Saturday, June 28, 2014

LF wins 961 seats uncontested in Tripura panchayat polls

  "A total of 961 seats would go uncontested in the three-tier Panchayat election this year, which was found after completion of scrutiny and withdrawal of nomination papers on Thursday last. The seats were won by the Left Front candidates," State Election Commissioner Yatendra Kumar said.
 So, it stands that elections would be held in 5684 seats of the total 6646 seats as 961 seats were won uncontested, he explained to the reporters.
 The 961 seats include 922 seats of panchayats, 37 seats of Panchayat samities and two seats of zilla parishad. Altogether 13,274 candidates are in the fray, he said.
 Kumar said adequate security personnel would deployed in the poll bound areas and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has agreed to deploy additional 40 companies of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel to the state during Panchayat election

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The AIKS Condemns the latest decision of the Government to appease the Sugar lobby

The AIKS Condemns the latest decision of the Narendra Modi led Government to appease the Sugar lobby by doling out further benefits to them without any concrete action by them to clear the arrears due to the Cane Farmers which by the Government’s own admission is 110 billion rupees ($1.84 billion). This is in continuation of the policies of the Congress-led UPA Government which in December had approved Rs.6,600 crore interest free loans for the sugar industry exclusively for clearing sugarcane arrears. The present Government has extended this to allow Corporate Sugar Mills to avail additional interest-free loans of up to Rs.4,400 crore from banks which will add up to Rs.11,000 crores altogether. However, in reality the Sugar Mills have not yet cleared the dues of Cane Farmers. For instance in Uttar Pradesh alone the arrears due to farmers are more than Rs.4,400 crores. While the move was apparently intended to increase the cash flow to the Corporate Mills to make payments of Cane arrears, the flow never reached the Cane Farmers. 

The Government has announced that it will raise the import duty on Sugar to 40 percent from 15 percent and will consider other incentives for Mill owners. While AIKS stands for increased import duties in Sugarcane the Government has taken no steps to ensure that the benefit of such an increase will accrue to the Cane Farmers. Although there is surplus in the domestic market with 20-25 lakh tonnes the Sugar lobby will use the opportunity to further increase Sugar prices for the consumers. In pursuance of the Rangarajan Committee recommendation that Sugar import-export policy should not be linked to domestic availability, this decision is silent about having quantitative restrictions on Sugar imports. The Committee had argued for promoting exports on the ground that even though India contributes 17 percent to the global sugar output, its share in exports is only four per cent. It also keeps the doors open for imports from outside as well as the possibility of dumping of sugar by calling for an outright ban on quantitative restrictions. 

India had increased the subsidy for raw sugar earlier this month on the pretext of boosting output and exports to the tune of Rs 3,300 per tonne. This has been extended on sugar exports until September. This has not benefited in terms of remunerative pricing for Farmers. The long standing demand of Cane Farmers for getting a remunerative price of Rs.3,500 per tonne however is not accepted. Notably the MSP announced for 2014-15 is only Rs.2,200 per tonne. While farmers bear the brunt of falling global prices, the Corporate Mills earn huge profits when global prices rise without transferring any benefit to Farmers. Companies also benefit hugely from by-products like ethanol, press-mud etc while the Farmers are not compensated for these products. 

The move is only aimed at promoting profits of Corporate Sugar Mills without addressing the problems of the Cane Farmers. AIKS calls upon all units to protest against this move by the Government and will hold a Consultative meeting of Farmers from Sugarcane growing States on 23rd July to chalk out the future struggles against these policies

72 Hour Sit-in Starts in Kolkata


Left Front in West Bengal started a 72 hour sit-in demonstration this afternoon in Kolkata against attack on democratic rights and livelihood of the people.

The sit-in in temporary make-shift will continue and will be joined in by different sections of the people. The rain continued to pour down in a continuous manner yet it was not enough of resist people from joining this protest and the dug-out was flooded by the gathering long before the demonstration was scheduled to start. People those who are attacked, evacuated have gathered along with the relatives of those who have been killed by the goons of the ruling party, they are sharing their experiences of distress and fear and together they would protest against the government who are all busy in celebrating festivals and facilitating the Ponzi big heads.

Left Front has called for this 72 hour sit-in protest movement to demand protection of democratic rights of the people in the state. The movement seeks to protest against the growing distress of social security and wretched condition of democracy. Left Front had voiced their protest against the forced evacuation, demands of collecting extortion money, continuous attacks, and intimidations and even killing of leftist activists and workers. It is all known to the people of West Bengal and even rest of the country that the attacks unleashed against the leftists of this state are carried through under direct presidency of the ruling party and the state government. A Left Front delegation met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on 9th June and demanded immediate halt to unprecedented and severe political violence in the state. The left leadership said that nothing meaningful has been initiated by the state administration. Even the minors are not being spared by the TMC hooligans. The murderers of the Left activists are not being arrested. On the contrary several Left activists are being charged with false and fabricated cases. The supporters of Left Front are not being allowed to crop in their lands even. The aim of such terrorization is to cripple mass movements and democratic rights; and ultimately to abolish democratic space. But the state government paid the least attention to the demands and on the contrary barest of attacks are continued in full swing that made the governments denial status as clear as daylight.

The State Government is doing nothing to control the sky rocketing price rise. Setting up any new factory or industry seems to be a day-dream in West Bengal where the running factories are being shut down. The employability is shrinking day by day. The farmers are being deprived of equitable price and nor they are getting proper support price.

The sit-in demonstration program started today to recollect the black days of internal emergency which was declared on the very date in 1975. The attack unleashed on democratic rights during emergency is worth remembering in TMC regime where onslaught on all democratic spheres have become a practice.

Left Front Chairman West Bengal welcomed those who have gathered in the temporary dug-out made of the purpose. He said that the imposition of emergency clearly showed that the Government initiated anti-people measures. All the democratic practices were abolished. Fundamental rights conferred through the Indian Constitution became paralyzed.Since the Assembly elections in West Bengal attacks have been unleashed on the leaders and activists of the democratic movements by the police administration and hoodlums backed by the ruling party to prohibit movements based on people’s demands. False and fabricated cases are being initiated against the leaders and activists of the democratic movements. Arrest warrants are being issued against them who could not be arrested. Attacks on the houses of Left Front activists, looting, arson, terrorization and attacks on livelihood have been taking place extensively. Cattle, poultry, fishes in ponds, agricultural produce and seeds also have been looted. About 27300 farmers, agricultural laborers and share croppers have been ejected and deprived of their right of land. Near about 50000 persons have been evicted from their own houses. 157 Left leaders, activists and supporters have lost their lives in attacks by hoodlums nakedly backed by the ruling party. Thousands of Left activists have been forced to live with injury. All these have been happening in a state where emergency has not been imposed but still the ruling party is trying to trample the voice of the opposition. But it is impossible to terrorize the people for a long time. Movements have to be launched by all cross-section of the society for resurrection of democracy and democratic right in the state and for that close connection with common people has to be reinforced by taking lessons from history. He said that it is the responsibility of the leftists that they must initiate to must overcome this suffocating atmosphere of terror with confident note of people’s movement. Other Left Front leaders were there to welcome and share their views with the people gathered over there. The relatives of the martyr comrades shared their experience of spine-chilling terror and the loss of losing their near ones. They are now sitting side by side, their hands are held high and the avowal of rejection to the state government is aloud. The sit-in would continue for three days as scheduled from 25th to 27th of June.

Leader of the opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also addressed the gathering.

Friday, June 20, 2014

On Language in Social Media

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
The decision of the Modi government to use only Hindi language as the sole medium of communication  for government information on social media is against the principle of linguistic equality and is an injustice to other national languages. 
 Government should modify its policy and use along with Hindi other national languages as well as English for communication in social media.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

AIFAWH delegation meets the WCD Minister

A delegation of the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) under the leadership of Tapan Sen MP, General Secretary, CITU met the Minister for Women and Child Development Smt. Maneka Gandhi today(17th June 2014) and submitted a 16 point charter of demands. The delegation consisted of A R Sindhu, General Secretary and K Hemalata, Vice President AIFAWH and Secretaries CITU and Usharani, Santosh Rawal and Kishori Varma, Secretaries of AIFAWH.

 The Minister gave a patient hearing to the delegation and assured that the ICDS scheme should be strengthened with components of wages, training, work monitoring and social security. She agreed that the demands of regularisaton, minimum wages and social security are just demands and she need some time to study the issues and find solutions.
She assured the delegation that the scheme will not be privatized at any cost.  

The delegation demanded that till the employees are covered under a pension scheme with assured pension, the retrenchment of the anganwadi employees must be stopped. The minister said that she will do the needful within two weeks. She also assured that the anganwadi workers and helpers shall not be engaged in any non ICDS work.

The delegation also requested the minister to call all the trade union federations of anganwadi workers and helpers for a discussion, to which the minister agreed.

The AIFAWH call upon all the anganwadi workers and helpers of the country to observe the Anganwadi Demand’s Day on 4th July 2014 all over the country by organising rallies and demonstrations at district/project level and submit memorandum to the WCD minister on the long pending demands.

 The text of memorandum is:

Dear Madam,
We congratulate you as the new Minister for Women and Child Development of the Government of India.

We the anganwadi workers and helpers, working under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme under your Ministry, would like to bring to your notice, some of our long pending demands. More than 27 lakhs women are working as anganwadi workers and helpers in nearly 14 lakh anganwadi and mini-anganwadi centres in the country. Delivering the services of supplementary nutrition and pre-school education to the under 6 years children since 1975, the ICDS had been recognized as one of the most effective and unique services. In spite of this, it is unfortunate that the anganwadi workers and helpers 
who are the grass root level workers are not yet recognized as ‘workers’ or employees. 

They are not even paid minimum wages, even though they work for the same time as that of the school employees.

 The 45th Indian Labour Conference recommended that they shall be recognized as workers and be paid minimum wages and be provided social security and pension. Unfortunately the government is yet to agree to this. Moreover, now in the name of ‘strengthening and restructuring’ through ‘ICDS Mission’, the scheme is being largely privatized. This will sabotage the very purpose of the scheme. Although the work allocated to the anganwadi workers and helpers has increased manifold, the remuneration has not increased since 2011.

 We request you to kindly recall your promise to “Review the working conditions and enhance the remuneration of Anganwadi worker's.” We are sure that you will be working towards this.

 We request you to consider the following long pending issues which we were raising since long and take appropriate measures to fulfill these.

Our Demands
1      Stop privatisation of ICDS in any form in the name of Public Private Partnership, handing over to NGOs, restructuring etc. Review the ICDS Mission
2        Regularise all anganwadi workers as Grade III and helpers as Grade IV government employees.
3        Implement the recommendations of the 45th Indian Labour Conference on Scheme Workers for regularization, minimum wages and social security including pension for them.
4        Pending regularisation, minimum wages of skilled workers should be paid to anganwadi workers and that of semi skilled workers to helpers; remuneration of anganwadi employees should be linked up with consumer price index.
5       Social security benefits including gratuity, pension, provident fund, medical facilities etc should be provided to all anganwadi workers and helpers; constitute national level welfare fund for anganwadi employees with contribution from the central and state governments to ensure this.
6       Make provision of proper infrastructural facilities including pucca buildings with drinking water, toilets etc for all anganwadicentres. Till such pucca buildings are constructed, increase centre rents to Rs 7500 in metropolitan cities, Rs 5000 in urban areas and to Rs 2500 in rural areas; anganwadi centres in ICDS projects categorised as Rural, but actually located in urban areas should be paid rent on par with the rent for the centres in the Urban projects.
7        Include children 3- 6 years under Right to Education Act and designate anganwadi centres as nodal centres. Nursery centres or pre primary centres should not be allowed in the vicinity of anganwadi centres under any other department or programme of the government
8        Strengthen the ECE component of ICDS by imparting the necessary training to the anganwadi workers; provide uniforms, toys etc to the children in the 3- 6 age group to attract them to the anganwadi centres. Anganwadi Centre Leaving Certificate from the Anganwadi worker should be made compulsory for admission in government primary schools
9       Ensure regular supply of good quality supplementary nutrition in sufficient quantities in all the anganwadi centres.  Locally acceptable food freshly prepared in the anganwadi centres should be served to the beneficiaries and not ‘Ready to Eat food’. There should be no Take Home Ration
10     No opening of mini anganwadi centres; convert all the mini anganwadi centres into full fledged anganwadi centres and appoint helpers. Pay equal wages and benefits to the anganwadi workers working the mini anganwadi centres as those of the regular anganwadi workers.
11      Recognise the Right to Organisation and Collective bargaining of the anganwadi employees. Withdraw the order restricting the anganwadi employees’ participating in union activities.
12     Ensure similar working conditions to all anganwadi workers and helpers in the country with provisions for paid medical leave, promotion  to the post of supervisors, promotion of helpers to workers without age limit, summer and winter holidays, 10% annual increment, increment for helpers etc
13    In spite of the guidelines from the centre, in most of the states, anganwadi workers and helpers are given work other than that related to ICDS, including BLO duties in elections, which is affecting the work of the anganwadi centre. No work other than that of ICDS shall be assigned to the anganwadi workers and helpers.
14      Grievance Redress Committees should be constituted in all the states at the state and district levels by including representatives of the anganwadi employees’ unions.
15       There should be no restrictions on the political activities of the anganwadi employees, including the freedom to participate in any election, till such date as they are recognised as government employees, when the service conditions as applicable to government employees may be applied to them. Elected representatives should be allowed to take leave and rejoin once he term is finished
16    Corruption should be eradicated in the implementation of ICDS
Sincerely yours
 A R Sindhu
General Secretary