This May Day comes in the face a persistent decline in wages, rising working hours and in the midst of the greatest jobs crisis in last 50 years.
The last 5 years have given us a government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party that has intensified the 25 year old neo-liberal phase with strongest commitment to free markets and the private sector yet. This period has witnessed drastic cuts in government expenditure on social security and social protection that has not just hurt the working class directly but undermined the entire economy by suffocating demand and driving the economy to the brink. In keeping with the neo-liberal framework, the BJP government has systematically drained public sector enterprises of their cash reserves to meet government expenditure while increasing the pace of disinvestment. The note ban laid firm the political foundation for an ideological commitment to inequality. The policy of writing off private sector loans has benefited the rich and has pushed the public sector banks to the point of collapse. The very private sector that is meant to drive economic growth and create jobs has drastically reduced investment while charging higher prices for manufactured goods. In turn the private sector has used its surplus cash to search for returns in the stock exchange and real estate speculation that do not create jobs. In order to secure financial returns for the private sector, the BJP government has aggressively kept prices low by maintaining prices of agricultural commodities at an unnaturally low level. Low agricultural prices mean not just lower returns for farmers but lower wages for the already exploited agricultural workers. This has forced the entire agrarian economy into an unparalleled crisis contributing to a wider shrinking of demand, loss of jobs, increase in unemployment and decline in wages across the economy. This is a crisis of the profit system that is built with poverty, unemployment and inequality at its foundation.
Advancing this profit system, as we learn from the lessons of the last century, comes with an attack on people and people’s rights. It’s not a system that can survive democracy or questioning by people. These economic policies have been accompanied by an attack on all institutions that constitute a democratic society. Efforts have been advanced to undermine parliament and the courts. Laws have been sought to be brought in to limit the role of trade unions. We have witnessed a growing attack on the working class and especially the most discriminated within the working class: women, dalits and adivasis. The sharpest attack has been reserved for those of the Islamic faith in order to breed prejudice and bigotry, paving the way for propagating a majoritarian Hindutva as defining the nation and nationalism.
The crisis is not limited to our country. As the economic situation worsens across the world, a decade since the global crisis, we are faced with the rise of the right everywhere and the rise of retrograde forces of racism and xenophobia. With these, there is an intensification of the imperialist attack in our own region and across Asia, Africa and Latin America and above all against the peoples of Palestine. The BJP government has sought to not just compromise with imperialist forces but to further subordinate our country to them, through which it seeks to maintain economic gain for the ruling class.
We are in the midst of a general election in which the people will decide on the future of the most authoritarian government yet. The choice we make is going to be important. The working class movement cannot however limit itself to an electoral outcome.
Defeating the forces of inequality and discrimination calls for a society created on the principles of equity and justice. This is our struggle.
There is today a growing unity within the working class movement. There is today a growing unity between the working class movement and the peoples’ movement. There is rising working class solidarity across the world. This unity and this solidarity must strengthen our collective resolve to:
Defeat forces of communalism, casteism, racism and bigotry
Resist the imperialist offensive
Advance the Working Class Struggle
Build a Just and Equitable Society