Globalization is a nice-sounding word that means an imperialist attack on
the workers and peasants. And imperialism is very bad for the common people.
The workers, peasants and agricultural workers are under attack from
imperialism on all fronts.
This attack is spearheaded through the use of what are called Special Economic
Zones, SEZs. The workers call them “Special Exploitation Zones.”
There are 1,300 SEZs planned for India. We find that many multinational
companies are being invited to India by the central government and by the state
government—where I am, Kolkata (Calcutta), this means the West Bengal
In a SEZ, the government will give the multinational the land and the company
will not have to pay rent. It will also get water and electricity free. The
West Bengal government says that globalization and SEZs will bring industry to
the state but we have seen that no industry is established. We have a phrase
for this: “jobless growth.” Even where production expands there is
a net loss of jobs. These are all capital-intensive industries without much
scope or opportunities for jobs for the common people.
In a SEZ, the existing labor laws won’t be operational. The owners can
fire workers at will. The maximum hours workers can work will not be
maintained; they may be forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day. Everything will be
under the control of the owner.
Poor grow poorer,
rich become billionaires
They say they are expanding industry but we know they are taking over the lands
and they will use them for real estate development. The moneyed people of India
will take over and build homes and the wealthy 10 percent of Indians will live
there. The other 90 percent of Indians will just get poorer.
Right now 36 percent of Indians live below the poverty level, which means they
get less than two full meals a day. Their purchasing power is so low that their
very existence is at stake. They suffer unthinkable poverty.
On the other hand, four of the richest people in the world are Indians,
including Lakshmi Mittal, owner of Mittal Steel, the biggest steel company in
the world. [According to Forbes’ 2008 list of billionaires, numbers 4, 5,
6 and 8 are Indians—JC] It is these superrich and others like them who
gain from globalization and SEZs, in conspiracy with the state and central
They allow the multinationals to penetrate India to exploit Indian labor and
resources, and in turn get access to markets in Japan and in Latin America. All
capitalist and imperialist countries are going through an acute economic crisis
of overproduction and underutilized capital—they are unable to
Indian capitalism has also acquired imperialist characteristics and is
exporting capital to other parts of the world, buying up industry, even major
steel companies. Indian capital is buying even cheaper labor in Nepal and
Bangladesh, which have become economic colonies of India.
In turn, India’s foreign policy is no longer nonaligned. India tilts
toward the U.S. and Israel and is a large purchaser of Israeli-made arms.
With land being taken away from peasants for use in SEZs, more and more village
people are coming into the cities. Since there are no jobs, there is a big
increase in begging and prostitution. It is very painful that women are forced
into prostitution to feed their children.
Many workers and peasants are committing suicide—no fewer than 2,000 in
the last year—when they get into intractable debt that they can never pay
Nandigram means fight back
Dow Chemical was invited into Nandigram in West Bengal to establish a chemical
hub. Its plants threatened to pollute the atmosphere and a nearby river. They
started grabbing all the fertile land in the SEZ. The peasants and agricultural
workers will lose the use of the land, which means they lose everything.
But Nandigram turned out to be something else. It was an example of tremendous
resistance. People’s committees formed. SUCI, my party, was very active
in Nandigram. The state government of West Bengal intervened with severe
repression. But the people kept fighting back and they had a victory. This has
set an example for peasants and agricultural workers all over India. (See WW,
Dec. 14, 2007, “Nandigram says ‘No!’ to Dow’s chemical
West Bengal is where not only bourgeois parties but also a social democratic
party—called the Communist Party of India-Marxist but which we in SUCI
have considered a social-democratic party since 1948—control the state.
And they have been exposed in Nandigram for using state repression to serve
SUCI is trying to unite with other forces, for example, the Naxalites and other
Marxist Leninist organizations and even a part of the Congress Party called the
TMC, to protest against SEZs and to develop the mass and class struggle.
Now a large sector of the people is looking to SUCI as an organization of mass
and class struggle. We are gradually getting more support from workers,
peasants, women and students. We have an agricultural organization and our
trade union organization is the fifth largest in the country. SUCI exists in 17
of India’s 19 states.
We oppose outsourcing. We are in solidarity, for example, with U.S. workers who
lose their jobs through outsourcing, and we oppose also Indian companies that
outsource. Outsourcing is a conspiracy to deprive workers of different
countries, and we have to maintain worker solidarity.
In India too we have to build solidarity. The British, during their colonial
rule, divided people by religion—into Muslim and Hindu—so that the
British could “divide and rule.” It was painful that the national
leaders of the Congress Party helped the conspiracy of the British and became
the party mainly of the Hindus. Now the ruling class is following the same
policy, both in the name of religion and by the caste system among Hindus. They
are dividing people to stop the unity of the proletariat.
It is a hard task for us to convince the common people, the working class, that
caste and religion should not divide us. But we must fight together, united,
against capitalism and imperialism.
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