Intensify Campaign
to Defend People's Rights!

Two years of the UPA Government's Human Face rule have passed – and increasingly, we can see the people's disillusionment with the growing brutality behind the ‘ manmohak' (winsome) rhetoric, and their determination to expose and resist it.

The UPA Government, like the NDA Government before it, has helped the imperialist US to grasp India in a tight strategic stranglehold. And the results are visible in every aspect of the lives of Indian people – be it the sell-out of India's sovereignty in the nuclear deal with the US; the high-level leaks of security secrets to US agencies; the surrendering of the interests of India's poor at the WTO; the pro-imperialist policies that are making essential commodities too expensive for us; forcing farmers to commit suicide; robbing our farmers of land to benefit corporates and privatising education, health, and all public assets. Inevitably, brutal assaults are launched to crush and silence democratic struggles against these killer policies – yet, the struggles can be seen everywhere – of workers at Gurgaon and Neyveli, peasants at Vidarbha and Dadri, tribals at Kalinganagar and the Narmada Valley, and agrarian labourers and rural poor all over the country demanding land reforms and sincere implementation of the NREGA.

We in India remember August as the month that resonates with the history of the Quit India movement that was launched on August 9, 1942, and the struggles that won our country's freedom on August 15, 1947; the world associates August with the historic crime of one of the worst terrorist strikes of all time – the nuclear strikes on the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US on August 6 and 9, 1945. This August, let us launch a determined campaign to defend our rights against the onslaught on our sovereignty, democracy and livelihood – let us demand that killer policies of imperialism must ‘Quit India'!

Fuel and Food are for Our Need, Not Your Greed: Roll Back Price Hikes!

During the UPA Government's tenure, the prices of foodgrains and essential commodities have marked a steep rise, rapidly spiralling out of reach of common people. Far from taking steps to check this, the UPA Government has instead added the last straw to the backbreaking burden on the poor, by repeatedly hiking the price of petroleum products. The UPA Government, in the space of just two years, has hiked prices no less than seven times, and as a result, petrol prices have gone up by 33% since the UPA Government came to power. The price of sugar has doubled in two years (Rs. 17 per kg in June 2004 and Rs. 34 per kg in June 2006), while the price of onion has more than doubled (Rs. 7 per kg in June 2004 and Rs. 16 per kg in June 2006).

Further, far from actually taking steps to bring down prices, the UPA Government is using increased prices as a pretext to import foodgrains! The ‘aam aadmi' whom the UPA's CMP promises to serve is reeling under this onslaught – which must be resisted to ensure speedy roll back of the hikes in prices.

Enough of Shrinking PDS, Expanding Starvation: We Demand Universal PDS Coverage for All Rural and Urban Poor

Nearly each state in our country has an ever-expanding area of chronic malnutrition, hunger and starvation. Even in areas where agricultural production is high, rural poor suffer hunger and starve to death, while grains rot in FCI godowns. There is a crying need to strengthen and expand the Public Distribution System (PDS) – but instead the UPA Government is eager to slash the food subsidy. Now, it is proposing to hike the prices of foodgrains for BPL and APL and cut allocations to both these sections; it is also planning to cut down on the foodgrain component of the NREGA. It is also continuing with the policy of restricting PDS coverage in the name of ‘targeting' – a policy that has systematically excluded vast sections of poor from its purview.

We demand an immediate stop to the policy of increasing prices and shrinking scope of PDS; demand that the Government provide essentials like rice and wheat at the price of Rs. 2 per kilo, and call for strengthening of PDS with universal coverage for both rural and urban poor.

Shame on Manmohan for Reaping Harvest of Farmers' Suicides! Enough of US-dictated Agrarian Policies!

Vast areas which used to be relatively prosperous agrarian regions like Vidarbha, Punjab , Andhra have been turned into killing fields of corporates. Farmers are being left to the mercy of the whims of the international market, while the Government is dismantling monopoly procurement schemes. This dose, prescribed by the imperialist fund banks, and enhanced by the tightening US embrace on Indian agriculture, is literally a dose of death for our farmers – among whom suicide is a growing phenomenon. Even as the Prime Minister offers cosmetic packages on his visit to Vidarbha, the fact remains that it is the local Congress MLA who leads the pack of bloodthirsty moneylenders in the same region, exposing the stake that ruling powers have in the harvest of death. The spate of suicides can stop only with a powerful movement to demand waiving of the debt burden on small farmers and ensuring minimum remunerative prices.

Stop Turning India 's Countryside Into Killing Fields for MNCs and Corporates!

Intensifying the imperialist stranglehold in agriculture, the UPA Government is intent on mortgaging the interests of Indian farmers to the MNCs. The Seed Bill plans to rob farmers of their autonomy, forcing them to be dependent on MNCs for seeds. In the case of wheat, the UPA Government deliberately facilitated procurement by private traders and MNCs, and then made low stocks the excuse to import wheat from the same MNCs! The entry of MNCs into Indian agriculture and retail trade will spell doom for peasantry as well as for small retailers, and will leave shop employees out of work – and must be resisted tooth and nail. Commerce Minister Kamal Nath walked out of WTO talks at Geneva , claiming that the developing countries had left ‘no negotiating space' and that he was defending the interests of Indian peasantry. The fact is that the UPA Government (like the NDA before it) has already surrendered all negotiating space, and have betrayed the solidarity of developing countries. If he admits there is no negotiating space left, what is the point of remaining in the WTO? Why not come out of it, if remaining in it is going to mean selling out the lives of Indian peasants?

Stop Bulldozing Peasants to Pave Way for Mega Projects and Corporate SEZs!

Bulldozers, batons, and bullets, blessed by the Courts, bludgeon the poor, declare them as encroachers in their own lands and homes, and crush their protests to prepare the highway for corporate ‘development' – i.e. mega projects, game parks, SEZs. Be it Delhi or Dadri, Kalinganagar or the Narmada Valley , the story is the same. All talk of compensation and rehabilitation of the thousands of displaced people is simply so much eyewash. It is time to declare that mass displacement for the poor is not a cost we will tolerate for ‘development' for the corporate moneybags.

Guarantee Employment for All – Implement NREGA Nationwide!

The much-touted NREGA is showcased as the UPA's one claim to a ‘human face'. Of course, far from being a Universal Employment Guarantee, it is restricted to a mere 200 rural districts. But even this truncated version of employment guarantee has not been backed up by the funds required to implement it. The 2006-07 Budget allowed only for a marginal increase in the allocation for rural employment schemes. The total amount allocated (12, 870 crores) is hardly enough to provide 100 days of jobs to even one crore rural job-seekers (assuming that 50% of allocation would be spent on wages).

On the ground, it is all too clear that the NREGA is held hostage by tractors and contractors – and is subject to widespread loot and scams. Even the basic commitment of issuing job cards to all rural job-seekers has not been fulfilled, and wherever NREGA is actually implemented, minimum wages are a far cry. The manual labour is also very heavy, and women are routinely denied work under NREGA. The NREGA came into being as a result of spirited struggles of the rural poor – and these struggles continue, in order to achieve implementation of the NREGA. These must be intensified to ensure proper implementation of NREGA, and its expansion to achieve Universal Employment Guarantee for both rural and urban unemployed, all over the country.

Our Security Is Not for Sale – Punish Guilty of Security Leaks!

The NDA Government had allowed the American spy agency FBI to have an office in India – and the UPA Government has continued to roll out the red carpet and open up all sensitive areas for US scrutiny. On the heels of the infamous Navy war-room leaks, and the Scorpene scam, a senior systems analyst in the National Security Council Secretariat (which functions under the PMO), S S Paul, has been charged with leaking security intelligence to an American spy. Coupled with the corporate corruption that has become the hallmark of Indian military and intelligence dealings, the political and strategic closeness to the US is taking its toll, not just on our sovereignty but on our national security too. If India is increasingly coming on the world's terror map, surely it has a lot to do with the fact that our rulers are implicating us in the US-sponsored aggression, occupation and imperialist racism. While the policies and high-level politicians and bureaucrats really guilty of selling out our security go unscathed, draconian laws like the National Security Act (NSA) are invoked against activists of dissenting movements and innocent people. We must demand an end to the Indo-US strategic embrace that is compromising our security, and action against the political, bureaucratic and military big shots who are guilty of selling out our security.

Stop Surrendering India 's Sovereignty – Scrap Indo-US Nuclear Deal!

Huge corporate interests in the US , as well as the US ' strategic stake in India , had led to the Indo-US Nuclear Deal getting a green signal in the US . Of course, the pound of flesh India is being made to pay is immediately apparent – India 's foreign policy, its approach towards third world nations like Iran , as well as its domestic policies of civilian nuclear use are all being dictated by the US . As it is, experts say that India is not likely to gain any new technology out of the Deal; rather the US will use India as dumping ground for its own obsolete technology. The real aim is to make India 's entire energy economy totally dependent on the US . We must say No to this strategic slavery – we must demand scrapping of the shameful Indo-US Nuclear Deal!

Stop Privatisation of Public Assets and Services! Education, Health, Water and Transport Are for People, Not Profit!

The UPA Government, like its predecessor, is bent on disinvesting public sector enterprises, and it is only determined working class struggles – such as the ones in NLC and Nalco – which have foiled their plans. Also, all public services – education, health, transport and even water – are being turned into commodities rather than rights. In the name of ‘public-private partnership' in healthcare, the UPA Government is actually planning to privatise existing public hospitals; thus leaving common people to fend for themselves as healthcare is turned into an unaffordable luxury.

Most shockingly, the UPA Government has shelved the Right to Education Bill, and completely washed its hands off the responsibility to provide equitable and affordable schooling and education to all young people. It is also vacillating and adopting delaying tactics on its own promise to implement 27% reservation for OBCs in higher education and to expand infrastructure and seats accordingly.

We must join the working class struggles against the disinvestment of our public sector assets, and must reassert our claim over health, education, and other public services as our rights – which cannot be reserved for the rich!

Democratic Rights for All – Resist State Repression on People's Movements

All over the country, we can see a renewed offensive on people's struggles, where ruling parties, be they UPA or NDA, are cracking down on democratic rights. The brutality against Honda workers at Gurgaon, peasants at Dadri, Liberty workers at Haryana, tribals at Kalinganagar, slumdwellers in Delhi and Mumbai; and the witch-hunt through false cases against the CPI(ML) activists and General Secretary in Jharkhand – all these are symptoms of shrinking democratic space. Two years ago, the people of Manipur had waged a remarkable mass movement demanding scrapping of the draconian AFSPA – and the UPA Government had promised to ‘humanise' it. The Justice Reddy Commission set up to enquire into the AFSPA has recommended scrapping it – but the UPA government has refused to do so, and has allowed this killer law to remain on the statute books. Also, innocent people continue to face prosecution and conviction under banned laws like TADA and POTA. In Chhattisgarh, ordinary tribals are being made the innocent fodder of a civil war in the name of checking Maoism – and the Congress-BJP-sponsored Salwa Judum is terrorising ordinary tribals.

We demand scrapping of the AFSPA, banning of the Salwa Judum, withdrawal of TADA and POTA cases, and withdrawal of false cases framed against activists of democratic movements.