|Volume 53 Number 17, June 10, 2023
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Anniversary of Operation Blue Star - June 3-8, 1984:
Indira Gandhi's Invasion of the Golden Temple and Massacre at the Sikhs' Holiest Site
University Staff to Strike against Arbitrary Full Pay Docking
Writing in PoliticsHome in May of her visit to India with the India (Trade and Investment) All-Party Parliamentary Group, Baroness Verma  says that they were "reminded regularly during the visit of the value and importance of face-to-face engagement". Having said that at every opportunity they were reminded that "Great Britain remained an important partner and friend to India", she throws in the caveat, "However, it was noted that our soft power - once the envy of the world - needs a reboot in response to the shifting global dynamics of emerging nations such as India."
Baroness Verma reflects on how she alleges the coronation of King Charles III "was a great opportunity to showcase the very best of what we have to offer the world and yet there are so many gems that remain hidden". She draws the conclusion, "Our new monarch provides us with an opportunity to establish stronger and outward-reaching connections through unique institutions like the Commonwealth, showing current and future generations the strength of shared common values and causes." She ends by "raising a toast to a brighter and stronger future for Great Britain's place in the world and how we ensure we play our part in that future".
In seeking to define King Charles' constitutional role as sovereign and his symbolic function as representative of the state in this way, Charles III is willy nilly being drawn into global political matters, far from being symbolic and neutral. He is seen to be stepping beyond his allegedly symbolic role. The term "soft power" purposely connotes a benign and innocuous influence to hide a more sinister and dangerous political motive. But the "soft power" of Britain is far from benign, involving use of the political police to carry out subversive operations such as the so-called "colour revolutions". It is utilised with the aim of bringing about regime change whenever the likesof the US, Britain and their allies decide this is required to uphold their "civilised values" and "shared common values and causes" of which Baroness Verma is apparently so fond.
An argument is being given that, far from being above politics, the monarch should be in the fray, acting more like the heads of state of the US, France and other countries who are the key spokespersons for the war industry in their own countries and on behalf of the US/NATO alliance of which they are members. Charles himself is behaving as though he comprises a faction based on his own vested interests, which are considerable, vying for power and influence. Under the reign of Charles III, any illusions about the role of the constitutional monarch being symbolic are due to be shattered.
For although in Britain's constitutional monarchy there exists a convention that the sovereign maintains strict political neutrality, this is nothing but a fiction of the Fictional Person of State as contradicted by the actual reality of the factional exercise of "soft power", which goes hand in hand with the "hard power" of military might and aggression. King Charles III is indeed in the fray of promoting this kind of "soft power", under which Britain has in the 21st century alone committed many crimes against humanity - legacy of a "tradition" of monarchy under which Britain has used its colonial and imperialist might to maintain its criminal empire, including, of course, its heinous role in its "jewel of the crown", India, from which the Indian people themselves are still struggling to break. The monarch is in every way a block to the progress of society. For a modern democracy, it is the people who must be empowered, and in this sense replace "soft power" and "hard power" alike with their own decision-making authority.
1. Sandip K Verma, Baroness Verma, is a Conservative peer and former international development minister. She was born in Amritsar, India.
Original Akal Takht, Darshani Deori and surrounding area prior to Operation Blue Star - Photo: Sikhmuseum.com
June 3-8 is the 39th anniversary of the invasion of Golden Temple and 38 other Gurdwaras in Punjab by the Indian army in 1984, ordered by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Hundreds of thousands of people had gathered at the Golden Temple to commemorate the anniversary of the martyrdom of the 6th Guru of the Sikhs, Arjan Dev. The army attacked with tanks, armoured cars, rockets and other heavy weapons killing thousands of people and injuring many more. The magnificent Sikhreference library was burnt, a curfew was imposed on all of Punjab and all media suppressed. No news was allowed to come out of Punjab. All the political parties of the rich supported this attack on the people revealing their anti-people nature. Many of those who are today shouting about "fascism in India" were in the front ranks of the attacks against the people of Punjab, acting as cheerleaders of this attack on the people.
Since partition, Punjabis have been fighting against the colonial policies of the central government of Delhi. Farmers have been fighting against ruination, devastation and destruction of the land as they are doing now. They wanted to take control of their resources, so they could make decisions about them which favoured the farmers, rather than falling victim to decisions taken by the Delhi government which favoured agribusiness. But the colonial state in Delhi attacked them with all its might. Theattack on the Golden Temple was a great provocation against the people of Punjab by which the Indian state wanted to incite communal violence. But it failed miserably. It is a testament to the wisdom of the Punjabi people that they did not allow that.
In the following decade more than 150,000 young men were killed by the security forces in assassinations carried out through fake encounters and black ops. Many people were disappeared and falsely imprisoned as a result of black laws. Still, the people never succumbed. The years of state terrorism by the Indian ruling elite did not succeed in crushing the spirit and determination of the people of Punjab, as can be seen in the 2021 farmers' protests at the encampments surrounding Delhi. Time after time they have proclaimed that they will keep on fighting the rulers until they achieve their goals.
The 39th anniversary of the invasion of Golden Temple and military occupation of Punjab reminds the people of Punjab, India and the world of the colonial nature of the Indian state in the service of a tiny ruling elite comprised of billionaires such as Adani, Ambani, Tata and others. It also brings into sharp relief the disinformation and deception that the political parties of the rich have been pedalling about India's being the largest democracy in the world.
The invasion and the conditions of life of the peoples of India since then reveal that the India brought into being as a Westminster style democracy in 1947 is a ruthless dictatorship of the rich. The experience of the people calls on them to strengthen their unity in action against the terroristic dictatorship of the Indian ruling elite.
On Thursday, June 15, around 1,800 University of Leeds employees will begin an indefinite strike after management said it would withhold 100% of their wages for participating in a marking boycott .
The University and College Union (UCU) successfully extended its mandate in the continuing national pay, conditions and casualisation dispute in March, allowing 145 campuses to call strikes for a further six months. The boycott, which began on April 20 and which includes all marking and evaluation, whether it be verbally, in writing or online, is a crucial component of this action. This is critically important, since the fact that this marking includes determination of final grades means it impacts graduation.
Employers at some universities, including Leeds, Kings College London, and others, have threatened to take 20%-100% of employees' wages, with some staff potentially losing a whole month's income, from those participating in the boycott, even though these workers are continuing to otherwise teach, lecture, and help students as usual. The line taken by these managers is that they do not accept "partial performance".
The UCU warned that if management does not stop withholding pay, the strike might go for months. Pointing out that out that Leeds University earned £930 million last year, the union argued that management should be attempting to settle the conflict rather than further impoverishing its employees.
UCU regional official Julie Kelley said: "The brutal pay docking regime that University of Leeds management is enforcing on its staff is only adding fuel to this dispute, it's bad for staff and it's bad for students. Leeds' vice-chancellor needs to get on the phone to the employer body UCEA and demand it gets back to the negotiating table. That is the only way this dispute will be resolved. Our members are willing to down tools until she sees sense and stops trying to impoverish our members."
It has been pointed out that the draconian threats being made against those taking part in the marking boycott is an aggressive tactic - disproportionate, punitive, and probably illegal - aimed at intimidating workers into backing down. Employers are further seeking to avoid a repeat of the recent (partial) victory in the current UCU dispute, where strike action has finally forced a promise to restore pensions, which were lowered by up to 35% in 2020 .
Imposition and unwillingness to negotiate aim to disrupt the development of an outlook that acknowledges that higher education workers, whether academic or support staff, create enormous new value in the economy, as Workers' Weekly has emphasised throughout this struggle . The work done by university employees results in highly qualified graduates and postgraduates with a massive productive capacity, and it also raises society's cultural level. However, those that use this value neither recognise nor realise it. Through their highly educated workforces and the research and technology they use, which they do not pay for, businesses, especially large ones, directly profit.
The government itself is increasingly resorting to open rule by police powers and restricting the right to take action and for workers to organise in self-defence, revealing that it is an issue of control over the direction society is headed, as an educated population is key to a new direction of the economy and democracy. In this sense the workers and academics are forming the new outlook where people can think and act in their own name. This is the pathway opening for the workers to take control over their lives and destiny and constituting themselves as the authority.
1. "Indefinite strike action to hit University of Leeds over 100% pay docking", UCU, June 2, 2023
2. Antonia Dawes, "UK Lecturers Face Devastating Salary Deductions in Marking Boycott: Academics Speak Out", The Byline Times, June 1, 2023
3. "University Strikes Escalate", Workers' Weekly, February 11, 2023
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