Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) extends its solidarity with the workers who are going on a two-day countrywide general strike on 20 and 21 February. While all the major trade union centres affiliated to various ruling class parties of the country have come together for giving a call for this strike due to the pressure from the working masses, the revolutionary and militant trade unions and workers’ organisations too have given a strike call for these two days. This strike is an opportunity for the workers across different sectors of the economy and regions to come together to highlight the burning problems of their common concern, which require urgent redressal.
Even a cursory survey will tell us that a backward and regressive mode of production have ensured that the industrial sector in India remains marginal in the overall economy. In terms of its share in employment and GDP, the industrial sector has lagged behind agriculture and even the ‘service’ sector. Similar to the imperialist-dictated schemes like the Green Revolution in agriculture, efforts by the Indian state to boost up industrial production through PSUs have mostly ended in failure. In the global context of collapse of Soviet social imperialism and the ascendance of the US as the strongest imperialist power, the Indian ruling classes in the 1990s threw away even the fig-leaf of the ‘welfare’ state and opened the floodgates of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization. World Bank employees, IMF consultants etc. are being installed in key government posts like the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Planning Commission members, Chief Economic Advisor etc. to implement these policies. Contractualisation of work, outsourcing, sweatshops, SEZs, sale of PSUs, ‘Disinvestment’, unrestrained inflow and outflow of Foreign Institutional Investment (FII) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in nearly all sectors of the economy, deregulation of the currency and fuel prices, withdrawal of subsidies and social security measures, etc. have followed in its wake.
With the Indian economy swaying with the ebbs and tides of the worldwide economic upheavals, the rulers of the country seem totally incapable of controlling the spiralling inflation, skyrocketing price rice, or the growing unemployment and destitution of the people. Indeed, the Indian ruling classes have become the much-despised instruments of imperialist forces in extracting the labour and resources of the toiling masses of the country.
The close integration of the Indian economy with the imperialist global economy has darkened the menacing shadow of moribund finance capital, contributing not only to a brewing agrarian crisis but also a stagnant industrial sector, with serious implications for the country’s workers and peasants. The global economic crisis which has paralysed the major imperialist countries has started to have a telling impact on the overall Indian economy – irrespective of the contrary claims made by the rulers – and the ‘10% growth story’ has already started to turn sour. Manufacturing has been badly hit by falling demands, and compared to the 6.9% growth shown by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) in April-June 2011, the IIP for the same period in 2012 decelerated to -0.1% and is still hovering around the 1% mark. Hit by such a severe crisis, industries have lost much of their capacities to generate employment, and are resorting to drastic cost-cutting measures like retrenchment, hire-and-fire labour policy, artificial depression of real wages, denial of legally stipulated social security benefits like ESI-PF, bonus, pension, healthcare, prolonging of working hours, and so on.
The anti-people and anti-worker policies pursued by the Indian state in the last two decades have led to an overall decline in the standard of living, forcing the toiling masses of the country into a situation of acute impoverishment, malnutrition and destitution which is worse than sub-Saharan countries. Economic disparity has touched new heights, with 77% of the population surviving on less than 20 rupees a day. The propertied classes and the government in the country are increasingly resorting to fascist methods to tackle this explosive situation. Not only the basic political and democratic rights, but the statutory legal rights of the working masses too have been denied or subverted. The right to strike as a legitimate weapon of struggle has itself come under unprecedented attack. In the more than 1000 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) approved by the government – which are being touted as ‘engines of rapid industrial growth’ – the right of the workers to organise themselves in trade unions or to call strikes are completely done away with. Other forms of collective struggle by the workers too are being undermined. It is this worsening condition of the working people of the country – particularly the industrial workers – and their demand for a fight back against the anti-worker policies of the government that have forced the central trade unions to come together and give a call for a two-day all India strike on 20 and 21 February 2013.
As the world economic crisis deepens and the imperialist powers push us once again to the brink of war and fascism, the ruling classes in India are going to step up their assault on the workers, peasants, religious and national minorities, Dalits, Adivasis and the other oppressed peoples of the country. Only a high-tide of revolutionary and democratic struggles by the popular masses will be able to counter this impending onslaught. RDF appeals to the workers and their militant unions to seize the initiative, intensify the struggle for immediate economic demands and compliment with the political struggle for a revolutionary social transformation by smashing the two shackles binding the people of India – feudalism and imperialism. A successful two-day strike on 20 and 21 February 2013 – with the aim of raising the wages as per the basic needs of the workers, full implementation of labour laws, against contractualisation and other related demands – will be a step in this direction.
RDF further calls upon the workers and all other fighting forces to intensify this democratic struggle by not confining to annual strike but to expand it to the pitched battles in the field to successfully force the ruling oligarchies of Indian subcontinent to accept
General Secretary, RDF