Statement of the Maharashtra Regional Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, July 2011
“Development for whom?”
Statement of the Maharashtra Regional Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, July 2011
“Development for whom?”
All over India, and particularly in Maharashtra, this has become a burning question. The battle lines are drawn: on one side are the governments at the Centre and the State level, the representatives of the ruling class. On the other side are the people who stand to lose their land and livelihood, as well as those scientists, engineers and other concerned citizens who are worried about the unjust and irrational “development”, the irreparable harm being done to the environment, the unconscionable hazards to generations of toilers present and future.
In Jaitapur and the surrounding areas, thousands people have spurned all the blandishments of the government, including “compensation” in amounts that they would not earn in a lifetime. The struggle has already seen 3 martyrs, victims of state brutality, but the spirit of the people, including the young widow of Tabrez, the latest victim, is unbroken. They are determined to die if necessary, but they say they will not permit the atomic power project to come up in Jaitapur. Our Party supports the anti-Jaitapur agitation as a matter of principle; a matter of the rights of the people.
Apart from Jaitapur, the government is hell bent on giving its blessings to 26 other private power projects in Konkan and the opposition to these is building up as well.
Some Lessons from 1947 onwards. The last nearly 65 years of capitalist rule has taught the toilers and tillers unforgettable lessons.
1. Those who pay the price are not those who enjoy the fruit of capitalist development.
About 5 or 6 crores of people have been displaced due to big dams, airports, railways and other projects during this time. Despite numerous promises about resettlement, these people have been left high and dry, without homes, without alternative livelihood, with no power from the power projects that they were dispossessed for, nor with water from the dams, and of course with no prospect of flying from the airfields.
2. The political parties of the bourgeoisie are not to be trusted.
Where they are out of power, these parties try to ride on the backs of popular opposition to hijack the struggles into avenues harmless to the ruling class. Where and when they are in power, they follow the bourgeoisie’s agenda. Examples abound, for instance the Congress, the Shiv Sena and the BJP vis-à-vis Enron in Maharashtra, CPI (M) which supported Indian as well as foreign multinationals in Singur, Nandigram and Lalgarh when it was ruling in West Bengal, Congress in UP, etc.
3. The “elected” representatives and the government officers are not to be trusted.
In the case of Jaitapur, they kept on denying that what was being planned was a nuclear project. Activists exposed the truth through an RTI application. Various government agencies have turned the truth on its head and given “environmental clearance”, though Jaitapur is in an extremely dangerous, earthquake prone zone, which regularly has tremors and fissures caused by movements of the earth.
4. When “accidents” happen, the government is keener to protect the top management of the companies, whether Indian or foreign, rather than get redressal for the victims.
The Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984 exposed the Indian government like never before. It was not an accident that happened that night, but the expected result of gross negligence and violation of accepted safety norms. Generations born after 1984 have medical problems due to the leak. While the government was extremely keen to save the CEO of Union Carbide, successive governments at the Centre and state, of all the bourgeois parties, have done nothing for the victims, who continue to struggle to this day.
5. The ruling class is interested only in maximizing its profits.
This is the one-point agenda of the capitalist class, and it wants to sacrifice everyone and everything for this cause, be it land holders, its own workers and managers, the environment and people at large. This is what has been achieved in the almost 65 years of its rule: on the one hand a handful of capitalist families now preside over empires of lakhs of crores,; while India has one of the worst records in the world as far as gap between the rich and poor and its rate of growth, percentage of poor, malnourished and undernourished people, starvation rates, infant and child mortality rates, condition of women, homeless and deprived people is concerned.
6. It is the capitalist system itself that is the greatest threat to the environment.
With its single minded pursuit of profit, every project in the hands of the capitalist becomes a threat to the workers and people at large. In the last 65 years, the forest cover of India has been decimated to dangerously low levels. The ground water has been exploited without a thought to the future, with disastrous consequences to the water table. All the rivers and lakes are polluted, as is the very air we breathe. Environmental norms are routinely violated at the altar of greed. The environment is being destroyed, not because there is lack of knowledge, but because it is being sacrificed for private profit. When the working people become the rulers, welfare of the toilers will be the overriding concern, and this includes the future generations of toilers as well. This rule will make special provisions to safeguard the environment.
“Learn what Life has Taught Us the Hard Way!”
The heart-rending cry of the people of Tarapur and surrounding villages.
The first atomic power plant was established in Tarapur, just 150 km from Mumbai in the late sixties. People, in the flush of patriotism, and believing the government’s promises of rehabilitation and a better life, gave up their land. Today they have no permanent jobs at the plant – the only work that they get is contract work under highly risky conditions. The fishing in that area has been decimated. There is no development for the local people. They face 8-10 hours of load shedding every day. Even the water supply is not proper.
Worse is the nuclear hazard. The waste from all nuclear projects in India comes there. It is stored or treated very close to the villages. It is discharged into the sea, from where it makes its way back to the coast through tides. The incidence of cancer and all types of diseases there has shot up. The government provides no medical facilities. There are no systems in place for safe evacuation in case of an accident. Accidents do take place at the plant, but they are not reported.
The people say that they have lost everything and gained nothing. They warn the people of Jaitapur and other places to not be taken in by the sweet talk of the government. The proposed Jaitapur plant is to be 7 times bigger than the Tarapur project. In case of an accident there, the whole of Maharashtra s well as Karnataka is endangered!
7. The ruling class is hiding its imperialist ambitions behind the cloak of secrecy, as far as the atomic energy program is concerned.
Under capitalism, all projects threaten the people, in one way or another. In the case of nuclear energy, the problem is worse for two reasons. One is the tremendous danger that it represents not only to the present generation, but to thousands of future generations as well. The other is that behind its claims of developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, lies the sinister aim of the ruling class to turn India into a superpower. This ambition is a great threat not only to the people of India, but to those of the whole of Asia.
The workers and toiling people oppose the profit-maximizing drive of the bourgeoisie in the name of development. We want safe and equitable development for all who work. We realise that this can be achieved only when we the workers and other toilers become the rulers of our land. As we oppose the daily attacks of the bourgeoisie on us, we must also prepare to establish our rule!
Congratulations for this very
Congratulations for this very precise and accurate analysis of the current Indian social polity. I am also very happy to find that you have bracketed CPI(M) with BJP and Congress etc, – which most "revolutionary" political outfits do not endorse. Of course I agree with most of your analyses and statements. However, I would like to warn here that when you mention "workers" to be more responsible towards nature and natural resources than the bourgeois ruling class, you should not imagine the industrial workers to be "noble savage". Industrial workers are just as consumerists as are the rich elite. As Marx (1887) wrote, ‘The advance of capitalist production develops a working-class, which by education, tradition, and habit, looks upon the conditions of that mode of production as self-evident laws of Nature.’ Consumerism as a ‘materially embedded ideological reality’ and this engulfs the workers in urban as well as rural areas. Even in non-capitalist countries (like the previous Soviet Union, East Germany, and China), desire for luxury consumption was prevalent among workers and the party officials. We therefore need not only a high political consciousness but also environmental literacy for all workers and the poor in order to subvert the industrial capitalist hegemony. I have elaborated on this argument in my book "Beyond Developmentality", and shown that a model of opposition to capitalist ingression can be found in traditional indigenous societies, rather than among the industrial workers. Unlike the traditional pre-industrial societies, industrial workers are culturally, spiritually and materially detached from their natural resource base. My recent experience from the Menominee and Monhegan in the USA and the Broderhof in Germany have reinforced my argument, which I am going to publish soon. Finally, I would mention that the Revolutionary Communist Party of the USA has very similar line of analysis as yours. I am going to forward your article to them.
While I read
While I read your thought provoking comments on the statement of Maharashtra committee of Communist Ghadar Party, I was somewhat puzzled by your reference to consumerism as the big problem, which does not seem to be in tune with the conditions in our country, with the exception of a narrow elite stratum.
You have talked about "Consumerism as a ‘materially embedded ideological reality’ and this engulfs the workers in urban as well as rural areas. Even in non-capitalist countries (like the previous Soviet Union, East Germany, and China), desire for luxury consumption was prevalent among workers and the party officials. We therefore need not only a high political consciousness but also environmental literacy for all workers and the poor in order to subvert the industrial capitalist hegemony."
The levels of consumption of the vast majority of people in the Indian subcontinent is abysmally low – hence their desire to consume more and better food, clothing, drinking water, electricity, basic health care and education – is something to be welcomed and fulfilled, rather than be admonished.
Environmental damage is being caused, first and foremost, by the system of production in the country – driven by quick and high profits, with hardly any consideration for long-term consequences and the greater common good. The first priority is to attack the principal source of the problem, which is the private greedy interests driving the social production process. Changing people's behaviour, their eating and sanitary habits, nurturing social discipline such as queueing up and driving in lanes and so on may also need to be addressed and will inevitably take a long time; and will be more effectively tackled as part of an overall revolutionary transformation of social relations, with production relations as the central focus, than if tackled separately without addressing the production sphere.
Gopal, fellow user of CGPI website.