November 16, 2008

Public Meeting: Sri Lanka's Genocidal War on Eelam Tamils and the Question of Nation's Self-Determination

Self-determination of nations in the Marxist programme cannot, from a historico-economic point of view, have any other meaning than political self-determination, state independence, and the formation of a national state. - Lenin

Genocidal war on Eelam Tamils by the fascist Sri Lankan state: For the last two weeks, the Sri Lankan armed forces have been engaged in an aggressive war with the people of Tamil Eelam, aimed not only at the combatants but the entire civilian population. As a result, Thousands of Tamils have been killed, wounded and have been forcefully displaced. It is not a war between the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE as the mainstream media tries to portray, but is an attempt by the Sri Lankan state to wipe out the entire Tamil population from the island, in the cover of eliminating the LTTE. Schools, orphanages, hospitals had been made targets of indiscriminate aerial bombings by the Sri Lankan Air Force. For example, 61 children from “Sencholai” (Red Garden), a home for children who lost their parents in war, recently died in one such attack. Sri Lanka Army’s Deep Penetration Unit fired upon a civilian bus travelling from Madhu to Paalampiddi in January 2008 killing 20, of whom 11 were school children, and injured 14 out of whom eight were children. No civilian area has been spared by the air force, which are attacked on an everyday basis. Bunkers have become an inevitable infrastructure in all schools. It is as if the Sri Lankan government wants to create a graveyard in the whole of Tamil populated areas in the Eelam. Such an approach is consistent with the Sri Lankan President’s comment that this is the final assault to finish off the ‘terrorist’ LTTE, only after which it will think of any ‘talks’ with the Tamils! We have heard many times about the ‘final solution’ to the Tamil national question by Sri Lankan presidents through the use of brute force, but the Tamils fighting for their separate country has defeated the wars of aggression every time in the past. This time too, even with thousands of casualties, the Tamil people are bravely resisting the might of the Sri Lankan state, and this time too, its misadventure is bound to culminate in failure. The struggle of the Eelam Tamils for an independent country has emerged out of a historic experience of oppression and subjugation in the hands of the Singhalese nation. This reflects the political aspirations of the Tamil people to be free of Singhalese national oppression, and it can only have a political solution, and not a purely military one. It is therefore necessary for all the democratic voices to recognise and stand by the inalienable right of the Eelam Tamils to self-determination through secession from Sri Lanka, and to oppose the ongoing genocidal war of aggression by the Sri Lankan state on the freedom-aspiring Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of the island country.

The approach of the Sri Lankan state: Irrespective of the parties in power in Colombo, the response of the Singahlese ruling classes in Sri Lanka towards the democratic aspirations of the Tamils have primarily been through the use of brute force. In 1983 itself, the then President Jayawardene declared that “I am not worried about the opinion of the Tamil people …now we cannot think of them. not their life or their opinion …the more you put pressure in north, the happier the Sinhala people will be here… really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy”. From the time direct British colonial rule ended in 1948, the successive Singhalese governments have followed a consistent policy of national oppression and discrimination towards the Tamil minorities, denying their basic rights and opportunities for socio-economic development. Land settlement policies implemented from 1950s onwards displaced millions of Tamils in the northern and eastern districts such as Mannur and Mulai Thivu in a planned manner, which were then redistributed among Singhalese peasants and landless labourers. The Sri Lankan parliament declared Buddhism as the state religion, and pursued a policy of discrimination against other religious minorities. The ‘Sinhala-Buddhist Only Act’ formulated in 1956 declared Sinhala as the only official language, which was against the policy so far followed of recognizing both Sinhala and Tamil as state language. Further, in 1970, discrimination against Tamil youths pursuing higher studies in the name of standardization led to a drastic decline in their entry to government jobs. In 1979 the Sri Lankan state enacted the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act to cope with the growing militancy among the Tamils. This Act and the subsequent crackdown by the army of Tamil youths confirmed the fears of the Tamils that the Sinhalese government was hell bent to exterminate them.

These are only a few examples from the history of a long-running process of calculated oppression and discrimination by the Sri Lankan state towards the Tamil minorities. The Tamils in Sri Lanka initially voiced their opposition peacefully to these oppressive and undemocratic policies, such as the mass resignation of Tamil MPs in 1956 and 1958, a series of demonstrations and strikes in Colombo, etc. The response of the Sri Lankan state then, as now, has been to unleash a reign of terror and brute force through the army on the agitating Tamil population, leading to the first major wave of Tamil refugees to the northern and eastern parts of the island in 1958. The state-sponsored massacre of hundreds of Tamils in 1983 made the question of self-determination through peaceful means decisively redundant, and pushed the Tamils in Sri Lanka to the path of armed struggle for national liberation of Eelam, a path made crimson by the blood of thousands of martyrs. This war has also helped the Sinhalese ruling classes in diverting the attention from the basic issues of livelihood and economic development of the people of the country in general, with a large part of the GDP spent in financing the exorbitant defense budget.

The Tamil national movement for an independent Eelam: With the democratic aspirations and demands of the national minority in Sri Lanka crushed ruthlessly, the Tamil parliamentary parties passed the historic Vettukottai Resolution in 1977 where demand for a separate Tamil Eelam was raised for the first time under the banner of Tamil United Liberation Front. From that time onwards, for more than 30 years the struggle for a separate Eelam is being waged by the Tamils, withstanding untold repression of the Sri Lankan armed forces which is aided directly or indirectly by Indian state and its imperial master, the U.S. The war imposed on the freedom-aspiring Tamils took genocidal proportions in 1995 and 2000, in 2002 when the ceasefire agreement was broken, and again now in 2008. The Sri Lankan state has violated agreements signed with the Tamil representatives over and over again, and now it is imposing the precondition of laying down arms, in one word surrender, before any negotiation. The Tamils have been facing the choice between fighting for freedom at the risk of death or living as slaves throughout the period of this decades-long war. The Tamils have been offered and they have rejected a negotiated settlement through international mediation many times in the past, which could have led to peace, but a peace without justice. An uncompromising struggle for national self-determination, the fight for a free Eelam has emerged as one of the foremost nationality movements in the world, which have been demonized and isolated by the present imperialist world order led by U.S. imperialism. Rather than recognizing and upholding the just demand of the Tamil national minority, the rulers of India represented by Congress, BJP or even the so-called communists CPI(M) has acted as the faithful South Asian agents of U.S. interests in repressing the Tamil Eelam movement.

Indian state, the faithful agent of U.S. imperialism in South Asia: India has been following an expansionist policy towards its neighbouring countries in South Asia, and has even militarily intervened more than once in their internal affairs. In Sri Lanka too, under this policy of furthering its own geo-political interests (which is tied to the interests of U.S. imperialism) Indian state initially supported the armed struggle of the Eelam Tamils. But soon the Indian state joined hands with the Sri Lankan government to suppress the movement, and sent the Indian Peace Keeping Force in 1986 which created mayhem in the Tamil populated areas in Sri Lanka, killing, raping and maiming thousands. After a complete military defeat of the Indian mercenary army it was forced to retreat, but Indian ruling classes, irrespective of the party in power, has till date continued full diplomatic and military support to the fascist Sri Lankan state. Pranab Mukherjee, the defence minister has this week stated that India will not stop military aid to Sri Lanka, and expressed its willingness to help the Rajapakshe government in carrying out the present genocide of Tamils. A Sri Lankan army official has recently revealed that Sri Lankan military officers are being trained in Dehradun and Gurgaon military camps by the Indian army. But this is not all. According to some media reports, hundreds of Indian military personnel are directly involved in the present war, serving in Sri Lankan armed forces in advanced battle fronts. Such overt and covert support is not surprising, given the Indian state’s anti-democratic and pro-imperialist character, which itself has been crushing the genuine demands of various nationalities, such as Kashmiris, Nagas, Manipuris and Assamese and others within its territorial boundaries through the use of superior military might. It is not possible for Sri Lanka to continue its war against the Tamil national minorities without the approval of the Indian state, and Rajapakshe’s constant visits to New Delhi of late makes it clear that Indian government is actively supporting the present war. And being the foremost custodian of U.S. interests in South Asia, it is not difficult to conclude that India is given a go-ahead in this by Washington itself.

The so-called Marxist parties such as CPI, CPI(M) or CPI ML (Liberation) too has abandoned the Leninist principle of supporting the democratic demand of national self-determination, including secession, and have failed to force the Indian state from following a policy of non-intervention in Sri Lanka. They are equally responsible for castigating the movement for Tamil Eelam as ‘terrorism’, thereby helping in its brutal repression. Major regional parties in Tamil Nadu, whether DMK or AIDMK which never fails to celebrate Tamil nationalism to garner votes, have utterly failed to take any decisive action to prevent the ongoing massacre and displacement of thousands of Tamils in Eelam. Close to than 60,000 people have died and nearly 3 lakh have been displaced so far during this war, most of whom are Tamils. The media also has played its devious role in hiding the true situation of Eelam Tamils, which is uncritically presenting the biased versions spoon-fed by the Sri Lankan government, or completely blacking out this calculated extermination of an entire population in the name of ‘war against terror’. The Indian media, such as the casteist and Brahmanical Hindu group run by N. Ram, too is guilty of justifying this brutal repression, rather than building a public opinion against this unceasing cold-blooded massacre of hundreds of civilians on an everyday basis.

The need of the Hour: The Sri Lankan government, in its attempt to silently carry out this latest military misadventure to sniff out the Tamil resistance, has expelled all humanitarian agencies including the Red Cross as well as the international media from the war front. Of late the Sri Lankan forces have also stopped providing data about casualties in the ongoing war. Such criminal attempts of systematically silencing democratic and genuine rights of the people by use of force will inevitably fail. We must demand an immediate and unconditional declaration of cease-fire from the Sri Lankan government and a stop to the genocide in Tamil Eelam. At the same time, following the principles of Marxism-Leninism, which stands unequivocally in favour of the right to self-determination of the oppressed nationalities, we must raise our voice in support of the demand of Eelam Tamils for independence. It is high-time that the Sri Lankan and Indian ruling classes as well as their master U.S. realize that only a free and independent Tamil Eelam can ensure permanent resolution to the nationality question in Sri Lanka, and only a unity based on justice and equality of the two nations can usher in peace in the island. Moreover, only an integration of the revolutionary class struggle with the national liberation struggles can effectively fight feudalism and imperialism, two primary enemies of the people in the Third World countries.


November 11, 2008

Condemn the attack on Prof. S A R Geelani by ABVP lumpens in Delhi University! Punish the ABVP lumpens!

The communal fascist lumpens of the ABVP and RSS unmasked their fascist face yet again in DU. On the 6th of November, a seminar on ‘Communalism, Fascism and Democracy: Rhetoric and Reality’ was organised by a group of DU students. SAR Geelani, lecturer of Zakir Hussein College and DU was chairing the seminar. As soon as Prof. Geelani entered, some ABVP lumpens entered the hall. One of them went up to the dais and spat on Geelani’s face. The rest led by Nupur Sharma, the DUSU president, went on a rampage across the room, breaking the mikes, furniture and glass panes of doors and windows. The police being a silent onlooker, finally the students pushed these goons out of the room. The doors were closed from inside and the seminar went on successfully. The lumpens however kept breaking the remaining windows from outside and hurled abuses against Geelani in particular and the Muslim community in general.

What happened in DU did not come as a shock or a surprise. It was indeed the continuation of what happened in DU history department last semester when these same goons vandalized it and assaulted its HoD Prof. Jafri, because they did not agree with a portion of the history syllabus. It is the same communal and fascist ideology that propelled their friends in JNU to go on rampage in the presidential debate last year because they did not agree with a statement made by a speaker. And all this makes their fascist ideology too clear for everyone to see. You can not say things which I don’t agree to! You can not practice a religion which I don’t belong to! If you demand anything which I don’t like, you are a terrorist! It is the same politics of silencing people of different faith, ideology or culture which we have seen in so many instances of communal pogroms.

However the politics of the sangh parivar is NOT one of communalism alone. It is equally casteist and patriarchal. The same fascist ideology that led into the mass killing of Muslims with the help of the state in Gujarat was operating behind the mass murder of dalits in Jehanabad or Laxmanpur-Bathe. It was the same people who mass-raped in Jhabua, who try to force women to become sati even today. They are the same lot who in the name of salwa judum are trying to force the tribals out of the forests in Bastar to capture the land for the MNCs. The practice of whipping up of communal sentiments to cover up the lack of real development in every aspect of social lives of this country had been an old and regular tactic for the Indian ruling classes. The right wing parties, be it the Congress or the BJP and their various allies have always used the communal card to misdirect the real grievances of the people reeling under deplorable conditions. Just like the Nazis did with the Jews in Germany, the Hindutva brigade picks out the Muslim community as the scapegoat for all the problems, real or imaginary. And then we have the Mosque demolitions; the post-Ayodhya riots; Gujarat genocide; the mysterious bomb blasts and the fake encounters… The list seems never-ending.

They have full backing of the administration and the state. Be it JNU or even DU these lumpens are not large in number. But they are emboldened because of the institutionalized protection they are ensured of. In JNU after a prolonged enquiry and despite a positive report by the Shankar Basu Committee, all the identified goons of the ABVP who had done the rampage in presidential debate were let off. The Chandrabhaga hostel incident has been hushed up completely by the administration. In DU too no action has been taken against the goons who vandalized History department. And the larger scenario of state sponsored communal-fascism is too evident by now. The Gujarat genocide was made possible by the active involvement of the state machinery. The salwa judum has been created and armed by the state to forcefully evict the tribals. The Malegaon and Nanded blasts have not called for any action against the accused.

Playing the game of ‘democracy’: 60 years since the so-called independence and the role reversals of NDA and UPA for the last ten years only exposes the communal colour of the parliamentary parties. Be it the right or the “left”-wing, the Muslims Christians other religious minorities in this ‘democracy’ are vested with only two identities. They are either vote-bank or terrorist to all the parties that are in or are craving for power. The parliamentary ‘Left’ has equally failed to see the communal specter being rooted into the material conditions of the society. This willful blindness is understandable, because they too are intrinsically a part of the same system that breeds the fascists. Naturally, their opposition to the hindu right is restricted to supporting the Congress in place of BJP! The same congress, whose neo-liberal policies create the ground for communal-fascism. Buddhadev Bhatatcharya is following the same policy in his state in a bid to woo investors. And in the process when it comes to repression, they quickly adopt the same politics of communal-fascism. The peasants of Nandigram who were fighting for their land were termed both ‘Maoist’ and ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ by the CPM government. Kerala government too recently has arrested two people who had Geelani’s photo on their computer, as potential terrorists!

Then there are the parliamentary exigencies. The so-called ‘left’ parties (actually, all parties) frequently ally with former or future partners of BJP, making a mockery of the struggle against communalism. Even the more-radical-than-thou CPIML-Liberation (the parent party of AISA) who have been courting the CPI & CPM for national level alliances, ended up allying with Nitish Kumar’s Samata party, who went on to join the NDA and now rules Bihar. Liberation’s ally in the last Bihar assembly elections, Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP is a former ally of BJP. Such is the magic of India’s parliamentary politics!

There is only force that the Sanghi lumpens are scared of. It is the collective strength of the people. Unless we protest, we assert, force them to retreat, they will keep assaulting the democratic spaces and try to throttle all the voices that seek to challenge them. The attack on SAR Geelani was not just an attack on an individual. It is a concerted attack on our right to expression and dissent, on rights of people to challenge the state-driven policies. We have to decide which side we are on!

Condemn the attack on Prof. S A R Geelani by the ABVP!

Demand punishment of the ABVP goons!

Resist the communal-fascist politics of the sangh-giroh!

Fight against the Indian state’s witch-hunt of Muslims in the name of fighting ‘Islamic terrorism’!

Stand in solidarity with the people of Orissa, Karnataka, Gujarat

and other places fighting against communal-fascist RSS-VHP-BJP!

Join

PROTEST

MARCH

9.30pm 10 Nov . 2008 (Tonight)

From Ganga Dhaba, JNU





November 7, 2008

Condemn the assault and vandalism of the fascist ABVP-RSS in Delhi Univesity!

Today on 6th of November students and teachers of Delhi University organised a public meeting on Communalism, Fascism and Democracy: Rhetoric and Reality at Arts Faculty. Ajit Sahi, Tehelka reporter, Rajesh Ramchandran, Mail Today reporter, Nishat Quaisar of Jamia Milia Islamia were among the speakers. As the Chair of the meeting, when SAR Geelani (lecturer at Zakir Husain College, University of Delhi), came inside the room and took his seat, one of the ABVP lumpens sitting in the front row came forward and spat on his face twice. It was a planned attempt to disrupt and vandalise the public meeting – ABVP goons were sitting inside the room and they rose to hurl abuses at the participants and physically attack them. DUSU President Nupur Sharma (of ABVP) was leading the fascist mob. The ABVP lumpens entered the room and declared that SAR Geelani could not speak!

The ABVP goons attacked the women students and participants, broke the microphone and hurled chairs. They also manhandled media persons who were covering the meeting. Sahi and Ramchandran, who were speakers at the meeting, were threatened by the communal-fascist goons. At this point, the Pro-Vice Chancellor and the Proctor called one of the organisers and told him that the meeting could not go on because it was creating a 'law and order' problem! It was the courage and resistance of the audience who insisted on continuing the meeting that even after such intimidation, threats and open display of vandalism that the meeting could be continued. The ABVP goons were pushed out of the room by the audience and the meeting continued. The lumpens however continued to throw stones at the room, broke window panes, tried to break the doors and hurled abuses on the speakers and the organizers in the presence and support of a large contingent of Delhi Police. SAR Geelani in particular was targeted. All their attempts at scuttling the meeting however ended in failure and Geelani delivered his speech to an applauding audience, much like in JNU where the ABVP lumpens had to flee due to the collective resistance of the university community. It is to be noted that last year too, the faculty members and students of the Delhi University History Department were targeted by the same goons who are yet to be punished.

The communal-fascist politics of the sangh-giroh in Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka, Jammu and other parts of the country was in display today in Delhi University. The state and its security forces have been shielding and helping in their crimes against religious minorities in particular and against the democratic rights of the people in general. This politics has to be fought back at all levels, much like the students and teachers of DU did today. We call upon the JNU students to join a protest march on 7 Nov at Delhi University at 11:00 am, starting from Vivekananda statue, Arts Faculty, DU organized by the Delhi University Community against the fascist politics of the sangh-parivar with the support of Delhi Police, and to demand that:

1. The DU administration lodge a FIR against the ABVP culprits, especially persons like Nupur Sharma, Vikas Dahiya, Desh Ratan, Sonu Singh, Ashutosh and others.

2. A time-bound enquiry into today’s act of vandalism and assault and action against the guilty.

3. To ensure that such acts of assault and disruption are not repeated in future

November 2, 2008

A University that does not allow dissent becomes a prison!

The recent stay on JNUSU elections for violation of the Lyngdoh recommendations is yet another instance of direct state intervention to curb democratic movements, of students this time, to crush the voices of dissent. This is yet another attempt of the state to depoliticize students’ politics and to curtail our rights question and protest.

Is Lyngdoh really aiming at curbing money and muscle power as many would like us to believe? Well, the Amicus Curie in Supreme Court who is entitled to oversee the violations of Lyngdoh Committee recommendations has not sent a single letter to the universities that have not started election process following the recommendations of the report or to the universities like DU which have openly and blatantly flouted the recommendations by using as much money and muscle power as it used to do. But it did stay the JNUSU elections because the real aim of Lyngdoh is to curb politicization of the students and create students’ unions which are bureaucratized, depoliticized and works as a puppet of university authorities. Where students’ politics is cocooned within a limited frame and not allowed to debate, discuss and vote on issues of social and political importance.

All laws come with a ‘progressive face’. No laws formulated and implemented by the state openly claims to repress. The POTA, TADA, MCOCA etc where brought forward to ensure ‘national integrity’. The AFSPA was brought with the pretext of ‘national security’, the SEZ act came in with the aim of ‘development’. But these laws are actually aimed to repress, to deny the democratic rights to the people, to throttle the voices of dissent, and to liquidate people’s movements against the powers that be. The Lyngdoh committee recommendations with all its so-called progressive aims are ultimately aimed at curbing the democratic movements of the students and to silence the voices of critique and dissent that emerges through these movements.

Is it a matter that concerns the ‘political lot’ of JNU only? The stay on JNUSU election is not just an order against the election process. It is a direct assault on the students’ movement and politics. And politics in this campus is far wide spread than just elections. Some people say Lyngdoh has praised the JNU model. But that model is not only about the technicalities that ensure a money-muscle free peaceful election. It is an evolved model of political consciousness, of the culture of debate, the courage to question and critique anything, the right to protest and to fight for rights and justice, to fight against oppression and injustice. And not surprisingly these are the things that Mr.Lyngdoh’s recommendations ultimately aim to curb. JNU student movement has fought against the way JNU is being subtly corporatised, against the monopoly of nestle outlet, when workers’ rights are openly being violated, when reservation is craftily denied, when communal lumpens are shielded by the administration. Any issues pertaining to students’ welfare, be it the fight against privatization of the university, fight against fee-hike, fight to build new hostels, to hike the MCM amount, to recognize Alimiyat –Fazilat certificates, or the fight to ensure and regularize scholarships etc. have all been clinched with collective struggles of students and under the banner of JNUSU. And all these struggles were political fights against a casteist, communal and patriarchal administration which is hell-bent on corporatising and eventually privatizing the university in due course as per the Birla-Ambani Report. Lyngdoh and his reactionary recommendations are only here to facilitate that. The rich political debates on campus where students not only build their opinions but also vote on the larger questions of imperialist aggression, on state repression, the neo-economic policies, the nuke deal, SEZs, land grab and the fight against it, the movements on nationality question etc. are also contradictory to the ‘integrationist’ and ‘nationalist’ politics that Mr. Lyngdoh recommends.

The way ahead: The stay on JNUSU elections has to be vacated in the court through a legal battle. But so far no stay order on any students’ union has been won in the court only. The legal battle will have to go parallel with a strong political battle exposing the real intentions of the state intervention in students’ politics. It is NOT money-muscle power and criminalization of students politics that they seek to attack. It is the politicization of students’ politics, our right to protest and dissent that they seek to assault. And JNU is not the first university that is standing against the reactionary recommendations of Lyngdoh. The SU elections of Allahabad University have been stayed on the pretext of ‘preparing formalities conducive for Lyngdoh recommendations’ for the last two years. The students of Kanpur and Lucknow University have been brutally lathi-charged by the police while they were protesting against the implementation of the same. It is by rejecting the Lyngdoh recommendations everywhere in toto and fighting against the all forms of state’s repression that we can democratize students’ politics and our present society.

October 27, 2008

DSU's Resolution Rejecting Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations in JNU gets passed in the UGBM Unanimously!

The students of JNU have unanimously passed with overwhelming enthusiasm and show of unity the DSU resolution placed in the UGBM that concluded in the wee hours of 26th October, after a night-long debate. The text of the resolution is:
'The JNUSU Constitution expresses the democratic ethos and norms of the JNU students evolved over 37 years of collective struggle. The Supreme Court’s stay on the JNUSU Elelctions and the attempt to impose Lyngdoh Committee recommendations in JNU is against the letter and spirit of the JNUSU Constitution. This UGBM therefore resolves to reject the implementation of Lyngdoh Committee recommendations in JNU in any form.'
The struggle must now be intensified to defeat Lyngdoh committee recommendations not only in JNU but everywhere, in its totality. We must unitedly fight to finally scrap Lyngdoh, which is against the very spirit of students' movements, its autonomy and voices of dissent.

Reject Lyngdoh in toto! Defend our JNUSU and its Constitution! Resist the attack on our democratic tradition!

The JNU students’ movement is today facing a grave threat in the form of Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations. The Supreme Court stay on the JNUSU Elections is a direct attack on our democratic rights, our democratic space on the campus. Lyngdoh, if imposed, will completely crush and suppress our institutions like JNUSU and its Constitution, which has been at the forefront in the JNU student’s struggle against administration’s anti-student policies, as well as that of the Indian state. JNUSU represents our collective voice of resistance and is the most formidable platform of struggle, and we must defend its weakening or dismantling through the reactionary Lyngdoh. We need to be aware that in this planned attempt to curb our democratic institutions, the Youth for Equality (YFE) has over and over again betrayed the current collective struggle of students in upholding the JNU constitution and the democratic traditions against the stay and the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations. They presented their own lawyer on the day of yesterday’s hearing on the case in Supreme Court who supported full implementation of Lyngdoh. In subsequent all organization meetings they had taken inconsistent and dubious stands on the issue and have lied and contradicted their position. They have publicly called the previous two JNUSUs ‘illegal’ and have slandered against an ex-Chief Election Committee member. So lets isolate YFE in our struggle against Lyngdoh and in defense of the JNUSU.

But the struggle against Lyngdoh cannot be confined only to JNU. In the garb of controlling criminalization of student politics, the Lyngdoh recommendations strengthen the hands of the University administrations. In universities like JNU have a history of progressive struggles, and that has been possible precisely because the students’ movement have successfully prevented the administration from interfering in students’ affairs, and whenever such attempts were made, the students fought back. Now JNU’s student movement must spearhead the countrywide struggle against the imposition of Lyngdoh, and any compromise or confusion in this matter will pave way for the destruction of our hard-earned democratic space.

In this historic juncture, DSU appeals to the student community of JNU to speak out against Lyngdoh Committee recommendations and the Supreme Court stay of the JNUSU Elections on its basis. Come out and pass a mandate in the UGBM tonight in total rejection of Lyngdoh Committee recommendations. Only through this we will be able to defend our JNUSU and the JNUSU Constitution.

Unite for an uncompromising fight against the reactionary Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations! Join tomorrow's UGBM in large numbers!

The Supreme Court served a notice to the JNUSU and JNU administration stating that the JNUSU elections are in violation of the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee. Today was a hearing of the case. The JNUSU EC and representatives of all organizations had come together to respond to the situation and legal counsel was engaged to argue on behalf of the JNUSU and the student community. This assault on JNU’s tradition of independent elections is a cleverly timed one: in the absence of a elected JNUSU to lead a struggle.

Today’s verdict confirms our position expressed in our pamphlet yesterday that not informing the students about the imminent threat of Lyngdoh and not mobilizing them actively against it immediately is not a correct approach to fight this onslaught on the hard earned democratic space of JNU. In the coming days, an uncompromising struggle can be the only answer to the attack on JNU’s democratic tradition and institution.

The Blatant HYPOCRISY and BETRAYAL of Y4E: Till last night the Youth for quality (Y4E) was standing in consensus with the rest of the organizations rejecting Lyngdoh Committee recommendations in all organization meetings. Today in the morning however Justice Lahoti appeared in Supreme Court and said he was representing Y4E, and that his clients are in favour of Lyngdoh Recommendations in JNU! This immediately weakened the case of JNUSU and the Judge got a clear pretext to impose the stay order. This complete betrayal of the movement is shameful and condemnable, but is expected from the Y4E who had always been doing sectarian, unprincipled and discriminatory politics. Being pushed to wall in the AO meeting they admitted that YFE supports Lyngdoh Committee recommendations in JNU. Organizations like this must be isolated and we strongly feel that no movement against Lyngdoh can be fought in the same platform with YFE which is inviting Lyngdoh to JNU. Therefore, although DSU has been and will be a part of all the struggles that are going to be launched in the coming days in JNU against Lyngdoh and although we agree to the broad spirit of the joint statement issued by other organizations WE REFUSED TO BE A SIGNATORY TO THAT SINCE Y4E HAS ALSO SIGNED IT. The struggle against Lyngdoh is going to be the prime and most crucial challenge in the days to come and we insist that only a principled and uncompromising struggle rejecting Lyngdoh in toto in JNU and elsewhere can safeguard students’ movement across the country.

The context of the Lyngdoh Committee is one of the state’s withdrawal from education. The World Bank and its cronies are aggressively pushing for privatization of education. The Birla-Ambani report on Higher Education clearly identifies student politics as the chief impediment to privatization. A politicized student body is a stumbling block for neo-liberal designs; Lyngdoh is designed to depoliticize students and crush consciously articulated political dissent and opposition. Lyngdoh claims to be a champion of democratic space for students, directed only against money and muscle power. But the stated aim of the Lyngdoh recommendations is actually to do away with or at least limit the politicization of student bodies and the intervention of political parties in student elections. JNU has a history of struggles against fee-hikes and the privatization of education led by a politicized students union. Had it not been for the presence of a political JNUSU with clear ideological affiliations with left movements, this university would have been privatized a decade ago and many of us would not have been able to afford an education in JNU.

The use of money and muscle continues in numerous places despite Lyngdoh; because powerful ruling class student organizations can easily buy and beat their way around Lyngdoh and indeed any other law.
It is the dissenting student voices that face a crackdown. In JNU if elections are free and fair, it is not because of some code of conduct but because the student body rejects lurid shows of wealth and power. The only answer to the criminalization of student politics is a pervasive politicization of student politics and NOT the regulation of student politics by the state. We must fight the imposition of the Lyngdoh recommendations in JNU and in every other campus.

We appeal to the students of JNU to come out in large numbers in tomorrow’s UGBM and participate in all the struggles in the coming days against the onslaught of Lyngdoh.
We the students must give an unified mandate to decisively defeat the onslaught of Lyngdoh. This is a decisive moment in the history JNU’s student movement, and the students are called to play their historic role in defense of our democratic space, our JNUSU and its unique Constitution.

Reject Lyngdoh! Oppose the Stay on JNUSU Elections!

JNUSU EC has resigned. The old JNUSU Council takes over the charge of the Union! The UGBM scheduled on 25 October (sat.) will be conducted by the JNUSU and Chaired by the JNUSU President.

In an all organization meeting convened at 8pm today evening on 25th October 2008, the JNUSU all the Election Committee members have submitted their resignation citing their inability to continue with this year’s JNUSU election process in the wake of the Supreme Court’s stay order today. The JNUSU Council now takes over the charge as per the JNU Constitution after the EC has resigned. It is for the UGBM to decide till how long this JNUSU will continue in office, apart from deliberating and deciding on the further course of action. In this hour of grave danger and crisis to our much cherished democratic tradition and institution, we repose our faith in JNUSU to spearhead the struggle against the imposition of Lyngdoh and in defense of our democratic space. We at the same time believe that a Struggle Committee be formed with representatives from all organizations to work in co-ordination with the JNUSU leadership in mobilizing the campus community for this struggle. It is only the path of an uncompromising and principled struggle challenging the Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations as well as the Supreme Court stay order both inside and outside the court that we will collectively be able to overcome this crisis.

In a time of this unprecedented attack on the JNUSU and its Constitution in the wake of the stay order of the Supreme Court, we demand that the JNUSU:
Immediately Convene a Emergency JNUSU Council meeting!
Establish a Struggle Committee comprising of representatives of all organizations to lead the struggle against Lyngdoh and to uphold the JNUSU Constitution!

When Lyngdoh Comes Knocking…

The Supreme Court has served a notice stating that the JNUSU elections for the last three years including the present one has been violating the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee. The Election Committee has received this notice on the 21st of October. An All Organization meeting was called on the same day. This latest assault on JNU’s democratic institution is a very cleverly timed one: there is no elected Students Union at the moment and there was little preparedness to counter Lyngdoh. An effective struggle against Lyngdoh will be constrained by the lack of an elected JNUSU. Tomorrow (24th October) is the first hearing. Legal counsel has been engaged by a committee formed in the first AO meeting (consisting of the CEC, ex-CEC and one representative from every organization). This battle is a legal battle, but it is at the same time a political battle. It is only our political mobilisation that can influence the legal proceedings in favour of the present JNU election procedure.

However, there is no plan for a political mobilization of the students against Lyngdoh or the Supreme Court notice at this crucial juncture, and this is a cause of concern. Various organizations, including the pseudo-left SFI and ‘radical’ AISA has maintained a calculated silence on this issue. They have argued that the student community should not be informed for this would create a “panic situation”, let alone mobilizing the campus community to defend our democratic space. Both AISA and SFI believe that by remaining silent on the issue and not confronting the reality will save us from this onslaught. By doing so, they are not only fooling themselves, but also abdicating their responsibility to lead the students against the very real danger of an interim stay to the present election process. We believe that this IS a dire situation! The case will be handled by a bench notorious for giving some of the most reactionary judgments in recent memory. It is a distinct possibility that the JNUSU elections might be either stayed, or conducted according to the Lyngdoh recommendations. Earlier, the scuttling of OBC reservations, the scrapping of the offer system by the administration, and also the coming of a Nestle outlet to campus was possible because the student community was kept in the dark by the JNUSU leadership of that time. The same applies to this attempt by the state to crush the student movement in JNU. The life-blood of the JNUSU, the JNU students’ movement has always been the students. Political organizations sitting in closed door meetings have decided to withhold information from the larger student community, but this approach of surrender and compromise cannot effectively combat the threat of Lyngdoh.

The Lyngdoh Committee recommendations are highly regressive and against democratic functioning of students’ unions, because it justifies and allows for administrative control of students' elections. The fixing of eligibility criteria will result in a pro-administration and depoliticized union, for a functional union can never follow such parameters set by the university administration. The administration will have the power to cancel an elected candidate if he/she is found to have academic arrears or insufficient attendance. Students with disciplinary action against them cannot contest. Students who stand up to the establishment regularly have disciplinary action and false cases against them. Academic performance of students will also be a factor in their candidature being accepted. These and numerous other provisions constitute a frontal attack on the politicization and autonomy of student politics.

The context of the Lyngdoh Committee: The World Bank and its cronies are aggressively pushing for privatization of education. The Birla-Ambani Report on Higher Education clearly identifies student politics as the primary impediment to privatization of education. A politicized and militant student body is a stumbling block for neo-liberal policies; Lyngdoh is designed to depoliticize students and crush consciously articulated political dissent and opposition.

Lyngdoh claims to be a champion of democratic space for students, directed only against money and muscle power. It is deeply disturbing that this claim has been accepted so uncritically by “progressive” “left” organizations. A stated aim of the Lyngdoh recommendations is to do away with or at least limit the ‘unnecessary’ politicization of student bodies. JNU has a history of struggles against fee-hikes and privatization, struggles led by a politicized students union. Had it not been for the presence of a political JNUSU with clear ideological affiliations with left movements, this university would have been privatized a decade ago and many of us would not have been able to afford an education in JNU.

The claim of combating money and muscle power is a smoke screen. It is a pretext for the state to control dissent among students. It is the student wings of ruling class parliamentary parties that use money and muscle: the NSUI, ABVP, SFI (where their parent party is in power) and so on. Student politics is also a reflection of the larger politics. Administrations have nearly unlimited punitive power even without Lyngdoh; the fact is that these punitive powers are not used against ruling class elements, but students and organizations that stand against the establishment. The JNU administration chose not to punish those found guilty of the presidential debate violence, while students protesting for workers rights were served suspension notices the day after they confronted the Registrar. So if the JNU administration or any administration is given more powers, who will they be used against??

The use of money and muscle continues in numerous places despite Lyngdoh; because powerful ruling class student organizations can easily buy and beat their way around Lyngdoh and indeed any other law. It is the dissenting student voices that face a crackdown. In JNU if elections are free and fair, it is not because of some code of conduct but because the student body rejects lurid shows of wealth and power. The only answer to the criminalization of student politics is a further politicization of student politics and NOT the regulation of student politics by the state or the admibistration. We must collectively fight the imposition of the Lyngdoh recommendations, not just in JNU but in every other campus.

Defeat the Communal Fascists! Reject the Politics of Opportunism and Compromise of AISA & SFI!

The attempt to scuttle UGBMs and other democratic forums of the student community has been set in place by both AISA and SFI and this year the school GB Meetings were no different.

In SSS and SAA the convenors from SFI left the campus without informing the student community beforehand. Running away from the forums to hold them accountable has now become a tradition for SFI—in 2004 the JNUSU VP from their organization had left the campus in a similar fashion. At least that time SFI had accepted their mistake whereas this year they did not even care to clarify or apologise for such irresponsible behaviour. The school GB is both for the school to hold the elected Councillors accountable for the last year’s action (or inaction as the case may be) as well as for the students of the school to deliberate and voice the larger issues of concern. Earlier school GBs and UGBMs used to be held each semester. Now they are held only once a year. Therefore the annual school GBM becomes all the more important and SFI’s undemocratic and irresponsible politics has cost SAA the chance to have such a debate this year. In SIS the students have not seen the Councillor from SFI and one Councillor from AISA in almost any program this year. Most undemocratically the SIS Councillor and one councilor in SLL&CS from SFI did not even bother to attend the GBM.

In other schools where the debate did happen such as SSS, AISA-led JNUSU attempted as far as possible to scuttle all democratic norms. Most undemocratically common students get much less time to speak than the school councilors and JNUSU office-bearers. However, this was taken to the limit in the SSS GBM where the JNUSU president who was chairing the meeting in the absence of the convener granted himself unlimited time to speak and spoke for 33 minutes when common students were given just 4 minutes each! The logic given was that the president was responding to the questions posed to the JNUSU. However these questions had been directed to the JNUSU as a whole not just the JNUSU President and they are together given ample time to answer them. At the UGBM the students have already witnessed the extreme arrogance and indiscriminate flaunting of the ‘discretion’ of the president starting from not reading out and even tearing up resolutions at his will to putting JNUSU’s own resolutions to vote without clarifying what they meant. The SSS GBM saw an extension of the arrogance and undemocratic functioning of the JNUSU office bearers. After the GBMs are over the students community is not even informed of the names of the new EC members.

The school GBMs are increasingly being turned into just another forum to gauge the electoral support for both AISA and SFI. The practice of actively keeping students away from the debate and asking them to come only at the time of voting is deeply problematic and condemnable. In SIS, for instance, a miniscule number of students actually came for the debate but at the time of voting this number was around 150. 150 however is a very small proportion of the total school population. This clearly indicates the extreme de-politcization and undermining of democratic platforms. In SSS and SLL&CS as usual the practice of herding students in during the vote continued. Many people could not enter SLL&CS including some known AISA activists who then tried to force their way inside resulting into an unwarranted tussle among students of mainly AISA and SFI. What followed was a shameless show of desperate fighting among the activists of these two organisations in which some women activists were also heckled.

What is even more shameful is the way in which new students are pressurized to vote. New students rooming with old students as TR until they get hostel is an old practice and part of the JNU tradition. But forcing freshers to translate the ‘favour’ into organizational allegiance by voting for the respective organizations of their seniors is highly feudal practice. New students stay in other’s rooms because the administration has failed to provide them with hostels so far, particularly this year the hostel crisis is acute. But that does not give any organization the right to curb the independent political development of the new students and enforce their own organizational allegiance on them.

In SSS, SLL&CS and SIS reports presented by AISA and that of SFI in SSS were defeated by the students. Their defeat reflects the failure to convince students on their own agenda despite their desperate attempts to rally voters at the end. SFI’s politics of opportunism and betrayal of the student community is well known. However AISA, which came with a full mandate, has failed on all the issues facing the campus whether it be reservation or dealing with ABVP lumpenism. AISA’s claims that they have “forced” the administration to “name” the culprits in the Presidential Debate case is as dubious as their position on the reservation and new admission policy issue. They have given full-fledged support to the administration’s line and hence allowed the scuttling of reservation as well as seat cuts in all the schools. Through their reluctance to take up the issue of ABVP lumpenism they have allowed ABVP to go scot-free in various cases of caste and communal violence.

AISA has in the past year demonstrated tremendous ability to follow in traditions set by SFI! The scuttling of the UGBM is only one instance. When AISA talks of the ‘unholy nexus’ between SFI, DSU, NSUI, ABVP against a ‘progressive left secular’ AISA they just resonate the same flawed logic SFI used to give till a year back when they held the office. The fact is all the organisations oppose or support the Convener’s report on their own grounds and to invent or imagine ‘alliance’ and conspiracy in that is a shameless way to justify their defeats.

The progressive demands of the student community such as full implementation of the reservation policy cannot be met by such opportunism of the pseudo-left AISA and SFI. Neither can the rising communal politics of the right-wing be defeated through the politics of compromise. Politics which seeks to de-link the struggles outside the campus, such as in Chengara, Nandigram, Kashmir, Orissa and other parts of the country and struggles of other oppressed sections in the campus, for instance of contract workers, from the student movement, can never sustain a strong militant struggle of the students. It is time to build a real, radical alternative against the communal fascists as well as the pseudo-left.

DSU Press Statement for JNUSU Elections 2008

Another Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) election is around the corner. This election is happening at a time when the people of this country are the target of all round aggression of the State—in the form of anti-people economic policies, the mayhem in the market and the Hindu communal fascist onslaught on the people, especially the minorities with the active connivance of the state.

The richest of the regions of the country—Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh—in terms of mineral, water and forest wealth, are inhabited by the poorest of people. Ever since the transfer of power in 1947, these people have been robbed several times of their rights and livelihoods. Yet again, the tribals in Chhattisgarh have become target of the worst attack of the state in the form of Salwa Judum where thousands of them have got displaced from their lands.

The worst anti-people policies, euphemistically called the ‘third generation reforms’, have become a bane for the peasantry, the toiling masses and the most deprived and oppressed sections of this country. More than a lakh and a half peasants have committed suicide. Even today despite all fan fare of the government to stem this, more and more news of the suicide death of farmers are coming from Andhra Pradesh, Vidharbha, Punjab etc. Hundreds of MOUs have been signed by the various state and central governments with the Multi National Corporations and the local compradors which is nothing but an open call to loot and plunder the valuable resources and livelihoods of the people to satiate the needs of the imperialist market.

Scared of the unprecedented defiance of lakhs and lakhs of the people of Kashmir who have thronged the streets of the Valley demanding Azaadi, the only way the so-called largest democracy in the world could respond was through brute military force. The politics of bomb blasts have become a good excuse for the communal, fascist state to make the Muslim community easy fodder for the so-called war against terror. The recent fake encounters in Jamia Nagar only exposes this communal fascist chararcetr of the indian state too clearly.

Any protests or dissent has been met with the worst kinds of draconian laws such as the ULPA, AFSPA, DAA, PSA, MCOCA, POCA etc. The bursting of the bubble of IT, ITES and tourism with the hurricane effect of the sub prime crisis, the so-called ‘high profile’ jobs of the new economy also have taken a tumble. Retrenchment is the order of the day. It is at this juncture that the present JNUSU elections are taking place.

Student politics cannot afford to remain confined within the four walls of the campus. Education, especially higher education should objectively reflect on the unfolding social realities so as to help build a society that is free from all forms of exploitation, oppression and mistreatment. DSU being committed to the politics of building a new world—free of urban-rural divide, free from all forms of national and social oppressions, of the domination of small business by big monopoly capital, free of the divide between mental and manual labour—where the interests of the oppressed, exploited and discriminated hold paramount place once again stresses the need to link the struggle of the student community for a scientific and democratic education with the everyday larger struggles of the toiling masses for fundamental revolutionary social transformation.

Campus issues: This was the first year that OBC reservation was to be implemented in JNU, as in all other campuses. Instead of the implementing 27% reservation in one go, as promised to the students by the administration, only 12 % resertvation with 18% seat increase was offered this year. But through various technical hurdles the administration ensured that not even 10% of the seat reserved for OBCs were actually fulfilled. This has been a huge step back for JNU for till last year, through the system of deprivation points, each new batch for the past few years had 20-24% OBC students. DSU has consistenly argued for the need of a vigilant student community and a millitant student union, to ensure the implementation of reservation. Once the reservation bill has been passed, the struggle for its implementation poses a long and difficult chanllenge. Unfortunately, this year in JNU the students union was not upto the challenge; at many points of time over the past semester they have compromised with the administration. They have misinformed the student community, wilfully withheld information from the students and worst of all, they have failed to live upto their radically pro-reservation claims.

This year, according to figures released by the administration itself, even the quotas for SC/ST and physically challenged (PH) students have also not been fulfilled. In fact the administration attempted to do away with PH category quota altogether and it is only due to the vigilance of the PH students themselves that 1.1% PH students finally entered the campus. It has also come to light that violation of varying magnitude in the fulfillment of SC/ST quotas have persisted over the the last many years. DSU believes that the fight to implement reservation is a difficult one and requires an uncompromising leadership. A leadership that understands reservation as a way to aggressively democratise higher education, not a leadership that bows to the law of the land no matter whether it is pro-people or not.

Last year, around this very time the JNU presidential debate was disrupted by a group of ABVP hooligans under the leadership of an RSS pracharak. These goons indulged in physical violence where some students were badly hurt, but worst of all their actions constituted a frontal attack on the, still independent political traditions of JNU. Nearly a year later, the Sankar Basu committee constituted to look into the matter brought out its report in which it unequivocally stated that the people named in the report were guilty and deserved exemplary punishment. In keeping with its hallowed tradition of sheilding lumpens, caste abusers and sexual offenders, the administration has let them off with a tame warning. The erstwhile JNUSU, on this count too, completely failed to put up a fight to ensure punishment for these lumpens.

JNU last year saw an extensive and militant struggle of workers and students on the issue of minimum wage for workers. It was a fight for the violation of workers’ rights as well as against a fight against contractor-administration nexus which is neck dip in corruption. The fight for workers’ right is continuing under the leadership of the newly formed JNU Sangharshil Mazdoor Union which the administration has refused to recognize. Many crucial demands including ensuring minimum wages in some sectors, esi/pf for all workers, medical facility are being raised by the JNUSMU for which the JNUSU must fight alongside the workers.

The gradual yet consistent efforts to corporatise education is becoming quite distinct in JNU every year. The subsidy that pours into JNU is spent in the so-called ‘beautification’ of campus while the students are faced with many pressing issues related to hostels, accommodation, infrastructure in the centers, library, health center etc. The irregularities in the financial assistance for the students remains a persistent problem and to cover it up the administration is pushing for corporate funding in many courses. We must also remain vigilant against the efforts to corporatise education and reduce it to a marketable product, available only to a handful.

The people across the country are leading revolutionary movements against the imperialist, communal and casteist ruling class of india and the world. Drawing inspiration from these movements going on in Chhattisgarh, Bastar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Nandigram ,Chengara as well as in Kashmir and the North East. We draw inspirations from these movements and are fighting to build a radical alternative in the campus.

DSU Panel:
Banojyotsna (for president)
Amrita, Kalaiyarasan, Priya Dharshini, Uma (for SSS Councilors)

Democratise the Campus! Reclaim the Union!

JNUSU is a platform of struggle to fight for the rights of the students in particular and the campus community in general. However, the Union has of late been reduced to being a silent onlooker or a defender of the administration as we have seen in recent times. No doubt, the prime enemy of the JNU students is the JNU administration, which is implementing anti-student, anti-worker policies in campus, and actively trying to curb any space for meaningful students’ politics.

The decidedly casteist character of the JNU administration shone bright this time as it actively worked against the full implementation of OBC reservation. In April this year, the students were promised 27% OBC reservation in one go. However, in May the administration overturned the agreement with the JNUSU and implemented only 12% OBC reservation. The deprivation points for OBC students (which ensured the admission of at least 20-24% OBC students till last year) was stopped even though reservation was only partially implemented. Moreover, a wait-list system was introduced instead of the offer system of admissions, due to which the number of students enrolled has come down in many Centers, and there has been an overall set-cut. The cut-off for OBC students was fixed as a merit cut off (relaxing 10 points form the marks scored by the last General candidate) rather than making it an eligibility cut-off (relaxing 10 points from the eligibility marks which is 40). In many centers there were no OBC students at all, despite reservation. This year, the violation of the SC/ST and PH quotas was also plaint to see. All these constitute a conscious attempt by the administration to turn JNU into an elite, upper caste/urban dominated university in the name of making it world class.

The perpetrators of violence in last year’s presidential debate have been let off without any action, whereas two years back students agitating for workers rights were served suspension notices just the day after the students confronted the Registrar. The Shankar Basu Committee constituted under student’s pressure to look into the presidential debate violence, found the accused ABVP lumpens guilty and recommended exemplary punishment for them. The administration however completely rejected the report and no punishment was given. Similarly, no action was taken against the perpetrators of the Chandrabhaga Hostel night violence. A handful of Sanghi lumpens is greatly emboldened by the administration’s covert and overt patronage. When seen in the context of the nationwide rise of Hindu fascism, these developments are particularly disturbing. On campus, the situation is made more acute by the absence of a militant student resistance to the communal administration as well as communal tendencies in the student community itself.

The administration tried to scuttle two DSU public meetings this year. One was a meeting where SAR Geelani was invited to speak on the condition of political prisoners, and the other where Ajit Sahi and SQR Illyas was invited to speak on the politics of bomb blast, state-terror and subsequent minority witch-hunting. The administration’s logic was that these are ‘sensitive issues’ and might invite violence! These were both meetings where attempts were made to expose the communal and authoritarian character of the Indian state and polity; meetings where inconvenient questions to the establishment were to be raised. That the administration tried to scuttle these meetings on some flimsy pretext, lays bare the authoritarian and communal character of the administration as well. Show-cause notices have been served by the right-wing senior warden of Periyar to the resident who booked the mess for the public meeting, and he has been threatened with ‘strict disciplinary action’. Despite such calculated attempts by the administration to stifle our right to expression and democratic space, large numbers of students attended both meetings and rich discussion took place in defiance of the administrations threats.

The Equal Opportunity Office, the only mechanism for dealing specifically with complaints of caste discrimination, has remained a toothless body. The recommendations of the Equal Opportunity Office are just ignored the administration and no serious punishment has been given till date to those found guilty. Last year, a student beaten up and abused on caste lines by the ABVP lumpens was actually denied admission to JNU, as were the perpetrators of violence of that incident. The student had to move to court to secure justice. Recently, in Periyar hostel, an ABVP lumpen had abused a dalit student for putting up a poster of Dr. Ambedkar, and the warden openly supported the perpetrator and threatened the victim with the connivance of administration.

The fact that JNU is relatively safe for women, is not a gift form administration but a result of students’ strugles (particularly of women students). The GSCASH is also a hard earned achievement of the students’ movement. The administration has repeatedly attacked GSCASH in direct and indirect ways to undermine it, the Ashok Mathur Committee being the most blatant instance. GSCSAH is denied sufficient funds and other technical assistance and every effort is being made to reduce it to a non-functional body. Moreover, GSCASH is not a punitive body and can only recommend punishment. It is in administration’s discretion whether to act on GSCASH recommendations, and is in fact free to ignore them completely.

There are other formidable challenges ahead of the students’ movement in JNU. A steady process of corporatisation of the campus has been taking place over the past few years, particularly in the context of the neo-liberal onslaught. The exorbitantly expensive and famously useless benches, LCD screens, classroom renovations clearly indicate an emphasis on decorative infrastructure as opposed to necessary infrastructure like hostels, books and so on. Introduction of privately funded Centres (for example, Centre for Law and Governance) courses (such as the Global Studies Programme in CSSS), and scholarships (Tata, POSCO, etc) has effectively changed the syllabi, course content as well as the orientation of research, making students more accountable to the market than the society. The university is thereby slowly steering towards privatization.

A more immediate threat to the democratic institutions of the students such as the JNUSU has come in the form of a Supreme Court Notice to JNU received yesterday which has accused that the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations has not been followed in JNUSU elections. DSU has taken a very unambiguous position against the recommendations ever since it came up for debate. The implementation of Lyngdoh recommendations in JNU will destroy the independent nature of the student elections, and will make it subject to administrative interventions. The need of the hour is to fight against the imposition of Lyngdoh in JNU both inside and outside the courts in defense of our democratic space. We need to build up a militant students’ movement and an uncompromising JNUSU to face the daunting challenges of our times.

October 17, 2008

Of Cannibal Corporates and State Terror: Singur and Beyond

The ouster of the Tata small-car factory from Bengal and their entry to Gujarat has caused a lot of heart-break among the followers of the official left. The ‘left’ intellectuals, the ‘left’ media or the social fascist CPI(M) politicians are all shedding tears at this great ‘loss’ to Bengal and the great ‘gain’ to Gujarat. However, a closer look at the ‘cost and benefit’ of this project clearly exposes the myth of such corporate-driven industrialization and their claims of ‘employment generation’. It also shows how such industrialization presupposes brutal coercion, violence and dispossession of the land and livelihood of thousands of people. This lays bare the false claims of the likes of CPI(M) that India has entered the phase of capitalism, and that the Tatas, Birlas and Ambanis represent India’s ‘national’ capitalist class.

Tata small-car project and the lies of the CPI(M) government: The CPI(M)-led Bengal government had flatly denied from the very beginning that it had forcibly acquired land from the peasants by means of coercion. People have given their ‘consent’, they claimed. Later the CPM was forced to accept in the court that it had no consent for atleast 411.11 acres of the land out of the 997.11 lands acquired. The process of forcible land acquisition and fencing off of the acquired land by the police was marked by the brutal lathi charge on the people of Singur that included old men, women and children, the implementation of section 144 in Singur for a long time, the death of Rajkumar Bhul and the rape and murder of Taposhi Malik. It also dispossessd 12000 families from their livelihood and displaced twelve families of Dobnadi village, from their homes as well. The agreement between the Tatas and the Government of West Bengal was also conveniently kept out of public knowledge with the argument that it was a trade secret! But it is not a liaison between two private corporate parties to be a ‘secret’. Surely, the CPI(M) had things to hide. The agreement actually promised huge subsidy to Tata group of industries, whose overseas acquisitions amount roughly to $14,062 (Rs 56,248 crores)! The subsidy obviously is paid out of the money of the impoverished taxpayers of the country.

The (hidden) costs of the project: Being forced by the Supreme Court, the Government of West Bengal had to make parts of the agreement public. It revealed that the Tata Motors Limited (TML) had been given around Rs. 3000 crore of government subsidy. According to the terms of this agreement, if one calculates in terms of net present value(NPV) ,the subsidy that TML gets for the land in Singur is anywhere between Rs.100 to Rs.150 crores; the subsidy due to the rental payment structure is Rs.78 crores; the implicit subsidy due to the tax holiday and the soft loan would be about Rs.1835 crores; the real estate “gift”, also known in WBIDC terminology as “infrastructural assistance”, is worth Rs.160 crores; and the subsidized electricity will cost another Rs.706 crores. So the giant Corporate Tata was gifted generously Rs.2928 crores of public money by a government that still prefers to call itself ‘communist’! And all this ‘subsidy’ or ‘assistance’ is for a factory that would produce cars for the use of the social fascist party to drive ahead with its of neo-liberal agenda of industrialization.

The ‘benefits’ of the project The CPI(M) claimed that Tata project was important on two crucial counts. It would ‘generate employment’ and it would create an investment climate for further industrialization. Both these claims however are extremely dubious. The employment claims of the project ranges from a high of 12000 (only 2000 in the plant and 10000 in the ancillary plants) to a low of 750! It was apparent that there was no certainty of large scale employment generation. Moreover, 62% of the projected employment in the automotive sector is going to be skilled labour, 28% is going to be management jobs, leaving only 10% jobs for unskilled labour. So, most of the people in Singur who have lost land, if at all they were absorbed in the plant would have been absorbed only as unskilled labourers. The people of Sanand in Gujarat will also face a similar fate where the plant is coming up now. The second prospect is also bleak if one looks at the nature and growth of Tata plants in Jamshedpur of Jharkhand. The Tatas, far from stimulating industrial growth has merely established enclave economies, as any other multinational company which loots and plunders the mineral resources for super-profits. Further, every time a capital intensive project like that of the Tatas is established, the state is expected to subsidise out of the money of the people of the country.

Looking back at the history of the Tatas: The history of the Tatas is full of labour law violations and of making windfall profits through unrestrained exploitation of common natural resources. This they did under the patronage of British imperialism during colonial period and of the Indian State after 1947. Under the garb of a liberal, ‘national’ and philanthropic company, it has been working as an undisputed leader in crushing trade union struggles and killing union leaders. For instance, in 1989, Tata crushed workers movement for wage hike in Telco’s plant in Pune by bribing union leaders and attacking those who refused to comply with it. Similarly, when about 3000 workers went on an indefinite hunger strike, Tata cracked down on the movement with help of the state government. Abdul Bari and V.G. Gopal- two senior union leaders – were gunned down while they were setting off for negotiations with the management. The massacre in Kalinga nagar in 2006 when the tribal resisted the illegal construction of a compound wall by Tata Steel on lands historically occupied by them is only one recent instance of the collusion between big capital and the Indian state. And the Tata’s big talk about ‘nation building’ and ‘industrialization’ got exposed once more when they blatantly supported Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson for his role in causing the Bhopal gas disaster.
Moreover, the Tatas have a glorious past of converting the so called Indian democracy in to a corporatocracy, at times even turning it in to a militocracy when people resist its killer projects. And so much is their love for Indian ‘democracy’ that since 1904, Jamshedpur (also called Tatanagar) has a corporate-owned municipality, consisting of members handpicked by the Tatas. Perhaps this is what they planned for Singur, but the heroic anti-displacement struggle of the peasants ultimately emerged victorious, with the Tatas being forced to evacuate.

Tata, Harrison Malayalam, Ambani, Birla are all the same, and so are Modi-Buddha or Manmohan: These ‘Indian’ companies are no different or better than the ‘foreign’ when it comes to looting and exploiting resources and labour, and the struggle against both these corporates is connected to the peoples’ anti-imperialist struggle. The Tata turned to Modi from Buddhadeb the moment it felt that the situations in Bengal has not yet become ‘conducive’ for it to yield super-profits. This is a clear indication that all the parliamentary parties and the big corporates are hand-in-gloves in exploiting the people to the fullest, and with the most ‘nationalist’ and ‘patriotic’ mask. Political parties when not in power often indulge in shadow-boxing with these corporates, the way Mamata Banerjee of Trinamool did in Singur. But with the first opportunity they are ready to compromise, and start to ‘please and plead’ the same corporates. With such opportunism which characterizes all the parliamentary parties including the so-called left, it does not surprise us that the CPI(M) which laid the carpets red with the blood of Singur for the Tatas in Bengal are at the same time opposing a similar project by the same corporate house in Kalinganagar. So be it the Tata in Singur or Kalinganagar, the Ambanis in Maharashtra, the Harrison Malayalam in Chengara and other big corporates in various parts of the country, the pattern and the process of ‘industrialization’ they follow are the same. It necessarily entails the dispossession of millions of people of their land and livelihoods to generate miniscule employment for some urban educated people and can only be effected through the use of extreme forms of coercion and brutal state terror. Nowhere is the consent of the actual owners of the land taken into consideration. What is promised in return of the land is the farce of ‘cash compensation’ that fails to match the actual loss to the displaced families. And all the ruling parties of various hues are competing with each other to invite more of such exploitative big capitalist projects in the form of SEZs, big dams, infrastructural projects and so on. The question is not about coaxing enough ‘compensation’ from the Tatas as AISA / CPIML (Liberation) will like us to believe. The point is to say NO to all forms of displacement, and intensify the movements rejecting the likes of Tatas, Harrison Malayalam and all other representative of the comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie.

dsuA step back for the Tatas is a step ahead for the people’s movement against it: The Tata destroying the multi-crop high yielding land of Singur and leaving the state without completing the project is no surprise. Expecting that they would compensate for all the destructions is nothing but the inflated dream of NGOs and a complete misinterpretation of the real character of Tata and all other such big corporates. It also shows that for the Tatas, the Bengal government was not fascist enough which could not suppress the peoples’ resistance successfully enough, so that it is now going to the land of Modi. The answer to the extreme violence inflicted by corporate industrialization lies not in forcing them to compensate. The real way out of the tightening clutches of these corporates has been shown by the fighting people of Nandigram, Chengara, PosCo, Kalinganagar, Bastar, and now Singur. in Nandigram people did not allow the state machinery which was acting simply as the emissary of the Salem group (trying to materialize the project at any cost, by killing, raping, looting people) to enter till the point the project was withdrawn. In Chengara, dalits and adivasis have forced into a land illegally occupied by Harrisson Malayalam to claim it for themselves. In Bastar too, adivasis have resisted the entry of any big corporate trying to loot their land, forests and mineral resources. In Koel Karo in Jharkhand the people have physically stopped the proposed construction of a big dam aiming to generate electricity for the adjoining MNCs at the cost of displacing thousands. In Singur too, the people have finally ensured that Tata moves out. These movements are deemed anti-development and illegal by the state machinery and are being brutally suppressed. Yet they are most legitimate resistance in the eyes of the people who are fighting for their land and livelihood against the corporates, which in reality are the encroachers and looters. The Tatas stepping out of Bengal is therefore no great ‘loss’ for anybody except the CPI(M) and its lackeys, but a huge step forward for the peoples’ movements against state-sponsored corporate land-grab everywhere in the country. It is only by completely rejecting and standing outrightly against these cannibal-corporates that one can fight the neo-liberal agenda and strengthen the fight against imperialism