Sunday, June 30, 2013

AP Girijana Sangham Conferences Highlight Tribal Issues - R Sriram Naik

AP Girijana Sangham Conferences Highlight Tribal Issues
R Sriram Naik

THE fifth state conference of Andhra Pradesh Girijana Sangham (APGS) called for combating the vested interests who were seeking to pit one section of tribals against another in Andhra Pradesh using the plank of uneven development. It called for united struggles against central and state governments’ neo-liberal economic policies that were ruining their lives.

The 5th state conference was held in Miryalaguda of Nalgonda district on June 17 and 18, 2013. It was attended by 260 delegates from 15 districts of the state comprising non-scheduled areas. Earlier, a separate state conference for the scheduled areas was held on April 23 and 24, 2013 in Parvatipuram of Vizianagaram district. That conference was attended by 214 delegates from 8 districts. A huge rally and public meeting was held in Parvatipuram on the occasion which was addressed by Tripura state rural development and forest minister Jitendra Choudhary.

In Miryalaguda conference, Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch leader and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat was the chief guest. Addressing a big seminar attended by over 2000 people on the topic ‘Empowerment of Tribals’ on the inaugural day, she lambasted the governments for their anti-tribal policies. Successive governments at the centre have been taking away the rights of the tribal community in the name of ‘development’. After miserably failing to provide patta land to tribal families all these years, the government is throwing them out from the forests by giving out huge mining leases. The tribals are deprived of education and basic health facilities. She cited how hundreds of tribals have died in Andhra Pradesh have died due to malaria and diarrhoea without medical help. She said the situation of tribals in the state is so dire that they are forced to sell their babies in order to continue living. While this was the reality, the central government is spending crores of rupees in advertising to show the ‘great development’ of these sections of people, she lamented. The central government is keen on promoting the interests of the big corporate houses by allowing greater foreign direct investment into the country while paying lip service to the aam admi. The condition of working tribal women was miserable with no support from the governments. Karat deplored the attitude of the AP state government for not providing food for work programme for the tribals under NREGA. Professors and intellectuals from tribal communities, lawyers, teachers and many others attended the seminar which was also addressed by APGS general secretaries Dr Midiam Babu Rao and R Sriram Naik, and senior leaders of the movement Ch Tejeswara Rao and P Somaiah.

The conference took stock of the achievements and flaws of the organisation during the period since the fourth state conference was held in 2010. It also reviewed the tasks undertaken in that conference. The APGS was formed in 1999 and had been striving relentlessly for the upliftment of tribals in the state. It has attained recognition among these sections as an organisation that is continuously struggling for their rights.

As per the 2011 census, there are 59.16 lakh tribals in the state of Andhra Pradesh falling under 35 tribal sects. Among these, 28.41 lakh tribals belonging to 30 sects are living in scheduled areas while 30.77 lakh tribals of 5 sects are living in non-scheduled areas of the state. As the problems of tribals in both these areas are vastly different, the APGS has decided to have separate conferences for both the areas and separate committees were elected. Both the scheduled areas conference and the non-scheduled areas conference saw lively discussion by delegates on the general secretary reports placed by Dr M Babu Rao and R Sriram Naik respectively.

These conferences were held in the backdrop of the important victory achieved in terms of forcing the state government to enact a legislation to oversee the implementation of SC, ST Sub Plans. The APGS played a crucial role in rallying other tribal organisations and intellectuals into the Joint Action Committee. It also conducted padayatras, jeep yatras and held seminars in almost all tribal hamlets in the state taking the message of the importance of Sub Plans.

The organisation has been conducting a sustained struggle for proper implementation of 1/70 Act in order to prevent the alienation of tribal lands and to restore their lands. The police slapped cases against 17 activists who conducted this struggle in Vishakapatnam agency area and sent them to jail. The Sangham also opposed the state government decision to remove the powers of grama sabha and vest them with Mandal Revenue authorities in violation of PESA. The state government after promising to distribute 25 lakh acres to the tribals under Forest Rights Act actually distributed pattas for only 4.5 lakh acres. Claiming to have given out 10 lakh acres of land to Vana Samrakshana Samithis (VSS), the government is falsely claiming to have distributed 15 lakh acres of land to tribals!
The Sangham also militantly opposed the bauxite mining in Vishakapatnam agency area forcing the central and state governments to rethink. Although the union tribal affairs minister has written to the governor asking for scrapping the lease, the state government is dilly dallying on this issue. We also opposed Polavaram project that would submerge thousands of acres of tribal lands. In fact, we forcibly occupied and distributed to tribals 500 acres of such land. The Sangham along with progressive bodies like Jana Vignana Vedika and Sundarayya Vignana Kendram distributed medicines worth Rs 20 lakh and providing medical care to thousands of tribals in interior places who were suffering from dangerous viral fevers. This was invaluable in the face of dismal failure of the state government to come to the aid of tribals.

Agitations are going on for the last many years on the demand that the girijana thandas (tribal hamlets) in the non-scheduled areas must be recognised as grama panchayats. Successive government promise to implement that but forget the same after the elections are over. The state conference passed a resolution demanding that these panchayats must be formed immediately before the conduct of local body elections next month. There are 30.77 lakh tribals in non-scheduled areas and these people have no special rights for them. The Modified Area Development Authority or the District Tribal Development Agencies have not resulted in ensuring their development. Therefore the APGS has been demanding formation of ITDAs in those districts where there is significant population of tribals in non-scheduled areas. After much struggle the government agreed and formed a single ITDA headquartered in the state capital for the 12 districts. This has proven to be of no use with lack of funds and staff.

The status of education in tribal areas is dismal to say the least. Even in such a situation, the state government recently decided to close down the schools in tribal hamlets citing lack of sufficient student strength. It is not providing scholarships or mess charges as per the present rates. The conference passed a resolution demanding rectification of these issues by the state government.

Both the conferences unanimously elected new state committees. The scheduled area committee has a 31 member state committee with former MLA Kolaka Lakshmanamurthy as president and former MP and CPI(M) state secretariat member Dr M Babu Rao as general secretary. There are seven office bearers among them.

In the non scheduled area conference a 36 member new state committee was elected with G Dharma Naik as president and R Sriram Naik as general secretary. In this committee also there are seven office bearers.

The conferences resolved to focus on local issues of tribals and expand the organisation in the coming period to newer areas. The tribals will be rallied against the anti-people policies of the ruling classes. The attempts of the vested interests to create differences among the tribals will be defeated through united movement.

Truth vs Hype: Gujarat encounters - A dangerous nexus Video:

Truth vs Hype: Gujarat encounters - A dangerous nexus Video:



AIKS Units to Mobilise Relief

THROUGH a statement issued from New Delhi on June 26, the All India Kisan Sabha has expressed its condolences to the families of the victims of unprecedented national calamity in Uttarakhand. The tragedy is of a hitherto unheard of scale, and the destruction of homes and livelihoods is massive. As the tragedy unfolds, it is bringing forward the fact that the actual number of dead could be much higher. Parts of Himachal Pradesh have also been affected. The AIKS has conveyed its solidarity with the millions of the affected people.

One must note that many activists of the Kisan Sabha and the democratic movement are among the dead and injured. The AIKS has paid tribute to them and sent condolences to their families.

The Uttarakhand state unit of the Kisan Sabha was in the forefront of struggle against the indiscriminate tunnelling for hydroelectric projects and had since long been pointing out the possible adverse impact of such projects. Today, after a national tragedy, it is generally being acknowledged that the indiscriminate blasting, tunnelling, and the silt and debris that remained piled up for months without being cleared had added to the intensity of the crisis.

The organisation has therefore demanded that at least now a proper assessment of the damage caused to the fragile ecosystems by such indiscriminate tunnelling needs to be done.

Unfortunately, reports suggest that the relief and rescue operations have not really touched the local people who have been most affected by the tragedy. There is also no clear assessment of the loss of lives, destruction of property and loss of livelihoods in the state. The Kisan Sabha has demanded that efforts must be made on a war footing to reach relief and rescue operations to the affected people.

The AIKS has called upon all its units to contribute to the national efforts to provide relief and solidarity to the people of Uttarakhand and other affected people.

রায়না ১ ব্লকের হিজলনা পঞ্চায়েতের জোৎসাদি গ্রামে বাবর আলি মল্লিক, চাঁদনি বেগম, সফিকুল হক শেখ ও সমীরণ বেগম শেখ এবং রায়না পঞ্চায়েত সমিতির প্রার্থী আমিনুল হক সিপিএমের প্রার্থী হওয়ার ‘অপরাধে’ গ্রামে ঢুকতে পারছেন না। ভোটের প্রচারও চালাতে পারছেন না, বাধ্য হয়ে পথে পথে ঘুরে বেড়াতে হচ্ছে। তাঁদের বাড়ির লোকেদের উপরে হামলা হচ্ছে বলে অভিযোগ জানান সিপিএম নেতারা।

সবচেয়ে বেশি সমস্যায় পড়েছেন পঞ্চায়েত সমিতির প্রার্থী আমিনুল হক। তিনি জেলাশাসক তথা জেলা নির্বাচন আধিকারিক ওঙ্কার সিংহ মিনার কাছে অভিযোগ জানিয়েছেন, তিনি প্রার্থী হওয়ার পরেই গত ৬ জুন জোৎসাদি গ্রামের কিছু তৃণমূল কর্মী তাঁর বাবা শেখ মইনুল হককে মারধর করে। অভিযোগ জানাতে তাঁর বাবা রায়না থানায় গেলে গেলে পুলিশ অপমান করে বের করে দেয়। হামলার হাত থেকে বাঁচতে তিনি সপরিবারে বর্ধমানের খাগড়াগড় এলাকায় ভাড়া থাকছেন। কিন্তু সেখানেও তৃণমূলের স্থানীয় নেতাকর্মীরা তাঁকে মারধর করে বাড়িতে তালা লাগিয়ে দেয়। এমনকী, বর্ধমানের নবাবহাটে শিবপুর দিঘিরপাড়ে তাঁর শ্বশুরবাড়িতে গিয়েও হুমকি দেওয়া হচ্ছে বলে আমিনুলের অভিযোগ। তিনি আরও অভিযোগ করেন, ভাড়াবাড়িতে বইপত্র আটকে থাকায় তাঁর ছেলে চতুর্থ শ্রেণির ছাত্র সাইফুল হকের স্কুলে যাওয়া বন্ধ। বইপত্র আনতে তাঁর শ্যালিকা মেহেরুন্নেসা খাতুন খাগড়াগড়ে গেলে তৃণমূলের কর্মীরা তাঁকে হুমকি দেয়, ৪০ হাজার টাকা জরিমান না দিলে এলাকায় থাকতে দেওয়া হবে না।

Courtesy: Anandabazr Patrika

মারধরের অভিযোগ মেমারিতে প্রার্থীরা আক্রান্ত, নালিশ সিপিএমের

আনন্দবাজার পত্রিকা - বর্ধমান

সকালে বাড়ির দরজা খুলেই চোখে পড়ল বারান্দায় একটি প্লাস্টিকের প্যাকেট। প্যাকেট খুলতেই বেরোল একটা সাদা থান আর রজনীগন্ধার মালা!

আনন্দবাজার পত্রিকা - রাজ্য

সকালে বাড়ির দরজা খুলেই চোখে পড়ল বারান্দায় একটি প্লাস্টিকের প্যাকেট। প্যাকেট খুলতেই বেরোল একটা সাদা থান আর রজনীগন্ধার মালা!

আনন্দবাজার পত্রিকা - রাজ্য

রমজান প্রশ্নে ফের কোর্টে যাওয়া নিয়ে দ্বিধায় রাজ্য

আনন্দবাজার পত্রিকা - রাজ্য

Two days after an FIR was lodged by Paschim Banga Mahila Ganatantrik Samity in connection with the attack on the All CPM Woman's Rally, former state minister Rekha Goswami, on Saturday, appealed to the Barasat Police on behalf of the committee to add in the complaint that Thursday's attack was led by minister Jyotipriya Mullick and Trinamool MP Haji Nurul Islam. Goswami submitted a written complaint in this connection on Saturday.- The Times of India

Jyotipriya named in attack on CPM rally - The Times of India

A 48-year-old trader was shot at by some miscreants in Bongaon on Sunday night. AnkhiRanjanMondal, also a CPM activist, sustained two bullet injuries on his chest and back. He was brought to Kolkata after primary treatment at a local hospital. - The Times of India

CPM worker shot at - The Times of India

Maoists find new route to return to West Bengal - The Times of India

Maoists find new route to return to West Bengal - The Times of India

Chargesheet filed in Kamduni rape - Indian Express

Chargesheet filed in Kamduni rape - Indian Express

3,000 march in Kamduni against notice to teacher - Indian Express

3,000 march in Kamduni against notice to teacher - Indian Express

Twin gangrapes make Mamata govt sit up - Indian Express

Twin gangrapes make Mamata govt sit up - Indian Express

Another woman raped in West Bengal, mob pelts stones at police vehicle, 2 injured : East, News - India Today

Another woman raped in West Bengal, mob pelts stones at police vehicle, 2 injured : East, News - India Today

Another woman raped in West Bengal, mob pelts stones at police vehicle, 2 injured : East, News - India Today

Another woman raped in West Bengal, mob pelts stones at police vehicle, 2 injured : East, News - India Today

Congress, Trinamool to move SC over deferment of West Bengal panchayat polls : West Bengal, News - India Today

Congress, Trinamool to move SC over deferment of West Bengal panchayat polls : West Bengal, News - India Today

In Bengal, many former Maoists in poll fray as Trinamool candidates - Indian Express

In Bengal, many former Maoists in poll fray as Trinamool candidates - Indian Express



সুপ্রিম কোর্টের নির্দেশে ভোটের দিন বদলে পাঁচ দফায় ভোট সুষ্ঠুভাবে পরিচালনার জন্য মঙ্গলবার সর্বদলীয় বৈঠক ডাকলো রাজ্য নির্বাচন কমিশন। ইতোমধ্যেই বিভিন্ন রাজনৈতিক দল এবং সংখ্যালঘুদের কয়েকটি সংগঠন রমজান মাসে পঞ্চায়েত ভোট নিয়ে আপত্তি তুলেছে। ফলে সর্বদলীয় বৈঠকে এই বিষয়টিও তোলা হবে বলে রবিবার কমিশনের সচিব তাপস রায় জানিয়েছেন। -


দু’-এক দিন বা দু’-এক সপ্তাহ নয়, আদালতের রায়কে অমান্য করে পাক্কা একমাস বারো দিন সময় নষ্ট করেছে রাজ্য সরকার। এই সময় নষ্ট না হলে বর্ষা কিংবা রমজান মাসের অনেক আগেই শেষ করা যেত পশ্চিমবঙ্গের পঞ্চায়েত নির্বাচন। অসময়ে নির্বাচনের কারণ খুঁজতে গিয়ে আইনজীবী মহল সরকারকেই একারণে দায়ী করছে।



ফের এক স্কুল ছাত্রীকে ধর্ষণের অভিযোগ উঠলো নদিয়ার কালিগঞ্জের গোবিন্দপুরে। অভিযোগ, শনিবার স্কুল থেকে বাড়ি ফেরার সময় ষষ্ঠ শ্রেণির ওই ছাত্রীকে পাশের পাট ক্ষেতে নিয়ে গিয়ে ধর্ষণ করে সুজিত ঘোষ নামে এক যুবক। 

আশঙ্কাজনক অবস্থায় ওই ছাত্রীকে কৃষ্ণনগর সদর হাসপাতালে ভর্তি করা হয়। পরিবারের তরফে থানায় সুজিত ঘোষের বিরুদ্ধে ধর্ষণের অভিযোগ দায়ের করা হয়। অভিযুক্তের শাস্তির দাবিতে বেশ কিছুক্ষণ চৌত্রিশ নম্বর জাতীয় সড়ক অবরোধ করেন স্থানীয় বাসিন্দারা। অভিযুক্তকে না পেয়ে তার বাবা দিবাকর ঘোষকে আটক করেছে পুলিস। ঘটনার তদন্ত শুরু হয়েছে। 

রাজ্যে ধর্ষণ ও নারী নির্যাতন নিয়ে মুখ খুললেন আলতামাস

রাজ্যে ধর্ষণ ও নারী নির্যাতন নিয়ে মুখ খুললেন আলতামাস

শাসনে তাঁদের উপরে হামলার ঘটনায় রাজ্যের খাদ্যমন্ত্রী জ্যোতিপ্রিয় মল্লিক এবং বসিরহাটের তৃণমূল সাংসদ নুরুল ইসলামের বিরুদ্ধে পুলিশে অভিযোগ দায়ের করলেন সিপিএম নেত্রী রেখা গোস্বামী।

আনন্দবাজার পত্রিকা - দক্ষিণবঙ্গ

এফআইআরের ৩ নাম বাদ কামদুনির চার্জশিটে | আসামিদের জবানবন্দিই বড় প্রমাণ, বলছে সিআইডি |

আনন্দবাজার পত্রিকা - দক্ষিণবঙ্গ

পঞ্চায়েত ভোট ঘিরে রাজনৈতিক সংঘর্ষ থামার লক্ষণ নেই। উত্তর হোক বা দক্ষিণবঙ্গ, শাসক দল হোক বা বিরোধীমারপিটে জড়াচ্ছে সব পক্ষের নামই।

আনন্দবাজার পত্রিকা - রাজ্য

ক্রমেই বাড়ছে ধর্ষণ, রেহাই পাচ্ছেন না অন্তঃসত্ত্বা, বৃদ্ধারাও

আনন্দবাজার পত্রিকা - রাজ্য

ভয় ভুলে মিছিলে টুম্পারা, পাল্টা প্রশ্ন তুলল তৃণমূল

আনন্দবাজার পত্রিকা - দক্ষিণবঙ্গ


শনিবার সাংবাদিকদের প্রশ্নের উত্তরে প্রধান বিচারপতি আলতামাস কবীর

প্রশাসনের শক্ত হওয়াটা জরুরি - প্রধান বিচারপতি

প্রশ্ন: পশ্চিমবঙ্গে একের পর এক ধর্ষণের ঘটনা ঘটছে। মহিলারা এ রাজ্যে কতটা নিরাপদ?

প্রধান বিচারপতি: বড্ড কঠিন প্রশ্ন। দিল্লিতে গত ১৬ ডিসেম্বর যেটা ঘটল, তাকে আমরা প্রত্যেকেই নিন্দা করেছি। কিন্তু নিন্দা করলেই তো শুধু হবে না, এটা নিয়ে ইতিবাচক একটা সমাধানে আসতে হবে। তখন শীতের ছুটিতে সুপ্রিম কোর্ট বন্ধ হয়ে গেল। যে দিন কোর্ট খুলল, সে দিনই আমরা সাকেতে (দক্ষিণ দিল্লির একটি অঞ্চল) একটি ফাস্ট ট্র্যাক কোর্ট উদ্বোধন করি। শুধু ধর্ষণ নয়, মহিলাদের উপর সব রকম নির্যাতন ও হিংসার ঘটনার বিচার দ্রুত করতেই ফাস্ট ট্র্যাক কোর্ট। সব রাজ্যকেই এই ধরনের কোর্ট গঠনের অনুরোধ করা হয়। কারণ, অতীতে এই ধরনের কোর্টে দ্রুত বিচার পাওয়া গিয়েছে।... মূল বিষয়টা হল, মানুষের, বিশেষত মহিলাদের এটা আশ্বস্ত করা যে, এই ধরনের অপরাধের বিচার ফাস্ট ট্র্যাক ভিত্তিতে হবে এবং দ্রুত এই ধরনের কেসের সমাধান হবে। প্রতিটি রাজ্যে নতুন করে ফাস্ট ট্র্যাক কোর্ট হচ্ছে।... 

এ রাজ্যে যে ঘটনা ঘটেছে বা ঘটছে, যত ক্ষণ পর্যন্ত প্রশাসন এটাকে শক্ত হাতে না-ধরছে, তত ক্ষণ তো কিছু করা সম্ভব নয়। কারণ প্রশাসন ও তদন্ত দু’টোই সরকারের হাতে। সেখানে আদালত খুব একটা নাক গলাতে পারে না। আদালত শুধু বলে তদন্ত যাতে ঠিকমতো হয় এবং এরা না-পারলে ওদেরকে দিয়ে করাও।... যাতে ঠিকমতো তদন্ত তাড়াতাড়ি ও অবাধ হয়, ভাঁওতাবাজি যাতে না-হয়। এটা খুব দরকার। কত কেস নষ্ট হয়ে গিয়েছে যে হেতু ঠিক মতো তদন্ত হয়নি, ঠিকমতো সাক্ষী-বয়ান পাওয়া যায়নি। সাক্ষী না-হলে কিছু হবে না। ক্রিমিন্যাল কেস মানেই হচ্ছে তাই।... যদি সাক্ষী না-থাকে বা সাক্ষীকে অন্য ভাবে ‘ট্যাপ’ করা যায়, তখন তো ‘কনসেপ্ট অফ ক্রিমিন্যাল জাস্টিস’ শেষ হয়ে আসে।

প্রশ্ন: পশ্চিমবঙ্গের ক্ষেত্রে কী দেখছেন? পার্ক স্ট্রিটের পর থেকে একের পর এক এই ধরনের ঘটনা বেড়েই চলেছে।

প্রধান বিচারপতি: সত্যি কথা বলতে, এমন একটা পরিস্থিতি যেখানে কিছু বলতে গেলে নানা রকম অন্য ধরনের কথাবার্তা উঠতে পারে। আমি যেটুকু বলতে পারি সেটা হল এই যে, পার্ক স্ট্রিটের ঘটনা যেটা হয়েছে সেটা যদি সঠিক ভাবে তদন্ত হয়ে গিয়ে থাকে, শাস্তি যার পাওয়ার সে পাবে।
প্রশ্ন: আর কামদুনি?

প্রধান বিচারপতি: (হালকা হেসে) সত্যি কথা বলতে, সবই তো একটা রাজনৈতিক ব্যাপার হয়ে যাচ্ছে। সুতরাং এটা নিয়ে আমাদের পক্ষে না বলাটাই ভাল। তাই না?

প্রশ্ন: পশ্চিমবঙ্গের মুখ্যমন্ত্রী ক্ষতিগ্রস্তদের জন্য ক্ষতিপূরণ দেওয়ার কথা ঘোষণা করেছিলেন। সেটাকে কী ভাবে দেখছেন?

প্রধান বিচারপতি: সেটাও সরকারের ব্যাপার। সরকার যদি দিতে চায় দেবে। কোনও ঘটনা ঘটলে একে দু’লক্ষ, ওকে দেড় লক্ষ টাকা দেওয়া এটা তো হয়ই। সেটা ইচ্ছা করলেই দিতে পারে। এটা প্রশাসনের উপর নির্ভর করে। আমাদের কিছু বলার নেই। তবে যত ক্ষণ পর্যন্ত কোনও প্রমাণ না-হচ্ছে, তত ক্ষণ আমরা কোনও জরিমানা করতে পারি না, ক্ষতিপূরণও দিতে পারি না।
প্রশ্ন: এটা কি সদর্থক পদক্ষেপ?

প্রধান বিচারপতি: এটা ঠিক আমার বলা উচিত হবে না। কারণ, কে কী উদ্দেশ্য নিয়ে এটা করছে সেটা যেমন বলা ঠিক নয়, তেমন প্রশাসনের হাতে এই ক্ষমতাটা আছে।

প্রশ্ন: ধর্ষণের শাস্তি হিসেবে মৃত্যুদণ্ডের দাবি উঠছে। কিন্তু মৃত্যুদণ্ড হলে কি ধর্ষণের পরে খুন করার প্রবণতা বাড়বে না?

প্রধান বিচারপতি: না, না। যদি পরিচিত কেউ থাকে তা হলে দ্বিতীয় ব্যাপারটি ঘটেই থাকে। যাতে কোনও সাক্ষ্যপ্রমাণ না-থাকে। এই জিনিসটা কতটা কী হবে বলা মুশকিল। কিন্তু এই ধরনের প্রতিরোধক পরিস্থিতি যদি থাকে, তা হলে আমার মনে হয় অবশ্যই বিষয়গুলি কিছুটা নিয়ন্ত্রিত হবে।
প্রশ্ন: তা হলে কি মৃত্যুদণ্ড থাকা উচিত?

প্রধান বিচারপতি: এখন আমরা সেটাও বলব না। এটা আপাতত বিচারাধীন ব্যাপার। বলা ঠিক নয়।
শনিবার সাংবাদিকদের প্রশ্নের উত্তরে প্রধান বিচারপতি আলতামাস কবীর|

Courtesy: Anandabazar Patrika dated 30-06-2013

WHAT will happen to Venezuela now, was one question that was on the top of everybody's mind when the news of Hugo Chavez's death shook the entire anti-imperialist world.

“No Hay Pueblo Vencido”
There Is No Such Thing as Defeated People

R Arun Kumar

WHAT will happen to Venezuela now, was one question that was on the top of everybody's mind when the news of Hugo Chavez's death shook the entire anti-imperialist world. In a country where the person, Chavez, was always seen as larger than the process, the Bolivarian process of socialist construction, (as Chavez himself termed it) this anxiety is quite justified. The book, We Created Chavez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution contributes enormously to understand Venezuela today, what is going on in the country, the Bolivarian process, the person Chavez and the question haunting us: will Chavismo survive and Venezuelacontinue in the path proclaimed by Chavez. George Ciccariello-Maher, the author of the book, does an excellent job in acquainting the reader with the history of Venezuela – the peoples' history. What makes the book an absorbing read is that, he concentrates extensively on the movements and struggles that laid the conditions for Chavismo, rather than on Chavez himself. This is an interesting departure from many of the narratives that are emerging from the continent, ever since Chavez had brought Venezuela, an obscure, far-off country into the everyday discussions of everyone who is concerned for a better future.

Ciccariello-Maher presents four important arguments in the book – (i) the lessons learnt by the guerilla movements from their failures (ii) the entire discussion that took place in Venezuela on spontaneity versus organisation, horizontal versus vertical organisation structures and the role of organisations, State, etc., (iii) the changes in the class relations in Venezuela, particularly in the working class, how the progressive forces understood them and (iv) the existence of 'dual-power' in Venezuela today.

Chavez had acknowledged many a times that his interest in politics developed from the events of 1989, the Caracazo, where hundreds of protesters fighting the neo-liberal policies were brutally shot dead by the then regime. Chavez stated: “The Caracazo was the spark that ignited the engine of the Bolivarian Revolution”. It had inspired him to lead the failed coup in 1992 and changed his future vision for Venezuela, as he saw his defeat only, “por ahora”, 'for now'.

Ciccariello-Maher, in this book, takes us even beyond Caracazo, indeed to 1958, so that we can understand what led to Caracazo, which provided the ignition for the Bolivarian revolution. It is the period when the first democratic government was established inVenezuela as was the two-party system that continued till Chavez broke it with his election as the president in 1998. The period since 1958 saw the settling of capitalist relations in Venezuela and the intensification of imperialist exploitation of the country. Land relations changed, with further concentration of latifundismo. Migration to the cities took place on a massive scale. The barrios, became some of the thickly populated areas in the cities with the poorer sections of the society. This is particularly so predominant a phenomenon in the capital city, Caracas. It was also a period when the influence of Cuba and the barbudos, the bearded guerillas was at its highest. The entire continent was at that time witnessing guerilla struggles in many of the countries. Venezuela too fell under this influence and was home to guerilla struggles. Ciccariello-Maher provides us with this historical background that is necessary to understand today's Venezuela.

Ciccariello-Maher analyses the splits, failures and the lessons learnt by the various guerillas and states that these had contributed to the growth of socio-political consciousness of the Venezuelan people. He particularly discusses at length the feature ofvanguardismo that was prevalent in almost all the guerilla groups of this period and shows how it had isolated them from the people and ultimately resulted in their defeat. According to Ciccariello-Maher, some of the guerilla leaders realised this mistaken approach and sought to correct it by giving up the path of armed struggle and joining the existing revolutionary parties or establishing their own parties. Initially, it is the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), which was the fountain-head of these guerilla movements. So naturally, the resultant debates and splits also hurt it the most, weakening it considerably. Some of the guerillas during this course drifted to the right in Venezuelan politics, a phenomenon not strange to us in India.

As some of the guerillas were working in urban areas, they had considerable influence among the barrios. After giving up the armed struggle, they indulged in extensive ideological debates and discussions which included the forms and paths of organisation and the State itself. Ciccariello-Maher argues that those guerillas who had reasoned their failure to the vanguardismo and foquistas(adventurists) mentality, worked among the people in the barrios to rectify this lacunae. From this sprang the community councils, precursors to the social movements that we witness in many parts of Latin America today.

For Ciccariello-Maher, it is this work through the community councils that brought the people out during the Caracazo. Ciccariello-Maher, does not buy the argument of spontaneity and horizontal-structureless organisations. This, however, does not mean that he is a great fan of the vertical, hegemonic organisations. He provides the historic basis not only to negate the argument that Caracazo was a result of spontaneity, but also to show that the rudimentary organisations existing in the barrios were also responsible for providing the launching pad for Chavez. This is a fact so obscured, that many of Chavez admirers too, often, wonder how Chavez had sprung from defeat and imprisonment to claim presidency in 1998. Ciccariello-Maher tries to provide some answers.

Ciccariello-Maher also shows how the former militants of the guerilla movement contributed to the growth of various organisations and movements among the students, women, peasants, indigenous and Afro-indigenous groups. They worked in an atmosphere where neo-liberal policies were pursued vigorously by the successive governments, as both the official parties did not differ in their intent for implementation. In spite of their limitations, the persistent work these organisations had carried out among the masses certainly developed political consciousness among the Venezuelans. They had extensively used the existing cultural symbols in their campaign, even those associated with the State like the National Anthem. The word pueblo, people, too was given a more revolutionary meaning – not the manso pueblo (docile people) but the montaraz pueblo (fierce people).

Analysing the class structures in Venezuela and how they had transformed over times, particularly the working class, he extensively deals about the growth of informal sectors in the economy and their role in the radicalisation of the country. He shows us how the 'official' trade union of the country was co-opted by the ruling party to serve the interests of the ruling classes. The classic safety-valve theory was put into practice. The break-up of the revolutionary sections did not take place till a much later date (2003). That is one of the reasons why the organised working class failed to even to rally behind the people during the Caracazo, forget about leading it. However, according to Ciccariello-Maher, the workers in the informal sector were active participants in the Caracazo and the restoration of Chavez to presidency after the US-instigated brief coup attempt to overthrow him in 2002. This was possible because, they lived in large numbers in the barrios which were already under the progressive influence of the radicals living there. Ciccariello-Maher also points out that the workers in the informal sector constitute an important support base to the Bolivarian process of social transformation.

It is these chapters that offer an important lesson to all the people in the third world, where there is a substantial growth in the informal economy and unorganised work force. Ciccariello-Maher has an interesting argument and does not agree to ignore such an important section of the working force by terming them lumpen. The discussion around worker take-over of factories also shows us the intense ideological battle involved, not only at the peripheral level (on the question of taking over) but also at the core (the necessity for developing workers' consciousness for such a step).

He argues that it is always the people, specially those from the barrios, organised in the community councils that pushed Chavez further in the process of Bolivarian process of revolutionary transformation. Chavez, in spite of all his charisma and popularity, encountered stiff resistance even from within his supporters (and later his party comrades) whenever steps were initiated for further empowering the people, worker take-over of factories, nationalisation of certain sectors of industries and most importantly implementing land reforms. It is only due to the pressure from below, the montaraz pueblo, that helped in the radicalism of Chavez and pushed the socialisation process further. The community councils that the Venezuelan Constitution recognises, the revolutionary Labour Law and the Law on Land Reforms were all a result of this process.

The community councils, in which people of that community sit together to decide on many things concerned with their community, according to Ciccariello-Maher, are true expressions of peoples’ power. Tracing the commonalities between the revolutionary situation in Russia in 1917, where Lenin brings in the concept of dual-power – the peoples' Soviets and the Duma – Ciccariello-Maher identifies the community councils in Venezuela with the Soviets. The tension and contradiction between the 'dual-power' can be resolved in favour of people only if they continue their vigilantism and check the hegemonic classes from using the State against them.

Ciccariello-Maher states that the role of Chavez becomes important here, where he used his State power not against the people, as was a common feature during earlier regimes, but in favour of the common people. Even here too, Chavez did not act on his own, but the people constantly pushed him to act. Here, Ciccariello-Maher once again brings in the discussion amongst the various former guerillas, their understanding of the State which determines their attitude towards Chavez and the Bolivarian process. He does not agree with those who are sceptical of Chavez as just another representative of the State. He does not subscribe to the anarchist view on State and wants them to understand that through creative usage, the State can be used to better the lives of common people. Of course, the pressure from below, for this is indispensable.

We Created Chavez is a thoroughly researched book. Ciccariello-Maher gives us many details about how the popular movements (the We in the title) had acted during every step in the course of the revolutionary transformation of Venezuela that we are witnessing today. Chavez’ victory was built on the failures of all the earlier militant, popular struggles. So, without undermining any of his greatness, the book shows that Chavez is a 'product of the times' who had played his part in the entire process. As some of the guerillas had expressed, the struggle for social transformation in Venezuela was there before Chavez, with Chavez and therefore will exist even without Chavez – they are more concerned about the el proceso than el presidente.

Though the book is published only in May 2013, three full months after the death of Chavez, it does not talk about the 'now' inVenezuela, a country without Chavez. Might be, as the subject of the book is not Chavez but the creators of Chavez (We), the author did not feel it so necessary to deal with the situation where the creation is now no more. The creators still exist and will exist. And the author is confident that as long as they are conscious and vigilant, the process will be alive. Not por ahora but siempre (forever).

We love to read some books and read some others to learn. This is one book from which we would love to learn.



Uthapuram Dalit Women Are Real Heroes

SP Rajendran

DELIVERING a special address at Madurai, Brinda karat, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M)  said that radical social change would happen only when deep-rooted caste prejudices and discriminatory practices against Dalits are annihilated.

A programme was held in the city on June 15 to honour the advocates and social activists who fought for social justice in Uthapuram village near Madurai, Tamilnadu where portion of a long wall that separated Dalits from caste Hindu locality was razed down to enable access to common pathway as a result of strong movement organized by the CPI(M) and the Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF).

Brinda Karat said the National Crime Records Bureau shows that in 2012, there were 33,655 cases of atrocities perpetrated on Dalits. This gives us an idea that on an average, everyday 93 members belonging to the Dalit community have been victims of one form of atrocity or the other. It is a shame that even after 66 years of independence such a situation exists in the country.

NCRB data suggests that 1,10,000 cases of atrocities are pending in courts, but only 3.6 per cent have ended in conviction. Among the 35,655 cases sent to court, conviction in cases of atrocities on Dalits was a mere 23 per cent and in 77 per cent cases the perpetrators go scot-free. It is a shame on the judicial system and on the process of legal justice, she said.

She praised the brave Dalit women of Uthapuram as the real heroes who had fought a valiant battle. “When the wall was demolished in Uthapuram, it was not just brick and mortar. The wall represented the edifice of discrimination and denial of minimal human dignity,” she said. Many civil rights like worshipping rights and access to common property resources have been won after a long struggle.

Still there are unfinished tasks like proper access to the common pathway that was created after the demolition of the wall. The Madras High Court has ordered that full compensation be given to each and every family that was affected in the police excesses. The order further said that district monitoring committees should be vigilant in maintaining peace and it is our duty to put pressure on the monitoring committee to implement the court order fully, Brinda pointed out.

T K Rangarajan, MP and CPI(M) Central Committee member, P Sampath, president, TNUEF and U Vasuki, national secretary of AIDWA and district leaders also spoke on the occasion. The 92- year-old veteran leader of the Party, R Umanath was present on the occasion in which a lot of Dalit women participated. U Nirmala Rani, advocate, Madras High court and other advocates were felicitated.

Earlier, while talking to reporters on the sidelines of the programme, Brinda Karat said that the Left parties do not see the development of a third front before the elections; each party has its own agenda and in the case of Left, alternative policies are important as the current policies are disastrous to people. She said that Left parties are in good coordination with each other and are working for alternative policies. Answering a question whether they would support the DMK for Rajya Sabha seat, she replied, “There is absolutely no question of such support.”

BSNL Workers to Donate for Disaster Victims

IN this connection, V A N Namboodiri, convener of the Forum of BSNL Unions & Associations, too has informed that, motivated by the said Forum, employees of the public sector Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) have taken due note of the serious situation in Uttarakhand and the requirement of funds for rehabilitation of the affected people, and have unanimously decided to donate one say’s pay each to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. This will be deducted from the employees’ salaries for the month of June and remitted to the PM’s Relief Fund.

The Forum has urged the BSNL management that the affected or missing BSNL employees and pilgrims of other circles should be given all assistance by the company immediately. The Forum has also asked the department of telecommunications (DoT) to provide immediate financial assistance to the BSNL, in view of its poor financial condition, for rehabilitation of telecom services which have been severely damaged in Uttarakhand.


The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) issued the following statement on June 21, 2013.

THE horror and immense tragedy of the loss of human lives and unprecedented destruction of homes and livelihoods in the Kedarnath, Chamoli and other regions of Uttarakhand is still unfolding. The numbers of those killed is rising every day. The urgency of immediate rescue and evacuation operations for the thousands who are stranded cannot be emphasised enough. The central government must extend its full support to the state government including for funds and materials.

It is essential for the state government to harness the energy of all political parties and citizens organisations to devote their entire united energy into providing relief and succour to those affected. It must also enquire into the role that the indiscriminate tunnelling of the hills by power projects and the huge dumps of silt which were never cleared, had to play in this terrible tragedy.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) extends its deep condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives. It expresses its sympathy and solidarity to the lakhs of people affected. It calls upon its units all over the country to collect funds and materials urgently for relief to those affected.

Desist from Hiking KG Basin Gas Price: Left

Desist from Hiking KG Basin Gas Price: Left

THE four Left parties, namely the CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc, have demanded that the UPS government must desist from hiking the price of natural gas as it would have a horrible impact on the whole of our economy. At a media conference organised at A K Gopalan Bhavan in New Delhi on June 24, leaders of the four Left parties raised questions about the undue haste the government, and in particular the finance ministry and Planning Commission, are displaying for effecting such a hike in order to enable a particular corporate house to reap windfall profits.

It is to be noted that the proposed hike is to come into effect from April 2014.

In this regard, Sitaram Yechury, leader of the CPI(M) group in Rajya Sabha, demanded that before the government announces any such decision, there must be extensive discussions among various ministries of the union government and with state governments, and also a discussion on the issue in both houses of parliament.

Gurudas Dasgupta, leader of the CPI group in Lok Sabha, and RSP leader Abani Roy were also present at the media conference.   

Describing the proposed hike as altogether wrong, Yechury said any rise in gas price would lead to hefty hikes in fertiliser and power prices, which burden either the government would have to bear as increased subsidies or would be passed over to the peasants and power consumers, and that both these situations would be disastrous for the economy. Putting a question mark on the necessity of the proposed hike, Yechury said there was absolutely no logical basis for any such decision. For any industry, the price is normally fixed on the basis of actual cost plus a reasonable profit, but this criterion too does not justify any hike. Terming the proposed hike as one meant to excessively benefit a particular corporate house, namely Mukesh Ambani and his Reliance group, the CPI(M) leader said nowhere from the USA to Pakistan and Bangladesh in our neighbourhood are the gas prices higher than in India.

Gurudas Dasgupta accused that the government was overawed by a particular industrial house, and drew attention to the fact that the Reliance has decreased its natural gas production from Krishna Godavari (KG) Basin to the level of 19 per cent only. He also pointed out how the government was adamant to rush excessive benefits to this private company in the next five years --- more than what the Rangarajan committee had proposed. He also questioned the logic of fixing the gas prices in dollars and reminded that the said private company was already garnering about 15 per cent extra profits simply because of the falling rupee. He said the proposed gas price hike would raise the fertiliser prices by about 6,000 rupees per tonne and power tariff by two rupees per unit.

In view of its adverse all-round impact expected for our economy, the Left parties appealed to all the political forces to come forward and prevent the government from making such a disastrous move.


Below we reproduce the joint statement issued on this occasion by the Left parties in view of the move of the government to increase the prices of natural gas from the KG-D6 Basin.

1) The government is going to increase the prices of natural gas, which is a major input for the production of fertilisers and power in the country. The present price of natural gas in 4.2 dollars per mmbtu (million British thermal units). The government appointed Rangarajan committee has suggested a price of 8.4 per dollars mmbtu from April 2014. While the power and fertiliser ministries are opposed to the recommendations of the Rangarajan committee and are pitching for a lower price, the petroleum ministry, finance ministry and Planning Commission are insisting on a price even greater than the Rangarajan formula. Though the increase in prices would be applicable to all producers, both public sector undertakings (PSUs) and private companies, the super high profits of private companies will be retained by them, whereas government can mop up the increased revenues of PSUs (and in theory at least, be used to offset the increase in subsidy).

2) The petroleum ministry has agreed to the Rangarajan prices for three years and has recommended a price of 14 dollars per mmbtu (open market prices) for the last two years. The finance ministry has recommended a price of 11 dollars per mmbtu and the Planning Commission has recommended a price of 9.2 dollars per mmbtu (on average) for three years and 14 dollars per mmbtu (open market prices) for the last two years.

3) Considering a production of 50 mmscmd (million metric standard cubic metres per day) from the KG-D6 block, even with the Rangarajan formula, the subsidy implications are gigantic on account of natural gas produced from KG-D6 block. It would imply an additional subsidy of Rs 90,000 crore in the five year period (2014-15 to 2018-19) over the current levels of fertiliser and power subsidy. With the petroleum ministry, finance ministry or Planning Commission formula, the figure would increase further to Rs 1,38,000 crore, Rs 1,46,000 crore or Rs 1,48,000 crore respectively.

4) With its stretched finances, the government will not able to meet these subsidy requirements and will perforce raise the prices of fertilisers and power. Even with the Rangarajan formula the unit cost of power will rise by Rs 2 per unit. If the recommendations of petroleum ministry, finance ministry or Planning Commission were accepted, this would imply an average increase by Rs 3, Rs 3.20 or Rs 3.30 per unit respectively.

5) Similarly, with fertilisers, the increase in prices with the Rangarajan formula would be Rs 6000 per metric tonne. If the recommendations of the petroleum ministry, finance ministry or Planning Commission were accepted, this would imply an increase of Rs 9200, Rs 9700 or Rs 9900 per tonne respectively.

6) In the backdrop of the slowdown in the economy and persistent inflation, this magnitude of price increase would deal a death blow to the Indian economy and cause untold hardship to the people of the country and its farmers. We demand that any price increase should  be kept in abeyance and the government should come out with full facts and figures and have debate with all stakeholders before it pushes ahead with this move,

7) It should also be noted that the entire price increase/enhanced subsidy will be passed on to just a single corporate house as super normal profits, since the profit share of the private operator is 90 per cent. Natural gas belongs to the people of the country and the government is holding it in trust for the people. They cannot be plundered by the corporates and actively be supported by the very arms of the government that are supposed regulate them.