Campaign in Delhi and Bhind…

Campaign in Munirka

Volunteers of the Students-Youth Campaign Against Corruption in the national capital Delhi have been campaigning all over the city. Campaigns have taken place in Narela, Mandavali, Jamia Nagar, Patel Chest, Vijay Nagar, Christian colony as well as in Munirka, Ber Sarai, Kalu Sarai and Katwaria Sarai in South Delhi.

All over Delhi, people are responding with enthusiasm to the ongoing signature campaign and several people are joining as volunteers in the campaign. From students and youth, to shopkeepers and vendors, people are showing their anger against government policies of facilitating land grab and corporate loot of resources.

Convention in Narela

AISA Campaign in Bhind

AISA activists from Delhi University also went to Bhind in Madhya Pradesh. After a convention in Bhind town, volunteers campaigned near the district court in Bhind, as well as in Bhup village.

AISA’s Anti-corruption Campaign in Maharashtra…

As part of AISA’s nation-wide students-youth campaign against corruption, AISA along with the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Brigade organised a three day-long workshop against corruption and corporate loot in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, from 23rd to 25th May 2011. 50 delegates from different districts of Maharashtra participated in the workshop.

During the workshop, the delegates pointed out that corruption and corporate loot of our national resources had reached unprecedented levels. From land and water, to minerals and airwaves, all natural resources that belong collectively to the people of the country are being handed out on a platter to a few companies. And in order to gain access to these profitable recources and to ensure skyrocketing profits, corporations are indulging in massive corruption. The growing rate of privatisation in the education sector and in other sectors like health and infrastructure was also discussed at length. It was pointed put that in Maharashtra, the contractor-corporate lobby is essentially running the government and dictating state policy; common people’s real needs figure nowhere in the policies of the government. The participants also pointed out how the entire state machinery is being employed to brutally muzzle any dissenting voice against this open corporate loot.

AISA national president Sandeep addessing the workshop

All the delegates in the workshop participted in the process of planning the implementaiton of the anti-corruption campaign in Maharashtra. It was decided that conferences and conventions could also be held in other parts of the state. Conventions have been planned at Nagpur, Nasik, Kolhapur, Shrirampur, Dhulia, Aurangabad, Kopargaon and Pune.

Convention in Shrirampur

AISA and the Students-Youth Against Corruption organized a day-long ‘Convention Against Corruption and Corporate Loot’ at Shrirampur, Maharashtra, on June 1, 2011. More than 100 students as well as people from many walks of life participated and shared their views at the convention. Professor Santosh Pawar, renowned Marathi poet, Professor Balasaheb Bowke, senior journalist Ashok Thupe, and AISA leaders from JNU, New Delhi spoke at the convention. After the convention, a procession against corruption and corporate loot was carried out in the city.

Comrade Jeevan addressing people during a campaign

In Maharashtra, the campaign against corruption has gained a good momentum at various centers. This campaign is evoking very good response from every section of the society – particularly from peasants, rural workers and intelligentsia, apart from students and youth. Several small shop keepers and street vendors have also extended their full support wherever AISA campaigned amongst them. Our volunteer teams are also getting very good public support on the ongoing signature campaign on the pledge against corruption.

Nationwide Student-Youth Campaign Against Corruption!

Young India Against Corruption!

Young India For Democracy!!

Take the Pledge to Fight Against Corruption!

Sign Up As A Volunteer In The Campaign Against Corruption!

The question of eradicating corruption has become imperative to save the country and guarantee employment as well as basic rights to the common people. A few days back, the struggle for the Jan Lokpal Bill has added a new dimension to the movement against corruption and strengthened the aspirations of the common people to completely rid the country of corruption. It has now become the duty of each and every one of us who wants to do something to save the country from being sold and destroyed to strengthen the movement against corruption. We have to pledge to unite people against neo-liberal policies, institutions, corporate companies and governments responsible for corruption and also against those engaged in corruption.

We have seen that corruption is no longer confined to government departments, petty officials or some individual businessmen. It has also spread its roots amongst high ranking officials of the defence services, the judicial system as well as the media. While there is a need for an effective anti-corruption law, the Lokpal Bill drafted by the government is a farce in the name of fighting corruption. During the movement for an effective Lokpal Bill, we witnessed how the UPA government initially refused to include civil society representatives in the process of drafting the bill, and how it was forced to bow down to this same demand in light of the massive peoples’ support. Continuous pressure in the form of a sustained movement is necessary to ensure that an effective Lokpal Bill is drafted and passed in the parliament. However, even if an effective Lokpal law is passed, the fight against corruption will have to be carried forward to target the entire web of economic policies and corrupt institutions responsible for corruption.

Citizens face corruption in every sphere of their lives – including healthcare, education, rations and all other rights. But corruption today is not only a matter of morally corrupt individuals. Rather it has been institutionalised by the present phase of rampant privatization policies that have opened the doors for corporate loot of extremely valuable resources like land, minerals, spectrum, etc in the country. These policies have resulted in an unprecedented increase in the scale of corruption, leading to scams amounting to lakhs of crores in these sectors like minerals, natural resources and spectrum.

The Radia tapes in the wake of 2G Spectrum scam and Wikileaks have revealed beyond any doubt that big corporations and imperialist forces have established their influence in India to such an extent that they dictate our Parliament, formulation of economic and foreign policies and even the selection of our ministers to suit their interests. Massive scams in defence deals and sale of land belonging to the army have come to light, highlighting the involvement of senior defence officials. People holding high posts in the country’s judicial system have also been found to be involved in corruption. Several leaders of the Congress and the UPA shamefully continue to hold public posts even after having been indicted in massive scams. The Chief Minister of Karnataka from the BJP is himself involved in land scams; several ministers in his government run mining mafias in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Not just the central government, but several state governments are heavily involved in corruption and are aiding corporate houses in breaking the law and grabbing public land and resources for private profit. When activists and the struggling masses across the country challenge this open loot, they are rewarded with bullets or jail sentences, while the corrupt continue to roam free.

In this fight against corruption, a determined movement will have to be built with the following demands:

• Instead of forcing a toothless Lokpal Bill prepared by the government on the country, pass an effective Lokpal law reflecting the concerns of the activists and the larger society fighting against corruption.

• Take back all neo-liberal and privatization policies which have created fertile ground for corruption by opening the doors for corporate plunder of natural resources like land, minerals, water, seeds, spectrum etc

• The UPA government at the centre as well as the BJP-run Karnataka government should immediately resign, taking responsibility for aiding and abetting corruption and the shielding the corrupt.

• Prepare a black list of Tata, Reliance, Vedanta, Dow and other mega corporate houses companies involved in corruption, manipulation and breaking of laws and punish them. Stop giving any tax waivers and subsidies to corporate companies.

• Announce the names of those having black money deposited in Swiss Banks and other international banks, bring back each and every paisa of that black money and spend it on public welfare.

• File cases against all the senior defence officials involved in the Adarsh Society scam and all other scams related to defence deals and land.

• Stop corruption and profiteering in education in the name of capitation fees and donations. Scrap all the Bills and Acts on education that would further commercialise education and provide virtual immunity for unrestricted profiteering and malpractices by the private players in the education sector from the law of the land.

• Take steps to prevent corruption in the higher education commissions set up for providing employment to students and youth, and also in all other commissions set up for giving employment and also to establish transparency in their recruitment procedures.

• Dismiss all government decisions and appointments taken under the pressure of corporate houses and imperialist forces.

We have seen how the students and youth of this country have given fulfilled their roles in the freedom struggle and in the struggle against the emergency. Taking inspiration from that legacy of struggle and desire for change, the students and youth of today have decided to undertake a ‘pledge campaign’ against corruption. As a part of this campaign, hundreds of students and youth will become volunteers against corruption and will reach out to lakhs of people in several villages and cities across the country. We appeal to you join in this campaign as a volunteer against corruption. In the next phase of this ‘pledge campaign’, on the eve of the historic ‘anti-imperial August Revolution’, a massive demonstration will be held in Delhi on 9th August, 2011 to demonstrate peoples’ unity against corruption. AISA appeals to you to join and strengthen this movement against corruption by reaching Delhi on 9th August 2011.

Combat Corruption! Save India!!

March to Delhi on 9th August 2011 !

Unmasking the True Face of Corruption

The 2G Spectrum scam has caught the attention of the entire nation due to the sheer scale of the loot of public money. The defenders of this corporate loot try to project the 2G Spectrum scam as a mere ‘aberration’, a rare instance for which a few ‘corrupt’ individuals can be conveniently blamed. They try their level best to hide the fact that what we call ‘corruption’ and ‘corporate loot’ is institutionalised in the present economic regime of neo-liberalism and globalisation.

Let us have a look at some bare facts:

  • As much as 12 times the public money lost due to the 2G Spectrum scam has been illegally siphoned off from our country to Switzerland and other tax havens. Between 1948 and 2008, over Rs 20 lakh crores of public funds have been lost in this way according to the research body Global Financial Integrity (GFI). And this is a very conservative estimate, adds GFI.
  • Nearly half of this amount exited the country after 1991 (when neo-liberal policies were first introduced). Also, the rate of this loot of public funds has been increasing by around 11.5% a year (concomitant with the increasing liberalization of the Indian economy), and about one-third of the total outflows occurred between 2000 and 2008, a period when more and more sectors were privatized.

Under the neo-liberal regime, it becomes acceptable for land, minerals, water and other public resources to be removed from the public ownership and control, and be transferred to corporate houses for them to exploit. Even if no ‘corruption’ were to be involved in this process (if no bureaucrat or politician were to benefit), it would still involve an enormous loss to the public exchequer and transfer of public assets like natural resources into private hands. Corruption on a scale unimaginable in previous times is, however, embedded in this process, as corporate interests vie to secure these huge assets.

The Saga of Scams

The Rs 9000 crore waiver to Reliance: Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance gained Rs 9000 crores through a single piece of legislation passed in the parliament; supported by both the UPA as well as the NDA. JD(U)’s official spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member N.K. Singh enthusiastically promoted this loot, and argued in favour of Reliance. The Niira Radia tapes reveal how the BJP too is involved in this shameful saga of state-sponsored corporate loot of public resources.

Paddy export scam: Rice from our PDS stocks (meant to be sold at low prices to the poor) was diverted via selected private operators to the international market. This scam (which resulted in a loss of Rs 2500 crores) involved blatant scuttling of a host of well-established rules and regulations. In the name of helping ‘needy’ countries, deals were struck which made it possible for some private operators to access our PDS stock and make huge profits. The list of ‘needy’ nations include countries which have a higher per capita income than ours, countries that are rice exporters themselves, as well as countries that do not even consume white rice.

Karnataka land scam: Karnataka Chief Minister Yeddyurappa from the BJP has been implicated in this scam, wherein government land has been denotified and transferred to family members of the CM as well as senior BJP leaders in the state. And Yeddyurappa remains in power, justifying himself by claiming that chief ministers before him too have been equally corrupt.

TN land scam: Here again, the DMK government distributed land belonging to the state housing board to well-known politicians, bureaucrats and judges in Tamil Nadu. The DMK claims it cannot fulfill its election-time promise of providing land to the landless, but it has land to dole out for the rich and powerful in the state.

The list of scams is long and grows longer day by day …… corruption in Prasar Bharti, in the Scorpene deal, in IPL…..

Who Is Responsible?

Governments of all hues are implicated: committed as they are to the neo-liberal agenda, ruling class political parties are not willing to take strong action to curb corruption. Time and again, we have seen how some implicated politicians have been ‘forced’ to resign when exposed, only to be resurrected soon after in some other coveted position of power. Commissions that are meant to investigate the root cause of scams are rigged and manipulated; bureaucrats who themselves have been implicated in scams are asked to head the Central Vigilance Commission! The real beneficiaries of corruption and the loot of public resources – the business houses – remain completely unscathed and are allowed to operate without any hindrance. In fact, they are allowed to dictate policies and even ministerial berths in this so-called ‘democratic’ country.

The Human Cost of Corporate Loot: What Do the Scams Mean for the Common People of the Country?

What is the truth behind claims that governments have no money for public projects, that privatization of resources is inevitable? Do governments really lack funds? The 2G Spectrum scam (which resulted in a loss of a whopping Rs 1,76,379 crores of public funds) and other such scams expose the falsity of these excuses: the amount lost due to the 2G Spectrum scam alone equals an astonishing 3% of our GDP.

What could the government have done with this money?

  • We could have cleared half of the country’s fiscal deficit
  • The amount lost in the 2G Spectrum scam is almost Rs 40,000 crore more than the total amount that would be required to universalise food security – i.e provide 35 kg of food grains at Rs 3 per kg to all Indian households
  • The amount lost due to the scam is:
    • 4 times the NREGA’s annual budget
    • 4 times this year’s education budget
    • More even than our this year’s entire defence budget
    • It is double the Union budget for infrastructure spending this year
    • The amount is roughly the same amount that would be required to ensure education FOR ALL for next five years (as per the estimates of National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, NIEPA)

So, instead of spending on food security, health and education, the ruling governments of the days are determined to divert public funds and resources to increase the profits of super-rich corporations! This is the real human cost of corruption; the price we pay for corporate loot.

Whose Wealth? Whose Commons? : The Ugly Face of The Commonwealth Games

As Delhi gears up to host the Commonwealth Games, behind the official fanfare lies the ugly truth: a story of massive corruption, substandard infrastructure, exploitation of workers, displacement of the poor, reckless corporatization and environmental degradation.

From the very beginning, the entire process of organizing these games was shrouded in secrecy and marked by a total lack of public information. But in recent weeks, here are just some of the skeletons that have come tumbling out of the Games’ closet:

  • The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in a preliminary investigation of Commonwealth Games works has found evidence of pervasive corruption: work was awarded at higher rates and to ineligible agencies, bids have been tampered with, there have been irregularities in issuing of tenders, and needless ‘upgradation’. Virtually all government organisations involved in executing these works — the PWD, MCD, DDA, NDMC, CPWD and RITES — stand implicated in this mess.
  • The Housing and Land Rights Network has shown that as much as Rs 744.35 crore from Delhi’s special component plan (SCP) – which aims to improving the standard of living of the poor sections of the community through various government schemes and programmes – was diverted to the Games projects.
  • For the Queens’ Baton Relay, a London-based group, AM Cars and AM Films were hired for a staggering price of 238,093.56 pounds. This included, among other things, the hiring of cars and mobile toilets from London. The Joint Director General of the Commonwealth Games’ Organising Committee, T S Darbari, who was sacked after this fiasco, had already roused suspicion after a courier was arrested from the Kochin airport in February, carrying a diamond ring worth 28 lakh meant for him. Proof has also come to light that Suresh Kalmadi himself doctored emails so as to hide the financial irregularities associated with the Queens’ Baton Relay.
  • The reckless manner in which money is being spent is well illustrated by the expenditure of Rs. 40 crore for an aerostat (helium balloon) that would be used for lighting and sound equipment during the four to six hours of CWG ceremonies. The amounts spent on free sightseeing trips, luxury transport and other perks offered to visiting officials and dignitaries still remain unknown.

As many more irregularities come to light, we know that what we are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg.

We were told that the Games would make Delhi an international sports hub and tourist destination. But far from setting up, ‘world class’ sports and infrastructure in the capital, it is evident that construction quality is shoddy and has been deliberately compromised. Already, the effects of this are beginning to show: a section of the false ceiling at the Yamuna Sports Complex collapsed after heavy rains, and at a test event at the SP Mukherjee Swimming Complex, a swimmer was hurt thanks to the shoddy construction.

As work proceeds rapidly at the CWG construction sites, labour laws and safety regulations are being rampantly violated at Games worksites, resulting in the deaths of a large number of workers in worksite accidents. Working conditions are unsafe and worksite facilities, crèches or even proper housing are absent. Over a hundred workers have died at these sites from accidents or diseases such as cerebral meningitis, but their death is as cheap as their lives and their labour. These are the human ‘costs’ of holding the games to which no notice is given.

The Games have also provided a pretext to the Congress Government to rush through the liberalization agenda of evicting street vendors and the homeless, all in the name of ‘National Pride’ Between 2003-2008, up to 4 lakh people are said to have been evicted from the capital. The evictions have taken place without resettlement or compensation and have left most of those evicted homeless. Arbitrarily, last winter, shelters for the homeless were demolished, leaving their residents to freeze to death. Slums that couldn’t be demolished or set on fire, are being hidden behind hedges of fast-growing bamboo, so that our rulers’ ‘embarrassment’ of Indian poverty need not mar the eyes of foreign tourists.

While the sun has long set on the British empire, its apologists and defenders still remain. Foremost among them is our Prime Minister who, in a remarkable speech delivered in Oxford University, declared that the ills of Empire were exaggerated and the British Raj was in fact a model of “good governance!”  These Games that our ruling elite is celebrating as a marker of ‘national pride’ began in 1918 as a celebration of the British Empire. Today, the ‘Commonwealth’ – a collection of former British colonies in unity with Britain, all symbolized by the British Crown and Queen – is an anachronism at best and a shameful survival of the colonial legacy at worst.

In the face of the country’s poor who wage a daily battle for survival, the fact that government officials have been lining their pockets in the name of these games is nothing short of a national shame. Not only are the Games proving to be corrupt, wasteful and exploitative – the very idea of the ‘Commonwealth’ Games as a symbol of national pride is a tasteless joke with our legacy of anti-colonial struggle. Such an exploitative and spectacularly corrupt extravaganza, with a colonial hangover to boot, should be exposed and resisted by all democratic voices in our country.