Save the Republic from Corruption and Corporate Loot!
Bring Corporates Within Lokpal!
Guarantee Education and Employment With Dignity for All!
on the eve of the Republic Day
Save Republic Rally
25 Jan 2012 12 noon
from Arts Faculty, North Campus, D.U
Throughout the past year, we saw a spirited movement articulating genuine aspirations of the common people of this country to end the shameful immunity currently enjoyed by the corrupt and against the regime of corruption and corporate loot. Representing the voice of student-youth of this country, the Student-youth Campaign Against Corruption and Corporate Loot initiated by AISA, repeatedly pointed out that corruption today is intrinsically linked with the issue of corporate takeover of virtually all economic spheres and natural resources. The neo-liberal policies of privatization (wherein common resources like mines, forests, rivers, and even spectrum become the exclusive property of some individuals and corporates, who can then sell them for enormous profits) hugely encourage the regime of corruption. Therefore, any serious attempt to address corruption today will have to tackle the roots of corruption, which lie in government’s economic policies.
Amid massive fanfare as well as chaos, the Lok Sabha (LS) passed a Lokpal Bill on December 27th 2011, though this bill could not be adopted by the Rajya Sabha two days later. The Congress, beleaguered by massive protests on the streets against its regime of corruption, is now trying its level best to present the sarkari Lokpal Bill passed by the LS as an effective anti-corruption law. The fact of the matter is, the legislation in its present form is incredibly weak, because it has several highly problematic clauses which cripple its efficacy. Moreover, it avoids the important issue of corporate accountability and does not tackle the roots of corruption. We demanded that any law to curb corruption has to include everyone from a local patwari to PM, Judiciary, Army, and particularly corruption by corporate houses. The UPA – desperate to protect corporate loot and profiteering – deliberately chose to keep these provisions OUT of the sarkari Lokpal Bill. Not surprisingly, on this question, the Congress and BJP were quite united! The BJP, by voting to defeat amendments bringing corporates under the purview of the Lokpal, has exposed the hollowness of its anti-corruption claims. From Bofors to the coffin procurement scandal o the Adarsh scam, there have been several instances of massive corruption involving officers in the country’s armed forces. Yet, the armed forces have also been kept outside the ambit of the sarkari Lokpal Bill. The cash-for-vote unearthed during Nuclear Deal or the conduct of MPs during move designed to benefit only a single company – Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Limited (RGTIL), to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore (exposed by the Niira Radia tapes) show the massive collusion of MPs with corporates and other lobbies in corruption. Yet, the sarkari Lokpal Bill ensures that the Lokpal cannot investigate the role of MPs and MLAs in scams! Some of the worst instances of corruption in recent times implicating the PMO is implicated include the cash-for-vote scam over the Nuke Deal and the Antrix-Devas scam involving Space. Yet, the sarkari Lokpal Bill keeps the PM out of the purview of investigation in the case of sectors such as Nuclear Power and Space!
From the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street: today, when students, youth, workers, common men and women across the globe, from US, Chile, London to the Arab world are protesting against the pro-corporate and imperialist economic policies, isn’t it our responsibility to take inspiration from these movements to strengthen our own movement to save this country from corporate loot? The government which “legally” gifts away more than Rs. 5 lakh crore every year as tax exemptions to big corporate has no concern about the issues of student-youth. It is evident from the fact that we are among the lowest ranking nations in terms of Budgetary and GDP spending on higher education. Once the youth come out of their colleges and universities, they do not have any secure and dignified employment avenues and forced to eke out a living by working in call centres and in various other casual low-paid jobs with no rights and security. In the absence of any Right To Employment Policy, students and youth are made to run from pillar to post for dignified employment. Clearly, the issues of accessible, quality education and rightful, dignified employment for the students and youth have no place in the agenda of the various governments of the day who are entrenched neck-deep in corruption and facilitating corporate loot of our country’s resources.
In the name of ‘reforms’, the UPA Govt. has introduced a wide range of Laws and Bills to privatize and commercialise the education sector at break-neck speed. Through these, the government is not only allowing self-financed courses, hiking fees and promoting foreign and private institutes but is also protecting systematic corruption in higher education, with Bills like the ‘Education Tribunals Bill’, which take away the rights of the students and teachers in any education institution to approach even the Courts of the country against any injustice. Along with this, weapons like Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations have been unleashed in campuses to ban Student Unions and student activism, so as to curb any organised student resistance against the entire range of anti-student pro-corporate policies.
At a juncture when the Republic completes 62 years, is it not high time we demand – where are the rights and the future promised by this Republic? Can we remain mere helpless spectators when our country and our own future are being sold out? When the democracy and the Republic are being sold out to corporate houses and imperialist forces, what can we, as students and youth of the country, do to resist the betrayal and sell out of the promises enshrined in the Republic? At such a time, it is the responsibility of each of us to strengthen the movement against privatization, against new economic policies, against corporate plunder and repression. The fight for ‘right to education’ and ‘employment with dignity’ is today directly linked with the fight against corruption and corporate loot. On the eve of the Republic Day, join us in a Students Rally to Save the Republic from Corruption and Corporate Loot, demanding to bring corporates in the ambit of Lokpal, and the right to education and employment with dignity on 25th January 2011 at 12pm from Arts Faculty, North Campus, Delhi University