By Parwini Zora, 12 May 2006
Around 1,000 cotton farmers in the Indian state of Maharashtra staged a protest at Yavatmal in the Vidharbha region on May Day to highlight the indifference of state and national governments to their plight. Their central demand was for a state-sponsored fresh crop loan to every farmer, regardless of previous debts. The demonstration followed a similar protest in the neighbouring state of Karnataka in late April demanding quality cotton seed.
By Kranti Kumara, 11 May 2006
At the request of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, India’s Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government dispatched army and armed police units to the state of Gujarat on May 3, with the aim of intimidating and if necessary violently suppressing protests by Muslims in and around the town of Vadadora.
By Arun Kumar and Keith Jones, 8 May 2006
The Left Front’s campaign to win re-election in West Bengal, India’s third most populous state, has exemplified its role as a political prop and servant of the Indian bourgeoisie.
By M. Kailash, 28 April 2006
Indebtedness, crop failure and the inability to pay back loans due to high rates of interest have led as many as 25,000 peasants in India to commit suicide since the 1990s, according to official figures. The systematic neglect of India’s multi-million peasantry, combined with the free market policies implemented by successive governments, are responsible.
By Keith Jones, 25 April 2006
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), the dominant partner in the Left Front, has reaffirmed its intention to sustain the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in power for a full five-year term—even whilst conceding that the UPA has implemented neo-liberal socioeconomic reforms and has aligned India with US imperialism.
By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 17 April 2006
The Indian Supreme Court early last month sanctioned the sale of hundreds of acres of land occupied by textile mills in Mumbai (Bombay) to private developers despite widespread protests. In all, 58 mills sit on 602 acres of prime land in the heart of a city where prices are high even by world standards. The land will be used to build expensive shopping malls and high-end apartments for the affluent few.
By Sarath Kumara and Keith Jones, 17 April 2006
When Congress Party boss Sonia Gandhi announced last month that she was resigning her parliamentary seat only to seek re-election in the by-election her resignation triggered, India’s corporate media all but unanimously proclaimed her a master political strategist. Once again, Gandhi had confounded her political opponents, or so the story went, while bolstering her credentials as a politician uninterested in the perks of office.
By Sarath Kumara, 11 April 2006
One aspect of US President Bush’s high-profile trip to India last month was a deal known as the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA), which is being hailed as the basis for an “Evergreen Revolution” that will assist India’s 650 million rural population. Far from helping impoverished Indian farmers, the initiative is likely to prove a boon for US agribusiness, both directly by capitalising on access to Indian researchers and research, and indirectly by shifting Indian agricultural policy.
By our reporter, 1 April 2006
The Bush administration is moving with great speed to secure US Congressional approval of the nuclear accord that the US president and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced March 2.
By Jake Skeers, 24 March 2006
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched an “urban renewal” program last month designed to attract private investment to 63 of India’s largest and most important cities. His government is proposing to supply more reliable infrastructure and services, remove city regulations that act as impediments to the market, abolish rent caps and provide reliable and enforceable property rights.
By Kranti Kumara, 11 March 2006
At least 20 people were killed and more than 100 injured in two separate bomb blasts on March 7 in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh (UP).
By Sarath Kumara, 6 March 2006
The Indian budget for 2006-07, brought down last Tuesday, was a cynical exercise in dressing up a program of further market reforms and increased military spending. The thin veneer of “pro-poor” handouts will do nothing to reverse the deepening social gulf between the wealthy few and hundreds of millions of Indians who struggle to survive from day to day.
By Parwini Zora, 4 March 2006
When the first bird flu outbreaks were reported in India last month, the central government issued mixed messages to the public, at times minimising the arrival of avian influenza in the country, while taking sweeping measures to cull bird flocks.
By a WSWS reporting team, 3 March 2006
While visiting US president George W. Bush has been accorded a red carpet welcome by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, hundreds of thousands of workers, peasants, students and youth have taken to the streets in all parts of the country to protest his visit and the policies of the US government. The demonstrations have targeted the Bush administration’s attempt to assert global US hegemony and in particular its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
By Keith Jones, 3 March 2006
US President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced in New Delhi yesterday that they had “finalized” an accord under which the US will push for India to be given a “unique” position within the world nuclear regulatory regime.
By the Editorial Board, 1 March 2006
Supporters of the World Socialist Web Site will be distributing this statement at rallies in India protesting against the visit of US President George W. Bush. The statement is also available as a PDF file. We urge readers and supporters in India to download the statement and distribute it as widely as possible.
By Sarath Kumara, 28 February 2006
A three-day visit by French President Jacques Chirac to India last week highlighted the growing competition of the major powers for influence in New Delhi. Chirac’s trip is to be followed by this week’s visit to South Asia by US President George Bush, who, like his French counterpart, is seeking to cement economic and strategic ties, particularly with India.
By Keith Jones, 28 February 2006
US President George W. Bush travels to South Asia this week with the aim of cementing a strategic and “global” partnership with India. According to his aides, the trip is among the most important that Bush has made in his entire presidency.
By Jake Skeers, 22 February 2006
In a decision that will have devastating consequences for some of the poorest sections of Indian society, the Indian cabinet last month approved the opening up of the country’s retail and other sectors of the economy to foreign investment.
By Kranti Kumara, 20 February 2006
In keeping with the arbitrary and violent manner that Indian security forces typically respond to protests in the country’s north-east, police shot and killed at least 10 villagers and wounded more than 20 others during a February 10 protest in the state of Assam. The demonstrators were demanding punishment of Indian Army personnel responsible for the murder of a young villager who had been taken away from his house by army personnel.
By Sarath Kumara, 18 February 2006
Last Monday, India’s Supreme Court issued a sweeping ban on public debate and protests over plans to decommission the Clemenceau, a French aircraft carrier, at a demolition yard in Alang, in the west Indian state of Gujarat. Although French President Jacques Chirac, in response to a critical French court ruling, has now ordered the Clemenceau to return to France, the Indian court ban sets an ominous precedent.
Band-aid for a social calamity
By Parwini Zora and Kranti Kumara, 14 February 2006
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the much-touted National Rural Employment Guarantee Program (NREGP) at a ceremony in an impoverished Andhra Pradesh village February 2.
By our reporting team, 14 February 2006
WSWS reporters travelled to Arasampattu in the Thiruvannamalai district, Tamil Nadu, on February 6 and spoke with small peasants and landless agricultural workers. The village falls within the 200 most impoverished districts of India where the new National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) program is to come into effect over the next 6 months. Under the NREG scheme, the government has promised to provide one member of every rural household 100 days of manual work per year and has indicated scheme recipients will be paid at least Rs.60 ($1.33) per day. (See: Indian government launches rural employment guarantee: A band-aid for a social calamity)
By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 10 February 2006
The Indian government’s decision, made under heavy pressure from the United States, to vote at last weekend’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting to report Iran to the UN Security Council has further inflamed the debate within India’s political, military, and corporate elite over the extent to which India should bind its future to the US.
By Karen Holland, 9 February 2006
Two studies on child deaths in one of India’s most economically-developed states, Maharashtra, vividly expose the social reality faced by millions across the country as a result of decades of neglect and deceit by both Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) and Congress-led governments at state and national levels.
By Nanda Wickremasinghe and Peter Symonds, 8 February 2006
Indian trade union leaders last Saturday shut down a four-day strike by thousands of airport workers against the privatisation of the country’s two major airports in New Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay). The walkout had erupted on January 31 after the Indian government agreed to grant long-term leases to two private consortia—GMR-Fraport and GV-ASCA—that will come into effect on March 31.
By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, 3 February 2006
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a major shuffle of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) cabinet January 29.
By Nanda Wickremasinghe and Peter Symonds, 3 February 2006
A national strike by Indian airport workers against the privatisation of the New Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay) airports is entering its third day, despite government efforts to intimidate and suppress their protests.
By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, 1 February 2006
According to recent press reports, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a series of extraordinary threats to secure a guarantee from the Left Front government of West Bengal that a joint Indo-US military exercise would proceed unimpeded. The threats included Singh resigning as head of the United Progressive Alliance coalition government and the placing of West Bengal under “presidential” or central government rule.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 25 January 2006
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By Jake Skeers, 24 January 2006
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By Parwini Zora, 17 January 2006
Twelve tribal villagers in India were shot dead by police on January 2 during a demonstration against the development of the Kalinga Nagar steel complex in the eastern state of Orissa. The impoverished protestors were demanding a halt to construction by steel developers on their traditional land. A 13-year-old boy and three women were among those killed.
By T. Kala and Ram Kumar, 30 December 2005
One year after the tsunami devastated southern Asia, millions of people in the southern and eastern coastal areas of India are yet to return to their normal lives. Contrary to the big promises made by the national and Tamil Nadu state governments, relief and rehabilitation measures largely remain in the distant future.
Natwar Singh forced from cabinet
By Arun Kumar, 24 December 2005
The removal of Natwar Singh from the Congress [party] Steering Committee and the Union cabinet is further evidence of the fierce struggle within India’s political and economic elite over the country’s foreign policy. At the center of this struggle is the extent of India’s military and geopolitical ties with the United States, a country which during the Cold War was firmly aligned with India’s traditional arch-rival, Pakistan, and repeatedly tried to bully New Delhi into serving its interests.
By Arun Kumar, 22 December 2005
In the early hours of Sunday morning, 42 people were killed, including 23 women, and 37 injured in a stampede at an emergency flood-relief distribution centre in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The tragedy took place as flood victims queued to receive food aid at the Arignar Anna Model Higher Secondary Corporation School in MGR Nagar, in Central Chennai. The stampede was the second at an aid centre in Tamil Nadu since floods devastated areas of the state in October. On November 6, six women were trampled to death and 20 others injured in Vyasarpadi, north Madras.
By T. Kala and Ram Kumar, 6 December 2005
At least 279 people have been killed, and an estimated 200,000 made homeless, in severe floods in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The flooding was caused by torrential rain over four weeks in October and early November, and was compounded by more monsoonal storms which hit the region between November 21 and 24. The authorities’ lack of precautionary flood prevention measures and grossly inadequate emergency relief measures exacerbated the plight of ordinary people affected by the natural disaster.
By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 30 November 2005
India’s United Progressive Alliance government made it known early last week that, when the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met in Vienna November 24, it would oppose referring charges that Iran has failed to fulfill its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations to the United Nations Security Council.
By Jake Skeers, 23 November 2005
The Indian media and business elite never tire of enthusing over India’s growing role as an IT and business-processing outsourcer to the world. Yet a recent study of working conditions in Indian outsourced call centres has pointed to the high levels of labour exploitation in the industry—including constant surveillance, long hours, health problems and burnouts.
By Arun Kumar and Keith Jones, 22 November 2005
The “temporary” removal of Natwar Singh as India’s external affairs minister underscores that a furious struggle is now under way within the Indian elite over the extent and nature of India’s ties to the US. And that the faction in the ascendance wants to clutch with both hands the Bush administration’s offer to assist India in becoming a world power.
By Keith Jones, 9 November 2005
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, has concluded a weeks-long internal debate over strikes that disrupt information technology (IT) and IT-enabled service (ITES) industries and over the rights of workers in these rapidly expanding sectors of India’s economy. Speaking to the press October 26, CPM leaders said that their just concluded two-day Polit Bureau meeting had affirmed that IT and ITES workers should have the right to form unions and to bargain collectively, including in some instances the right to strike.
By Kranti Kumara, 4 November 2005
Last month’s late monsoon rains have demonstrated that the unplanned growth and decrepit infrastructure of Bangalore—the southern India city that is the center of the country’s burgeoning information technology (IT) and business processing industries—constitute a major health hazard. They have also demonstrated that the city mythologized by India’s corporate media and western outsourcing companies as India’s “Silicon Valley” and touted as proof of India’s status as an emerging world-power is home to millions of people who are forced to live in abject poverty.
By Deepal Jayasekera and Keith Jones, 3 November 2005
Last Saturday’s serial bombings in the Indian capital of New Delhi were a heinous crime that can only strengthen reaction.
By Jake Skeers, 28 October 2005
Amid intense inner party turmoil, Lal Krishna Advani announced late last month that he would resign his post as president of India’s Hindu chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in December. Advani will remain the BJP’s parliamentary leader, but media speculation is rife that he will be compelled to exit “gracefully” from this position sometime in 2006.
By Keith Jones, 7 October 2005
The New Indian Express, one of India’s leading English-language dailies, published an extraordinary editorial in its issue of Friday, September 30, calling for the outlawing of strikes and trade unions.
By Deepal Jayasekera and Kranti Kumara, 28 September 2005
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a two-day official visit to Afghanistan in late August as part of an aggressive attempt by the Indian ruling elite to realise their strategic ambitions in south and central Asia. These ambitions include containing traditional rival Pakistan and using Afghanistan as a “land-bridge” to the oil reserves and markets of the former central Asian republics of the Soviet Union.
By Kranti Kumara, 10 September 2005
During an official visit to India last month, Paul Wolfowitz, the World Bank (WB) president and former US deputy-secretary of defense, strongly endorsed the neo-liberal “reforms” pursued by Indian governments of all political stripes since 1991. To further entrench this strategic shift, he committed the bank to providing India with $9 billion in loans—$3 billion annually for the next three years.
By Parwini Zora, 26 August 2005
Machang Lalung, aged 77, was released from incarceration last month in the northeast Indian state of Assam after spending more than half a century behind bars awaiting trial.
By Ram Kumar, 8 August 2005
Torrential rains and flooding have had a devastating impact on Mumbai (Bombay), India’s financial capital, and surrounding areas over the last week. The death toll has climbed to more than 1,000 and tens of thousands more than been left homeless. Overwhelmingly, the worst affected have been the poor from the city’s slums and from outlying rural villages.
5 July 2005
Sudheendra Kulkarni resigned Sunday from all three leadership posts he held in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): party national secretary; secretary to BJP president L.K. Advani; and member of the national executive.
By Kranti Kumara, 16 April 2005
In a move designed to make India’s patent legislation conform with the World Trade Organization’s Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) patent regime, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has pushed a patent amendment bill through India’s Parliament with the support of the Stalinist-led Left Front. The patent amendment covers the food, pharmaceutical and agribusiness sectors and can be expanded over time to other sectors.
By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 12 April 2005
While continuing the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government’s neo-liberal agenda of deregulation and privatisation of state-owned firms, the present Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has decided to sustain and expand the Indian state’s virtual monopoly in the oil and natural gas sector.
By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 12 April 2005
“None of us in Asia should fall victim to the strategies of outsiders. The only way to counter the geopolitics of others is to have our own geopolitics”
By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 9 April 2005
The economic and labour minister in Germany’s Social Democrat (SPD)-Green coalition government, Wolfgang Clement, flew to New Delhi on April 4 for the fifteenth meeting of the Indo-German Joint Commission on Industrial and Economic Co-operation. Clement’s three-day visit focused on bilateral trade issues with the Indian government. A swarm of 90 German CEOs and parliamentarians accompanied Clement and attended the two-day meeting. Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and 68 Indian CEOs greeted them.
By Keith Jones, 7 April 2005
At Wednesday’s inaugural session of the 18th national congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the CPM’s two senior-most figures delivered addresses aimed at defending and legitimizing the party’s continued support for the 11-month United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
By Sarath Kumara, 6 April 2005
Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh made a four-day visit to Burma in late March for discussions with the country’s military junta on closer relations. The trip was not the first by a top Indian politician, nor was there much media coverage. But it does highlight a significant, though little publicised, feature of New Delhi’s strategy. It is the so-called “Look East” policy—an economic and strategic orientation to South East Asia.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 23 March 2005
The budget that India’s Congress-led coalition government presented February 28 shrouded neo-liberal measures in populist rhetoric and gestures.
By Kranti Kumara, 9 March 2005
Fresh evidence has emerged that demonstrates that the February-March 2002 pogrom against Gujarat’s Muslim minority was orchestrated by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the dominant partner in India’s then coalition government, and its Hindu-supremacist allies.
By Sasi Kumar and M. Kailasam, 23 February 2005
Nearly two months after the tsunami struck the southern Indian coast, thousands of the survivors are living in difficult conditions. Having lost family members, houses, possessions and in many cases their livelihoods, they are struggling to cope day to day. Those who spoke to the World Socialist Web Site expressed their resentment and anger at the failure of authorities—local, state and national—to alleviate their suffering.
By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 25 January 2005
The remote Andaman and Nicobar group suffered a devastating blow from the December 26 tsunami. The low-lying and mostly uninhabited chain of 572 islands in the Bay of Bengal was the closest Indian territory to the epicentre of the massive earthquake. As well as being swamped by the sea, it was hit by a series of substantial aftershocks.
By Ram Kumar and Sasi Kumar, 21 January 2005
Ten days after tidal waves hit south India on December 26, corpses were still being recovered from the sand and wreckage in Nagapattinam district when World Socialist Web Site reporters visited the area on January 6.
By Ram Kumar and Sasi Kumar, 19 January 2005
Cuddalore, a coastal district 175 kilometres south of Madras, the Tamil Nadu state capital, was one of the areas worst affected when the tsunami hit India’s east coast on December 26. According to official reports, 51 villages were seriously damaged, 15,000 dwellings wiped out and 615 killed in the already poverty-stricken district. Another 214 were injured and an estimated 99,700 people have been displaced by the disaster.
By Ganesh Dev, 10 January 2005
Thousands died or were left homeless when the December 26 tsunami struck India’s eastern coast and engulfed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. The response of the Indian political establishment has revealed its indifference and contempt toward the poverty-stricken villagers and fishermen who were the main victims.
By Arun Kumar, 4 January 2005
The tsunami that killed over 140,000 people in southern Asia has taken at least 14,000 lives in India. Nine days after the catastrophe, Indian governments at the state and federal levels have yet to establish relief operations in a number of areas. This slow and inadequate response is now threatening thousands more lives as epidemics begin to emerge.
By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 30 December 2004
Kala-Azar—known medically as visceral leishmaniasis and in popular English as black fever—is a curable illness, but it has become the second most fatal parasitic disease in India, claiming 60,000 victims annually. Only malaria causes a higher number of deaths. Most of the victims of black fever are from India’s rural poor.
By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 16 December 2004
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travelled to a remote village in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh last month to announce the launching of a National Food For Work Program (NFFWP).
By Ganesh Dev and Singam Thayan, 9 December 2004
The petroleum price increases India’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government announced last month have occasioned theatrics from all sides of the Union parliament.
Largely a cosmetic change
By Kranti Kumara, 27 November 2004
India’s domestic media, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and Western human rights organisations have all lauded the United Progressive Alliance government’s repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA)—which because of the timing of its adoption and repressive sweep can be termed the Indian version of the US Patriot Act
By Keith Jones, 19 November 2004
The congratulatory message that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent George W. Bush following his victory in the US presidential election was remarkable for its obsequiousness.
By Vilani Peiris, 22 October 2004
The visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US last month has made clear that the new Congress-led government will not only maintain, but strengthen the ties established with Washington by the previous Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led administration.
By Nanda Wickramasinghe and and Keith Jones, 7 October 2004
In recent weeks, the Left Front, a four-party electoral bloc led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, has repeatedly expressed dismay at the actions of India’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government—a minority government that came to power and survives in office only because of the Left Front’s parliamentary support.
By Sarath Kumara, 30 September 2004
Last month the Indian state of West Bengal carried out the country’s first hanging since 1995. The state execution was particularly significant because it was carried out, not by an openly right-wing party, but by a “left” coalition led by the Stalinist Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).
By Kranti Kumara, 15 September 2004
Since the middle of July, the small northeastern Indian state of Manipur has been convulsed by popular protests demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), an Indian law that grants extraordinary coercive powers to the armed forces. These powers include unrestricted and essentially unchallengeable authority to arrest and kill people in “carrying out their duties.”
By Deepal Jayasekara and Keith Jones, 18 August 2004
Three months after falling from power, the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in disarray, with its leadership sharply divided over the reasons for its defeat in the April-May general election and unsure how to proceed.
By Wimal Perera, 30 July 2004
Millions of people across the Indian subcontinent have been affected by what are considered to be the worst floods in 15 years. According to the latest figures, around 40 million people are homeless and at least 1,300 people have been killed. Officials have admitted that the final death toll could be much higher, with rescue and relief measures still not reaching some areas. Water-borne diseases are also expected to cause many more fatalities.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 24 July 2004
The first budget of India’s new Congress-led government, brought down on July 8, amounts to a confidence trick aimed at duping the rural and urban poor, many of whom voted for the coalition in May as a means of expressing their hostility to the economic policies of the previous administration.
By Arun Kumar and Ram Kumar, 22 July 2004
The deaths of 90 young children in a school fire in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has highlighted the appalling state of schools—private and public—throughout the country. The tragedy is one of the consequences of a decade-and-a-half of market reforms, which have led to a steady deterioration of an already inadequate public education system and a proliferation of private schools that are often overcrowded, in shoddy buildings, and largely unregulated.
By our correspondents, 22 July 2004
The Sri Krishna private school, which burnt down in the town of Kumbakonam in southern India last Friday killing 90 children, was typical of thousands of similar institutions in rural areas of the country. It was grossly overcrowded and lacking in elementary safety measures and basic facilities. But for those who sent their sons and daughters there, it was still better than most government schools.
By Neil Hodge, 21 June 2004
By the end of the month, the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Bhopal, India, will decide whether it will force Dow Chemical to send former Union Carbide officials to India to stand trial for the 1984 gas leak that has killed and injured over 60,000 people.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 14 June 2004
The new Indian government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released its Common Minimum Program (CMP) late last month, aimed at further reassuring local and international capital of that its interests will be guaranteed over the next five years. The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) offers an “abiding commitment to economic reforms,” adding that they should be applied “with a human face”.
By Kranti Kumara, 12 June 2004
Last month’s electoral rout of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government brought into sharp relief the enormous gulf that separates India’s ruling elite from the toiling masses. The BJP’s claim that India is “shining” appealed to an elite gone giddy over a foreign investment and stock market boom. But for hundreds of millions of workers and small farmers, the “India shining” propaganda only served to underscore the government’s callous indifference to their plight. That the electoral repudiation of the BJP and NDA was a rejection of the program of economic “liberalization”—privatization, deregulation and the dismantling of public and social services—that all Indian governments have pursued since 1991 was underscored by the devastating defeat suffered by the BJP’s ally in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh (AP), the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
By Deepal Jayasekera, 29 May 2004
The composition of the Indian council of ministers, sworn into office last Saturday, provides further confirmation that the Congress Party-led coalition government will maintain essentially the same right-wing policies at home and abroad as its predecessor.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 25 May 2004
When Manmohan Singh was sworn in as Indian prime minister last Saturday, there was no doubt that local big business and foreign investors had their man in the top job. Variously known as “the father of Indian economic reform”, “Mr Clean’s Mr Clean” and “India’s economic liberator”, Singh’s appointment was a guarantee to the markets that the new Congress Party-led coalition government would not hesitate in forging ahead with privatisation and economic restructuring.
A craven capitulation to big business and the Hindu right
By Keith Jones, 20 May 2004
The Indian and international press have almost universally hailed Sonia Gandhi’s decision to forego India’s prime ministership as a courageous act of self-sacrifice. In reality it was a craven capitulation. A capitulation to the Hindu supremacist right—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had begun an agitation against the “humiliation” of a “foreign” prime minister. But even more fundamentally a capitulation to Indian and international capital.
As stock markets tumble
By Keith Jones, 18 May 2004
India’s election shock wave continues to reverberate, roiling the country’s stock markets and political elite.
Hindu supremacist BJP falls from power
By Keith Jones, 15 May 2004
To the shock of India’s entire political and economic establishment, the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition have been swept from office. Just hours after vote counting began Thursday morning, the BJP-led NDA conceded defeat in India’s 14th general election and by evening Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister since 1998, had tendered his resignation.
By Nanda Wickremasinghe and Keith Jones, 13 May 2004
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) will back a bid by the Congress party to form a coalition government if India’s general election produces a hung parliament. The traditional governing party of India’s economic and political elite, the Congress, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Indian bourgeoisie’s “liberalization” agenda, which aims to make India a magnet for foreign capital through privatization, deregulation, cuts to social welfare programs, the dismantling of tariff protection for small farmers, and the gutting of worker rights.
By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 7 May 2004
An important component of the current election campaign waged by the ruling Hindu supremacist Bharathya Janatha Party (BJP) has been its “India Shining” advertising promotion, hailing the successes of the Indian economy and featuring the happy faces of contented and well-fed middle-class Indians.
By Keith Jones, 6 May 2004
The Bharatiya Janata Party, the dominant partner in India’s ruling National Democratic Alliance, has responded to a spate of unfavorable exit polls in India’s multi-phase general election by highlighting its Hindu supremacist agenda. Gujurat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti—infamous for their role in inciting anti-Muslim violence—have been given greater prominence in the BJP campaign, particularly in the pivotal state of Uttar Pradesh. Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the shadowy Hindu nationalist service organization and militia which provides the bulk of the BJP’s cadres, is said to have assumed direct control of the party’s campaign.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 23 April 2004
In the elections currently underway in India, the main opposition to the ruling Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) is the Indian National Congress: the traditional party of the national bourgeoisie with roots going back to the anti-colonial struggles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Polls indicate race tightening
By Keith Jones, 22 April 2004
India’s general election, which is to be held in five phases ending May 10, began Tuesday with voters in 140 parliamentary constituencies spread over 13 states and 3 Union territories going to the polls.
By Kranti Kumara, 19 April 2004
India’s Election Commission has issued a show-cause notice to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the dominant partner in India’s ruling coalition, demanding it explain its role in an April 12 function at which 22 impoverished women and children were trampled to death. The deaths occurred during the free distribution of saris, the traditional garment of Indian women, at an event in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh—the electoral constituency of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. The event’s ostensible purpose was to celebrate the 70th birthday of Lalji Tandon, a senior BJP leader and Vajpayee’s prospective campaign manager.
By Kranti Kumara, 16 March 2004
The ruling elite and media in India have reacted with a mixture of dismay and anger to the spate of legislative activity in the United States aimed at banning overseas outsourcing or offshoring of government contracts. Several states, such as Colorado, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota, have introduced legislation to ban the offshoring of such contracts. The latest was the recently passed US Senate bill banning private firms from outsourcing federal government contracts overseas. This measure, attached to a $328 billion omnibus appropriations bill, was sponsored by Ohio Republican Senator George Voinovich in a transparent attempt to bolster the Bush administration during an election year. Not to be outdone, Democrats have introduced a “Jobs for America Act” in the Senate that requires corporations to warn employees and communities before moving jobs overseas.
By Sarath Kumara, 10 March 2004
Nearly two years after anti-Muslim pogroms in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002 claimed the lives of more than 2,000 men, women and children, the Indian Supreme Court has taken tentative steps to bring to some of the culprits to account.
By Sarath Kumara and Keith Jones, 4 March 2004
On the advice of India’s current government—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA)—Indian President Abdul Kalam dissolved the country’s parliament February 6, eight months ahead of schedule. The independent election commission, which is responsible for determining the election schedule, has now announced that India’s 670 million voters will go to the polls in four voting-phases between April 20 and May 10. Full results are to be tabulated by May 13.
By Arun Kumar, 24 February 2004
More than 10 million employees of the central and state governments, various publicly-owned companies, and India’s financial institutions are expected to join a one-day national strike today, February 24, to protest against a Supreme Court ruling that public sector workers have no right to strike.
By Ram Kumar, 9 January 2004
A panel of judges has imposed severe penalties on hundreds of government employees in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu accused by the state government of misconduct during a statewide strike in July.
By Sarath Kumara, 11 December 2003
The Congress Party—the major opposition party in India at the national level—suffered serious reverses in four state elections held last week. It lost power in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, and only managed to retain office in the union territory of Delhi. The result provides a much-needed boost to the Hindu supremacist Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP), which had lost a string of state polls and faces national elections next year.
By Sarath Kumara, 1 December 2003
Elections being held today in four northern Indian states—Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi—will be an indication of the standing of the major political parties as they prepare to confront each other in national elections due to be held before next September. An election has already taken place in the northeastern state of Mizoram on November 20.
By Arun Kumar, 20 November 2003
In an unprecedented attack on the freedom of the press, the Legislative Assembly speaker in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu this month imposed 15-day jail terms on the main editorial staff of a leading Indian newspaper, the Hindu, for “breach of privilege” of the parliament. The decision is part of an escalating assault on democratic rights and workers’ conditions by the state government led by Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa.
A highly political decision
By S. Ram and K. Ratnayake, 20 October 2003
Eleven years after the destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya by a Hindu chauvinist mob triggered communal riots across the Indian subcontinent, an Indian court has dismissed the remaining charges against one of the chief perpetrators—Lal Krishna Advani, deputy prime minister and a key figure in the ruling Hindu supremacist Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP).