The present government is pushing further forward this so-called economic reform program from where the previous government left off.
Prime Minister Modi talks as if he is leading a team of 125 crores of people, called “Team India”. In reality, the Team India which he represents is none other than the biggest capitalists in the country. The entire agenda of “reforms” is tailored to ensure maximum returns for the monopoly capitalists, Indian and foreign. It is an agenda set by the big capitalists, which Modi ji has been selected to champion and market to the people. It is a program designed to fulfill the global imperialist aims of the biggest monopoly houses, and in the process turn the country into a playground for the rapacious interests of competing monopolies and imperialist states. It is against the very sovereignty of India. It is completely against the interests of the workers, peasants, and other working people. It is destructive of Nature and against the general interests of society.
Agenda of the Working Class
In place of capital-centered reforms, the working class fights for the implementation of human-centered reforms. Instead of being oriented to maximize capitalist profits, the economy and government policy must be reoriented to maximize the degree of fulfillment of human needs, both material and cultural. The loot and plunder of our land and labour must end. More must be put into the human and material productive forces than is taken out of them. The means of social production must be converted from being the private property of a minority into the social property of the entire people. Agricultural land should be the collective property of peasants and other producer groups.
The immediate agenda of the working class includes the creation of a modern universal Public Distribution System, to ensure that everyone is guaranteed with supply of basic consumer goods at affordable prices. Security of livelihood must be ensured for all peasants, by controlling the prices of agricultural inputs and guaranteeing state procurement of all agricultural outputs at stable and remunerative prices. Peasants can then be free from the clutches of private monopolies and the working people of towns can be assured of food at affordable prices. Nationalisation of foreign trade and internal wholesale and large-scale retail trade, as well as of banking and insurance, and placing them under social control, are absolutely necessary steps to ensure the success of a modern universal PDS.
Education and health care must be available to all. Secure livelihood must be guaranteed to all those fit to work.
The human-centered agenda of economic reorientation will not be implemented by BJP or Congress Party. Only a political front led by the working class and including the peasants and other oppressed sections will have the interest and capacity to end the capital-centered orientation.
The existing system of representative democracy does not represent the toiling majority of people. It is a system in which an exploiting minority, headed by the monopoly capitalists, imposes its will on the whole of society, through the ballot and the bullet. State terror, communal and sectarian violence and other fascistic methods are used to keep the people disunited and drown in blood their resistance struggles. The workers and peasants who vote in every election are asked to choose between candidates selected by the big moneyed parties. The entire political process is designed to divide the working people and place decision-making power in the hands of one or another party backed by the super-rich capitalists.
Life experience has shown that the workers and peasants gain nothing from the periodic replacement of one party by another in this system. What we need is not merely a change of party at the helm. We need a change of system. We need a transformation in the nature of the State and the political process.
We have to fight for an entirely different system, based on a Constitution that places human beings, their basic needs and inviolable rights at the centre of attention rather than the fulfilment of capitalist greed. We need a Constitution which vests sovereignty in the people and not in the Parliament or President or Cabinet. We need a State that upholds two basic principles, namely: (i) sovereignty – the power to decide the course of society –belongs to the people; and (ii) the State is duty bound to ensure prosperity and protection for all members of society and ensure that their rights are never violated.
We must adopt a Constitution that defends the right of every adult member to elect and be elected, have a say in the selection of candidates before any election, enjoy the right to recall at any time the elected representative from one’s constituency, and the right to initiate legislation and approve major policy decisions through referendums. The State alone must fund the electoral process. There must be no state funding of any political party.
The Next Step
As we prepare for making the General Strike on 2nd September a success, one question in everyone’s mind is: What is the next step?
The success of this and other such mass actions is the result of the efforts taken to forge the class unity of workers, cutting across party and union affiliations. Such unity in action has been built at the level of each factory, as well as at the industry or trade level. The next step is to build on this, by strengthening unity in action among workers of entire industrial areas, of whole towns, states and of the entire country.
There is a great need for political discussion among workers at the present time. We need to establish mechanisms so that at every level, we workers can discuss amongst ourselves, the issues confronting us as workers and the agenda of our class.
The question of laws defining the rights of workers is a very serious issue. The issue is not whether there are 44 or 4 labour laws. The working class would benefit the most from having one single law that ensures the rights of all those who have to sell their labour power in order to make a living, which is more than half the population. There is an urgent need for all workers’ organizations to engage in serious discussion so as to work out a proposed single labour law that defines the rights of all wage and salaried workers, without exception.
We should discuss how to end the problem of communal violence once and for all.
We should discuss what changes are needed in the system and political process of representative democracy, to ensure that people are the decision-makers and not an exploiting minority. We need to take steps to prevent workers’ unity from being damaged at the time of every election. We must prepare to field working class candidates in local, state and parliamentary elections – that is, candidates selected by workers to represent our class, rising above differences of party and union affiliations.
In sum, we need to emerge as a united political force with an independent program — the agenda of the working class for the democratic renewal of India — around which we can unite all the exploited and oppressed masses of people.
Let us step up preparations to lead the 125 crore of our people on the path to progress and prosperity.
Hum Hai Iske Malik, Hum Hai Hindostan, Mazdoor Kisan, Aurat aur Jawan!
Mazdoor Ekta Zindabad!