T.O. Weekly Int’l Supplement: A Human Tragedy Is Taking Place in India
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
In India, the tragedy of 10 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 90,000 deaths in the last four weeks alone is made all the more stark since most of these cases and deaths were preventable.
The International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, for the Workers’ International (IWC), states pointedly:
“The responsibility of the ultra-reactionary Modi government is indisputably engaged. But so is the responsibility of imperialism’s global domination, its willingness to sacrifice everything to maintain profits.”
This includes blocking vaccine patents from the public domain. [See attached appeal.]As the pandemic unfolded Big Pharma not only controlled the intellectual property rights essential for vaccine development and production, it focused for the most part on developing vaccines that are not feasible to use in most of the world — requiring ultra-cold storage and two doses administered a month apart.
Then, once vaccine production was underway, wealthy countries bought up most of the high-priced supply, including a supply to hoard, such that nine out of 10 people (90%) in nearly 70 low-income countries will have to wait years to be inoculated.
What is unfolding in India today is not chance circumstance.
We stand by and express our solidarity with the Indian workers, peasants and youth at this difficult time, and we support the appeal of IWC co-conveners Nambiath Vasudeven and Daniel Gluckstein when they write:
“We call on workers of the world to stand by the Indian workers and their organizations who demand that all pharmaceutical industries be forced to produce in order to meet the needs of the people, not for export profits.
“We call on workers of the world to stand by the Indian workers, peasants and their organizations fighting for the withdrawal of all anti-democratic, anti-working class and anti-peasant laws put forward by the Modi government.
“We call on workers and working-class organizations the world over to condemn the governments of the imperialist countries which, in accordance with the WTO, are not allowing India to freely produce the hundreds of millions of vaccines needed.”
Thanks, in advance, for taking a stand in solidarity with the workers and peasants of India. The lives of millions are at stake.
The Editorial Board of The Organizer Newspaper
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Statement by IWC Co-Coordinators
Presently India is facing a second wave of Covid-19. Pictures coming out from India are scary.
IWC correspondents in India informed us: “The number of people infected with Covid-19 is rising every day. Those who can get a hospital bed are considered lucky. Deaths are mounting owing to lack of hospital beds, medicines, oxygen – the health care system has collapsed, there are no doctors and para medical staff to cope up with the mounting cases.
In this scenario elections to five states took place in April. Prime Minister himself addressed mammoth crowds without masks and physical distancing. Worse still, the government allowed 27 million Hindus to take a holy dip in a river, in the name of Kumbh Mela, when Covid surge was on.”
The responsibility of the ultra-reactionary Modi government is indisputable. But so is the responsibility of imperialism’s global domination, its willingness to sacrifice everything to maintain profits.
The Indian government boasts of producing not one, but two vaccines. But the daily reality for millions of Indians is that when several hundred, several thousand people turn up at the vaccination centers, only the first 50 to 60 people are served due to a shortage of vaccines throughout the country.
India is considered to be the “pharmacy of the world”, and a large proportion of the generic drugs used worldwide are produced in India. But today, the Indian population has no access to vaccines, to the most essential medicines, or even to oxygen.
It is a fact that the governments of the great imperialist powers – the United States, Great Britain and the main governments of the European Union: France, Germany, etc., – have for more than six months banned India from mass production of vaccines, within the framework of the World Trade Organisation.
This tragedy comes after the 2020 “first wave”. A year ago, after the Modi government declared a strict lockdown, giving only four hours to get prepared for it, the tragedy of millions of migrant workers began, as workers, without protection or care, were forced to flee the cities on pain of starvation, and to begin a long march back to their villages.
The human toll was high, and millions of jobs were lost. The Modi government claimed to have defeated the epidemic, but above all, it did not take any measures to strengthen the health services.
Moreover, seizing the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to advance its policies, the BJP government led by Narendra Modi enacted anti-citizenship, anti-farmer and anti-worker legislations. Since November last year, farmers of India have been occupying streets leading to Delhi, protesting against the laws in favor of the corporations, and workers have been opposing huge scale of privatisation of public sector enterprises and the naked attack on labour rights. Four new labour codes, as per the orders of the capitalists, have been imposed on workers.
Indian states are under lockdown again, but of varying levels. Once again workers are without work and wages, migrants are again on the move. Even according to official estimates 800 million people would need food support. Several millions are without jobs and income, in cities and rural India. But a handful of corporations who are beneficiaries of BJP policies prop up the government and an artificial stock exchange boom.
Instead of concentrating all possible means in the fight against the epidemic, the Modi government is stepping up its military presence against China, as requested by the Biden administration.
But the anger that is growing among all sections of the population is not separate from the struggles waged by urban workers, peasants and the youth.
The International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, for the Workers’ International, which was formed in Mumbai in November 2016, at an international conference with delegates from 40 countries and hundreds of labour activists from India, has declared : The tragedy that India is experiencing today is a terrible illustration of the fate that the capitalist system holds in store for the workers and peoples of the world!
The IWC calls on the workers of the world to stand with the workers, peasants and people of India.
To stand by the Indian workers and their organisations who demand that all pharmaceutical industries be forced to produce in order to meet the needs of the people, not for export profits.
To stand by the workers, peasants and their organisations fighting for the withdrawal of all anti-democratic, anti-working class and anti-peasant laws put forward by the Modi government.
The IWC calls on workers and working class organisations to condemn the govern- ments of the imperialist countries which, in accordance with the WTO, are not allowing India to freely produce the hundreds of millions of vaccines needed.
Let us demand that these governments lift the ban on making the patents for producing vaccines public so that India, which has the technical capacity, can produce the hundreds of millions of vac-cines needed to deal with the tragedy. It is urgent!
Daniel Gluckstein and NambiathVasudevan
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