Seminar: Challenges facing the labour movement in India (Oct 20, 2012)

Seminar organised by various workers organisations in New Delhi (Oct 20, 2012) to assess the challenge before the workers movement in India in the context of the Maruti Struggle.

Possibilities beyond the Maruti Struggle: Nationalisation and Workers Control – Alok, KYS

Alok Kumar, leader of Krantikari Yuva Sangathan addressing a gathering at the Maruti Suzuki Headquarters on August 27, 2012.

Blind workers demonstrate for their rights


Today, a large number of blind workers collected outside the residence of the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Mukul Wasnik. These workers have been meeting the concerned Minister, as well as officials in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on several occasions since November 2011. On April 24, 2012, the troubled workers were given an assurance by the Minister that all the blind workers retrenched by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) in 2011 will be provided alternative employment at the government sponsored NGO, Arunim. However, more than four months down the line, the Minister and Social Justice Ministry are still to honour their assurances. Due to the absence of the minister the blind workers were unable to meet the Minister and took out a march to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment here at Shastri Bhawan.

It is to be noted that since November of 2011, the blind workers have been protesting the retrenchment of several blind workers by the NFB. This NGO retrenched the workers because they were speaking out against denial of minimum wages and other basic labour rights in the Training and Rehabilitation Centres (TRCs) run by the NGO. However, the struggle of the workers is not just against the NFB, but also against the overall exploitation of blind workers across the country by private companies and NGOs. Blind workers have been arguing that in the interest of availing of certain benefits like tax exemption the private sector employs persons with disability, but goes on to exploit them brutally. Arbitrary hiring and firing practices, unregulated working hours, payment of wages which are often below the minimum wage rate, etc. are some of the exploitative practices which prevail in the private sector. All these amount to a serious breach of social justice, which is why the bind workers have been continuously approaching the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

More importantly, the workers realize that the failure of successive governments to provide adequate employment to the blind community is the main reason why blind workers are dependent on the highly exploitative private sector. For disabled working class persons who are either unemployed or stuck in highly exploitative private sector jobs, the Government’s decision to sub-let its responsibilities of providing tangible livelihood to NGOs, private companies, etc. is an extremely skewed policy approach. Thus, the blind workers’ struggle is based on the fundamental right to a livelihood—a right the Government is to protect and uphold.

During their Dharna at Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment a delegation met Mr. Pankaj Joshi, Joint Secretary, Disability Department and apprised him of their concerns. A memorandum was submitted to him for his consideration. The three specific demands that the workers are raised with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment include:

(i) That since the Ministry has failed to curb the blatant violation of labour rights by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), it should ensure that all the disabled workers employed by NFB be provided alternative employment by the Government with immediate effect.
(ii) Inclusion of a special section in the long pending Bill on the Rights of Persons With Disability (2011), which would safeguard the economic rights of blind workers employed in the private sector. For example, the Bill should include provisions to the effect that bodies violating basic labour rights will be penalized to the effect that NGOs indulging in such violation will face the cancellation of their registration.
(iii) That the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment tables a concrete plan of greater job creation for blind persons in the public sector. It is only with the provision of more government jobs that the dependence of blind workers on exploitative private companies and corrupt NGOs can be overcome.

After listening to their demands Mr. Pankaj Joshi assured that they will be given employment through some government agency or the Ministry will help in establishment of a cooperative society. Another major victory for the movement is that the Ministry has also conceded inclusion of a provision in the Bill on the Rights of Persons With Disability (2011) where NGOs employing disabled persons will be penalized if they violate the labour laws and the grants to such NGOs from Ministry will also be stopped.

Not taking it as their final victory the blind workers resolved to fight till the government does not take its responsibility of providing employment to all disabled persons so that they do not remain exploited and harassed by “welfare” NGOs and private sector.

Alok Kumar

Blind Workers Union
(A Unit of All India Federation of Blind Workers)
T-44, Panjabi Basti, Near Gopal Dairy, Baljeet Nagar, New Delhi-110008
Contact: 9313730069 Email:

August 9: In solidarity with Maruti Suzuki Workers

A joint demonstration was organized at the Labour Ministry headquarters of the Indian government in Delhi by over 20 organizations on August 9, 2012 to protest the repression and arrest of Maruti Suzuki workers of Manesar plant (Haryana), and against the violent work regime that exists in the industrial sector in the country which do not even grant minimum labour rights allowed under the existing labour laws. Around 60 activists were forcibly detained at the Parliament Street Police Station, where they organised a meeting (see the videos below):

Com Alok (Krantikari Yuva Sangathan)

Com Sanjay (Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra)

Cultural Activists

On the significance of the Maruti Suzuki struggle – Pothik Ghosh

Pothik Ghosh, Editor, Radical Notes speaking at the July 21st Demonstration

Protest Against the Bijapur Massacre (July 31, 2012)


At Parliament Street, New Delhi
11 am – 5 pm, 31 (Tuesday) July 2012

The chilling incident of the premeditated massacre of 20 adivasis peasants of Sirkegudem, Kothagudem and Rajupenta in the Bijapur district of south Chhattisgarh on the night of 28 June 2012 have shocked the conscience of every democratic and freedom loving people of the subcontinent. Till date no action has been taken on the officers responsible for this cold-blooded murder. Worse was the nominal sorry rendered by P. Chidambaram in his dull academic tone followed by a regret by his CRPF chief that too when more and more glaring stories and reports started flooding the media from various independent observers and some of the conscientious journalists.

We are witness to the countless massacres of dalits, adivasis, Muslims and other oppressed sections in the subcontinent by various gangs, landlord armies and private militias in the Indian subcontinent. But what we have witnessed in Bijapur is a continuing pattern of state-sponsored massacres committed by the so-called guardians of law with impunity. Significantly in this case, we come across a scenario in Post-1947 India where the Home Minister would openly defend the criminal act of the paramilitary without batting his eyelids. Rarely do we come across a situation where the Director General of the CRPF would openly come out in defence of the criminal act of his forces. Well this sum up the lawless face of the Indian state personified in the cold and calculated sophistry of a Chidambaram and his able accomplice in Vijay Kumar the CRPF chief. But the democratic and freedom loving people of the subcontinent have seen through the white lies propagated by Chidambaram, Raman Singh the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister and Vijay Kumar the CRPF chief as more and more tell-tale reports started pouring in from independent enquiry teams of civil rights bodies and other citizens who went to the area to get first hand information.

At this juncture it becomes important that we refuse to remain silent to this brutality of the state failing which we are complacent and condemned to be silent accomplices to the terror of the state all being perpetrated in the name of development; a development ostensibly for you and me, but irreversibly and violently wipes out the vast sections of the masses of the people. Yes, it becomes important for all of us to come together and say NO to such premeditated massacres of the state and demand unequivocally that all those responsible for conceiving and executing such acts be brought to book let alone those who vehemently and unabashedly patronise such criminal acts.

• We invite you to be part of this protest demonstration to be held on the 31 July 2012 at Parliament Street from 11 am to 5 pm in which various people’s organisations, civil rights groups, intellectuals and prominent citizens from various states would participate. Your presence is very much needed at this juncture as an act of protest to strengthen the voice of the adivasis in Bastar. Unite with the resilient masses fighting for their Jal-Jangal-Zameen!

A delegation from the Dharna Site at Parliament Street will go and meet the President of India to submit a memorandum on the Bijapur Massacre with the following Demands:

• Constitute judicial enquiry with a sitting or retired Supreme Court judge to look into the massacre,
• Punish the police personnel and politicians like P Chidambaram and Raman Singh responsible for the massacre,
• Stop Operation Green Hunt– Indian State’s War on People Immediately,
• Withdraw military and paramilitary forces from Bastar now, and
• Scrap all MoUs signed with imperialist MNCs and the domestic corporate houses.

Contact: Varavara Rao (President), Rajkishore (Gen. Sec.) | 09717583539
| Email: |

Protest Demonstration Against the Massacre of Adivasis of Bijapur

Join Joint Protest Demonstration Against the Massacre of Adivasis of Bijapur

Date: 17th July (Tuesday) 2012, Time: 11 AM
Place: Chhattisgarh Bhavan, Chanakyapuri, Delhi

Recently the Indian state has intensified its eviction and extermination campaign against the adivasis of central and eastern India under the rubric of Operation Green Hunt. On the night of 28 June 2012 when the adivasi peasants of Sarkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajpenta (Bijapur district of south Chhattisgarh) gathered to plan the performance of the traditional festival Beej Pandum (seed festival), they were surrounded by hundreds of Police and Para-military forces of the Indian state. The armed forces resorted to indiscriminate firing killing 17 adivasis (including 6 minors) cold-blooded. Two other villagers were likewise killed near Jagargunda village of Sukma district in the same night, and predictably, were shown as casualties of an ‘encounter’ between the Maoists and the armed forces.

As the testimonies of the eyewitnesses coming through the Media, Fact Finding Reports of different Civil / Democratic Right Teams and the statements of different social-political forces (including the Congress Party of Chhattisgarh) now confirm that the killing of the adivasis was a heinous massacre committed by the Cobra battalion of the CRPF and the Chhattisgarh Police, under the command of top police officials. Even the Union Tribal Minister Mr. K C Deo has said that ‘17 innocent citizens, who were unarmed, who were wearing just a dhoti or a baniyan and who did not even have a sickle or a knife’ had been killed by the CRPF.

But still the central Home Minister and the top officials of CRPF are claiming that these adivasis have been killed in a “fierce” gunfight in the dense jungles of Dantewada on June 27-28 in a joint anti-Maoist operation by the CRPF and state police. This is really a matter of grave concern for all the justice loving progressive and democratic forces of our country.

We, the under signed progressive, democratic and civil rights organizations working in Delhi have decided to show our anguish and concern in front of Chhattisgarh Bhavan, Chanakyapuri on 17th July 2012 at 11 AM, in the form of a Protest Demonstration.

We earnestly appeal to you / your organization to join us at Chhattisgarh Bhavan to make the protest programme successful. Hope your positive responses.

All India Federation of Trade Unions (New), Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra, Krantikari Naujawan Sabha, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO), Peoples’ Democratic Front of India (PDFI), People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Radical Notes, Sanhati-Delhi, Students For Resistance, Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha

Against erratic and unequal distribution of water in Delhi

Hassled and angry residents of Baljeet Nagar
protest against Delhi Jal Board

Protestors question erratic and
unequal distribution of water in the city

On the morning of July 11, hundreds of angry residents from working class colonies in Anand Parbat/Baljeet Nagar area, as well as activists from Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS), Workers Unity Centre (WUCI), Anand Parbat Udhyogik Mazdoor Samiti, Centre for Struggling Women (CSW), etc., took out a rally which culminated at Shadipur Depot. The residents were protesting against the erratic and unequal distribution of water by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) across the city of Delhi. The agitating residents strongly believe that the brunt of this unequal distribution of water is borne by the city’s poor who reside in colonies which are supplied water not through pipelines but through tankers.

After sloganeering against the DJB, a delegation submitted a Memorandum to the DJB. The delegation pressed for the following: (i) water supply to households in the entire Anand Parbat/Baljeet Nagar through pipelines; (ii) provision of 120 litres per person per day; (iii) provision of a larger number of tankers, as well as a greater frequency of tankers every week; (iv) provision of free and bribe-free water supply via tankers; and (v) immediate implementation of rain-water harvesting, boring and other effective projects to meet the residents’ needs.

There are over one lakh residents living in the affected area, i.e. in colonies like Prem Nagar, Nehru Nagar, Tali Dera, Chetan Basti, Punjabi Basti, Gulshan Chowk, etc., with some 20,000 belonging to the two large slums located in this area. Despite the density of the population, it seems that because the residents share a predominantly working class background, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has never considered supplying water through pipelines to this area. Water is instead supplied to the area via water tankers. Earlier, these tankers used to provide water to the said colonies on alternative days. However, off late the tankers have become so erratic that at many water supply points they come barely once a week. Neither does the DJB invest in rain water harvesting, or pursue other projects to meet the needs of these residents.

According to the protesters, this current state of affairs is not merely the result of a shortage of water tankers. In fact, it is more the result of the DJB coming under control of the water mafia and private contractors. For example, tankers are increasingly providing water at earmarked supply points only when bribed to do so—a process which goes unchecked and creates ample space for private suppliers of water to exploit the needs of the people. As explained by Shri Alok Kumar from Workers Unity Centre (WUCI) who addressed the gathering, “by not maintaining a sufficient fleet of its own tankers, the DJB has gradually allowed a powerful group of private contractors and mafia to step in and provide water at high prices through which they make highly profitable business out this essential service. We believe that this on-the-ground functioning of the DJB reflects nothing but further privatization of water supply and distribution in Delhi.”

In addition to this, the privatization of water supply in the city is also reflected in the recent scams involving water treatment plants like the tender for Bhagirathi Plant where irregularities amounting to 200 crores were reported. Clearly, when issuing tenders involving water projects, the interests of private players play a significant role. Due to their involvement in such water supply and distribution projects, private contractors have now come to determine the quality of the water treated, as well as time taken to put such projects in place. Furthermore, under the influence of neo-liberal economic policies which press for privatization of the social sector (i.e. education, healthcare, etc.) as well as natural resources, successive governments have even sold water reservoirs and other water bodies at throwaway prices to private companies. Such private companies are either interested in the business of packaged water, or, desire direct access to a water source for their manufacturing plants. Private players have, hence, firmly wedged themselves in numerous ways between Delhi-ites need for water and water itself.

The impact of this growing privatization of water supply is most clearly reflected in the creation of an artificial water shortage in the city. On one hand, wealthy residential areas in the city like Jor Bagh, Sundernagar, Sainik Farms, etc. receive uninterrupted supply of water amounting to 450 litres per person per day, and on the other hand, nearly 50 lakh people in the city survive on just 40 litres per person per day. Similarly, it is difficult to uphold the theory of Delhi’s acute water shortage when big hotels, water/adventure parks, etc. enjoy generous supply of water. “If there is always plenty of water for some and never enough for the majority, then we are dealing with a biased policy approach and not an ecological problem,” asserted Sujit Kumar from KYS.

Before dispersing the protesting residents resolved to intensify their struggle, and to launch a larger public campaign across Delhi’s working class areas.

Alok Kumar
Ghar Bachao Morcha

Protest against a Cut-off System in +2 admissions

Government School Students Protest Against the Recent Government Circular Introducing a Cut-Off System in Class XIth Admission
KYS Spearheads Protests in Three Different Zones Against the Circular
Future of Thousands of Poor Students in the Doldrums

Today on the morning of July 11, hundreds of agitated government school students, their parents, as well as activists from Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS), protested against the recent circular released by the Delhi Government’s Directorate of Education. Three different protests were held outside three separate government schools, i.e. outside Government Senior sec. School (Sangam Park), Government Sarvodaya Bal Vidyala (Nangloi), and Government Senior Secondary School No. 1 (Patel Nagar).

The contested Circular is extremely problematic because it has for the first time introduced a very high cut off for government school students who are entering class XIth (eleventh) in the Commerce and Science streams. This cut off is being implemented across the various government schools with immediate effect, and has created havoc with the young students’ lives. The immediate effect of this Circular has been that a large section of youth who are from working class families and are dependent on government school education, are being denied admission to these streams in government schools where they have been studying for years. More importantly, because a large number of these students cannot make it to the high cut offs, there is tremendous rush for admission in government schools offering Humanities/Arts stream.

Running pillar to post, the despairing students and their parents have decided to fight back and compel the Delhi Government to withdraw the Circular. Shri Sujit Kumar, KYS State Executive Committee Member, visited to all three protest venues and addressed the students. In his address he highlighted how the recent Circular was nothing but an attempt to further privatize school education. “When working class youth are ousted from government schools and denied their constitutional right to education, then where will they go—either they will be forced to drop out or to enrol in private schools where they will struggle daily to pay the high fees,” explained Sujit Kumar.

Indeed, the circular is a black spot and mockery of the recently implemented Right to Education (RTE), for it is assisting in keeping a large section of needy youth their right to education. Instead of increasing the number of its secondary and senior secondary schools, it is shocking that the Delhi Government is spearheading an unhealthy process like introduction of cut offs for admission to Class XIth. All this is clearly a big boost to the already on-going process of privatization of education.

Meeting with the authorities of the three concerned government schools, the delegation of students and KYS activists appealed to the respective Principals to write to the Directorate of Education, requesting for the recall of the circular. Realizing that the matter would need to be raised at the higher administrative level, the protesters decided to carry out a campaign and reach out to other affected government school students. If the aforementioned Circular is not withdrawn then a large demonstration will be organized against the Delhi Government to protest against its anti-poor students’ policies.

Open Letter to HRD Minister on the problems of working class youth and students

Shri Kapil Sibal
The Hon’ble Minister
Human Resource and Development Ministry
Government of India.

Respected Sir,

We write to you as part of our initiative to apprise the general public of this country of the multifarious and crippling problems faced by working class youth who wish to pursue higher education. We realize that your own privileged social background, as well as your current political association, will, in all probability, prevent you from pursuing a sympathetic assessment of our concerns. However, we still appeal to your authority and sense of humanity, and ask your office to consider the following facts and concerns highlighted by us.

Sir, it is a well-known fact that the majority of working class youth of this country end up studying in government schools, and despite our best efforts, we still lag behind students who are able to pursue their education from expensive and reputed private schools. It is not that we do not labour and study diligently. In fact, because we belong to working class families, we are well aware of the value of labour. Working hard to survive is strategy taught to us from birth, and it is the principle we follow even when it comes to studies. However, it is clear to us that despite the valuable contribution made to the economy by the working masses, their children’s educational rights are assigned little value. Majority of the government schools we study in are divested of proper resources like adequate teachers, supply of teaching aids, good infrastructure, etc. This dismal condition at the school level is aggravated by the extremely precarious conditions in which we live.

The large majority of our families live in one room apartments because of the meagre wages earned by us and our parents. And needless, to say most of this housing is situated in the city’s slums and JJ colonies—many of which face the threat of demolition. In fact, many of us who are writing this letter have watched our homes being destroyed by bulldozers during our twelfth class examinations this year. Even if we want to rise above all these obstacles and problems such as the temporariness of our homes, we find ourselves severely handicapped by the simple fact that our families cannot afford tuitions. Forced to pay high rents and to meet rising prices of essential commodities, our parents are unable to put aside money for tuitions, or to purchase much-needed study material. Sadly, despite their desire to see us perform well, our parents are sometimes compelled to ask us to work as well, in order to contribute to the family income.

This brings us to the question of how successive governments have failed to address these disadvantages faced by working class youth, and have consciously denied us adequate opportunities at the level of higher education. Sir, we strongly believe that your government’s support for the dual education system, and thereby, its promotion of privatization of education, is a major source of our ruination. By encouraging the private schools on the one hand, and, on other hand, not investing sufficiently in government schools, the government is consciously creating a condition in which affluent students of private schools (who have had access to the best facilities, teachers, as well as tuition) get the lion share of seats made available at the level of higher education. Hence, the current government education policy is such that higher education has become out of reach for majority of this country’s youth, i.e. youth belonging to the working masses. It is extremely disturbing that the government provides subsidized education only till the school level. Beyond school education, the government adamantly refuses to utilize public money in a manner which makes subsidized higher education available to working class youth. Instead, the doors to higher education are opened only to the select few who have proved to be “meritorious”, i.e. those who have undergone private schooling, and hence, have the marks.

Clearly, this skewed education policy which has existed for years, has ensured that only 5 to 7 per cent of youth make it to the level of higher education (see National Sample Survey). In actuality, a large share of this 5 to 7 per cent comprises of middle and upper-middle class youth. The working class do not get a seat in the regular colleges and are forced to pursue higher education from correspondence and non-collegiate higher education boards. Needless to say, correspondence courses, etc. represent the poorly invested sector within the higher education field—a fact well highlighted in the kind of teaching provided, the lack of classroom infrastructure and the poor performance of correspondence students. The above-mentioned figure of 5 to 7 per cent also reflects the simple fact that governments like yours, perceive higher education as an opportunity which should be provided to the minority and not to the masses. After all, an inclusive, mass higher education program would not allow the system to reproduce workers from amongst the society’s youth, because if every youth was to pursue a BA or B.Sc. course, who would line up outside the city’s factories for a job.

Having said this, we would like to reiterate how misplaced your concern for last year’s and this year’s cut-offs has been. In 2011, when some prestigious Delhi University (DU) colleges declared cut-offs that touched 100 per cent, you expressed grave concern and assured the public that such cut-offs would not be repeated. Back then, and even today, the impact of such cut-offs on working class youth, is something you failed to consider. While your government is satisfied with the fact that the same cut-offs have not been repeated this year, can you claim that under this year’s cut-offs, working class youth will also make it to the Delhi University? And does your decision to allow the entry of foreign, private universities provide a solution to the concerns raised by working class youth? The answer to both questions is a definite no.

Firstly, despite cut-offs that are below the magic 100 per cent figure, the majority of youth who are coming from government schools, will still not get admission in universities like DU. Why would we, when the quality of education provided to us in government schools allows us to barely pass the Board examinations. It is here that we would like to highlight the bitter irony of the higher education system—public money is being used not for the betterment of those who most need it, but for those who are from the affluent sections of society, have got the best, and have, hence, scored the most. At this point, you may like to argue that some government school students do make it to higher educational institutions. However, we would like to highlight how this is a misconception yet again. The tremendously small segment of working class youth who make it to the level of higher education, often fail to perform (complete their course, to score well, etc.) because of the lack of essential, complementary facilities like remedial coaching and scholarships. There are, in fact, numerous instances of working class youth being unable to pay their tuition fees.

Secondly, further privatization of higher education via entry of foreign universities, etc. is far from a solution to the on-going problem. It will only result in more private players entering the field of education in the bid to misuse a social need for private, business greed. Education will all the more become an opportunity to be provided to those who can buy it. And lastly, it is only with greater investment in education by the government that the current situation can be improved. The building of more government subsidized schools and colleges, rather than paving the way for expensive foreign universities, is the permanent solution.

High cut-offs and less number of seats are problematic in many ways. For example if there are less number of seats overall, the reserve seats will be lower. Thus reservation which was a constructive policy to bring out Dalits from the villages and traditional occupations would remain an empty box as a large number of students will not get a seat. For example in Delhi University there are 12000 odd seats reserved for SC/ST candidates whereas the number of applicants are around 24000 i.e. double the number of seats. Thus a large number of students from the reserve category are forced to go back to their villages and continue with traditional occupations. This would deny not only upward mobility but also makes Dalit students prone to caste oppression and atrocities in the villages.

Of course, such long term solution need to be supported by immediate relief measures that cater to the concerns and needs of the majority of this country’s youth. One such immediate solution which we put forward and for which we seek government intervention, is the provision of 80 per cent reservation for government school students in every category, i.e. in the general category, SC-ST category, PH and OBC category. We appeal to you and to the society at large to understand and engage with the voice of the majority. Let us not reduce education to the question of who can afford it, and let us not reduce the novel concept of subsidized education to a mockery whereby it is used to provide educational advantages to those who are already way ahead in the race. We appeal to your conscience, and ask you to transform education structure into a truly mass phenomenon in which those who are most disadvantaged, are given an equal opportunity to transform their lives via education.

KRANTIKARI YUVA SANGATHAN (KYS), DELHI UNIT OF ALL INDIA REVOLUTIONARY YOUTH ORGANISATION, T-44, Near Gopal Dairy, Baljeet Nagar, New Delhi-110008. Ph. : 9312654851 , 9313343753