Friday, December 31, 2010




D.O. No. 119-CM

December 28, 2010

Dear Shri Chidambram,

Kindly refer to your secret letter dated 21/22 December, 2010 which had been published in the media before it reached my office on 27.12.2010 at 11 A.M.

Your assessment of the situation in the State of West Bengal is surprising and is far from an impartial overview of the situation. Maoists have spread from across the bordering states and with the help of small section of local people are creating problems mostly in 28 police stations in three districts of West Bengal. They are trying to create their own areas of dominance. They are indiscriminately killing political opponents and even innocent people. They are attacking police stations, police camps and looting arms. They are also engaged in large scale extortions and other unlawful activities.

You are fully aware of these activities of the Maoists. The greatest challenge is how to contain the Maoists and defeat them finally both administratively and politically.

In recent times State and Central Police through their joint efforts have achieved major successes. Peace and normalcy have been restored in vast areas. People who were evicted earlier are going back to their homes. Govt/Panchayat office are functioning normally and so are the schools, markets and shops. Life is gradually coming back to normalcy in these areas but still we have problem in the areas bordering our state. Trinamool Congress which was earlier maintaining secret contacts with Maoist leaders and outfits are now openly organising meetings with them.

CPI (M) and it allies are trying their best to resist the Maoists by mobilizing people against them and in the process have lost more than 170 of their workers and leaders. Unfortunately, you are now blaming them for the present state of affairs. I am afraid it will divert the attention of all concerned who are struggling against Maoists, the greatest threat to our internal security.

As regards political clashes mentioned in your letter I would like to correct your figures. 32 Trinamool Congress supporters have been killed and 601 have suffered injuries while CPI (M) have lost 69 of their cadres and another 723 have been injured. Indian National Congress has lost one of their supporters and 111 have been injured during the period mentioned in your letter. I, however, agree that it is not a happy situation and I am doing my best to stop these senseless killings. I have repeatedly appealed to all the opposition parties to cooperate. All the parties except Trinamool Congress have come forward to cooperate. Trinamool Congress has refused to talk to administration. I am trying to disarm and demoblise all armed groups engaged in violence in some pockets of the state.

I strongly object to your using the word “Harmad” to mean the CPI (M) party workers without knowing the actual meaning of this nasty word coined by Trinamool Congress leaders.

More when we meet.

With regards,

Yours sincerely,


Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

Shri P. Chidambram

Union Home Minister

New Delhi-110 001

Monday, December 27, 2010


NOT a day passes without some official spokesman or the other recounting India’s high growth performance and promising to better it in future. The rate of growth of gross domestic product has got elevated to being the sole criterion for judging the country’s economic achievement. True, large masses are still afflicted by poverty, malnutrition and abysmal living conditions, but that, the official argument states, is only because the fruits of this growth have been unevenly distributed; if the rate of growth is further increased, and if a better spread of its beneficial effects is ensured, then these problems will disappear. About the beneficial effects of GDP growth, however, they scarcely have any doubt.


This perception which has many adherents is plain wrong. There can be alternative ways of achieving economic growth, and the social impact of growth depends upon how it is achieved. The growth process currently underway in the Indian economy, which is rooted in India’s neo-liberal policy dispensation, is necessarily of a kind that impoverishes in absolute terms the bulk of the working population. Its celebration is unwarranted. An acceleration in the rate of this growth, as long as its nature remains unchanged, will only further increase the degree of absolute impoverishment. And, given the nature of the current growth process, ie, within the overall ambit of neo-liberalism, efforts to make this growth “inclusive” through various measures of “social protection”, such as the NREGS, will be necessarily limited, transitory, and, at best, restrictive of the pace of absolute impoverishment without reversing it.

I am not resorting to hyperbole. The empirical evidence for absolute impoverishment in the recent period of high growth is overwhelming; and the reason for it is also fairly straightforward. Let us look at the evidence first. The official criterion for the identification of poverty (until it was changed recently after the Tendulkar Committee report) has been the intake of 2400 calories or less per person per day in rural India and 2100 calories or less in urban India. By this criterion, poverty has certainly increased: direct measurement of calorie intake suggests that 74.5 per cent of the rural population was “poor” in 1993-4, and 87 per cent in 2004-5; the corresponding figures were 56 per cent and 63 per cent respectively for the urban population. (These figures, based on NSS data, are from Utsa Patnaik, Economic and Political Weekly, Jan 28-Feb 4, 2010, and their veracity cannot be questioned).

Foodgrain absorption figures confirm this conclusion. Per capita foodgrain absorption (defined as net output minus net exports minus net increase in stocks) which, in round figures, was 200 kilograms per annum in “British India” at the beginning of the twentieth century declined drastically to less than 150 kilograms by the time of independence. Strenuous efforts by successive governments in independent India raised it to 180 kilograms by the end of the eighties; but there has been a decline thereafter, marginal at first but precipitous after the late nineties, so much so that per capita foodgrain absorption in 2008, at 154 kilograms by FAO estimates, was lower than in any year after 1953. The period of high growth is precisely the one associated with reduction in foodgrain absorption, and hence with significant absolute impoverishment.

Two arguments are typically advanced against the identification of reduced foodgrain intake with increased poverty. The first states that there tends to be a diversification of consumption away from foodgrains as incomes increase, so that reduced foodgrain intake signifies, contrary to my claim, a qualitative improvement in the consumption basket, and hence in living standards.

This argument however is wrong. With increased incomes, the direct consumption of foodgrains may go down, but the indirect consumption of foodgrains, as processed food (such as cornflakes) or as feedgrains for animal products (such as mutton, pork, chicken etc) goes up; as a result the total absorption of foodgrain per capita, direct and indirect taken together, increases. In the US for example the per capita total absorption, direct plus indirect, of foodgrains is 900 kilograms per annum compared to India’s 154 kilograms. In fact, comparison across countries shows that almost 55 per cent of the observed difference in per capita total foodgrain absorption is “explained” (statistically) by per capita real income difference. Hence reduced foodgrain absorption is indicative of large-scale absolute impoverishment.

The second argument states that the reason for reduced foodgrain intake even among lower income groups is larger expenditure on other things, in particular healthcare; and this is indicative of changing “tastes”, associated with an improved quality of life, and hence economic betterment.

The fallacy of this argument lies in its underlying assumption that anyone, even a poor man, compares at the margin the satisfaction to be derived from consuming more food with that from taking his child to the hospital when the child is ill. This assumption is wrong. In most people’s perception the latter has absolute priority. Since this perception could not have emerged suddenly over the last decade, when per capita foodgrain absorption declined precipitously, the cause for this decline is likely to be a rise in healthcare costs over this period.

Such a rise has certainly been a feature of the neo-liberal era, owing to increasing drug prices and privatisation of healthcare. Hence, the fact that expenditure on healthcare has gone up even at the expense of food intake in the last decade, can only be indicative of impoverishment, rather than of an improved quality of life.


The basic reason for this impoverishment is reduced purchasing power in real terms in the hands of the bulk of the working population, which in turn is due to two phenomena. First, the growth process has been accompanied by what Marx had called a process of “primitive accumulation of capital”, whereby vast numbers of peasants, petty producers like fishermen and craftsmen, marginal groups like the tribal population, suffer either outright dispossession or a squeeze on their real incomes, for the benefit of large capitalists, speculators and the financial interests.

Big retail chains come up to displace petty traders; agribusiness comes in to squeeze the peasantry; land grabbing financiers come in to displace peasants from their land for real estate and spurious infrastructure projects; tribal people are evicted to make room for mining projects; and petty producers of all descriptions everywhere get trapped between rising input prices caused by the withdrawal of State subsidies and declining output prices caused by the withdrawal of State protection from world commodity price trends. When we add to all this the rise in the cost of living, because of the privatisation of education, health and several essential services, which affects the entire working population, we can gauge the virulence of the primitive accumation that is unleashed.

This process of primitive accumulation is at the same time unaccompanied by any significant increase in the employment of wage workers (as distinct from white collar professionals) in the capitalist sector. This is because of the rapid rate of technological and structural change that a changing demand pattern, owing to rising income disparities, generates in a “liberalised” economy. Hence the victims of primitive accumulation cannot get absorbed as wage-workers under capitalism. They either join the reserve army of labour, or linger on in their old occupations, taking a cut in their real incomes in both cases. Besides, this very fact of a swelling labour reserve also keeps the wages of employed workers low, even as labour productivity rises, contributing further to the growing income disparities.

Any acceleration of growth simply reproduces the problem on an even larger scale. The displacement of tribals and peasants occurs on an even larger scale, the expropriation of petty producers occurs to an even greater extent, while the rate of growth of labour productivity in the organised capitalist sector increases with increased growth rate, keeping labour absorption into this sector as constricted as ever. The view that with a higher growth rate poverty will be eradicated remains a chimera; poverty on the contrary only increases with the growth rate.

And the constraint on public expenditure, typical of neo-liberal economies, where tax concessions reduce revenue and “fiscal responsibility” legislation curbs government borrowing, ensures that “social protection” measures remain both anaemic and amenable to sudden, arbitrary and sporadic cuts. Growth under the neo-liberal dispensation therefore, far from being a condition for the amelioration of poverty, becomes an instrument for the impoverishment of large segments of the working population.


Saturday, December 25, 2010


Our Commentator

THE Indian government signed an inter-governmental agreement for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project on December 11, at Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. The union petroleum minister signed the agreement along with the presidents of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, to deliver natural gas from Turkmenistan through a 1700 km gas pipeline, passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Reportedly, India has signed this project by agreeing to take custody of the gas at Turkmenistan-Afghanistan border and will rely on an international consortium for safe transfer of the fuel through Afghanistan and Pakistan. This stands in sharp contrast to India’s position on the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, where it insisted that Iran assume responsibility of delivering the gas at India’s border. Security of the IPI pipeline, coming through Pakistan, was officially cited as the major concern. Now, the TAPI pipeline is to be routed not only through Pakistan but also through Afghanistan, which is the most volatile and insecure region in the world today. What has happened to the Indian government’s security concerns?

Moreover, the reported project cost of 10 billion dollars for the TAPI project is much higher than the estimated 7 billion dollars IPI project. This would certainly imply a higher price for the Turkmen gas as compared to Iranian gas.

The IPI pipeline has been jettisoned by India at the behest of the United States, in tune with its strategy to isolate Iran. The US has been pressurising India to sever its long-standing economic and energy ties with Iran. The TAPI pipeline has been pushed by the US as an alternative to the IPI.

India’s decision to sign into the TAPI project, while virtually walking out of the IPI project, goes against its national interest, because:

1) Gas supply is less secure in the case of the TAPI pipeline compared to the IPI pipeline, because it is routed through more volatile regions.

2) The project cost of the TAPI pipeline is substantially more vis-à-vis the IPI pipeline, implying higher financial obligations for India.

3) Turkmen gas would be costlier compared to the Iranian gas.

This is yet another instance of the UPA government acting against our national interest at the behest of the US administration.



NO sooner was the wasted winter session of parliament adjourned sine die, the price of petrol was hiked by Rs 2.95 per litre. This is the fifth increase in the price of petrol since June 26, when this UPA government deregulated the prices of petroleum products, thus, allowing them to rise according to market conditions. These hikes together mean that the price of petrol has risen nearly by Rs 8 during the last five months. Reports indicate that the price of diesel is also likely to be hiked soon. Clearly, despite the deregulation, the government is timing the price hikes in order to avoid the political costs of such hikes during a parliament session.

This constitutes a cruel attack on the livelihood of a vast majority of our people. With the prices of all essential commodities continuing to rise, these hikes in petroleum products will further contribute to inflation eating into the real earnings of the people. Ironically, the finance minister expressed happiness at a eleven-month low rate of inflation that stood at 7.48 per cent in November this year. This, however, cannot mask the reality that general inflation rate has been hovering above the 10 per cent level and food inflation has been close to 20 per cent during the course of the last one year.

Repeatedly, in these columns, we had argued that a restructuring of the tax regime currently in operation in the petroleum sector is required in order to provide some relief to the people. While the government has deregulated the prices, it has done nothing to restructure the taxes. The net result is that the burden of taxes is being borne by the people while the government reaps a bonanza of revenues. The government’s argument that these revenues are required to meet the expenditures in the social sector is, to say the least, totally untenable. Vast multiples of what the government spends in the social sector are being looted through various scams. The 2G spectrum scam alone is nearly 20 per cent of this year’s budgetary expenditures!

A government that has assumed office in the name of the aam admi is imposing cruel hardships on the vast majority of our people. Relief can be provided to the people if the government immediately releases the excess stock of foodgrains lying in its godowns to be distributed through the public distribution system at BPL prices. According to the last reports, as against the buffer norm of 200 lakh tonnes of rice and wheat, the stock in the godowns was over 475 lakh tonnes. This measure along with a withdrawal in the hike of petroleum products will result in some relief to the people.

Additionally, it is absolutely necessary to prohibit growth of speculative trade in essential commodities. The cumulative value of trade in agricultural commodities during the year from April 1 to November 30 was Rs 8,36,605.53 crores. In the corresponding period last year, it was Rs 7,66,133.46 crores. Clearly, there are super profits in such speculative trading, the cost of which is borne by the common people through rising prices.

This UPA-II government, however, continues to remain not merely insensitive to growing agonies of the people but is imposing policies that are adding to people’s woes. Under these circumstances, it is only the strength of the popular pressure mounted through growing protest actions by the people that can force the government to take the above mentioned measures and provide some relief to the people groaning under the burdens of rising costs. Such pressure needs to be intensified in the run-up to the forthcoming budget session of the parliament.


Sunday, December 19, 2010


The following is the text of the intervention of Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member and head of the International Department of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) at the twelfth international meeting of the Communist and Workers' Parties, held at Johannesburg, South Africa from December 3-5, 2010 on the deepening systemic crisis of capitalism, the tasks of Communists in defence of sovereignty, deepening social alliances, strengthening the anti-imperialist front in the struggle for peace, progress and Socialism.

IN the eleventh IMCWP held in New Delhi, India, we had characterised the current global recession as a 'systemic crisis of capitalism demonstrating its historic limits' and 'no amount of reform could rid the world of this crisis'. The ensuing period has vindicated this understanding. In spite of the brave claims by many countries that the 'worst part of the crisis is past them', each coming day is exposing the shallowness of this claim.

The world so far was familiar with bailout packages for resurrecting financial giants that collapsed in the wake of their own making. The reckless creation of new financial animals and mind boggling intermeshing of these to generate higher profits led to large scale bankruptcies. As is the logic of capitalism, the governments rescued the corporate giants by building up a mounting debt of their own. Washington Post states, “The problem is not official profligacy but private bank lending to fuel a burst housing bubble; bailing out those banks is what broke the Irish government”. The governments that bailed out these corporates are now caught in the vortex of mounting debt. If corporate insolvency heralded the global meltdown and recession in 2008, in 2010 it is this sovereign insolvency that is threatening to snowball a deeper crisis. Thus, what had started as the crisis due to the insolvency of some corporates has now emerged as full fledged sovereign insolvency.


Sovereign insolvencies were bound to occur given the manner in which capitalism chose to recover from the current recession. The bailout packages – conservatively estimated over $10 trillion – came from the taxpayers. While they suffered, the governments also became bankrupt.

This global crisis has sharply brought forth the main contradiction of capitalism – between its social nature of production and individual capitalist appropriation. Nothing explains this phenomenon more succinctly than the rising corporate profits on one hand and poverty, hunger and destitution on the other. It is reported that in the United States, the epicentre of the crisis, corporates recorded a 11.2 per cent growth in their profits, which is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago. On the other hand, poverty rate in the US rose to 14.3 per cent last year, the highest level in more than 50 years.

This indeed is a worldwide phenomenon. Inequalities have increased both between countries and within the countries. Globally, 200 more people entered the billionaires' list. The figure now stands at 1,011 and their aggregate capital has expanded by over 50 per cent, $3.6 trillion during this crisis. On the other hand, millions have lost their jobs, their livelihoods and joined the billions in poverty. Around one billion people are suffering from hunger. The ILO estimates that worldwide, unemployment reached 210 millions in mid-2010, which is 70 per cent above its pre-crisis level in high income countries (excluding Europe), and 30 per cent higher in Europe. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2010, released recently by the UNDP states, “Newly updated estimates from the World Bank suggest that the global economic crisis will leave an additional 50 million people in extreme poverty in 2009 and some 64 million by the end of 2010 relative to a no-crisis scenario, principally in sub- Saharan Africa and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia. Moreover, the effects of the crisis are likely to persist: poverty rates will be slightly higher in 2015 and even beyond, to 2020, than they would have been had the world economy grown steadily at its pre-crisis pace”.

Instead of undertaking poverty alleviation measures and increasing the purchasing power of people, the governments are trying to manage their finances and prevent insolvencies by drastically cutting down on expenditures and significantly increasing their revenues. The former means that the livelihood standards of the majority of the working people is bound to deteriorate because there will be more cuts in the social benefit expenditures.

The IMF sponsored 'austerity' packages introduced in many of the European countries are part of these efforts and these have resulted in drastic cuts to the social welfare budgets. IMF, which has given loans to many countries, imposed several conditions and had directed the governments to rein in their fiscal deficit. It had urged the governments not to succumb to the protests demanding the reversal of austerity measures. Moreover, it had asked them to get the annual budget approved by it before introducing it in their respective parliaments. This is nothing but a brazen attack on the sovereignty of the respective countries. The proposal to impose sanctions on countries that breached the 1997 Stability and Growth Pact by the unelected EU commission is also part of this design.


Such deflationary policies are also required to be followed by these governments in order to stabilise currencies and consequent potential inflation. This is absolutely necessary to satisfy the confidence of the FIIs, which in turn is absolutely necessary for these countries in order to prevent imminent sovereign insolvencies. This is capitalism’s most familiar story. In order to retain, if not enhance profits, the degree of exploitation of the working people is intensified.

In the Delhi Declaration, we have stated, “dominant imperialist powers would seek their way out of the crisis by putting greater burdens on the working people” and “by seeking to penetrate and dominate the markets of developing countries”. Similarly, efforts are on to coerce the developing countries to accept the various conditions and agreements that are detrimental to their interests. The Doha round of WTO negotiations, various free trade agreements between the imperialist powers and the third world countries, the ongoing negotiations at the climate change summit, are all attempts to prise open the markets of the third world countries. As a result, various sectors like agriculture, banks, insurance, education, industries, retail trade are sought to be opened up to serve the interests of the multinational corporates. These measures would ruin the lives of the toiling people, adversely affect the economies of the developing countries and spiral them into further deep crisis.

That imperialism is not averse to use even the military option to ensure its economic domination is made clear through the recent NATO summit held in Lisbon. The US had increased its defence budget even during this crisis – though dithering to allocate money for job creation – and is pressurising its allies not to cut their defence expenditure. Across the world, the US is increasing its military bases, reactivating its navy fleets and increasing its arms sales. It continues to flex its military muscle. It has increased its military presence in Afghanistan and thanks to its new Af-Pak policy, the war is spilling to the entire region. US is going to retain significant personnel in Iraq, despite its commitment to troops withdrawal. It continues to meddle in the affairs of the Middle-East in order to ensure its control over the resource rich region. The sword of Damocles thus continues to hang over world peace.

There is a catch 22 situation for global capitalism today. In order to appease finance capital by stabilising the currency and preventing inflation, countries are forced to reduce deficits and impose higher taxes. This in turn means lower governmental expenditures (as higher tax revenue goes to finance deficit) depressing domestic demand and consequently depressing growth. This also means lesser resources in the hands of the governments to continue with stimulus packages. This further adds to depressing economic growth. Such economic slow down further discourages finance capital. This is the vicious cycle of capitalism and its crisis. The only way out is to struggle for a systemic change.

A positive feature today is, people are seeing through the neo-liberal ideology and are not taking things lying down, but coming out in struggles. Many countries in Europe have witnessed huge protest demonstrations. Most of these struggles are of course defensive in nature and to safeguard their hard won benefits. It is the duty of the communist and workers' parties to give a political character to these basically economic struggles and convert them into a political offensive against the capitalist system.

The political representatives of Capital try to conceal the irresolvable contradiction between capital and labour that lies at the heart of the crisis. This contradiction has to be exposed and brought to the fore. An extensive ideological campaign exposing the limits of capitalist system and its inherent crisis ridden character has to be carried out. Along with it, the struggle for political alternative to capitalism, socialism has to be strengthened. A broad alliance of all the exploited led by the working class has to be built. Communist and Workers' parties guided by the principles of scientific-socialism – Marxism-Leninism – and with a 'concrete understanding of the concrete conditions' should lead these efforts. Socialism is the only way out of the crisis ridden, inequality prone, inhuman capitalist system.

Long live Marxism-Leninism
Socialism is the future and the future is ours

Courtesy: People’s Democracy

Thursday, December 9, 2010


WHILE the central government admits that the 8.9 per cent growth registered in the economy, with agriculture contributing 4.4 per cent of it, is a reflection of the contribution of the agricultural sector to the growth of our country’s economy, they thank the monsoon for this success and not the farmers and agricultural labourers who have sweated out this contribution with hunger, unemployment and crushing debt staring them in the face because of this government’s economic policies that support scamsters and exploit workers and small producers.

The monsoon saw a late arrival and uneven rains that plunged some areas into drought and others into floods, ruining thousands of farmers. The government failed to respond. It did not provide adequate electricity which could have provided water from tube-wells and saved thousands of acres of already planted land. But it refused to take action in keeping with its determination to starve the peasantry and agricultural labour, force them into debt to money-lenders and encourage them to sell their small-holdings that constitute over 60 per cent of the total farmland and get corporates, both Indian and foreign, to buy them out.

To ensure that they do so successfully, the government has reduced investment in rural development by two-thirds, cut down electricity being distributed in rural areas from over 28 per cent in 1991-02 to barely over 20 per cent now, the gross reduction of subsidies for inputs, procurement and the PDS. To add to it, the government was happy to provide an over five lakh crores of rupees tax reduction to the rich in 2009-10 alone, not to speak of the lakhs of crores of the tax-payer’s money they have stolen through their scams on a scale unheard of before. That this has led to over two lakh farmers committing suicide and some 20,000 agricultural labourers dying of hunger in the last eight years is of no concern to the government in its hurry to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. To make this criminal task even more painful to the poor, the government had raised the prices of diesel, petrol and kerosene and now plans to raise the prices of grain through the PDS and reduce the number of BPL beneficiaries by the so-called food security act. This can only help to increase prices which are already beyond what the people can bear even further. This will not be tolerated by the people as was evident from slogans the demonstrators raised calling on Manmohan Singh to deliver or resign.

This shameless policy of allowing the Indian and foreign corporate rich to corner even the livelihood of over eighty crore fellow-citizens and reduce them to wage labour and migrant workers with no law to protect them, to ensure human working conditions, minimum wages, an assured food supply and basic human rights, will no longer be tolerated. This was evident from the thousands of agricultural labourers who came to Delhi largely from the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar and Rajasthan where agricultural labour suffer incredible hardship that has reduced the majority of agricultural labour to a level even below that of animals under successive governments that have virtually driven them to forced labour to survive. But the All India Agricultural Workers’ Union’s rally on Novermber 30, 2010 was a reminder that this would not be allowed to go on unchecked. While the rallyists were mainly from Northern states, the rally was attended by agricultural labour leaders from all parts of the country.

The rally was addressed by the AIAWU president, P Ramayya (ex-MLA, Andhra Pradesh); A Vijayaraghavan, general secretary (ex-MP from Kerala), Hannan Mollah, joint secretary(ex-MP, West Bengal), Kumar Shiralkar, joint secretary(Maharashtra), Sarangdhar Paswan, vice president(Bihar), Bhanu Lal Saha, vice president(deputy speaker of the Tripura assembly) Suneet Chopra, joint secretary. (centre) who placed the memorandum before the rally to be approved, and Subhashini Ali (ex-MP from Uttar Pradesh).

The rally also received powerful support from AIDWA patron, Brinda Karat(MP), CITU general secretary Tapan Sen (MP) and AIKS joint secretary, N K Shukla. A number of state secretaries from different parts of the country, M V Govindan Master(Kerala), Babul Bhadra(Tripura), B Venkat(Andhra Pradesh), G Mani(Tamilnadu), Nityanand Swami(Karnataka), Sisir Hui(Orissa), Prakash Choudhary(Maharashtra), Bhuramal Swami(Rajasthan), Gurmesh Singh(Punjab) Ram Avtar(Haryana), Brijlal Bharti(Uttar Pradesh) and Bhola Prasad Diwakar(Bihar), also attended the rally with other office-bearers from their states.

This rally should serve as a reminder to the central government that its infamous polices must be changed, otherwise a massive countrywide movement on issues of the central government’s nefarious attempts to violate the minimum wages act and even the provisions of the MNREGA, the failure to ensure minimum wages; the demand for a universal PDS with a minimum of 35 kilograms of grain at rupees two per kilo to everyone as well as provision for all necessaries of life as before; and the immediate passage of the comprehensive central legislation for agricultural labour will take place. The rally voted en masse to implement the demands in the memorandum and the speakers at the rally inspired the rallyists to go back and throw themselves into struggles for a policy change. The CITU invited the union to support the February 23 rally of the working class in Delhi and swell its ranks. The struggle of agricultural labour for the proper implementation of MNREGA, house-sites, wages, against atrocities on dalits, adivasis and women, and for comprehensive central legislation for agricultural labour can no longer wait because of the appalling conditions prevailing all over the rural areas, making life impossible for agricultural labour. The speakers warned the rallyists that they ought not to expect the government to listen to their demands except under pressure of struggle. So they should prepare for broad-based struggles of agricultural labour and peasants and ensure their demands are conceded.

A delegation of the office bearers of the Union, consisting of P Ramayya, A Vijayaraghavan, Hannan Mollah, Kumar Shiralkar and Suneet Chopra, met the minister of state, Agatha Sangma and presented the memorandum to her to let the ministry know the views of the poorest and most oppressed on December 1.


THE All India Agricultural Workers’ Union is an organisation working among the agricultural workers and has a membership of more than 48 lakh covering 14 states in India. Our Union persistently endeavours to mobilise agricultural workers and rural poor on their various issues and problems. Since the UPA government passed the MGNREGA, the AIAWU had tried to create an awareness campaign and took the lead and initiative for its proper implementation. But our experience shows that there are many difficulties and lacunae in MGNREGA implementation.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­On January 1, 2009, the central government, misusing the provision under section 6 (1) of the Act, has started reducing wages to well below the minimum. This is in complete disregard to the provisions in the original Act that mentions clearly that minimum wages under NREGA are to be synchronised with the minimum wages for the agricultural workers as per the 1948 Minimum Wages Act. The existing statutory minimum wages for agricultural work in various states are more than Rs 100 per day. Thus the unjust amendment and notifications are in contravention to the main objective of the Act. On the backdrop of the ever escalating price rise, wage rate is the most important factor in the success of this pro-people Act.

It is urgently required to redress such shortcomings so that the basic spirit of the objectives of this unprecedented Act is brought in practice and the real benefits reach the most needy rural working masses.

With this intent, on behalf of AIAWU we are proposing the following demands:

At least 150 days ensured work per year with the guarantee of Rs 200 per day as minimum wages.

Recalculate the SORs on the basis of work time motion study observing the guidelines of the Act in its spirit of objectives.

The budgetary allocation for NREGA should be increased to at least Rs 160000 crores.

Ensure the flexibility of works under NREGA as per the genuine demands from the rural workers to create maximum verities of jobs to fulfill the needs of the local people encompassing various government sponsored schemes.

The linking of NREGA with FRA in tribal areas and the implementation of land reform must be assured undoing the high handedness of the forest department and the landlords.

Recruit representatives of Agricultural Workers Union in the NREGA monitoring committees at all levels from tehsil to the centre.

Amend the Act to punish the officers/employees/gram pradhans under criminal acts who do not observe the provisions of NREGA and its guidelines regarding timely employment, minimum wages, unemployment allowance, non-maintenance of records and involvement in corrupt malpractices in collusion with contractors and post/bank officers.

Rescind the illegal notification issued by the central ministry that violates the spirit of the legislation.

Ensure that SCs, STs and women get their due in the implementation of this scheme.

To ensure better implementation of the Act, the PDS must be strengthened and universalised with the provision of at least 35 kilograms of food grains at Antyodaya rates along with other essential commodities.

A comprehensive central legislation for agricultural labour that has been drafted as far back as 1980 must be passed immediately.

We request you to look into these vital demands and do the needful to fulfil them urgently.

Source: People’s Democracy