More than 150 people-workers, youth, students, teachers, cultural workers, journalists and political and social activists participated in a conference organised by Lok Raj Sangathan on August 4, at New Delhi.
The aim of the conference was to discuss the alternative program that the people of our country urgently need to put forward today, in the face of the all-sided attacks being launched on us by those in power, through imperialist globalisation, communal and fascist violence and war.
Several distinguished academics, journalists and trade unionists addressed the conference. Prominent among the speakers were T S Sankaran, Prof Manoranjan Mohanty, Siddharth Varadarajan, Govind Yadav and Shonali Bose.
Addressing the conference, the convenor of Lok Raj Sangathan, Prakash Rao highlighted the mounting struggles of the workers, peasants, women, youth and all other sections against the attacks on their lives and livelihood. He elaborated on the dangerous course that the rulers in India are pursuing, through the economic reforms program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation, state organised communal violence, fascist laws such as POTA, whipping up of chauvinism and war hysteria and increasing collaboration with the Anglo-American imperialists in their "war against terrorism". He also pointed to the growing contradictions within the ranks of the ruling class and the imperialists, the crisis of credibility of their rule and their attempts to resolve the crisis by proceeding on this dangerous course.
To defeat this anti-social offensive, the unity of the fighting forces is essential. What are the roadblocks to this unity? Taking up the various trends in the movement, he showed how the essence of these trends is to create the illusions about the source of the problem. The actual fact of the matter is that it is the alliance of the imperialists and the Indian monopoly houses which is behind the anti-social offensive. The Indian state, the political system and political process, are the source of the problem. However, illusions are created that the anti-social offensive is merely a policy aberration, a problem with this or that political party, which can be corrected without the people putting forth an alternative and fighting to create the alternative. Another way the problem is distorted is that people, who are themselves the victims of this anti social offensive, are blamed as communal, as war-mongering.
Again, in the name of "maximum mobilisation" on a "minimum common program" and "addressing the immediate problem", it is made out that the different components of the anti-social offensive can be opposed in a piecemeal manner, without clearly exposing the common source of all these attacks. Such a line, he pointed out, is actually aimed at (a) sabotaging and limiting the struggle to what is acceptable to the imperialists and the Indian state (b) ensuring that the leadership of the struggle is in the hands of those who have benefited from and are for the preservation of the existing order; thus (c) ensuring that the anti-social offensive continues unchecked.
Imperialism and the biggest monopolies who control the Indian state are the ones who benefit from organising communal violence, from the policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation and from war. To stifle the people’s opposition to the anti social offensive and to sort out their own internal contradictions, they need fascist laws like POTA.
Outlining the basic principles of the people’s alternative to the anti social offensive, Prakash Rao said that it is essential to build the united front of workers, peasants, women and youth of all nations, nationalities and tribal peoples around a program that
· demands the reorganisation of the economy to provide for all the people-food security, security of livelihood, education and health care for all (renewal of economy)
· demands the punishment of the perpetrators of crimes against the people, the suppression with an iron hand forces that organise communal and fascist violence, and reorganisation of the polity to ensure rights for all
· resolutely opposes all imperialist economic, political and military intervention in the region and the collaboration of the Indian state with imperialists
· fights for political power in the hands of the people and for renewal of the political process.
Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty pointed out that narrowness of outlook that was afflicting different strands of the movement of the working class and people and creating hurdles in forging an alternative reiterating that a solution has to be found to effectively bring together all the streams against the common enemy.
Senior journalist, Siddharth Varadarajan pointed out that there was a concerted effort to justify the deprivation of rights of one section of people by counterposing the deprivation of rights of other sections of the people, while in reality the Indian state does not guarantee rights for any section of the toiling and oppressed people. For instance, various forces point out to the plight of Kashmiri migrants to justify the genocide in Gujarat, whereas the fact was that whether it was the victims of the communal massacres in Gujarat or the Kashmiri pandits who were forced to flee the Valley, both been deprived of rights.
Well known trade unionist, Govind Yadav spoke of how the case of the privatisation of Modern Food Industries clearly shows that privatisation benefits only the big monopolies and that it constitutes a vicious attack on the right to livelihood of the workers and working people.
Film maker and activist, Shonali Bose vehemently denounced POTA as a fascist law, meant to stifle the opposition of the people to the policies of the government by branding the fighting people as "terrorist".
Many youth and students criticised the government’s attempts to privatise education and said that instead of trying to live up to its much-publicised promises of "education for all", the government is now trying to deny education to even those sections that had managed to acquire some education till now.
Several speakers pointed out that the source of all the problems facing the Indian people is the Indian state, the colonial legacy and the imperialist domination, and there is a pressing need for the thoroughgoing democratic renewal of India in order to open the path to solutions for the outstanding problems facing her people. The Conference concluded in a spirit of optimism and confidence that the Indian people would certainly rally around and forge a people’s alternative to the offensive of the bourgeoisie and imperialism.
The Rang Bhoomi Natya Manch performed a thought-provoking play on the communal carnage in Gujarat, the role of the state in this carnage, and the necessity for the working class and peasantry, women and youth to vigorously take up the alternative program.