We are its masters
This Hindostan of ours
From afar came the foreigner
Cast such a spell
Greedily plundered our beloved land
Today the martyrs call out to you
The people of the land
Break the shackles of slavery
Rain fiery embers…
National song composed during the 1857 First War of Independence, by freedom fighter Azimulla Khan
On 10th May, 1857, the people of India began India’s First War of Independence, against the British colonial ‘Company Raj’. Uniting across religion and caste, the ordinary people of the country fiercely resisted the British Raj serving the East India Company. Fighters of the 1857 Ghadar inspired Bhagat Singh and his comrades later. Bhagat Singh always warned that the fight for freedom was not only against the British (gore angrez), but against the Indian rulers as well (bhure angrez) who would continue the anti-people, repressive and pro-imperialist policies.
Today, the relevance of Bhagat Singh’s warnings is becoming clearer every day. The UPA and NDA Governments are selling out India’s autonomy to US imperialism, and India’s own land, minerals, agriculture, education, health, and labour are all being opened up for loot by Indian and foreign corporations. When our peasants, our adivasis, our students and youth, and women, fight this corporate plunder, they are met with batons and bullets and jails. Indeed, India’s people call their present-day Governments ‘Company Raj’ – the rulers who run India for corporate loot, not for people’s welfare.
In such a backdrop, the call of the 1857 fighters resonates again for Indian citizens today. This is why AISA is holding its National Conference on 10th May 2015 at Delhi, with the call: ‘10th May Calls Us to the Fore – Company Raj No More!
Company Raj in India Today
Today, the Modi Government in so many ways has become the Company Raj:
- Land Bill to grab peasants,’ adivasis’ land for corporate loot, without consent; this is an assault on the livelihood and survival of millions of Indians.
- Coal and other mines are being opened up for commercial private mining. Foreign investment is being favoured in every sector of the economy.
- During US President Obama’s recent visit to India, Modi has virtually freed US companies supplying nuclear reactors to India from any liability, compensation and legal action, in the case of any accident.
- To pander to the greed of US drug companies, the Modi Government is systematically undermining India’s patent policy; which will stall domestic production of several life-saving drugs and escalate their prices for common people in India and across the world.
- False promises: There is no sign of black money being recovered and BJP President Amit Shah has now said the talk of every family getting Rs 15 lakh through repatriation of black money was just empty poll rhetoric. In contrast, we see that I billion dollar loan from jan-dhan of our public bank is being doled out to favoured corporates like Adani !
- In the name of the ‘Make in India’ campaign, the government is inviting foreign capital to come and exploit India’s labour cheaply while labour laws are being systematically subverted to deny Indian workers any legal safeguard against wage-theft, unsafe workplaces and oppressive working conditions.
- HUGE Fund cuts in spending on social sector in the 2015-16 Budget:
- Agriculture: 19% CUT
- Drinking water and sanitation: 59% CUT
- Women and Child Development: 51% CUT
- Health and family welfare: 15% CUT
- AIDS control: 22% CUT
- Housing & urban poverty alleviation: 7% CUT
- Rural development: 10% CUT
- School education: 23% CUT
Higher education: 8% CUT
Divide and Rule Policy
Emboldened by the Modi Government in power, the Sangh Parivar and BJP leaders have been spreading vicious communal poison. This is like the divide and rule strategy of the British Raj. These include repeated praise of Gandhi’s killer Godse, campaigns of ‘gharwapsi’, a series of attacks on churches, replacing Christmas with ‘Good Governance Day’, branding of inter-faith marriages as ‘love jehad’, and referring to minorities as ‘haramzadas’.
Assaults on all avenues of Affordable Quality Education and Dignified Employment
Successive Governments of UPA and NDA have launched a massive assault on the right of every Indian student to education.
These Governments have created a discriminatory and multi-layered education system is imposed on us whereby the rich can buy their place in elite and expensive private schools, colleges and universities, while the poor are forced into low grade ill-funded schools, colleges and universities, either government or private.
The nation’s teaching cadre at all levels of education has been destroyed by massive contractualisation of teachers and misconceived teacher education.
Instead of regular, dignified, well-paid jobs, young people are being told that contractual, temporary jobs with under-payment an denial of basic dignity and rights, are the norm. How can a country progress if it cannot guarantee dignified jobs for its young people?
Assaults Under the Modi Govt:
• The Central Government has massively cut funding for education (School education: 23% CUT, Higher education: 8% CUT). The Government claims to have no funds for education – but lakhs of crores to subsidise Adanis?
- To weaken and harm India’s higher education system the Modi Government:
• Introduced a dangerous proposal of a ‘common’ Central Universities Act to force all Central Universities to follow a ‘common’ admission, a ‘common’ syllabus, ‘centralised’ faculty recruitment and ‘transferrable’ faculty. This is an assault on academic autonomy and freedom, and a blatant attempt to institutionalise saffronization.
• Government refused to scrap the discriminatory CSAT in UPSC and brutalised the protestors
• A 10% cap was introduced in the waiting list of the IBPS exam thus reducing employment options in the banking sector
• Government tried to close down several ESIC-run, publicly funded hospitals, and this move was stalled only after the spirited protests of students and youth from across the country.
• In CSIR too, these government is reneging on its own promises, cutting jobs and leaving several qualified engineers in the lurch. In the private sector too, retrenchments are rampant – such as the recent spate of job-cuts in the IT industry. Recently came the 150% hike in NET-JRF exam fees.
The resistance to these measures is also handicapped by the Lyngdoh regulations which hamper campus democracy and allow the administration and Governments to meddle in students’ union elections.
Saffronization of Education
Instead of a rational and scientific temper that is the hallmark of any modern education system, our school textbooks are being filled with hate-spewing, prejudiced rubbish, and instead of experts in the field, RSS hacks are being placed in the top positions in educational institutions.
BJP government in Haryana has plans enforce the mandatory learning of Sanskrit shlokas from the Bhagwat Gita in all government schools
• HRD Ministry replaced Christmas with ‘Good Governance Day’
• Modi himself has tried to suggest that plastic surgery existed in ancient India
• ICHR Chief, YS Rao said that “The caste system has been misinterpreted as an exploitative social system and that it actually worked well in ancient times.”
• Dinanath Batra’s textbooks (part of the curriculum in Gujarat) state that Ram’s Pushpakviman was the first aeroplane, Mahabharata is proof of stem cell research in ancient India, taking care of cows eliminates infertility, the map of Bharat should be redrawn to include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Tibet, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka!
Students’ and Women’s Rights in Schools and on Campuses
There are reports daily of rapes and sexual harassment happening in schools, and in higher education campuses, and of humiliation and denial of rights of dalit, adivasi, and OBC students in these educational spaces. Differently-abled students also are denied equality and access in schools and campuses. Reservation policies are also violated widely. We urgently need gender sensitization and complaints cells against sexual harassment on all campuses; measures to combat sexual abuse in schools; and upholding of the dignity, equality and rights of SC/ST/OBC students, as well as differently-abled students in all educational spaces.
Join the movement for
A fully state-funded, equitable, affordable, quality education from ‘KG to PG’ including ‘Common Neighbourhood School System’ up to Class XII
Promoting India’s linguistic diversity in all sectors of national life including trade-business, Science & Technology
Higher education system for all, no student to be deprived of education for ‘shortage of seats’ or because of high fees
Withdrawal of all Tughlaqi experiments (CBCS, FYUP etc) in higher education, as well as all moves to privatise and commercialise higher education
Withdrawal of ‘offer’ made by India in WTO – GATS, to treat higher education as a tradable commodity in the global market, before the ‘offer’ becomes a ‘binding’ commitment .
Uprooting of communal, casteist, patriarchal, sectarian and anti-disability prejudices, as well as irrational and superstitious content, from education
Campus democracy including the right to elect a students’ union in a process free of money- and muscle-power and administrative or Government interference
Uphold the Legacy of the 1857 First War of Independence! No More Company Raj! Equitable Education, Dignified Employment, for All!