India: may day protest 2005

The members of the New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) took part in the May Day 2005 demonstrations in the ‘silicon city’ of India – Bangalore – with a two-page leaflet in the Kannada language. The theme was: "Enough of the horrors of Capitalism – We need Socialism now!". 

New Socialist Alternative was the only organisation which brought out an explanatory leaflet on the occasion of this May Day. We produced two thousand five hundred leaflets which we distributed at six separate rallies of different trade unions.

The "communist" parties who are united in supporting the bourgeois coalition at the centre – the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) – stay scandalously separate when it comes to working class action such as demonstrations and strikes. Very rarely do they hold joint demonstrations and rallies on May Days. This year it was no different; the trade union wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI), the AITUC, held a seminar to commemorate one of its dead leaders, inviting Congress Party and other bourgeois politicians to lecture the workers on liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation 

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI (M)) held an open-air rally where the leaders of its trade union, the CITU, ranted on about the achievements of the left in supporting the UPA to bargain concessions from the UPA govt. While a lot of rhetoric was mouthed in relation to imperialism and capitalism, there was hardly any mention of the programme to fight it.

This year’s New Socialist May Day leaflet was written by a young comrade, Vishwa. It highlighted the horrors of capitalism in the lives of the workers and peasants with facts and figures. It listed the failure of capitalism on a world scale to take humanity forward, how capitalist globalisation and the Multinational Corporations (MNCs) have destroyed the lives of the poor in urban as well as rural India.

The handbill dismissed the claim of the Indian ruling class that India was one of the emerging powers and that every Indian should be proud of it. It questioned "‘Shining India’ for whom?" and quoted a proverb from Kannada folklore which says: "While stomachs are empty you are decorating hair with Jasmine flowers". This brought out the paradox of the glitter of the Information Technology and Bio Technology economy alongside the existence of the dark economic future and the present squalid life of the millions of workers and young people of India.

The leaflet highlighted the privatisation spree of the UPA government supported by the Communist Parties. It called for the re-nationalisation of the privatised industries and services, emphasising the need to build a mass campaign against the scourge of privatisation. We also linked in our campaign against water privatisation – " Hands off our Water" – by saying that the government of Karnataka is making people feel an economic shock if one were to touch the water in the state. The water rates have gone up steeply in the last two years.

Workers in all the demonstrations took our leaflet enthusiastically and were seen reading it carefully. There were hardly any thrown away. In the CITU rally some important TU leaders took our leaflet, coming up to us and asking for it. Groups of young workers took our leaflets in bulk and distributed them among their contingents.

One postal worker gave us money for our fighting fund and also got our comrades coffee and other beverages to help them recoup their energies. The leader of the Karur Vaishya Bank union who had promised 10,000 rupees towards the Tsunami USP fund (Sri Lanka) told us that the union executive had agreed to send it the next day (2nd May).

The main demands of the leaflet were:

  • Down with warmonger Imperialism.
  • Down with Capitalism, which creates poverty, unemployment and
  • homelessness.
  • Kick out IMF, World Bank and WTO from India.
  • No to privatisation of Banking and Insurance.
  • Re-nationalise all the privatised industries and services.
  • Equal wages for equal work.
  • End to sexual exploitation and discrimination.
  • Re-establish subsidised food rationing and restart public distribution system.
  • End to communalism and capitalism.
  • No truck with any section of the capitalist class.
  • Build a mass Workers’ party for a socialist alternative.

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May 2005