IN THIS DOSSIER:
1) Correspondence Received from Nambiath Vasudevan (reprinted from IWC Newsletter No. 153 — March 6, 2020)
2) “This Struggle Concerns Workers and People the World Over” — Statement by IWC Coordinators Nambiath Vasudevan and Daniel Gluckstein
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1) Correspondence Received from Nambiath Vasudevan
(reprinted from IWC Newsletter No. 153 — March 6, 2020)
MUMBAI — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arranged a US$150 million grand reception for the US President and his family in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), where Modi was the State Chief Minister till 2014. India has a 4 million-person Diaspora in the United States. A big chunk of this is from Gujarat. In the November 2020 US election, Indian voters can play a role. Traditionally Indians in the US have been supporters of Democratic Party. It was the custom earlier that the Indian government would not show its preference to any party or candidate in the US elections. This was changed when Modi was in Houston recently addressing a large Indian crowd, where he shouted an election slogan in favour of Trump: “Ab ki baar Trump Sarkar!” [This time the Trump government].
About Trump’s visit to India, the Indian Express stated in its editorial: “Underlying the bonhomie is, the recognition that they can help each other’s political fortunes. Trump is facing re- election in November and would be happy to see his warmth towards Modi and India translate into valuable support from the Indian-American community. Trump, too, is lending some political cover for Modi, who is facing considerable international criticism for his government’s moves on Kashmir and the amendment of citizenship laws.” In 36 hours, Modi hugged Trump 9 times, and both gave certificates of greatness to each other on several occasions.
Apart from the angle of the forthcoming election, Trump’s visit assured India’s strategic partnership. A $3 billion deal was reached for India to acquire Apache and MH-60 Romeo military helicopters from the US, with an assurance to conclude a bilateral free trade agreement after the US election. According to the Economic Times: “The key takeaway from President Trump’s visit is the continued importance the US places on India’s role in the Indo-Pacific as a counterweight to China.”
The joint statement said that the leaders looked forward to an early conclusion of defence cooperation, and keeping China and China’s Belt and Road Initiative in view has emphasised the strategic footprint of ‘Blue Dot Net work’, a multi-stake holder initiative that will bring governments, private sector, and civil society together to promote high-quality trusted standards for global infrastructure development.
By the time Trump reached India’s capital city of Delhi from Gujarat (Ahmedabad) armed clashes were taking place in parts of Delhi between protesters and supporters of Modi’s citizenship law. Pro-CAA [Citizen Amendment Act] mobs have been moving about freely in Delhi for the last few days. They demanded a halt to the anti-CAA protests. Threats were held out to protesters. In the street fights, which began on February 23rd, 22 lives were lost and 150 were injured. Many houses, show rooms and shops were vandalised. Journalists were not spared. Delhi police are directly under the control of Modi government and they were silent spectators while mob frenzy led to violence and carnage of innocent lives. The affected parts are now under curfew, under para-military forces since Delhi police failed to bring the situation under control. Shoot-at-sight order is in force. Delhi is tense.
BJP [Modi’s party] has made the citizenship issue a Hindu-Muslim divide. Violence was in the air from the time the law was passed on December 5, 2019. From December 15 onwards Delhi has witnessed mayhem. Clashes between students and police took place at the gates of Jamia-Milia Islamiya University. Police entered the Jamia University library targeting students sitting and reading in the library. Many were injured. Later, goons entered Jawaharlal Nehru University and assaulted students, seriously injuring many. Police refused to intervene when goons were attacking students. Students in both these Delhi universities were protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act. No enquiry has been made and no arrests have been made so far. In February the BJP faced a crucial test in the Delhi State Assembly elections. BJP was out of power in Delhi state for more than 20 years. They wanted to recapture Delhi State. They accused the ruling party, AAP, Am Aadmi Party (Ordinary Peoples Party) supporting Shaheen Baug protesters. Pro-BJP goons wielding guns came in the open threatening anti-CAA protesters. On February 11, BJP suffered a humiliating defeat in Delhi. In the 70-member Delhi State Assembly, AAP won 62 seats and BJP could bag only 8 seats. This defeat, too, has annoyed the BJP, contributing to the ongoing communal violence in Delhi.
Trump’s visit to India ended with a press meet on February 25. In the press meet Trump was asked about the communal clashes in Delhi and the protest against the citizenship law across India. He said Prime Minister Modi has told him there is religious freedom in India. President Trump said he would not comment on the citizenship law. On Kashmir he reiterated his offer to mediate if both India and Pakistan desired his intervention. Often, he thanked Pakistan for playing a positive role in the recent US-Taliban peace deal.
— Nambiath Vasudevan
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2) This Struggle Concerns Workers and Peoples the World Over”
Massive protests against the discriminatory laws enacted by the Modi government have shaken India’s political landscape since December 2019. The wave of protests began among young people and students. On 8 January 2020, major trade union centres, as well as independent trade union organisations, called for a 24-hour general strike against the Modi government’s anti-worker policies. January 8 was an opportunity to unite the struggle against the government’s anti-worker policies and the fight against its anti-democratic measures concentrated in discriminatory measures against the Muslim citizens of India. In the strike and in the streets, unity was achieved between these different aspects of the same struggle.
More than any other sector of society, the working class needs democracy, unity and secularism to make its demands prevail. The labour movement, the trade union organisations should naturally be in the vanguard of such a struggle.
This struggle concerns the workers and peoples the world over. That is why the International Workers’ Committee Against War and Exploitation, for the Workers’ International (IWC) considers it its duty to disseminate widely all information on this struggle and to express its solidarity with those engaged in it.
We are convinced that the struggle of the Indian workers and people, in the spirit of the Mumbai World Conference in November 2016, will be at the centre of the World Conference Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International, to be held in Europe in November 2020.
Daniel Gluckstein and Nambiath Vasudevan, IWC coordinators