The daily Covid19 count of the country has jumped from around 6,500 cases a week ago, close to 10,000 cases daily, with a record single-day spike to 9,887 cases and 294 deaths by 7th June, pushing the tally to 2,36,657, the fifth highest in the world. However, India is still far behind in number of fatalities caused by the disease, which now stands at 6,642. WHO has warned that there is risk of an explosion in the number of patients and dead anytime, as the medical facilities are still lagging behind. There are reports from most of the states that even pregnant women are not admitted by hoapitals, and that the private hospitals are charging heavy amounts. Many are dying due to lack of beds and satisfactory arrangements for quaranteeing. At the same time, Modi government has shifter the whole burden of the pandemic to the backs of the states and people. At the same time, it is trying to cover up its gross mistakes on many counts including not preparing the country to face the pandemic, after the first case was detected in India on 31st January, not arranging testing and quarantining the passengers coming from abroad from then, not preparing the medical sector for it including bringing the whole private hospitals also under government control to fight Covid, and finally the lockdown was abruptly announced giving just four hours notice. The fast spreading of Covid during this period, the colossal human trgedy the migrant workers and their families are continuing to suffer even after three months, the ever intensifying economic recession are linked to these acts of Modi government.
In order to divert attention from these criminal negligence and nepotism, firstly the hate campaign against Muslims, spreading Islamophobia, using Tablighi Jamaat incident, was further intensified. Once the disturbances on the border started with the opening of the raod to Mansarovar, first with Nepal and then with China now the whole attention is diverted to them, with RSS parivar launching hate campaign against China, with the call boycott Chinese goods by developing self-reliance,when the entire policies of Modi government are making the country ever more dependent on imperialist sysyem and their products, whether it is of US, China, Japan or others. Still Modi government is not prepared to leave aside its jumlabaji and to concretely address the implementation of the advise of WHO and other expert bodies for containing the risk of the explosion warned by WHO.
With such an irresponsible, fascist government in power, we are going to face more horrific situation in coming days. Only option to save the country is to come out on the streets as the people of US are doing and challenge it.
K N Ramqchandran
CPI (ML) Redstar
7th June 2020
At a time when people have been dying of hunger, the government has increased the amount of grain it is hoarding in its godowns. Instead of using its grain stocks to feed the poor and hungry during the coronavirus-lockdown crisis, Modi government was letting this food rot in its godowns. The government does not have proper storage facilities for stocking such a large amount of excess grain. Since much of this grain has been stored in sub-optimal conditions for long, a significant part of it has been damaged.
In just four months, between January 1 and May 1, the stock of rice and wheat that was not “readily issuable”, which included partially spoilt as well as damaged grain, increased from 7.2 lakh tonnes to 71.8 lakh tonnes. This is more than sufficient to provide 45 kgs of food grains as free ration for all families from March bringing different jojanas under one umbrella as CPI(ML) Red Star is demanding from the beginning. From khariff crop already 37 lakh tones of fresh stock has also arrived. In the absence of safe storage facilities large amount of food grains will get damaged during Monsoon months. In this context we should intensify the campaign for 45 kgsof foodgrains as free monthly ration for all families.
US President Donald Trump has said it is a "badge of honour" for America to "lead" the world with 3.5 million confirmed Covid19 cases since it means the US is testing more people for the disease that has killed nearly 100,000 people in US alone, when at global level the number of confirmed cases has reached 60 million, with nearly 4 lakh dead by 23rd May. He thinks that, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means the testing is much better. "So when we have a lot of cases," he continued, "I don't look at that as a bad thing, I look at that as, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better." It is for people of US to decide whether such a fascist with Evangelical outlook should lead them! But there is a method in Trump’s madness! It serves his imperialist vision. In this manner he conceals the fact that though the WHO alerted all countries on 7th January about the dangerous spreading of Covid19, he did not bother about it till the number of patients crossed tens of thousands; he still protects the corporate houses and super rich private hospitals who refuse to help in providing affordable Covid-19 treatment to people; he also conceals the fact that it is the Blacks who are affected by Covid19 in larger numbers, and that more than 75% of dead are also Blacks who are below 20% of the population. So, without concrete steps to control the infection and to help the Blacks and other poorer sections, Trump is ending lockdown and opening all fields for helping production to catch up with rivals of US at the global market, with business as usual.
Modi is also following Trump’s ways faithfully, though on one count, on the excellence of testing done in India he has nothing to boast. At the same time, similar to US, the number of patients and dead have started galloping in India also. Like Trump, Modi also did not bother when WHO called for health alert and for starting preparations to combat Covid-19 which was spreading fast globally. Even after the first case was detected in India, though WHO had called for observation and testing/quarantine for all international passengers at airports, it was put in to effect from 12th march only. By that time 15 lakh passengers came through airports including those much maligned Tablighi Jamaat’s foreign guests without getting checked and tested. Till 24th March Indian companies were exporting ventilators, safety kits and testing kits and other medical requirements, none of which could be sufficiently procured even up to this time. Modi was busy with Delhi elections, suppression of anti NPR/NRC movement, toppling Congress govt in MP like BJP programs. Then the announcement to start 21 days lockdown from midnight of 24th March came just four hours before, without taking the state governments or the people in confidence. This abrupt order is entirely responsible for the still continuing colossal distress including hundreds of deaths due to starvation and accidents forced on the tens of millions of migrant workers.
When the first lockdown was declared, the covid19 patients were nearly 500.But when 60 days of lockdown is over, still Modi government could not provide adequate numbers of test kite, safety kits, ventilators etc. required for such a vast country. It is not ready to disturb the super rich private hospitals to provide Covid-19 treatment at affordable rates. Lockdown are allowed to be violated with immunity for Hindutva programs, No wages or allowance is given to the 400 million contract/casual workers who lost jobs and shelters and in acute distress. Adequate free ration was not given to all though FCI godowns are over full with food grains. In short, while announcing lockdown was needed, as WHO repeatedly announced, testing facilities and medical preparations were not sufficiently made. As a result, contrary to Modi government’s tall claims, by 24th May the number of patients and dead have jumped to 1,30,000 and about 3800, and fast increasing fast day by day.
Meanwhile, following Trump, without rectifying the gross mistakes and shortcomings which led to galloping impact of covid19 and acute distress to vast majority of the workers and oppressed sections, Modi also has ordered for easing out lockdown provisions, without taking the state governments in to confidence. By 1st June the lockdown may be withdrawn, with domestic flights and train services started, to begin economic activities fast. But what will happen to fighting the intensifying Covid19 spread? How its galloping numbers of patients and dead are going to be brought down? Who will give relief to the seriously impoverished the masses including the migrant workers many of whom are still on the roads or rails? There are no answers. At the same time, Modi government was using Covid-19 as a cover to spread Islamophobia and implement RSS agenda, It has intensified fascist state terror by leaps and bounds to suppress Kashmir people, Muslims as a whole, especially the students and youth who were active in the anti-NPR/NRC movement, to announce more and more reactionary orders for further plunder of the working class and peasantry, and to saffronise every section of the state apparatus. While it totally failed to control the spread of Covid19 or in helping the masses of the people from their acute distress, it is providing all incentives to the corporate forces and to the elite Brahmanical sections. Its crimes against the people are mounting.
Modi’s crimes against the people should be exposed and powerful movements should be launched to throw him out of power and to realize a people’s alternative with the working class in the forefront. This is the first and foremost task before all progressive forces
India is fast losing its friends in the neighbourhood. This time, the top priority project of Modi, a road to reach Kailash-Manasarovar in Tibet, is the prime reason for antagonizing Nepal and provoking border skirmishes with China. Government of Nepal has published a political map of the country which includes Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh as part of its sovereign territory based on 1816 treaty signed by British with then ruler of Nepal, through which the road goes. Nepal PM has asked India govt to remove “encroachments” from the area.
Indian army chief General M.M. Naravane’s remarks that the Nepali government had protested the inauguration of India’s link road to Mount Kailash in Lipulekh at the behest of China has united all sections of Nepalese society – including all the political parties in the opposition against it. India’s sovereignty over the Lipulekh Pass is yet to be established as it continues to be a disputed region. In the last 26 years of discussions, the Nepal-India Joint Technical Level Boundary Committee was able to settle nearly 97% of the border, but failed to resolve the dispute over Kalapani and Susta. In 2009, both sides had “agreed to resolve the long standing border disputes between the two countries at various places, including Kalapani and Susta through further discussions.”
The Lipulekh Pass, which lies at the centre of the current dispute, is situated at an altitude of 5,000 metres. Nepal claims that the Indian army has encroached 372 square kilometres towards Limpiyadhura from Kalapani since the 1962 Indo-China war. At that time, Nepal, as a friendly neighbour, granted permission to the Indian army to set up a camp in the region. Subsequently, despite several firm requests by Nepal to evacuate the camp, India continued the occupation. Reports from Nepal claim that Indians from UP and Bihar have encroached on over 60,000 hectares of land in 23 out of the 75 bordering districts. There is a great deal of hue and cry in Nepal over encroachment. As India refuses to even discuss these, and now has constructed the road stealthily, it has enraged the Nepalese people greatly. PM of Nepal, Oli’s words reflect it. The Indian army chief‘s comments not only wounded Nepalese national sentiment. It has dragged China also in to this dispute, and as US hurriedly came forward supporting India and accusing China, these border skirmishes have given an international character to the dispute. The Nepali prime minister’s harsh comment on India in Nepal’s parliament recently is an indication of a deepening sense of alienation. Under Modi, once again the army chief has made foray into external relations, worsening the situation. Is history is repeating? Was it not the arrogant treatment given to Chinese PM Chou Enlai by the UP CM Gobind Ballab Pant along with the enthusiastic interference by US president Kennedy worsened the Indo-China relations, abruptly ended the conciliation talks and led to India’s China War in 1962?
During the last six years, Modi govt has worsened relations with all neighbours with its arrogant, majoritarian Hindutva approach. So, all of them who had complaints about India’s expansionism and big brotherly attitude have moved away. In continuation to its reactionary, divisive internal policy based on hate politics, relations are spoiled not only with the neighbours, but with all the Arab countries. Its foreign policy is focused only on strategic junior partnership with US administration. Naturally, US exploit the situation, trying to provoke a proxy war between India and China, to settle its own contradictions with it. It shows how under Modi India is dragged in to a situation in which the Indian army may be used as cannon fodder in another conflict with China, to serve US interests. It is not patriotism Modi, it is treason! All progressive forces should create public opinion to prevent Modi playing another dangerous game, making people suffer for his follies
In continuation to Modi’s speech on 12th May announcing Rs 20 lakh crores stimulus package, the FM Nirmala Seetharaman has started explaining how this stimulus shall be implemented in a series of press conferences from 13th May. Today she has started this process, under the guise of self-reliance, a series of measures are announced for MSMEs after changing the definition by raising their investment and turnover limit. But, there was not even a mention of the informal and unorganised sectors. No Immediate relief for the dying many millions of migrant workers. No direct money transfer to the starving millions. At the same time, she announced many tax giveaways to middle classes. The state governments are completely ignored, when they are in extreme crisis on account of heavy responsibility to deal with COVID-19, and nothing to rejuvenate their financial position.. There was not even mention of the question of distributing the GST arrears due to states. Her high sounding and rhetorical presentation, had nothing concrete for the most deprived. There is a reference to more liberalisation in FDI, labour, land and necessary legal changes for that. But details are not announced..
When the whole world is in lockdown, Modi has no other option other than appealing for becoming "Atmanirbhar" (self-reliance). On the other hand, the "Make in India" program, announced by him after ascending to power in 2014, has become a farce and that slogan was a cover for transforming India in to a dustbin/dumping ground for MNCs In view of the announcements yet to come, especially related to liberalisation in FDI, labour laws, land acquisition, etc., the fate of Atmanirbhar is not going to be different. Meanwhile, the 15 items taken up today are oriented towards rejuvenating middle classes with tax exemptions and money availability while nothing is there for the most deprived inter-state migrant workers. No mention on the transfer of GST dues to State Govts. COVID is an opportunity for shoring up the vote banks for the ruling regime. In the name of atma-nirbharatha, Modi is continuing his organized plan to hoodwink the masses to implement the RSS agenda. When Covid19 broke out, not perturbed by another wave of its outbreak, as WHO and many scentists are warning, Modi is trying to strengthen his corporate fascist rule, helping the mad race of the foreign and native corporate forces for further accumulation of natural wealth. So, showing any feeling about the plight of the millions of migrant workers and their families is alien to Modi.
K N Ramachandran
CPI (ML) Redstar
13th May 2020
As the socio-economic crisis arising from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the sudden declaration of lockdown is intensifying very fast. It is also threatening the very sustenance of millions of toiling and oppressed people. Instead of properly addressing this question and announcing an adequate economic package, Prime minister Modi is once again cunningly trying to divert people's attention from the horrific situation by resorting to obscurantist practices that have no scientific basis. If banging vessels and clasping hands were his earlier proposals, today his suggestion is to switch off lights and lighting of torches for 9 minutes at 9 pm on April 5. Together with these, with the backing of corporate-saffron media, concerted efforts are in full swing to target the Muslims and communalize the whole situation by characterizing Corona as “Tabliighi virus” even as all avenues are extended to Majoritarian forces to carry forward their Hindutva programs throughout the country. In this context, we reiterate the following demands to simultaneously confront both, the Corona and the economic pandemic:-
Firstly, rather than planning an extension of present lockdown, immediate arrangements should be made for implementing the screening, testing, isolation method as repeatedly suggested by WHO, especially taking the concrete Indian social situation in to account. Efforts should be taken on a war-footing to test as much as possible of the population free of cost by procuring and developing cheap and portable testing-kits, and involving all private hospitals together with the public sector ones in the country. For this, the centre and state govts should go for take-over of buildings, halls etc held by private and corporate sector, and providing make-shift kitchens and other facilities.
Secondly, make all-out effort for urgent procurement of the required medical equipment for doctors and medical staff, including masks, sanitizers, together with ensuring uninterrupted supply of medicines as required at free of cost to the broad masses. The govt. should ensure the protection of doctors and medical and paramedical staff with adequate pay, allowance and compensation.
Thirdly, in accordance with federal principles, the Centre should take the state govts in to confidence in all initiatives connected with the ‘war against the Corona pandemic’. Especially, in view of the diversities of the country the state govts should have the major responsibility for screening, testing, isolation, quarantine and treatment. The provision of food and medicines to the needy at the local level can be efficiently carried out only by the states for which immediate fund devolution to state governments is an indispensable task on the part of the central regime. At the local/grassroots level, for making food, medicines, shelter and other essential amenities to the needy and for coordinating such activities, the state govts should encourage the formation of peoples committees, involving political parties, trade unions, women’s groups, youth, mass organisations and volunteer forces along with local body representatives.
Fourthly, the 21-day lockdown imposed without any preparation and in gross disregard of the social conditions of India has pushed the migrant and daily workers, slum dwellers, casual and unorganized workers comprising around one-third of Indian population who find it difficult to meet their both ends even in a routine situation in to a horrific condition. Together with them, the already marginalized dalits, adivasis, fisher people, craftsmen, hawkers, kirana-retailers, rag-pickers, etc. are there. Adequate measures are urgently needed for ensuring the livelihood of them who are stranded at various places including towns and urban centres. Immediate steps are required to provide their wages and earnings at least for three months or until the Corona threat is over.
Fifthly, in view of the enormous expenditures especially on the part of the state govts, a sufficient economic/rescue package should be announced immediately by the Central govt. in addition to the meagre one percent of the GST (more than half of which was already incorporated into the current budget through such schemes as employment guarantee) announced by the finance minister. Together with this, the food-stocks with the centre should be urgently released for free distribution through state govts among the poor for whom the hunger virus is more deadly. Further, hoarders, black marketers and speculators in food grains, essential goods should be strictly dealt with. All religious assemblies of more than four, of all denominations, and all other assemblies should be strictly stopped.
Sixthly, the central government should develop the facilities with the ICMR, involving all available expert scientists to develop medicine for this pandemic, instead of waiting for US or China or some others to develop it. India should urgently join with international SOLIDARITY of nations headed by WHO in the ongoing coordinated effort to develop the anti-Corona vaccine at the earliest, instead of clinging to the apron-strings of US. Scientific research on the root-cause of the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and its inseparable link with climate change is also needed.
Instead of approaching the COVID-19 pandemic from such a scientific and pro-people perspective and without even mentioning the unprecedented life-threatening situation of the deprived and marginalized, with appeals like switch off lights and light torches, Modi is once again shirking his entire responsibility as the PM. He must at least know that even according to official estimates, 18 % of the 135 crore Indian people (around 25 crore) have no electricity connection and many of those with connection have no regular power supply. By this gimmick, he is once again trying to divert people attention from the badly needed rescue package for appropriate medical intervention and for the survival of the millions of hungry people in this country. During the past six years, through tax-exemptions, direct money transfers, transfer of national assets, creation of NPAs and through a series of stimulus packages, Modi has transferred millions of crores of public money into corporate coffers. So, now in the present grave situation we should demand that a portion of this immense wealth transferred to corporates should be appropriated back to fund the urgent tasks. Instead, Modi’s intention is to put the whole burden of the pandemic on the backs of the already devastated common people. At this critical juncture, we appeal to the working class and all oppressed people, together with all those who stand with them, to come forward to expose and defeat the anti-people maneuvers of Modi regime led by corporate-saffron forces, so that together we can confront the grave challenge from both the corona virus as well as the economic virus.
CPI(ML) Red Star
3rd April 2020