By L. Sotinkumar
All India Trade Union Congress alongwith other central trade unions have issued a clarion call to join the massive march to Parliament from Ramlila Maidan on December 12, 2013. It is an initiative taken by the united working people, called upon to play a crucial role in rescuing the country from the grave turmoil, and the resultant grim crisis. During the last 66 years of India`s freedom, India has never been, so dangerously affected by unprecedented inflation, particularly of the food articles and unmitigated slowdown. The disaster has been caused by the economic policies pursued by the government that has made it imperative to organize a massive popular intervention to halt the slide down. In this context, all the 11 central trade unions have called for a massive rally of the working people in Delhi, not only to protest but to sound the final warning to those who are in power today, also to those who may be in power tomorrow.
The economic growth of the country as visualized has dipped lowest. New investment has dropped. Government`s faith that foreign money will come to India in a salvage operation has proved to be a day dream. There is a need for additional massive investment to turn the wheel of the economy by building heavy social infrastructure, pushing ahead the programme of universal public distribution system, universalization of education, health for all, safe water, job for the jobless, additional irrigation facilities and building of roads government is moving in the opposite direction by holding up even the expenditure that has been sanctioned in the last budget. In fact, government is pruning its expenditure in the name of fiscal discipline.
Industrial production is down. The critical core sector like power, steel, coal has not been able to pick up. Agricultural production is unstable. Job loss is rampant. Wage cut is widespread. Lakhs of workers have been retrenched because factories have closed. Export has gone down. Jobs are disappearing. Labour laws are violated at random, no minimum wage, trade unions are not being allowed to be registered. Real income of the working people has been miserably declined. Even the rural income has fallen. Condition of the contract and unorganized workers is shamefully despicable. New projects are not taking off. Government expenditure is down. Expansion of the existing industrial business has heavily slowed down.
It has outrageously impacted on the life and livelihood of the unorganized masses. More than 90 per cent of the working masses, the total nearly being 45 crores, who are living in the backyard of the economy, are denied any benefit of development. The condition of the minorities, tribals, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes is perilous. The women are the worst affected. The taxation system is regressive. The low income group has to pay more and the rich and super rich are paying less taxes and also enjoying the benefit of heavy tax concession. In the last budget, nearly 70,000 crores tax concession has been given to the corporate.
It is clear that economic policy has led to pauperization of the people and enrichment of the few. It is an ocean of poverty that the castle of vulgar wealth is being set up. The agriculture is in shambles Landlessness of rural masses is increasing. Poverty is appalling. No distribution of surplus land has taken place. The Jamindars and Kulaks with the help of their private army are carrying on the loot in the rural areas. Added is the social atrocity caste discrimination. Agricultural production cannot take off because of shortage of water. High price of inputs and fertilizers are playing havoc. Added to this is the misery caused by distressed sale. NREGA has not been able to ameliorate the distress of the rural poor.
The high price of the essentials, atta, rice, dal, sugar, unabated food inflation has added fuel to the fire that has almost burnt the life of the common people. Government had refused to carry out the resolution passed by Parliament to take effective measures against inflations. Essential Commodities Act is not being enforced. People`s money, bank advance instead of doing welfare to the people is promoting profiteering in the food trade. Seen in this background, is the almost collapse of the public distribution system.
Working masses, rural and urban, are under cruel attack of the corporates and the government. Protest by the workers and farmers is sought to be suppressed. The whole state machinery is geared up to safeguard the reckless exploitative system causing hunger, poverty and job loss.
Political scenario is equally volatile. Government has lost all its credibility. It is not only non-performing. It is corrupt head to foot. Corporates have taken over. They are dictating policies and crucial appointments in the Government.
Corruption is running riot. It is a downright loot of the national resources. There is no money to provide food to the people but enough money for misappropriation and loot. In the last 20 spectrum distribution, country has lost, according to CAG, more than 1 lakh 76 thousand crores. In the coal-gate, in the illegality in the distribution of coal blocks, the country has lost lakhs of crores of rupees. In KO-6 basin the concerned industrial house is deliberating reducing production that has led to closure of the most of the power based generating stations particularly in South India gravely damaging the economy. Finger is being raised against Prime Minister, serious accusations are being levelled against many other Ministers.
India is at crossroads. The economic anarchy, unbelievable misery of the common people, growing indignation of the masses, political non-performance and unprecedented corruption on the one hand, and the rise of the fundamentalist forces totally backed up by the domestic and foreign corporates has created a critical condition which calls for mass intervention by millions of the people. It is only militant action of the masses in a democratic system, whatever democracy is still left, can bring about a new combination of forces that can take the country forward and provide fundamental rights to the people.
All the 11 central trade unions have come together for the first time in the history of India ushering in new prospect for the growth and advance of the trade union movement. The trade unions had moved into struggles for the last four years, the latest being the two-day general strike that has shaken the country as never before. From Arunachal to Goa, Gujarat to Manipur, everywhere the protests of the mass were visible. So much so that the Prime Minister while speaking in the Indian Labour Conference had admitted that most of your demands that led to the two day strike cannot be ignored. Even then no tangible step has been taken by the Government to concede the demand of the unions that includes effective measures to contain inflation, Rs. 10000 as the minimum wage, compulsory registration of trade unions within a stipulated time, measures of effective social welfare for the unorganized including rural and urban, pension for the poor and no disinvestment in the profit making public sector.
The Anganwadi workers, the ASHA Karmis, the Mid-day Meal employees must be made government employees. The agricultural workers including the unorganized labour must get the cover of social security. All contract workers should be regularized.
AITUC calls up all its unions, members and cadres to mobilize the strength they have, the influence they possess to make the rally as gigantic as possible. On 12th December at 11.00 A.M. the rally will start to move towards the Parliament Street.