Meeting on Working Class Politics (April 19-20, 2014), New Delhi

Communism is the position as the negation of the negation, and is hence the actual phase necessary for the next stage of historical development in the process of human emancipation and rehabilitation. Communism is the necessary form and the dynamic principle of the immediate future, but communism as such is not the goal of human development, the form of human society. Karl Marx, Economic & Philosophical Manuscripts (1844)

Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence. Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology (1845)

The doctrinaire and necessarily fantastic anticipations of the programme of action for a revolution of the future only divert us from the struggle of the present. Karl Marx, To Domela Nieuwenhuis (1881)

The question of working class strategy has generally been reduced to issues of consciousness raising and particular organisational manoeuvrings to homogenise and hegemonise the self-activities of the working class. In fact, in programmatic terms, it is nothing more than competitive sets of reactive tactics that always claim to respond to the onslaught of capital. So even the question of class as a subjective force becomes irrelevant, leave aside its revolutionary character, rather it is just an arena for competition among various ‘working class’ organisations to present themselves as the most and even sole authentic class representatives negotiating with capital. Ultimately, the most astute negotiator should win. But then successful negotiators must be those who are most comfortable in dealing with capital.

But history confirms that every time such expert leadership has proclaimed their mastery over the working class, the class itself in class struggle has moved ahead and the question of lag between the ‘spontaneous’ consciousness of the working class and repositories of “revolutionary wisdom” is time and again raised. In fact, both leaders and capital tend to compete and collaborate in competition to harness and ‘productively’ channelise the energy and creativity of the working class, to teach it to behave coherently – for capital this means a process of successful subsumption and for self-proclaimed leaders a successful organising under their leadership.

However, it is in the solidarian relationship that develops among workers during the course of togetherness in their everyday confrontations with capital and its agencies that we find a self-consolidation of class energy and creativity happening. This is what is called a political recomposition of the working class. It happens through a refusal to submit itself to the mechanics of the technical composition – how capital (re)organises and imposes work to keep on appropriating surplus value, to subsume evermore labour by technological innovations. But it is important to remember, “[i]t would be possible to write quite a history of the inventions, made since 1830, for the sole purpose of supplying capital with weapons against the revolts of the working-class.” (Marx) Hence, it is the assertion of the autonomy of labour (political composition) and capital’s evermore intensified campaign to subsume it that constitute class struggle. It is the working class that acts to which capital reacts.

When in our January meeting we discussed the introduction of electronics and micro-electronics in the production process, it was mainly to understand how today the terrain of class struggle itself has been transformed. If we do not take these changes into account, any talk of workers’ politics and its revolutionary transformative character will be a useless doctrinaire discussion on class strategy. We recognise that technological change is not a linear process, to which other social variables and components must adjust. Technology itself is contradictory – it is a class struggle. Marx noted a long time back that capital innovates evermore “automatic system”. It is exactly this automatic system that has continued being central to the struggle between capital and labour. Today this system has acquired a global dimension – not constituted by individual “self-acting mules” aided by separated individuals or groups of individual workers but via networked machines and workers toiling in diverse spacetimes.

The technical recomposition of the working class around new inventions/technologies poses a crisis for existing political forms in the working class movement. These forms either become outmoded or co-opted, or have to transform themselves to contribute in the emergence of a new political composition to reassert the autonomy of labour.

We met thrice in Sevagram to discuss the evolving character of class conflicts and workers’ self-activisms, how they reflect upon various congealed organisational forms and their claims to class radicalism and politics. Our next meeting is in Delhi, April 19-20 (2014). We propose the following broadly defined agenda to continue our discussion:

1. Changes that have occurred with the incomparable leap in productive forces associated with electronics. What is a radical transformation today?

2. Changes in the composition of the working class in these forty years.

3. Appropriate forms of organisations and modes of activities from local to global levels.

For details, contact

Of AAP and the Leftist Chickens

Pothik Ghosh

This, indeed, appears to have become a season for homecoming. The chickens that had hitherto ranged freely on the so-called progressive side of the fence are now coming home to roost. Indian democracy is the fashionable address that home bears. And the path that is leading the poultry to it is called the Aam Admi Party (AAP). What had started as a diffident trickle, towards the common man’s abode, during the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare, et al., has now become a veritable flood. Power does work, we finally seem to be discovering, as a rather effective magnet for those who are more incorruptible than others.

The left in India has been, for all practical purposes, a catch-all category that has come to accommodate everyone from revolutionary groups of various hues and independent Marxists of myriad denominations to different shades of self-righteous social democrats and bleeding-heart maverick liberals who like to don the radical garb. And in this scramble to make it to the maternal lap of Indian democracy, over which plays the soothing lullaby of the common man, that eclectic purport of the leftist signboard has not been lost one bit. The leftist constituency of the AAP – which has flocked behind it by way of intellectual justification and sympathy if not outright political support – is a fair representation of that eclecticism. It has in its ranks both those who continue to profess their faith in revolutionary transformation and those who think that social democracy is now a quicker and surer way to get to where revolutionary politics had, in a different age, promised to deliver them.

But it is not as if we, who have decided to keep the flame of revolutionary politics burning by staying put, are faring any better. Wallowing in the Brahminical purity of theory, most of us are busy these days reminding the world about the superiority of our theoretically-endowed position over that of commonsensical morality. We seem to have forgotten that this theory, from which we seek to derive the prestige of our unshakeable faith, is not a doctrine. It is that which is found and refound in the everyday struggles of labour against capital. As a consequence, theory and its prestige has either become an alibi for criticism-as-quietism or a licence to indulge in pragmatist-reactive politics of demands to expose the AAP.

It would not be inappropriate, therefore, to polemically raise a few, somewhat conceptual issues as a way of critically engaging with each of those two AAP-supporting leftist trends, and also perhaps with those among us who have been dogged in their criticism of this politics of the common man.


Let us begin with those ‘Marxist’ and ‘communist’ votaries of bourgeois-democratic revolution who insist that the AAP could likely become a ‘progressive alliance of classes’. Against them it ought to be contended that this is not objectively possible in this late capitalist conjuncture. For, if this conjuncture is that of the generalised state of exception – where the question of rights has objectively become more about negative determination than positive entitlements on account of capital having entered into terminal crisis at the global level – then such an alliance, regardless of whether it is envisaged through the populism of the left or that of the right, is bound to be social corporatist and would thus tend, once again, towards renewal of dominance.

As for the thesis of “dominance without hegemony”, it has always lacked rigour. That must be particularly emphasised here because it is this thesis that either explicitly or implicitly underlies virtually all arguments for democratic revolution as the completion of bourgeois democracy: the closing of the supposed gap between dominance and hegemony of the national bourgeoisie.

It is our view that the Marxian conception of hegemony as propounded by Antonio Gramsci has two connotations – that of the bourgeois class and that of capital as a structure of social power. And I tend to think that the former, which Gramsci at least in one place in his Prison Notebooks calls “external hegemony”, is coeval with dominance. The intensity of this dominance or external hegemony is inversely proportional to the strength of the tendency of constitutive (repeat constitutive) crisis of the hegemony of capital as a structure (which in Gramsci is termed hegemony without any qualifying adjective) at a given moment in history. From there it follows that the current conjuncture of this hegemony of capital as an epoch of hierarchically excluding but productively inclusive social power is characterised by a relative growth in the strength of that tendency of constitutive crisis and a commensurate weakening of the counter-tendency of stabilisation of the subsumption of that crisis. The Indian specificity of this conjuncture unmistakably bears that out. Consequently, what one gets is not only greater administered authoritarianism at all levels of the social formation/state-formation complex but also an acceleration of the rate at which such (coercive) dominance is socio-politically renewed through mass mobilisations and movements against precisely such administered authoritarianism.

What we have on our hands then is not dominance without hegemony but the rapid shifting of different regimes of dominance precisely on account of struggles against specific and immediate forms of dominance being already always hegemonised (or, inscribed within and articulated by the capitalist structure of dominance and competition). This is exactly what the Indian situation, when grasped in and through the thick interweaving of its polity, society and various mass movements, reveals. Social corporatism is the form of such politics, and AAP and the anti-corruption movement that birthed it are no exceptions. The generalised state of exception is the constitutive tendency of this social corporatist form. The rapid renewal of the social corporatist form (and its persistence at all levels of our social being) through precisely rights-based mass movements, which would in the past qualify as democratic, is the neoliberal specificity of late capitalism.

In such circumstances, it is quite pointless to talk about ‘completing’ the bourgeois democratic project, whose ‘incompleteness’ is supposedly reflected in the purported absence of hegemony of capital. For, the rapid turnover of various regimes of dominance, in, as and through mass mobilisations precisely against historically specific forms of dominance, shows that hegemony of capital as a differentially inclusive configuration or structure of power (or combined and uneven development) is very much alive and kicking, and complete. Such politics of accelerated rate of renewal and increasing pervasiveness of the social corporatist form – read coercive dominance of a class constituted through a mass movement – embodies a crisis in hegemony of capital. But that is not yet a crisis of hegemony, which would amount to its collapse. This crisis in hegemony is, of course, incipiently a crisis of hegemony but only incipiently and is, therefore, not as such the latter’s generalisation. This is because it is a crisis of capital that nevertheless is articulated by the structure of capital itself. It is something like the constitutive lack of the symbolic order in Lacanian psychoanalysis.

This crisis in capital can be transformed as the incipient crisis of capital it always already is into generalised actuality only through subjective intervention that is able to beat the cunning of the structure of capital. And such an intervention would be one that subtracts itself from the strategic orientation of rights-based politics and politics of democratic revolution while holding on to the question of democratisation as a necessarily determinate tactical condition of the revolutionary strategy.

But movements that would amount to such an intervention cannot be ones that base themselves on an acknowledgement and affirmation of a stageist interregnum or temporal lag between the question of democratisation and the question of communist revolution. Therefore, the argument that the AAP has the potential to be a democratic revolutionary movement is thoroughly misplaced precisely because such a ‘Marxist’ argument is premised on the affirmation of this temporal lag or stageist interregnum between democratic revolution and proletarian revolution. A democratic-revolutionary strategy of working-class revolution – which is necessarily premised on this conception of temporal or stageist lag between completing the bourgeois democratic revolution and the beginning of a proletarian revolution – would in this conjuncture of the generalised state of exception amount to nothing but farcical repetition. A rapidly accelerated and accelerating farcical repetition of passive revolution as expanded reproduction of capital as a specific epochal configuration of social power.


Now for those who think that the AAP is or can be an effective social democratic force. The argument against them would, in terms of logic, be much the same, save a few differences in detail. Here are some rhetorical questions that need to be asked of them. Is it possible in this late capitalist conjuncture – which in the aftermath of de-fascisation and decolonisation is characterised in it being a generalised state of exception – for social democracy to be a politics of reformism in the traditional Keynesian sense? In other words, can social democracy, even when it apparently has the subjective tenor of militant reformism, be a politics of reform of the sphere of distribution of value that in seeking to demand and effect such reform is, objectively speaking, orientated in the direction of overall betterment of the condition of the working class vis-a-vis capital? For, isn’t precisely the generalised state of exception, which characterises this late capitalist conjuncture, all about reform in the distribution of value being objectively constrained to further intensify and irrationalise segmentation of labour-power and thus the working class? And is that, therefore, not the reason why the discourse of rights, which is the ideological form of a politics seeking to reform the distribution of value, is objectively becoming more and more a politics of negative determination and less and less a politics of positive entitlements. And, in such a situation, can the subjectivity of social democratic politics itself remain, for long, working-class reformist and not be transformed into an out and out petty-bourgeois modality of competitive politics even at its mass-movemental level? In that sense, has not our conjunctural objectivity already ensured that the line that had earlier divided – either spatially or temporally or both – the populism of the left from that of the right tends to blur more and more?

The way the Maruti movement had unfolded till July 2012 – insofar as it sought to challenge and thus tended to move beyond the traditional trade unionist and vanguardist framework of radical working-class politics in all its variety – demonstrates that what is and must be first and foremost on the agenda of radical transformative politics today is the struggle against social corporatist aggregation. The Maruti movement, together with various other incidents of industrial unrest in the country over the past few years, have arguably revealed that such social corporatist aggregation, regardless of its ideological provenance and its ideology-reflecting charter of demands, is an articulation of the capitalist tendency to intensify segmentation of the working class and simultaneously regiment that segmentation into a coherent systemic whole, thereby rendering it more openly irrational.

But then, does the politics of common man, as envisaged by the AAP, even qualify as properly social democratic? There are some who contend that the AAP is a phenomenon of the rise of the new “middle sections” of the working class that the Indian left has made no serious attempt to reach out to and organise. There can be little doubt on that score. The sociology of the preponderant and leading sections of the AAP definitely suggests that. And the failure of virtually all the left groups here, whether revisionist or so-called radical, to seriously engage with these new ‘middle layers’ of the working class in order to enable them to self-organise could well be one of the reasons for their gravitation towards the anti-corruption movement and the AAP. Most of us, who swear by proletarian revolutionary generalisation, have never seriously considered the task of enabling those sections of the working class – the so-called white-collar and service-sector workers – to self-organise. Our often unstated assumption that only the traditional blue-collared workers, and sections mired in resource poverty, are working class is one of the key reasons for that failure. Yet the fact remains that the AAP, in having mobilised them on its anti-corruption plank as ‘common men and women’, has organised them as consumers and not as a constituent of the working class.

What is even more dangerous about this kind and form of mobilisation is that it poses a politics that is inimical and directly antithetical to the interests and politics of the working class. Sure, the AAP’s politics of the common man is about rendering the overall distribution of value better. But unlike social democracy that seeks this betterment in distribution at the workers’ end, any politics against corruption is about eliminating glitches in the realm of consumption as realisation of value. As a result, it is a politics that reinforces the logic of production being determined by and subordinate to consumption as realisation of value. On the other hand, social democracy – even as it does not seek to re-organise the given production process to abolish class segmentation and division – is premised on an implicit acknowledgement of irreconcilability of the antagonism between labour and capital.

Clearly, the mobilisation of those so-called middle sections of the working class as people whose consumption is blighted by graft bespeaks a politics that strengthens the enslavement of workers by the logic of realisation of value, and is thus an ideology for intensification of work. Had they been organised in terms of their worker-alterity, it would have been a radically different kind of politics. One that is constitutive of the point of production posing a direct challenge to its determination by the point of consumption-as-realisation-of-value. That would have been the beginning of the latter’s subversion, and thus the subversion of the dualised structure of production being determined by consumption-as-realisation-of-value. In other words, it would have been a determinate moment constitutive of the politics of subversion of the law of value.

Therefore, the ideology and politics of class collaboration articulated by the social corporatist form specific to this politics of the common man is, to begin with, far more reactionary than the ideological form of class collaboration posed by a social democratic subjective disposition. Such politics driven solely by the morality of honesty and probity is at its core, one ought to say now without mincing too many words, patently and unabashedly anti-working class.


Let us back this charge with a string of similar assertions as a way of getting to the point from where we can start making sense of this discourse of a common man’s politics of honesty and probity in terms of its social-material foundations. A politics against corruption as a politics for the common man is, in this conjuncture, inevitably bound to be a politics for greater efficiency. Such politics is populist but with an ideological orientation that is clearly neoliberal whose preponderant political subjectivity at the so-called grassroots level is fascistic.

In such circumstances, it would not be misplaced at all to characterise such politics as one of rightwing populism, whose class character, particularly in its mass movemental moment, is that of petty-bourgeois social corporatism. This ideological orientation and class character derives from the fact that the strategic focus of such politics accords primacy to the moment of consumption or non-work socialisation, and the spacetime of circulation of value. For, what else would efficiency be in capitalism save the enhanced facility of consumption as non-work socialisation? Hence, the politics of the so-called common man is a politics that seeks to redress the problems of inefficiency in the domain of consumption in their immediacy, by papering over and obscuring how such inefficiency is nothing but an expression of that domain of socialisation (or consumption) being hierarchical (or, more precisely, differentially inclusive). Concomitantly, such politics also obscures how this differentially inclusive organisation of consumption or non-work socialisation is essentially the functionality of social division of labour, which is nothing but the capitalist organisation of the production process.

And this is the reason why, among other things, the preponderant ideological orientation and political subjectivity of such politics is, as we have observed, fascistic at the level of mobilisation. The link between fascism and a politics that seeks to redress the problems in the domain of consumption in their immediate purity while steering clear of all attempts to problematise the structuring of that domain is almost self-evident. For, such politics, which seeks to resolve the problems in the domain of consumption and non-work socialisation in their pure immediacy without seeking to address them at the fundamental level of the structuring of the domain of consumption, is bound to generate and be positively disposed towards a discourse of securitisation, and a strong police state. By extension, such politics, regardless of its homilies to secularism, and such apparently secular practices as fielding of Muslim candidates in majority-dominated constituencies, will, on the whole, have an Islamophobic character.

Such politics of the common man, therefore, serves to reinforce and reproduce the production/consumption (circulation) split constitutive of capital as a mode of social being. More pertinently, it tends to do so by increasing the subordination of production (or the spacetime of living labour) to the domain of consumption, which in being situated within and articulated by the structure of capital as the spacetime of reproduction is basically the spacetime of consolidation, accumulation and thus dead labour. In this late capitalist conjuncture of biocapitalism, wherein our entire life in all its cognitive and affective dimensions has been rendered productive or a direct source of value extraction, this politics of the common man is doubly reactionary.

Such politics, strategically focused on redressing solely and purely the problems at the point of consumption in their immediacy, is paradigmatically constrained not to problematise the structuring of the given domain of consumption. It is, as a result, destined to passively accept that domain in the way it is structured. This is tantamount to affirmation of the given modalities of consumption. That not only means, as we have seen above, the reinforcement of determination of the point of production by the domain of consumption and non-work socialisation, it also means the failure or refusal to discern how consumption in being consumption is, in its given forms and modalities, now also a site of direct extraction of value. In other words, it fails to see how consumption, bound by and within its given forms and modalities, has been rendered productive.

So, even as the politics of the common man makes the domain of consumption its strategic focus, its passive approach to the question of consumption and its capitalist structuring, prevents it from posing a politics against capital as the historically concrete logic of social power that is transforming our entire society, including what had hitherto been purely the spatio-temporality of non-work socialisation (or circulation of value), into a social factory that is rendering more and more indistinguishable the hitherto clearly demarcated spacetimes of work and reproductive leisure. That is the only form in which politics focused strategically on what has traditionally been the domain of consumption and circulation can be radically transformative.

Clearly then, the politics of common man, which is a politics for greater efficiency and ‘democratisation’ at the point of consumption, has little if any similarity with the politics to re-define social needs through re-organisation of the production process by way of a struggle to transform the differentially inclusive or class-divided structure that it is constitutive of. It will, when all is said and little done, amount to greater imposition of work and, as a result, greater regimentation and increasing command of living labour. More clearly, this means that workers’ rights must always be second to the rights (read privileges) of those who live off such work as consumers and accumulators. Therefore, the politics of common man, with its shibboleths of ‘efficiency’ and ‘democratic governance’ that is supposed to yield such efficiency, is, at its heart, an anti-working class politics. That such politics tirelessly raises slogans of corporate graft, etc, should not deceive us because capital is not exhausted by private corporations. Capital is neither a single institutional entity nor a group of them. It is a structure of differential social power constitutive of infinitely multiple and proliferating levels of imposition and intensification of work, and extraction and transfer of value.


The resultant sharpening of the contradictions constitutive of this social corporatist operation is the lever that militants of transformative politics need to recognise and hit. In such a situation, the difference between left populism and right populism ceases to make any strategically productive sense. The new political project of capital, which is characterised by its late conjunctural specificity, is what we have explicated as and termed neoliberalism. And the grasping of the nature of this new political project of capital involves, among other things, rethinking the strategic productivity of such ideological categories as left populism and right populism through which we on the left have traditionally made sense of the character of the political project and forms of capitalist class politics. Such an endeavour doubtless involves a huge risk that is not only ideological but, more importantly, political. However, as days go by, the characteristic specificity of our conjuncture leaves us with less and less choice on whether or not we can hazard that risk.

Let us, therefore, start that process of risk-taking right here by attempting to analytically grasp not only the new social-material reality of capital that is the basis of the AAP phenomenon but also how the vacuum created by failures of the militants of revolutionary working-class politics has led to the crystallisation of that new objective reality into a correspondent subjective form: common man’s politics against corruption.

The current conjuncture of late capitalism is characterised by increasing precarity of the working class across it various sections and segments. Such precarisation of the working class has been due to a rapid rate of change in the organic composition of capital wrought by increasing levels of competition that, in turn, has been further intensified by the change in organic composition of capital and its increasing rate. Clearly, increase in the rate of competition and change in the organic composition of capital are mutually entwined into a feedback loop. This all-pervasive precarity has meant an across-the-board anti-systemic unity with its basis in a shared affectivity generated by that common social condition. But since the subjective disposition constitutive of this affective unity against the system grasps the source of this condition of all-round precarity only in terms of the juridical form of the system, the politics it generates is against the system only in the immediately existing specificity of its juridical form. Not surprisingly, such politics, which in the instant case is what the AAP phenomenon stands for, is constitutive of an anti-systemic unity that is aggregative and thus social corporatist. Now, why is such aggregative unity, based on a common affect arising from the more or less common social condition of precarity, social corporatist? That is because this unity leaves the real material segmentations among its various constituents intact. Something that eventually leads to the instrumentalisation of socially and/or economically subordinate segments and sections of the working class by its dominant segments and sections.

Also, since such politics of aggregation is contingent on papering over segmentations internal to the working class, notwithstanding its affective unity, it fails to critique the system at the level of its structure of socio-technical division of labour. This means that such politics of aggregative anti-systemic unity fails to question the organisation of the production process at its basic structural level. As a result, the dialectic of competition (and class struggle) and change in organic composition of capital (and intensification of segmentation of labour-power and increasing socialisation of precarity) not only continues unabated. But precisely because it plays out unchecked does the rate of the dynamic that actualises the dialectic is further heightened. The socialisation of precarisation continues to both intensify and accelerate, even as there is no let up in the vengeance with which some segments and sections instrumentalise others. Consequently, no social corporatist regime is able to stabilise, even as the hegemony of social corporatism as the political logic of mass mobilisation against a particular social corporatist regime and form in crisis remains unquestioned. This amounts to, as we have observed earlier, a rapid turnover of various social corporatist regimes.

This is the new social-material condition of capitalist globality in its barbaric moment of which AAP is only the local and most recent symptom. Clearly, the rise of the AAP is on account of this affective anti-systemic unity even as this unity displays a marked lack of will to grasp the increasingly socialised condition of precarity that underlies it as its necessary condition of possibility in terms of the segmental structure of the system of socio-technical division of labour. This deficit of will should almost certainly be ascribed to the inability and/or unwillingness of militants of proletarian-revolutionary politics to move towards revolutionary generalisation as the simultaneity of unity and struggle (struggle in unity, unity in struggle and unity as struggle). Those militants and their organisations have remained stuck in their sectionalised class bases, which they have as a result ghettoised, striking sectarian stances that have amounted to no more than militant reformism. This problem of theirs they will have to overcome if they are serious about leveraging the sharpening of contradictions, which the AAP will inevitably yield, to open up the horizon of revolutionary generalisation. And for that they would do well to realise that the wars of position into which they have been compelled by the objective structural logic of the system is only an integral moment in the dialectical unfolding of the war of manoeuvre and that this moment cannot be prolonged, or be a struggle unto itself for too long.

In other words, militants of revolutionary working-class politics will have to ensure, through their subjective intervention, that the affective anti-systemic unity that has emerged on account of increasing pervasiveness of the social condition of precarity grasps itself as that unity, not merely in terms of the immediate juridical form it confronts the system as, but primarily in terms of the socio-technical division of labour as the structural basis of that system. In other words, such interventions will have to strengthen the affective unity through struggles against concrete material divisions and segmentations internal to that unity. Only then will such unity cease to be social corporatist and instrumental and will be transformed into the actuality of radical antagonism with regard to capital as a specific epochal configuration of social power.

What will be crucial, therefore, is the politico-ideological direction that will emerge because of and through the contradictions that the politics of AAP will inevitably open up at the grassroots, and consequently fail as the project it currently is. The jury is, and should justifiably be, out on that one. The failure of such politics is certain but what will come out of that failure is probably less so. A rightward turn, given the current state of affairs, is a strong possibility indeed. However, it should stay that way and never become a certainty in our critique of the AAP phenomenon. Otherwise, for militants of radical political projects, this can only imply subjective quietism. The question really is, how can a critique of the AAP phenomenon, and the concomitant diagnosis of its inevitable failure, arm the militants of radical politics with the strategic wherewithal to subjectively intervene in the concrete contradictions that will be constitutive of the AAP’s inevitable failure in order to leverage the situation and turn it in a transformative direction. For, the contradictions that are constitutive of AAP, which will be the cause of its eventual failure, present an opportunity both for the reconstitution of the system and its unravelling. What is made of those contradictions, or how they are seized, is entirely contingent on how well a critique of the AAP is able to prefigure the play of the tendency of hope and the counter-tendency of despair, which those contradictions posit, in terms of the concrete social-industrial process in its regional, national and subcontinental entirety. Only that, and nothing else, shall determine whether the failure of the AAP will yield a neoliberal dictatorship propped up by a society in perpetual fascistic flux, or a radical transformative politics of hope.

Historical Materialism, Delhi: Legal Marxism Redux

M.S. Khan and Madan Singh

The HM conference in New Delhi, India, is the arch-example of sanitising Marxism and academicising it. The purported promotion of the “new cultures of the left” is nothing but an attempt to sanitise Marxism of its dirty old history in India and elsewhere, and present it to the liberal conscience of western academic tourists in Marxism in the manner that suits their taste. Initially, it proposed to base itself on a virulently anti-communist group of postmodern journo-academics in India. The danger of de-legitimation (of course, who would like to lose their brand name and business) and to provide space to radical international tourists and NRIMs (Non-resident Indian Marxists) forced it to tone down such alignment. As a result, we have an eclectic assortment of non-serious social democrats, NGO-secular-civil liberty activists, poor academics and perpetually passive learners ready to line up to welcome international Historical Materialists.

The recent vocalisation of an open dissociation with the Socialist Workers Party of Britain by the organisers of HM, Delhi, further reveals their desperation to satisfy and bridge liberal consensuses of the West and India. And the last straw in this regard was the withdrawal of their invitation to Alex Callinicos, perhaps the only Trotskyist in whom genuine Marxist activists in India find some ‘cultural’ affinity. This was obviously done to appease the disgruntled pocos, who were lately alienated from the organising committee. As they are on the lookout to find opportunity to vent their frustration of not having been included in this gala event, this was done to preclude any disturbance from their side.

If Marxism or historical materialism is able today to find an important place in academia, it means two things – one, that the capitalist apparatuses have conceded to the pressures from below, and two, in this concession they have been able to sanitise it of its anti-systemic roots and have found tools that would help them in reproducing capitalist ideologies and social relations. The ideological Marxism that academia produces is a form of Marxism that is entrenched within the disciplinary divides that help capitalism to control and regulate knowledge production.

The endeavour the HM conference in Delhi signifies has nothing to do with revolutionary politics insofar as theory in revolutionary politics is about being implicated in thinking the strategic orientation of movements in their socio-historical concreteness. This is precisely the modality of operation of theory in revolutionary working-class politics. Even theory in its bare philosophical abstraction, when its practice is internal to such politics, is meant to be in a dialectical articulation with the concrete political methods (tactics if you will) of socio-historically determinate movements, and are thus meant to clarify the strategy of praxis in seeking to be reconstituted with programmatic accuracy in the concrete tactical specificities of those movements. All this, in order to actualise the generality of the principle of revolutionary-proletarian politics.

Practitioners of radical, actually revolutionary, theory should always remember that their kind of theory cannot be a discursive articulation of tactics or the epistemology that frames the programmatic articulation of such tactics. And yet, revolutionary theory is not outside methods whose open constellation is the enactment and expression of that theory. Clearly, only when theory grasps itself as being internal to its constitutive methods does it become revolutionary. Methods that actualise theory while simultaneously interrupting this actualisation, thereby clearing the way for its refoundation. And this exercise in its continuously unfolding entirety is praxis.

This dialectical continuity between theory and practice – or philosophy and epistemology, or strategy and tactics, or concept and subject – if and when it becomes uninterrupted (by sublating its various inevitable punctuations) in practical materiality amounts to the actuality of praxis or actuality of revolution/communism. “Communism as the real movement” (Marx and Engels in The German Ideology) or “revolution in permanence” (Marx in The Class Struggles in France). In Marxism, theory is not – like Kant’s “categorical imperative”– a norm for the governing of practice. Rather, it is, or should be at any rate, the herald of practice to come. One which will abolish theory by realising it and thereby become praxis, which is a higher and radically different ontological level of actuality, positivity and the concrete than the finite empiricism (and positivism) of mere practice.  This is what is often referred to as the “future-anteriority” of Marx’s historical-materialist approach to praxis.

That is, however, not to contend academically-turned Marxism has no analytical connect whatsoever with really-existing movements in their historical concreteness, and is consumed solely by the ethics of theory or, which is pretty much the same thing, conceptual abstractions pertaining only to the internal  architecture of discursive formations. Of course, that has, more or less, been the orientation, if not the methodological protocol, of Critical Theory founded almost as a disciplinary paradigm. Nevertheless, there is a sizeable and ever-growing section of critical theorists who are equally exercised by the question of historically concrete movements. But even for them such historically concrete social and political movements as objects of analysis are meant, at best, to be occasions of inquiring into and demonstrating how those movements constitute the determinate actualisation and thus the limit of proletarian revolutionary praxis. The next step of how that praxis, as an excess of such historical limits, can be reconstituted as a constellation of specific socio-historical subjects — which can be posed only in the shape and register of a concrete programme of action and guidelines for the enforcement of that programme – is clearly beyond the remit of their theoretical practice. And it’s precisely this academicised Marxist modality of reflection and analysis of movements that would arguably be on display at the various panels meant to discuss Kashmir, Nepal, the Maoist-led tribal movements in central and eastern India, the recent workers’ upsurge in the industrial belt of National Capital Region and the like at the Historical Materialism conference here. For, even the best and the most well-intentioned among the panelists — their numbers are few and far between — engage with their objects of analysis as no more than sympathetic ethnographers. Their outside support for such movements eventually shirks the ultimate responsibility of plunging into the practical materiality of movements. A move, which if made through the immersion of their analytical engagement with those movements into the practicality of the latter, would render their analyses and the approach that underpins them to become the sublated constitutivity of programmes of those movements in question. That would not only rid their theory of its academicism but also simultaneously enrich the movements in question with the spirit of revolutionary generalisation, thereby enabling the revolutionary praxis constitutive of those movements to tend towards overcoming the historical limits imposed on them. Limits that inevitably tend to hypostatise the movemental materiality of revolutionary praxis into overgeneralising sectarianism at the level of practice and pragmatic epistemological fetishism at the level of theory.

The remit of critical theory that prevents it from straying beyond its own prettified gardens into the dank and malodorous world of really-existing politics that lie beyond them is, needless to say, imposed on practitioners of such theory by the position that is constitutive of the way they envisage their theoretical practice as an untainted and untaintable outside to the historically concrete social and political movements. Such a conception of theoretical practice and its actual operation – which is constitutive of the academicisation of radical theory in general and Marxism in particular – stems from the purist and puritanical yearning of its practitioners to evade in advance the vagaries, exigencies, impurities, ugliness and errors, which engaging with such really existing movements by being integral to their respective agencies of practice inevitably brings. Clearly, they know, or care to know, nothing about the revolutionary virtue of risking all that taint by going through those vagaries, exigencies, impurities, ugliness and errors of practicality in order to extenuate them in practice. Nor do they remember, drunk as they are on their ephemeral status of being philosopher-kings, that the foundational logic of their academicised theoretical practice is precisely a restoration of the effete Young Hegelian legacy of “critical criticism” or “critical philosophy” that Marx systematically demolished to establish the rigorous scientificity of critique of political economy as practical critique.

However, to explain away academicisation of Marxist theory merely in terms of such motivations of a group or section of intellectuals would be sheer psychologism unbecoming of a complete and rigorous Marxist analysis of the same. We need to understand the structural condition of possibility – structural causality if you will – of such psychological motivations to turn Marxism from a revolutionary theory for revolutionary practice into an accommodated, and impotent ideology. To effectively combat such academicisation, of which HM, Delhi, not unlike Legal Marxism in late 19th century Russia, is a typical exemplar, we must recognise it for what it really is: a symptom of the conjunctural crisis of both Marxist theory and revolutionary working-class movements. This crisis, which is currently manifest as movements without theory and theory without movements, has arisen from the shifting of the conjunctural regime from that of embedded liberalism to that of neoliberalism. Due to this shift, the theoretical recognition of the revolutionary subject lags behind its recomposition, which has devastated the forms of organisation – both political and conceptual. In such circumstances, we are confronted with, to paraphrase Gramsci, a monstrosity: a conceptually elevated theory that has emerged, in lieu of the yet-to-be-born revolutionary subject, by making the cognitive abstraction of negativity and critique into an autonomous ground from where it preaches to the impotent revolutionary subject of the earlier conjuncture and berates it for its expected lapses as if that ground were a transhistorical tribune of revolutionary reason.

So, what we have today by way of Marxism as revolutionary praxis is not a dialectical unity but a duality of two mutually competing ideologies – pragmatism (of movements under the leadership of various shades and sects of the party-left) and subjective-idealism (that goes under the name of critical theory). In such a situation, we have the party-left tendencies rejecting the academicised style of theoretical practice of academic Marxists as a psychological impulse of some individual intellectuals and the groups they comprise while engaging with the theoretical products of those academic Marxists by seeking to instrumentalise them. The party-leftists believe this to be their critical stance vis-à-vis academicised radical theory. But this attitude, in reality, amounts to no more than the playing out of the objective logic of competition and split between the theoretical subjectivity of analysis and the practical objectivity of movement, one in which the domination of the latter by the former is implicitly an established fact. Something that has reinforced and reproduced the capitalist logic of social relations within the twinned-domain of Marxist theory and working-class movements, thereby significantly undermining the radical tenor and orientation of revolutionary proletarian praxis. This hierarchical split between theory and movements has also meant that such academicised Marxism is no longer a constitutive theoretical moment of revolutionary praxis but is a reified analytic that, therefore, is destined to do no more than engage in a competitive war of one-upmanship with other non-Marxist and even anti-Marxist radical-theoretical analytics. That is clearly revealed by the liberal eclecticism that has gone as much into the making of the organisational core of the Delhi edition of the Historical Materialism conference as the conference itself. And the unsavoury controversy that has dogged the organising of the conference, what with a few pocos and semi-pocos, who had initially been part of that eclectically composed core of conference organisers, reportedly walking out of it in a huff, and threatening to boycott and even disrupt the proceedings further substantiates our charge on that score. That a good number of such pocos, semi-pocos, and non- and anti-Marxists are still very much part of both the conference and its organisational core, even as some of their friends who have abandoned it are now attacking the conference from the outside, reveals that the logic of competitive one-upmanship constitutes a marketplace of ideas which commodified academic trends share with each other in order to be part of the process of outcompeting one another. In that sense, the eclectically organised core of the conference, the conference itself and its so-called detractors on the outside are one extended continuum of academic capitalism. So much so that it would not be inaccurate to title this soap opera of a conference the ‘Extended Family of Histo-Mat and its Inner Feuds’.

This competitive co-habitation of academicised Marxism with other non- and anti-Marxist academic trends under the aegis of Historical Materialism, Delhi, is a travesty of critical dialogue the former claims to be engaged in with the latter. The only stake such Marxism has in its engagement with those other theoretical tendencies (read analytics/ideologies) is accommodation in the marketplace of ideas in competitive co-existence with all other kinds of discursive commodities. Need we tell these Marxist industrialists and their non-Marxist academic compatriots that their unctuous and self-important claims of a holding ‘critical dialogue’ among themselves can delude none for long save such sell-outs and hustlers as themselves?  Critical dialogue, they ought to be reminded, is polemical communication, not competition. One that constitutes radical antagonism between the horizons of commodification and the politics of decommodification, effecting radical separation between them.

Nurses celebrate International Women’s Day

Today (9 March), large numbers of nurses from Delhi & NCR hospitals gathered under the banner of Nurses Welfare Association and Centre for Struggling Women (CSW) to celebrate International Women’s Day. The meeting was called to discuss problems such as lack of safety for women nurses, strenuous work schedules due to poor nurse to patient ratios, pay disparity between private hospital and government hospital nurses, etc. The nurses decided to use the historic occasion of International Women’s Day to come together, especially due to growing concerns regarding rising incidents of sexual violence on women in the city.

The meeting commenced with two prominent panelists, Dr Mary John (Professor of Economics, J.N.U.) and Dr Bijayalaxmi Nanda (Asst. Professor, Miranda House, D.U.), addressing issues like gender discrimination in workplaces. Other speakers like Mrs. Krishnakumar from the Nurses Welfare Association encouraged the nurses to voice their concerns about harassment and exploitation at workplaces. Maya John from the woman’s organization, Centre for Struggling Women, emphasized that for sexual violence and discrimination to come to an end it was necessary for greater numbers of women to enter public spaces, and hence, for greater employment generation. She argued that such enhanced participation of women in the workforce would effectively challenge existing discrimination in workplaces.

Maya speaking at Public Meeting of Nurses

Anxious about the daily risks they face while commuting to work as well as when at work in hospitals, women nurses discussed how existing laws regulating workplaces need to be re-assessed. Many of the nurses complained of harassment by patients’ visitors, as well as male hospital staffers. However, they felt that such sexual harassment was made worse by the fact that most of them were in highly exploitative work contracts. Many nurses, for example, expressed how growing contractualization of work was forcing them into more vulnerable conditions. They discussed how the lack of government hospitals was compelling most nurses to enter contract jobs in private hospitals/clinics where salaries were low and on an average ranged from just Rs. 5000-10000 rupees per month. Moreover, the simple fact that many private hospitals force their nursing staff to work extra shifts, do overtime, etc. and do not at the same time provide for something as basic as transportation to their women employees, is indicative of the conscious ways in which hospital managements’ are putting their women work force at continuous risk. Similarly, by not providing on-campus accommodation to their nursing staff, most hospitals were compelling nurses to commute unsafe distances after their evening shift.

Public Meeting of Nurses

Many nurses employed across Delhi-NCR hospitals also complained that hospital bouncers are often used to physically and verbally intimidate nurses who speak out about unsafe and exploitative work conditions. The nurses also highlighted how the local administration and local police stations have proved to be very lax in their response to complaints made by nurses about sexual harassment, stalking, and even complaints concerning the use of bouncers by hospital managements during nurses’ strikes.

In this light, the nurses discussed and passed a resolution/demand charter. This charter included demands like pressing the Government to constitute a wage board for the health sector, to create more government funded nursing colleges and government hospitals, and to properly regulate work conditions in hospitals, i.e. by conducting regular safety audits. According to the nurses, the safety audits would help regulate: (i) work hours/shifts given; (ii) whether a safe atmosphere exists in and around hospitals; (iii) whether the recent Supreme Court ruling against the bond system (i.e. surrender of original certificates to the hospital management for the period of contract) is being followed in all hospitals and nursing homes; (iv) whether written work contracts are being provided to all employees; etc. The nurses believe that it is through such regular safety audits that the Government can assess whether such essential work conditions exist in workplaces or not. Moreover, in the light of how unregulated private transportation is in the Delhi-NCR region, the nurses also resolved to petition the Government to make it mandatory for all hospitals to provide transportation to their staff. In addition to this, it was also felt that a better managed and more accountable public transport had to be introduced by the Government in order to replace various modes of unregulated private transport—a measure which will go a long way in ensuring safety of women commuters.

Lastly, the issue of regulating the functioning of police stations was also raised in the meeting. After many nurses recounted their experiences at local thanas where their complaints were not entertained, the gathering of nurses decided to press for some concrete action on this front. The nurses felt that lodging of FIRs and placing of police stations under CCTV surveillance in order to encourage prompt police action, has become a non-negotiable demand. The fact that many women, including those who face sexual harassment at home or in workplaces, are still afraid to file complaints with the Police, or, have been turned away by police stations, is a serious problem that the nurses will address collectively, and raise with the concerned authorities.

Maya John, Convener, Centre For Struggling Women, 
Contact: 9350272637, 9540716048,


We, members of the nursing community in India, solemnly resolve to press forward with the following common concerns and demands:

  1. Organize and mobilize other nursing and health personnel on the need for a wage board for health sector

  2. Expose institutions that are violating the recent Supreme Court ruling against the bond system

  3. Intensify the struggle for more public-funded nursing colleges

  4. Provision of compulsory transportation for all nursing and health personnel

  5. Provision of on-campus residential facility by hospitals

  6. Enhanced security provisions in and around hospitals so as to prevent assaults (including sexual assaults) on nursing staff

  7. Mandatory consultation with nursing representatives while formulating work-related provisions such as shift-timing, dress code, etc. This is essential so as to prevent practices like assigning night duty to a single female—a practice which often exposes the lone nurse to harassment by ward-boys, other male staff, etc.

  8. Provision of greater educational and job opportunities for women, especially in terms of starting more government hospitals

  9. Intensify the on-going struggle against contractualization of the nursing profession

  10. Parity in the salary-scales of nursing tutors and government college lecturers

  11. Complaints of sexual harassment, violence and intimidation of women should be filed immediately by the concerned police station. Non-filing of FIR and/or lack of prompt police action should result in severe action against concerned SHO as such behaviour amounts to dereliction of duty

  12. Conducting of regular safety audits of hospitals by the Government so as to assess whether necessary conditions of security are provided to hospital staff and whether nursing staff are not being exploited

  13. Parity in salaries of nurses working in private hospitals and those working in government hospitals

  14. Protection of labour rights and fundamental rights like freedom of speech and assembly, during agitations/strikes called by nursing staff. District officials and police authorities should take strict action against hospitals for using bouncers to intimidate nursing staff. The responsibility of any untoward incidents like assault on nurses in struggle lies with local/district authorities who should be made accountable

Video: National Protest Day in Support of Maruti Suzuki Workers (Delhi), Feb 5

Correspondence (Distance Education) Students’ Rights Rally (Jan 21 @10 am, Delhi University)

Protest Rally (from Arts Faculty to VC Office),

Delhi University 

Jan 21 (Tomorrow, Monday), 10.00 am

We, the students of distance learning mode (Delhi University) have come together and launched a campaign that presses for equality of opportunity and dignity. For a long time we have been treated like an underclass in the very institutions of learning that are run through public money raised by our parents’ contribution to the coffers of the state, that is, through the sweat of their brows. We are the children of factory workers, farm hands, office orderlies, coolies, truck drivers, etc. who labour hard through most of the day and all the year round so that our society may prosper. We, the children of the wretched of the world, constitute the majority of every society in the world and yet we are the ones who are denied basic human comforts and dignity.

As we grew we soon realized that we are ruled by a state which demands every sacrifice from us but does not grant us any of our claims. From the early days of our childhood we have learnt the meaning of and are informed by the simple dignity which comes from a day’s toil and hardship. We have grown up watching children of our age play while we worked in their houses; we watched them pay more money as school fees than our parents make in a year. We went to schools run by the government for our ‘welfare’ but found teachers missing. We realized that life is not fair (to some) but that it shines benevolently upon some. Chubby princes and spoilt sweethearts are nurtured to be leaders of our (society?) and us, while we are conditioned to serve them.

It did not take long for us to realize that the world is not fair, but we did not let hope die, mainly because our parents believed in us. We have and continue to watch them sacrifice every small comfort to send us to school, (though it was not always possible). We have watched their eyes brim with dreams and hopes that one day we too would be able to join the ranks of the ‘born’ leaders. Though it was not always easy, we have kept the hope alive, only to see it shatter on passing out from our schools. There is a cut-off, we realized, meant to keep us from gate crashing into the ranks of those ‘born to lead’ and from spoiling their party. We realized that there is no way we could compete with the ‘bright ones’ who paid a fortune to enter the hallowed campuses of well known private schools of Delhi. Their teachers spoke fluent English, they had the latest e-gadgets to educate them, air-conditioned class rooms (and buses), home tutors and above all full stomachs. We were never meant to win for their parents and the state through its dual education policy had caused them to become ‘destined’ to win even before the race could begin.

Naturally, very few of our friends managed to cross the iron curtain of the cut-off marks—it remains to be seen, how long they would survive. But most of us were left out in the cold, hapless and teary-eyed, our tears draining away our parents’ dreams. It was then that we got to know from our benevolent rulers that there was some hope still. We could still be a part of the distinguished Delhi University through the distance learning program. The syllabus would be the same and teachers from DU would teach us. We cheered up and told ourselves (and our parents) that there is hope indeed—if Ekalavya could do it in Mahabharat, we could do it too. But alas, in hoping against hope, we forgot the eventual fate of Ekalavya, it dawned upon us gradually. We were being given classes once in a week and that too if we were lucky. Our teachers were mostly the ones who had missed the bus, and were teaching us as a compromise. The officials barked orders at us, talked to us as one would talk to somebody who is dimwitted; the security staff scoffed at our presence on campus on Sundays (the only day of the week we are allowed to ‘defile’ these hallowed shrines of learning). We were chased out of the campus as soon as our classes got over. The University did and does everything that it could/can, to convince us that we do not belong here. We were given the message that we were here only at the sufferance and burden of the University, and that we ought to consider ourselves lucky for the crumbs thrown at us in the name of ‘public welfare’. We could only seethe in anger and clench our fists, because we were alone in the crowd, we were just individuals trying to make the best of whatever little we had.

But now this is going to change. With our dreams shattered, dignities lost and our parents disillusioned, we have got little to lose. We have come together to put up a fight and with the intent of winning it at all costs. We, the children of India’s labouring class, the underclass of the University system and the pariahs to the ‘fashionable’ and ‘sensitive’ University community, hereby declare that from now on we are going to do everything within our capacity to shatter your peace of mind, your ‘solemn’ gravity and your vacuous sensitivity. We will not allow you, the ‘born leaders’ and your enlightened mentors to pity us, sympathize with us, or cast your benevolent glance at us. We want none of it, though we stretch out our arms to anybody who is willing to join us as an equal and to make a common cause with us. This is just our first step, a long journey lies ahead of us but we are prepared.



Correspondence Students’ Rights Campaign

Contact: 9312654851

Supported and Organized by

Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS)

Delhi Gang Rape and the Feminism of Proletarian Militancy

Pothik Ghosh

Demands for harsh and summary punishment for rapists, or for that matter, stringent laws to deal with  rape – fuelled as they are by moral outrage – do little else than reinforce the capitalist structure of patriarchy that thrives on gendered division of labour between waged productive work and unwaged reproductive work. For, any such legal-juridical demand or move is willy-nilly grounded in the assumption that the capitalist-patriarchal structuring of social relations need not be transformed to protect women from sexual violence. In fact, such self-righteous moral outrage underpinned by the lust for inquisitorial-gladiatorial spectacle is, at the systemic-structural level, nothing but an ideology that legitimises the capitalist-patriarchal structure. It tends to reinforce the general consensus – precisely by marshalling the crises of the system it can no longer conceal – that the only matrix capable of protecting women against violence is one that is normatively capable of instituting stringent laws against perpetrators of such sexual and/or gender violence, ensures their strict enforcement and delivers harsh punishment to offenders. The reinforcement of such a consensus does no more or less than preserve and reproduce the structure of gendered division of labour, and sexual inequality.

Moral Outrage and Capitalist Juridicality

The legal-juridical approach to protect women not only denies them autonomous agency, as it serves to interpellate them as unequal subjects of a gendered socio-economic system, but also masks the implication of the agency of all its citizen-subjects in that gender-unequal structure of social power. Meanwhile, those citizen-subjects, who turn agents of such legal-juridical approach to anti-systemic politics, live in the neurotic comfort of condemning rape and baying for the blood of rapists even as they perpetuate the gender-unequal structure of social power through their agency as citizen-subjects of civil society and its constitutive unit: the family. This structure of social power is the very condition of possibility for such gruesome acts of sexual and gendered violence, which are, therefore, its cultural and ideological embodiments or mediations. Hence, such moral outrage of citizen-subjects ties up neatly with the legal-juridical approach that serves to sidestep the fundamental question of socio-economic transformation by sweeping the collective consciousness clean of it, thus enabling the system to manage its structural crisis by transferring it, either fully or partially, from one location to another. As a consequence, the system is not only preserved but it also reproduces itself through the further extension of its panoptic web of biopower and the political-economic logic that inheres in it. Clearly, morally outraged demands for fixing gruesome acts of sexual violence such as rape in their sheer immediacy is the political language constitutive of a subjective agency of opposition that is integral precisely to the extended reproduction of the very system it seeks to oppose in one of its many determinate moments. That, needless to say, reinforces the legal-juridical approach even as it precludes the transformation of the capitalist-patriarchal structuring of socio-economic power through its decimation.

The immediate fight against sexual violence such as rape must grasp such despicable violence not as a problem of sheer lawlessness that, therefore, can be eliminated through the enforcement of the law and the reinforcement of its concomitant system, but as a crisis of the very system and its structure that, therefore, needs to be destroyed in order to abolish such crises integral to it. Rape is not an aberration of the system that the latter can eradicate by asserting – instituting/enforcing – the law that holds the system together as its raison d’ etre. Rather, it is one of the many forms of heinously oppressive violence that is integral to regimes of class domination that is enshrined in and as the systemic rule of law. Hence, the eradication of rape and other such forms of coercive patriarchal oppression, which make for the constitutive exception of the law, is contingent not on extending the remit of the legal. Instead, it lies precisely in the abolition of the law and the capitalist socio-economic structure coeval with the legal and, which to reiterate the earlier point, is the condition of possibility of patriarchy and all its forms of control and coercion.

It is no accident that moral outrage against gruesome acts of rape and sexual violence, which fuel demands for either more stringent anti-rape laws or harsh punishment for rapists, or both, is inseparable from disciplinary control over the vector of women’s bodies and lifeworlds. All for their safety and security. The social, if not the individual, subject that articulates both those discourses is indivisible.

This argument does in no way, however, preclude the question of politically fighting rape in its immediacy. Rather, what it insists on is the inescapable need for such a struggle to figure how the general strategy of fighting capital in order to overcome it should articulate its tactics in their immediacy, and not be conflated with it to be hypostatised. The legal-juridical fight against rape is a tactical position that ought not to be blinded by the affect of moral outrage that animates it to the strategy of decimating the capitalist-patriarchal structure. A strategy that ought to inform, articulate and orientate the social subject waging the immediate, tactical struggle for legal-juridical measures against rape. As for the question about whether or not moral outrage about rape is necessarily inseparable from patriarchy, the need is clearly to deal with it at its two different levels of determination: one of individual subjectivity and the other of social subjecthood. In the first instance, the correlation is not necessary, while in the second case, if the morally outraged social subject is interpellated by the legal-juridical approach and is thus rendered incapable and/or unwilling to pose the fundamental structural (or mediated) question then moral outrage is doubtless coeval with patriarchal power. It is actually no less than the ideology of capital in this, its late conjuncture. Of course, there is no duality between the two subject-positions as they are in a dialectic. And precisely, therefore, there can be no unidirectional determination. That is, an individual subjectivity of moral outrage, even if it is informed by a conception of social subject for structural transformation, cannot, merely by claiming to be informed by such radical subjectivity, stand in as such for the actuality of the radical, system-transforming social subject. That social subject, which is incipiently present in the subjectivity of a radical individual, has to be generalised beyond that incipience for it to be sustained in its actuality. Politics is what politics does. Not what it says it does.

Class Struggle on the Woman Question

Therefore, the woman question should not be reduced to a question of juridical identity and that it should, in its tactical determinateness, articulate the generalised strategy of class antagonism. This is not to say that rape becomes a secondary question from the vantage point of revolutionary working-class politics. And that, therefore, the struggle of the hour is for socialism, whose coming would automatically take care of gender inequality and sexual oppression. Instead, there is an urgent need to stake out a revolutionary working-class position with regard to intervention in gruesome instances of sexual violence where the public consensus is single-mindedly focused on meting out harsh punishments – death by hanging, castration, etc – while remaining incapable of or unwilling to question how gender-insensitive laws and law-enforcement are integral to the capitalist-patriarchal structuring of social relations, or social power.

However, what must at this juncture be openly acknowledged, and admitted – without a shred of ideological sophistry – is that the dominant current of movements, which have based themselves on the conceptual centrality of the class question, have been paradigmatically blind to how, among other things, capital has engendered class. In other words, the working-class movement should recognise that its dominant tendencies have failed to foreground how the structure of capital has divided labour and thus segmented the working class through the political-economic specification, re-inscription and re-articulation of the pre-capitalist gendered power relations. The capitalist structure has specified pre-capitalist patriarchy to effect gendered hierarchisation of the domains of productive and reproductive work to enable transfer of value to preserve and perpetuate a system constitutive of differential rates of exploitation (extraction of surplus value). Not just that. The capitalist-patriarchal ideology of ‘legitimate’ sexual inequality generated by this gendered privileging of productive over reproductive work has been instrumental in the gendered segmentation of labour – through unspoken custom if not enshrined contract – in the productive sphere itself as also the larger sphere of so-called non-work socialisation. The working-class movement would, therefore, do well to realise that the paradigmatic blindness of its dominant tendencies to this dimension of our political-economic reality has yielded a conception of working-class unity that is nothing but the instrumentalisation of the everydayness of working-class women by the politics of the male proletariat. That has rendered the latter the oppressive intermediaries of capital and dominant petty-bourgeois agencies of property-forms vis-à-vis the former. In short, such ‘working-class unity’ has been integral to the restoration of capitalist class power.

The women’s movement would, meanwhile, do well not to repeat such a paradigmatic error. The specification, and rearticulation, of the gendered relations of power by the capitalist structure cuts both ways. Capital does not merely engender class but also, in the same movement, classi-fies gender. It marshals gender inequality to segment the working-class even as the homogeneity of gender is itself subjected to a class-based internal differentiation based on a hierarchically relational gradation of property-form and labour-dimension. In such circumstances, to target only patriarchy as the root of such gender oppression and sexual violence as honour killings, rape and so on is to attack only the ideological form – culture if you will – of gender oppression and violence while leaving the capitalist structure that animates or articulates it intact. A structure that is capable of coopting anti-patriarchal women’s  movements by articulating them in a manner that enables such movements to raise the perfectly just demands for the abolition of various unfreedoms that shackle womankind in its gendered entirety even while bringing emancipation from such gendered unfreedoms to certain locationally select segments and sections of women to the exclusion of the rest, and thereby neutralising the movements by weakening the strength and/or energy of the mass that drives such movements by accentuating the segmentation within it.

Towards the Feminism of Proletarian Militancy

The point here is certainly not to join the chorus of status-quoist cynics, who are seeking to diminish the current anti-rape mass upsurge on the streets of Delhi as a middle-class fad. Such cynicism is insidious to say the least. Sexual violence and gender oppression cannot, by any stretch of imagination, qualify as a middle-class or petty-bourgeois concern. Insofar as gender inequality, which is a form of class domination, is co-constitutive of such violent oppression, sexual violence is a working-class question at its core. Rather, the point of the argument really is that the mass upsurge should recognise its objectively incipient working-class character so that it can be generalised. In short, this movement against sexual violence must not only challenge the dominant culture of patriarchy – which it is doing in large measure, thanks to the participation of various communist-left mass organisations and other radical women’s groups – but must also simultaneously become a struggle against segmentations and divisions within the gendered class of women proletarians if its battle against patriarchy has to really succeed. In other words, an effective struggle against patriarchy can only be a revolutionary working-class struggle. One that doesn’t evade the gender question in the name of some larger, beyond-gender working-class unity, but focuses on the gender question in its specificity in terms of rearticulation of the culture (ideology) of patriarchy within and by the materiality of capital. To do merely the former is the path of radical feminism while an approach that dialectically articulates the former with the latter is the feminism of proletarian militancy.

What would the adoption of such an approach mean in the concrete specificity of the current anti-rape mass movement in Delhi, though? For starters, it would not only mean stoutly resisting calls for capital punishment for or emasculation of the perpetrators of sexual violence but even steering clear of such juridical-legal demands as improving the abysmally low rate of conviction  in rape cases, making rape investigations less patriarchally prejudiced and strengthening our frail and ineffectual anti-rape laws. Such demands – which are currently emanating from the more politically progressive tendencies in the movement – presuppose that the current system is capable of delivering on them and that such delivery is contingent merely on some disembodied, spiritualised will of the system. In other words, the socio-political subject that articulates such demands is a subject of reformist politics interpellated by the juridical-legal ideology and the concomitant hope that the system is structurally capable of reform. It is, therefore, unwittingly or not, complicit in the perpetuation of the capitalist systemic structure that is the necessary, if not sufficient, condition for the generation of cultures of gender oppression and sexual violence. Clearly, the stress of radical politics cannot, for that reason, lie on mobilising the street to berate and condemn the patriarchal mindset of the administrators either. Such an approach to the state of affairs dovetails nicely with the juridical-legal mode of reformist politics because such condemnation implies that it can shake a patriarchally callous and prejudiced administration from its anti-woman mindset by the sheer force of its intensity, and that therefore there is no structural constraint on the latter to transform itself for the better. Nothing, as we have seen, is farther from the truth. Worse, the discourse of such politics, thanks to its reformist modality, is inevitably populist that can (often has) dangerously veer to the right in the course of the mass movement. For, registers and idioms have a way of taking a life of their own, not least because they are inscribed within systemically operational structures.

Radical political intervention should learn to shun the discourse of crime and punishment to relearn its classical language of oppression and resistance. A language that disentangles the question of justice from that of law by freeing the former from the hypostatized prison of the latter. It should pose the very same systemic problems – low conviction rate, weak laws, culturally biased investigation and custom-based, communitarian subjugation of bodies and lives of women – with regard to gender oppression and sexual violence such as rape to expose the structural incapacity of the system to reform itself and remedy the situation. And through such exposure conscientise – orientate if you will – the mass upsurge triggered by perception of such ‘crimes’ to demand the impossible of the system: that its administration, police and, eventually, its private and public corporations, must cede their governmentalised control over and determination of every aspect of the lifeworld of the working masses to the popular subjectivity of the mass movement. A politics based on demanding the impossible is needed in this case not only because the system is structurally incapable of riding itself of gender-inequality and the patriarchal ideology co-constitutive of it but also because the juridical-legal approach legitimizes the politics of demands the system can possibly deliver on and, in the process, articulates a subject that reproduces the logic of duality and determination – which is constitutive of the capitalist law of value and phallocentric patriarchy, both embodied by the state.

Only when the current mass upsurge comes to be animated by this radically (im)possibility will it have begun actualising its revolutionary incipience by struggling to not merely occupy Delhi but seeking to take control of that occupied urban spatio-temporality by re-organising the social relations constitutive of it through the general assembly-driven mode of popular vigilance into a free associational or solidaristic sociality. The actualisation of such a radical subjectivity by the movement in question would enable it to see and envisage its struggle against the system in its dialectical indivisibility with the task of re-organising the given social and production relations. Something the class power constitutive of the system in question tends to render impossible, thus making the deployment of popular force by those who struggle indispensable for their task of generating counter-power through such re-organisation of the given socio-economic relations. That would, inter-alia, put an end to the false and grossly counter-productive binary between violent and peaceful protests that we have seen emanating from within the movement over the past few days. One that threatens to sap the movement of its unity and energy, what with the clear and present danger of the movement being hijacked from within – either by the reformists or the petty-bourgeois right – staring it in the face.

That this is no flight of fancy is more than evident in what the anti-rape mass movement itself has thrown up. Some radical students and youth organisations and individuals of Delhi have imagined into being a campaign, as part of the ongoing protest movement, to “reclaim the nights of the city”. The carnivalesque spontaneity of this reclamation campaign posits – of course, in a rather nascent form – the possibility of an insurrectionary sociality of people’s militias that wrest Delhi and its streets from all oppressors – the rapists, as much as the police and administration that is structurally complicit in such oppression – for popular vigilance and control. That possibility must, however, be recognised if the campaign is not to get caught in its carnivalesque spontaneity and degenerate into another festival of the anarcho-desiring petty-bourgeois youth. Only through such recognition can the politically conscious elements of the revolutionary left that is part of the campaign seriously strive towards building wider solidarity networks with the larger sections of the working people of the city, beyond the student-youth axis of the current campaign. Such wide-ranging solidarity networks are, needless to say, indispensable and integral to the process of occupation of a city and the simultaneous subordination of the socio-economic process constitutive of it to popular vigilance and control. Ironically, it is only by organising the carnivalesque spontaneity of the so-called reclamation campaign into a mode of popular control and vigilance of the sociality that are the nights, as also the days, of Delhi can this carnival preserve itself by obviating its day-after to become, in Ernst Bloch’s words, a “concrete utopia” of uninterrupted insurrection.

Instead, what we have so far  from the radicals in the anti-rape mass movement, the communist left groups included,  is, at best, a version of the juridical-legal approach tinged with the rhetoric of radical feminism. This approach has given their politics, even though they raise precisely the very same set of pertinently concrete questions they ought to have raised in order to radicalize the situation, a disagreeably unradical populist odour. It even risks reversing the good faith of such politics into bad. Such juridical-legal demands, regardless of the nobility of intent of the subject of such politics, can only serve to further securitise and thus governmentalise the political discourse and enable the extension and intensification of repressive state apparatuses and biopolitical instrumentalities such as the police force, and CCTV cameras and global positioning systems in public spaces respectively. And that is because the nobility of its intent does little to change the fact that such politics is wholly geared towards eliciting governmental – executive, legislative and judicial – responses from the system. Those are not merely the only responses the system can possibly come up with but ones it must come up with in order to extend its dominion and thereby reproduce itself.

In a more general sense, the communist left must remember that a revolutionary subjectivity is not one that evades certain immediate questions that history/capital throws at it. Rather, that every such question is a ground for leap against capital and its history, and that such a leap can concretely, as opposed to abstractly, come about only if it is able to understand and plot its interventions with regard to the concreteness of those immediate or determinate questions in terms of two mutually related characteristic features of our responses as subjects situated within and informed by capitalism and its history: one, commonsense is ideological and two, our struggle against any immediate domination must in the same determinate instance also articulate a struggle against the generalised hegemony within whose structure both immediate domination and the struggle against it are situated. A social subject of opposition that is not orientated by such knowledge runs the grave and virtually imminent risk of falling prey to the cunning of capital in precisely the same moment when it puts up its most spirited fight against it.

Centre for Struggling Women: Appeal and Demand Charter on growing sexual violence

The recent brutal gang-rape of a 23-year old woman in Delhi has left the entire nation shocked and outraged. The fact that the woman was picked up along with a male companion from a crowded bus stand and then raped in the moving bus has left the public stunned. The sheer brutality with which the rape was committed has fuelled large scale protest. This widespread agitation by women and general masses all over the country reflects not just shock, but is also an expression of tremendous anger against continuous and growing violence on women. After all, the recent case of gang-rape is not an anomaly but a latest manifestation of a deeply ingrained rot that corrodes our lives, now overtly and at other times covertly.

Unfortunately, while there has been massive public outrage and a long dormant anger has spilled onto the roads, there has been little effort to tackle this issue in a rational manner. Spontaneous anger and symbolic violence have given vent to our frustration, but also carry the danger of being co-opted by the vested interests of the ruling class and its decadent culture. Therefore, this is an opportune (and imperative) moment for us to envisage ways in which to prevent such incidents from recurring in the future, and to ensure that the agitation against violence on women is not misused by vigilante groups (and other dubious social forces). We have to keep our autonomy of action, as well as the independence of our will intact. Thus, we must consciously deliberate upon the direction and content of the ongoing struggle.

It is important to remember that we are not fighting against only one brutal incident of rape, but against an entrenched phenomenon. It is a fact that women in this country have and are facing sexual exploitation and oppression in diverse forms. Recently cases of rapes have been reported from Haryana, Gujarat, UP and other states but the media has made the current case a city specific issue. Clearly, not all incidents of rape have met with the same quantum of media coverage and public outcry (at least at the level of the capital and its corridors of power). This is not to say that there have been no movements or agitation against sexual violence on women. Indeed, the ongoing protests should be seen in continuation with and connected to other protests against similar violence on women. Hence, the current protests should not be de-linked from, or stand unaware of the ground prepared by preceding struggles like those of the stone pelting spirited masses in Kashmir, the naked protest by Manipuri women against the sexual offences committed by army personnel, the protest against the rape and murder of Dalit women in Khairlanji (Maharashtra), etc.

Of course, for many, the current protests in Delhi might be a belated response to all these equally spine-chilling incidents of rape and brutality. However, for many others, it is the (uncomfortable) proximity of the incident (the feeling that the rape took place in the capital itself and could happen to anyone) which might be propelling the response. Moreover, some are troubled by the fact that political opportunists have increasingly taken hold of the spontaneous mass reactions. From the unfortunately named Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena (which has absolutely no relationship with the progressive ideology of Bhagat Singh, nor any connection with kranti), Shiv Sena activists, misogynist ‘babas’, funded ‘anti’-corruption crusaders, cadre from a Party of rapist-rioters to all kinds of agent provocateurs have high jacked the reactions of common masses. Some have rightly pointed to the hypocrisy of the media which has been ‘earnestly’ covering the current protests. Indeed, the very media which talks about reform measures to curb such incidents also projects women as objects of sexual fulfillment through advertisements, promotion of nudity through newspapers, etc.

In this light, we must realize that we need to assert our autonomy from such elements, and recognize who are the genuine and authentic fighters. We must also plan and prepare for the long run so that the next time, instead of them outnumbering us, we overpower them with, both, our ideological preparation and organizational resilience.

We need to realize that in no movement or mass reaction of such kind can we find a pure constituency, i.e. people who want to genuinely fight against women’s oppression because in the safety and freedom of all women they see the liberation of women they know.  Of course, the general male chauvinist response is to protect ones’ own womenfolk, but to do the same to others. This is precisely why at various venues of the ongoing protests, many male ‘agitators’ were seen harassing (ogling, touching inappropriately, etc.) women protestors. Even the recent rape of a factory woman worker by a rapist whose own daughter was raped earlier (19 December 2012 newspaper reports from Welcome area in northeast Delhi) points to the hypocrisy with which male chauvinism functions.

This then brings us to the question of the mentality and conditionswhich perpetuate inequality and violence. While we need to continue our struggle against all odds like Article 66A of the IT Act which prevents us from protesting on the internet, road blocks, tear gas, water cannons, metro blocks, Article 144, etc. which prevent our expressions of discontent from spilling onto the streets, and hence to become visiblethe need of the hour is to make a level headed analysis of the concrete situation and to put forward a set of concrete demands that are rational and desirable. Such an approach also demands that we look beyond the immediate event which is but a mere symptom of several grave problems, and focus our eyes on the disease itself—a disease that will outlive the current event and short-term remedial measures tabled in the name of ‘providing justice’. It is with this objective of fighting the actual malaise and to uproot it as a whole that we are putting forward this set of concrete demands, though without forgetting the old wisdom “without changing everything, we do not change anything”.

Without a doubt, our most formidable weapon against sexual violence is a sustained mass movement. Of course, a list of demands, as the one below, will only see the light of day until women across the country organize themselves under women organizations, and launch a multi-pronged and consistent movement on the issue of women’s exploitation and oppression. We, thus, appeal to all women and men to become part of progressive and democratic organisations so that even after these protests ebb we don’t just go back to leading our existing lives, but continue to aspire and struggle for a more just and equitable society for all. It is in this light, that our demands below are not just demands from the state but also stand for our claims on society.


  1. Provide safe and adequate public means of transport. In Delhi itself there is a shortage of more than 5000 buses. This creates overcrowding and scope for sexual harassment of women commuters.
  2. All public means of transport (buses and autos) should be monitored. Every vehicle must be connected with a Global Positioning System (GPS) device so that its movement is monitored by the Traffic Police.
  3. All employees working in DTC, Cluster buses, BEST, city and state transport buses, auto rickshaws, Grameen Sewa must wear the public service vehicle (PSV) badge.
  4. In future recruitment of BUS conductors, priority should be given to women.
  5. No unregistered tourist/travel agencies must be allowed to ply their private vehicles. Further, there should be proper monitoring of personnel working in these private tourist agencies.
  6. Banning of unsafe private transport.
  7. Increase frequency of Delhi Metro trains so that overcrowding and scope for sexual harassment can be checked. Metro trains should ply throughout the night.
  8. Severe punishment for violation of traffic rules, especially tinted glasses, unclear/small-lettered number plates, use of loud music, and loud honking aimed at harassing women commuters.
  9. Vehicles plying at night should be properly scanned.
  10. Increase the number of ladies’ special buses, including their night services.
  11. No auto or taxis should be allowed to refuse passengers. License fees and other charges levied on these modes of transportation must be kept at minimum so as to keep the fare low. Majority of autos and taxis are owned by a handful of cartels-mafias. Such cartels must be busted, and instead, recognition must be given to auto workers’ own unions.
  12. Special women protection cells should be formed in Railways. All compartments in trains should have emergency alarm and other provisions for security of women commuters.
  13. Provision of separate school buses for government school students so that there is no overcrowding on certain routes.
  14. Proper and adequate street lighting.
  15. Women employees working in night and early morning shifts should be provided company transport facility.
  16. Increase the number of affordable working-women’s hostels to ensure safe accommodation for single working women.
  17. All out-station girl students studying in colleges must be provided cheap and safe accommodation by their respective institutions so as to hinder harassment by private landlords.
  18. There should be a clear distinction in the degree of punishment between rape and rape-brutality-murder; the latter should be punished more severely than the former. The quantum of punishment between the two types of rapes should be clearly separated. Death penalty is not a rational option because it would create the danger of every rapist considering murdering the victim so as to efface evidence and escape death penalty. There should be a legislation which recognizes the graded nature of sexual assault/violence based upon the concepts of hurt, harm, injury, humiliation, and degradation. The logic of awarding death penalty to a rapist is based on the male chauvinist belief that rape is a fate worse than death. In this context, the most important deterrent is the certainty of punishment, rather than the severity of its form.
  19. Separate fast track courts for cases of violence on women should be constituted. 25,000 more courts are required in addition to the existing 16,000. All pending cases of rape (All India-100,000, Delhi 1000) should be solved by specially constituted courts within 100 days.
  20. Medical examination of rape victims should be conducted by lady doctors wherever possible and no intrusive or archaic methods for medical examination should be conducted against the will of the rape victim.
  21. All districts in the country must be equipped with facilities for forensic test.
  22. All rape victims must be provided the needful psychological counseling.
  23. All requisite steps should be taken for the rehabilitation of the victims including adequate employment opportunities.
  24. The onus of proving oneself not-guilty should lie on the accused.
  25. Cross-examination of rape victims must not be allowed to become a cause for harassment.
  26. All those persons whose charge sheets have been filed for rape cases by the Election Commission must be barred from contesting elections for public bodies.
  27. Fill up all vacancies in various subordinate and higher courts. A law should be passed ensuring trial by an elected jury in all courts
  28. Proper protection must be provided for victims and witnesses in the cases of sexual offences.
  29. Rape-trials must be held in-camera and should be presided over by women judges.
  30. Women helpline and other emergency services should be provided round the clock and should be well advertised.
  31. Creation of a special vigilance team to monitor PCR vans.
  32. CCTV cameras should be set in all police stations, and swift action must be taken against errant police personnel. This is in the light of cases like Soni Sori who was tortured and raped in police custody. Shockingly, she is still languishing in a prison in Chhattisgarh.
  33. Increase the proportion of women in the police force. Currently there are less than 6.5 per cent women in the Delhi Police.
  34. Introduce compulsory courses on gender sensitivity in the training module of the Police Force instead of a few token workshops for a handful of Police Officers. Around 80,000 human rights violation complaints are lodged every year against the Police force of which a large number pertain to sexual offence against women.
  35. No male Police personnel should be designated to deal with victims of sexual offences, i.e. for enquiry and for escorting the victims to the court for trial. Instead, lady Police personnel in plain clothes should be deployed for the purpose.
  36. There should be proper distribution of Police between common masses and VIPs. A whopping 50,059 are guarding VIPs, which is 20,000 more than the sanctioned number. These Police personnel should be employed to serve the common masses and not for the security of VIPs and for curbing democratic movements of the masses.
  37. The role and functioning of National Commission for Women (NCW) should be audited annually and made public. There has been a tendency among the ruling Parties to distribute posts in this office as favors to its henchmen! This practice should be discontinued and free and fare elections should happen for all the posts so that individuals with credibility and standing in the women’s movement may be able to make their way to this important office.
  38. Gender sensitization to be included in school and higher education curriculum.
  39. Religious texts and practices/rituals which degrade women and create misogynist culture should be debated, boycotted and banned.
  40. Ban on the sale of liquor after 8pm.
  41. Unauthorized selling of liquor must be stopped and the culprits responsible for the same should be severely punished. Concerned authorities should be reprimanded for their negligence.
  42. Severe punishment for consumption of liquor at public places.
  43. Movement of inebriated groups of men late at night must be monitored and they should be fined/detained if they are perceived to be a threat to the safety of women. Drunken brawls, hooliganism, rowdyism by individuals and particularly groups of men are a major hazard for women travelling late at night. Adequate laws must be passed and efficiently implemented so as to ensure that women may be able to commute safely and free from fears.
  44. Serving of liquor in bars and pubs till late must be banned.
  45. Prompt registration of FIRs must be ensured. If the same is not accepted a written explanation must be provided by the concerned Police Station. Refusal to lodge FIRs filed by Dalits, minorities and tribals should be punished. As per the National Crime Records Bureau Report of 2011, out of the total 14618802 complaints of crime received by Delhi Police only 59249, i.e., less than 0.5 per cent, were registered as FIRs. This shows the general apathy of the Delhi Police towards all crimes in Delhi. As per Delhi Police Annual Report of 2010, only 11.88 per cent of all complaints received by the Crimes Against Women (CAW) Cells in Delhi were converted into FIRs. This criminal apathy is responsible for the confidence enjoyed by criminals in the state. Needless to say here that if the situation is so dismal in Delhi then it must be much worse in the rest of the country.
  46. All necessary steps should be taken to ensure that speedy and efficient investigation is done in rape cases.Currently, a larger proportion of those charged with rape and other crimes against women go scot free. The conviction rate in crimes against women has fallen in the country from a meager 27.8% in 2010 to 26.9% in 2011. As per studies conducted in Delhi, rape convicts imprisoned at the Tihar Jail of Delhi have committed an average of four rapes before conviction! This betrays the failure of the entire criminal-justice system.
  47. Conduct periodic audit on women’s safety in the city. Local women’s organizations and women’s hostel unions must be involved in this process.
  48. Police should be made accountable to women in all urban and rural localities and for this purpose regular Police-woman interactions must be conducted.
  49. Women under no circumstances should be detained at Police Stations during night time. Every Police Station must have women personnel.
  50. A special ‘crime against women’ cell should be constituted within the army to prevent sexual harassment of lady army personnel, to check misogynist culture and to prevent sexual offences against civilian women by army personnel.
  51. Scrap Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act which are being used by the army and Police, respectively, to commit atrocities upon women. Even some of the particularly atrocious cases like Kunan-Pushpor incident (February, 23 1991) in which least 53 women were raped in a single night by the soldiers of the 4th Rajputana Rifles; abduction, gang rape and murder of Neelofar Jaan and Aasiya Jaan of Shopian (Kashmir) on May 2009 by CRPF personnel; and torture, rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama by 17th Assam Rifles in Manipur 2004 are yet to be creditably dealt with as a result of the protection provided to the armed forces through the aforementioned Acts.
  52. The C. Upendra Commission Enquiry (2004) Report regarding the Manorama rape case should be made public.
  53. An independent enquiry commission should be constituted to look into the matter of crimes on women committed by army/paramilitary force/police personnel.
  54. All kinds of custodial (prison, police stations, convent, temples, mental asylums, NGOs and hospitals) rapes must be considered as aggravated sexual offences warranting more severe penalty.
  55. Constitute a ‘Children’s Safety Task Force’ and ensure its periodic inspection-visits of schools, orphanages, etc.
  56. All play schools should be properly regulated and monitored.
  57. Selling of dangerous substances like acid, which are used to commit violence on women, should be banned immediately.
  58. Agencies which provide domestic workers (maid servants) should be banned and the agencies should be taken over by the employment exchange department run by the local government.
  59. Depiction of women as sex-objects in advertisements, newspapers, magazines and all other forms of media should be banned and punished.
  60. Complete ban on pornography and on the screening of movies in theaters and songs which portray women in a misogynist manner.
  61. Ban on fashion shows, beauty contests which objectify women’s bodies as sex objects.
  62. Festivals related hooliganism should be severely punished and preventive measures like banning of balloon-selling before Holi should be strictly implemented.
  63. Ensure proper safety of women at all workplaces. Constitute ‘Crime Against Women’ cells in Police Stations of industrial areas, and constitute anti-sexual harassment committees within factories which have trade union representation within them.
  64. Forcing women employees to wear skimpy clothes at airports, pubs, auto expo, restaurant chains, etc. must be banned. Any change of uniform should be done only through consultation and approval of the workers’ union, or representative body of the employees in cases where no union exists.
  65. Make marital rape a punishable offence.
  66. Paid-rapes (prostitution) should be abolished along with proper rehabilitation of victims of prostitution. Complaints of sexual violence perpetrated on prostitutes should be immediately filed.
  67. Trafficking of women and children must be prohibited in all forms and severely punished.
  68. Since in many cases women and children are sexually exploited within the four walls of their home by people known to them, the government should develop an alternative system of accommodation, financial assistance and job opportunities for those women who feel inclined to leave their homes and live independently. Special attention should be paid to the difficulties and needs of disabled women.
  69. All women should be provided job opportunities by the government so that they become independent from their male family members and in situations of conflict may be able to lead their lives independently.
  70. Khap Panchayats, casteist-communal organizations and other kinds of vigilante groups responsible for spreading and normalizing misogyny must be banned.
  71. Severe punishment for the perpetrators of honour-killings, including those who abet this brutal crime.

Released By: MAYA JOHN on behalf of Centre for Struggling Women (CSW)-Sangharshil Mahila Kendra



Mazdoor Ekta Kendra (MEK), Blind Workers Union (BWU), Anand Parbat Industrial Area Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS)-Delhi, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS)-Haryana, Nirman Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti (NMSS), Ghar Bachao Morcha-Baljeet Nagar, Mahila Panchayat-Punjabi Basti, ITI Students Solidarity 

Maruti Suzuki Workers Union: Dharna (December 19 2012), Delhi

Friends and Comrades,

We from Maruti Suzuki Workers Union, appeal to you to strengthen our struggle, by joining us in our day-long protest demonstration in Jantar Mantar from 10am on 19th December 2012. While the management of the Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. and the government of Haryana, continues in its joint offensive against us, we reaffirm our commitment to carry forward our legitimate struggle.

As you know, 149 of our fellow workers continue to languish in Gurgaon Central Jail. The bail plea of 15 contract workers among them was rejected by the Sessions Court, Gurgaon on 4th December even when no substantial proof of indictment could be provided by the state counsel, which points to the sham in the name of legal process that is being inflicted on us. 546 regular workers and more than 1800 contract workers have been terminated from service since 18th July, and five months on, we only face the arrogant attitude of the management and the government adamant to crush our struggle and the questions that it has raised- against the exploitative working and living conditions, for the right to Unionize and demands of justice. We have organized number of protest rallies and deputations to ministers of ruling and opposition electoral parties but have been only been faced by a management and government which leaves nothing undone in their attempts to weaken and divide us further into jailed, terminated, those working inside the factory, as also between contract and permanent workers.

We have shown our resolve to forge unity among us workers across these divides put up by the company and the government. We successfully organized the Automobile Workers Convention on 9th December 2012, where we raised the common issues of workers across the auto sector in Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal-Faridabad-Noida-Ghaziabad industrial belts, recognizing that we workers face the same conditions of exploitation in the entire NCR industrial belt. We are organizing a protest demonstration in Jantar Mantar on 19th December which is also the martyrdom day of our beloved Asfaqulla Khan and Ramprasad Bismil, who gave their lives in 1927 in the anti-colonial struggle for freedom. When today we again struggle against present conditions of unfreedom, we appeal to all to join us on the day of the dharna.

Imaan Khan, Ramnivas, Omprakash, Mahavir, Yogesh, Katar Singh, Rajpal

Provisional Working Committee


MSWU: DILLI CHALO!!! Against Police Repression on Auto Workers Convention

As you know, we from Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) have called for an Auto Workers CONVENTION on 9th December 2012 in Ambedkar Bhavan, Jhandewalan, New Delhi with common demands of auto workers in NCR industrial belt.

This program with our legitimate demands has been declared one week back, for which we have given due information for permission to the PMO and the Paharganj police station and have received copies of the same. But Haryana and Delhi government administration through the use of Police of both the states, along with CID Haryana has come down heavily on us for raising our legal and legitimate demands. They have denied us permission to hold the Convention in the evening today with the imagined reason that this will disrupt peace in the area. And since last two days, Haryana Police and CID has been calling on us and our parents and relatives to strongly threaten against holding this program and any such program in the future, or force will be used against us.

We condemn this direct attack on our democratic right guaranteed under the Indian Constitution by the joint forces of Haryana and Delhi government administration through the naked use of force in the service of the Maruti Suzuki management. And with what we have seen in the last four months, this is nothing new to us now, as the police and government administration have nakedly sided with the company management in their attempt to crush our voice of truth.

We appeal to all concerned with democratic rights and our just struggle to stand by us as we will go ahead with the declared program tomorrow and similar programs in the near future.Our fellow workers from across Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal-Noida-Faridabad-Ghaziabad industrial belt will join us and strengthen our struggle.

Condemning the police and administrative action against us, we reiterate our demands:

1. In the permanent nature of work in the auto sector in Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal-Faridabad-Noida-Ghaziabad industrial region, completely abolish the illegal contract worker system by the year 2013. Till they are not made permanent, all workers in the auto sector in this region should be given minimum wage of Rs.15,000.

2. All permanent workers in the auto sector must be given minimum wage of Rs.25000.

3. Unions must be formed in the auto belt industrial region. Within 45 days of application for registration of Trade Union, the concerned labour department must ensure the registration of the Trade Union with due process.

4. The High Court order in favour of workers of Eastern Medikit must be immediately implemented and the illegal lockout be ended. Take back all the workers of Eastern Medkit and ensure payment of due wages.

5. Along with all the 546 illegally terminated workers of Maruti Suzuki Manesar, all the contract workers must be immediately taken back to work.

6. All the arrested workers of Maruti Suzuki Manesar must be immediately released, the false cases withdrawn and stop the repression and torture of workers.

Sincere Regards,

Provisional Working Committee

 Program details:

Date: 9 December 2012; 11am to 6pm.
Place: Ambedkar Bhavan, Panchkuiyan Road, near Jhandewalan Metro Station, New Delhi

Contact: Imaan Khan-             09467704883      , Ramnivas- 08901127876, Omprakash-08607154232, Mahavir-09560564754,Yogesh-             08510043143      , Katar Singh-09728778870, Rajpal-             09555425175