Our country, along with the rest of the world, has gone through unprecedented times, with the surge of the Covid-19 pandemic, and its subsequent lockdown. Although the pandemic hit somewhere around mid-November last year, closing the international flights (that could have efficiently prevented the infection from entering India) was not an option for Prime Minister Modi, lest it affected his “Namaste Trump” program. His way to go forward was to call for a “Janta Curfew” on the 22nd of March, and a subsequent lockdown, with no prior planning whatsoever.
The rest is a story that we all know. Thousands of people were left without any mode of employment overnight, small businesses suffered fatal losses, and an official record of four crore migrant workers stranded all over the country was witnessed, who had no means to return home. India, already positioned at the top of unemployment rates, suffered a record high of 23% unemployment in the month of April. Data recorded India’s economic growth in negative, and yet, all that the Finance Minister had to say about it was that this was an “Act of God”.
One would think that in a situation such as this, the Government would be trying their best to strengthen the health infrastructure of the country, building up the economy, and providing rations and other essential goods to all families. Instead, the BJP-led Central Government has occupied itself with building temples, suspending oppositions from the Parliament, and passing as many anti-people bills as possible, while the overall morale of the country is low.
Within the past eight to nine months, the Central Government has passed Bills and Acts like the NEP 2020, EIA 2020, Farm Bills 2020, Labour Codes 2020, all of which have one thing in common: They are all going to hinder the mass they are aimed towards. All of these Bills, Acts, and Policies facilitate the privatization of these sectors, of education, agriculture, and more. Coupled with that is the Essential Commodities Act, which has scrapped cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onions, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities, which allows limitless privatization of these daily necessary items. As a result, the prices of these everyday items have rocketed beyond the reach of the Lower-middle and even the Middle class! With the privatization of all these sectors, along with the privatizations of the Banks, Insurance, Railways, Mines, Defense, and more, it is clear that the government could not care less about the interests of its people; instead, they are just concerned with how they can maximize their profits during these trying times, at the expense of the lives and livelihoods of the people.
Funnily enough, in West Bengal, when the people resist the Central Government, the TMC-run State Government, instead of participating in that resistance, believes in attacking the protestors. Despite their cute bickering and pretenses of opposition on media, it is becoming clear as daylight that that is all that the opposition is, a pretense! Beneath all that is the same efforts by both, at pleasing the corporate. This unsaid alliance between the BJP and the TMC is becoming clearer every day when the TMC government is promoting police attacks on peaceful protestors, who are protesting against the BJP. In a state where around 70% of the students go to school to receive their midday meals, the State Government is expecting the students to attend online classes with no help, no provision of devices and data packs.
How do we claim that they are all that different from each other?
So, What Do We Do?
What do we do now, then? Do we give up all hopes, and pray that things do not go worse?
No. The Central Trade Unions have given their answers, and all Leftist, Progressive, Secular, and Democratic organizations have come together, with that answer. We do not let go. Instead, we strike them back, and we strike them hard, where it hurts the most. Despite what the Ambanis and Mallya’s of this country might think, the power still resided with us, the people, and this is the time that we to show it to them.
Ten Central Trade Unions, including the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), have called for a General Strike tomorrow, on the 26th of November, to show the Corporate Bourgeoisies and their boot-licking Government that if they, the people, decide to stop, if they begin to resist and say, “No, this is enough,” the Government will fall on its face.
Railway employees, Bank workers, Ola-Uber-Zomato-Swiggy employees, migrant workers, factory workers, auto-Toto-taxi drivers, construction workers, self-employed urban and rural laborers, farmers, hawkers, unemployed youths, students and more, have all joined in on the strike. It is no surprise that it is just the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), which is aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party, and the Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress (AITTUC), associated with the Trinamool Congress, who are not participating in this strike.
The main demands put forward in this General Strike on the 26th of November are:
Withdrawal of all “anti-farmer laws and anti-worker labor codes”
Payment of Rs 7,500 in the accounts of each non-tax paying family
Monthly supply of 10 kg of food grains to needy families
MGNREGS expansion to give 200 workdays every year, higher wages, and the scheme’s implementation in urban areas
Stop “privatization of the public sector, including the financial sector, and stop corporatization of government-run manufacturing and service entities like railways, ordinance factories, ports, etc.”
Withdrawal of the “draconian circular on forced premature retirement of government and PSU employees”
Pension to all, scrapping of NPS (National Pension System) and the reimposition of earlier pension with improvement in EPS-95 (Employees’ Pension Scheme-1995 run by retirement fund body EPFO)
With legitimate demands like these, a massive response awaits the 26th in the hartal, and spontaneous mass involvement is expected everywhere.
Join in, and show your solidarity.
In the Silence of the Strike, the People will again be Heard.
Awam ke naam,
Student, Presidency University