Seminar against globalisation in Bangalore

A seminar against globalisation was organised on 7th January, 2001 at Bangalore under the joint banner of CPI(ML) and Forum Against Globalisation. The seminar was well represented with workers from the unorganised sector, bank, insurance, public sector units as well as anti-nuke movement, women’s movement, dalit movement and the Socialist stream.

Addressing the seminar, Com. Shankar, CCM CPI(ML), said that liberalisation policies are the response of the ruling classes to the present crisis of capitalism in India. He said that the true colour of pseudo-swadeshi organisations like the SJM need to be exposed, for Sangh Parivar’s ‘swadeshi’ was chauvinistically invoked primarily in the cultural plane as we had seen during their attacks on Water, MF Hussain and on those celebrating Valentine’s Day and New Year. He further pointed to the SJM’s silence on liberalisation policies in bank, insurance and other public sectors. He criticised the CPI(M) and CPI for wanting to ally with the Congress in the name of fighting the BJP even though Sonia Gandhi has repeatedly made it clear that the Congress was with BJP on new economic policies. Com. Shankar gave a call for a comprehensive political response and stressed that a lot of inspiration needs to be drawn from the struggles against power sector reforms in UP, AP and Rajasthan.

K.S.Puttanniah, President, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, elaborated on the ill effects of globalisation on agriculture. He said that liberalisation policies in agriculture have led a large number of peasants to the path of suicide. Even while surplus sugar was available, sugar has been removed from the OGL to facilitate import of sugar. As a consequence, thousands of farmers are thrown out of sugarcane production and thousands of workers have lost jobs due to closure of sugar mills. This wildfire, he said, is spreading and engulfing every sector like banks, insurance, power, etc. He strongly urged everyone to prepare for a second freedom struggle to take on the challenge of globalisation.

Prof. Babu Mathew from National Law School, said that the proponents of globalisation want more and more globalisation to solve the problems created by the very same globalisation. New laws are being introduced to make the globalisation process irreversible. He said that already 4.5 lakhs manufacturing units have been closed throwing millions of workers out of work. And now, the World Bank wants changes in labour laws. Attempts are on to amend Section 5 of the Industrial Disputes Act to enable speedy closure of factories. Also there are attempts to repeal the Abolition of Contract Labour Act. In the first phase of economic reforms, the country went slow on financial sector reforms, and hence, did not face the fate met by South East Asian countries. But now, opening up of banks and insurance is in full swing. While acknowledging the limitations of the struggles of workers at the sectoral level, he called for movements of cross-sectoral workers. He said lots of lessons have to be drawn from international protests from Seattle to Prague where there was a new alliance of working class and new social movements. At the end, he raised a point that apart from struggles against globalisation there should be debate on how we must engage critically with globalisation.

Prof. Gangadharamurthy, a well-known dalit intellectual, made a critical review of a book titled Dalits and Globalisation written by Malavalli Ganesh in Kannada. Countering the arguments of the book, he said that the globalisation was a philosophy of inequality and it could in no way abolish caste, which was also the philosophy of inequality. With the advent of globalisation, lakhs of jobs are lost, rendering reservation meaningless. With satellite towns and expressways coming up large sections of dalits are getting alienated from their land. With the drastic cuts in social sector spending, health and education would gradually become out of reach for dalits and even dalit hostels would become scarce, he said. He concluded saying that dalit movement should also take up the struggle against globalisation.

Speaking at the seminar, Prof. L.N.Gopalakrishnan, from the Socialist stream, said that globalisation means fundamentalism in commerce; commerce is the only basis for everything and it must rule every nook and corner of our life. He said that in 1994-95 there was less opposition to globalisation. Now the opposition has picked up, he said. Now, nobody thinks that globalisation is irreversible. He said that alternate forms of renaissance movements like Shudra movements, folklore, women’s movements should act as powerful weapons against globalisation. The seminar was moderated by Com. Subramani while Com. Raghu from Mysore welcomed the gathering and Com. Ranjani proposed the vote of thanks.