The National Campaign Committee (NCC) met on 22-23 November 2012. It reviewed the political situation taking into account the latest developments on the political, economic and social fronts. The Committee was convinced that the political challenges had to be met politically and that time had come to set up a distinct political formation for the purpose. The following decision was taken at that meeting:
"While the NCC would continue in its present form and functions with all its members, a new political formation distinct from the National Campaign Committee be brought into being. It would provide a common political space and identity to various units /formations currently operating as distinct political formations such as Jan Sangharsh Morcha, Krantikari Samata Party, Jan Sangram Parishad and which are at present affiliated to the NCC as constituent units. It will be up to the individual members of the NCC to decide whether to join the new political formation. "
Following this decision, steps were taken to register with the Union Election Commission the political entity with the name "All India Peoples Front (Radical) : AIPF ( R)" and draw up its Constitution. Now it is duly registered body.
At a subsequent meeting held on 30 .09.2013, the draft constitution was discussed. It was unanimously decided that the Constitution should have a succinct Preamble and contain the declaratory statement as required by the Election Commission, besides the usual provisions on the organizational structure, powers and functioning. It was also decided that there should be a distinct section titled "Policy Objectives" as an integral part of the Constitution. The draft has been finalized and adopted by the representatives of AIPF(R) present in the meeting in the light of the discussions and various suggestions that were received from members and other well wishers and with the approval of all concerned.
I have the pleasure to introduce the booklet "Constitution and Policy Objectives of AIPF (R)."
A meeting was convened on behalf of the Jan Sangharsh Morcha in New Delhi on 23.08.2010 to discuss the current political situation in the country. Besides the organizers of the Jan Sangharsh Morcha, other like-minded political formations such as Rajakeeya Janandolan Karnataka, CPI(ML) Mass Liberation, Tamilnadu, Krantikari Samata Party, Bihar, Jharkhand People' s Front, leaders of Dalit and Socialist movements and a number of independent activists, intellectuals and academics participated in the meeting. The political stasis resulting from the virtual pre-emption of the entire political space by the ruling classes formed the background of the deliberations at the meeting. The unprecedented price rise squeezing the poor and the lower middle classes; the large scale land grab through land acquisition and market processes; growing threat to the livelihood of the mariganlised sections of the society;; the growth of fascistic tendencies among the ruling classes; the acute challenges faced by the minorities, Dalits and Adivasis and the most backward among the OBCs; the critical situation in the Kashmir valley; the urgent need to carry forward the fight for social justice and the paramount task of defending and preserving the democratic freedoms and rights facing serious threat from the state agencies : these were the main preoccupations of the participants. People's resistance to and struggles against the onslaught of the predatory capital and its agencies are sharpening, thereby generating and expanding the space for transformative politics.
The need of the hour is to initiate a broad- based political process which will strengthen people's struggles through bringing together different pro-people political tendencies and movements on an inclusive and radical political platform. The meeting which brought together a number of like-minded parties, movements, groups, individuals was itself a modest yet encouraging beginning in that direction.
The meeting discussed the paper presented by Shri S.P.Shukla, outlining "A Framework for a Radical and Inclusive Political Platform". The meeting endorsed the framework of the paper. The meeting also adopted a number of Resolutions and Decisions. The first part of the booklet reproduces the paper; the Resolutions and Decisions are set out in the second. The task now is to take the process further. The National Campaign Committee that has been formed as a result of the deliberations will engage in this task in the weeks and months to come.
1. Land Acquisition/Transfer and Displacement:
The Meeting noted that the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 and similar other laws in the States were fundamentally flawed in that they were founded in the doctrine of "eminent domain"; they defined "public purpose" loosely, thereby giving legitimacy to the questionable role of the government as facilitator and agent of private companies and businesses; they violated the constitutional and legal protection available to Adivasis and forest dwellers in respect of their land and habitat; they failed to make the consent of the Gram Sabha a necessary condition for any acquisition/transfer; they failed to recognize that the provision of a decent, alternative livelihood to all those whose livelihood is threatened by any acquisition/transfer of land must be a pre- condition for such transfer or acquisition :
The Meeting further noted that the proposed amendments to the Laws failed to remedy the basic flaws.
The Meeting resolved
- that the said laws, including the notorious SEZ Act, be repealed
- that there be an immediate freeze on transfer of all agricultural, forest and mining land to the corporate sector
- that any transfer of agricultural land to non-agriculturists, in general and to foreigners and NRIs, in particular be prohibited immediately
- that any transfer of Adivasi land to non-Adivasis be prohibited forthwith
- that pending the formulation of a radical new policy in this regard with the ultimate objective of decommodifying land , only consensual acquisition/transfer of land for specifically stated social purpose be allowed with the consent of the concerned Gram Sabha and with prior provision of alternative and decent livelihood for all those being displaced and/or whose livelihood is threatened as a result of such acquisition /transfer
The Meeting further resolved :
- that a National Land Use Commission be set up to formulate a comprehensive, people- centric, ecology-friendly, region- specific and scientific land use policy which will promote food security, biological diversity and the well being and solidarity of all those whose livelihood depends on land.
2. Mining and Minerals:
The Meeting noted
that while all mining is hazardous, disturbs ecology, destroys biodiversity, devastates land and water resources and leaves them unusable in perpetuity besides causing large scale displacement and loss of livelihood, some mining is inescapable in an urban- industrial economy; that the mineral wealth belongs to the people, the future generations included, and therefore, the ownership of the mineral resources must remain with the people and the exploitation of these resources must be under full social control; that there is need to make mining activity environmentally and socially acceptable and contribute to social and economic development of the area; that the rapid liberalization of the mining and mineral policy since 1993; the opening up of the mining sector to foreign and indigenous big capital; colossal profiteering and rampant corruption leading to the unbridled loot of the national mineral wealth , on the one hand, and ruthless devastation of habitat and loss of livelihood of poor people , particularly Adivasis subsisting on the mineral bearing lands and forests; -- all have resulted in unprecedented anger and alienation among the forest dwellers and Adivasis; that the situation calls for an immediate and radical overhaul of policies, laws, regulatory institutions and enforcement mechanism relating to this sector, based on the recognition that the community consent and welfare must be embedded in the relevant policies and laws.
The Meeting further noted
that the proposed mining and mineral development legislation namely, the Draft Mines and Minerals(Development and Regulation) Bill 2010, falls short of the requirement , particularly as it still adheres to the philosophy of providing level playing field to all actors and making policy environment attractive for big capital, indigenous as well as foreign.
The Meeting resolved
- that, pending formulation of a policy which is comprehensive, far-sighted, people - centric, environment- conserving , socially acceptable, in general, and Adivasi- friendly, in particular
- an immediate moratorium be imposed on issuing of LOIs , licenses, permissions, or entering into contracts for mining and exploitation of the resources in the Adivasi areas and a review be conducted of all such permissions issued /contracts entered into during the last sixteen years since the announcement of the National Mineral Policy in 1993 which opened up 13 major minerals ( iron ore, manganese ore, chrome ore, sulphur, gold, diamond, copper, lead, zinc, molybdenum, tungsten, nickel and platinum)
- all export of minerals be prohibited immediately
- mineral wealth and mining be restored to public ownership and social control, with full involvement and consent of those sections of society that are directly affected in the course of exploitation of the mineral resources.
3. Prices, Employment, PDS
The Meeting noted
that the Indian economy is plagued with inflation that is assuming serious proportions in recent years. The cost of living index (industrial workers) increased by 8% during 2008-09 and by 15% in 2009-10 and the food prices mounted by 15% in October 2009, 18% in November 2009 and 20% in December 2009. And despite this alarming situation, the Government effected increase in the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and LP Gas and deregulated petrol prices. This has resulted in all-round increase in transport and fuel costs and added fuel to price escalation. The Meeting further noted with deep concern the steep escalation of prices of food items. From July 2008 to July 2010 the prices of rice and wheat increased by 19%, tur dal - 58%, moong dal - 113%, sugar - 73%, potato, onion - 32%; prices of vegetables, fish, meat and milk prices are also mounting. In the case of rice and wheat even though there are large stocks with the Government that are held incurring huge expenditure and wastage, the stocks are not made available to the needy, they being misclassified as APL. Introduction of targeted PDS (1997) in place of universal PDS has defeated the very aims of PDS viz. maintaining price stability and ensuring supply of cereals and sugar to all at affordable prices. Deepening agrarian crisis which is the cumulative result of a number of factors has contributed significantly to the rise in food prices . The meeting further noted that while the food prices are escalating, the farmers are not getting adequately remunerative prices for their produce. The Agricultural Cost and Prices Commission has failed to ensure this. The Commission has no statutory status; its functioning is not transparent and scientific; its recommendations are not mandatory and the government announcement of support prices is made much after the sowing season.
The Meeting resolved
- that the coverage of the Essential Commodities Act be expanded, its penal provisions be strengthened and its strict enforcement be ensured
- that the administrative price regime for all petroleum products be restored; Oil Pool Account be reopened and the prices of petroleum products be set keeping in view the paying capacity of different classes of consumers through the use of appropriate tax structure and cross -subsidization.
- that the application of NREGA be universalized ; the period of guaranteed employment be enhanced to 300 days in a year; and, a decent wage be assured to those who report for work under the scheme.
- that PDS be universalized; its coverage be expanded to include locally available cereals such as Jowar and Bajra and other essentials such as edible oil, pulses and kerosene
- that the Agricultural Cost and Prices Commission be given statutory status ; its functioning be made transparent and scientific; its recommendations be made mandatory; and, the support prices must be announced well before sowing.
The Meeting noted with deep concern that the lack of timely and sympathetic response by the Prime Minister has led to aggravation of the tragic situation in the Kashmir valley. The GOI chose not to recognize the ground reality of alienation and continued to pass on all blame to external forces. The Meeting strongly condemnd the killing of unarmed protesters in the Kashmir Valley by security forces. This has added to the alienation of the people and exposed the apathy and indifference of the National Conference-Congress government to the people's plight.
This Meeting called upon the State and UPA governments to stop the violence and start immediate dialogue within a specific timeframe. The government to restore confidence and trust by:-
- withdrawing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act
- replacing CRPF with the State Police
- releasing the arrested youth
- releasing the political prisoners
- starting immediate talks with all sections in Jammu and Kashmir for a political solution
- punishment to those guilty of fake encounters
- removal of bunkers from bastis which cause continuing annoyance and humiliation
- restoring democratic rights and freedom to the people of the valley
- public mobilization by civil society against communalism
5. Democratic Rights
The Meeting noted with deep concern unprecedented erosion of democratic rights and freedoms. The last few years have witnessed increasing resort to legislation circumscribing the basic democratic freedoms. Cases of abuse of such laws are increasing in every state. On top of that, we are witnessing larger numbers of "encounter killings" in the name of countering "terrorist threats" or " threats to internal security ". We have also seen the launching of warlike " operations " under different names by the State and Central Security Forces , the latest being " the operation green hunt ". The Meeting further noted that pursuit of neo-liberal economic policies has its compelling logic. It creates increasing disparities and polarization. It leads to predatory capital accumulation. It brings about alienation and marginalization of the vast masses in economic and political spheres. It pushes the ruling elites more and more to resort to use of force in containing the unrest engendered by its policies. The increasing sections of the various institutions of the state and the polity intended to safeguard the democratic freedoms and facilitate the implementation of people- centric policies tend to come under the sway of the compelling logic of neo-liberalism. Worse still, through its omissions and commissions, the neo-liberal logic encourages chauvinistic, internecine conflicts in the polity, to divert the attention from the main issues and to provide legitimacy to its attack on democratic freedoms. In this background, the Meeting demanded abrogation of all black laws passed by the State and Central governments in the recent years ostensibly in the name of preserving security and maintaining public order but in reality to crush the mass upsurge and people's struggles against the injustice and exploitation unleashed by the neo-liberal policies that serve the interest of the big capital. The Meeting demanded that the "operation green hunt" be called off immediately. The Meeting also demanded the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
6. Social justice to Minorities, Adivasis-Vanvasis, and MBCs ( moved by Jan Sangharsh Morcha)
The Meeting noted that the journey to social justice remains incomplete. As long as the minorities, Adivasis, MBCs and women do not get social justice , it can not be regarded as complete. The meeting called upon the government to promptly implement the recommendations of the Rangnath Mishra Commission and provide separate reservation quota to the backward Muslims and include the dalit Muslims in the Scheduled Caste category. The Meeting noted that the MBCs are deprived of social justice although two decades have elapsed since the implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations. Even today the share of MBCs in government and administration is extremely low. One member of the Mandal Commission, Shri L R Naik was apprehensive that the MBCs would not get social justice if they were not allocated a separate quota. It is worth mentioning that precisely on this issue he resigned from the Commission. His worst apprehensions have come true. Supreme Court also opined in its verdict that the government may provide separate quota for the MBCs. to ensure social justice for them. The Meeting called upon the government to constitute a National Commission for ensuring social justice to the MBCs within a stipulated time-frame and separating their quota from the OBC quota. The meeting noted that in states like UP, the Adivasis have suffered a great injustice. Adivasi communities like Kol, Musahar(Vanvasi), Dhangar( Uraon), Dharikar, Koranva, etc. have not even been accorded the status of Scheduled Tribes. As a result, these communities dependent on the forests, are not able to get the benefit of Forest Rights Act which was enacted after a long struggle to ensure the ancient and traditional right of Adivasis on forest land. The democratic rights of the sixteen tribal communities like Gond, Kharvar, Chero, Panika, Bainga, Bhuiyan,Agaria who were accorded ST status in 2003, have been negated. They will no longer be able to contest elections on the seats reserved for SCs. Actually these seats were reserved for SCs because these communities were included in SC category till 2003. The Meeting, therefore, demanded that communities like Kol, Musahar(Vanvasi), Dhangar(Uraon),Dharikar, Koranva, etc. be included in ST category, and seats from the Panchayat upto the Parliament level be reserved for communities like Gond, Kharvar, Chero, Panika,Bainga, Bhuiyan, Agaria on the basis of a rapid survey. The meeting strongly disapproves of the government`s putting the women reservation bill again on the back burner. It demanded that the women reservation bill ensuring 33% seats for women in Parliament and State Assemblies be passed without any further delay and reservation for women in services also be guaranteed.
7.Widespread illegal mining in Bellary and other districts of Karnataka including in the Bellary reserve forest on both sides of the interstate border of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka by Mining Mafia led by Reddy Brothers (moved by Shri S.R.Hiremath, Rajakeeya Janandolan Karanataka) The Meeting expressed deep concern about unprecedented loot of mineral wealth((iron ore, manganese) by the mining mafia led by Reddy Brothers of Bellary and demanded :
1.Immediate moratorium on new mining leases in Karnataka and adjoining area of Andhra Pradesh including ban on forest and environmental clearances on the pending applications by MoEF, GOI.
2. Nationalisation of iron ore, manganese and other major minerals, that is to say, declaring null and void the notifications(CI 33 AND CI 16) DATED 15.03.2003 and subsequent such notifications which threw open mining by private parties on forest and other lands( 1300+ Sq Km)
3. Effective measures against illegal mining by strict enforcement of laws especially on the forest land and other common lands and restoration and protection of water sources already adversely affected and immediate halting of raising contract( which is illegal).
4. Taking strongest actions against those involved in illegal mining starting with Reddy Brothers and all other political party persons.
5. Stopping export of major minerals(eg. iron ore) and protection thereof by careful domestic use through value addition and for future generations.
6. Taking strict measures to recover the ill gotten wealth by Reddy Brothers and all others and taking criminal actions where warranted.
8. Privatisation of PSUs , retrenchment of workers and social security for organized and unorganized workers ( moved by Khadan Mazdoor Union Allahabad) The Meeting resolved to fight against privatization of public sector undertakings, disinvestment, downsizing and retrenchment of workers and decided to fight for a central legislation for social security of unorganized labour including agricultural labour. The meeting demanded the regularization of Shikshamitra, Kisanmitra, panchaytmitra, ASHA heath workers and Anganwadi workers and helpers. Lakhs of workers of stone quarries and mines are currently excluded from the benefits of the policies and schemes of the Labour and Employment Ministry. The Meeting demanded that they should be given the benefit of the welfare schemes. Further, in order to protect weaver's lives, special package of financial and other assistance should be granted and their outstanding loans be written off. The Meeting resolved that a National Campaign be launched to mobilize support for the Radical and Inclusive Political Platform. To this end, a National Campaign Committee consisting of the following participants was constituted. The Committee would be open- ended in the sense that more names could be added as necessary as the Campaign gathers momentum.
1. The working people in general, and the small and marginal peasants and adivasis in particular, are going through a phase of acute crisis with the ascendancy of neo-liberal economic policies in the last two decades. The basic issues of land, livelihood and habitat which have been all along the staple concern of the vast majority of our people have acquired a critical significance as the very survival of the most marginalized sections is now at stake. In such a situation, the politics of a democratic polity should be expected to revolve around those issues. Strangely, the ruling party as well the main opposition party, seem to have come to a dead end on this front. Not that they do not talk about the basic needs of the people or do not have an array of schemes and programmes aimed at "development" in general and "poverty alleviation" in particular. But the "development" is reduced to somehow achieving a higher rate of growth in GDP and some welfarist measures are thrown in to take care of "poverty alleviation". A major contradiction is staring us in the face: The very policies that are being pursued in the name of development are generating disparities, deprivation and destitution at a rate and on a scale that ensure that the side -show of alleviation will always remain incommensurate and tokenistic.
2. In each of the vital areas of Land, Water, Seed, Forest and Minerals, the neo- liberal policies have sharpened the contradiction between the well- being and even survival of the vast masses of working people, on the one hand, and the relentless generation of profits by the big capital, on the other. Each one of these basic means of sustenance is being commoditized as never before. Each one of these is being treated simply as grist to the mill of capital accumulation, with little consideration of the enormous and incalculable adverse implications both for the people and the ecology. The Peasantry as a whole is suffering from rapidly rising cost of inputs ( thanks to the entry of the corporate sector in agricultural research and extension, greater role being played by privately owned sources of irrigation and withdrawal of subsidies on inputs); volatility of prices for the produce (on account of the withdrawal/ scaling down of public procurement and also because of growing integration of the domestic market with the international market) ; and the resultant increase in indebtedness( made worse by the lower priority assigned by profit- seeking banking industry to agricultural credit and consequent resort to usurious moneylenders). The small and marginal farmers and landless labour are the worst victims, having to cope with reduced food availability and chronic undernourishment. They are being forced to join the under- class in the slums around big and small cities in search of some means of survival. The land is passing out of the hands of rural households to others on a large scale. While the SEZ Act is an unvarnished onslaught under government auspices, the market forces have unleashed more devastating, if less transparent, assault, leading to speculative market in land in and around growing cities and around the sites of big infrastructure projects. The policies on land acquisition and liberal conversion of agricultural land for non- agricultural uses have further strengthened the trend. The legions of petty producers and the so-called self-employed and the large mass of those engaged in the service sector have no employment, wage or social security. They are over-exploiting themselves in order to simply survive in the face of galloping inflation of the prices of basic necessities, vanishing public health and education infrastructure and growing pressure of competition from large, organized capital which is being encouraged to enter sectors such as retail trade, cottage, village and small industries and processing of agro-products and fishing. The liberal import regime in the name of promoting "free trade" has only worsened the unfair competition. The crisis has taken its most acute form as it affects the Adivasis whose land, habitat and livelihood are threatened as never before. The government machinery in collusion with the big corporate capital, foreign as well as indigenous, have systematically acquired, appropriated and grabbed land and forests for mining and other commercial uses. In the name of attracting investment and accelerating "growth", the government policies have encouraged indiscriminate exploitation of mineral resources for exports. The laws intended to remedy the situation to some extent such as PESA and Forest Rights Act remain largely unimplemented. The other belated remedial moves such as the legislation on the provision of relief and rehabilitation and the amendment of the Land Acquisition Act fall far short of providing real relief. The anger welling up over decades is bursting out. Clearly the Adivasis are experiencing a profound disenchantment not only with the governments of the day but with the State of India. The things would not have reached a boiling point if the ruling establishment merely continued in an ostrich- like fashion to ignore the reality. When the very foundation of the growth that the ruling classes are pursuing appears threatened because of the resistance of the traditional inhabitants of the mineral rich and forest covered areas of the Indian peninsula, the ruling establishment can no longer afford to close its eyes to the reality. It has transcended the denial mode. It now recognizes the problem but only through the prism of " internal security ". And it has launched an unprecedented para- military offensive to exterminate "the Number One Threat to Internal Security ". The State is using all its powers, and unabashedly harnessing its monopoly of use of force, in favour of the big capital and against the working classes and most marginalized sections of our population. Violation of human rights is rampant . Democratic norms and practice are fast eroding.
3. The last two decades of the neoliberal reforms in economic sphere have also witnessed a concomitant rise of communalism. The ruling classes have abandoned the legacy of the four decades of an independent, non-aligned, South- friendly foreign policy and have openly come out in favour of a strategic alliance with the US-Israel combine. They have internalized the self- serving US-Israeli neoconservative logic and propaganda about the "clash of civilizations" and the "global war against terrorism". In all this, they are not only oblivious of the historical legacy of our unique freedom struggle but seem to be indifferent to the potentially explosive implications of such a stance for the very integrity and survival of the composite Indian polity. Already such an attitude on the part of the ruling classes has given rise to recrudescence of both minority and majority communalism. A manifestation of this approach is to be seen in the suspicious and ham-handed way in which the youths of the minority community are treated in the wake of any terrorist attack. Even worse is its manifestation in the continued mis-handling of the legitimate political aspirations of the people of J&K, particularly the youth in the Kashmir valley, the repeated and large scale resort to the armed force and consequently, a severe erosion of democratic rights and fast diminution of political space in J&K. By far the worst manifestation is the tendency among some sections of the ruling classes to treat Kashmir as a mere strategic requirement of geo- politics or worse still, as a piece of real estate.
4. The net result of these developments is unprecedented erosion of democratic rights and freedoms. We have witnessed in the last few years increasing resort to legislation circumscribing the basic democratic freedoms. Cases of abuse of such laws are increasing in every state. On top of that, we are witnessing larger numbers of "encounter killings" in the name of countering "terrorist threats" or " threats to internal security ". Pursuit of neo-liberal economic policies has its compelling logic. It creates increasing disparities and polarization. It leads to predatory capital accumulation. It brings about alienation and marginalization of the vast masses in economic and political spheres. It pushes the ruling elites more and more to resort to use of force in containing the unrest endangered by its policies. The increasing sections of the various institutions of the state and the polity like the Judiciary and the Media intended to safeguard the democratic freedoms and facilitate the implementation of people- centric policies tend to come under the sway of the compelling logic of neo-liberalism. Worse still, through its omissions and commissions, the neo-liberal logic encourages chauvinistic, internecine conflicts in the polity, to divert the attention from the main issues and to provide legitimacy to its attack on democratic freedoms.
5. Both the ruling party and the main opposition have been alike in their denial of the very existence of the major contradiction. They are also alike in their non- recognition or legitimization of the compelling logic of neo-liberalism. Both have reacted to the acute crisis unfolding in the Adivasi area and in the Kashmir valley in the like manner. These mainstream political parties have, through design or default, reduced politics on these issues to nullity. The ruling party has openly unleashed a virtual war on its own people: it is the inverted equivalent of the Maoist renunciation of politics. The main opposition, BJP, and its mentor the RSS, are more gung- ho in their warlike stance and have come out with full- throated support to the government. The ruling party as well as the main opposition are equally coy in recognizing the nexus between their converging policies accepting the US- Israeli hegemony and the recrudescence of communalism. While the opposition looks more stridently hawkish on the issue of Kashmir, the ruling party is no less hawkish in the substance of its stance, while it prefers to restrain its articulation While the mainstream left has analytical and ideological clarity and intellectual integrity to recognize the major contradiction and the compelling logic of neo-liberal policies, its response is inadequate at the political level, thanks to the sharp erosion in its parliamentary strength and its existentially limited reach in the Indian polity. The other formations of the left are too fragmented and weak. Regional parties are either devoid of a clear position on the basics or happen to toe the line of the ruling party or the main official opposition, depending on their opportunistic convenience. Are we witnessing a political stasis, the beginning of "the End" of transformative politics as we know it and hoped for in independent India ?. While the political scene as viewed in terms of the existing structured political formations and their responses is not encouraging, the silver lining is clearly visible in terms of the increasing popular resistance on the ground. People's struggles have been erupting locally as well as at the national level. Whether it is the rapacity of the mining conglomerates in Chhatisgarh , Orissa, Jharkhand or Karnatak ; whether it is the large scale land-grabbing by the big capital in UP, West Bengal, Maharashtra or Goa; or whether it is peasantry's right of access to water in Rajasthan; or more generally , whether it is the totally insensitive and pro-capital policies of the government on prices of essential commodities : the people have stood up and waged fierce struggles. It has to be recognized that at times, these struggles have been supported by people's movements, some of which are largely apolitical in their approach. Sometimes, they are led by or simply joined by political parties in opposition. But mostly they are in the nature of seizing the symptoms; they tend to miss the wood for trees. Nevertheless, the people have shown their grit and guts through their action. It is this spirit, this potential political force which should provide the antidote to the prevailing political stasis and the lifeblood to transformative politics.
6. The challenge of our times is to regenerate transformative politics, to recreate, nourish and expand the political space. The challenge has been rendered even more challenging by the global ascendancy of oligopoly finance capital- the vanguard of neo-imperialism- and the unmistakable choice of the ruling classes to stand steadfast by the side of this powerful global force. This has obvious economic and strategic implications and compulsions. Even more important, it has profound implications for the future of politics of this country, indeed for the future of the process of democratization itself. The adoption of neo- liberal paradigm for economic policies means adoption of the model of "globalizing growth" which can not but be dependent and volatile; polarizing and unequalizing; and livelihood- displacing and environment- endangering. As we have noted earlier, we are in the midst of the crisis brought about by the pursuit of such growth. Pauperization of petty producers provides fertile breeding ground for emergence of chauvinist and divisive forces. Politics of internecine strifes tends to push out the politics of transformation. This trend gets strengthened with covert or overt support of the ruling classes because it diverts attention from real issues. At another level, the strategic embrace with the citadel of the global capital, USA, and the consequent cozying up with Israel has queered the pitch in our relations with important neighbours in West and Central Asia. Besides having patently adverse implications for our economic and strategic interests, this also makes the Indian State witting or unwitting endorser of the 'Islamophobia' rooted in the neo-conservative vision of the US ruling classes and/or the ' political Islam ' of the US sponsored protege regimes in West Asia. As we have noted earlier, this has dangerous implications for the secular politics of our polity. Apart from the avoidable grist it provides to the mill of militant fundamentalist and communal elements, it exacerbates the sense of alienation and insecurity in the minority community, on the one hand, and gives a fillip to the majoritarian communal fascist politics, on the other. Both the factors lead to encouragement of fascist tendencies in our body politic. The bloody-minded reaction of the ruling classes to the ongoing acute crisis in the Adivasi areas , their weak-kneed response to the communal pogrom in Gujerat in 2002 or their acquiescence in , if not approval of, the recurrent goondaism of the chauvinist forces in Mumbai go to show how easily our ruling classes can acquiesce in or descend into the fascist mode. The innate prejudice of the hierarchical and unjust caste system and the persisting arrogance of the brahminical culture (witness the virulent reaction of the upper castes/classes to the growing political assertion by the Dalits or the affirmative action in favour of the OBCs) furnish congenial environment for such fascistic tendency to take root and flourish, particularly if its protagonists have the reassuring feeling of being in the embrace of a superpower.
7. What is to be done to end the political stasis, to avert the eventual descent of our polity into the fascist mode or even its total disintegration? What should constitute the elements of a strategy to resuscitate the politics of transformation? We believe that the call of our times is the call for forging a broad democratic platform, for launching a political movement which is inclusive in its composition and yet radical in its approach. Such a movement alone will be in a position to confront and defeat the combined assault on the vision of modern Indian polity launched by the ruling classes who have virtually appropriated the ruling as well as the opposition space in politics. A failure to respond to this call on our part will spell not only the beginning of the end of pro-people, progressive politics in the medium term but a paralysis of the process of democratization as such. Which has implications far more important than the electoral future of political parties; implications for the very survival of the integrity of our polity; implications which forebode severe retrogression in the historic popular struggle encompassing two continents, which brought about the demise of colonialism in Asia and Africa and which is still unfolding against the aggressive designs of neo-imperialism. We believe that defeating the corporate takeover of agriculture, resisting corporatization of land , water, seed, forest and minerals and moving towards socialization of these basic resources will constitute one of the two core elements of the radical agenda. The other core element will consist of uncompromising resistance to neo- imperialism in all its manifestations : strategic, economic, political and cultural. We believe that the acid test of inclusiveness of the platform in the current context will mean its appeal to peasants and workers in general and Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis and the most backward sections among OBCs, in particular. No platform can claim to be radical and inclusive at the same time, unless it encompasses these elements of our polity unhesitatingly and upfront. The political agenda must necessarily incorporate clear enunciations defending their interests. More important, power must be shared with them at every level. We believe that the inclusive , non-sectarian, democratic, political platform that needs to be launched should be essentially of a federating character, that is to say, all those like- minded political formations, organizations, groups, movements, individuals who subscribe to the analysis, approach and policies outlined heretofore should be requested to join the Platform so that a new federating political collective emerges which will reinforce the ongoing struggles and launch new struggles to defeat the political and policy regime that has created the current crisis. The federating character of the proposed platform must respect the identity and functioning of the federating political formations and must not, in any way, be or appear as their competitor in their organizational or electoral politics. We believe that while in the nature of things the strategy to implement the radical agenda has to be conceived and operationalised at the national level, it can not be viewed in isolation , overlooking the contradictions, crises situations and the potential allies/adversaries in the global context. The ruling classes have already grasped this and established linkages with their allies in the global context. The global context and the global solidarity are becoming increasingly far more significant, if not critical, elements in evolving a national strategy. Therefore, in our strategization of the agenda in the context of the major global contradictions viz; North vs South, "Globalising Growth" vs Threat to Ecology, and Aggrandizing Corporate Capital vs the Working classes, the Marginalized poor and the Jobless, we must be with the South; the preservation of Ecology; and the Working classes , the Marginalized and the Jobless Poor.
8. What then are the policy objectives that would need to be adopted to further the transformative politics of our vision?
We propose a twelve- point priority list pertaining to critical areas:
- Defeating the attack on democratic rights and freedoms and working for repeal of all special laws including the Armed Forces( Special Powers) Act which restrict the democratic space guaranteed under the Constitution and enable the State to abuse its monopoly of use of force.
- Defeating corporate takeover of agriculture; resisting corporatization of land, water and seed, forest and minerals; moving towards socialization of these basic resources.
- Defeating the corporate encroachment and appropriation of commons, particularly the forest and adivasi habitations and lands; protecting adivasi community rights and livelihoods; promoting community ownership and management of forest resources.
- Defeating the policy regime that facilitates the Corporate loot of mineral resources and spells devastation of Adivasi life ,livelihood and habitat.
- Defeating the WTO/AoA paradigm on agriculture; striving for a peasant- centric alternative for South-South cooperation in agricultural production and trade.
- Alternative development policies which will not only repudiate the mainstream strategy of "globalizing growth" but also promote self-reliance; inter-personal, inter-class( in the sense of educationally and socially backward and advanced classes), and inter-regional equity; and conservation of environment. It will imply reorientation of direction and pattern of industrialization. It will mean a break from the present obsession with "globally competitive" industries and a shift in favour of employment-intensive and mass consumption oriented industries.
- Ending the process of rapid commodification of health, education and access to food and other articles of necessity; replacing the prevailing mercenary, discriminatory , unaffordable and limited- reach regimes and establishing comprehensive , egalitarian , affordable public system for provision of health ,education and food and other necessities.
- Providing legally guaranteed preferential opportunity in education and employment, in private as well as state sectors, for the socially disadvantaged classes and communities
- A national wages and incomes policy severely limiting the disparity across the sectors and classes.
- Strengthening the autonomy of the Indian financial system and protecting it from the fragility and rapacity of the global finance capital. Working for regional financial cooperation eg. Regional Monetary Union/s.
- Decisive breaking away from the US strategic design and opposing US militarism, in particular, US-Israeli militarism in West Asia , and exposing and defeating US sponsored Islamophobia.
- A new energy policy consistent with the reorientation of the strategic, agrarian and industrial policies; selective strategic cooperation with the West Asian and Central Asian oil and gas rich countries ; closer cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.