The working class, which successfully accomplished revolutions in many countries in the modern age, which played its invaluable role in productivity growth in India, too, since freedom movement, undergoing such tragic and inhuman suffering today in the days of Corona pandemic, is a matter of shame for independent India. However, it can’t erase the role of working-class from history. Even, in their return home, the workers have exposed the class cruelty of the Modi government. This state of working classes against the fascist politics will give birth to new political equations. These workers had not migrated just to earn their livelihood, but they, too, had their dreams of a decent life and modern values. Workers are not hapless, helpless creatures. They very well recognise those faces and forces that neither made arrangements to send them home, nor provided them with economic help to survive. They will definitely punish them politically when the time comes. Even in their worst crisis, the workers are not dependent on anybody’s mercy; rather they are exhibiting indomitable courage and determination. Working-class, even today, has infinite ability to register political protest and it is capable of providing a new democratic political system to the country. What is needed is its education and organisation.
Their returning to homes is not their nature but they are forced for it.
Compelled by the circumstances they, along with their families and children, have set out for a long journey to their homes on foot. To hold them responsible for it and their harassment by police on the way is barbaric. There is still time, the government must ensure to send them home safely. The government has no dearth of resources.
It is also true that if the government had made arrangements to send migrant workers and others to their native places before declaration of lockdown, it would have helped in containing the spread of COVID-19.
Now, it is incontrovertible that the government of the ‘superman’ has miserably failed not only in dealing with the Corona pandemic but also the devastated economy. Modi government’s economic package of 20 lakh crore or 10% of GDP (as claimed) in the name of bringing back the economy on track is a hoax. Most of the economists are of the view that to stimulate the economy and deal with the rising unemployment, there is a need of direct cash transfer instead of loan fair so that demand increases in the economy. According to the economists, out of this declared 20 lakh crore, the government has given only 2 lakh crore from its treasury which is less than even 1% of GDP.
It is well known that many countries are transferring a substantial amount of cash to their people from the government exchequer. Modi government’s slogan is ‘local to global’ but in practice, the government is handing over all public property to the foreign forces. Jokingly, people say that the self-reliance of the Modi government means self-protection and serving the Reliance.
Its propagandists may call it the government of ‘superman’, but the reality is that this government is scared and extremely weak. It may be put into jails those who are raising people’s issues and are active in democratic movements, but it is completely helpless before its corporate friends and cronies. Let alone impose inheritance tax and wealth tax on the corporate houses, this government is even scared of increasing the limit of fiscal deficit which is urgently needed today. It is afraid that it will weaken India’s global economic rating and result in the flight of foreign capital.
How can the foreign capital fly away if the Modi government dares to decide that no capital can fly away for 5 years? It is also afraid that if the deficit increases, then the corporate houses would be annoyed because then they would be forced to repay more against their foreign borrowing from the international market. However, the economists are of the view that one need not worry about the devaluation of rupee as it will enhance our export. Let the economy of the country be destroyed, but the corporate houses must not repay more- this is the policy of Modi government which urgently needs to be reversed today.
To meet the challenge of demand and make economy self-reliant, the agricultural investment must be increased, remunerative prices to the tune of 150% of the cost price must be given to the farmers, the investment must be made for cooperative farming of the small landholdings, agro-based industries must be encouraged for job creation, the government must directly spend for MSME sector, concession should be given for the loans they are given, they must have control over the market and there should be a complete ban on the import of the items produced by the MSMEs. Cooperatives of workers and entrepreneurs should be formed and workers participation must be ensured in running the enterprises.
In these days of Corona pandemic, cash must be transferred to the workers, they must be given jobs. There should be an expansion of MNREGA in cities. There must be complete loan-waiver for peasants and the poor. With direct investment in poultry, fisheries, dairy etc. people should be encouraged for production and market must be assured for them. Import in these sectors also should be stopped. The unemployed must be given unemployment allowance. Expenditure must be increased on health and education, government health services must be expanded from towns to village levels.
Government must bear the full expenditure of the treatment of Covid-19 patients. Health employees and Corona warriors must be given life-saving PPE kits. Those dead and injured in the pandemic related accidents must be given proper compensation. The Vista project for new Parliament complex, involving expenditure to the tune of 20 thousand crores must be stopped with immediate effect.
All this is possible if Modi government is ready for increasing expenditure by transcending the limitations of fiscal deficit in this hour of crisis.
Economists are of the firm view that if the government directly spends 7- 8 lakh crores and makes cash available for the people, then the crisis of pandemic, as well as economic depression, can be successfully dealt with and demand can be revived in the economy.
Today country needs a mass movement, a new political discourse. For this, the workers peasants, small-medium entrepreneurs who are facing the crisis today must be organised for political protest.
In fact, this is the era of political protests. There is urgent need to mobilise all exploited and oppressed classes, sections and communities in political protest and develop leadership among them. The socialist countries which stopped direct political participation of the masses and even deprived the workers of political activities and right to unionise, had to pay its price and today also, the socialist countries which have isolated the masses from the political process will pay its price sooner or later.
So those who want to confine workers only to trade union activities and are unwilling to mobilise workers directly in political action, must learn from the mistakes of socialist countries and must mobilise the crores and crores of workers hitting the streets in political action against Modi government. The mistrust generated among workers because of the failure of Modi government in dealing with the Corona pandemic and their alienation from it must be given a political voice because Modi government is losing its moral authority to rule. This is the political dharma of the opposition today.
One thing more, today, there is concerted move to divide the people and impose divisive political, cultural agenda upon them.
There is an urgent need to combat it. This is organised, institutionalised effort of divisive forces with full state patronage. So, there is an urgent need to combat it socially, culturally and politically.
Constitution is the basis of our citizenship and modernity. It is needed that the values of citizenship percolate down to the lower levels. This is our task, today, to help people stand in their role as citizen and play their human role as a citizen. We must remember that social, political and economic movements are parts of one integral whole and complementary to each other. So the movements must be conducted in a holistic manner.
Akhilendra Pratap Singh