Latest Scam Update
Privatisation Spawns Corruption
After the scams in mining and spectrum, now we have the fresh revelations of a huge scam in oil-and-gas and evidence of massive corruption in the PPP model of constructing Delhi’s new Airport. The POSCO project is increasingly being exposed, not just as an unconscionable act of environmental destruction and forced eviction of the poor, but as yet another instance of corruption and corporate plunder of minerals. Almost every fresh instance of corruption that is being exposed strengthens our contention that the hallmarks of neoliberal policies – privatisation of natural resources and monopoly services, and the crony capitalist nexus between government and big corporations - are the biggest source of corruption today. Any struggle that genuinely seeks to rid our economy and polity of corruption will have to challenge these policies that spawn corruption on an unprecedented scale.
UPA’s Oil Slick : Another Mega Scam
A draft report of the CAG has exposed yet another “nexus” between the Government and private corporations, in which the UPA Government’s Oil Ministry and Director-General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) manipulated rules to favour private oil companies like Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), British Gas (BG) and Cairn India.
The CAG has revealed how the Oil Ministry and DGH allowed RIL to gain “undue benefit” by claiming capital expenditure costs inflated to the tune of 117% in the Krishna Godavari Basin. A joint venture of Reliance, BG and ONGC in the Panna-Mukta-Tapti oil fields, has also been accused for similarly inflating development costs at the cost of the Government exchequer. The production sharing contract between the government and private operators is such that the latter is allowed to recover all its costs before revenues are shared; therefore the higher a company’s costs, the lower the revenue available for sharing and the lower the government’s share. The Oil Ministry and DGH therefore facilitated these private companies in robbing the public exchequer to the tune of crores of rupees.
The CAG reveals how RIL bought diesel for its oil-field development activities at a higher price from from its own affiliate Reliance Petro Marketing (RPML), by falsely showing RPML to be the lowest bidder instead of the state-run Indian Oil Corporation. The CAG report also shows how companies like Cairns India were allowed to violate rules by exploring additional areas beyond the block stipulated in its contract in Barmer, Rajasthan. The CAG report also found that the government used a “backdoor method” to allow private operators to conduct oil exploration beyond the period stipulated in the contract.
The CAG corroborates what had already been alleged in a preliminary enquiry (PE) filed by the CBI against former DGH V K Sibal two years back in 2009. The CBI’s PE, filed by its Anti-Corruption Unit, had observed, “It is alleged that Sibal favoured RIL and approved a phenomenal increase in the capital expenditure from $2.4 billion to $8.8 billion for KG D6 field between September and December 2006 in lieu of personal favours/ services from RIL Group of Industries.” According to the PE, Sibal, in exchange for undue favours to RIL, enjoyed various return favours, including accommodation for his two daughters for more than four months at RIL’s guest house in Dalal House in Mumbai. The PE had been registered “against VK Sibal, unknown officials of the Petroleum Ministry and unknown others for gross misconduct committed by them.” But since then, the CBI enquiry had gone cold.
A former Revenue Secretary, (Mr. E.A.S. Sarma) has, in the wake of the CAG revelations, written to Manmohan Singh reminding that he repeatedly alerted the PMO to the irregularities in auditing capital costs, pricing and so on in the case of the RIL in the KG Basin and Cairn in Barmer. He has said that the PM turned a “blind eye” to these warnings, giving him the impression that that “the various government agencies including the PMO are apparently trying to hide the facts from the people of this country to benefit the oil companies.”
UPA Government: In Ambani’s Pockets
It is worth recalling here that the Radia tapes had already indicated the extent to which the RIL and its agent Niira Radia could get the UPA Government and even the main opposition, BJP, to do its bidding. In the Radia tapes, JD(U) MP and former revenue secretary N.K. Singh was heard saying that Murli Deora had probably been appointed Petroleum Minister because Mukesh Ambani “swung it for him.” N K Singh is also heard helping Radia ensure that during a debate in Parliament on Pranab Mukherjee’s move to introduce huge retrospective tax exemptions that would benefit RIL alone, the speaker from the opposition BJP would be handpicked, to rule out any possibility of the BJP opposing the move! In another conversation Atal Behari Vajpayee’s foster son-in-law is heard quoting Mukesh as saying, ‘Congress to ab apni dukan hai.” (Congress is now our shop.)
Privatisation Paves the Way for Loot
The CAG has highlighted the aspect of inflated capital costs and bending of contract rules to favour the private corporations. But the aspect of petroleum pricing is no less scandalous a case of undue largesse for private operators in this sector. And it is privatisation that has paved the way for literal loot of India’s oil-and-gas resources at huge cost to the public exchequer.
The private sector was first invited into the oil and gas exploration sector in 1997, and RIL was allocated blocks in the rich Krishna Godavari basin for throwaway prices, where it struck gas. In 2007, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) (including Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and then Finance Minister P Chidambaram as well as Deputy Planning Commission Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia), which was set up to recommend the price of gas, recommended that RIL be allowed to sell gas at a highly inflated price: $4.20 instead of $2.34, while the ONGC was being paid only $1.8 at the time. During the court battle between the Ambani brothers, RIL had stated that its cost price of gas was just 1.43 dollars. Why was the domestic price of gas fixed so much higher than its cost price, and what was the logic of pegging it to the price of crude (in dollars) in the international market?
Next, in 2009, the UPA Government doubled the price of natural gas produced by PSUs from $1.8 per unit to $4.2 per unit to bring it in line with the price approved by the government for the gas produced by Reliance. This was obviously done to secure the market for RIL: without this decision, lower-priced gas produced by PSUs would have been preferred by power and fertilizer producers to gas produced by RIL. By hiking the prices all around, the Government increased the burden on farmers who buy power and fertilisers – all to boost the profits of a single private corporation. Since fertiliser and power are subsidy products, the steep cost of gas would also result in much higher subsidy costs – i.e another needless drain on the public exchequer! So, the gas pricing by the government amounts to another scam.
This latest scam has once again underlined that government complicity in corporate loot of natural resources lies at the heart of corruption in today’s liberalized economy. The UPA Government seems all set to deny the evidence of the oil scam – as they once tried to deny the 2G spectrum scam. The Congress has been raising questions about “leakage” of the CAG report to the public. But an awakened public will not allow this scam to be swept under the carpet, and will certainly insist on the concerned government and DGH officials as well as private players being brought to book.
(The following is a summary of a report by the Environment Support Group, Bangalore, titled Tearing through the Water Landscape: Evaluating the environmental and social consequences of POSCO project in Odisha, India, co-authored by Leo Saldanha and Bhargavi Rao. For more on evidence of corruption and A Raja’s involvement in the POSCO clearance, see cover.)
On 2 May 2011, Indian Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh finally approved the diversion of over 3,000 acres of forest land, of the 4,000 acres demanded, for a steel-power-port complex of the POSCO India project.
Earlier, on 31 January 2011, Ramesh had approved the environmental and coastal regulation zone clearances that the project had secured in 2007, even though all these clearances were obtained by fraud, and thus illegal, as proved by an independent investigative committee appointed by the MoEF last year as well as by another expert committee.
Forest Rights Denied
The diversion of forests for non-industrial use by POSCO was based on “categorical assurances” that Jairam Ramesh sought from the Odisha Government, that the Forest Rights Act did not apply to communities affected directly and indirectly by POSCO. The Odisha Government gave him this assurance on the basis of fraudulent claims that there were no non-traditional forest dwellers and tribes in the POSCO project affected villages of Jagatsinghpur, thus making this massive land transfer merely an administrative arrangement. The Odisha Government accused Shishir Mahpatra, the Sarpanch of Dhinkia Panchayat, of fraud in providing resolutions of Palli Sabhas that demonstrated that not only were there OTFDs and tribals in the project affected area, but that they had been dependent on the region’s natural resources, particularly forests, for centuries. Ramesh did not hesitate for a moment and question this claim by the Odisha Government. On the basis of this uncertainty in fact, he proceeded to support the POSCO clearance claiming it was of “strategic importance” to India.
As the single largest industrial foreign direct investment ever in India (with a capital cost of Rs. 51,000 crores at 2005 prices), POSCO’s ambitions in India are not merely that of establishing a steel-power-port complex in the ecologically sensitive Jagatsinghpur district. In fact, company officials have submitted before the investigative committees that they will not invest in the steel-port complex if permission to mine for iron ore in over 6,100 acres of dense jungle in the Kandadhar Hills in Sundergarh district is not granted.
Most of this iron ore mined is for export without any local value addition, and thus will serve the economic interest of South Korea and POSCO stockholders – mainly American banks and Warren Buffet – one of the world’s richest individuals. POSCO has also demanded a dedicated railway line to the port – that means additional land demands. Further the project requires at least 2,000 acres for a township for its employees, and diversion of drinking water from the Jobra barrage for industrial use. All this has been agreed to by the Odisha Government when the project MOU was signed in 2005, but the people have been kept in the dark of the real consequences of such loot of India’s non-renewable natural resources.
A ‘Right-less People’?
Over 13,000 acres is merely the demand of land for realising POSCO’s dream venture in India. Thousands of families will be dislocated, and suffer irreparable damage to their lives and livelihoods. It is time we appreciated that this steel-power-port-township-mining project is the single largest industrial venture conceived in recent memory, and that such scale of investment will be done only because we are gifting highly expensive and excellent iron ore for POSCO to make stupendous profits. There is absolutely no benefit for India in this deal, and what POSCO will leave behind, if they succeed at all, is a lot of fly ash, destroyed ecologically sensitive coastal and forest environments and thousands of people in misery.
Our extensive review of historical, ecological, social and economic evidence shows that Jairam Ramesh’s support for POSCO is nothing but a highly condemnable act that legitimises fraud and corruption in environmental decision making. Ramesh has today become the architect of one of India’s greatest planned disasters that begins its ominous initiative by turning the affected communities into a ‘right-less people’, as their fundamental rights have been snatched on the basis of “faith and trust” in Odisha Government’s lies.
Delhi Airport Scam
‘PPP’ - Private Plunders the Public
Yet another instance of crony capitalism can be seen in the CAG revelations (to be tabled in Parliament in the monsoon session) of the major corruption involved in the PPP model of construction of Delhi’s new Airport.
Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), a public-private consortium led by GMR Infrastructure Limited, built the Airport. According to the CAG report, DIAL overshot its budget by over $2 billion (Rs 8,955 crore) and one-fourth of the amount will have to be borne by air passengers in the form of higher airport taxes. According to the CAG, the Government lost Rs 1,185 crore in this thanks to undervaluation of 48.5 acres of land around the airport. DIAL gave the licence to develop this land to a newly formed subsidiary, Delhi Aerotropolis Private Limited on a valuation of Rs 775 crore for the land; but the valuation according to land rates in Gurgaon amounts to not be less than Rs 1,960 crore.
The state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) had a 46% revenue share partnership agreement with DIAL, which was to get the remaining 54 per cent. But by going for joint ventures with subsidiaries, DIAL artificially brought its own share of revenue down to 15 per cent, resulting in lowering of AAI’s share.
In a letter to the civil aviation secretary last year, the chairman of the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA), said, “It has been alleged that various revenue streams are being sub-contracted to joint ventures specially created by DIAL on revenue-sharing basis...This reduces the revenue share of AAI.”
These joint ventures were often contracted with subsidiaries owned by people close to Praful Patel – NCP leader and then civil aviation minister in the UPA Government, as well as other senior NCP leaders. For instance, the CAG alleges that Deepak Talwar, a lobbyist who was awarded two major contracts with DIAL, was known to be close to Patel.
BJP Govt.’s Sullied Ganga
BJP and its Sangh Parivar make much of their commitment to the ‘sacred’ river Ganga. BJP’s Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pohkriyal Nishank once held a cabinet meeting on the banks of the Ganga to highlight their love for the river.
The reality behind this mask was exposed recently in a tragic incident in which Swami Nigamanand died in Uttarakhand after a 115-day fast in protest against rampant illegal sand mining and stone quarrying on the Ganga. The BJP State Government ignored Nigamanand’s fast and let the mining mafia of the state continue to rape the river. Nigamanand lay dying in the same hospital where Nishank, his government and the BJP made a great fuss over Ramdev.
Nigamanand had demanded that the state government stop a company from quarrying and mining in an 80-km stretch of the Ganga. A ban order by the government was passed but never enforced. The mining mafia is very influential in the state. The illegal quarrying and mining have caused river islands to vanish, the river bed to crack up, has polluted the river and affected river life. The BJP Government in Uttarakhand launched a much-advertised Sparsh Ganga Abhiyan (campaign for a clean Ganga) with Hema Malini as its brand ambassador – but allowed a man who was exposing the pollution and ruination of the river, to die on hunger strike.
A CAG report has found that the ‘Maha-kumbh’ recently held by the state government (for which Nishank was boasting that he deserved a Nobel) on the Ganga was a ‘maha-scam’ of 200 crore. Making a mockery of its promises to clean the Ganga, the organisers actually allowed tons of sewage to flow into the river during the Maha-kumbh!
There is even more evidence of the Uttarakhand Government’s complicity in the exploitation of the state’s precious rivers – which are a national asset. Following widespread outrage over corruption in the allotment of 56 contracts for hydropower projects to private companies, the state government recently had to cancel the allotments.
One major scam which prompted the HC to take intervene was the case of the government allowing a housing project by Sturdia Developers on industrial land of Citurgia Bio-chemicals in Rishikesh near the river Ganga, in blatant violation of environmental regulations. In this instance, the file for clearance moved at a miraculous speed, from the patwari to the CM’s desk in single day! The HC quashed the project and a judicial enquiry is on.
Who is Undermining Parliament? Civil Society or Government?
Tapas Ranjan Saha
A debate is raging on the role of civil society and popular movements, and their impact on democracy. In a recent statement, Home Minister P Chidambaram said “Elected members cannot yield to civil society” since this might undermine “parliamentary democracy.” A beleaguered UPA Government is increasingly trying to discredit mass movements against corruption by declaring that civil society cannot usurp the right to legislate – a right which, in a democracy, is the exclusive preserve of elected representatives. This argument needs to be examined closely, because on the face of it, it seems to be premised on well-accepted principles of democracy. Are civil society activists and mass movements really holding Parliamentary democracy to ransom? Or is there a deeper, more shadowy threat to democracy that is kept hidden, with a skilful sleight of hand, by Chidambaram and his colleagues?
In the first place, the accusation that civil society activists are seeking to replace Parliament does not hold water. Civil society activists are seeking to shape the draft of laws, and they also seek to mobilise opinion on the content of the laws and hold elected representatives accountable to such opinion. In the process, common people are more closely informed and involved about specific clauses of laws and specific debates surrounding them, than ever before. But the actual task of enacting the laws still rests with MPs in Parliament; though it is true as a result of the civil society efforts at public participation, the debates within Parliament are more likely to be scrutinised intelligently and alertly by citizens.
Chidambaram and the Congress party seem to be uncomfortable with this continuous process of public participation and scrutiny of the trajectory of laws before they reach Parliament. In an article, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari warned against street protests, which he equated with ‘street coercion’ and fascism. Chidambaram criticised civil society members for challenging the Finance Minister to a televised debate, saying that after all, Parliamentary debates are televised and “voters exercise their franchise from time-to-time.” What the Government seems to be suggesting is that democracy is restricted to voters’ right to elect representatives “from time-to-time.” Once people cast their vote, do they cede away their policy-shaping rights for the next five years to the representatives they elect? In other words, is the government suggesting that democracy be available to the citizens only once in five years? Do the people have no right to tell those representatives, through street protests when necessary, exactly what kind of laws they want enacted, especially when those laws often tend to have irrevocable consequences on their lives?
It is strange that the Govt which does not want civil society to dictate to Parliament, has no qualms about corporate CEOs and lobbyists as well as foreign powers dictating laws, policies and even Ministerial appointments. A glaring example was the Radia tapes revelation of how Mukesh Ambani and his lobbyist could even manage to dictate what stand the chief Opposition party will take in Parliament on a key question of energy policy. Wikileaks revealed the close scrutiny and immense influence exerted on India’s parliamentary processes, choice of Ministers (remember the Wikileaks revelation that Murli Deora’s appointment as Petroleum Minister was influenced by the US), foreign policy stances, economic policies and laws by the US. How come the Government does not consider such influence to be a threat to the sovereignty of India’s parliamentary democracy, but resents the scrutiny and influence by India’s own citizens?
Interestingly, the Government, which is raising its eyebrows about the role of civil society activists on the Lokpal panel, is itself appointing un-elected individuals – almost always corporate CEOs - in extremely strategic policy-making positions in ways that seriously undermine Parliament as well as people’s right to know. A crucial instance is that of the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) – which has recently secured “in-principle” approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security. NATGRID’s CEO is one Captain Raghu Raman, former CEO of Mahindra Special Services Group. Through what parliamentary or democratic process was he appointed? People are in the dark about why he was hand-picked by the Home Minister. Moreover his views and stances are not known to the public.
Civil society activists are public figures, whose ideas are ever open to public scrutiny and debate. We may not agree with everything that Anna Hazare proposes – but his ideas are out there in the open for us to criticize or assess on our own. But things are very different with the likes of Captain Raghu Raman. How many people are aware, for instance, of his views on national security and India’s democracy? When he was the Mahindra SSG boss, he penned an article titled ‘A Nation of Numb People’ in which he opined, “Enterprises would need to raise their own protection units…The idea is to … have private protection units that can work in close cooperation with law enforcement agencies. Think of it as a private territorial army. If the commercial czars don’t begin protecting their empires now, they may find the lines of control cutting across those very empires.”
Can Chidambaram tell us why a man who thinks of corporations as ‘czars’ with private ‘territories’ with the right to command ‘private armies’ to wage war on India’s citizens is heading the most sensitive, all-compassing intelligence institution in our country? Are India’s Parliament and people aware that NATGRID is headed by a man whose worldview matches those of the worst banana republics?
Another instance Parliament being undermined is in the case of the UID Project. The UID Authority of India headed by Nandan Nilekani – another former CEO - UIDAI came into being without approval in Parliament, let alone wider debate in civil society. The National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill, 2010 has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha, but is yet to be debated or passed, and it is yet to have been placed in the Lok Sabha. With a mere Cabinet approval as its basis, UIDAI headed by Nilekani has already signed MOUs in most states with a range of private agencies and government ministries, and UID cards are already being distributed. Does this not undermine Parliamentary democracy?
What are the credentials of individuals like Raghu Raman or Nilekani? They are not elected parliamentarians. They are not even politicians, who at any rate have to face elections periodically? Neither are they bureaucrats, bound to certain regulations and obligations. They are simply corporate CEOs, accountable only to protecting the interests of corporate profits! Yet we see they are being chosen through sheer discretion and positioned in strategic places to make far-reaching critical changes in our country’s policy – that bode disastrous and irreparable implications for country’s democracy and citizens’ rights.
In a debate on a TV channel, responding to the issue of India signing on the UN Convention on Corruption, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari declared piously that even a municipal law would take precedence over international laws if the former was contradicted by the latter. Such respect for India’s democratic institutions and sovereignty is commendable – but one wonders where it evaporates when it comes to economic policies dictated by the WTO? In those cases, why does the Indian Government argue that its hands are tied and it has no choice but to amend India’s laws in keeping with WTO directives? It seems the Government invokes the principles of Parliamentary democracy and sovereignty only according to convenience.
The processes initiated by mass movements and civil society activists – whether we agree with all their views or not – strengthen democracy. Citizens do have a right to tell their elected representatives what kind of laws they want enacted and what laws they want changed or scrapped. The SEZ Act was passed by Parliament without a word of dissent. But when implemented, it became clear that those citizens it would affect most – farmers – would not accept it. Would it not have been far more democratic that farmers should have had a right to scrutinise such a law before it was passed in Parliament? Now, farmers’ mass protests against land grab are forcing governments to consider their opinions on existing laws on land acquisition and rehabilitation. Opinion is building in the country against the sedition law; earlier, mass protests have forced a debate on laws like AFSPA. These are all processes that are essential to a healthy democracy – and the Government only exposes its authoritarian impulse by trying to discredit such participative processes.
One reader’s comment on the web page of a leading English daily that carried the news story – ‘Elected members cannot yield to civil society – Chidambaram’ (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/elected-members-cannot-yield-to-civil-society-chidambaram/800964/) hit the nail on the head. This reader has commented caustically, “Yes, they should yield only to corporates and plunderers of the nation.” It seems the UPA Government’s bluster is able to convince fewer people every day, as the corporate-dictated corruption under its aegis becomes more and more obvious.
Young India Against Corruption, Young India For Democracy
For the past one month, AISA-RYA’s nation-wide Student-youth Campaign Against Corruption has been reaching out to people across the country. In this sweltering heat, when campuses are closed for the summer holidays, teams of students are busy campaigning in market places, in buses and railway stations, in coaching centres, hostels and rented accommodations. At a time when fresh scams are being unearthed almost every day, volunteers of AISA-RYA’s campaign are exposing the links between corruption and corporate loot in different parts of the country.
During the campaign, volunteers are collecting signatures from people, and are appealing to them to join the ongoing struggle against privatization and neo-liberal policies, against corporate loot of our resources, and against governments which seek to shield the corrupt. They are emphasizing the need to demand an end to draconian laws and to confront the repressive policies of governments.
Campaign folders and booklets are being distributed and through songs and speeches, volunteers are calling upon people to gather in Delhi on 9th August against corruption and corporate loot.
Throughout the country, the campaign is receiving enthusiastic response from people. Not just students and youth, but shopkeepers, small vendors and people from all walks of life are listening to our campaign and joining as volunteers. In Kalu Sarai in Delhi, children in the area sang with the volunteer team and local people gave speeches in support of the campaign. One person came forward to offer to donate a mobile mike to the campaign, and requested the volunteer team to visit again during an upcoming bhandara. In Uttarakhand, a student requested the volunteer team to come to his institute in Dehradun to campaign. Our volunteers often receive phone calls from people who have come across our campaign material and want to know more details.
Volunteer teams are regularly surrounded by large crowds – people ask questions, and express happiness and hope at the fact that students and youth of the country are running this campaign.
In Lucknow, the volunteer team was stopped by the UP Police, who claimed that the students did not have ‘permission’ to campaign, and that they were ‘disturbing the peace’ of the area. The volunteer team addressed the large crowd that soon gathered, and explained the intentions of the ongoing campaign – while also asserting that they had every right to take their campaign to every part of the country. Common people responded positively to the volunteer team’s arguments against the police.
Throughout Tamil Nadu, where the people have recently punished the corrupt DMK government, volunteer teams are receiving generous donations from common people to carry forward the campaign.
This campaign has reached far beyond the boundaries of colleges and universities. Campaigns in messes and rooms of hostels is not possible because of the ongoing summer holidays, but volunteers are conducting their campaign every day at bazaars, tea-stalls, dhabas and parks, in buses and railway stations, and are also conducting door-to-door campaigns in areas where students live in rented accommodation.
In the national capital, campaigns have taken place in Narela, Mandavali, Jamia Nagar, Patel Chest, Vijay Nagar, Mukherjee Nagar, Christian colony as well as in Munirka, Ber Sarai, Kalu Sarai and Katwaria Sarai in South Delhi. As admissions begin in Delhi University for the 2011-12 academic session, volunteers have set up booths and are distributing campaign material every day. Volunteers from Delhi also went to Khairpur in Ghaziabad, where a massive land acquisition drive for the Yamuna expressway is going on. The people in Khairpur, fighting a spirited struggle against corporate land grab, responded positively to the campaign. AISA activists from Delhi University also went to Bhind in Madhya Pradesh. After a convention in Bhind town, volunteers campaigned near the district court in Bhind, as well as in Bhup village.
In Bhubaneswar, a convention was held and AISA National President Sandeep also accompanied a CPI(ML)-led team to the anti-POSCO resistance site, where a brave struggle against one of the worst instances of corruption is ongoing. In Maharashtra, workshops and conventions against corruption and corporate loot have been held in Ahmednagar and Shrirampur, and the campaign has taken off in these places. In Uttar Pradesh, volunteer teams have campaigned in Lucknow, Allahabad and Benaras. The campaign teams also held press conferences in Allahabad and Benares, and in these cities, the campaign has also received good coverage by local media.
In West Bengal, AISA as well as RYA has organized meetings, conventions and workshops in Kolkata, Hoogly Siliguri and Dhaniakhali. Campaign has begun in these areas, and as the admission for the new session begins, campaign booths have been set up in front of the Kolkata University gate. In Tamil Nadu, campaign has begun in ten districts: Chennai, Tiruvallur, Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Pudukottoi, Namakkal, Kadalur, Madurai, Kancheepuram and Thanjavur. There are plans to campaign in more districts in July. And in Uttarakhand, campaign has started in Srinagar, Garhwal and Rudrapur districts. In Bihar, conventions have been conducted in Bhojpur and Patna, and the campaign will soon begin in Darbhanga, Jehenabad, Bhagalpur, Purnia and Newada.
As the nexus between governments and mega corporations increasingly stands exposed as the main source of corruption today, and as a desperate government’s attacks on democracy become even more naked, the student-youth campaign gains in determination and energy. The campaign is all set to broaden and intensify as we approach 9 August – the anniversary of the Quit India Movement – when thousands of young Indians will demand that the policies that promote corruption and corporate plunder and unleash repression must Quit India!