Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 52 Number 8, April 16, 2022 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

India

Millions of Workers Join National Strike

by J Singh


National strike, March 28-29, 2022, Patna, Bihar

Millions of workers joined in a national strike on March 28 and 29 for the fulfilment of their economic and social demands. The strike was called by a forum of national trade unions and was supported by farmers across India. Their demands include scrapping the labour codes, ending privatisation in any form, stopping the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP), increasing the allocation of wages under The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), and regularising contract workers.

Last year 250 million people joined in a national shutdown. Today, many workers and farmers are asking the hundreds of millions of people who run everything and produce everything, why don't we take over the administration at the local and national level? Why do we remain in begging mode? What is it that we are lacking? Farmers' Morchas showed that the toilers can run everything, so why beg from the ruling elite? How long will we keep just protesting?

These are signs of coming times.

As expected, after consulting fake farmers who reported that 80 per cent of farmers in India support the central government on farm laws and policies, the Supreme Court appointed a committee on the demands of the farmers. It is a cruel joke by the ruling elite to give its anti-farmer laws legitimacy. The Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) opposed this committee when it was constituted and now has opposed its report.

A rally was held in Chandigarh along with tractor marches in Punjab on March 25 by the SKM to highlight the demands of farmers and Punjab. They called on the new government of Punjab to address the problems of a Minimum Produce Price (MSP), electricity, water, health, education and other issues as it promised to do during the election.

A meeting of the SKM is being called to set its plans for the coming months. Committees of farmers across India are going to meet all the chief ministers as part of their protest movement. Farmers also warned the people of Punjab and Haryana that the ruling elite is trying to split the unity of the people of Punjab and Haryana and called on them to remain vigilant.

According to news reports, a parliamentary committee found that the Union government had vowed to double farmers' incomes between 2015 and 2022 but, at the halfway point, farms in at least four states had less income than when the pledge was made. In Jharkhand, a farming family's average income fell from Rs 7,068 to Rs 4,895; in Madhya Pradesh, it fell from Rs 9,740 to Rs 8,339; in Nagaland, from Rs 11,428 to Rs 9,877 and for Odisha, it dipped from Rs 5,274 to Rs 5,112.

The new chief minister of Punjab met with Prime Minister Modi and asked him for a package of 1 lakh crore rupees for Punjab to fulfil his election promises for "development". His party, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is setting a course of blaming the central government for its failures to deliver and cover up the fact that they have no interest in fighting for Punjab and its rights that have been usurped by the central government and the colonial constitution. The colonial constitution concentrates all the power in Delhi.

This is the stand taken by several state governments to cover up that they are not addressing the problems faced by the people which includes how to handle the central government and renew the constitution. The new first minister of Punjab promised that his government will not be run from Delhi, but he is begging Delhi for funds. It is a replay of the old adage that "he who pays the piper calls the tune". The battle continues over where the seat of power of Punjab lies.

Another serious problem which persists is seen in attempts to raise the diversion that the problems of Punjab stem from Pakistan. The people of Punjab need friendly relations with Pakistan. They need to open trade and border crossings between west Punjab and Pakistan.

The new first minister announced that pre-paid electricity meters will be installed ending subsidies for electricity to farmers and handing it over to private companies owned by the oligarchic families Adani and Ambani. Farmers have announced that they will not permit these meters to be installed.

It is also reported that the new government has doubled the amount of water going to Delhi from Punjab without informing anyone in Punjab. Amit Shah, the home minister of India, announced measures which further concentrate control of Chandigarh in the hands of Delhi. The AAP, with its eyes on elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, is silent on the rights and claims of Punjab against Delhi. It serves the same longstanding plans to concentrate power in Delhi and serve the ruling elite.


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