Statement of Lok Raj Sangathan, August 11, 2021
On August 15, 2021, India will enter the 75th year of independence from colonial rule
Photo caption: Lining up for jobs
On August 15, 2021, India will enter the 75th year of independence from colonial rule. On this day, 74 years ago, the Prime Minister elect, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru declared that India had a `tryst with destiny’. It may therefore be a good time to ask what kind of a path the country has meandered into in these seven and a half decades.
At this time, the country has, along with the rest of the world, entered over a year and a half of a very painful pandemic period. It is a time at which millions have died across the length and breadth of India. It is a time in which the emperor has shown to be wearing no clothes. It is a time at which the dreadful condition of the profit driven health system in India has been shown to be an utter disaster. It is a time at which the lack of planning for basic facilities had led to an explosion of needless deaths and hospitalisations, with millions of patients bankrupted and families orphaned and with survivors racked with long term effects.
The vaccination regime in India, a country tom-tomed as the `pharmacy of the world’, is one of the most ineffective vaccination regimes in the world. As on August 10, 2021, only about 113 million or 8.3% of India’s population had been vaccinated against the global average of 15.7%; The people of India are now amongst those most affected by the pandemic.
The early response to the pandemic in March 2020 was an arbitrary complete lockdown announced with hardly a few hours’ notice, disrupting the livelihood and lives of millions of toiling people. At the end of the first wave of the pandemic, India’s rulers went overboard with their optimism claiming that they had saved the world. They then conducted election campaigns and permitted religious congregations in which lacs of people were needlessly exposed to danger – which soon led to a disastrous second wave in which tens of thousands were killed and lacs of people had to go through untold sufferings.
Millions of jobs have simply disappeared, entire sectors have been smashed to smithereens, cities have become ghost towns, entire IT parks have been reduced to shells. Those with jobs and working from home are struggling to make ends meet on the one hand, and facing brutally long working hours, domestic strife and problems on the other. The suffering of the people has been without parallel in modern history.
Even before the onset of the pandemic, the Indian economy was known to have been teetering on the edge of a contraction. The disastrous policy of demonetisation as well as the hastily implemented and arbitrary GST regime had created huge hardships for common people. The Covid pandemic has created the ideal pretext to cover up the anti-people economic orientation of the government and the super-rich who run India. Smaller manufacturers and millions employed in the less organised sectors as well as shop keepers and the `small man’ have found themselves utterly at a loose end as to how to deal with the crisis, which seems to have no end in sight. On the other hand, in the recent past, the stock markets in India have been booming, and the net wealth of billionaires have increased appreciably at the same time.
The onset of the first wave of the pandemic coincided with the decimation of the protests against the patently undemocratic and obnoxious CAA and NRC which had been greeted by all men and women of conscience as utterly discriminatory. These laws had come in the heels of the Ram Janam Bhoomi ruling of the Supreme Court, which `settled’ the `dispute’ as a title suit, and then the abrogation of Article 370 granting a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and reducing them to Union territories, along with Ladakh. At the end of the first wave, a huge wave of anger and protests against the passage of the Farm Laws in a most undemocratic way through Parliament with hardly a debate, where the treasury benches used their brute majority in the Lok Sabha, and then ramming through the Rajya Sabha, preceded by the issuance of ordinances which later became laws, appeared to have been dampened by the onset of the second wave. Thus, the pandemic has given a pretext to crush all opposition to unpopular and undemocratic laws.
In the meantime, there has been a significant outcry across many political lines against the use of the utterly undemocratic laws such as the UAPA, the NSA and sedition to suppress dissent and to lock away all critics of the government. While some cases are well known thousands of others languish in detention, and are neither convicted nor sentenced, but merely made to serve very long effective sentences, for no provable offence. Except that they have been a thorn in the side to the super-rich of India who have embarked on the path of enriching themselves, on the plank of liberalisation, privatisation, and globalisation on the one hand, first introduced by the Congress government and continued by BJP led governments as well as more recent UPA and NDA governments. In addition, the quest for super-profits of the monopolies and big business houses requires the constant expansion into the hinterland, land-grab, grab of forest land, and suppression of workers’ rights to pave the path to super-exploitation, and hire and fire policies.
There is little doubt that the misery experienced by the people as evidenced by the standing of India in development indices and happiness indices which are amongst the worst in the world. There is widespread anarchy, and top ministers and members of the ruling party have used the most derogatory terms for minorities and goaded people to kill them. The HM referred to people as “termites”. These above are encouraged top down by corporate controlled media as well as the ruling parties. The so-called opposition parties, being part of the same game do not dare to raise their voices, for when the tables turn, they would be doing the same.
Lok Raj Sangathan notes with great alarm the desperate situation the country is facing. In the last 74 years the tryst with destiny has meant for the bulk of the population a grim present and a dark future. A small fraction of the population has benefited immensely and has reached a very high standard of living and has enormous wealth in India as well as in foreign banks. It is erroneous to think that things do not work in India. They work very well for this empowered section. A huge contradiction is developing and growing between the section that has nothing and another that is growing richer and more powerful, which is becoming more violent by the day to keep its pole position in society. This contradiction is playing itself out in every sphere of life in the country, from the physical condition of the country to the health, mental and physical condition of the population, to the economy and the polity.
A disastrous cataclysm awaits the people of India until something is drastically done. We believe that this can be done if all the people who care about the future and wellbeing of the vast majority come together and try to secure it for one and all. It must come from discarding the prejudices of the past, and to restore order. A new beginning based on the principle that the well-being of one is guaranteed only by the well-being of all. A broad discussion and mobilisation must begin.
One of the important factors which Lok Raj Sangathan emphasises time and again is that it is high time that we, the people, seize control of our destiny. At this time, we, the people neither have the political power, nor can we hold those who rule supposedly in our name accountable. Wresting sovereignty from those who rule over us on behalf of the super-rich and vesting it in the vast majority of the toiling people is key. Currently, the scorecard of India as it enters the 75th is a dismal one. The times are calling for a new tomorrow, based on true democracy, the political empowerment of the people and an equitable economic order.