India: May Day 2008

Booming growth or looming crisis?

Is India going through booming growth or looming crisis? It is in this state of a dilemma that the May Day 2008 was observed all over India. This was very evident in the Bicycle Jatha (rally) that the New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) undertook to mark the occasion of May Day in the city of Bangalore.

We intervened with a leaflet lampooning the claims of the ruling Establishment that the country was booming and the 7.54% inflation was only a “temporary hiccup”. The leaflets were distributed throughout the length and breadth of the city, primarily in the working class areas. It was received with good enthusiasm, especially by the youth and the industrial workers. Many were seen being carefully stacked away in their bags after careful reading. Later we got calls from hitherto unknown informing us that they photocopied the leaflets for further distribution!

As it is the time of local state elections, many workers thought that we were seeking votes for communist parties, as we were wearing red shirts. Many people quipped, “You don’t stand in elections”. When we ventured to explain that we are calling for the building of a mass workers’ party that stands for workers with a socialist programme, they were interested.

Workers were generally worried about the rise in food prices and possible further job ‘retrenchments’ because of the downturn in the economy. Many held the US responsible for their plight and agreed with our slogans against capitalism and imperialism.

Our leaflet in Kannada was written in a clear and ‘folk’ literary style, which was very popular among the local people coming from village rural backgrounds. We travelled by bicycle for around 70Kms and distributed 4,000 leaflets, and collected hundreds of rupees for our ‘fighting fund’.

In Chennai and Theni, our comrades from Tamilnadu participated in the local protest demonstrations organised by the local communist parties against price rises.

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May 2008